Monday, April 1, 2013

Taking the next steps

After accepting Jesus as my saviour and being born-again that night on the 1st April 1981 I can remember having the desire to have a bath. Later that evening after having spent some precious time with a dear Christian pastor, Vic Pearce, I headed straight for the bathroom in res and ran a bath. The thoughts going through my mind were "need to wash the sin away". Little did I know that this was the Holy Spirit impressing on me that I needed to be water baptised.

I had grown up in a Catholic home and been through all the rituals of christening as a baby, altar boy, confirmation as a teenager, attended catechism, sang in the choir in church etc. However, none of these rituals had brought about the transformation that I had now experienced. 

My parents thought I had gone mad and kept inviting the priest over to speak to me. One evening my mother organised for a whole group of young seminarians to come and speak to me together with a few priests. We had long debates, by this time I had been attending Bible studies at the YMCA at UCT and had learned a few things about the bible. I had been introduced to Josh McDowel and his book, Evidence Demands a Verdict. I remember having intense discussions with one of the seminary students about the fact that Bible was the only standard for biblical truth and not church tradition as taught in the Catholic church. This seminary student became quite aggressive and was very rattled, but he was also desperate for truth and he asked me if he could borrow Josh McDowel's book which I gladly lent him. I never saw that book again or the seminarian but I trust that he found what he was looking for.

I became convinced that infant baptism was meaningless and unbiblical and that I needed to be baptised by full immersion as the Bible instructs. I had heard of Hatfield Baptist Church in Pretoria and went and found them and signed up to be baptised. 

I can remember how I had a new found hunger to read the bible. I had never owned my own bible, but now I had one and was devouring it daily. There were lots of things I did not understand and I was crying out to God to help me understand it better. It seemed that there was something missing but I could not place my finger on it. After being water baptised at Hatfield they took us to a room and explained about the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I had never been taught that this was something I could and needed to receive. I was game for anything that would help and bring me closer to God, so I stood in line for prayer. I did not feel any different afterwards and wondered why. They had said that you can speak in tongues after being baptised in the Spirit, but this did not happen to me. That whole week I cried out to God to baptise me and let me speak in tongues. The following Sunday I went through to Rhema in Jhb and after the service they called people up to be baptised in the Spirit. I ran forward and an elderly lady came to pray for me. She must have been a real prayer warrior, she gave me some instruction and then prayed and it happened, I began speaking in tongues. I was excited and spent hours over the next few days praying in tongues. Now when I opened the Bible, it was like the words on the page were leaping off and I could instantly understand what was written. It was such an amazing experience to be able to read the Bible and make sense of it all. I could not put it down and read it through from cover to cover. For the next month whilst I was at home on my university vacation, I spent the entire month studying the Bible for up to 8hrs a day. I knew now what it meant to be a "new creation" and have the Holy Spirit in you. I began to experience the gifts of the Holy Spirit and I felt such an incredible joy, peace and love pulsing through me. I had no desire to do the things I used to do that were not pleasing to God. I longed to please Him and be in His presence.

Its 32 years later and I still feel the same. Yes, I have been through some ups and downs, I have fallen here and there, but God's grace is sufficient - if we confess our sins He is righteous and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1John1:9). An important lesson I have learned - God does not forgive excuses, we must not make excuses when we sin. We need to acknowledge when we do, do not excuse it because everyone around you is doing it, acknowledge your sin, repent, ask for forgiveness and move on. Dont live with guilt, once you have confessed your sins, you are forgiven and cleansed. 

32 years ago I was born-again today

On this day at 9pm in 1981, I gave my heart to the Lord - 32 years ago. I was an engineering student at UCT, staying in College House. My close friend Bernard Klingenberg, who always kept a bible next to his bedside, led me to the Lord.
It was a Friday evening and we had machine drawing prac on a Friday. We had finished our usual steak, egg and chips supper in the res dining room and I had returned to my room to work on my engineering drawing homework. This weeks drawing had been a particularly difficult exercise and together with my maths, applied maths, physics and chemistry, work was piling up. It was set to be a long hard working weekend. I had discovered that studying engineering was a tough choice, but I was determined to press on. Hitting a road block with my drawing, I went to Bernard's room for help. The bible on his bedside table seemed to draw my attention. Then I heard myself saying to him, I want to be a Christian like you. Bernard looked up at me from his desk, smiled and suggested we go for a walk outside where it was quieter. There was a lot of loud music and partying going on as usual in our res, after all, it was Friday night.
We walked towards the Elma football field. Reaching the field, it was quiet and no one was in sight. We walked onto the field and as we reached the middle of the field, knelt down to pray and ask God to forgive my sins and repented. With Bernard's help, I asked Jesus to become my saviour. When I stood up, I looked across the field towards the trees around the edge, everything seemed brighter, the stars, the moon, the trees, the grass, my vision seemed to be enhanced. The burden I had felt lifted and now feeling light, almost as if I could float, a supernatural peace and joy filled my heart. I knew something had changed. These scriptures in Titus describe what it was:
Titus 2:11-14 (TLB)
For the Grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn away from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.
He gave His life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.
Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other.
But when God our Saviour revealed His kindness and love, He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.
He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out His Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Because of His Grace, He declared us Righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.
The following daily reading from Bill and Marsha Burns is also so apt as it encourages us to press on with our walk with the Lord daily:
Faith Tabernacle
April 1, 2013
I would have you, My people, to understand that resurrection power is available to you – the power of the kingdom to bear. The power of the authority of Christ has been given to you; use that authority; use that power. Fight the good fight of faith. Overcome all the works of the enemy that are against you. Live in freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of your joy in the kingdom of an Almighty God, who has made the way for you. All you have to do is walk in the way that has been prepared. Walk in truth. Walk in the glory of a great salvation. Walk in My presence day to day remembering the price has been paid. Do not forget the benefits that you have been given. For, the Lord says, what I have acquired and what I have laid hold of, I did for you. Get it spiritually. Press on! Never give up, never sit down, and do not allow yourself to be discouraged. I say, push toward the mark of the high calling in Christ, the Lord of glory.
Draw close to Me. Let us be one, with no separation or division between us. My desire is that your heart and mind would come into complete unity with Me, says the Lord, for this is the place of absolute righteousness and peace. You can choose to position yourself to be in this perfect union so that you are never in opposition to My will. John 17:21 That they all may be one, as you, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.

God is faithful and I love this scripture from Jude 1:24
New International Version (©2011)
To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy--