• Fgbmfi Living the Dream - Paul Bernard's Story My n

    ame is Paul Bernard, I have been married to Janet since 1983. We have three beautiful daughters and as of August this year all have left home; which I am told I will learn to enjoy sometime down the track.

    I was ten years old when my mum and dad became Jesus Christ followers. Our family started going to a little Baptist Church in my home town of Cambridge. Our world changed. Years later, I heard the story of several families from that church who had loved my mum and dad, prayed for them, and showed kindness to them in practical ways again and again over several years. How they celebrated when mum and dad were born again.

    In February 2015 I was invited to a Full Gospel Business Men’s fellowship meeting in downtown Dunedin, to talk about sharing my faith in Jesus in the workplace. It was an excellent night. I had fun, and there was good comradery as well. Men were sharing and praying for one another. So I kept attending these monthly meetings.

    In 2010 I had a dream. It was a scene I knew well from swimming tournament days as a child. Walking out with towel around my shoulders wearing togs and a singlet. I strip off and hand the towel and singlet to one of my work colleagues and head for the starting blocks. I notice that there are no other swimmers in the race. Then in the middle of the dream I start up a conversation with God.

    “God, there’s no-one else in this race?”

    “Yes Paul, I know. I set this race up just for you. It’s a lap of honour…”

    While standing on old fashioned, well-worn starting blocks, I realised that many people had swum this race before me. I became aware of the “Great crowd of witnesses.” My work team mates were watching from beside the pool and my boss was there too, holding the starting gun. I knew that I was going to learn through this to trust God, “Our Father,” at a deeper level than ever before. It was a lap that that would be linking two seasons of my life. The season after the lap would be all about Janet and me going forward together in God’s plans and purposes for and through us from there.

    While standing there, looking down, I noticed I was wearing shorts with pockets. The conversation continued;

    “God, these are going to slow me down. What shall I wear instead?”

    “Put on the garment of praise”

    “That’s so cool God, they will be the best.”

    I told my Christian friends about the dream and we were pretty excited about it. One day…

    Fast Forward to the end of October 2014

    I noticed something wasn’t quite right with my pay. When I checked it out I found that for the financial year to that date I had been paid a significant amount too much. “Impossible,” said our administration, but I was right. It was an error that had gone unnoticed for a number of years. The company wrote off the loss from previous years. We corrected the books for the current year and then came the wait until the end of the financial year to find out what that meant for me personally as far as the IRD was concerned.

    January 2015. On holiday in Nelson out for a prayer walk. Suddenly God and I are back in the dream (in broad daylight).

    God said, “This is it, you’re in it,” then He says, “Look down,” so I look down. “What are you wearing?”

    Me, “The garment of praise.”

    God, “What else are you wearing?”

    Me, “Nothing.”

    God, “Exactly.”

    And in that moment I knew God created the universe, He created this world, He created me. Everything I am, everything I have, every gifting, every ability, everything of any value in my life was either created by God when he made me. I have nothing of any value that God hadn’t given me in the first place - except ‘thanksgiving and praise.’

    That was and still is a WOW moment.

    I knew exactly what handing my singlet and towel to my colleague meant. It had already happened.

    When my tax return came back April 2015, the figures weren’t bad but once all the penalties and interest had been added onto my total debt was in the tens of thousands over and above the 80% mortgage I had. During the time of not knowing, I had slid into depression. I had only four sales for the year to that point. Being a commission based salesperson made matters worse and I owed my boss a heap as well.

    My boss pulled the trigger on the start gun. This was Janet and I coming up with a “bare bones” budget. A new pay structure was put in place on that basis and I got paid whether the pay was there or not. However, the goal was to exceed my pay with performance until the debt was eliminated. First pay under the new structure was in May 2015.

    Tuesday June 2, evening meeting FGBMFI, I am heading down the stairs when this Michael dude runs after me. “Hey Paul, God told me to do something” he says.

    God told him to, “Look in your wallet and give what’s in it to Paul.” It wasn’t much money, but it was cool obedience, with joy. Something in my heart broke that night.

    The following morning there was $1000 in my bank from another lovely couple (also involved in FGBMFI) who had asked for my bank account number several months before “Paul we want to bless you and Janet.”

    Wednesday June 3. This was flood day in Dunedin. I had three unconditional sales on that day. The first one was for a Christian vendor who prophesied that I would be given a performance based award in a year’s time, that I would get presented this award in front of my peers, and that I would honour Jesus and thank God for stuff publicly when that happened. I didn’t believe it actually, but that is exactly what happened, even though I was struggling with depression most of that year. My boss took me to one side and told me I had won an award, but he didn’t want to give it to me now. H said he would like to give it to me at the team meeting … so I had time to prepare what to say and so complete the prophecy, which was fun. A big chunk of the debt was eliminated that year and right now as I type this, it is almost completely paid off.

    I never felt like I was swimming the race very well, realising that all along I had been relying on my own strength and not relying on God. All along God has been so wonderful to me so many times over so many years.

    God’s love is not based on my performance. There was a day when God set me up and said to me: “Paul, you have been measured and found wanting but Jesus was measured on your behalf and found more than enough in every way.” This was another wonderful bright light in a dark moment.

    For most of the time “living the dream” was not much fun. I spent a lot of time crying out to God. Sharing and prayer times at our monthly meetings have been hugely helpful for me. Knowing that through Jesus I am a son of our Father and these blokes are my brothers. Choosing to praise each day and declaring that which God has said is true and thanking Him for these truths, has been crucial. He truly is my provider. My cup overflows - on days when I feel like it and on days when I don’t.

    At the FGBMFI regional camp this year a few things came together for me and God made it obvious that through all this He has been developing wider and deeper trust in Him as the foundation of my life. I guess there is some more building coming up.

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