Additional photos after Testimony
4657 cdd Out of Control Pride
Volume 19 Number 166
Today’s Author: Pastor Bill
Scripture: Isaiah 2:12
“The Lord Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty, for all that is exalted (and they will be humbled)” NIV
Hello, my name is Pastor Bill Hieb with Riverside Church of Somerset, Wisconsin, everyone calls me Pastor Bill. This is my Cross Testimony — A personal testimony is the best form of witnessing there is. Believers in Jesus Christ are saved by the Blood of the Lamb and we must share our testimony for others to hear. I am proudly a believer in all The Lord Jesus Christ stands for.
I was born in Stillwater, Minnesota to a family of 8 and the fourth of six brothers where we lived until I was five years old. My father was an over the road trucker while my mother raised us and worked at the Ammunition Arsenal in Arden Hills, Minnesota. I spent my summers with my grandmother Katie where I grew up in Stillwater. She was one of the most special people I have ever known. She was my pal. Those long hot summers in Stillwater included baseball and swimming at Lily Lake, often twice a day. We moved to Mendota Heights, Minnesota when I was five. We moved again to the inner-city St. Paul when I was eight.
Football, hockey, basketball, baseball and golf took up much of my time and instilled in me a sense of pride. My sporting skills improved quickly even playing on the St. Paul City Baseball Championship Team in 1962.
During my St. Paul teen years my city buddies, mischief and mayhem caused me to abandon my grandmother’s Stillwater summer visits. We lived in the Selby-Dale area known as, the drug infested, and most violent area of St. Paul. But sports were keeping me busy.
Then tragedy struck. I sustained a sporting career ending injury while jumping on a trampoline. I dislocated both shoulders doing a 1-½ forward somersault. The injuries were too severe to fully recover. I found myself consumed by anger and increasing bitterness as I grieved what could have been.
Living with 5 brothers in the inner-city of St. Paul taught us all survival of the fittest. It was the proving ground for my anger. Bitterness engulfed me, and I learned how to hate. My pride drove me to become a vicious street fighter. Perhaps the best of the best some would say. This was a dangerous hobby and the neighborhood that I lived in was ripe with would be gangsters who begged to be taken down. I did my best and my reputation in the inner-city grew strong. Unfortunately, the conflict methods of fists and feet gave way to a more dangerous environment where knives, clubs, chains and even guns were flourishing.
Joining a gang was the only means available where we could maintain protection. It was necessary to be in a group to even walk down the street. Soon I joined with a new gang moving through the alleys in mobs of no less than 5, always on the lookout for ambush or robbery. We were ready to defend our turf at every turn.
Alcohol, pharmaceutical drugs, glue or anything that produced a “High” was coveted. This worked its way into street Drugs from Mexico. Ordinary street gangs became ultra-violent as the trafficking of potent drugs became commonplace.
I was arrested many times for truancy, incorrigibility, vandalism, burglary and assault with the intent to commit murder. Eventually I found myself incarcerated for six months — caught red handed stealing a car.
Common sense told me I had to leave gang life for the sake of my own mortality. My life was visibly out of control as pride, anger, bitterness and hate bubbled over daily. People were betting against me when it came to whether I would live to reach the age of 18.
I tried a new life in my own strength and was married at 19. We left the hood, but the hood never left me. Alcohol, drugs and an occasional fistfight kept me in a heighten sense of madness. I hated cops and my bigotry toward most everyone else led me to more confrontations.
Through all this, in my other life, I held down a good job as a supervising construction technician, with a great deal of authority. This pushed my pride to a new level. Pride had hampered me from birth and now it was puffed up and out of control.
Pride drove me to fear everything and it consumed me. I feared losing my job, my marriage and my life. I was desperate with nowhere to turn.
I had heard about a God when I was young but knew nothing about him. I surmised He was real because someone, somewhere had to be responsible for the chaos in my out of control life.
I remembered back to a Vacation Bible School that a local church in Mendota Heights, Minnesota put on in 1958. My grandmother and family made sure I was there. The youth pastor shared the gospel and gave an altar call. I was in the balcony with my friends and I stood for the prayer. Nothing changed because we were an unchurched family and there was no interest in my pursuing that path. The altar call fell on stony ground or did it? Only God knows.
I was successful at work and transferred to a new office location. Here I was now under the watchful eye of senior management. Soon fear and paranoia gripped me as I knew I would be exposed as an alcoholic and a drug addict. My drug intake had gone beyond digesting and snorting, it was obvious the end was near.
My worst fear was that I would be exposed and lose everything. So, I went to my employer and told them I had a drinking problem. They said, “We already know. We want to help you.”
I was hospitalized in detox for 30 days and wore pajamas the entire time along with about 50 of my comrades. This was in 1980. I watched on TV as the American Olympic Hockey Team won the gold medal. (What could have been still ate at me). I still had a long road of rehabilitation ahead of me, but I was optimistic for the future.
A year later after living a life of sobriety, gambling, cursing and flirting at the Alcoholics Anonymous Program, I knew I needed more. I was still full of pride, anger, bitterness and hate and still miserable — but thank God I was still sober and clean.
Some older friends of mine in the program invited me to a 3-day retreat. I decided to join them. A minister was preaching and teaching out of Romans 6, 7 and 8. I was spellbound and stunned by the exposition of the word.
I went back to my room determined to read the New Testament. I started at the beginning in Matthew. By the time I got to chapter 7, I shouted out loud. “This Jesus is real, this is all true, these miracles really happened.”
I didn’t know how to pray but I knelt beside my bed and began to just talk to God. I sensed He was telling me to get dressed and go outside into a snow blizzard with temperatures well below zero. I did it and He led me along a path, known as the stations of the Cross. As I walked the path the Passion of Christ unfolded. By the time Jesus fell for the 3rd time I was transported to the crucifixion 2,000 years ago.
I stood outside the walls of Jerusalem, by the side of the road to Cavalry and cried out at the top of my lungs, “Simon, help Him.” My tears and my brokenness were manifested right then and there. I wept over my sin and my unbelief and became a Christian, a Believer in Jesus Christ, at that very moment. I was forgiven, saved, born again, regenerated and justified by the blood of the Lamb. Clearly Jesus died for my sins.
Then I found myself back in my room. While I was laying there contemplating what had just happened while in Jerusalem the Glory of the Lord filled my retreat room with a brightness and power that seemed seven times brighter than the sun. I was in the presence of the Lord.
I was not afraid nor bashful. I sat up on the bed and engaged in conversation with the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. He sat on a Throne in the corner. I was doing fine, and, in our conversation, I asked, “Lord, don’t you have others to visit in need.” He was pleased that I should be concerned about others. Our conversation went on for what seemed like hours until the glory lifted, and I fell into a deep sleep.
When I awoke I ran to the mirror to look at my face. I assumed I would be sunburned and that my beard would be white. Neither was.
Immediately I ran to the minister’s residence at the retreat and spoke to him about what had happened to me. He cried and then we both cried tears of joy. He said to me. “Do you know how good Jesus has been to you?” Yes, I exclaimed having no clue as to what my new life would become.
The last 38 years since that experience The Lord has dealt profoundly with my pride, anger, bitterness and hate — all for His Glory. I’ve graduated Bible School, obtained my Masters In Divinity and I’m working on my PHD for the Lord. I’ve been a Pastor for 25 years, and led dozens of mission’s trips throughout the world.
Our Riverside Ministry and Church has built relationships in Guatemala, Nicaragua, India, Africa, Ukraine, Panama and Mexico. We have been instrumental in establishing more than 30 International Bible Schools in prisons, in more than a dozen countries. We have seeded and help establish more than 350 churches worldwide where many carry the name of Riverside. We are currently establishing a Christian TV station in Africa.
The Lord has blessed our endeavors for Him and continues to open many more doors for us. Along the way I’ve experienced failures, brokenness, disappointments, deaths, personal conviction and medical challenges. But Jesus has always been faithful. Like the many times I injured my ankle. The doctors were unable to remedy my ankle problems and I hobbled around with a limp. Then one evening while in prayer my leg and ankle started to heat up. It felt like it was going to catch on fire. I cried out to the Lord for help. His answer still rings in my ears, “I’m here and the heat is my healing touch.”
The heat subsided, I stepped on my foot and no pain in the ankle or leg. My limp was gone. There have been countless healings and deliverances for people we prayed for. Jesus is in control. His will be done!
Bottom line I am a life that was changed, and I know who changed it and one day I will again see Him Face to Face.
Pastor Bill, thank you for your friendship for the past 20 years. Together we provide devotions for prisons, have networked to plant Crosses across the globe, and journeyed through Bible School together.
Please thank your readers for the Cross. Today we got ours! To God be all the Glory!
Thanks Pastors Bill and Carol and may God continue to bless your life and ministry.
My favorite Bible verse is Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” NKJV
The Cross means to me that it is the embodiment of the entire gospel. The Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Cross is the focal point of Christianity and it is the churches responsibility to explain it and bring the lost to salvation.
This Cross planted is symbolic of our witness as a church. Jesus Christ is alive and well on planet earth. He is no longer on the Cross but through His Resurrection we have hope for eternal life with Him. Lastly, I want to thank my wife Kay who has tolerated and forgiven my flaws, freckles, immaturity, carnality, etc. and prayed for me throughout our marriage. Truly a Proverbs 31 woman who has stood by me with wise counsel and steadfast support.
Prayer: Father thank you for Your love and mercy as The Proud are embraced into a new life through faith in Jesus Christ. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!
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