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FULL GOSPEL BUSINESS MEN'S FELLOWSHIP IN CANADA
HOWARD HEFFERNAN – FORT MCMURRAY
I was raised in a Christian home and as a boy felt that God was proud of me as my Dad was proud of me. But, when I grew up, I was seduced by the philosophies of rebellion that were prominent in the 60’s. When we went overseas and I gained more worldly wealth and power, I gradually stopped even believing there was a God. My gods became work and money. And, as I sinned more and more, I drank more and more to suppress my guilt.
Then, when I was fired in Saudi Arabia – I didn’t realize at the time it was God’s mercy - and came home to Canada, I had more time on my hands and took a good look at what I had become. I didn’t like what I saw. From outward appearances, I was a successful engineer with a beautiful family, but on the inside I was bitter and restless and felt that I was betrayed by my fellow man. I wanted to have peace, but I didn’t know how to find it. Then, one day in 1978, I came home from work in Calgary and I was told by my wife, Diane, that she had a personal encounter with Jesus and gave her life to Him.
Diane said she had gone to a neighbourhood prayer meeting and found it very strange there - Catholics and Protestants from several denominations were praising Jesus together, praying in tongues, that is in languages they didn’t understand, prophesying, and speaking of Jesus as though they knew Him personally. She had never planned to go back, but something about the genuineness of what she had witnessed drew her back to the prayer meeting on a weekly basis. It was Diane’s experiences there that really got my attention. Also, she suddenly had this wisdom and peace in her life. I could see what she had was real - and I wanted what she had.
Then one Sunday in January 1979, I was reading the new Bible Diane had given me - I was lying on one couch in our living room, she was on the other. I was planning to read a chapter in Paul’s letter to the Romans. But when I started reading Romans, I couldn’t stop at one chapter - it was as though the words suddenly had life. Saint Paul was explaining to the Romans how all men are separated from God through sin. But God has a plan for each person’s salvation through personal faith in Jesus Christ - if you believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead and confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, you will be saved, it says in Romans Chapter 10 verses 9 and 10.
By receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior mankind would gain eternal life - by rejecting Jesus humanity would condemn themselves to eternal separation from God which is death.
It was as though I was hearing the Good News for the first time - like a light was turned on inside my head. I leaped off the couch shouting to Diane, "It's all true! God is real!" It was such good news! Diane says my face was so radiant I could have lit up a dark room. God had sovereignly filled me with His Holy Spirit as I read scripture in my living room.
I read the Bible all that afternoon and nearly every day since then. God’s Word has transformed my life.
Although God loves us right where we are at - unconditionally, He will do everything He can to get us to remove from our lives the things that prevent us from getting close to Him.
In Diane’s case, her blockage was the occult. Although she never even admitted to herself that she was attracted to the occult, she dabbled in things like yoga and our house was filled with books about astrology. In my case, the biggest wall between me and God was unforgiveness.
Two of the ladies who had laid hands on Diane for the baptism of the Holy Spirit were invited by Diane to come to our house to pray for me for inner healing.
I didn’t know what that was but if it was from God I wanted it. Diane wasn’t home when they came, and since we were complete strangers to one another, I don’t know who was more nervous, them or me. They started praying for me and the Holy Spirit that indwelt them because of their relationship with Jesus, revealed things to them through the gifts He had given them in accordance with 1 Corinthians Chapter 12 of the Bible.
God's Holy Spirit showed them that part of my problem was ancestral - that resentment and unforgiveness had been passed down through my ancestry and that I had to ask God to forgive this sin on behalf of my ancestors as well as myself. I found this strange that sin could be passed through birth from one generation to the next, but I was to learn that it was scriptural.
Exodus 34:7 says that "God punishes the children and their children's children for the sin of their fathers to the third and fourth generation." If our parents or grandparents had unrepented sin in their lives, it is likely that we will have a propensity for the same sin and will likely fall into the same sin patterns when given the opportunity. With my Irish heritage and knowing that my relatives still hated Cromwell, who has been dead for 300 years, I had no difficulty asking God to forgive me and my ancestors for unforgiveness and resentment.
The next thing that God showed them was that I held deep resentment toward one of my sisters. Now they didn’t even know I had a sister, and here they were saying that I had resented one of my sisters since she was born. I knew who they were talking about - it was my sister Maryann.
And I was angry at God. Why should I have to forgive her - hadn’t she done this to me and that to our family. She needed to ask God and me for forgiveness, not me ask God and her for forgiveness. Then I remembered that I was 3 years old when she was born in January and since she was the 4th child in less than 6 years, I was sent to live with my grandmother. The first time I told this story, I said it was for 6 months, but my mother informed me it was less than 2 weeks. I had hated being away from my parents so I had blamed my little sister.
By the time I was 35 this seed of resentment had grown into a full blown hatred for my sister and, of course, in my own mind I was quite justified. I could think of a 1000 reasons to hate her. But I knew God was asking me to forgive her so I willed to do so even though I didn’t feel like it, and I asked God to forgive me for my hatred.
When I saw my sister later, I asked her forgiveness - and instantaneously, miraculously, the Lord gave me a love for her and her family that is beyond understanding.
JESUS HAS SET ME FREE !
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