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Further Reflections from Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart

I never remember a time in my life when I did not know who Jesus was. From birth mother and daddy took my brothers and sisters and me to Sunday School, Church, Sunday night service, Wednesday night service, Vacation Bible School. Dad was a deacon, and he taught a couples adult Sunday school class. Mother taught Girls in Action, Acteens, and 4th and 5th grade girls Sunday school. On Saturday nights my siblings and I would be quizzed about the next morning's Sunday school lesson. To respond with an answer that the lesson was about God or Jesus was not really an answer because that meant we'd not studied our lesson book. Back to our rooms we'd go with a frown on our face because we'd been caught and had to go back and study and then be re-quizzed. As teenagers all of us rebelled, and felt like it wouldn't be too terribly bad to miss church or Sunday school every now and then, but mother and daddy would never have done that, if it was Sunday then that was church day. In later years when I became an adult I would understand the blessing of this, the blessing of teaching and living out the word faithfully.
In July 1974 during an invitation time at Vacation Bible School, I realized the significance of what Jesus had done for me on the cross. I stepped out from the pew where I'd been standing, and walked the short distance to where my pastor stood. I shared with him that I believed in Jesus Christ as my Savior, and I wanted to make a commitment to follow Him. Shortly afterwards, maybe the next Sunday, I was baptized. Mother and daddy counseled me at home on my decision. Before, I had known about Jesus, now I knew Him as my Savior. I was ten years old, and I had those turbulent teenage years to go through, all that rebellion nonsense. I had a difficult time as a teenager for various reasons. Never did I stop believing in Jesus, although I certainly left Him out of many things. I know this is going to sound strange, and I'm speaking in metaphor terms, but I perceived leaving Jesus at the door of certain places I would go, and every once in a while I would look over at the door, and could almost see Him giving me that look as if He were asking me a question---Annette, what are you doing?
Marrying young, I had two sons. Before I married I did an about face, leaving that life of single selfish me, and walked through another door marked adult married mother. I did not look back, nor did I feel sorry for myself. I did though marry a boy who was not a Christian. He and I would have several turbulent years ahead. In looking back the only answer to this hardship is that I stayed on a course of following Jesus, although it would take my husband nearly 15 years to begin his walk. Please don't think that I am saying I did this on my own, because that would have been impossible. All I did was say yes, Lord I'll keep on keeping on. Only Jesus can change a person's heart, no amount of love from any spouse can do this. My husband and I did go to church most Sundays and we took our two boys. On a rare occasion I read my Sunday school lesson. I did not study the Bible and only rarely did I read it. When I was almost thirty I had a crisis of faith. This crisis of faith marked the beginning of my personal abiding relationship with Jesus Christ. You would have thought that I would've understood by age thirty that I needed to read God's Word and have a steady prayer life. I was such a babe in Christ at that point. I was pitiable. That crisis of faith even though it was a dark time, propelled me forward and into a daily devotional time and prayer time, and within a year I was in my first Bible study. This Bible study was Bible Study Fellowship. Other Bible studies would come later: Henry Blackaby, Claude King, T.W. Hunt, Beth Moore, Anne Graham Lotz, Jennifer Rothschild, and Kay Arthur. Other crises of faith would come as well: breast cancer, a parent with Alzheimer's, parenting teenage boys, job changes, other health problems, caregiver to parents, death of a parent, a son deployed to war, a son with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, siblings who come and go out of my life like a revolving door, death of friends, becoming a mother in-law, becoming a grandparent, betrayal from friends, moving after living in the same place for over 25 years, and re-establishment in a new town. At each point of crisis, perseverance and trust in Jesus was tantamount. Do not look to the right, do not look to the left, but keep putting one foot in front of the other, with my face set like flint on Jesus Christ.
 Three significant things have been produced:
  1. Each crisis prepared me for the next. In small ways and in large ways, each event prepared me for the next battle. 
  2. I grew. I grew both in character and in spiritual development. 
  3. It was through these difficult times that God gave me a testimony. By sharing this testimony---God has been glorified. 
In the previous book I reviewed, Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart by J.D.Greear he mentioned a few things that I want to personalize.
  1. Greear mentioned how often he saw groups of young people, girls, who at a youth rallies or other events, would become emotional and walk the aisle to profess belief in Jesus Christ and thus a changed life. The next day they would be back to their old shenanigans. I saw and experienced this as well. When I first walked the aisle (and the only time I did this) there were other little girls who were crying. Yes, I was teary eyed, but I was not wrapped up in the emotion, the emotion was a response of joy to my commitment by faith to Jesus Christ. I also believe it was my body's joy at the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. I was not into the shenanigans until I was an older teenager, because I selfishly thought I could have belief in Jesus and also live how I wanted to. When I did turn-around it came in two stages, once at age eighteen and again when I was twenty-nine.
  2. Greear stated, "We cannot come with preconditions or limitations." I never thought I doubted in God or Jesus' existence. Although in a way I did, because I've doubted His goodness, and I've doubted His grace. I cannot believe in Jesus unless I believe in what He stands for. Does this mean I've got it all together and I understand all of it? No. But, it does mean that I believe, some how and in some way, God is going to work it all out, and I'm going to rest in Him.
  3. Greear stated, "Following Jesus is about walking with Him." For me there is no other way but to follow Jesus. I've read websites, blogs, Facebook pages, and books, where Christian's are focused on the freedom to ask questions. They demand to ask questions. A person can ask questions all day long but unless there is an answer the questions are meaningless and a waste of time. What I mean is that in this life we're not always going to know the whys of everything. It requires faith in Jesus, it requires resting in Him. Someone out there reading this is wondering, now wait a minute I have a mind and I'm going to ask questions! Go ahead. But, remember God is not our servant where we ask Him to fetch and he fetches. God is God, and we are not. 
  4. Greear summarized "the Gospel in four words, Jesus in my place." I feel we've taken the Gospel message, and tweaked and twisted it, in order that we can make it about us and what we can further do on our own. When we finally reach the place where we realize and accept that there is not anything we can do to save ourselves, and that Jesus has already completed all that was necessary, that is when we can truly begin to live an abundant life.