Testimony of Paul Lisney

My name is Paul and I am a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a Catholic musician, and a social worker in the mental health field. This is my personal testimony of God’s love and how He has graciously shown Himself in my life. It is with some hesitancy that I write this because I want to be sure it glorifies God and not myself. No matter how this reads to you, I would like to make it clear that anything good that comes through me is not my doing, but is from God. Any talents that I may have are purely gifts from God; gifts which I did not merit. As with many of you, my life has had (and still has) its ups and downs; possibly more than some, but far less than many others. All of us have our crosses to bear and what I have come to realize is that the crosses are only bearable when we have our attention focused on God.

To begin at the beginning, I was born in England and moved to America with my parents, my three brothers and my sister when I was 10 years old. We children were brought up properly in the Catholic faith by my mother (my father was of the Church of England) and God was a central part of our lives. Growing up in the 70’s was difficult. Having been taught what was right and wrong, it was clear to me that so many people were not living the way I had been taught. But my understanding of my Catholic Faith was superficial and fear kept me in line rather than love. As a teenager I knew that I fell really short of being the person I was supposed to be. I saw all of my faults and human frailties and thought it impossible to change them. By the time I was a young man I was tired of living in fear and tired of worrying so much about not being a good person and feeling badly about myself. My way to deal with this was to move away from God because it was too painful to face myself. I still tried to be a “good” person but by the time I was a young adult I had stopped praying and going to church. My thoughts were along the lines of many people today who tell themselves “God made me this way, so maybe it isn’t really wrong and maybe I don’t need to worry so much about changing myself.” Though I never stopped believing in God, I didn’t think about Him much as far as I can recall, and I certainly didn’t think of Him as being personally and intricately involved in my life.

Looking back, my falling away occurred because I had no personal relationship with God, nor an understanding of the redemption of sin through Jesus. Of course I had been taught that Jesus died for my sins, but I had absolutely no understanding of what this meant and it made no sense to me. Having no personal relationship with Jesus, I had no idea that He would make the changes for me and that all I had to do was give Him my desire to change and to trust in Him.

So for a number of years I moved further and further away from God without fully realizing it. The void that was left from the absence of God in me was filled with other unhealthy interests, such as reading various books on life after death, and other reading materials that I now know are “New Age.” I had an interest in horror movies and books, aliens, the paranormal, and also had some peculiar experiences that were either out-of-body or lucid dreaming. Eventually I gradually withdrew from these pursuits and interests because of the fear and unease they left me with.

When I was approaching 33 years old, my marriage ended and although I was the one who initiated the breakup, it was the most devastating time of my life. I realized that I had lost myself gradually over the previous 12 years and I felt completely lost and broken.

Ironically, where my life fell to pieces was exactly where I found God. I began to think about Him again and to ask Him for help. I was truly lost and though the world around me was the same, everything seemed suddenly so unfamiliar and different. I was ashamed and confused because even though I was no longer a practicing Catholic, the beliefs were deep within me and I felt so much shame in regard to my sins. But God is so good and comes to us where we are, not waiting for us to be clean before He shows Himself. I realized that He had been there all the time and that I was the one who had turned my back on Him.

I moved along slowly for a few years, gradually growing towards God, and I think it was around 1995 or so that my brother Mark told me about a book he had read called Joshua, by Fr. Joseph Girzone.  Soon after, I came across Joshua in a bookstore and felt this strong urge to buy it. I followed the urge and started reading that night and couldn’t put the book down. Joshua is a work of fiction, which has the setting of Jesus returning to today’s world. Reading this book was the start of my relationship with Jesus. A joy and excitement filled me that I cannot describe. Whereas in the past my vivid imagination had led me down the wrong paths, the Lord showed me how to use it for what it is intended. I would chat with Jesus about everything, imagine Him walking beside me, and take Him to work with me. It was an amazing time. The only way I can describe it is to say that for me it was similar to being in love, but only better. I looked back on my life and came to realize that it was not wasted and that God had been with me all along, taking care of me and even using me as part of His plan. A tremendous burden was lifted from my shoulders and I would wake up every morning wondering what the Lord had in store for me that day.

I should tell you here that prior to this time I was extremely dissatisfied with my life in regards to my career and the use of the gifts I had been given. Speaking in truth, I know that that everyone in my family has been blessed with artistic gifts to one degree or another, myself included. What I felt I lacked was the ambition or know-how to use these talents to earn a living. I worked (and continue to work) in the social services field and felt that this was by “accident” and that it was just until my “real life” with music started. I had been writing songs and playing guitar since I was 13 or 14 and always had some vague dreams of becoming a famous musician. As a teenager I was drawn like a magnet to the music of The Beatles and I would sit for hours on end learning their songs, listening repeatedly to their music. When I was in my 20’s, two of my brothers (Mark and Mike), myself, and a friend had a band for a number of years playing our own songs and covers of the music we loved. We had a lot of fun but never had any success in a worldly sense other than people enjoying our music locally. I was always writing and recording my songs if just for myself and to show friends and family. Thanks be to God, this alone had always given me a lot of satisfaction regardless of whether or not I was making money from it.

So when I noticed Jesus again and began a personal relationship with Him, I began to see my life so differently. Perhaps I got to see it more through His eyes rather than my own. I realized that the life I had been living was not a mistake; that I was supposed to be working in the mental health field and that He was using me to help a lot of people. (I was only later to understand that just as much, God was using these people to help me with virtues of my own that needed to be exercised or acquired). I saw how He had protected me and even used me to do His work when I was absolutely oblivious to Him. I began to see that my lack of ambition or direction didn’t really matter because He was in charge of everything. I didn’t have to have the plan, because God was in charge. My job was to try to do  my absolute best wherever He had me and whatever the circumstances.

My relationship with Jesus developed over a few years but I was still not going to church. At that time I had no thoughts of going back to the Catholic Church because I didn’t want the old thoughts and feelings to return. Our Lord is so kind and merciful and He takes His time healing us. I think it was in 1997 or ’98 that once again my brother Mark gave me a nudge and suggested that perhaps it was time for me to think about going to back to church. He had had his own struggles and had had a very powerful conversion/healing experience around that time. We would talk a lot and I trusted him and valued what he said. Though he is my younger brother by a couple of years, I looked to Him as a guide spiritually, intrinsically trusting his direction. I had tremendous unrest contemplating the step of talking to a priest. I spoke to my mum and she suggested that I talk to our parish priest at St. Paul’s. It took me a few weeks but I finally had the meeting. Father was very kind but spoke the Truth to me. I spoke to him I am sure for more than an hour and had my first confession in more than 15 years. I remember going away with mixed thoughts and feelings. I knew that to come back to the Catholic Church again I had some hard changes to make in the way I was living and I didn’t know how to go about making them. I was afraid because I knew that these changes would affect not only me, but others close to me. I started going to church every Sunday but was unable to take Holy Communion in good conscience. I would ask our Lord to come to me in spiritual Communion, which I know He did in His kindness. This was a difficult period because I had a yearning to receive Him.

It seems to me that in a very short time, through the grace of God, I was able to receive Holy Communion again. Receiving this sacrament and going regularly to confession, I noticed that my growth towards God seemed to be so much quicker than before. I was led by our Lord to read so many books about God and our Catholic faith. This included the writings of various mystic saints and the many Catholic visionaries of today. I couldn’t believe that there was so much out there in the world written about God that I had no idea of before. I started to learn about the Mass and what it truly is. I learned for the first time what is meant by “offer it up” (the words I heard as a child!) and learned what was really meant by Jesus’ Holy Sacrifice on the Cross. I was finally coming to understand what is meant by “Jesus died for your sins.” I realized also that the fear I had about the teachings of the Catholic Church was, more than anything else, from my own ignorance and misconceptions.

On the music front, my songs started to change also and began to reflect what was in my mind and my heart. In 1997  I was able to purchase a couple of nice guitars, a 16 track keyboard workstation and an 8 track digital recorder. By the end of 1999 and beginning of 2000 I had recorded enough songs to make two full length CD’s, The Call Of God and The Sanctuary. I would give them out to friends and family. Songs kept coming and by 2002 Time Of Mercy was completed. Writing songs was amazing and exhilarating – much more-so than before. I know in my heart that the songs were inspired by God. As a good friend later pointed out to me,  inspired means literally “in spirit.”  From time to time I would wonder about what our Lord wanted me to do with the music but would come to the conclusion that my job was to write and record the songs when they came to me and to leave it up to God to take care of the rest. I figured that if He wanted someone in particular to hear the music, then He would arrange it.

I’m not very good with time, but it was probably in 2003 that I happened to meet my friends from Images Of Heaven. I had been looking on the internet for nice statues and came across their web site. I was completely astonished to learn that their business was in my own city, a few blocks away from my workplace. I visited them during a lunch hour and found them to be two true gentlemen, striving to serve God through their business. I left them with a few CD's of my music and a couple of days later  I received a call from them asking if I would be interested in making CD's available to people through their site. Through their generosity (a complimentary web pages on their site of their own design with song samples and an order form forwarding to my email) I have been able to send CD's all over the world. Though I don't keep track of the number CD's sent out, I know that God is getting the music out to the people it is intended for.

Today I am happily re-married and still work in the social services field. I continue to write and record songs as they come to me and am about to put together my fifth full length CD.  I struggle daily to draw closer to God and try to remember to go to him right away when I fall.  Our Father’s greatest attribute is His unfathomable mercy, and He will always greet us with a hug and console us when we come to Him with true contrition. My good and holy parish priest says that all we have to offer God is our brokenness and that out of our weakness will come our salvation if we unite ourselves to Jesus. I believe him.

Below are some different links and also youtube videos you may enjoy of Paul's Catholic Music Ministry.



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