Christian By Birth – Baptist By Choice

sun_on_church_steeple

I thought I might take the next several BLOG postings and share a little more about myself and why I am who I am and where I am.  I hope you will find these next few BLOG postings both informative and inspiring.

I am a Christian by Birth.  (Rebirth that is)

No, that doesn’t mean that I was born a Christian, but rather I was “born again” a Christian.  There was a time in my life that I knew about Jesus, but had not allowed Him into my Life.  I was religious, but I didn’t have a relationship with Him.

Here’s a Bit of My Story

I had grown up going to church.  By the time I was in my early teens I could easily recite most of the readings and sing most of the hymns of our church from memory.  I really enjoyed church and all the things that were related to church.  I loved hearing and learning about God and Jesus and the characters of the Bible.  I liked the people at church.  Most of them were much older, but I had a lot of respect for them.  Much of my family attended the church—and still does.  It was a comfortable and inviting place and I liked being there as often as I could be.

As much as I loved going to church and being in church I was beginning to feel a disconnect in my life between the things I was encountering in my world and what I was hearing on Sunday in church.  It was becoming a real struggle, and I was gradually slipping into behaviors that were not good.  I was skipping school, becoming rebellious at home, and headed down a pretty dark path.  When I would try to stop I only ended up further frustrated.

I wasn’t robbing banks or knocking over liquor stores.  I hadn’t fallen prey to illicit drugs or heavy drinking.  By all appearance I probably looked like a pretty good kid on the outside.  Inside, however was a different story.  The first few years of Junior High and High School really took a toll on me.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but years later I would recognize that I was struggling with depression and deep feelings of guilt and frustration. 

The time came when I couldn’t find peace, comfort, happiness anywhere with just three exceptions.  The church where I had grown up hearing about God, youth events and retreats held throughout the year, and finally the summer church camp that I attended each year.  As these events came and went I would experience the build of excitement and enthusiasm leading up to the event, and then the eventual let down as the event ended and life returned to normal. 

Something big in my life was missing.  I knew it, but I didn’t know what it was.  It couldn’t possibly be God because I was doing all the God stuff, it just wasn’t making a difference.  It wasn’t having any lasting effect.  The depression and discouragement sank in deeper and deeper. 

In addition to struggling with the things I mentioned I was also feeling more and more like I was disappointing everyone around me.  My grades were suffering and I was skipping school.  I was becoming argumentative at home.  Guys who had been my friends moved on to other things.  It seemed like even my dog didn’t want anything to do with me. 

The breaking point came for me when the girl that I had really—I mean really liked—turned out to only be interested in me because of one of the guys I had been friends with.  I had really believed that she liked me, and when she went with him and left me in the dust it was more than I knew how to handle.  I have had low times since then, but I believe there had not been any time in my life where I was as low as that moment.  

In that moment I had no one and nothing.  I had nothing, and at that moment believed with all my heart that I was worthless, useless, and totally unloved.  I didn’t want to go home.  I didn’t want to go to church.  I didn’t want to do anything.  I didn’t want to be…

Where I grew up there was a bridge over the railroad tracks—for those who know my home town it was the Herrick Street Bridge just across from the what used to be St. John’s School.  I had delivered papers in that area for a couple years and I liked the bridge.  It was old and rusted, had been burned a time or two, but it had character.  As I sat on the little bridge over the creek in front of my house, tears burning my eyes, that bridge flashed in my mind.  So I got up from where I had sat and walked to Herrick Street.  I had more determination in that moment for what I purposed then I had mustered up for anything in a long time. 

I got to the bridge and climbed up the iron structure to the highest point on the bridge.  I don’t know how far it was from the top to the ground below, but I was pretty sure it was sufficient.  I sat there for a long time—an hour or more—thinking about a lot of things.  My mind swirled with the multitude of people I had let down, the many ways I had failed, and the love that I knew I would never experience.  Years later I would watch Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life have a similar “Bridge Experience.”  This was my George Bailey bridge experience, and there wasn’t a “Clarence” there talking me out of it.  I was resolved that the best thing—really the only thing I could do is jump from that bridge.  People might be sad for a while, but in a short while they would all be fine and better off for it.

I can’t explain what happened next any other way then to say God broke through in my life.  At that time and in that place, amid all the despondency and grief I was feeling, God moved in my broken heart.  It was as if God were saying that—even though no one else would love me (ofcourse I know that was never the truth, but couldn’t see it at that point) He would always love me and had always loved me. 

That brief passing thought gave me enough strength and hope to come down from that bridge and go one more day.  I got out my GOOD NEWS BIBLE and read.  I read the Gospel of John, Acts, and I didn’t stop until I hit Romans chapter five verse eight.  That verse then and still today defined for me what God’s love really means.

Romans 5:8 – But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us!

I might have disappointed everyone around me.  But God loved me even when I was a sinner, and the sacrifice of Christ occurred for me, and for everyone, even though we were sinful and unworthy.  It’s not now or ever because of our worth or merit, but because of the depth of God’s unconditional and unbelievable love for us.

There was not preacher or evangelist there.  There was not Gospel tract or specific prayer.  There was not trumpet fanfare or chorus of angels (that I could hear).  Just me, bowing my head and turning my heart and life over into the hands of this God who had shown me the depth of His love.  That night my life changed. 

Terms like “born-again” and “saved” hadn’t yet entered my vocabulary.  What I knew then and still know now, is that God had given His Son, Jesus, for me as a gift of Love.  From that point on the songs that we sang took on a new and deeper meaning.  The words of the Bible really did relate to my life.  What the pastor said had an impact on me personally.  Later on I would understand with great depth two scriptures that reflect

2 Corinthians 5:17
17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.

Ephesians 2:1-5 (HCSB)
1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins 2 in which you previously walked according to this worldly age, according to the ruler of the atmospheric domain, the spirit now working in the disobedient.
3 We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and by nature we were children under wrath, as the others were also. 4 But God, who is abundant in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us,
5 made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. By grace you are saved!

I had known what it felt like to be dead…heart dead…soul dead…spirit dead.  Now I was made alive again.  I had been resuscitated in this new life with Christ.  I was born into this world on my original birthday, but I had now been born into life and out of this world through Christ. 

Stay Tuned, There’s More to Come.

Advertisements

Let’s Get Ready to Rumble III–Be Aware!

We need to have a keen awareness of the war that is being waged around us and how it impacts our lives. Know that the war is real and look for the signs of the war. This is a continuation of our earlier discussions about the war in our effort to GET READY TO RUMBLE.

There are New Things

I have new things in my home!

  • New Sounds
  • New Sights
  • New Smells

See, we have a new grandbaby, and with new grandbabies come all kinds of other new things. 

100_7107

Granted, they are all things I have had before in my home—twenty years ago, but there’s something amazing and special about this “newness.”  Because along with the new stuff there are new attitudes and actions.  We close doors a little softer, we speak a little gentler, we quiet the dogs a little sooner, and we act a little sillier – especially when we are holding the little one.   She’s made a big difference in our lives.  I’m sure that anyone who has had a baby in their home understands what all this newness means.

There is another newness that I thought of this morning.  The newness that a relationship with God through Jesus Christ can bring.  Jesus takes us where we are…warts and all…and transforms us into something new.

2 Corinthians 5:17:  Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.

Just like there are new attitudes and actions in our home as a result of the presence of our granddaughter, there are new attitudes and actions in our lives that come as a result of the presence of Christ.  Some of these new things came immediately, and some have developed over time.  Sometimes the newness came with a little pain, and sometimes with overwhelming joy.  Some of the new required work on our part as we were transformed to the will of God, and some came with relative ease as the Holy Spirit worked out His purpose in our lives.

Yup, there’s new stuff in my home and life because of Papa’s precious grandbaby.  I know there will continually be new things in my life because of her presence, even when they are living on their own. 

100_7116

Likewise, there are continually new things in my life because of my relationship with Jesus.  There will always be new things, because I have a living and growing relationship with a living and loving Savior.

If you would like more information on how you can have the newness of a relationship with Jesus Christ please drop me an email (dabent1988@yahoo.com) or post a comment on here.  You can find information at the following as well:

Until the next time…

BLESSINGS!

Appointment for a Check-Up

discipleship23

Gleaning Lessons from Life

This morning Andie had an appointment at the doctors for a physical and check-up.  Don’t worry, everything is fine.  It was just a regularly scheduled appointment.  At the appointment she had all the standard information recorded.  Blood-pressure, weight, height, etc.  She was given some counsel and advice by the doctor.  There are some follow-up things scheduled now, blood tests and such.  Later on there is another appointment already scheduled to come back to the doctor for follow-up.

Well, as usual, I got to thinking while I was waiting in the lobby for her about this process and the lesson we can learn from this as believers for our spiritual appointments.

The Appointments are Regularly Scheduled

We weren’t surprised by this, it was on the calendar.  We planned for it days in advance.  In our case it meant Andie had to arrange for coverage for her classes and plan on transportation. (Which was me driving her). 

Our appointments with the Lord need to be regularly scheduled.  They should be something that is a routine in our life.  Ideally I believe these appointments should come around every morning—early in the morning.  As with the appointment we had this morning, we should plan ahead.  For instance, Andie likes reading her Bible in the bed when she wakes up, so she makes sure that it is in the bed room where she can get it and get back into bed—where I bring her coffee.  I, on the other hand, prefer to be in a chair or at the table, so I put my Bible (and any other things I might be using, like journals, notebooks, etc) by the chair where I’ll be sitting.  The more we make this a routine in our lives the easier and more comfortable it will become.

These Appointments are for a Purpose

Sometimes, I have to confess, that my quiet time has been little more then fulfilling something that I “have to do.”  It’s like taking medicine that doesn’t taste very good…I take it because I have to, but because I necessarily want to.  If we’re honest that’s probably something we have all experienced at times.  Thankfully, those times are few and far between.  The majority of these quiet time appointments have been amazingly rewarding and fulfilling for me.

It’s because God has a purpose in these quiet appointments each morning.  I mean, how silly would it be to go to an appointment with your physician and have the doctor tell you that he doesn’t really have any reason for you to be there, he just needed to fill a quota of appointments.  That would be frustrating and probably push you to find another doctor.  God has a purpose for you in His appointments. 

Consider the Reasons for the Physical

  • Checking the vitals (B.P. Pulse, etc)
  • Getting Guidance about things to watch for and start or stop doing
  • Evaluating Progress in things that were discussed earlier
  • Setting a course for what is needed coming up (blood tests, imaging, etc)

God wants us to check in with Him each morning.  He knows what’s going on in our lives and what’s coming up before long.  He wants to offer guidance through His Word, prayer, and the intervention of the Holy Spirit. 

One of the benefits of journaling (which I honestly am not great at) is that it aides us in evaluating our progress and how we’re working through things in our life.  And it also enables us to set a course for things that are coming up.  When we see something looming on the horizon of life we are able to bring that to the Lord and discover that He already is working things out for us.

Now, make sure that you listen to.  The doctor always tells us something that we would do well to heed.  In our quiet time we need to sometimes “be quiet.”

You Need to Keep the Appointments

The first winter we were back in Vermont we had our family doctor in Rutland.  We really liked them.  The only problem was that it seemed inevitable that if we had an appointment scheduled with them we were sure to get a snow storm.  Eventually we got a letter from them stating that if we continued missing appointments we would not be able to be patients there any longer. 

Thankfully, God isn’t going to take you off the “patient list.”  He just wants you to keep your appointment with Him because He has something special planned for you, and He doesn’t want you to miss it.  Keep the appointment.  Make it a priority for your morning.

Talk to Others about Your Appointment

One last thought that I had.  We always tell people about our doctor’s appointments.  People wonder how things went, and we tell them.  If something comes up that concerns us we share that with family and friends.  So, let’s talk to the people who are closest to us about our appointments with the Lord.  Tell people what you read, heard, or experienced while you were keeping your appointment with the Lord.

Have a Blessed Appointment In the Morning…and Let Me know How it Goes!