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20 Years Since I Gave My Life to Jesus

20 Years Since I Gave My Life to Jesus

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They say that time flies when you’re having fun. But I simply cannot believe that it’s 20 years since I gave my life to Christ. Looking back, here are three of the most important things I’ve learned:

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1. Just because it’s not easy … doesn’t mean that God isn’t with me

I gave my life to Jesus at 11:20 am on the 15th of October 1995 (AEST) just after I’d heard a message preached at the Church of Christ, O’Briens Road in my hometown of Wollongong, NSW. The message was “God is Calling You” and I remember it so clearly, that I just preached it at my church this past Sunday.

All this came after the most harrowing time, the darkest time, of my life. Just a few months earlier, I had come close to taking my own life out of desperation. But these friends of mine dragged me to church that day. Now, my frame hadn’t darkened the doorstep of a church in many years, so it wasn’t easy stepping over the threshold.

And yet after the service, I walked out, sat down under a gum tree and prayed this prayer: Lord forgive me. Everything I have and everything I am I give to you. I don’t want to be a suburban, pew-sitting Christian. If I’m going to follow you, I want it to be for real.

I really didn’t know what that meant, it’s just what I prayed … and He took me at my word. Man there have been some tough times on the journey since.  In life … in ministry … in my walk with Jesus when I have failed Him. But I can tell you with absolute confidence, with complete certainty, that God has been faithful through it all. He has never left or forsaken me. He has always been there. He has always provided my every need.

If we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself. (2 Tim 2:13)

His grace truly has been sufficient for me. Without God’s grace … well, it just doesn’t bear thinking about.

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2.  Becoming Who I Was Made to Be

Back in my Bible College days, which began just a few months after giving my life to Christ, we had a lecturer by the name of Dr Barry Chant. What a saint that man is! He insisted that we learn this one Scripture verse by memory. Here it is:

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do the good works that God prepared beforehand for us to walk into. (Eph 2:10)

“Why that verse?” I wondered at the time. But now I get it. God has made each one of us with unique gifts and abilities and unless and until we start becoming who we were made to be, living the life we were made to live, doing the things we were made to do, we will never be satisfied; we will never be fulfilled or content.

For the first 36 years of my life I chased fulfilment and satisfaction through my career, my reputation, the things I earned, the things I bought, the cars I drove … and I whilst the world would have judged me “successful” I was so empty inside that it drove me to the edge.

After that morning outside that church, whilst there were many more difficult times to come, I began to discover something about myself that I didn’t know. My gift is to be a storyteller (What sort of a gift is that? one might ask). My gift is the ability to take complex issues and bring them together in a way that not only makes sense to people, but moves them to act and to respond.

There are many other things I cannot do. But that one thing, for me, is effortless.

When I left my secure, high-paying consulting career behind in order to follow God’s call into this ailing, failing ministry of Christianityworks (as it was at the time) I discovered that He meant to use that gift to share his love with countless people around the globe.

Then I remembered what Barry had taught us. God had truly handcrafted me, prepared me in every way, to walk into the good things that He had prepared for me before time even began. And it’s only in being who He made me to be, in Christ, that I have discovered the contentment and satisfaction that I had been searching for all along, but which had thus far always eluded me.

Jesus was right when He said it is more blessed to give than to receive. It just took me half a lifetime to figure it out.

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3. Bible Changes Everything

My life was a mess when I came to Christ. Really a mess. Everything had fallen apart. Everything that had mattered to me, I had lost. And I was fairly certain that God would never be able to do much with me. In fact, I couldn’t even see how I was going to make it through until tomorrow, let alone next year … or the next 20 years.

But in those early days, I started to do something that the old Berni would never, in a million years, have contemplated doing. I started reading the Bible, day after day, just the next chapter in the book I happened to be reading. And it stunned me, I mean it completely left me gob-smacked, how just in that next chapter were the answers that I needed for the problems I was facing that day.

Of course, these days, I spend time in the Bible because it’s my job. But before I do that, early in the morning when most other people are asleep, most mornings, I spend time in the Bible for me. Because that’s where I hear God speak. That’s where I become a better husband, father, teacher, coworker and friend.

That’s where God has changed my life.

So many people write to me or speak to me and they tell me how this or that or the other thing is going wrong in their lives. When I ask them, “So … how often do you read your Bible?” there is inevitably an embarrassed silence.

DOH!

Without any shadow of a doubt, the one thing that, more than any other, has changed my life, is hearing God speak to me through His Word; allowing the Holy Spirit to write God’s Word on my heart. And it’s a habit that, God willing, I will continue for the rest of my life, because as He knows, He has so much more work to do in me.

Theologians call that process “sanctification”. I prefer to think of it as rehabilitation; being transformed from glory to glory, to become more and more like Jesus.

So … here’s to the next twenty years!

To God be all the glory and praise and honour, and may Jesus return soon.

Berni Deep Blue 150 x 84

 

 

 

A sinner saved by grace


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24 Comments

  1. Wow! thank you Berni for sharing your powerful testimony. Something we must all do I believe because it brings Glory to our living God. All honour and Glory to our heavenly King, Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ. Amen.

  2. The Lord bless you and keep you in his sight Berni. It is true to say that God never promises us a smooth journey but always safe landing. Oh Yes! Tabor College- Barry Chant- Creative Living, messed me up, turned my life around too. All glory to God for you and me. In his strong and mighty name, your friend in Jesus. Charles

  3. Congratulations Berni…..it sure is a special moment remembering the day Christ changed our lives forever…..and it happens in ways you never would imangine. What an amazing life Christ has given us……it just makes sense now, it has real purpose just to Glorify Yahweh through faith in Christ. Thanks for being such an inspiration to me and heres to the next 20 years God Willing.

  4. Amen! Berni, all the glory be to the living God. Congratulations on your 20 years in God’s ministry. May he continue to bless you and use you in a very special way. Thank you for being who you are in Christ! From a fellow brother in Christ,
    going through that same “Rehabilitation” process. Thanks again Shaun.

  5. Congratulations and thank you Berni. Our Lord Jesus Christ has used you to guide me and do many others to get closer to him daily. I pray that he will continue to use you to bless and guide us always. God Bless alway Berni.
    Larry

  6. Good on you Bernie. Congratulations and more power to you. Ant.

  7. Thank you Berni! That scripture you were asked to memorize made me realize that God prepares us to walk into moments that he secretly prepares so that in all humility we can be His hands!

  8. Thank you Bernie congratulations on twenty years,with Jesus anything is possible.

  9. Thank you for being part of my journey. Your e-devotionals are a breath of fresh air in the morning. When I read it I imagine that you are reading it to me in your voice and Australian ac send. So many of your experiences are in so many ways parallel with mine and about the same length of time. Hope you will be there for another 20 yrs., to deliver His powerful message. God bless.Ivan

  10. Praise God, thank you for being a blessing to subscribers like me. One thing I like about you is that you are so humble. May God bless you and your ministry.

  11. Berni, What an incredible God’s love and grace you have been experiencing for the past 20 years!! each day and every movement. Your life is an example what the Lord can do with an individual who surrender Him completely. Thank God for you and Jacqui. It’s been a Joy of working together with you in the CW team. Elia

  12. Congratulations Berni for travelling and knowing the Lord over the last 20 years. When I came to Melbourne last year to meet my newly-born grand daughter, I instead discovered you when listening to the radio during the sleepless nights your “ability to take complex issues and bring them together in a way that not only makes sense to people, but moves them to act and to respond.” Thank you Lord for making me see things in a different perspective. John

  13. Fantastic Berni. You really are a powerhouse, thanks to the Holy Spirit, and a few people along the way. I love testimony, and yours is brilliant. Praise God for His sustenance. There’s no mildew on you now!

  14. Berni, I don’t know you personally but I listen to you frequently and I can tell that you love the Lord Jesus and that He has done a wonderful thing in saving you (as in every child of God).

    Praise God for His salvation and the wonderful way He has worked through you, to bring many to Christ and to grow His children in faithfulness. To God be the glory, great things He has done!

    May the Lord Jesus continue to bless you and your labour for Him.

  15. Hi Berni,
    Thank you for sharing your testimony with us! To God be ALL THE GLORY!
    What a mighty, loving, awesome God we serve!

  16. Hi Berni

    Please keep me in your prayers as I might be at begining of where you started your 20 yrs

    Thank your

    Regards
    Demetro

  17. hi Berni, I remember back in high school when us ‘ Goodie Goodies’ first shared Christ with you and prayed for you.. you made those first steps… and finally in the fullness of God’s wonderful time Jesus took your hand. Today I celebrate with you the Joy of salvation .”Though it tarry…. ” . Barry Chant was my bible teacher too, so blessed..

  18. Well timed message. Thank you. Praise the Lord

  19. Hi Berni

    Thank you SOOOO
    much for sharing your special ‘Hello Jesus!!.. I’m here all for you’ moment – Jeremiah 29:11

    I Praise, Thank And Glorify God for letting The business & I cross paths with You and Christianityworks!!

    God BLESS you LOADs in the greater things HE has in store for you as you continue to lift up your soul unto Him .. Psalm 143:8

  20. Thanks Berni! That was encouraging and a good reminder to get in the Word. And Happy 20th! God is good.

  21. Thank you

  22. I’m so glad God rescued you that day 20 years ago for your life and also because we get to hear inspiring words inwardly to understand and lively non theological language that challenges and motivates! Congratulations for making it 20 years so far! Here’s to the next 20!!!

  23. Congratulations Berni. You have helped me and my family see life as ‘real’ through Jesus word and thank God you had friends to pull you through to see what great work you Jacqui and the rest of the team have accomplished @ CW
    Your love and genuine message shines through. Thanks again Angeline

  24. Morning! In JESUS name. More clearly it could not be! Glory to GOD for keeping my spirit awake so that I could read and know HIS plan for me. Thanks!

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