Wanna Know More About Me? (Part 4)
This will be quite a journey of a story, but I hope that you can follow me on it through my life, how I met Christ, and where I’ve come from in Jesus since. I guess I should start at the beginning….
One day I was born (well, my parents say I was hatched, but that’s another story). Okay, let’s fast forward a few years. I was a typical rule-following kid that didn’t get into too serious of trouble; now, I did get in trouble a lot, but only because I was rebelious to the system which did not give me reasoning. But overall, I followed the rules, played in the lines, and was a really easy going kid. In elementary school, I was pretty-much the dork who didn’t have a lot of friends; so when I got to high school, I decided to break off from everyone I knew and make new friends. I became popular amongst the “other” crowd. The rednecks had their group (I grew up in a hillbilly town), the jocks had their group (every school does), and then there was all the other rejects. I was very popular among those people. We were the ones who didn’t care about everyone else’s opinions. My freshman year I was known as “The Pimp”, because I walked down the hall every day with a girl on each arm (nothing ever happened between us, but it was all about show). My sophmore year I began to make guy friends and get away from the girl friends. By my junior year, I got mixed up into the wrong crowd, and began smoking pot, trying new drugs, and going a different way in life. It was my senior year, however, that things began to climax into a really bad low-point of my life. I began to go to a lot of parties (because that’s what seniors do), and I began to get drunk (a lot!), because that’s what seniors do. But then I began to come up with a new life philosophy. It was “I’m here, you’re here… let’s just have fun together.” It was a “live for today, and for today only” type of thinking. I used it to manipulate women into physical relationships that had no morals. I did save myself for marriage, somehow, but I certainly did everything short of having intercourse over and over again. I began to skip school (a lot), and hang out with people who would get me to steal, to do drugs, and to fool around with girls any way I could.
My girlfriend which I had at the end of my senior year asked me to go to church with her. I was like “NO WAY!” I have a reputation to uphold, and I can’t be seen in church! But after a lot of persuasion and begging, I finally decided to go. It was VBS (Vacation Bible School) for high schoolers. I sat there in the front row as cocky as could be. I had the girls, I had the drugs, I had the friends, I had the parties, and I had all the alcohol I could want. I had everything I wanted in life. But as the young man got up to preach, I listened to what he had to say. He was young (maybe 21), and he was full of passion. I thought to myself “I thought you got old and got religious. Ya know, you get close to dying, and then you turn to God.” But this man had such passion! And as I sat there in the front row, I thought to myself, I have everything… I have the drugs, the parties, the friends, the alcohol, and the girls…. But I didn’t have even half of the joy for life that this guy did. I had been searching for my whole life to find something that would fill the void, the emptiness in my soul. I had tried it all. But I always had to have that many more friends, I had to try that many more new drugs, I had to go that much further with these girls to have the feeling of satisfaction. And nothing made me feel really whole. I knew what my life was missing. So when he led everyone in “the sinner’s prayer”, I accepted Christ as my savior, and shot up to my feet to accept Him. I had so many people who were “so proud of me” for the decision I made. I didn’t think I was that bad, and needed to be saved as much as everyone else was making it out to seem. But it was day one for me… June 19, 2001. I would never have guessed on that day how much that one decision would change my life forever.
Well, I started going to church after that. I began going to this Methodist Church that a close friend of mine invited me to. The message each week was pretty basic, and it was basically a “love your neighbor and do good, and we’ll see you next week to tell you the same thing” kinda message. I was comfortable hiding in the back of the balcony section. After about 3 months, I began going to a Baptist Church (the one I got saved at). The message each week was more about “learn how to live righteously, and we’ll teach you how to draw closer to God by living a good life.” I went there for about 6 months. I joined a College Group at that church, where I learned about fellowship with other believers, and then went early the next year to a Worship Retreat. It was only a couple months before this retreat that I was still struggling with many of the same issues I had when I became a Christian. I was still getting high, still fooling around, and still partying non-stop. But something had changed in me… I felt differently about it. It began to pierce into my conscience. By the new year, I had gone to my last party, and when it went to total crap, I realized that I wanted to make Jesus my Lord, and not only my Savior. So I did. And when I went on this retreat with the college group, I had an experience that would change me again. One night, we decided to stay up until about 2am, just worshiping God. No agenda, just not doing anything to stop the experience that was happening. And then something wild happened…. The presence of God showed up. I could feel Him. I could REALLY feel Him! And I knew for the first time in my life how big God was. I got baptized a month later.
Well, a couple months later, I began going to a non-denominational church down in the outskirts of town, where another friend had invited me, and they taught me that Jesus sinned while He was on the cross. That when He said “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”, that God said “You’re wrong, they do know. And here’s the sins of the world.” Of course, as a baby Christian who had never opened a Bible before I got saved, I took the pastor’s word for it. But I found out later “No, that’s not quite right.” I met a friend there, and she took me to her Apostolic Church, where they told me that I could lose my salvation at any moment (like, if I was in my car and it went off a cliff and almost crashed ino a tree, and I cussed before I hit it, I was going to Hell.). So again, I believed. And then they told me that when I was baptized, I was baptized in “The name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit”, but in the New Testament, all the disciples baptized in “Jesus’ name”, so I wasn’t truly baptized. And they also taught me that I was supposed to take off all my jewlery (I wore a lot), cut my hair, and dress better… because that’s what God wanted. So I did. And I got baptized… AGAIN. But like before, “No, that’s not quite right.” Then I went to this Pentecostal Church, where they asked me if I had spoken in tongues. I said “What’s tongues?”. They showed me how everyone in the New Testament who received Jesus had also spoken in tongues. I had never heard of it, so I was convinced (by them) that I was not saved. So, I got saved… AGAIN. And as I went to the alter, the elders of the church came around me, and laid their hands on me. And I stood up and received the Holy Ghost. And I spoke in tongues. It freaked me out. But I found out (as before) that a lot of thier doctrine was “No, that’s not quite right.” Then I went to this Seventh Day Adventist Church after that, where they told me that I had to keep a certain dayof the week to worship God, and I had to keep a certain dietary restriction, and I had a lot more rules to follow than I first knew about. And of course, “No, that’s not quite right”. All-in-all, I had gone to so many different types of churches, and they each held a certain portion of scripture more sacred than another part. But although it was confusing at first, it really did do something good for me: It taught me how to find out truth and learn for myself. I began to become an apologist (a defender of the faith). I studied different religions, cults, denominations, and so on. I studied evolution vs creationism, Atheism, Agnosticism, New Age, and other types of beliefs. I studied any and every topic I could about how to know this God I had met. It shaped my life into the critical thinker I am today.
Well, I began to really just spend a LOT of time reading my Bible, and praying. I spent a lot of time reading any and every christian book I could find/buy; I especially liked the old classics. I began listening to the Holy Spirit that God had put in me, and He led me on a long journey of discovery that continues on even to this day. I discover new aspects of God every day it seems. Some days are more revelatory than others, but every day is full of life, full of meaning, and full of purpose!
God brought me since that first day through many levels of awareness. See, in life, we are ever moving from strength to strength, and glory to glory (Psalm 84:7 ; 2 Corinthians 3:18). In my own journey, I have gone through seven places (stages) in life, and am currently just starting on my eighth level of enlightenment. Here’s the levels I’ve gone through in my life since I met Jesus: Legalism, Freedom, Balance, Desire, Faith, Grace, Knowledge, Wisdom. I’m going through the transition from Knowledge to Wisdom now in my life.
Through all this time, I grew mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. I grew closer to the God of the universe. I went through highs and lows, mountains and valleys, and twists and turns along the way. But all of these things helped shape me and bring me closer to the heart of God. And now I know that my life has purpose and meaning. And I have never made a better decision in my life than the one I did when I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. He has stuck by my side every day through these 14 years, and He has given me a life I could never have imagined having! It truly is the Kingdom of God here on earth. And it was the very best decision of my life!
If you would like me to tell you how you can come to the same saving grace as I have found for a sinner like me, please get in touch with me, and I will be happy to lead you to the same loving God that I have known and cherished for all these years!
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