|The Purpose Behind Out of the Fire,
A Life Radically Changed
| I was not reared a Christian. I was raised a Unitarian-Universalist and
became a hard core atheist in high school in Ohio where I grew up. I felt it
was my duty to dissuade every Christian of their faith in Christ. I wrote
scathing “Letters to the Editor” to my local newspaper decrying faith in
God and received in turn anonymous letters from Christians proclaiming my
dreadful fate in a fiery hell and licking their chops at the thought of its soon
I went to college in California to major in forestry. I wanted to get a job
with the Forest Service and work out in the woods as far away from people
as I could go. I continued my atheist ways, putting up a “God is Dead” sign
in my dorm room window and writing an epic poem about all the wrongs
perpetrated by the Christian church down through the centuries.
By a fluke I got my job with the Forest Service and entered into my
dream—fighting fires in the summer and going to school in the winter, all
the while trying to figure out what life was all about: looking for love,
looking for my place in the world, falling into the drug scene ... and
discovering that life was much harder and more complex than I had ever
In my 8th season with the Forest Service I met God in a super-natural
encounter that was the greatest discovery of my life. I was amazed that He
was not reluctantly accepting me into His Kingdom while holding His nose
at my past transgressions; He was welcoming me like I was His long, lost
son! It was such a powerful discovery that I spent my next 5 years living in
a Christian commune, giving away my house and pickup and living on
$4/week. It was to me that "treasure hidden in a field," that "when I found
it, in my joy I went and sold all that I had and bought that field.” [Mt. 13:44].
But over the years, as I lived my adult life now in the church, I realized
that most Christians don’t live their lives as if Christ was the most
important thing that ever happened to them. Most Christians are settled
into routines of going to church meetings, dabbling at praying, reading their
Bibles and other Christian activities, but mostly marking time till the
Writing this book got me back in touch with all the miraculous things the
Lord had done to engineer my own salvation. At the same time He began
calling me to a life of prayer that transcended anything I had experienced
before. Now I spend time with Him in an intimacy of love that is at once
deeply fulfilling and energizing. I have realized that what I experienced
getting saved was not intended to be a one-time happening. It should be the
beginning of a life-long experience of knowing the Lord in ever-deeper
ways and getting always more immersed in His love. Such a life is not
without its price—indeed it costs everything! But it is so worth it! And all
other life pales by comparison.
This is what Christianity is truly all about: not going to endless meetings
while trying to live as a “good” person; but meeting God through Christ and
then growing in that love relationship on an ongoing basis. It’s not checking
off an endless succession of spiritual checklists: going to church, praying,
giving, reading the Bible, memorizing Scripture, witnessing, quiet times, etc.
etc. Rather it’s meeting God through prayer, experiencing His love, and
then letting Him live His life through you. What could be more exciting!
What could be more fulfilling! Having His love wash over you until you can
hardly stand any more, times of walking in the supernatural, having Him
use you to speak His words of love and forgiveness to a desperate person,
seeing His love transform your own life and also others—this is what
Christianity was meant to be!
No Christian ever told me this before I got saved. Indeed I always thought
that Christianity taught that whatever looked fun or exciting was forbidden,
and that we were supposed to be nice, harmless people forever shaking our
fingers at the world for its sinful pleasures while secretly longing after the
same pleasures ourselves.
My hope in writing this book is that it will stimulate those who have never
met Christ to search after Him till they find Him, and for those who have at
one time met Him, it will be a “gateway drug” for them to return to their
first love and abandon their fixations on the things of this world (endless
entertainment, money, cars, clothes, food, and sex), and start enjoying what
life is really all about—knowing God and making Him known.
For more on this aspect of Christian living , check out my Blog at http: