I went through high school, and I was always active in some sort of leadership in youth. I used to be the sound guy for the worship band. Then, as I got into my Junior year of High School, I began to lead worship for the youth ministry, which was really cool! It wasn’t anything that I really expected to do, but one Sunday morning I was asked to lead worship, I did, and it just stuck. I really enjoy music, I’ve written some songs and I’d love to eventually record.
But then, when it was time to go to college, I was getting recruited to play basketball. Some Ivy League schools were going after me, but my final three were Wheaton College, Multnomah College and Southwestern College. They were all recruiting me to play basketball, I went on my college visit out to Wheaton College. I had a great time there, and I was really close to going there. However, because they were a Division 3 school, they didn’t offer scholarships, so I didn’t end up going there. Looking back, I’m very thankful for multiple reasons. I ended up choosing Southwestern Bible College in Arizona, so I stayed home so that I could be the youth intern at the youth ministry that I was a part of. But I’m very thankful that I stayed home, the first reason is because I met my now wife the first week of school, and we’ve been inseparable now for twelve years, almost six years of marriage now.
The other side of it is looking at Wheaton College, they’ve compromised a lot. My college compromised too, but I at least had some solid Bible teachers. I know that Wheaton has compromised quite a bit, and so I am thankful that I didn’t end up going there.
So, anyways, I was a youth intern for about a year at this church in Arizona. I was leading worship, as well. The church was going through a building program at that time, which was primarily for the youth, but also had a few Sunday school classrooms in that new building, as well. I remember the first week after the new building had opened, we were having band practice before youth night. I was walking around with some of the pastors, and they were making comments like, “I don’t know if this is going to work.” And I said, “Wait, what are you talking about? We’ve got this huge room for the youth ministry that’s growing.” The response was, “Yeah, but the Senior Citizens class is also in this building, and they’re not going to like this music! They are the ones that have the money, and they aren’t going to be happy if they have to compete with your loud music.” I took a step back and thought, “That’s the focus? You’re afraid that they are going to stop giving because the youth ministry is growing and might be a little loud?” So they literally took away this building that they built for the youth ministry and stuck us back in this tiny little room so that it didn’t affect the offering on Sunday. That was the first time where I thought, “Wait, this isn’t ministry? This is a job? This is a business?”
After that, I got another job at another church as the worship leader for the church. That was another great experience! I had always worked with youth, so this was the first time really working with the main church service. Up until that point, I didn’t really care about theology all that much. I didn’t care about what was right and what was wrong. I just thought, “Hey, we’re all Christians. You know, we all believe the same. We all believe in Jesus.”
After I started leading worship there, my eyes started opening to the fact that all these people may not be Christians. The church, which was promoting Joel Osteen, Ed Young and Rick Warren and which refused to preach about sin and just focused on “being a better you”, these people that I’m leading worship of the Almighty God, aren’t even Christians!
I also got in trouble for leading a Bible Study with the band where we dealt with the crucifixion, sin and repentance. From that point forward I really focused on understanding theology and what it is that I actually believe. This is important stuff! If I believe wrong, we are dealing with life and death! We are dealing with eternity! If I get the Gospel wrong and salvation wrong, the people that are hearing me may have a false sense of salvation when they don’t actually have it. That’s really what has driven me and why the Gospel is so important. That’s why I care about when James White doesn’t preach the entire Gospel during his Interfaith Dialogue. That’s why I care when repentance is left out of a Gospel presentation.
If you don’t repent, you’re not saved! Do you understand that?
If you don’t repent, you’re not saved.
Now, you may ask, “What comes first, repentance or salvation?” I’ve been asked this multiple times. My response, “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” We can deal with those issues, we can split those hairs… after we are saved! But whether repentance happens before you become a Christian or as a response to God opening your eyes doesn’t change the fact that we need to repent!
I heard a quote, although I don’t know who it was that said it. Maybe someone can tell me. But they said, “I want to believe like a Calvinist, but live like an Arminian.” That’s how I feel. I want to believe in the fact that Jesus predestined me, once saved always saved and that God opens my eyes. It’s not because me, but because of Him that I am saved. But I want to preach the Gospel and beg people to turn to Christ and repent of their sins as if I don’t believe that. Does that make sense? It makes sense in my mind, and it gives me motivation.
This is a partial transcript from an episode of The GateKeepers Radio Show, which originally aired on WVW-Radio. You can listen to the entire show below.
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