Last Stand

“Through the years, I have been a Catholic, Lutheran and a member of a cult. I have always attended church, but I never had a real connection with God. I had noticed that many Christians had a connection with God, but always wondered what I was lacking in this relationship.

I remember as a boy going to church by myself. My parents had been divorced while I was an infant, and my mother never when to church.

I never had any birthday parties or friends over to play. I guess my mother did not want to talk about the divorce or deal with the shame of my father being the town drunk. I did not meet my father until I was about 25 years old and he was on his death bed. What I thought I was going to say and do when I met him for the first time did not happen. I was at a loss for words.

I remember that while I was attending parochial school, my mother had a problem with the priest and I was pulled out of school. It seems that the priest was not supportive or caring about the problems we were having, and I guess it was easier for my mother to leave than to contend.

A lot of kids and adults made fun of me because of my red hair and because I did not have a father around. I was always fighting with someone to get what I wanted or needed. This just reinforced the feeling that I had to fight for what I needed or I’d be taken advantage of. To me, it didn’t matter if I won or lost the fight, what mattered was that I was left alone. I realized, then, that people did not want to deal with my confrontations and so they left me alone.

When I got older, I joined the army. The army taught me that “I could be all that I could be”. There was no judgement of my past or who my parents were. It was about me making my own way. It was not an easy ride. I had good times and bad. I was known to have a short temper and, at times, became violent in my words and actions. I crossed lines to get the things I needed to accomplish the mission and always took responsibility for my actions. I eventually retired from the army and returned to New Jersey.

While I was attending a martial arts class, the sensei demonstrated a technique and said that we needed to get out of our comfort zones and practice with different people. I realized through this that I knew more about my martial art than I knew about Jesus!

For the next few weeks, I did not know what to do. I felt like a piece of steel in a fire, being modeled for a sword. It felt as if the sword maker was hammering and folding me like a piece of steel, many times over, to give me a shape and an edge. Every television station I turned to had a preacher on it. My wife and I received a phone call from the church she and I were attending at the time that there was no church service that week. The woman said, under her breath, “You do not attend church anyway.” I thought to myself, “You are right. I do not attend your church anymore.” This was like the straw that broke the camel’s back.

I started looking for a new church to go to and came across Word Fellowship Church’s website. I listened to one of Pastor Markus’ sermons and, at first, dismissed it. I listened to several other pastors online, but I had this feeling that God was directing me back each time to listen to Pastor Markus. Finally, I told my wife that I needed to hear him for myself.

I attended the All-Community Block Party in October, went back to the church the following Sunday, and have been attending Word Fellowship ever since. Pastor Markus is genuine in his preaching and beliefs and so are the people of Word Fellowship.

I remember Pastor Markus talking about standing in the throne room of God on Judgement Day, with Satan trying to tell God about all my sins to discredit me. But that if I believe in Jesus Christ and confess Him as Lord and Savior, I have a Protector. Jesus would say to Satan that He had paid for that sin on the cross and for that sin on the cross. That is when I realized that I needed to let go and let Jesus take control of my life. I realized that I must have the same faith as the Roman Centurion in Matthew 8:5-13.

All that I knew, and all that I had done, came clear to me. I needed to let go of the past mistakes in my life and move forward.

My wife said she had been praying for me and now her prayers were answered!

I am now closer to my wife than I have been in the past 30 years of marriage, and I will get better in my relationship with my children, as well. I know now that if I fall down, I can get up without being judged. (Romans 8:1-2)

This is my last stand – to get it right with myself, my wife, my children – with God’s strength. Here is where I make my last stand and I have my Savior beside me, Jesus Christ!

-“Last Stand” by Michael, 05/12

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