Monday, March 21, 2016

Born Again

I grew up in the ghettos of Philadelphia, PA. My dad was a violent abusive alcoholic. We weren't Catholic but my mom put me and my sister in Catholic school to get a good education. We also got a good dose of religion. At five years old I began to learn about God and being a good student I developed quite a knowledge of religion. I was taught many facts about God but also taught that when you die, God would weigh your good against your bad deeds and if you were good enough you would get into heaven. So I determined to be good and try to please God. I became an altar boy at eight years old, learned the mass in Latin and served in church at every opportunity. My goal was to become a priest because I thought they were holy men. By the time I was fourteen I became disillusioned with Catholicism and stopped going to church altogether when we moved to New Jersey.

Home was very dysfunctional because of alcoholism. I never understood why my mother put up with all of the abuse. But something radical happened when I was a teenager, my parents both became Christians and got involved in a Baptist church.

At that stage of life, I wanted nothing to do with religion and began hanging out with the hippies, living an immoral lifestyle, ingesting any drugs or alcohol that I could get my hands on. At seventeen I left home to attend college in Tennessee, which was just one continual party. A year later I was back home working with my father in the construction business. For the next three years, I was in and out of college, working various jobs, partying with my friends, trying anything that would bring happiness to my troubled, wounded soul.

Every day the road to my apartment took me right past a Christian bookstore. I was 21 years old at the time, and one Friday on the way home from work I decided to stop in. The bookstore owner greeted me and let me browse through some Bibles. We shared a brief conversation and he obviously could tell that I was out of my comfort zone and not really sure of what I was looking for. Before I left he invited me to church on Sunday. I reluctantly agreed and quickly left the premises.

I really had no intention of attending church but by Sunday morning I changed my mind. The people at church greeted me and expressed their joy at seeing me there. The church was a very simple storefront building compared to the elaborate architecture of a Catholic church. That morning for the first time in my life I heard the gospel message. I already believed in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ but that morning I understood the significance when I heard this message, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast" Ephesians 2:8,9.

I knew that Jesus died for me, bore the penalty for my sins and I desperately wanted and needed a fresh start. I prayed and asked God to forgive me, take over my messed up life and change me from the inside out. I gave control of my life over to God because I couldn't live a good life on my own and I wanted to follow Jesus.

The changes were miraculous! Eventually I stopped taking drugs and abusing alcohol, stopped having premarital sex and had a voracious hunger for the Bible. I spent many hours in my little studio apartment reading my Bible and talking to God. I told all my friends that Jesus was now in control of my life and of course, they ridiculed me. The irony is that now some of them are now Christians as well. Since that day I have been far from perfect, but I know that the Spirit of God lives within me, my sins are forgiven and my purpose in life is to honor Him. My life belongs to Him and I am totally submitted to God and dependent on Him. I am assured of eternal life and every day my desire is to spread the good news about Jesus.       

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new" 2 Corinthians 5:17.

No matter how miserable your life may be, God loves you too and wants make you a brand new person. Talk to him right now, ask Him to forgive your sins and take control of your life. Jesus will never reject anyone who comes to Him in faith.

"If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved" Romans 10:9-10.

1 comment:

ALisa Johnson said...

I thank God every day for my sweet love! So glad He chose to save both of us undeserving sinners!