Tag Archive for conversion

Face-to-face with the Living God

I remember clearly when I first trusted Jesus Christ. It was the last night of a revival in our local church with evangelist Rev. Jay Budd. All week a fear of hell had been building in my 10-year-old mind, but I was too shy to go forward during the altar call. So when we arrived home after church on that Sunday night, April 10, 1960, I went into my parents’ bedroom and told them I wanted to pray to become a Christian.

I still remember my burning desire not to lose the amazing new feeling that filled my heart.

But my deepest and most formative memory of that evening is my new awareness of the Living God. I had the sensation of Him standing right in front of me, looking straight into my eyes. The reality was stark and gripping. He filled my heart’s vision. I could not ignore Him or look past Him. But His look was not threatening. He was not angry with me. His look was love…nothing but love.

I think of that when I read the account of Paul’s conversion in Acts 9. Paul was making a career of trying to stamp out Christianity, and suddenly, in a moment in time, he turned around 180 degrees and became one of its most fervent advocates. Within a few days he was publicly contending for the truth he had violently opposed. The change did not happen through years of studying and thinking. Like me, he simply came face-to-face with the Living Christ. Few words were exchanged. The gripping reality of Jesus Christ transformed him completely in a moment in time, and he was never the same.

Like Paul, my life and ministry continues to be energized by the stark reality of Father God, revealed so vividly and personally in Jesus Christ. To my ears, so much of our Christian talk is about religion, and religion can be such a human thing. It pales before the Living God. He still fills my heart’s vision, as He did on that evening over 55 years ago. He draws me. He drives me. My relationship with Him shapes every aspect of my life. When He speaks, all other voices are just background noise. When He commands, my path is clear, regardless of opposition. My heart has room for nothing and no one else.

As with Noah, Abraham, Isaiah, and Paul, God Himself, in His person, makes all other considerations irrelevant. He is the Source and Center of all reality. He is all wisdom, all power, and all love. He calls, I answer. What else matters but Him?

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Present Lord
Printed Music & Lyrics

The Way He Speaks

One of the things that intrigues me about Jesus is the way He talked to people, especially individuals, one on one. He talked with lawyers and criminals, religious leaders and prostitutes, fishermen, tax collectors, soldiers, and children.  He spoke with women, even when it was against the social conventions of His day.

He always spoke to these people with personal respect–respect for the independence and dignity of the individual.

He never pushed or steam-rolled anybody. He spoke with understanding, consideration, and patience. He took time. He provided reason. And He always spoke face-to-face, not looking over their shoulders or talking over their heads. He didn’t “hammer” or “preach at” individuals. He was never harsh or condemning…at least not with the humble.

He was not repulsed by the unrespectable people of His day. He was attracted to them, genuinely drawn to them…not to a class of people, but to individual persons. He had an almost organic attraction to them.

He loved them just where they were, as they were, but He cared too much to abandon them there. He drew them on, drew them in, toward the simple truth and toward a life-giving trust in himself.

That’s what He did for me. I remember when I first trusted Him–not just mentally believed in Him, but genuinely, personally trusted Him from my heart. I was not drawn in so much by what He was saying to me. What gripped me was His reality–the reality of His person. I knew He was there in front of me. I felt He was looking right into my eyes, into my heart. And though He was holy God and I was a very unholy sinner, the look was love–nothing but love.

That’s what got me. I trusted Him. I bowed to Him and confessed my sin, and life has not been the same since.

I’m not talking about religion. I’m not talking about church, or beliefs, or cultural preference, or emotional experiences. I’m talking about Jesus Christ. I’m talking about knowing Him on a personal basis and trusting Him as God.

Don’t take my word for it. You can know Him yourself. If you want to know Him, or know Him better, He will reveal Himself to You. He will come to You personally, one-on-one.

When He comes, when He speaks to you, listen. Whatever He says, His voice is always only love.

Listen…and sing if you want:
Hymn: When Jesus Speaks
Printed Music & Lyrics