On Friday Dec.31st, several men from this church stood behind this pulpit and preached a powerful message. I kept getting the message that I should be up there preaching. Yeah right, like the pastor is going to ask me to preach. Less than twelve hours later, the pastor called and asked me to preach. Don't you just hate it when the Lord reveals to your pastor about your conversation? What ever happened to privileged communication. I'm just glad the pastor and I have the same boss.

Me preaching, if you only knew me, then you would know how unlikely that would be. I got D's in English and History. While others were reading, I was trying to fix broken radios and other equipment. Mom would read the books and tell me about them so I could at least get a D on my book report.

Fortunately the Lord didn't ask me to stand up here and talk like a professor. He just wants me to share with you what He has been doing in my life. So that is what I will attempt with the Lord's help to do.

I had thought about starting out singing a song. I want to thank my family because they are always encouraging me to sing bass. Yeah, every time I start singing they would say, "a little lower daddy." (Pause) You will get it in a minute. That was supposed to be my joke to loosen you up. Oh well I tried.

I want to read a story to you and then we will pray and I will share my testimony.

Subject: Chalk Story

This is a true story of something that happened just a few years ago at USC. There was a professor of philosophy there who was a deeply committed atheist. His primary goal for one required class was to spend the entire semester attempting to prove that God couldn't exist. His students were always afraid to argue with him because of his impeccable logic. For twenty years, he had taught this class and no one had ever had the courage to go against him. Sure, some had argued in class at times, but no one had ever really gone against him because of his reputation. At the end of every semester on the last day, he would say to his class of 300 students, "If there is anyone here who still believes in Jesus, stand up!" In twenty years, no one had ever stood up. They knew what he was going to do next. He would say, "Because anyone who believes in God is a fool. If God existed, he could stop this piece of chalk from hitting the ground and breaking. Such a simple task to prove that He is God, and yet He can't do it." And every year, he would drop the chalk onto the tile floor of the classroom and it would shatter into a hundred pieces. All of the students would do nothing but stop and stare. Most of the students thought that God couldn't exist. Certainly, a number of Christians had slipped through, but for 20 years, they had been too afraid to stand up. Well, a few years ago there was a freshman who happened to enroll. He was a Christian, and had heard the stories about his professor. He was required to take the class for his major, and he was afraid. But for three months that semester, he prayed every morning that he would have the courage to stand up no matter what the professor said, or what the class thought. Nothing they said could ever shatter his faith...he hoped. Finally, the day came. The professor said, " If there is anyone here who still believes in God, stand up!" The professor and the class of 300 people looked at him, shocked, as he stood up at the back of the classroom. The professor shouted, "You FOOL!!! If God existed, he would keep this piece of chalk from breaking when it hit the ground!" He proceeded to drop the chalk but as he did, it slipped out of his fingers, off his shirt cuff, onto the pleat of his pants, down his leg, and off his shoe. As it hit the ground, it simply rolled away unbroken. The professor's jaw dropped as he stared at the chalk. He looked up at the young man, and then ran out of the lecture hall. The young man who had stood, proceeded to walk to the front of the room and shared his faith in Jesus for the next half hour. 300 students stayed and listened as he told of God's love for them and of His power through Jesus.

No I wasn't that student, but I do plan to stand up here in the front of the room and share my faith with you through my testimony.

Let's pray----------Lord, thank you for your Grace and Love. Thank You for sending Jesus that through His shed blood on the cross, We can have eternal life through Him. Thank you for the chance to share my testimony. Use this to encourage Christians and bring the lost to the saving knowledge of your son Jesus.

This is not meant to offend anyone or think less of him or her because God worked different in their life. We are all different and the Lord works differently in each one of us. I am just sharing what the Lord has done for me.

The messages preached by our pastor lately, has caused me to reflect how the Lord has been with me since I was saved. The following is a summary: Forgive me if I get tongue-tied. Sometimes my brain gets ahead of my mouth.

Saved while in high school. Dad (a Methodist minister) had a guest speaker for a revival service. I remember trying to squeeze the pew. I knew Jesus wanted me to go forward, but my pride was holding me back. I was a preacher's kid. What would people say? The guest speaker must have noticed me because he touched me on the shoulder and asked if I wanted to go forward. I jumped out of the pew and ran down the aisle. Fortunately the Lord told him I needed a little encouragement. The speaker asked my brother who was standing beside me and my brother swore at him and said no. The person beside you getting saved doesn't get you saved. When I got down front where dad was, I had to tell him who I was because of his poor eyesight. I remember it as if it was yesterday. I never was good with dates and you will see later why I thought the date wasn't important. We knelt at the altar and I asked Jesus to forgive me of my sins and come into my life and be my lord. I was never told how to grow as a Christian. Methodist back then put a lot of emphasis on works. I was a preacher's kid and guess everyone assumed that I already knew. I had been going to church, taking dad on visitation, (mum couldn't drive at night and dad was legally blind) I was president of the Methodist youth fellowship. I always tried to do what was right because I didn't want any reproach to come to dad. People who live in glass houses don't throw stones. After I got saved I didn't see much difference in my life. I was good and went to church because of my love for my Heavenly Father instead of my earthly father, but my works didn't change. Since I didn't like to read there was no talk about reading the Bible. The Devil kept putting doubt in my way. If you were truly saved you would have heard a voice or seen a big light or some other big change should take place in your life. I went to the altar many times and said Lord if you didn't save me before please do it now.

When I went in the military my salvation got tested. I wanted to fit in with everyone. I tried to drink beer, but every time I did I was reminded that dad said it was garbage water and that was what it always tasted like to me. Set an example for your children. Call sin, sin. The guys did get me to drink something called a screwdriver (tasted like orange juice) and took me out on the town to find a companion. They got upset because everywhere they went there were no companions to be found. Later in life I realized that the Lord was protecting me and keeping me pure for the wife he had for me. I remember a time when the Devil was attacking our marriage this played a big part in us staying together. I believe that when the Lord calls you into a ministry, He will call your wife also. Lord you need to heal Jenny so you can call her to Africa. Just kidding, the Lord hasn't called me there, yet! I really don't know what plans He has for me for tomorrow, but I know He will be there and His timing will be perfect.

When I got out of the military, I moved to Lynchburg and looked for a Methodist church. Since I was a preacher's kid, they told me to teach a Sunday school class. I kept finding reasons for not going to church, because I needed taught myself instead of being a teacher. I don't pretend to know the Bible well enough to apply a Bible principle here, but that doesn't mean I can't serve the Lord where I am in my spiritual growth and continue to grow.

A guy at work (Carl Summy) kept telling me about his church. Not Gethsemane I've known Carl for 30 years, but it did begin with a G. Since I wasn't going to church, my tithe wasn't going anywhere. I didn't know much about being a Christian, but I knew that was wrong. I started sending my tithe with him. Later he convinced me I should go and see what my tithe was supporting. I called dad to tell him I was going to a Baptist church and they shouted "AMEN!" while the preacher preached. He said the Methodist used to do that. Did you use to be on fire for the Lord, but it has died down? Were you fueling it with the right stuff? I was able to give well above my tithe. I could live on one paycheck a month. Sometimes the extra went to the church, but a lot of times the Lord would lay a certain ministry on my heart and I would give to them. I remember hearing a minister on the radio and I signed my paycheck and sent it to him. I also sent money home for my brother to go to college and seminary to be a preacher. He dropped out of seminary and many years later committed suicide. Was this because he was out of God's will for too long? Only God knows. I know when I was out of his will suicide was an option, I was miserable. I was giving to the Lord and yet I had to file bankruptcy. Did God let me down? Let me read on. I was more concerned about my testimony than I was about the money. My wife (who thought she was saved) came to know the Lord through this experience. I later realized that I needed the bankruptcy to get me to depend on the Lord for my needs and not the company where I worked. The Lord always gives us what we need. Not always what we want.

I didn't know where to insert this: I lived in a trailer court before I got married. I was sick one Sunday morning. Early that afternoon people came by with soup. How did you know I was sick? Your car was in the driveway and it was Sunday. You are being watched. After we were married our house was broken into. Guess why they picked Wednesday evening? It was the neighbor's kids (not our current neighbors) and they knew we would be in Church.

I found out at that church the meaning of eternal security and if the Lord said He would save you then you were saved. I was submersed in a creek (they say I went down a dry Methodist and came up a wet shouting Baptist) I don't remember shouting, but have not doubted my salvation since then. I was always available to do what work (I emphasize the word work) that the Lord wanted me to do. There is a difference between available and letting the Lord control your life. Kind of like the difference between your job and your life. I ran the sound room, led the singing, was Sunday school superintendent, etc. This is when the Lord introduced me to my wife Jenny. I believe with all my heart that the Lord brought us together forever and ever. Sometime before I met Jenny, the Lord had me give up smoking (Jenny had asthma). I tried without success. Finally I gave it to Him. He had me picture witnessing to someone with a cigarette in my mouth. That was enough to make me quit. I don't think Jenny and I would be together if I smoked. Jenny played a big part in my life, as you will see.

We were living in a small trailer (12X44) and when Jenny got pregnant we knew we needed something bigger. We looked all around but couldn't find what we wanted. We wanted to stay in the same area. We got on our knees and asked the Lord to show us a place to live. On the way home from work the next day there was a for-sale sign in the yard we now call home. The bank said we didn't make enough for the loan to go through, but they would submit it. We prayed again and the loan went through with out a hitch. Later on we were having trouble with house payments and tried to sell the house. We went to a realtor that had agreed to buy the house if we didn't sell it. Things went so bad that the realtor begged us to keep the house so we did. God wanted us here. He even kept the house out of the bankruptcy. Before Jenny got pregnant we prayed for a boy and told the Lord we would call him Samuel. About the time Samuel was out of diapers we prayed for a girl and the Lord gave us Rebekah. When Becky was very young, a neighbor drove our car to take Jenny to the doctor. (I was riding the bus then) The back door of the car came open and Becky flew out of the car seat and onto the road. The man in the truck behind them was with the rescue squad. The insurance company at work paid the entire bill. My auto insurance company called and wanted to know why I hadn't filed with them. They sent me a check. The doctors say there was no brain damage. I questioned that until she proved they were right by marring Matt. When they were old enough to go to school we sent them to a Christian school near where we lived. When we were on our second honeymoon I pulled out of a fruit stand and the car acted like it shifted into neutral. I was able to coast off the road and we called a wrecker. When he lifted the back of the car in the air the wheel fell off. The only garage within 150 miles with that axle was the one the wrecker came from. The garage wouldn't take my check and I had no credit card. One of the mechanics said I looked honest so I wrote the check to him.

The pastor of our church left, the cost of gasoline was going up and the gas mileage of my big car was going down. We decided to look for a church near home. We picked the one where our kids were going to Christian school.

At first I thought it was a mistake to go to this church, because they had an engineer in charge of the sound room. I felt that if the Lord wanted me here, I would be in charge of the sound room. The Lord's timing was perfect as always. I had just become use to what was going to happen on stage so I could have the microphones ready, when the engineer decided to leave the church and I was asked to take over the sound room. The Lord never fails.

The pastor was a great teacher and I learned much about the Bible. I made the radio tape and sometimes you had to listen to the message three or four times. Isn't God good! I had very poor reading and study habits, but it was at this church I read my first book from cover to cover. I thank the Lord it was the Bible. I spent a short time teaching a boy's Sunday school class. I know I learned more than they did during that time. I learned a lot about the Bible, but I think I was trying to teach the class instead of letting the Lord teach. I was always getting in the way of what the Lord wanted to do. My wife got very sick and I had to step down as teacher. The Lord had other lessons for me to learn. Yeah, teach me how to get out of the way. When the men of the church stood to pray they used such big and eloquent (for lack of a better word) words. I always felt out of place when I stood to pray. I talked to the pastor about this and he said he would not call on me to pray anymore. I thank the Lord for the pastor's wisdom. There was nothing wrong with the men's prayers. I forgot whom I was praying to. I couldn't be a deacon in the church because my children were not under subjection. One of them had been expelled from the Christian school. Unfortunately the parents of my child's friends told them not to associate with my child anymore. Guess who my child ended up associating with? Your right, the ones who didn't go to church welcomed my child with open arms. I thank the Lord for the love this church shows those that need love to get back in fellowship with the Lord.

I felt tithing was my strong point. There is that I again. I kept my guard up on other things, but just knew the Devil couldn't attack me with tithing. Guess what? I don't even remember how it started, but I had just enough money to pay my bills if I didn't tithe. The Devil is powerful, when you take your eyes off the Lord look out for trouble. That was the most miserable part of my Christian life. If you are out of his will and not miserable. I would check with the pastor, the Devil might have slipped you a counterfeit. The Bible says in Hebrews 12:6, "For whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth." I didn't enjoy going to church any more. I didn't feel a part of what was happening. I got to the point I was volunteering to work every weekend, to make money I told myself, but it was just as much to stay out of church. Yes, I was so depressed I had considered suicide. I praise the Lord my wife didn't give up. This is why the Lord brought Jenny into my life. He knew I would need her now. She started coming to Gethsemane Baptist. My work hours changed to where I was off every other weekend. Overtime was canceled; I couldn't work if I wanted to. God thinks of everything. She invited me to come to Gethsemane Baptist and praise the Lord I came. I think I was here less than five minutes when I decided this was the church for my family and me. Here you have the freedom to express your feelings to the Lord. Who gave you emotions? What to cheer at man made events or to worship and praise the Lord. Why were we created? What are we going to be doing in Heaven? Shouldn't we get started while were down here? I for one need a lot of practice. I joined that evening and my life hasn't been the same since then. Because I had dug myself into a financial hole I knew tithing would be difficult. Sometimes the Lord has to test us like Abraham. Not so He is sure of us. He always knows what we will do. But to convince us we can do it with His help. I realize that I must do my part and try to keep spending under control while seeking wisdom from the Lord. Tithing is not optional. And neither are the offerings above your tithe. When the Lord says give, you had better give.

The Lord has healed my tunnel night vision. I never asked for healing, just was obedient in going to a revival. I woke up one Sunday morning with neck pain. My first thought was to ask the pastor to pray over me at church. Then I remembered that I sometimes get ahead of the Lord and my wants are not always His will. Hey, I remembered my problem with I that time. Maybe, just maybe I am starting to do something right. I prayed and the Lord gave me peace. That is a good way to test if it is from the Lord. The Devil can't give you true peace. I can't explain it, but the Bible says in Philippians 4:7 "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Once you get peace from the Lord you will know it. When the pastor prayed over me, I sensed the Lord patting me on the back and thanking me for coming forward. I felt a weight lift off my shoulders and found myself at the alter thanking the Lord for the pat on the back. The Lord chose not to heal me at that time. Someone needed to see me come forward that day and someone needs to hear that I still trust the Lord and know He will heal me in His time. I would gladly exchange the pat on the back for healing, but I believe I will still be healed. The Lord has someone that needs to be there when He heals me, and when that takes place I will be healed.

I thank this church for their prayers. I trust this testimony will encourage someone that has doubts or has become stagnate for the Lord. He is still in control. All He wants is a willing vessel He can clean up and use for His glory. Give the Lord control of your life. Let those around you know your needs so they can pray for you and encourage you. I haven't arrived yet. I can think of three things in my life that needs improvement right off the bat. One is Bible study, my study habits may not change toward the world but they are changing toward the Bible. I can't seem to get enough of this Book. It is like drinking water and making you thirsty so you want more. Isn't it interesting? The Devil took my strong point and tried to make it weak. The Lord takes my weak point and makes it stronger. Another area is a genuine caring for others. My wife has that. When they hurt, she hurts. The third one is a burden for lost souls. I want my heart to ache when I know of someone that is lost and want the Lord to remind me to pray for him or her. By God's grace I now feel stronger in the Lord and better prepared to do His will. Before I got saved all I had was human power. After I got saved I had Spirit power available to me. I would keep it in a closet or hidden under a bunch of troubles. Then when the notion would strike me or troubles would get too great I would get it out and use it. After coming to Gethsemane it is as if the Lord is standing next to me with the Spirit power in His hand waiting for me to take it. I started taking it more and more just because it was available. Now thank God I try to stay on Spirit power and try not to use human power. No like I said before I haven't arrived. I am just like a baby growing in the Lord, but at least I am on the right diet. Thanks again for your prayers. Anything I can do for you in Jesus name just ask.

Max Edward Nolder (just a sinner saved by grace and sold out to Jesus)

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (notice all, even those that have done good works)

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Jesus is the answer)

Romans 5:8 But God commended His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Jesus paid the price)

Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

Romans 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Jesus can save you, just ask Him)

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