06 Mar The Gospel and Me
As I look back on how the Gospel initially impacted my life, I am humbled that GOD never gave up on self-righteous and self-centered sinner.
I grew up in a Christian home where church was a part of our weekly home life. Mom and Dad took us to church every week twice on Sundays, Wednesday evenings, and at least one more church related activity each week. There were twice yearly revival services, Royal Ambassadors meetings, regional associational meetings; we were in church whenever the door was open. I asked JESUS into my heart at 9 years old and walked closely with HIM throughout grade school. We moved to Colorado as I was entering Junior High and lost a strong support group. I remained actively involved on Sundays, but began following a broken religion model. I reasoned with myself that if I went to church on Sundays I could live as I chose throughout the rest of the week. After all, this was much more than what my friends were doing and I assumed that by attending I would be pleasing to GOD.
Fast forward through high school and college. Linda and I were married and I began my career teaching at a small university in northern Wisconsin. We continued to attend a small Baptist church but it was never a priority, only something to check off our to do list. After a year or so, I was approached by the pastor and asked to teach the College Sunday School Class. I of course declined. They were persistent and eventually I reluctantly agreed to teach the class. We started in a study of the heroes of the Old Testament that was easy, non-threatening, and added to the score I was attaining in my broken religion rule keeping. However, I noticed that the lives of several of these students were much better than my own.
When we finished our study of the Old Testament heroes, we switched to a study on the book of James. As we worked through this book, GOD began to speak to me very clearly. James 3:1 was a particular verse that HE used to speak to where I was living. It says, “Let not many of you long to be teachers because as such you will incur a stricter judgment.” GOD began to open my eyes to the Broken Religion that I was following. HE clearly pointed out that I could not compartmentalize my life. I could not set up a scoring system in which I added up my efforts and subtracted my mistakes. Instead as Luke 9:23 states, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow ME.”
GOD was saying “Larry, I have to be first, I have to have dominion over all of your life. You have done nothing and I have done everything. Come rest in ME. Don’t think that you can keep score, don’t think that you can live one way on Sunday and another the rest of the week. Trust in ME.”