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

Apocalyptic Showdown

On Friday evening, some neighbourhood youth gather in a nearby gym for sports and close out the evening at our place with board games and snacks. Later, a gospel message is given. This week it came with a bit of a twist that involved trivia knowledge: from a list of thirteen titles they were asked to identify the common denominator that twelve of them share, and to pick-out the one that does not belong on the list.

Can you can find the answer from the following list that have something in common, and which of one does not: Anachronex, Age of kings, Arx Fatalis,  Balhur’s gate, Dark lands, Dark reign, sword against Gog, Nosferatu, the Wrath of Malachi, a sword against Gog; Omikron, The Nomad Soul,  Rise of Nations, and  The Wheel of Time. Now if you said these are all computer games except for one and selected a sword against Gog from that list as unconnected from the rest you have correctly answered!  About computer games as a rule gamers engage in contests of epic proportions, that casts the player in the position of controlling the game using abnormally high but limited powers to defend against and ultimately defeat your protagonist(s) sometimes by actions classified by a “hack and slash” or “beat’em up” or other fighting strategy available to the gamer. Either way, the contest invariably ends and you can begin again. But from here on out what follows below is not about gaming but about learning of a prophetic apocalyptic event that is still future, and is a pressing reminder about the seriousness of  this event and our own impotence to stand-up on our own against it without the Might of God interceding and His Saving Grace in our lives.

In its entirety the phrase, I will summon a sword against Gog on all my mountains, declares the Sovereign Lord is found in the book of Ezekiel in chapter 38 verse 21. The term Gog came to be known as a general title for an enemy of God and His people and the sword is God’s judgment upon evil doers. Since this final apocalyptic showdown is still future, some see this as the same encounter described in Revelation where God defeats his enemies at Armageddon. Yet, John MacArthur heralds Ezekiel’s account as a different battle altogether than that from Revelation 19:11-20. Another view sees the language as mostly apocalyptic, symbolic and hyperbolic ultimately depicting Satan’s defeat at the cross and the empty tomb of Jesus Christ.  While interpretations vary one thing is for certain: evil in our world will be destroyed and a new age inaugurated where peace will never cease and Christ glorified forever. God’s sword symbolized the means, i.e. pestilence, rain, great hailstones, fire and brimstone, panic and chaos to destroy the coalition of nations who will attempt to invade Israel but be destroyed themselves as God will intervene on behalf of His people and for His Glory (Eze 38:18-22, 39:6).

In the wake of this apocalyptic showdown, today you do not have to look very far to see the nefarious uprising of evil in society. The subtle sidelining of God in the wider world vexed by the false security in money is a failed substitute to the only real security that man should have in the Lord. Sexual immorality, idolatry, and injustices become a sort of opioid for the many who choose to exclude God’s holy laws from their lives. Man gives lip service to God and minimizes Him to the point where He becomes nothing more than a mantel piece to be taken down every now and again for religious purposes mostly during Christmas and Easter periods. Islam is fast overtaking Christianity as the number one religion in the world. All about us corruption and scandals are common place. You hardly take notice of them in the news anymore. Evil has become so widespread that people seem to have desensitized themselves to its savagery. A recent report from the Ottawa Sun tells of young girls being raped by ISIS insurgents to the degree that they were told that rape was necessary to become fully Muslim. (pg. 11, Oct 13, 2017)  As more atrocities occur, the planet is infested with such horrors that go beyond imagining, and too appalling to be believed. At some point, known only to God, He acts to eliminate the terrible evils and usher in a new era.

Though we live in a period of social, political and moral upheaval and because his own reputation yet bound up with His people, Israel “It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came.” (36:22)  we need not become disorientated and lose hope. In Psalms 37, David, who was under great duress due to Saul’s intention to murder him, speaks of not fretting over evildoers since a day is coming where all the wickedness in our world will be dealt with and the guilty punished. As David reminds us in verse thirteen “but the LORD laughs at the wicked, for he sees that his day is coming.”  What we learn from Ezekiel’s prophetic message that this apocalyptic event marks the approaching end of the age and the ushering in of a period of unending peace.

Because of his everlasting love God takes action. In the last days, He not only brings global judgment but sets his glory—-the Person and Work of his only-begotten Son—-among the nations, draw a chosen people to him, justify them, fill them with his Spirit, and plant them securely, with neither shame nor disgrace, in their new heavenly homeland.

Have you thought about this world and the way things are going?  The protocol for any of us when faced with a dilemma may be to roll up our sleeves and face our adversary. Trouble is we are part of the problem already.  Evil is in every one of us and we cannot simply will it out of existence. We are powerless. It is true that not everyone exercises human depravity to its fullest degree, but we still find ourselves in the opposing camp and are told that God will vindicate His holiness where He alone defeats all evil doers and puts its out of business for good. Are you fixed on living out your days in comfort mode and chuckle over this serious stuff like “brimstone and fire”, or “repent judgment is at hand” talk. You find real religion disturbs your way of life and have decided that if God exist that He will take you as you are now even though the Bible speaks of man in his natural state as His enemy. You care little for Christ and less about your sins —  do not expect God to drop His standards of righteousness and forfeit all prophetic warnings of a coming day of wrath because your feelings about not being bad enough should be sufficient enough to coax God from judging you. This is not a contest where you face off with God. You are not in a position of strength. The only warrior that may defend us against righteous judgment is Jesus Christ. Other than His mediation we are defenceless. We would be well advised to hear what God says about our time on earth. He says that “in just a little while the wicked will be no more.” (Psa 37:19)  Once it happens, we cannot restart our lives as though it were a game and start over again. Both heaven and hell exists, and any ideas about annihilation is foreign to Scripture.  God warns us to turn away from evil and do good (vv27).  Repent and trust in the LORD while the time is still available. Do not put off thinking that you can do it another day.  Your days are numbered as is God’s appointed time to act decisively to end all sinfulness that plagues our world.

May Christ be your Deliverer today.  Look to His blood He shed for sinners on Calvary.  Forgiveness is promised to all those who place faith in Him and repent of their sins. Do it now before it is too late.

In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.  But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace. (Psa. 37:10, 11)