Monday, February 9, 2009

Salvation: My Testimony

As a child, our family attended churches whose pastors taught about a fiery hell, and I sure didn’t want to go there. Therefore, at seven years of age, I made a profession of faith.

When I walked the aisle, the minister failed to explain to me just what I was doing. Even, during his counseling session, he didn’t help me find God. Afterward, I still had an overwhelming fear of the afterlife and impending doom.

Between 1969 and 1970, we attended a church in Dallas, Texas. The church was really amazing and fun. Their attendance fluctuated between 6,000 and 8,000 people each Sunday morning with about 150 kids in my grade.

The youth building had 12 floors. On one floor there was a skating ring with a restaurant, and on another floor there was a bowling alley, a weight room, and a Gym. On one occasion, our church even rented out the amusement park Six Flags over Texas for a night. Going to that church was like going to church heaven. It was a blast.

I really loved the pastor of that church. His name was W. A. Criswell, and Dr. Criswell was very well known around that time frame. As a twelve year old boy, I watched Dr. Criswell, and observed that he was loving and kind. It was as though his face radiated light.

Dr. Criswell would preach exclusively about Jesus each Sunday night. When Criswell spoke, I felt the presence of God. (http://www.wacriswell.org/)

Just before the eighth grade, our family moved to Tupelo, Mississippi. While in Tupelo, I still had a lingering fear of hell. Every time a visiting evangelist spoke at our church I’d surrender my life to Christ all over again. However, no matter what I did. I just couldn’t find peace.

As a tenth grader, I got disgusted with Christianity, reading the Bible, and going to church because it just wasn’t real to me. I didn’t know Christ, so I considered renouncing my faith.

As I thought about doing this, I remembered W.A. Criswell and said to myself I believe W.A. knew God. However, I said. If there is a God, I don’t know him, so why keep living a lie. While I pondered about what to do, I decided to go home one afternoon, lock myself in my bedroom, and pray for one hour. I thought if I did that I would surely connect with God.

When I locked myself into my room and began to pray, I told God everything that I could think of in under five minutes, so I just sat there wondering what to do next. Then, I had this thought. Why not tell God about my day?

As I prayed through my day with God, I began to notice that I had a pattern of anger, bitterness, and rudeness. Then, I thought why not count up every occurrence, and then confess it to God? As I counted, I uncovered thirty something sins for that day alone. I then leaned back on my bed, and said, I’m 15 years old, and I've probably averaged about 30 something sins a day for 15 years. At that moment, I finally understood my plight. I WAS lost.

As I sat there and cried, in my mind I saw Jesus dying for me on a cross. Then, I had this thought. Jesus knew that I’d sin 30 something sins a day before he decided to die for me. He chose to do it as an act of his will to save me in spite of myself. It would be crazy for him not to save me if I just asked him too after what he did for me.

I bowed my head, and asked Jesus to forgive me of my sins and failures and to take the fear and pain away. Then, I thanked him for doing it as an act of my will. To my amazement instantly all the pain, fear, and oppression left. It was like my insides were cleansed.

As I sat there, I said wow! This stuff is really true. Then, I remembered someone saying ask Jesus to come into your heart and surrender it to him. Therefore, I thought that Jesus surely would do it because I now have a clean heart for him to live in. I told Jesus. I can’t do this Christian life on my own. I did, and he did. I was forgiven and saved.

LEARNING TO SEE

“For from the very beginning God decided that those who came to him – and all along he knew who would – should become like his Son . . .”  ...