Friday, May 24, 2013

Testimony as a Christian

Originally written on: Aug 17, 2006

This is one of only two records of my Christian past that I have saved. This was a forum post in which I was hoping to join a group of people to play Halo with online. I leaved in a few grammatical errors and other quirks, although I did delete a few unrelated sentences that talk about what games I liked to play and such. Enjoy.

I am 18 years old (well, 18 1/2... :P) and go to a baptist church in North Carolina (I won't say the name of the church or its location for privacy reasons). I was saved roughly 3-4 years ago (I really wish I'd written down the date) in the church I go to now. I am going to major in either Spanish or computers and may eventually be a missionary, although I'm not completely sure what I am going to do yet.

I was raised in Pennsylvania and moved here during the last week of eighth grade. My favorite subjects have often been math, science, and grammar, though they've changed over the years. I've always had and still do have a weak vocabulary, and my knowledge of history isn't much better than my ability to speak Japanese (I know only two phrases and probably don't pronounce them right, though I try to). I don't really have neither a northern nor a southern accent, though if I had to pick one I'd probably have a slightly noticeable southern accent, especially with vowels. (Well, technically it's a dialect, but yeah...)

If I had one wish, it would be to relive most of my life. I'm sure that almost every person would want to do that to change things that have happened for the better, but I decided to mention it here. I feel as though I've lived my life through a dream and have never really woken up, if that makes any sense.

As far as my spiritual life, things aren't as well as they could be. I grew up in a house with fighting parents that almost never went to church, and the majority of a person's thoughts come from their parents, in most cases. I never really believed until a few years ago; I think that if I had not seen the changes in my brother, I would never have even considered God real. Life is a rollercoaster, with its ups, downs, and loops, and this is true for both the carnal life and for the spiritual life. I'm currently in both lives going through one of those 360° loops. I'm living a cleaner life than many people that claim to be Christian, but at the same time I lack the passion that seems to leave not long after I leave church. I often wish that church was every day (and more than once a day) so that I could really learn more about God and what he wants in our lives. The world is full of tourist attractions that pull the flesh like magnets, and often I find myself letting go of the straight path laid out where I should be and wandering off into the middles of jungles with trees all around me, not knowing where to go or how to get back. On the other hand, I am very appreciative of the many things God has been doing in my life, though too often I take things for granted and fail to see the little things that are done. I think of how amazing the world would be if it were like how it was at camp; it was a Christian camp with some of the friendliest people around, where praising the Lord came without persecution. I know, though, that Christians have been warned beforehand of persecution. Part of my vision with }CoG{ is the ability to come here and play Halo in places where I won't be shunned for talking about God—a place where others of similar interests and viewpoints can discuss the one that made the first breath possible.

One thing I've been thinking about for the past half-year or so is science and its relation to the Bible. Science is man's understanding of the world around him. Often scientests try to come up with their own theories of how it all began, with the Big Bang Theory and others. However, the same type of thinking without support evidence was also used to conjure the idea that the world is flat—obviously it has been proven wrong. However, I feel that science does nothing other than prove the Bible right. Think of the Earth, its atmosphere, and the requirements of life. If the Earth were any larger, gravity would be too great, and the atmosphere would be too thick to breathe; life wouldn't last very long, if at all. If it were smaller, there wouldn't be enough gravity to hold an atmosphere. If the Earth was closer to the sun, it would be too hot, and likewise it would be too cold if farther away. Even the tilt of the Earth about its axis brings out seasons the way they are that allows a balance of air and water currents throughout the planet. Not only is there an atmosphere at the right temperature on the Earth, but it also contains oxygen, a vital element for life. An atom of oxygen by itself cannot be used; oxygen by itself is found in rocks and in water, neither of which is useful for land-based life. In order for people to breathe, there has to be two atoms of oxygen fused in a molecule. Some may ask why the atmosphere is not simply of pure oxygen; my theory is that if it were pure oxygen, fires would spread at a far greater rate, and people would live much longer as well. Life also has the tendency to fight for itself. Against that reality, living blood and skin cells within our bodies just so happen to "know" to use the oxygen—not for themselves, but for our bodies as a whole. We burn the oxygen and produce carbon dioxide waste; and there just so happen to be plants and algae to balance the cycle by using carbon dioxide (and sunlight) to produce oxygen. Now, even if the world were somehow able to do the impossible and break all odds by having been formed by chance, there is still no possible way for life to have started, especially if the atmosphere were to have been randomly generated. I could see—in the slightest chance—microscopic life forms somehow possibly emerging, but highly complex life forms? I refuse to accept the idea that I "evolved" from a bacteria. There had to have been something to spark the first life, and God had to have been that something. But why, many people ask, if God is real, does he not just let everyone come into Heaven? I have two responses to answer that question. First is simply that not everyone wants to go to Heaven. It's true. There are people that hate God so much that they actually look forward to going to Hell, though they don't see the severity of what it will be like there. Secondly, what would have more meaning: a robot that is programmed to say "I love you" without choice, or a friend that approaches with arms spread and tears flowing down his or her cheeks, telling how important you are, or a child that realizes the love a parent has and willingly tells them from the heart that they feel the same way? Sure, many children may say that for personal gain and favorism, but the second would have more meaning. In fact, I wouldn't care in the least if a robot or a computer told me that. To be honest, I'd rather it didn't. God gives every person a choice at some point in life to either accept Him or reject Him.

Many people highly underestimate the details of Hell. I can imaginatively apply physics to a spirit either floating up into the sky weightless feeling great joy and satisfaction or free-falling through the earth, no longer held above ground by a physical body, falling faster and faster while the temperature increases exponentially. I don't know for sure if that's how it works, but Heaven and Hell are complete opposites. Many people seem to picture Hell as a place where there are burning bodies screaming everywhere, with fire all around and a smirking or laughing Devil watching it all. I would like to make several points. First of all, according to my knowledge and understanding, Hell is a place of separation. Imagine being in a cave in pitch blackness. After a short while, a person would begin frantically feeling a wall with both hands, desperately searching for a light of some sort or a way out. Imagine a person completely separated from other people, without phones, the Internet, books, TV, radio—anything. A person would begin to go crazy after a few hours. I think that Hell is a place where other souls will not be seen and possibly not heard. I highly doubt people will be able to "talk" to others in any way. It is a place of total separation of God, where He does not hear your prayers. One of the blessings given to our living bodies is the ability to get used to things, whether bad or good. It's different from person to person, but in the end people get used to something that's repeated over time. Some people can listen to the same song or eat the same food every day without growing tired of it, while other people grow sick of it quickly. People for the most part assume that they will eventually "get used to" being burned and alone in Hell, entirely because getting used to things is something we are born with, though the time it takes and the limits of difference vary from person to person. With the same mindset, people view Heaven as a boring place, not only because people are so used to worldly things, and not only because people for the most part are not thrilled by being eternally joyful, but also because of the rollercoaster theory previously mentioned that emphasizes the tendency to get used to things; a precious moment wouldn't be so special if it happened all the time, according to human understanding. A burning flame wouldn't be as bad after a month, and a hug wouldn't mean as much by the hundredth time. However, I am completely certain that souls do not get used to things. Every second in Hell is as devastating, as painful, as sorrowful, as miserable, and as lonely as every other second, and every second in Heaven is as joyful, as loving, and as breath-taking as every other second. Imaging the intense feeling of betrayal as a friend or family member turns you down; imagine the the sorrow as someone close passes away; imagine the worst pain you have ever felt, externally and internally, physically and emotionally. Imagine this but worse, and it never getting old. Now imagine that occasional special moment that lasts no longer than a few seconds—the moment with a friend that pulls at your heart, the joy of having a strong negative feeling relieved, and the love felt as a mother holds her child for the first time or as you realize how much you truly love someone. Imagine this but even better, and it never getting old. Nothing experienced on Earth is as painful as the fire of Hell or as joyful as the direct presence of the Lord. Everything in Hell can be avoided by simply getting saved; there is a written guarantee in the Bible that God's children will never feel the heat of Hell, yet so many people still refuse to accept the Lord as their savior. Everyone feels the presence of a greater being, and everyone wonders at least once in their life if there really is something out there. It's hard to look at the endless sky and not wonder. It's hard to see nature unfold in harmony and not wonder how it's possible. God made a way for every person to know the truth, and it's through the Bible.

John 3:16 is the most famous verse of the Bible, but many people overlook it and fail to see the wonderful truth behind it. In that verse, Jesus said, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:17 goes on to say, "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." This makes it very clear that people are saved through Jesus Christ, God the Son. Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Every person has sinned against God and thus deserves to spend an eternity in Hell; however, God sent his one and only son to walk the earth and endure trials and tempations and to die in our place. A person can either pay the penalty of sin in Hell or accept Jesus' death in his or her place. Romans 5:8 says, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." While we have all failed him, Jesus, God the Son in the flesh, took our place on the cross of calvary, with his body beaten and humiliated. Romans 10:9 says, "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." If you confess that you are a sinner, believe in your heart that Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead on the third day, and ask the Lord for forgiveness, you shall be saved. Romans 10:10 goes on to say, "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast." Man can not be saved according to his own works. It is by the grace of God that any person, no matter what they have done, can be wiped clean and forgiven of sin and be accepted into the kingdom of Heaven. The apostle Paul is probably the best example; he was a very sinful man that persecuted Jesus and his followers, yet through salvation and God's grace he became one of the best (if not the best) Christians that ever lived. It doesn't matter if your heart is filled with hatred or greed; it doesn't matter if you've killed someone, even intentionally; it doesn't matter if you've raped people; it doesn't matter what you have done: even if other people will never forgive you, God will if you ask him. Picture a child that, when left alone, stole a great sum of money from his father, burned a portion of the house down, badly injured another person, and done everything against his father's will. Imagine that child being caught and, knowing he will probably receive a nasty beating or a severe punishment, confessing what he has done. Picture the father lovingly taking the child into his arms and hugging him with tears in his eyes and a smile on his face. I can't think of a better humanly comparison to the divine love of God.

Okay, I got a little off-topic, but I hope that I at least influence one person to come and know the Lord. God calls every person to his forgiving and loving arms, and it is every person's decision to accept or reject him.

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