My father entered his first pastorate two months before I was born. For the next 30 years or so, he pastored churches in New York, Maine, and Pennsylvania. I never knew any other life than that of a "preacher's kid." Being raised almost literally "in church," I became gospel hardened. I wasn't exactly grateful for the godly influences in my life. The world looked pretty good to me, and by the time I was twelve I'd developed a charade to help me get out into that world without my parents' knowledge.
My father started out as an Arminian, meaning that he believed that all sinners have the free will to choose Christ or reject Him. An Arminian rejects the sovereignty of God in the salvation of sinners. This sort of belief system allows a sinner to accept Christ's salvation if he chooses to, and to later choose to make Christ Lord of his life...or not. Although my father later came to understand and embrace the Doctrines of Grace, I think he subconsciously kept some of his Arminian thinking. I say this because I don't remember him ever confronting me about the possibility of my not being truly saved once I made a profession of faith.
I had made a profession of faith, and had been baptized at the age of twelve. I remember clearly making a conscious decision to do this in order to deceive my church. I wanted people to think I was saved so that they would leave me alone about the whole matter. All along I knew I was not saved, nor did I wish to be. Of course, I did not want to go to hell, but I was willing to take my chances because I did not want to live the Christian life. So I began a path of deception that would last another eight years.
During my teen years, I developed a strategy of acting "Christian" around Christians, and being my own wicked worldly self around everyone else. At church, and around church people, I was the model Christian Teen: a good example to the younger children, substitute Sunday school teacher, camp counselor, etc. At school, on the bus, and around my non-Christian friends, I lived the worldly life I loved.
The deception was harder to pull off at home. I made life miserable for my mother by insisting on having my own way and making my own decisions. I didn't want my parents telling me what I could or could not do. I listened to rock music on the school bus and at my friends' homes, and one song in particular became my theme: "I don't care what you say anymore, 'cause it's my life...." I pushed all the rules past the limit, and getting caught only made me try to do the same thing again so as to not get caught. During these years my parents never once doubted my salvation; nor did they ask me why my life did not match my words. Although they tried to discipline me for my rebellion and lying, they never questioned my testimony.
In spite of my lust for the world and its passions, I had a great love and respect for my father and never wanted to do anything to hurt him or his ministry. I believe God used this love and respect to keep me from many a sin. I wanted the world so badly, but I couldn't figure out how to get it without hurting my father. At times I got a taste of it when I was sure my father would never find out, but it wasn't enough.
to be continued...