Welcome to My Autobiography
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it. (Matt. 7:13-14)
A Saved Soul, but a Lost Life?
††††††††††† I had been going to church regularly. While we lived with Mommy and Papa, I was in church Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. For a while I was even in the choir. After mother married the fake Mick, I didnít go as regularly. The only way my mother would let me drive the Mustang was if I drove it to church so I would go on Sunday nights. The youth would go out to eat afterwards and I was a big shot with a Mustang. Sometimes a girl would even ride with me.
††††††††††† I donít know if it was the forgiving compassion of a man I had stolen from and lied to, or the highly emotional Sunday night services of the Pentecostal church or just the drawing of the Holy Spirit, but one night when the power of God came down, I asked Jesus into my heart. I believe I had done it before in Sunday school when I was a little kid, but I couldnít remember. So, it didnít hurt to be sure.
††††††††††† Now, some may say, the way I later turned my back on God, I must not have really been saved. Some may say, I was saved, but I lost my salvation. And some may say, my soul was saved, but I later had a lost life. I personally donít know if you can lose your salvation or not. (For me the Bibleís not exactly clear on that. If one side says something in the Bible is clear and the other side says an opposing view is clear, then itís not clear.) I have trouble getting past scriptures like; No one who lives in Him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen Him or known Him. (I John 3:6), or No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because Godís seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinningÖAnyone who does not do what is right is not a child of GodÖ(I John 3:9). To which one side says, see. If you sin youíre not saved. While the other side explains that God doesnít see our sin after weíre saved so that explains those verses. That kind of arguing among Christians drives me nuts. If the Bible is so clear then why are we arguing? I would hear a radio Baptist say, Speaking in tongues is of the devil. Then I would hear a radio Pentecostal say, if you donít speak in tongues youíre not saved. Personally, I think theyíre both wrong, but why argue about it.
Standing on this side looking back, I say, God doesnít want to know what we think His Word means. He said what He means. If itís not clear, itís because He didnít want us to know. Focus on the things that are clear and donít worry about the rest. Heíll take care of that part.
All I know is when I asked Jesus in my heart, I had tears of joy and I believed. There was nothing fake about it. I wasnít thinking about turning my back on the Lord after awhile. Better to have never known the truth, than to know and turn away. (2Peter 2:21) But I did know and I did turn away.
††††††††††† Even though I read my Bible and enjoyed the company of the other church youth on Sunday, during the week, at school, I never talked about the Lord or church. Of course, there was the obvious reason; being made fun of by non-believers. But, even among other Christians, the Pentecostals were made fun of. We were the small church on the other side of the tracks, literally. I had my church friends and my school friends, separately.
††††††††††† I was living two different lives. Is that what youíre doing? You canít stay clean if you keep playing in the mud. Have you ever tried to say no while youíre nodding your head yes? Itís very hard to do.
††††††††††† I was ashamed to talk about Jesus (Mark 8:38), and I was ashamed of my church denomination. There were evangelists who came to our little church and had healing services. You may say I had no faith, but I never saw anyone healed who had a tangible ailment. There were lots of stories, but then, even mediums and fortune-tellers have stories. Nobody had proof. ††††† They would just say, ďhave faith,Ē which is all well and good, but there was a badly retarded and crippled man in our church who went to the front at every healing service there was and hands were laid on him and the preacher would shout, ďBe healed,Ē and he never was. And if anybody ever had faith, his family did. They never gave up. They kept knocking at that door.
My Faith was a Rock, but the Rock was on the Sand
††††††††††† I ran around mostly with three guys from the church and we always had a great time together, going camping and fishing and just doing stuff that our denomination would allow. We couldnít go to movies or dances or places where any music, besides Christian music, was being played. There wasnít any such thing as contemporary Christian music in the Ď60s, with the exception of an occasional Byrdsí song. I liked a lot of music, but country-western and quartet music werenít in that category. But I digress.
††††††††††† All three of my Church friends were talking about going into the ministry, but I started seeing things in one of them that, perhaps, I shouldnít have seen, because these things made me start questioning the truth. May I say they caused me to stumble?
††††††††††† My curiosity about girls was still there in a very prevalent way. I was looking at my stepfatherís Playboy magazines, when he and my mother werenít home. I even began to buy my own when I had seventy-five cents to spare. The reason I had run from the girl across the creek was because she became more than just something to look at. She wanted to get physical.
††††††††††† When my three church friends came over to the house to get me or just to hang out, just one of them would get out the playboy magazines and look at them for a while. He wasnít acting any different than my school friends who came over.
††††††††††† I was beginning to see other hypocrites in the church, at least by my perception. I saw women who seemed to be trying to outdo each other in the way they dressed for church. People were gossiping in the vestibule. And there was maybe even a ďlittle lieĒ every once in a while. Iím sure I was starting to invent things in my imagination that, either werenít there, or werenít as bad as I made them out to be. But I know what was at the root of these feelings. And that was real. I was a hypocrite.
††††††††††† I was going to church and saying I was a Christian and praising God on Sunday, and cursing and acting like the world the rest of the week. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? (James 3:10, 11)
††††††††††† I sat in church one night and wrote a poem about the hypocrites in the church. All I remember is the title: Six Days of Sin and Sunday Night. I didnít realize I was writing that poem about myself. I was the hypocrite getting between God and myself.
††††††††††† I always tried to blame the Christian friend who was looking at my Playboy magazines, but they were my magazines. Maybe Iím the hypocrite who caused him to leave the conventional church and become so caught up in sexual lust that he turned to a homosexual lifestyle. He later wrote a book, Strange Angel, about being a Christian homosexual. He never mentioned in that book the salacious pictures of women he drooled over while in my motherís house. But be that as it may. Iím certainly not going to discuss how one becomes a homosexual.
††††††††††† I know the idea of a Christian homosexual stirs up another argument among Christians. Can a person be a Christian and a homosexual? Well, Iím not here to answer that question, because I donít the answer. I will say this. Both sides use Romans 1:27 and I Corinthians 6:9-11 to argue that God does or does not disapprove of homosexuality. Both sides seem set, so why even argue?
††††††††††† But before I move on I will mention that there are liars, gossips and adulterers who say they are Christians. Can a person be a Christian liar, a Christian gossip or a Christian adulterer?† And what about judging others? The Bible calls a lot of things sin. Matthew 7:1or Romans14:10 or I Corinthians 4:3-5 etc. If the Bible is calling all these things sin, then it goes back to the earlier argument: Can Christians sin? If all these things are sin, then what do you do with that sin? Ask forgiveness and strive to sin no more (John 8:11). If you donít think these things are sin, then continue to do them. God is our judge, not me. And if you donít believe in God, well, I guess you donít have a judge. Do you?
When the girl, I mentioned earlier, invited me to her house, apparently to have sex, I had never even masturbated, so I had no idea what it felt like or I probably wouldnít have run. But even though I did run, she still stirred up things inside me and soon Pandoraís Box was opened.
Now, Iím not saying masturbation is bad. Some people can have a drink every once in a while and not have a drinking problem. But on the other hand (no pun intended), some people have a drink and they canít stop. Lust takes over; lust for alcohol, drugs, food, sex, anything. Most sin is the sin of excess. Usually a little bit of something is not bad, but when salt water is mixed with fresh water, the salt water dominates. A little salt water in a large amount of freshwater probably wonít matter, at first, but donít start that pattern, because soon a little salt water continuously added, becomes a lot.
An example of this was my two separate lives at church and school. I continued to do more and more secular things and fewer and fewer Christian things. I hung out more with my school friends and less with my church friends, until soon I wasnít going to church anymore and church friends no longer existed.
On With the Show, Good Health to You
††††††††††† I hear people argue that the music you listen to and the things you watch donít influence your life. If youíre one of those people, then keep reading and see how these things influenced my life. The things you put into your mind will come out through your mouth, your hands, and your feet. Sin is progressive and it gets easier as it progresses. But you donít have to believe me, just look at your own life.
††††††††††† I quit going to church on a regular basis, and by the time I turned seventeen, I had quit all together. I was hanging out with musicians and was usually singing in a band. We were the bad boy band of the sixties. When all the other local bands were dressing alike and doing harmonies, we were patterning ourselves after the Rolling Stones, dressing really grubby and singing as off-the-wall as possible. I liked to slur bad words into songs when I sang. When we played at battles of the bands, we always came in last place. We just thought we were ahead of our time. It never dawned on us that maybe we just werenít any good.
††††††††††† In the fall of í66 I was getting ready for our band to play a gig for adults at an apartment complex pool party. In a bold and daring move to be innovative, I wrote the F- word across the front of a t-shirt with a black Marks-A-lot. My plan to be the major punk rebel failed miserably when I didnít have the guts to unbutton my jacket and bare my message. In my heart, I knew moral truths and every time I went against them there was a tug on my conscience, especially when I used Godís name in vain.
Rebel without a Brain
††††††††††† I wanted to do things that nobody else in town was doing, which, in the Land of the Gar, wasnít that hard to do. I wore bell-bottom hip-huggers when nobody else had the guts to look that stupid in public. I wore a sweatshirt with a Playboy bunny on it, when that was very radical. I went without socks when it was against the school rules. By my senior year everybody knew who I was. Famous / infamous; it doesnít matter just as long as they remember you. It was a stupid philosophy, but it was all I had. When you donít have talent, youíve got to have a gimmick.
††††††††††† Toward the end of my junior year a
††††††††††† I wrote things on t-shirts years before anybody sold t-shirts with printing on them. So he started wearing his shirts wrong side out. I donít remember everything we did, but he finally got me, when he was kicked out of school for wearing a raw egg in a plastic bag around his neck.
††††††††††† By senior year everybody was wearing bell-bottom hip-huggers, shirts with bunnies, and no socks. So I quit doing those things and moved on. Once everybody else was doing it, it was no fun anymore. I was a rebel without a brain. I started wearing faded blue jeans and sweatshirts with the neckbands stretched all out of shape. Then, when everybody started wearing those things, I started sewing patches on my jeans. Soon everybody was doing that. They were all copying me, because I was somebody, right?
During the summer between my junior and senior year I quit my paper route and got a job flipping hamburgers at Burger Chef, about a mile from the new house mother and the fake Mick had bought in The Land of the Gar.
††††††††††† My fondest memory of that place
was a girl we called Andy, because
that was her name. She was tall and blonde with a deep tan like the
††††††††††† When she came to work at Burger Chef all the guys went goofy, including me, like she would have had anything to do with any of us. She was ďhigh-class.Ē We were ďlow class.Ē But she didnít act like she was anything special, though, and I actually got up the nerve to ask her if I could walk her home one night. She said, ďyes.Ē I donít think she knew she was good looking, if thatís possible.
††††††††††† We held hands and walked all over
our neighborhood. I walked her home a lot that summer, and I actually thought
we might become more than friends, until she met an older guy with a car and
Fools Are Foolish, They Canít Help It
When I was seventeen, I didnít need anybody trying to make me look like a fool. I was doing just fine all by myself. And to prove I didnít need any help, I started smoking cigarettes that summer. I had puffed on them at times trying to look cool, but I didnít inhale. The first time I did inhale my body tried real hard to stop me. I coughed and became so dizzy I couldnít stand up. Then I got sick and threw up all over somebodyís front yard. But just like a good drunk, I got up the next day and did it again. Finally my body gave up and gave in. You canít stop a fool from acting foolish. Itís just what they do.
††††††††††† It was at this time I discovered my mother went through my drawers. I had put that aforementioned F-word t-shirt in my dresser drawer in the back under some stuff, and a week later I pulled the shirt out to find a big hole where the ďwordĒ had been. I also had a carton of cigarettes in another drawer and they were gone. My mother and I never said a word to each about it. We just kept building that wall higher, one brick at a time.
††††††††††† The fake Mick and I were constantly going at each other. He didnít like me or my friends, which was fine, because I didnít like him, and even though I never met any of his friends, Iím sure I wouldnít have liked them, either. He was always threatening to plow up the front yard with me. Now, I look back at what a punk I was, I can understand how he felt. I was a total jerk and a few other words I donít use anymore. Words of wisdom were wasted on me (Prov. 23:9). I only wanted to hear my own words (Prov. 18:2).
The Posterior of Chapter Nine
††††††††††† Joey and I were pretty much in the same boat at that time. Joey wasnít the punk I was and, therefore, not drawing the wrath of Khan, but we were both stepchildren, now.