CHAPTER TWO
"Changes"
(January 1982)

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I was back in school on Wednesday. I told Don that I had prayed the prayer to receive Christ into my life. He was very excited about that. He referred to my conversion experience as a "salvation," and told me that I had been saved from sin, death, and hell. Many things happened following my "salvation." For one thing, I was reading a somewhat pornographic science fiction book. I was only half-way through and I told myself that I had "better finish reading it as fast as possible" because I knew that someday I would have a moral problem with it. I finished reading it with not much regret. However, one week later, I told God that I would never read another book like that again, and I asked God to forgive me for even reading it to begin with. I threw the book in the trash.

Matt, another friend of mine, had also been gaining an interest in Jesus Christ. Don was more pushy with Matt than he was on me, but Matt was willing to listen (except, however, when Don kept coming over to his house and calling. Matt preferred to call Don, which he did do.). Matt had a Bible called "The Way," which was The Living Bible paraphrased version of the Bible. Matt did some Bible reading out of it. Matt had just gotten a new stereo, and I would sometimes go over to his house and record my vinyl records on cassette. I quit listening to groups like AC / DC that glorified sex, violence, and Satan, but I continued to listen to groups that I felt weren't that bad.

Allen was my best friend at this point in my life. For quite some time, Allen and I had been going to a movie almost every week, most of them R-rated. (Of all the R-rated movies that I saw, I was only asked for my ID once. I cussed, told them I forgot it, and they let me in. It was easy to get into R-rated movies.) I had been talking to Allen about Don. Allen offered to "smash Don's face in" in order to get Don to stop talking to me about religion. I told him not to.

Allen was keeping me from growing in my faith because I knew that if I became "religious," he would not want much to do with me. So I "cooled" it on growing in my faith. But the Lord had other plans in mind, as He allowed an argument to take place which ended my friendship with Allen.

One week after I gave my life to Christ, I called Allen and told him something about Matt, although I don't remember exactly what I said. All that I remember is the conversation that followed:

"I don't care!" Allen shouted.

"Why not?" I asked.

"Because I know that [expletive deleted]-hole!" he screamed.

"He insulted my friend!" I thought. "I'm not going to let him get away with that!"

"You're heartless!" I shouted. "You don't care about anyone, do you?"

He started shouting and cussing at me and I got so angry that I hung up on him. I later felt guilty for calling him "heartless" and for hanging up on him. So I called him the next day. When he heard my voice, he started talking to his dad.

"We gotta' talk," I said.

"Why?" he said. "I don't think we've got anything to talk about. I don't think you should call here."

"Forever?" I said, hoping that our friendship wasn't really over.

"Yes, I think that's best," he said.

"Okay, bye."

"Bye."

We hung up. I went into my room away from everybody and I cried.

I had other problems as well. I went too far when I tried to tell my family about Christ. I got very condemning and judgmental. I became very pushy, almost like an obnoxious salesman. My behavior understandably turned them off to what I was saying. I scared my brother by telling him that he was going to hell. Mom came to me and told me to cut it out. She was very upset with me. I had a lot to learn about how to share my new-found faith, and I made a lot of mistakes.

Before I was "saved," I had a very filthy mouth. I would swear in almost every sentence, sometimes 2 or 3 times in one sentence. Steve, another friend of mine, sometimes had cuss-out contests with me in the school cafeteria during lunch. We would go back and forth swearing at each other, and the first person who couldn't think of a new cuss word (or the first one to repeat a cuss word) would loss the contest. Everyone at our table would sit and listen as we went back and forth. But after the first day Don talked to me about Christ in December, the contests stopped. Steve and I never had a cuss-out contest again.

This did not mean that I never cussed again. At almost the end of January, Steve walked by me and knocked my books out of my hands. He shouted, "Roasted!" and then he ran. I should probably explain the context for this rather strange action. Steve, I, and a few other of my friends had this thing going where we would sneak up on each other and knock the books out of the other's hands, and then we would shout, "Roasted!", "Toasted!", "Wasted!" or any other synonyms. We would then run away from the one who was "roasted." We had been doing this since ninth grade, and it happened to someone in my circle of friends almost every day. For some strange reason that I don't understand today, we actually enjoyed doing this to each other. However, on this particular day, things went a little differently. After Steve knocked the books out of my hands and ran, a few people who were not part of my circle of friends walked by and mocked me. Usually people just ignored us when we did this to each other. They were probably used to it since we did it almost every day. However, when I was mocked on this particular occasion, I began to feel very embarrassed and angry. My response was to scream at the ones who mocked me using very strong R-rated language (as I would normally have done before I became a Christian). I knew that this was something that God didn't want me to do anymore, but I justified it by telling myself, "That will be the last time I cuss."

At lunchtime in the school cafeteria, I continued to sit with Don. I sat with him for the rest of the school year. Shortly after I started sitting with Don, everyone who sat at the old table with me moved over to the new table with Don and I. Don told all of them about Jesus. We eventually split into two groups, sitting at two adjacent tables, but I'll go into that in the next chapter.

We had 3 more snowstorms for the next 3 weekends, but the schools stayed open. Don began to criticize me because I listened to rock music, read science fiction books, watched a lot of television, went to movies, and played a lot of video games. Much of the stuff I watched and listened to was indeed questionable. I was not very good at discernment yet. But Don would criticize my choices to the point where I couldn't stand being around him. (Actually, since the time he started talking to me in December, I couldn't stand being around him.)

I then decided that I was going to start sharing my faith with others at school. I wanted to see others give their lives to Christ because I didn't want to see anyone go to hell. I wanted to tell them about Christ. My life was slowly changing.

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