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August 20, 2014, 3:55 PM

Authentic Beginnings


This is a blog I wrote some years ago. God transforms lives!

I remember when I gave my heart to Jesus. I was fourteen. I had grown up in church for the most part. We were at least Sunday morning attenders. As a tween I remember being less than enthusiastic about going when my parents would wake me. I was a shy kid and did not have many friends at our church. That said, I did have one good friend. He was the son of one of my mom’s friends. I remember the summer of my fourteenth year well. The church youth group was beginning to announce summer camp and my mother and her friend wanted their sons to attend. I can tell you that neither one of us had any interest in such an adventure. However, with much coercing we agreed. I could not have known, as I boarded the bus, that what would happen at camp that summer would change my life forever. One evening as the preacher was wrapping up his sermon I became painfully aware of my position before God. I knew I needed Jesus. I had come close before, but was concerned of the embarrassment I would feel walking to the front during invitation. This time was different. No other thoughts affected me, only my need for Jesus. I went forward in the customary way, followed the group to another room, and was lead in prayer by a designated counselor. I remember him asking me how I felt. I do not recall what I said. I do remember that there were no fireworks or a welcome home band. The rest of camp is lost in my memory somewhere.

          The next major event in this story has to do with a Bible I still have in my possession.  My grand dad had told me that I needed to read God’s word as a Christian. On a weekend we were visiting the town of my birth he took me to the local Christian book store. We picked an NIV study Bible. We took it to my grandparent’s home where they both wrote me an encouraging message in the front pages. I took the Bible home and an amazing thing happened. I began to read it. Now that sounds fairly unexciting in in of itself. However, I was not the kind of kid to pick up a book and read. I was a doer. I wanted to be outside physically experiencing my interests. I only tolerated and sometimes had to be forced into reading school assignments. So to sit down and read the Bible was quite a stretch for me. Strange thing is, I wanted to read it. And as I read, amazing truth began to be revealed. I did not understand all of it. But certain portions seemed to elevate off the page and catch my attention. This experience began to pull me into the path of the Lord and it made me long for His desire. My life drastically changed course.  

          I remember another incident. When I was a young teenager, there was a term that described the situation of many kids my age. Because of our situation we were called “latchkey kids”.  This meant that we rode the school bus home to an empty house. Our parent or parents were working. So we spent a few hours alone each weekday. I can tell you, an unsupervised male teenager can get into a lot of mischief. You can imagine. I remember one day after school. A couple of boys were scheduled to fight in a friend’s front yard. I was standing there like everyone else watching these boys beat the sense out of each other (as if they had any sense). Suddenly a thought came to mind. “I really do not want to be here. I probably shouldn’t actually. I think I will go on home.” And I did.

          As time moved on, I spent more time at church with the folks who wanted God’s plan as their own. I was not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. I even spent some years (about 3) running from God following graduation from high school. However, it was always clear that my God and Savior had a hold on me. He allowed my sin to break me to the point that I was taught not to run.

          The point, there was a most certain change in the course of my life. God’s people became important to me. God’s word became something I longed for. His plan became paramount. Consider these verses: Romans 1:8, Colossians 1:3-6, and I Thessalonians 1:2-10. Notice the common theme? The report of their faith in God left the boundaries of their city. They walked in faith, experienced and walked in the love of God; they had hope in the glory of God at His coming. They turned from their sin to serve the living and true God. Their lives went through a most certain change and it was evident to all.

          Are God’s people important to you? Do you enjoy assembling together with the Saints? Please do not answer by saying, “Yes, but I do not like crowds. I prefer to see a preacher on TV and spend time with Christian friends one on one.” You see God has ordained us to congregate as a group as often as we can. I did not want to go to church before I was saved. That want changed when Jesus entered my heart.

          Do you love the word of God? Are you interested in reading it? Do you read it? Please do not answer by saying, “Oh yes I agree with the word of God and enjoy the preacher’s sermons. I just do not really understand it. After all I was not a very good student or reader.” As you have read here today, I was not a good student either. I hated to sit and read when I could go do something else. A Bible was given to me and the Spirit of God gave me the desire and understanding to begin reading it. His word has become my hope. That was never the case before.

          Is God’s plan paramount in your life? Do you pray, “God make your way known to me that I may follow it.” You should understand by reading the word of God that God has specific instruction for men, women, children, husbands, wives, families, and churches. He has a plan for employers and employees. He gives principles for spending your money and other resources. He gives us instruction on regulating our thought life. His plan should literally touch every area of our lives. Please do not accept an answer like: “I do the best I can. I try to keep my kids in church. I try to do honest business and work hard. I help others when I can. I hope God accepts what I try to do.” “What is the problem?” You ask. This is shooting in the dark. If God has entered your heart by the Holy Spirit, He will cause you to be certain about seeking Him. You will be drawn to Him. You will read His word. You will want to join with God’s people. When you learn of His plan you will deliberately seek to change your course. It will not be a shot in the dark.

          Will you be perfect at walking with God? No. Will you have periods of failure sometimes? Yes. But as you walk with Him you will discover the truth in  II Timothy 3:16-17.  Read it. As you read His word God will show you what is right (Teaching or doctrine), what is not right (reproof), how to get right (correction), and how to stay right (training in righteousness). Walking with God is not a shot in the dark.

Final question: Has he changed your life? 

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