Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My Testimony

My Testimony

Hello my dear friends and family. First I want to thank you all for taking the time to read this.; As I warned awhile back, some of this you may consider offensive. I just want to let you know that this is not my intent, but instead my expressing my heart of Christ’s love for all of you. Some of you are on the same page as I am in regards to faith in Jesus Christ, others of you are not, and I understand this, but I still feel the need to share this all with you.

Over the past several months I have been trying to study the Epistle of 1 John in the New Testament of the Word of God, the Bible. I entered this study with one purpose of not gaining more knowledge, which I have been blessed with a great amount in Scripture, but instead practical application, steps I should and need to be taking in my own life. One of the failures I noticed in my own life is the unwillingness to share my faith in Christ with those who may not have that faith.

This is not a post I’m making to debate, but simply state the truth. Jesus Christ is the only way to eternal life. No other religion, belief system, or thought life will bring anyone into the relationship that the God who created us, desires us to have with Him. Instead of doing a lot of fancy preaching, or going from the Scriptures only, (although they contain the whole and complete truth), I’ve decided to share a testimony of my walk with Christ over the past two to three years.  I will bring up Scriptures as they are relevant, and not only will I share references, but I’ll share the whole verse, or section of verses as well as translated in the New American Standard Bible.

Several years ago I met a dear friend and brother in Christ, David Jenkins. Pastor Jenkins had started, and is still running a ministry called Servants of Grace. After we got to know each other, Pastor Jenkins invited me to be one of his supporting Elders in this ministry. I was active some in the beginning as I was writing a lot of sermons and studies myself, but as the ministry grew, I waned in my support of Pastor Jenkins.; However, due to his kindness I stayed on staff, with a brief break in 2003- 2004, and then back on staff in 2004-2005.

Again at that time I still was not giving him all the support he needed. I would try to work with people in the ministry who were in need of counseling and guidance, but still my preaching was non-existent, as I was struggling with many sin issues in my own life. The major sin issue in my life was sexual immorality; however that sin had two facets which were fighting in my inner being. First was adultery, several times I attempted to cheat on my wife, and there were several times I succeeded. It wasn’t until about a year ago my wife knew the depth of my successes.

The second sin I was wrestling with was homosexuality. I was fortunate that I had no successful connections in this area, but it wasn’t for the lack of trying. I used several phone services in the different areas we lived in to try to make connections, but by the grace of God, He was faithful in making any possible connection fall through.

Romans 1:20-27 says: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored amount them.; For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.”

No matter how they try to fight this. This section of verses clearly speaks out against homosexuality, and it is for this reason that I put this in here. This was the sin I was wrestling with in my flesh. I had a desire to engage in impure acts thus defiling not only my body, but the body of my wife as well. The act of homosexuality is as much a sin as adultery is, clanged to me, and had circumstances worked in its favor I would have succumbed.

Many things happened off an on during periods in my married life. In December 2003 I lost a job due to pursuing my sin interests using a computer at work. Hebrews 12:4-9 says: “You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD, NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM; FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.” It is for discipline that you endure God deals with you as with sons for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.”

Like a fool though I continued to ignore this discipline, and instead became more creative on how I pursued my sinful interests.  Although Jen was able to uncover some of my transgressions, she never seemed to catch all of them, and so I would just watch how I treated her with the purpose of trying to give her a sense false of security.

In January of 2005 I got transferred for work back up to Boise, Idaho.  For awhile it really did help me stay more focused on the marriage, as I wanted to be sure I went to some effort to restore a tense relationship I had with my parents.  Yet even there I had too many places I could go to entertain again my adulterous sin.  I was very careful, always being sure I did it in a way to be least suspicious, the biggest thing Jen knew though was my unwillingness to let go of a contact who had been quite the stumbling block for me.  Name here does not matter, but it was a major issue for probably two to three years before that connection was successfully severed.

Sexual sin however was just one issue I was dealing with in my life.  I was also dealing with a lot of anger, anger against myself, anger against Jen, anger against God.  Even today I cannot explain all this anger, although it was evident to many, and not just me.  In fact in July/August of 2005 I had to go in for preventative surgery as in June they had discovered a carcenoid tumor in my appendix that was exactly 1 cm in diameter.  It was a big enough surgery for a 26 year old that my father came down from Missoula to be with Jen until after the surgery. During that time my father had the opportunity to go to lunch with our Senior Pastor at Treasure Valley Bible Church.  Pastor Tim expressed concern to my Dad about my salvation.  Again although this helped get me back on the right track some; it didn’t resolve the problem completely.

For awhile I stayed on the right track.  I put some focus into my marriage, and we tried to get things going in the right way with involvement in Church, Jen was starting to get involved in Bible Studies, and we tried to develop some friendships with people in the Church.  Yet still this anger festered in my heart, times I would blow up at Jen quite significantly, although I tried to never get physical with her as I had done in the past, there was always that deep urge to lash out at her in our fights, one time even pushing her down a hallway and causing her to fall into the floor in our bedroom after her hands hit against the bedroom window. 

One night the fight got so bad we ended up calling one of the Elders of our Church out to the house to discuss what was going on with us.  This was not a nice call as we were both contemplating divorce.  By the grace of God we had Elders at that time that truly made an effort to Shepard us and help us grow in Christ.

            Again we would go through good months, have a fight or two, then have more good months; however, slowly I stopped taking the initiative to take my family to Church.  We would miss several Sundays at a time then go back for a bit, then skip some more.  I began to pull away from my Bible Study, even though I was working a job where it was very easy to go to Bible Study on Tuesday mornings.  We moved a few times again in this period, moved into a house some friends of ours had at Church that we could rent, and then when they made the decision to sell due to some situations in their own life we moved out to Nampa where we lived in a nice duplex. 

            One way my anger was expressed was through the use of money, and so Jen and I constantly found ourselves hanging on by a thread financially.  I was not active in quiet time, although we slowly began to pick up on going to Church, but still the anger festered.  I tried to preach, and managed a few sermons as by this time Pastor Jenkins had moved to the Boise area, and so I tried to work with him, but finally in August/September of 2007 I finally let my total anger come out, and told my wife, and Pastor David that I had no desire to have a relationship with Christ.  I was done, I was going to go my own way, and live my own path. 

Part of my anger was at God for His discipline in my life.  The rest of the anger was at me because I felt there was no hope I could ever turn around from my anger and frustration with who I had become.  I told everyone that my belief in Christ in the sense of His existence was the same; there was no doubt in my mind that He does indeed exist.  What I instead questioned was the actions discussed in Philippians 2:6-8: “who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, being made in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”  My question was what the ultimate difference it really made? Christ was God before He became man, and He was God after.

I let this question resound in my ear and my mind for months still taking my family to Church because it was what my wife and children wanted to do, but always with the same feeling of I don’t care, and then Pastor Tim preached on Luke 7:36-50.  Now I’m not going to write out this whole passage.  I still have a lot I want to discuss so I’m going to recommend that if you are interested in reading the whole passage you can go to http://www.studylight.com.  Once the site comes up you can type in Luke 7:36-50, choose your translation and then click on search.

How this passage goes is a woman comes into the house of a Pharisee whom Jesus was dinning with.  This woman was a known, sinful woman, most likely sexual in nature.  The woman came to Christ, and fell on her face, and began washing Christ’s feet with her hair, using her tears as water.  The Pharisee in his heart thinks: “He’s a prophet and doesn’t know how sinful this woman is?” Christ here is blessed by the Holy Spirit with knowledge of what the Pharisee is thinking, and so He tells a story.

Two men owed a man debt.  One of them owed 50 days worth of wages, and the other owed 500 days worth of wages.  Neither of these men could pay the lender, and so he forgave both of them their debt.  Christ then asks which one would love the lender more.  The answer is fairly easy to ascertain even for us 500 days of wages would be equivalent to two years worth of work, the other approximately ten weeks.  The Pharisee responds why the man who was forgiven more. That’s what got my attention, “the man who was forgiven more”

Even though I said I was done with my faith, my walk with Christ, as I said earlier I was angry because I felt there was no hope for me to change who I had become.  My anger was a result of the realization of the depth of my sin against my wife, my children, myself, and Christ.  I had gotten to a point where I believed it would be easier for Christ to send me to the depths of hell, then to bother trying to forgive me of the multitude of sins I had committed.  However, that is not how Christ works.  2 Peter 3:9 says: “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”

It was at the point in my life I finally understood, truly, and completely the depth of Christ’s love for me.  His discipline had not been as a God of judgment, but a God of love who, like a father, was trying to bring me back to Him.  Shortly after I came to this revelation I was again able to proclaim Christ in my life.  We returned to Church not just attending, but as participants.  Although at that time being ministry was not an option because the Elders wanted to see growth in me prior to letting me get involved with ministry again.

Shortly after my rededication, Pastor Tim and Pastor Mark, started a Men’s Bible Study on how to study the Bible.  Raised as a pastor’s son, I knew I needed to read my Bible, and I even studied some in sermons I prepared, but this was different.  This encouraged me to regularly dig into the Word of God, and not just to read over a passage and meditate, but to dig into word usage, meanings, link to other scriptures.  This study method has revitalized my growth.  Now when I got into the Word I’m enthralled, and dedicated in finding out what it says. 

Do I still wrestle with sin? Oh yeah! However, what has changed is my feelings towards my sin.  I hate it, and I fight against it.  Daily I have to go to my Father, and ask Him to guide me and direct me.  That’s why I choose 1st John to study.  First John knows we are going to sin, but he reminds us that sin starts wherever our mind is occupied.   I would strongly encourage you, who are saved, to read 1st John, taking time to look up words like walk used in verse 6 and 7.  It may surprise you.  For those of you who are not saved, this may seem strange to you, but know that I am praying for you, and if ever you have a question please contact me and let me know so I can attempt to answer it.  I don’t have all the answers, but I know who does, and that’s Jesus Christ.  Fortunately down here in Texas I have a great Pastor who is good at helping me figure out things I don’t know, it may take him some time, but he tries to help.

God bless, and may Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit speak to your heart today.

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