Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Changed Heart

This past Sunday, a young man named Randy came up to me after the service.  He recently moved into the Parolee Sober Living Program (of which I have been associated with for nearly 10 years) of the Coronado Stone manufacturing plant in Fontana.  The men of the program are required to attend our Celebrate Recovery ministry for their addiction problems, and they are required to attend our church on Sundays and Wednesdays.  Randy (now in his late 20s) has been affiliated with white supremacist groups for quite some time in his life, with bold tatoos displaying that fact.  With brokenness, he told me that he was tired of the "hate" in his life.  Everybody seemed afraid of him and he wanted that to change.  He wanted a change in his heart and life!  He did not want to hate anymore!

After we talked for a short while, I asked him where he stood with God for forgiveness and salvation.  He replied (from the questions that I asked) that he had never completely surrendered his life to Jesus, so I asked him if he was ready to do it right then.  He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, "Yes."  I asked him to pray out loud, in his own words, to ask the Lord to come into his life to take away the sins and hurt and hate in his life.  Randy did that!  I then prayed to affirm Randy's decision and to ask God to give him strength for the days to come.  After praying, I instructed Randy to tell at least 10 people this week about his decision and his commitment to Christ.  He promised he would.  I then took him to several in the church who were still hanging around, and we shared the joy with them.  What a blessed ending to a wonderful worship time!

Let me recap my week.

Last Wednesday, Sondra and I went to the memorial service for Nancy Hyde, Tamra's mother, who passed away.  Tamra is married to my nephew, Kirk Overstreet.  The service was held at the Set Free Church in Yucaipa.  It was an emotional and uplifting time of sharing by family and friends about a lady who truly loved the Lord and shared it in visible ways.

That afternoon, Sondra and I met Shawn and Crystal (and the two grand daughters) at Oak Glen to have lunch at Apple Annie's with Shawn's parents (Terry and Linda Marcum).  It was a relaxed outing and the weather was so nice -- crisp cool mountain air with some bright sun to warm it up a little bit.  Shawn's parents left to fly back to Tulsa on Thursday.

Thursday afternoon, our church held its annual Thanksgiving Feeding of the Homeless at Fairmount Park in Riverside.  There were over 100 who came out to hear a message, receive special free gifts and then enjoy a bountiful hot Thanksgiving turkey dinner.  I was not able to attend, but I heard the reports and was given photos of the day.  I spent several hours talking to a man who has begun to attend our church, has served in pastoral-type ministries in the past, and now wants to be very involved in our church life and ministry.  What an encouragement to me!

I spent Friday getting many errands done for church and more preparation for Sunday, as is my normal routine.  That night (Friday), however, we took care of little Brynnlee and two-and-a-half year old Bailey both.  Brynnlee is now 2 months old and beginning to smile and laugh.  They were fun, and Sondra gave Brynnlee her first bath at our house in the kitchen sink.  Bailey wanted to help and was very tender as she assisted Grandma G (Sondra).  Sondra does not get much sleep when we have both overnight, but she doesn't complain because of the joy she has taking care of them together.

Sunday was a great day.  We had a gospel quartet group lined up for a concert for the worship hour.  To start the service, our friend Ed Comer (a member of the San Diego church where I pastored almost 20 years ago) shared his testimony of working with the SOWERs (Servants On Wheels Ever Ready) ministry organization.  He and his wife Linda have been traveling and doing volunteer mission work for the past three years.  He also sang a solo, "What A Friend We Have In Jesus."

The Golden State Quartet gave a very moving concert, giving personal testimonies of deliverance from previous addictions to drugs and alcohol and subsequent jail time.  Their songs were encouraging and challenging.  As you read earlier in this blog, God moved in the heart of both Randy and others.  It was a very special time of worship indeed.  After the service, Sondra and I took Ed and Linda to lunch at Jose's Mexican Restaurant near the church.

Yesterday (Monday), Shawn and Crystal needed to be at Kaiser Hospital for an appointment, so they brought the grandkids over.  Evan was here, and he always is so good with both Bailey and Brynnlee (even changing diapers!).  Sondra cooked a quick chicken dinner and we all ate together when Shawn and Crystal returned.

Today is Tuesday.  I had a summons to appear at the San Bernardino County Courthouse for possible jury duty.  I called last night and was informed that I did not need to show up at the 8 am time slot, but that I needed to call back today (at 11 am) to confirm if I needed to go in for the 12:30 pm time slot.  I called and was required to show up this afternoon.  After 45 minutes in the jury selection room, a judge came in and dismissed us all.  All the trials had either come to a plea bargain agreement or had a postponement of the trial.  I was free to go!  It was an interesting day.

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