John Pitterle

From Empty and Meaningless to Purpose and Peace

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My life used to be empty and meaningless. I tried church and religion but they did not change me. Then I had an encounter with Jesus of the most awesome kind. I have not been the same since.

In high school and early in my college days, many things were looking good on the outside but inside my life was empty and had no meaning. I went to church every Sunday (as I had for years) but it had little effect on me and I was not changed.

During my second year of college, I met a girl who I thought was very religious. She was a good friend. One day we were talking about reading the Bible. I told her, "I just don't have time." Shortly after that I had a very sobering dream. I was at the gates of heaven and my turn came up. After I was announced, all that I heard from the other side was God saying, "Tell him I just don't have time."

Then one summer, while I was working, taking a class and living in an apartment just off campus, two people came to my door and said they were conducting a survey. So I let them in and we sat down. They asked me two extremely penetrating questions that I have not forgotten. The first questions was, "If you died today, would you go to heaven?"

I thought about it a little bit and replied, "I think so."

Their second question was, "If you died and were standing at the gates of heaven and God asked you why He should let you in, what would you tell Him?"

I seriously considered this for two or three minutes. Then I finally replied that I was a nice person and lived a relatively good life.

They left, the summer finished, and the fall semester began. On top of working part-time, it was a very challenging and time-consuming semester. In the middle of the semester I had four or five weeks with mid-term exams and projects due every week. Then a week was coming up with no tests or homework due. So I tried to find some good parties. But I could not find any. Then my (religious) friend invited me to a retreat. Since I could not find anything else to do, I figured I may as well give it a try.

It was an interesting and eye-opening weekend for me. The people were different. I could not believe it but the entire weekend I did not hear a single swear word. I also felt love and acceptance. This was a new experience for me.

When I returned to school, I started reading the Bible. I started attending a church where the people lived the Bible. I also joined a Bible study and was absolutely amazed to find out how it all tied together even though it was written by 40 different people over a period of 1,500 years. I also learned that I could not be good enough or earn my way to heaven. I want to tell you a little story that helps explain this.

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There was a student who received a speeding ticket. The police officer brought the student before a judge. The judge said, "You were caught speeding. What is your plea? Are you innocent or guilty?"

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The student responded, "I am guilty your honor but I am sorry. I will not do it again."

The judge pounded his gavel and proclaimed, "Guilty."

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He stated, "I am the judge and it is my duty to enforce the law and uphold justice in this land. Therefore I must enforce the fine of $7 trillion or life in prison."

The student started to cry and replied, "Your honor, I am a poor student. I can not afford that. Please have mercy on me."

The judge solemnly declared, "I am required to maintain justice and enforce the punishment of the law." Then the judge did something very interesting. He stood up, took off his judge's robe, and stepped down from his judge's chair. He walked over to the student, pulled his wallet out of his pocket and laid down the full payment. As the student looked up in amazement, the judge returned to his chair, put on his robe, and sat down.

The student was smiling and said, "Your honor, I am eternally grateful. I can't thank you enough."

This is the meaning of the story: We are just like the student. We have all made mistakes. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We are all guilty. And the punishment for our sins is something that we can not afford - eternal separation from God and eternity in hell. However, because the Lord loves us so much He took off His heavenly robes, stepped off His throne, came down to earth, and Jesus became a man. He paid the price for our sins by dying on the cross. Then He rose from the dead and went back to heaven where He is seated at the right hand of the Father.

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I received His free gift of eternal life - a personal relationship with Jesus - by turning from and confessing my sins, believing Jesus and His Word, and making Him the new Boss of my life. I became a disciple and a child of God. I started to follow and obey Jesus. I have relinquished control of my life and found that my Father in heaven is much better at taking care of things! And God has changed me.

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I had tried religion but it was boring and empty. Now I have personally met Jesus and He is awesome!!! He is alive and He walks with me. He has given my life a sense of purpose. Now I am running for Jesus.

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If you died today, do you know with certainty where you would go?

Jesus is the Answer!

If you would like to know for sure and/or if you want to find out more about having a relationship with Jesus, please check out one or all of the following excellent web sites:

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Please E-mail me if you have any questions or comments. Please e-mail me if you do not know JESUS and you would like to start a personal relationship with Him.

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We spent several years in


(Click to see a beautiful photo of Madagascar and other pictures)

and the ends of the earth

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Click here to see Advocates for the Unreached: Country Prioritization, Missions Priorities, and more

Click here to look at God's Will to Heal (Bible Study)

Click here to read our Madagascar newsletters and prayer requests

Click here to view the report about the 2007 trip to India

Click here to see the report about the 2008 trip to Zambia

Click here to read the report about the 2009 trip to Zambia

Click here to see PSU International Friendship Ministry Bible Studies

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Click here to see John's ARL/PSU office information