Lessons in Discipleship (13) دروس في التلمذة

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LID#13 – My Personal Testimony

          This is Dr. Ed Hoskins welcoming you to Lessons in Discipleship, a series designed to help new believers become established in their Christian faith.  This lesson is my personal testimony.  First, let me tell you a little about myself.  I am a retired physician and spent 34 years in family medicine and student health.  I became a Christian 50 years ago and was helped early in my faith by the Navigators, an international non- denominational Christian organization whose stated goal is “To Know Christ and to Make Him Known.”  I have been on associate staff with that organization since 1980.  Lessons in Discipleship is a compilation of what I learned from the Bible and under the guidance of the Navigators during that time.   What I learned then I now pass on to you.  Today’s session is my personal testimony.

In my immediate family we were taught to love the wilderness.  This first picture shows me and my older brother with  my grandfather. My grandfather was one of the last of the old time original Western sheriffs.  He was Sheriff of Luna Country, New Mexico from 1928-1930.  He wore a star on his chest and had a revolver on his hip.  I still have his revolver today.  From my grandfather, we learned to love living in the wilderness, how to camp, hunt, and fish.  As I got older, from my father I learned to be a scientist.

In fact, science was my god.  In high school I designed a device to measure the crustal tilt of the earth using a tilting pendulum.   I was able to make measurements of the pendulum down to a millionth of an inch.  I won first place in world competition at the International Science and Engineering Fair in 1971.  I also won sixth place nationally at the Westinghouse Science Talent Search, as well as significant awards from NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), the US Army, the US Air Force, the Society for Exploration Geophysicists, and other groups.  I graduated at the very top of my high school class.  But from a spiritual standpoint, functionally, I was an atheist.  And then my world fell apart.

As a young man, I suffered from severe heart disease following rheumatic fever.  I was told I might live only a few more years and that I needed dangerous heart surgery.  I was afraid of dying.  Although my family was well-respected, honorable, and loving, they had no answers for my current fear of dying.  I can remember lying in bed at night, feeling the irregular beat of my heart.  I wondered how long my heart was going to last.  Later, a high school friend invited me over to his house to play chess.  He told me that God had the answer for my fears in the Bible.  Unfortunately, I was not interested in God or the Bible at that time.  My heart got worse.  I was admitted to a hospital in Houston, Texas to have open-heart surgery to replace my heart valves.

While in that hospital room, I then remembered what my friend showed me from the Bible.  “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)  I also knew that because of my sin I was going to face judgment by God.  None of this was good news.  But then he showed me good news: “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.  He was put to death in the body but made alive by the spirit.” (1 Peter 3:18)  “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)  All I needed to do was respond to Jesus in prayer, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:24)  In that hospital room in Texas 50 years ago, I surrendered my life to follow Christ. It wasn’t a fancy prayer.  Basically, I told God, “Yes.”  But I told him I also wanted to show others how a Christian could die.

But it was not yet time for me to die.  I didn’t actually have surgery then.  It was not until 15 years later, working as a doctor in New Mexico, when my heart began to actually stop.  I was rushed to a hospital by ambulance.  In the ambulance, I can remember speaking to God in prayer, and saying, “My Lord Jesus, I’m looking forward to being with you.”  In the emergency room my heart completely stopped.  Doctors tried unsuccessfully to restart my heart with electrical shocks.  Fortunately, I was not conscious at the time.  About half an hour later my heart suddenly restarted and I took a deep breath.  One doctor told me later, “You were one shock away from being pronounced dead.”  A week later, I was transported to the northern part of the state and had open-heart surgery.   Both heart valves (aortic and mitral) were replaced.  For the last 50 years I have continued to follow Christ, to read God’s Word, the Bible, every day.  I memorize and study it.  I was baptized and regularly attend church.  I truly enjoy helping others and to help other people do the same.  Most important of all for me, I’m no longer afraid of dying.

My heart surgery was 35 years ago at that northern New Mexico hospital.  My heart valves were designed to last 20 to 30 years.  So now they have officially expired.  I know that I am living on borrowed time, by the grace of God.  I’m happily married with two grown children and three grandchildren.  My desire today is to continue to follow Christ and to tell others about him.  I completed graduate and medical school with both a PhD and an MD.  I practiced medicine for 34 years and then retired six years ago.  My message today for others is that God literally raised me from the dead to bring hope to all who will put their trust in Christ.  He died on the cross for our sins and was raised alive three days later.  One day we will all die physically, but we will also rise again.   Because Christ conquered death, so will we.

We will see you next time when our topic will be The Importance of Baptism.  That wraps up today’s presentation.  Thanks for being a part. Until next time, keep following Jesus.  He’s worth it!

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