Hello friends :). Before I start I want to share with you this thought provoking post by J.S. Park:
Today is my son’s 2nd Christian Birthday, meaning that two years ago my little boy gave his life to Christ. It was not pushed or forced. It was something amazing that he decided on his own. Unfortunately I was asleep :(. We were visiting my Granny in our hometown. Michael had started asking questions on the trip down. Michael already knew the gospel message but it was never rammed down his throat. I know a person can only come to Christ if the Spirit draws them.
I was taking a nap :(…..and Michael started another “God” conversation with my Granny. Then he decided he wanted to pray and give his life to Jesus. He went and told my mom, who offered to help him pray. Mom loves to tell the story of how her 4 yr old grandson basically said “I need to do this now or I may never do it.” That still blows me away but then again Michael blows me away daily. So he actually didn’t want help praying. He did it on his own and asked for Jesus’ forgiveness.
What’s neat and why I totally believe his commitment was/is real is the spiritual battle around him at that time. You see up until this point Michael was having bad nightmares every night. He thought he saw stuff in his room….and he probably did. I would pray and pray but still every night……even with Christian music on. I don’t doubt kids when they say they see things because I know some really do. I saw things as a kid……scary things……I still see things but not as frequent. I was tormented by my nightmares and it was worse when things happened in real life (like blinds moving up and down on there own). When Michael gave his life to Christ the nightmares pretty much stopped. He may have one every once in awhile but for the most part he has peace at night. Plus I’ve seen the fruit of the Spirit in Michael’s life as he grows daily by reading his Bible & praying. It’s a beautiful thing to see. He has a genuine love for Jesus. It’s not about a get out of Hell pass.
So for Michael’s second year of being a Christian I took him to the Space & Science Center. Then he had a Swiss Roll “cake” with candles. All of this celebration has me thinking about my own Salvation experience. How I met the love of my life and my best friend….the one who died and lived for me…Jesus Christ.
Below is a music video from “Courageous” and also one of me and Michael’s songs. This song also makes me think of my Heavenly Father, who is always willing to “dance” with me (spend time with me). In the movie the Dad was too busy to dance with his daughter and then she dies. He then takes his dance all alone while he’s grieving.
The Beginning of My Story ~Amber Dover
I’ve pondered how to share my testimony and what brought me to Jesus Christ (aka how I became a Christian). My story isn’t just my own. It is a tapestry of stories and lives that were changed and in turn changed my own. I did not find Christ……..He found me.
“What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?5 And when he hath found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repents, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.”
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I could tell you every detail but that would distract you from the point. I will do my best to keep this simple….yet rich.
Basically, I remember a time when I lived in fear and lacked peace. I really didn’t understand a Father’s love…much less the Heavenly Father’s love. My Dad (Jim) was my Mom’s (Ann) second husband. I have a half sister from her first marriage (Jen’s blog is on my blogroll). My parents divorced when I was 7 but they separated a couple of times in between. I remember that my Dad wasn’t home very often and that we didn’t have a lot of money (American-wise). We moved a lot and my Dad didn’t keep jobs very well. When my parents divorced I went to live with my mom. I saw Dad on holidays, during the summer, and every other weekend.
My Dad and I didn’t have a good start but we finished well. The first half of my childhood my Dad was barely around. I remember him being with his friends a lot. Some days he would forget to pick me up from school and my Papa (Dad’s stepdad) would pick me up instead. There were some good moments with Dad but it just seemed other things and people were more of a priority to him than me.
It was in my Papa that I first saw a glimpse of the Heavenly Father. My Papa told me I was special and he spent time with me. Papa was a quiet and humble man. If anyone acted Christ-like it was him. Papa wasn’t perfect but there was something different about him.
I grew up going to church. My mom was a Christian but in my early years she was struggling in her own relationship with God. Still, her wisdom kept me away from some scary things that I had been drawn to (namely witchcraft). My grandparents (Mema & Papa) took me to church as well. I knew the Bible well…even read the book of Revelation in my spare time. I wanted to be a good girl and I did a good job of playing the part….on the outside.
Inside I was struggling. I was terrified of going to Hell and I said the “Sinner’s Prayer” so many times that if it was magical it would’ve worked. But Salvation isn’t magical. Only the Spirit of God can draw a person to Christ’ redemption. It’s nothing we can conjure on our own by prayers or good works.
I remember when I found out my Dad was smoking and selling pot (marijuana). I cried all night. I was so scared that the police would find out and take my Dad away. I remember hearing my Dad and his friend’s cursing while I slept on the couch. I now knew these “friends” were dealers too. I didn’t feel safe. I prayed a lot. I begged God for His help. Why wasn’t it working?
I tried to be good. I said the prayer that the preacher told us to say. I even got baptized. Still I was terrified and still I couldn’t control my bad thinking. I seemed to be a good girl on the outside but inside I thought horrible things. I would curse to myself and then slap myself to try to make the anger go away.
I felt horrible. People picked on me at school and I just felt like a nobody. I didn’t know who I was. My attempt to be the good girl wasn’t going well. Sometimes I slipped up in front of people. If God was real then why did He seem so far away? At that point Christianity was almost a joke. I saw people go to church and still act the same. My Dad didn’t go to church really but he knew the Bible good. He twisted it too. He had a shirt that said “God made Weed”. Somehow I knew God didn’t approve of these things or how my Dad and his friends acted.
“22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believes in Jesus.”
God also reached out to me through my Granny. She always knew the right things to say. I felt torn apart by divorce and the colorful people brought into my life, mainly Dad’s friends but also Mom’s boyfriends. Others in my family were struggling too. A first cousin of mine committed suicide. It wasn’t too long after that when my sister tried to kill herself. Praise God her attempt was in vain. A couple years later another first cousin committed suicide.
I have had the privilege of seeing God transform many lives. My sister was one of them. At one time she was hopeless. By God’s grace she is now a strong follower of Christ. Her love for Jesus is apparent and I’ve seen how He gave her peace and still does so.
I had come to a place of feeling absolutely filthy when a “friend” sexually abused me. I didn’t realize I was a victim until adulthood. I just thought I was a really bad person. This abuse happened over the course of a year or more. I can’t remember for sure. I believe it was before I turned ten but I again I can’t quite remember.
The turning point came the summer of 1998, after I had turned 13. My Family began to change in a wonderful way. It is then that I first realized that Jesus Christ was/is really alive and that he affects the lives of those who encounter Him. My Dad was on the path of destruction. His friends were druggies. His music was all about death and he had posters everywhere of skulls etc. He was going nowhere as a father. But Jesus Christ completely changed my Dad’s course.
This is how Dad told his story which in turn became mine as well. Dad said he was driving down the road, rock music blasting, and joint in his hand when the conviction of God came down hard. My Dad had given his life to Christ when he was seven but his family fell apart and he turned down the path of drugs. Anywho, Dad was driving and he felt God telling him that he had to change how he was living. God told Dad that he couldn’t live for him and still do the bad things he was doing. Dad tried to speed up…….like he could get away from God lol. Finally he couldn’t handle the conviction any longer. He pulled over, turned off his music, and flipped the joint out the window. My Dad completely surrendered himself to Christ that day.
I went to spend the summer with my Dad. Usually I stayed with my grandparents the most because my Dad was busy with his friends and he didn’t have a big place for awhile. This summer my Dad had his own trailer though. So I went to stay with Dad. My mouth dropped open when I saw the place. All of the “Grateful Dead” posters were gone! The TV was gone! Dad’s music was gone! And Dad was dressed decent. I was like “what happened?!” So Dad explained his testimony to me. I didn’t understand what it mean’t to feel conviction. I knew guilt but not conviction. I kind of shrugged my shoulders. Dad found God. Great. Dad quit smoking/selling pot and lost alot of his “friends”. I really got confused though when I saw a change in how my Dad treated ME. Dad actually cared and wanted to spend time with me. Dad wasn’t perfect but something or someone had changed him.
I knew it wasn’t something…….because church and prayers didn’t work for me or others. My Dad talked about God like he really knew Him….like he was a real person…not some cosmic genie. One day me and my buddy Philipp were hanging out in Dad’s living room when Dad decided to put on an old preaching tape he had. The speaker was a revival preacher named Olan Daphron and he had died many years before. The man began to talk about sanctification and justification…..words I had read in my Bible but never understood. Basically it was what Jesus’ sacrifice (his blood…death and resurrection) actually does for us. He talked about true repentance. Not begging for forgiveness just to get out of Hell………but actually choosing to commit to God and let Christ change you.
I had heard the simple gospel message many times. But something was different about that day. For the first time I felt God speaking to my heart. Yes, I had said the sinner’s prayer but deep down I thought I could change myself on my own. I wasn’t sorry for my sins. I just wanted to get out of the consequences of them. I cared about how people saw me….not God. God wasn’t even real to me….just a story in a book. But in that special moment I knew without a doubt that God was/is real. That Jesus had REALLY died to pay for MY sins. I knew in my heart that Jesus really did come back to life three days later…….that Jesus Christ was/is the Son of God. I knew Jesus wanted me to live for him….to make Him Lord (master) of my life.
“16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.18 He that believes on him is not condemned: but he that believes not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
It was painful. Painful to realize that I was hopeless to change myself. That I was a sinner and on my way to Hell no matter how many prayers I prayed. But it was also joyful because now I knew that Jesus really could save me…..that He would change me. It was a gift I could accept. I just had to believe….truly believe in my Heart and then confess it with my mouth. I asked God’s forgiveness and mean’t it. I wasn’t muttering a rote prayer to the atmosphere. I was talking to God almighty. I wanted Him to be my Heavenly Father. I wanted to live for Him and do what He wanted no matter the cost.
In that moment I finally knew Peace. I was sealed by the Holy Spirit. I became God’s child. I met the love of my life…..I met Jesus Christ. He began to change me and still changes me daily. I’m not perfect at all. But I do know the King of the universe. The Heavenly Father who reached out to me through family members and even teachers (who prayed for me)……now called me by name and I knew His voice. Every day I see the Holy Spirit lead me. Times when I’m angry and I hear the Spirit say “apologize”. Times when I feel unloved and God’s peace wraps around me like physical arms.
My Dad became a minister the following year and I was baptized a second time (the real time) in the ocean by a missionary. (Baptism symbolizes the change within.) I went to live with my Dad and God restored our relationship. My Dad actually became a good father. We still had our moments but I can thankfully say that when my Dad died in 2009 we were completely reconciled. I was blessed to have my Dad lay his hands on and pray for my son. Dad died in October and Michael became a Christian in July.
It was hard on my Mom when I went to live with Dad but even in that time God used it to draw her closer to him. Mom has always been my best human friend and it’s been beautiful to see how God brought her out of depression. My Mom inspires me with her walk with Jesus. I have seen Jesus change the lives of many family members including my Father-in-law. They are all filled with God’s love and it’s so much nicer to be around them. You see, when someone truly meets Jesus and surrenders to Him they will change. It may not be overnight change but you will see a difference in their life and in how they act.
I’ve dealt with many things…..depression, suicide, anger, and bitterness. I felt impure so long because of my past. I am not perfect but Jesus Christ has brought me through these things. He has kept me from attempting suicide. He turned my sorrow during my husband’s deployments into Joy. He taught me and continues to teach me how to really live. What it means to have an abundant life. How to be content whether rich or poor. He has restored my purity.
Jesus led me in my decisions……things I had never thought to choose for myself (marrying an army man….being a homechool mom). I’m learning that God’s ways are so much better than mine. I may try to plan my life but my plans will fail. It is God’s hand that keeps me where I should be. I still cry. I still bleed. I’ve been picked on for my Faith and sometimes my Faith causes me to endure great hardship. God didn’t promise sunshine and rainbows. He told us we would be persecuted and that we would endure hardship because we live in a fallen world. He did promise to always be with us and that no one can separate us from Him. Jesus keeps His own. Even when we stray, the Father draws us back to Him if we are really His.
“14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
My sin nature drew me towards bad things… paths that led to fear. Jesus Christ draws me to the Light and to peace. Every good gift comes from Him. I am so thankful that Jesus saved me….that he did hear my cry after all. I was in complete darkness until Jesus came into my life and heart. I can’t imagine living in that darkness again and I pray for everyone who doesn’t know Jesus.
God created this world in perfection but sin (disobedience) corrupted the world and caused it to be cursed. Likewise we are all cursed. Jesus Christ died on the cross to redeem us….to pay the price for our sin. He rose three days later because death could not keep Him. Jesus is alive and by him we can know eternal life too. God doesn’t want anyone to go to Hell. So He sent His son, Jesus, to save us. We must choose His salvation…..to follow Him. God will not force anyone to believe in Him. The Holy Spirit is a gentle man. What do you choose? Death or Life? Jesus is the only way to the Father (eternal life).
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Jesus is real. He requires true friendship and commitment. You either love Him or your don’t. If you love Him you will follow Him. You won’t be perfect at all but you will want to be like Christ. You will want to spend time with Jesus by praying and reading His word. I now know that prayer is just talking to God and listening to Him. He’s real and He requires real relationship. Would you consider a person a true friend if they never talked to you? God speaks to us through His word (the Bible) which is His love letters to us….even his discipline is Love….He will do whatever it takes to draw His own back to Him. Because there can be no life or light apart from God. He IS Life and Light (the true kind….not the counterfeit).
Being a devout follower of Jesus means a very big choice. I pledged my allegiance to Jesus Christ no matter what happens. Whether that means persecution, death, or hardship I choose to follow Jesus. This is serious stuff…….no playing church….only caring about God when things are rosy or when you’re so scared all you can cry is “God”. No this is complete loyalty come what may….rain or shine. Even when you don’t understand what God is doing and even when you get mad at Him (don’t worry He can handle it)………still saying “God I choose you even though I feel hurt and mad at you”. Because Jesus is real and once you truly know Him you can’t help but love Him…….no matter the cost. I don’t care what this Faith….this love relationship costs me, I don’t EVER want to go back to not knowing Christ. I won’t go back. I may slip and fall but you better believe it I’ll be on my knees saying “God here I am! Please don’t leave me.” And He won’t leave me….because I am His child. The Heavenly Father doesn’t abandon His children. I love Him so much because He loved me and showed me by His blood.
“35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I can’t convince you that Jesus is real and I can’t convince you I truly know Jesus. I pray you see the Truth in how God works in my life. But honestly unless the Spirit Himself draw you then nothing is going to happen. I will tell you this. If you truly want to know God and you’re ready in your heart to truly surrender to Him. He will find you…….He will save you…….and He will make you His Child. You see, God the Father is looking for people who are looking for Him. He knows who will commit and who won’t. So in this way God chooses us but there is also Free-will. Because God already knows who is going to choose Him. Sometimes His choices are surprising…..take the apostle Paul…..once he murdered Christians but God changed Him and forgave Him……..then Paul became one of the greatest Christians, wrote most of the New Testament, and was willing to die for Christ…which he did.
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God is so merciful. I was once a nobody and on the path of darkness but now I am a Daughter of the King of Kings. Thank you Jesus!
Here is the life-changing message I heard way back when. It is preached by my Dad in this version.
and here’s the second part:
(Note in 12:54 when he says we will be “equal with Christ” he did not mean we will be lil gods (equal in that way). It was either a slip of words or he was referring to how we will be co-heirs with Christ. Please don’t be confused.)
The Gospel of John Movie (Crucifixion)
God bless and remember the High King Lives! ~Amber Dover