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Monday, November 9, 2015

7th Street Park Evangelist message & personal testimony

Photo credit: (https://theurbanprospector.wordpress.com/2014/07/07/urban-design-in-the-hudson-valley/) 

A Matter of Life or Death:

Evangelist Message Delivered September 20, 2015, 7th Street Park Hudson New York

My name is Marc Clark and I was born and raised in Hudson. In my youth, I often passed through this park going from my friend’s apartment back to my parent’s house on Green Street; usually drunk, high on drugs or both. In fact, my friend lived on the top floor of that building on the corner and sometimes late at night we would go up to the roof to drink and smoke weed.  

I wish I could say those were just things I did in the wild days of my youth but the years passed and there were a lot of changes to my life but the booze stayed with me. I denied that my drinking was a problem for 25 years.  However, I am happy to say that I am now free of my addiction and the reason is because of my personal relationship with Jesus Christ. 

The Bible says Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”  (2 Corinthians 5:17)  NKJV

I am living proof that this is true. Jesus Christ has the power to change your life forever.

Before I made Jesus my Lord and Savior, I couldn’t even imagine a life without alcohol.  The problem with bad habits though is that your habits begin to define you.  As much as I liked to say I didn’t have a problem, at times my whole life revolved around getting drunk. Booze was a reward for hard work and a remedy for my troubles.  I was incapable of living without alcohol and it caused all sorts of problems with my health, my mental state, and my family.   The worst thing is that at times I knew I should give it up but I felt powerless and hopeless to change.  I struggled for years trying to come to a place where I could be free of it. I would change from beer to liquor to wine and back again, trying to find the secret recipe to moderation.  I would dry out for a while but I would always go back to it.  Even though I was living the American dream, I felt empty and alone. I was depressed and anxiety ridden. Life seemed meaningless so I always turned back to booze. 
However, one day I was scanning through the radio stations in my truck at work and landed on a Christian station with a pastor preaching. Being an intellectually evolved atheist, I thought to myself “This will be good for a laugh!” So I listened.
 The pastor was telling a story about his daughter and how he was sending her off to college and about the love that he had for her. How he had raised her from a baby and now it was time to send her off into the world.  He said that his love for his daughter was so strong that He would do absolutely anything for her but he had to admit that there were things that he didn’t know about her. There was a lot of lost time: Time spent at work, Time at school, Time apart.  He wondered where all the years had gone.
The pastor went on to explain that unlike him, God knows everything about us and there isn’t a second of time in our lives that He couldn’t recall without perfect clarity. God knows everything we have done and every thought that goes through our mind. 

The Bible says:

Psalm 139
O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether. NKJV

So God knows all our secrets. He has seen us at our best. Unfortunately, He also knows every lousy thing we’ve ever done.  He knows the things we’ve taken. He knows the lies we’ve told.  He knows our hateful moments. He knows our lust. He has seen our sins.

For Bible says for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23 NKJV

The pastor explained that besides having to live with the aftermath of our sins in our daily lives, there are eternal consequences to our sin.

For the Bible says:
“And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,” Hebrews 9:27 NKJV

We are not annihilated. We don’t just black out to nothingness when we die. We are not reincarnated. We don’t get a second chance. We only get one life to live. We have to make an account for our lives when we die.

As humans we are not perfect. We mess up. God saw that we were lost in our sins and unable to help ourselves.

The amazing thing is that even though He knows all of our faults and our crimes, He loves us. He is willing to forgive us. He wants to be with us forever. That is why he sent Jesus. Jesus lived a sinless life and died on the cross for our sins. 

As the Bible says:

"He himself bore our sins" in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; "by his wounds you have been healed." 1 Peter 2:24. NIV

And

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8 NKJV

Jesus received our judgment on the cross. He paid our debt with His life in order that we can live in God’s presence forever. 

The Bible says For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 NKJV

I remember hearing this verse that day in my truck as if for the first time. I finally understood that God knows me personally and he loves me.  He was willing to forgive me of all my sins if I would simply say yes to Jesus and ask Him to be my Lord and Savior.  I didn’t have to do penance or a life time of good works to make up for my mistakes. I only had to put my faith in Jesus. When the pastor on the radio invited his listeners to say a prayer asking Jesus into their lives, I followed along changing my life forever. 

I immediately felt the burden of my sin be lifted from me. I was no longer guilty in God’s eyes. I had been washed clean by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  I am now a Co-heir with Christ in God’s eternal kingdom.  I am forgiven and there is nothing I or anyone else can do to change that.  

For Jesus said I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me,” John 10:28 NLT.

So I know when I die, I will simply go on to eternal life with Jesus.  However, I started living the life God has planned for me progressively since the day I named Jesus the Lord of my life.  Since that day, my heart has changed. My anxiety and depression left me. I no longer have restless nights and sleep soundly almost as soon as my head hits the pillow.  I’m not perfect. I still mess up. I sin but when I do it grieves my heart and I confess it directly to Jesus knowing as the Bible says:

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

That is what has been happening in my life since I have been saved by Jesus. I am sober for six months for the first time in 25 years. Sin doesn’t have the power over me as it once did. I am truly free for the first time in my life.

Now, I know you might be thinking. “That’s great for you, Marc. You found a way to clean up your act, Finally! But I don’t have problems like yours. I have made good choices for myself and my life is great. I don’t need God’s help. Why do I need Jesus?” 

I have dedicated my life to Jesus and I am compelled to tell others of the great danger that await those who die without Jesus in their lives. 

For the Bible says: “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”  John 3:18

And, of also of non-believers:

These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,” 2 Thessalonians 1:9

And also

“The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.“ Matthew 13:41-42

The Bible is speaking about Hell. I know lots of people joke about Hell but I don’t think there is anything funny about everlasting destruction in a furnace of fire where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth.  These verses describe anguish and agony that lasts forever. Your beer drinking buddies might be there but you will be consumed by fire and pain that never ends.  Hell is not a Garth Brook’s song about friends in low places. There are no friends in Hell.  There is only opposition.  Like a caged animal you will lash out at everything you encounter.  You will curse every moment of your life on earth when it is revealed how foolish you were for never going to God. The pleasures you knew on the earth will be distant bitter memories and will be corrupted by the truth that they were the snares that kept you from God.  You will be filled with hatred for everyone you ever knew because they didn’t save you.  They didn’t tell you the truth. 

Jesus said I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  John 14:6

There is only one way to God and that is through faith in Jesus Christ.  The powers in darkness are growing in this world and the name of Christ is reviled now more than ever.  Purity and goodness are mocked and ridiculed.  Christian believers are going to their deaths at the hands of ISIS rather than renouncing their faith in Christ.  Would they do this for a lie? No! They know the truth; that the only lasting life is through Jesus and that their existence here on earth is only the beginning of the eternal life promised to those who believe.  The second those believers lost their lives to these terrorists, they were in His presence.  As Jesus said to the thief while both were dying on the Cross, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with me in Paradise.”  Luke 23:43 NKJV

This is your choice: Life or Death. If you come to Jesus you will be forgiven of all your sins and have eternal life. Jesus has the power to change you, to set you free. That life can start today. You don’t have to be a perfect person.  You just have to ask Jesus into your life. 

If you feel compelled to make this change in your life, please don’t wait. Talk with one of us and we will pray with you. Thank you and God bless you.


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