My testimony of faith
My Mother Taught Me From a Young Age To Love and Trust God. As the years passed, however, I began to experiment with many of the things that she warned me about; Life was fun and exciting. I lived my life disregarding God’s Laws, and I gave little thought to the Lord. I ultimately chose to separate myself from my mother’s loving God.
At age 12 I began to participate in weight lifting and exercising with weights. My body responded very well to the exercises and soon my muscles began to develop easily. Later I began to enter bodybuilding contests in the amateur ranks and began to win titles. I continued training and competing until 1978 when I won the Pro-Mr.America title and competed in London in the NABBA Mr. Universe contest, placing 3rd in my division. These accomplishments opened the doors to travel and opportunities to conduct exhibitions and make appearances on TV and radio. In 2013 I was inducted in to the National Fitness Hall of Fame. I like to clarify that the induction to the hall of fame happened twenty years after I surrendered my life to Christ.
One thing that I know for sure is that God has forgiven me. The Bible says that because I humble myself before him and accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and savior, confessing all my sins to him, that I am forgiven.
If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. —Romans 10:9-10
The state trooper said he could not believe we survived the fall unharmed. People do not survive this fall. I replied, “see that sign on the light pole? He is the only one that can save you.”
Infidelity became a game to me, causing the loss of my family’s love, trust and respect. Simply put my life was a mess. At its worst, I would think that perhaps if I ended my life my problems would be over and everybody else would be happy. But God was not did not let that happen, because my mother asked him to watch over me.
It was not until I turned 45 that my ways of thinking began to change and I felt something happening to me. I couldn’t understand what it was. I felt I needed help and that I needed to do something with my life; I felt a sense of despair and began to realize the mess I had made of my life.
In my wildest dreams I never thought that I would one day bring the message of salvation to others. God preserved my life and was about to give me a new life for his glory.
Later as we committed our life to the Lord we began to correct many things in our life including the importance of being married and not live a life of fornication. But God is so merciful that He takes something that is ugly and wrong in the eyes of humans and turns it into something beautiful, for his glory and the salvation of others. If he can change Saul of Tarsus, He can change us! Today Maribel and I are happily married, serving God and spreading the word of salvation to lost souls as we once were.
As I look back, I understand why my way of thinking began to change, why my life was spared, and why I was protected from dangerous situations. God was preparing me for an encounter with Him, because He had a plan for me and was getting ready to fulfill that plan.
At the age of 50, I was looking for a solution to my deteriorating life. I moved to Florida, again God working with me in a mysterious way.
God was guiding me and preparing me to fulfill His will in my life.
In Florida my life took on new meaning. Looking through my books I found my mother’s Bible and frequently would look through it, as well as her hymnbook, and found myself remembering her teachings. It was like she was talking to me all over again and suddenly it all began to make sense.
The Bible teaches in Proverbs 22:6 to start your children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
As I thumbed through my mother’s Bible, I began to feel the need to attend church. Often I read the Bible to my wife and sang songs from the hymn book. She asked me how I knew all that (she only knew my wild side) and I responded that I was repeating what my mom had taught me since the time I was born.
One Sunday morning in 1994 during a calling to accept Jesus as savior my wife and I commended our life to Christ. It has not been easy; but I have to confess that they have been the happiest years of my life.
Therefore if any person is in Christ he is a new creation; the old has passed away. Behold the fresh and new has come!
—2 Corinthians 5:17
Understand that every spiritual experience has a purpose and is always for the glory of God. My prayer request was to be able to bring the message of salvation to others through my testimony, and use my bodybuilding accomplishments as a tool to witness Christ to others.
One day while praying and meditating in my trophy room I was over whelmed with emotion and tears. When I opened my eyes I was kneeling in front of my trophies. Suddenly a thought came in to my mind as though God was speaking to me and said, “I am still not Lord of your life. I do not share my glory. Your trophies are still your glory. If you want me to use you as you are asking me, then you have to get rid of your trophies.”
I admit that I questioned him, and said, “God, not my trophies! I have surrendered everything to you. Now you want my trophies?”
Be careful what you ask God for. You may not get it the way you want!
This became the biggest test of my faith. My trophies represented all of my accomplishments in bodybuilding, and I had been collecting them since I was sixteen. Whenever I moved my trophies went with me. They were the first things I would very carefully pack.
I had to make a decision that I did not want to make. I shared my experience with my wife, and so she asked what was I going to do. I told her I was going to obey God and get rid of my trophies because in Christ alone I glory. I have been blessed beyond measure, and by Christ’s strength I will overcome. The trophies cannot compare to the grace by which I stand.
There is no greater honor than to know God more closely each day.
It was difficult, but I went ahead and obeyed Gods direction and slowly all my trophies left my trophy room.
The reason that God led me to get rid of my trophies is so that I can ask you this:
As a Christian what trophies do you have in your life that are preventing you from having a better and more productive spiritual life?
With me it was my actual trophies. But what about you? People can make anything their trophies. They could be your money, automobiles, home, business, or family. Only God knows what you are placing above Him in your life.
I now see my life and the people in my life through the love of Jesus, constantly striving to know Him more closely. It’s not easy, but with Him by my side I’m sure I can finish the race.
To receive Christ you may pray your own prayer. Or, if you need help praying, you may use the following prayer and make it your own confession.
Admit that you are a sinner. Decide to distance yourself from sin. Believe that Christ died for your sins and rose from the dead, and ask Jesus to come into your life, forgive your sins and take control of your life as Lord and Savior.
This simple prayer could be the beginning of your new life:
Dear Lord I know that I am a sinner and that I need your forgiveness. I believe you died for my sins and rose from the dead. I want to leave sin behind, and live a pure life. Come into my heart, and be my Savior. I want to follow you as my Lord, Amen.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” —Romans 12:2
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