Monday, June 27, 2005

A Story to Share About Rob


This is AWESOME!

One of the most important things that Christians share are praises....especially when someone comes to the Lord!! He sent this email to me the other day (this was originally posted on my message board about two years ago) and gave me permission to post his
testimony anywhere that I'd like to share it.

Here is Rob's email and story:

This is Rob, the former denizen of the Godless Zone. I had actually
been trying to track you down, and I kind of figured, if I kept checking out the Godless Zone, you would show up eventually. I apologize that it took a few days too e-mail you. I only access e-mail at work, and I am basically typing this out during my lunch break, so if this has the appearance of being written in haste, it's because it is. I noticed in
some of your posts you referenced Greg Koukl from the Stand to
Reason website. That is interesting because that may be the first Christian website that I ever looked at in detail. But I wasn't a
Christian at the time. I ended up following links to opposing views
and ended up at the Atheism Web. After reading about atheism, I decided that's what I was. I thought I was being logical. Looking back now, I think there was a lot of self-deception involved, but at the time
I didn't realize it. I started hanging out at atheist boards, mainly the Godless Zone. Whenever a Christian came on they were often treated with a fair amount of hostility. I'm not proud to say I often joined in on the mocking. I didn't feel good about it but I did it.

So what changed my mind? I don't know that I can point to one particular thing. But there were little things that people had said over
the years that stuck with me, even if I continued to reject Christianity
at the time. I remember something you said once about there being a difference between matter and information. And I remember reading commentaries by Greg Koukl, that stuck with me. I'll admit, I used to refer to him as 'that idiot on the net.' But there was one particular commentary that I remember that stuck with me. It had to do with
the nature of consciousness, and how if consciousness is an emergent property of matter, then how can it make sense to say that we have a
will or a desire. I wish I could reference it right now, so you know what
I am talking about. But after reading that I remember thinking 'he just might be onto something.' I probably still rejected just about everything else he said.

I started going to church semi-regularily a couple of years ago. I considered myself to be an agnostic then rather than an atheist,
although I was leaning towards the notion that there was probably something more out there than meets the eye. I still hadn't gotten into reading the Bible. About a year later I thought, 'why not.' So I picked
up the Bible and started to read it. I started with the Gospel according
to Matthew. I was still kind of skeptical though. I read through the first few chapters, about one chapter a day, with nothing major happening. Then I got to about chapter 6 or 7 (I apologize, I don't have my Bible in front of me, so I can't quote the exact verses). It was where Jesus was talking about those who do all there good deeds to be seen by men, and about how those who do so have been paid in full. While reading that it was like a light had been turned on in my mind. I was thinking 'Wow,
this guy really knows what he is talking about.' I realised how foolish I had been thinking the Bible was just a bunch of silly stories. It really
was an intense experience on an emotional level. I had to restrain
myself from reading too far ahead. I know you are not supposed to
read the Bible like it is a novel. Since then I've managed to keep on a more or less even keel emotionally. I have still only read a small part of the Bible. But I try and read about a chapter a night. I'll admit, I'm still kind of immature and undisciplined when it comes to the faith. But I believe my faith will grow. Some might wonder why I have this faith.
God hasn't appeared to me in a big flash of light, and I am not hearing voices in my head telling me to do things. But I still believe he is working on me. I believe there are more surprises in store for me in the future. God can perform miracles, but I think the typical way he draws people
to him, is by changing their heart, not by performing magic tricks.
There is a lot more I can say, but in the interests of not keeping this e-mail too long, I will wrap this up. I think you are doing a good job representing Christ, and don't be too discouraged if people don't
respond right away. Sometimes when you plant a seed in people's
minds, it can take a while to produce fruit, but it may still happen.

God bless you. (I can say that now.)


My follow up email:

Hi Rob,

Your email brought tears to my eyes! Tears of joy, of course! Thanks
for sharing your story. It is just so awesome to be able to call you my brother in Christ now!! He is a fabulous Lord!! It must have been a
divine appointment that we found each other again. Your story gave
me so much encouragement not to give up on the unsaved. I mean, I always realize that we are not to do that, but I often wonder if Christians are making a difference posting on atheist/agnostic boards. As you had pointed out, they are often very hostile to Christian believers. Don't
worry about the is forgiven and forgotten. As I recall, you
were one of the nicer people posting on that board! Hearing about
you coming to Christ and now studying the Bible reinforces that God's Word does not come back void. We may never know (this side of
heaven) how many people we can influence in a positive way for the Kingdom of God through sharing the gospel of Christ. just NEVER gets old! May I post your story on my message board? The
board doesn't get much action....but I post significant articles,
messages, and contacts with people of faith. I have a blog on there too.
I think I already gave you my website. If you use AOL instant
messenger, my SN is mamasitawjc. When you get time, write again so
we can catch up on the past 3 years!

God bless you, too!

Your sister in Christ,

Another reply from Rob:

Hi Christine. I'll make this quick for now. Yes, you may post my testimonial on any boards you wish. By the way, I saw the Passion of Christ the other day. My quick response to that is that even after
seeing the brutality of how he was treated, I don't think we really
can completely grasp what he went through. His suffering wasn't just physical, it was spiritual as well. He took on the sins of the whole world, and that is almost incomprehensible to my limited mind. I will be
getting back to you later with some more detail. I just thought I would touch base. Take care.



Another letter from Rob:

First to answer your questions. I have not posted at any of the boards.
I only registered on the Godless Zone, and that was only so I could
send you a message. I often wonder how people would react if I came
on and told them of my conversion. Judging by the reactions you are getting, my guess is not too well. Even David B, who I often considered
to be one of the more reasonable posters on there, said he thought God deserved to be spat at. I have read many of your posts on that board.
One that struck me in particular was 'Beware the cross-less gospel.'
My sister has said she will never see 'the Passion' because of the
violence in it. She thinks any movie about Jesus should have been
about his moral teachings, and not the violence of what happened on
the cross. With all due respect to my sister (who I love very much), I think she is mistaken. Jesus was a great moral teacher, the greatest
who ever lived, but that was not his main purpose for being here. He came to save humanity. Without the cross, the only difference between him and any other great thinker of history, like Socrates, for example, would be one of degree. You might be able to say his teachings were better than anyone else's, but there would be no qualitative difference, only quantitative difference. It is interesting what you said about the
Mel Gibson showing the brutality of the cross so people may be
convicted of their sin. Just from a personal point of view, it was pretty sobering to watch. It is a splash of cold water for when you may be thinking 'My sin isn't so bad.' If Jesus took on the sins of the whole
world, then that means every time we sin, we are adding to his suffering. Not a pleasant thought is it? I have a question for you. Since you have referenced a lot of Greg Koukl's works, I was wondering if you knew
him personally. I used to regard him with disdain, but I find myself now agreeing with a lot of his commentaries that he has posted on the website.

Anyway, I'd better go now. I have to get back to work.

Take care.


My reply:

Hi Rob,

I shared your story last night with my Bible study group that meets in
my home on Monday nights. Everybody was deeply moved!! We were discussing the fact that as Christians, we are made for a mission....and
a big part of that mission is evangelism. It's funny. Lots of people kinda fear that word! But what it means is sharing the Good News. What
could be better than sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ?

I have met Greg Koukl. Over the past few years I attended several "Defending the Faith" lecture series at Biola University in LaMirada,
CA. Greg has often been a guest speaker. The last time I saw him I approached him to chat. He is a really down to earth and likable guy.
I used to post on his "Stand to Reason" board, but haven't visited it
lately. I really learned a lot from him over the years and am grateful
for his guidance in presenting the Christian worldview to non-believers.
I have heard of other Christians who feel the same way your sister does and have refused to see "The Passion" movie. Personally, I think they
are missing out, but we can't force people to see it. My husband doesn't want to see it and I was disappointed, but I had to respect his decision.
I saw the movie with my teen daughter (age 16) and we cried through it together. You are correct. It is a very sobering movie.

[Note: Since this was first written, my husband has seen the "Passion"
on DVD and my son and I saw "The Passion, Recut" together.]

I found myself grateful for the flashbacks inbetween the brutality of
the beatings. I think that Mel did an excellent job of portraying the
main message of the movie...that of ultimate love, the need for repentance, the mercy of God's forgiveness, the grace and freedom salvation provides, the hope that Christ's sacrifice gives the world,
and the promise we have in spending eternity with Christ.

I totally agree with your statement, "It is a splash of cold water for
when you may be thinking 'My sin isn't so bad.' If Jesus took on the
sins of the whole world, then that means every time we sin, we are
adding to his suffering. Not a pleasant thought is it?"

Here's a great quote:

"In my opinion, one of the great achievements of this film is to have shown so effectively both the horror of sin and selfishness, and the redeeming power of love. Seeing this film provokes love and
compassion. It makes the viewer want to love more, to forgive, to be
good and strong no matter what, just as Christ did even in the face of such terrible suffering. The viewer is drawn into a powerful experience
of God’s strong yet gentle love, of his overflowing mercy. It is my belief that if we could understand what Jesus Christ did for us and we could follow his example of love and forgiveness, there would not be hatred
or violence in the world. This film will help to make that possible." - Cardinal D. C. Hoyos

Love in Him,


Jojo said...

Hi Christine,
Thanks for sharing this testimony. It is always so exciting when someone comes to the Lord and so interesting to hear how God worked to help their eyes be opened.

My husband, son and I went to see The Passion of the Christ together back when it came out. Everyone would ask, "Was it good?" That is so hard for me to answer. No, it's not good - it's horrible. I cannot stand to see Jesus torchured the way he was. But I think it's important for us to see that and try to comprehend what he willingly went thru for us. It is hard to believe anyone could endure all that beating and torture and not die. I always thought his time on the cross was the worst suffering for Jesus, especially when he was separated from the Father - but the movie depicted the beating to be worse. There were many things in the movie I did not understand because of the "Catholic" symbalism. I went to a message board once where you could find out the answers to your questions, but found there to be more discussion about the catholic faith and it's validity. Someone posted that they were disappointed at all the argueing taking place and the guy replied that he was argueing so the Protestants could know the truth and come close to being saved. Amazing how there are so many different beliefs derrived from one Man. It is scarey how people can be fooled their whole lives just because of how they are raised - or from hearing what the world has to say instead of just reading their Bible for themselves. Anyway - I always enjoy reading what you share here. Thanks for sharing. : )

Stephen said...

Christine - excellent news - praise God! God says His Word will never return void. I thank God for the many godly men and women on the blog who contribute.

We all know the parable of the Sower and the Seeds... keep up the great work for the kingdom!

Christinewjc said...

Hi Jojo,

I agree wholeheartedly. It is not the kind of movie that you see and then answer the question, "Was it good?" It was excruciatingly painful to watch and experience. I cried so much.

Although the depiction of Jesus' Resurrection was very brief (I found myself wanting to see the rest of the story!), it did bring home the point that what Jesus did for us on the cross is just indescribable agape love. The message of forgiveness, mercy, hope, love and salvation comes across loud and clear.

The next morning, I turned on my favorite Christian radio station and the song playing was, "Holy is the Lord." The lyrics of that song hit me so strongly after the horror of the crucifixion depictions I had just witnessed the day before. NO ONE ELSE could have done what Jesus did for us at that cross. For He alone was without sin and HOLY. always gives me the shivers to think about it! Then, I'm bathed in uncomparable warmth of the love of God when I think about the Resurrection promise of Christ!

Jojo said: "Amazing how there are so many different beliefs derrived from one Man."

I am well aware of the differences having been raised Catholic and now a born-again Christian. I try to bridge the gap by sharing what we have in common, rather than the traditions that can divide us. We are to preach "Jesus Christ and Him crucified." This is what Gibson's film depicted so well. Even though he included some things that may not have been entirely biblical (it was a movie so a bit of poetic license perhaps should be allowed?). I think that many evangelicals were able to look past the Catholic portions that could have divided us and focused on what truly unites us in Christ Jesus.

Blessings to you!


Christinewjc said...

Hi sbm,

Seeing people who previously rejected the Gospel message come to Christ and share their new found faith through their own individual testimony is one of the most exciting things to witness! It just never gets old!

I remember thinking that Rob was someone who could be reached. Unlike most at that board (after all it was called the Godless zone!), I had this sense about him that if he only knew Jesus through God's Word, he would see his agnosticism (or atheism) transformed into genuine faith in Jesus Christ.

Three years had passed since we last posted to each other on that message board. One morning, I was prompted to go back there and just post a "hey everyone...did you miss me?" type of greeting. That is when Rob contacted me via the private message and then through email.

Thanks for visiting me here and thanks for all that you are doing to help plant and sow 'seeds' for God's kingdom! He is a fabulous Lord...isn't he? Praise his Holy Name!

In Christ,

Anna said...

Hi Christine -

Wow! Wonderful testimony. It's that one person, whose heart is open. God will move Heaven and earth to get the message to them. They may not seem open on the surface, but He knows deep down in their hearts they're hungry for Him.

How many Robs are out there? I don't know, but I want to be ready, willing and able to share the Gospel with them.

Re: Passion of the Christ. My husband and I went to see it one Saturday afternoon. As brutal as it was, after reading descriptions of what took place both in Scripture and various teachings, it was actually restrained. I don't think it is possible to fully portray what Jesus suffered. The mental and emotional anguish could never be communicated to our finite minds. Think about it - all of the sins of the whole world for all time - that's a heavy load. How could we not love Him?