Greetings, I’m Sean. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.
I’ve been a Christian for about 7 years now. It has definitely been the road less traveled.
I’ve always been the type of person who usually doesn’t do anything rash. Except the time I moved my family to Hawaii…but that’s a story for a future post. No, I’m the person who won’t just jump into a pool. I start in the shallow end, going down one step at a time…slowly. With each step I give my body enough time to acclimate to the cooler temperature. Maybe after 10 minutes when I’m about belly-deep, I’ll sink up to my neck and then finally dunk my head. It’s excruciatingly, embarassingly tedious.
My path to Christ wasn’t very different.
I grew up in a loving but faith-less home in Northern California. My parents made a half-hearted attempt to send me to Sunday School somewhere around 4th grade, but when the church began asking for 10% of their income, my Sunday School career came to a screeching halt after 2 weeks. Instead, I would become a critical agnostic until my beer-bellied, balding middle age. Mention the word “Christian” to me, and I’d immediately think of a hypocritical, judgmental person. The spectacular failures of Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker helped cement this view. The few kids I knew in high school who were at all religious were Mormon, and in some of them I would see hypocrisy as well.
My first serious girlfriend was, surprisingly, a Christian. She persuaded me to attend church with her once in a while. Everyone was nice, but I never connected with the sermons and couldn’t wait for the end. More sinisterly, I delighted in introducing my girlfriend to less-Christian activities: alcohol, weed, and sex (for what it’s worth: we were each other’s first, and were together a year before becoming intimate). We planned on getting married, but after about 3 years together, she broke up with me. In hindsight it was definitely for the best, though I took it pretty hard. It happened on the day of the space shuttle Challenger disaster; the metaphor was laughably appropriate. The girl and I remain friends to this day; she stepped away from the faith…but well after our relationship ended.
I met my wife in December of 1998. She has been a Christian since high school, but had drifted from the faith by the time we met. Eventually she made her way back to Christ. She voiced her desire for me to come to church with her, but never pressured me. My wife is originally from South Korea and attended Korean-speaking churches, so I had the convenient excuse of not having to go with her as I don’t speak the language.
A month or so before our wedding was the September 11th terrorist attacks. I remember newspaper articles about the significant uptick in church attendance. I was tempted to attend myself; the horror of that day was seemingly on a continuous loop on television. Of course, time would soften the pain of yet another tragedy, and church attendance dropped back to “normal”. Our wedding was a secular one, on Maui, with our nuptials presided over by our gay wedding coordinator.
We had a son 2 years later; by then, my wife was going to church regularly. Her sister and her husband, also Christians, bought us a Bible in both Korean and English, hoping I would participate with her one day. I did acquiesce to our son being brought up in a church community; even a non-believer like me knew how sinful the world was (is). After moving around a bit and settling on the Central Coast, the pastor of my wife’s church retired, making for an ideal opportunity for her to switch to an English-speaking church.
By this time I had – finally – begun exploring the faith. It was tough going. The first church we tried was a Baptist church in our town. I went in hopeful, with an open mind. The sermon was given by a guest pastor, who wasted no time blaming the nation’s ills on liberals and homosexuals. I felt like I was throat-punched. I glared at my wife, who could only shrug in embarrassment. I’m generally a left-leaning centrist, hence my disappointment.
I began reading left-leaning Christian books (a bit of an oxymoron at times, I realize). One book made arguments supporting subjects that many nonbelievers take issue with, like abortion, evolution, hell (or absence thereof), etc. While these books seem quite unbiblical in retrospect, they did help me on my path back to Christ.
It might surprise you that I prayed sometimes, since 1996…well before my conversion. My dad had been diagnosed with lung cancer at that time, and my career started to require a great deal of travel, so I began a preflight prayer ritual. I prayed just to God, not including Jesus or the Holy Spirit, asking Him to watch over and heal my dad and take care of my loved ones in the event something happened to me. Even after my dad passed a year and a half later, I continued my preflight prayer. It’s something I still do today though, obviously, in a more biblical manner.
My job is a stressful one – in sports television – and eventually I came to pray before each game I was working began. On one particular day, before an NFL game, I was freaked out more than usual. My machine wasn’t working correctly and I had a lot of things to remember to do during the game. I was stressed almost to the point of hyperventilating. In my mind, I cried out to God to help me. Suddenly, inexplicably, I felt a sudden sense of calm along with the words “Relax. Everything is going to be okay.” I didn’t doubt for a second that my prayer was heard and answered.
Despite its lack of biblical accuracy, that left-leaning Christian book I mentioned earlier contained the Sinner’s Prayer which, if you don’t know, is the prayer that acknowledges your sin and need of a Savior. After my incident at work, I recited this prayer and (finally) accepted Jesus in my heart.
That was 2008. In the years since, we’ve found a church in which we’re comfortable. One that doesn’t bad-mouth other groups, or urge people to vote a certain way…just loving guidance steeped in His word. I even serve frequently.
Even so, I struggled with parts of the faith I now professed. Especially the uncomfortable stuff. Hell…the idea that my dad and other loved ones who’ve passed are in eternal torment is not a pleasant one to say the least (though I have hope…my dad began taking communion while in the hospital). Pluralism…for a time, I believed that there were many paths to God. Homosexuality…I have wonderful friends with whom I grew up with that have since come out. I looked for ways to reconcile these things, even distancing my self from the faith at times, using the cop-out phrase of “I’m a Christian, just not a very good one.”
While I would eventually come to terms with these misgivings, I still seemed to keep myself from completely submerging myself into Jesus until recently. At the beginning of 2015, He placed on my heart the feeling of “More”. More service, more study, more evangelism, more walking in step with Him. I’ve taken a leadership role in my area of service (broadcast production, what else?), began attending a bible study group as well as daily morning bible readings with my wife before she goes to work.
The evangelism part is the tough one. My mom and my siblings, all of whom are still non-believers, all live in Hawaii. I’ve suggested books that I felt would speak to them, like Dan Kimball’s excellent Adventures in Churchland and J. Warner Wallace’s Cold-Case Christianity, but without actually being there to initiate discussion, answer objections and let them see His light shine through my family and me, the books are of little use. I feel that my family is seeking, but I’ve been unable to assuage their objections in my brief annual visits.
Which brings me to this blog. I feel that to be an evangelist, one must also be an apologist. You can cite scripture all day, but this isn’t going to convince a non-believer, especially one who is hostile to Christianity. My personal mission is to persuade my family and friends to see what I have learned: that there are “many convincing proofs” (Acts 1:3) that:
- God created the universe
- Jesus is the Son of God, sent to live a sinless life among us and die as payment for our sins
- Jesus rose from the grave, witnessed by many people including those who had no reason to make up what they saw
- That God sent the Holy Spirit to indwell in those of us who accept Jesus
- That the Bible is the inerrant Word of God
- That Heaven and hell are real
- And much more
I’ve since been devouring books and other materials in apologetics. Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ, Dr William Lane Craig’s On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision, and the aforementioned Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels, along with hours of podcasts from Dr. Craig, Mr. Wallace and Dr. Frank Turek, among others.
I realize that, at some point, I’m going to have to get past “analysis paralysis” and put what I’ve learned into practice. This blog (and if you’re still reading this, I am impressed) will document my progress, in addition to discussing subjects in apologetics as well.
In most things in my life, I’ve slowly immersed myself like my swimming pool ritual. In apologetics, I feel I’ve already jumped in headlong.