Saturday, August 01, 2015
May 10, 2015: My Testimony Given at my Baptism
When I think of my story, one of the first things I think of is the social organization of the Israelites as they wandered through and camped in the wilderness, how those who were “unclean” – the leapers and those with physical deformities, for example - were purposefully situated on the outside of the camp. I think of that, because I was born with cleft lip and palate. I would have been considered “unclean”, unacceptable, an outcast. And, in fact, growing up, I WAS the social outcast. I was the neighborhood runt with the deformed lip and nose who had braces for 10 years and who had to concentrate really hard to talk without slurring my words. The resulting bullying, abuse, and alienation left me broken and wounded in a bad way. I didn’t really realize that, though, until God had already begun to heal me.
I grew up in church. I said the prayer in middle school. At best, I really only partially knew what it meant. I still thought of myself as an alien. In college, I now realize that the way I buried myself in my studies in Architecture was sort of like when I got praise for my artwork all throughout grade school. It was a band aid. At one point, in college, God gave me the gift of what others would refer to as a couple of mystical experiences. I believe these were to show me His great love, power, and glory more directly, because he knew how stubborn and hurt I was.
After college, I moved to Los Angeles as part of a team to help plant a church there. While there, in 2006 or so, I took part in 9 months of leadership training. In the midst of that, I experienced a weekend long retreat with a famous speaker named Brennan Manning. At that time, the combination of loving community and the power of the proclaimed gospel swept away every part of my being and brought me to my knees. The Holy Spirit showed me that my brokenness and sin had taken me to a place where I had essentially become judgmental, angry, bitter, isolated, and alone. Not to mention, my sin had brought me thousands of dollars in financial debt. God gently asked me at this time to begin correcting these things in my life, and He also audibly told me to confess my sins and their destructiveness, so that I may be healed.
In the aftermath of that touch from God, while driving home from a counseling session in Santa Monica one night, in prayer, I found myself kneeling at the foot of the cross. My King was lifting the burden of my sins from my shoulders and taking them upon his very life and death. The Holy Spirit continued to work in me, because a while later, God used the book The Shack to bring me before His undying fire of love in order to show me that, for all those previous years, I had my fists clinched in anger at Him because of how I had been treated by the world. I found myself on the floor of my bedroom in a heap of bowed and teary ruins while overwhelming waves of the actual reality of God’s power, love, and grace swept over me again and again for about thirty to forty-five minutes.
Fast forward to now. Now I realize that God identifies with my brokenness and alienation in the broken flesh of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In the blood of the King of the Universe that he spilled out for you and for me. It took a long time, but now I realize that that completely changes who I am and what I do, the purpose and intentional direction of my life. So, in God’s identifying with my weakness, my baptism in Jesus Christ is my identification with him, before all of you today.
Here is a video of the occasion. Although you can't really hear what I am saying in that video link, you can kind of catch the mood.
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