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Still Changing Lives!

What do you think about Jesus Christ? Who was He? Why is it that you can talk about any other religious leader on the face of the earth and people will just share their own beliefs without apprehension but as soon as you mention the name Jesus, people become uncomfortable and even hostile? What is it about His name that stirs such animosity?

I was not raised in a Christian home and as early as I can remember, I decided that I was an atheist. I thought the belief in a god was without proof and thought up by people who had a need to have explanations for everything they could not explain away through scientific means. When I entered High School, I became very hostile toward anyone who claimed to be a Christian. It made me very angry! So I went out of my way to debate the existence of their god with them, ridiculing them at every turn.

After High School, when I was nineteen, I meet a woman who waited tables in the same restaurant that I did. We became involved and decided to move in together. But there were a few problems with the relationship. She was married, she had two children and she was a Jehovah’s Witness. She left her husband, two kids and her religion for me and because of that, I became overwhelmed with guilt. I couldn’t understand how she could ever do what she did if she really believed in her god.

After living together for almost a year, we decided to get away from Denver for a while so we moved to Ft. Worth, Texas where her parents lived. Her parents had left the Jehovah’s Witness Organization they had raised her in and joined a Christian Church. After being in Texas for about a month, the guilt I had been feeling got the best of me, I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to get away and start over. I left her and moved back to Denver and to my family. I knew in my heart that what we had done was terribly wrong and it plagued me every moment of every day! I felt guilt for her as well. I thought that I had caused all this trouble and I felt responsible for her loosing everything, her marriage, her kids, her faith. What had I done?

I was only back in Denver for a week when the phone rang. It was her on the other end. She said she couldn’t afford to make ends meet on her waitress pay alone anymore so she took a new job. She went to work for a massage parlor and began turning tricks. She became a prostitute.

I can’t tell you how my heart died that day when I heard her tell me what had happened. I thought that I had caused all this to happen to her and I was overcome by guilt again. But this was now much worse. How could I have done this to her? How could this happen? So I packed up my belongings and moved back to Texas believing that I could get her out of the trouble she had gotten into.

I tried to find a job but the economy was bad and we soon became reliant on selling drugs and the money she was making as a prostitute. Imagine that, I went down there to save her and before I knew it, we were both stranded there. Before long I got to know her boss and we become friends. He was the nicest guy! He had recently been kicked out of the Christian college he was attending because he worked at the massage parlor. The parlor had been robbed just before I met him and his friend had been shot to death. It was big news around town and when the college found out that he was working there, they kicked him out.

For the sake of this story I will call him Robert. Robert had been a minister for a Christian Church but had gone back to school to become a nurse. Robert was very good at explaining his Bible beliefs and when this girl I was with, I’ll call her Pam, was between tricks, they would debate about the Bible and their different theological beliefs. I would sit back in amazement watching these two, a prostitute and the manager of the massage parlor she worked in, arguing and debating over who had the right Bible interpretation! Then I would laugh at then both, shake my head and walk away. But as my life sank deeper and deeper into sin and drugs and everything else that goes along with that lifestyle, the guilt that plagued me became almost unbearable. In my mind I had become the worst kind of person! I hated her for doing what she was doing. I hated everything about the life we were living. I hated myself for becoming the man I had become, selling drugs and living off the income of a prostitute.

But God is able to use the worst things in our lives to help us! As my life grew worse and worse, thoughts of God grew stronger and stronger! I began asking myself if He was real. And if He was real, how could this happen to us? How had I reached this point in my life and how could a loving God allow this to happen?

Pam’s parents lived close by and one day when we were visiting them she came down with a bad cold. They told us where their doctor was and we made an appointment for her to go see him. I took her to see the doctor the next day and while she was in the examining room with him my eyes were attracted to a bookrack off in the corner of the room. One book in particular caught my attention so I got up and walked over to see it. The cover intrigued me. Two giant hands holding the earth in place. The book said it was about history and the future of the world that we live in. It claimed that God knew all things from the beginning and that He was able to predict with astonishing detail the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. As I stood there reading the back cover, the doctor came out into the room, noticed that I was looking at the book and told me I could take it with me if I wanted to. I thanked him and took the book home with me.

For the next three days I did nothing but read that book. I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t eat, I just read. I couldn’t put the book down until I finished it! Seven hundred pages in three days. I had never read a book that size before (mostly comic books and a few newspapers). Now thoughts of a living God began to consume me. Was this all real? Was Jesus really God? Did He really give up his life for the human race? Did He really love me? How could He love someone like me, the worst kind of sinner?

Months went by and I finally got to the point where I couldn’t take it anymore! Nearly two years had passed. One day, Pam and I were at Robert’s house in Keene, Texas and I was begging her not to go to work that day. I told her she needed to move back to Denver with me. She took off in my car leaving me stranded in that town with nowhere to go. I freaked out! I thought I was going to lose my mind. I found myself pacing up and down the little side streets of that small town crying and swearing and yelling up at God! If anyone saw me that day they had to think that I was crazy.

I was going out of my mind with guilt and fear and hatred for who I was. I hated her for what had happened to us. I hated myself for who I had become. I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Screaming and yelling at God! "How could you do this to me?" "How could you let this happen to me?" Crying and yelling, screaming at the top of my lungs I looked up to heaven and did something I had never done before! I cried out, "Jesus, if you are real then please help me! I can’t take this anymore." Then I said something that was totally beyond me, "Jesus, if you are real, then please touch my heart and help me!" At that very moment, as the words came out of my mouth, I felt, as if it were, Christ’s finger reach inside my body and touch my heart! There was no doubt that it was real! I can still feel it today. I stood there in amazement for the longest time. I stopped crying. I stopped yelling and swearing. A great peace fell over me. I was in shock! I stood there looking into heaven, breathless. I could feel in His touch the love He had for me. I knew that very moment that He was real and that He cared for me. Even me! And I cried up to Him in heaven and thanked Him, over and over and over again!

Jesus changed my life that day. I was no longer an atheist. I knew He was real. I knew He died for me and that He was alive again. I knew He was God! I just didn’t know what it all meant for me. I went home to Denver and began to study about every church I could find information on. After studying for about six months what the Christian churches around me believed, I found myself going to a local Christian Church to visit. I filled out a visitor card and asked for a visit from the pastor. I sat in the back of the church and found myself crying again. I was still consumed by what had happened in Texas. I would, at times be overcome by guilt. I still didn’t understand what the true gospel was. The pastor came to visit me and after carefully studying the Bible for another six months and studying all the facts for it’s reliability I made the decision to be baptized.

My whole life changed! When I was growing up everyone around me did drugs. Drugs were everywhere. When I moved to Texas, what I saw was far worse than anything I could have imagined before. I watched as the people around me threw away their lives. I was able to see up close what a life of drug addiction could do to a person. Addicts know nothing but their addiction. They live their lives for their next high. You can't help a person who doesn't want to be helped! But a person can find help, and freedom from all kinds of addictions if they want freedom.

God used many things to bring me to that point in my life. A disgusting life consumed in sin. Two people living that same lifestyle as me, arguing and debating over who had the right Bible interpretation. A doctor and his bookshelf. All the different books about Christianity, both for and against. The countless people that God brought into my life at the right time that He used as tools to deliver me from my life of sin. Now I had been given a new life and I was born again!

What is the gospel? What is it about the life and teachings of Jesus Christ that has changed so many lives? John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

God loves you! And He has a plan for you. "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9) But we have to understand some things first. We are all sinful. The Bible says, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," (Romans 3:23) And because we have all sinned, we are separated from God. Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

The God of heaven created us! He owns us. That gives him the right to say how we should live  our lives. But God is a good and loving God too! He hasn’t left us without hope. In the third chapter of the Book of Genesis, Adam and Eve screwed it all up. They disobeyed God and sinned. Ever since then God has been calling us all back to Him. Then, 2,000 years ago, God came in the person of Jesus Christ to show us a better way. God loved us so much that He allowed His "one and only" Son to come to earth to show us just how much He loves us. Jesus came to earth and lived a perfect life. Hebrews 4:15 says, "we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin." Then, to seal the deal, Jesus died on a cross in our place. Romans 5:8 says, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Imagine that, Jesus took our place in death so we could have new life.

Jesus wasn’t left in the grave very long though, 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 says, "For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me [Paul] also, as to one abnormally born."

That is the good news of the gospel! What we could never do because of our sinful nature, Christ did for us. Jesus died in our place, was resurrected on the third day and gave us the promise of a new life in Him. Yet, He will never force us to follow Him, we have to accept His free gift.

John 1:12 says, "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God". We have to receive the grace of God into our lives through faith, Ephesians 2:8-10 says, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

Once we receive Christ into our hearts as our Lord and Savior, leader and forgiver, we are born again (see John 3:1-8) and given a new life with Christ leading the way.

When we believe the gospel and accept Jesus Christ into our hearts - our lives will begin to change! God pours out His Spirit into our lives and He begins to transform us. Romans 8:1-4 says, "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit."

You can have that life too. God loves you! More than any one can possibly imagine. He only wants what’s best for you. Would you like to take the next step and accept Jesus Christ into your heart today? You can! Just ask Jesus to be the forgiver and leader of your life. Nothing you have done is too hard for Him to forgive, nothing! I know and so do the millions of people throughout the ages who have put their trust in His finished work on their behalf. Jesus will forgive you! He wants to forgive you. He wants to be the Lord of your life. All you have to do is ask Him.

You can know right now that you have eternal life! First John 5:11-13 says, "And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life."

Once you have done that, you can have the same assurance that the Apostle Paul had when he said, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39)

Will you stumble and sin again? Yes, but Christ will pick you up, tell you everything is still okay and begin working in you all over again.

And that is good news!

Bill Fritz
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