The 3 Steves: “the 2nd Steve”

A Shallow Root

 

I got in a bible study with the 1st SteveI witnessed and brought many kids to that study.  Many kids gave their lives to the Lord in those studies!  It was awesome!!!  I took bible study serious at church.  I participated.  I couldn’t get enough.  My grandmother took me to the bible store and let my pick out a bible that I liked – my very first bible!  I chose the NIV Pictoral Bible.  I still have the bible and the case she bought me for it 31 years later.  When she bought me that bible, she hand wrote me a note to carry in the bible which I still have to this day in the bible she bought me:

Essentials of “The Faith”

As Christians, there are 9 things we must not compromise on!

  1. The infallibility of the scripture

    (The inerrant Word of God)

  2. The absolute deity of Christ

  3. The miraculous virgin birth of Messiah

  4. The historic creation of man

  5. The spiritual depravity of man

  6. The substitutionary death of Christ from the grave

  7. The bodily resurrection of Christ from the grave

  8. The literal return of Christ to earth

  9. The resurrection & assignment of all people either to eternal blessedness (if saved) or eternal condemnation (if not saved)

    {this is exactly as it was written on the hand written note}

Did I understand any of this stuff? Some of it.  She was very happy and I would do my bible quiet times at the table while she cooked breakfast.  The book of James was the first book I ever studied during that time.  I loved studying God’s word!  I didn’t know much about it, but this James guy was a very to the point in your face kind of guy.  I appreciated that about him. You didn’t have to guess with him.  As I got involved with the Church, I was going an average of 4-5 times a week.  There was always something going on and I was hungry to learn an be part of it!

One night in youth group, the teacher taught something that convicted me:

If it is not for God, it is against God

If you think something is wrong but do it anyway, that is sin.

I had already gotten rid of all my dope, pipes, concert shirts and porn magazines when I got back from Florida.  I had torn all the porn out of my locker at school.  I wanted all that trash that separated me from God out of my life – I was choosing instead to be separated from the world!  The teaching of that youth pastor that convicted me also reminded me that I had a HUGE album collection at home that I had spent every spare dollar on for years collecting.  Not one friend mine had a collection even half as big – 411 albums.  I stared at it as I got home – I prayed – it had to go!  I called 1st Steve and he came right over.  We prayed, we took an album, and we smashed it on the sidewalk in front of my house!  With each album we smashed, we would praise God and thank him for deliverance from the things that held us captive.  We broke ’em all!  It was such a feeling of release!  We praised God for several hours  and then he went home.

I told everyone I could about the Good News and how it was my good news too!  My old friends that I used to get high with tolerated me. Many told me their one goal in life was to get me back to “normal” – getting high.  I had thought that they would try to give me a hard time and I was ready for it.  What I was not ready for, was criticism by the Christians in my life . . .

 

HARMONY OF THE GOSPELS

Parable of the Sower

Relevant Scripture

MATTHEW 13:1-9, MARK 4:1-9, LUKE 8:4-8

The same day, Jesus went out and sat down by the sea. But such great crowds gathered about him that he got into a boat and sat down; and the throng of people stood on the shore. And he told them many things in parables, saying, “Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the road, and the birds came and ate them up. And some fell on rocky ground where they had little soil. And because they had no deep soil, they quickly sprouted; but when the sun was high, they were scorched, and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. But some fell on good ground and yielded fruit—some a hundred-fold, some sixty, and some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.”

The Sower

Relevant Scripture

MATTHEW 13:18-23, MARK 4:13-20, LUKE 8:11-15

“Hear, then, the parable of the sower. This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the road are those who hear, but then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. Those on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy, but they have no root. For a while, they believe; but when a time of testing comes along, they fall away. And that which fell among the thorns are those who hear, but as they go along, they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and they bring no fruit to maturity. But that on the good ground are those who, having heard the word, hold it fast in a good and honest heart and bring forth fruit with patience.”

Thoralf Gilbrant, ed., Harmony of the Gospels: Concerning the Greatest Life Ever Lived, (Springfield, IL: World Library Press, Inc., 1986), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 139-140.

Christians at church started saying I was going to far.  In youth groups many kids called me a Jesus Freak.  They were telling me to love God on one hand – just don’t go overboard and love him too much on the other hand.  I was so confused.  We were leading people to Christ – we were supposed to live for Him, right?  Around this time, 1st Steve got sick.  Real sick – he had leukemia.  Without 1st Steve’s daily encouragement and discipleship, I was left to face this all alone.  When my dad told me that I had broke my albums for show and was spending too much time at the church, I was devastated!  He asked me why I didn’t sell them.  He implied I was irresponsible for not selling them.  I pleaded with him to understand that if I felt they were dishonoring to God, how could I sell them to someone else?

I had no one to turn to.  My accountability was gone.  I was not a mature Christian.  I was a baby!  I couldn’t take care of myself.  I couldn’t fend for myself.  Just like babies, I was defenseless.  I was panicking.  It felt like I was being swallowed by a dark cloud. I would pray for hours for guidance and look for the answers in the text – but I couldn’t find them – I didn’t know it well enough to find them.  I would talk to pastors and friends at the church and they would just say something like, “you are worrying too much” or “just pray about it” or “you aren’t praying hard enough.”  They didn’t offer discipleship – they offered cliché answers.

My old friends kept telling me, “just get high dude and forget about it.”  Confused, scared and alone – I gave up and gave in.  My life spiraled downhill from there.  Straight A student to incompletes and F’s.  I started ditching class – I started ditching entire semesters.  I was getting high again and messing with girls again.  I no longer went to church 4-5 days a week.  I rarely went to youth group.  The bible study at lunch at school I worked so hard to help found, I abandoned.  My dad confronted me about ditching class again.  He gave me a pretty good thrashing for it.  The next morning – I moved out and moved in with several girls sharing an apartment.  The whole day was sleeping and the whole night was partying.  I was 16.  I lost my job, my family, my girlfriend, my church – my faith.

After some time, I was broke and strung out.  I called my mom. She got some money together and told me to come see her.  That is how bad it was: I was willing to go back to the abuser just to have the love of my mother and my brother.  I would go to church with them and keep to myself as much as I could.  I didn’t make fun of them anymore – I felt sorry for them.  Same old people talking the same old tongues – saying the same old things.  I still knew the routines – they just weren’t funny anymore.

One day, some guy came to preach at their church.  An ex-Hindu priest that had come to the faith.  I started to put my head down to sleep as I did each Sunday when this man stated something about me that embarrassed me – in front of the whole congregation.  I looked around and no one was looking at me.  Then he started talking about things – specific things – specific to me only.  Most of the things he was saying I had never told a soul.  The kinds of sins you hide from everyone including yourself – specific sins with specific people.  Things my mother, my bother or anyone in that congregation could not possibly know.  I was scared.  I kept looking around. People were doing their typical every Sunday things and not paying a bit of attention to me.  This made me more scared!  Were they playing a game with me?  Was I being manipulated?  But how could they be?  No one knew these things except me!

After the service, the guy spilling all of my innermost secrets to the congregation came up to me and told me that he was taking me to live with him for a couple of weeks.  He told my mother too.  She said okay.  She didn’t know him and she said okay.  I asked her what she thought about what he said – she said she didn’t understand any of it.  I asked several others – same answer.  This bothered me, but not as much as my own response, because I said okay too.  I stayed with him at his place.  He would talk to me about God and about redemption.  At first, I would just listen and when he went to minister to others, I would turn his stereo on to secular radio.  But as we started nearing the end of the 2 weeks, I was starting to feel conviction again.  The walls that I had erected were crumbling with each reading that he did.  Had I really re-crucified my Savior?  I was feeling guilt.  I was feeling shame.  I was even feeling remorse. Two days before I was to leave, he told me:

Bill, you might as well give up and let the Holy Spirit have his way.  No one that has come here has left without rededicating their life to the Lord!”

ZIP!  Walls back up!  Protection mode on!  Battle of the wills engaged!  That night before I left, I was angry with God.  “Why are you toying with me?!?” I asked him.  With tears in my eyes, I looked at heaven and shook my first, “I hate you! I yelled while fearful that I would be struck dead.  If truth be told, I was hoping that he would strike me dead right there and end my misery! When he didn’t, I figured he didn’t even care enough to do that. Poor pitiful me!  I started listening to the heaviest metal I could. I got drunk  a lot.  A friend came to visit me.  We spent the summer working and laying irrigation pipe – drinking in our off time.

Being a drop out in a town of 1200 was leading nowhere.  I reconciled with my dad and moved back in with him.  I went to church with him and I worked.  I went to concerts and went to parties. Another life leading nowhere.  I met a girl.  I fell in love.  We were going to get married.  I realized that being a shoe store manager was not going to be conducive to us living the American dream.  Without ever thinking about it before, I went to see the Army recruiter.  I took the ASVAB and scored very high.  The best they could do was radio operator.  I resigned myself to the fact that because of my past, that may be the best offer I would get and started doing all the paperwork.  I was going to get swore in when I saw a Navy recruiting office.  I decided maybe I should check it out too.  When they saw my ASVAB, they offered much more.  Much to the Army’s dismay, I went Navy – early enlistment – 17 years old.

A 6 month love affair and I was off to serve my country.  Me and the girl didn’t make it.  We were going two different directions.  It broke my heart.  From then on, and to make a long story short, I drank a lot.  One day, I was home on leave, I was dragging the main strip with a friend.  I was GQ and dressed in the latest styles.  I met a girl while we were draggin.  5 ½ months later we were married. She is the same girl I have been married to for the last 28 years.

Her and I were worldly Christians.  Real oxy“morons.”  We went to church because that is what you did when you became married – it was a responsibility.  No one told us you couldn’t follow the world and follow Messiah – in fact, everywhere you looked – from the pulpit to the people – worldly and Christian seemed to go hand in hand – it was the most predominant example of what being a Christian was that we saw.  You would hear from many Christians how it was all a matter of conscience which sounded logical – even sounded good!  Of course, if we had known the scripture very well at the time, we would have known that there were all kinds of verses and even commands that were just the opposite of this type of teaching. It fit very well with our lifestyle: we liked secular movies, secular music, secular bars, secular friends – In fact, we were cool with it because both of us had gotten hurt at church and both of us were very guarded anyways.  We went to church, we tithed at times, but for the most part – we partied with our friends.  We did a lot of damage to our kids in our approach to God and community.  They weren’t afraid to pray in public, but they didn’t have a foundation either.  The kids got to witness the devastation of 2 unhappy people – being worldly – that believed they were in God’s good graces because they had called upon him for their salvation and believed Jesus was the son of God, died for our sins and rose again.

FAST FORWARD 15 YEARS:

After a very difficult time in our lives that barely escaped divorce.  My middle daughter had gotten involved in the church around that time an gave her life to the Lord and was baptized.  She came to me one day and said something that changed my life again:

Dad, you always talk about God. You always talk about loving him.  You know what you need to do . . .”

She was right!  The wife and I decided to turn to God for help. In reality, we had hit bottom and we wanted answers.  We moved and decided that since we had made such a total mess of our lives, we would put God at the center of our lives as a couple in this new town in this new state.  We had never made him the center of our marriage – ever!  We struggled and eventually found a nice church.  A very active church.  I met a guy there that got me out of the back row and into service.  I had never served God before – it was humbling!  We started meeting once in a while and before long we were talking about my time as a musician with Virgin Records.  I no longer played music and hadn’t in 13 years.  Long story – painful story!  Before long, this guy convinced me to play on the worship team.  I was giving God big chunks of my life back that I had taken from him so long ago when I raised my little fist at him.  My wife was too.  We had given up secular music about 5 years previous believing that it was in no way honoring to God.  Our reasoning?  Garbage in – garbage out!  We wanted to honor God so we got it out of our lives.  After 15 years of marriage, my wife and I became best friends for the first time in our marriage!  No doubt, it is because it was also the first time God was the center of our marriage!

The wife and I both held God at arms length in a couple of areas, but in most – we gave him full reign.  Serving helped us understand that living for God was not just a mental assent, it was a lifestyle as well!  After all, weren’t we really created to worship God and to serve God?  We had worshiped him, but we had never served him.  The man that got us out of the back pew and into service was the 2nd Steve . . .

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About Even If Ministries

Dani'el 3:17-18 (CJB) 17 Your majesty, if our God, whom we serve, is able to save us, he will save us from the blazing hot furnace and from your power. 18 But even if he doesn’t, we want you to know, your majesty, that we will neither serve your gods nor worship the gold statue which you have set up.”
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