Strangers in Our Own Land

Posted in Humble musings on today's culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 3, 2015 by jcwill5

I was speaking with a pastor friend the other day and we got into a discussion about culture.

Our Conclusions

We “lost” the culture wars 20 years ago (outside the Deep South).

Our culture is no longer Christian but very pagan and highly secular.

It no longer advantageous for non-committed people to pretend to be Christians.

Nominal Christianity isn’t worth it anymore–in fact, irreligion gets you the applause, not faith.

So the pews are emptying of nominal people, and our youngest, most culturally-shaped people are leaving as well.

Bible-believing, moral conviction-living Christians can expect to pay greater price tags in the coming days.

Christendom, the “God-and-Flag” position of Christianity as one of the dominant pillars of society, is finished as an approach to life and culture.

Civil religion–the quasi-Christian, vague, public allegiance to God seen in official ceremonies, holidays, public prayers, and marriage laws–is also finished.

Our Strange Excitement

The funny thing is neither of us sees this as a bad thing for the Church.

It’s not so great for our society, but, for Christ-followers, it could well be a godsend!

Willing or not, we’re being shifted by God towards a more relational, more under-the-radar, more First Century/New Testament approach to life, outreach, and faith.

We’re having to learn how to do Christianity the way our Third World brothers and sisters have done Christianity for many, many decades.

Strangers in Our Own Land

We’re being forced to think and operate as foreign missionaries in our own culture.

Instead of requiring people to enter “our world”–to dress differently, sing songs differently, vote differently, and live differently–before the hear the message of Jesus, we’re having to enter their world.

And when we enter their world and become insiders to other insiders, living a loving, inwardly serene and joyful life while living everyday life together among them, we build a bridge for the gospel.

Like our Christ who left heaven, we’ll be leaving our sanctuaries and cultural havens to incarnate and share the message of redemption, mercy, and deliverance from the tyrannical self, the corrupt system, and the real evil behind it all.

So, for all these reasons and more, my friend and I are happy to be alive at such a time, serve Christ at such a time, and embrace the return to New Testament Christianity at such a time.

But…But…But!

Some reading these words might be appalled and consider us total idiots, even rank traitors against the faith, for seeing it this way.

They are hugely vested in the God-and-Country, majority religion status of yesteryear.

They cherish the public ceremonies where God is wrapped in the American flag.

They are conservators of tradition, and see former times as simpler, more righteous, and better.

They are angry at being disrespected, disregarded, and dismissed by the movers and shakers of our culture.

They are particularly angry that business leaders have deserted them on moral issues and made common cause with their cultural enemies.

(By the way, a lot of this anger is being taken out on fellow Christians and is causing much conflict within our congregations–compounding our loss of credibility, winsomeness, and evident love.)

They believe if we elect the right people, and win the right elections, and write and enforce the right laws, our moral/cultural decay will be arrested and reversed.

Then the Golden Age will return.

Or was it a Golden Age?  And will it ever really return?

Back to the Future

I don’t claim to know what the future will bring, but, curiously, our society is quickly becoming more and more like the Roman Empire of old or the capital city Pan-Em in The Hunger Games books.

And, yes, there were seasons of terrible persecution for the Church and many believers suffered greatly during the first 300 years of our existence.

But in a toe-to-toe contest with reigning paganism, it wasn’t even close.

The bankruptcy and despair of paganism for those at the bottom of society, its utter lack of compelling answers for suffering, meaning, and significance, soon led to a breakdown.

And the contrasting joy, peace, and solidness of Christians–even when suffering and dying for their faith–provided a compelling, winsome picture of real transformation, deliverance from evil, love beyond reason, and undying, unconquerable hope.

May we now do the same!

Love Isn’t the Answer

Posted in Humble musings on today's culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 30, 2015 by jcwill5

I chose a provocative title to this blog because this word, love, is now being used to the reason to celebrate immoral evils.

If all we did was “love” people, the culture wars would be over, people would like Christians, we’d keep in step with progressing, evolving history, etc.

I say this because somehow this word has been degraded to mean nothing more and nothing less than a tolerant, no truth kind of enabling.

Requirements of Modern, No Rules Love

Love means never saying no to anyone else’s agenda or self-crafted identity.

Love means never calling anything or anyone wrong.

Love means making every kind of person and group feel “special” and never, ever doing or saying anything to make them ever feel bad.

Love means calling everything right, celebrating every choice, championing every self-identified group of “oppressed” people and vilifying and shaming every “oppressor” group.

In other words, this modern kind of “love” requires the outright justifying of sinful actions and words that break God’s heart and offend His holiness.

Paradise Lost and Hell Unleashed

A generation ago, the Beatles wrote as song “Love is All You Need”.

Reflecting the “make love, not war” generation, the word became a code word for a libertine, anything goes, no boundaries, no standards freedom from all rules and constraints.

Then a new kind of sexual paradise, a society without morals, roles, or rules, would emerge.

Life beyond “right and wrong” would be so much better.

Everyone would be blissful forever and ever.

But it didn’t turn out that way.

For millions of kids who were given no roles, no boundaries, and no effective moral guidance or even parental presence, the logical outcome of this philosophy in family life was a hell on earth for them.

I know. I was one of them.

And yet here we are again.

We are stuck with a fraudulent kind of love, a counterfeit, a mirage that satisfies no thirsts and which actually leaves people in the worst kind of bondage imaginable:  the bondage to self.

It’s a love that says to the person on the top of a cliff, “Go ahead and jump–be free!”

Meanwhile, those of us manning ambulances at the bottom of the cliff are calling up to the jumpers to stop and are being told we are to blame, are intolerant of their choices, and have no right to say what we say.

The True Love the Redeems

But there is a different kind of love, unique to God Himself and perfectly compatible with His truth, His laws, His will, and His most holy, unchanging character.

This kind of love does not celebrate evils, it overcomes and defeats them by transforming the evil-doer into a child of God.

This kind of love frees us from the tyranny of self, the bondage to our idols, and the misery of our sins.

This kind of love paid a terrible, terrible price on the Cross for all our sins–our specific, repeated, vast, and overwhelming violations of God’s truth, God’s standards, God’s holiness, and God’s laws.

This kind of love offers incredible compassion, enduring presence, tender kindness, and untold mercy.

Yet this kind of love, embodied in Jesus, also says “Go and sin no more!”

It acknowledges the reality of sin when if offers utter forgiveness to the morally guilty, total cleansing to the spiritually polluted, and heaven itself to the Hell-bound sinner.

This kind of love is the answer!

Until…

And until we repent of our false, counterfeit, modern perversion of love we call love, we will go down and down and down and down and down and down.

The euphoria at the top of our society’s sin cycle will soon end, the rainbows of immorality will soon fade, and we will enter an terminal stage of growing chaos, frenzied idolatry, and corrupted self-destruction.

The alternative is to admit we are collectively wrong and corporately turn from our wicked ways, and then look away from our selves to the One who truly loved us on the Cross.

If history is any guide, it will be a long, tragic wait before that ever happens….

After the Shock and Dismay

Posted in Humble musings on today's culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 26, 2015 by jcwill5

Count me among the disheartened and nauseated by the Supreme Court’s ruling this morning that same-sex couples have the “right” to marry.

But rather than indulging in a childish rant, I believe it’s time for some mature, sober reflection on the part of Christ-followers.

God is Still God

Equality is not the highest moral virtue or the idea that trumps all other ideas; God alone is still the Most High.

Every knee will one day bow to Him, and every tongue will one day confess that Christ is Lord, before His dread and awful Throne of Judgment.

He has decisively and finally spoken in His Word about the wrongness of all homosexual acts, how they are a flagrant and abhorrent violation of His revealed moral will, and how all who practice such acts will neither eat of the tree of life nor ever enter the holy city.

From His point of view, nothing has changed on the subject.

Out of love for Him, I will not bow down, cow-tow, or sacrifice to the idolatrous ideology behind this decision–however much the pressure.

As He has taught me, I will continue to positively discriminate in favor of righteousness and against unrighteousness–beginning first and foremost with my own sin-prone soul.

History is Still History

But count me also among those who know enough history to know that Christ-followers have seen worse, weathered worse, and come out triumphant in the end.

For example, in the Roman Empire there were four levels of marriage, as well as concubines and slavery for sexual purposes.

Ancient paganism was a moral cesspool.

It was a corrupted and corrupting force, with multiple gods and goddesses cavorting, frolicking, and engaging in every kind of perversion–heterosexual and homosexual.

Very few pagans married for life with binding promises and without escape clauses (the highest level of marriage).

Married slave families were often torn apart through slave sales, and female slaves (married or not) could be and were used and abused by their masters for sexual gratification.

As bad morally as it is now, it was far worse on many fronts back then.

Back to Our Roots

The “moral consensus” of the Roman Empire was anything but friendly to Christ, Christians, or the Christian faith.

The first thing these Christ-followers did was abstain from pagan sexual and moral practices, and pagan excesses.

They were a sober-minded, disciplined, contented group of people.

The high living Romans saw them as living in perpetual mourning and, strangely enough, charged them with atheism!

They also refused to participate in the official state religion or the required religious rites.

So the Romans saw them as unpatriotic because they refused to sacrifice to the Emperor, or to the genius of Rome, and gave their highest loyalty to Christ alone.

So they threatened these Christ people, and yet the great majority of Christians wouldn’t budge an inch–exposing the powerlessness of those in authority to defy God’s will.

They were therefore a 5th column, a suspect minority group who were tolerated as long as they lived underground and exterminated at frequent intervals in the Arena.

Taking the Offense

The early Christians didn’t just withdraw from the pagan wrongs, they went on the offensive on many fronts.

The early Christians loved groups and individuals that paganism despised, abused, or disposed.

By doing so, they exposed paganism as cruel, bankrupt, vicious, and immoral at its core.

They adopted babies abandoned outside by pagan families to die of exposure.

They cared for plague victims when nobody else in pagan society would go near them.

They gave much and often to the support of the poor, to the point of being praised by their worst critic Porphyry as having the best charities in the Empire.

They elevated and ennobled slaves, treating them as free people made in the image of God.

Their marriages were notably good, and their families notable for their good treatment of wives and children by adult males.

All this turned the pagan social pyramid upside-down, to the great consternation of pagans.

Fourth, and most controversially, they mocked and laughed at the pagan deities.

The highlighted the immoralities, excesses, and injustices of the pagan gods and goddesses, and retorted, “Why would anyone, let alone a virtuous person, worship gods like that?! What an embarrassment!”

Everyday people began to be ashamed of their own gods, and their moral bankruptcy began to grow until it reached a breaking point in the majority.

Finally, Christians suffered and died serenely and with joy when outraged pagans took it out on them and used the law to publicly execute them.

Instead of discrediting Christianity, the death of the martyrs was a most potent counter-example to the pagans of how life ought to be lived and what life was really all about:  our eternity with God.

There is a Proven Path

So, once we recover from the shock and dismay at what the Supreme Court ruled this morning, let us remember there is a proven path to conquering paganism and transforming a pagan society.

It will take a very, very long time.

It will cost us all a very great deal.

But, with so many souls at stake and with eternity set before us, we can do no less for our Savior and do it all with a undimmed smile!

The Problem with “Ending Racism”

Posted in Humble musings on today's culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 23, 2015 by jcwill5

I would be nice to live in a world where evil could be legislated away, socially shamed away, educated away, and environmentally engineered away.

But, sadly, we don’t live in that world.

This pretend world doesn’t exist and has never existed.

Three Problems

First, we have the problem of unchangeable, evil-controlled, essential human nature.

We’d have to transform all of us utterly, permanently, at our very core for change to happen.

(I wrote a series of blogs awhile back about that particular issue so I won’t repeat myself here.)

Second, we are all under the influence of an angelic arch-being who has made planet earth his base in a cosmic rebellion against the Creator.

This highest ranking evil angel is one who is utterly evil, who lies and murders and wreaks destruction as a sport, and who enjoys toying and tormenting both humanity and every single member of the human race.

Even if we could get our act together, he and his multitudinous minions would pour gasoline on the fire of human anger so it never goes out.

Even if we could change our essential nature, we would never change his–leaving us under his thumb.

Third, we therefore have the problem of the entire earth being under a Satanic super-system.

The Bible calls this over-arching, transnational system “the world”.

The World Super-System

This world system is above it all and contains all political, national, gender, racial, and cultural sub-systems within it.

Curiously, both capitalism and socialism, democracy and dictatorship, liberalism and conservatism, secularism and religiosity, First World and Third World, are all expressions of it–however opposed each sub-system might be to other sub-systems.

It encompasses all nations, all tribes, all peoples, and all tongues.

All national, racial, gender, tribal, ethnic, social, class, and cultural distinctions are contained by it and are fodder for its deadly, enslaving work.

Satan, when confronting Christ, showed Him all the kingdoms of the earth and all their glory, boasting, “They have been handed over to me, and I give them to whomever I wish.”

The Apostle John, at the end of his first epistle, wrote, “the whole world is in the lap of the wicked one.”

Paul spoke of a “present, evil age” lived under the domination of the “principalities and powers.”

Conflicted Within, Without, and Between

Even a casual reading of human history would catalog an endless series of wars and conflicts.

You’ll notice they are centered around wounded national pride and honor, wounded religious pride and honor, wounded racial pride and honor, wounded tribal pride and honor, wounded ethic pride and honor, and wounded family pride and honor.

Yes, greed and lust play their part in conflicts, but the human pride at the root of the super-system dwarfs them all.

The Apostle John reminds us, “Do not love the world system or the things of the world system. For all that is in the world system, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father but is of the world.”

Each group sees themselves as the outraged victim and each group therefore gives itself to go to war against and commit outrages against the “the other”.

Then “the other” is aggrieved and outraged, bids their time, and strikes back and does the same in return.

Each group develops an ideology to reinforce and build into an identity while in conflict, which the Bible calls an idolatry.

So even humanity’s religions, to a large degree, lend themselves to being turned into ideologies and identities in the service of a “holy cause” against the bad guys.

Our history is really an endless tit-for-tat, up-and-down conflicts cycling down through the generations.

So the idea that we could end “racial conflict” by eradicating racism is, undeniably, a kind of magical thinking in the face of hard, biting, devouring reality.

A Humble Alternative

I will speak more fully on the following subject the next time.

But let me suggest a more humble goal in the face of the world, the flesh, and the devil, is a temporary mitigation of evils.

It is possible, through God’s grace, to see a gradual increase in the number of God-transformed individuals until a “tipping point” of restraint, forgiveness, humility, and compassionate care is reached in society.

We can’t end or prevent evil.

But we can gum up the works, slow it down, and redeem evils in a way that advances God’s goodness in the face of it.

Here is a most powerful example from Charleston:

http://www.breakpoint.org/bpcommentaries/entry/13/27656

 

Charleston Revelations

Posted in Humble musings on today's culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 19, 2015 by jcwill5

Another week, another mass murder in the USA.

Another deranged individual, another marginal person latching onto an ideology of power against another group and an identity of victimhood.

Another plan to “take revenge” on the opposite group by a despicable act of slaughter.

Beyond Hate

Peter Roff of U.S. News & World Report labeled the act “beyond hate” and called for a national day of prayer and mourning in response:

www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/peter-roff/2105/06/18/charleston-church-shooting-demands-a-national-day-of-prayer-and-mourning

I think he’s on to something.

Writing from a secular perspective, Mr. Roff realizes we need something far deeper than new laws or the same tiresome responses that get us all nowhere.

He recognizes that we have lost our capacity to name evil, evil.

He realizes that we have lost our capacity to fight moral evils with something higher than ego-posturing and politics.

We no longer know how to repent, not just individually, but corporately.

We no longer know how to humble ourselves, mourn and weep together over the horrific damage of evil, and seek the face of God from whom we have departed and forsaken.

If only…if only…if only…

I say that because the first response, from the president on down, has been to see this act as a validation for their already-existing viewpoints, issue positions, and political agendas.

“If only we allowed people to carry arms in church!”

“If only we had strict gun control!”

“If only we had tougher hate crime laws!”

“If only we had better mental health benefits and caught these crazies before they did these things!”

It’s someone else’s fault.

It’s the opposite ideology’s stupidity.

It’s those who disagree with my views who are to blame–people who agree with me are innocent!

When we use tragedy for validation purposes, notice that we, too, are doing the very thing the shooter did but in a less extreme, more socially acceptable way.

We, too, end up exploiting the victims for our own purposes, for our own causes, for our own ego-boost whenever we justify ourselves.

We, too, are guilty

Charleston has revealed an ugly truth:  there are none righteous, not even one.

We, too, are blinded by our self-validating ideologies and give ourselves permission to say extreme words and indulge in self-justifying injustices towards those in the wrong group

It reminds me of what I say all too often when I spoke from the pulpit.

When evils we had done as group were being exposed by the Word of God, a subset of individuals came up to me afterwards to tell me how what I said confirmed what they already believed about themselves.

Confirming Our Self-Interpretation

In other words, there’s a pernicious tendency to hear everything and interpret every event as confirming what we already think, what we already believe, how we already see ourselves.

Not only the revelation of God’s word, but the revelation of events like the Charleston church shooting, can be distorted in this way.

The truth is we are up against evils far bigger, far more entrenched, than we can possibly overcome.

We are powerless in their presence, can only weep and wail for all the damage they do, and are ourselves guilty of the same kind of mentality seen in the perpetrator of heinous evil.

Charleston has a revelation for each of us, if we have eyes to see it and can set our ego aside long enough to take a good, long, hard look at our soul in the moral mirror.

And do a hard u-turn away from it on a long, humble road.

Peter Roff is right–it’s time we repented, prayed, mourned, and humbled ourselves before God.

Long Past Time

It’s high time and it’s long, long past overdue for us all to do this.

I know Franklin Graham is planning to hold rallies in all 50 state capitals in 2016 to “take a moral stand” and encourage Christians to stand up and speak out against moral degeneracy and corruption.

But honestly, I think what we really need to do is have 50 solemn assemblies.

Gatherings where we each and together own our corporate sins, engage in mass repentance, mourn the horrific damage of our shared evils, and seek the face of God together with tear-stained faces.

Merely validating our own self-righteousness and doubling down on the politics of power won’t do it.

In fact, I fear it will produce the opposite result–hardening people in their existing views, confirming and reinforcing the opposition’s biases, and perpetuating the reactive merry-go-round we are on.

Why not repentance, prayer, and mourning?  Why not now?

The Process of Readying

Posted in Humble musings on today's culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 16, 2015 by jcwill5

It takes quite a process to get us ready to meet God and be converted.

In fact, none of us are ready.

In fact, none of us will ever be ready unless God intervenes to prepare us for the miraculous encounter.

Tyrannical Toddlers

Our default setting is “I am god!”, “I am in control!”, “I know best!” and “I can do it myself!”

Any parent recognizes these self-assertions as those of a toddler–the cute little barbarian that’s one stage removed from babyhood.

And, sadly, we never really leave behind toddlerhood in our heart of hearts.

We may grow more sophisticated and subtle in expressing our core selfishness.

We may learn how to relate to people to more pleasantly to get what we want out of them in the end.

We may be pummeled by life events and painful relationships and end up with a dejected, depressed, self-loathing, wish-I-were-someone-else ego in the end.

But that ego is still reigning, unchecked and unchallenged and defiant, however self-pitying and moping it might be.

Radical Treatment for Spiritual Cancer

Spiritually speaking, we don’t have a common cold that will get better on its own–we have spiritual cancer that requires spiritual chemotherapy to save our lives!

For the oncologist (cancer doctor), the goal is to kill the cancer in a way that spares us in the end.

For God, the goal is to dethrone, discredit, and deliver us from our inner tyrant, our toddler-like sin-monster that is hopelessly addicted, helplessly out of control, and haplessly trying to manage our own lives.

We see it as our friend, turn to it as our savior, and listen to it as our guide–blinded to its fatal agenda and to its incompetance.

Which is why God wants to deflate and slay the tyrant but to spare us in the end.

The Process Begins

A process of bring us to the end of ourselves.

A process of making our lives unmanageable.

A process of exposing us as powerless to fix ourselves, heal ourselves, and save ourselves from our tyrannical, enslaved selves.

In other words, God goes out of His way to make us worse–far worse in the here and now–so we can be made all better forever and ever.

In recovery circles, it’s called hitting bottom.

Bottomed Out and Desolated

It’s where we fire ourselves from the management, and resign from a false, impossible position of control.

It’s where we admit we are out-of-control and beyond our pathetic ability to control.

It’s where we are as arid as arid can be, all used up and all dried up.

It’s where we own that we cannot stop destroying ourselves and have a fatal condition that, left untreated, will surely kill us.

But it’s also where we look up and out, away from ourselves, to God, to see God-in-human-flesh hanging on a cross for us–for us!

The Uplook

At our very lowest and worst, we can to believe we are loved in spite of it all.

And we realize He did for us on the cross what we could never do for ourselves–carry the impossible load of sin-removal and soul-healing.

In other words, we come to believe that God through Christ can restore us to sanity, will manage our unmanageable lives, and assert His control over our out-of-control, self-destructive evil habits.

The Outside Intervention

So we invite Christ in simple trust to enter into us and assume the throne, to forgive and cleanse us from moral filth, and to transform us into new people and change our eternal destiny.

We let Him love us where we least deserve it and most need it and allow Him into our inner sanctum.

As Jesus puts it, we “become like children” and “are converted”.

We “believe in Him” and are “born-again”.

He intervenes and we are changed forever into new people at our very core.

Most churches and Christians think this final event happens in a vacuum.

We’ve almost created a cottage industry of magical specialists who come and make this final thing happen without any process and in a vacuum.

It rarely works

The truth is conversion happens at the end of a long process of preparation.

Interactions, life events, endings and right words spoken at right times, many prayers, and the relentless haunting of God all work to ready us to meet Him.

And, of course, conversion is not the end, but the beginning of another journey.

It starts a lifelong process of maturing in our new personhood so we become fully like Christ and pour out our new selves in Christ into others as an overflow of being so much over-loved.

There is a solution!

Journey Towards Conversion

Posted in Humble musings on today's culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 12, 2015 by jcwill5

Even though conversion is miraculous, it does not happen by accident.

It typically follows a lengthy season of preparation, an downward path that leads to self-death and new life.

High Above and on Top

We begin at the top of our lives.

Our idols are working for us.

The self-success system we work under is paying off and we are enjoying the highs, the euphoria, and sense of well-being that provides enormous self-satisfaction.

We deny we have a problem, think we know best, think we have our act together, so we don’t listen.

Our pride justifies us, and we can point to so much success.

Then the highs begin to grow less high, and the nasty side-effects begin to pile up.

Our idol demands more and more while giving us less and less until it demands everything and gives us nothing but a living hell.

Sliding Down to Bottom

We find ourselves trapped, stuck more and more, and increasingly miserable.

So we double down and use more or work the system even more.

We grow brittle and our defense of our idol grows more shrill.

We entered a frenzied state of using to escape the pain of using and a vicious circle kicks in.

We are out of control and can’t stop our self-destructive, escalating, outspreading ruin.

We are drowning, but holding onto a heavy anvil dragging us down.

On the bottom of this cycle, we are utterly miserable and utterly trapped.

We are powerless and enslaved and desperate.

We vow to change but keep relapsing into our slavery.

We begin to look around–is there any other system or way of life that works?

We begin to look up–is there a God?  Can He and will He help me?

My Hitting Bottom

For reasons I still can’t understand, I finally opened a never-opened Bible.

Playing “Bible roulette”, it fell open to the Sermon on the Mount.

Here I found an extraordinary man, Jesus, teaching an extraordinary message of Truth–an outline of what perfect righteousness from the heart looks like.

So I tried to become a religious good person–working hard on self-improvement and better morality and no partying.

At this stage, I wasn’t yet ready for conversion.

I still had to be convinced I couldn’t save myself or self-transform myself into a good, free person.

There was much self-deception that had to be exposed.

I loved my bad habits too much.

I feared losing the only friends I had.

So I see-sawed back and forth, between trying harder to be good and reverting into a party boy.

The shame of failure increased, and I, who prided myself on my ability to control, realized I was totally out of control and would never be able to fix myself.

I was utterly powerless to change me, and I was destroying myself and heading straight for Hell.

My Conversion

It was at this point Christ spoke again in another round of Bible roulette, this time falling open to Matthew 11.

He said, “Come to Me!  Let go of your own control–hand Me all the control!  Entrust yourself to Me–be Mine and you shall find rest for your soul!”

I close the book and exclaimed, “That’s it.  I’d give anything to have rest for my soul.  OK. I quit.  Even if I lose all my friends; here it is, Jesus, have it!”

So I put myself entirely in His hands and, honestly, expected nothing as I collapsed on the bed from utter exhaustion of spirit.

Upon waking the next morning, however, nobody was more surprised than I to find myself utterly changed at the deepest level.

Like going to bed was laying myself in the grave, and waking up was my resurrection.

The Converted Life

As I sat up, I knew I was forgiven, knew I was going to Heaven, and knew I was completely cleansed within.

All the shame and dirtiness was gone, and He was now present within–Christ Himself was living within me!

My life verse become:  “If any man is in Christ, He is a new creature; the old has passed away; behold, new things keep coming!”

I had a sense of freedom and power–the ability to grab a garbage bag and empty every bit of contraband in my room into it and place it in the outside trash.

And I had a freedom to ask for help–I told Jesus I don’t want to have a dirty mouth anymore and would He remove those words from my speech?

I told Him I didn’t want to practice any dirty habits anymore, too.

A resounding “Yes!” was the answer and those things have never returned.

When I opened the Bible, the Author was alive within me and speaking to me while I was reading.

I was fully alive–before was an existence but this was LIFE!

It’s a Journey

As you can see, my conversion didn’t happen in a vacuum and there have been as many good changes since that time as there were at that time.

Notice there was a months-long process of breaking down my old life and readying me for a new one.

That’s why, as I survey the modern Evangelical church in the USA, I ask, “Why do we speak so much about forgiveness, and so little about conversion?”

And I ask, “Is anyone in the church on the lookout for people who are heading towards conversion?”

More on that next time…

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