In the two years that Tim Pickl has been a member of FaithWriters, he has become such a wonderful friend and encourager to many. Join interviewer, Lynda Schab, as she talks to Tim about prayer, prison and, of course, his passion for the pen (or, better said, the PC):
LYNDA SCHAB: Tim, you have a wonderful testimony. Would you mind starting out by sharing it with us?
TIM PICKL: First, I want to say thank you to you, Lynda, and FaithReaders for allowing me to be a part of your wonderful ministry. God is mightily using FaithWriters and FaithReaders to reach out to the lost and encourage the saints all over the world. I was a shy kid, and now as an adult I'm a "behind the scenes" person. I just want to do my little part!
The following is my testimony, as posted on our family website: http://www.pickl.com/timandmarsha/timtestimony.htm
Growing up in the Pickl family was joyful. We are a close-knit family with strong Roman Catholic beliefs and roots. We did everything together, and continue to do so. Our parents instilled in us a simple faith in Jesus: to emulate His ways, to be helpful, and kind and loving--to "Do to others as you have them do to you." (Luke 6:31)
I thank God for my parents, who both still love us and would do anything for us.
There were many times I brought pain to my parents, which I now regret: I was supposed to be an example to my brothers and sister, but fell short in many areas. I was a sinful boy, and later, a sinful man. My dad and mom wept and prayed many prayers for me, especially while attending college at the College of St. Scholastica, Duluth Minnesota.
"College Corrupts" goes the saying in the world: in my case, it was quite literally true. The first class on my first day was "Values Clarification." That class taught me to question every belief and moral I held dear, and wore me down to the point of having the attitude that "nothing matters" and that situational ethics and morals ruled, rather than the absolute truths I was taught in church and by my parents. I slid very far from the narrow path.
So I followed my heart, yielding to many wicked and evil ways. The details are not worthy to be published, but I was alcoholic, using drugs, promoted the antichrist and stole things for "fun." The Bible says:
"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)
I needed a new heart. Only Jesus--the Creator--can do that!
Needed a New Heart
There were many times when the "Jesus People" on campus reached out to me. They could see I was a lost soul and they tried to help. Jesus was reaching to me through them, and I thank God for every one of them who yielded to the Spirit of God, as they showed me His selfless love.
They were showing me what I had lost: Simple child-like faith in Jesus.
I was lost. And I knew it.
The Bible says: Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. --Psalm 51:1-5
By the grace of God, in 1984 a professor took me to ONE Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and it scared me straight. Those people looked so ragged, talking about what alcohol did to them, how desperate they became: I was looking at my future. For two years, I refused to drink or do any drugs. God was still calling, reaching to and loving me.
God used many precious people during those years at St. Scholastica--including the situational ethics teachers--to reach out to me to question tradition and to help build faith.
In the summer of 1986 through Spring 1987, I was in the resume' writing business with two other men and while we worked very hard at it, it never succeeded. I was searching. Jesus was drawing me during this time. I became thousands of dollars in debt. No job. Penniless. My lifelong dream of being married and emulating my parents was almost dashed. I became depressed.
I finally came home and ended up living in my parents' house--again--at the same time my brother Terry was living there who was pretty much in the same situation. Terry started attending a local United Pentecostal Church, Elim Tabernacle, located in Greenfield, Wisconsin. One night in the spring of 1987, Terry led me to a place of repentance. I knelt down by the bed in a bedroom I slept in and prayed in many times as a child. Crying, I simply asked Jesus to forgive me. I turned from my wicked ways that night and turned to Jesus. A literal weight was lifted off my shoulders as I wept, thanking Him for loving me and reaching to me all of those years.
Shortly after that, Terry took me to Spirit-filled revival services at Elim Tabernacle. One Sunday night service in June 1987, we both received the gift of the Holy Spirit, evidenced by speaking in other tongues, as the Spirit of God gives the utterance. (Read Acts, Chapter 2.)
Jesus gave me that new heart!
We started having a Bible study with a brother from the church, learning the ways of God. I relearned many things from my childhood, and learned many new things I was not taught. The Holy Ghost led me into all truth, including the need to be baptized.
"....Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." (Acts 2:38-39)
On a Sunday night at the end of June 1987, Terry and I were baptized together at Elim Tabernacle by Pastor M.W. Rogers by full immersion in the glorious, magnificent --simple-- name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins (See Acts 2:38, above). WOW! I have never felt so clean--on the inside!
My search was over--Jesus found me! He delivered me and saved me from my sins: I don't have to submit myself to alcohol, or drugs, or lying or stealing--Praise God! This scripture became true in my life: "Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." John 3:5
In March 1988, I met my wife to be, Marsha. We were married April 22, 1989 and moved into our new home in September 1989. In September 1991 we started working in the Prison Ministry, teaching and witnessing together in many local facilities. Marsha and I are grandparents to 5 wonderful children--Kyle, Madeline, Samuel, Nolan and Matthew: Russ & Mischa have been busy! In November 1994 we became foster parents to the children of one of the ladies we met while working in the prison ministry, and adopted 2 daughters June 19, 1998. In 2001, we were led to unite our family with Russ & Mischa and their family at Abundant Life Apostolic Church, located in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. The theme at our new church home is: "What we do, we do together!" To God be the glory!
God has consistently blessed us spiritually, and financially: my lifelong dream of having a family like I grew up in is true, every day: Thank You, Jesus.
Jesus is reaching to us, every day. He's reaching to you, right now. Don't wait--there's not much time left. He's returning soon. Repent of your sins--turn it all over to Jesus. Start going to church. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. He will lead you to be baptized in His Name and receive His gift of the Holy Spirit. As a child simply believes with simple faith:
Just do it.
It will be eternally worth it.
LYNDA: Thanks for sharing that, Tim. I know your story is an inspiration to many. So tell us a little about your life today.
TIM: Every day is a miracle, and every day I try to do something positive for the kingdom of God. As I was praying this morning, I was thinking "I'm amazed…because we serve an AMAZING GOD!"
Along with my normal every day ministry to my family, I'm very active in church. I'm the webmaster (design and maintain) for our church website (www.ALC1.org); the church Child Care Center website (www.alccckids.org ); and the church school website (www.ALC1.org/ALCA). Last year, I started regularly sending out prayer requests we receive from our website (www.ALC1.org/prayer) – with an applicable scripture from the Bible - to a small list of saints. A wonderful thing happened/is happening: the saints started sending requests to me to send out; and since then, more and more people want to be on the list to get a need prayed for, and to pray for the needs of others as they are sent to me. The list has grown to dozens and dozens of saints now, from places near and far.
It's a ministry that God has blessed—and the Jesus is answering those prayers! To God be the glory.
Another miracle I live in EVERY DAY is my job. The full story is posted here:
LYNDA: When did you discover your love for writing?
TIM: At a very young age, I had a teacher who encouraged me to excel at her assigned creative writing projects; and I discovered my God-given talent. Every chance I got after that to excel at Creative Writing or English/Writing, I did—because I loved it. There have been times in my life when I got so busy that I buried my talent but, inevitably, it's always resurfaced.
Thank God I have a family who encourages me in all of my talents. It makes a huge difference, because discouragement is a giant every writer must face.
LYNDA: How did you find FaithWriters and what has it brought to your life?
TIM: In September, 2006, God was leading me to expand my writing beyond my own website: http://www.pickl.com/timandmarsha/poetry. I almost felt like I was hiding my talent there…so I started searching.
I found FaithWriters by doing a Google search for Christian Writing Contest. FaithWriters came up in that Google search near the top of the list. One of the awesome things about FaithWriters is once your writing is posted - after a reasonable amount of time - your writing can easily be found by search engines—at or near the top of the search.
Intrigued with the FaithWriters site, I joined. At the time, most of my writing was poetry, and I submitted poems for several months.
Then, after reading some other submissions, I saw that most of the winners were short stories—so I've tried my hand in that….and expanded my personal "challenge" to try other forms of writing…like skits, devotionals, short stories. I've tried to write in different genres, and from different points-of-view.
It's an awesome challenge, but with God's help, anything is possible!
Then, coincidentally a year later in September 2007, one of the other FaithWriters 500 members posted a positive comment on one of my Weekly Challenge stories. The comment was so encouraging—something I really needed at the time—so I responded with a FaithWriters Private Message, and simply wrote "Thank you". The FaithWriter wrote me back, and to make an on-going long story short, we've become great "cyber" friends. We've bounced ideas around, alerted each other about prayer requests, FaithWriters Challenge "Hinting Time" and encouraged and supported each other.
If you want to see how much a FaithWriters 500 member can grow, read a few of their first submissions to the FaithWriters Weekly Challenge; then read their more recent writing.
For example, my FaithWriters Weekly Challenge writing started out like a young tree, planted by the FaithWriters river, and, it's amazing how much I've grown as a Christian writer in the past 22 months!
I won 2nd place in my most recent FaithWriters Challenge submission in the Intermediate (Level 2)—it truly caught me by surprise. Praise the Lord!
FaithWriters is a perfect vehicle to minister to others through writing, while getting practice and exposure.
How can you put a price on helping someone draw closer to Jesus?
LYNDA: What types of writing do you enjoy most? Besides FaithWriters, are there any other places your work has been published?
TIM: I love writing poetry—but through FaithWriters I re-discovered a talent for writing short stories, too! Actually, my work has never been "published", in the formal sense of the word—in a book. Right now, getting a book published is just a dream. Coincidentally, my wife Marsha has the same dream (she's writing a children's book, about children who get adopted).
LYNDA: How cool that you and your wife can share this dream and cheer each other on! How did you and your wife meet?
TIM: We met in church. I learned later that my mother-in-law always told Marsha, "Where you meet him is where you'll always find him." How true!
I am a trumpet player, and I dabble at playing the piano, too. Back in early 1988, on a Sunday after church services were long over (most of the people were gone to lunch), I sat down at the grand piano and started playing. Over the years, I memorized some music, and one of my favorites was the theme from "Jesus Christ Superstar." As I played it, I was so focused on the music, playing very loudly—I forgot I wasn't alone. I must have had my eyes closed, because after I stopped playing, Marsha was standing next to me with a huge smile.
Startled, I muttered, "Oh, hi."
Marsha asked, "Hi, what's your name?"
We introduced each other, and she explained who she was, about her son Russ, and then invited me to come over with a bunch of other saints for spaghetti on Saturday. At the gathering, Marsha needed some things from the grocery store, and Marsha and I ended up going together. We ended up talking for a couple of hours…and the rest is history!
LYNDA: Speaking of marriage, you were involved in a prison ministry (just kidding! Couldn't resist. ). Tell us more about your work with prisoners. Is there any particular story that stands out?
TIM: During the early 1990s, Marsha and I were involved in Women's Prison Ministry. For several years, we worked in a "Pre-release Center", teaching a 12-Step Program and Bible Studies, as well as transported the ladies to Sunday Night services at church. During that time, dozens of ladies repented and were baptized. One of the ladies was so impressed by God, that, when the time came to give up her children to Foster Care, she named us as Foster Parents.
Suddenly, in November 1995 we became foster parents to her daughters, one 5 months old, and the other 4 years old. On June 19, 1998, we adopted them--they became Pickls! (Doesn't that sound funny?) Just last month, on June 19, 2008, we celebrated their "10th Birthday". The younger one is now 14, and will be going to our Christian School (www.ALC1.org/ALCA) and the older one is 17—almost 18---and she'll be attending college this fall. It's been a rough—but rewarding—road as the "spirit of adoption" lives in our home.
For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father."
Romans 8:15 (NKJV)
We moved on from the Prison Ministry about the same time we became foster parents (in 1996), because our time was devoted to the children. In a way though, the Prison Ministry continues, every day, as we love and raise the kids in church.
LYNDA: Ok…now I'm choked up. What a beautiful story of selflessness and love.
What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment, both personally and professionally?
Personally, my greatest accomplishment was writing "The Wonderful Witness of Uz"—a play based on the 1939 film "Wizard of Oz" and the first three chapters of the Book of Acts. (See http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=3713 ) More recently, my greatest accomplishment was getting 2nd place in the FaithWriters Writing Challenge, causing me to move up one level, going from the Intermediate Level to Advanced.
Professionally, after studying for a couple of months, on July 11, 2008, I passed the Comptia (Computer) Security+ Certification exam with an almost perfect score. Getting the certification is a requirement for my job and, after failing it the first time around, God helped me pass with flying colors!
LYNDA: Do you have any particular or unusual hobbies?
TIM: Around the time we adopted the girls (Spring 1998), I took (and passed!) a Microsoft FrontPage (web page design) class. At the time, my title at work was Helpdesk Coordinator, and they allowed me to start creating web pages on the internal network ("intranet"). I discovered something awesome that year—the opportunity to use many talents (writing, design—and, to some extent, audio/music) to help people via a website.
After having an e-mail conversation with my brother Terry that summer, Pickl.com was born on the worldwide web on August 13, 1998. The first web page I published on the public internet was my testimony—and it grew from there. (http://www.pickl.com/timandmarsha/timtestimony.htm )
As I mentioned, I'm the webmaster for our church site ALC1.org and our church Child Care site ALCCCkids.org, and church Christian School www.ALC1.org/ALCA. I also design and maintain my sister's Baby Gifts site: SweetPickl.com. Over the years, I designed the original sites for Elim Tabernacle http://elimtabernacle.org/ and Cornerstone Arts http://www.cornerstonearts.com.
It's fun…and it all keeps me very busy!
LYNDA: What goals do you have for the future, writing related or not?
TIM: My dream goal is to have books published. Some day, I hope to be anonymously sitting in the audience of a play or screenplay I've written, laughing and crying with them, thanking God for allowing me to minister "behind the scenes."
I know I will not be able to physically do the job I'm doing now "forever" (I move a lot of computers, monitors and printers around as part of my job); and hope to use writing and/or web design as something to take over when that day comes. God knows.
In the end, I will keep writing short stories, poems and plays as long as the Lord allows me to and it gives Him all of the glory! It's amazing how ideas and stories come to me almost every day, and then I write them down in a way that hopefully will draw the reader closer to Jesus. Ultimately, writing comes from deep within me--it's who I am--and I hope and pray that it shows...and He shines.
LYNDA: Thank you so much, Tim, for taking the time to share a bit of yourself (and your awesome testimony!). Best wishes for continued success in your career as a web designer and a writer. I look forward to watching you continue to move up those Writing Challenge levels. Masters is within reach!
To read Tim's writing, visit his FaithWriters profile: http://www.faithwriters.com/member-profile.php?id=22603
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