Neil Leary

Neil Leary"8 Cause me to hear thy loving kindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.

9Deliver me, O Lord, from mine enemies: I flee unto thee to hide me.

10Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.

11Quicken me, O Lord, for thy name's sake: for thy righteousness' sake bring my soul out of trouble.

12And of thy mercy cut off all mine enemies, and destroy all them that afflict my soul: for I am thy servant."Psalm 143:8-12 Amen.

    And my enemies are all demonic ones. I used to have trouble reading David when he was asking Him to chop up all his enemies and stuff, but I just translate that into the spiritual ones and that I can feel okay reading those scriptures that ask for doom and gloom to come upon my enemies. Because they sure are, as you guys know, they sure are vicious and they sure do wreak a lot of havoc in the world including in my own life. So yeah, a quick time check here.

   So yeah, I had an idyllic childhood. I have a wonderful family, precious, and a lot of advantages that most people don't have. My dad was just a "regular guy," as he would say. By the way, in his honor, I would have had a suit and tie on, but it just took too long. I had too much work to do this morning. I didn't have time to tie the tie and all that good stuff, so…but this is the jacket that he gave me, a beautiful jacket, and he is in heaven now. He…as a lot of you know, that he prayed to confess faith in the saving blood of Christ at the age of 87-1/2. So if you have any unsaved loved ones, don't stop praying because I prayed for him for 40 odd years, and God answered my prayers. But in any case, you know, we lived in an apartment when I was born, but he bought our first house and we moved in on December 24, 1959. That was my first memory. What a wonderful memory. I was a ripe old year-and-one-half old at that time, but I remember it, like it was yesterday, and what a beautiful memory to begin life with. And you know, we got bigger and bigger houses and more and more stuff as he became more and more successful and he became one of the most successful men in his field in commercial finance. In that world, he had degrees from Georgetown, New York University, and Harvard. He was a wonderful man. My dad acted more like a Christian than a lot of Christians, even though he was an atheist until he was…well, it was about 15, 17 years ago. My dad was a big shot finance executive but he was a gentleman. When his wife cooked dinner, he would not let her touch the dishes. So he was in the kitchen washing pots and dishes. He did not really want to hear about God, but he would listen to me talk about Jesus for some period of time before he finally would say, "Thank you, but I don't believe in God. I'm an agnostic.” And I didn't hear anything else he said. My dad had one of the largest vocabularies of anyone I've ever met. He knew the difference between atheist and agnostic" and finally he would just say, "I don't believe in God." But he used the term "agnostic" that night. He knows the difference between someone that doesn't believe and someone that's unsure and that's when he used that term. So, I was so overjoyed, because now he was halfway here. I prayed for another ten or fifteen years. He had a stroke in 2015, and lost half his brain. My sister was on an airplane at the time. She is in charge of, by the way, most of the world that the Lord isn't immediately managing and so my sister was supposed to make those types of decisions, but she was on a plane. So his wife and I had to decide what to do and I thought, "Well, he's going to die if we don’t have the procedure to break the clot. The options were limited and he was going to die anyway. I said, "Do the procedure.” We waited for the results of the procedure, and I thought, "Wow, this may be it. I may never see my dad again." And the Lord reminded me of a dream He gave me when I was a baby Christian. I said my dad was one of my very best friends. He was a wonderful man. He was one of my biggest cheerleaders and stuck with me through hell. He did finally, at the age of 20, he told me not set foot on his property, or he would call the police. I was only allowed to call him if it was good news. In fact, he said, “Write, and don’t call with good news. But it was right around the same period of time that my mother took a collect phone call from me and said, "Leave me alone. Just leave me alone" and hung up. And that's because I was a liar and a thief. I would steal anything you had, preferably cash. I didn't want it to be traceable. I would steal something if I thought I could sell it. I was a rotten guy. I lied every time I opened my mouth and stole any… everything in sight. I was completely untrustworthy. And so I don't blame my mom or dad for disowning me. I was between the ages of 15 and 20.

   As soon as I became a Christian, I realized God was real. I thought, "Oh my gosh, my dad is an atheist and he's going to go to hell." And so I started praying fervently for him and within the first few months of being a Christian, God gave me a dream. He most often speaks to me through dreams because I was labeled by medical professionals as being a psychiatrist's dream. I spent three years as an inpatient in two of the top psychiatrist hospitals in the world. The last time my dad called them when I was in my early 20s. The psychologist had several books on the shelf that he wrote, and he said, "Can you help my son?" He said, "Forget about him. He's hopeless." The best the world had to offer, and they said, "Forget about him. He's hopeless." Even people on the street said, “Stay away from Neil Leary. He is trouble." As a matter of fact, people would cross the street when they saw me walking down the sidewalk even if they didn't know me. But anyway, my dad stuck with me through thick and thin, even though he gave me that ultimatum, but he never stopped taking my phone calls.

   God gave me that dream. He started speaking to me through an audible voice. My parents would say, "Sure, Neil" and they'd pat me on the back and take me to the psychiatrist. People in the psychiatric world don't believe that God speaks to anyone audibly or any other kind of voice. So, God gave me a dream, and I saw my dad with both of his hands up in the air with his eyes closed. Now, you got to understand, my dad would have been 90 if he was alive today. He passed away just short of his 90th birthday, on the 21st of December last year. Dad was so conservative that he was shamed into wearing his first pair of blue jeans. I mean this guy was super conservative and for him to have his hands in the air with his eyes closed praising God would be a miracle. This was God's way of showing me that he was going to belong to Him one day. So and I was sitting in that waiting room outside of the surgery there God said, "No." He reminded me of that dream, and I realized my dad couldn't die because he wasn’t saved, Sure enough, a few years later, he confessed faith in the saving, atoning blood of Christ, and I can't wait to see him again. He beat me playing tennis 150/145 sets of tennis, even though he paid for lessons from a professional for me and he taught himself how to play. He was just tenacious and a very talented guy overall.  

   So my dad and my dear mom both ended up being my closest friends again. My mom lived in North Dallas and I would see her often. Every time I got a chance to see her, someone would get a case of COVID-19, or one of their staff, but I got to talk to her every day. I took her to a doctor's appointment down at UT Southwestern the other day and it was nice. We got a hot fudge sundae together. But for many years I was ostracized from my family. I was a curse on my family and… but my mom and my aunts and my grandmothers and probably one or two of my uncles never stopped praying for me. And one day, after 18 years of hard-core drug and alcohol abuse, God said, "Enough," and He set me free, like a, I have a tee shirt that says, I believe it's John 8…well, it's John 8, I got that much, 8:32, 8:28, something like that and it says when the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed. Whereas in the past, I would have to, I would happily hitchhike back and forth across the LBJ freeway or walk from Garland to West Dallas or hitchhike to California. I would stay up day and night until I got more of what I was looking for, which was drugs and alcohol. Nothing would stop me from pursuing my hellish goal, and no matter how much, you know… eventually I came to the conclusion that I wasn't really mentally ill as they thought I was because when I wasn’t high, I acted pretty much like everybody else. And so I started going to Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous and even so, those shrinks had me pretty convinced that I was an irreparably sick person. In fact, you know if you've ever known them, most of them end up on psychotropic drugs the rest of their life and Social Security Disability, and they don’t really have much of a life, and they never get better. I thought that was my fate. But there was this guy in AA. He looked like a reject from the show "Hee Haw." He had a…he was big-headed, fat guy with bib overalls on and a red and white checked shirt. The only thing that was missing was that straw hat, and after going to AA meetings, in AA they have what they call two different kinds… they have discussion meetings, they have 12-step meetings, but that's really a discussion meeting and then they also have speaker meetings. And I went to speaker meetings for… you know, I would go to 2 or 3 meetings a day. Once I figured out that they didn’t sell alcohol or drugs in the AA place, I said, "Hey, this is where I need to be. I don’t want to use this stuff." So I basically lived in those places when I wasn’t falling off the wagon, which was very frequently. But anyway, after hearing the speakers for a year and a half, this big ole' boy from…he wasn’t that tall, but he was big around…when he went, when he finished speaking 45 minutes later, I realized, you know what? That guy was, I never met anyone as crazy as I was, never, none of the speakers ever had a story that compared to mine, and so, yeah, that's them, you know, they got it…they had an easy life, you know, they were selling cars and they drank a little bit too much and they got thrown in jail or got a DUI and they ended up coming to AA. Well, that's nice; that's wonderful. But I couldn't hold a job, didn't want to hold a job. All I wanted to do was get high - day and night, day and night, day and night - and when I got high, drunk and stoned, I did stuff like walk down Martin Luther King Boulevard in South Dallas at 3 o'clock in the morning looking for drugs with no money, a white guy. I was begging to get my head shot off. I put my life in jeopardy every time I got out of bed, basically. Every time I, every time I drank or used drugs, I put my life in jeopardy, and like I said, in my freshman year in high school, I started drinking when I was 12. I started using drugs/smoking pot when I was 13. But as a freshman in high school, I was co-captain of the football team, vice president of the class and high honors when I was fourteen. So for 2 years, my classmates had a chance to see Neil all lit up and ready to go, and I was a big man on campus. As I walked out in front of my high school and heard two of my buddies standing on the corner talking. I heard them use the word "Party." And I said, "Party? They said, "Oh," and they looked at each other and said, "Hey Neil, yeah, there's a party but I'm not sure you're invited." I said, "You got to be kidding me. I'm the life of the party. I'm the big man on campus." I did end up going to the party. And then sure enough a couple of the guys had to carry me like a sack of potatoes out to the car and drive me home. I threw up all over this girl's parents' living room. So by the time I was 14 years old, I was already being ostracized by everybody that knew me, but thanks to Jesus He had another plan. And He used all that suffering. Scripture says that all things work together for good for them that love God and are called according to His purpose. I didn’t know I was called according to His purpose. I didn't know that He had this all laid out for me.

   My life hasn’t been easy since I got clean and sober, by any stretch of the imagination, but nor would I trade it for anything in the world because what God allowed me to go through has made me the man of God I am today. I believe I can use that term without embarrassing my Father, because I'm a lot better person than I was when He got a hold of me. But it is His refinements, his every good gift, as we all know; every good gift comes down from the Father of light with whom there is no variableness, neither a shadow of turning.

   For all you people that watch too much secular news, I do not have COVID-19. I have allergies. I cough about three hundred days out of the year and I have to always tell my coworkers in the office that "I don't have TB and don't worry." I cough because of allergies.

   So the Lord allowed me to wander in that mire until I was 20 years old and my mother's faith. My mother came from the Catholic Church and there were saved people in the Catholic Church, much to my amazement because the false doctrines of the Catholic Church. I was an altar boy planning on being a priest, but I'm also a very pragmatic and logical-type person. I looked at their doctrines, and went to Catholic school. What they taught made absolutely no sense to me. God loved me so much He sent His Son to die for my sins. We would sing Christmas carols and hear a little bit of the gospel in those songs. But they have this place called Purgatory where everybody goes except the saints. What do they do while they're there? Purgatory, first of all, is like hell but only temporary. Well, we know that hell is a lake of fire, and this loving God, who loves me so much and He's going to toss me into the lake of fire and be tortured for a few hundred years. This doesn't compute. I also didn’t understand why we had pray to dead people. I was told we had to pray to dead people because God was too busy to talk to us. He doesn’t have the time so better talk to saint or Mother Mary.

   So anyway, I chucked and that was one of the reasons that I became an atheist. I grew up during the Vietnam War. People were burning flags and setting the country on fire and there were a lot of things that lead me to atheism. But got there and that's where I stayed. But God, even though I stopped believing in Him, He didn't stop believing in me and my mother's faith was always in the back of mind. My mother had a really hard life. She grew up during the Depression. She was dependent on food stamps. She suffered and her father was an alcoholic. Actually, most of her life, she had a very hard life, but she never let go of Jesus. She held onto Jesus like a pit bull dog. And I will never forget, my mom, when I was 15, when I first started to get noticeably radical, she pulled me aside and, you know, people from our parents' generation were not into touchy-feeling talking about personal things, but my mom pulled me aside one night before dinner and she said, "Neil, if you ever get in trouble, I mean serious trouble," she said, "Just say these three words, 'God help me' or 'Jesus help me.'" I came to Texas in 1973, so that would make me 15 years old and that summer I work on a cattle ranch in East Texas, which was a wonderful experience. It gave me something to talk about when I came back to Texas in 1976. They had bumper stickers on their car that said "If you heart is in New York, take I-30 East." They'd start getting on my case because they could hear the New York accent in my voice, and I would say, "Look, I'm more of a cowboy than you are. Have you ever kissed a horse on the lips? Have you ever ridden a bull?" And they would punch me anyway, but at least I had something to talk about before they did it.

   When I came back in 1976, I wrecked a car. I turned the car into a forest with some water behind it, a pond or a lake. And to my right was a 10-foot high dirt embankment. So I decided in milliseconds that if I survived going through the trees, I'll probably drown in the lake. So I thought that dirt had to be softer than those trees," and so I turned the wheel, I looked at the speedometer, which read 95 and had remembered those words my mother told me to say. I said, "Help me God." I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. I went from 95 mph to 0 instantaneously and walked away with just scratches. And that got me thinking "hmmm," and I had started praying. Why does an atheist pray? But I started praying on the night that my ex-fiancé and I broke up with her moments before she was about to dump me; I walked out, made a brave speech, which was full of lies, as usual, and walked out. But you know, at that stage I was 18 years old. I had been kicked out of six high schools and my parents were just about fed up with me and finished with me. And she was the one bright spot in my life and, and by the way, her faith though, she also, she also was a Catholic and she had also, but had great faith in God and she used to tell me to trust in God and have faith in God, to which I would reply to her, "Yeah, oh sure, babe." And to myself, I would say, I would quote Karl Marx, who said, paraphrasing, he said that religion is the opiate of the people, and she's got her God and I have my dope and booze. But she seemed pretty confident in herself. And so between her faith and my mother's faith, I guess that got me thinking down those, down, along those lines. But so at 18 years old, I walked out of her house and her parents, her parents lived on about 10 acres in Northern New Jersey and I, I went out to the edge of the property and sat down and I said, "Now what…you know, she's the one bright spot in my life and now what have I got?" And the thought crossed my mind to start praying again. I thought to myself, "well I don’t believe in God, I mean I really don’t believe in God," and yet, because I was really into science as a kid and scientific method says that if you have a hypothesis, a guess, you prove it by doing an experiment. And so anyway, God knew that I was into science, and so the Holy Spirit, I know now of course that was the Lord, the next thing He said to me was "But Neil, you have no proof there is no God." And I said, "Well, that's true. So what am I going to do? So, I guess I'll…I will do a little experiment here because after all, I know I'm going to die young" and I knew in my heart I'd die by the age of 20 years old - by the way, I was born again at the age of 20 years old. The old man started to die and the new man started to live. But I knew I was going to die young the way that was I going. And so I said, "this couldn't hurt because if there is a God, that's the only way, I'm going to live to be an old man." And secondarily, I mentioned all the people ostracizing me by then, so like I said, I was pretty isolated and alone most of the time. So I, I thought that well, at least I'd have someone to talk to. I, I have an older crowd here, thank God. How many people have seen the movie "Harvey" with Jimmy Stewart? Hey, there… Most of the time eyes glaze over when I say that, but I thought you know, hey, like I have this, just like Jimmy had his 6-foot tall imaginary friend to talk to. So that's when I started praying, and I said two prayers over and over again. Perhaps I prayed hundreds of times. One - "God, if you're real, show me. Please show me. "Sometimes yelling at Him and shaking my fist, begging Him, "If you're real, please show me." And sometimes I was just asking, "Why me, God? Why me?" And more often shaking my fists and screaming, and looking up at heaven and screaming, "What have I ever done to deserve a life like this? I'm not Hitler. I'm not Stalin. I'm not Genghis Khan. I'm not the greatest guy in the world, but look at the hands you’ve dealt me. " Well, thankfully at the age of 20 years old, when I was at the end of my rope, at the end of the road, literally on the highway in the middle of the desert, in the middle of nowhere, in Arizona. I felt like a 120-year-old man. I was empty inside. I was physically and emotionally exhausted, having been the son of a fairly well-to-do guy and also being an addict and alcoholic. I had done just about everything you can imagine by the age of 20 that most people will ever do between now and when they die, and it was all emptiness. Like, Solomon said in Ecclesiastes, I was finished. I had enough of life and I was going to…I was seriously considering stepping out in front of the next semi-truck that came down Interstate 10. I was just on the outside of Wilcox, Arizona. But I was thinking that these guys driving brand new Winnebago’s and shiny new Peterbilt trucks and shiny new cars that would pass by me every 10 minutes or so in the middle of the night. This was 1978, so there wasn’t a lot of traffic on I-10 driving in the desert. They were driving by me and leaving poor little me on the side of the road. The people probably couldn’t even see me until they were right next to me because it was pitch dark. But anyway, I was thinking, oh I wish I had a machine gun, to stop these fat cats who were leaving poor little me on the side of the road to starve to death and die of exhaustion. My thoughts were wildly swinging between suicide and murder. I thought they were thinking, “That there are no atheists in fox holes.” And so I prayed three times and said, "God, please get me a ride." And about 10 or 15 minutes later, I said, "God, please get me a ride" a little louder. And then finally I looked up at heaven and I shook my fists and I screamed at the top of my lungs, "God, you so and so." I cursed Him out and I said, "I've been praying to you all my life and what have you ever done for me?" Not knowing that I used god on both ends of those sentences. I was my own god, without knowing it. But anyway, I was pretty upset and I took a few steps off the road because although I was going step out in front of the next semi-truck. I didn’t want to accidently get hit by one, so I took a few steps off the highway and I hung my head and remembered those old cartoons where a lightning bolt would come out of heaven and zap and incinerate people. I thought to myself, gee, I just cursed God. I thought I probably shouldn’t talk to Him like that. So I looked up at heaven one more time, and I said, "I'm sorry, Lord." I thought, "But I just can't take another step." And ladies and gentleman, I had the most beautiful, warm feeling of love I've ever felt in my life hit me on the top of my head, go right down to the bottom of my feet - and I was no longer angry and I was no longer tired. I hadn’t slept for a week and had hardly eaten. And I was happier than I could ever imagine and I knew, and God was kind enough He answered my two prayers, right then and there. The first thing He said to me was, "Neil, I'm real and I'm the same God that you knew as a little child." When I was a 3-1/2-year-old child in the Catholic Church and the mass was in Latin. I remember being in church like it was yesterday and I knew we were going to see God. But I remember when they were saying these beautiful Gregorian chants, God visited me that day and He, and I knew He was real beyond a shadow of a doubt, and I knew that I would be a priest. Now mind you our next-door neighbors were Jews. We are Catholic. We went to church. They didn’t. So I thought there were two groups of people in the world - those that believe in God and those that didn't and if you were male and you were going to serve God that made you a priest. I didn’t know about brothers until later on. But anyway the devil had stolen that out of my heart in the ensuing years between then and when I was 10 or 11 years old when I became an atheist. So the Lord said you know, "I'm the same God that you knew as a child," and He also told me that every word in the Bible is true, from end to Amen. And I needed to know that because I was a loner, and I didn’t trust anybody. I didn’t trust myself. I didn’t trust anyone else. God gave me the greatest gift that I have is the discernment of spirits. Whether I had it back then or not, I don’t know. I've never looked to people for much of anything because they're not very trustworthy. And once you get filled with the spirit of God, you've got a lot of brothers and sisters in Christ that I trust with my life, but back then, I didn’t trust a soul. I needed to know that God's word was a reliable map.

   The second thing He showed me, He answered my prayer, "Why me? You've probably all heard the saying, never judge a man until you walk a mile in their moccasins.” Native Americans say it. The Lord quoted this to me, "Neil, "I allowed you to suffer and yes, even sin in so many ways," and there's probably theologians out there that would argue that, but I know what God said to me. He said, "I allowed you to suffer and yes, sin in so many ways so you can help that many more people." You know, the "self-help groups" like AA and all the others, so they know everybody knows that if a person has been an alcoholic or gambler or whatever, overeater, whatever your problem is, you can help someone with that problem like no one else can because you've been in their shoes. And so the Lord, when the Lord spoke that to my heart, I grew from being lower than an ant's belly on that desert floor that night; I grew 10 feet tall, to think that my God would honor me to allow me to suffer for His name's sake, and that's the story of my life.

   He put me through a really hard seminary and I have been locked up in jail cells and sitting around in the streets with murders and I can talk to them all because I've, as far as I know, I've, that's one of the 10 commandments I didn’t break - I didn’t kill anyone, but you know, when you're an alcoholic, you have these things called black outs and I could well have killed someone. If they jumped me on the street, I might have killed them, and I never would have known because I was really strong back in those days. I did heavy physical labor all the time, and I could have broken someone's neck and never known it. But anyway, I was a filthy, rotten, stinking, lousy sinner and thirty-two and a half years ago, Jesus set me free from the slavery to alcohol and drugs and over the years here and there, He's given me ministry work to do and one of the wonderful, my most joyous services that I've been was working with Jan Tennyson and the Dare to Dream Children's Foundation. As we see those young people come to Christ every month, and sometimes two or three, and sometimes 10 to 15 kids. When I give the invitation, I always make sure and say, I'm not saying recommit yourself, but ask Jesus Christ into your life for the first time. I couldn't believe how many hands would go up and kids got saved. And it's such a beautiful ministry because that was me when I was a kid and I just, I didn’t get caught like they did. I didn’t get caught very often in those days. Thank you so much for listening. I think I know everyone in the room. I think everyone is saved, but just in case, you never can tell, and I've heard the stories about pastors and deacons getting saved in Billy Graham crusades. I want to pray two prayers and if you want to pray along with me, please do.

   Lord Jesus…oh and… And also, if there's anyone in this room that has not been filled with the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues, I was quite skeptical about it, but Jesus did it for me when I was right in the middle of singing some hymns one night, but so I'm going to pray this multifaceted prayer here. Dear Jesus, thank you for your incredible love for us. Lord, I'm a sinner and I need the blood of your Son to cleanse my sins. Lord, I asked you to do this a long time ago. I thank you and praise you that you have and if anyone here has not, just ask Him to forgive you, ask Him to cover your sins with your blood, and bring them into the kingdom today, Lord. Lord, if there's anyone here that does not have (you don't have to repeat after me, I'm not used to doing it that way anyway, but…) Lord, if there's anyone (I guess with the kids we do) but Lord, if there's anyone here that does not, has never, has never experienced the baptism, the second baptism of the Holy Spirit, with or without the evidence of speaking in tongues - I personally don’t believe you have to have that to have a second baptism, but that’s okay - whatever, if they don’t have the second baptism, give it to them, very soon, Lord. Show them the efficacy of your Holy Spirit, how powerful it is to have you moving in our lives in a special way to open the eyes of our hearts to the power of your Holy Spirit that can move in our lives like a dynamo, like a, like a nuclear reactor, can push obstacles over like nothing, your Spirit, and not it, you, Holy Spirit, can do that. And lastly, Lord, if there's anyone in here that, that's walked away from you in any way, in any area of our lives, if we're keeping some of the ruins of our, the house of our heart locked to you, Lord, because we want to hold on to some past sins and, and, this, this idolatry, this duplicity of mind and our hearts is keeping us from being a fully devoted follower of you, dear Jesus, please, let us lay those sins down before you now. Let us, let us confess those, those, that sin before you and let us walk away from it. Let us repent of it and walk away from it forever. By the power of your Holy Spirit, because of your great love, in Jesus' holy name we pray. Amen.

Hearing His Voice Testimony

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