To the Town North Toastmasters
By C. J. Webster
Madam Toastmaster, fellow Toastmasters and Guests:
Today, I would like to share with you the most personal parts of my life. Along the way, I would like to present to you the best self improvement book available today and show you how this book is helping me on a daily basis.
My life, honed through the handiwork of loving parents, has been filled with happiness and accomplishments. I grew up in Dallas, attended excellent schools, spent two years in the Peace Corps, got my Masters Degree, and have achieved success in two different careers. My life has been nearly perfect and yet there was a major void in my life for nearly twenty years.
I made a grave mistake at age sixteen. I began to believe I could achieve ultimate happiness and contentment through a relationship with a woman. I made the happiness I could get out of having a girlfriend the number one priority in my life; in short, I made it my God.
For the next twenty years of my life, my highs and lows emotionally were directly related to how my relationships were going. If I decided she was not quite the one for me, I was disillusioned and disappointed. If she decided to dump me first, I was crushed. More than anything else achieving a happy marriage and family was what I wanted. Sadly, I rolled through numerous relationships and one divorce, somehow expecting to find something close to perfection. In the process I hurt some people very severely, and myself as well.
A year and a half ago, the latest chapter in my quest for the perfect relationship was rapidly crumbling. At the time Irene and I had been going together, living together, and had been engaged for two years. We thought all along we would be married, but somehow we seemed to be getting further away instead of closer. Somehow we knew something was missing.
Fortunately, amidst all our turmoil, Irene found a church she wanted to attend and talked me into going along. We loved the church and met many new friends, but somehow we weren’t getting any closer. We did begin reading the Bible a little and hearing about Jesus at church, but we weren’t changing. Finally, about Easter time we decided to separate. Neither one of us were sure whether this was a step out of the relationship or a resting point. It was a very sad time for us both.
A few days later, I went to a Businessmen’s Prayer Breakfast at Bent Tree Country Club at which Ron Ragland, TNT’s first President, was the speaker. Ron said he had committed his life to Jesus Christ only a few months before. He talked about the promises of the Bible and how he had a personal relationship with Christ.
I went home that day and began working in my yard. As I dug thoughts of what Ron had said, but mostly I thought about how my life was falling apart. Irene and I had spent two years working on a relationship which was going down the drain. We had read all kinds of books, we made promises to each other, and we spent thousands of dollars with psychologists.
As I thought about all we had done I said, “We’ve tried everything.” When I said it I suddenly realized we hadn’t! At this moment I got on my knees right there in the garden. I began crying. I didn’t know what to say. I had heard friends talk about asking Jesus into their hearts and so I just asked Jesus to come into my life. I asked Him to help me put my life back together.
I arose after praying awhile, fully expecting if God was in fact going to come into my life, it would require at least a couple of years of intensive Bible study. Life had been a breeze for me and I knew Jesus wasn’t going to be so easy on me. I was wrong!
It was April 17, 1982, when I committed my life to Christ and for the first time I understood God’s love and what my first priority should be. Two weeks later, with no questions Irene and I set our wedding date. She moved back into my house and I moved out to live with a friend. We were married on June 19th. Ten and a half months later we had our first child. I finally have what I had longed for all my life.
Since accepting Christ as my personal Savior, I have discovered the great help the Bible can be. I have selected five key points from the Bible which have been special to me I would like to share with you.
In Matthew, Jesus said, “See ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” What a promise! You can see how this was fulfilled in my life! When I put the Lord Jesus Christ truly first in my life and south to be righteous in God’s eyes, He gave me what I wanted most. I have found since that time, when I am most obedient to God’s Word and see His guidance, I am rewarded.
A second Biblical promise came into focus in my life shortly after I committed to Christ convincing me of the miracle of Jesus. This promise said, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away, behold; all things become new.”
I began to recognize several things were happening in my life. I was definitely being more considerate towards Irene and more caring. There was a fundamental change in my heart. I could for the first time send I was committed to her. I told a friend about this change and he asked me a question. “Have you decided to be more caring towards Irene? Have you decided to increase your commitment to her?” I had to respond, “No”, since I had not made those kinds of decisions. His reply was God changed men’s hearts from the inside. The major change I had worked so hard to achieve for myself, but could not accomplish, was quite easily done by Christ.
Over the next few months I saw myself changing in surprising ways. I went from drinking fairly heavily at times to only an occasional drink now. Previously, I really enjoyed alcohol and some evening I had an urge to drink which I could not control. Christ took away my desire. I did not just decide to go on the wagon. I have seen God make changes in me which are miracles because I know what efforts I had previously made to accomplish these objectives. If I had fallen from a ten-story building and survived, I could not believe any more firmly in miracles than I do now.
The third piece of advice I got from the Bible was some person marital counseling. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Husbands love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church and gave himself for it.” This is so simple! Christ gave His life for us and my responsibility is to live my life for my wife. When I am willing to do just this, to place her needs above mine, our marriage is truly blissful. Admittedly, obeying such a commandment is not always easy, but I know I am in control of my marriages’ destiny. No matter how my wife responds to her responsibilities, if I can fulfill mine, then we will surely succeed.
A fourth piece of Biblical advice, “Honor thy father and thy mother”, has spoken to both Irene and me, quite profoundly. Anyone who has concerned themselves with their relationship with their parents and/or in-laws should follow this advice.
Shortly after we were married Irene mentioned she was going to take back some of our duplicate wedding gifts. Her mom said she shouldn’t do this because the people who gave them to us had something special in mind. Needless to say, the argument was on.
Later, in rethinking what she should do, Irene recalled God’s direction to honor her mother. While she really disagreed with her mother’s advice, she chose to follow the Word of God. When she told her mother she had decided not to take the gifts back, her mom said, “I didn’t mean for you not to take them back, I just wanted you to listen to me.” Together they took the duplicate gifts back. God had honored Irene, because she had followed His Word.
The fifth promise of God is found in John’s Gospel when Jesus says, “I am come that they might have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” He didn’t say He came so we should have to give up smoking and drinking, or so we should be every mindful of our sins. He came to bring a message of joy.
I know myself since I committed my life to Christ Jesus; I have known more joy, more love, more excitement, and more stability. I have wept copious tears of joy, opened my heart to others, and accomplished much more than ever before in my past. Jesus coming into my life has been accompanied by His promise of abundance.
My life and the way in which Jesus Christ has worked are not unique. His saving grace is available to any who are willing to open the door. The Bible is a message of hope, bulging with blueprints of God’s Plan for our lives.
"If the Bible is not your guide, I recommend it to you. If you are overwhelmed by its volume, just start with the Gospel of John. The Bible is the Word of God; an excellent Word for our lives today", C. J. Webster
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