Testimony Tuesday: Ben Freiburger

God Gold of the day

Sometimes you’ll hear about people who had a tough home life describe their upbringing by saying, “I wasn’t hugged enough as a child” as a justification for why they have emotional issues today. That phrase could NOT be farther than my story. I often joke with people that I was actually, “hugged too much as a child”. I have two amazing parents who love the Lord and set a nearly perfect example for me and my two older siblings Ryan and Sarah on how to live out their faith. They did the best they could to give us a strong spiritual foundation. If I didn’t have a soccer game or practice I went to church every Sunday, youth group on Wednesday, and all the mission trips I could go on. While I learned all about Jesus I can’t really say I knew WHO Jesus was until a little later in life. I would often leave youth group or mission trips on a “spiritual high” which would usually last less than 48 hours before cycling back into old habits that I had just claimed freedom over less than 2 days ago.

Being the youngest of three I think I always craved attention and to be in the spotlight. I would definitely be labeled the “wild child” by anyone in my family. Growing up I was always the one to push the limits or go too far with a joke just to get a laugh or to be noticed. As I grew up I started to find my worth in this. I cared deeply about how others viewed me and the approval of others became my idol. So much so that I started to learn how to change my behavior to whatever I thought would please my peers in the most endearing way. I needed to be viewed as “the best” by everyone I met. At youth group, I could always give the right answer or “act the right way” to try to get the approval of others and prove that I was this awesome Christian but that simply wasn’t an authentic version of myself. If you saw me at school the next day it wouldn’t be odd if you saw me insult others to elevate myself. If you saw me at practice I would often try to cheat in drills or take shortcuts when no one was looking to try and win a sprint or a scrimmage. I had to be “the best” in everything I did and wanted everyone to “know” it.

As you can imagine this cycle was so exhausting and draining. Around my sophomore year of high school people started to piece together I was not everything I was portraying myself to be. I made mistakes with girls that went very public, said hurtful things to friends of mine, and even ended up getting in a traumatizing car accident that could have easily taken my life.

This was my sobering moment. I remember after the car accident I started thinking about what would have happened if I would have died that day. “Would I have made it to heaven?” I remember losing sleep at night wrestling with that simple question. “Would God take me into Heaven?” Unsure of where to go, I went to my youth pastor and ended up confessing to him all the lies I had been living and all the horrible things I had done. I remember being so nervous with how he would respond. Whenever I confessed, he just laughed to himself and said, “Despite everything you’ve done, Jesus still loves you, and therefore I do too.” It was so simple, but that statement changed my life. The acceptance and love I had been chasing was right in front of me through Jesus. I didn’t have to earn it, I didn’t have to put on a performance, I didn’t have to justify myself. I just had to let him into ALL areas of my life.

From that moment on I have tried to let God radically transform my heart. I try to live as authentically as possible and only seek his approval. I still have a lifetime ahead of me of lessons to learn but I will say the best authentic spiritual growth for me has come when I started to consistently and intentionally CHOOSE Jesus every day of my life. If you are someone who struggles with spiritual highs and lows, start incorporating time with Jesus into your daily routine. Spending time with Jesus on good days, bad days and all the in-between will help you develop a healthy dependency on Him and will help integrate His presence into all areas of your life. We are reminded of this the most in Matthew 16:24-25, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it”. Thank you for listening to my story, God Bless.

Testimony Tuesday: Travis Dixon

God Gold of the day

As the grandson of a Southern Baptist pastor, I’ve been in church as long as I can remember. Despite the early exposure to the Gospel, I didn’t accept Christ as my Lord and Savior until I was 23. Growing up in the Bible belt, it’s easy to take Christianity for granted… Church on Sunday and Wednesday, praying before meals, and saying “We will be praying for you” just seem like things that everyone did. Early on in high school, the false appeal of the world led me away from the Church… and eventually away from Christianity as a whole. I spent years living a very selfish and destructive lifestyle, living for myself and the world. Luckily for me, God didn’t allow for that to be the end of my story. The Lord met me in the middle of my mess, and gave me knew life. Purpose was always something I struggled with. Never feeling like I had a “knack” for anything in particular or a passion to pursue much of anything in life,

I’ve found purpose in Christ. Not only in understanding why I was made and what I’m here to do (Matthew 28:18-20) but also in a very specific way. After months of praying for purpose the Lord made it clear to me that I was to work with youth. The biggest thing I’ve learned and am continually learning is how to be obedient to The Holy Spirit. When The Lord made it clear to me that I was to work with youth, I immediately disqualified myself, and “logic’d” my way out of it…naturally I couldn’t escape the call on my life and started to learn what obedience looks like. A lot of the time it’s hard for us to come to grips with what Christ has led us to, and more often than not if we don’t see the outcome clearly, we disregard what Christ wants us to do all together. Of course, discernment and obedience are something that I continually work on but having a focus on obedience in your relationship with Christ is plain old transformative.

I can tell you with 110% certainty that a life totally surrendered to Christ, is the only way to truly live. (And I know, I’ve searched for meaning in every place you could imagine). Trusting Christ and living fully for Him was and is still the best decision I’ve ever made. That relationship is unlike anything I have or ever will experience, and if you don’t know Christ reach out to myself of the awesome fellas at God Gold, we’d be happy to talk through things with you! Trust me…it’s worth it!

Testimony Tuesday: Justin Driver

God Gold of the day

This picture right here shows a portrait of my whole world. My amazing wife, and my little baby boy (not pictured he is still baking in her tummy). And we just got home from my favorite thing to do: Church. And if you are looking at this picture from the outside it may just seem like I’ve always had it together in life. But that’s certainly not the case, at least for me.

I was introduced to Christ as early as I can remember. And the greatest day of my life is still Feb. 21st 2006 when I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior sitting in the Palmetto Middle School parking lot.

But a few years later around the age of 16, I began to take my eyes off Christ and wonder what it would be like to live out in the world. I decided I could try it just for a few days….and if I didn’t like it, I could quit.
But to be honest in my flesh I loved it. The Bible says there is pleasure in sin for a season. An old preacher said sin will keep you longer than you wanted to stay. And that’s exactly where I found myself. Miserable without any hope of changing myself.
But I’m so glad I serve a God whose grace is greater than my sin. And in His love he sent many things to get my attention. One including, my junior year of college when one of my baseball coaches was involved in a drunk driving accident that killed multiple people. Through that God began to show me there is a much better life than the one I was living.

And from that day I began to ask God to forgive me for the way I’d lived and if there was anyway possible He could still use me I’d be willing to do whatever He asked. And I am so thankful God specializes in using failures. And through His Word I began to find out everything I needed was in Him. I no longer had to party and do the deeds of the flesh to find joy, I could find it in obeying His Word. I quickly found out although sin can be fun, living my life obeying the Lord was 10000x more fun. For Jesus doesn’t come to take away joy He comes to give joy.

And I’m totally convinced today out of all the lives you can live, the Christian life is by far the best! And through His forgiveness I’ve found a life that totally satisfies my soul. And my only prayer is that God would use me to share that message to others. Jesus is all you need.

Testimony Tuesday: Marissa Hughey

God Gold of the Day

It is an incredible gift to be able to say that I’ve never really known a life without Jesus in it. I grew up in a home where faith was at the center of everything and where my parents modeled that daily. From a young age I was introduced to the Gospel and surrounded by a church family that poured into me, taught me truth, and provided opportunities to see what serving others looked like. Over time, these experiences and exposures to truth led me to recognize that a relationship with God was something I believed in and wanted for myself. I could see my sin and my need to turn to Jesus. I wanted the freedom and love His grace offered me. I realized my need for God and made the decision to believe in Him and what He had done to save me.  I didn’t have all the answers, but I knew I wanted God to be a constant in my life.

Those early years of my life exposed me to truth and allowed me to see examples of the fruit that can come from a person whose life is rooted in Christ. My upbringing helped to build the foundation of my faith, but it wasn’t until college that I really had the personal desire to cultivate a heart that knew and loved Jesus deeply. College was a time of gaining independence and freedom to choose what I wanted my life to look like. Thankfully, I ended up attending a Christian college, where once again I was provided with opportunities to deepen my faith alongside a like-minded community of people who were pursuing growth as well. It was there that I decided I wanted to be more than just a “good girl” and someone who knew about God, but someone who was dedicated to centering her life around Christ and looking to Him for all things. My faith became more than just me being saved from my sins, but about truly loving God and that love resulting in a life lived in obedience to Him. I wanted my faith to be more than a weekly trip to church, an attempt to do the right things, and an occasional prayer when I needed something. 

All my life I’d known who Jesus was, but it became real when I began intentionally focusing on developing a relationship with Him and grabbing hold of His promises. Like any relationship, I’ve discovered that growth and connection only happen when you invest, listen, sacrifice, seek time together, love, and allow yourself to be vulnerable. I learned that I didn’t have to have it all together but that I just have to keep making the choice to follow Him. Being a Christian became more than just a standard of perfection or just a title to live up to, but it meant that I had Jesus as a friend who I could live my days with.

My story is a display of God’s kindness in the way He’s always kept me close to him, even when I wasn’t choosing him. It’s been Him giving me grace when I only had a head knowledge of Him but not a genuine heart knowledge. And its been me learning that life is more abundant when lived closely to my Creator, Father, and friend. It’s a sweet thing to be able to look at my life and see all the things he’s carried me through and all the ways we’ve grown together. I’m thankful for a God who’s never stopped pursuing my heart and I love knowing that this relationship is only going to continue to grow sweeter with time.

Testimony Tuesday: Greyson Williams

God Gold of the day

I was raised in a Christian home by some great parents. I was at church any time the doors were open, and at the age of 8 I made a profession of faith and was baptized shortly after. However, when I was 14 at a church camp, I “re-dedicated” my life. I believed this time was real, but it wasn’t.

     I was a great faker. I did and said the right things in front of the right people. I went to a Christian school, I went to church, I didn’t smoke and didn’t drink. Anybody looking at me from the outside would believe I was a solid Christian. Even I believed that I was a solid Christian, but my heart was dark and far from God.

     When I was 23, my heart and my eyes were finally opened. I don’t remember the date, time or what happened, but I just remember that everything changed. The only thing I can point to about my salvation is the sheer grace and mercy of God. My story is not really about me, it is about Jesus.

     Jesus redeemed me and not because of anything I ever did. He did it all, He rescued me, He died for me, and He loved me before I was even born. Because of Jesus, I can boast all about my weakness to others and not be ashamed.

I’ll end this with one of my favorite quotes, “Christianity is one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread.” That’s what I want do in my life, because I’m a beggar, I want to tell the other beggars where to find the true bread of life.