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How God Turned My Mess into His Message: Noe Garcia

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
December 26, 2022 4:15 am

How God Turned My Mess into His Message: Noe Garcia

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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December 26, 2022 4:15 am

Noe Garcia’s life was scarred by substance abuse, gangs molestation, a suicide attempt—nothing short of a mess. But God had a story for Noe’s brokenness.

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The Steve Noble Show
Steve Noble

Okay, here's a question for you. I guarantee you don't know the answer to this.

Oh, then why do you ask me the question? I just found this out and I thought it'd be fun to see if anybody knows the answer to this. How many thoughts do you think you have a day?

Every person. I have no idea. Between 12,000 and 60,000 thoughts a day. Wow. That's quite a span, you know.

12,060? I'm just quoting from a book that we got the author sitting over here, so we'll find out in a second if that's even accurate. But here's what's really fascinating. 80% of those thoughts are negative.

Oh. And 95% are repeated thoughts from the day before that are negative. Oh, that can be so true. That was my life growing up right there. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson. And I'm Dave Wilson, and you can find us at or on the Family Life app. This is Family Life Today. Today we're going to help, I think we're going to help people.

Me too. Including you and me. Like, how do we manage the thoughts? If it's that much negative, that's really bad. Well, we've got the author of the book that had those stats about thoughts in here today, Noe Garcia is with us. Welcome to Family Life Today. Thanks so much for having me.

And I almost called him Noah, but you're not Noah, you're Noe. And here's the thing I know about you that I bet you don't know this. I don't think we've ever had a guest in the studio that drives an El Camino. Is that true?

That's true. 1984 El Camino. Whoa. My buddy John Kitna, who's a good friend of yours and a good friend of ours, he was a Detroit Lions quarterback back in the early 2000s, told us that he was supposed to go on a bike ride with you and you show up in your car instead of a bike in the Camino. And he says, it's like you're precious. Oh, man. Yeah.

I mean, this was funny. We were texting one night and he said, hey, let's go on a ride together tomorrow morning and just talk and pray. And for me, where I come from, Houston, you go on a ride, that means you go cruising. For him, he made a bike ride. He made a bicycle. So he pulled up.

I'm in the church parking lot in my Camino. He pulls up on his little bike with the flashing light on his helmet. No, he did not.

And these tights. I said, hey, I think there's some miscommunication here. So he threw his bike in the back of my El Camino, got in his big self in my little El Camino and his tights, and we went for a ride.

Yeah. He told me it was quite the ride. And he says, you are quite the man. Seriously, he said, you can hoop, you can preach. I mean, you do it all.

But anyway, when John Kidner gives somebody an endorsement like that, it's the real deal because he doesn't throw those out to anybody. And you're married for 12 years, you have four kids, and you're a pastor. That's right. And you've written a book.

Yeah. Yeah, the book is called Repurposed, How God Turns Your Mess Into His Message. And as I was reading your book the other night, I turned to Ann and said, man, I can't put this thing down. Your story is pretty incredible.

So why don't we start there? Tell our listeners the Noe Garcia story. You know, my dad is from Mexico. My mom is from Houston. They both come from really broken homes. Both of them experience a lot of abuse in their household, emotional, physical abuse. They both met each other trying to escape their homes. And so ninth grade, my father left his home. My mother was in eighth grade. They ran away together, had their first child at 16.

Wow. I was the third child, 20, 21 years old. And so I grew up in this household that even though my father was trying to escape what he grew up in, he was still a product of it. And so I grew up in a household where he was on drugs, he was drunk all the time, and I would see him beat my mother just about every single day. You know, one of the most memories that just kind of just overshadow my thought process about who he is.

I don't have a relationship with him until this day. But I remember I was a kid and we were having a huge party at the house and the cops come in and kick the door down, about 15 officers. And my dad runs and jumps the back fence and takes off. And my mother's arrested at this point. And there's drugs everywhere. And there's guns and there's alcohol. Everyone's drunk.

I don't know, 15 or so people get arrested. Shortly after that, we go back to our home and my father gets home, beats my mother, and then he passes out drunk. My mother gets money out of his pocket, calls a taxi, and we leave.

And that was pretty much it. My mom was a single mom. I probably went to 10 different schools growing up. How old were you when you left with your mom? About five.

Wow. About five years old. So you remember this vividly as a five-year-old? As if it was yesterday.

Really? Were you sad about leaving your dad or did you feel like, I need to get out of here? I was confused. You know, whenever you live in dysfunction, it becomes your normal way of functioning. And you don't recognize its dysfunction. And so it was my normal way to function. After time, you feel the emotions, but they become normal. Being scared is just a normal thing. Being terrified, being confused, those are normal emotions. And drugs, alcohol, that was normal. It's normal.

Everyday kind of thing for you. It's normal. It'd be funny if my dad passed me the beer and I took a drink in front of his friends at five years old and they'd all laugh. And then I felt happy because I was affirmed.

I look at it now from this seat and I couldn't fathom that for my kids. Right. But then that was normal. So five years old, my mom's now a single mom and trying to do the best that she can. But the truth is she was overwhelmed. My father wasn't in the picture, didn't help her financially. She became the one who began drinking a lot. So she started drinking more than she should have. During this time, she would drop us off at random family members' homes for the weekend. She was hurting.

She didn't have Jesus. She didn't know. It was one of these drop-off times, about seven years old or so, where I was molested. And about seven years old, you don't really understand why that took place. You don't know if it's your fault, if you did something wrong. You feel ashamed and dirty and disgusted and your identity and your dignity is just stolen from you at that age without you realizing what just took place. And you're broken and there's anger that builds up and there's this deep, dark secret that's just suffocating me.

That I didn't know who to tell this to. I began to find outlets to deal with this pain, the pain of not having a father. Why did my father leave me? He was supposed to be my protector. Why did my family member molest me?

Why did my mom not pick me up? Why did—and all these things are going through and you don't know how to deal with this. And so I began to get involved in petty crime, joined a little bitty gang that would take me in. Started stealing stuff from cars, from homes, just things like that. Started to get involved in sexual morality pretty early on, just following the crowds. You know, by eighth grade, I was already using drugs, involved in sexual morality, drinking. I was doing whatever was put in front of me.

Ninth grade, same thing. And it was just a downward spiral from here. Eighteen years old, I was done. And I was tired at 18. I was tired of making bad decisions. I felt disgusted with myself.

I felt disgusted with that I had this deep, dark secret of molestation. At this point— Is this a secret nobody knew? Nobody knows. Never told your mom, never told anybody?

Nobody. And where was God? Anywhere in the picture? Nowhere.

So I thought, nowhere. I sit outside at this point. I'm in Houston, making poor decisions.

Someone threatens to shoot me and take my life. So I moved to College Station just to get away from this. I'm supposed to go play basketball at East Texas Baptist University, but instead I run from getting my life taken, go to College Station, and I become more disgusted with my life.

More drugs, more morality, more drinking. I just feel like a loser. And I feel like I have become my father.

The very thing I despised, I'd become. I sit in the backyard. If it's okay that I say, I was drunk and high.

Just got to be transparent. I was scared and I was lost and I was broken. I sit in the backyard and I ask God for a sign. I just say, if you love me, would you please give me a sign? Please. Please give me something. I have nothing.

Waited outside for 30 minutes. I asked him for a shooting star. I know it sounds so stupid, but I think when you're so desperate, you just grasp for anything.

So no shooting star. I go inside and think he doesn't want me. He doesn't love me.

I'm too dirty. And so I attempt suicide. And my friend comes in and finds me in the room. It was a wake-up call for me. Long story short, I give my life to Christ through a basketball ministry.

I remember the guy gave the invitation. I just walked up and said this prayer. I don't know if you're real, but if you are, please take my life.

Because I can't do anything with it. Please. Was this right after the suicide attempt? About two months later.

Oh, yeah. Are you still 18? I'm still 18.

Okay. I'm still 18 at this point. And it's turning my life to Christ. And then it was like cold turkey night and day difference.

I just lost the taste for sin in those areas of my life. So you end up, I mean, you're at college now, right? At this point, I end up going to East Texas Baptist University. A year later than I was supposed to, but I went. Oh, so you ended up going back, playing basketball.

I played basketball. And one of the things I found interesting in your book, which it was interesting but also somewhat not unexpected, is how you were judged by your college teammates and college students at the campus. You go there thinking, it's Christian University. I'm going to get grace.

And you got judgment. Yeah. I love East Texas Baptist University. So I don't want to say East Texas Baptist is like that, but it was that season and maybe the friend group or the people group I was around. I just don't think they knew what to do with my culture. There was a certain culture. And it's like you leave your culture at the door, and you've got to fit into our culture.

Yeah. Which means you've got to talk a certain way, look a certain way, and dress a certain way and have a certain understanding about what Baptist is and what church is. I didn't even know how to fake it because I've never played the game before. So I was new to the game. And so I come in, and I have tattoos, and I was dressing differently, and I had all these piercings. I was just a different dude, and I was trying to figure out how do I bring my inner city culture and who I am as a young Latin man into this new culture and how does it coexist.

And I thought it didn't. And so I faked it a lot of times. I faked it. I left my culture at the door. And yet you got to a point, at least if I'm remembering what I read, that you decided I'm leaving the university. I just don't fit here. I can't play the game anymore.

It's time to move on. Yeah. And here's the thing. Nobody, I don't think, intentionally forced that on me. Nobody was saying you've got to change who you are.

Nobody did that. You felt it though, yeah. Yeah, I felt it. And some of it comes from insecurity, of being a new Christian.

There's all this baggage stuff. And, man, it was hard because I'd sit around these tables, and I hope my son is like this one day. But it was challenging when nine out of ten kids, and I was the tenth one, had saved theirself for marriage and didn't understand sexual morality, didn't understand drugs, didn't understand... At least that's what they put off. And I just felt like I was too dirty, like I couldn't catch up now.

I was going to be the one left behind. And I couldn't have an awesome story like theirs. And I couldn't... Which I hope my son has more of a story like theirs than mine today.

I really do. I don't want him to walk through the pain that I did. But I didn't know how to fit into that. So I was sick of it. So you were leaving. I mean, I packed up my car. But you didn't leave. But I didn't leave. I packed up my car, and I was like, I'm out of here. And I was crying, I was angry, and I was tired, and I was confused about who I was. There was these two identities trying to coexist, and I didn't know which one was going to survive. And so I was like, I can't do this. I'm going to go back home.

This education thing was a stretch. I was trying to become somebody, and I'm just going to forever be a loser. So I was like, I'm better off taking on the identity of the loser and of the drug guy, of the drinking guy. I fit better there. And so I packed up my car.

One of my basketball teammates came out, and he started sharing his heart with me, thanking me as if I was leaving for how I've impacted his life. And we were the same culture. He understood me. I understood him. And so he thanked me. And I knew how he felt about the rest of the culture. He felt isolated. But he was a basketball star. His name is Sed Isom.

Cedric Isom came out. He gave me a chain with scripture on it. It's like, you've impacted my life.

And he started sharing his heart, and a light bulb went on. And it's like God said, you don't have to leave your culture at the door. I'm going to use your brokenness, and I'm going to use your past, and I'm going to use your culture. I'm going to use everything for your good and for my glory. And I thought, it's okay if I'm different. It's okay if I don't play by the rules.

It's okay if I don't understand tradition. God has a plan specifically designed for me. Is that where you came up with the idea repurposed? It's like sort of your life now has a repurpose? Absolutely. Man, absolutely.

It's like he said, I'm going to take all of this. See, God is an originator, right? He writes original stuff. And I came into college thinking that I had to imitate what he's already written, somebody else's life story.

And it didn't make sense for me. And he's the great editor, and he is the great author. And so, yes, it was in that moment. It was me fully surrendering the pen of my life for him to be the author of it.

I didn't know what it was going to look like, and I didn't know how it was going to be written. But I knew that he could write a better story than I could. One of the things I think, I don't know if you thought this, I think about the guy, what's his name again, that spoke those words to you? Cedric Isom.

Cedric. It just hit me, even when I read it, how important our words are to somebody in a moment that, I mean, I don't think he knew in that moment, this is going to change your life. But he spoke life, Proverbs 18, 21.

That's right. Your tongue can speak life or death. He sees something. In fact, we started the program talking about negative thoughts. I'm sure you lived your whole life with him. And here's a guy telling you something that you've never thought was true about you, that you're making a difference in my life. And you're sitting here today because of, in some ways, because of that moment. Because of that moment. I just thought how important it is for us to seize those moments in our family, in our marriage, in a stranger's life, in a friend's life.

Don't miss that chance to say, I don't know if you know this, but you are valuable. Yeah. Right?

Yeah. And the crazy thing is he's an extreme introverted guy. He was then.

Really? He's not this guy who's going to walk in a room and talk and be loud. And that time, anyway. And so for him to do that, I'm sure it took a lot of courage. I don't want to beat this one too much, but I'm thinking if I'm a dad listening right now, there's probably a son or daughter in my house that may need me.

Or a mom. Right? Yeah.

To say, I see you. Yeah. I mean, you didn't have that your whole life.

I didn't have that. Never had a dad say that to me. Yeah. Really my entire life. So I was like you going everywhere to find it through sports, through music, through whatever. And we are dads and moms that can speak that to our kids because they're going to go looking for it somewhere else, too, unless we speak it. And I would add too, Dave, I think that as we grow up, like our kids grew up in a Christian home, but we didn't. And we have these perceptions of what Christians should look like.

I did that. Like I had no idea. Like this is a whole new world. But I think that we need to remind our kids like God's not a cookie cutter God.

That's right. He's a God that creates uniqueness. He creates gifts and talents and passions that are all so different. And to remind our kids like it doesn't have to look a certain way. Like we're all so different. And to, as you said, Dave, to speak out and to bring forth the things that we see in our kids that are so unique that they might think, I'm so messed up. Like I don't look like everybody else. I'm not acting like everybody else in terms of the culture.

But I think that's important. So how'd you get from there to now you're a pastor. I mean, you know, there's a journey obviously from there.

It looks like this is the guy that's never going to end up doing what you're doing. There's sort of this path that you usually take. You took a different path and yet God repurposed your life.

How'd you get here? I think that moment was a key moment. Someone speaking life into me. Because up to that point it really didn't happen. And so for him to allow me to see something in myself that I couldn't see.

And I think that was a God moment. Still after that I thought, I'm going to get my education. And I'm going to impact people's lives through sports. I majored in kinesiology. And so I wanted to study about the body. I was wrestling sports medicine for the rest of my life or being a coach. Either way I'm going to be in sports because I can talk sports with people.

And that's how I can share Jesus in sports. But I graduate from East Texas Baptist and I can't find a job. I have a job interview. I get stood up.

The guy doesn't meet me there. And I'm thinking, what am I going to do? I'm about to graduate and I don't have a job. I have all this debt. And I get a call from a church called Second Baptist Church in Houston.

I've never heard of it. And it's a huge church. And they call and they say, hey, do you want to be a college and sports intern for the summer? And I say, sure, but just until I find a real job. And so I get there and I'm doing the things that I love. You know, pointing to college students and using basketball and football to reach people for Jesus.

You're just dunking over these kids, aren't you? Oh, man, it was awesome. I was still in tip top shape. Absolutely. I was talking trash the Christian way this time. But it was great. And then by the end of that summer, God had made it very clear, I'm calling you to do this. And so I gave it my all.

I was all in. But at this point, I thought, okay, I'm a sports pastor. It's not a real pastor position.

This makes sense for me. This is our life, too, because we kind of made a deal with each other. This sports ministry thing is cool. Let's not get into the pastorate kind of.

Yeah, but even this point, I'm thinking, all right, this is my culture here, sports. I have too much baggage to be a real pastor. That's for the other kids who saved themselves from marriage. The good people.

That's for the good people. I'm the one who's scarred and jacked up. I'm on the courts. This is where I belong. So even then, I was feeling like this is the rest of my life because this is what I, and I'm not saying that it's, you know, below being a pastor, but that's what I thought.

This is it. Then he kept opening up doors more and more. One of the pastors came to me and said, hey, you're really green, which I was. I got saved at 18. Didn't even start reading my Bible until like 22. I didn't know I was supposed to.

I was never discipled. He said, you're really green. We think you should go to seminary. And so I trusted him. And so I went to seminary in San Francisco, just on faith, picked up, went there. And man, I was cleaning toilets. I was working three jobs. I was a parking lot attendant. I get married and meet my wife.

I met her in August at my birthday party, proposed in January, married in March, pregnant in June. Boom. Seriously?

Seriously. Hey, you don't mess around, huh? No, I'm a man of obedience.

I believe, you know, I believe delayed obedience is disobedience. And so I knew this was, this was my wife. And so here we are. And I'm working as a parking lot attendant and going to school full time and I'm cleaning toilets. And man, I'll never forget, I come from this huge mega church where I felt like my quote unquote career was going up in ministry. In fact, I was going to be somebody finally. God calls me to go to seminary and I'm back to this.

It's making no sense. And I'm cleaning toilets one, one midnight and I sit down and I'm angry. And I'm like, you know what?

I'm not going to clean this. I'm just going to do it halfway and leave and say I did it. And I'm in seminary at this point, but I'm angry. Like, what am I doing with my life? I sit down, I'm like, why did you call me here, God?

And I'm just complaining. I felt like he was telling me that he was, before I was going to walk into my calling, he had to fix my character. And I felt like he was saying, I want you to clean this as if you're serving me. And I want you to do this with faithfulness as if it's for me.

And I thought, yes, sir. So I got up and I cleaned the toilets the best that I could. And I was just faithful the best that I could be to him. And then from there, I went to Nashville after I graduated seminary and went to Arkansas, which I thought when I got to Arkansas, I was going to be a lifelong college pastor. I was a college pastor. I was doing chaplain work for the Razorback teams, football team, you know, all kinds of stuff, baseball. Got close with Jimmy Dykes. He was a basketball coach there for the women, did their stuff. And so from there, I was a college pastor, thought I'm doing this the rest of my life.

From being a college pastor, called to be a senior pastor. And so I think I've always lived my life where the suitcase has always been open. The bags have always been unpacked. But the suitcase has remained open to say, I am yours. This life is not mine. I'll do whatever you want, even when it doesn't make sense. It's kind of how I've lived.

Is that what you would say is the lesson of your life? I mean, you've been talking this whole time, this story. And as an outsider looking, you can see God at every point. I know you couldn't in the moment.

You can't then, yeah. And now you look back from the suicide attempt and a friend shows up in the room. I mean, even that moment. That was your shooting star. Wow. There's your shooting star. Wow, I didn't think about that.

You're leaving the university. Cedric shows up. I didn't think about that. You haven't thought about that? It's so apparent that God showed up in the people they put around you. And here you are. I mean, is that the lesson?

Yeah. You know, I come across a lot of Christians today that say, I feel like God has called me to do this. But they give God these parameters. It's only going to be in Texas, God.

It's only going to be in this city. And here's what I want to do. And then they're frustrated. Because God's not doing it.

I'm always thinking, what if you take the lid off? What if you live like your life is not actually yours? And you say, I will go and do whatever you want me to do.

And I will go wherever you want me to go. But I think we put parameters of comfort on God. We want to be comfortable in our calling. We don't want to do something that actually makes us have faith.

We want a safe plan B of comfort. Work within here so I'm comfortable, God. None of this was easy. It's not easy being a nomad. It's not easy having no friends and being lonely. This is not easy having to pick up and start a new life.

We live in five cities. It's not fun. But my life is not my own. Because when it was, it led me to a suicide attempt. And so I live like that. And I would die like that. Because my life is His.

I think we try to live so safe. I know I've done it. And I can remember early in my Christian walk sitting in church and hearing somebody give this amazing testimony up on stage and thinking, I want that.

And then it hit me. I'll never have that if I won't risk. That story I just heard, the guy took a risk. That woman took a risk.

And God showed up and they have this story. And I'm like, nah, I just want to hear stories from others. And it's like, no, don't you want to be this story? And you're going to have to take a risk.

I mean, your whole life is a life of risk. And Dave, that's our story. That's the story of surrender. Of God, we give you everything. We'll go anywhere, we'll do anything, whatever you call. And I think for our listeners to ask that question, have you said that to God? I'll do anything and go anywhere for you. Or maybe some haven't surrendered their lives to Jesus. This could be your day that you give Him everything. It's like our souls are craving surrendering. Yeah. They're made to surrender. They're made to, and that's with intimacy. And those moments with God cannot be found in a book or in anything else.

Those moments of surrender can't be substituted. You're listening to Dave and Anne Wilson with Noe Garcia. His book is called Repurposed. How God turns your mess into His message.

And man, aren't all of us a mess sometimes. You can get a copy at When you go there, just click on today's resources, or you can give us a call at 800-358-6329. That's 800 F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. You know, we've got the president of Family Life with us, David Robbins, along with Meg Robbins. And Meg, talk a little bit about how the trials in your life have shaped your story. You know, Meg and I both know that some of the best learning times have occurred while the fires of life are raging. It's so true. And when things are getting harder and harder, and it begins to feel impossible, oddly enough, those are the memories we end up cherishing the most.

It's so crazy. But here's the thing. In those tough days, God was faithful, and we love Him for it. And make no mistake. He is faithful to you, too, even when the heat feels unbearable.

And the reality is, right now, there are men and women, husbands and wives, moms and dads, who do not know His faithfulness. When you give right now, your gift will stretch twice as far to these families. And here's the best part. God will use your gift to speak into the life of someone who's feeling the heat in the crucible right now and trying to crawl out. Yeah, God will use what we give to Him.

And in His hands is where change and hope happens. Thanks for sharing that. And thanks to some generous ministry partners, your gift will be matched dollar for dollar until we hit $2.3 million. That's for a one-time gift.

Or if you become a monthly partner right now, your monthly gifts will be doubled for the next 12 months. And when you do give as our thanks, we wanna send you four copies of Bob Lapine's book called The Four Emotions of Christmas. You can keep one. You can give three away. You can give all four away. Along with that, we're gonna send you six greeting cards that have been hand-selected by David and Meg Robbins. These make a great tool to share with any of the loved ones in your life. Again, you can give today at, or you can give us a call at 800-358-6329. That's 800-F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. As we've heard, Noe Garcia was dealt some extremely tough circumstances.

And maybe you too can relate to having a rough past. Well, tomorrow on Family Life Today, David Ann Wilson talk again with Noe Garcia as he strips down all his brokenness and shares his story of pursuing God and finding redemption. That's tomorrow. On behalf of David Ann Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-27 03:00:53 / 2022-12-27 03:14:28 / 14

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