Is Jesus a reality or just a fairy tale?
I can only answer this by sharing my own personal journey, not some doctoral thesis.
I grew up in a religious church, I was baptized, received sacraments and even was heavy involved in church services as a young boy. I was at church every Sunday and every holy day that there was. You can even say with my activities with the church, I was there, almost every time the doors were open. I also went to a religious school for nine years.
But for me and most people I have known, who later received Jesus as their savior. I was deceived and never knew who Jesus was. To me he was someone we worship afar, He was some historical leader, who did some amazing things and made some amazing claims. To be honest, I was doing everything out of tradition (this was my family religion), and secondly, out of a real fear of going to Hell. But in reality, I did not know Jesus I just knew facts and doctrines about him. Everything I was doing was out of a sense of duty and tradition to my family. If you asked me if I was going to Heaven, I would say “I hope so” but deep down, I knew the way I lived. I had no chance of ever making it. That my friends is being a Religious Christian.
My definition of a “Religious Christian”; is someone who goes to church, performs religious duties or activities, by obeying spiritual laws and traditions, in hopes, that the day they die, they will have done well enough to Heaven. In plain words they are working for God and hoping one day it will pay off with eternal rewards. They are hoping to make the passing grade.
My life had a dramatic change!
After years of trying to be good and religious. I gave up. I became a rebellious teenager, who drank and used drugs. I became a violent street gang member and needless to say, a hardened atheist. By this time, my beliefs about Jesus was that he was a person the adults pushed down my throat and He was just a fairy tale. One day, (no lie), I came to this conclusion: Jesus and religion was just an adult version of Santa Claus and the Easter bunny to make you behave. You know the lyrics to Santa is coming to town;
You better watch out
You better not cry
Better not pout
I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town
He’s making a list
And checking it twice
Gonna find out Who’s naughty and nice
Santa Claus is coming to town
To me this summed up my relationship to God and what I was taught in church. All they did was substitute the name Jesus for Santa Claus. You had better be good Denny, Jesus is coming back and he will see if you were naughty or nice. Just a little bit more intense because of Hell being thrown in.
So as I was saying about my life. By the age of 21, I was a full blown alcoholic, drug addict and basically homeless. Lost my wife and child to divorce, Got kicked out of the Army and deported from Germany for drug dealing, was drunk every day since I was 16. Been clinically dead for over 5 minutes. In and out of 5 detoxes and 2 rehabs. Life was over for me.
One of my last drunks. I got into a fight with several guys. One sucker punched me with brass knuckles, which did some horrible damage to my face. As I laid there drunk, bloody and almost unconscious. Another guy came and stood over me with a shot gun and pumped it. I wanted him to shoot and end it but as he tried to pull the trigger it would not fire. He tried several times with no shot. He gave up and they literally kicked me out into the street where I laid unconscious. My friends found me and took me home. I was sure I was going die. There seemed to be no future for me
Advice that saved my life
Back in November of 1984, I went to my last rehab. Completely defeated! When asked, if I would be able to stay sober. My answer was “no”! Then I met a hard core recovering addict who happen to be my counselor. As we talked about my hope of recovery, He said I had only ONE HOPE, FIND GOD! My heart hit the ground as he said that. I said you mean believe in a “fairy tale”. I told him I was down that road and it was all bull. THERE WAS NO GOD!
One thing saved me. I made a promise going into this rehabilitation center I would do anything I was told to do. I aimed to keep it for all those who pulled many strings to get me accepted. So I was going to keep my promise. My counselor knew this. He played it well. He told me I had to start praying. He told me; I had to ask God in the morning to keep my sober and at night, thank him. Even though I thought this was stupid, I was going to keep my promise.
It was not long after I began to pray, I noticed “little coincidences” in my life happening. My car broke down on the road and I asked this God for help. Next minute someone would pullover and help me. I was told God would meet my needs. Soon I noticed if I needed it, it was there. There was something strange going on in my new sober life. But nothing prepared me for what was about to happen next.
June 10, 1985
This is the day that changed my life forever! My fairy tale became real. On the morning of June 10, I was looking for work, I was sober almost 6 months. I had been praying every day out of fear of getting drunk.
But on this day, things went all wrong. I was living with my sister, we got into a fight and I got kicked out. I spend the day trying to find some work, some money, a place to stay. Nothing worked. It got dark and I went to visit my mom for help, even she said “no.” I was in trouble. I was homeless again.
I found myself alone, sitting on the corner where I use to deal drugs and get drunk. About 1:30 AM, I was discouraged to say the least. Soon the old temptations came back, speaking very loud. You know what do, go down to the corner bar and pick up a lady and go home with her. Deep down, I knew if I would go down to that bar, I would end up drinking again. The struggle was intense. I screamed out, “God, help me, I cannot do this alone anymore!”
Then all of a sudden, there was a peace like I never knew or felt before. A calmness took over, then there was an audible voice, not a still small voice but a normal voice. I could not see him but I could hear him in my ears and feel his presence right in front of me. I was blown away. I asked him who He was and He told me his name was Jesus. Once again, I want to repeat, the peace and calmness was unreal. Nothing like I ever felt before. I asked him, “Do you really exist?” Jesus said, “I have always been with you and I will never leave you.” At the time, I did not know he was quoting a scripture to me. Next he asked me a question; “Why do you continue to live in the problems instead of the solution.” I said, “I do not know the solution!” His response was “I am the solution”. After we talked a bit, he said relax. I began to feel all those demons in my life go. Jesus was removing all that junk at was destroying me. I never drank again. I felt so new, so clean.
Soon after that, His physical presence was gone. He told me to go back to my broken down car. As I was walking, I began thinking of what I needed to get back on my feet again. I thought of five things. By the next morning, miraculously those 5 things came to past. God moved supernaturally to let me know, even though his presence was not there, He was listening to me and we began a new relationship. He also showed me by those answered prayers, I was not dreaming!
It has been almost 30 years since that night. I had the opportunity to meet, what I thought was a fairy tale, face to face; Jesus of Nazareth.
So why am I a Christian and believe the Bible?
I met the Jewish carpenter who was crucified and died and was buried and rose from the dead. He is really alive! That night back in 1985, I began a relationship with him. He has personally guided though every season of my life since then. Through the good times and through some really tough times. Every season, He has been there. Not far off but personally engaged in my life. There is no way, I can tell you all that we been though in 30 years.
One thing I have learned, real Christianity is not a religion but is a personal relationship with our Savior and Creator. God did not become a man and die for our sins, just to be a founder of another religion.
He desires this for you also. You may ask; how can this happen for me?
1) Seek God with all your heart;
Deuteronomy 4:29; But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.
2) Call on Him (pray) and repent (turn away) from sins or self-attempts to get right with God. (being religious)
Mark 2:17 When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
Roman 10:9 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
3) When you are ready simply ask him to save you. Just pray;
Jesus, I want you in my life. I do not want to do this alone any longer. I now repent from all my sin and (or) any self-attempt to get right with you and get to heaven. I know believe you are God and became man and died for all my sins and rose again from the grave, so I may have eternal life with you, now and in all eternity. I now commit my life to you and your Lordship over my life. I want to give you thanks for saving me and desiring to have a personal relationship with me. Amen
4) Find and good Bible and good bible believing church to attend. (ask God to lead you in this)
Please do not rush off! Stick around and see the rest of DSI/Hands in Action website and the work God gave us to do in Guatemala, Helping families who are in extreme poverty.