Free Bible Study[hr]
I was born in Philadelphia in 1968. My dad’s family were members of Wilkey Memorial Presbyterian, and my catholic mom married into the church when she met my dad. My older sister, younger brother and I were baptized as babies, and attended fairly faithfully on Sunday morning.[pull_quote align=”left”] “In spite of going to church, my upbringing was pretty turbulent.”[/pull_quote] In spite of going to church, my upbringing was pretty turbulent. The inner city is a bad enough place. However, alcohol also caused some very difficult times for my dad and us. On a couple of occasions we lived with my grandmother for a few months at a time. One time it was for a whole year. And, even at this early age, I acquired tastes for sinful things.
At age ten things changed for me to a degree. We moved out of the city to build a house in the country. Hill Church, PA, was the place, and we began attending at the UCC church that the area was named for.
One of the difficult things about moving was that we didn’t have many neighbors, and I wanted friends very badly. So, by the time the first day of school came around, I was ready to do most anything to have a friend. Well, these new potential friends were passing around a marijuana pipe. In the interest of making friends, I began doing drugs. At the age of 13, I was arrested in school with marijuana. Up to that point I thought it was just fun. Getting caught helped me to see that it was really wrong. I saw the huge disappointment it was to my parents. The Bible says, “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” (Proverbs 13:20)
From then on I determined to be a ‘good’ kid. I joined sports teams, tried to do well in school, and went through confirmation class at Hill Church. Sports brought a good deal of popularity to me, and I became the fastest guy on the track team. I also learned to pole-vault, setting school records in the sprints and vault. In the summer before my senior year I placed fourth at the national junior Olympics in Florida. Meanwhile, we continued to attend church regularly. However, God says in the Bible, “But we are all as an unclean (unholy) thing, and all our righteousnesses (good works) are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” (Isaiah 64:6)
The problem was that the life of popularity brought with it the seemly inevitable drinking. Eventually, I was trying to get to all the parties and usually stayed overnight so I could get “enjoy myself,” (i.e. drink). I reasoned that since everyone was doing it and even the parents of my friends thought it was just part of being a teenager, it wasn’t really that bad. But the Bible says, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God (heaven)? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)
Then one night, a few friends and I left a party to have our own little party at Stone Roll. The Stone Roll was a little party place a few miles into the woods near Pikeville Sportsman’s Club in Berks County, PA. There groups of kids used to go to drink and throw bottles off the cliff. On the way there a debate started in my head…was it really okay to drink? I knew my parents did not want me to drink. I knew at our new church, New Life Bible Fellowship, they were definitely against it on biblical grounds. So, I thought, when does God get angry with people who drink? Or, after how many? That night I found out. After drinking a few more we laid down to get some sleep. Shortly thereafter, I woke up and began picking my way along the edge of the cliff looking for a place to relieve myself. At a given point close to the edge, I tripped and began flying through the air. Soon I was tumbling and flying and crashing into rocks. [pull_quote align=”right”] “Finally I came to rest at the bottom, covered with glass and blood.”[/pull_quote] Finally I came to rest at the bottom, covered with glass and blood. “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck (rebellion), shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” (Proverbs 29:1)
As I lay there with my eyes closed a terrifying thought struck my mind, if I am dead, I would be in hell! Jesus himself asks, “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” (Matthew 23:33) That thought started my eyes open with a fright to discover that I was not dead. I thanked God I was not.
My friends got me to the hospital, and found out that I only needed stitches. It was a miracle! So they released me to go home that very morning. God is so good.
Later on, I woke up with stitches in my head and hand, and butterflies bandages on my back. Dried blood and glass were caked in my hair, and my pillow was red with blood. And suddenly I realized; all that I had done to be a good person had failed! The Bible says, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration (being born again spiritually), and renewing of the Holy Ghost;” (Titus 3:5)
At that moment, I saw myself as God wants us to see ourselves, totally incapable of pleasing Him ourselves. I also thought of how much God loved us by sending his Son to die for us. “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 3:16)
In a moment I was on my knees asking God to change me, to clean up my life.“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;” (Acts 3:19)
Looking back now, I can see that is exactly what he did. He took my name and wrote it down in heaven on Christ’s Glory Roll! I immediately had an urge to read the Bible. I also found myself praying on my own. Church services began to make much more sense, and my best friends became the teens from church, not from the school. Now I am a member of a good Bible-preaching, Baptist church and serve the Lord with my time, talents and possessions to thank him for all his blessings. He has given me a beautiful family to serve him with and has called me to be a missionary. However, it seems like a long road up to that point.
This change can take place in your life as well. No matter how sinful you think you are, God can change you. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Just cry out to him in repentance and faith, believing that he is able and willing to take you as you are and cleanse your heart from sin. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13) “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1John 1:9)