The Rest of the Story…
I was listening to an Andy Stanley sermon today and one of the things that caught my attention was a phrase that he quoted from Frank Turek “The reason so many people are easily talked out of Christianity is because they were never talked into it in the first place”.
While I was never actually talked out of it, I can certainly say I was never talked into it.
I can honestly say that I have always believed in God and Jesus Christ, I can also honestly say that I have never had a relationship and therefore, in hindsight have trouble saying that I have been a Christian all these years.
That phrase resonates with me personally because although I was raised in the Lutheran Church, I can never remembering my mother talking about God, Jesus, scripture or anything involving religion at home. My father was absentee on this mostly because he was a Freemason and the Lutherans didn’t want him at the church. (In hindsight, their ignorance of Freemasonry and their refusal to let him join the church held a significant role in my leaving the church and becoming disillusioned with organized religion.)
When my parents felt I was old enough to make my own decision, I decided that I could do without going to church. I had no one in my life that ever spoke to me regarding how to actually be a Christian. No one that could ever educate me as to the true meaning of John 3:16.
Of course, I continued to honor my mother by going on Christmas Eve or Easter Sunday, but there was certainly no investment in it. .
My wife is Catholic and we were married in a Catholic Church. We raised our girls in the Catholic Church. For many years, I didn’t attend with them or attended out of support for my wife as she tried to indoctrinate the kids. I never felt any connection whatsoever during this time. I would read scripture while the priest spoke his sermon. There was nothing any of them could say that I could relate to. So, for many years I went through the motions as, behind the scenes, my wife prayed that I would find find enlightenment. She would ask me to get more involved, asked me to pray with her, or listen to worship music with her.
I refused. I felt that believing was enough. Boy, was I wrong.
Without that true understanding of God’s love, that true relationship with God and Jesus, the enemy has an easy target. The best way to defend against the tempter’s lie is to know God’s truth. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11
Without Jesus in my life, I had become someone who was not a very good person on the inside and had done things secretly I am ashamed of and embarrassed by. I have hurt way too many people who have loved me unconditionally. That is not who I want to be.
After listening to Pastor John a couple of years ago (thanks to my daughter Kristen), I knew I had found the right connection. Hope Fellowship has enabled me to find the means to get off the path of sin and destruction I had been on for many years. Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out. Acts 3:19
Surrounding myself with the right people, learning the Word of God, worshiping openly (not embarrassed when I sing anymore LOL), attending church, Bible class, and Regeneration is giving me a new lease on life. I have this insatiable thirst for knowledge regarding scripture and Biblical history. I now understand how much God loved us when he sacrificed his Son for us. I am overwhelmed by the punishment Jesus took upon himself for our salvation. I was baptized by Pastor John in September which was one of the most emotional experiences I have ever had.. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: The old has gone, the new has come 2 Corinthians 5:17
Guys, temptation from the enemy is with us ALWAYS. Only by having this relationship with our Holy Father can we avert it. I truly now believe that our lives are unmanageable without him. It took me way too many years to get here, but here I am, and here I will always be. Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Ephesians 3:20