Under The Cross

Forgiven (Undeservedly so)

Who I am is of no matter. Who Jesus Christ is matters completely. I don’t even feel comfortable saying that this is my testimony, like it is something I myself can claim. I can neither claim nor take credit for anything God has done. This is His testimony in my life.

There is a reason that I chose a pseudonym when I started this site. I battle pride enough as it is, and the Lord knows I need not tempt it. My desire for this site was that it not be for my glory, but–as best as I am able–to glorify God and honor His holy name here. And part of that process is to tell you what God has done in this wretched sinner’s life. And that is what this page is all “About.” I do not intend to market myself, or go into a lot of detail about who I am, what I like, what my hobbies and interests are, and all that stuff. I mean, really, who cares about all that stuff anyway? The focus here (and I hope for this whole site) should be less about me and more about my Savior, who He is and what He has done.

Of course, I will have to give some of my personal history both before and after my salvation to give a complete picture of the road I was on before Jesus called me to Him, but that it is by necessity and certainly not for my glory. For well I know, there was no glory in me before I came to the cross of Christ, and as the Apostle Paul said, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 10:17)

Lost (dwelling with demons)

Something started to stir in me in my early 20s, and after going through a year or two in college where what (I guess you would say) I believed in was something akin to dumb luck, random chance, and a crude mixture of coincidence and chaos, I began to think that there was something occurring “beneath the surface of the visible”. It seemed that more and more, I was having difficulty denying God. I wasn’t too sure about what I was thinking or feeling, but my complete aversion to any sort of divine presence was certainly strained. However, I was as lost as the prodigal son lodging in the pig sty, and mine was a long, long way home yet.

Still unwilling to change or abandon my life of consumption—of drugs, alcohol, pornography, various sorts of immorality (obviously)—I decided to find out the truth about God… on my terms. And my terms were this:

1) I wanted to know “Truth”.

2) I refused to find it in the Bible, the Church, or the Christian faith.

3) I would search everywhere else to find it.

I’m sure the folly of this approach is obvious, but to my degenerate mind at that point in my life, I was a crusader. I would spend the next five years voraciously reading anything I could get my hands on—from Jewish mysticism, western esoteric traditions, to eastern religions, shamanism, the occult, you name it. I “steered clear” of anything that was overtly Satanic, but as long as Satan wasn’t mentioned directly I feasted on it. For five years I read somewhere between 30 to 40 books a year on everything that stood in opposition to the Christian faith. I filled up 200 page notebooks two to three times a year with my musings and reflections of all this “wisdom” I was acquiring. I was discovering more and more about God, or so I thought. And during that time, I drank, I did drugs, was drawn to selfish and sinful pleasures, and never once looked at the Bible.

I would sometimes come across a scripture reference in a book I was reading that was used to support some unbiblical point of view and could use quotes like that out of context. I could also, with all my worldly wisdom, hold conversations with Christians and talk about God like I had an understanding of Him. Like a chameleon, I found that I could mask myself enough that they either thought I believed similar to them (at least that’s what I thought), or if I sensed any doubt in their faith, I could challenge them on their beliefs and cause some confusion. I still belonged to the devil. I was literally dead in my sin and trespasses, and happy (or so I thought) in the darkness of my soul.  I was unwilling to approach or even look at the Cross of Christ, much less repent of the sin I so vigorously denied.

Part of my understanding of “God” as I discovered Him everywhere but the Bible was that He was—well, first of all, not a He. To my mind, there could be no gender because God was “One”. That was the first “big” discovery I made on my own outside of the Bible. I now know that God—the real God that is revealed through His word in scripture—is both One and Three. But when I was still a student of the devil, I thought God was One and everything that was existed within this single unified presence. Good and evil, darkness and light, yin and yang—sense any shades of Taoism or eastern mysticism here? Yes, all things found themselves united and resolved within the one, and it was just our simple human minds and their need to separate “this from that” to know “it” that had caused all of the complexity.

The other insurmountable obstacle I created as I continued to make up my own religion was that this God I was learning more and more about outside of the Bible was, well, unknowable. Yes, according to the mystical traditions of both the East and the West, God definitely was, but He was also completely unknowable. And anything that you could say about God was limiting, so to say that God was this meant that He was not that. So anything you could say about God meant that was immediately nullified and was not what God was at all. Sound confusing? It is. Believe me, you don’t want to go there. But that’s where the Eastern traditions all lead you, and most of them deny that God even is at all, or are so casually indifferent to His existence that it really doesn’t matter if He does or doesn’t exist. Since God is so marginalized anyway, to people who all put their stock and faith in those systems, it doesn’t really matter to them one way or the other. This is the great problem with Buddhism, and it is very appealing when you have a completely wrong view of God to just deal with it by saying “it doesn’t matter.” Oh, but it does.

So, following a line of thinking that God existed, but was indefinable, unknowable, left me with a pursuit of Truth that was pretty much elusive. The harder I chose to pursue Truth in a God that had no form or definition, no way to be known, and who could only described as being completely indescribable… well, you can probably see where this was leading me. The harder I tried to get closer to the Truth, the further this “system” pushed it away from me. It’s actually quite deranged now that I look back and think on it. It is amazing that I could be so completely and totally lost and come out of that. But that is just what happened. And I can assure you, it wasn’t because of anything that I was doing or that I did.

My salvation, I know without a doubt, rests solely with the work God did in me. I was a sinner of the worst sort. I completely rejected Jesus Christ. Oh, I was willing to recognize that He was a great teacher, maybe even a prophet, but the Son of God? God in the flesh? Born of a virgin? Resurrected from the dead? Bearing the sins of all who believe and offering salvation through His blood? No way. I was too smart for all that. I had spent five sin-filled years building a nuclear missile defense system that would take out any argument someone might make for the sake of the gospel. I was ready to obliterate anyone who tried to preach Jesus Christ as the only way to heaven. Armed and ready.

Found (by the Holy Spirit)

Through circumstances, people, and events that could only be orchestrated by the Holy Spirit, the stone walls I had constructed in my heart would soon come down like the walls of Jericho. Somehow God would use some of the most unlikely people to minister the gospel to me and my life would change radically. I had just proposed to my wife, and was already willing to make (what up to that time) was the single biggest commitment of my life—to be a husband and a father. To be quite honest, it scared the heck out of me, but I knew in my corrupt, sin-filled heart that it was the right thing to do. Shortly after I asked my wife to marry me (she wasn’t my wife then, obviously, but thank the Lord she said yes and that He *really* began to change me shortly thereafter!), she called to tell me that she had seen a guy at the church she’d been going to that she couldn’t get out of her mind. She felt like he needed help and she said the Lord had put it on her heart to call this guy. She didn’t even know his name.

Well, I thought it was a little weird—I mean, the Lord never told me to do anything at that point I didn’t think, but I was a chameleon still and could appear like I understood. So I told her that if she felt that strongly about it, she should probably pursue it. She made some calls and talked to someone in the church office and found out that another guy she worked with who went to church there had actually talked to him. She got his first name and found out that he was a hairdresser in a nearby town. She picked up the phone book and the first place she called, the woman said, “No, he doesn’t work here, but I know who you’re talking about.” The lady gave my wife his full name and told her where he worked.

Not long after, my wife got in touch with him and they talked a few times. He was really, really struggling. This man was a gay Satanist hairstylist who was trying desperately hard to repent. He came by my wife’s house (at that time, my fiancé I guess I should say) a couple times after church and I met him and talked to him a couple of times. He seemed like a nice enough guy for an extremely conflicted gay Satanist hairstylist. Probably not someone I would have ever had a conversation with under other circumstances, but this was a huge lesson in the sovereignty of God for me.

You see the second time he came over to my wife’s house and I was there, he laid out the basic gospel message. He said I needed to repent, and that whether I knew it or not I was involved with the Satanic. He said he knew all about it because he went straight to the source of the dark power instead of skirting around its edges like I had been doing. He also said the only way I was going to avoid going to Hell was to repent of my sin and call on the name of Jesus to be saved. He also told me that unless I accepted Christ as my Savior, our marriage was doomed to fail; there was absolutely no question about it. This guy that I had seen weeping and trembling the first time we’d met was speaking with an authority that quite honestly surprised me and took me aback.

I listened to what he had to say, and found that I was unable to speak or respond while he sat there and laid it all out. I know now that the Lord had shut my mouth, but at the time I really didn’t know what was going on. My mind was reeling and internally I was trying to pull up my missile systems and reject what he was saying. I could tell without a doubt that he believed everything he was saying. I really didn’t think I did, though. I mean, I was “too smart” for all this talk about sin and salvation and the need for a Savior.

I didn’t even believe in the words “sin” and “salvation”; at that point in time, I thought these words had been created by simple-minded men. And I was not simple-minded; I was wise. I was well-read. I was open-minded. Truth was relative. God was unknowable. People get trapped by their own systems of thought and they can’t break free of them. That’s what I thought. Yet, here was this gay Satanist hairstylist who just hours ago was near tears as he talked about his own struggles speaking with authority about my need to repent of sin and call on the Savior. I distinctly recall feeling like waves of I don’t even know what were kind of rolling over me. I had done enough drugs in my day to know what it felt like to be “messed up”, and I was feeling pretty “messed up” but not like any drug I’d ever been on. I really can’t even explain it, so I’ll just leave it at that. Something very strange was taking place that I cannot completely explain, but I was very aware of it occurring.

I think it was just two to three hours later after he left my wife’s house that I completely broke. I had no idea what was happening at the time, but I had this increasingly unsettling feeling that there was something very wrong about rejecting Jesus as I had been doing. I did call out to Him and asked for His forgiveness. And I cried like I have never cried in my adult life. I don’t even know how long I cried. I cried violently, uncontrollably. I was shaking—or vibrating, I’m not really sure what was going on with my body but I became aware that it was no longer under my control. My heart felt like it had just been ripped out of my chest, and I was suddenly aware for the first time it seemed of its utter and complete wickedness. I was still uncertain about the exact meaning of the terms sin and salvation, but there was no more doubt in my mind that these words were real and had a definite and very personal meaning to me. Eventually my wails turned into moans, and finally sobs… and then an amazing peace settled over me. Peace like I had never known before.

Renewed (by the grace of God)

The next day, I tried to make sense of what happened. I questioned my sanity. I questioned my personality. I wasn’t even sure how to go on living at this point. I remember sitting down and thinking to myself that I didn’t even know how to act any more. Could I still joke around and be funny? How should I conduct myself? I don’t even like this person I’ve become—what do I do? And then that feeling of peace came back and I felt like God was saying, “Just relax, the hard part is already done. You don’t have to change anything. I will.” And then less than an hour later, in the room in my apartment I used for my study, I found the latest journal lying on the floor. I picked it up and flipped to the latest entries I’d made in it—just a few days before. I will never forget the words I read there. They break my heart even today. Just days before my conversion, I wrote, “I am not the Anti-Christ… just anti-Christian.”

I wept all over again and I think that is when it really hit home that this God who drew me to Him, who died for me on the cross to save me from my sins, I spit on and jeered at just days before He saved me. What grace! I cannot even think about it without tears welling up. I cursed Him, spit on Him, made fun of Him, and hated His holy people. I hated His church. Oh, bitter soul, how similar I was to Paul (when he was still called Saul) from the book of Acts. Except I was not on the road to Damascus, I was on the road to Hell, persecuting the one who was coming to save me. I will never understand this, never stop thanking God for His incredible mercy. I know all too well that I never, NEVER deserved anything less than the flames of Hell. But in His grace, he saw fit to save even me, a mystery I may never fully understand. It was not because of anything I did or who I was, but because of what He did and who He was. Let me never cease praising Him.

Within a week or so, I was attending church every Sunday with my wife-to-be, reading (really reading) the Bible, joining Bible studies at the church… and crying! As my Lord and Savior continued to work on my heart, I would find myself thanking Him and crying in prayer—at home, at church, in the car driving. Some sinful habits went easily, others took time. Some of them had been established in the “Old Man Body of Death” for 10 to 15 years or more, and they took a little longer to die. Strongholds of sin that I was completely powerless to overcome before, God has helped me mortify. And gradually over time and with greater and greater surrender, God and the power of His Holy Spirit have continued their work of a new creation in me. I am still a sinner, but I am no longer an alcoholic. I am still a sinner, but no longer a drug user. I am still a sinner, but no longer a slave to my lusts.  I am no longer bound by the power of sin. By the grace of God and the redemption of His Son through the cross and resurrection, I am no longer a bondservant to sin, but to the Savior.  And I will say with Paul that if I boast, let it only be in the cross of our King, Jesus Christ.


One response to “About

  1. Pingback: simplemann.net » Blog Archive » God’s Testimony (in my life)

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