21st Century Evangelicalism

I’m Grateful to be a Christian

I was 16 years old when Bill Bright led me to the Lord. It was in Dallas, Texas. I had come to a rally with our youth group from Yorktown Baptist Church. Bill walked us through the Four Spiritual Laws and that night the Holy Spirit spoke into my heart saying he wanted to have a personal, very special relationship with me. I was honored. I said yes. And I was born-again.

That night I changed. I went home and broke up with my girlfriend because she wanted to continue our dating relationship the way it had been. I stopped drinking with my friends, and I stopped playing poker. It wasn’t because I was trying to be a good guy or anything like that. I had changed. I didn’t want to do those things any more, and wanted to do different things.

I asked the pastor of our little church for keys to the church so I could go to the church late at night to pray.

I would meet with my old buddies and we would study the Scriptures all night.

I loved my new life. I was hungry for God. I loved the church and the Scriptures. Everything in my life seemed new.

When Paul describes this experience in 2 Corinthians 5:17, he says,

. . .  anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

This was so true for me. I was well known in my high school, so when I came to Christ, many of my friends joined with me, and the youth group in our little church soon outnumbered the adults. Dozens of my fellow students experienced what I did. Paul described what was happening to us in Colossians 1:13,14 where he writes,

For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.

On Friday nights, hundreds of us would gather spontaneously. Together we would destroy our secular music, pornography, drugs, and booze. Afterward we would sing, pray for one another, repent and worship. Then we would spontaneously read the Scriptures we had recently discovered in our paperback One Way Bibles. All the Scriptures were new to us, so every verse was a new discovery. We were like miners digging gold out of the side of a hill. We were enthusiastic about anything we could learn in the Word.

All of this took place before comedy teams were formed to mock the church, and before instant publishing allowed every critic to have a voice. We didn’t have iPods or the internet to let us know about corruption. We were child-like teens, discovering life in Christ. Paul described the changes taking place in us in Ephesians 2:12-13:

In those days [prior to finding our new lives in Christ] you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope. 13 But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.

I’m glad I got saved. I’m glad I went on to a Christian university. And I’m glad that I’m spending my life in the church. Now, decades later, I am still growing in the fresh life Christ has given me. . . given us.

By tedhaggardblog

Ted Haggard is the Sr. Pastor of St. James Church in Colorado Springs, CO and founding pastor of New Life Church and past president of the National Association of Evangelicals. He is the husband of Gayle, and the father of Christy, Marcus, Jonathan, Alex and Elliott.

4 replies on “I’m Grateful to be a Christian”

Dear Ted:
What a life giving testimony. I love that you
included scriptures in your story. It is the Holy Spirit who uses God’s Word to convict people of their need for the redemption that Christ Jesus offers. Thank God for the truth
that sets us free. In Him we now live, move
and breathe the new life that God prepared
for us since the beginning to creation. We are
Blessed to have been woken up and brought
to repentance and our new lives in Jesus.

I love your Pastor’s heart and your ministry.
Lisa wanted me to stay home with her this
morning. I missed being with you and the saints at SJC this morning.

Big Love and many blessings, David

Sent from my iPhone

So if a Hindu said that he was changed and gave up drugs, alcohol, rock music, porn, etc., because of his gods, would the Hindu be mistaken about that?

No, not necessarily. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, whose Son is Jesus, is the God of the Universe. But there are many other spiritual entities that are also powerful, just not as powerful. Remember when Moses was demonstrating the power of the God of Israel and Pharaoh’s magicians also demonstrated authentic spiritual power, but they could not keep up in the end. There are some spiritual entities that are regional, others just have enough power to influence one or two people, or a family. So no, the Hindu believer might be accurate in the freedom he’s found, but it’s not as all encompassing as the God of Israel.

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