From Rebellion to Redemption

In the first grade, I asked my teacher “Where did human beings come from?” She said, “I don’t know. Many people are trying to discover the origins of life and everyone has a different belief.”

I wasn’t the smartest kid in public school. In third grade, I was diagnosed with ADHD by a psychologist. I was placed in a special learning class and a class for English as a second language. As an Asian child, that was a huge disgrace for my family. But, in my junior year, I left special education to join regular classes and was no longer diagnosed with ADHD. I was considered a trouble-maker in school. Often, when I did not get what I wanted, I would get angry and violent until I succeeded in getting my own way. I became quite spoiled and manipulated my parents and used them and my siblings. During this rebellious period of my life, people had to call the cops on me. I had a really bad temper and became quite angry if things didn’t go my way and I showed no respect for authorities nor my parents.

Throughout my early adolescence, I followed my mom’s belief in Buddhism. That meant worshipping idols and praying to Buddha. It was mostly nominal on my part and to some degree the same goes for my mom except when special religious events took place. I had committed many sins throughout my life, yet I never saw myself as a wretched sinner. All my friends were involved in drugs, immoral parties, drunkenness, and illicit relationships.

I attended a different high school than many of my friends, and that meant that I had to make new friends which was difficult for me.  All my life, I had been overweight and now I was being hassled because of it. I didn’t take my grades seriously in my senior high school years nor did I care much about my future.

The first time I ever heard about Jesus was at a Christmas play. My aunt Linda brought me to it while I was still very young. I laughed and joked about it since I had no idea why this baby Jesus was so important. I hated the thought of Jesus and considered His followers hypocrites.

One time in particular, I can recall being told by my uncle that I needed to believe in Jesus or experience the consequence of my sins in hell. I asked my uncle many questions, and his answers left me furious and I never wanted my uncle to speak to me ever again. Little did I know that six months later I would become a Christian and share this exciting news with him. However, God still had a few lessons for me to learn before that happened.

Before that, I sought my own answers about the purpose of life and became somewhat introspective about my own relationships. I thought about my behaviour and my treatment of my parents which left me feeling guilty and restless. I had mixed views about who God was. So much around me seemed to point to Him. I concluded that all religions must be correct. I began to look at the trees, the sky, the plants and animals. I said to myself “There must be a creator, but who?”

In my search for answers to life, I thought not only about Buddha but Allah, Jesus, Mary and every other type of god known. I checked my horoscope daily.  My interest in religion grew to the point that I investigated many kinds of philosophies, religions and cults like Buddhism, Hinduism, Catholicism, Protestantism, evolution, Islam, Jehovah Witness and Mormons. It was when I became interested in the teachings of Jesus, that things began to make sense to me. Sin and the Ten Commandments were of particular interest to me since I discovered that due to my sinful nature that I would be punished in Hell because of it. I read the entire gospel of John and learned about Jesus’ miracles and the reason He had to die, to set us free from sin’s punishment and make the only way open to us to receive eternal life. It was then that I believed the gospel and repented of my sins and learned what life is really about. I experienced great joy, so much so, that I read the entire gospel of John in one day! In the time that followed, I read more of the Bible, I found many answers that I previously had not known. I began to grow in God’s Word. I went to my family’s Vietnamese Church where my uncle taught me about the different teachings in the Bible. I soon apologized to my parents and siblings about the way I treated them in the past.

My life from that point on underwent real changes. I began attending Emmanuel Baptist Church and several Bible Studies to grow in my new found faith. I was a regular at our prayer and worship meetings and participated in evangelistic outreaches by sharing the gospel and giving out tracts at Parliament, parades, Canada Day, youth work and university outreach.

I’m going back to school this January, and continue to serve God in all facets of my faith in our Church. I continue to pray, fellowship, worship, live my life in accordance to God’s Word, study and share my faith. This is my journey in the LORD JESUS CHRIST. I never want to depart from the Gospel and His grace. This is my testimony of how God saved me!

Andy Tran

The Model Prayer

* The following was taught at our recent Friday Night Youth Meeting

The Model Prayer  (Matthew  6:5-15)

And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.    Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.  Pray then like this:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses

Jesus begins teaching us how NOT to pray.

  1. DO NOT PRAY LIKE A HYPOCRITE

What is a hypocrite?

A hypocrite in this text is referring to Greek actors who wore different masks to play various roles. Who pretends to be a certain way, but really acts and believes the total opposite. Doing the right things for the wrong reason.

Jesus was criticizing mostly the Pharisees. How they prayed.

That’s good that they are praying but they are praying for the wrong reasons.

They pray at the synagogues and on street corners because they can be seen by others.

They did it so they can boast, their pride and self righteousness is pumped up.

Jesus tells us to go into any private room and to pray to God the Father. That way you are not motivated to pray for the wrong reasons.

  1. DO NOT PRAY LIKE A GENTILE, WHO PRAYS WITH EMPTY REPITITION OF WORDS AND PHRASES

Jesus tells us to not pray like the Gentiles  because they repeat the names of their gods or the same words over and over without thinking. For example, “Zeus Zeus”.  The members of my mom’s family are Buddhists and they repeat “Good luck” over 99 times to a Buddha in order to be  blessed. The gentiles think God hears them because of the many words they speak. God does not act where meaningless chatter is used.  DO NOT BE LIKE THEM.   God is omniscient and knows what you need before you ask him. Since He is omniscient he is able to know what you will pray about before you even do.

Jesus says “Pray like this.”  so that Matthew  6:5-15 is a model for prayer.

Let’s begin with Our Father in heaven,

This is a relationship prayer. It is an intimate relationship with Him. It is for those who have been redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus.” Our Father,”  Father in Aramaic is “Abba”. It is not “Abba daddy” like you’re a baby sucking his thumb” No it is OUR FATHER, the one who sent His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins and punishment. When you pray, you are in His presence. You are speaking to Your Father. THE GOD who saved you. Come into His presence with reverence and highest respect because of who He is. You must know who God is in order to come into His presence with reverence.

“In heaven.” Our father is in heaven. This means our father rules everything.

Our first petition as believer to God is that God’s name would be hallowed. That God would be treated with the highest honor and set apart as holy. Paul Washer says “hallow” means that God’s name will be put in a separate category. This category must be regarded as the highest name ever and to be treated with highest respect. Holy Holy Holy is the LORD.

2nd petition is that God’s kingdom will come. This kingdom is the reign of Christ in the hearts and lives of believers, that we may increasingly reflect his love, obey his laws, honor him, do good to all people, and proclaim the good news of the kingdom. It is also a petition for God to save souls.

3rd petition: “Your will be done on earth as it in heaven”.

God`s Will is manifested in two ways: God’s hidden will and God’s revealed will. God’s hidden will is his providence. God’s revealed will is what we learn from the whole of Scripture itself.   In an article,  R.C Sproul says “When Jesus prays for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, He is asking for men to follow God’s perceptive will, by the Spirit’s grace, like the angels and saints in heaven. Praying for God’s will to be done is to ask for people everywhere to love His law.”

4th petition is “Give us our daily bread”. God will provide his people`s physical needs meaning food for instance.

5th petition: “Forgive us our sins, as we also forgive our debtors”

Jesus says that if you forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Now asking God to forgive us our sin is not asking for salvation.   This involves our communion with God the Father. When you have sinned against God and you want to repent and confess your sins to restore that communion, you must make sure you have extended forgiveness to others. Keep in mind that God has forgiven all of your past present and future sins so when someone has sinned against you and repents and seeks your forgiveness and you do not grant it, you’re being a hypocrite.

God takes it serious when you are not willing to forgive those who have sinned against you.  In which case GOD WILL NOT FORGIVE YOU.   Your bitterness and hypocrisy will hinder your relationship and communion with God. This can have serious consequences such as was seen with Ananias and Sapphira.   Be careful when you partake of the Lords’ supper since personal bitterness and hypocrisy can lead to divine chastisement. You do not lose your salvation but not forgiving people can result in a break of communion with God and make matters worse with the person you are not willing to forgive.  You can’t pray the Lord`s prayer with any sense of conviction if you won’t forgive others since this prayer assumes that you have already or are prepared to forgive those who have sinned against you.

6th petition: “And lead us not into temptation. but deliver us from evil.”

This does mean that God entices us to sin because we know from what James  1:13 – 15 teaches that is not possible  “Let no one say when he is tempted, I am being tempted by God, for God cannot be tempted with evil, for he himself tempts no one. This temptation occurs when we are lured and enticed by our own desire.   Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin and sin when its fully grown forth death.”   This temptation happens when believers find themselves in circumstances that can lead us to sin. For example Adam and Eve were tempted by Satan to take the fruit from the forbidden tree, Job was tempted by Satan to curse God.   We are asking God to spare us from difficult circumstances that may result in sin.   May we pray that God will deliver us from Satan and our own wicked fallen nature.

Do you know how to pray?

Are you praying for the right reasons?

This prayer is a model for us.

Are you praying this prayer?

Is your prayer hypocritical?

Have you not forgiven those who have sinned against you?

This is a prayer for those who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus

Are you born again?

Do you believe in the Gospel?

Is God your Father?

Are you in a relationship with God?   To be in a relationship with God you must be born again.

Only God can bring you into a saving relationship with Himself.  You must believe in the gospel. The Gospel means that God sent Jesus Christ to be born from a virgin, to live a perfect holy life without sin, He who knew no sin and who began his ministry after being baptized by John the Baptist.   His ministry lasted three years where at the end He was betrayed by Judas and delivered up to be crucified on the cross where He took all our sins and punishment upon Himself. He rose from death on the third day and later met with his disciples and 500 other witnesses, and ascended to heaven and now sits on the right hand of God.

May you believe this gospel that I have shared with you so that you may be granted eternal life and hallow His name for the remainder of your life.