Aug 05

Religion 101

So there I was… sitting in my room without any reason for hope. It goes without saying that I was looking for anything that could save me. The fix I needed had to be permanent too. I didn’t want this to be one of the phases that I was known to go through. I knew my future was at stake here and I did not want to mess around with that.

I had learned from my dad’s experience and from my limited church exposure that God would not only accept me back after ignoring Him for so long but that He could also change me into something that I was not. I didn’t care what people would think if they saw me turning into a “church boy”. I didn’t care if they called me a weak person because I needed religion as a crutch to get through life. I saw no shame in needing God. I see that as a sign of strength not weakness. I see that as an act of faith and humility when someone realizes that they can’t do it by themselves. In fact, that’s the only way we can really even get God’s help. Unless we are willing to go to Him and let Him lift our burdens we will never be able to truly overcome them.

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

Matthew 16:24-25

Sorry… I didn’t really have that deep of a realization at that time, it came much later as I matured. So to be honest, I just wanted the feelings of hopelessness and sorrow to go away. I was willing to do anything. What I did know though was that I needed Him… so what did I do next?

Well, I realized that for me being a Catholic was not going to work. I will not sit here and talk bad about any church, especially the one I owe my spiritual foundation to, so I will just say that me and the Catholic church agreed to disagree. :-)

At the time I was working at Sport Chalet Sports-chalet-logoand there was a guy there who I really admired when it came to religion. He was a Southern Baptist and from what I could tell, was the most religious guy I had ever met. He was very intelligent and had a strong personality. So I started to ask him question after question about God. We would talk during lunch, at work, at my house… wherever really. I treated my discussions with him as Religion 101. I approached them as a chance for me to expose all the holes of my religious knowledge and he was more than willing to fill them. I didn’t allow my ego to get in the way of what I was learning. I wanted it to be as if I was a child learning it for the first time. I felt that I needed to have an open mind and allow someone with a lot more knowledge about God to educate me.

One of the first things he told me to do was to start reading the Bible. I had never really read it before, mostly because when I did I couldn’t understand it. He told me there were many versions of the Bible and then recommended that I buy the New International Version. I went out and bought it and was shocked to see the Bible in plain everyday English. NIV1

I began to devour that book. I would get so excited just to read it. I started in the New Testament- Matthew to be exact and for the first time learned about the life of Jesus very intimately. There were many stories about His life that I grew up hearing. I am sure most of us have but to actually read the details about them gave me insight that I did not expect. I began to marvel over the things He did. I was even more amazed at His teachings. I did not expect my reading to have such an affect on me. I slowly began to believe that I could escape from the trap my life had become.

As I read, Jesus became more real to me. I mean, I always knew he was real but I hadn’t come to know him as I was starting to at that time. I especially loved that he taught in parables. Those stories sunk deep into my soul. One day I came across a statement He made that hit me right across the forehead. This statement flipped the switch for me. I read it over and over again. My life has never been the same since and it still inspires me to this day. In my next post, I’ll share it with you and continue on with my story.

jesus-and-kids-lds-christ-hawaii-dermatology-689814

Jul 09

I looked to my fathers

I had never experienced severe depression before and I didn’t know how to handle it. I came to understand this… it is real and is it scary especially when there seems to be no end in sight.

I began to feel desperate and I didn’t think that I had anywhere to turn. I couldn’t just snap my fingers and get what I wanted like I was used to all of my life. I was a spoiled kid so I usually got what I wanted. An awful reality set in once I realized that not even my parents could rescue me this time.

In my desperation, I eventually realized that there was Someone who could rescue me. Someone that knew me well, actually better than I knew myself and I had spoken to Him many times before. I had somewhat of a relationship with Him but had lost touch for many years. That person was God.

I had been raised Catholic and I did all the things Catholics do. I got baptized when I was a baby. I received my First Communion when I was 8 and my Confirmation when I was 13. My family wasn’t the strongest of church-goers but nevertheless, I had faith in God and Jesus Christ.

Also, my brothers and I went with my aunts to their church for a time when we were kids. It was a Pentecostal church and I really enjoyed myself. I learned a lot about the ways of God during my time there.

So why did I think I could turn to God after all this time? Would He even listen to me after all the years I ignored Him? Why did I even have faith that He could help me? That was easy to answer… it was because of my dad.

He had an experience that changed his life forever and eventually it changed mine as well.

During my junior year in high school, he fell off a scaffold and hurt his knee pretty bad. My dad is a drywall taper so having the use of his legs is critical. This injury kept him out of work for almost 18 months. No work meant no money and so eventually things got pretty dire for us. My parents tell me that they almost lost their house or at least they were in fear of losing it.

This past weekend I asked my dad about all of this and he says that what happened next was mostly because he was just sick of his lifestyle. I don’t remember it that way. I remember a miracle occurring because of the tragedy that had befallen him.

In the midst of all his turmoil, my dad started going to church! And he started reading the Bible! Just like that…

You have to understand something… my dad never went to church. I had never seen it. He never read anything but the newspaper from what I could tell. He would usually come home from work and turn the TV on… that’s what he did… all the time. So you could imagine my surprise when I noticed the TV not being on anymore. The house was quiet and I remember seeing my dad in his room reading the Bible. He became the head usher at our Catholic church. He rarely missed it from that time on and he even stopped drinking.

I think that was the biggest shocker for me. My dad was not a drunk but he drank most days like many fathers that I knew. To see him just stop completely was quite amazing. Despite all of this though, I can honestly say that it didn’t have much of an effect on me. I just thought it was overkill. I didn’t quite understand why he felt he needed to go to such extremes. I guess I was too immature and enjoying my high school years to be bothered with such things.

The next thing I know, my dad was going out once a week to a Youth Correction Facility to share religious messages with those kids. He was on fire and was now starting to make a difference in other peoples lives. Still… it didn’t even phase me, at least not at that time. Little did I know, his example planted a seed in me that would later germinate and change my life forever.

So back to my dilemma… there I was… depressed, desperate and without hope. Yet, once I realized that God could rescue me like it had rescued my dad, I knew what I had to do. I am grateful for a father who blazed a trail for me. All he was doing was trying to save his family… and he did… only it blessed my life in more ways than one.

In my next post, I’ll share with you exactly what happened to me when I tried to do what he did.

Jun 28

Why I created this Blog

Hello and Happy 628 Day! Every year on 6/28, I like to send out an inspirational message to all of my friends. Thanks for taking the time to check it out. I hope you are not disappointed.

If you don’t know what 628 Day is, you can learn about it HERE. I’ve turned it in to a pseudo-holiday for myself and my family. It’s not my birthday but it’s the closest thing to it.

Now… let me share my message with you…

In my day to day, I sometimes run into old friends and acquaintances who have known me for a long, long time. (After all, I am almost 42 years old now) At some point in our conversation, I often get asked something like this:

“How did you become a Mormon anyways?” Then I say, “Oh wow, that is such a long story but let’s just say that I never expected it to happen. Maybe sometime we can sit down and I can tell you all about it.” You can imagine the looks I get when I tell them that it would take a couple of hours to explain it all.

You see, I joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints when I was 20 years old and I can easily say that it has been the single best decision that I have ever made. What is so surprising to many of my old friends is the fact that I was probably the last person that anyone ever thought would become a religious “nutcase.”

So that’s why I am here and that’s why I’ve created this blog. Over the course of I don’t know how long, I am going to share my conversion story with you. Maybe you’ll read it or maybe you won’t, that’s entirely up to you. I am doing this for myself, my posterity and with the hopes that someone will be inspired and want to learn more about Heavenly Father’s Plan and why we are here on this earth.

I will be sharing some very personal things with you about my journey as a Latter-Day Saint. Some are even sacred to me. I don’t wish to argue or fight with anyone about religious beliefs. I only want to share all the good that has come into my life since I found the Gospel. I know some of you who visit this site will want to “Bible bash”. There is one thing that I have learned since becoming a Mormon and that is that many in the Christian world really, really dislike us. Well if you are one of them, please move on. You won’t be getting any discussion from me. I am more than willing to talk to honest, sincere truth seekers. Please ask me any questions you would like if that is who you are.

Anyway, fasten your seat belts and hang on tight. We are about to go back in time. Back to where it all started…

CLICK HERE to read where it all began!

Jun 28

In The Beginning…

So where does this all begin? Oh yeah… it was somewhere in the year 1991 and I was lamenting over the fact that my life was going nowhere.

Many of my friends from high school were attending universities and some even began to talk about law school or other graduate programs.

Where was I? Living in my parents garage and barely a junior college credit to my name. You see, I had become quite expert at going nowhere. Every semester it was the same. I would enroll in 12 or more units at one of the three local junior colleges (yes I went to all three) and within 2 months I would stop going to class and end up with a bunch of withdrawals. I had done this for 4 straight semesters and had wasted a lot of my parent’s money in the process- paying for the courses and buying books. In other words folks… I was a big, fat loser.

What was my problem? Why was I doing this to myself? Quite frankly folks, I was lazy and I had an attitude of entitlement.

There were many specific distractions of course, but in a nutshell, I just didn’t take life seriously and all I wanted to do was have fun. In the Book of Mormon, there is an account of 5 young men who were the sons of very righteous and important people. They had been brought up well but once they got old enough they got caught up in riotous living. They are described as being idolatrous, wicked and the vilest of sinners. This was me. I will not divulge all of the things I was doing at that point in my life, but I would describe myself in the same way these young men were.

One night in particular, I put myself in a temporary state of euphoria that gave me an imagined sense of high self-worth. It was an amazing feeling. I really believed that I was on top of the world, that I could do anything and that I had everything going for me. I had never felt so alive and full of joy… I didn’t want it to end but eventually I fell asleep.

The next morning when I woke up, back in my normal state, I immediately got hit with a dose of reality pie. Worse, my night of feeling all powerful polarized the fact that I had really become a sad failure. I began to see that I was going nowhere. I saw how I had wasted two years of my life (really 6 if you count my 4 underachieving years of high school) and I began to feel hopeless. I became very depressed. Even to the point of being overcome with grief. In one instant I would be sitting calmly and then in another, I would burst into tears, drowning in the depths of sorrow. It was a horrible time for me. I even wondered if I was going to survive it.

But I did… and next time I’ll share the first step I took on my path of recovery.