I became a Christian when I was 31 - it was a choice. I'm not a Christian because I went to church or believed a little in God or because I live in a Christian country.
Here's why I became and Christian.
I did not grow up a Christian. I always believe in God but I never thought much about him, other than when my parents said grace before dinner.
Once in a while I thought about God, like because the sun rose every day and it's not humanly made. Something made it. Must be God.
Just like when I cut my finger and a scab grows and then it heals with no marks. And when I drop something, it always falls to the ground, not sideways or up and down. No one can explain why these things do what they do, but we trust and hope that the sun will rise tomorrow like it's supposed to and that a scab will grow and that stuff keeps falling down, not up. We just trust.
I didn't get married in a church. I didn't think had anything to do with marrage. I could do it without him. And I did, at the Holiday Inn in Toronto.
Through my 20's I was happy. I wasn't hooked on drugs, I barely drank, my marriage was good. I owned a house, had a dog, wife and daughter. My career was going good. I had a small celebrity status at CKLC in Kingston. Life was good. God was not in it.
WHEN I DECIDED
After a couple of radio moves I ended up in Pembroke and I was working in secular radio. Still, everything was good.
Our seven year old daughter Crystal found something to do on a Wednesday night with a friend - they went to a kids program in a church. She was on a team and one of the ways her team could score points was to memorize Bible verses, which she was very good at. And if she brought a friend to church.
Crystal saw Janice and I as two points so she took us to church!
It wasn't creepy or boring. At church we found friends our age,and there was something different about them and we found out it was because they were Christians and there was a lifestyle change. They were kind, didn't swear, always encouraging, and went out of their way to be nice. We liked that, and wanted to be the same.
THE JESUS DEAL
I didn't decide to be a Christian as a last resort, because as I said, everything was good. I had control over most aspects of my life. But still, my new friends were talking about God like he was a friend. I mean, they really knew what they believed.
We were asked if we believed in a historical guy named Jesus. They said, 2,000 years ago he taught about God to anyone who wanted to listen. Then, when he was the age of 33, a group of angry people didn't like what he stood for and the politicians felt threatened by him so they killed him on a cross. (Sounds familiar, doesn't it?!) Then, after three days of being stone cold dead, he rose.
But he came back to life after three days? Come on!
I already believed that the sunrise and finger scab were creations by God, so why not? There were 500 people who saw Jesus face to face after he was dead, so it's a historical fact. So ok - I'll believe that.
It was a step of faith. I can't prove the Jesus deal.
Then I was told two basic Christian benefits:
- I will have the Holy Spirit of Jesus in me, all the time, giving me guidance, now, in this life. It is a logic that I won't find on my own.
- When I die, I will go to heaven.
I was told that God draws the line. Heaven is his house. He decides who gets in. We don't get in because we think we're nice people. We have to believe it.
So, I said, "I believe in God. What's the Jesus thing?"
When Jesus died, he took all of the badness with him. And if I believed that my badness was taken by him too, he would forgive all my junk, and when I die, I would go to heaven with him.
I chose to believe it.
My pastor asked me if I wanted to be a Christian. I said 'ya'. So did Janice. I didn't know what to pray so my pastor prayed and asked me to repeat it. It went something like this.
"God, I want you in my life. I'm sorry for all the bad stuff I've done. Thank you for loving me so much that you died for me. I accept your forgiveness. Help me be like you." That was it. That's what I said to be a Christian.
THEN WHAT HAPPENED
Even after I was a Christian I didn't want to hear about God in music. Mostly I loved the Rolling Stones and Christian music was probably all junk. Two years later, I listened to a Christian song by Geoff Moore. It was pretty good.
One day I was in the car with my Rolling Stones cassette and my new (Christian) Geoff Moore cassette. Was I crazy? I chose the Geoff Moore album over the Stones and I remember thinking, "God what are you doing to me?" (Holy Spirit guiding me.)
I was hooked. The music was equally professional but the words to the songs were encouraging me in my faith. They reminded me that God is real. Since being a Christian was more than a religion but was changing my life, I fell in love with Christian music.
Other stuff changed. My movie choices, my choice of friends, how I treated my wife, how I worked for my boss. I just decided that if I put God's choices before mine, he was would be happy. And because of that, I was happier!
Being a Christian affects everything I see and do. What movies I watch, who I hang out with, how I feel about homosexuality and abortion and weed and many other topics that have become controversial.
I'll confess, I don't believe everything my pastor says or everything my friends believe. And that is why there are different denominations like Baptist and Pentecostal. But we all believe that Christ died and rose after three days and we're forgiven. It's secondary topics where there are differences.
Today, I think that as a Christian, this is as close to Hell as I'm ever going to get. If I wasn't a Christian, this would be as close to Heaven as I would get.
So, my non-Christian friends. That's my story. Christianity is not a religion I've made up or I follow because it makes sense. It's a step of faith.
When I get depressed and feel like "this Christian stuff is just one big coincidence, I think of two important things. I think about the miraculous sun rise. And I think about Geoff Moore - he's a smart guy. If this Christian stuff was all made up fantasies, Geoff would have given up his faith and so would Billy Graham.
You make your decision.