The Life God Intended
Hi, I’m Michael, I am a follower of Christ. And I want to be a yes man to Him. I’m married to the love of my life for 21 years, I have three children, our son Grayson, or daughter, Isabella, and our youngest, Michaela. I’m currently working at a church and am a pastor that helps people recover the life that Christ intended for them.
My theology and the way that I look at life is that we were creative spiritual beings first. We then become a physical living being and then our goal is to get back to heaven. So time is not a linear process. It’s actually a cyclical process. It’s a big circle, you start in heaven, and your goal is to get back to the realm of heaven. And along the way, what we’ve tried to do is kind of introduce lies that provide limits on the supernatural. From a biblical perspective, the Christian life is a life of the supernatural. The Gospel of Christ and His death, His burial, His resurrection, that’s some weird stuff when you think about it. I mean, for every believer to believe in the incarnation, from a deity, through a thing called the Holy Spirit to a virgin, that lived a perfect life, and then was crucified, physically died, rose again three days later, physically, and then started walking through walls. I mean, that’s some bizarre stuff when you think about it, when you break it down.
You know, we look at things from the supernatural versus the natural perspective. When Yahweh, when the Father looks at it all from one continuum, it’s all natural to Him. So there is no delineation between the two. And my story is one of being raised in an environment in which God was a taskmaster that had a long dark robe, a beard and a gavel in His hand, and He was waiting for you to mess up. So every time you messed up, He’d exact punishment or judgment upon you, you’d have to make atonement for that particular thing. And as a result of that, then you could go on and try to live life, you know, better than you used to live it before. But it was all self oriented. It was all, ‘What I can do. What I can provide.’ That didn’t make any sense to me. In my infantile faith that I had through that upbringing, I essentially left the church and I left the church in search of something, whatever that something was, other than what I was being taught.
So I took the world in for everything it could, it could offer. Hedonism, you just name it, consumerism, the whole bit, and made sense out of life through, once again, my performance, what I did, what I said, what I looked like, what I had. It was all about materialism. It was all about the wealth that I could accumulate, whether it was social wealth, or wealth in the natural, and it lasted a good long time. You know, 16-17 years of taking the world for everything that it had. Until finally, it wound up putting me in a position where I was sleeping on the floor of a buddy’s apartment, because I didn’t have any place else to go. I just broke up with my girlfriend. She was a beautiful girl. You know, I had everything the world could offer you and yet, I was still empty inside.
A woman shared the message, Paul’s message of the gospel, the death, burial, resurrection of Christ. She said, Is that something that you’d like to do? I said, “No, you know, I’ve got it. I’ve tried the whole God thing.” But again, my dynamic and my perspective of God was something that wasn’t an accurate picture of who the Father was. I went out, had a three day bender on cocaine, and I basically made this decision. I said, “The life I’m living is going to stop tonight.” I had suicide planned. And there I was, in the middle of my buddy’s apartment, ready to end the life physically that the Lord had given me. And by the grace of the Lord, the only thing that I can remember what this woman said – I didn’t know about atonement. I didn’t know about the sin. I knew nothing about what she said, other than the fact that she said, “There’s forgiveness in Christ.” That’s all I could remember at that moment. But thankfully, I was able to literally put the gun down and in that moment, my salvation prayer, which is, I think, is sometimes the best salvation prayer is, “I need Your help. Whoever You are, whatever You’re about, I obviously need to get to know You more. Help me.” And something shifted. Now I can’t give you exactly what that was from a theological perspective, but I knew something was different. Something happened.
I got plugged into a church. That was a church that unfortunately, propagated a little bit more of this, ‘This is what you need to do in order to demonstrate that you’re a good Christian.’ And so it put these safeguards in place. And the safeguards became my gospel. Do this, don’t do that. Say this, don’t say that. All these different rules. And so I examined my life and the quality of who I was based upon the safeguards that I established. Something in my heart knew that there had to be something more than living a good moral life, and doing what other people were telling you, because that’s kind of what I grew up in. I grew up in this environment that this one guy told you what to do and if you didn’t do what he told you to do, then you had to go to him, confess your sins to this guy and then he did some magical Voodoo thing or something over on the side, and all of a sudden, you’re forgiven. That’s basically what this was all about, too.
So about a year and a half that lasted. I went out, and took the world again for one night, and went out drinking, and told my roommate about that when I came home. Because I was broken, I knew that wasn’t something I was supposed to be doing and you’re in leadership at this church, and you shouldn’t do those things. And my roommate, unbeknownst to me, proceeded to tell the pastor and some friends and some other people. So I woke two days later to the knock on our door and it was the pastor, my parents and a few other people that were pulling an intervention on me, basically. What they were saying is, ‘you’ve gone too far down the road, we need to reel you back and the only way to do that is for you to go to drug treatment.’ And in the midst of that, I said, “No, I’ll come under correction.” I was broken. I mean, you have to understand there was, it was a moment in which there was some genuine, authentic brokenness taking place, and repentance taking place too from the behavior side of things, not from the mental side of things, but from the behavioral side of things. And I said, “No, I’m not going to go. Yes. No. Yes. No.” I went to work, came home, and they had taken all my things out of this guy’s apartment, our house that I was living, I should say, and put them in the front yard of this house, because I wasn’t willing to do what they told me that I should do. And my first thought was, ‘If this is Christian love, you can keep it.’ I say that was the weekend that lasted four and a half years.
So four and a half years of complete and utter worldliness, to a level that I’m not proud of. It was methamphetamine that was my drug of choice. I was in bondage to that, alcohol, you name it, everything else that went along with it. And so, four and a half years later, I’m sitting in my apartment by myself and the Lord speaks to me. Now, for somebody in the drug culture, they will understand this truth – that the supernatural is just beyond the veil. Every time you initiate and get involved in drugs, whatever that drug is, it could be alcohol, it could be cocaine, it could be you name it, but the supernatural is, is right there. Evil is so close to you. There’s a reason why they call it spirits. Well, in the midst of that, God talked to me at two o’clock in the morning, because I couldn’t go to sleep. And He said, “I didn’t call you to this.” And I, I said, “What did You call me to?” I had this conversation with the Lord, right? It was kind of a wild moment for me. But it seemed very normal and very natural to me. It wasn’t ethereal. It wasn’t weird. It wasn’t spooky. I said, “What did You call me to?” He said, “Get up and go to church, and I’ll show you.” I said, “Okay.”
So I remembered this church in downtown Dallas that somebody had told me about. I’d never been there before. And made my way to this church that next morning, and did church. I could still put on the face, I guess, still dress the part, I could still say the words that needed to be said, and appear as though I had it all together. Mind you, I was so much in bondage to drugs that I went in the bathroom of this church and did methamphetamine, because I didn’t know how long the service was going to take and I didn’t want to come down, if you will. And I went out, sat into the second to the last row and there I was in this church. I’m like, ‘Oh, this is kind of cool.’ You know, it was familiar to me. Well, a woman who I’d never met, went up to the pastor and said, “Pastor, I believe that I have a word from the Lord for somebody.” And I was intrigued because, mind you, remember I’m using drugs and staying up for days at a time and I’ve got people chasing me that really don’t even exist because of the hallucinations and now this lady is going to talk for God. This ought to be good. And so I kind of leaned in a little bit curious.
And as soon as her foot hit the floor of the aisle, I was looking for a place to hide, because I knew it was coming. And it was as though this wave, I could feel it, it was…You know, if you ever have experienced or seen a thunderstorm where the wind blows through before the storm ever gets there. That’s kind of how it felt. I knew it was looming, I knew it was coming. And here she comes walking up the aisle, scanning the crowd. There’s about 175 people and then our eyes meet. And she comes right for me. And I’m stuck because I’ve got people on either side of me, and I can’t, I can’t move. But she walks up to me, and then the words that I’ve not ever heard before, prior to then, but I’ve heard many times since, she looked at me and she said, “Young man, God wants you to know that He’s going to restore the years of locusts have eaten.” And that was it.
I remember there was this moment in which the presence of God fell upon me so heavy that I literally could not stand up or keep my eyes open. And there was a moment in which it’s, again, it’s hard to explain. There was a moment in which I exhaled a breath and I felt as though I was essentially dead in the natural and the next breath I took in, brought life. It was, it was one of those moments that, that unless you experienced something like that, it’s difficult to explain. But this presence fell upon me, to the point where I don’t recall a lot of things that happened around me at the time. The next thing I remembered, I was, I was at the altar of this church, and people were praying for me. I don’t know how long it took, I mean, I lost all track of time. And I stood up from that moment and I was completely sober. Just 100% sober, which is something that I had not felt in about four and a half years. But not only was I sober, the mental obsession, the physical desire, the fear, the anxiety, the worry, all the other things that surround addiction had completely been removed. I walked out of that building a new man. That was that, “born again,” experience for me. My spirit was born again, it was ignited. And from that moment forward, I determined, with the help of the Holy Spirit and other people, of ratifying what the Lord had done in my spirit and making that part of who I was, part of my soul.
So I went to drug treatment, I got a sponsor and did the necessary things, but it was all under the auspices of, ‘this is what I believe is necessary to ratify the truth and the experience that happened to me in that moment in time.’ So while I’m all for people being delivered from a particular thing, their bondage, let’s say it’s depression. The Lord delivers you from depression. Yes, Amen. Hallelujah. And then they just kind of sit around and don’t really do anything about it. They don’t examine the reason, maybe, why they felt depressed. They don’t examine generational iniquity that maybe got passed down to them. They don’t examine any of those things. They just say, ‘Thank you for the deliverance Lord.’ High five and off, they go in their life and then it comes circling back around again. Because, Jesus says it. ‘when a demon comes out of a person, it goes through arid places searching for a place to reside. If it doesn’t find any, it comes back. And the condition of the person is worse, seven times worse than the first.’ And so I believe I needed to fill up my house, my person with the proper tools that allowed me the opportunity to walk this stuff out. You know, and that was the beginning for me of this journey of experiencing, understanding, and discovering more of who Christ is through the person and work of Holy Spirit.
After the event that happened in this church, I was being discipled and they would bring guest speakers into the church. I had met my now wife at the church and we began dating, we began courting one another and spending time with one another and it was an amazing time. But this man came in from Kentucky or Tennessee, I can’t remember, and he had a gift of bringing words of encouragement to people. The Bible calls that, you know, kind of a word of knowledge, a word that will encourage and build up the body of Christ. That’s the whole purpose of what the Holy Spirit does, is He builds up the body and edifies the body. And so he started praying for me and, and basically read my mail. He spoke of a pastoral hand. He, which again, I’m coming out of drug addiction, and he says you’re going to be a pastor. He said, in the midst of it… (I did some videos for Time Warner called the Abs of Steel video. Yeah, Abs and Chest of Steel. There you go. You can buy, I think you can still buy them on Amazon. I think they’re 25 cents on the sale rack.) So, but unbeknownst to this guy, he said, “You’ve tried to make your body like steel, through adrenaline or drugs.” Again, these are things that, you know, there’s no way. And that was the encounter where the Spirit of the Lord fell upon me. Then it was a matter of how do I get to understand and begin to live out more of this truth and this reality. And so it was interesting.
I went from this church, that you could call it maybe a charismatic church at the time, that I was set free, that the Lord did those things. I was discipled there for about nine months. And then the Lord brought me back into an environment where it was very word oriented. So the Lord was really saying to me was, ‘Okay, now you understand the Spirit. Now, let’s get you to know Jesus. Let’s get you to know the word of God. And so He put me back in an environment that was very strong in the word. And that was a great time for me too, because I get to, get to examine and see all throughout Scripture. That scarlet thread that we see in the person of Jesus Christ.
From there, we went through an incident with our son, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor, an inoperable brain tumor. And in the midst of that, I pressed into the Lord, as I always do. And we were preparing for his surgery, the couple days before, the week before and I/we believe that the Lord could heal him. The Lord could set him free from this thing, whatever it happened to be. And I remember crying out to the Lord and saying, “You could do this, without even thinking about it, if You chose to do it.” And He, and I, audibly heard Him again, and He said, “I could, but I’m not going to.” Now that’s a tough place to be in. Especially when you believe that God is good. God is loving. God is caring. And now I have to embrace this thought. I just heard the Lord say, “I could, but I’m not going to.” And it brought me back to a Bible verse where Jesus says, “Which one of you who has a son or daughter who asked him for a loaf of bread would give him a rock? And which one of you, if they asked for fish would give them a scorpion?” And He goes on to say, ‘you, knowing how to give good gifts to your children; surely, I know how to give good gifts to mine.’ – I paraphrase that, obviously. – But the long and the short of it is, if I asked the Lord for the healing of my son, and He comes back to me with, “I could, but I’m not going to.” That’s still a good gift.
Now, I didn’t have the capacity, right then to understand that until years later, when our youngest daughter got up for breakfast one morning and she…I asked her, I said, “What do you want for breakfast?” And she said, “I want Sour Patch Kids.” What did I give her? I gave her eggs and toast. I sat them down in front of her and she said, “Thank you, Daddy, I know you love me.” And it all came back. Because as a loving father that I was to my daughter in the natural, I knew what was best for her. And even though she wanted Sour Patch Kids, I knew that what she really needed was eggs and toast. It’s the same thing with our son, ‘I could. I have the power. But I’m not going to because I have something more for you.’ You have to be so grounded in your beloved identity, as a child, as a son of God in that, in those moments. And that is where I believe true freedom comes. It comes in those moments where I begin to really recognize He loves me so much, even if he says, “No,” it’s done in love. Even when I, you know, have to watch our son go through what he went through and not me.
By the way, he’s absolutely fine. The tumor that they couldn’t operate on, they can’t find any of it left in his brain. He’s now a sophomore in college. And this is, this is 12 years, and even the doctors look at him and go, ‘do you even know what they did?’ And he said, “No.” And the doctor, non-believer, looked at him and said, “You really are a miracle walking around right now, because this, you are not supposed to be here.” Now, my whole point in saying that is, the Lord took that experience, drew us back out into the realm of what, what again, we would call the supernatural and put us into an environment in which we began to help train and equip people as I pastored a church. I wouldn’t want to go back and do it all over again. But if the Lord asked us to do it again, I’d say ‘okay,’ because of what came out of it. And what came out of it was really, true understanding of our belovedness of, “I love you. And it might not make sense to you. You might not be able to see it the way that I see it.”
It’s like, it’s kind of like…Our daughter was building a puzzle on the floor with those big puzzle pieces. She was five or six and there’s about 20 pieces and she continued to try to put this particular piece in a spot that, it wasn’t working for her. And as her father, I stood over the whole puzzle and I could see that that piece was never gonna fit in the right spot. And it wasn’t until she was willing to allow me, as her father, to help her, that I was able to communicate to her, “Hey, why don’t you try it over there.” And it fit. And then she thanked me. And that’s kind of where I think we are with God. We have our way. We have our agenda. We have the way that we imagined things should go. Even if it’s, it could be even scriptural. It could be even through the…Well, this is what the Word of God says and this is the example of Jesus. And we go to Him, asking a question, but it’s a loaded question. Oh it’s like, it’s like the vending machine. If I put these prayers in, and if I quote the scripture to You, and if I use You, as the example, Jesus, of what You did, I’ll pull the lever, and I’ll get exactly what I want. And that’s not the way the Lord works. And so with the whole puzzle illustration, until we, as His children are willing to stop our agenda, turn to Him, our loving Father, and say, “Are You, can You help me with this thing?” That is when He then is able to direct us and lead us and say, ‘here’s the piece that needs to go over there. Thanks for, thanks for asking Me. I mean, I say it like this. He’s too much of a gentleman to just intervene without our asking, to just overcome our will.
People ask me all the time, ‘I’ve got a son who, they’re addicted to drugs and alcohol, they’re addicted to drinking, they’re addicted to whatever it happens to be, can you help them?’ And my first response is, “Do they want help?” Because until they’re willing to put their puzzle pieces down, and turn and ask for help, there’s real, I’m real limited as to what I can do. And God is the same way. And so He will never overcome our will, you know, I’m not…Oh, ooh we can go down this road of, of the dynamic of whether or not God is in control, or God is not in control. I’m of the opinion that God has all authority. But I don’t believe that God is in control, because I believe He abdicated His authority to us and we, as image bearers, are then called to go out and enact the kingdom, as He tells us to do. But He’s never going to interrupt my agenda and my will, because He, He would be interrupting the greatest gift that we can give Him, which is our love and our reverence for what He asks us to do through the Holy Spirit. That’s Bible 101 to me. So is He in control? No, He has all authority. You know, He’s just so good. God is good. And He’s in a good mood and we need to remind ourselves of that, I think.
So many people are walking around that just, ‘Oh, woe is me. We got the pandemic going on, and the election, and I don’t have a job.’ And it’s like, Well, do you have breath? ‘That’s pretty insensitive.’ No, it’s not. It’s the truth. Do you have breath? Because that’s a gift.