The Testimony of David Tutwiler Jr.
I am called by God's Word to give my testimony for all that may desire to know how I came to possess the hope that lives in me.
1 Peter 3:15
At this time, My family and I go to a small church in Yucaipa, CA. The children God has given me continue to bless me. He has matured me in so many ways. Nicole (23) has graduated from Biola University and is moving on to law school at University of LaVerne, Matthew (21) works at Costco and has been attending classes full time at Biola himself. He will be graduating this December with a degree in film, Josh (19) is graduating from UC Irvine with a computer science & engineering degree in just two weeks from now, Heidi (16) is the greatest help to us in taking care of both her little sisters. I don't know what we would do without her and her brother Benji (14). He has such a servants heart helping with both Bethany and Rebekah. He really enjoys playing with them both, Bethany (5 years old) is simply beautiful, she's so much fun and a joy to be around. I'm not saying she doesn't have some selfish and difficult moments, but who remembers those anyway? Finally Rebekah, she's got a completely different personality then Bethany. Way more stubborn and independent and a much bigger challenge for all of us.
Sometimes our daily life is wonderful and sometimes it's hard and painful. One thing that remains firm is His grace and mercy. I have to keep reminding myself that it's only through those hard times that my faith grows. My hope is that Jesus' character would be revealed outwardly by the change going inwardly and that my old character would equally diminish (see 2 Cor. 4: 8-11) so that those whom I love and give myself to will one day desire the hope that lives in me. God has changed my attitude towards problems and difficult people, etc. These, I've learned to accept and am still trying to welcome into my life as I take up my own cross the Lord has required; that the death of my old nature might result, so His Life and nature can be be alive in me (see John 3:30).
I can glory in nothing but Christ in me and I must confess that He is little seen in me as I would desire for Him to be. All I can say as John Bunyan said: "Unless He is such a great Savior, He surely cannot save such a great sinner as I."
I was born on December 19, 1958 in New Bern, North Carolina. I am the oldest of four children. I was kind of a reject through my years of school. By the time I got to high school, I was pretty much a go with the flow nobody. The kid without much personality of his own. I hung around with the loser crowd, whose only ambitions were rock-n-roll and partying. I could have easily been one of those suicide statistics except for God's grace. My grades stunk, due solely to a serious lack of interest. I really didn't care much about anything. When I was nearly finished with high school and my hair began growing out, all of us kid's (my brothers and sister) became even more rebellious and even ran into trouble with the law a bit. With two weeks before graduation and just barely passing grades, I got into a big fight with my Dad and moved out. I quit school, missed finals, and yet still passed all of my classes except one. That one class prevented me from graduating. From there I lived wherever I could slum, working at McDonalds at first then at Kwikset Locks. All I cared about was Rock-n-Roll, smoking pot, girls and drinking, still the follower I had always been, never able to think for myself.
One day I ran into a girl named Lori Stewart. She was a cheer leader at Loara High where I attended. I never knew her personally, only in passing. Her group and the group I hung out with didn't have much in common so I was surprised that she recognized me at all. She came up to me and said, "Dave? Dave Tutwiler?" I said, "Yea, that's me". She asked how I'd been and said that her and a girlfriend were going to a concert that night and would I like to come along? I was stunned. This beautiful blonde surfer chick asking me out to a concert, of course I said yes. I figured it was some kind of rock concert. I had no idea it was a Christian concert. They picked me up and we got there about 30 minutes before the concert started. Lori figured we would have plenty of time to get a seat before it started. What she didn't figure was that the Anaheim Convention Center would be already filled to capacity with somewhere around 800 people outside still wanting to get in. "Well, Lori said, "Let's pray". They grabbed my hands and the three of us formed a circle as Lori prayed, "Lord, I know it's no accident that we are here and that you brought us here for a reason". We then proceeded to walk around to the back of the arena where the docks were. There we found an open door which we walked into leading us to the arena. Much to our surprise, two ushers approached us and seated the three of us together.
I had heard lot's of preaching before, growing up in the Baptist church. However, hearing Keith Green's message was something I'd never heard before. He spoke of what God expected of us and that He required us to lay down our whole lives for Him since that is what He did for us. That God would expect nothing less. Keith spoke to the crowd acknowledging that only some of those in attendance would be in heaven. His message seemed so far from any other I had ever heard before. What I heard was his attitude of speaking the Truth without regard of offending the hearers. I was at first very offended. I said to myself and the two girls, "No way, this is wrong". But Keith had such a way of firmness mingled with genuine concern, and his opening the Bible and reading from it proved my shame. That was when I, for the first time repented before God. The Lord certainly had a plan that day as Lori had prayed.
My understanding of Truth began that day, however I did not remain submitted to His will as I should have. He allowed me to wander back and forth until sometime in 1980 when I met a man that worked for my Dad as a drapery installer. His name was Jack. Jack was training me as an installer so we got to spend allot of time together. I eventually crossed over to sales where I did well and liked it much better. Jack was less than a fully consecrated individual whom God used just the same to lead me back to Him. Jack was very motivated by Biblical prophecy and how it paralleled current world affairs. It was through Biblical prophecy that Jack influenced me once again to repent and commit myself to God. I was introduced to a church called the Eagles Nest by another brother. The Eagles Nest was in Santa Ana and was Pastored by Gary Greenwald. Gary was very popular because of his topical teachings. One topic that really exploded in publicity was on rock music and Satan's influence over the musicians recording it (Rock-a-bye-baby). He did a lot of recording of popular songs, examining their lyrics as well as revealing hidden messages that could be heard playing both forward and backward. The Eagles Nest was very active in evangelism as well. There was a ministry called the "Evangelical Eaglets" that would meet every Saturday night and head out to Balboa and other popular places to hand-out tracts and witness to the lost.
By the middle of 1981 business got real slow at Artisan Draperies and business couldn't support two Salesman any longer, so my Dad made me a proposition. He had always tried to talk me into joining the Marine Corps. with zero success. Well, now I had a car payment and no income. He said that if I could make it through boot camp, he would pay off my car. It didn't take me very long to agree. I enlisted and began my eleven weeks of training on June 11, 1981. Here I was, a recommitted Christian going into Marine Corps Boot Camp. As I assumed, my drill instructors were very wicked and cruel men. I remember one time being singled out in front of the entire platoon as was the case with many of the recruits from time to time. Sgt. Schiekle ordered me front and center (right in front of him) while all of the other guys were sitting on the squad bay floor behind me. They had to let any that wanted to, wear religious necklaces and I wore a Christian fish. He grabbed my camouflage utility shirt in the front and began pulling my shirt toward him and thumping my chest with his big old USMC ring in and out about 20 times, thus making that fish dig into my skin with each thump. After that was all over, my T-shirt underneath had a pretty good size blood stain. I'm not bitter over any thing that happened in the Marines. I know that God used that time in ways I only understood years later. After boot camp, I began school at Marine Corps Communication Electronics School in 29 Palms, CA. God used me in a lot of ways during that time. Some other brothers and I started a Christian unit call "The God Squad". I became very good friends with the Base Chaplain and we organized Bible studies which included other higher ranking officers and enlisted men. I commuted each weekend home to Anaheim so I could attend the Eagles Nest. I ended up bringing as many brothers as I could fit into my car. When more wanted to go than I could fit into my little Datsun 310, I had to turn some away. God provided me the opportunity to trade in my car for a Volkswagen Bus. Each weekend about 7 or 8 of us would come down to Anaheim and spread out on my Dad & Moms living room floor to spend Friday and Saturday nights there. My Dad & Mom loved having us all over. I saw what I considered substantial growth in my spiritual life back then. I'm not sure what happened between 29 Palms and Camp Pendleton but, my heart moved. It was toward the end of 1982 my falling away from the Lord began. Life in the Marines was quite different from civilian life, however I would never make that an excuse. If anything, it proved that my faith was not real. It may have been that I served the Lord only in my flesh and never really let His Spirit assume total control of my life. What I thought was substantial spiritual growth was nothing more then mere head knowledge. And according to the God's Word, knowledge alone does nothing more than puff us up with pride. That began a long and pain filled period in my life. God lets us fail so we can see that our living is nothing more then our own. When we fail, get up and fail again and again, God intends for us to eventually see that our living has not been His (Christ living through us), but only our own efforts of self-righteousness to please Him. We cannot possibly please God by our efforts no matter how hard we try.
I got out of the Marine Corps. in June of 1985 with an honorable discharge after completing my four year commitment and ended up working back at Kwikset again. From the time I got out of the Marines until February of 1988 I got very much back into drugs and partying. My room-mate and I played the candyman and were much the trouble in a few marriages in the apartment complex we lived in. I don't want to go into too much detail because I don't want to tempt anyone including myself into somehow glorifying those most shameful days. All I will say is that we were selling drugs at first in small amounts and later in larger amounts that also brought more trouble because of the large amounts of cash which necessitated the need for guns. It was about this time, after two people I knew were murdered, that I said, I'm finished with this garbage. I wasn't addicted to any drugs or alcohol (I can't account of how, except by God's grace) so it was not real hard for me to break away from all that. During all of this time, I never found the pleasure in such sin as I did before I was first saved. In fact, I was miserable most of the time because I knew I was putting shame to my Saviour's Name. If you were to ask me during those days if I was a Christian and was I going to heaven, I would surely have said "NO". I'm not trying to make a doctrinal issue out of this, I may have been wrong but at that time, I was sure that that was where I stood positionally.
I moved in with an old buddy I had known since 1977. Him and I got along quite well. We worked together at Kwikset and would smoke pot and drink, however without the other drugs and associations I had previously. It was a much more civilized group of friends I went back to. During this time, I thought it wise to seek wellness again both physically and spiritually. I quit drinking and smoking both cigarettes and pot. I started running as I had during my time in the Marine Corp. I was running with a group of guys from work and formed kind of a club. It felt good to get back into shape again. I tried attending different church's hoping to find repentance again. I went from church to church never really able to settle down and find people to connect with. There was a guy at work that was always very persistent with me about getting my life back right with the Lord. He was most faithful in his persistence. Since then, he has wandered away from God. (My dear brother Ed, if you ever read this, I love you and I am praying for you.) There is no way I even came close to being happy or fulfilled. Even though I had cleaned up my life quite a lot (not all together), I knew that I was not in His will. There were many times I resolved to get my life back right with God and with each attempt, I fell flat on my face. It was so depressing. I wanted repentance but it could not be found. I spent the next 8 years vacillating back and forth near total hopelessness.
In February of 1988 my buddy and I were still room-mates. My running was the best it had ever been at that time. A bunch of us at work got together at Pepper's, a restaurant/night club to celebrate the birthday for one of the guys. It was a Friday night and I had a race the next morning. I stood around talking and drinking sparkling water with the guys when I saw who was to be my wife just 6 months from that day. I don't really want to go into great detail here once again out of respect for her and because I still trust God will answer my prayers that someday she will really know my Lord Jesus Christ. God forbid that my prayers should be hindered by my own foolishness.
I was not walking with the Lord and I was lonely. When I met this beautiful woman and saw she was attracted to me, that was pretty much all I needed to jump right in. But when she said she was a Christian, there was no possible reason to turn back. We dishonored God from the very beginning.
I do want to make it clear that in no way do I blame her for the break-up of our marriage. I was not the husband I needed to be. I failed. I was never with another woman, but there are many other ways a man can be unfaithful to his wife.
My entire marriage was one of vacillating belief. My heart was never steadfast on the Lord from late 1982, during the time I was in the Marine Corps. till early 1996. About 14 years of wandering. I proved that when someone is walking by their own will and not according to God's, they will make a lot of foolish mistakes. There has been a lot of pain throughout all of those years but one thing that God redeemed besides myself is my beautiful son Joshua. God has totally used this boy to teach me many things. Josh is being used by God to this day.
In April of 95, her and I separated for the 3rd and final time. It was just a few months after that that I began having Josh full time. Sometime in late 95 I started going back to the church her and I were a part of off and on for 5 years, Calvary Chapel of Placentia.
filed for divorce in late 95 and it became final in December of 96. Since then,
God has taught me plenty. His hand was, and still is at work in my life bringing
many crosses to bear. Although the road has been difficult at times, God has
always delivered me. Josh and I have grown and learned many things together for
the more then four years the two of us were together. God had been preparing us for new challenges,
ones He had planned for us before time began. Erika, a woman God has fashioned with His own hands through
many trials of her own has become my wife, and her four beautiful children have all become
my gift from God my Father.
Since we were married on April 24th, 2001, life has changed a bunch. Challenges arrived I never could have imagined. It's not often our estimations of future relational circumstances turn out the way we think. God has been dealing with me in ways I never dreamed He would. He has been at work in the wonderful task of removing a lot of selfish ambitions, self-dependence, self-exaltation & self-approval. It has been extremely difficult at times and I would be lying if I said I have never thought about quitting and just running away. However each time God has given me the grace and courage to humble myself and endure each circumstance as it has passed and without fail each has been followed by a flood of joy. The toughest thing is remembering in the midst of that trial that it is Him bringing it to pass for the purpose that I might be a partaker of His holiness (see Heb. 12:1-11). It will never be painless when God has to remove an independent, self-centered nature we and this world have been building and nurturing in us our whole live long. Eighteen months now, and I still don't know what will happen tomorrow; but this I do know: I have a God with a plan for my life and because of that, I don't need to worry about it. I am created for His purpose. All I need to do is live and trust in Him, my Rock.
That is Joy !!
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Last updated: 5/30/2009
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