I look forward to tonight, because I will have an opportunity to offer my testimony to some young people, (at least young to me), who are undergoing rehab in a Teen Challenge center located in Alabama.
Teen Challenge is a great organization originally founded by David Wilkerson, author of “The Cross and the Switchblade”. If someone stays the required time, (which can take a year), they have an 85% or better chance of success at permanently getting off drugs and alcohol compared to the dismal 8-15 percent of many rehab centers.
The reason it takes so long is that they disciple them and literally change a lifetime of bad habits. Many were abused and left to raise themselves. Kids rarely do much of a job raising themselves. Generally they fall in with the wrong crowd which becomes in effect their family and bad things happen.
My testimony is effective in these situations because more often than not the audience is devoid of hope. I was where they were or much worse and was able to turn the corner. They look at finding a solution to their addiction problems as being akin to winning the lottery; that would be nice, but it always seems to happen to someone else. I dispel that notion and tell them that anyone can make the transition provided they rely on Jesus.
When I speak most listeners focus on the money that I’ve made. I spend considerable time telling them that money should not be the marker of success, and in fact I rate that accomplishment far down the list. My most significant achievement was to receive Christ as my Savior, for with it came the peace, joy, and love of which I was entirely devoid. Second was my family; I’m far more gratified at having been able being able to establish a God loving family than making some money. Next was friendships. I was a “lone wolf” and didn’t have a friend until I was nearly 30 years old, but now I have them all over the world. It is a true blessing to talk and have fellowship with them each day. And then there is financial success. I chased it for some length of time and found it, only to discover that ultimately no material possession can satisfy what God has put inside us. We have a void that cannot be filled with drugs, alcohol, sex, power, fame, money, or all of the toys and material possessions imaginable.
At this point you might be thinking, “Well I’d like to try”. Ask anyone who has made millions and if they are honest most will tell you that it creates more problems than it resolves. It solves the financial pressure problem and that is about it. It creates the problems of everywhere you turn someone is trying to get you to give it to them to include “friends”, family, acquaintances, and people you don’t even know. One time an article ran about me on AOL and there were 180,000 hits on it in the first 15 minutes. I think practically all of them wrote to me and wanted money. I even received several wedding proposals complete with photos, (some of them looked pretty good).
The hope of living a life for Jesus is peace, joy, and love that lasts forever. The things accumulated on this earth will not be enjoyed but for a tiny season (77.9 years on average according to actuaries) and then passed on to others; heaven is evermore. Wise old King Solomon once said in Proverbs 23:4: Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, Cease from your consideration of it. When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings like an eagle that flies toward the heavens . . .
At the last 2nd Sunday Worldwide church service held at Honey Lake we had Jack Parker a renowned business person who was a self-made millionaire at 21. Jack reminds me of this proverb. His fortune went up and down as he made millions and lost millions. He talked of the folly of chasing it and the cost of the same. He lost his wife and family, self-respect, and was mired in alcohol and even drugs. He received Christ at age 56 and his family was restored, he stopped all of the gambling and foolishness and now sits on the financial board of Cornerstone Church with Pastor Hagee in San Antonio.
He told us that he now knows peace, joy, and love and it far surpasses the thrill that he once enjoyed of owning 7 five star golf resorts. His only regret was it took nearly a lifetime to find that out. He is now a healthy and young 80 and going strong for the Lord.
So tonight I will try to tell these young ladies at Teen Challenge this message. There is hope for everyone. It can be found if you live in a mobile home or a box on the side of the road a jail cell, the suburbs, or an elaborate mansion with swimming pool and adjacent air strip for your helicopter and private jet.
I will also get an opportunity to meet extensively with the very special folks who have worked tirelessly to expand Teen Challenge internationally and have financed much of the effort. I’m hopeful that the Jesus Alliance and I can help them in some way as it is sorely needed all over the world.
Jesus has your free gift of peace, joy, and love all gift wrapped and waiting for you. Best of all it is His free gift. Take advantage of it while you can and remember Jesus has said that He is building each of us our very own mansion and that eye has not seen, nor ear ever heard all of the things that He has in store for us in heaven. No billionaire can even come close to what the poorest among us will enjoy in heaven. As for now, be content . . .
Have a great weekend and go to Honey Lake Church, (or somewhere) this Sunday. Even if you are vacationing, a church near you can likely be found with little to no effort. You will be glad you did!
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
May 22, 2015 – Click here to listen