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700 Club

One-Time Womanizer Finds True Love

Jon remembers, “I just wanted my mom to look me in the eyes and say, ‘Son, I love you,’ at the end of the day and gimme kisses on my forehead, or on my cheeks but I never received that.” Jon Nicolas’s mother worked long hours raising five children alone. The stress took its toll and she took her anger out on her kids. When Jon was just seven years old, his mother beat him with her high heels. Jon shares, “And I blacked out. When I regained consciousness, there was blood all over my face and all over my hands.”

This went on for years. By the time Jon was fifteen, his mother kicked him out of the house. Jon says, “I did not have the source of love for me which was the woman who gave birth to me. So, I was always constantly searching for that love and where can I get it? Where can I find it? And I was determined to find it.”

He tried to find that through a string of women and started having sex with them at a young age. Jon remembers, “When that happened that opened all types of doors that led me down a wrong path. All I wanted to do was have more sex.”

Jon continued having sex throughout college and into his 20’s. He also began using marijuana and drinking alcohol. By the time he was 30, Jon had moved to Florida, had married and divorced, and was the father of three children with two different women. Jon recalls, “When I looked into the mirror, I saw nobody. It was just an empty soul. I couldn’t see a reflection of myself.”

Still, he continued to indulge in sex. Then at 33, his live-in girlfriend discovered he was cheating with yet-another woman and left him. For the first time, Jon was heartbroken. Jon says, “The conviction that I felt from how I cheated on her. That was the first time God accessed my heart. That was the first time I actually got anything from God in my heart, because I felt what the girl felt to be cheated on.”

Still devastated from the rejection, Jon went to listen to a motivational speaker. While the speaker challenged him to do more with his life, Jon heard something more. Jon recalls, “I hear God talk to me for the first time. And I hear God say, ‘You have greatness in you because of Me.’ And it made me good. It made me feel like okay, I got greatness, so I wanted to pursue what this greatness was.”

Jon pulled out a Bible and began studying it, learning what it said about greatness – and forgiveness. Jon says, “So, as I read through the New Testament, I learned of repentance. God started to convict me on things I did in my past. And, I also enjoyed when that people that I hurt would forgive me. And, it was that forgiveness. And the forgiveness sets you free.”

Overwhelmed with emotion, Jon cried out in the name of Jesus. Jon reflects, “Jesus showed up in this room, in where I was, and it was a bright light, and I couldn’t move. And I heard a voice say, ‘Follow me.’ The voice said, 'follow me,' and I said, ‘yes.’ And I knew what I responding to, I knew that the voice that said follow me was Jesus Christ.”

Jon accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior. He started going to church and got baptized. Jon says, “And by doing this, my alcohol, and my marijuana addiction, and my sex addiction was completely stripped from me.”

Over time, he contacted the women he had hurt and asked for forgiveness. Then, it became his time to forgive…when he talked with his mother. Jon remembers, “And she acknowledged that what she did. And that was enough for me, but I forgave my mother. And when I did that, that was a release for me.”

He says soon God also answered a prayer to find a woman to share his life with. Her name is Alicia and they soon married, and today they love their blended family. Now, Jon ministers to men, teaching them that the love of God can heal any broken heart.

Jon shares, “God is a loving father, and He's a loving God, and He loves you greater than any love that you didn't receive. If you are out there and you realize you didn't have a loving mom and loving dad, there is a God that loves you to eternity and back, and He's right there available to love you right now if you'll be so willing to accept His love into your heart.”

In addition to ministering to men about the love and faithfulness of Christ, Jon is also a celebrated comedian. You can discover more about Jon Nicolas' clean comedy at: https://therealjonnicolas.myportfolio.com/. A sample of his act (a clean comedy set about Adam & Eve) can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fH76vHAqF-Q

And for inspiration on marriage reconciliation, please visit Jon's testimony here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_0rZ6sepD8 (God Saved my marriage and He will save yours!).

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Rodeo Rider Finds Blessings through Brokenness

Few occupations are subjected to the jarring ups and downs, like those above a rodeo floor and bucking broncos. Chad Rutherford has lived it, as one of the world's top bareback riders he’s overcome both professional and personal challenges with resolve.

Question: “How do you describe your riding style?”

Chad: “Aggressive, very aggressive.”

Question: “And you're a competitor.” 

Chad: “Absolutely!” 

Question: “At your core?” 

Chad: “Yes.” 

Question: “So the two marry well together?”

Chad: “In the most beautiful way possible.”

Question: “For you, how much uncertainty comes with your profession as a bareback rider?”

Chad: “There's nothing certain about being a bareback rider. Between entering the rodeo to the time the buzzer blows, there's no certainty in any of it. It's the biggest walk of faith I think you can have.”

Question: “2016, you finished 24th in the world, then you go to Reno. What happened?”

Chad: “When I showed up in Reno, 2017, I was sitting 8th in the world. And then tragedy hit. I fell underneath my bucking horse and he stepped on the middle of my back. I broke 8 ribs in 13 places, cracked my collarbone and my shoulder blade, and collapsed my lung. I spent a week in the hospital. All I could think was ‘Yup, my career’s over, its time to move on to the next step!’”

Chad’s next step was life altering.

Chad: “What came after was what really set in. Not a week after getting home my wife at the time told me that she wanted to move out. That she didn’t want to be married to me anymore. I was devastated! I went into a bad place! And I just felt this empty hole. I had no idea what to do. Not long after the divorce, I met my wife Katie. And all I can describe her as is a Godsend! Meeting her saved my life! I thank God everyday for Katie!”

Question: “In those moments of desperation what was the bounce-back for you?” 

Chad: “It took a year or so. Putting the puzzle together and actually seeing that wreck in Reno was the greatest thing that ever happened to me! That was God’s way of grabbing me and saving my future and giving me the start I have today!”

Question: “How did a savior help you compete again?”

Chad: “The aftermath of that injury was all the nerve damage I sustained. I was losing muscle mass on the right side of my body, which I ride with my right hand. I had to take a job. After doing some extensive manual labor, I woke up one morning and the entire right side of my upper torso was sore. For me it was a massive eye opener. I never thought I'd feel those muscles like that again. God was like, ‘Okay, you took the time you needed.' We started training. Took a massive leap of faith! 2019 rolled around and I started entering some rodeos and it was just like I had never stopped. I started winning again.”

Question: “Your sport is about fearlessness. What in your life are you afraid of that draws you to Him for help?” 

Chad: “I would say fear itself is my biggest draw towards Christ. Fear of failure, fear of loss, fear of being left alone. I now know that I'm never alone as long as I have Christ, and He's always there. The older I get, the deeper I dig into Christ, the more I find how great and how much He has taken care of me.”

Question: “Have you ever had to push away as if the sport has become too much?”

Chad: “Absolutely. One of the biggest battles that Rodeo Cowboys face with rodeo is idolatry. We idolize rodeos. We idolize that gold buckle. We idolize the money we make. We idolize it so much that we sacrifice everything – friends, family. It’s so easy to fall into that trap! I’ve got a wife and two kids right now and I’m rodeo’ing the best way I think I can – putting God and my family first. So glorify Him and love what you do!” 

Question: “Who is Jesus Christ to you, what has He become for you?”

Chad: “Jesus Christ for me has become the greatest friend I’ve ever had. He’s the Father everyone wants. He should be your first thought when you need something. Lean on God. Ask Him for it. Ask and you’ll receive. You may not receive exactly what you want, but you will receive what you need.”
 

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700 Club

Unable to Pick Up the Pieces

Linda Kendrick described, “Before we know it, the weather just went crazy. And then my husband, Tommy, heard the whistle and then I heard it and he said, ‘Run, run to the bathroom!’”  

As Tommy and Linda Kendrick raced for safety, an EF-2 tornado tore through the city of Slidell, Louisiana, it damaged everything in its path—including their property.

“It was unbelievable and the mess, I mean, the debris everywhere. I said, ‘What are we going to do? How are we going to get this up? My gosh, how are we going to get through this?’” said Linda.

They knew insurance would cover the roof repair—but not the downed trees or debris. That’s when, thanks to you, Operation Blessing’s disaster relief team provided some help.  

“To be able to have someone come and clean up our yard like Operation Blessing has done is unbelievable. I mean I balled. So… a true blessing. They have a good name, Operation Blessing, because that's what that's what they are. They are our heroes!” exclaimed Linda.

Thanks to you, Linda and Tommy, and many of their neighbors received the help they needed.

“There are no words to express all the gratitude we feel for everything y'all did for us. It's nothing short of a miracle. That's what I say, nothing short of a miracle,” said Linda. 
 

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700 Club

Influencer Courageously Confronts Sin

HER OWN STRUGGLE 

Childhood included some tough times for Kirby. Her father battled alcoholism, which led to marital conflict and her parents’ divorce when she was eight. Two years later, her beloved dad suffered a heart attack and died. Young Kirby believed she somehow could have done something to prevent it and struggled with depression for years. At the same time, another battle was brewing. Kirby was just four when she walked in on someone watching pornography. A few years later, she found a hidden stash of porn in someone’s home, and in a few more years, friends at a sleepover showed her porn on the computer. They also showed her how to find it herself and clear the search history to keep from being discovered.  

Between natural curiosity, and sexual desire awakened far too soon, Kirby says it all resulted in an addiction that would last for years. From ages twelve to fourteen, her depression grew to the point that Kirby hated herself and thought about ways to end her life. A lifeline came the summer before she started high school, when Kirby attended a summer camp, heard the gospel, and genuinely, fully gave her heart to Christ. Still, she found herself unable to overcome temptation. “I believed that if anyone knew I was secretly struggling with a porn addiction and lustful thoughts, it would not only be ruining my witness, but disqualify me from God’s love and presence. I thought that once I was saved, that temptation, desire, and struggle would fade away in Jesus’ name. But it did not. It stayed. It grew. You know what else grew? The shame, self-hatred, and self-condemnation, along with anxiety that if anyone discovered my ‘dirty little sin,’ everyone would judge me for my struggle.”  

THE FIRST STEP 

The beginning of Kirby’s freedom from porn addiction came in the first few months of her freshman year at Dallas Baptist University. She had joined a Christian sorority, and a group of sixty girls went on a camping trip. After lots of fun and getting to know each other, the president had them take part in a revealing exercise. She gave them all a sheet of paper with a long list of often-hidden struggles, and a true/false after each, e.g. I struggle with an eating disorder, I am ashamed of my past and cannot forgive myself, I can’t stop self-harming, I struggle with watching pornography, and many more. The girls were asked to circle what was true of them, crumple the papers, and all at once throw them far across the group. Then the leader read each confession out loud, asking the girls to stand for the girl whose paper they now held. The confessions remained anonymous, but everyone was able to see that she was far from alone in her struggles. When it came to pornography, Kirby was stunned to see half the girls stand. “I am so grateful to say that was the beginning of my journey to freedom,” Kirby says. “So much relief comes when we release what we’ve kept hidden.”   

BECOMING FREE

Kirby has a thorough understanding of temptation and failure, and offers many tools to overcome the vicious cycle, from setting boundaries to immersing ourselves in God’s Word. She emphasizes that no strategy will work unless one is relying on God’s enabling grace. One tool she advocates is learning to expose the devil and his real motives. Our Enemy is real, diabolical, and bent on our destruction, Kirby warns. “If we believe he is evil and his schemes aren’t good for us, we need to drill into our minds that the choices he presents shouldn’t be reasoned with or rationalized. Reading the Bible is not a to-do task that makes God love you more; it serves up transformational truth that brings us closer to Christ, empowers us daily, and gives us eyes to distinguish the things of God from those of the Enemy.” 

Another strategy Kirby says will set us free is to recognize lies we believe about God, whether from the world, the devil, or our own wrong thinking. Some of the common lies she explores, and the truths which dispel them are:

·   God will abandon you. The truth: God will never abandon you when you sin. “He will pursue you, meet you where you are, and cleanse you from your sin and shame, clothing you in His grace. He will draw near even if you have hidden yourself away.” 1 John 1:8-9
·    God is angry with you and disappointed in you. The truth: God has compassion for us in our struggles and weaknesses. “(He is) assuring you of your identity in Him when you feel as though you least deserve it. That is the free gift of our salvation and justification – to forever belong to a good, gracious, understanding, forgiving God.”  Romans 8:1
·    God doesn’t love you (anymore). The truth: “God loves me. He showed His greatest display of that unconditional love on the cross through Jesus’ sacrifice. He so loves me and so loved the world that He withheld nothing to save and sustain us. His love covered my sins and still does.” John 3:16
      
“JUST DO BETTER” DOESN’T WORK

In her own struggle with addiction, Kirby found what the Apostle Paul said in Romans 7:15 describes her experience exactly. Though she truly wanted to do what was right, she found herself time and again doing what she knew was not. Between a good counselor and her own research, she came to understand enough about the neurobiology of habit formation to explain why trying harder to change never worked. The counselor compared habits, good or bad, to walking through a wheat field on the exact same path until those stalks are trampled and a path appears. In the brain, thinking the same thoughts forms a neural pathway. “The frequency and speed take us from occasional actions to automatic compulsions,” Kirby says. “Habits are not just what we do repetitively but they are resistant and reluctant to change, even though deep down in our hearts, we want to stop.” While we can’t undo neural pathways, Kirby says new ones can be formed. “You can choose His new path for your life and walk it out. You can formulate new habits and cultivate new desires.”  

Her favorite Bible verse along these lines is Romans 12:2: Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. “This daily process counteracts the habits and sin cycles you’ve typically operated in, and it centers on the truth of God’s Word. When we fill our minds with truth about our sin, real life, God’s character, the Enemy’s nature, and who we’re called and created to be, that renewed mind leads to a renewed heart, then renewed conduct, and from there a renewed life,” Kirby encourages. “He still speaks to us today through His Word, and that renews us from the clutter and chatter of wickedness, lies, and sin that try to conform our mind into a counterfeit way of living.”

To purchase your copy of Kirby Kelly's book, "You Can Be Free," please click the link: You Can Be Free. Discover more about Kirby Kelly as a content creator and influencer at her website: www.kirby-kelly.com.
      
     
      
     
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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