Omar Rios Shares His Testimony
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I was speaking to Pastor Jerry a couple of months ago and you know, really sharing with him my testimony and everything that happened in my life and he said that it would be a good idea for you to come up and speak to the congregation about it.
And I was like, OK, I guess that's.
That sounds pretty good I guess I.
I didn't know.
But the more he talked to me and the more he said that it can help and it could be encouraging.
And the more I really thought about my life and actually wrote it down and started writing it down because he wanted me to prepare something, the more I realized wow man.
I always knew that, but I realized that God did a great work in my life and not only in my life but through extension through me in other people lives and my wife and my kids and my friends.
And so I just want to share that this morning share with you a little bit about, not the whole story.
Obviously because it's very a lot of details, but.
It's about what happened in my life and I'm going to be talking a lot about I'm going to be seeing a lot of.
I and me today, but it's.
My story is really not.
It's unique to me, but it's not unique in the sense like I'm the only person who's gone through this.
There's universal experiences that we all share it.
I'm sure you can.
You will be able to empathize.
You will be able to see yourself at certain moments in my life and so I don't take it as just me and I, but try to put yourself also in my positions.
Because I'm sure you've experienced that as well.
So yeah, this I guess I'll start, you know.
With my first point, 'cause I kind of broke it up into three chapters.
Like any good story, you know, has a beginning, middle, end and end, so I'll start with the beginning I.
I want to talk about the image of God.
I want to talk about who we are as a human as human beings.
What we represent when you see yourself in the mirror, it's just not a man and a woman.
There's much more than that, and it's just not the attributes.
It's also the the physicality of it, the presence of who you are of, who I am on this earth.
What purpose, what meaning we have, and.
It's very important because.
God created us in his image.
That's in the beginning, right, right in the beginning.
You know he created us in his likeness, and in his image.
He said you shall not make for yourself a carved image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
And so you think about that?
Why would God say that you know?
Why would God say not to create an image?
Because he already did create an image?
He created us in his image in his perfect image.
So as I go through this, just think about that have that in your mind.
Couple of questions are who are you?
What is your identity based upon?
Because identity is always based upon the image.
How we see ourselves, the reflection, right?
How we see ourselves in others.
And who am I imaged after?
Who am I imaged after my imaged after my culture my race.
Yeah, you know all these things.
Well, my images after so these are type of things to just be thinking about while I go into my story.
So when I was about 10 years old, my mom and my dad separated.
My dad used to be an alcoholic and I'm sure some of you have heard my story before, but I'm just gonna go in a little bit more detail.
I've shared with you a couple of you before my dad used to be an alcoholic.
He was never abusive, but he was just escaping.
You know, escaping the traumas of his childhood, he grew up in a dysfunctional family father, never around.
So he just grew up drinking.
And that's from the age of my birth till about 10 years old, that's.
All I ever saw him do on the weekends, and it's also a cultural thing.
You know, in Hispanic households you know, men drink Saturday Sunday, they don't drink Sunday night because they got to work on Monday.
But for the most part, they're gone Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
How I grew up.
For a lot of years, never seeing my father and like I said, he wasn't abusive.
He just wasn't there and that created problems in my family.
Create problems with my mom.
Of course you know how can she stand behind this guy who's just never there who's just always drinking?
He was just always.
Just not around, and that led to them being separated so they separated and I left.
Me and my mom.
She took us to live in Mexico of all places and.
I was born there but I came to the states when I was like, not even a year old, so I had no idea what was going on.
That was wild.
Let me just say that one year that I spent there was crazy 'cause I lived on a farm and I don't know it was just weird.
'cause I grew up in the city, so it was just totally different for me.
But my dad started going to a church.
He got invited to go to a Pentecostal Christian Church.
And he stopped drinking.
He turned his life around and him and my mom got back together almost a year later.
And so when I came back home, I saw a different person.
I saw my dad not the same person that I grew up with.
He was actually around.
He was actually.
Uhm, not perfect, obviously, but you know he was there.
He was present.
And so to me that made a great impact.
At 10 at 11 years old that made such an impact in my life that I wanted to know, hey, what did you do?
You know what made you change so much?
What made you turn your life around?
And of course he started going to church.
And so I started going to church with him too.
Going to church in the beginning was was a chore was a burden, but after a while I loved it.
I enjoyed it around the age of 13.
I gave my life, you know, to God and I started going with him more and more and more.
So my dad started serving in the church.
He was an usher.
My mom started serving in the church.
I started serving and that was my whole childhood.
But the thing about this church was obviously I knew later on was that it was a cult.
It was a Christian cult.
And what I mean by that is that.
The way they.
Approached Jesus the way they approached God, the image they had of God was not in.
The biblical sense.
Obviously, was not the biblical God.
It was more of a.
Jesus, that in order to receive something for him from him, you had to give something to him.
So if you wanted a blessing in your life, if you wanted the grace and mercy of God upon your life, if you wanted any.
Thing you had to give and give what give money.
Give your time.
Give your life to him.
So the more you served, the more you gained you know and this is the thing that was.
That's how I grew up. I grew up this way. I grew up in church 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Literally, I grew up.
Straight witnessing always going out on the streets.
If you you know if it was like 10:00 o'clock in the morning on a Saturday somebody knocking your door and there was a Jehovah's Witness or was me.
That's how it was. You know, it's like that's how it was. Saturday is always there. Sunday is always there 24 hours. Why? Because I was taught that my relationship.
With God was based upon this and I as a child.
As a teenager I more than anything.
More than anything wanted to love God, I wanted God in my life.
Because I saw this.
God, who had taken my dad out.
Of alcoholism and changed his life and him and my mom got back together again.
So I saw that God was real and I started just wanting him.
I started wanting him so my heart sorry my heart was in the right place.
My actions were in the right place, but the image I had of God, this Jesus, was not the one that the Bible was talking about.
So what happened?
Obviously you can only keep this up for so long, right?
You can only keep up this momentum for so long, so God became a burden.
God became this God of just like.
Hey, there's no free lunches if you want something you gotta give, and that's how it was for everybody.
And yeah, God just became a burden.
The financial responsibilities, the time, responsibilities.
It was all.
Based upon what Jesus can do for me, and that I'm thinking about it back about it now, it's I mean it's complete blasphemy, you know.
Just a little bit of the church, you know, this church is a Spanish speaking church.
It's very big, it's huge.
It's pretty much in every country of the world here in the here in California there's about 80 churches just in California alone, and they have millions upon millions of members, you know, so it's something that's really big and.
They don't teach anything about grace.
Actually, Grace, the word grace and I'm going to go into a little bit later is a is a taboo word actually grace.
We don't really say that much and if we do we say it in the.
Sense of that.
Yeah, God is gracious but you still have to do.
Yeah God is gracious but you still.
Have to give.
So there's always, uh, you know there's always something behind God giving something to you freely just because you exist.
And so this is dumb.
This is how I grew up, just a little bit examples you know of how I grew up.
I didn't really have a a normal I could say high school because I was always at church.
You know, no extracurricular activities, no nothing, because all that was seen as taking a time away from that.
Search I didn't grow up, you know, with a lot of all my family, all my friends were in the church so I was always involved in that and.
But I was always.
Also, during that time, I've always been a person that likes to read.
Always been a person that likes to just.
Get information, and so I'd always listen to K wave radio on the side.
Listen to Pastor Chuck Smith and I'd always.
I guess that's where I would get my spiritual fullness.
I would always listen to his word and I would fill myself up because at church I really wouldn't.
'cause it was always about sacrificing.
It was always about giving.
It was always about what you can do for the church.
You know what I'm saying so.
But that led me down.
That led me down a real.
Get let me down a path of living in two places because I don't.
I always had an idea of who I thought God would be 'cause I'd read the Bible right?
We just we always read the Bible in church so.
I'd read the.
Bible and I'd see like hey, this Jesus and the Bible is not the same one that they're talking to me about in church.
What's going on with that?
And I couldn't comprehend it.
I couldn't really put the two ideas together because it would always be just.
Because of their information would just overwhelm me, and so I'd always not listen to the Bible, not listen to the word of God.
I'd always listened to what the church was saying.
I always listened to what the pastors were saying to the bishops were saying, and so I grew up like that too.
I grew up with this.
This confusion in my heart in my mind.
'cause I couldn't ask questions, you know, here you're free to ask questions.
Hey Pastor Jerry, what's going on with this or hey Pastor Jerry?
I read this over there.
Forget about it.
You know you can't if you ask some question that has to do with something with their theology, just.
You're seen as a are you doubting you're seen as a backslider you might they even it's even threatened to lose your salvation if you ask questions if you ask specific questions you're like, hey, you might be on the verge of losing your salvation and it's so that's how serious it was.
And when you grow up in this environment specialize it you know as a teenager.
It's you're seeing you.
You look at all these people with authority and it's very overwhelming.
But it eventually all caught up with me.
You know, I I, that's my where I met my wife.
I grew up there.
We got married very young and I left for a while.
I joined the military.
I left for a while.
I came back and when I got out of the military I came back to the church.
This is my.
Late 20s and.
I went back right back into it.
You know all of that went back, right?
Into the cult.
Me and my wife and like I've never left, but at this point.
I had been listening a lot too.
I'd been reading the Bible a lot honestly, and that's what was.
Giving me a lot of doubts.
And also the situation arose where come?
The situation arose where I got a new job and this job I could listen to a lot of listen to a lot of podcasts, listen to a lot of stuff through the radio because I didn't have a supervisor and have anybody over me and.
They were, it's pretty much 8 to 12 hours a day.
You know six five days a week.
I could listen to anything by myself and so I started listening to music and that's you know, that gets boring really quick and so I'm like hey man, I'm just going to listen to some some podcasts and that led me down a road that was.
That just confused me even more that just confused me even more because I started listening to a lot of crazy things.
You know, a lot of crazy things because in my heart I was always searching for truth.
Like I believe we all are right.
I believe we're all searching for truth because it's something innate within us.
It's something within us to always want to know more to search for God like why I mean the big questions, why am I here?
What's my purpose?
What's my meaning right?
And these questions we all have?
And I had them and I wanted to search them and the church wasn't giving them to me.
The church wasn't doing their job of offering me the truth.
So what did I do?
I searched for it somewhere else.
And that's what happens.
That's what tends to happen when we're not grounded in truth.
We search for it.
Other places we look for it in other places, and that's exactly what I did because I couldn't ask questions I couldn't even ask my parents questions.
'cause I tried to ask my dad, but my dad was so just in it, you know?
Every time I tried to ask him every time he had me and him would have debates, it always ended up in arguments.
It always ended up in in him telling me, man, you don't know what you're talking about, so you don't want to go to church anymore.
And all these things and and you know that would hurt a lot too so.
I just started searching, uh?
Started searching other other places, started searching.
Reading other books, reading other things and I remember.
I started reading the Bible going back to that I started reading the Bible and there was a lot of things that, for example, like the pastors would say about tithing and how if you don't give tithing, that's.
That's a sin, and you're going to go to hell straight up like that, like just like that if you don't give tithings if you don't give offerings.
You're at risk of losing your salvation and going to hell, and to me when I would read the Bible to me, I would read and it would say well offerings a gift, you know.
And these are things that yeah, they're responsibilities.
But these are things that come from our hearts.
These are things that we show God, that we love him, and so I couldn't equate those two.
And I remember one time.
After you know, going through all these things, I started.
I asked him, I sat down with him 'cause I really wanted to know.
I'm like what is this?
What is really going on here and I asked them, hey pastorum, this is already when I had come back from military when I was already older.
I asked them, hey.
Why do we hear 'cause that the church was like a Pentecostal church and so people would speak in tongues, you know, and I'd ask him, hey, why do we speak in tongues here?
If in order to say because it would say that if you don't, if you if you speak in tongues, that means you're baptized with the Holy Spirit.
But then when I was sitting down with him, I told him.
And then the Bible says that their gifts, they're like exhortation, and it's healing.
And then it's also tongues.
But if you speak in tongues, there has to be somebody there to interpret these tongues.
And he said, well, we know that's what the Bible says.
But you know, we're not ready to change that practice within our church.
So he knew what he was talking about.
But they weren't willing to change it because they had done it that way.
For so long, and then I was like OK.
Well, what about I said?
What about tithings?
And so we got into and I was talking to him for at least an hour and everything.
He always had an answer back, which wasn't the true answer.
And then at one point I think he he also got upset and or he just said hey man, you know what you're reading?
The Bible too.
Much you need to stop reading the Bible and I remember at that point I'm like what do you mean?
I asked him what do you mean?
I'm reading the Bible too much and he said and he referred to he referred to when Paul says that the letter Q size.
Locomore the letter kills, but the spirit edify.
And he says, so, if you read the Bible too much, being the letter, it's going to kill you.
So you need to let the spirit lift you.
And I said, but at that point I already had listened to enough of the Bible to understand that that wasn't true, and I told him we.
That's not what that means.
If you continue reading it, you know Paul is in context that whole chapter, the whole verse he's really talking about the letter being the law, you know, and that's what he's talking about, not the Bible.
The Bible, not the letter.
He's talking about the law, and he said, well, that's your just your interpretation of it, and it was at that moment.
And when I really realized that it was a lost cause, you know, in that moment it was like already, I was like 30 years old and it was at that moment when I realized man this is a lost cause.
There's no debating this guy.
Him being reasonable, the church is never going to change.
This institution will never, ever change and so at that moment I made a decision to leave and it wasn't an easy decision because.
All my family all my friends.
I grew up since I was ten years old all the way to 30 in that church.
So all my dad and my mom, my two sisters, all my friends that I've known since I was a little boy, still went there.
All you know the the women at the church who would call me hey, how are you honey?
And all these things you know it's kind of like here this environment.
All these people that I loved and I prayed for and then I gave my heart to were in this system and I couldn't do anything about it and it honestly, it was one of the most difficult decisions that I made in my life.
But I was so hungry for the truth.
I was so hungry for just.
Truth the reality what is real?
Because up to that point.
My spiritual life was what the Bible said wasn't matching with what I was practicing.
You know it wasn't matching, they weren't coinciding, so I had this thing in my head to like, well within what is real and when he didn't and when the pastor didn't want to acknowledge that.
After all, what I?
Said and showed him in the Bible.
I made the decision.
I gotta go and come.
I went to church.
And then everything we had talked about, the pastor preached.
He talked about tithing.
He talked about how the letter kills and I said what is going on like.
I guess he's afraid that I'm going to talk to people in the church and so that he's trying to, like, you know.
Counter talked to them or something and I just got mad.
I got upset and I left.
And I said I'm never coming back to this place again and I left.
I just walked out and I never looked back and it was the best decision I have ever made.
But it was also a terrifying decision.
You know, I'd spoken to my wife throughout the time and I told her about the different things that I was feeling and what was going on.
And all these things and and I told her, hey, I'm not going back again.
I'm not stepping foot in that church again because it's all full of lies.
And at this point I didn't know it was a coal.
I didn't know any of that stuff, right?
I'm still just trying to do my research and then she tells me that's fine if that's her decision, that's fine.
And I left and this is where just.
Everything just started just turning South for me because I was at a pivotal point where in my life where I could continue searching for truth or just leave it as it is right?
'cause I mean you can say I'm never going back to church again.
All churches are false.
There's no real.
God, there's no religion after being lied for almost 18 years of your life, and I said that I did.
I did say that I'm like it's not even real.
I questioned it.
I mean, how can you not right?
How can you not question if God is real since?
Since you're a child all the way to your an adult, seeing that and I did, I questioned it all and I questioned it all and I started engaging even more and questioning my life and reality even more.
I looked into other religions I did.
I looked into you know, Buddhism, Taoism.
I looked into the new age 'cause I spent almost four years.
No, we have roughly around three to three years.
Not going to church at all, and that first year I just delved down deep.
The proverbial rabbit hole.
I was lost and confused.
You know, I started listening to podcasts about just different subjects and that just get me down further and further and further down these deep weird things.
So I mean.
If you guys ever want to know about, you know reptilian overlords in the center of the Earth.
Come talk to me 'cause I know a lot about that stuff.
Yeah, that's yeah, it's it's true.
That's how weird it got.
You know, that's how weird it got because.
I mean when you question things when you question the nature of your existence, you're looking.
You're searching for everything every possible, and I wanted man I wanted so bad to know what was the truth after being lied for so long.
You know I always like.
I always equate this to.
Imagine imagine you're married for 20-30 years, right? Your partner. You have a wonderful marriage. Wonderful, everything seems fine. And then one day he they come up to you and they say, hey.
For the last 20 or so years.
I've been married to another person.
I had another family and I'm leaving.
What do you say to that?
You know, imagine that what do you say to that?
Your whole past life is a lie, right?
Your future is uncertain is a lie.
You don't know where you're going and you're stuck in this moment.
Where you're just.
You're in limbo.
You don't know what's going on, and that's exactly how I felt.
That's exactly how I felt when I left that place.
I had no direction.
I had no purpose, no meaning, so I was going to find.
It for myself.
I was going to find when am I imaged after who created me.
Why was I created?
For what purpose and for what meaning?
And so that's when I started doing research.
I started looking into things and then you know, I started reading books on just different religions and I started reading books on cults and that's when I read a couple of really good books on cults and to to start my story for a second.
I kind of want to explain to you a little bit about what cults are.
Now that we're on like no second part of it, just so you can have an understanding so you can be aware of it, because I think it's very important because a lot of people usually think Oh well, cults are Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons.
And all those those are.
Cults, you know. You can also be in a cult of 1A cult in a relationship, your marriage.
Your children, these can be cults.
And there are four things that identify a cult.
You know it's always abbreviated as bite, so it's behavioral, informational thought and emotional control.
It's all about control, you know, and there's nothing and there's nothing to inhibit you from being in a cult.
Has nothing to do with IQ.
With race, with culture has nothing to do with any of those things.
It's about opportunity and.
Opportunity and temperament.
So you know if you're more empathetic and you're going through a hard time, you're more likely to join.
One and just kind of like my dad, you know he was going through a hard time.
He's in a very, very empathetic person, so it was just like the perfect time for him to join one.
And so the 1st.
Thing I want to talk about is behavioral control by from the word bite.
Colts their main purpose is to control you as an individual for their gain, for the leadership gain and this Christian cult.
Like I said, there can be many types.
This, the leader of this church, he he just.
Recently last year he came out on.
He came out and his net worth was over a billion dollars.
He owns multiple banks, TV stations, radio stations all over Brazil and 'cause.
That's where it started in Brazil and all over the United States and even the United States too.
They just recently purchased the.
A TV channel here in California, so that's the type of people that you're dealing with who are in charge.
You know that's the type of people you're dealing with, and so the first one is behavior control.
They control who you marry, who you socialize with, and what you do with your time.
They consume your time by always making you go out and do things.
In order to serve them right so they control your behaviors, your actions, and then after a while you just control your own behavior.
But it's already instilled in, you know what I'm saying becomes a habit, and so they use since it is a Christian cult, they'll use Bible verses to control you.
And they and then the other one is informational control.
They create a system in which when you end up in which you end up reading more about the the leaders books right then the actual Bible itself.
So yeah, we read the Bible, you know.
But guess what it's have you read the leaders latest book.
Have you read their blog posts?
Have you listened to this?
Have you listened to their sermons?
It's more about that.
So they reframe you from actual reading, the source material, which is the word.
And thought control so our thoughts are regulated through conditioning.
We are taught that the devil or demons are constantly trying to persuade us to think negative against the leader.
So if you have a negative thought in your head, oh, that's just the devil trying to get after you.
Or that's just a demon trying to get into your head to try to convince you that what we're teaching you is wrong.
So you see how these manipulations and these controls are affected.
The last one is emotional control, which is the biggest one.
Your emotional state while being in the church is dependent on how blessed you are.
So it's kind of like and there's even an old even in the Old Testament, right around Jesus time there was a this proclivity to associate wealth with godliness and you can see that in the in the New Testament.
That's why Jesus is always after these.
These who spoke about these rich people gives a cultural thing because.
The more rich you are, the more blessed you are by God.
That's what that was the.
Jewish thought, you know, and.
That was the same thought that came into our church too.
So if you were wealthy in our church man, you and Jesus were tight.
You and Jesus were just best friends like you had the ear of God at all times.
Because you were rich.
You were blessed.
If you were, you know, poor man you needed to work.
You needed to work, work work in order to achieve gods blessing and God favor.
So that's how they would control your emotions and the the big one is fear.
Fear of going to hell if you leave the church, you're going to hell.
There's like no answer for butts.
You are going to hell.
If you leave the.
Church and there was that constant fear.
That's why nobody.
That's why it's difficult for people to leave more than anything.
You know, try to put yourself.
Like I said in that position to where that's all you know that's all you ever know.
Say if you leave the church, guess what you're going to hell.
So that's one of the biggest factors of people not leaving and people not wanting to.
To read the Bible, which is which is very terrible, you know.
And so this is how I was, and so that's pretty much what?
What cults do to control you?
So remember, behavioral control behavior.
Control your information, control your thoughts, and control your emotions.
These are the four things that are the biggest ones that they use in order to control you as an individual.
So at this point when I was lost and confused.
I went through many, many dark moments in my life throughout that next two years.
Like I said, I was listening and I was reading so many books on different religions 'cause I really wanted to know who God was.
Maybe the God of the Bible wasn't true.
You know, I never had that opportunity.
To explore that thought and so I explored it, I went through it.
I really did.
I was very honest with myself and I said, if God of the Bible is not true, well then so be it.
You know I have nothing to lose.
I already lost everything anyways.
I already lost all my relationships, all my family, all my friends.
I lost it all.
So I truly explored that option.
And I went into the new age.
I searched, you know, all the new age teachings that didn't work.
I went into conspiracy theories and those that got me even more depressed.
You know, just all the crazy stuff that goes on in there, and so I was really lost and confused because I had no purpose or nor meaning.
And that year was a very dark year for me.
You know, I'm not going to go into much detail 'cause there's kids here, but it was very dark and very very, very bad.
And I remember one time during one of these episodes 'cause I started adding allotting anxiety a lot of things, a lot of depression, just constant depression anxiety.
My wife, she came in and I was crying on the bed.
Because it all hit me at one point, I don't know it, just it just hit me.
Home from work and I was just it just hit me really bad.
And she said what what's going on?
I'm like I just I just feel sad.
I told her I feel depressed.
I feel like life is not worth living.
I feel like on all these things right and just really opened my heart to her and she said.
She prayed with me and she said why don't you just read the Bible?
It's like you're reading all these books you're reading.
All these other things haven't ever really just read the Bible, and I said I've skimmed it.
I've read it a couple of times, but I've never really read the Bible from beginning to end.
I don't understand the whole story.
She's like why don't you do that?
And so I took her advice I did.
I prayed I felt better and then the next morning I remember like I said I had eight hours a day.
8 to 12 hours a day, five days a week to listen to things.
And so I started.
I remember I listened to Pastor Chuck.
He has a podcast, well, they converted into a podcast. It says verse by verse. He sometimes listen on K wave, but it's everything it's from Genesis to revelation. He did it like in the 1970s or so in the late 70s.
And he goes verse by verse through the whole entire Bible.
And so I said, alright, I'm going to listen to this.
And if God is true, if God is real, well, then obviously he's going to really reveal himself through his word to me, right?
And I prayed, I remember I prayed.
That God if you're.
Real well then you know, show yourself to me and.
Prayer works, prayer is real.
Prayers true prayer can change, and if you speak to him, he'll answer might not be the answers we always.
But they'll come.
And so I started listening to the Bible, and I consumed it day and night, every single day.
And I went through the whole entire Bible with Pastor Chuck and the more I listened to who God and Jesus more than Jesus who he really is.
You know, because I was taught that God of the Old Testament.
Is different than the new one, the God of the Old Testament is is oh God who know deals and wrath and punishes and kills and destroys, you know.
But oh Jesus came, and it's completely different.
It's the same thing, it's the same unifying story.
The whole Bible.
Leads to a unifying story of who Jesus is of who.
He is and I did not understand that until I started hearing Pastor Chubb.
Talk about it.
And so I went through it and.
That slowly started deprogramming me from.
All the thoughts, all the conditioning that I had for so many years.
You know, like I would listen to him talk about.
So many things and I would remember oh man, but my church said this, but that's not true, but really is.
It's this and so that's what helped me.
That's what helped me come out of that.
Actually listening and reading the Bible for what it is now with some interpretation, not what's what one guy thinks or what some person.
Things know, but what?
The Bible is really telling us and then.
I remember one time I was listening to him and I was at a grocery store.
'cause of the job that I did, I would go from sort of sore and.
There was a verse that Pastor Chuck read and just the way he read in the way he explained it.
It says come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and lean from me and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble and heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
And to me God was always a burden.
Because I had to do right.
I had to do.
Do do, move, move, move, give, give, give, give, give all the time and growing up like that.
It's just exhausting giving all the time, showing yourself being there even though you don't want to be there for fear of going to hell.
Heard this and I said wait a minute.
Yoke is light.
He wants me to give him his my burdens to him.
And this completely changed me this this when I heard this I just completely I broke down.
I really did.
I just completely broke down and I just got on my knees and I just said God, I'm sorry, you know, I'm sorry for.
For not understanding you and for not giving me for not giving you the opportunity.
To come into my heart for real.
And I gave him my burdens.
I gave them everything in that moment.
I accepted his grace.
I really did.
And you know, Grace is is an interesting word because we hear it all the time.
You know, we just sang about it right now.
And if you guys grew up in a church, you guys hear it all the time.
Grace, Grace, Grace, and sometimes we forget about what it means, what it truly means.
Or sometimes we just don't even understand it, 'cause we're embarrassed or ashamed.
You know 'cause?
Oh yeah, grace, but.
The Bible, from beginning to end, speaks on Grace speaks on mercy.
God himself he he says, you know, he declared this about himself, that he is a compassionate and gracious God.
He is slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness and I.
With a God that was quick to anger, quick to judge you, quick to put you in your place.
If you didn't obey right?
But the Bible speaks opposite.
God himself speaks opposite of that which is really incredible.
And there's a story in the Bible where it talks about Esau and Jacob, raw familiar with it.
You know, Esau and Jacob, brothers Jacob, was, you know, he was a terrible brother.
His to to Esau, you know he stole his his his first born Hood ship.
He took away everything from him.
The love of his father he pretty much.
He was he's he's not a good guy, not know by stretch of the imagination to his brother anyways.
But there's just there's towards.
Him in that part where he comes back to him.
Where Jacob is feeling remorse and he comes back to him.
And he says he tells his brother Esau.
May I find favor or grace in your eyes.
What is Ethan doe esau?
He says the Bible says, but Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him.
He threw his arms around his neck and kissed him and he wept.
Did Jacob deserve grace?
No right by our human.
Ideas he doesn't.
He doesn't deserve grace.
Did I deserve grace?
When you think about it, think about all the things that I did.
To uplift a cult to uplift the church.
All the people I brought to that church.
All these things that I did in my past that I deserve grace that I deserve mercy.
And these are the things that I was wrestling with. That's why I was the way I was. That's why I was down that hole because I didn't know who I was. I didn't. I felt like I didn't deserve God's grace.
But the Bible says that grace is a gift.
It's talked about like 47 times in the Old Testament and every time it's talked about, talked about as a gift. It's talked about as something special, something not.
Not deserved, you know, it talks about it in the Psalms it talks about it jewels.
It's referred to as grace.
Like physical jewels, a gift of a jewel, which is something that we don't deserve.
So this grace is something we don't deserve.
But why does God give us grace?
Why did God give me grace?
Because we're created in his image where his image bears.
God created us for a purpose for a reason.
He created us to be stewards along him he created us.
Terrain along his side on Earth.
When you see yourself in the mirror, you just don't see yourself.
You know, forget about your culture.
Forget about your skin color.
Forget about all these.
Preconceived notions of who you are and look at yourself in the mirror.
And see that you are an image bearer of God, and the closer you align yourself to that, the closer we align ourselves to that.
The closer you will eat God's purpose and intention for you in your life, and the closer you come to accept his grace, which is forgiveness.
And it's hard.
I get it.
It's hard sometimes to accept.
That it's free.
Because of all the things we have done of all the things that go up in our head, I get it.
We have all these trepidations.
Oh but you don't know I did this.
I did that.
I've done this.
I've seen this.
I've been with here.
My culture says this.
My race says this my, you know, I'm an American.
I'm that you know, my political leanings, all these things.
Get in the way of us truly being image bears.
Yours truly accepting the grace, and when you truly accept God's grace, his favor of forgiveness. It all goes away.
But have the courage have the courage 'cause it's there.
It's there for your taking.
Just you just have to be willing.
We have to be willing to accept it.
And to give up our ego, give up ourselves.
And to move forward, move forward on you, because I think that for me that was the biggest thing for me.
That was the biggest thing moving forward.
Accepting God, accepting his forgiveness, his true grace of forgiveness and moving forward.
Because then I wasn't going to be myself, but who am I really at that point, nobody.
So I'd rather be the image of God than be who the person I thought I should be. The person I think I should be. Society wants me to be no. I'm going to reflect God's image.
I'm going to accept his grace.
Of forgiveness, this free gift.
That to him costs everything. I mean he died on the cross. For that, you know he died. He really did 2000 years ago.
He was a man.
He came, you know he was God awful, came died on the cross and for what?
So we can just go about our lives, no?
So we can accept that gift.
And so I did.
I accepted that gift.
I moved forward and.
It took a while, you know, to to really accept that in my heart, except that in my mind more than anything except that in my mind, except that I was truly forgiven for all my past.
But he did it.
It wasn't easy.
Moving forward, it wasn't easy, but I kept moving forward because I kept reading the Bible.
I kept getting into the word and really understanding who God wanted me to be.
And so I did.
I moved forward and I still said I wasn't going to go to church.
I remember saying, alright, God, this is cool and everything I'm forgiven, but I don't want.
To go back to church.
And because you know, I had all this, I guess like PTSD from being in a cult for so long and it was rough.
I didn't want to be around people I didn't want to help people.
I didn't want to.
Do any of that stuff.
But the more I read the Bible, the more I realized, well, if you say you're a follower of Jesus, guess what?
Dude, you gotta go to church.
I was like alright fine.
I guess I'll go to church but then I said, alright God I'll go to church but no church is good.
So they're all bad 'cause they're all by men, right?
So I gave him another excuses, another excuse, and then he came back.
And obviously this is a conversation with myself you.
Know in my.
Own head not like I heard God coming down or anything, but just through the word.
And he said, alright?
Well then I'll show you man and I said, OK, fine I said God show me if.
If you're real, I mean I know you're real.
If you really want me.
To go to church, right?
Show me and again, I'm telling you.
Guys if you pray.
In earnest, God will answer and I remember was raining.
And my truck needed windshield wipers so I stopped by an AutoZone and there at the AutoZone.
Some dude who never who I never knew and I never saw him again.
I just saw him that one time.
He saw I had a couple of Calvary Chapel stickers that my mother in law had given me, and I've never been to a Calvary Chapel and he gave me these things.
She gave me the stickers I put him in the back of my truck 'cause I thought they were cool and he said he said hey man, which Calvary Chapel do you go to?
And I said I don't go to a church.
I don't go to, uh, Calvary Chapel and he's like OK, what church do you go to though?
I'm like I don't go to a church.
It's like, why not?
Don't you love Jesus?
And I was like oh Dang I'm like yeah man, I love Jesus but I just you know just don't go to church and he said well why not?
What's stopping you?
Why don't you come to my church like what church you go to?
I go to Calvary Chapel in Chino Hills.
And then in that moment I thought man, I just prayed about this.
I literally just prayed about that that week and I said.
Fine, I'll listen to you, God, 'cause I'm tired of not listening to you.
So I'm just going to listen to you.
That was my new model.
I'm going to listen to God no matter what, and I said I'm going to listen to you no matter what.
So I did and he prayed for me.
He invited me.
I didn't see him there that day, but that was a spark.
Opened up in my heart something new so I started going to church and then you know from from there on I started attending church and I never looked back.
You know to me that church was too big.
That's why I didn't go back there, 'cause reminding me my old church.
And remind me a lot of it, but not in the way they were teacher anything.
Just the amount.
Of people just just to be clear.
Just the amount of people that were there.
You know, I felt very like, oh man, I felt like, oh man, I'm back in this but I know that check gives he's he's a good teacher but I I had to, you know God opened the doors for me to come here.
And then I started coming.
And I haven't looked back since then and so.
I don't want to take too much time.
'cause I know my time is almost up, but uhm.
I guess I just wanna end it on that.
So as you can see, I mean there's so much more to go into detail so much more.
I mean could literally write a book about it and so many so many more things and tragedies and blessings I saw along the way of God.
Really showing me that he was there.
That's for another time and I just want to say that.
End it with that with grace.
It's there for the taking.
Don't let your don't let your ego.
Don't let your past.
Donate your future.
Dictate what you can have in this moment.
Which is a relationship with Jesus Christ.
And to image him 'cause remember he created you in his image he created us in his image.
We are a reflection of who he is.
And it's there.
I don't know what else to say.
It's there, accept it if you want to and your life will be better for it.
You know, I'm not saying that my life is perfect or that it's all sunshine and rainbows now, but guess what?
I have a purpose.
I have a meaning and that is a lot for somebody who didn't have.
And that clear.
With the flex on your families on your wife on your husband, on your children.
And the people around you, your coworkers, on everybody you know.
So I'm gonna just say and end it with one more question, is the the same question that I started with?
You know who are you?
What is your identity based upon?
And who are you imaged after?
Then God said, let us make mankind in our image, and in our likeness.
I'm gonna end this with a prayer.
Please go by your heads.
Close your eyes.
God in the name of your son, Jesus Christ, father, I just want to thank you so much.
For this opportunity that you've given me to share with my brothers and sisters of all the great things you did in my life that you continue doing in my life.
Let them understand that you're there that you're willing and able that no matter their past, no matter what they've done, no matter what they've thought of all the errors of all the mistakes of all these things, God that your grace, that your forgiveness is their Lord, that they are created in your image and you created them for a time such as this.
Help them understand.
Let your Holy Spirit really speak into their heart that your Holy Spirit really convict them and guide them to you.
Let them realize that they are nothing.
We are nothing without you.
We are nothing without you.
But with you, we are everything and I thank you so much for these people.
In Jesus name I pray this Amen.
So if you guys have.
Questions you guys want to know more about these type of things I'm I'm free, I'm open.
Just come and talk to.
Me anytime thank you.