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Manchester -My Story-

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My Story

Manchester Church of Christ Conn.

October 5th evening service

Introduction:

            Good evening, it’s always a pleasure to visit brothers and sisters in Christ from different parts New England as well as the nation. This evening I would like to talk about my life before I came to know Christ, what brought me to Christ, and what God has done for me since coming to Christ?                                                       

My Background

            Past

                        I grew up in a poor family; my mother was at that time a single parent. Growing up there was almost no talk of God or of Christ in our home. We never went to church. I don’t think we even had a Bible in our home. The only thing I knew about Jesus was that He was born in a barn and for some reason we received presents from one of his relatives (Santa Claws) on his birthday. Now some of you may chuckle at that and it is somewhat funny but it is really very sad. I would say that there are probably more homes today were children are growing up in a godless environment like the one I grew up in. I always knew there was a God. I grew up in a home with no mention of God or religion. But I always knew that there was a God. I had no understanding of who this God was but I knew there was something bigger and more powerful that me out there. And you know I believe that every person in this world knows down deep that there is a God, something bigger than himself or herself, a creator of this universe.

            Genesis

                        When we read in Genesis 1 and 2 we read about the creation of the universe and of the earth but we also read of the creation of man and what does scripture say? God created man in His image in the image of God He created them male and female created He them. So man was created in the image of God but that’s not all read on and see that we were created to have a relationship with God. God walked with Man in the garden. What I am trying to say is this God created us to have a personal intimate relationship with him and when we don’t have that relationship we feel it. There is something missing in our lives now we can fill it with all kinds of things: sex, money, the pursuit of power, family friends, ECT. The list goes on but if we fill that spiritual whole with animating but God we end up in a ruined state longing still to fill our emptiness.

                       

                        So I knew there was a God growing up even though I had no understanding of who He was. As I grew up I started to like Martial arts and would watch all the movies and read books and magazines and when I was around 10 or so I wanted to study the Martial arts. Now I never did get in involved with them while I was in my early teen years but it was something that stuck around in the back of my mind. When I was around 16 I moved out of my parent’s home and began getting into trouble. I had suppressed that spiritual void and brushed God off to the side as maybe some kind of impersonal power kind of the “Force” in Star Wars.

            Big Changes

                        When I was around 19 I was going through some changes my son was born and I had a deep desire to be there for him because I didn’t have a father growing up, so I wanted to be there for my son. I was wondering about life in general, is this all there is to life. Live grow old and die. I began thinking about what my life was going to be like in 10 years. The only thing I thought of was the Martial Arts it had physical aspects of health and fitness, it had philosophy of life it had a spiritual aspect so I researched and started to study a Japanese Martial Art called Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu. This school of Martial arts was heavily influences by Mikkyo Buddhism, Yamabushi warrior monks and Shintoism. Mostly influenced by Buddhism. That’s how I got to know about Buddhism. That was my first exposure to Buddhism. Kind of interesting to note that I looked at Mikkyo Buddhism but I ended up studying a school of Buddhism called Theravadan. This particular form of Buddhism I studied was agnostic in nature they believed and so did I that we could never know if there was a god or gods so let’s not even talk or debate the issue.

                        Other Schools of Buddhism

                                                (Go into some details) Varian - many gods and deities.

            Coming to know Christ

                        I meet a man named Ian McGuiggan at a pool game that was over my brother-in-laws home. We first talked about the Martial Arts; he said that he wanted to learn and was wondering if I would get together with him and show him some things. I found out later that even though they did want to learn the Martial Arts, his real reason for getting together with me and receiving all those bumps and bruises was so could talk to me about Jesus and I am glad he did. Well after talking about philosophy and general thoughts of religion he challenged me with a question, is there a right and wrong? Now at the core of Buddhism there is the idea that there is no right or wrong it’s all how you look at things, it’s all your perspective. For example a Buddhist might say “If your family was starving and you had no money or food and you stole some food to feed your family would that be wrong“? This would be the type of question a Buddhist might use to get a person to say “well I guess in that situation it would not be wrong”. - Well even before he challenged me with this right and wrong issue I had been thinking about that same issue. Was what Hitler did wrong? Was rape and murder wrong? After a few months of studying this from the Buddhist perspective and some other things that were going on in my life at that time, God was working; I decided to study the Bible. Ian and I started to get together once a week for about 3 months. We looked at things like Evidence for the existence of God, Evidence that the Bible is the word of God, and Was Jesus who He said he was. My wife had been going to the Southbridge Church on and off for a while and she had been going to Bible studies so one day she told Ian that she wanted to be baptized. He set up a time to come over that next week to discuss what baptism was all about and then she would be baptized. Well within that next week I had decided that I wanted to be baptized as well and after talking about baptism with Ian and my wife both he and I were baptized into Christ the next day.

What brought me to Christ?

            A) Right and wrong.

            B) The state of people I knew in Buddhism and what my life was becoming (staying off in my room meditating not connecting with my wife or son becoming completely self centered).

            C) God moving in my life. Ian not only prayed for me but also encouraged me to pray to God and I did. At first it was “If you’re out there let me know“.

            D) Searching for truth. I was looking for truth. If someone is not really searching they may stumble upon the truth or they may lie to themselves and ignore the truth, I was looking for it.

            There is a parable that Christ tells in Matthew 13:44 -46 and He says this:

  Matthew 13:44-46 (ESV) 

    "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

    [45] "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, [46] who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

I was like man who was searching for that pearl. From then on I studied the scriptures and got to the point where I wanted to learn more so Ian and the rest of the leadership at Southbridge started up a program of study through Sunset International Bible Institute. I have been going thought the courses for about 2 years now. I work part time and school the other half as well as take care of family responsibilities. I have been involved in what we call Family Groups for about a year and have been leading one of these groups with another brother for about 6 months

            Conclusion:

                        That is really the end of my conversion story. I am still studying and God willing I plan to minister the word. One thing I would like to leave you with is that if you’re not a Christian you’re not here by accident or coincidence. You may be like that man in the parable who happens to stumble upon a treasure. It has nothing to with me it’s all about Jesus that’s the treasure you have stumbled upon and what a treasure He is. Or maybe you are like the man who was searching for that pearl of great price. Searching for truth, you have found it in Christ. Jesus says “I am the way the truth and the life”. You have found what you‘ve been searching for. I would say to both types the stumbler and the seeker hear tonight get together with a member of the Church and study and look at what Jesus has to offer.

I want to end by reading that parable one more time.

Matthew 13:44-46 (ESV) 

    "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

    [45] "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, [46] who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

May God richly bless you

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