I went to Catholic school through the eighth grade. They taught me many good things. They told me I could go to confession and ask for forgiveness. Most often, the priest would tell me to say six "Our Fathers" and six "Hail Marys" for the repentance of my sins. However, he did not stress that I should not sin in the first place and he did not encourage me to say thank you to the Lord!
In 1962, I began secular public high school and started a "garage band" called The McCoys. That is the year I started thinking less about the Lord.
The McCoys got better musically and in 1965, the year of my graduation, I recorded a song called "Hang On Sloopy." That period was called Beatlemania and it was also remembered as the summer of love - but it wasn't the love of Jesus that they were talking about. The world had discovered psychedelic drugs and people had fallen in love with marijuana and LSD.
It took me a little while, but playing music at pop festivals and love-ins eventually encouraged me to begin taking drugs myself. I was overwhelmed with success in the music business and getting farther and farther away from the Lord. I had forgotten where ny talent came from in the first place and had forgotten who it was that blessed me with all that success. So, once again, I didn't say thank you to the Lord.
By all earthly standards, I was very successful. My records were selling like hot cakes! I played on the entire 1966 American tour of the Rolling Stones. I played music with John Lennon and became friends with Jimi Hendrix and later Stevie Ray Vaughn. I played on most of the records of Steely Dan, recorded with Barbara Streisand, and began writing and touring with Cyndi Lauper. Duane Allman of the Allman Brothers Band told me that my guitar playing influenced him to play slide guitar. I have to admit, some people I worked with seemed pretty ungodly - people like KISS and Alice Cooper. I was getting farther and farther from the Lord.
Because I had forgotten the Lord.
It all came to a head in 1997; and even though my troubles at the time seemed overwhelming, I finally remembered there is someone to turn to - Our Savior, the Lord, Jesus Christ. I got down on my knees and started to praying. I asked for forgiveness. I asked for advice. I asked for Divine guidance and help. The Lord keeps His promises. Ask and you shall receive. He gave me the answers I needed and the strength to do what I had to do. But you know what? Although I still had not said thank you, the Lord did not give up on me. He had a plan for me. He has a plan for all of us.
It was time the Lord sent someone to help me right here on Earth, for the rest of my life. Her name was Jenda and she became my wife. Jenda reminded me, finally, to say thank you to the Lord. Jenda said, "Rick, you've got to be reborn,' and she took me to the river to be baptized. I was washed of my sins and began a relationship with Jesus Christ, as my Lord and Savior. I have come to realize that the Lord allowed me to survive drugs, alcohol and sins of the flesh so that I can stand here today as an example. A living, breathing example for all of you who think there is no way out; or all of you who think you are trapped in your addictions. The Lord can fix it all! He can bless you with the strength to beat any addiction. He died on the cross for your sins and gave you the opportunity to spend eternity in Heaven.
Now you and I have a debt to repay. Say thank you to the Lord. Ask Him for His forgiveness and ask Him to come into your life. Share your life with Him so that you too can be a Christ filled example for others.
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