Tag Archives: Religion

My Testimony

I accepted Christ when I was 7 years of age on a Sunday night in Rota, Spain. I was apart of a kids program called Super Sunday Nights. On this evening we were memorizing verses and we happened to be memorizing John 3:16; “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” After getting familiar with the verse I declared to my teacher, “I want to have eternal life.” She informed me that salvation from our sins comes from Jesus Christ and when we invite him into our hearts he lives with us and helps us by his Spirit. She invited me to pray to God and to ask him to forgive me of my sins and invite Jesus into my heart. I did so as she guided me. It’s funny. I was raised in a Christian home and grew up with bible stories but this was the first time I had ever really understood anything I was hearing. At once it all made sense.

Since then I have battled through many things. I had moved seven times in my life because my parents were in the military. Each time I had to make friends and battle with loneliness and dread. I was the “perpetual new-kid.” Amongst this I sought out the wisdom of the world to confirm what I thought I chose to believe. After many books and articles I would keep searching. It wasn’t as though there weren’t good enough answers; the fact is that I was simply trying to reach God through my own human wisdom. At other times I would pray demandingly for God to come down and perform miracles. I was trying to support my faith with supernatural evidence as if that was enough to satisfy my veracious appetite for “the proof” instead of living John 20:29: ‘Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”’ Simultaneously I struggled with pornography which itself was more of a battle of trying to satisfy my physical cravings. It bled itself out and manifested its true head as a dark “me” attitude.

By the grace of God he has defeated and continues to defeat these enemies in my life. I realize now that my testimony was not so much “from here to there; black & white” but rather “from there and back again;” from innocent-child-like-faith to mature child-like-faith. The skeptic may be inclined to think that I have “regressed,” but in fact I haven’t regressed at all but “progressed.” When I was a child I had received an unimaginable gift from God but I hadn’t begun to grasp what I had received. It was when I was older and a little more foolish that I truly begun to realize just what God has done for me. Through all my doubt and poor decisions God was with me every step of the way. He continues to guide my feet and be my best friend. The truth is that the gospel is simple. In its very nature it weeds out those who would seek God by their own means. In my own life my pursuit for God was a tower of Babel that only after God had confused my efforts did he show me that the way to himself wasn’t through my own brilliance or effort but through the blood of Jesus Christ. Gently he reminded me what I was taught at first. My life now has been a constant pursuit after his Spirit and it’s been my pleasure to find him pursuing me all the same.

Maybe you’re looking for God in the evidence. Maybe you’re waiting for miracles. I would encourage you to stop. Put down the books. Quit waiting on what God could do for you and focus on what he did do for you. The fact is that what Jesus did on the cross was enough for us to praise him for eternity. On the cross he paid the debt of humanity, canceling our sins and earning us salvation, now and for eternity, ultimately reconciling us with God; when we deserved the full wrath of God he took it upon himself to pay the debt that so we may be called his friends. I plead to you on behalf of the Living God to accept his gift. Let your “knowledge” of God drip twelve inches from your head to your heart. A great quote by C. H. Spurgeon sums it up, “Defend the bible? I would as soon as defend a lion! Unchain it and it will defend itself.” Let God’s word fulfill its truth in your life. Quit trying to white-knuckle grace like I did and instead receive it with open hands. Have faith for He will defend himself.

Jake

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Jesus vs. Religion

“Religion is an attempt to externally conform your behavior to some code of conduct, set of rules or the practice of rituals. Religion attempts to make you clean from the outside in. A relationship with God changes you from the inside out.” – Pastor Dale O’Shields.

Its important to realize that Jesus didn’t make very many “religious” friends. They often to came to Him with loaded questions regarding the law in order to ensnare him but they never succeeded. These people had taken what was holy and worshiped the law rather than the creator of the law. If they truly knew the creator they would’ve recognized Jesus for who he was.

Keeping these thoughts in our mind we have to ask ourselves, what does it mean to be a Christian? A person who claims to be a Christian is in a unique place then any other. Having a relationship with God first and foremost they bypass all the legalism of religion. Religion doesn’t clean us but shows us how dirty we are.

If that is so, what is a relationship with God? A relationship with God is something that changes us at the heart level. When we “come in contact” with God we begin to think, act, and behave differently. We find ourselves desiring things we never once did or could. We begin to seek in Him in all we do and we thirst night and day for his presence in our lives. Not only that but we communicate with Him almost as much as we think; making every thought a prayer.

So how do you know your a Christian? If your faith is in Jesus Christ, who died and rose again. If your life has changed as a result and his Spirit lives in you, teaching, convicting, and empowering you to live as God has chosen.

Please realize that if God truly lives and exists, as he does, then anything we do for Him is not out of religion but out of truth. Every other religion attempts to “get” to the “gods,” but ours was the first and only one to come down to us. Christianity has two faces; the religion and the relationship with God. Please don’t think they are the same thing because the difference between the two makes all the importance in the world. Exhaust yourselves looking for Christ and he will come to you, but don’t get caught up in “religion,” because Christ didn’t come to establish the “Christian” religion, he came to make a way for me and you to connect personally with God himself.

Jake

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