I grew up in a religious home. My parents faithfully attended a Lutheran church in Aurora MN. I completed confirmation, was involved in a youth group, the church choir, and Sunday school. My growing up years included high school graduation in 1968 and Junior College. I knew as a senior in high school that I wanted to be a forester, and I focused on the U of MN forestry course requirements during my junior college years. Forestry represented to me the good life, and I pursued it with intensity and vigor.
I left home in 1970 to go to Forestry School at the U of MN. While on the St. Paul campus, I encountered two men engaging students in conversation about Jesus Christ. When they asked who I thought Jesus
was, I gave them an answer I had learned in my upbringing; “Jesus is my personal savior.” The problem was, I had no idea what that meant. Periodically I encountered one of these guys, Gary, about campus,
and we would talk about Christ. In January, I was studying in the library and Gary and his friend Warren came in. I said “Hi” to them, and as they were leaving, Gary came back and asked me if I’d like to go with
them to a meeting. I didn’t like the city, I didn’t trust it. It was a cold January night, and I don’t know what prompted me to say ‘yes’ but I did. We drove in a packed black sedan to south and went up a
narrow stairway to an upstairs apartment filled with students. We listened to a man, Chuck Hunt, talk about the great commission and how it was our responsibility to do our part. I had never heard someone
take the Bible seriously like that. When Gary asked me if I’d be interested in studying the Bible, I said I would be; so he began to come to my St Paul apartment to study the scriptures. It was pretty simple – read the question, look up the passage and write out the answer, until I got to John 5:39-40 “Search the scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life, and they are they that testify of Me. But you will
not come to Me that you might have life.” I saw myself as one of those that Jesus was talking to. I had a religious background. I attended church, I was confirmed, I sung in the choir, I attended Sunday school,
I was in the youth group. These were my ways of ‘searching the scriptures,’ and I thought they would get me eternal life. Gary had shared his story of how he became a Christian, and that was a new concept for me. He told me how he had given his life to Jesus in faith, and I began to see that when Jesus said “You will not come to Me,” He meant that a person refused to entrust himself to Him. I knew that was my situation.
My religious background had little power to curb behaviors in my life that I knew deep down were wrong. I was justifiably guilty, but there seemed to be little I could do to change. I knew I needed to ‘come to Christ’ and quit depending on ‘searching the scriptures.’ Jesus had life and I needed it, so I asked Him for it. My prayer was, “Jesus, come into my life. You have my permission to change me.” The night I prayed that prayer was the night I became a Christian. I was nearly 21 years old and a junior in forestry at the U of MN. It was January, 1971.
I experienced some changes quickly. I quickly developed a hunger for the Bible. I began to see how it spoke to my need and how it addressed the issues of the world around me. I couldn’t get enough of it. I was also challenged to take steps of faith in this new God, and actually trust Him to take care of me as I followed Him. I began to experience friends who really cared for me, and as I learned to communicate my new found faith in Christ, I began to influence others also. I have taken a number of these steps of faith, and I can confidently tell you that God always keeps His promises. He loves for us to trust Him.
Romans 3:23 says, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God", which means every one sins in one way or another, starting from the very beginning with Adam and Eve.
Romans 5:8 says, "God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."