Our Testimony

Previously Posted as "A Hopeful Apology,"  6/26/09
I suppose we will begin at the beginning. I am not writing to offend anyone. I know for a fact that I would never have come to a saving knowledge of the truth unless someone had led me there to begin with. But it is doubtless that I will, for the truth tends to be offensive, and it appears from modern thinking, that people tend to find offense when anyone claims to know the truth, the absolute truth, about God, salvation, and Heaven. Yet bear with me if you would, and I will first share with you my testimony.

My name is Ian Curtis, and I was first saved when I was seven years old at the Cloquet Gospel Tabernacle. My mother and I attended that church for a fair number of years, and when the pastor explained the gospel to his congregation and asked if anyone desired to be saved, I raised my hand, was led into the back room to be explained my decision for salvation more clearly, and then was baptized as public testimony of my profession. For a fair count of years beginning in my mid-teens, I strayed from God. I didn't read the Bible, pray with any fervor, and distanced myself from my family (all of whom were Christians). I stayed on this ill-fated path for about a decade, and after a poor decision to marry which ended in divorce and heart ache, and seeing suddenly my need for God's presence in my life again, I returned home. My second wife Gillian and I were dating already when I came back to Jesus, and I felt like the prodigal son, returning home at long last (Luke 15:11-32).

I was 29 years old when God finally received my undivided attention. I wanted Gillian as a wife, but I was suddenly determined to do this properly; God's way or no way. First, I began to read the Bible with a great fervor, to learn what His will in my life and for my life was. I needed to understand His word and the salvation He offered, to be sure I was indeed a child of God. Gillian, at the time, was unsaved, and suddenly I came across this passage in Scripture: "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?" 2nd Corinthians 6:14 I was dating an unbeliever, and the last time I did this as a stray, it had disastrous results. I explained to Gillian that I could not pursue our relationship any further because of this rebellion against my Lord. I was tired and finished with being disobedient, hearing His word but doing nothing about it. I loved her, and it broke my heart, but I trusted that God would work out all things for the good of those that love Him, and He works them out after the counsel of His will, Romans 8:28; Ephesians 1:11.

All the while, unknown to me, God had been working in Gillian. I was witnessing to her about God's love for mankind demonstrated in Jesus Christ, and our need of His salvation, and she was being called. In fact, the day before I told her I couldn't see her any longer, she placed her faith in Jesus Christ as her Savior, and became a daughter of God. But then she was afraid to tell me, fearing that I would only think she was making her conversion up to stall me, so she asked for time to consider whether or not she wanted to become Christian. All the while we had this conversation, she was! I rejoice at God's mercy, when I gave Him the reins and allowed Him to reign in me as Lord, which He is, and which He fully deserves. We dated for 21 months altogether; 16 months or so as fellow believers. This was followed by a three week engagement, at which time we married.

For two and a half years after my return to Christ we did not attend a church of any type, because so many of the major denominations have gone astray and no longer preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, but rather a feel-good gospel, or no gospel at all. So we stayed at home, read the Bible together, meditated on the things of God together, and grew in faith. After all, as I said before, my mother, father and little sister were all Christian, so we had family fellowship. At length she and I grew to longing for more brothers and sisters in Christ, and as it happened God met our need before we truly understood what we were lacking. Gillian and I were friends with a couple who attended the Duluth Bible Church, and after having fellowship at their house several times in two years, we decided to see what the church was like. We were not disappointed, and have since made a good number of new friends, who have proven a valuable blessing in our lives, as I pray we are to them.

I once counted myself a Christian simply because I was converted as a child. I may have been born again by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone, but all those wasted years I walked contrary to my God, which forced Him to walk contrary to me. He can never bless a child who is so stubbornly disobedient; or else He is approving and condoning the sinful behavior which is removing our fellowship with Him! God is holy, and will not approve of His children chasing after the world and living for self. "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" Amos 3:3. Anyone who grants themselves the title of Christian, like I did for so long, without bothering to learn from His inspired word, the Bible, what His will was: are you walking in agreement with God? He can never walk in a sinful path, so either you are walking by faith, living to serve the Savior, or you are walking in rebellion, in which case He is not walking with you at all, since God does not change His mind about sin, even among His own. Being a church member, a child of a religious family, a "good" person (a highly ambiguous term), or part of a supposedly Christian nation does not make someone Christian. One must hear the gospel and believe it as it is: God's truth.

Jesus Christ died to save us from our sins, and the death He died on the cross, He died for us, so that the demands of God's righteous law were paid by our Savior. Jesus Christ rose from the dead as a sign from the Father that the payment was accepted. Salvation is now a free gift of God to anyone who places their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord. God has opened the way to Heaven through the new and living way, His only Begotten Son. Jesus paid the penalty for all of our sins, but unless you believe this and accept this infinite gift, His sacrifice on the cross does not benefit you. Salvation is the beginning of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It is more than religion. Religion always trumps, "Do! Do! Do!" Jesus cried, "It is finished!" John 19:30. Religion would have a man work toward Heaven; religion wants to make unsaved men moral. But the Holy Spirit says, "Now to him that worketh is not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness," Romans 4:4-5. Only the righteous may enter Heaven, and God declares Christians righteous. Why? A Christian believes in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, who took away our much deserved Hell, and gave us an undeserved Heaven. We do not work, but believe. God has done the work; and His work is perfect, Mark 7:37. Where as religion makes unsaved men moral; Christianity takes dead men and gives them life in Jesus' name. Our morality and obedience must have the wellspring of faith in Christ back of them. It must be an outflowing of our salvation, not an effort to attain salvation, because salvation can never, under any circumstance, be earned. This is my personal testimony, and my own hard learned experience by defying God's grace and mercy for most of my adult life. By grace am I saved through faith, and that not of myself, it is the gift of God. Amen for that!

Posted 4-26-2010
Hello all, my name is Gillian, I am Ian’s wife, and I am just writing to tell you about my conversion to the love of Christ. I can see now that my journey towards salvation started long before I even realized at first because God needed to make me ready to accept Him by showing me what the world had to offer. Just out of high school, I moved in with my then-boyfriend of about 1 ½ yrs. Our relationship had been rough from the beginning, and continued to be so until the end. I was pressured by him to use marijuana and drink, and I did because I was afraid he wouldn’t love me if I didn’t. I was very easily influenced in my youth because I was always afraid people wouldn’t like me if I didn’t do what they wanted. I was miserable, though I stayed in all my relationships because I didn’t think there was anything better out there, and if there was, it wouldn’t come to me. My relationship with my boyfriend continued to get worse as his drug habit worsened and my desire to escape burned ever greater. I tried to make him hate me by twice involving myself with other men so that we would finally be through; he also did his share of heartbreaking but, regardless of who was the instigator at the time, he would always beg me to take him back. It didn’t help that we were so smart as to stay living together, so I always did take him back. After the second incident of unfaithfulness on my part (about 3 yrs into our relationship), he decided we really were through and was moving to New York without me (we had both wanted to move there, and he had family there). This time it was me who begged him to take me with him. So, he moved out ahead of me to get a place for us, and I came out 3 or 4 months later. Disaster from the beginning. When I had arrived, the reception was less than the warm-fuzzies I was expecting. I realized immediately that I had made a mistake by moving out there and that a change of scenery was not what was really needed. This is where my part comes in as to seeking God. I was at my wits end, and now I was half a continent away from everyone I knew and loved (which was really only my family, most of my “friends” could’ve cared less how I was doing in reality). I finally realized that there had to be more to life than this constant misery. So, I started searching…in all the wrong places.

I didn’t have access to much info at that point so I stuck to the two things I had some idea about already—Darwinism/Evolution and Yoga. Yoga had always intrigued me, and I grew up going to public school so evolution was not far from seared into every orifice of my body so they seemed the two most natural choices to explore. I started reading a book by Richard Dawkins (I don’t remember the title), and thought I was very learned until I tried to explain how the common border collie came to be to my boyfriend and realized that it made no sense whatsoever. So that fascination ended pretty quickly and with a bit of confusion. That left me to yoga, which I got fairly involved in, as well as an obsession with exercise in general. My interest in yoga continued even into the beginning of my relationship with Ian, and I believe, for a short while, after my conversion as well, until a study of its background convicted me that I needed to stop (see note at end). Seeing the calming effect that yoga had on so many people made it look very inviting. I needed an escape from life and I found it, if even only for a short while, through yoga and running. I ran myself, literally, ragged in those days just to escape the confines of our cramped little studio apartment. I would wake up at five in the morning, run for 20-30 minutes and come back and do another 30 minutes of yoga, then walk down to work at a very labor intensive job, get a few groceries on the way home, usually go out for another walk and then pass out in bed about 10 or 11 at night. This was partially because I was looking for escape from the tumultuous reality of home life, and partially because I had no friends there—so I needed something to fill my time.

Eventually, we decided to move back to Minnesota and take a step back by not living together; by this point I had also decided to cease my involvement in drugs and alcohol. He moved in with a friend and I moved back with my parents. Though it would be a couple of months before our relationship finally ended for good, it did end. By that time I had resumed my job at Subway, which is where I had met Ian before moving away, and I also started school at Lake Superior College. Things were finally going my way…except that nagging suspicion in the back of my head that something was still missing.

I was fairly involved with yoga and wanting to learn the religion (though I would not have referred to it as such back then) of it until I read a book (don’t remember the title or author) by a woman who was a yoga instructor talking about how she lived yoga in her daily life. The only thing I vividly remember her talking about was her view on how we love: that we cannot just love, but, in fact, we must have faith that we love someone or something; and not only that, but we cannot just tell someone we love them, we must tell them that we have faith that we love them. Can you feel the butterflies? What does that even mean? Anyways, that did me in for desiring to look into the spiritual side of yoga and left me with just the exercise and that still-gaping hole in my life that I was desperately trying to fill.

This is where Ian really comes in! From the moment I had returned from New York, Ian was my constant companion and confidant. He was going through a divorce and he also had much background about my rough relationship. I remember the many, many hours we spent talking and walking. He introduced me to Jesus and the Bible. At first it was a respect thing. He was my friend, so I would respect and listen to what he had to say about his beliefs. But then, it was more than that. I noticed the effect it had on his lifestyle and attitudes and I began to take serious interest in what was being said. We started reading the Bible together, beginning with the Gospel of John, and continuing through the entire New Testament. Less than a year after returning to Minnesota and after much reading (together and alone) and discussion, I came to the realization that this is Who (not what) had been missing in my life—Jesus Christ. Everything finally clicked, a light went on, life and existence were starting to make sense. It will be 4 years this summer (2010) since I believed Jesus to be my Savior.

So what do I have to say about life since then? Well, it’s still hard sometimes, and frustrating, but now I know that I don’t have to face these hard and frustrating times alone, and can actually find peace through them, that is, if I let the Lord have His way in me! Death no longer holds the fear of the unknown before me—I know I have a place with my Lord in Heaven for all eternity. Also, I no longer have the stain of sin tainting my every move because I know the (that is, the one and only) Truth and the Truth has set me free from the power of sin (not that this makes me already perfected, but I know that, even through my imperfections, I will never be lost from the hand of my Savior). If I have any advice for those who are not already Christians but are seeking after spirituality or deeper meaning in their lives or are just wondering why we are here, it is this: Don’t stop seeking. The Lord knows those who are truly looking for the truth of life and He Himself says that if you are seeking you will find Him (see Jeremiah 29:13). Just remember, it is not religion that will fill that void—motions that clutter your mind to make you feel like you are doing something worthwhile. Understand that God doesn’t need our help to save us, all He asks from us is to believe on His Son, Jesus Christ. That He died to take away the penalty that our sins would lay upon us, and that He rose from the dead that we, too, would rise to be with Him for eternity. This is amazing truth here people (much more so than I have been able to express), it’s time to listen up!

Note about Yoga: Yoga is inextricably linked to the religion of Hinduism; therefore, once becoming a Christian and studying more in-depth the background of yoga and coming to discover its origins in Hinduism, I had to stop because you cannot be both Christian and Hindu and I did not want to give even the impression that I believed otherwise.

All Scripture is taken from the King James Bible (KJV) or New King James Bible (NKJV). Copyright 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.