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Andy and Melissa Beshore
Andy and Melissa Beshore
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Andy's Personal Testimony
Andy's Testimony - 11/20/08
From the time I was a child, religion was a part of my life. My parents separated when I was four and I moved to Sarasota, Florida from Pennsylvania with my mother in 1985. Her parents, devout Catholics to this day, were the primary religious influence of my life at that time. They were the model religious people. They went to church, prayed, took communion, etc. At the time, that was the only religious option that I knew of, so I suppose I assumed that Catholicism was the truth at the time. I was baptized as an infant, went to CCD classes, and was confirmed as a child. I eventually moved away from the Catholic church, although I do not remember the reason for that then. Although, now it makes sense that it was a part of God’s sovereignty.
My father, meanwhile, was back in Pennsylvania. During this period, at various times he would say things to me like, “You need to have Christ in your life.” He was super nice about it, but did not elaborate much on it that I remember. While my mother was a single parent, my father remained the primary spiritual influence in my life. In fact, he moved back to Florida with the woman he eventually married, my stepmother, some time in the early nineties so he and I could be closer together. Eventually, I started going with him to an Arminian church. Now, this was very different from the ritualistic dogma of Catholicism, so it was a welcome change for me. I appreciated the lack of an organ, the apparent passion in worship, and the brevity of the services. I thought this was what spiritual life, or Christianity, was. I had little to no knowledge of the Bible, no real idea what sin was or God’s attitude toward us in our sin.
Upon graduating high school in 1999, I went to Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, Florida, about an hour south of Sarasota. I loved the hard sciences and eventually settled on Nursing as a major. There I went briefly to a Catholic fellowship with a woman with whom I was fornicating. I had problems with pornography. I experimented with marijuana. I drank a lot. I got horrible grades my first semester in college. Throughout my college years I dated various women. The aforementioned Catholic young lady was the most religious one I dated (with the exception of my eventual wife – more on that later). I was studying to enter nursing school. Eventually, while in school, I went to a few Christian (not Catholic anymore) meetings, called Ignite. Another function was Intervarsity. There was a Christian rock band. There were various “cliques.” The clique with which I associated, mostly went to Ignite, but looking back now, I can say that the power of God was sparse, at best, in our lives. While in college, I met a man, Andrae M., who was very different from just about anybody I had ever met who professed Christianity. We went to Bible studies together, prayed almost nightly by a big lake at the school. Through Andrae and Intervarsity, I met many other men and women while at school who either were Christians or at least professed Christianity. I cannot be the judge, however, of their current spiritual states.
Toward the end of my first semester in Nursing school, I began to get the sense that nursing was just not going to work out. I began my second semester in Nursing school, and about a month in I reached a point where I did not want to do it anymore. I became real depressed because I just did not want to do the grunge work a nurse does that I did not realize came with the territory at the time. I came home one weekend, almost broke down in front of my parents, and came home in the middle of the semester, wasting several thousand dollars in the process. I felt horribly guilty over the money spent and the fact that I was a quitter. I sank into a pretty deep depression. I had battled anxiety and depression off and on up to this point in my life, and this, by far had been the worst. I felt that the most productive thing I could do to at least start the process of turning my life around was go back to work. Mind you, all this time, when I was home from school on the occasional weekends and during this time while I was home on this sabbatical, I went to a very Arminian church, to which I alluded to earlier.
So, I went back to work in Sarasota for Publix supermarkets. Until Melissa (whom in the story, I have yet to meet) and I moved to Alabama from Florida to join Grace Life Church of the Shoals, I worked for Publix. It was during this post-nursing time at Publix that I met Melissa. Melissa was a stock clerk and I was a cashier. One day I mustered the courage to talk to her to try to get to know her better. She was super spiritual, as far as I was concerned. She had gone to a charismatic church for many years. Coming from ritualistic Roman Catholicism, seeing people dancing during worship, waving flags, rolling around on the ground, jumping around, really excited me. I now thought these people were the spiritual example. Somewhere in here I had gone to about three different Promise Keepers events and come back generally impressed at the volume of people there and the music, which at times had some decent doctrine in it. Looking back, I was more impressed with numbers than truth. Melissa showed me things in the Bible that I had never seen before, that impressed me. We got involved pretty quickly. We did not fornicate with each other, although we had with others in our prior relationships. We went through a few breaks up and getting back together cycles that really took a toll on me. Well, eventually, we got past all that and got married June 12, 2004 in that charismatic church. Since I was still working on my degree, we moved to Fort Myers because that was where my college was located and continued working for Publix. I eventually graduated in April 2005.
When we moved to Fort Myers, one of the first orders of business was finding a church. I had little opinion other than I did not want to go to a Catholic church again. We narrowed it down to a church that seemed to have more similarities to the charismatic church in Sarasota and to an Assemblies of God church. We eventually chose the Assemblies of God church. We started going there, and Melissa started not liking it. I was still the oblivious nonregenerate at the time, so I went with the flow. Melissa had had some experience with Way of the Master while at the church in which we got married. She had mentioned it to me at various times throughout our marriage up to this point and had received less than enthusiastic responses from me. One day, against my will, she ordered a sixteen CD set of audio messages by Ray Comfort. Since she already had gotten them and there was nothing I could do, I listened to them with her. I can remember being sick to my stomach, because I knew I would hear convicting words from Mr. Comfort and I did not want to do that.
So, we listened to the CDs and eventually I really caught on. I enjoyed listening to Ray and his style. He spoke often of using God’s law in evangelism and even did a message on True and False Conversion. We started getting many of their resources. We learned how to witness the Way of the Master way and even taught the Basic Training Course twice at the Assemblies of God church in Fort Myers. Once we heard Ray constantly reference to doctrines found throughout the Bible such as sin and judgment and repentance, and found that lacking in our church at the time, we started itching for more of that, but struggled to find it locally anywhere. I even approached the pastor about the Hell’s Best Kept Secret sermon and asked him to listen. He said he would, but I doubt he ever did. I approached my former pastor in Sarasota about it. In both instances, I was practically brushed aside, although my Pastor in Sarasota did actually listen to the CD. That was my first experience with what Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:3-4, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” Now, it must be said, that now, while I think Way of the Master was sufficient for us in that season of our lives, today I feel it is still good, albeit incomplete. There is reference to sin, righteousness, judgment, and condemnation, but there is little about signs of true conversion.
Well, while on the WOTM pilgrimage, we got our hands on a copy of “The Shocking Youth Message” by an itinerant preacher named Paul Washer. We later heard him on a Way of the Master radio program. We wanted more information about him and his ministry. My wife Googled him and looked his sermons up on sermon audio. One in particular, “Tests of Genuine Conversion,” really touched our lives. We listened to it, thought it was really good, and agreed with most of what he said. We sensed that many if not all of those Scriptural tests were either lacking in our lives, or so sparse that they were not worthy of mentioning. At this point, the conviction process began, albeit slowly. In January of 2008, after having listened to “Tests of Genuine Conversion,” I was working at Publix one Saturday night when Melissa called me at work, telling me that she thought she was not yet saved. I trivialized her claim, rationalizing that she was the more spiritual one. She said that she would wait up for me to come home from work, that she wanted to pray and make her calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10). I knew if she needed to do this that I most certainly did since she was the spiritual one who had been on mission trips, etc. So, I got off at eleven that night. I came home and we wrote out a list of the Ten Commandments and a list of how many times we could remember that we had broken them.
It’s amazing how much you think you have forgotten until God brings it back to your remembrance. We each knelt beside our bed and took turns praying our lists to God. It was pretty overwhelming looking back. We were “even more diligent to make your call and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10). It is easy to see how His wrath could abide upon (John 3:36) someone as sinful as me. I dishonored my parents. I was a murderer in God’s sight (1 John 3:15, Revelation 21:8), having hated many people as a characteristic in my life. Lust was a humongous issue. I was a spiritual adulterer (Matthew 5:27-28, 1 Corinthians 6:9). I had fornicated many times in the past. Fornicators can not inherit heaven. I had issues with other types of sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:9, Revelation 21:8).
I lied many times as a child and young adult to cover my tracks, although it seems now that before my conversion, lying had much less of a hold on my life. Still, I knew God saw me as liar and that “Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD” (Proverbs 12:22). I saw that I was destined for the Lake of Fire (Revelation 21:8). I was never satisfied with what I had and never really appreciated God as my provider. I was covetous and could not enter heaven (1 Corinthians 6:10, Romans 1:29). I had made a God I was comfortable with, one who had no standard for holiness and righteousness. My God was never angry at sin. He was a big Psychologist who I could go to with my problems who did not cost $50 per hour. In other words, I could live my way and God would be okay with me like I was, even if I was not conforming into the image of His Son. God loved me for who I was. I had “changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man” (Romans 1:23). I was an idolater and could not enter heaven (1 Corinthians 6:9, Revelation 21:8).
I had not loved my wife, as I am commanded to in Ephesians 5:25. I was not the head of my wife, as I am commanded to be in Ephesians 5:23, when I let her do things I should not have just to “keep the peace.” I provoked my children to wrath just for fun, all the time spitting in God’s face (Ephesians 6:4). I had not honored my parents, especially my mother as a child (Exodus 20:12). I had no fear of God before my eyes (Romans 3:18). I broke his Laws so many times without regard for His standard. I had a love for the world and the things of the world (1 John 2:15-17). I was more concerned with stuff than I was with knowing God better. I had heard the truth in the past and had suppressed it in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18). I knew plenty to be without excuse (Romans 1:20). I thought I knew more than I did. I was a fool (Romans 1:22). I was filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, envy, anger, evil tendencies, God hatred, lovelessness, and unforgiveness. My mind was given over as described in Romans 1:28-30. I had heard “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23) but now I was getting a real look at what that actually entailed. He hated me, and rightfully so (Psalm 5:5). I deserved death in His eyes (Romans 6:23). I saw no reason to be alive. I was dead in transgressions (Colossians 2:1). My thoughts and actions were only evil continually (Genesis 8:21). My heart was deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). I saw the darkness of my heart (1 Corinthians 13:12).
I came to the realization that Christ, not religion, saves. There was nothing I had ever done or could ever do to be good enough to enter heaven. There was no rite or ritual I could cling to in order to earn my salvation. Romans 3:10-18 was talking about me where it says, “There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one. Their throat is an open tomb; with their tongues they have practiced deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” All this was true about me. Only God’s grace kept me alive in my state. He would have been totally just and reasonable in killing me and condemning me to eternal hell.
So, we repented (confessed and forsook) of our sins from the long lists we had made, went to bed, and life continued. Initially, I did not feel much different at all after reading my list. However, God gave me life (Ephesians 2:1, Ephesians 2:5, Colossians 1:21). After sensing the weight of my sin, I came to sense the magnitude of the Cross, that a perfect God-Man lived a perfect life, to be a perfect sacrifice on my behalf. He had never committed any of the vile, wretched, disgusting sins I had over the course of my life. I realized that God made Him Who knew no sin to be sin for me so that I might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). I realized that “God commends His love towards me in that while I am a sinner, Christ died for me” (Romans 5:8). I realize that I was conceived in iniquity (Psalm 51:5) and that He was bruised for my iniquities (Isaiah 53:5). For some reason, God chose me from the foundation of the world, despite my lack of worth (Ephesians 1:4-5). He had to since I did not have the ability in myself to choose Him. Over time I began to see changes in my life, which I could not stop from happening. I saw things I had not seen before (John 14:26). The big one was a heightened awareness of my wretched sinfulness (Romans 7:15-21).
Now, I had a love for God and His word that was not there before. Now, I was sensitive to my own sin (1 John 1:9) and was looking at the floor or at the ceiling constantly to not lust. Now, I was getting angry at immoral behavior going on all around me, like Jesus modeled in Matthew 21. I was witnessing to co-workers, and getting mildly persecuted in the process. While we are saved by grace through faith not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9), I wanted to witness and do other things that I knew were pleasing to God. I continue to see my love for Him grow in new ways as time passes. I continue to want to learn more about Him so I can better live for Him. I cannot adequately live for Him without more of Him in my life (Matthew 16:24). I hate the fact that I wasted so much time glorifying myself rather than Him. I hate the fact that I am still so sinful, but I know that the flesh can be that way. I empathize with Paul when he said, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24). I confess my known sins regularly, asking for His grace in areas in which I know I need to change, not remaining content with areas that have yet to change. I strive to obey His word in areas in which I have not obeyed in the past and ask for His grace to help me do that since I recognize that I cannot do it myself (1 John 2:3). I want more of His righteousness and less of my own (Matthew 5:6). I am desperate for His grace, which I need to be able to obey Him. I do not want to be one of those John says say “’I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments…a liar, and the truth is not in (me)” (1 John 2:4). Nor do I want to be one of those Jesus referred to in Matthew 7:21-23.
I have a new love for the brethren (1 John 3:10). I am learning to trust Him more with areas of my life I used to never trust Him with before. I trust Him more today than I did yesterday. I know Him better today, than I did yesterday (2 Peter 3:18). I strive to know Him better tomorrow than I do today. My prayer life is enriched by the Spirit (Romans 8:26). There is a love for God that continues to grow that was not there before (Romans 5:5). I love His word, even the convicting aspects (Psalm 119:19; Psalm 19:10). I eagerly anticipate the day when this sinful trap my spirit is cased in can be rid of and re-united with my Lord. Until that day I wait patiently. I want God to be vindicated from all the false accusations and blasphemies that fill this churched, carnal era (Romans 1:8). There is a sickening in my spirit and a righteous hatred of those who are hypocrites and give feigned obedience (Psalm 69:9). I pay closer attention to what is in my own heart. I have more contempt for the world than I did before.
I have feebly breathed truth into the lives of many people I know. Many of them remain unchanged from it and probably deem me as some religious radical. I know that true followers of Christ cannot help but be radical. If I must choose between the approval of family and friends or Christ, give me Christ. If I have to choose between finances and stuff, or Christ, give me Christ. If I have to choose between my wife and kids or Christ, as much as I dearly love them and count them precious, I count Christ more precious (1 Peter 2:7). As we live in uncertain times now, as difficult as it is to not think about the future, I am thankful that my future resides with Him. “But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered” (Romans 6:17). I know “that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39)”. Thank God!
How Do I Get Saved? / How Do I Know I Am Truly Saved?