Monday, March 21, 2011

The First Person I saw Accept Christ in God's Miraculous Timing

In October of 2009 I was newly dedicated to Christ. I decided I was going to stop gambling and had been attending addictions classes for the past few weeks, when God put together his first fateful divine appointment in my life.

The story takes place on a Tuesday night, but the ball begins rolling for its apex on the preceding Friday. I had gone to Tc Hooligans with my sister and brother in law and paid with my debit card. Somehow the card was split in half. Whether or not that has anything to do with the fact the waitress never gave it back to me, I don't know.

Four days later, I found myself in the neighborhood of a girl whom had broken up with me a few days earlier. When I looked down her street , I saw her new boyfriends car in the driveway. The aggravation of this caused me to begin driving to the casino in Buffalo. I had been about three weeks or so "clean."

As I drove thru Greece on my way to Buffalo I had to pick up some cash to gamble with. I had a 3000 dollar check from a poker site and was going to cash it at my bank, Esl. Well, I couldn't find any Esl's in Greece but I did find an ATM machine. By now I was vascillating and could feel the spiritual warfare going on in this situation. I reached into my wallet and couldn't find my debit card anywhere. Then I remembered I must have left it at Hooligan's four days before. It's the first time I remember losing my debit card in a place other then the ATM machine.

So here was my problem: I couldn't gain any access to money to gamble with. I was a half hour from home and only had a few bucks in my pocket. At first I was angry in regards to my bad luck, but as I calmed down I knew it was not luck at all. God had started the ball rolling four days earlier, knowing I would be challenged to gamble on this day.

The story gets better. As I gripped reality I decided I wasn't going to go to the casino ( Doesn't sounds like I had much choice, does it?), but I would instead go to addictions counseling that night.

As I sat in group counseling, an African American man of about 45 years of age, began to share of his life as a drug addict. He shared a story of a time he died of carbon monoxide poisoning. Yes, died. He said he was pronounced dead and subsuquently revived. What he described he saw in his instance of death was daunting and haunting.

He said when he died he was taken to hell. He said he remembers the fires and the screams. He remembered seeing people in chains and cages yelling for help. His most succint description was of the heat of it all; the raw, molten, heat.

This man whose name I do not know, was revived and came back to earth. He said upon learning of hell's fury that he hoped to never go back there again.

After I listened to this story I remember God speaking to me so clearly. When God speaks you don't hear a voice audibly, but you hear a voice in your head that you know is not yours. You know its not yours because it is so peaceful and overcoming and seperate from your own day to day mindful conscience.

What God was saying to me was " This man just shared of hell and how awful it was, but ask him if he has accepted me as his God since then." So in front of about 10 people and upon Jesus's instruction, I said this. " Sir, I don't want to put you on the spot. But I think God wants me to ask you if you have done anything since that day to ensure you don't go back there upon your final death?"

The man said he had not. He said he was not worthy to be a christian because he had done bad things. He even said he was unworthy because he smoked.Imagine that;there are people out there who have not been ministered to properly enough that they actually believe cigarettes can seperate you from the God who made you.

We as a group explained to him that is exactly why he was worthy. We all have done bad things. We all our sinners. Thats why we need the Lord. We fall short without him.

This mystery man accepted the Lord that night. We all applauded and told him he will assuredly never have to experience that pain or that heat again. It was something so obvious to some of us; I mean be honest, if you went to hell and came back, wouldn't you make sure you never go back again?

This man hadn't dealt with it in the years since his experience. Maybe nobody ever told him how to get to heaven. Maybe the lies of unworthiness were so binding that he thought he deserved hell.

When I think of all that happened that week it was so clearly God. He allowed me to lose my debit card,and while upset about my personal life, allowed me to see him so clearly in my moment of weakness. All because he needed me at that meeting that night to hear from him, and to speak to a man who had literally been to hell and back. I'll never forget that divine day;One that would have led me to a casino without God's graceful intervention.

I'll also never forget that day because it was the first time God had given me the privilege to be used in bringing someone to Christ....And undisputably enough, God knew he needed me there that night specifically. ....After that Tuesday night in October of 2009, I never saw that mystery man again.....

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Joe DiBella has a Nice New Girlfriend

 Joe DiBella has a Nice New Girlfriend

By Joe DiBella

If you haven't read this blog yet, please do; as it is imperative to understanding the following blog.

      Some people say I read into things to much. Have they told me this to my face? Sometimes. Have I traced this in their face? Sometimes. But actually I believe I look into things just the right amount. Funny; You never hear anyone say that do you?... 'He looks into things just the right amount.' We as a society are ever skeptical. It's the ever skeptics in so many that keeps so many from religion. Because although everyone knows we must die on this earth, so many skeptically for whatever reason lose interest in what happens when we do so. How could there be a God, they ask? Nothing comes out of nothing. But with that very same thinking there is the thinking that if a higher power didn't pop out of nowhere, then somehow we did? Something had to come out of nothing. You can't dispute that. So instead of saying we popped out of nowhere, how about saying God popped out of nowhere, and defining "nowhere" as "always there."

See I look into things just the right amount. Which is always. When you ask God to write your life's story as I have the past year or so, you will always expect God to be the one outlining your life's details. And God is deft enough to write between the lines. Whereas I pray almost everyday that I am also deft enough to choose to read between his lines.

Alas, my point: I have a new girlfriend. But not any old girlfriend you see. I paid $59.95 for the privilege and unadulterated joy of meeting her. I signed up for E-harmony in November with the belief I would be meeting someone significant. Did I surprise you with that last comment? Is it because you expected me to say " I signed up for E-harmony without thinking it was going to amount to anything significant?" Well that would be the commonplace themed statement to make. But you must realize, as I said before, I look into things just the right amount.

So when my mom text me for the third or fourth time in a couple months time that she had seen a commercial stating "E-harmony has a free communication weekend coming up and you should try it out," I was able to quip back "I already signed up and paid, and maybe you should try it out and find us a sugar daddy."

I have prayed for over one year for God to protect me from the wrong relationships. I had already had a lifetimes worth of those. So over that time God had made me privy to spots and situations he didn't approve of through lack of peace or lack of sensibility in the situation. I prayed for doors he wanted to close to close, and strings he needed to pull to be pulled.

For the first few weeks of E-Harmony, I was finding they were trying to hook me up with (in my eyes only) fairly unattractive woman mostly in the Great Toronto area. My 'looking radius' was set at only 60 miles wide and long. But apparently no one told E-harmony the fast ferry was defunct as they must have expected me to get to these woman on the boat to make it to them in 60 miles distance.

It was late in November that I decided that I would expand my radius to 90 miles. It was right about then that a mystery woman in Liverpool was going to quit her E-harmony account due to insufficient return on investment. Luckily for all of us, her best friend talked her into signing up for one more go of it.

On November 28th I winked at Melissa Holden Kaltaler.(Remember that middle name for later). Winking is the online equivalent to walking up to someone in real life and saturating them with a corny pick up line. Much to my delight, she found my wink to be at the very least, somewhat charming, and winked back.

To make a long story short, over the past few months we have talked and gotten along swimmingly and recently decided we should embark on a more then friends relationship.(After all it wasn't "E-platonic" we had signed up for)

Last week I felt an insatiable urge to go back and look at the date of our first email to each other. I knew the significance of December 1st being the date I quit playing "Holdem'; and of course the gift the Lord had given me at midnight on my one year anniversary in the Water baptism certificate being found. (As you read in the blog link above.)

Well, not much to my surprise, the date of our first Email to each other was indeed December the 1st. My one year anniversary of being set free from the bondage of gambling. I had asked God to portray things as making sense, and to me introducing communication with such a lovely girl on my "Birthday" made allot of sense.

Am I reading into that one? That's a 1 in 365 shot and 1 in 366 shot every fourth year, that we would start communicating on that day. If I was a gambling man I would not bet on that being a coincidence.

Another interesting tidbit : Melissa's middle name is 'Holden.' So what', you say? Well it is one letter off of 'Holdem.' One letter off of the game that ensnared my joy and spirits for so many years. Sometimes one decision or one letter per say, is much more significant then the small numeric change we believe the number one represents. Let's look at the tally board, in sequential order of how symbolic I believe the number one has been in my life in the past 15 months.

Significance of the number one scoreboard:

1) One hope for freedom from addiction.
2) One one time payment to a dating site.
3) One year of freedom.
4) One miraculous birthday gift at midnight on my one year anniversary from God.
5) One email sent on my one year anniversary of not gambling.
6) One letter discrepancy in a middle name separating that very middle name from the vice that had and would have always kept me from God's Will for my life.
7) One God in the 'middle' of it all.

We will see what God has in store in the next few months in this relationship. I know I just want the one true God in the middle of its orchestration. I'm just glad to have a peace that passes understanding about where I have been brought in my life in all regards.

I hope you believe me, in that I was looking into what I just wrote the exact right amount. When you believe in the one and only saviour who died,rose, and made one route for you to live in eternal glory,the number one becomes extremely worthwhile.

One isn't the loneliest number, like the old song bemoans. When you believe in Jesus, and his perfect love and plans, one is the only number that adds up.