THE STRUGGLE OF BEING A CHRISTIAN
Jesus Did It!
By: Tom Ray
If you've been a Christian believer for very long, you know that it is not always easy. God has impressed me to write a book to help other believers understand why they go through so many struggles, and some Biblical insights in how to remain victorious when adversity strikes ' but first please allow me to share a little about how I came to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Although I had always gone to church when I was young, my most vivid and memorable moments of actually feeling touched by God and experiencing His reality came not at the local Presbyterian Church where I spent my youth, but in two homes just down the street from the house where I grew up.
These moments came during two summer activities that lasted for just one week each called Vacation Bible School. I guess these neighbors asked my mother if I could go to their homes for the weeklong programs and I must have agreed to the part about punch and cookies because I found myself in their kitchens learning about God's love. The thing I remember most was learning that I was a sinner, that the bad things I had done were called sin and that God was sad about my sin.
Imagine how much guts it must have taken even in those days to take little neighborhood children into your home and tell them that they're sinners! But thank God for these wonderful ladies: because of their willingness to do so I realized the truth about myself: God loved me and esteemed me so much that even though I sinned against Him whenever I did something wrong, He wanted to forgive me and even made a way to forgive me. It was there in those homes that I understood the simple message of Jesus dying on a cross for my sins, and if I would open my heart to Him he would forgive me and come into my heart.
Guided by these dear ladies, I prayed along with them and asked Jesus to forgive me and come into my heart. Only those who have done this can explain how you just know He touches you by His Spirit at that moment, and you know He's real. I was probably about six or seven years old when I went to the first Vacation Bible School and maybe 9 or 10 when I went to the second one.
As the years went by I never forgot about those experiences, but I managed to push them aside, and although I know I had a conscience toward God, I didn't really have much of a spiritual life (spiritual commitment to God). I had stopped going to my parent's Church because I was bored during the sermons and I had long since outgrown their Sunday school curriculum.
Quickly into my teenage years I began to learn the values of the world, especially in Junior High where I had my first tastes of both popularity and girls. Popularity because I was a good drummer and the whole school got to see me perform. I was also the Drum Major and led the school band. It was therefore predictable at that school that I won the Most Valuable Musician Trophy awarded to me in front of all the band and parents at an evening band concert in the auditorium. My eighth grade yearbook ended up filled with comments that mostly had to do with my being a talented drummer. I was riding a little high and proud.
I also had a girlfriend from the Drill Team who was very cute and popular. I was following my older brother's lead as he had the same experiences too. He was the first chair drummer, drum major, most valuable musician, and had a girlfriend or two in Junior High as well.
The summer before my 9th grade year, when I was still 13 years old, was also the summer before my brother Mark's senior year of high school. He was driving a car, sneaking into clubs to play drums, and sneaking beer. I remember him getting sick and throwing up, but still doing it again and again. He always had plenty of friends and girlfriends, so I remember looking up to him and wanting to be just like him.
THEN ONE NIGHT MY BROTHER SURPRISED ME
Then one night my brother surprised me. He came into my bedroom, as I was about to go to bed, and he was all on fire about something he just had to share with me right then and there. My brother proceeded to tell me the same message about Jesus that I'd been introduced to years earlier at Vacation Bible School ' and had all but forgotten. My brother had become a Christian.
Once again I heard the simple message of John 3:16, about God loving the world and about Jesus Christ being the Son of God and coming to Earth to die on a cross for my sins. I was again reminded of Christ's resurrection, and living in Heaven and His willingness to forgive me of my sins and come into my heart if I'd let Him, because otherwise I could not go to Heaven if I died. I was unsure of my previous experience with God when I was younger, and feeling the need to repent again, I prayed and told the Son of God my sorrow over my sin.
Once again the sense of forgiveness was amazing, as my conscience was cleansed and I actually felt as if a weight was lifted off of me! I jumped up from my bed to go find my brother and I expressed with much excitement that Jesus had indeed come in, and that I knew I was forgiven! My mother standing nearby witnessed these events, but didn't know what to make of them. I didn't quite know how to explain to her what had happened until some time later.
In the weeks that followed, I began to grow in this faith because my brother and his new girlfriend took me along with them to church - to a revival - to anyplace else where God was the focus. Now instead of scoring alcohol and taking me along to drink and carouse with him, my brother was taking me to where I would learn about living like God intended for me to live.
When I opened up the Bible and read it, the words seemed alive to me, and almost like they were jumping off the pages with joy to fill my heart. I had no doubts that I'd been born again, and I couldn't wait to tell my friends about Jesus Christ.
I soon learned that my friends were not as eager about such great news as I was, and I was very disappointed. How could they not believe that they were sinners, and needed the forgiveness that only God the Son could give them? I don't know. To tell you the truth, I still don't get it ' how people miss this.
I do believe in a devil; a source of lies and deception, and he does everything he can to deceive people just like he deceived our original parents in the place called Eden, so he could make the world and its people subject to his twisted will. Just look around you if you don't believe me; you'll see a constant struggle between good and evil.
While I wish my testimony could end here and I could say I lived happily ever after for God, that would be a lie. The truth is, there is always a struggle from the day you are born-again into God's family until the day you die and are finally free from this human mind and body. The Bible even says so and I can tell you for sure it's a fact. The Spirit of God that lives within the Christian struggles against the human fleshly side of that Christian and they are both at odds with one another; the Spirit wanting what's best and the flesh wanting its pleasure now. Only while in close fellowship with God and other Christians can the Believer overcome his natural selfish desires. I often gave in to my human desires and stayed trapped there for periods of time, even though I knew I didn't belong there. That condition is real and often referred to as backsliding, which is different from occasionally sinning; something that happens to believers no matter how connected they try to stay with God.
But thank God He was not willing to let me stay wishy-washy with my faith forever in this life. Now, many years later, I stay more connected to God than to the world. Sure, I still have weaknesses and I still have hang-ups but mostly I'm focused on the fact that I have been forever changed since the day I repented of my sins as a young boy and received Jesus and His forgiveness. I have never been the same since; God has never left me nor let me get too far away from Him.
Tom's Email: TRayphoto@cox.net
PLEASE HELP SHARE THE BEST NEWS GOD HAS FOR EVERY PERSON!
"And this gospel of the
died for sinners] shall be preached in all the world for a witness
unto all nations; and then shall the end come."
(Quote from Jesus Himself: Matthew 24:14).
Consider how many children in "all the nations" have never heard YET what Jesus accomplished for THEM at the cross? PLEASE HELP SPREAD THE GOOD NEWS TO THE LITTLE CHILDREN!
To help us share the Best News every person needs to hear on this planet, randomly click FOR JESUS on just three (3) of the JESUS DID IT! links below. It will take just a few moments of your time. Please - that's all you are asked to do. God will reward you! (Of course, be highly encouraged to forward one of these video clips to those who may have never heard what Jesus did for them on the cross ... especially young people). Thank you so much!
JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT!
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JESUS DID IT! - or - JESUS DID IT!
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Editorial Note: If you would like to obtain a copy of Tom's very insightful book on overcoming adversity from a solid, Biblical perspective, you can do so by clicking on either of the two following links:
http://stores.lulu.com/store.php?fAcctID=901335 or: http://www.lulu.com/content/936755
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Dear Reader - are you at peace with God? If not, you can be. Do you know what awaits you when you die? You can have the assurance from God that heaven will be your home, if you would like to be certain. Either Jesus Christ died for your sins, or He didn't (He did!). Are you prepared to stand before God on the Judgment Day and tell Him that you didn't need the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross to have your sins forgiven and get in right-standing with God? We plead with you ... please don't make such a tragic mistake.
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