There comes a time in one’s life when you have to look into the mirror and not just see the familiarity of the reflection that stares back at you. There comes a time when one really has to look into those familiar eyes and beyond the blackness of your pupils to really see the life that has been recorded in the experiences behind them. A few years ago, I did that very thing, and I was not at all pleased by what I saw. There was a lot of clutter there of broken things, used up things, shredded wrappers of things consumed, shattered promises, and shadows of those neglected in my successful journey through life of taking care of myself before anyone else. How could this happen to a man who called himself a Christian?
Through a series of recent events and the Word of God, I finally realize what I am supposed to do with what I saw. Recalling the wreckage I surveyed that morning, some serious changes had to be made. I had been living a life as a “check-box” Christian:
- Baptized as an infant in the Methodist church – check
- Vacation bible school – check
- Sang in the church choir – check
- Participated in Methodist Youth fellowship – check
- Baptized at 18 years of age in the Baptist Church – check
I gave myself a “check” for that last one because I found the romantic notion of making my own decision to accept Christ as a worthy cause. A noble decision to be sure until forty-some years later I took a closer look at the motivation. My body was baptized at age 18 – my decision – because that was the only way I could apply the athletic talents of that same body to the services of the Beechhaven Baptists softball team and my best buds. Unfortunately, my heart had been tucked away in my equipment bag with my glove, cleats, wraps, and bats. My heart and its role as a place of residence for the Holy Spirit was not part of the ceremony. Uncheck.
This happened as I stood in the bathroom, inspecting the results of a shave, and I gazed into my own eyes. I am not sure why, but I looked deeper than ever before. I was looking for something. Not sure what or why I looked. What I did not find was what rocked my world to the core. There was emptiness. I had looked everywhere else I had ever been for that “something” to fill that sense of emptiness. This morning, I looked someplace I had never even thought to consider…inside my “check-box Christian self.” I looked deeply and found no evidence that I had an active relationship with Jesus Christ, His Father, or the Holy Spirit. Confirm box unchecked. And I cried.
Through tears I sorted through the wreckage and found there in the Ten Commandments a small victory in the fact that I had never killed anyone. However, if killing is managed like adultery, and just thinking about it counts as doing it, I am busted. There have been at least two bosses I have fantasied choking on more than one occasion. So…being ten-for-ten, or even at only 90%, the score card of my life is nothing to brag about. Now I have had my moments of goodness, but the bottom-line shows me to be a broken man in a broken world. Check.
For several years now, I have made some significant changes in my life. This post is evidence of that and is my public confession of sins, and it is my sincere profession of faith that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. He took the life scorecard away from me when I asked Him to take over my life and forgive me of my sins. As undeserving as I am to have my past forgiven, God’s grace and the blood of His Son washed me clean. Half check.
This post serves another purpose too, seeking the other half of that check. That half I am leaving in God’s hands – how to take me and use me to further His Kingdom here on earth. I have learned as I read and study God’s Word that becoming a disciple [a Follower] of Christ is as easy as opening our heart and asking Him to come in and take over. That is the half check I mentioned. You need only to confess that you are a sinner, and you cannot live life as a child of God without His help. Seems simple enough, right? There is more to being a child of God than just asking though, and too many times we do not “live” our lives as children of God after we ask Him in. We only get a half-check. This post is about working to deserve that other half-check through the journey from the perspective of a once lustful man.
Why Now? Why the Urgency?
I have recently finished a book, “Implosion” by Joel C. Rosenberg that addresses the coming implosion of America’s financial and economic systems. He describes four potential outcomes that will contribute to that implosion – not a question of “if” it will happen, but “when.” It is a sobering read, and I highly recommend it as our time is becoming short.
One outcome is the implosion of our financial systems and economy under the burden of exponentially increasing debt. The second is God removing His hedge of protection from the US and terrorist then infiltrate and destroy infrastructure that halts the economy with small nukes and/or chemical/biological devices. The third is natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, wildfires, tornadoes, etc. Seen any of those lately? And the fourth is the Rapture of the Church by the return of our Lord Jesus. Take away all the good leaders and what is left to avert an implosion? I will take door number four, please.
The only thing that could avert this implosion is a spiritual re-awakening – a spiritual revival. God has allowed this to happen twice before in America. Once right after the revolutionary war and again in the early 1800s. The question is whether God is patient enough for us to launch the third great spiritual re-awakening. Reading about the first two, it became obvious to me that they both were started with individuals who stepped up and started things rolling. So it really is up to me. And you. And others to spread the Kingdom of God on our earth.
I have my own train wreck of a life to revive. I have another half check to earn by doing the “work” of a Follower, not just tagging along for the ride to salvation as a believer. True, I have asked Jesus into my life, and that amazing moment when God hears your request and Christ lights up your soul with His Holy Spirit is really only the beginning. The “rebirth” experience is but a transaction. It takes more.
Living your life as a Follower requires more, and from what I can see, that life is bigger than me. It is so big that I cannot “do the walk” without Him in the middle of my life every single day. That means listening to Him through the whispers of the Holy Spirit that will guide me to the point of knowing and living out His will in my life. To live that kind of life, the old me must die…I had to die to the things of this world…
Think about the things of heaven not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.
So put to death the sinful earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Do not be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshipping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming.
And it is crystal clear to me that those sinful earthly things that lurked in my life had to die, and not only die, but stay dead. No one told me that Satan would have none of that. No one told me that giving my life to Christ meant taking it away from the enemy. No one told me that temptation never dies. No one told me just how pissed off and devious the devil would be in his efforts to posture temptations of the old life as a trap to win my heart back.
Without the saving grace of God and the protection of His Holy Spirit, I am fair game for the enemy. Being a Follower puts you up front with a bull’s eye on your heart. Christ is in my life, but the journey starts with me, and without Him another train wreck is waiting to happen.
So…why am I stepping out from behind the curtain of anonymity and sharing all of this? Why am I risking everything to publicly confess my sins? The answer is in the question…because everything is at risk.
So I will share some things that will lead to being judged. That is okay because on the Day of Judgment, those slings and arrows will not matter a whit. But…that is not enough. Just being forgiven and having a heart full of Christ are not enough. James, Jesus’ brother said it best…
“You say you have faith, for you believe there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?”
The action component of living a life of faith is…doing something about it. That is the second half of that checkmark I need to have. Why? Because on the Day of Judgment, I hope to be kneeling in front of the Lord Jesus. And as I kneel there, He is going to ask me, “So, Gar, with how many people did you share my Gospel? With how many people did you share the Word so that I could enter their hearts through their prayerful invitation? Did you bother to share with anyone how to pray for forgiveness and ask to know me? You confessed your sins privately to me, but did anyone else know about it? How about those left in your wake of sin? How many heard your testimony and decided to ask me into their lives? Hmmm? How many, G.?”
So here I am. The actions I am choosing to take regarding my sins may well be reason enough for someone else…maybe only one other person…maybe more…maybe others will join me in becoming a Follower…maybe they too will become a disciple and repeat what I am doing to further God’s Kingdom here on earth.
Is that mission worth risking everything? It is an easy decision. I know a lion will not eat me. I will not be stoned to death by an angry mob. I will not be nailed to a tree. All of those things considered the risk of everything matters little when my life is in God’s hands.
Anything I might lose because of posting this message are things of this world. I cannot think of anything of more value than doing His will to further His Kingdom here on earth. I am not the street corner megaphone evangelist type person. I am not even sure what I am in His eyes, but I do know he gave me the gift to write. Some might choose to argue just how much of a gift it is…but hey, I am doing it…in His name…for His glory, not mine. What do I want out of this? Simple. One thing. I want to hear His words…
“Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!”
I am Gary Wise, and these are my confessions. The words on this blog come from my heart, and to God’s glory do I dedicate what I am inspired to write down for you.
What follows is my willingness to pray with anyone who reads these words and feels that Jesus Christ is their Savior, and they need Him in their lives. To that end, I offer this prayer right now for that new beginning in a new life in Christ…
My father in heaven, you are the only Source of forgiveness for my life. I know that you already are familiar with just how deeply my sin goes, and I confess before you that I am broken. I confess that I cannot do this alone, and though undeserving of your grace, I ask for your forgiveness. I ask for your Son Jesus to become my Savior, and through my undying belief that only through his life, suffering, death, and resurrection, that His blood was spilled to wash my sins away. I ask for your Holy Spirit to come into my heart…with all your mighty armor to protect me from the evil one, and that I become a mighty, emboldened, courageous warrior in the spread of your Holy Gospel in your Kingdom here on earth.
In the name of Jesus Christ, I ask that you accept me into your Kingdom!
What is your next step? Read the Word of God and learn the story of the Holy Gospel…and then…share the invitation to know the Gospel of Jesus Christ with someone else…and encourage them to be as bold and courageous as you were to share it forward. We can be the start of the third great spiritual awakening…one Follower at a time!
In the courageous love of Christ,