I’ve never laughed hysterically at someone’s salvation story… until i read Dr. Dan Allender’s account. The birth of a saint is always a beautiful, precious, and awe-inspiring thing, but God also has a sense of humor!

{Taken from Dan Allender’s book, “To Be Told”, pg 90-91}

“I was a troubled 20 year old who had been involved in illicit pharmaceutical sales for a number of years. The small cartel with whom I had worked had arranged to sell drugs to a new supplier. I learned after the fact that the drugs would be coming from sources connected with organized crime. All of a sudden I had gone from the status of middle-class, mom and pop drug czar to the “big time.” And the big time involved carrying guns, buying judges and police, adn threatening undisciplined dealers. I wanted out, and I kenw that could mean forfeiting my life. I can’t explain why I had the strenght to slip the bonds of that world, but i did. I knew that if I died i would go to hell. More precisely, I knew that if there was a hell, I was certainly going there.

Somewhere in the recesses of my soul I believed in God, but the other 98 percent of my being thought the whole business of God was absurd. Death lay ahead eventually, no matter what I decided to do, so I said, “Fine” to God. That was the entirety of my prayer: “Fine.” If it’s true, then fine; if not, I didn’t have much to lose.

I knew the Gospel well because my best friend, Tremper, had discussed it with me many times…

The night I came to faith I had ingested a sizable dose of hallucinogens earlier in the day, so I was fairly fried. I felt profoundly uncomfortable walking into that small Presbyterian church in the country…

The service began… Then the guy in the robe began to talk. We opened the black books in front of us, and he read and then talked about what he had read. I didn’t bother to read, nor did i listen. But somehow i heard him mention Balaam’s ass. My ears came alive with curiosity.

He talked about how Balaam’s ass had spoken to Balamm. I was freaked out. I glanced around and noticed that no one seemed at all concerned about this bizarre revelation. Halfway through the sermon the preacher switched and started saying, “Balaam’s donkey.” I was so relieved I nearly fell out of my chair.

In fact, i was so relieved I thought I would cry. A talking animal was just fine. Under the influence of LSD, I had often heard animals talk, but the thought of going through my religious life with talking body parts seemed more than any human ought to bear. Somehow, as unlikely as it might sound, I came to faith that night. ”

I hope that made you laugh as much as I did… I can’t remember the last time I laughed that much!! :oD And i love Dan Allender even more.

For years and years I had a prayer to the Lord that I would be able to lead just one person to know Him in this life time. That prayer was answered last Sunday… My good friend, (I’ll call her “Jane”) prayed with me to accept the Lord as her Savior. We’d been reading the Bible together and discussing the things of God for 1 1/2 years. She enjoyed the topics of grace and love, and God’s promises…. but she did not want to talk about sin, and particularly asked me, “Why do you have to use the word “depravity”?? The topic of sin made her cranky. But I decided I could take it, because I love her.

On Sunday I read 1 John 1:5-10:

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

I knew that the Spirit of God was working in a new way that afternoon because she immediately said, “I’m so glad you read that.”

And we went on to read Jeremiah 3:12-13:
Go, and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, “‘Return, faithless Israel, declares the LORD. I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful, declares the LORD; I will not be angry forever. 13 Only acknowledge your guilt, that you rebelled against the LORD your God and scattered your favors among foreigners under every green tree, and that you have not obeyed my voice, declares the LORD.

We talked about how God’s *one and only* requirement is that we “acknowledge our guilt”. You can’t have God’s grace without acknowledging your sin. God’s grace doesn’t just come in a vacuum, into emptiness… it comes because of SIN.

Then we read from Hosea: (14:1-2)

Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. 2 Take with you words and return to the LORD; say to him, “Take away all iniquity; accept what is good, and we will pay with bulls the vows of our lips. 4 I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them.

We spent the most time on this passage. I emphasized that it says, “Take with you WORDS and return to the Lord….” I said that we each need to have this actual conversation with God, **with words**. And the prophet Hosea gives us an outline for our words as well:

1) acknowledge your sin, and God’s ability to effectively take it away;

2) Ask God to “accept what is good”… but what is good in us?? Isaiah 64:6 says, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags..”  The miracle is that Jesus, being the God-man, is good, in the most perfect sense, and offers to spread his own righteousness over us like a garment (I actually drew a picture of a little coat with buttons for “Jane”!)… so we ask God to “accept what is good”: which is Jesus Christ on our behalf.

3) Finally, “pay with bulls the vows of your lips.” … No, God is not actually asking us to come with an animal sacrifice here… but this phrase is a reference to the Peace Offering… and the “vows” are thanksgiving and praise we bring. So after we acknowledge our sin and guilt, and ask God to accept the death and righteousness of Jesus on our behalf, we respond in thanksgiving, praise and recognizing that there is now peace between us and God. And this also means that we **rest** from our own striving and working to obtain acceptance with God. We recognize that it is FINISHED.

Then after we dissected this passage in Hosea, I asked my friend if she had ever had the experience this passage describes of taking to God her “words.” She said, “No, no I have not.”  I asked her, “Would you like to? now?”  And she said, “I’d like to just keep discussing it, as it comes up….”  And I replied, “This gift of God is not merely for contemplation, for you to look at from afar…. God wants you to take this gift… and we can’t presume upon the grace of God that you will have even tomorrow… and if you die without this gift, you’ll still be in your guilt and sins… I love you, “Jane”, and I don’t want that for you.”

Earlier in our discussion we had talked about Hell… and I had said that in my mind, the most haunting words in all of scripture are the words of Jesus to describe Hell as a “fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”… for eternity. Can we grasp that?? And i told her, “that is why I am here to share the “good news” with anyone who will listen, because God offers a free gift of salvation from this hell, and forgiveness full and free…. there is assurance available, that we will have our eternity in Heaven, not Hell.

So she said, “yes, yes I do want to pray.”

And my sister was born.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come. {2 Corinthians 5:17}

For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. {1 Peter 1:23}

John 3:3: In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.

First of all, I love Jesus. I am a wife to an amazing man, and mother of three: my 5 year old son Jeremiah, 1 year old son Judah, and my daughter, Tirzah, now 3 years, is waiting for me in the gardens of Heaven. I am also a Veterinarian. The goal of my blog: Creating community around an honest journey through the joy and grief of life. Blog Topics: Child loss and grief; Attachment Theory in Parenting; Mental Heatlh; Christian Theology and Ministry; Veterinary Medicine; and Community Stories.

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