Today on the broadcast, hear the compelling story of how God's power overcame a man and how God is now using Michael Easley in ministry.
Today on the broadcast, hear the compelling story of how God's power overcame a man and how God is now using Michael Easley in ministry.
Michael: I was listening with my headphones to "In-A-Godda-Da-Vida," and other wonderful, helpful, praise music kind of stuff. And there was a Marc Almond album I had put on, and there was a song called "What am I Living For? Tell me, my friends, it's all been done before." I am crashing on LSD, and I thought to myself, "Why am I living?"
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, November 28th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Have you ever asked yourself that question – why am I living? And have you come up with an answer that makes sense? We're going to hear the answer that Michael Easley came up with today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Wednesday edition. I had the opportunity recently to speak to our staff from Psalm 78, and we were talking about the fact that each one of us has a story of how God has been at work in our lives, and while it's true that each of our stories is unique, it's also true that in some ways each of our stories is the same story – it's the story of God intervening in the life of somebody who was rebelling against Him and bringing us out of our rebellion and into His family. That's the kind of story we're going to hear on today's program.
Dennis: It is. In fact, it is the greatest love story that has ever been told, and I can't help but think, Bob, there are a number of listeners who tune in with some degree of regularity to FamilyLife Today, and they may be nibbling at the edges of Christianity, but they may not have received the King of kings, the Lord of lords, as their own personal savior.
Today on the broadcast, what we want to do is just feature a story that tells about a man's encounter with Jesus Christ and how he personally came into a believing relationship with him and became an adopted child of God.
Bob: Yes, the person whose story we're going to be hearing is today the president of the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Dr. Michael Easley. Michael and his wife, Cindy, are the parents of four children, and for years they spoke at our Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences. Michael is the host of the daily radio program, "Proclaim," and what our listeners are going to hear is very interesting, especially when you consider how God is using Michael today because we're going to look back at his life before he knew Christ and hear about some of the things that took place in the home in which he grew up.
Dennis: That's right, Bob, and to all of our listeners, as you listen to Michael Easley share his encounter with Jesus Christ, I think what I would like to challenge you to do, as you listen to Michael's story, I want you to listen and ask yourself the question – have I experienced God, the Creator of the Universe, the Lord God Almighty? Have I had a personal encounter with Him where I have placed my faith in the finished work that Jesus Christ provided on that cross, and have I placed my faith in Him to save me from my sins and provide not only forgiveness but everlasting life.
And as you listen to Michael, perhaps your heart will be stirred by the Holy Spirit that it's time for you to maybe stop nibbling at the edges and go ahead and receive the greatest gift that's ever been offered to a human being.
Bob: Yes, what we're going to be hearing today was actually first shared with conferees at one of our Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences, and we talk about the transforming work of God in a person's life at the conference because it's our conviction that your marriage can't be all that God intends it to be unless God is at the center of your marriage, and God can't be at the center of your marriage unless you have a personal relationship with Him.
So here is Dr. Michael Easley speaking at a FamilyLife Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference.
Michael: [from audiotape.] I was raised in a very religious home. My parents are very religious people, and for whatever number of reasons, as a teenager I rebelled, major league. And between my 7th and 8th grade year, summer, I was exposed to drugs and by the end of 7th grade, the summer before 8th grade, I was using dope or something every single day for nearly two and a half years. I was stoned out of my mind. I would smoke dope on the weekdays between – before school, on the breaks, after school, and I would do recreational drugs on the weekend. I'd do acid and mescaline and all kinds of derivatives. And I always prided myself on being sort of a smart drug user.
I leaned toward the organics, and I didn't do synthetics, and I never mixed my drugs, because I was a smart drug user. And one night I had taken some – what was called "orange barrel." It's a strychnine derivative, a hallucinogenic, and it makes you – hallucinogenic is basically – the reason you take is because you see something go by, and you see it for a long time. You hear a sound, and you hear it, and the hallucination effect is the euphoric effect for the first part of the drug.
As your body starts processing it, they call it a "crash," and the crashing on LSD is one of the most miserable experiences you will ever have using drugs. And so most drug users will take a barbiturate to get them down off the high. Being a smart drug user, of course, I would ride the crash out.
I was listening with my headphones to In-A-Godda-Da-Vida and other wonderful, helpful praise music kind of stuff …
… and there was a Marc Almond album I had put on, and there was a song called "What am I Living For? Tell me, my friends, it's all been done before." It is the most existential, sad, melancholy song in the world, I am crashing on LSD, you want to die when you're crashing on LSD, and I thought to myself, "Why am I living? What is the point of this?" I had a six-inch Western blade hunting knife, and I was playing with that knife listening to this interesting music, and I said, "What are you living for, Michael Easley?" And because I was a smart drug user, I knew that tomorrow I might not think this way. So I said, "You know, you can always kill yourself tomorrow, Michael."
Well, the morning came, and I was terrified that I had entertained taking my own life, and I began a search for truth, and I got real religious in my parents' religion. And I went to the functions, and I read the books, and I got real religious, but I never found that truth. In fact, for almost three years I looked for truth.
And the more people I talked to about what is truth? What is God? What is the afterlife? The more answers that I would assemble that were dissatisfying. And unfortunately, no one in my little world was able to explain to me as simply as I have essentially dedicated my life to explaining what I learned in that process – that Jesus lived; that He died; He was buried, and He came back from the dead, and He says, if you believe in me, I'll give you eternal life, and you'll never perish.
That's why I liked those two verses that Paul wrote – "For by grace you have been saved through faith not of yourselves, it's a gift of God." In other words, if I could be real religious and earn my way into heaven on the scales of heavenly justice, then I could be a little better than you, and I could tell you how to live your life.
And the unusual part about what the Bible teaches is that it's what He did for you and me, not what we do for Him. It's what He did, not what we could ever do, "For by grace you have been saved through faith." It's a gift of God.
Well, that drug addict, drughead, rebellious, screwed-up, terrible teenager came to a trusting relationship in Jesus Christ, and my life took a 180-degree turn. And I began to learn what it means to be a believer in Jesus Christ, to follow Him.
Now, there's a number of us in this room who have never come to that place, and they're spiritual journey to know who Jesus Christ is, and, you know, you can only straddle the fork in the road so long. When you come to a place that you have to go left or right in a spiritual journey, you have to make a decision. You can go the way you were always going, or you can stop and study the intersection.
This hour is a time for you to look at the intersection. We can talk about a happier marriage, we can talk about a happier home, we can talk about parenting your children better, we can talk about getting along, we can talk about forgiving, none of that makes any difference unless you have the power of God to pull off this marriage.
And I would stand up here literally all day and talk to you and answer any question I could to resolve in your mind any doubt about coming to that place in your spiritual journey to trust Jesus Christ for your life, for your salvation, to give you a gift called "eternal life."
Trust is kind of a funny thing. It's to believe someone else is going to do something for you that you can't do yourself. That seems risky.
I talked to a man just a few weeks ago. He caught me in a hallway at our church, and he said, "You know, my life's screwed up. My wife and I are having a terrible fight. I had an affair years ago, she won't forgive me," and on and on he went. And he said, "I know I need to trust Jesus Christ, but I'm kind of a control freak."
I said, "Okay. So what you're telling me is you're going to control your life." He said, "Right." So I took my two hands, I said, "So here is you in your hand, you're controlling your life, right?" I said, "You've told me your life's going to hell in a hand basket, your wife hates you, she's mad at you, she won't forgive you, you had an affair, but you're a control freak."
He went, "Huh, huh, huh." I said, "So what's the risk over here, my friend? Are you going to stay in this control and, admittedly, you're not doing real well," and he kind of smiled. "Are you going to put your life over here and let Jesus Christ help you and trust Him for your life?" And he says, "I guess it's a pretty dumb question." I said, "Yeah, it is." And he put his trust in Jesus Christ.
If you were here today, and you've never come to that juncture in your journey to know that you know that you know that you know where you're going to spend all of eternity, don't delay. Make that decision today. Put your trust in Christ to do for you what you can never do for yourself. It's the most important decision you'll ever make.
Bob: Well, we've been listening together to Dr. Michael Easley speaking at one of our FamilyLife Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences and telling what is the good news, Dennis.
Dennis: And it's a free gift. You know, it's at this point when I have the privilege of giving this message at a FamilyLife Today Marriage Conference that I reach into my pocket, and I pull out a dollar bill, or if I've got something larger, which is doubtful – there it is.
Bob: That's a 20 right there.
Dennis: There's a 20, there's a 20 – I hold this 20 open, and I look at a guy in the front row, and I say to him, "I want to give this gift to you." And I look at him, I point at him, and I hold my palm open with that $20 bill laying face up.
I have never had a person get up out of the front row and take me at my word and come and grab the bill.
Bob: You've got some listeners right now who are going to wait for the next time you're there. They're going to be down front …
Dennis: Somebody is going to be sitting there.
Bob: The illustration is worth noting. Jesus comes and offers eternal life. A lot of people sit there, they hear it, they think about it, they think it's a great gift. They see people experience the gift. They see people benefit from the gift. They notice the joy that others have after having received the gift. But for them they have looked at the gift, they know it's a free gift, but they haven't, by faith, gotten up and reached and received the gift. And Jesus Christ said we do that by faith. Not by working our way to heaven but simply by taking God at His Word. And when He said in John, chapter 5, "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and does not come into judgment but has passed out of death into life." You have to take Jesus Christ at His Word and receive the gift.
And you do that through prayer. And, you know, I think, Bob, many times we have made prayer far more complicated than God ever intended it to be. Prayer is just talking with God, and He wants a relationship with us. So if we turn to Him in faith, through prayer, and say to Him, "Lord God, maker of heaven and earth, I am a sinner. I need salvation. I now come and receive your son Jesus Christ as your gift for me, who paid the price of my sin and who now can give me eternal life."
And at that point, if you reach out, by faith, and you take that gift, He promises, as I just read in John, chapter 5, you will pass out of death into life, and the picture there is you can't pass back from life unto death. It is a transfer that occurs where His righteousness is given to you, and you are declared not guilty. He has said in the Scriptures, He has removed our sin as far as the East from the West. We are forgiven, therefore, as Michael was just talking about, we can forgive.
And for some of our listeners right now, you may have heard the story, you may have celebrated the story, but you've never received the gift. Right now, I invite you to pray along with me, wherever you are. Driving a car, at home, in your office, over the Internet, right now, trust Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and make Him the Lord of your life. Lord Jesus, I am a sinner. I need a savior. Thank you for dying on the cross for me. I now trust you for the forgiveness of my sins, and I want you to be the Lord of my life. Come and make me the person you designed me to be. Amen.
I can promise you on the authority of God's Word that if you placed your faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross, the same Lord Jesus Christ who rose again on the third day, who is alive today and who can make this offer to you because He's alive. If you placed your faith in Him, and you received that gift, that gift is yours, and there's a number of things that happened to you. One is you were declared a child of God. You were adopted. You were given an imperishable inheritance. He has given you the Holy Spirit and He has become your Father. On and on it goes, it is the most important decision that a person will ever make in his or her entire lifetime.
Bob: You know, Michael shares a story in this message that I think would be good for our listeners to hear, in fact, we're going to hear it before we're done here today. But if any of our listeners have been tuned in today, and they are thinking, "I don't know that I really understand what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. I don't know that I really understand this Gospel message, or maybe listening to Michael explain it today, they go, "I've never heard that before," or "I've never heard it put that way before," and I want to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
There's a booklet we'd love to send you. It's called "Pursuing God," and it will help clarify what it means to be a Christian and to be one whose life is committed to God through a relationship with Jesus Christ. We would be happy to send you this book. Maybe you're at a point in your life where you're thinking, "I need to give this some serious consideration," or maybe you're saying, "I know this is what I need today."
You can call us at 1-800-FLTODAY and ask for a copy of the book, "Pursuing God." We are happy to send it to you at no cost to you. We want to do whatever we can to help you make progress in this spiritual journey that you find yourself on. Call us at 1-800-FLTODAY and ask about a copy of the book, "Pursuing God," and, again, we're happy to send it out to you, and we trust that you will find it helpful as you begin a journey toward God and toward a relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ.
I also want to invite you to stop by our website at FamilyLife.com. We've had a lot of people who have already this week gone to our website. They've heard us talking about the special offer that's available from our friends at Logos Bible study software. They have a number of different Bible software packages that are designed for families to help you do more serious Bible study and understand your Bible better, and a lot of folks have gone to FamilyLife.com, clicked the red button that says "Go" on the center of the home page. They've gotten more information about the different Logos software packages, and many of them have ordered the software for their own computers.
Again, Logos is making a special offer available to FamilyLife Today listeners for the next few weeks, and I want to encourage you to go to our website and get more information about how you can get a software package for your computer that will help accelerate your Bible study.
Our website is FamilyLife.com. You can also call us with any questions you have or if you need more information about the software, 1-800-FLTODAY is our toll-free number – 1-800-358-6329.
I need to say a quick word of thanks, if I can, to the folks who not only listen regularly to FamilyLife Today but for those of you who help support the ministry financially – I want you to know we really appreciate your partnership with us. It's always an encouragement for us to hear from you, and we do appreciate, when you are able, to make ka financial contribution to our ministry. We are listener-supported so those contributions are essential for the ongoing ministry of FamilyLife Today.
And this month we have a way we'd like to say thank you when you help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today. It's an animated DVD for families. It's called "The Very First Noel." It's a fresh creative retelling of the Christmas story, Andy Griffith is the narrator on this DVD, and we'd love to send your family a copy as our way of saying thank you for your financial support of this ministry when you make a donation of any amount this month to FamilyLife Today.
If you're making your donation online, when you come to the keycode box, on the donation form, just type in the word "Noel" so that we know to send you a copy of this DVD, or if you call and make your donation at 1-800-FLTODAY, just mention you'd like a copy of the DVD for families, and, again, we're happy to send it out to you. We do appreciate your partnership with us, and it's always great to hear from you. Dennis?
Dennis: You know, a little earlier, I mentioned that as a result of placing your faith in Christ, one of the things that happens to us is that God gives us the Holy Spirit. And He gives us the Holy Spirit to empower us to be obedient, to walk in faith, and to make us like Jesus Christ on an ongoing basis. Unfortunately, Christians who have received the Holy Spirit many times don't acknowledge His presence, and they live as thought they are spiritual paupers. They live as though they're impoverished. They have no resources from heaven whatsoever.
Bob: You know, when Michael Easley was speaking at one of our Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences, he shared a story that illustrates exactly what you're talking about. It's a great story that I think will bring the point home very clearly for our listeners. Here, again, is Dr. Michael Easley at a FamilyLife Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference.
Michael: [from audiotape.] Bill Bryant wrote a book years ago called "The Secret." This is one of the stories.
"Sally was almost penniless. Her husband, Jeb, had died years before. Life insurance paid off the mortgage, but that was about it. Her house and life deteriorated around her. The car was junked long ago, because she couldn't keep up with it. She got by on a few dollars each week for groceries, and when the electric bill was too high, she would live by a Coleman stove and candlelight. And she lived that way barely for years, and one day, out of the blue, an old friend from childhood, Miriam, called her on the phone to see how she was doing. Miriam was heartbroken when she listened to Sally's story and decided to come spend some time with her on vacation. So Miriam flew to her home and spent some time helping her go through her house and clean things up that it deteriorated.
In the process of straightening up and cleaning up things, she discovered, in a rolltop desk, a folder that said, on the front, 'For Sally.' Inside the envelope was a savings book, and there was an entry made 22 years earlier that had a balance of $87,000. But that wasn't all. The folder also contained a yellowed envelope with a handwritten inscription in Jeb's handwriting that said, 'To Sally with love forever.' 'Do you know what this is?' Miriam asked Sally. Sally searched her memory, she couldn't recall. Then she realized, 'Oh, yeah, Jeb told me, 'There's something important in my desk for you.'
Twenty-two years later these two opened the envelope. Miriam watched. She opened the envelope, inside was a single folded page and a key. The letter said, 'My dearest love, my time draws short with you, but I want you to know I've provided everything you will need once I am gone. Check the bankbook in the file, and take the key to the bank. In loving remembrance, please enjoy life to the full. With love forever, Jeb.'
Well, Sally and Miriam discovered that the key was a safety deposit box at the local bank and went to the bank and pulled the box and opened it. Inside were several bundles of cash totaling $32,000, a pile of stock certificates, and three folders of rare coins. That afternoon the stockbroker informed them the certificates were worth $550,000. The rare coin dealer appraised the coin folders at $47,000, and the bank calculated interest on the $87,000 of 22 years and brought it to $254,000. All told, Sally was worth $883,000, and she had been living in misery and squalor."
And Bill's point is a lot of us live the Christian life in squalor, and we have the power of the Holy Spirit available to control us – inexhaustible resources of power to help us to be the kind of men, the kind of women, the kind of marriages we need to be.
Bob: FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.
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