Saturday, December 8, 2007

A Musician's Story

I remember trying to be good as a child. I would quickly say 5 or 10 “Hail Marys” if I used God’s name in vain. We went to Catholic church every Sunday, but it did not seem to make a difference during the rest of the week.

In high school I rebelled against my parents. For example, I would lie to them, saying I was going to a school play, but going to a friend’s house instead. Basically, I was a brat who wanted my own way.

Then a friend invited me to a retreat. I figured it would be a good way to get away from my parents for the weekend, so I accepted. There I met a real live Christian for the first time. It was very obvious that she was different, taking scorn patiently and answering questions. I became interested in reading the Bible, and did so on the sly (didn’t want anyone seeing me reading it!). I became involved in the youth group at church, where, again, I could see a difference in peoples’ lives. I realized I was a sinner who had offended a holy God, and I needed to repent (turn around and go the other direction with my life). I asked God to forgive my sins and chose to follow Jesus, the one who died to take the penalty for sin that I deserved.

He has helped me through some very difficult times, especially in 2003-2004 when I faced two major abdominal surgeries and was hospitalized a total of 21 days. As I lay in a hospital bed with a tube down my nose draining out my stomach, somehow I knew that this was exactly where Jesus wanted me for that time. He comforted me and pulled me through. He showed me love through my church family, some of whom did my Christmas shopping, took my children shopping so they could buy gifts, brought meals to our home, and came and helped with my medical needs. It was a very precious time of knowing Jesus more intimately.

I started taking piano lessons when I was seven years old. I switched to harpsichord in college and absolutely love the sound of the instrument! I perform as often as I can, and I teach various music classes at The Master’s College. Whether I teach or perform, I do it all to honor God. He is always in my audience!

It’s been a 30-year long adventure walking with my Lord and Savior. I still stumble and sin, but He forgives me. He loves me with an everlasting love, more than anyone here could ever love me. I know that I am His child and will be with Him when I leave this earth.

Ruta Bloomfield

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Thursday, May 24, 2007

THE WORD...a Police Officer's Story

THE WORD

I know the power of the Word of God. I have experienced its ability to reach and transform. One single word in the Bible effected the salvation of my eternal soul. Allow me to share my testimony.

I am a harvested Christian. I was not raised in church. That makes me a member of a rather small minority. By my survey, most churches are comprised of 95 to 98 per cent homegrown Christians. As best I can tell, the harvest fields were abandoned about two generations ago. Thank God, at least a few people still share the gospel outside their own family. Otherwise, I would still be enroute to an eternity in Hell.

At the tender young age of 42, I was given a copy of the New Testament. A man named Ben offered it to me as “free” gift. Attached to the offer was the stipulation that I read about a dozen verses that he had written on a piece of paper and inserted as a bookmark. I agreed and took the book, though I did not consider it the great treasure that he represented it to be. My interest was in stifling his attempts to witness to me. Frankly, he was starting to grate on my nerves.

I learned a long time ago that there are certain people in life that just rub me the wrong way. I also learned how to deal with them. I found that those people tend to rub pussy cats, a lot more often than they rub porcupines. If it is unpleasant for both parties, there is usually a lot less rubbing. So I took the book and announced that I would read the whole thing, if and only if, he would agree to read the Koran. Now that staggered him, but he recovered and agreed to those terms so obviously distasteful to him.

I had also learned a long time ago how to circumvent predictable procrastination. That afternoon, I went to the library and checked out a copy of the Koran to deliver to him. He then had two weeks to hold up his end of the bargain. Let the games begin, I thought.

I speedily read the New Testament in about eight hours or so, over a two day period. There was no attempt to comprehend or seriously consider what I read. That wasn’t part of the bargain. There was no intent on my part to retain anything. I was merely fulfilling my part of a contest of sorts. In essence, I read God’s Word on a dare.

I attended Ben’s church a few times, and considered the speed reading and a few sermons, more than adequate consideration to be given to “religion”. Apparently Ben didn’t think it sufficient, because he kept trying to witness to me. He kept trying, and I kept warding off his efforts.

But then it happened. He gave up. He came to my home one Thursday evening, visited for a while, and then made the announcement. He was giving up on me because he had taken his best shot, and obviously wasn’t making any progress. I tried to calculate if this was some sort of reverse psychology, or if he was actually conceding. After twenty years as a street cop, I was skilled at detecting lies and bluffs. He wasn’t lying or bluffing. He was giving up.

I gloated inwardly all the way to the door, as I saw him out. I had beaten him at his own game. But something he had said when he was rationalizing his failure, stuck in my mind after he departed. He had described something about our interaction as being a mystery to him. He said that he found it very puzzling that while having no interest in spiritual matters, that I was a good person. In fact he said, should I have responded and been saved, that most people wouldn’t even notice. There was no obvious character flaw, unpleasant disposition, obnoxious habits, substance abuse, or other “lost” quality that would be noted by the casual observer. And while conceding that he didn’t know me real well, he thought he knew me as well as most people. That was probably true. I am outgoing, but not particularly transparent. And then he described, what to him, was a mystery.

He said that my life as a good lost person would exhibit little observable change, if I were to get saved. It was like two parallel lines. They go the same direction, but they never intersect. The mystery was the unknown factor preventing the intersection. What kept the two lines from merging?

I didn’t know, and didn’t really care. But, I do hate a mystery. The analogy of the parallel lines, unable to intersect, kind of hung in the back of my mind the rest of the evening. When my wife and I went to bed that night, it was still there nagging at me. Long after I should have drifted off to sleep, it was there. It was a bit of unfinished business to be dealt with before I could close out the day. I hate, literally hate, a mystery.

Sometimes I can just blow off something that piques my curiosity. But sometimes a matter will completely obsess me, and I’ll consider it from every possible angle trying to grasp it. Eleven p.m. soon became two a.m., as I contemplated what might be wrong with me…. or more likely, what was wrong with them. I decided to compare and contrast. What did I believe versus what did “they” believe?

I agreed with pretty much all the general moral stances of Christians. Thou shall not steal was a given. I put people in jail for that. Thou shall not kill was likewise something I had arrested people for. But my position was a bit more pragmatic. In less civilized times, if I needed something desperately, I would have no qualms about relieving someone else of that item. I could also imagine circumstances where it might be necessary to inflict lethal force. I had, in fact, been trained to do so.

I had always considered it better to die on one’s feet, than to live on one’s knees. In contrast, Christians spend a great deal of time on their knees. Turning the other cheek wasn’t my first inclination. I leaned more toward an eye for an eye, plus the head. If someone were to take my cloak, I’d probably be inclined to retrieve it and dissuade them from ever doing so again. I darn sure wouldn’t give them my shirt to go with the stolen cloak.

There were a number of elements of the “church view” that I could live with, but several that I deemed unrealistic and na├»ve. But, the comparison list didn’t deal with the mystery. What was the deal with those parallel lines?

It was well after three when I remembered something that seemed to shed some light on the question. I remembered my “motto”; my “creed”. You’ve probable got one, if you think about it. Most people do. Sometimes it’s simple and short like “do unto others…”, “he who dies with the most toys wins”, “honesty is the best policy”, etc. Sometimes it is a simple thought, expressed in a complex way. Mine fell into the second category.

I had not so much formed it, as I had found it. In my early teens, a piece of literature crossed my path that had a hauntingly familiar ring to it. It resonated so deeply, that I speculated that perhaps I had written it in an earlier life. As a fatherless child (my father died when I was an infant), my search for how to be a man was undirected. This looked like a roadmap. Of all things, it was a poem. I burned it into my memory, just in case it popped up in the next life. I wanted to be absolutely sure next time, that it was mine and that it was following me. And then I lived it. Every opinion, precept, and perspective that I developed as I grew up and older, had at its core, this foundation. Consider the following, as it might appeal to an ungrounded adolescent seeking a standard or a stance.

INVICTUS


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit, from pole to pole.
I thank whatever gods may be,
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance,
I have not winced, nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance,
My head is bloodied, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears,
Looms but the horror of the shade.
And yet the menace of the years,
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not, how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the captain of my fate,
I am the master of my soul.



More than a quarter of a century later, I still had it tucked in the back of my mind. I recited it a couple more times, and took an unusual comfort in having retained it so firmly. At three in the morning, with all asleep around me, this was the essence of me. This was my motto. This was my creed. Complete and total autonomy; my way or die trying. The mark of my life would be that I did it my way.

Relishing it, I recited it to myself yet again. I took pride in remembering it so well. But then, there had been reminders along the way. Nearly twenty years before, I remembered having found it in a poetry book that somehow found its way into my considerable collection of books. Neither I, nor my wife, have any recollection of having bought such a book. The last two lines popped up frequently in the public arena. They appeared on a very readable poster, in the background of a Cosby show episode, some years later. Frequently I would note some line from it being inserted into newspaper or magazine articles. At least a portion of it would seemingly surface every few years just to refresh my memory. And I would recite it in full, just as I could then. It had not been difficult to stay attached.

But this time, something kind of snagged in that last stanza. There was something about that word “strait”. I doubt that I even knew its meaning when first I memorized the poem. But at 42, my vocabulary had broadened considerably. I knew that strait meant narrow or constricted. And it occurred to me that there was something else that I had seen recently that used that archaic adjective. I searched my memory for several minutes before I made the connection. I remembered strait being used to describe a gate. And a few seconds later, I remembered where.

There was something in that Bible I had raced through so carelessly, just a few weeks before. Amazingly enough, I had captured and retained the main idea of that random sentence. There was a strait gate that led to salvation, while a wide gate led to destruction. (Matt. 7:13) The poem read : “It matters not how strait the gate”. But what the Bible had said was that this is the only thing that really does matter. What was this thing that I had grafted onto my soul? As I went over the lines yet again, ever so slowly, I saw it for what it was. It was a devil worshipper’s chant!

The multiple times that this obscure poem had surfaced over the years began replay in my mind. I began to see just how sinister the “coincidences” were. And I began to seethe with rage. I was pumping enough adrenalin to bench press a Buick. There was a voice in my head that screeched at me: “Sucker !!!” I don’t know if it was my own or Satan’s, for I was furious to the point of insanity.

But then I remembered something else that turned my rage into the kind of terror, that makes you sick to your stomach. I remembered my son, my only child, coming to me once when he was a middle school student. He handed me a piece of paper to read. Something had so intrigued him, that he had copied it out of a book at school. It was the poem Invictus. I glanced at it and immediately handed it back to him. I recited it flawlessly. Then I told him that he had just discovered “my” poem. I told him it was important to me, and could be to him as well. I suggested he memorize it. What if he had? What had I done?

The Friday sunrise, a couple of hours later, found me composed enough to get up and go to work. I don’t know how strongly I believed in God at that point, but I knew that Satan had been proven to me beyond the shadow of any doubt. I was trying to sort out what to do, but I was paralyzed by one thought. If my son had been entranced as I had been, I had to reach him on that side of any spiritual decision of my own. It was a stupid thought, but I decided to risk Hell for a day, until my son came home from college on Saturday afternoon.

I drove to work at 15 miles per hour. After roll call, I took my squad car and parked it in an open area with full visibility. As the sector sergeant, I was supposed to make all the “hot” calls with the dispatched officers. I made zero calls. My guys were on their own, that day. I knew where I was going, if I got killed. I was taking no chances. Friday passed, and another sleepless night before I had to pull another shift on Saturday. I was even more cautious, watching the clock all day, waiting to get home to speak to my son. Finally, it was over and I was still alive. I carefully made my way home.

My son arrived home shortly after I did. As soon as I could get him alone, I broached the subject. I asked him if he remembered bringing home a poem nearly a decade before. He did. There was a copy of it hanging on the wall in his dorm room, he said. He had memorized it, just as I had foolishly suggested. The poison had been passed.

But he held it even more tightly than I had. When I began to try to explain how I had made a terrible mistake and then involved him, the mood turned ugly. He wouldn’t turn loose of it. For the first time in his life, he crossed me. I was crazy, he said. And then he left the house.

I considered my circumstance all Saturday night, and by morning my options had come down to one. I loved that boy with all my heart, and would gladly have died for him. But, I wasn’t going to Hell for anybody. I got up and went to work that Sunday morning. After roll call, I took my squad car to the highest point in the division, an old reservoir park overlooking the Missouri River, and prayed my first prayer. I pled for forgiveness and salvation, because I knew what I truly deserved. After nearly 72 hours without sleep, I was vibrating like I had been on a two week motorcycle trip. But, immediately after praying, I had a tremendous peace and infusion of strength. I didn’t even take a nap when I got home that afternoon. I told my wife that we needed to go to evening church services. It was there that I told the church, and the world, that I had been saved and needed to be baptized.

I shared that testimony a few weeks later with the whole church. I’ve shared it with many groups and churches over the last 15 years. But, it took on a whole new perspective about six years ago. Something happened in May of 2001.

Just before his execution, the Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh issued his last statement. It was written, not oral. He hand wrote from memory, and boldly signed, the poem Invictus. There, but for the grace of God, go I. Not many people feel any pity for Timothy McVeigh, but I do. Eternity is a very, very long time.

We are all guilty of being evil. The depth of our depravity, and the amount of pain we inflict, is irrelevant to a holy God. Any, and all of it, are deserving of Hell. But, grace and mercy are freely extended. By His grace, we receive something incredibly wonderful…eternity in Heaven in a loving family relationship with our Creator. By His mercy, we are spared from the horrors of Hell, which is what we truly deserve in our rebellion against our Creator. But, by His justice, judgment day approaches. Perhaps there is greater suffering for murderers than most of us who have only hated our brother. But, there are no “good” accommodations in Hell. We serve one of two masters: either God or Satan. There are no “free agents”, despite what the world tells you. Through which gate do you pass?



Frank Fears

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Divine Appointment at Hollywood & Vine

Who is Dean Clark?? First of all, thank you for taking a moment to read my story. I believe that you are reading this for a reason and pray that your life will be touched. My story will seek to answer the following questions:
“What does a developmentally retarded foster child have to do with Axl Rose, Elvis Presley, Marlon Brando and James Cameron’s Titanic?” and
“Where is God when my choices take me FARTHER than I want to GO, keep me there LONGER than I want to STAY, and COST me MORE than I want to PAY?”
Want the answer? Keep reading...

What is a Divine Appointment?
God has chosen to reveal himself in the Bible and to me by what I call “Divine Appointments”. God is like a master weaver creating an amazing tapestry (or rug). You and I are like the strings God is using in his masterpiece. A Divine Appointment is a moment in time (or person placed in our path) that allows us to see God’s hand at work. Most people call this a coincidence, dumb luck or a lining up of the stars…I believe in giving God the credit where credit is due. Here is my story….

Are We Accidents?
I have been told from my earliest recollections that God is at work in my life and has a great Plan for me. My life started as an accident (in the world’s eyes), but thankfully, how we start does not always determine where we end up.

One of my favorite verses tells of God’s plan:
Psalms 139:16 "You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit them together in my mother's womb. Your workmanship is marvelous... You were there while I was being formed...You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe."

Accident no More!
I started life as an unwanted pregnancy. My life was spared by God because 7 years later in 1973, Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion in the USA. I was born to an unwed mother and entered this world several months premature weighing only 2.5 lbs. In 1966 babies this small did not survive (my first miracle!).

No Hope to Health…
Prior to my birth, my mother had signed paperwork for an anonymous adoption. Her plan to have me adopted was cut short when I was born with such serious health problems. I remained in the hospital for a total of 13 months and went from an incubator to a rehab institution called Rancho Los Amigos in Downey, CA. No home and no health…but GOD had a Plan.

Who is that kid in the yard?
During this time, God had placed the desire for foster children into the hearts of Terry and Pauline Clark. The day the social worker came to visit the Clarks, they just “happened” to be baby sitting little John from next door. “Oh, you work with handicapped children” and she pointed to little John. The social worker looked into the back yard and saw a kid with braces on his legs (from the birth defect Spina Bifida) and thought of me for the Clarks. I was placed with the Clarks due to this special moment!

I went from developmentally retarded baby that was unable to make a sound or sit up to healthy kid in around 7 years. I started with a tumor in my windpipe that required a tracheotomy tube in my throat. I somehow taught myself to speak in gasps by forcing air past the tube. The Clarks walked through 14 surgeries with me and were planning to adopt me but that was not to be…. Finally healthy, but God still had changes ahead…

Into the Fire…
The Clarks are wonderful Christian people and we attended church regularly and I was baptized around 8 years old. Around this time the Clarks allowed me to spend the weekend with this nice lady. I came back and said: “Did you know that lady is my mom?”

Right then, the Clarks knew that my biological mom was going to take me away…and I lost the only family I knew at 9 years old.
As sad as this was for the Clarks and I…God had set into motion a series of Divine Appointments. During this time, I discovered my art and would meet several best friends that would change my life.

My new life was very different from the stable Clark house. I ended up living in 14 different places, had 3 step-dads, started on drugs at 12, arrested at 13, part of a stealing/drug-dealing group of kids at 14 and moved to Hollywood at 15. My new best friend in Hollywood was Chris Weber, founding guitarist of Guns n’ Roses (GnR).But God still had a PLAN!

Hollywood and GnR…
Chris and I hung out in 10th grade at Fairfax High School, home to famous rock bands like GnR, LA Guns, and Red Hot Chili Peppers. I moved to a different city in 11th and 12th but we remained friends. After graduation, we spoke on the phone and Chris said: “Dude, I scored a house, do you want to move in?” I moved sight unseen into the GnR party house in the Hollywood Hills. The house was the second home to Axl Rose (singer), Izzy Stradlin (guitarist), Steve Adler (drummer…he slept on my couch!) and an assorted cast of druggies, groupies and freaks of all kinds. You can imagine that I did not make good decisions during this time…but was miraculously spared from serious drug addiction. I was there when all my friends became hooked on heroin…it was devastating.

Discovered at Hollywood and Vine…
I attempted to go to Cal State University Northridge (CSUN) at this point but dropped out. During this time, I worked at Bernard Luggage at the corner of Hollywood and Vine. One Saturday, a 27 year old named Rob Langer came into my store looking at briefcases. We started talking and he mentioned the CSUN Career Center. Amazingly, I had found Bernard Luggage at the CSUN Career Center. Rob said “I just placed an ad for a “Runner””. I then boldly (or stupidly?) asked if he wanted to use the phone? “to cancel your ad…you just found your Runner!”. Rob then said… “You’re HIRED!” and I still had no idea was a Runner was.

I now worked in Commercial Real Estate! Miraculously, I had been hired to help lease the office space at the two high-rise office buildings at Hollywood and Vine. I literally walked across the street to a new life. My first day on the job was spent with Rob Langer buying me my first and only suit and tie. I went from spiked hair Hollywood kid to corporate exec in two weeks…with a secretary and office! (a serious Divine Appointment) …
God Definitely had a PLAN!

Like Father, Like Son….
Unfortunately, this wonderful break did not clean me up…I just had more money to party! In 1987, a major earthquake hit Southern California. I was partying with several guys, when one exclaimed “Dude, you need to be in jail when the earthquake hits…it was awesome!” It turns out my party buddy had beat up a kid on a bike. As I pondered the quality of my friends, the three of us went to a movie called “Like Father, Like Son”.

The movie was one of three body-switching films that year (remember BIG with Tom Hanks?). Like Father, Like Son featured Dudley Moore (50 year old surgeon) and Kirk Cameron (16 year old rebel) switching bodies. While I watched the movie…God spoke to me… Here was this distinguished surgeon on the outside and a punk kid on the inside. Right in the theater, God said to me: “That’s You!”. It was true, now as a real estate guy in a suit, I was cleaned up on the outside, but inside I was still doing the same things I did as a rebellious teen.

Several weeks later, I announced at a party that I was going clean. Within a month, I came home from work and found a moving van out front. My roommate was moving out and taking the temptation to party with him (and all the furniture)…thank God! Several weeks later, I received a call from my old friend Brooks. He was looking for a room to rent but had a whole house full of furniture…amazing! Brooks then introduced me to the girl that took me to church. …God puts his PLAN into motion…

God makes his move…on Mother’s Day
This girl and I ended up going to church on Mother’s Day in 1988. The funny thing is we did not take my mom; we just went to be able to say we went (bragging rights?). Anyway, this was my first experience in church as an adult…I was shocked to see normal (and even cool) people there.
God then did a big miracle…He spoke directly to my heart in that service.

I heard for the first time that even though I was success in the world’s eyes in real estate, I was lost and in need of a Savior. I discovered that there was a serious penalty for my sin…death! That penalty of death was the reason Christ had to die on a cross. Christ paid the penalty for my sin and I could be born again by receiving that God’s forgiveness by Faith. I finally found out that the emptiness inside of me was a “God-shaped” hole that only the Lord could fill. After 4 weeks going to church, I went forward and prayed with a guy in a back room. I told him that I did not think God could forgive or accept me because of my horrible past. God gave me the perfect guy to pray with…he had been delivered from serious sexual addiction and was now free! I prayed a simple prayer that day and God came into my life and changed me forever. I felt like the weight of the world was lifted from my shoulders! God revealed His PLAN!


Set Free… I ended up being single for a couple of years and God gave me an amazing new friend in Steve Navyac (now tour manager for country star Sara Evans). We hung out in the LA Jazz scene and he introduced me to his church: Christian Assembly. Home of Pastor Mark Pickerill and worship leader Tommy Walker. I first shared this story with the youth group there and launched a three-year stint in ministry. I seemed to have it all together on the outside but on the inside I was continually haunted by the choices I had made and my old temptations. My good friend Roy Patillo shared a life changing verse with me:

Romans 8:1 - Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

This verse states that once you have accepted Christ’s free gift of salvation. You don’t have to live in guilt and shame from your past choices. This verse literally set me free.

Family Life and Graphic Design
I believe that God kept me single for a time so that I would start to deal with the issues that set me on a path of destruction. I meet many frustrated singles longing for the perfect mate. I think that God is waiting for many people to get their lives right with the Lord and to deal with their issues before placing them in a relationship. Around this time God gave me my greatest gift…my wife Laura. I was trying to set up my friend with her roommate, but God had other plans. Laura and I ended up at a restaurant alone. God showed up and revealed to us both that night that this was the person we were to marry. We have now been married for 16 years and have two awesome boys: Joshua and Jared.

After real estate, I ended up selling color printers. God would also use this job in my life. During my lunch breaks, I taught myself graphic design on the Macintosh. I learned Photoshop, Illustrator and Quark. One of my more “colorful” clients was Marlon Brando…I spent 12 bizarre hours in his mansion on the hill. Several years later, I would get my big break and design artwork for James Cameron’s movie Titanic and the Elvis Presley Cookbook for Graceland. God has revealed some of his PLAN for me…what is God’s Plan for YOU?

God’s Plan for YOU…
God can change ANY life no matter how far it has strayed from HIS plan. Many people are trying to be good enough for God’s Free Gift. If we have to work for something, it is not Free or a Gift! Many people will put off a decision for Christ so that they can “clean up their lives first”. Do we need to sponge off BEFORE we step into the shower? NO! It takes a humble heart and broken spirit that will take off the pride and false pretenses we have set up, accept our part in the sin that has brought us here. Then we need to step into the shower of Jesus Christ’s forgiveness and grace. This sounds easy, but it will be the hardest thing you will ever do. This simple act of saving Faith will have the GREATEST return.

Accepting Christ’s FREE gift of salvation is the first step, developing friendships with other believers in a local church and digging into God’s word the Bible is essential. This website can help direct you in many areas of your walk with God.

Thank you for reading. Has this story touched your heart and changed your life? Email me at Dean@MissionPossibleCards.com and tell me your story or ask a question.
God Bless you!
Dean Clark

Update: One year ago, God allowed me to find
www.AllAboutGod.com on the web and has now launched a website allowing you to share your favorite website and your faith…check out: www.MissionPossibleCards.com.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Broken Glass - a Teen goes from Tragedy to Triumph

"One thing I've learned is that sometimes glass must be broken before it can be shaped into a beautiful mosaic" - Renee, Age 19

Like many people I grew up in a Christian home and went to church fairly regularly as a child. When I was seven I prayed with an older woman in my church and asked Jesus into my heart. When I was younger I didn't really understand the gospel and thought that as long as I went to church regularly and was a decent person I was ok.

I remember distinctly an incident in Junior High when a close friend shared to me about Jesus. This really bothered me because she clearly did not see him in my life, but I was a Christian, right?

I didn't put much thought into it after that and just went about my life. Like most young teen girls my image was more important. As long as things were ok I didn't really think about God. I spent most of my free time hanging out with my best friend, who was like a sister to me or a Siamese twin because we spent so much time together. My life was pretty meaningless and I clung to things that would not make me happy, but God had other plans for me.

One thing I've learned is that sometimes glass must be broken before it can be shaped into a beautiful mosaic. God wanted to shape me but I was stubborn and refused to see the full potential of life. The summer between my junior and senior year of high school would change my life forever.

It had only been a few months since my grandmother had died and it was hard. She was the first person I was close to that I had lost, however I had a peace knowing that she was a strong Christian woman and had lived a full life. That peace was taken for granted at first, but later would be a significant realization.

My family took a vacation to a rural lake in another state and when we came back my mother, father and I had both contracted West Nile from mosquito bites. Imagine what it feels like when you have the flu and your joints and muscles are aching multiplied by a million. I have in my lifetime broken 2 bones, fractured one and sprained my ankle twice, but that was the worst physical pain I had ever experienced. This physical pain was nothing compared to the mental anguish that was soon to follow.

While I was still recovering (even today I suffer side effects like dizziness upon standing), I got a call from my best friend's cousin.


My best friend had died suddenly of a brain aneurism while visiting her mother in Vegas. Silence fell across the line as I tried to absorb this; suddenly I heard crying and realized it was me.

Not being able to handle it, she handed the phone to her mother who began asking questions like "Do you have someone there you can talk to?" I can't recall if I responded. It felt like hours passed, perhaps minutes, my mind was screaming. This isn't possible. The next six months to follow were the darkest times in my life. I walked around like a zombie and the crooked road I followed lead to a deep black hole with seemingly no escape.

I tried to put on a smile when I was in public, but lying in bed at night I couldn't escape the emptiness that consumed me. At first I was angry with God, how could he do this with me?

Slowly a light began to shine at the bottom of the pit and God reached his arms of love to find me when I was at my worst. Dirty and bitter he washed me new and had me smelling sweet again in a way that Lysol couldn't hold a candle to.

Eventually I grew stronger and started living my life again. The anger that ate away at me subsided and I found something I had never known before: peace. True peace that could only be found in handing the wheel of your life over to Jesus Christ and accepting that it is in his hands and that he knows better and that sometimes a piece of glass not only has to be broken but shattered so that the Lord's loving hands could mold it into something beautiful.

My story has not ended and I will not pretend that with my new beginning I lost all of my struggles. Only the lord knows the dark places this soul has been. I still feel the tug of despair every now and then, especially when her birthday rolls around. However, He walks with me in the valley of sorrow and laughs with me in the mountains of joy. I can now say with confidence I am a child of the great I AM and my life is safe in his hands.

“He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

“When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: When thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” Isaiah 43:2

Monday, April 30, 2007

Scientific Wordviews -

Are you on a quest to find out if a higher power exists in the world today? If so, study these scientific and mathematical evidences and find your own conclusion. Your foundational worldview is determined by your conclusion to this question.


Evidence For Evolution: The unsupported icons of evolution still found in today's textbooks, including homology, embryology, observed natural selection, and the fossil record.
Miracle Of Life: It’s more likely to win the state lottery every week for a million years than randomly assemble the first bacterium.
Dinosaur Extinction: Review the considerable evidence for this theory of recent dinosaur extinction. The facts overwhelmingly point to it as being truth.
How Old Is The Earth?: How old is the crust of the earth? What do its layers really tell us?
Creation Evidence: Evidence that discredits evolutionary theory. Lack of natural mechanism. Lack of transitional fossils. Time constraints. Unacceptable models under scientific rules.
Carbon Dating: How do scientists use this relatively rare radioactive isotope to determine how long ago an organic specimen died? Find out more.
Origin Of Life: Science and technology have revealed organic complexity and information code inherent in living systems that can not be spontaneously produced.
The Age Of The Earth Part 2: What kinds of scientific techniques do researchers use to determine the age of the earth?
Theory Of Relativity: Einstein’s theory that objects will move slower and shorten in length from the point of view of an observer on Earth.
Intelligent Design Theory: The living results of natural selection overwhelmingly impress us with the appearance of design as if by a master watchmaker. Just appearance?
Origin Of Life: What was the cause of first life on earth? What does the latest DNA evidence tell us?
Origin Of The Universe: The Big Bang Theory and its related Inflation Universe Theories are today's dominant scientific conjectures about the start of it all.
Geologic Time Scale: What is the geologic column? What does it really say about our world?
Origin Of Species: The book and theory that changed the way we think about life origins.
Evidence For Intelligent Design: The concept and design inherent in a machine, whether simple or complex, mechanical or biological, is self-evident.
The Dinosaur Fossils: What does fossilization mean? What does it tell us?
The Flood: The biblical accout. The geologic, historic and manuscript evidence.
Evolution Of Man: Learn about the independent observations within the fields of anthropology, paleontology and molecular biology that support the tree of life.
Irreducible Complexity: Like a mechanical motor, each part in the microscopic motor in a bacterium is absolutely necessary for the whole to function.
Fossil Record: Nearly 150 years after Darwin, there has been no clear evidence of evolutionary transition found thus far in the fossil record.
Microscopic Organisms: The flagellum is what propels a bacterium through its microscopic world. The bacterial flagellum consists of about 40 distinct parts.
Origin Of The Universe: The atheist mechanisms for all that we see. The Big Bang and Inflation Universe Theories. The Evolutionary Theories. A Critique.
Proof Of God: What does 21st century science and technology tell us about the reality of God?
Charles Darwin: His Evolutionary Theory of Origins. His family background and education. The HMS Beagle and Origin of Species. His lasting effect.
Creation Of Life: Producing traces of amino acids in a laboratory is far from creating biological systems. Life is truly a miracle.
Charles Darwin: He proposed "Natural Selection" as the mechanism by which an original single-celled organism could have evolved into all known species.
Evolution And The Fossil Record: Australopithecus afarensis, or "Lucy," was considered a missing link for years. Studies now show that she was a pygmy chimpanzee.
Human Eye: Check out the eye. Complex organs made up of separate but necessary subsystems cannot be the result of random chance.
Spontaneous Generation: Why are scientists declaring such huge odds against their own theories? Why are they proposing slightly outlandish non-scientific conjectures?
Second Law: Thermodynamics: Natural law and observable evidence applied to shed dramatic light on our cosmos.
Creation Vs. Evolution: An emotional debate that goes to the core of life and meaning.
All About The Journey: Study along with an attorney as he challenges his long-held preconceptions of life, origin of life, and Jesus Christ.
Evolutionism: A broad overview of the definitions attached to general evolutionary theory.
DNA Double Helix: What does the digitial code inherent in living things tell us?
DNA Molecule: The astonishing miracle of life’s incredible micro, digital, error-correcting, redundant, self duplicating, information storage and retrieval system.
The Age Of The Earth: Young Earth vs. Old Earth. A study of Limiting Factors. Magnetic field. Earth rotation. Moon drift. Young is not unreasonable.
Darwin's Theory Of Evolution: The theory of natural selection and its various issues.
Human Evolution: Is there really scientific evidence for the evolution of man?
All About Science: Learn about Charles Darwin, origin of life, DNA double helix, and much more! Discover new ideas and how they can impact your life.
Uniformitarianism: The emergence, history, and meaning of the geological doctrine which assumes uniform geologic processes throughout the unobservable past.
Cell Structure: The cell has revealed an "unanticipated Lilliputian world" of enormous complexity that has pushed the theory of evolution to a breaking point.
Creation Vs. Evolution: A look at the public schools and the popular media when it comes to this debate.
Catastrophism: What is the true geologic history of our earth? Check out the evidence here.
Piltdown Man: Are there really lies and mistakes in our textbooks?
Problems With The Fossil Record: Paleontologists at the largest museums are often confronted with the philosophical problems of identifying ancestral forms in the fossil record.
Evolution Vs. Creation: What are the basic differences between these two scientific world-views?
Age Of Earth: Science continues to change its estimates of the earth's age… So, what's the truth?
All About Creation: Can the scientific method be used to discover how God created the Heavens and the Earth? Learn here.
Intelligent Design: An examination of mechanical and biological machines. Spontaneous generation vs. concept and design. The fantastic complexity at the molecular level.
Big Bang Theory: Concise synopsis of the big bang theory's background, historical foundations, major problems. Explore alternatives to our ultimate question of origins.
Dragon History: What do the stories of dragons tell us about the history of dinosaurs in our past?
Theory Of Evolution: Is it true science to use Micro-Evolutionary observations to connect the missing dots on all the other phases of evolution?
Radiometric Dating: A review of the latest scientific techniques for dating inorganic objects.
Intelligent Design Video: Watch this extraordinary video clip of mechanical and biological machines. See the fantastic complexity of life at the molecular level. Does it point to an act of random evolution or design? What do the triple PhD's and experts think about this?
Origin of Species Video: Check out this incredible video clip of the Lampsillis Mussle. Is there a logical explanation for how evolution could explain the creation of this mussle?
Second Law of Thermodynamics Video: Watch this awesome video clip on the huge number of perfect settings needed to sustain life on earth. Are these things random happenstance or designed? You decide!
Evolution of Man Video: Who was Darwin and what are the arguments regarding his theory? What is natural selection and how does it play into what Charles Darwin believed?
DNA Double Helix Video: Watch this awesome video clip of the spinning DNA double helix. Does it point to an act of random evolution or intelligent design? See the process of transcription and translation. You be the judge. What do the experts think?
Big Bang Theory Video: Stream this short video on the big bang theory. Explore alternatives to our ultimate question of origins. Where did life come from?
Charles Darwin Video: Watch this short video clip on Charles Darwin and his infamous theory of evolution. Discover the truth today!
Theory Of Relativity Video: Watch this amazing video clip on the incredible number of perfect settings required to sustain life on our planet. Could all of these factors happened by chance?
Origin of Life Video: Stream this short video clip on the huge question of origins. Do you know what you believe and can you back it up with evidence?
Darwin's Theory of Evolution Video: Stream a short video on this theory. See the incredible advances we've made in molecular biology, biochemistry, and genetics since Charles Darwin.
Does God Exist: Based on the latest scientific evidence, has atheism become a greater leap of faith than theism? Check out the evidence for the existence of God here!
God The Creator: A lyrical version of the beginning of time and how God created the universe and all that is in it.

http://www.allaboutthejourney.org/scientific-wordviews-aatj-1b3e.htm
The Journey Home About Us Support Us Sitemap Copyright © 2002 - 2007 AllAboutTheJourney.org, All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

From Death to Life at Hollywood and Vine


Psalms 139:16 "You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit them together in my mother's womb. Your workmanship is marvelous... You were there while I was being formed...You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe."

This above verse is very important to me because it supports the view that each life is precious and God has a wonderful plan for every baby (and mother) even if the child is unwanted. My testimony starts with this point because I was one of the unwanted children that survived just before the legalizing of abortion (Roe vs. Wade) in 1973...this is my story.
- Dean Clark -

An Unexpected Arrival...
1966...My unwed mother delivered me prematurely in her Van Nuys apartment. She had originally planned to sign me away for adoption but the doctors discovered I had multiple health problems and was considered "unadoptable". I weighed 2.5 lbs. at birth and had a tumor in my windpipe. The doctors performed an emergency tracheotomy so I could breath...but GOD had a Plan!

1967...My first 13 months were spent in the rehab institution: Rancho Los Amigos Hospital. I was considered retarded, could not make any sound and the doctors gave no hope for a normal life.

1967-75...The Lord placed the desire for foster children into the hearts of Terry and Pauline Clark. Miraculously, the day of their interview with a social worker, they were baby sitting a neighbor boy with braces. The sight of him in the backyard prompted the social worker to ask if they wanted a handicapped child...me! They took a big risk by bringing a fragile 13 month old into their family (they already had 3 children of their own). Within 6 months I was miraculously able to bypass the tracheotomy in my neck and somehow move enough air past my vocal chords to speak! I was blessed to experience a safe Christian home and loving parents for 8.5 years. My stay with the Clarks unfortunately would not last...but GOD had a Plan!

Into the Mouth of Hell
1975-82...The Clarks had decided to adopt me and I thought my dream was finally to become reality. My biological mother still had parental rights and when she discovered the Clark's plans, she pulled me out of their home. I moved in with my biological mother and stepfather. My mother worked nights and I spent many hours after school alone. My half brother watched me and just happened to be a drug addict and dealer. I was introduced to drugs at 12 yrs. old. I ended up having 3 step dads and living in 14 different locations. The highlight of this period was the season I slept outside with my dogs (the house was so small my twin bed was placed in the backyard).

1982-86...My biological mother and I then moved to Hollywood to live with her new boyfriend. I spent that year in Hollywood hitchhiking to school each day. My new best friend was Chris Weber, founding guitarist of the rock band Guns n' Roses (GnR). I then moved out of Hollywood for 11th and 12th grade. After graduating from high school, I called my old friend Chris and he invited me back to Hollywood. I moved sight unseen into the GnR party house. Over the next few years, our house had a constantly changing cast of GnR band members, groupies and weirdos of every kind...thankfully, GOD still had a Plan.

Discovered at Hollywood & Vine
1986...During this time I worked at a luggage store at the corner of Hollywood & Vine. One Saturday, God sent a guy named Rob Langer into my luggage store looking for a briefcase. Rob mentioned that he had just placed an ad for a runner at the CSUN Career Center. I boldly (stupidly?) told him to cancel his ad because he just found his guy! My bravado got me hired on the spot even though I still had no idea what the job was..."runner?!"

My first day on the job was spent in a suit shop with Rob buying me my first (and only) suit and tie. He then put me to work as a Commercial Leasing agent for the two high rise buildings at the corner of Hollywood & Vine. In 2 short weeks I went from funky black clothes and a spiked hairdo in a luggage store, to a suit and tie guy in an office with a secretary!

1987...God used my new found conservative appearance to save my life from drugs and eventually my soul. I decided it was time to come clean from my cigarette, cocaine, pot and beer habits and lamely announced my new life direction to my friends during one of our beer bashes. A month or so later, I came home from work to find my roommate Mike moving out and the entire apartment empty (he owned everything). God knew I was not strong enough to stay clean on my own and used this incident to remove the temptation to party. I had no bed or furniture...but GOD had a Plan!

Out of the blue, a friend from my early childhood called and asked if I knew of a room for rent...he was having trouble finding something because.....he had a whole house full of furniture! My new roommate Brooks turned out to be the positive peer pressure I needed to stay clean and he eventually introduced me to the person that took me to church. (Update...Brooks came to the Lord in the last few years!)

God Makes His Move...
1988 - Mother's Day...I attended a large church in the S. F. Valley and was shocked to see normal and even "cool" people there (and not a "church lady" in sight!). Several key things hit me during that first exposure to church as an adult: I had achieved much of the success (through real estate) that the world said would fulfill me, but in that service I was aware how truly empty and unhappy I was. I appeared clean on the outside, but I finally realized I was a sinner in need of a savior. What amazed me was that in a huge service of 3000 people, the pastor (and God's Word) were speaking specifically to me.

After 4 sundays I went to a back room to pray with one of their counselors. I thought that God couldn't forgive me due to my dark past. The guy responded that God rescued him from serious sexual addiction and the Lord could forgive my past as well. I prayed and proclaimed my belief that Christ died for my sins and rose again. I admitted that I was a sinner and accepted Christ's forgiveness. I then asked Jesus to come into my heart and be my Savior and Lord (meaning I would live for Him and seek His will for my life through His Word: the Bible). The Lord answered my prayer that day and my life began at that moment...but GOD still had Plans for me.

1989...God even managed to use my Guns n' Roses past for His Plan. In 1989, GnR was the biggest band in the world, I offered to share my story about the dangers of rock and roll with the youth group at church. I unknowingly launched a 3 year stint in youth ministry.

1990...I was a committed Christian and working in ministry, but yet was continually haunted by the bad choices I had made. I feared being found out and mistakenly thought that Christians didn't continue to struggle like I was. I finally talked to the youth pastor, half expecting him to fire me on the spot. Instead, he shared a verse that changed my life:

Romans 8:1 - Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

The Lord opened my eyes to the fact that my past, present and future sin were covered (forgiven) by Christ's death and resurrection. I finally began to heal and several months later, after 2 years of no dating, my future wife entered my life. I feel the Lord waited for me to deal with these issues before putting me into a dating situation.

1991-07...These last 16 years have been the highlight of my life. The Lord has blessed me with a wonderful wife and two very active and amazing boys. As any parent knows, the challenge of raising children in a troubled world makes our previous life experiences seem trivial by comparison.

1996...Our move to Santa Clarita has been an incredible blessing. Our family has found an awesome home at Faith Community Church in Newhall. We are seriously studying God's Word and are challenged by the lives of many godly friends.

9/11/2001...The foundations we Americans place our hope in were rocked by the tragedies in New York and Washington D.C.. America's security and prosperity were threatened as we saw our major institutions crumble. We witnessed firsthand the vulnerability of our jobs, finances and government. We in California know a little about shaky foundations from our many earthquakes.

I now have a foundation (my faith in Christ) that can not be shaken even though the world around me crashes and burns. My faith has been strengthened by the fruit (results) I see in my life. My life before Christ was one of fear, self loathing, greed, jealousy and gossip. I still struggle in many areas but now I can see love, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self control. Life in Christ is not easy or always happy (kids can make you nuts!)...but I now have a inner hope, peace and joy that comes from a personal relationship with God.

2007...When I wrote this story originally in 2001, I had no idea all the changes it would bring. Chris Weber and I renewed our friendship. Chris is now married to a wonderful wife and works as a drug councelor. During our visit I rediscovered photos of GnR I took back in 1983. Then in June 2004 the photos I took were used in a new GnR/Hollywood Rose CD and Rolling Stone Magazine...who knew?

I have been sharing this story (and now photos) for 18 years and have seen God open amazing doors and opportunities, culiminating in the launch of Mission Possible Cards. I want to challenge those reading this to pray for an openness in their hearts to recognize God's Plan for them, their family and their work.

Do you have questions about God, the Bible, Church, Faith or Sin? Are you hurt, angry, indifferent or confused about God due to earlier life experiences? Please email me at Dean@AllAboutGod.com, visit http://www.allaboutgod.com/ or visit a local bible-teaching church to help you sort out your questions or direct you to the answers you seek...GOD has a Plan for YOU! Thank you for reading.... Dean Clark

Please visit my main website: http://www.missionpossiblecards.com/
My other blog is
http://www.missionpossiblecards.blogspot.com/ telling of the birth of my new ministry.