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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Low Shoulder Alert - My Testimony of Salvation

I have found myself in two ditches along the road of Christianity in my lifetime. Ditch #1 was where I tried to follow the rules in order to gain salvation and was extremely judgmental, even of my own parents, despite being a hypocrite. Ditch #2 was where I decided not to rock the boat with what I actually believed just so that I would not be an outsider. While my Asperger’s can be blamed for some of my failings, most of them can’t be attributed to Asperger’s. I also found myself on the broad way that led to destruction.

I will be referring to “The Prologue” and “The Big Announcement” at times within this post. I will also be using many of the same concepts and phrases contained in a paper that I submitted to one of my instructors this week regarding my testimony. Unfortunately that paper was limited to 1.5 pages and I could not fit everything into it and it was extremely brief. I decided to expand the paper and rewrite it. So, be prepared for an enlightening expose about myself and the glorious blood redemption by Christ that washes away sin.

I mentioned in “The Prologue” that when I was 3 years old my family left the Beachy Amish/ Mennonite church in Stuarts Draft and joined a Pentecostal Conservative Mennonite church in Ohio. I actually remember the day my mom put her covering on top of a tall cabinet and started wearing veil. That day shook me to the core. Even at this age I knew everything that was expected of typical Conservative Anabaptists.

From the age of 3 until the age of 8, when my family left the veiling behind, I watched my family go through spiritual and financial changes. Now, as someone with Asperger’s I have a hard time with change of any kind. As a result I grew confused and my view of God became very distorted.

At the age of 6 I “became saved,” not out of a spirit of thankfulness for what Christ had done, but because I was afraid of hell. In reality, I now do not believe I was saved at that point. I am not sure if I had even reached the age of accountability at that point. I had finished slipping into Ditch #1.

By the age of 8 my spirit was so confused that I believe I had given up trying to understand not only spirituality, but also nature. I actually entered mental puberty at age 7. I did not know what to make of what was going on and my brain was even further stupefied. So, by the age of 7.5 I had an evil imagination that dwelled on girls. I would say that by now I had climbed out of Ditch #1 and onto the wrong road of life, though I did not know I had done so.

I had two friends from the age of 8 until I was 10. The lad was two years younger than I and he used the “f” word in every sentence. His sister was my age and we seemed to like each other.  Even though I was not spiritually right, I witnessed to these kids. The sister was going to church with me every Sunday. One day I offered a small pocket bible to the boy. He used foul language as he stated he did not care about God. I was so hurt by what he said I left and never saw him or his sister again. That experience drove a further wedge into my spirit.

At the age of 9 I began to be indoctrinated with the Liberal Charismatic viewpoint. This confused my mind even more and I started to give up trying to figure out what to believe. I could not express what I did believe without getting into unproductive arguments.

By the age of 10 I developed a love of sports, and basketball stars became my heroes. So now I had two things competing with God. Sports and my evil imagination. I would actually fall asleep at night while listening to sports programs. By the age of 12, I went to church only because it was what my family did every Sunday. I looked like a great kid and I even ran the overhead projectors with songs for the congregation. (This was before these wireless gizmos, that most churches have nowadays, were available.) I had perfected the art of "looking right" at a very young age.

I should mention that I still knew what real morality was, but I ignored my conscience and it went into hibernation. In fact, at this point I was quite a hypocrite as I judged others for doing the same things I wanted to do, and sometimes even did.

By the age of 14 my evil imagination began to manifest itself in the things that I did in reality. My actions were bad enough that I was sent to counseling. It worked and I began to understand that I needed to stop dwelling on those evil thoughts. Unfortunately, I fell back into Ditch #1. I was tried to work out my own salvation by being good and did not turn to Christ.

When I was 17, my mom, sis, and I moved to Floyd County. I was willing to go because I recognized that I needed a change of scenery and I needed to reject the path I had been on. So, I began to be indoctrinated with the Conservative Anabaptist way of doing things, again.

Under the instruction of my Mom, I began to turn back to God. Certain exciting supernatural things had happened to my family around the time of our move that caused me to dedicate my life to Christ and I began to grow spiritually. However, I perceived there was something wrong with the Conservative Mennonite doctrines, but I could not figure out what it was. At this point I had jumped out of the ditch and it felt like I was skidding on ice. So, I "took a knee" and evaluated what I actually believed. I decided to go ahead and toe the party line and spread the doctrines of the church. Thus I purposefully jumped into Ditch #2.

When I was 19, I was inspired by the speaker at the Gladys Youth Rally to read my Bible and pray every day. Despite this inspiration I remained in Ditch #2. I became very dogmatic in my defense of my church's doctrines and I was also very antagonistic towards those who dared to be different. From the age of 18 to 21 I attended Heritage Bible School and I made a name for myself as one who debated people over trivial things like brands and styles of clothes.

Some of my fellow HBSers know that I appeared to be girl crazy at Heritage because of the “list” I kept updated. What most folks do not know is that I created said list out of an effort to be like the other guys. During my first year the guys in my dorm had lists and even played cards with the pictures people handed out. I had refused to do so and I was considered weird. The next year I succumbed to the peer pressure. I think we all had lists in 2006. In 2007 I was the only guy with a list and I was again looked at as the weird guy. In 2008 I had not planned on making a list until certain individuals asked me repeatedly if I had one. So, I made one as sort of a joke. That blew up in my face.

In 2007 I moved to Georgia. While I was down there I was baptized by the Floyd Church. While in Georgia I kept getting confronted by the fact that I was not acting Christ-like towards Christians that did not look or act exactly like the Conservative Mennonites. I resisted this fact for a long time When I finally accepted, I woke spiritually and began to examine exactly what I believed and if those beliefs lined up with scripture. After studying the scriptures I could start putting my finger on what it was that bugged me about the Conservative Mennonites.

In 2008 I read a book, When Pleasing Others is Hurting You, that changed my entire outlook on how I interacted with people. A link will be provided at the end of this blog post for the Amazon listing. I realized that all my life I had been a people pleaser. I had shut down my conscience in order to keep the peace with my own little group where I had friends and family. All my life I had been starved for friendship. When I found a friend I would try to fit in and be on their side in all things. I discovered that this was wrong and that I was not doing what Christ wanted me to do. I suddenly realized I was in Ditch #2.

This time I knew about the ice. I knew that if I was not careful I would jump out of the ditch and slide off the road, through the other ditch and land on that wide road again. I knew I had to dig into the word, seek the face of God, and trust that He would melt that ice and show me the path.

In 2009 my church membership was transferred to Georgia. Unfortunately I developed severe allergies that eliminated the possibility of working at the bakery any longer. So, in 2010 I moved back to Floyd County. I had changed and was no longer willing to be a silent partner. I knew that I had to make a difference in the church if I was to stay there. I also knew that if God did not want me to be there that He would make that very clear.

I began to discuss the doctrines within the church with my family and with the people in the church to get a better understanding of what I was dealing with and in order to not make any rash decisions. In 2011 God had me make a decision. I was to attempt to transfer my membership back to the Floyd church. Just because I disagreed with them, did not mean that I should run and hide. I could make just as good of a difference within the church by helping people to think for themselves and showing them Bible passages that disagreed with their stances on the issues. If I was not accepted, then God would lead me somewhere else.

God led me to the day and time in which I was to approach the leadership about transferring my membership. It was a Tuesday and it was the second day of revivals. I had further confirmation that this was the right choice as the visiting minister spoke of how important it is to be a member of the local church. After the service I told the Bishop what was up. Unfortunately, his expression told me he thought I was only doing it in response to the message and that my heart was no in it.

A few weeks later he told me that he felt it would better to wait on membership until I graduated from college and got a local job. I thought, “no problem, that should happen fairly quickly after graduation.” In the meantime I continued to discuss doctrinal points with fellow Church members and I grew in understanding.

Graduation came and went. I put out over 1000 applications and nothing was happening. I was not invited to partake in communion and it was too far to travel to Georgia to partake down there. It was then that God melted the ice to allow me to leave the Conservative Mennonites.

I knew that sitting around was not going to cut it. I felt the Lord’s leading to go and do something and not just sit on my laurels. I asked God to either send me a good job, or allow me to return to college with college completely paid for. I began looking at colleges in addition to my usual job search. I had a very good interview with a company here in Lynchburg that is now called Horizon Behavioral Healthcare. I felt the Lord telling me that this was the area I needed to come to, whether or not I got a job.

God led me to apply to Liberty University. I knew when I applied that a large portion of my schooling would be funded by grants, scholarships, and possibly even by loans. I did not imagine that the entirety of the first three years would be free! 

There was also one other interesting thing that happened. My mom also decided to leave the Mennonites. When she did so she did not know about my plans to leave. When she made that announcement to my sis and I, I decided it was time to tell her I was also leaving.  A few days later she and I were praying about something and she saw a vision of a chicken, me, standing over a pool of blood (pool of Siloam). This chicken was reaching its toe out to test the waters. She knew what it meant when she saw it and I knew as well.

When that happened I knew God had led me to the middle of the road and that it was time to leave the Conservative Mennonites. I was now at a quandary. Should I tell people I was leaving, or should I just go quietly. The answer is… this blog. About 60% of what I wrote from “The Big Announcement” until last week’s post was written from March to May of this year. 

Timing was also an issue. Should I tell everyone immediately, or should I wait to do so until I was gone. There were pros and cons on both sides. The biggest thing that struck me was the fact that rocking the boat you are in is not a good idea. You might get tossed out of the boat and discouraged from coming back in. So, I decided on waiting to tell 95% of the people until I was gone. Only a few people knew beforehand. 

I also wrote to the awesome folks in Georgia and asked to be released from my membership in a congenial manner. It was unfair to ask them to keep me on their role when I lived so far away. There was one couple in Georgia that knew I was leaving.

Since I left the Conservative Mennonites the Lord has shown me amazing things in scripture! Please folks, even if you do not agree with anything I have to say, please consult scripture without cherry picking verses to back up your presupposed opinions.

If you are not a Christian, I encourage you to research what the Bible has to say. What God has to say will change your heart, mind and soul for the better. When I was younger I always had a grin plastered to my face, but behind that grin was the mind of a troubled young man. Now, that grin stands for something! I am saved! I am redeemed! I am being Sanctified! I pray that I am on the middle of the road. 

Link to book

Next Week: --- -----, Only a few people have seen this writing style from me.
Two weeks: Still a Mennonite in Me
Three weeks: “A historical subject”
---------------------- Tone and Topic change
Four weeks: Thankfulness
Five weeks: Salvation Full, Salvation Free
Six weeks: Angels Unaware
Seven Weeks: Do You Hear What I Hear!
Eight Weeks: The Story of Modern Christmas
Nine Weeks: The Amazing Response

1 comment:

  1. This is quite a testimony. I like how you said you are "being sanctified" , you will continue "being sanctified" ( take it as both compliment and prayer for you) until the day you die. Dont ever allow anyone to convince you otherwise.


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