I received an email this week asking about my personal testimony. Over the next two months, the congregation will be voting whether to call me as the next Senior Pastor of New Life in Christ Church. In the email, this blessed saint mentioned that she was not here when I came to the church and she did not know my testimony and wondered if I could write one up.
Maybe you and others are unfamiliar with my testimony, I thought I would publish it here in some simple articles. An educated decision is a smart decision and I want you to know more as much about me as you can before the congregational vote on September 4th.
How I became a Christian:
Raised by an atheist father and a mainline-churched mother, by the time I was a teenager I believed that religion was just a stuffy way for people to feel good about themselves. When I turned 16, I thought I could find happiness without religion, so I abandoned the liberal church of my family and pursued those “better” ways. Through my high school days, I found temporal happiness in dating, friendships (I was fairly popular), school (always on the honor role), academics (accepted to CSU engineering school), and the rewards that came from my accomplishments. Still, there were many underlying problems in my life. I was not a “good kid” as I left high school and entered college. I used people, I partied a lot, and I attempted to fill myself with everything except God. I tried to abandon every thought about God. I didn’t care if He existed. My conscience was so hardened that I never considered whether my actions were right or wrong. You definitely would not have wanted me to date your daughter!
Eventually, I realized that the happiness I was seeking could not be found where I was looking. This came to a pinnacle at the end of my freshman year of college. I worked hard in engineering school that spring semester and received straight A’s, even in Differential Equations and Physics! However, when I received my report card, I remember thinking, “Great, so I got straight A’s. I don’t feel that happy. Is this the happiest I will ever feel?”
A Christian friend in my dorm challenged me to consider Jesus as the source of joy in this life. Eric modeled a joyful Christian life where he was not looking for happiness in temporal things, but in Jesus Christ. His life was so different from everybody around me. His life was about more than grades, parties, and girls. Over time, Eric and I started having long conversations about moral issues and I came to admire his lifestyle and the confidence he had in his faith. When I challenged his God, he gave me reasonable answers. I learned that God was loving and just and, for the first time, I realized I was a sinner. I realized that sin controlled my life and kept me from God. I learned that I justly deserved God’s wrath for my sin and condemnation to hell. I realized that I had a conscience. I began to make decisions in my life that would reflect the moral person I thought I needed if I wanted to be happy.
It wasn’t long until I discovered that my attempts to be moral were not enough. I discovered that I didn’t have the power or the motivation to be moral. It was about this time that I heard about Jesus Christ. I heard how he died for me so that I could have all of my past, present, and future sins forgiven. I learned that he could release me from the sin that controlled me. One night in the fall of 1993, at a Campus Crusade for Christ meeting, a speaker encouraged us to ask Jesus into our hearts. I went home and, in the quietness of my dorm room, received Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I didn’t see any lightening bolts or heavenly visions, but I knew from that point forward that I had a personal relationship with Jesus. I also knew that God had forgiven all of my sins. Jesus Christ has been my confidence to this day, with the simple assurance that he came to give eternal life, that he historically raised from the dead, and that the life God intends for me can only be found through faith in His name.
Significant books in discovering Christ:
Give me an Answer, Cliffe Knectle
More Than a Carpenter, Josh McDowell