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Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
My complete profile...
Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich
His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole
[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos
Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead
There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
| The Gospel.
|Witness: Excuse me, can I have a few moments of your time?
Prospect: What? Me? Um, sure... I guess,
Witness: I am doing a survey, ...can you tell me whether you know for sure that if you died right now you would go to heaven?
Prospect: There are a lot of presumptions in that question. I am not sure if I can answer it.
Witness: Presumptions? What do you mean?
Prospect: Well, first of all, you are assuming that we go some place when we die, and secondly you are suggesting that one such place is called heaven.
Witness: Okay, I see what you're saying. Let me try again. Do you believe that anything spiritual happens after death?
Prospect: It's possible. I mean there have been some people who have "died" and come back, and they tell some pretty bizarre, but entirely inconsistent stories...
Witness: So you are open to the idea that there may be something spiritual that happens after death?
Prospect: Well, yeah, I am open to it, in that I really don't have any hard evidence to "prove" that there isn't anything spiritual.
Witness: Didn't you just mention that there are witnesses who have died and come back? Wouldn't their testimony, inconsistent as it is, stand as some sort of evidence?
Prospect: I don't think so. I mean really, how are we defining death now? My heart stopped beating for a couple of minutes - that is hardly dying. The body is starting to shut down, sure, but the fact that people come back from that state suggests that death hasn't really taken place yet.
Witness: What about brain death? Would you accept the testimony of someone whom science has shown was braindead and came back from that?
Prospect: No. I mean seriously, just because we build a machine that gives us a measurement, does that really mean that we know all that there is to know about how an organ as complex as the brain works? I think there is room for a healthy skepticism when it comes to things like measuring brain activity. Sure, we measuring something - but whose to say there isn't something else we never though of or tens or hundreds of things we haven't thought of that we could be measuring that could show us more precisely whether a person's brain had actually stopped functioning, or whether it was simply functioning in a way that science has yet to measure.
Witness: So you wouldn't accept the testimony of someone who "died" and came back to life?
Prospect: Oh no, don't get me wrong. What I mean is that I don't think someone is dead just because their life couldn't be measured for ten or fifteen minutes. If you dig up an hundred year old corpse and get him to talk about the experience, I for one am ready to listen!
Witness: How about a corpse that had been dead for three or four days?
Prospect: Um... sure, I mean, if the corpse was already rotting and whatnot - I would accept that person as really having been dead.
Witness: Okay... so unless you have hard evidence, such as talking to a rotting corpse, you will not believe that anything spiritual happens after death, right?
Prospect: I didn't say that. I just said that I don't take the testimonies of people who seem to have died as authoritative. As I said before, I am open to the idea, because I have no proof to the contrary.
Witness: Okay, assuming that that there is something spiritual that takes place after death...
Prospect: Okay, assuming there is...
Witness: Do you know for sure that you would go to heaven if you died?
Prospect: We are back to the presumptions again. I mean if no one has ever come back to say what is there, how can I say that I would go to heaven? That itself is another presumption - whose heaven? Nirvannah? Valhalla? Paradise? I mean, pick a religion - they all have their "happy hunting grounds." I take it by "heaven" you are a Christian/Catholic/Morman/Jehovah's witness?
Witness: I am an Evangelical.
Prospect: Does your bible even say that you go to heaven when you die?
Witness: Yes, of course it does.
Prospect: Really? When I read it, it said that God will create a new heaven, and a new earth - which heaven will you go to?
Witness: Um,... w-what? Hang on... The, ah, the new heaven.
Prospect: And you base that on what?
Witness: Well, if the old heaven is going to pass away, then I will be in the new heaven. It is a chronological thing.
Prospect: A chronological thing... right. So you will be in heaven. Where can I find that in your bible?
Witness: Well, I mean, I can't think of any direct reference... Let's see... <flipping through bible> um, here, in 2 Kings chapter two it says that Elijah was taken up into heaven in a whirlwind.
Prospect: Was he dead?
Witness: Um. No... but,
Prospect: No, no - let's be reasonable. If he wasn't dead, upon what authority to you say that we who die can go there? And what does that word heaven mean in that verse - that he was taken up into the sky, or that he was taken up into some sort of non terrestrial place - the abode of God?
Witness: We interpret it to mean heaven and not sky.
Prospect: Why? Doesn't sky fit?
Witness: Well, if he just went up into the sky he would run out of atmosphere and just die. So we assume he went into heaven.
Prospect: Um, couldn't he have gone up into the sky, then been placed into Abraham's bosom? or Hades, or some other place - why insist on heaven?
Witness: That's how I have always understood it.
Prospect: Well that's nice for you, but how is that going to convince me? I mean help me out here. If there is some concrete connection there, I want to know.
Witness: Well, its concrete enough for me.
Prospect: Is that your own reference then? Doesn't the bible say that no one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven> Doesn't that seem to argue against the whole going to heaven thing...
Witness: um, where is that?
Prospect: Are you kidding me? That's the third chapter of John's gospel - what, did you only memorize John 3:16?
Witness: Well, I just didn't remember the reference... Okay, yeah it says that, but I don't think it means that only those who came down from heaven can go there. I think it just means that Jesus came down from heaven and he will go back there.
Prospect: Okay, is there any reference in all of scripture to anyone or anything being in heaven?
Witness:Yeah, God is in heaven, the angels, and those angels who followed Satan were there, and Satan too. Um, the Son was in heaven has returned there... um... the t... there is a temple in heaven, and um.. hang on... <flipping to the book revelation> oh yeah, and here - there are armies in heaven, the tabernacle of the testimony, ... um...
Prospect: So other than this army, it is basically God and the angels?
Witness: Well, I think Moses and Elijah are there too...
Prospect: Now are we talking the new heaven now, or the old?
Witness: Um Moses and Elijah were in the old, but will be in the new.
Prospect: and this army?
Witness: Um, let me see now... that, uh, that comes before the chapter on the judgment, so I am gonna say... the old heaven... but that's sort of provisional and speculative because the book of revelation is sort of all prophesy and involves a lot of time imagery, and I am not really sure what I think about that yet...
Prospect: yet you expect me to believe that when we die we go to this place which may or may not be the new heaven?
Witness: The new heaven. I mean, after judgment day its all the new heaven - and even if it is the old heaven, then you will just get shuffled into the new. Oh and hey - there were the martyrs too - they were under an altar in heaven.
Prospect: Do you think that might have been figurative? I mean, how big was that altar? Perhaps this is figurative language?
Witness: Um, okay... let's just put that aside for now... Would you agree that if there is an afterlife, something spiritual - do you think that you would do well on judgment day?
Prospect: Um, okay - I am willing to say that if there is an afterlife, it may well be the one that your bible describes, and if that is the case, then I expect that there will be a judgment day...
Witness: So how do you think you will do?
Prospect: I think I would be pretty much average I mean, I haven't killed anyone...
Witness: yeah, but have you ever hated anyone?
Prospect: Sure, lots of times. I hate you even. <grin> Just kidding.
Witness: Well the bible says that the sin of hating someone carries the same penalty as killing someone - that to hate someone is the same as killing them. Do you know what that means?
Prospect: Sure. It means that I would be just like everyone else.
Witness: That's right - guilty. And do you know where guilty people end up?
Prospect:... according to your religion?
Witness: Yes, according to my religion...
Prospect: I suppose they end up in hell.
Witness: That is right! <zeal increasing> So if the bible is true, you can be certain that you will be going to hell. Would you agree?
Prospect: Wait - all that we have established is that if the bible is true about judgment, that I will be found guilty. I mean, I have heard many Christians debate about whether there even is a hell or not. I take it that you are in the "there is a hell" camp?
Witness: There is a hell. Christ references a place of torment when he tells the story of Lazarus and the rich man - he speaks of a place elsewhere where the worm never dies and the flames burn forever. That sounds like hell to me.
Prospect: Okay, so if I am found guilty, then yes, I agree, that the punishment for my guilt is hell.
Witness: Now don't you want to be saved from that?
Prospect: Assuming I was persuaded that there is an after life, and that your religion is the correct one to describe it, and that I am guilty sinner condemned to hell - it seems that a just God could hardly excuse me - I mean, if he excuses me, wouldn't he have to excuse everyone?
Witness: Not everyone. I mean, only those who ask Jesus into their heart.
Prospect: Ho! What's this now? We go from judgment and pleading to asking Jesus into our heart? Gracious - how does asking Jesus into my heart trump this God's righteousness?
Witness: Well, if you know you are going to go to hell when you die, then you can avoid that by asking Jesus to come into your heart. it is a pretty simple prayer, and I could lead you in it so that you could know you are going to heaven when you die, and not hell.
Prospect: I thought we weren't decided on the heaven thing just yet...
Witness: Well, you could say the prayer and escape judgment then...
Prospect: let's say that I was interested in your offer, but unsure of your authority... That is, how can I be sure that if I repeat after you something I will escape this judgment?
Witness: Well, if you believe hard enough God will hear you and once you ask Jesus into your heart He has to save you.
Prospect: from hell?
Witness: Yeah, that's what Jesus does.
Prospect: And where do I find that written out anywhere? Is that in the bible?
Witness:Of course it is, <flipping.... flipping.... flipping....>
Witness: Um, well, it isn't spelled out quite exactly like that - but it does say that if you call on the name of the Lord you will be saved.
Prospect: Saved from what?
Witness: From hell!
Prospect: Where does it say I will be saved from hell.
Witness: Um... it just does.
Prospect: Do you really expect me to just take your word for it? I mean, this is some pretty important stuff if it is true, wouldn't you say?
Witness: Hang on... here is an internet kiosk - let's do a word search in the bible and see where it talks of being saved.... tappity-tap-tap ... ENTER... Here we go - Matthew 1:21 - You will call His name Jesus for He shall save His people...
Prospect: From what?
Witness:... from their sin.
Prospect: Are you saved from your sin sir?
Prospect: Just a question. You want me on your bandwagon, so I want to see if it's connected to a live horse or a dead one. You just showed me the text - it said that Jesus would save His people from their sin - are you saved from your sin?
Witness: Well, it means from the penalty for sin... and I...
Prospect: It doesn't say penalty anywhere - why do you add that. Doesn't the bible itself warn you against adding things to scripture?
Witness: I am not adding, I am...
Prospect: Yes, you are. I mean, it doesn't say anything about sin's penalty, it just says that Jesus will save His people from their sin.
Witness: But we interpret that to mean...
Prospect: I don't doubt that you interpret that to mean that - the question is, is that a valid interpretation. I mean that's a big, big, difference. So I ask you again, have you been saved from you sin?
Witness: Well, yes, from sin's penalty...
Prospect: Skip the penalty thing - have you been saved from sin - yes or no.
Witness: well, no, I mean I still sin, so no.
Prospect: Well then sir, I have some good news for you.
Prospect: I have listened patiently to you blunder on about this stuff, are you willing to give me your ear now.
Witness: Look, I am a Christian, and I am satisfied with my faith. I will listen, but don't expect much.
Prospect: That's interesting, because I am a Christian, but I wonder if we have believed the same gospel, since I am saved from sin, and you are merely saved from hell.
Witness: You're a Christian? Why didn't you say so brother!?
Prospect: Because anyone can call them self a Christian, but not everyone can say they have been saved from sin.
Witness: Well I have been saved from sin... from sin's penalty.
Prospect: I am not so confident of your profession as you are.
Witness: You don't think I am saved?
Prospect: I don't think you even know the gospel.
Witness: <spit-take> WHA? I know the gospel, if you sin, you're a sinner, sinners go to hell, to escape hell you say the sinners prayer, and God will save you as long as you really mean it.
Prospect: Did any of the apostles preach that gospel?
Witness: All of them.
Witness: Well, it isn't spelled out like that anywhere, but that's what they preached.
Prospect: Friend, can I call you friend? You admit you are a sinner. right?
Witness: Yeah, we are all sinners - Christians are just "saved" sinners.
Prospect: If Christ died to save His people from their sin, doesn't being a saved-from-sin-sinner strike you as a little off?
Prospect: Seriously. Christ died to reconcile you to God. That was the point of it all. It wasn't to save you from hell, it was to save you from sin.
Witness: But if you are reconciled to God, aren't you saved from hell anyway?
Prospect: Yes -if- you are reconciled to God. The question is, do you actually get reconciled to God when your gospel is all about getting you into heaven without being reconciled to God?
Witness: Wait a second... something is... I ...say that again?
Prospect: The gospel you presented to me was little more than - say this prayer, and believe it, and you don't have to go to hell. You (more or less) were right in showing me that I was a sinner, but then you started selling me on getting out of hell rather than being reconciled to God. Sin is wicked because it has separated me from God - separated YOU from God. God -IS- life, and if you want eternal life, you must be reconciled to God. It isn't about side-stepping God and getting heaven through Jesus doing something for you - so that God forgives you... it is about being reconciled to God through Jesus Christ in order that you may be grafted back into life itself - the life that you were severed from by your sin.
Witness: So what are saying? That I am not saved?
Prospect: I don't know if you are saved or not, and it isn't my job to know. But I can tell you that salvation involves being reconciled to God. Christ's work on the cross was not about getting people into heaven so that they could have a nice afterlife - it was about providing a way for repenting sinners to be reconciled to a righteous God.
Witness: Go on...
Prospect: The gospel is simple, turn away from your rebellion against God, and turn instead to that right relationship with God. You have been disobedient and wayward, but God calls all to repent of this, and to turn again to Him - to turn again to a relationship wherein God is your sovereign - your king - the one you obey...
Witness: Oh, I was with you right up to the word obey. Now you just sound like a legalist.
Prospect: In Luke's gospel, in the nineteenth chapter Jesus speaks of a man who traveled to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself, who would then return at a later date. There were some who rejected this man's rule even before he received that kingdom, and after it was received the man bid them to bring those who rejected his rule before him and slay them. Who do you think is the man who goes away and returns a king?
Prospect: And what did Jesus say He would do to those who reject His rule?
Witness: <gulp> Um, slay them. But...
Prospect: Shut up.
Witness: Hey, that's not polit...
Prospect: Shut up. Chew on it instead of trying to justify your own rebellion.
Witness: You're saying that unless I obey Christ perfectly I am going to go to hell, and I don't buy that for a minute. If I could live sinlessly I would.
Prospect: Listen, I am not saying that you have to live sinlessly to pass through the judgment, but you -must- accept Christ's rule. It is one thing to strive against sin in one's spiritual infancy, and quite another to give up the fight, or never start it. The moment I tell myself I am going to heaven whether I obey or not, I am on a slippery slope, and I have to ask myself whether I am desiring to be reconciled to God, or just get to heaven. If I am desiring reconciliation - I will hunger for righteousness, I will desire to obey, and I will yearn for, and strive towards maturity.
Prospect: No buts. Just listen. If the gospel you believed had all the right players in it, but spoke more about getting into heaven than being reconciled to God - if you find that the biggest problem in your version of Christianity is that you don't love God, and don't want to have anything to do with Him - other than admire Him from a distance, you probably need to hear the rest of the gospel...
Witness: The rest of...
Prospect: The rest of the gospel. Listen: God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. Not every person who had ever been born, but every person who turns away from rebellion and sin, and seeks to be reconciled back into an obedient, right relationship with God. None of us could ever do such a thing without Christ, and even if we could, it wouldn't reconcile us to God because He is righteous, and we are sinners.
Prospect: But God found a way to have a relationship with us without doing injury to His own righteousness. He sent His own Son, out of heaven, to come and be born as a man, to live before Him perfectly, and to supply His own life as the means by which unrighteous sinners could be ==made== righteous.
Prospect: As many as repent of their rebellion, and turn to God in faith - the same are united together with Christ through the Holy Spirit - a spiritual union that places us on Calvary with Christ where God poured out His wrath on our rebellion and sin - slaying us who were guilty, and slaying Christ in whom we were eternally united through the Spirit. Yet because Christ was innocent, God could not allow Him to remain dead but was required by His own righteousness to raise Him from the dead - and because we who turned to God for reconciliation were placed into Christ - united with His life - when that life is restored, our life is restored - not the old sinful one that received God's wrath - but a new life - Christ's own, eternal, life. That is what we have been joined to.
Prospect: Now we who have been joined to Christ start off as babes - we don't know how to behave as we ought, but God puts His Holy Spirit in us, to convict us of sin and of righteousness. He likewise left us the bible to teach us who He is, and through that knowledge, whom we are to be like. Our obedience is not wrung out of us out of fear that failing to obey will mean damnation, rather it is the desire of the Holy Spirit in us that wars against our flesh which by no means wants to obey - such that we find ourselves wanting to obey by the spirit, but wanting to follow our own urges in the flesh. This is the state of immaturity that we all begin in.
Witness: I think that's me...
Prospect: Why don't you obey?
Witness: I can't. I tried, and tried, but I never am able to.
Prospect: Jesus did something on Calvary you know. He rendered that part of you that says "I can't" powerless. We find that in Romans 6:6. You can, but not in the strength of your flesh - forcing your flesh to obey God because you are afraid that if you don't He will not save you is not exactly worshiping in spirit and in truth.
Witness: How did you know I feel that way? I have never been able to put it into words, but that is how I feel - like I have to obey otherwise I might not really be saved. I mean, I want to obey, but that sort of guilt motive has never carried me very far...
Prospect: I guessed. But I based my guess upon my own initial failures, assuming that scripture is correct in describing our struggles as common to one another. The point is that although this is normal for a baby Christian, it isn't really acceptable to stay there once we know better.
Witness: How can I obey God? I pray all the time that he would fill me with His spirit, and give me a bigger greater love for himself, but I continue to find myself floundering up and down - one day I feel okay, one day I am elated, then for weeks on end I feel like God secretly hates me because I am such a failure. Then my church sends us all out on these out reach assignments, and I feel like if I don't bring in the numbers everyone will know what a big fake I am...
Prospect: Yeah... That happens. If the Holy Spirit isn't working, we presume we are supposed to do the work and "blame" it on the Holy Spirit because we know He is the one who is supposed to be doing it. Look, in a nutshell it works like this. First off, don't confuse your own morbid feelings of guilt with God's truth. Read the bible and learn that God's relationship with you is brokered entirely in Christ, and His finished work - and that you have never, and can never do anything either to have initiated it, or to continue it - that you were, are, and will be saved by God's grace entirely - you have been brought into something God is doing - you haven't brought Him into something you are doing. So be done with the guilt, it is the enemies greatest weapon, but the cure for darkness is light. Know the truth, and the enemy won't have a strangle hold on your faith.
Witness: Okay, but how do I love God? I mean, I can't just force myself to love Him... ?
Prospect: Well, if you can't force yourself to love Him, the least you can do is look at Him, and see if He is worthy loving. I don't mean to look at paintings or images, or try to imagine what his nose looked like (so full of hawk-like justice...?), I mean when you find yourself putting words in God's mouth or attitudes in God's head (God doesn't REALLY love me) - get your sword out (scripture) and start swinging. God loved you while you were still a sinner, and he doesn't love you any less now that He has begun a work in you. Begin to meditate on why you want to obey Him - and ask yourself where does one desire to be loves another?
Witness: Um, you want to be with the one you love?
Prospect: Sing it brother! So if God calls you to obey Him, and God loves you - where do you think you are going to find God?
Witness: What do you mean?
Prospect: Well, God through the prophet says that you will find him when you seek for Him with all your heart. So how do you seek God?
Witness: By...<light bulb turns on.. heart beat quickens...> By going where God is, and God is in the obedience - he is calling me to obey him because that is where a person in a right relationship with God must be - and God can't very well come and straddle my sin with me - I must go to him - I have to have clean hands and a pure heart to ascend the holy hill - yes, it all makes sense now - If you love Me, you will obey my commandments - not that you prove your love for me, but that the one who wants to love me searches for me with all his -heart- the search is a love search, and it is begins by seeking that reconciliation with God - and the first place of reconciliation is humble surrender - so that every act of obedience is really an act of seeking...
Prospect: I think you are starting to get it. Next time you share the gospel, don't try and get people into heaven without reconciling them to God. Look at all the damage it has done to your faith, and learn.
posted by Daniel @
sometimes you just gotta spell it out simple like.
every act of obedience is really an act of seeking...
That is it...btw, you stole my ....'s
My wife liked the "shut up" part the best. ;^)
I like when we are all on the same page at the same time. It reminds who is running things.
I liked that part, too. That, and "I hate you even." That's what my "brilliant" comment was referring to.
I actually preached a sermon two weeks ago (from Psalm 46) and I was going to title it "God Says, Shut Up!", but alas, I titled it "God Says, Stop It!"...
That probably was a little more radio friendly. It is one thing to speak to one's congregation in familiar language - they are family, but those without may not get the right read on that. I think you did well, ...and I am not even gifted as an encourager... lol.
David, without a word of a lie, it was your "brilliant" comment that gave my wife the interest to read the post. She gets enough of me first hand, that she feels no particular interest in reading my blog. Yet when I said that David wrote "brilliant" - that was enough to make her read it.
I personally liked the turn around the best myself.
Years ago, I led a married fellow to the Lord. His situation, at the time, was not good. There was strife in his marriage, and neither one really respected the other, and he had taken to playing video games in every spare minute of his time, and she to bar hopping with her girl friends. When the Lord got a hold of him, he was sorely convicted about these things, and began to seriously pursue the Lord - reading through the scriptures in about eight months, I baptized him myself when he came under the conviction that he ought to be baptized, and though the strife in his marriage continued - she was noticing a real change in his life.
Yet one day, a pastor came to visit, and I happened to be there at the time. We were all sitting at the table, and discussing the fellow's faith, when the pastor turned to the wife and inquired what it was that was keeping her from turning to Christ.
Now, I had been familiar with the couple, and something in me said - "uh-oh...not now..." - She was in the room, alone, with three Christian men, and suddenly one of them was asking her why she was on the outside and not in the group, as it were. He "Evangelism-explosioned" her, but her conversion lasted all of six weeks, if that. She prayed the sinners prayer, not because she had come to the end of herself, and understood her desperate need for God - but because she reasoned that she ought to do, and shouldn't put it off. I have always felt that she was coerced in her decision, and regret the manner in which it all went down.
She is definitely not practicing today - and she kicked her husband out of their house months after that - so that a boyfriend could live with her.
It gets my ire up just thinking about it.
Anyway, as can likely be culled from my tone - I am not a fan of telling people they are saved by saying a prayer - or by herding people with fear tactics into the kingdom. I often wonder how it is that honest, sincere people go out with a mind to "save someone" from hell - when they ought to be reconciling sinners to God instead.
Daniel, if you think it will help, you know, like when you're having a disagreement, to say, "David thinks I'm brilliant," feel free to use that. Don't mention it, I'm happy to help.
I've prayed sinner's prayers lots of times. The whole process confused me so much that I have no idea when I was actually saved, only that it was none of those times.
I prayed the sinners prayer many times myself - and though I know when I was saved - it was definitely not after praying a sinner's prayer.
I was saved the moment I understood that  God genuinely loved me, and  truly would forgive me if I was turned to Him for reconciliation in Christ. I know that this was the very last thing my flesh wanted to do - and I was utterly against doing it. There was a moment before I was saved, when I thought - I don't want to obey God, I have never wanted it - and I don't want it now. I don't care if he loves me or did this for me - I still cannot submit myself to his will - I love my sin too much for that. Somewhere in that moment - in that realization that I loved myself above God, that is, when I saw for the first time with clarity that I really did hate God, and loved myself more than God so much so that I would prefer eternal damnation to obeying him - in that moment the magnitude of my depravity came crashing down upon me, and I suddenly knew how desperately I needed God - I knew without doubt that I was lost beyond hope, and that there could never be anything in me to desire God - and I cast myself upon Him from the well of that despair - and it was as though he reached into the ashes of my heart, and opened it up to receive new life - suddenly, and beyond any reason - I loved God with my whole being, I wanted nothing more than to be ruled by him for all eternity. He could ask me to do anything, for I was his body, mind, and soul - and a joy unspeakable washed through me like a great cleansing.
I love to recall the moment. But it didn't come by chanting some shaman's salvation shanty. I don't really recall the pastor's face who led me to Christ - or much about his office, or the address even - but I recall that experience with such a clarity that it only becomes more clear as time goes on.
I only know the general time period in which I began to add up the evidences of genuine faith in my life and conclude that, yes, this, finally, is the real thing.
Whenever the actual moment of birth was, it was not accompanied by any "sinner's prayer." Since then, though, all my prayers have been a sinner's prayers.