1. Greetings to all the Brethren from Michael Stevenson, who was born again on November 13, 1973. I'm married to Bethany of Davisville, and the Lord Jesus has blessed us with two beautiful children, Leah and Ethan. How do I labor in this world? I'm an Electronic Technician.
2. I grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during the turbulent 1960's. And wasn't that quite a time period to observe! There were hundreds of doctrines and social messages being preached from many groups, and major news events occurred both in our nation and world. A United States President was murdered while sitting next to his wife in a automobile. A war raged in a distant (from the US) land, and cultural clashes met in debate. Man ventured into space as never before, and nuclear weapons proliferated.
3. After experiencing many of these doctrines, and movements and cultural developments on high school and college campuses and also in the streets, I was left with an empty feeling. I felt to be a part of something that was not getting any better. At times I felt misled. Being without God, that was bound to happen in the midst of the will of men.
4. One night, a summer night, I rode on a motorcycle to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I was probably 17. I was just hanging out in the city, watching the lights, and the people when two young (what look like students) approached me on the front steps of the museum near the running fountains on each side. They appeared very clean cut for the times as they were wearing white shirts and ties, neat haircuts, etc. I wore none of this. They had at least one Bible with them. I was wearing tall horseback riding boots, one in which a scarf hung, LEE jeans, long hair and a denim jacket. It was unusual for two people from such an obviously different cultural background to approach an opposite in so casual a manner. But they did, and said they wanted to talk to me about God. I said, "Sure."
5. I cannot remember the exact words of the conversation but I do remember the points of our exchange very well. They said they were from a local bible college. That explained the Bible and the white shirts and ties. They preached salvation to me, in the name of Jesus Christ, and I listened. That is the message that I remember. When they concluded, they asked me right away, whether I would pray with them? Slightly off balance, I said, "OK." They looked at each other for a moment, and then led me in a prayer, asking Christ Jesus to save my soul.
6. After our prayer was ended, they were completely overjoyed! I was very surprised at their reaction. I was surprised because they were so happy about something I apparently did. It was an unmistakable joy. They told me that I was saved. They were so very happy and obviously fulfilled in what they had set out to accomplish, as they started packing up their Bibles to leave. I was really astounded at this encounter with them. 'What had happened?', I asked myself.
7. As they were walking away with great satisfaction, I shouted to them asking, "Hey, how will I know I got saved?" One half turning to look back (as they were crossing a big street) shouted, "Don't worry, you'll find out." I never saw them again.
8. When I returned home (to Germantown), I told my family and my neighbors what happened in a joking kind of way-- not ridicule, but just as it happened. The recurring image in my mind of their joy and quick departure had really struck me. Those guys had come through the Philadelphia Art Museum like a worldwind!
9. Time passed, and the fact is, I continued to live in sin, as the world lead me in it's fleshly goals, all through high school and a year of college. I was tossed to and fro as I came in contact with many more social forces in a new college environment far from home. After one year in college, I couldn't take anymore non-reality. America was at war with itself in the streets concerning the Vietnam War and I was in a classroom studying the periodic table of elements (Chemistry).
10. After completing my freshman year, I went to register again in for my sophmore year at college in the fall of 1973, but did not complete the registration process. Instead, I left, left the entire state (of North Carolina) and went searching for... well, something while still living in sin. I went to many places and worked several jobs for short periods of time and finally ended up (of all places) in Reading, Pennsylvania. My sister had attended college there, and now was employed in the vicinity. Living in Reading was emotionally shocking for me because I was never really "away from home" before, out of the "security" of a school, etc. At this point in my life, I felt somewhat "Like a Rolling Stone", a character well described in the song by the same name written by Bob Dylan in that era. I remember one late afternoon looking at the sunset, thinking of God and saying to Him how much I really wanted Him.
11. Within the next two weeks I was walking down a street in Reading when a group of young people greeted me early in the afternoon, and told me that evening, in their home, they were going to have a Bible study, and asked would I like to come. I said, "Sure". I was not saved nor did I understand anything about being saved, but in my outlook on life, nothing was off limits to me. It had been a very kind invitation and I accepted.
12. That evening around 6:00 or 6:30pm I arrived to a home with a living room full of people all with their Bibles, open and ready. It was soon evident that the focus of the evening was me, as I was asked questions to determine where I stood spiritually. I know now and am happy to be able to say that this bunch had one goal in mind and accomplished it. That goal was the simple sharing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When that Gospel arrived in my ears and into my heart, it caused me to call out to Jesus that evening to receive Him as Lord and God.
13. The method these employed while witnessing to me the Gospel of Jesus Christ on the evening I was saved was very effective. They simply shared scriptures with me, without any commentary that I can remember. And the overwhelming effect of the powerful words of God came down on me with an anointing of His Spirit. I sat in the middle of their living room floor and listened as different people simply read from the scriptures;
"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."
14. As each verse was read, the truth about salvation in Christ Jesus of Nazareth cut into me deeper and deeper. It was as though the words of the Bible were speaking directly to me. It was as though God was speaking directly to me. Overwhelmed, I just nodded my head at the completion of each subsequent scripture, because I was trying to control the emotions I was experiencing in their' hearing. I didn't want to cry in public, especially in front of the girls who were there.
"The same was in the beginning with God."
15. I must have said something in a soft voice like "Ok, that's plenty", as I held up my hand for them to stop. I told them, "If you read any more I'll cry." One of them said, "Well let's just save him, then!" The overwhelming presence of uncut truth in my ears caused my own spirit to collapse in the presence of the Holy Spirit. God did it all. He prepared my heart, and those of the people who shared his gospel with me. And He saved my soul giving me the gift of eternal life.
16. They lead me in a prayer of salvation. This time I knew exactly what I was praying for and exactly Who I was praying to. When I finished I knew exactly what had happened. I had been saved-- saved by Jesus, the Christ. I was not going to the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:15) that I had heard of and believed existed. I was now going to Heaven, forever. That was the evening of November 13th, 1973.
17. Speaking about this night I was saved, I wonder can you imagine what it was like walking out of the door of that place where you just heard the best news ever in your life, having received Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour? Can you imagine, walking back out onto the streets of a lost world, suddenly being a completely different person and having a totally different existence in just an evening of time? Can you picture returning to your place of dwelling, and facing those (that you just left earlier) a totally different individual? All of this is what happened to me, the night I was born-again (or born from above) of the Spirit of God. How was I different?
18. After a time of learning more of the Bible, my time was basically finished in the town where I was saved. I went back home to Philadelphia, PA (a.k.a. "philly"; but I've always thought 'Philadelphia' to be a such a beautiful name). I went back to the friends and family I grew up with. Of course I use the term 'friends' in the sense of anyone I knew in the neighborhood when growing up. And now having returned there, I began to share with others the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I did this as a natural fruit of the Spirit of God, (as opposed to a product of a Witness Training Seminar). Immediately I learned a major fact about people, the kingdom of God, and some of the cost my faith in Jesus Christ would require.
19. It's as simple as this-- I was too naive at the time to realize that anyone would react to the Gospel of Jesus Christ as it were the plague or something. Remember I was still bubbling over in the joy of the Spirit of Christ and the joy of salvation! I had good news to bring to my friends and associates just as I had done in my unsaved past about other things. I was not a member of any organized, incorporated Church fellowship, and was not representing (or protecting) a denomination. This was a pure sharing of joy! So then the rejection I was about to encounter was shocking, but the receiving by others of His Gospel only adding to my joy and strength.
20. I made the HUGE mistake of judging and/or incorrectly accessing people. Though I did share the Gospel with most who I came in contact with... I seemed to *rush to my intellectual friends and associates first. You know, the thinkers, the academically achieved, the college types, not counting my less intellectual friends and associates (for some crazy reasoning) as ready for the brunt of this glorious truth. Boy was I in error.
21. The intellectual friends I brought the Gospel to, flatly and immediately rejected the good news I had to the extent of communicating clearly that they did not want to hear it. Later, when sharing the Gospel with the less academic, their reaction was to embrace the words of salvation in Jesus Christ, going to the extent of praying for salvation and later joining into home Bible study! Wow!
22. But let me show you even a better picture of the way my non-college type friends received the Gospel. One evening, a few of us were hangin' out in my (father's) garage, just talking like always. What was pouring out of my lips was the wonderful information I had learned about Jesus in the prior 2-3 months of walking in His fellowship. I simply reflected the glory of Jesus that I had seen (the bright- ness of which had overwhelmed me), and also the joy of being born-again, and did so specifically from the scriptures. I didn't realize it at the time but I talked for a good while.
23. Suddenly, realizing that I had been speaking for about forty-five minutes or so, I stopped. Just stopped-- somewhat in shock myself of what I was doing and what was going on in me. (I wasn't a speaker or anything, just one of the guys). So after deliberately holding my peace for a season, and beholding the countenance of the two I was speaking to, one of them (Robert) said, "Go ahead and tell us some more about that stuff you were talkin' about."
24. I was shocked in hearing those words and I just stared at the person who said it for a moment, maybe never having looked carefully at what was going on (spiritually) in Robert before. As I did, I noticed nothing less than a pure glow of joy on his face, and a smile generated from the Spirit that was coming over him. This I realized was the living waters of Christ's word (the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth,) flowing into the heart of a new believer.
25. You see, the very people I thought would received the Gospel, rejected it. The very people I didn't think would receive that Gospel-- did! (I had much to learn).
26. So Jesus had saved me, and then brought me back to the place of my birth where I found myself naturally sharing the good news I had found out with others. One of the ways that I did with is by the jacket I wore. Remember I was 19, in the glory days of the denim era (of which I am not sure has passed). So I like many wore a denim jacket.
27. Somewhere while in a Christian bookstore I had seen a faith emblem that I really, really liked. It had a fish symbol in the middle of it in red, and the words, "One Way; Jesus" around the emblem. I liked the simplicity of the words and sort of adopted it, sowing the emblem on the shoulder of my denim jacket.
28. Evidently that was not loud enough for me because I liked the emblem so much that I thought to create a larger version of the same emblem for the back of my jacket. How to do that?? Interestingly enough (for a guy to do), I got one of those wooden rings that you stretch material with to provide for a nice working area on the back of the jacket, drew an outline of the emblem, and "went for it"... sowing the emblem in place using identically colored thread. In the end I had exactly what I wanted-- a bold testimony for Christ to wear and witness his Gospel with.
29. Did I mention I rode a motorcycle at the time? Nothing huge but a nice healthy sized bike with a 4 stroke engine that sounded decent. This-- linked with the jacket emblem provided for a witness I did not think would happen. Many of my (older) neighbors noticed it. One was Mrs. Ryder, way up there in the 80's+ somewhere, with whom I only had a "good morning" and "good afternoon" relationship with in the past. She evidently saw the emblem on the jacket and one day shouted to me from her porch, that she wanted to talk to me. Naively, I had no idea why, this was definitely a cross-generation event that did not happen often. I answered, "Sure!"
30. Arriving in Mrs. Ryder's tradition home with my somewhat long hair (now long gone) denim clothes, and I'm sure boots to match, I sat down with her at her kitchen table for this chat. She said that she had seen something on my back that caught her interest. Immediately I realized that Jesus was bringing to people (decades apart in age) together in fellowship. I told Mrs. Ryder all about what happened to me, becoming born-again and we quite opening worshipped Jesus together in her hope while simply sharing our experiences with Him. The fellowship was just as good and read as I had anywhere else in my short 3 or 4 month new life in Christ. All these years and I never knew that Mrs. Ryder too, knew Jesus as Lord. I was greatly blessed.
31. This had been the first of many, many get-togethers in Mrs. Ryder's home. Even years later after life took me in another direction and out of Philadelphia, I often would call Mrs. Ryder or stop into her home for more of that good-good fellowship and joy that rose up when people dare to speak openly about Jesus. Again it was some of the bless fellowship of my entire life.
32. I got the word years later that Mrs. Ryder died. You know- when you hear that, there is an emotional sadness that may even water a guy's eyes like mine. But-- there is also a joy, because of a known salvation... the absolute surety that a person you loved is with Jesus in eternity and in unspeakable joy. I long to see her once again.
33. There was a teen aged girl back in our Philadelphia neighborhood (to which I had returned), named Lynn. I was quite surprised to hear her say one day to me that she was attending a Bible study at "a lady's" house in the area. That perked up my ears because I cared about what Lynn was hearing, and wondered what might be taught at these Bible studies. So I went along at the next scheduled meeting, and found the place to be the home of the Chamberlain family. About five in number they all loved Jesus and had a Godly home. The mother, Mrs. Chamberlain was the head of the single parent home. She seemed to be doing all she could to point her children towards Jesus.
34. I enjoyed the Bible study and developed a relationship with Mrs. Chamberlain going to her home several times. Once she invited me to a prophecy conference at a makeshift Bible school in West Philadelphia. I went along again as I was hungry and eager to experience more of Christ.
35. The "prophecy conference" turned out to be a small school operated by a church group that had a very simplex view of the Revelation, and could pretty much be discounted. For instance, one of their ideas was that
36. I doubt it. Anyway I wasn't educated enough to even make a comment at the time so the whole study just breezed by me. But you know, if your purpose is to see the glory of Christ, you can "get something" from just about any situation you are in. I was greatly blessed during the testimony time that evening, by a young man who stood up and said that he wanted to thank God and to give Him glory for delivering him from homosexuality. All present said, "Praise the Lord."
37. While driving home I thought long and hard about the character of that young man and the strength it must have taken to make such a public testimony. Many would be ashamed to because of the humility of the whole thing. But this young man would not rob God of His glory, nor of His due thanks giving, and stood boldly, telling all who had ears that he had been delivered by Jesus Christ from homosexuality. Frankly, I thought him to be "more of a man" than most there, and his honesty and boldness were an example to me that helped me to grow as a young believer not yet four months old in the Lord.
38. Just 2 months into my new life in Christ, back home in Philadelphia, it continued to expand. My earthly father, Robert was one life that I encountered in presenting the Gospel. My father was the type of person that if approached with something he did not like, he would not protest until 'fed up' so to speak. Apparently he did not like something about my presentation of the Gospel, or that salvation in Jesus Christ was something I talked about a lot, if not all the time.
39. I really had no idea that he felt that way but I "got the message" one day in the kitchen when after giving him a Chick Tract (which had an overwhelming impact on my own spiritual life), he tore it up in multiple pieces while telling me, "I have had enough of your Jesus". Once again the excitement and shock of living a pro-active life in Christ came home to me. The tract that I gave my father, "This Was Your Life" was one of the most powerful and beneficial ones that I knew of. To me-- it was as though I was sharing with him a pound of gold! His demonstration that day quieted my sharing of the Gospel with Him down to a much more recessed level.
40. Roughly twenty-one years later after I had long since left his household (and life for that matter) on my return visits home to Philadelphia, I continued to share the Gospel of salvation with my father in his old age. During this stage of his life he suffered much ill health, and decaying vision. I knew I would only be around for a matter of hours on these visits, and that if he were to hear the word of God it would have to be by audio, so I made sure he had a set of Chuck Oman's (Jack Van Impe's Announcer) readings of the New Testament and Psalms.
41. On return visits home I would sometimes find the tapes and tape player that I had bought for him, packed away (I'm rather certain by a third party) but I did not let that stop me or deter me from sharing the Gospel with my father. I'd break the tapes back out again, and place them in a useful position where he could get to them, as I tried to provide for him an opportunity to hear the power of God unto salvation to all those who believe. I would preach to him, share ideas with him from scripture, and sometimes simply read it to him. Again, this is twenty-one years after he tore up the Chick Tract, "This Was Your Life".
42. Finally on one of visits (over the years) back home and in spending time with Robert, and while sharing salvation in Jesus Christ with him, he told me that he was ready to pray to be saved! That sent me emotionally reeling but I stayed on my toes and joined with him in a prayer of faith to God, asking all of these things;
43. After this prayer was made to God, I was quieted in my spirit, and probably as astonished as Peter was in Acts 10:45. To be quite honest, I distinctly remember my father saying, (in the tradition of his direct character), "Now, I don't want to hear another word about going to Hell". I told him he was quite correct! That in Christ, Hell was not applicable to him. I personally liked the clarity with which he approached the subject of salvation in Jesus Christ.
44. I told my father, at a later time during the same visit that water baptism in Jesus' name was the act by which believers at Pentecost, during the early church, and today in obedience to Christ's commandment, that new believers did to proclaim faith in Him. He agreed to be water baptized! I went and got some water as (my father was an invalid at this point, and I was not in contact with any Church organizations in Philadelphia). I personally baptized my father in water, the name of Jesus, "for the remission of sins" as Peter states it (in Acts 2:38) and in obedience to the command of the Lord in Matthew 28:19.
45. When this happened, I was in complete awe of God as an entire lifetime of witnessing and encounter over at least twenty years passed through my mind in a moment-- yes, thinking first of the Chick Tract incident so long ago, that had made such an impression on me. I was thankful. I am thankful, today.
46. Robert Bruce Stevenson died on July 17th, 1997; he was 93 years old. I got the word over the telephone one hundred and fifty miles away. At his funeral I was given a moment to speak, and I told everyone exactly what I just told you-- of the acts that he, my father, had done in receiving Jesus- the Christ, as his Lord and Saviour. You can believe my thanksgiving continues to this day.
47. Beginning with my witness to my father, (at home in Philadelphia) my witness of Christ's Gospel also expanded to those people who had been close to me in the world. An inner circle of friends whom I had grown up with may be a good definition of these people. We all knew and conversed with each other's parents, went to each other's homes and were rather close-knit. Now, Jesus was being discussed in these very same homes. Not because of me, but God was working in lives from many directions.
48. Two of my close friends were Claudia and Tyrone, who were related to each other, but from separate households. We all had been on numerous worldly escapades, together and now in continued openness with each other were sharing about Jesus. Out of this sharing would come the biggest event of my life.
49. Claudia and I had been real close friends for a number of years. Basically, her immediate family were very warm and friendly people, all the way from her parents to her sister and neighborhood friends. So that in their house- hold, when the name of Jesus began to be raised, there was no lock-up in communications or tightening of spirits but we just began to share what we each were mutually beginning to find out. Since I had just become born again approximately three months earlier... I knew a lot and was sharing it big time with Claudia, her mother, father and sister and friends. Open conversation in their living room with various opinions being shared was the norm! How wonderful! And these people were not necessarily born-again but neither did they deny Jesus or who He was.
50. During all the time of my return to Philadelphia, the sharing between us on this new matter grew and grew. One day/evening in the following March after I was saved we were gathered together at Claudia's home doing just this type of sharing. No preaching... just sharing. Remember that when subpoenaed to appear in court, one in not required to dramatize or manufacture testimony. They simply want you to tell what you saw. That is easy to do, and is all we were doing in this conversing about salvation in Christ Jesus.
51. This particular day the sharing lasted for many, many hours... into the night even. From my end, I poured out more of what was in me that evening than any other I can remember! I had arrived at Claudia's home in the early afternoon and by the time I left it was near midnight, sometime after 11:00PM. Finally, I began to head for home and to a welcomed night's sleep. But I never did get to sleep that evening. Instead, my life was changed forever by the intervention of God Himself.
52. Driving through the streets of Philadelphia, on my way home I could think of but one thing... falling head first into my comfortable bed. This meant creeping into my house near midnight, trying not to wake anyone up, tearing off my clothes and diving in! It was my only thought as I got closer and closer to my destination. But when arriving, just before I making that long desired dive into bed, I said a prayer by my window, as I had a certain matter on my mind wanted to clear it up with God. really wanted to live a life pleasing to Him.
53. For that reason, and for thanksgiving for an evening's witness, I knelt down at my window and prayed what was a very short prayer to God (as I was absolutely exhausted-- please remember). At the conclusion of that prayer as I got about one half way to my feet, I was struck with the baptism of the Holy Ghost... Whammo! Fallen on and now filled and surrounded by the Spirit of God, my body went back a step reeling from the unexpected, overwhelming, and instantaneous presence of the Spirit of God.
54. I immediately understood why it is called the Baptism of the Holy Ghost... because I was spiritually out of this world and surrounded and filled with the Spirit of God. Total and complete immersion (as is possible on this side of eternity) in the Holy Ghost. Friends-- *that was and is the greatest experience of my life, then at age 19 and even to this day. Can you imagine standing (or spiritually floating), in the uninhibited presence of the eternal God? This is how I would describe the Baptism... being as close as is possible to God's being and Spirit, this side of Heaven.
55. The reason that instantaneous and sustained praise flows from a person who receives the baptism is for just that reason. One cannot help but praise the glory of God, when in His presence. And during the time of this special event the world does not detract from His glory. Well this type of unabashed praise is what flowed from my soul that night to Heaven above. Hands continually lifted up in praise, I worshipped my God (believe it or not) all through the night. I was fulfilled. And when King David said, "my cup runneth over"- I now know exactly what he meant.
56. Now, just as a matter of fact, I want to say that well into this praise that followed the beginning of this event in my life, I suddenly began speaking in another language, which of course I did not understand nor understood why it was happening to me. But that *is what happened and I give that testimony to you. I even caught myself-- (stopped myself that is) for a moment as I first started to speak. I stopped at the surprise of the unexpected. But I finally realized that this is what it must be... the tongues of Acts chapter two.
57. My soul was sealed that night by the Spirit of God and I was forever changed. Truth be told, I was even a completely different person (again) from the first change that took place the night I called out to Jesus to save me. "The promise" of Acts 2:39 was now mine, and no one stands in the presence of God and remains the same.
58. The Baptism of the Holy Ghost which Jesus gave me that night lasted all the way until the time the Sun began to rise the next morning! During the ecstasy of His presence the sky changed from black, to dark purple, to a lighter purple until Dawn. Fading now from exhaustion I began to "come down" from the spiritual height I was launched to at approximately midnight. If I was truly exhausted at the earlier midnight, and had planned back then only to dive into bed, you can imagine what condition I was in this new morning of the next day! I heard some member of my family moving in the hallway outside my bedroom door. I wondered could they ever know what had happened to me?
59. Jesus told his disciples on Mt. Olivet, just prior to His ascension into Heaven that they should go to Jerusalem and wait. He told them to wait for another baptism that did not know as of yet- the Baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire. And He told them what the purpose of this baptism was;
Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
60. This is what happened to me about four months after calling out to Christ on November 13th, to receive His salvation. I would like testify before God and man that what Jesus said is true. It is a strong statement for one to make, to say that any particular event in their lives was "the greatest event of their lives." My Baptism in the Holy Ghost was the best that ever happened to me and sort of wrapped all my experience and knowledge that I had gained in Jesus in four months together in understanding.
Proverbs 4:7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.
61. Again, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai after first meeting YHVH there, his face shown due to the glory of God. And anyone who intimately communes with God will be quite a different person.
62. The next morning (late morning as I did get some sleep) after receiving the overnight Baptism in the Holy Ghost, I remember finally facing another member of my household. I say "facing" because I felt myself to be an alien from another world or something at this point or at minimum a total stranger. At home, I was already in a class of my own having returned to my immediate family from out of town preaching, "Jesus saves!" Now- I had been in the presence of His glory and my being was in total awe of His. What could I say?
63. I did speak to my mother that morning (Joel 3:8), and did so in a quiet spirit anticipating that she would not know what I was talking about. I told her what had happened to me, but not in the above detail. I simply said, "I was baptized in the Holy Ghost, last night." Only she knows how that one sounded. I left it at that, returning to my inward reflections on the grace that had been bestowed on me.
64. This milestone in my life would mark the time that I would seem changed to those who knew me in the world and even those who had first listened to me upon my return to Philadelphia. I suppose the difference would be that of casually (or meekly) mentioning a faith in Christ Jesus, contrasted against someone who had a different countenance about them, and the visible awe in their eyes of someone who had seen some great thing. Believe me friends I was moved by what had happened to me. I was empowered, I understand now, to be free of the world... free indeed. I could now (comfortably) "follow the beat of a different drummer", to say the very least.
65. That is one way you can describe the empowerment Jesus spoke of in Acts 1:8... the power to be free of this world and to be at liberty in Him. It is best understood when realizing the truth of this passage written by the Apostle John;
1John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world....and also
1John 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
66. I would come to understand years later (and yes- after many failures in my personal walk with Christ), that over the centuries since Christ ascended into Heaven, what we know as "Christianity" today may be far too intertwined into this world, which (from the verses above) we can know has absolutely NOTHING in common with the holiness and the righteousness of God.
Isaiah 35:8-10 And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. 9 No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there: 10 And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
67. The power to turn your back on such a un-Godly world, the power to make a stand for Christ (especially alone at times), and "the power to become the sons of God" mentioned in John 1:12, comes with the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. I have no problem now stating that salvation is "all God"... it is.
68. Of course I was not perfect. Sanctification is a process, and God had years of work to do to get certain things out of my life, some of which I did not yet know existed in me (and this is what trials are for). However, at this point in my life, the Michael who had grown up in Philadelphia, cruising the streets of the city on a motorcycle, hanging out at the Art Museum, listening to Jimi Hendrix, caught up in the politics of the times and was tossed about by their winds and doctrines, who experimenting with extra-curriculars "a time or two" (to quote a famous US President), and who had felt the obligation to live out the fantasy life of the single heterosexual male that the world portrays to us in television and film-- was gone.
69. That person was as far gone from this new creature that walked filled with the Spirit of God, washed in the blood of the LAMB and spoke His name, who stood in awe of His glory, and now empowered by His Spirit from on high, as a... well, as a 2,500 lb. ship anchor dropped in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean without an attached chain. Gone! I belonged to Jesus.
Galatians 2:20 "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Later, I spent 7 years on active duty (USN) and traveled to many countries in Europe and South America. I travelled a good deal in the U.S., too. Many experiences through which Jesus brought me all. During this time I was vitually out of fellowship and began to live I think now, with "one foot in the world." I make no excuses. I was sharing the gospel but not in power. I don't believe my lifestyle reflected newbirth in Christ during some of those years.
"Washington, DC. is the last place I was stationed" is a statement made by many of the people who live here. It happened to me, as well. It was here that I heard preaching on a radio broadcast by Warren Wiersbe of the "Back to the Bible" ministry. The series he preached was called "The High cost of Sin." It really struck home and through it the Lord delivered me from having one foot in the world and has blessed me abundantly since. Also, here in Washington after returning to fellowship, I heard some *awesome*, *dynamic* preaching in the power of the Holy Ghost about repentance. By faith and the Lord's grace it was applied to my life. So, I'm here serving the Lord until his coming.
Sometimes I still sit and wonder at the faith of those two guys who approached me at the Philadelphia Art Museum. I'm still astounded at those two and their celebration of joy. I didn't get saved then but I sure did later. I guess their faith was the substance of things unseen.
|Web Author:Michael Stevenson Updated: 12/16/2004 6:41PM|