My Personal Testimony

“Complete In Christ”

For in Him (Christ) all the fullness of Deity (the Godhead) dwells in bodily form [completely expressing the divine essence of God]. And in Him you have been made complete [achieving spiritual stature through Christ], and He is the head over all rule and authority [of every angelic and earthly power].

It was the summer of 1981, I was only a 13 year old boy attending the Florida Music Institute (camp) when a bad practical joke went seriously wrong. The legs of the beds were detachable for storage. A few of the other boys in my cabin removed the legs of my bed but propped the bed frame up with legs in place but not hooked in so that unknowingly i would go to sit on my bed & it would just collapse to the floor. It was suppose to be innocent fun but as i walked in i noticed as i stood next to the bed & said, “Real funny guys! I can see the legs aren’t hooked into the hole.” In a boisterous cheer several of the boys flew into the air landing on my bed. It was at that moment the metal hook lunged toward the floor and pierced my left foot. I though it was just pinched but no, it had gone straight through my foot and flip flop making full contact with the floor below. The boys jumped & cheered, fully unaware of the damage done. With several of them still bouncing up & down on my bed i lifted it to free my foot.

As a result i spent the rest of my week in the nurses station after getting a few stitches, top & bottom.

To reduce the chance if infection i missed the various classes offered but was allowed to go to band practices. It was so boarded stuck in that infirmary. A man named John White brought me a few things to read. One thing looked like an action comic book. It was about taking steps to get closer to God. Up to this point in my life there were many seeds planted in my life regarding spiritual things and i had my share of fertilizer, this current situation was pure manure; but this gesture of John White was just the right amount of water to help those seeds really take growth.

There was nothing obviously magnificent or miraculous about any of this. I didn’t experience any ultimate healing physically or spiritually but now i can see how this was all part of a continuos that God had started, using everyday things, people and places to bring me, nudge me, lead me to know Him more personally so i could have a very personal relationship with my creator, not just some religious experience.

I walked, with crutches, away from that Florida Music Institute with a full scholarship to go to the Territorial Music Institute the next summer.

I returned to my last year of middle school no different from before and my foot slowly healed up nicely. Little did i know God had more for me than just that natural physical healing.

The next summer rolled around, August of 1982, and I went to the Territorial Music Institute.

I was so excited because I love music so much.

I was so pumped up to go!

I was all packed & equipped, mainly with t-shirts for the band Rush , one for every day of the two weeks i’d be gone. I was determined to learn to play the drums like Neil Peart (their drummer).

The music classes at camp were really intense but I soon found out I was learning more than music. I had just turned 14 and wanted to grow up & be more mature.

One day, during Recreation time, I met Chuck Whiten (a teenager working at the camp).

The Rush shirt i wore that particular day was the catilas that struck up our conversation.

He told me I should talk to the boat man because that guy could tell me things that I didn’t know about Rush. HAH! I doubted anybody could tell me anything more that i didn’t already know about the band because I was such a big fan, I worshipped them.

So, I went down to met the young man taking care of the boat docks, Tim Williford, and he told me not only about Rush but a lot about all the different rock bands from the 70’s and 80’s. He also gave me a real heads up warning that bands were actually preaching messages that weren’t necessarily healthy for my spiritual life. Just like any other artistic expression, music gives artists a chance to share their personal philosophy on life, love, happiness, pain and sorrow. People sing about what is in their hearts. Too often in the 70’s & 80’s the message the popular bands were sharing were simply & almost exclusively about sex & drugs. Their awesome rock music was a means, a mode of transportation, for them to glorify what they considered to matter the most in life, what life is really all about, according to them. At that time i wasn’t aware of any “Christian rock artist” that also shared they belief, hope, shedding light on all that Christ is & what He does. I had never really considered that musicians were simply artist who were spilling they guts, bearing their soul, singing about what they put their faith in (positively or negatively) It really got me thinking.

That night a Christian band called “Triumph” performed. It was pretty cool to hear music that wasn’t, “Churchy” and they were good musicians so I had respect for them.

Allen Wiltshire, keyboardist & one of the singers, was really different from most people I knew associated with my home church. He was young, in shape & a great musician. In between songs he mentioned people that we read about in the Bible that had an “encounter with Christ“. Two of the people I remember vividly were Zacchaeus and also a lady that Jesus observe from afar who gave just a small amount of change, basically her last dime (all she had), as a contribution to the synagogue. He talked about their eagerness to give their all to God.

That evening we were challenged to make a decision, to make Christ Our Lord, to give Him our all. This is the first time I thought about it so deeply, Christ as Lord? I mean,

I loved God & my parents were Christians but Christ wasn’t my “Lord”, he wasn’t my master. If you had to ask me at that point in my life what did I love more than anything else I would have said, “The band Rush!”, without any hesitation.

So, that summer night, August 8th 1982, I prayed and ask Christ to be my Lord. As I invited Him into my heart. His Holy Spirit made a drastic change in my soul.

When I went back to my cabin I went through my suit case and got all my Rush shirts and actually ripped them up. The other young men that were in the cabin with me were so confused by what I was doing. I explain to them that I just needed to get rid of all this “stuff” because that’s all it was, just stuff. What really mattered the most was Christ. Too many other things were getting my full attention. It was time to grow & remove some of the objects that slowed me down.

When I got home from Camp I couldn’t wait to tell my parents & friends all about it. I tore down the posters I had all over my room, including the ones on my ceiling above my bed. I got rid of all the cassette tapes I had at the time as well as the vinyl albums. I didn’t boycott Rush or rock n’ roll I just knew that it couldn’t be something that I worshipped. It was time to go on & grow up in life, put away childish things while at the same time becoming a true child of God. I was now so much more aware of the message that I was being fed by many of the rock bands I loved so much and I didn’t like it. I no longer admired them as I did before.

I recognized when there was poison being packaged as pleasure.

I wanted, desired, better things for my mind, body & soul. All they (many popular rock bands at the time) really sang about and lived out was the glory of sex, drugs and rock and roll. My perspective was shifted. It wasn’t that rock ‘n roll music itself that was evil it just a tool, a mode of transportation, that could be used to drive us closer or further from the lifestyle Christ wants us to have.

I didn’t want to take in anything that emphasised or glorified a lifestyle that led me further from the relationship I started with Christ, one He was giving me.

I decided that the best thing to do in life wasn’t to rock and roll all night and party every day in that way.

I no longer wanted to run with the Devil or drive down the highway to hell.

The real party, the real celebration, was in knowing my Creator on a personal level, not religion, not church, not trying to just go along with what somebody else has told me, somebody else’s philosophy, but a personal encounter with Christ so that I could be made complete in him.

While I was at that music Institute I met two young men, I can’t remember their names right now, but they were brothers. They wanted me to play the drums for some rock song that they were going to do for the talent show. I was amazed because the words to the song they wanted to do were about telling others about Christ. They were doing a cover of the song by The DeGarmo and key band called, “Go Tell Them.”

I was so excited to be able to still Rock and play the drums but now with a message that was about Christ. Words that pointed to & glorified Him. I asked them to make a list for me because I had no idea that there were so many different rock bands out there that were like this.

This was in 1982 and Christian music that rocked was kind of controversial for some people.

I remember at one point in my home Church one young adult had loaned me an album, they were either on tape or on vinyl back then. Listening to it before i had committed my life to Christ I didn’t really enjoy it that much. It was rock and roll of sorts but at the time I really felt like,

If it was Christian it probably wasn’t going to be very good or something I would enjoy listening to.

I realize now that’s because Christ wasn’t complete in my life I didn’t really even give it a chance. It was Pam Bridges, one of the young ladies that ran the youth group, that gave me that album by the band called “Servant”. It was pretty cool so she got my interest but I returned the album and just politely said, “Thank You.”

After I allowed Christ to be the center of my life I ended up loving the band. Their music was good but their message was even better.

The young men who performed the song by The Degarmo & Key Band (click for playlist) at camp told me about bands that were more along the lines of my taste for music like: Petra, Resurrection band, The Daniel Band. (Click any of those for a playlist). Those were the genres I still prefer to this day.

So, when I got home from camp I searched to find that music. It was really difficult! We didn’t have amazon music, spotify, iTunes or youtube. Most regular record stores didn’t even carry it. If they did carry anything like that is was under the “gospel” section, not rock.

Then I discovered that there were some stores that sold Christian books and material. They were sometimes called family bookstores or simply just Christian books & supply stores. The radio stations didn’t play any Christian rock during regular broadcasting hours. After a few years went by I final found out that real late on a Saturday nights sometimes they would play some Christian rock on Christian radio but it was so late on a Saturday night and I wanted to be rested up for Sunday morning. It was so difficult to capture those radio shows that featured Christian rock. During the day they barely played “contemporary music”, it was so rare, and again controversial to some people including my own grandmother.

Some people from past generations were even saying that God could not be glorified through rock and roll. Many believed the beat itself envoked the devil.

I found out years later that the founder of the Salvation Army said, “Why should the devil have all the good music?” and I started to realize that the devil doesn’t.

However, for some reason there were those who claim to follow Christ who believed & would bouister that there was only certain styles of music that were ordained by God, that would glorify God or that God could use to reach others. Sometimes people who claimed to be Christians were the very ones who were trying to feed me empty philosophy. I found out that if I was going to continue to grow I’d have too keep my personal relationship with Christ fed regardless of others. I still listen to all kinds of music regardless of how it is labled but, just like with anything, I have to consider what I am eating (taking in) and ask Christ to remain on the throne of my heart.

So it’s been a long journey for me since 1982. There’s been times where I have gone through what people call, “backsliding” where, for whatever reason, I would find myself not close to Christ or not in a relationship with him that’s full of love for Him & others, two-way communication, living to please Him rather than please myself. Today i’m so grateful for God’s grace, knowing that I’m able to continue to walk and live with Him. I’m at a point in my life right now where I live by what He promised is in His word, thinking specifically of Romans 8 where He tells me, “Nothing can separate me from the love of God.”

On my end I do my best to keep my relationship with him as tight as possible, sold out to him, complete in Christ, so that there’s no room for anything else to take His rightful place.

I look forward to the day where I will go and be with Him and live in His kingdom, surrounded by His presence but I realized today that even now (before I die) I’m part of his kingdom. Yes, I’m still in this old Earth Suit. I’m in a foreign land where perhaps the majority doesn’t follow the orders of the one true King of all kings, but, I can follow Him and trust Him all the way until one day I leave this world and join Him forever in His eternal kingdom.

Becoming one with God’s Living Word here is what I read, hear, drink in, believe and desire for all believers: I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments. For though I am far away from you, my heart is with you. And I rejoice that you are living as you should and that your faith in Christ is strong.

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him.

Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him.

Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.

For in Christ lives all thefullness of God in a human body. So you also arecomplete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature. For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.

In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.

So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths.

For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality.

Don’t let anyone condemn you by insisting on pious self-denial or the worship of angels, saying they have had visions about these things. Their sinful minds have made them proud, and they are not connected to Christ, the head of the body. For he holds the whole body together with its joints and ligaments, and it grows asGod nourishes it.

You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, “Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!”?

Such rules are mere humanteachings about things that deteriorate as we use them.

These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires. (Colossians 2:2‭-‬23 NLT)

That initial practical joke going terribly wrong with ending up in the infirmary forced me to stop, evaluate & not just get into God’s Word but allow His Word to get into me. Even tragedies God can use for His good.

God has a plan for each of us. He knows how to lead, we just need to accept that & follow Him.

Cheers to eternity with Christ, all the birthdays I’ll enjoy here & forevermore.

Rushing Wind by Keith Green:

One thought on “My Personal Testimony

  1. Pingback: 37th Spiritual Birthday – tombeetlebailey

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