Wednesday, February 26

Have you ever doubted God's ability to fulfill your heart's deepest desire? You have GOT to READ THIS!!

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.”  (1Corinthians 2:9)

This is a remarkable story that gives account of a monumental feat God performed in Keith's life. Through this miraculous experience, Keith learned, without a doubt, that God was "looking for him". Much like the apostle Paul after his life-changing encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, Keith realized that God is SO big, and His ways are SO great, that words can only BEGIN to describe Him. The events of which you are about to read took place before Keith had become a member of a local church, before he attended bible school classes, and even before he had a real, personal relationship with Jesus Christ. As a matter of fact, you'll see that, at the time of these events, Keith explains his blatant life of sin!

Testimony as shared by D. Keith Shealy (excerpt from Keith's book XII SMOOTH STONES) ... 

Just a short time after the experience you're about to read, I wrote the song Take My Life that was inspired from this testimony. One line of the lyrics says, “Looking back on time, I can plainly see, all of the things You had done for me, even though I was walking far away from You.”
For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commends His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8)  So, the reason we can enjoy the privilege of knowing God personally is only because — even while we were living in sin — He loved us so much that He sent His only Son to show us! “We love him, because he first loved us.”  (1John 4:19)
In 1977, I was on tour with a secular rock band when the Holy Spirit began gently tugging on my heart. Of course, I did not know at the time that it was Him, because it took place before I had learned who He really is. (I thought the Holy Spirit was some mysterious heavenly gas.) Needless to say, my rock-n-roll lifestyle was diametrically opposed to the ways of God.

However, in the eyes of the world it looked like I had it made. I was doing what I was passionate about — playing music and getting the attention and praise of people everywhere we went. As far as I knew, things could not have been better. I always had plenty of money in my pocket as well as an abundant supply of everything else that came along with doing rock concerts. Truth be told, I was having a blast! In fact, it was down-right euphoric for the first few years while I was touring.

Our routine went something like this: Travel to the city where we were scheduled to perform; Check into the hotel; Load our equipment into the venue; Set up the equipment; Do a sound check; Get a bite to eat; Get showered and dressed in our stage clothes; Perform the show; Break down all the equipment and clear the stage; Pack everything up; Load it into the truck; Go back to the hotel; Party until about 5:00 AM with a group of “New Friends” we met during the concert; Sleep for about six hours; Get up; Get dressed and packed; Eat breakfast at lunch time; Check out of the hotel; and Get on the road to travel to the next town where we would do it all over again.

I had been on tour for about four years when I started to sense my affections begin to change for the whole thing. The life that I had been enjoying so much was becoming a drudgery. Instead of looking forward to the next gig, I began seeing it as a “here we go again, only in a different city" thing. I even coined a little phrase: “Same old thing — only the faces have changed!” The realities of road-life were finally starting to wear on me and, instead of getting high for fun, I found myself getting high to break the boredom and the painfully monotonous routine. It was getting older with each passing day. And, while I could tell that something was happening to me, I couldn't put my finger on what it was.

What puzzled me more than anything was how the guys I was traveling with, who had been touring for much longer than I had, seemed perfectly contented, while I was growing increasingly unhappy. I wanted to know why because, from the time I was very young, all I ever really wanted to do in life was to have a career playing music. I was living my dream, yet it didn't feel the way I expected it would. I felt like I was losing everything. I was starting to see the lifestyle for what it really was — a dead end. It was a fruitless and lonely road and I wanted to get out of it. 

So, there I was, constantly surrounded by talented people who were attractive and financially well-to-do, and who admired me greatly, yet I felt isolated. I began to skip the nightly “New Friends Party" with increasing regularity and, instead, would go back to my hotel room and watch TV — a thing that I hadn't done much of before that. Shortly thereafter, the band hired a new bass player named Larry Tamazo.

Larry was a quiet guy and one of the most talented musicians I had ever worked with. Larry and I hit it off pretty well and started hanging out together. By this time, I was well into my rather confusing conversion, and Larry noticed that I avoided partying with the rest of the band. You will soon see that it was God who had brought Larry into the picture.

One morning, around 4:00 AM, I was in my hotel bed trying to make sense of everything I was feeling. What was I supposed to do now? Was I supposed to stay with the band, or go back into sales, or what? For the first time, I began thinking back to when I was about eight years old sitting with my Mom and Dad in church. I remembered when I went to the altar and gave my life to Jesus Christ. I especially remembered how great I felt for the whole week afterward. Even though I was only eight at the time, it was the best I had ever felt in my life.

Lying there in that hotel bed, I suddenly knew what I had to do! I had to call out to Jesus! I was overcome with the reality that I needed to confess my sins and repent, just as I had done in church many years before. I slid off of my bed onto the floor, bowed my head, and asked Jesus to forgive me for everything I had ever done that had hurt Him or anyone else. I then said "Amen" and crawled back into bed. I immediately felt a peace and joy unlike any I had experienced since going to the altar as a child. 

The next morning, or actually the next afternoon, at breakfast, I couldn't wait to tell Larry what had happened. He sat there and smiled. At that moment, an older waitress walked up to our table, looked straight into my eyes and said, “Son, you are a Christian, aren’t you?!” As simple as that may sound, it was a HUGE confirmation that God was indeed living in my heart. Each night after that, I could not wait to get back to my room to hang out with Jesus!

As the weeks passed, the Holy Spirit was making it increasingly evident that I was not where God wanted me to be. I was feeling like a total stranger to everyone that I had once felt so close to. One day as I was in my room getting ready to do a show, I had an interesting thought, "Since music is what I do best, why not do it for God instead of doing it for the devil? As far as I was concerned, that was a radical, cutting-edge idea, because I thought the church only had gospel quartets and choirs. As much as I disliked the thought of playing that style of music, I hated the thought of not serving God even more. So that night I kneeled beside my bed and prayed, “Lord, if you want me to play in a quartet or church choir, that’s what I’ll pursue.” My making a commitment like that meant that I had truly surrendered my life to God. My music was my Isaac and I was placing it on the altar that day.

After I had prayed, I paused for a moment, and had another crazy idea. I remembered hearing somewhere that God would grant us the desires of our hearts, so I thought, if there was ever a time to go for it ALL, it is now. Why not ask God for my heart’s deepest desire? Why settle for something that's NOT one of my passions? I immediately went back to God and threw in a different prayer request that I, truthfully, thought would be so far-fetched that even God couldn’t provide for it. Being raised listening to and admiring British bands and musicians, I grew up dreaming of, one day, playing in a British rock group. Remember, I thought the only groups a church ever had to offer were gospel quartets and choirs — I was sure of it. So I stepped out on the limb and asked God for the impossible, "Please, God, allow me to tour with a Christian British rock band." Amen.

Two days later, after a show, I went to my room, turned on the TV, and was stunned that the program that came on had a Christian rock band playing. I could NOT believe my eyes! It was a late night Christian concert show called “Larry Leigh’s Concert Ministries.” I sat on the end of the bed and watched the entire show without hardly moving a muscle. I can remember thinking, “Wow, there is a whole world out there that I didn’t know existed!”

As the program was ending, I reached for a piece of paper and a pen to write down the contact information that was on the screen. At 3:00 in the morning, I wrote Larry Leigh a letter explaining much of what I have just shared with you, asking if he knew of any Christian bands who might need an experienced drummer. I put the letter in an envelope, sealed it, put a stamp on it, and took it straight to the mail box at the hotel’s front desk. Incidentally, while on the road, I used my Mother’s mailing address. So I called to tell her that I had sent Larry Leigh a letter and asked if she would keep her eye out for an envelope from him.  She said she would call me if anything came in.

Two cities and six days later I got a call from Mom telling me that I had received a letter back from Larry Leigh. She asked if I would like her to read it to me. With great expectation, I said, “Please!”

The letter read, “Dear Keith, thank you for your letter. I do not know of any Christian bands looking for a drummer at this time, but I have enclosed two pages of Christian booking agencies for you to check out. Maybe one of them will help in your search for God’s plan for your life.” My Mother said there were twenty four agencies on the list. I asked her to mail the list to me at the next city where we were scheduled to play. She said she would send it first thing the next morning.

As soon as I received the list of agencies, I knew what I had to do. (I jokingly tell people that my major in college was football and my minor was business.) I drew up my resume, wrote a heartfelt cover letter, and took them both to a quaint little print shop across the street from the hotel. I asked to get thirty copies of my cover letter and resume, and a matching envelope for each set. The clerk told me they would be ready the next day. 

When I returned to the print shop the next day, I was greeted by the clerk and a very classy-looking, middle-aged lady. The clerk introduced the nice lady to me and told me that she had read my cover letter and was really blessed by it. At that, the nice lady said, “Keith, the owner of this company and I want you to know that we are not going to charge you for the work that we have done on your resumes. Your consuming desire to serve Jesus Christ has touched us all deeply and we would consider it a privilege to give these packets to you free of charge.”

Wow! I must have thanked them at least twenty times before I said goodbye and headed straight for my hotel room to prepare the packets for mailing.

Once I had finished, I grabbed them, held them up to the heavens, and asked God to receive them, and my life, as my gift to Him. (Isn’t it interesting how I knew to do that without being taught? The Holy Spirit is wonder-full!) I drove to the nearest Post Office, prayed over them once again, and dropped them in the mail box. Each day and night I continually prayed that just one of them would make it into the hands of the right person.

About three weeks later, we were setting up to play in Panama City, Florida, and someone from the front office shouted “Keith, you have an important phone call.” When I got to the phone, it was Mom immediately asking me, “Are you sitting down?” I said, “Yes,” and she read this from a letter from a Christian booking agency located in Nashville, TN, “Keith, I received your letter, was very impressed with your credentials, and would like to talk with you as soon as possible. I think I have something that will be of great interest to you....” Mom gave me the phone number and told me I should call it right away. 

The agent who answered my call said, “Keith, what I have to offer you is something that is completely different from anything the Christian music industry has ever had the privilege of experiencing in this country. This is going to be huge! As a matter of fact, what I have for you is an audition to be part of a history-making endeavor.” I asked him, rather reluctantly, “What have you got?” Like Saul’s encounter with Jesus, the agent’s answer would change my life forever. He asked me, “Keith, how would you feel about being the drummer for the first ever British Christian rock band to come to America?” 

Needless to say, I was stunned! With one phone call, I had witnessed God do something that I just knew was totally impossible! This was one of those stories that you only read about, but I was standing right in the middle of it, in reality!

A week later, I flew to Nashville to audition for the band. They picked me up at the airport, and we headed straight for a recording studio that was located downtown. The studio that they had rented for the audition had been closed down for several weeks, and consequently the drums were not tuned. In fact, the heads on all of the drums were so loose that they were not playable. We looked everywhere for a drum key or even a pair of pliers to tighten the heads, but could not find anything to tune them with. We then tried to play a couple of songs, but it was fruitless. No matter what I played, it sounded terrible. Feeling a bit dejected, we packed up and headed for a local restaurant. 

All I could think of at that point was just how much I wanted to play with those guys, and how it all seemed to be falling apart right before my eyes. Why was this happening? The reason would soon reveal itself.

Over dinner, as we were talking, it was becoming increasingly evident to us that God was knitting our hearts together. Even though the audition did not go well, we were all having a great time together. When we had finished eating and headed for the van, I knew I had to do something, if I was going to salvage my dream. 

So I stopped the guys and asked, “Where is your bass player?” They said they were auditioning bass players as well. I said boldly, “Brothers, this whole thing is God, I just know it is!” They asked, “What do you mean?” I went on to tell them about my friend Larry, the bass player, and, with all of the boldness I could muster, I said, “You guys need to come to Florida and hear Larry and I work together as the accomplished rhythm section that we are. I guarantee you will like it!” So, while standing on that sidewalk on that cold night in Nashville, Tennessee, they each looked at one another and said, “You’ve got a deal!” 

They came to Florida one week later and sat on the front row for our entire show. I must admit, it was pretty nerve-racking to be up on that stage playing while keeping an eye on these three internationally-known musicians talking back and forth among themselves, obviously critiquing our every move.

After the show, I introduced Larry to them, and we all sat down to hear what our new British friends thought of our performance. My heart felt as if it were going to pound out of my chest! Our
new British friends looked at each other very calmly, asking which one wanted to comment first. At that moment I was sweating more than I had all night, even under the hot stage lights. The first to speak was Norman Barrett, a lead guitarist from Liverpool who had played with several of the British bands that I greatly admired. He leaned across the table and said, “I am speaking for all of us when I say this. As long as we've been playing, none of us has ever heard a better rhythm section in all of England!” He continued, “Keith, if you will take it — and we pray you will —  the gig is yours!” I then asked, “Larry too?” They said, “Of course!”We all shook hands, hugged one another, and it was done!

To celebrate, we all met the next day to enjoy the sugar white sand beaches of Panama City, Florida. Afterwards, we ate a late dinner, said our good-bye’s, and they went back to Nashville. The band was called “The Alwyn Wall Band,” a Myrrh (Word) Records group! The entire time I spent touring with those guys was some of the best time of my life. 

Since then, I have taken the seven basic guitar chords that Alwyn had taught me, and used them to minister to thousands of people through playing and singing my own music, as well as speaking as the leader of my own bands over the years. I have also had the privilege of serving the body of Christ as a youth pastor, speaker, teacher, author, and in many other capacities.

Why have I told you these things? If God would do all of that for me He will most certainly do it for you! “For there is no respect of persons with God.” (Romans 2:11) Yet remember this: God was free to meet me in such a miraculous way, even though I was living such a sinful life, because as a babe in Christ, I believed Him without reservation.

So, if you have prayed endlessly for something and have yet to see it come to pass, examine your heart and your relationship with God, repent of anything that has separated you from Him (namely, the old flesh nature), and trust in His power and desire to perform all things for you.  Selah.



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Wednesday, February 19

What the devil DOESN'T want you to know... ABOUT YOU!!



Because of the tremendous responses from those who received this month's Partners and Friends Letter, we decided to make it available to friends and followers of the TTM Blog and Facebook page.  Be blessed as you are a blessing.  
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February 2014


Dear
Friend of Toward The Mark, 
It's a war of "WORDS...  During the Second World War, as our troops were fighting to gain control of the islands in the Pacific theater, the Japanese unleashed a rather unconventional and very deadly weapon. They used a number of English-speaking Japanese women, collectively dubbed by the Americans "Tokyo Rose", to broadcast messages intended to undermine the American war effort. As the American troops were listening to their radios, "Tokyo Rose" would break in and read from a script that the Japanese military composed for the purpose of inflicting devastating psychological damage. She would say things like: "Boys, while you are suffering for a lost cause in these hot jungles, your wives and girlfriends are back home in the arms of other men" or, "Your government doesn't care about you, so they have sent you here to die in this fight that they know you can't win." Like my own grandfather, anyone who was there can tell you that those poisonous messages inflicted torment that resulted in physical casualties. The Japanese understood that the opposite of what we've all heard in this childhood proverb is true, "Sticks and stone may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."
I had NO idea!  Listen to this statistic that I learned from a Pastor friend of mine some time ago. He said that he read a study where, on average, it takes 17 words of affirmation to negate the emotional damage of just one negative word in the life of a person. In some cases, he said, it takes more than that, and some people never even recover at all.  "Death and life are in the power of the tongue:" (Proverbs 18:21a)
Desperate darts...  Have you ever struggled with thinking that you are the one rare case - that one mistake - that slipped past God? Or have you ever thought that there is no good thing in you? I can tell you that I certainly have. When I realized, however, just how insanely jealous the devil is of God and His loving family, a light went on in my spirit. Those thoughts, those lies, are what the Bible refers to as "the fiery darts of the enemy." They serve as the devil's desperate attempt to keep us from discovering who we really are.
Two realities infuriate the devil!  If you have studied the Scriptures, you know these two undisputed facts: "God has never made a mistake;" and "Anyone who believes in Christ Jesus, is an heir to all of The Father's promise, the very thing the devil knows he'll never be." Knowing that attacking God directly is not an option, he turns his rage toward God's children, following an old mafia practice, straight from the devil himself, that says, "If you want to hurt someone worse than killing them, torture their children." We, as God's children, are a devastating threat to the devil, but only when we realize it. To keep us from realizing the truth of our identity, the devil employs tempting spirits to try and lure us into making poor life choices, ultimately, to bind us in chains of sin. To avoid this trap, and the sin that separates us from God, we must follow these words by James, "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (James 4:7)
Know your enemy!  Subtle, but deadly, word seed, like those spoken through the radio by "Tokyo Rose", can yield a death crop, as Paul makes clear where the battles of this life are actually fought, "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers ... the rulers of the darkness of this world ... spiritual wickedness in high places." (Ephesians 6:12) Being equipped with this Truth, and the knowledge of God's Word, you will be able to immediately recognize any condemning thoughts for what they are, and for what they have come to do. They are the enemy's attack to try and strip you from knowing who, and Whose, you truly are. "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I (Jesus) came that they may have life and have it abundantly." (John 10:10) It is crucial that we take every thought captive in the Name of Jesus Christ, rebuke the crippling lies of the enemy, and stay focused on the Truth that God is ALL things GOOD, MIGHTY, and LOVELY. "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, ... and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
What the enemy says about you, the opposite is true!  We must fix the truth in our heart that the devil is not just a habitual liar; he is the father of lies! His words of condemnation ring in our head, trying to convince us that we are worthless, weak, unloved, etc. By the Lord Jesus Christ affirming to us who the devil is and from where his spewing lies come, we know that, "... he was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it." (John 8:44) So, when thoughts come, like, "you are worthless," the opposite is the truth! If you hear, "you are weak," the opposite is the truth! Hearing, "you are unloved, and rejected," the opposite is the truth! And when you hear, "you are illegitimate, an outcast, a person of no importance," the opposite is the truth!
Last ditch effort...  Since the devil and his minions lost the war at the cross, the only hope they have for keeping you from your identity and inheritance, is through deception using his one and only weapon: "words!" This is basically the same hopeless predicament the Japanese found themselves in during World War II. The enemy's ploy, trying to distract and deceive you with offensive "words," ultimately ENDS once you realize that you are God's Child, that your home is IN Christ, and that your Life is secure in the loving arms of your Father. Paul says, "But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwells in you." (Romans 8:11) 
What the devil DOESN'T want you to KNOW...  God, your Father, loves you so passionately that He sent His Only Son to provide the way Home for you. The moment you asked Jesus Christ to come into your heart, your name was written in the Lamb's Book of Life. You were grafted into God's Family. You are a joint heir with Jesus Christ to all that is God's! You are a child of The King of all kings! The blood that flows in the veins of Jesus Christ, now flows through yours! The next time the devil comes to rob you of knowing who, and Whose, you are, pull out this letter, and read these TRUTHS:
--> "Because of Christ Who is in me, I am strong;"
--> "Because of Christ Who is in me, I am accepted;" 
--> "Because of Christ Who is in me, I am compassed about with the cheers of a great crowd of witnesses who know that I am greatly cherished;"
--> "Because of Christ Who is in me, I have been equipped for greatness, being made in His likeness and image!"
         Amen!! Amen!!
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IN Christ Jesus,


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Wednesday, February 12

We are CELEBRATING SINGLENESS! (Part TWO & Part THREE)


By popular demand, we're blogging both Part TWO and Part THREE of Keith's testimony TODAY.  If you have a minute to write to us, we always like hearing your encouraging responses.  

For more Scripture-based truth and encouragement, follow "TowardTheMark Wisdom-packed Wednesdays" on Facebook and Toward The Mark online showing God BIG in a world that sees Him small.



          ...Well, I finally came up with a plan.  I thought, "I could out-smart those voices by convincing myself that I was born without 'the marriage gene'!  That would surely shut 'em up!"  Well, just like every other thing I tried to do on my own, my plan didn't work.  The voices continued.
           
          By the time I was about forty years old, I decided that, if I can't shut 'em up, I'll flood 'em out, with God's word!  That was the very BEST decision I have ever made in my life!!  I began seeking God and meditating on His Word, with a greater diligence than I ever had before.  It was only then that the voices went from deafening, to annoying, to tolerable-like whispers... at least for the most part.  Finally, I learned that "I" had to stop dwelling on things that were not of God, like TV shows.  Realizing just how destructive and suggestive primetime television programming was becoming, I knew I had to do something about that.  So I called the cable company, and cancelled it!

          If you truly want a Godly mate, there are a few things that really helped me prepare for the day that God allowed me to meet Brenda.  I encourage you to practice what I endearingly call "The Tried-and-Proven 5-Step Prep" I've laid out for you this Valentine's Day week. 

1)  Turn the TV off!  If you look to Hollywood to set your expectations for a mate, loneliness will remain your companion.  Recognize that unreal, or unreasonable, expectations rob us from receiving, not only our peace but, every good thing Jesus Christ wants us to have.  Having said that, I am in no way suggesting you compromise yourself by settling for someone who you know does not know and love God wholeheartedly.  After all, marriage was not man's idea, it's God's, and it will NOT function correctly with-out (on the outside of) God and His Word.  ~Never forget this:  Without GOD... it's NOT Holy Matrimony.~

2)  YOU cannot "FIX 'em"!  If you think you can change someone, you are deceived, and brace yourself for a torturous ride.  Only Christ Jesus has the power to change the human heart.  Marriage is not a 50/50 arrangement; it's a 100/100 commitment.  So, relax!  Trust God to introduce you to a "Godly possibility."  I must warn you, however.  Just because someone, in an attempt to win your heart, says they are a Christian, it doesn't mean they are!  Standing in a church building on Sunday makes someone a Christian about as much as standing in a garage makes you a car.  As a safeguard for us, Jesus says in Matthew 7, 15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

3)  Prepare for what you are praying for.  You do NOT want to meet the prepared, unprepared.  Diligently seek God.  Become the kind of person that you've been asking God to bring to you.  Be passionate about, and in love with, God and His Word.  And do everything as God and His Word tells you to.  Look in the mirror.  Do you dress, and carry yourself, in the same way that you have envisioned your future mate will?  If not, change it!  *You can't BE something you're NOT, but you can BECOME something you're NOT.*  I once heard it said that "'Insanity' is doing the same thing over and over each day, while expecting different results."

4)  You don't get married because you NEED to; You get married because you WANT to!  And you'll never have the "want-to" until you don't have the "need-to."

5)  Finally, the word "single" does not mean "not married."  The word "single" means: to be Separate, Unique and Whole.  So, before you are ready for marriage, you must first become "single."  Only until you become "single" will you be ready for marriage.  Becoming "Separate, Unique, and Whole" within yourself should be your goal; not "becoming married."

The moral of this blog is, no matter what you've done, no matter where you've been in this life, the dreams you've carried since you were a child - to be joined in Holy Matrimony - can only be fulfilled by God, the Author of Marriage Himself.

IN Christ Jesus, Keith (and Brenda)


TTM Podcasts Coming soon!! 



By:  Keith Shealy
            During this week, when so much attention is turned toward husbands and wives, and boyfriends and girlfriends, we would like to offer some very important advice to those who are currently not married and praying for their future mate.  For those of you who do not know, I spent the first fifty two years of my life by myself.  Sometimes I prayed daily that God would reveal my mate to me.  Whenever I would enter a ministry service or event, I wondered, "Is 'she' (the 'one') going to be here?"  And, if I had to tell you how many times well-meaning people came up to me to say things like, "Brother, God must really be preparing some amazing girl for you!  That's why it's taking so long!" or, "When you meet 'the one', you'll know it!"
            Day after day, month after month, year after year, and decade after decade, though I was not really consumed with finding 'her', I could not seem to silence the voices in my head.  Like a pesky little brother your Mom makes you take with you everywhere, voices would sound off at every turn, questioning, "Is she here?  Is she?  Is she??"  Each time the voices started up again, all I could think was, "If only I could get my hands on those little suckers ... !"

            There I was: a successful minister at a great church; had my dream football career; toured and recorded with my own band; and I could go on and on... the guy everyone always said seemed like the one who has it all together!  And, for years, because all of my friends were married, I ate in restaurants alone, came home after church on Sundays and turned on the football game in an attempt to silence the deafening loneliness, and all but begged God to reveal to me just what it was that was wrong with me so I could work on changing it. 

            Read Part Two of this article tomorrow, 2/13/2014.