As a kid I grew up quite normal. I was privileged enough to have a hard-working dad and a mother that stayed home to take care of the house and us kids. Today, for most homes, both parents have to work. While growing up I was considered a “good kid.” Now every child at times misbehaves or becomes somewhat disrespectful; what I mean by a “good kid” was that I stayed away from drugs, smoking, alcohol, and did not get into trouble with the law.
Some of you today are the same way. You live the best you can. Respectful, hold down a job, pay your taxes, try to be kind, help out in the community or even donate time and money to charity. You are a “good person.” The shocking truth is that “good people go to Hell every day!”
At the age of 15, my best friend, Juan, invited me to some youth outings through his church in Amboy. The events were fun: going hiking, capture the flag in the woods, laser tag, etc. Later on, my friend’s family switched to a more local church, Victory Baptist in Mendota, and I started attending there with them. There I heard God’s Word taught boldly and saw a need for a Savior. Mark 10:18 states “And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? There is none good, but one, that is God.” Even the people we call “good” today are but filthy rags before God (Isaiah 64:6) because God’s standard of righteousness is perfection (Matthew 5:48) and we all have fallen short because we all at one time or another have sinned (Romans 3:23). By age 16, I gave my life to Jesus and have been forever changed!
Immediately this caused conflict and especially at home where my new religious views did not correspond to that of my parents. This lead to a fight with my father and I got kicked out of my home for a short while. I learned the meaning of Matthew 10:34-35 quickly when Jesus said, “do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and daughter against her mother…” True Christianity is not a bed of roses, unless that bed is made of rose bushes. Jesus said that persecution will come (Matthew 5:10-12) because the Gospel offends. But that same Gospel can convict a heart and lead it to repentance. Jesus is not a neutral word, but it is the only name under Heaven that can save a person (Acts 4:12).
Even though I have joined “God’s family,” that does not mean that I wouldn’t have struggles in life. Let’s admit it, we all sin, we all have a past. Deep down we also can all admit that we have an addiction. For some it is severe in society’s eyes such as a drug or alcohol addiction. Some are as common as a food addiction that leads to health problems or extreme binging on television, social networking, or video gaming that robs us of time with God and family. My addiction, like most male teenagers, was pornography. Some people, right here, might say “aren’t you embarrassed of that; why tell people that?” First, the Bible states that what is done in secret will eventually be revealed to everyone (Luke 8:17, 2 Samuel 12:12). Numbers 32:23, says “…be sure your sin will find you out.” Second, it was a great preacher named Charles Spurgeon that stated, “write my sins upon the sky.” He didn’t care what people thought about his past. With Jesus you no longer have to be ashamed of your past because He dealt with that upon the cross! Pornography had a grip on me into my twenties and the only reason I’m no longer in bondage to that sin is because Jesus has set me free. He is not only a Savior, He will also free you from the weight of your addictions and past. Jesus says in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” It is a process once you’re saved: The Spirit will convict you of sin that is in your life through the Word of God and if you respond with a repenting heart and lay your problems upon Jesus, He will free you from the weight of your past and regrets.
My story does not end there. Besides dealing with my troubles, God has blessed me as well. I know that God is working in my life daily, but there are three instances in particular that I know God was clearly speaking to my heart. The first was when I was 19, I went out to a farm house with friends, including my brother-in-law Ian and there I met Danielle. I knew her prior from High school, but this visit to her house was different. I knew right then that God was going to use me to impact her life and that she eventually would accept the Lord. Over the summer I got to know Danielle, by November I joined the Navy, and by the following July we were married. I eventually got deployed in the Navy to Iraq and Danielle went back home. Many people that knew Danielle knew that she had a past and she didn’t change much. Back home she cheated and fell into heavy drug use and it eventually lead to a divorce. A few years later, Danielle went to a rehab facility where she got cleaned up and there she got involved with a Christian counseling group. She accepted Jesus and many seen a radical change in her life! This is a perfect example of how true Romans 8:28 is, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God…” Maybe God is using some bad situations in your life to wake you up and push you toward a better life. Unfortunately, certain circumstances brought her home and as many know, you cannot put a former drug addict back into the same environment. Danielle overdosed and died in 2012. As sad as that truly is, I am thankful that Danielle accepted Jesus and is held eternally secure in God’s hand (John 10:29).
My second moment of clarity was my calling to the ministry and especially to the field of Christian apologetics. After my return from the Navy, God laid a message on my heart and my pastor graciously allowed me to preach my first sermon. At that time my sister, and brother-in-law were trying to purchase a house. I gave them the down payment and said if you come to church ten times, you don’t have to pay me back. They accepted, God moved in their life over the ten services and they are both followers of Jesus today. Ian felt the call to ministry as well and we both got ordained together. Now I am currently writing a book on apologetics and serving in the church to the best of my ability. I am thankful that God can use a sinner like me.
The last moment of clarity, where I was greatly moved by God involves my wife, Amber. It was 2010 and she was in an unstable relationship with a shady fellow involved in drugs. When we first met, we were drawn to each other instantly and she started to hang around me quite a bit. One event I brought her to was the revival that our church was hosting that fall. There she gave her heart and life to Jesus. We dated through the fall and for some reason in December she went back to her old boyfriend. A few months went by and I prayed hard for her, her situation, her happiness, and our relationship. This is when I felt God move. Many Christians today will not have an experience like this because statistics today reveals that many do not have a prayer life. Jesus prayed for us (John 17:20-26) and begs us to fervently pray for others (Luke 18:1, 1 Tim. 2:1-3). Amber came to her senses and permanently left that unhealthy relationship. We began dating again and aimed for marriage. Due to the harsh marital experiences with Danielle, I sought out Christian marriage experts and resources before marrying Amber. Now we have a lasting marriage built upon the rock of Jesus Christ and have experienced no problems within our marriage. God can work wonders in your life if only you learn to depend on Him!
I could write far more about what God has done, but I rather have you experience Him for yourself. Seek Jesus, not by word or deed, but come to Him with your whole heart through faith and leave forever changed!