Here are a few key factors that have shaped who I am and what I believe.
- True Christianity, True Church: My experience in the church (mainly Baptist) without being a Christian for so many years has greatly shaped what I believe about what makes a Christian truly Christian. Believing the facts of the Gospel and being involved in the activities of the church does not grant nor guarantee a right standing with God. It is the embracing of Christ and his work on our behalf, which God accepts, and not merely embracing the facts about Christ and his work. While I grew up in the church, my life did not match my profession of faith (especially in my teen years). Not until I was twenty-two years old and at the end of my rope did I turn from my rebellious ways to the living God in Christ. This experience in the church as an unbeliever for so long is continuing to shape my rethinking of what makes Christ’s church truly Christ’s church.
- Desire for Discipleship: A deep sense of my own need for guidance in following Christ as a new believer, showed me early on that we are not able nor are we meant to be lone rangers. I often had unrealistic expectations for the men who helped me along the way. Yet, at the same time, I am beginning to grasp a more Biblical view of discipleship, which far exceeded what I had hoped for as a new believer. In my very limited experience and knowledge of Biblical discipleship, as I have benefited from those who have helped me along the path, I have likewise sought to help fellow struggling disciples of Jesus. In sum, I have found the necessity for life on life discipleship to be so urgent, yet so rare.
- Growing through Reading/Studying: Before becoming a Christian, I despised reading and studying. During this time, I had no goals whatsoever after high school graduation. Yet, I probably read more books in the year God saved me than the combined amount read all the years up until then. When God gave me a new heart for himself, he also immediately gave me new affections altogether for the Bible and other books. I am a living testimony that one God-ordained means of spiritual growth is via reading and studying.