Monday, January 21, 2008

From Atheism to Faith (Justin Combs)

The First Steps in My Journey

During my adolescent years, I used to think that my eyes were my best friends, for I used them extensively to view what is good and what is bad, concerning myself and others. As somewhat of an outsider, I saw many of my fellow classmates as better than I was. They seemed to have everything that was highly valued by teenagers of the modern era: good looks, many friends, fancy cars, fancy clothes, and recognition as being superior. They had everything that I did not. Since I was also overweight and very shy, my ostracism only improved. One thing that they certainly had that I did not was a social life that seemed to endure without end. I longed to have a lifestyle that was equivalent with the popular crowd. Being that I spent most of my weekends at home, doing homework, watching television or reading, I felt as though something was truly missing from my life. My lack of social gratification was making me feel empty, or so I thought at the time. It wasn’t until after I graduated high school and started college that my social life would turn for what I thought was better.

During my first semester in college in the fall of 2003, I started to make many new friends by learning from my previous mistakes. Aside from the new friends, I also learned to develop the appropriate social skills that would make me into the person that I desired to be at the time. I also learned to dress in a conventional manner and I lost some weight, which helped to increase my self-confidence. It wasn’t until shortly after I started my college career that I tasted beer for the first time, and I would grow to love it. I went to many social gatherings and made up for lost times, entertaining myself and acting in ways that I would have never acted before that time (the alcohol had a lot to do with this). I was really changing for the better, or so I thought, and I had more fun in the first few months of college than I did throughout all of high school.

I learned a great deal about human behavior during this personal transition, which was why I declared psychology as my area of study early in my college career. Since I knew how it felt to be on the outside looking in, I was able to walk around in the shoes of many others, and I had much insight on the interpretation of one’s cognitive processes. For the first time in my life, I thought that I had all the answers I needed in order to find happiness. For the next three years I frequently went to many parties, and I had actually started to talk to girls on a regular basis as well. There was hardly a time when I would not have something to do on the weekends. Needless to say, my territory was expanding quite nicely. This would be my idea of truth and pleasure during the biggest part of my career as an undergrad. However, near the end of that three-year period I would come to realize the folly of my new lifestyle.

While I was still a freshman at Northern Kentucky University, I met a nice looking girl named Erin whom I frequently saw at the parties I attended. We became very close after a year of getting to know each other, and I would grow to truly care about her. While I never officially asked her out, she would become the closest thing to a girlfriend that I ever had. Even though I had these feelings for her (she had the same feelings for me as well), I did not show her the love that I should have. Instead, I showed her great disrespect on more than one occasion, and we had many arguments as a result. Out of respect for her and myself, I will remain confidential when talking about our disagreements. I will say, however, that I would make her feel rejected and hurt. I am also ashamed to say that I would make her feel bad in order to make myself feel better. After receiving too much of my disrespect, however, she would come to realize that she had enough of me.

As her and I were talking on the phone during a rainy evening in December of 2005, she told me that she had feelings for me. I could not fully understand why she was falling for me, as I had done nothing to truly sweep her of her feet, so I rebuked her for this. Using psychology to my advantage, I tried to convince her that she did not know what she wanted and that she was just opening up to me because she felt that she had no other options (which was a total lie on my part, for she was a very attractive young lady who could have had any man she wanted). We then exchanged a few harsh words. After making her feel low as I had done, she gave up. Erin then cursed me and told me never to call her again. Because I was so convinced that I was right, I cut myself off from her, for I thought that she was being immature when she was really justified in her anger. We would not speak again for a long time.

Speaking as one who has looked into the field of psychoanalysis, I can safely say that, at first, I thought that I was getting what I had always wanted by dumping Erin. During my years in high school, my heart was broken many times. I was also greatly insulted by many pretty girls who felt as though they were better than me. There were even times when I had hoped to date some of those girls so that I could break their hearts and get even. My wish went along with the theory of social identity, or the theory that people favor their attributes over those of others in order to enhance self-esteem. According to this theory, many people who feel a threat to their self-confidence will often find a way to counter those who are threatening them by attacking their inner-self as well. When this is handled immaturely, it can lead to psychological warfare in which no one wins. I did everything I could to maintain my own self-image, but after the war between Erin and me, it would start to break again, just as it did in high school.

I felt as though this was a dream come true with Erin’s heartbreak, for she fit the criteria for the type of girl who would have insulted me had she knew me in high school. She was the type of girl that I never thought I would have a chance with before my college years. She was gorgeous, popular, and very friendly most of the time. However, she grew up feeling like she was at the top of the social pyramid, just like the girls who had hurt me in my earlier years. I will admit that there have been times in the past where I had hoped to bring my popular peers down from their high horse. After years of being at the bottom, I finally had my chance to live out my dream by hurting Erin as I did. I thought that I would truly feel great by tearing down her self-image to strengthen my own, and for a very short while after this happened I did. Not long after I had broken it off, however, I began to realize that I would rather have my own heart broken than to break the heart of someone else. Of course, due to my enlarged ego, I did not call her back to apologize as I should have done, and I reaped the consequences as a result.

After a short while, I started to think about what I was becoming. I was once a shy and timid adolescent who became an arrogant jerk who broke the heart of a young lady who deserved much better than what I had given her. I was now the popular guy who was attempting to break the confidence of those who I saw as beneath me. I was becoming the very thing that I had once despised, and I would look at myself in the mirror and feel both pride and frustration for who I was.

I still continued to go to parties, but I soon started to lose the enjoyment that I once had when drinking excessively. I was filled with guilt toward the way Erin and I had separated, for it was purely my fault. Mixed in with my stubborn pride and my need to fill the void that was sadly familiar, I was beginning to gain true sorrow in my heart because of my extreme internal conflict between these two variables of my character. Even though these empty feelings were returning, I was still convinced that I had to continue to live in self-indulgence and self-centeredness to be truly happy. This was still my idea of truth. This "truth," as I had once considered it to be, was coming to an end and would leave me feeling lost for the months to come.

Christ Knocks on My Door

During the summer of 2006, I attended a very big party on the fourth of July that a good friend of mine arranged. The party took place in a large field behind his house. We had a large fire and a keg full of beer that quickly started to dwindle. This night, however, was different from a typical night at a party for me. By midnight, I was setting aside from everyone else by the fire, observing the immature behavior of my fellow college students who were at the party. While I was watching, I started to wonder if that was how I looked and acted when intoxicated. I looked down and stared at my cup of beer that was half empty, feeling great doubt about the person I had become. I finished the rest slowly, contemplating my reason for being there.

After I had finished my beer, I decided to go to my car so that I could have some quiet time. I would remain in my car for the rest of the night, thinking very hard about my life until I fell asleep. I realized that night that there was still a void in my heart and that socializing at parties regularly was not working the way that I had hoped it would. I felt as though I had become a fool, realizing that committing your life to self-gratification was indeed a sad way to live. I truly felt that night that no matter what I committed my life to, whether it was entertaining myself, pursuing another serious relationship, or even pursuing a career as a clinical psychologist, it would all come to a sad end, leaving me alone and frustrated internally for the rest of my life. Over the course of the following weeks, however, my life would change forever.

After that night, I started to deviate from what I once considered the "good life." I continued to feel as though something was missing in my heart. The fact that having a social life did not fill the void made me even more depressed, as I was still convinced that a good social life is the key to happiness. There were times when I would look into the mirror and speak to myself in hopes of feeling better about my life. I would say to myself, "Justin, snap out of this. You have changed from a nerd to a cool guy all on your own, so get yourself back into shape and get back on your feet." As you can see, I was an absolute mess, for deep down I knew that this lifestyle was wrong for me, but I also felt as though nothing else would work. For the next few weeks, I would still embrace this lifestyle, although I was not as enthusiastic about it as I had once been.

When I was talking to myself in the mirror, I was breaking God’s first commandment by worshiping a god other than Him (Exodus 20:3). The "self-help" talks served as my way of praying. I was looking to my own "wisdom" and convincing myself that I should continue to live in hedonism as I had done for the past three years. However, despite these attempts to convince myself that selfish partying is okay, deep down I felt as though I something wasn’t right about this. Something inside of me was poking at my conscience. I eventually learned that God was trying to get my attention. Sometimes God will come into your life and answer your questions when you least expect it, even when you are praying to the wrong deity. In this case, the wrong deity was myself. As I was looking to myself in the mirror for guidance, God came in and flicked me in the head, saying, "EXCUSE ME, I’LL TAKE THIS CALL." He would open my eyes by leading me to a television program that would serve as the good seed for the plant that would eventually grow into something amazing.

It was on a Wednesday night, several weeks after the fourth of July party. I was searching through various channels with the hope of finding something worth watching. While I was surfing the networks, I came across a documentary on the History Channel that was discussing Biblical prophecies. The topic that night was the great tribulation and the rise of the Antichrist, which is said to take place before the second coming of Christ. The show was just starting when I made it to that station, and it held my attention from the very beginning. This was Christ’s way of knocking on my door, as He does with all men and women (Revelation 3:20). When it was over, there was a certain spark in my heart that I could not quite explain at the time. All I knew was that it felt so right.

Before this time, I had never really thought about religion. Being a psychology-oriented college student, I used to think that religion was a type of "drug" for men and women that helped them to justify our existence in a simplistic way. I also saw it as an irrational way to cope with the hardships of life. To sum it all up, I believed that religion was both wrong and illogical. However, my ideas of religious faith were based on lack of knowledge, invalid assumptions, biased ideas, and great misunderstandings. For example, I accepted the atheistic idea that the Bible was contradictory, even though I myself had never read it. When I first read the Bible, I was surprised to find that it warns us of those who handle the Word of God deceitfully in hopes of distorting its message (II Corinthians 4:2), so my preconceived notion of a contradictory Bible was thrown out the door. Like many psychologists, I was prideful for being a scientist, and I never considered anything to be real unless empirical research was conducted to show me that it was true. I used to think that the Bible could not go hand in hand with science, for I assumed that it was nothing more than superstition. I learned quickly that I was wrong.

Within a week, I was praying on a regular basis and reading my Bible (my grandmother, who is a religious person, gave me this as a gift many years before, but it collected dust up until this time). The more internally involved I became with God, the more I truly wanted to learn. After a while, I got to the point where I was praying five or six times a day and reading my Bible every chance I got. I also started going to the local Baptist church on a regular basis as well. I was also amazed at what my pastor, Brother Terry Wilder, said at his sermons. It was as if he knew exactly what I needed to hear. Everything that was happening to me went beyond reasoning, and what I once considered superstition was now a reality. If this happened to someone else, I would have considered these events to be nothing more than a coincidence. However, since they were happening to me, I realized that I was being very close-minded when I made my criticisms, for I did not understand what they were going through. I had to experience the touch of God for myself to truly understand what being a Christian was really all about. Now that God was working in my heart, He told me something that I never expected to hear.

My New Calling

After considering God and allowing His influence to come into me, I began to feel as though something was wrong about my career choice and that I was not doing what He wanted me to do. I had a nagging feeling that psychology was not my true calling in this life and that I was truly meant for something else. It was as if someone was pulling on my shirt sleeve and telling me to walk down a different road. I realize now that the hand that was tugging at my shirt was God’s presence and the shirt sleeve was my heart. I began to realize that if I do not submit now, I would be tormented for the rest of my life. I would be like the prophet Jonah, who ran away from God’s calling to go to Nineveh to preach His word (Jonah 1:2-3). Because I was tired of trying to find answers on my own, I gave up my own will to do His. I was to become a minister, and to dedicate my life to helping others find the inner-peace that comes from Jesus Christ.

God called me to become a spiritual doctor and to help those who need to know Jesus Christ and embrace Him as the Lord and Savior of all humanity. However, He did tell me to finish my B.S. in psychology and that I am to apply what I learn as an undergrad to what He needs me to do. He has called me to go to graduate school to be a pastoral therapist, or one who Christ uses to heal those whose hearts are troubled and whose spirit is broken. For the first time in my life, I had finally been made whole when Jesus decided to let a stubborn fool like me into His

Church. I came to realize that Jesus is the greatest counselor that any of us could ask for. When I first saw that documentary on the History Channel, my life improved in a very short period of time.

By this time, as you already know, I had subconscious insecurities about myself that were really bothering me. Had I gone to a clinician for help, it would have taken months or even years to cure me. With Jesus, however, I made a very dramatic turnaround in just a matter of days. Within a week, I was transformed from a humanistic wretch, who lived only for his own gain, to a humble, God-fearing man who was out to serve Him and others in any way that I could. Most psychologists will argue that dramatic personal change takes time. Granted, it does take a long time if you use man-made methods of treatment. This was something that I believed to be the absolute truth, for the psychological literature that I had read supported this theory. For a man to make the dramatic changes that I had made, it should have taken a long time. God convinced me that He is real by proving to me that time is not an issue with Him, for the pains that I had suffered had been nailed to the cross. This just goes to show that Christ can make all things new if you embrace Him (Revelation 21:5).

With God Almighty by your side, anything is possible. As soon as I prayed for Jesus to wash away my sins, everything had been made right, and I had been crucified with Him so that I could obtain eternal life. After I had died on that cross, our Lord and I had become one, and His presence now rests in my heart, reassuring me that I He is with me no matter where I am. What a joy it is to be made right with God, for He took it upon Himself to lay the iniquities of man upon the eternal Son so that we can be made clean (Isaiah 53:6). This is what it means to be reborn and baptized with the power of the Holy Spirit, and it can happen right now if you are willing ask for forgiveness.

Because of this sudden calling, I decided that I should schedule an appointment with Brother Terry to discuss my transformation from a foolish know-it-all to one who has gained true knowledge with the teachings of Christ. The meeting was the first time him and I had spoken formerly. However, after telling him my transitional story, which dates back to my early teen years, he was speechless. I could certainly understand his surprise, for it is not everyday that a young college boy who parties every weekend comes to his office to tell him that God has called him to minister to the people. At that very moment, I made a lifelong friend who would embrace me as a true family member. The meeting was fantastic, as we spoke for several hours about everything from theology to global news. After the interview I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit, and pure joy was sent unto my mind and my body. Up until this point I did not even know what peace was. I learned that peace came from Jesus Christ and no one else.

My Escape From the Devil’s Wrath

Two days after the meeting with Brother Terry, I would encounter something that truly scared me. It happened at night when I was alone in my house. During the appointment, Brother Terry warned me about the greatest challenge that I would face while working as a disciple of Jesus: as a believer, you are a constant target by God’s opposition. This opposition is most commonly referred to as the Devil, Lucifer, and Satan. He was once the greatest angel in until he tried to supplant God’s authority (Ezekiel 28:15). Others refer to him as the Light-bearer, as he masquerades as an angel of light, deceiving many into lifestyles that appear to be good on the outside, but contain eternal poison at the center (II Corinthians 11:14). During my years of indulgence his servants led me astray, convincing me that drinking and dedicating your life to your own enjoyment was the only way to find happiness. It is sad to say that many are led astray by seducing spirits who have an evil agenda (I Timothy 4:1).

Please keep in mind that the events that I am about to describe are to be taken literally, and that I am not exaggerating when I give my explanation. This was a true demonic encounter that is not to be taken lightly. I am telling you this because there are evil forces at work that many people underestimate and/or ignore. Also keep in mind that I was not drunk at this time (it had been over a month since I had alcohol before this night). Neither do I have any mental disorders, nor have I ever taken any hallucinogenic drugs of any kind, so this was not my imagination. We must be prepared to face these demons whenever they try to lead us away from eternal salvation. Take heed to this part of my story, for it was at this point that I truly learned what Jesus saved me from.

On that terrifying night, I realized that Satan was not ready to let me go. As I was lying in bed, I had a very strong feeling of a dark presence in my room. This presence was unseen to my eyes, but I still knew that I was not alone. My body was covered in chills as I heard evil cries in a language that I could not interpret. The voices sounded like they were in torture, but at the same time were very aggressive and hateful. Even though I could not understand the voices, I still knew that I was somehow in danger. The terror I felt was not for my body, but for my soul. My heart was frozen in fear, for these sounds were anything but human. I learned from this experience that Satan is a roaring lion who seeks to devour anyone who belongs to the Church (I Peter 5:8).

After gathering enough strength to move, I reached for my Bible on my night stand and held it close to my chest. I was so scared that I was hardly able to move, for I had an old childish fear that if I stepped out of my bed, something would come and grab me from under my bed. After picking up my Bible, God’s voice came into my heart with these words: "KNEEL AND PRAY TO ME NOW IN THE NAME OF YOUR ETERNAL LORD, JESUS CHRIST, FOR NOTHING ELSE WILL SAVE YOU THIS NIGHT." His comforting voice gave me a sense of reassurance that I did not know before that night, and I knew then that everything would be okay if I did as He instructed me. After He spoke to me, the coldness left my chest and strength came in. I worked up the courage and knelt on the side of my bed, praying desperately for Jesus to save me. I prayed intensely for about half an hour. When my prayer was over I put myself back on my bed and the evil spirit was cast out by the power of Jesus Christ. We should never underestimate the power of Christ, for His death on the cross was the resolution for Satan’s hold over this world (Hebrews 2:14).

When I was once again on my bed, I closed my eyes and the Holy Spirit came upon me once again. It was like a smooth never-ending river that flowed through my chest. I mean this literally, for something was really flowing through me that was very refreshing. Every atom and every molecule in my body was filled with the warmth and the pure essence of God’s eternal grace. The cold fear in my heart turned into warm love that is unequal to anything that this world has to offer. Praise His name. I am very thankful to say that I did not see these evil beings with my own eyes, for I knew that I would have passed out in complete horror if I had, and I would be in complete shock for probably the rest of my life. I knew then that my life was in God’s hands now and that He would be my shield. My battle with evil, however, was still not over.

During that time I was working for a freight contractor at the Cincinnati International Airport. One Saturday my fellow coworkers and I gathered to organize our yard outside our warehouse. I jumped on the passenger seat of one of our tugs as a friend of mine who I was working with drove into the yard. As we drove out of the warehouse, I fell out of the tug and landed on my head, cracking my skull on impact and knocking me into complete darkness. Based on testimonies from my fellow coworkers, I realize now that I had fainted before I hit the ground, for Brent (the driver) was being very careful when he drove the tug. This was the first time in my life that I passed out like this, and I know for a fact that the Devil was the cause of this mess. It was his intention that I would suffer from this severe injury and that my connection with Christ would break forever. This roaring lion was still hungry for my soul, and was not ready to let me go. By the time everyone noticed that I was injured, I was already on the ground, writhing in both shock and pain with a stream of blood coming out of my ear.

My fellow workers did all they could to keep me still and to keep me in comfort until the paramedics arrived. After they arrived they drove me from the airport to the nearest hospital, and then from the hospital to a neurological center in a helicopter. My family arrived shortly after I made it to the neurological center. They were told that I may be in here for several months and that there might be severe brain damage. Both spirit and hope seemed very low for my friends and family who were at the hospital with me or who heard about it from a phone call. Not only was the Evil One trying to crush me, but the spirits of everyone who knew me as well. However, because of the new covenant with the Lord, Satan’s plan had the opposite effect on me.

The Miracles That Followed

Because of divine intervention, my skull was completely healed without surgery. My brain had no permanent damage as well. While the doctors expected to care for me in the hospital for several months, I was there only two days and was sent home. The doctors gave my family outstanding news about my recovery and were truly inspired to praise His great name. With this miracle, our Heavenly Father foiled Lucifer’s attack and further glorified His name throughout all who were within my circle. Shortly after this recovery, I was still able to continue my career as a college student and I was still able to work for the freight contractor where I was still employed. I then lost my need to totally place my faith in science as I had once done, for there are things in this world at work that we cannot physically see.

Shortly after this accident, I could not help but to see His glory. I then touched base with many of my old friends and colleagues to tell them what had happened to me, and how Jesus lifted me up with his scarred hands and restored me to life. I was now a total fanatic for Christ and I could not help but spread the Good News of His kingdom to those I affiliated with. My local Church was also uplifted with my miraculous recovery, for it reassured them that God is still at work in the lives of His followers.

I had also come to learn after I came back to work that one of my friends and fellow coworkers, Tad, had realized his true calling in life as well because of what had happened to me. From the testimonies from my fellow coworkers who were present on the day of my accident, Tad was the one who really took charge and remained calm throughout this trial, giving orders and making sure everything was okay until the paramedics arrived. He said that this was the first time in his life that he had been in a life or death situation like this, and that he realized from this incident that he should be a police officer, for he learned the hard way that he was able to keep his cool when faced with a trial such as this. Literally right after the accident, he enrolled in the ITT Tech School of Criminal Justice to carry out his purpose that God had revealed to him, and he is still working on this task to this day. Because of this revelation to Tad, I know that this was not an accident, for God used me as a tool to open the eyes of many, which includes my friends and family in particular. I am honored to say that God used me to plant good seeds in the hearts of the believers and nonbelievers alike.

To my surprise, Erin called me back not long after my accident, totally unaware of what had happened to me. She called me because she wished to reconcile our differences and continue to be friends. I felt as though I was two inches tall, for I did not deserve to talk to her. I had treated her so bad when she did not deserve it. Because God has infinite love, however, He gave me the chance to rectify my mistake with her. I spoke to her of my accident, as well as my conversion and my call into the ministry. After telling her this, she was silent for one moment, and began to weep with both joy and sorrow. I was so thankful that she did call me back, for we had not spoken in months and she would have never known if I had died after this accident. I was also thankful for the opportunity both to apologize to her for the things I had said to her and to give her my blessing in the name of the eternal Son, Jesus Christ. God worked another miracle by convincing Erin that He exists, for she has given up the life of self-indulgence as well and is truly seeking to do work for our Lord. Her and I also established common ground, since we decided that we were just not meant to be. While her and I will never get back together, we are now a part of Christ’s everlasting Church, which is something that we would have never received had we been dating still.

Currently I am still attending Northern Kentucky University to finish my degree in psychology and I am still working for the airport freight contractor. I am very thankful that I can still continue my career as a student, as well as maintain my employment at Airport Terminal Services. I recently experienced one of the greatest days of my life when I was baptized with water in the sanctuary of Burlington Baptist Church. Once again, the Holy Spirit came upon me and stayed with me the entire day, bringing me inner peace and happiness that I once only dreamed of. Even though I had already been baptized by the Holy Spirit, and was already a member of His Church, He told me that I was to be a member of this local church so that I could expand my territory. Therefore, I came forth and asked Brother Terry to publicly show the congregation that I was now a child of the Lord.

More Spiritual Cleansing

Now that I had the membership of Burlington Baptist Church, my territory has expanded, as was His will, and I now have many church brothers and sisters that I can come to when I need to refresh my spirit. I also try to return the favor whenever I can, and I pray that my advice helps them as much as they have helped me. Because of the covenant that God and I have made, I have promised Him that I will never drink alcohol again. I have learned that man cannot live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord (Deuteronomy 8:3). Real joy does not come from the fruits of this world, but from the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Amen.

Not long after I was baptized, I had the honor of helping with the baptism of a young crippled boy named Dallas. Because he is lame in the legs, I had to help him into the baptismal pool. I did not think that this would have been possible, but I received a greater joy on that day than on the day that I was baptized. Surely it is a miracle to see a young boy such as Dallas come forth and say "yes" to Jesus Christ. I have great admiration for Dallas, for he has done something that most adults have trouble doing, for the Lord knows that I had trouble coming forth at first. Right before the baptism took place, his mother and father came up to support him. Dallas began to cry right before he was to come into the pool. He then said something that I will never forget: "I now know what you mean by tears of joy, mama." It was by God’s grace that I did not cry like an infant at that very moment. However, I had a job to do, so God decided to give me the strength to do what I had to do that day. God was very generous, however, for he gave me some alone time at home to cry for joy. I truly thank God for the blessings that have been bestowed upon Dallas.

After helping with this baptism, I learned a good lesson: while there is much suffering in this world, there is also compassion and strength that can arise from hardships. As I just said, Dallas is crippled for reasons that I do not understand. When I was an atheist, I used to think that God did not exist because there is so much suffering in the world. If God exists, then why is Dallas crippled? If God is so loving, why doesn’t he help him? I have learned through Scripture that suffering exists because of man’s fall in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-6). Before the fall, man was told to care for the Garden (or the earth), and it was done at first. The essence of that command still exists. After the fall, however, man has done a poor job of keeping up with God’s request to nurture the earth, and mankind has violated the laws of nature with careless pollution. For example, there is much evidence that leukemia is caused by man’s misuse of nuclear energy. Man’s persistence in polluting the air and water has also lead to many other health problems for mankind, the earth and the ecosystem. Because pain is ultimately the cause of man’s tampering with nature, I do not think that there are any inconsistencies between God’s love and the problem of human suffering. In the case of Dallas, I believe that his legs could be lame because of man’s misuse of the earth and its resources, which caused a disease to pass on to him, making the nerves in his legs lose power. Perhaps his mother had some sort of disease that the doctors were unaware of when he was still in her womb. While it is certain that his nerves are not functioning as they should, we do not know the exact cause of this. The only thing that I can say for sure is that his condition has resulted from man’s lack of care for the world we live in.

When I helped to baptize Dallas, I saw something in him that I myself never had before: strength. Before I converted to Christianity, I felt sorry for myself for having an unhappy life as an adolescent. I wallowed in my own pity, rejecting God because I felt as though I deserved more recognition from my fellow man than what I received. I also felt sorry for myself because of some devastating events that occurred in my family when I was a boy, which is confidential. Needless to say, I was very weak and selfish. However, when I look at Dallas, I see a boy who has a better understanding of life’s hardships than I ever had. Despite the fact that he must live with lame legs, he still knows that there is a God who truly loves him, and that his condition is the result of man’s fall from grace. Even though his cross to bear is heavier than the one I carried in high school, he shows more strength and perseverance than I did when I was his age. He has realized that his weakness can actually be used to help others, such as those who share his disability. Likewise, I learned all too late that my past experiences can be used to help people, for it has given me a good understanding of the problems that we face in an evil world where Satan seeks to destroy God’s children. For example, I would not have written this story had I not faced some of the trials and tribulations that I have already told you about. I have learned that God intervenes whenever we are faced with certain difficulties, and counters Satan’s attempts to destroy humanity by turning potential tragedies into miracles (this is what happened to me when He healed my fractured skull). If God can use a donkey to preach (Numbers 22:28), then he can certainly use a hopeless fool like me to spread His influence, even when I denied Him my attention.

Another occasion when I almost cried because of the power of the Holy Spirit was when I was watching our dock at work on a Saturday evening. Being that it was a slow day, as most weekends are the airport, I sat on my forklift for most of the shift and read my Bible when I had nothing to do. Before I opened it I asked God to speak to me through His book and tell me what He needs me to know. While I was reading the Gospel of John, a very warm sensation started to rise in my chest, and God’s spirit was literally flowing out from the words I was reading. After a few seconds, I started to choke and I once again had the feeling as though I were going to cry. I had to put the Bible down at that moment, and for a moment I could not even stand up because the feeling was so powerful. It was as if God’s hand was coming out and grabbing me, making me feel wonderful (I was reading the King James Version of the Bible, which led me to believe that this is His living Word). After I was able to gather the strength to get back on my feet, I went to the restroom to collect myself. I then thanked God for His divine touch and for the peace he has given me through Christ, just as He did on that horrifying night when the Devil sought to retake me. The power of the Holy Spirit is enough to humble even the strongest man, making him feel like a meek child.

This was just another miracle that came upon me from God, for I have never been a person who could easily cry, even when I was a child. Jesus certainly has a way of softening your heart if you are willing to let him in. It is amazing how much better you can make yourself feel if you cry with the awesome power of the Spirit in your heart. I put an emphasis on these crying sessions because there was much tension that was built up in my heart due to emotional repression. Since I had a hard time bringing myself to cry for many years, much pain was held in. The reason for my holding back is because I once viewed crying as a sign of weakness, when it is actually a sign of strength. Once again, Jesus Christ set me free from the tensions in this life by letting the tears flow.

So what is real? What brings pleasure in this life? One of the biggest mistakes that I ever made with my life is trying to place my faith in what I can see with my own eyes. If science could not answer my questions, it was nonexistent to me. While many people would argue that there is no physical proof of the existence of God or of any spiritual force, I would certainly beg to differ on this idea. My body is physical proof that God exists, for it was almost broken by Satan’s attempt to destroy my faith with my severe head trauma. The joy that I feel and the noticeable change that has come upon me is more proof that God is working inside of me, for the Holy Spirit is very noticeable when you see someone who is touched by its unconditional love. The tears of joy that stream down the cheeks of true believers, such as myself and Dallas, is proof enough that God is omnipresent and very much alive in those who believe.

There is also much evidence in the universe that shows evidence of God’s design. Skeptics usually fail to realize that you can see God through the things He has made, whether it is in the earth, the sea, the cosmos, or in humanity (Romans 1:20). I had this problem until I decided to look into the evidence that supports His existence. When I finally decided to look at both sides of the argument, I learned that the evidence for God’s case is more convincing than every skeptical claim that I have heard (I included some links at the end that gives scientific, historical and/or philosophical perspectives that support Christianity as a reasonable faith). Galileo, a great figure in the scientific revolution, saw that God’s handiwork is evident when he observed the universe through his telescope. He wrote a book on his discoveries, and stated that there is harmony between the Bible and the structure of outer space. Galileo has shown us that the heavens do, in fact, declare the glory of God (Psalm 19:1). God’s hand can clearly be seen all around us. After looking into the evidence to support my faith, I can say with absolute confidence that the atheist is without excuse in rejecting our Heavenly Father, since deep down they know that He exists just by viewing the world in which we live. While God gives us the privilege of visually sensing His work, our eyes are just one way to sense Him.

My Final Statement

For a good while now, I have shared this story with many and have gotten many different responses. Some people feel inspired by my story, while others have questioned my sanity. Some readers have even shown great anger after hearing this testimony and have given me very hateful feedback. The reactions have come in all shapes and sizes. I want to say here that do not want to offend anybody with my story, for I only intend to show you the amazing things that can happen when you give your heart to Jesus.

If you are skeptical, I want to promise you that everything that I presented in this story was truly the result of God’s hand. I was once an atheist myself, so I am already familiar with most of the arguments that have been made against the Bible and/or God. Many atheists are guilty of arrogance when they relentlessly attack Christianity, which is something that they will eventually pay for. Many also believe that they are brilliant when they think they find a contradiction in the Bible. Little do they realize that the Lord delights not in those who see themselves as glorious, but in those who know Him and practice righteousness (Jeremiah 9:23-24). Also, to those who attempt to twist the Bible in hopes of finding a contradiction, I want to warn you that it will lead to your own destruction, for God’s Word is not to be judged by fallible men and women (II Peter 3:16). Keep in mind that Jesus boldly states that anyone who causes God’s children to stumble in their faith will be punished greatly for doing so (Mark 9:42). It is sad to say that many atheists open the Bible with the intention of finding errors, which leads them to miss the mark when interpreting God’s message (the tektonics.org/sab/sab link at the end touches base on the issue of supposed Bible contradictions, errors and/or absurdities in great detail) .

To the atheist, I ask that you learn from my mistakes. I gained much pride and arrogance after transforming myself from a nerd who faced harassment into a "cool" guy who gained much admiration from those who liked to hurt others so that they can feel better. I also had preconceived notions about the Bible, so I rejected its teachings even though I did not understand what it meant to be a Christian. Only when I finally read the Bible did I see that it is accurate in more ways than one. There are no contradictions in this book (I have already read it several times and have yet to find one), nor is there any reason to reject the gift of eternal salvation. I have also taken the liberty of examining the common atheistic arguments that are made against the Bible, only to find that none of them stand up to the challenge. You may feel a sense of pride when you think that you have found an error, but it only proves that you are trying to suppress what you know in your heart to be the absolute truth. Remember, the house of the arrogant will be overthrown, but the house of the upright will flourish (Proverbs 14:11). During my times of selfishness, my pride was overthrown so that I could truly understand what God does to those who are wise in their own sight and careless when it comes to the welfare of others.

If you are of a different religion, please do not feel threatened by this, for I am not here to promote hatred toward anyone who is outside of the Church. I am not telling this story to you because I am close-minded or ignorant, for I believe in Christ because of certain things that have happened to me in the past, as you know by now. Christ showed respect to everyone He encountered while on earth, therefore I will do the same and give respect to those whom I witness to. I realize that you may have been raised with a particular belief system, so I am not going to ridicule you. Just remember this: I have encountered evil spirits before, and it was the scariest night of my life. While I was confined to my bed, God’s voice brought courage back into my heart, and I was able to think clearly again. Only with the saving grace of Jesus Christ was I set free from spiritual bondage. Without His voice, I would have been lost that night and possibly traumatized for life. I just thank God for saving me from the Devil’s grasp. I will leave it to you to decide what you make of this experience. Just keep it in mind if you ever have spiritual issues.

Wherever you stand on this testimony of mine, I hope that you will remember it when you have any questions when treading down life’s difficult road. Hostility is something that I have come to expect from my fellow man, for we live in a world that ultimately hates what I now represent. Jesus himself even warned us that His followers will be hated for His name’s sake (Luke 21:17). We are also told, however, that serving the Lord would be very rewarding in the end, despite the hardships we must face (II Chronicles 15:7). Since we live in an age where selfishness, pride and humanism are favored, Christianity has grown increasingly unpopular, for it rejects all of these things. People typically do not want to be held accountable for their wrongdoings as well, which is another reason for the growing rejection of Christ’s teachings.

It is amazing to see that I received great admiration when I was an arrogant jerk who lived for his own selfishness. However, now that I am a follower of Christ who lives to serve Him and others, mankind has shown me less respect than before. This really says something about the "morality" of humanity. Since I became a Christian, I have been ridiculed and insulted, so if you plan to do the same, keep in mind that I have heard it all before. Also remember that I was picked on a lot when I was in high school, so I have grown used to name-calling. Looking back, I think that the ostracism that I faced during my teenage years was good for me, for it prepared me for the ostracism that I would face as a member of the Church. Despite the attacks that I have endured, Christ still reassures me that He is by my side. If you want to criticize me for being a Christian, I will embrace your insults with great joy, for it only reinforces my belief that atheists are simply out to deny what they ultimately know is true. There is no reason to fear man, for man cannot touch my soul as God can (Matthew 10:28).

I know that I cannot prove everything, and ultimately I can only attest to what I have experienced. However, I know for a fact that God is watching over us at every moment. I hope you can also experience the great joy that I have received as a result of my commitment to Jesus Christ. Please do not limit your views of this world to what can be seen with your eyes, as I have done in the past. While our eyes do serve us well from time to time, they can only go so far. To truly receive God’s love, we must see Him with our hearts rather than our eyes. Remember, all that we can visually see is only temporary. The invisible forces at work, however, are everlasting. Please share this story with others who are in need of spiritual healing, for it is my intention that good seeds be planted. I wish you all the best in the name of Jesus Christ, for He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no one comes to the Father but by Him (John 14:6). Amen.

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