God’s Testimony in My Life

I began blogging in August of 2012, and I’m not even sure why, but I had been reading other Christian blogs and things would run through my mind that I desired to share.  I thought “you know, I think I could do that also”.  I expect a lot of people get started this way, and so I began a blog.  Since then I’ve thought about sharing God’s testimony in my life often, but to actually post this is a real struggle for me.

I’m 48 years old, I’ve been married for nearly 23 years, I have four children, all girls, fourteen, twelve, two and four months.  You will notice the age spread and this is where God’s story really begins in my life.   I’m a follower of Reformed Baptist teaching, we are members of a Reformed, Family-Integrated Church and I’m a lover of Puritan teachings.  We believe in God’s Sovereignty in children, but that has not always been the case.

My wife and I were both saved in July of 2009.  I grew up in a Pentecostal church (Assembly of God), and like every good AG kid, I was saved because my parents were.  I was a relatively moral kid, until I finished my senior year of high school wrestling.  I was one of the top kids in the state that year (1984) and I would never allow myself to get in much trouble.  I was a nice kid.

After wrestling season I began to get drunk and then all hell broke loose.  I moved to Albuquerque NM to attend college.  I lived a life that is well described in 1 Peter 4:3 For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries.  And any other sort of malaise you could imagine.

This is the life I led and I’m very saddened to consider the people I hurt and disappointed, but when it’s all about you it just doesn’t matter, this is where sin leads.  I was far from the “nice kid” people thought I was and I was an exceptionally good liar and deceiver.   It’s a very painful exercise for me to even write these words, because I’m disgusted by who I was.

In 1991 Jen and I married, it seemed like it was the next step in life, but I really had no idea how to be a husband or even a man for that matter.  She’s still my wife and by God’s grace we love each other more every day.  It was about three years ago I confessed some repressed sins to my wife and it was an incredible God honoring decision (James 5:16).  It wasn’t easy, but God has used that to show me my pride and bring me to a continued place of repentance and mourning over my depravity.

In 1999 our beautiful Grace Marie was born and I said to myself, “I think you should raise your daughter in the church”.  My wife had been begging me to attend church and I wasn’t buying it.  I hated it.  I couldn’t stand the old music, I hated the speaking in tongues at AG and it just wasn’t for me.  She became the member of a local old guard denomination, a very liberal one with a professing and practicing homosexual minister of music.  After we had Grace “baptized” the pastor called us in and said, your wife and daughter are members here why not you?  We walked out the door and I said to Jen, “I’ll go to church but not that one…”    So we began our church search.  We tried lots of them, and finally settled on a “seeker” church.  Loved the music, loved the pastor.  He had great skits, funny stories and an all around good time.   Then he was booted, so we now knew what we wanted and we found a United Methodist church with a similar deal.  Great youth ministry, cool youth pastor and gifted Senior Pastor.  Great music, great skits and they immediately saw my amazing talents and invited me into leadership.  Cough, cough….  Was I qualified by the Bible’s standards, of course not but I had some understanding of practical worldly things so it was logical and pragmatic.

Fast forward a few years and the youth pastor had a vision to plant a church in the inner city and my glorious wife was more than happy to lead me to that church as we were going to save the inner city and win them to Christ.  Meanwhile, the whole thing blew up and the original launch pastor never ended up being the pastor due to some indiscretions in his life.  I still love and care for him but God had other plans.  The church bumped around for a while and then….

Along comes Pastor Mike Reid.

We began to hear preaching from the Bible.  He preached expositionally, verse by verse and went through doctrine “gasp”.  What is doctrine?  I was completely and willfully ignorant to anything about God.  But I missed the music, and I missed the “other guy’s” wonderful, life applicable lessons.  He was so smooth…

Pastor Mike on the other hand was loud, and abrasive, and in your face.  He wielded the sword of God like it was a hundred pound hammer, carving and slicing me open and making me face my sins.  Jen and I would walk out of the place saying what was that all about?  We hated it.  We wondered if we should stay, but we couldn’t leave.   Something was holding us there, and I just couldn’t get my mind around this predestination stuff, but when I went to talk to the Pastor, and every verse I threw at him that was “free will” oriented he shot down like he was pulling off a simple hip-shot and laughing at the clay pigeons as they fell.  Not literally, he never laughed, and he was patient and kind, but he explained to me the doctrines of grace that I could understand.   He showed me what it means (biblically) to believe.  Not just head knowledge.   I was still not saved.

Summer of 2009 we take a marriage class.  The Exemplary Husband – Stuart Scott, and The Excellent Wife – Martha Peace.  I thought “Hey, our marriage could definitely stand to be better.”  So the first week we went to the class and my wife came home that night, (we went together but meet in separate rooms, guys with guys, gals with gals) and when we came  home that night I didn’t know who she was.

She started asking me questions like “what I wanted for dinner”, and “what can I help you with? “

“Who are you, and what happened to my wife?”

We both saw in that study that the ‘god’ we were serving was not the God of Scripture.  I was saved sitting on my back porch, reading Scripture passages and having to write out what this says about God.

I couldn’t believe it.  “How did I miss this”, I said to myself.  God did that?  That’s not my god?”

Correct, that was not my god, and in the opening of the Scripture I came face to face with the Sovereign Creator of the World.  He crushed my spirit, and broke my pride slowly over the next 6 months, but my heart was regenerated sitting right there on my porch.  My heart of stone had instantaneously turned to a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26).  I was born again (John 3:7) and became a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).

I had several times after that when I faced my pride like a ton of bricks and broke down sobbing in a hotel room, as I faced my nastiness.  I was mourning over my sin as Jesus says in Matthew 5 and as James says weep, mourn, let your laughter be turned to gloom (James 4:8-10).  This is how salvation occurs, understanding our wretched condition, with no hope outside of Christ.  Turning to Him, with nothing of ourselves to offer, and begging and pleading for mercy.

I’ve come a long way since then, and I’ve struggled with many things, mostly understanding what the church is for (Ephesians 4:11-12) and how to willingly place myself under the authority of the church (Hebrews 13:17).  I am a wicked, nasty, vile and depraved piece of human debris, and the only hope I have, is in the blood and atoning work of Jesus Christ.

He saw me long before I was made, and chose to love me for no reason other than His good pleasure (Ephesians 1:4-6).  Now that I’m saved I realize my value to Christ is to live an obedient life of a humble slave, doing the will of my Lord out of humility and obedience to His word.

This is my calling…  I desire to live a holy life and that life, will suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12).

I love to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost and call sinners to repentance (Acts 2:38).  I desire to start street preaching someday soon, and have a desire to be a leader in my church (1 Timothy 3:1), an elder, if the leadership thinks I have teaching ability and can rule my home well and not traveling 40 weekends per year.  Outside of that I will raise my children in the fear and admonition of the Lord to the best of my ability (Ephesians 6:4).

May the Lord use these words for His glory that He may be exalted above all things.

Kevin

Words are cheap. It is by costly, self-denying Christian practice that we show the reality of our faith. —Jonathan Edwards

…Pants on fire

exaggeration

Exodus 20:16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

Would anyone agree that telling lies is a good thing?  Nobody wants to be called a “liar”.  Those are fighting words for most people.  I would assert even atheists think telling the truth, for the most part, is a good thing.  Although why they think this I don’t know because without God’s command there is no basis for truth telling.

God’s Word tells us repeatedly to tell the truth, and in fact it’s such a serious matter that it’s one of the seven things that are an abomination to God.

Proverbs 6:16-17 These six thing the LORD hates, yes seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, a lying tongue…

Ephesians 4:29-31 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth… Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.

Paul tells us that it is contrary to sound doctrine (1 Timothy 1:10).  There is no doubt God hates lying.

Does anyone disagree?

I’m here to tell you today that we need to reform in this area of truth telling.  I know most of you are probably thinking, “I don’t lie”, at least not on purpose.  I think there is a very insidious way in which Satan deceives us into lying and allows us to wrap ourselves in our own righteous.  It’s called exaggeration.  It’s a subtle but evil form of speaking to your neighbor.

Here’s an example from my own life.

I return from a hard week of work and say, “Oh I’m so tired I put in 40 hours of work in 3 days”.  In reality I did work hard and I am tired but the exaggeration comes in the form of the “stretch” of how many hours I actually worked.  I might have been awake and actually doing something for 40 hours over the course of those 3 days but I wasn’t working the entire time.

In the business I work we get up early.  I may actually have worked 38 hours but there is always the pull to exaggerate, even slightly, to the amount of time or the amount of effort that was exerted.

Why?

I want to seriously ask myself this question, why would I do that?  If I’m telling someone about my long work days do they really care whether it was 40 hours or 38 hours; of course not, but in my mind that sounds more dramatic.  I have the tendency to think of myself a higher opinion.  “Boy I really did something this weekend!”  “Aren’t I special?”

I’m a legend in my own mind…

Don’t we all do this?  Tell the truth…  You know you do this and so do I.

I have a good friend that is an extraordinarily hard working guy.  I don’t distrust him when it comes to his work ethic or his ability to tell me the truth.  Yet he’s an exaggerator.  He has some liberty with the amount of emails sent in a day or the time he arises each morning and goes to bed each night to accomplish his tasks.  Again, I don’t distrust his work ethic but why the embellishment?

I know he’s busy, I know he works hard.  But did he really send out 100 emails today or was it more like 60?  I’m easily impressed so whether it was 40, 60 or 800 in a day I’m going to think he’s pretty special at his job.  He has my respect without the exaggeration.

God thought this was important enough to include this in the top 10 of Christianity (Exodus 20:1-17).  This word “false” holds a very deep meaning.

sheh’-ker

From H8266; an untruth; by implication a sham (often adverbially): – without a cause, deceit (-ful), false (-hood, -ly), feignedly, liar, + lie, lying, vain (thing), wrongfully.

Notice how it says adverbially.  I really like this because it shows us how we use “verbal exclamations” to spin our lies in the form of exaggerations and all along it’s meant to deceive.  And then it goes on to tell us “without a cause”, there’s no reason for it.  Please let that sink in for a moment.  You have no reason to stretch that truth.  It does not profit you.  Ultimately it harms your credibility.

This article is meant to reform the minds and hearts of Bible believing Christians.  I don’t expect it will have any effect on the unregenerate but if God wills it might show someone their sin.  If you are a chronic liar you need to repent and turn from this abominable sin.  If you are just an exaggerator you need to repent and turn from this abominable sin.

Although I’d like to develop some other thoughts, that might have to be another day, but some common expressions Believers should not utilize are verbal exclamations such “I swear to God” or “I swear”, see Matthew 5:33-36.  You should never have to “convince” someone you are a truth teller.

We should also eliminate words like “honestly”, or “to be honest with you”…  This would indicate at other times you are dishonest.  As we begin to consider the meaning of our words and how important the words we use, we can become better communicators and better ambassadors for Christ.

Ephesians 4:14-15 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head Christ…

This is the ultimate goal, to no longer be children, we need to put aside the elementary principles of Christianity and “grow up”; for the glory of the One that deserves obedience and truth telling.

Kevin

What should I do?

DSCN2597I have a friend that we recently sat down and had breakfast together.  I’ve discussed the gospel often with him and have made attempts at explaining the truth of God’s word.

Most people are willing to live their lives without any real concept of God.  They are content.  They trust in themselves that everything is okay.

On this occasion I could see that my friend was struggling because he recently had a close encounter with death.  Not himself, but someone that he knew.  It wasn’t expected…  is it ever?  This man was under 40 years of age and he left a family to figure out how to go on without a husband and a father.  This man woke up one day not realizing this would be his last day on earth.  What a weighty and powerful thought.

Have you considered today could be your last day?  I doubt it; I know I didn’t think that this morning.  What happens when you die?  These are all questions we must consider now, while we are here on earth.

What will happen once you die?

Will you go to heaven?  Are you good enough to go to heaven?

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived.  Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.

Isn’t this bad news?  Haven’t we all committed some of these sins?  Paul is clear isn’t he?  See also Galatians 5:19-21.

I know what some of you will think, just like I used to think.  “Well I’m not that bad and surely God will overlook most or some of my sins.”

I’d like for you to consider that your sin and that my sin is an insurmountable debt.  One that is impossible for you to pay.   Let’s use an analogy of the financial mess this country is in of the debt you have incurred against God.

Jane Wells of CNBC puts the federal budget in household terms:

According to the White House, below are projected revenues and expenditures for 2013 without the bill approved to avoid the fiscal cliff:

  • Income: $2,902,000,000,000
  • Outlays: $3,803,000,000,000
  • Deficit: $ 901,000,000,000

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the bill voted on New Year’s Day actually adds $349,640,000,000 to the deficit this year, despite the tax increases.

That makes the new deficit $1,250,640,000,000. Meantime, our National Debt is somewhere around $16,400,000,000,000 at the moment.

Hard to get your head around all those zeroes? Why not remove seven of the zeroes after each figure and look at these numbers like it’s your household budget:

  • Income: $290,200
  • Spending: $380,300
  • Deficit: $90,100

Deficit after you make fiscal cliff changes: $125,064
Balance on your credit card: $1,640,000

I know you are thinking that “my sin is really not that bad”.  I’m here to tell you your sin is that bad.  You are defiled, you are like raw sewage and in the deceitfulness of sin it’s impossible to see.

How many times have you lied in your life?  It’s estimated the average man lies six times per day.  That’s over 87,000 lies by the time you are 40 years old.

How many times have you had angry thoughts about someone that Jesus actually equates to murder?  See my article on murder.

Think about how often you’ve gossiped?  Must I continue on for you to see your misery or are you starting to get just a glimpse?

Sin has a cost.  It must be paid for.  The choice is easy.  You pay for it, or allow Christ to pay for it.  He already paid the price and now you must make a decision.

You can think that it’s going to be okay…

You can believe you are good enough…

Or you can ask the question.  What should I do?  This is the question my friend asked.

James 4:6-10 But He gives more grace.  Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  Therefore submit to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners: and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  Lament and mourn and weep!  Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

If this seems difficult to understand and it might even seem harsh I would ask you to consider what it meant for Christ to go to the cross?  He had to die a brutal death, endure the shame and punishment, take on the wrath of God to pay for the sin that you and I are incapable of paying for.  He didn’t deserve to die, but because of an incredible love He did it so some could be saved.

Upon your death you will stand before God and give an account of your life.  Today gives an opportunity to realize you are poor and destitute, unable to pay your debts on your own.

2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 

The “good-news”, the gospel says you don’t have to pay your debt because Jesus Christ has already paid the price.  Do you believe that?

What will you do?

Kevin