Acts 16:31 NIV—
“They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—
you and your household.’”
“They replied, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved,
and your entire household.’"
While seeking God for wisdom to know what Salvation Story I should begin writing about today, (since I made an entire list of more than a dozen from my family alone), what jumped out when I looked over the previous two, were how being raised as a Catholic and the unique struggles and challenges that this often poses to our knowing Him personally.
Over the years I’ve come to understand that none of us needs to abandon our “faith” or leave a particular church denomination. Since being called to stop attending church myself, in order to become the Lord’s bride, I stopped focusing on what church someone attends. Because I have seen that there are many true believers that attend a Catholic church, just as there are many within Christian churches who don’t know the Lord personally at all.
Long ago I abandoned the customary way the church emphasizes denomination or each different doctrine and the differences—because ALL that matters is that each person knows the Lord personally! Once this relationship is secure, then I’ve seen that He will then show each person His plan for their lives with Him!
The Salvation Story I’m excited to share this week is about one of my older sisters. I’m not sure how faithful she was about her Catholic upbringing and attending mass, but I do know that when our mother died, she found her comfort in acting out very religious rituals.
Thankfully due to something that happened to me when my mother died, I was unable to attend the memorial service she organized for our family. I’m not sure if these rituals were able to bring about much comfort or healing for my sister or her family, but if I had to guess, I’d say it was more of a bandaid or a plaster, covering the hurt but not healing it. The reason I believe this, is how angry and mean my sister became after my mother passed away while caring for our older retarded sister.
Pain that is covered over often results in anger. And losing my mother wasn’t the only pain my sister had covered over. While a teen she gave up a baby for adoption. So it was only a matter of time when my sister began looking for relief from her pain and peace in her heart, which, she saw, I had in abundance.
Each week I’ve reminded you of what it says in 2 Corinthians 3:2, KJV “Ye are our epistles written in our hearts, known and read of all men.” “You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men.” * Which means, witnessing is being an epistle or open book to read by everyone who looks at our life.
This is how my sister came to me, well more accurately, she called to speak to me about. The conversation was a bit difficult to really understand what she was asking, but soon I understood that, in a way, it’s just like the Bible shows us— when people actually come to you!
It wasn’t that my sister said, “What must I do to be saved?” Instead she began saying that she’d been watching how blessed my life had always been and she wanted to know WHY? And when I corrected her and reminded her that I had gone through MANY more really difficult and sometimes horrifying things, she said, “Yes, I know! But in the end you always came out of everything blessed. So I want what you have and want to know ‘How do I get it? How can I have your life?’”
So to start, I first explained it wasn’t “What” I had but “Who” I had, then I began to share my testimony (that you read in the November 2nd Weekly Message). And that’s when she assured me that she’d never heard that explanation when she made her first communion and that no one had explained any of these important things to her before. Then she said, “Well, I want it. I mean I want Him, and have the Lord in the way you do. So how do I do it?”
If at this point I had relied on the many times I’d been trained in “Leading people to the Lord” I could have had her repeat words after me. Or, I could have read or quoted the verses on “The * Roman’s Road to Salvation.” Yet, when I was privileged to work as an altar worker, meaning I would be at the front of our megachurch and greet women who came down when there was an **altar call (then we would leave together and go to a small room to discuss further what they’d come forward to receive), which helped me learn just how simple it could be. And not in the least intimidating.
During the years I worked with this ministry within our mega-church, I found that I was almost always the last to leave the altar room. The reason is, I wanted to give each woman time to speak to Him themselves. I’d begin by explaining that “prayer” was just speaking to Him. That it was far better to just talk to Him rather than repeating a formal prayer. So almost always, there would be long periods of silence while I waited and kept encouraging the women to simply speak to Him from their hearts.
In addition, I always explained that like any close relationship, they needed to get alone and spend time together. Spending time talking with Him and that He was there with them 24/7. Then I explained the deep assurance when the peace would envelop them, and most importantly, that from that day forward, they would look and feel differently: Not only to them, but others would notice how much they’d changed.
This is why I felt I needed to do things differently than I believe a lot or most “lead people to the Lord” when men and women came down during an **altar call. I wanted to be certain that each person didn’t just repeat a prayer and then, believe they were on their way to heaven. Because unless there is a time in your life when you changed so radically, that you basically became a new person, then more than likely you never met Him or knew Him personally. In this verse it means that even great religious leaders will come up short.
“Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’” Matthew 7:22–23
Once you meet and begin a real relationship with the Lover of your soul, you can’t help but change; therefore, you no longer “practice” lawlessness because He changes you. It’s also better that you never “try” to change. Change comes naturally without effort once you begin hanging around with the Lord after meeting Him personally. 🙂
So getting back to my sister. I basically shared all of this with my sister. I didn’t ask her to pray or speak to the Lord on the phone, instead, I told her to go to a quiet place after we hung up, and later she called to tell me she did. 🙂
Yet it was the ongoing changes in my sister that proved she had indeed come to know Him personally. I can’t tell you if she still attends the Catholic church, because to me, that doesn’t matter. He doesn’t care what pew you sit in, as long as you sit with Him, often. And you can’t help but want to sit quietly with Him because the feeling you experience just can’t be described!!
Even now my family is in awe of the change and healing that’s taken place in my sister’s life!! One that I was very shocked and rejoicing in, was a picture I saw of my sister doing the makeup of a bride. The young bride was the daughter of the OW, who was all grown and marrying! If you knew my sister, you’d know that this is almost as much of a miracle as seeing her walk on water. 😉
So once again, people are watching you and your life. They will see how you live, how you act and especially how you react when all hell comes against you. Yet the only way your family and the world around it will see it, and a way for you to turn up the volume in the audiobook of your life, is to spend a lot of time with Him. That way when the trials and tribulations and storms hit your life, you will not only come through without smelling like smoke, but you will shine brighter for your world to see.
* The Roman’s Road are verses from the book of Romans that explains the whys and hows of salvation.
** An Altar Call normally happens at the end of a church service when the preacher explains that it’s important to get saved, accepting His gift of Eternal Life.