Thursday, December 18, 2008

Prodigal Son

This letter is for Joel. (Again, I found him on Bill Maher's blog site where people are giving their views on the movie "Religulous".)

I think there are a lot “Joel’s” out there. He says he recently became an atheist after growing up in the church. I don’t know if he’s a prodigal son or if he just never really opened his heart to know the truth. He admires Bertrand Russell and other famous atheists.

Someone said; -“Maybe you can live without Jesus, but can you die without Him?” Many of our great thinkers wrote their thesis when they were at the peek of their lives. But do we know how tragically many of their lives ended? And where do they go for eternity?

Joel refers to the Bible as a book full of war and hatred.
No matter how smart or intelligent some people may be; if they don't allow wisdom to come into their lives, it has no value. Wisdom transcends intelligence. The Bible says:
- “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” Proverbs 1:7
Some translations use the word wisdom instead of knowledge.

Joel, if you go back in my writings you can read about how I got saved. I will not repeat that again, but I will tell you I wasn’t raised in a Christian home. I’ve been saved for 23 years now, and my parents still haven’t accepted Christ. To be honest I haven’t read through everything you have written, because some are just so dark and negative. I read your quotes from the atheists.

One thing that is very important to remember is that true Christianity is NOT a religion. It’s NOT a set of rules and regulations to live by. If that’s where you come from, I understand why it didn’t satisfy you. Legalism and religion is contrary to what Jesus came for to give us. He came to give us life and true freedom. You are 26 and I was 30 when I got saved. There were few limits to what I was allowed to do. Nothing was sin as long as it seemed good to me and it didn’t hurt anybody. But what I discovered in my late 20’ was that I felt like I was dead inside. And I knew I wasn’t free. I really longed for freedom more than anything else, more than love even. And I mean freedom within. In my teenage years and in my 20’ I was “free” to drink, smoke, and everything else that goes with that lifestyle.

I was “free” to express my opinions. I was raised in a country where you are encouraged to have a critical mind and to not except authorities. But let me tell you, I was NOT free. The more I lived this lifestyle the more depressed I became, the more darkness I started to feel inside of me. And I started to seek the truth. Christianity was not my first choice. I looked into writings from so called wise men from India for example. But my life began to really change when I started to read the Bible. The way you refer to the Bible tells me that you don’t read with an open heart to the truth. You seem to be trying to find fault with God and faith. That’s not how I read the Bible. I was desperate for help. I was tired of my life, of all the shallowness in the bars and the circles of people where I was living. I just knew there’s got to be more to life than this. If you read what I wrote before, you will also see that I was a teenage star in my country. I was touring, recording doing TV etc. I was making a lot of money to begin with too. But I always felt like, there’s got to be something MORE. This can’t be it. I had done “everything” already when I was 25.

The Bible is not like any other book. The words in it are alive, it’s a living word. Do you know what that means? Have you ever experienced the word coming alive in you? If you haven’t, I have to say, you have totally missed the point. You may have grown up in a “Christian” environment, but if you have never received the truth in your own heart, you don’t know what you are talking about. I think that sometimes being in that kind of an upbringing can actually make you “immune” to the real thing. If all you see are hypocritical behavior and not the real joy and love through people, that can be very devastating.

God led me to a church after I got saved that was full of God’s revelation, life and love. I mean I could truly see Jesus Christ in people. AND I could truly feel Him working through me. I felt His love through me to people that I in the natural would never, ever care for. And I was delivered from so many things. At the moment I was born again, which happened at a beach where the Holy Spirit came over me, I was delivered from my fear of death and my anguish that would cause panic attacks. That was the first thing I just knew was gone from me. It was truly miraculous. Something I had been struggling with for years just vanished.

God is a supernatural God. It saddens me that such a large part of Christianity doesn’t live in the super natural. If we did, I think that a lot of people like your self would see things differently. We are called to walk in the power of The Holy Spirit and Jesus said that we are to do greater miracles than He did. In my first church at that time the worship was so strong and the presence of God so tangible that nonbelievers that walked in would be convicted.

Jesus loves you Joel. You are young and you have yet to discover how cold and lonely the life of an atheist is.

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