$14.95 / Perfectbound
ISBN: 9781608447473
172 pages

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Excerpt from the Book

Chapter 1: In the Beginning—Again - The Author’s Testimony

I was born into a good Catholic family in 1946 and raised in the pre-Vatican II Church. We went to Mass every Sunday, abstained from meat on Friday, and said our prayers before and after meals and at night. I went to catechism every week, made my first communion, and was confirmed. I knew God was important but can’t really say I had a close personal relationship with Him. When I prayed, I said the standard Catholic prayers. I knew nothing about the Bible.

My secular education went on through high school, college, and law school, but my spiritual education stopped at about the eighthgrade level. The Baltimore Catechism had given me all the answers, but it hadn’t always explained how the answers were arrived at. It was a little like having a math book with the answers to all the problems. Things are easier for a while, but eventually, you have to learn to solve the problems for yourself. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:11, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” My problem was that in spiritual matters, I hadn’t given up childish ways. I still thought like a child, spoke like a child, and reasoned like a child.

1 Peter 3:15 says we should always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls us to account for the hope that is in us. We should know what we believe and why. We should be able to defend our beliefs. I couldn’t. When I went to college it was like a lamb going to the slaughter. I was exposed to Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Nietzsche, Voltaire, Zen Buddhism, transcendental meditation, and many other philosophies and ideas. I continued going to the Catholic Church because that was what I grew up with, but I came out of college feeling that the Church didn’t really make much difference.

In Colossians 2:8, Paul says, “See to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ.” This would be good advice for any young person going away to college. I heard a lot of philosophy and human tradition in my classes, but not much Christianity. By the time I graduated I had a sort of “I’m OK, you’re OK” philosophy. Whatever I believe is OK as long as it doesn’t hurt you, and whatever you believe is OK as long as it doesn’t hurt me. Everything is relative. There is no absolute truth. If we live “good lives,” we will probably make it to heaven.

The problem is, who defines a “good life?” Man is infinitely capable of rationalizing anything he wants to do. Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” God is the only one who can define truth and goodness. His word says that His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8,9). We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We have all gone astray and turned to our own way (Isaiah 53:6). No one is righteous (Romans 3:10). If we say we have no sin, we are only deceiving ourselves (1 John 1:8). Thus, by God’s definition, none of us is good enough to deserve eternal life.

From 1969, when I graduated from college, until January 29, 1976, I would describe my spiritual state as “drifting.” I believed in God, of course, but that is no great intellectual achievement. Only a fool would say there is no God (Psalms 14:1; 53:1). The wonders of nature declare His existence (Psalms 19:1-6). Everything from the vastness of the universe to the intricate colorings of a tiny insect, the incredible complexity of the human body, a human cell, the atom, the variety of plant and animal life, snowflakes and fingerprints—each one different— all the individual drops of water it took to fill all the rivers and oceans of the world, all the individual grains of sand to create all the beaches and deserts proclaim the existence of God. We not only have a Creator, but a Creator with supernatural artistic power. He paints the sky with glorious sunsets, sunrises, clouds, and rainbows. As Job chapter 38 demonstrates so beautifully, only God can answer the great questions of the universe.

I had no problem believing there was a God out there somewhere, but I wasn’t convinced that he was concerned about the intricate details of my life and what I did or didn’t do. The idea that for me to get to heaven, this all-powerful Creator of the universe had to become a man, be born in an animal manger, and eventually suffer humiliating torture and death on a cross didn’t really make sense to my “college-enlightened mind.” But then this isn’t surprising. The Bible tells us that the idea of God becoming man and being crucified for our salvation is a “stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles” (1 Corinthians 1:23). “The word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing” (1 Corinthians 1:18), yet “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise” (1 Corinthians 1:27), “For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:25).

In addition to graduating from college in 1969, I got married and started law school. My wife, Kathy, was the greatest blessing in my life. We had (and have) a terrific marriage. Our first child, Judy, was born in 1973. I had everything going for me; but like the young man in Mark 10:21, I still lacked one thing, the most important thing: a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We continued going to church every Sunday, but for me it was just a religious habit.

About that time,(1973), I had an eighteen-year-old relative who became a so called “Jesus freak.” One day I asked her, “What’s all this Jesus stuff you’re into?” She responded with a most challenging question: “Dan, you know Jesus is real, don’t you?” It was essentially that same soul-piercing question Jesus asked his disciples in Matthew 16:15: “But who do you say that I am?”

The question forced me to confront my agnosticism about Jesus. Deep inside, I had to admit that I wasn’t sure I believed in Jesus anymore. I answered, halfheartedly, “Well, yeah, I know He’s real, but you really can’t prove it, can you?”

My relative confidently replied that there were so many proofs of Jesus, she would hardly know where to begin. She introduced me to a few of the startling prophecies about Jesus in the Old Testament such as Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53. I decided I would study the Bible (for the first time in my life) and give God a chance. I didn’t want to reject the truth, but I also didn’t want to go through the motions of pretending to believe. Like Thomas, my legalistic mind wanted proof. I soon found out that God was equal to the challenge.