How were you reached?

(Tim Ramey) #1

It seems as if, in the last month, there has been such a flurry of posts that I cannot keep up with them. Thus, I can see where mine would get lost in the mix, especially as to what is normal for me, my posts are always a bit unorthodox. My question does not entail a scholarly response as opposed to a personal one.

My wife and I own a lodge and every year we have international students that we employ. Some have returned yearly for the past 5 years. There are 8 of them representing 5 countries with a variety from one Christian to 2 atheists and everything in between. We have a meal weekly and follow it up with a study from the International Students Inc that starts with the creation and leads into Jesus. The study includes Americans as well who are across the board spiritually. It has evoked many engrossing conversations.

A few weeks back, as we discussed Truth, one asked me why I knew that Jesus was the Truth. In my explanation as to how the Lord dealt with me in a way unique only to me as He would individually to each one, I explained to them how He communicated to me in a way that I knew He was the Truth over and above the rationality aspects. It made me wonder how other Christians would respond to that and has led me to ask you that question. If someone asks you how you KNOW that Jesus is the Truth, given that we can speak of the rationality of it all, how was it that Jesus made it plain to you in a personal way that He was the Way, the Truth and the Life?

I’m not asking you the question to add to my ammo pile of comebacks but rather, was very interested to hear how the many and various ways that our personal Savior got through to you. I’d love to hear as I think that we would all be surprised as how He worked it out in a way that would never work for others.

(SeanO) #2

@Tim_Ramey Praise God for the work that you do! For me, the answer would entail the following points:

  • the love of Christ set me free from envy, pride, fear and other destructive emotions
  • obedience to Christ set me free from slavery to the passions of the flesh
  • the presence of Christ gave me a joy I had never known - not even when achieving a great success in my life
  • the humility of Christ set me free to love all people - rich or poor, smart or simple, friend or enemy - the way that Jesus’ washed the disciples feet and gave His life at the cross allowed me to truly let go of my pride and experience a real love for other people untainted by my own ambitions or fear of poverty or desire for popularity

The difference between Jesus and other religions or philosophies is that Jesus did not teach us a method or a noble path. Jesus offered us Himself - God in the flesh, crucified on a cross and risen from the grave. In Jesus I found love - love that does not fail or fade or perish even in death. That love cannot be found anywhere else - the Spirit of Christ made that love real in my heart in a way that no teaching or religious practice ever could…

When I really saw Jesus for the first time I felt so powerfully what Peter felt after seeing Jesus bring in the catch of fish. I knew I was unworthy - that here was God - pure and holy and full of glory and how could I stand in His presence? And yet this same God washed the disciples feet and touched the leper and loved the broken. That kind of love is not anywhere in this world.

Luke 5:8-10 - When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.

Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.”

I think it would take a book to tell the story of how each of those worked themselves out in my life - but I am sure you could see in your own life how similar truths worked themselves out. I hope those thoughts are helpful :slight_smile:

(Tim Ramey) #3

@SeanO thanks for your reply. It wasn’t helpful as much as it was interesting to hear more about you.

Over 45 years ago, I had an intense desire to learn what Truth was. I search diligently for a few years when the truth began to manifest itself. What the Lord used to bring me to Himself was that I first met Nancy, my wife to be, who was a Christian. At that time I devised a trip with my college where I would visit all 48 continental states, journaling, working a variety of jobs and generally fulfilling my agreed upon obligations with the school. The first half I traveled with a college friend who owned a van. He dropped out out after covering the northern states so I hitchhiked the southern states.

Nancy gave me a “Good News for Modern Man” to read. I had never read the Bible and had no desire to do so. However, for her sake I did. Besides the Word coming alive to me, the beauty of the variety of God’s creation really witnessed to me. Coupled with that was the fact that it was during the Jesus Revolution. So many great conversations ensued. Some were superficial but many were in-depth. All the pieces fit and I knew that Jesus was the Truth. No question. He was it. And that was only the beginning of, not a religion, but a relationship. That truth has been tried but I’m so grateful that I can join the disciples in saying, “I have no where else to go.” He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He made that plain to me and I’m forever grateful as not one of my 6 siblings know Him and try as I have to make them understand it, it goes in one ear and out the other. I am so humbled. Why me, Oh Lord?

(SeanO) #4

@Tim_Ramey It is amazing to hear how God has worked in your life. Would you mind unpacking what you mean by the following phrase a bit more:

"All the pieces fit and I knew that Jesus was the Truth. "

I think if you could write a few paragraphs on what exactly you mean by that phrase it would help a lot in reaching out to others who have the question of how you knew Jesus was the Truth. What were the pieces? How did they fit?

(Renee Yetter) #5

For me, at least, it was a very rational experience and God used that to work in me. My life was an ugly mess and I was desperate for something different. After seeing a friend in a casket at the visitation after his untimely death, the question that plagued me centered on where “the rest of him” was, if that “rest of him” existed.

The process of sorting all that out was painful but rational. It involved reading a Bible my sister and brother-in-law gave me, and also evaluating the evidence for the resurrection. When it became clear that embracing Christianity was an entirely rational, reasonable choice, I did so. The relief, peace, comfort, and other emotions, came after. Now, people can gain those emotions from all kinds of beliefs, including false ones, but the other fruits, and the staying power in times of doubt, come from belief in the Truth and His faithfulness, both of which rely completely on Him. Idols will inevitably fall short in such circumstances.

That’s an awfully streamlined version; it was complicated and took a year or more, but considering the evidence was an integral part of the process. I could not have committed to the effort obedience and submission require had I not been convinced that Jesus is who He claimed to be during His earthly ministry. Both are extremely difficult to live out, as we all know. My daily failures alone would prompt me to give up were it not for the convincing evidence we have access to.

(Tim Ramey) #6

@rbyetter @SeanO
Thanks for sharing Renee’. It is hard to put it all in a few paragraphs, isn’t it?

Sean, you asked me to unpack “All the pieces fit and I knew that Jesus was the Truth.” Again, as Renee’ said, it is difficult to concisely do so but I’ll try.

It goes without saying but I’ll emphasize it anyway and that is that the Lord knows us better than we know ourselves. Because of that fact, we could never predict the ways that the Lord will show us Himself. Would Jesus reveal Himself to me through the Bible? Never! Why would He because no one read the Bible that I knew and I had no desire for it all. But He did use it The guy that I traveled with sarcastically mocked my reading one day so I asked him if I could read to him what I just had put down. When he agreed, I turned back in my Bible and read James 3 about the tongue. He was wowed and vowed that he would get serious and look into spiritual matters when the trip was through. He never did but I couldn’t let go of what I found and I had all kinds of questions that arose as I was now in a world that I hadn’t known existed.

Traveling from State to State, I saw the diversity of the creation and that there was not a definition of beauty ie it was not just mountains and oceans but it was sunflower fields in North Dakota or the burning desert in Nevada etc. Every State had a profound beauty - all varied but were beautiful. That variance would evidence itself in the fact that no two leaves were the same molecularly (new word) nor that any two people looked and acted the same. This God is powerful and creative and builds the stuff we like. Could this world be made by a God who was anxious for us to fall out of line so He could wap us, as I had believed?

As I hitchhiked down the road, the Doobie Brothers were singing, “Jesus is just all right with me” and once vacant lots were filled with tents as Jesus people proclaimed their salvation. It was the Jesus Revolution and conversations about the Bible, the Trinity and salvation was everywhere. How the Lord used those experiences, I really can’t say as the discussions were not always convincing one way or another but it all piled up to make for a grand stack of truth that absolutely spoke to me. I realized that the Creator had created all of this just for me. It wouldn’t probably move anyone else because it wasn’t meant for them, it was tailored to speak to me.

At that time in my life, Jesus breathed His Truth into me, ever so slowly but ever so certainly. I was home and knew that there was no place else to go.

(Jimmy Sellers) #7

For me it was my son. My mother would take him to church. Shortly after that it was my wife and finally I went. It had been 10 to 12 years since I had attend a church service but I remember this service. The preacher rolled out an old overhead projector to the front, the type that used transparencies and a wax pen. He proceeded to, of all things, show graphs of receipts to membership ratios conculding with an invitation to the 75% of the pew setters to join the 25% who were doing and giving. This was not a sermon that I needed to hear as it confirmed my suspicions that church was about the money. I couldn’t wait to bolt out of there but I was hemmed in the middle of the pew. As the service ended a lady in the choir, choir robe and all made a perfect scissors kick over the choir rail full stride jumped off the stage to catch me before I could escape. She was the mother of a friend mind. Her son and I, years earlier we’re very like out corrupting the neighbors children. She told me that everytime we left her house she prayed for us and she convinced me to come back that night because Pastor Rutledge was a wonderful Bible teacher. I came back that night and the Word was opened the rest is history and journey continues. I hope this makes sense

(SeanO) #8

@Tim_Ramey Thank you for sharing that part of your story. It is so amazing how when our hearts are opened to God the whole of creation begins to declare His glory.

(SeanO) #9

@Jimmy_Sellers Amazing how the commitment of that one mother to see a troublemaker from the neighborhood know Jesus made a difference.

(Tim Ramey) #11

@CarsonWeitnauer @Lakshmismehta
I so appreciated what Lakshmi had to say and it really blessed me as to the variety of ways that the Lord reaches us. However, her post doesn’t appear here but rather I received it via email. The post title is correct. It would be valuable for others to read as her story is so different from Jimmy’s, Renee’s and Sean’s. I love it how the Lord knows what we need to hear from Him and He meets us. It’s about relationship, isn’t it?

If Lakshmi’s reply could be posted, I know that it would speak to many that may need to hear it. Thanks

(Lakshmi Mehta) #12

@Tim_Ramey, to answer your question below-

how was it that Jesus made it plain to you in a personal way that He was the Way, the Truth and the Life?

My journey to Christ began as the Holy Spirit convicted me in my heart of the foolishness of bowing down to something made by my own hands and calling it God as I read the book of Isaiah. I knew the God of the Bible entered our world as Jesus and died for our sins and accepted us through grace. So I prayed to Jesus and accepted Him as my Lord. I didn’t realize that I was also to believe that Jesus was the only way. God however took my acceptance of Him seriously enough and slowly started giving me evidence of Himself. Theological explanations for other gods based on Ezekiel and Revelation accounts about fallen angels was the beginning of that understanding. Some evidences of new life that I saw right away was that there was clearly a joy I experienced in prayer, a hunger to read the Bible and an irresistible urge to talk about what I was learning from the Bible. It was all effortless. Then I experienced a difficult situation where God used a Christian friend to prophetically speak to me using scripture about that situation and it came to pass. That was proof to me that Jesus is living and answers prayer. The best evidence personally for me that Jesus is the Way is that He speaks to us even in our sin and doesn’t wait for us to get holy or enlightened. There was a time when my faith was very weak as I started doubting the Bible and its divine inspiration due to influences from work and found it difficult to go to God. Many months went by when I didn’t pray due to doubt. In that state of mind I attended a church service and the pastor who didn’t know me personally, advised me in prayer through Holy Spirit’s revelation of how my faith was watered down and that I needed to set myself apart from my work colleagues. That’s when I realized how Jesus pursues and speaks to His children even when His children are living in failure. Jesus is not only living but operates in a way that is theologically opposed to other religious views. As I share this my desire is to give hope that God pursues us even when we are undeserving setting Him apart from other ways and to give Him glory. Thanks for the question that brought to rememberance the mercies of God which I am so prone to forget.

Personal Experiences of Romans 1:18-20?
(Tabitha Gallman) #13

I haven’t been online for a while because I have tennis/mouse elbow and I hate typing on my phone, but I couldn’t ignore this question.

I grew up with the gospel, but never experienced true forgiveness untill I needed it personally. That experience came way later in my life and the gospel became a living experience for me. I love reading about the transformations of the people in the Bible because I know God can change anyone if they are willing to let God be God in their life. I love my Savior!

(Dennis Gladden) #14

@Tim_Ramey Thank you for the question. You have inspired encouraging answers and great testimonies to God’s faithfulness.

My “aha” moment came when I knew that Jesus knew all about me. I was raised in a church family but constant arguing about doctrines turned me off on church. When God seemed deaf to my prayers about conflicts in my own life as a teen, my anger toward church turned on Him. I hated church and I hated God but, because of my upbringing, I was afraid to discount Him entirely. When I was 17, I surrendered to Him in desperation in a “let’s make a deal” sort of way. I had seen enough to watch commitments go sour and I didn’t want to yield without knowing a commitment to Christ can actually get better over time.

I felt compelled to read Peter’s letters. First Peter was good and I was into 2nd Peter but not really getting anything insightful. Then I came to the last verse of the last chapter, “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). It was like the Lord Himself read these words to me, assuring “I know you want a relationship that gets better. Here is your answer.”

I had grown up reading the Bible and memorizing verses but, that day, the Bible became a living word.

Remembering how God has worked in my life and reading the testimonies here, I think in some way the Lord reaches each of us as He did the woman at the well.

John 4:16-18
16 “Go call your husband,” He told her, “and come back here.”
17 “I don’t have a husband,” she answered. “You have correctly said, ‘I don’t have a husband,’” Jesus said.
18 “For you’ve had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.”
John 4:28-29
28 Then the woman left her water jar, went into town, and told the men,
29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could this be the Messiah?”

Her words, “a man who told me everything I ever did” amaze me. Jesus told her one fact about herself — she had had five husbands — and she concluded if Jesus knew this one thing, He knew everything. It was like this for me at the beginning and Jesus has proven Himself ever since.

(Tiago de Carvalho) #15

Dear @Tim_Ramey,

My brief story from another post:

Kind regards :slightly_smiling_face:

(Sven Janssens) #17

Hah, nice question. I am going to answer that one. (very personal, opening up here)

So, when I was about ten my mom used to work at a restaurant, working the dining room.
There was this older lady that would come in every Sunday noon after church. She told my mom about the church and God and invited her at church.
At that time we, my sister and I, stayed at home.

One day this lady gave me and my sis this children’s Bible, you know, and I got so hooked on that. I hate(d) reading, but I ate it. I would go ask my mom questions about stories in the Bible, around 2am. :smile:
That is when my live changed dramatically.

I got baptized when I was 12 years old and still full of passion. Wanted to learn a lot and do a lot, but kind of hit walls there.

Things broke bad when I reached 21. I started to turn away and actually broke contact with church, family, etc… Had my own “live”
Got into a relationship with a guy (yes, same sex relationship) for a couple of years, went clubbing etc… etc…

Turned back to God in '98 something like that.
He really picked me up, blessed me, loved me, cared for me.
In 2000 called me into full time ministry.

God really forgives, cares, loves. He is the One. He is good.

That was the short version. :wink: