Below is my salvation testimony. - Dominie Bush

I was born into a Christian home and attended church faithfully.  I was baptized by immersion when I was 12.  I made straight A's and was active in school organizations.  I could quote many Bible passages.  As a college student at UCLA in 1968, I became involved in campus Christian groups.  I later attended Bible college and served as a missionary.  Then I began teaching in a Christian school and playing the piano for various churches.  However, there was one problem - I was not "born again."  
How could this be?
When I was growing up, I thought that sins were things like drinking, dancing, smoking and playing cards.  I did not know anything about having a loving, personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.   When I was a 16 year old college freshman, I heard the words "God loves you" for the first time while attending Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and Campus Crusade for Christ meetings.  This was unusual and refreshing to me, because I had always thought of God as a stern taskmaster in the sky with a big stick, ready to hit you if you did anything wrong.  Many of my college friends seemed to have a close, warm relationship with God.  When I was around them, I felt like an outsider.  I was with God's family, but not part of the family.
After college, I discussed this feeling of not being saved with two Christians whom I respected.  They said that I was a good person and just needed the assurance of my salvation.  That didn't satisfy me.  I still had doubts.  People couldn't see the hidden sins in my life, particularly unforgiveness toward people who had wronged me.  I had no joy in hearing of the salvation of others.  I felt that I knew more than new believers because of my knowledge of the Bible and "deeper life" teachings.  I guess you could say that my Christian experience was "all in my head."
At the age of 36, I was a busy career woman.  On May 11, 1988, I was attending a revival service at Temple Baptist Church in Tallahassee, Florida where Evangelist Al Lacy was holding meetings.  I sat in the back of the auditorium on the ground floor under the balcony.  In front of me were a row of rough-looking men from the rescue mission that our church operated downtown.  The evangelist spoke on "The Contrary Christ" - how Jesus had defied every law of nature.  He was born of a virgin, He healed the sick, He walked on water and He even ascended into heaven, defying the law of gravity!  I noticed that the men from the rescue mission were saying a lot of enthusiastic "Amens" and "Hallelujahs."  In my heart I looked down on them because of their unkempt appearance, and some even had needle marks on their arms from long term drug use.  But I also observed their joy and obvious connection with God - something I did not have.  I had an intellectual faith and didn't like emotional Christians.  They made me uncomfortable.
As we stood to sing the invitational hymn, the Holy Spirit suddenly and powerfully gripped my heart with the absolute conviction that I was not saved.  I could hardly breathe!  There was no denying it....I was NOT SAVED!  The thought went through my mind that if an explosion were to destroy the building we were sitting in, the men from the rescue mission would go to heaven and I, "Miss Goody Two Shoes," would go to hell. 
I nearly ran down the aisle to the front of the church.  I was crying.  A lady met me at the altar and asked if I knew Ephesians 2: 8 and 9, "For by GRACE are ye saved THROUGH FAITH; and that not of yourselves: it is the GIFT OF GOD, NOT OF WORKS, lest any man should boast."  I told her that I had learned those verses as a child but had never understood them until just then!  I realized for the first time that I couldn't get to heaven on my own merits.  I needed a Savior!  Right there I made a "business transaction" with the Lord - I gave Him my sins and He gave me His righteousness.  What a great deal!  As the old hymn states:  "'Tis done, the great transaction's done - I am my Lord's and He is mine!"  
My life was forever changed!  I now belonged to Jesus!  I was eager to tell others!  I shuddered at how close to death I had come several times (car accidents, major surgery, etc.) before I was saved.  I loved the Lord and wanted to obey Him in every area of my life.  I wrote to the evangelist and asked him if I needed to be baptized again, since I had already been baptized as a child (in order to join a church).  Al Lacy wrote back with a thundering "YES!!!"  He said that it is BELIEVER'S baptism, and now that I was a believer, I needed to be baptized!  He said that I had been RELIGIOUS BUT LOST, and that he had met many people like me.  
It took some convincing to get my pastor to baptize me, but one night I wrote down 10 things that changed in my life from the night of my salvation.  I read these to my pastor on the phone, and he said joyfully, "Sister, you've been saved!!!"  I said, "I know!!"  I was baptized by my pastor in September.  I now felt ready to serve the Lord, and I loved Him so much for saving me! 
I began reading a popular booklet at the time called "88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be In 1988."  As I pondered this information, I wept!   I said, "Lord, I just got saved and have not had time to serve you before you come back!"  But the year came and went and Jesus did not return, so I had time to serve the Lord after all!  I was so happy!!  I was like one of the workers in Jesus' parable who was called late to work in His vineyard, while others had been called earlier. 
It continued to amaze me that I could have been in church all my life and not been saved!  I had many questions about this.  I told my pastor that I could have died and gone to hell on a number of occasions, and it was frightening to contemplate!  My pastor said that God knew I would live to be 36 and spared my life.  
I now understood how others had testified to being saved after years of Christian service - a youth pastor at my mother's church, a prominent deacon, a seminary student, and a man in our church choir.  All were saved when the Holy Spirit moved upon their hearts during a church service.  What I learned is that we can't save ourselves.  We are born again "not by the will of man, but by the will of God."  
There's an interesting tract called "Counterfeit Christians" by Evangelist Luis Palau that I read shortly after I was saved.  He says that four out of five people consider themselves to be Christians.  He asks this question, "What does it take to make someone a real Christian?"  He gives the following list and asks the reader to check as many as they think apply:
Being born in America
Thinking positively
Living a good life
Going to church
Giving to others
Being baptized
Taking communion
Believing in God
Talking about Jesus Christ
Reading the Bible
Prior to being born again, I would have been checking things off the list!   Luis Palau says, "The truth is that while many of the items are Christian activities, not one of them can make you a real Christian...God wants you to know where you stand in His eyes.  Don't settle for counterfeit Christianity when you can have the real thing."  This is what I had for so many years - "Counterfeit Christianity!"  
After I was born again, things changed for the better - but not in an earthly sense.  Satan launched an ugly, massive attack against my life, but at the same time the Lord began His work of sanctification in me.  I had become a "new creature in Christ."  "Old things had passed away and all things had become new," but God had to get rid of my rebellious nature.  During these years of upheaval and personal disaster, I learned to submit to Jesus as the Lord of my life.  I soon found that there could only be ONE will in my life - and it was me yielding to His will.  Dominie had to "die" so that Jesus could began living His life through me.  I learned to say, "Not my will, but Thine be done."
The words of many old hymns are very accurate in their message: "On Christ, the Solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand."  "Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling."  "Not the labors of my hands can fulfill Thy laws demands...All for sin could not atone; Thou must save and Thou alone." 
If a person is depending on anything other than the atoning blood of Jesus Christ to get to heaven, he is not born again.  The Holy Spirit can open a person's eyes to their need of a Savior, just as He did with me - when I was religious but lost!

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