I would like to return to my diary at this point in my posts. While this blog, Travels of a New Christian, will delve into many matters, the constant impetus that drives my discourse on subjects is clearly the chronological events that took place from January 13, 2009, through today, and beyond; and so I regress to 2009.
I had, as one could imagine, many questions and thoughts regarding what had taken place in my life; God’s intervention, and the dramatic and sudden transformation of that life into something that few people did not recognize; and either marveled at it, was quite confused by it, of simply thought I was acting a bit unusual for someone they had seen so steady for so many years. I certainly gave most of my family and friends the opportunity to hear all about it. I was not shy on this matter. I needed people to know what had taken place, and I needed them to know that God was real.
Part of what drove me forward with my spreading of the ‘good news’ (I had not read but a book or two from the New Testament, so I knew not what I was spreading) were the questions I had; both as to the nature of God, and to what I was experiencing as this new disciple. Searching out the nature of God was a matter that drove me to look in all directions without exclusion to any. It was more like fishing with a great net rather than with a baited hook. All things in my throw were caught, examined for some purpose, released or consumed. I left few experiences without categorization; like the librarian codifying the library books, publications, and audio/visual materials. Some experiences, though, remained obscure; hopefully to be understood at a later time. Two such things were of particular interest to me, and I would find out later, they were inextricably linked together. Continue reading How Deep Is Deep?
In order to start something one has to choose to start it, and in order to continue doing something one has to choose to continue it. I know this sounds rather elemental, and so it is a fairly obvious observation. But I venture into these waters for a purpose. There is a fundamental stumbling block for many Christians as they attempt to walk out God’s purpose with their lives; they ‘choose’ to do it. I’d like to make the argument here that choice is not dependent upon, nor advantageous to the most important factor of man’s successful journey to God; willingness.
Choice can be made from humble reason, but choice need not entail humility. In fact, choice is at its very best when issued from a boundless source of pride. Willingness, on the other hand, cannot exist in conjunction with pride. Willingness is that recurring characteristic of many Saints we look to for God’s wisdom and teachings; though there were those who came to serve God without willingness in their hearts. Moses would be one good example. Isaiah, on the other hand, is all too ready to serve the Lord without considering choice. While choice appears to be our conscious nature at work, willingness appears to precede that of the conscious nature and lie somewhere in the spiritual relationship we have with God. I can think of no better scripture to illustrate this than in the Book of Luke.
Then Mary said, “Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Continue reading Choice or Willingness
It is January 20, 2009; one week after being born of the spirit. The past week was quite fascinating; for all of my perceptions, assertions and beliefs about this world and any possibility of there being a God were chucked out-the-window for the truth that had miraculously became so real to me, and God hadn’t quite finished with me yet. He wanted to make sure I knew that I had reached that shore that I wrote about in my letter.
This morning I awoke at 4:30am. As my body is lying in the bed and my mind is slowly passing through some space between unconsciousness and consciousness, I realize that my spirit is experiencing a vision from God.
I’m on that very shore now; the one I wrote about in my letter; the one just off in the distance from my raft and I. The sun is bright, the sky is azure blue, and the sands are pure and smooth. I’m lying on the sand, near the water’s edge. Propped up on one elbow and looking about I recognize the setting, I smile and my contentment and peace is overwhelming. I rise to my feet, look both ways up and down the shore line, and then turn to look into the vast growth of infinite, dark-green jungle in from the shore.
Again a smile, and I know what I am about to do. Nothing will turn me away for my faith is complete. I walk across the sands, and up to the edge of the jungle. With a sweep of my arm, I move a branch before me and venture in. The jungle is thick, dark, rich and inviting. I awake as I disappear into the darkness of the jungle.
I was content with the vision, confirmed of God’s work upon me, amazed that I have been chosen, and without fear of the darkness I had walked into as I entered the jungle. The last remark about fear was perhaps the most contradictory of feelings I thought I would have. After all, we are taught to fear the darkness, and as I know now, the darkness seems to symbolize being separated from God, being lost, and in the presence of evil. Yet I was quite anticipating and looking forward to this darkness. Continue reading God’s Work & My Work
It is January 13th, 2009; the day of my birth. As to events that first week, I did give my letter to Kim Sprague that morning. She read it while I silently watched, and I do believe there was a bit of mysticism as the common bond of God being in both of our lives became evident. I’m sure Kim felt something that must have truly been soulful deep; she had prayed for me and it worked! You see there was something that I had not been aware of at the time.
As I had mentioned in my previous post, Kim was attending the School of Ministries at New Hope, late in 2008, and through May of 2009. She had taken a class in evangelism and witnessing. In this class her teacher, Ron Rand, requested his students to list those family members, friends and acquaintances that each student felt they would like to see come to Christ. Kim wrote my name down, along with a few others. Ron then asked the students to select one from that list that they most wanted to receive salvation. Kim circled my name, and then she began to pray.
It is so important that you all know in your heart that you are in God’s service at all times. And that you can do God’s miracles as well and as easily as any Apostle. It is faith, and James addresses faith in noting that, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”
What is being said here is that we are all called to something more than personal faith. Not to sit with our faith alone, but to put it into play. To make use of what God has so generously given us – our gifts from God – and to submit to God’s plan for you: in the service of your brothers and sisters. God used His gifts of love and patience – blessed upon Kim – to find a way for me to come home to Him.
Kim suggested church for the coming Sunday, and it seemed right to me. That’s what led me to New Hope Ministries, a non-denomination (Charismatic) church, where I would receive a tremendous amount of education over the next three years. Continue reading The Walls of Jericho
What I Was
This is the first real opportunity I have taken to accumulate my letters, notes and ramblings on the birth of my spirit – ‘born-again’ – as many would call it. Where is it in the Bible? Yes, in John 3:3, Jesus answers Nicodemus with, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” Better late than ever, I would say, as my birth came in my 57th year of breathing air upon this earth.
I’ve always had trouble in adopting the term ‘born-again’ to refer to what happened to me. The simple truth is that I had no spiritual life within me; up to the rather dramatic call that God made upon me on January 13th, 2009. Rather I was a man of empirical evidence, logic, and reason. I not only did not know whether a god or gods could exist, but I couldn’t imagine why there would be a need for a god or gods, or even care about such matters. The meaning of life was towards the bottom rung of priorities, unless of course its contemplation could advance my goals. No, I wasn’t one of those totally self-centered, amoral humans that we all know. I had been told many times by various sorts of people of my good moral and caring character. Moderation in all things was my motto. You might say I was extreme about moderation. I could do good as easily as I did evil. I was pious as well as a sinner.
Agnostic? Certainly. Atheist? If pressed for a strong opinion. However, I do remember that at times I could spin the pantheistic formula for the world. God is everything; the ecology of community of all inanimate and animate things and creatures working together in wonderment of self and sustaining creation and transition. In other words, the term God is a condensation of nature in work, and an acknowledgment of nature’s omnipotence. Religion was scientific ignorance, and science is the new religion. It resolved all things without and material that this body and mind of mine had to work with in this world, except it had no answer to all of the things within and immaterial that left me in perpetual wanting of something beyond my grasp. Continue reading My Testimony of the Birth of My Spirit