A New Life
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)
Let me preface this post with thanking Perrin, my friend and brother in Christ, for allowing me to not only write about his story, but to also use his name & picture in my blog. You are truly an inspiration and God will use your life to bring Him glory. Love ya brother!
God always amazes me by providing indescribable joy and fulfillment when we simply abide in Him. Among other things, the Lord calls upon us to have boldness of faith (2 Timothy 1:7); to give reasons for our faith when asked or challenged (1 Peter 3:15); to spread the Good News to others (Mark 16:15); and ultimately to disciple others, baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and to teach new believers how to abide in Him (Matthew 28:18-20). As followers of Christ, if we obey these commands, then Christ will work through us and we can know the joy of playing a small part in leading others to Christ.
Perrin and I have been on and off friends since 1994 when we worked together at Best Buy. We have known each other – or at least known of each other – since for sure high school, and possibly even middle school, so roughly 1989-1990. Since that time, I have known Perrin to primarily focus on himself, partying and having a good time, doing anything necessary to achieve that goal. This included alcohol, various illicit drugs and other controlled substances, and random one-night stands. I say this to give an idea of the lifestyle that Perrin led and not in judgment, as I find myself guilty of varying degrees of the same behavior. Over the years, Perrin found his life to be more and more without fulfillment as he spent the past 10+ years as a bartender and embracing that lifestyle.
As far as I know, my friend Perrin’s journey back to Christ began in earnest on Thursday, July 14th. I could be wrong about the date because I noticed a few days earlier that he was hungry for God’s Word in his life. My wife and I had noticed Perrin’s Facebook posts asking for encouraging Bible verses a few days before this, and Nanette and I decided to grab a drink that night because we had not had a night out to ourselves for a while. We decided to go where we knew Perrin tended bar so we could also touch base with him and see how things were going. The three of us ended up having a 5-hour conversation until 3 a.m. about the joy and positive changes Nanette & I have experienced since accepting Christ that seemed to truly spark his interest in turning his life over to Christ – and no we did not sit there getting drunk. I say this not to bring any praise to myself or my wife, as we both realize that in and of ourselves, we had nothing to do with Perrin finding God. We merely allowed God to use us to open Perrin’s heart. Besides, Perrin grew up in the church, so the foundation had already been laid in his life long before we came into the picture. We also found out that Perrin had given up cigarettes, alcohol, and drug use, all while facing a situation that prevented him from seeing his 16-month old daughter for several weeks. As someone who has enjoyed the more than occasional beer and who used to smoke for a decade-and-a-half, I can appreciate the difficulty and courage it took to make that decision. That Perrin made this decision when faced with circumstances that could fuel those habits, I find nothing short of amazing.
As we left the bar, I invited Perrin to join me the next morning (technically the same morning, but since I hadn’t slept yet, I still consider Friday as the following morning) at my weekly Bible study group and to join us at church that weekend. He said that he’d love to do both. I can honestly say that I did not 100% expect to see him at either place. Not because I think of Perrin as a liar or even that he agreed just to placate me, but because I figured that he would forget or sleep in or simply just change his mind. However, Perrin not only showed up at the coffee shop for Bible study three hours after we left the bar, he showed up before I did. Perrin also was true to his word and attended church at Heartland two days later, and every week since. He has also continually attended our Friday morning Bible studies, fitting right in with the other guys and making himself a welcome addition to the group.
In addition to his desire to learn about the Word of God, Perrin has also recently acted upon that faith by making two hugely positive changes in his life. First, he walked away from his bartending job because he knew that lifestyle would only lead him down a destructive path. Understand that Perrin made this decision without having secured another job. Could you view this as a reckless decision considering he has a daughter to help support? Of course. But which is more irresponsible, remaining in a situation where you know you may not have the strength to resist temptations that have been central to your life for more than a decade, or getting as far away from those circumstances as possible? Perrin placed his faith in God that He would provide a new career opportunity. In today’s economy and job market, that took a huge amount of faith that has since paid off and Perrin started a new job this past week. The second decision that Perrin made in his life brings me the most joy of all and is the primary reason for this post. With his parents – who have led multiple Bible studies over the years and have constantly prayed for their son to know Christ – proudly watching, on August 28, 2011, at Heartland’s annual baptism at Kill Creek Park, Perrin gave his testimony in front of a number of other people, after which I had the honor of praying over him, then he went down into the water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, dying unto this life imprisoned by sin, and arose out of the water born into life washed anew by the mercy of God, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
“Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” – Romans 6:3-11 (NIV)
As much as I would like to claim responsibility for Perrin’s new life and the joy that it has brought, and will continue to bring, I know that God did all the work and we just responded to that and made ourselves available to Him, and continue to do so as we support Perrin and the challenges that he will face going forward. Thank you Perrin for letting us be just a small stone in the Christ-based foundation of your life. To see the changes that you have made, to see the person you are becoming, to have the renewed and deepened friendship and brotherhood with you, and ultimately to be present and able to participate in your baptism and rebirth into a new life with Christ has been a blessed experience.
May God bless you and keep you and be your rear guard to the ever-present threat of sin and temptation in this world. Amen!
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. “ – Ephesians 6:10-20 (NIV)