I grew up in a Christian home with two loving parents and three older brothers. Attending church each week was a part of life. We enjoyed the fellowship and friendships that developed. My parents willingly sacrificed for all of us to be able to attend Christian schools. The home, school and church experience provided a positive and Biblical foundation for me to build my life upon.
At age fifteen, my Christian life became more personal through positive influences of teachers and classmates. I began to fall in love with Jesus as I read the story of Jesus in the Bible along with a wonderful commentary called, “The Desire of Ages.” The next year, a thought came into my mind. “I would like to be a minister and help others come to know Jesus as a personal Friend and Savior.” Then another thought came. “If I am going to be a minister, I better take this seriously.”
As I began to focus on how I was doing, I could always find fault with myself. Without a good understanding of the gospel, I began to live with a constant, nagging guilt. Eventually, that guilt led to much insecurity and a feeling of shame. That emotional pain led to seeking “pain relievers.” For me, that took the form of binging on food. It provided temporary pleasure, but it also led to more guilt. I found myself stuck in a cycle of addiction: guilt, shame, pain, pain reliever, guilt…. Since it was an “acceptable” addiction, and something I could hide, no one noticed but me.
The shame and insecurity kept me from seeking out the help that I needed. I almost gave up Christianity, for it wasn’t working for me. But I had seen others who had given up and noticed that they weren’t happy. I knew that Jesus was “the answer,” I just hadn’t figured out how to experience peace and victory for myself.
For 14 years I limped along in my struggling, Christian life. Looking back at those years, I recognize that God was removing any confidence in myself that might lead to pride or that might lead me away from trusting in His grace and righteousness alone. God was also faithful to provide the help and encouragement that I needed to nurture me along. This came through family and friends, personal quiet time with Him, answers to prayer and His remarkable leading in my life.
Then in His wonderful providence and timing, He led me to understand the gospel foundation more clearly than ever before. I began to experience an inner peace and security that has led to a growing maturity in my relationship with God and others. I experienced freedom from the addictive cycle, victory in the Christian life and a new motivation for living for God.
In John 8:31,32, Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Having experienced freedom and joy through Jesus, it is my desire to share this good news with others. It is my prayer that God will be able to use these Bible Studies to help many others understand and experience His unconditional love for the human race.
Knowing we can help each other learn and grow, I welcome and appreciate any suggestions, questions, or ideas you have as you study these lessons. May God bless each of us with the Holy Spirit that He may lead us step by step into all the truth He has for us. “When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth” John 16:13.
Your brother in Christ,