MartyrTEK

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How I Became a Christian (from hating them to deliverance)
« on: January 21, 2021, 08:17:39 pm »
Everytime I share this, it blesses others. So I thought I'd contribute here. For the record, I got into apologetics after I became a Christian because I had to find answers to the charges that i used to bring against it. This is a little long, but each part builds on the other. I'll break it into 3 parts.

PART 1

I grew up in a Christian home. Mom read the bible to us every night. My uncle was a deacon in an Episcopalian church. My perception of life was slightly altered by a few things in my early years:

I was deaf for the 2 years that I was learning how to speak. Even to this day, there are certain words (for example, comfortable, profitable), that I pronounce incorrectly.
I was sexually abused at the age of 5 by a babysitter. I never told my parents of this, but I did tell them that I wanted to die at that age, and even attempted to suffocate myself.
I embraced the concept of the church as I understood it at the age of 7 and asked to be baptized. Everyone was surprised that I wanted to be baptized so early. But I never felt any change or anything, except for being wet. I even went to church camp a few times as soon as I was able, where I drowned one summer. (some quickly reacting lifeguards performed CPR and revived me.)

While my mom tried to raise us as Christians, dad didn’t care for it. He was an alcoholic and a workaholic. By the time I was 12 or 13, I caught on to the fact that we went to church but he didn’t, and told my mom that I shouldn’t have to go to church if dad wasn’t. I got to start staying home on Sunday mornings.

Mom and dad fought all the time, and I would pray for God to make them stop and for us to be a happy family. When mom kicked dad out of the house and filed for divorce when I was 14, I was mad at mom and mad at God. The next year, in my bathroom, I asked God to leave my life and asked Satan into my life.

In high school, I dabbled in the occult, and on into college where I got into drugs. While in college, I bought into some anti-biblical arguments, and would use them to shake up Christians when I met them. By the time I dropped out of college, I doubted that God existed anymore.

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God first made Himself real to me in during the 4 months that I lived in Dallas, Tx. I had ended up in Dallas after being kicked out of the house by my mom. I had no car and was living 3 of us in an efficiency apartment. I was severely using and mixing drugs. I was also severely suicidal, at times taking entire bottles of Tylenol to see if it would do the trick.
One night, at about 3 in the morning, I realized I needed to get out of there and was willing to do all that I could to do so. For that moment, I wanted to live more than I had in a long time. I called my sister in Skiatook, Ok, and told her what I had been doing, that I really needed help, and told her that if I didn’t get out of there, I was going to die.
She reassured me, and told me that she would call mom first thing in the morning, and one way or another, they would get me home.
After I got off the phone, I prayed to God. I grew up in a Christian home, but had turned my back on God and turned to Satan by the age of 15. But that night, I prayed. I asked God to get me out of there. I didn’t know if He was real or not, but I prayed and fell asleep.
Very early the next morning, the phone rang. It was my sister, and she said that she talked to mom, and both agreed that I needed to come home. She didn’t know how she would get me home, but she was going to look into a few things. She asked me to hang in there, and she would call me back.
No sooner had I hung up the phone did it ring again. It was almost immediately. This time, it was my cousin from outside of Kansas City. He just happened to be in Dallas for a few days visiting a friend and was just calling me to see if I had time to hook up. I told him what was up, and he agreed to give me a ride home.
I was home within a few days. I rode home in the back of a pickup, in the middle of the rain, and was overjoyed to be delivered out of that lifestyle of death. The immediacy of the 2 calls back to back, one with permission to come home, the other with the ride, proved to me that God was real.
Due to my stubbornness, it was still a few more years before I surrendered to God. Thanks be unto God for His mercy.

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Even though I returned home, I still did not give up on drugs. I ended up being kicked out of the house once again, only this time to end up in Skiatook, Ok, and then to Tulsa, Ok. During this time, even though I knew God was real, I had become very anti-Christian. I got to the point that I would tell my friends, “If I ever become a Christian, take a gun and blow my brains out and put me out of my misery.”
But the deeper problem in my life was depression. I had been suicidal since the age of 5, and had even put myself in the hospital when I was 15 from an attempted OD. And now I was getting into the habit of carving on myself.
Throughout the course of my life, I had tried religion and church, therapy, the occult, and drugs, and none of them helped me. I tried religion and church during my early teen years but eventually turned my back on it and rejected it. After my attempted OD, I was sent to almost a dozen different psychiatrists, and none of them could help me. In my high school and college years, I dabbled pretty regularly in the occult. And after college, I got pretty heavily into drugs.
The thing was, none of this was helping me. I was more depressed than I had ever been. I thought that no one can help me, so I need to help myself. And I bought a book called “how to cope with depression”. I read the book cover to cover, and all it did was tell me what I already knew first hand. However, there was a phrase in that book that said “90% of depressives turn to religion for help”. I knew the occult was real, but also knew that it could not help me. God had revealed Himself to me a few years before, so I asked my mom for a bible, and started reading it.
At the time, I was working the graveyard shift at a local grocery store, and would come home every morning, get high watching cartoons until I passed out. On one particular Saturday night, work had been very rough, and I came home that Sunday morning to my regular routine. When you are working graveyard, you tend to lose track of what day it is. So this particular Sunday morning in September, I was flipping through the channels but there were no cartoons on. There was an interesting old man talking to some people, so I decided to see what he was talking about. By the time I realized that it was Oral Roberts, I was already hooked on what he was saying. (What’s even funnier about this is that I hated TV evangelists, and hated Oral Roberts more than the rest.) And the end of his show, he did an altar call, and then turned to the screen, and said, “if any of you watching by TV want to ask Jesus into your life, then get on your knees, lift your hands in the air, and repeat after me. “ And that is exactly what I did. I put my pipe down, got on my knees, lifted my hands in the air, and repeated the prayer that he led me in through the TV, asking Jesus into my heart to be Lord of my life. And I not only felt something, I heard and saw something. The only way I can describe what I saw was like gold dust coming down out of the ceiling. What I heard I can only describe as a tingling. I now know that this was the Holy Spirit, which one receives when they ask Jesus into their lives. But in my lack of knowledge of God’s way of doing things, I did not know that then. For whatever reason, I actually felt, heard, and saw the Spirit descend on me.

PART 2

So now I knew I was saved, but still did not stop doing drugs because I did not know any better. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” In fact, the very next night after I asked Jesus into my heart, while getting high with my friends, I said, “Guess what I did last night? I asked Jesus into my heart.”
For the next few months, I was ridiculed for turning to God. Not too long before, I was the most adamant against God, Jesus, and the church. (I remember one day getting high at a party when a girl mentioned that she went to church that morning, and I verbally abused and lectured her so bad that others at the party were trying to get me to calm down.) Now I was for God and Jesus, but I still didn’t see the need to go to church. I was, however, reading the bible, along with a book or two that I picked up at the store (including Oswald Chambers My Utmost for His Highest (if you have not read this devotional book, I highly recommend it)), and making changes in my life to honor God as I saw in my infantile understanding of becoming a Christian.
At my work, I was promoted and was now responsible for training people. There was one person who was a sold-out Christian who came through, and during one of our conversations, he asked me if I wanted to go to church. I said sure and didn’t think about it. And in fact forgot about it.
So one Sunday evening, I had just finished getting high (I literally was high all the time), there was a knock on the door. So I scrambled to hide the paraphernalia and then answered the door, and it was my co-worker. He asked if I was ready, to which I replied, “For what?” “For Church” “Is that today?” So he took me to Guts Church while I was higher than a kite.
I had already had a brief run-in with Guts church but did not realize it at that time. Several years before, on Halloween night (the 1st Nightmare), we were killing time until midnight so that we could break into a graveyard and party in the graveyard, and someone suggested going to a haunted house style event. I was majorly down with that. And they mentioned the Nightmare, and I was seriously down with that. But then they warned me that it was put on by a church, and I went off on everyone in the car. Eventually, they calmed me down, and I agreed to check it out, but when we pulled up, the line was so long, we just turned around and drove off.
I don’t remember a thing that Pastor Bill was preaching that night, but what I do remember was that I was moved. At the end, Pastor Bill asked everyone to bow their head and close their eyes and did the altar call. I bowed my head but didn’t close my eyes. And slowly raised my hand but realized that Pastor Bill’s back was turned to me, so I quickly brought it back down. At this point, the person sitting behind me (whoever he was) started tapping me on the shoulder, saying, “It’s all right. Don’t be afraid. You can do this.” I was infuriated and it took everything within me not to turn around and start beating this guy to a pulp. (This was a major break through, as I have gotten thrown out of places before. (In fact, I used to go to places to see how far I could push them before they would throw me out.))
So I went home and swore off going to church.
A few months later, it was Easter. And I knew that one of the things you do when you believe is to go to church on Easter. It’s the biggest day of the year for a believer. So I called my sister and went to a country church for Easter. I was still doing drugs but held off until immediately after church. And I liked it and wanted to go back. We went back the next week.
On Monday, a week after Easter, one of my friend’s girlfriends called and asked if I wanted to go to church on Wednesday, for she knew I was leaning this way. I said sure. So she picked me up and brought me to Guts Church (thought it was just simply called Guts back then).
You have to understand that I was so high all the time that I didn’t remember the two previous run-ins that I had had with Guts. (There was a 4-year period that there wasn’t a day that I wasn’t chemically altered in one way or another.) But I made sure I was clean and sober when I went with her.
It was a guest speaker (I want to say it was Bobby Petruccilli), and when he did the altar call, he asked if anyone uses drugs to come up there, and I went without any hesitation. He laid his hands on me and was delivered from drugs at that moment. I went home and threw away hundreds of dollars of paraphernalia and have been clean and sober since. I also have been going to Guts ever since.

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Now I was drug-free and committed to going to church. For 3 weeks, I answered the altar call every service because I was getting extremely convicted each service. But I was still having problems dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts. I first tried to kill myself when I was 5 and put myself in the hospital when I was 15 from an attempted OD. By the time I graduated high school, I was classified as a level 5 neurotic by the state of Oklahoma. And all of this was before I started doing drugs. After I started doing drugs, I had spiraled further to where thoughts of suicide were daily. I even spent 3 months wishing that I had never been born, regretting that I ever existed.
At the end of each service, they would take those who had answered the altar call into a back room to minister to them. On that 3rd week, I hung around until I was the last one in there, and went up to Scott Starnes, the associate pastor and explained to him my problems with depression and suicidal thoughts. He laid his hands on me and I was immediately filled with a peace and joy that I had never known or experienced before. It was so strong and overwhelming, all in a good way. I actually felt drunk, which I now know that it was an infilling of the Holy Spirit.
The very next morning, I awoke to a very strong depression and the thought of suicide, one of the strongest I had ever felt before. I was standing in the bathroom, with a box knife in my hand, seriously considering slitting my wrist, or at least carving on myself (as I had been known to do for the last several years), when these words rose up in me and I spoke them out loud: “I can’t be about these things anymore. My life is not my own now. I belong to Jesus.” Understand that there is natural depression, like when my mom passed away, that we go through in life, but the depression that I battled for most of my life was unnatural, an internal darkness like one that most cannot fathom. I stand here today to tell you that the depression and suicidal urges immediately left me when those words were spoken and I have never felt them since. I spent the first 25 years of my life wanting nothing but to die, and since that morning my desire is to live for Christ. The life I now live is exceedingly abundantly above all that I can ask or think. Out of all the things that God has done for me, this is still the one that I am most thankful for, to have inner peace and joy that I never thought was possible. Do I still have bad days? Yes. But even at my worst, nothing affects me like it used to.

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As I share this, I give all the credit to God. The only thing that I could do in and of myself and ruin my life. God has been so good to me, far better than I deserve.

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MartyrTEK

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Re: How I Became a Christian (from hating them to deliverance)
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2021, 08:18:35 pm »
PART 3

Several weeks later, I was hanging out with one of my new friends from church. Over the past several weeks, I had been making many new friends that were of the same belief, and they were encouraging me and helping build up my faith.
One this one particular Sunday evening, my good friend James Korzelius (whose music is really should check out) started telling me about the Holy Spirit. And he walked me through the Bible, specifically the book of Acts, showing me the power of the Holy Spirit as written in God’s word.
This was a whole new thought to me. The church that I grew up in, the churches that I was exposed to, never taught this. But it is in the word. I remember thinking, “Wait a minute. God is real. God is really real. God is supernatural.”
Now I knew that the devil was supernatural. I spent several years dabbling in the occult. I’ve seen demons. I’ve spoken to demons. I knew a few demons by name. I even had an on and off again conversation with one demon for almost a year and a half through automatic writing (though at the time I didn’t know it was a demon.) I’ve seen friends attacked by demons. I can go on and on with this subject. I knew that Satan was supernatural.
And I knew that God was real. He had proved Himself real to me time and again by now. But I never really thought about God being supernatural. So as my friend was showing me the scriptures in the book of Acts, my resounding thought was, “God is real. God is supernatural. I’ve got to get me some of this.”
At the time, my church was having prayer services on Monday nights, which was the next day. So I went to the service, and during the service, I went up to the man who was leading the service, and said, “I need to get baptized in the Holy Spirit.” He laid his hands on me and I was immediately filled with the Holy Spirit. According to others, I went out for almost an hour.
The feeling I felt was amazing. It was better than any alcohol or drug that I had ever had. Looking back, I now know that when I prayed the prayer to ask Jesus into my life, I saw and heard the Holy Spirit coming upon me. And when the associate pastor laid his hands on me to pray for me regarding my suicidal thoughts and depression, I was filled with the Holy Spirit.
What I’ve learned since then is the Holy Spirit is the very power of God working and moving in your life. It all boils down to this question: how much of God do you want? For me, I want all of God that I can get. He healed me. He literally saved my life, for I would be dead without Him. At the very least, I would still be strung out on drugs and still living a life of darkness, depression, and the never-ending, never-escaping feeling of wanting to die. But even when I cursed and despised Him, He still loved me enough to send His Son to die for me. And there is nothing that makes me any different from you. The love that He has for me is the same love that He has for each and every one of you. Jesus dying on the cross and raising from the dead 3 days later is the very thing that we celebrate on Easter Sunday.

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For the next month or so, I was at every service the church had to offer. I was in the word daily, praying daily. And I was feeling that it was time to stop smoking. I started smoking when I was twelve, and during the years I was doing drugs, I smoked over a pack a day. So I decided to try and quit and quit cold turkey.
For the next 2 weeks, I was a nervous wreck. I would greet people with, “I’m trying to quit smoking, so don’t piss me off.” It was probably the hardest thing I had done in my life up to that time. But it did not last. After 2 weeks, I was back to smoking a pack a day.
Not long after that, a few weeks or so, I was at work taking a break, smoking my second cigarette of the day. I worked at a grocery story, and I was in the back in the shipping and receiving area. I was sitting down, watching it burn, and I heard this, “Put it out, throw your pack away, and rely on Me for your strength and endurance.”
I’m telling you I heard this audibly, loud enough that I looked up and around to see who said that. There was no one there. So I sat back down and returned to watching the cigarette burn. And again, I heard, “Put it out, throw your pack away, and rely on Me for your strength and endurance.” I heard this just as audibly as before.
Now I’m not the smartest chip on the block, but the second time I heard this, I knew it was God speaking to me. I sat for a moment considering this and then chose to be obedient. I put the cigarette out, and walked over to the trash can, pulling the pack of cigarettes out of my pocket. I held the pack over the trash can and prayed.
“Lord, I know what you are asking me to do, and I’ve already tried this before. It was very hard for me. But I am choosing to be obedient to you. I need you to be my strength and endurance through this time because I know that I cannot do it in and of myself.”
And I threw the pack away.
I stand before you telling you that just as I was instantly delivered from drugs, that morning at work I was instantly delivered from smoking. I had no desire or craving from that moment on.

I’ve shared this story before to someone who was a critic, and their response was that many people quit smoking. But I’m not talking quitting here. People who quit still go through the withdrawals of nicotine craving, like I did when I tried to quit on my own will power. But this wasn’t quitting as in putting one’s willpower over the cravings. This was in one moment having the nicotine craving, and in the next moment, no longer having that craving.

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