By Keith Johnson
Published December 22, 2007
I can remember asking myself, “Why do you do this to yourself?”
My best buddy and I had just finished sucking down enough Rumple Mints 100 proof between both of us to kill a man. Somehow that night we made it to a party in a cellar. The stairs were a snap going down, but as the party ended and it was time to go, I suddenly realized I couldn’t even climb back up. I was trapped. I had gone too far and lost control again. It made me sick.
“Why do you do this to yourself,” I asked … “You’re a fool.”
The first time I got drunk I was fifteen. Some older friends I knew bought for me and a couple of friends. We drank vodka and O.J. and got foolish under a street light until we got sick and went home. I really didn’t think I would do it again, but I did.
By the time I was 17, I had learned how to party. Getting high and drinking was the thing to do. Sports were the only thing that were keeping me from being a total burn out. Everyone knew me in high school. I did have a few things going for me. Academically, I was the pits, but get me in the art room and I was alright. Weekends would come and it was time to party!
My senior year rolled around and the time came to go for it. I thought of bizarre things to do that people would remember me by. I went wild! I got crazy! Friday night came and I would get smashed. My friends used to say, “If you want a good time, if you really want to party … call the Animal!”
I loved to get crazy, I loved my booze and dope. Every time I partied, I would try to top myself. I was always searching for that ultimate buzz. I would drink more and more, smoke dope more and more, and do more and more crazy things for kicks. I got more and more out of control every time, “Hey, look at me everybody!”
But each time came that sick feeling of going too far, of losing control of myself. A couple of times, I even prayed to God when I was in deep trouble.
My senior year was half over and I started wearing a silk screened animal on my shirt. My friends liked them so I made them all “Animal” T-shirts. I started a club for animals. We went to all the football games together and partied together.
Then one Friday night my friends gave me some pills and I blacked out. Some of my friends thought it would be a good idea to throw me into a lake to revive me. I’m just lucky to be alive today. I started thinking about my life after that and I really didn’t like what I saw.
But the “Animal” wouldn’t give up that easy. I continued partying, but something was different. I would feel guilty more and more and started to get angry. A friend’s mother told me about Jesus one day. I knew He was real and out there somewhere but I liked being an animal for now.
Shortly after graduation my parents moved and I reluctantly followed. I was an hour and a half away from my friends now. I started drinking regularly at clubs on weekends. Five drinks, then seven, then nine, then ten mixed drinks.
One Friday night I came into my favorite club and walked up to the bar without asking for a drink. A new bartender, whom I had never seen, said, “Hey, you’re the Black Russian Kid.” I had developed such a reputation for drinking close to a dozen Black Russians a night that this guy already knew about me!
Well I laughed it off at the time, but later that night as I lay in bed thinking about it, I got mad at myself. I felt like a jerk. I didn’t want to be a drunk hanging around a meat joint! That Friday night I decided not to drink poison so I just cruised around the city ending up by Boston University’s Nickerson Field. I saw hundreds of buses and all kinds of people going in. I didn’t think anything of it at the time.
Then Saturday morning I was reading the paper and saw an ad for the Billy Graham Crusade at Boston University that Saturday night. I thought, “What the heck, why not go?” So I called a friend and asked him if he would go with me. To my surprise, he said yes, so we went.
As we sat there, way up in the bleachers, I felt a little uneasy. Deep down, I was tired of life, sick of drinking and empty inside. To be honest I was scared. The future didn’t look too good to me and nobody knew it but God and myself.
It was time to hear Graham speak and I was all ears. His message was especially for young people that night. I don’t remember the message word for word, but I do remember a few things he said. He started by talking about the great opportunity young people have in America – how they are free to decide who they want to be.
On the surface, everything was alright, but wait a minute! “Why is it,” he asked, “that the problem of suicide has reached epidemic proportions among young people. Why have over 3 million teens been treated for alcoholism? Why have so many violent crimes been committed by young people? Why are there so many that are angry, bitter and unfulfilled?”
“There is no question something is wrong with our American society,” he went on to say. “I would like to believe that everything is O.K. but the statistics don’t lie.” He was talking about the various problems our nation faces, especially among the youth. He said that society will have to pay the price for its sinful lifestyle.
Then he read from this portion of the Bible, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
I took a good honest look at myself and my life and I knew I would eventually have to pay the price for my sins. Eventually I would either get killed driving while drunk or become an alcoholic. Furthermore, the penalty for a sinful lifestyle must be paid when we die. We all have to stand before Jesus Christ the Son of God to face judgment.
But there is hope for you! Jesus Christ, the very Son of God, loves you and died for you on a cross and He did it for all sinners. Graham asked, “O.K. You say, ‘What do I have to do to be ready to stand before God?’” Then he read this from the Bible, “Repent then and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out” (Acts 3:19).
I didn’t know what it meant to repent until he explained it. He said it this way: “To repent means to change your mind and opinion concerning sin as it is seen in its true perspective – that is through God’s eyes. To repent then, means to turn away from sin and turn to God with your whole heart.”
So, to sum it up, the first thing that God’s Word says you must do is to repent. Secondly, you must receive Christ into your heart by faith.
As I sat there listening, I started understanding for the first time what it meant to be saved. I knew that night that Jesus loved me and that I could trust Him. He was one friend who would never let me down. I knew He died for me to free me from the power of sin.
I didn’t have to be an animal anymore. Never was I challenged like this before. I had been living in sin my whole life and it was easy – but now to give my heart to Jesus Christ and repent and turn away from my sins – that took some guts!
I can remember the last thing Graham read from the Word of God was this, “I tell you NOW is the time of God’s favor, NOW is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). I had heard enough. It was time to decide!
God made mankind with a free will. The Bible says, “You were made in the image of God.” He didn’t make zombies or robots with a pre-programmed mind to accept Him. No, He never forces you to accept Him. He only loves you and offers you eternal life. But God is holy and with Him there can be no sin so we must repent and turn from sin and give our hearts to Him.
I gave my heart to Him that night and today I’m a new man. He took away hate and violence and gave me love and peace. I have hope now. I have a new type of excitement about life – my life! And I want to introduce people to Jesus. If he could save the “Animal” He can save anyone.
Forerunner - Home » The Forerunner Newspaper » Youth Culture
Your comments are welcome!
“When the lives of the unborn are snuffed out, they often feel pain, pain that is long and agonizing.” – President Ronald Reagan to National Religious Broadcasters Convention, January 1981
Ronald Reagan became convinced of this as a result of watching The Silent Scream – a movie he considered so powerful and convicting that he screened it at the White House. More recently, it was by catching just a glimpse of what this film reveals that Planned Parenthood director and abortion advocate Abby Johnson turned and became a strong advocate for the pre-born.
The modern technology of real-time ultrasound now reveals the actual responses of a 12-week old fetus to being aborted. As the unborn child attempts to escape the abortionist’s suction curette, her motions can be seen to become desperately agitated and her heart rate doubles. Her mouth opens – as if to scream – but no sound can come out. Her scream doesn’t have to remain silent, however … not if you will become her voice. This newly re-mastered version features eight language tracks and two bonus videos.
“…a high technology “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” arousing public opinion just as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 antislavery novel ignited the abolitionist movement.” – Sen. Gordon Humphrey, Time Magazine
Languages: English, Spanish, French, South Korean, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese
Running Time: 28 minutes
$17.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Who is the Real Jesus?
Ever since the dawn of modern rationalism, skeptics have sought to use textual criticism, archeology and historical reconstructions to uncover the “historical Jesus” — a wise teacher who said many wonderful things, but fulfilled no prophecies, performed no miracles and certainly did not rise from the dead in triumph over sin.
Over the past 100 years, however, startling discoveries in biblical archeology and scholarship have all but vanquished the faulty assumptions of these doubting modernists. Regrettably, these discoveries have often been ignored by the skeptics as well as by the popular media. As a result, the liberal view still holds sway in universities and impacts the culture and even much of the church.
The Real Jesus explodes the myths of these critics and the movies, books and television programs that have popularized their views. Presented in ten parts — perfect for individual, family and classroom study — viewers will be challenged to go deeper in their knowledge of Christ in order to be able to defend their faith and present the truth to a skeptical modern world – that the Jesus of the Gospels is the Jesus of history — “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He is the real Jesus.
Speakers include: George Grant, Ted Baehr, Stephen Mansfield, Raymond Ortlund, Phil Kayser, David Lutzweiler, Jay Grimstead, J.P. Holding, and Eric Holmberg.
Ten parts, over two hours of instruction!
Running Time: 130 minutes
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Foundations in Biblical Eschatology
By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.
All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?
These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.
$12.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Download the Free Study Guide!
Just what is Calvinism?
Does this teaching make man a deterministic robot and God the author of sin? What about free will? If the church accepts Calvinism, won’t evangelism be stifled, perhaps even extinguished? How can we balance God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? What are the differences between historic Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism? Why did men like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards and a host of renowned Protestant evangelists embrace the teaching of predestination and election and deny free will theology?
This is the first video documentary that answers these and other related questions. Hosted by Eric Holmberg, this fascinating three-part, four-hour presentation is detailed enough so as to not gloss over the controversy. At the same time, it is broken up into ten “Sunday-school-sized” sections to make the rich content manageable and accessible for the average viewer.
Running Time: 257 minutes
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Who is the dreaded beast of Revelation?
Now at last, a plausible candidate for this personification of evil incarnate has been identified (or re-identified). Ken Gentry’s insightful analysis of scripture and history is likely to revolutionize your understanding of the book of Revelation — and even more importantly — amplify and energize your entire Christian worldview!
Historical footage and other graphics are used to illustrate the lecture Dr. Gentry presented at the 1999 Ligonier Conference in Orlando, Florida. It is followed by a one-hour question and answer session addressing the key concerns and objections typically raised in response to his position. This presentation also features an introduction that touches on not only the confusion and controversy surrounding this issue — but just why it may well be one of the most significant issues facing the Church today.
Ideal for group meetings, personal Bible study — for anyone who wants to understand the historical context of John’s famous letter “… to the seven churches which are in Asia.” (Revelation 1:4)
Running Time: 145 minutes
$17.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)