"I was changed that night - no, exchanged!"
I was born October 4th, 1955. I am the oldest of three. I was fortunate enough, growing up, to be blessed with great parents who loved
us enough to keep us in line when we misbehaved. Home life as a child was about as normal as it gets, almost like an episode from "Leave
It To Beaver" where situations may have been difficult at times, but always seemed to work out in the end.
Being raised Catholic, I was taught to believe in God and in the Catholic Church as the vanguard of spiritual truth. I was also taught
that God's salvation for me was dependent on my actions and obedience, concerning the requirements of the Catholic Church. These are
the earliest memories I have of feeling frustrated with my performance. Because I was Catholic, I believed that if the requirements of
the Catholic religion were obeyed, that somehow, it would justify me getting into to Heaven. However, it was always more of a hope than
an assurance because most of the time, I was disobedient to it's requirements. And, based on my performance (or lack thereof) along the
way, even my hopes were severely diminished most of the time.
Why Am I?
I can remember at an early age asking questions about the universe and asking; "Who am I", "Why am I", and "What
is my ultimate purpose in life?" I loved thinking about anything that was deep and mysterious. I was always asking "Who, What,
Where, When, Why, and How?" I think I made my dad crazy sometimes with all of my philosophical inquiries. Perhaps it was a 60's
thing, when it seemed in vogue for everyone to "find themselves
". At least people were thinking. And, I think it is
healthy to ponder the mysteries of being and purpose. Truth be known, I never did "find myself
" in the 60's.
Reasoning and Truth
By time I was a young teenager, I was convinced, by sheer reason, that there was more to the material universe than meets the eye, and
that there must be a first cause and purpose for its existence that transcends random naturalistic processes. (I go into detail about
this on the
) Thanks to my Catholic up-bringing, I was sure that
"God" was indeed real, even though, to the contrary, I was taught in the public school system that we owe our existence to
self-governing, naturalistic processes of evolution.
I wanted to know the truth about our existence. But, I found that even the word "truth
" was a subjective term to some,
who claimed that "everyone defines their own truth". I was not satisfied with this definition (and am still not) because there
are no "absolutes" or "definitive meaning" to what something "is", or "is not", with this definition
of truth. (See the "Philosophy
" page for more on "Truth") So, truth, and the
search for truth, became very important to me. It will be important to anyone who wants to make any sense out of anything.
Turbulent 20's - Troubles, and More Troubles
My 20's were a very turbulent time for me. To fulfill a need I had—to be more, and to mask the depression I felt due to my inadequacies,
"drugs and rock-and-roll" became my way of life for awhile. My focus became more and more about me. And, the more I indulged
myself, the more disgusted I became with myself. I can remember the night that I turned 30, asking myself "How much longer I can
live like this?". That was the year that my life became unbearable and unmanageable by any self effort or will-power that I possessed.
My Way - A Dead End
Shortly after my 31st birthday (1986), I realized that something had to change in my life. My attitude and behavior was appalling, even
by my low standards of morality, and needed to change. So, I made a grand attempt to clean myself up in order to be presentable to God.
Yea right. That lasted less than 24 hours and I was right back where I started - still corrupt to the core! This confused me, but at
the same time, taught me an important lesson about myself that I never realized before—I was worse off than I had ever imagined.
) For the first time in
my life, I tried really hard to be good (by biblical standards) only to learn that the harder I tried to be good, the more I realized
that I was not
good. My way didn't work! I could not make myself holy and righteous, not even close! I was a total failure in
trying to be a good person, by any standard. But what was going to happen in the next few weeks, would transform my life forever!
God's Way - A Live Beginning
On one particular dark October evening in 1986, I became so frustrated with myself, that I decided to take a walk and have a long conversation
with God. At first, I did all the talking, asking God many questions about my failures. Since my way failed miserably (for reasons that
I now know), I finally admitted defeat in my own efforts, admitting to God that I could do nothing to better myself and asked God if
He could do anything. (Rom 5:8
is very clear to me now, that the Lord allowed my circumstances to get so bad, that I would ultimately ask that question. A few moments
later, a revelation came to my mind that was absolutely incredible.. Jesus Christ did it all for me
! He revealed Himself to
me right then and there, and it was all as clear as crystal. (Mat
), (John 17:6
It was as though a brilliant light had been turned on! In an instant, I understood the purpose of Christ's life, death, and resurrection
for me. My new understanding of Jesus Christ was a gift from heaven. (Amos
) I realized that God's way to man, through the gracious and personal revelation of His Son Jesus Christ, who fulfilled
all the holy requirements for me, was nothing like my way to God, which was based on "performance based acceptance". I was
changed that night - no, exchanged! My iniquities and punishment were transferred to Jesus, and Jesus' righteousness was transferred
to me. (2 Cor 5:21
) I was given life,
when I deserved death!
Faith - The Heavenly Gift
As a result of Christ's life and imputed righteousness that He freely gave to me (1
), and the Gospel which now resonated with me, (Acts
) it became natural to willingly
respond in belief because God changed my nature. (Phil
) I could not, not believe! God's grace was irresistible to me in the sense that I did not want to resist it. My faith
was born that night, not because of anything I figured out on my own, or of anything that was a result of my will, (Rom
) but because of God's mercy toward me, despite my ignorant resistance to Him all of my life. (John
) I cannot and will not boast about my faith because even the faith that was developed in me that night was a gracious
gift from God. (Rom 12:3
) I did not
seek Him, He sought me! (Rom 10:20
The grace that God administered to me that night (and continues to administer) was and is free. However, the high cost of my sin (death)
did cost Christ His
life. He received what I deserved (Death) and gave me what I did not deserve (Life)!. (Eph
) I received it willingly because it was too beautiful and irresistible for me to not receive it. I felt the weight
of the world removed from my shoulders that night! What an awesome relief!! Thank you Lord!!!
Assurance and Insurance
Because God is omnipotent (all powerful) and omniscient, (all knowing), and given the fact that He sought me when I was not seeking Him,
) I now enjoy the utmost assurance
that He will finish the work that He started in me. (Phil
) And it is God Himself that says that He will make me stand firm in Christ. (2
Finally, I can rest assured that despite my failings, (and my feelings) I have an advocate, Jesus Christ, sitting at the
right hand of the Father making intercession on my behalf. (Rom
Growth - A Grace Walk
Since my conversion in 1986, the Lord has been growing me in stages—sometimes painful stages. Prior to my conversion, the Lord
provided me with a great friend who would challenge my thinking regarding spiritual matters. The Lord used this friend to indirectly
lead me to Christ and to disciple me along the way in my newfound faith. Just after my conversion, the Lord also provided me with a good
bible-believing independent local church, where I could grow and establish relationships with Christians. The pastor of this church was
very instrumental in helping me understand what it meant to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This was an important change
for me because prior to this, I always thought of Jesus as a stern figurehead rather than a personal friend and advocate. My first year
as a believer (the honeymoon stage) was like walking on clouds. It was very cushy and easy to manage. I think this was because of my
initial overwhelming love and joy for the Lord as a new believer, that resulted in total surrender to Christ that empowered me, so that
anything that was hurled at me was dealt with in His strength and not my own.
However, over time, my theology started to focus on me and my accomplishments, rather than on Him and His accomplishments. Flesh will
do this. That's where my grace walk started to falter. Legalism and self righteousness crept in and life became a struggle again. I quickly
found myself "burned-out" from all of the "doing" in what little strength that I possessed. Somehow, over time, I
adopted a theological doctrine that was more focused on the abilities and responsibilities of man rather than on the sovereignty, grace,
and power of God.
By the grace of God, as I studied the Scriptures more intently, I became more and more aware of God's sovereign providence in directing
human affairs and decisions. This led me to an understanding of God's sovereignty and strength and on His holy purposes and ways, instead
of mine. Little by little, I shifted my theology from a non-reformed
view to a reformed
view of God's sovereign election,
) and to a view of God's
grace that conquers even resistance and unbelief in a man's heart, (Rom
) like the grace that God administered to me in the beginning. I did not seek Him, but rather, He sought me! (Rom
) I need to always remember this and continue to always give God the glory for it.
I am not ashamed to bear the label "Calvinist
" regarding the "reformed view of election
I believe to be the correct biblical view). However, let me be clear about this; I am not a follower of John Calvin, Martin Luther, John
Edwards, Augustine, John Piper, John Mac Arthur, R. C. Sproul, or anyone else who may have written brilliant works, but rather a follower
of Jesus Christ. I am Christian
first and foremost and am not ashamed to wear that label. (1
) I believe in my heart that these fine men, for the most part, preach what Paul preached, and what Jesus taught
regarding God's sovereign elect and His irresistible grace, but men are fallible, still affected by flesh. Mistakes are made in the presuppositions
that we develop outside of Scripture and sometimes even inside of Scriptures if we interpret them to accommodate our own dogmatic views.
I am a "5-Point Calvinist
" regarding the reformed view of election
, not because I follow John Calvin, or
that I agree with everything that John Calvin taught, but because I believe that the reformed
view of election is the biblical
view of God's grace administered to a corrupt and fallen mankind who cannot receive salvation apart from God's divine invitation and
Our only reliable source, regarding the matter of God's work of redemption, are the Holy Scriptures themselves. I realize that the Scriptures
are interpreted differently, which will influence one's doctrinal view to some degree. But all too often, I find that one's doctrinal
view has become the presupposition by which one interprets the Scriptures, rather than allowing the Scriptures to interpret themselves.
This is where error and heresies enter the Church, and usually, where a secular, self focused view of man's part and credit in his election
have their basis.
Ever since I discovered God's mighty and sovereign hand in the matters of men and what He did to secure them (and me), I have also discovered
His amazing grace and an unfaltering security in His power of perseverance regarding those who belong to Him. (2
Eternity - See You There?
I look forward to being united with all of God's children (my brothers and sisters in Christ) in the eternity to come. It will be an
experience that we can't even imagine in our finite thinking. So, I dare not even attempt to describe it creatively without taking the
risk of doing it a gross injustice
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord, and you believe in your heart that He was raised from the dead, then you too
will spend your eternity with God. (Rom 10:9
And if you have
confessed Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you can be assured that God was in it and enabled you to see
and receive Him by divine invitation. (Acts 13:48
For those reading this that have not believed in and received Jesus Christ as personal Savior, I pray that God, in His mercy and divine
invitation, has included you to be part of His family. I pray that He will open your eyes and heart to the Gospel of salvation, either
directly or by proxy, using someone in your life that He has sent to you as His witness. I pray that God, in His loving mercy, will reveal
Himself in such a powerful way, that you will come to Him willingly, without reservation. And finally, I pray that this is the day it
happens, because every moment with the Lord is a precious jewel of life, and every moment without the Lord is a living death.