(My Testimony)
by Lasaro Flores

    The Psalmist sings, "Come and hear, all you that fear God, and I will declare what He has done for my soul" (Psalm 66:16). So it is my desire with the following words to testified to "the wonder of it all",  that a most Holy and Righteous God, not only would consider having mercy on one such as I, but would even love me "with an everlasting love" (Jeremiah 31:3). Truly it is "Amazing Grace" that one day I would be serving God "with my spirit in the Gospel of His Son" (Romans 1:9), and testifying to "the Gospel of the grace of God" (Acts 20:24). But who am I, but "a worm" (Job 25:6; Isaiah 41:14), and a piece of dirt that is not even worthy of being stepped on! Yes, "the wonder of it all" that I would be saved by "the riches of (God's) grace" (Ephesians 1:7) given to me in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, of Whom I have received "grace upon grace" (John 1:16). Hallelujah! All praise, honor, and glory be to Him forever and ever!!! Amen!

    I was born in Newgulf, Texas, in December 17, 1941. What I remember of my childhood, as I recollect, was the "usual" growing up experience, as an average "normal" kid. There was nothing "spectacular": in my life. We were not rich, or even that well financially, so there were many "things" I didn't have, as some others did. Also, we were not a church-going family, so I wasn't raised within a "Christian" enviroment. Furthermore, my "morals" were dictated by a "Don't do this, or that" philosophy; or perhaps, there were some other means that God, (even though He was "not in all (my) thoughts" - Psalm 10:4), use to keep in rein my sinful nature. Anyway, as I Iook back, the Lord Jesus Christ was not in my life.

    Yet, in spite of all of that, I do remember that as I started to go to school and, learned to read, my visits to the local library were very frequent. Guess what I kind of books I use to read? Well, some of them were mostly of those having to do with nature; and of course, animals. But also I would take out books that had to do with the Bible; especially those that had to do with the Old Testament. Of course, whatever benefit I derived from doing that has to be considered from the whole context of my life. Then, also, I remember that during Christmas and Easter, when on Sundays and around that time the Gospel would be televised, I really like to look at those programs. Again, I can't say that my heart was touched in the sense that it convicted me of my sin, or that I needed Christ in my life, other than I could say that I "believed" in Him.

    As I went into my teenage years, my practice of sin, i.e. doing sinful things, was becoming more prevalent in my life. Not only was I doing the "usual" things that a boy of my age that did not know the Lord did, but I was capable of doing, and doing, filthy things, as the apostle Paul refers to them in Ephesians 5:12 - "For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret". Truly I have to say, although I didn't see it, I was only doing what God's Word says what sinners are, and are capable of doing. About that time, I started to get in trouble in school and, was expelled. Also, I got into trouble with the law; and to make it short, I winded up in reform shool in Gatesville. After I came out, I continued my God-less life; and had no thought about Christianity. In a word, my teenage life was spend in fighting with my parents, running away from home, getting drunk, etc., etc.; and of course, which I will never forget, though I've been forgiven by God, hurting my mother very much.

    After I came out of reform school, my next decision was to join the Army just so I could get away from Newgulf; and from under my parents so that I could do my own thing. My three years in the service really wasn't any different than previously: I was still living for myself and the pleasures of sin and of the world, and of course, serving Satan, although I wasn't aware of it at the time. But because I was dead spiritually, i.e. "dead in trespasses and sins", I "walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air" (i.e. the devil), "the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience", so that my conduct was "in the lusts of (my) flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind" (Ephesians 2:1-3). One thing that really stands out in my personal life while in the Army is that I didn't go to church; and of course, had no time for Him. Again, all I wanted to do was to gratify my sensual pleasures, no matter what they might be!

    Then after my discharge from the Army, (and a good thing that I did get out because by that time I was starting to get into trouble,) and then got married. But it was still the "same ole' Lasaro"; all I wanted to do was to live for "me, and myself, and I". I frequented the beer joints; and also I started a band, and so almost every weekend was spend in "riotous pleasures". Although I was married and had children, and a good job that provided for all our temporal needs, yet I still wanted to do "my own thing"; and so now my time was wasted in the pleasures of worldly music. But again, God had no place in my life; and although I "believe" in a God, to me He was just a "religion".

    Then in 1974, God started to use one of my brothers, who had been in prison, to witness to me of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Of course, the most natural thing for me was to get angry, and run him off because I didn't want to hear of "religion"; even to the point of cussing him out if he didn't leave immediately. After a few months, one of my brothers that played with me in the band was converted, but that didn't concerned me very much. But when another brother that was also in the band left because of having accepted the Lord Jesus Christ, things began to look differently. In the meantime, another brother that wasn't in the band also made a profession of faith. So now everywhere that I went, especially to my parents' house, I would meet with at least one of them, and they would tell me that I needed Jesus Christ in my life.

    By then, I started to make all kinds of excuses; or rather, gave all kinds of reasons why I was okay with God as far as I was concerned. First, I believed in God, so that made me alright with Him. Secondly, I wasn't too bad of a person, i.e. I wasn't like some other people that were really sinful. Thirdly, I didn't have to go to church with the hypocrites; and so on. But I figured that if I started to go to some church, I thought they would leave me alone. So, my wife being Catholic, I decided to go with her. In fact, I started to read her Bible, which was the Catholic version. So when I told my brothers what I was doing, I thought they would accept it and leave me alone. But that didn't work! You see, for every excuse, or reason, I gave my brothers for not accepting Christ as my Savior, they had a Scriptural answer for me. Of course, I didn't like it; and I would get very angry with them to the point of running them away from my house. But they didn't give up, and persisted in witnessing to me.

    Finally, my other brother that was still with me in the band also left for the same reason; and because I couldn't continue playing any longer, I broke up the band. After a time, my mother started to get worse, and it turned out that she had cancer. But it was that day when my mother had an operation to take out her malignant tumour that my life drastically changed. After expressing how I felt because of what my mother was going through, and blaming everybody for it, instead of crying out to God for mercy, I started cursing, especially when I saw my brothers so calm and at peace and praying. Of course, I jump all over them. But that was just the beginning for me, because that night something happened to me that I don't wish for anyone to go through; and here, I have to pause and give thanks to my God and Father for His grace and mercy that brought me through that horrible pit of darkness; and I praise Him and give Him ALL THE GLORY for His so great salvation that was freely given me in my precious Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Even now, The Wonder Of It All that He would consider to save me, knowing what I was, and what I still am! Oh, my God, I praise You for making me accepted in Your Beloved Son; and that His Blood and Righteousness is All-sufficient forever and ever. Amen!!!

    That particular night something, whatever it was, came over me, or into me, that gave me so much fear which I had never experienced before. All of a sudden I was so afraid, but I just can't find words at the moment to describe how it felt. Anyway, my wife's Bible was there beside the bed, and I grab for it. As I open it, I remember that my mind was filled with all kinds of filthy and ugly thoughts of the Lord Jesus. Oh, my soul was being torn apart! I got up and walked around, and I think I was "praying". But what I remember is that my mind seem like it was  going to explode; and also my heart was racing so fast because of so much fright. It seems that I was beginning to see "things"; and that they were after me.

    As the days went by, it just got worse! I felt that I was "going crazy". At the moment, I can't remember what else I was doing, especially with either praying, or reading the Bible. I could no longer sleep because I was so afraid to close my eyes. But at the same time, even in the day time I was seeing "things" in the shadows. It got to the point that I wanted to die because I couldn't bear it any longer, but at the same time I was afraid to die because of going to hell. This continued for a long time; and now I know that it was ONLY by the grace and mercy of God that kept me through all of that.

    During that time, of course, my brothers continued witnessing to me; and one of them gave me a Bible. To be honest, I can't remember much of what transpired during that time, but I was reading the Bible. One thing that I do remember was that when my mother went to the hospital for the last time, and later on that night I was called by my sister that she had passed away, as I was going in the elevator to her room, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 came into my mind. There it refers to the believers not sorrowing for their loved ones that have died. It was impressed in my mind that one day I was going to see my mother again, and that gave me peace and comfort, even though I hadn't professed to have accepted the Lord Christ as my Savior.

    The following Sunday I went to the church where my mother and brothers went, and went to the front at the invitation to accept the Lord Jesus for my salvation. I prayed to accept Christ, and a couple months later I was baptized. Later on that year I was transferred to West Texas by the company I worked for. I joined a Hispanic Baptist church but things didn't worked out. Not only was I put on as a Sunday School teacher, (which they shouldn't have done,) but I remembered I was teaching false doctrine, not directly but by implication. Anyway, after awhile I got angry with the pastor, and left. I joined an anglo church, and there became very active. In the meantime, my life wasn't as it should have been. I was still living in sin. But then God convicted me of my sin, and brought me to confession and repentance.

    During that time, I was again experiencing what I had experienced previously. My doubts and fears were such I believed that I wasn't saved. I remembered I was in constant turmoil, and that my soul was being torn into pieces. Finally, when I went to see the pastor of the church I went to, I told him what I was going through; and of my doubts and fears. He started to pray for me; and then all I can remember is that I started to confess all the filthiness in my life; even as a professing Christian and church member. The pastor said that as I prayed, I was crying out to God and rolling around on the floor for at least two hours. After that, all I remember is that I was so tired, but also there were still lingering doubts in my mind about my salvation. That following Sunday I made a profession of faith that I had truly been saved; and so I was baptized. The reason I did this was because I believed that my previous profession of faith and baptism had been more "emotional" than true due to my mother's death.

     After that, I got more settled in the church's life and activities; and later on, even was placed as Bible teacher in Church Training. Then in May 1978 I was licensed to preach when I surrender to God's calling to proclaim the Gospel. Meanwhile, the Hispanic Baptist church I had joined previously was going through some problems, and the pastor left. But before he did, he called me and asked me to consider pastoring their congregation. Believing that God was calling me, and after seeking His face about it, I accepted and pastored there for five years. During that time the Lord had taught me the precious truths of the Doctrines of Grace, so I resigned because I felt since it was a Southern Baptist church, I couldn't honestly preach and teach what the Lord had revealed to me to the people because it contradicted what they believe as Southern Baptists. Of course, now I know that the history of Southern Baptists had Calvinistic roots; and so actually, I was more "true" Southern Baptist than they were, and are, today.

    Then in 1984 I was transferred back to Newgulf by Texasgulf. As soon as I could, I started a work for the Lord, but since people were moving out it didn't prosper. By God's providence, I started to go to the hispanic Baptist mission in Needville. After a year, the pastor there resigned. Since by that time, most everybody knew that I was in the ministry; and so in looking for a pastor for the mission, I was asked if I would be interested. After prayer and discussing it with my wife, I believed that the Lord had open the doors for us to serve Him through this mission work. I remained there in Needville until July of 1993. Then in November 1996, I was called to pastor a new congregation that started from a division of another church. But God wasn't pleased to bless the work, so it closed at the end of 1997.

    After that, the Lord started to deal with me; and there was much heart searching that involved, not only my own personal relationship with God, but the past years in which I had been in the ministry. As I sought God's face, and asked for Him to show me what direction He wanted to go in my ministry, I begin to see so many things that had been wrong in my life, especially in my own relationship with the Lord. It wasn't simply that I had sinned in my life, but I had been very careless and negligent in my spiritual life, and had done too many things that I shouldn't have done, and left undone many things which I should have done. In short, I had sinned grievously against my Lord; and as I looked back throughout the years, I had to confess that they weren't too pretty. I have to say that it was a constant failure on my part to maintain a close and intimate relationship with my God that kept me slipping and sliding into sin throughout the years; and now I know, and have to confess, that God had every right not to bless me in His holy work. But also now I know why I went through so much darkness, fears and doubts, lack of peace and assurance; and that because of sin in my life.

    Yes, this past year has been of much confession, contrition and repentance. Not only that, but God has been pleased to show me what it really means to have a heart that is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Oh, if I had kept my heart full of Jesus during these past years, my life would've been very different! Nevertheless, although the Lord has open my heart to show me the ugliness of it, at the same time, by God's grace, He has shown me the Sufficiency of His precious Son for me, the chiefest of sinners! I can tell you that truly my Lord Jesus is ALTOGETHER LOVELY!!! Oh, I'm so glad that God has made me ACCEPTED IN THE BELOVED; that He is ALL I need for now and forever. Yes, God has made Him to be my "wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption" (1 Corintians 1:30)!  As God has impressed to my heart the preciousness of the Blood of Jesus, and His everlasting Righteousness, I can see now why He didn't wipe me off the face of this planet. And oh, how He put up with me, with my sins and disobedience; truly He has long-suffering, patient, and slow to wrath! Oh, hallelujah; praise His precious Name!!!

    Oh, my dear friend, it's ONLY because of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Beloved Son of God, that I'm writing this testimony. If wasn't because of Him, there would be no testimony! Yes, from the beginning to the end, from the first to the last, it's ALL Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, to whom be the glory both now and forever. Amen. Although I have failed my Beloved and Friend, I know that He has forgiven me; and given me a fresh start. Not only "he hath not dealt with (me) after (my) sins; nor rewarded (me) according to (my) iniquities" (Psalm 103:10), but He promises to "restore to (me) the years that the locust (of sin, disobedience, etc.) hath eaten..." (Joel 2:25). Yes, The Wonder Of It All is that it's me, Lasaro Flores, that's writing these words; for if it hadn't been for His free and sovereign grace, I'd still would be on the way to hell for my sins. Truly, I can testify that "where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (Romans 5:20). Lord, keep me from taking Your grace in vain. Amen.

    My prayer is that "the God of all grace" (1 Peter 5:10) be pleased to use this testimony for His awesome Glory, and for the good of your soul for Christ Jesus' sake. Amen.