Personal Testimony

Posted by Steve on November 25th, 2007 — Posted in Uncategorized

September 23, 2007

 I was raised in a home where we were fairly religious and regular in church attendance but where we were not saved and did not enjoy victorious lives. I believed at that time that God was weighing my good works against my bad works in the divine scales of justice and that if my good works outweighed my bad works I’d go to heaven. The problem was that I didn’t know how God was keeping score. I didn’t know which way the scales were tipped. I didn’t know whether I was winning or losing. I didn’t know that I was going to heaven if I died and that wasn’t good enough for me.

 

I started to seriously question my faith during my early college years. I began to read the Bible for myself because at that point I didn’t trust anyone else regarding matters of faith. Yet by God’s grace I neither turned away from Christianity nor toward any of the other religious (or non-religious) options available. I felt drawn to the Bible to find answers for myself and I never doubted that the answers I sought could be found there. Thankfully, I did find what I was looking for. I found from reading Romans that I needn’t have worried about God’s scales of justice because I was producing no good works at all but rather that I was a sinner. This was a depressing realization, but only for a while until I began to understand God’s grace. I found that salvation was not on the basis of what I did but on the basis of what Christ did. One of the key verses around the time of my conversion was Galatians 2:21: “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” I finally realized that not only was it impossible to earn salvation via good works, but that if it were possible to do so, that Christ’s death was pointless!

 

Though I have few regrets, one of my main regrets was that I did grow as I should have during the first few years of my Christian life. Because I felt betrayed by the religious tradition in which I was raised, I was at that time determined to let no other “organized religion” lead me astray. Thus, I did not attend church, or even enjoy fellowship with other believers for the most part even though I knew they were around me on the college campus. My practice of spiritual disciplines was erratic at best. Predictably, I experienced little joy, victory or growth during those early years. Fortunately, that all changed when I finished college.

 

Though I accepted Christ around 1981, my Christian walk did not begin in earnest until coming to Virginia in 1985. At that point, I began to attend church regularly, study the Bible and have fellowship with other believers. Like a plant that was now well-watered and fed, I began to grow and bear fruit. This growth came not only through spiritual disciplines but also through occasional hardships and brokenness, and through the responsibilities of my career and my ministry of teaching God’s word.

 

If work and ministry are two realms in which God works to cause growth, then the third is family. My growth as a family leader began in 1997 when I married Karen and became step-father to her two sons Ryan (then 12, now 22) and Brent (then 9, now 19). Karen and I have shared the joy of having two beautiful children (Evan, 8 and Kara, 6) and the pain of having two miscarriages. I have lost both my parents in recent years. I have faced the challenges of raising teenagers and felt the pride of launching them into young adulthood. Through all this, God has been with us to give us grace to meet the challenges of family life. We feel blessed beyond measure, believing that God has done immeasurably more than all we could ask or imagine.

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