Friday, June 15, 2007

Friday Fun: Religion May Be the Career for You

People always ask me, "Chris, with all the careers out there, why did you choose to be a professor of historical theology?" I tell them it all started on Career Day back in 11th grade, when I saw this ...

I think it was the music, more than anything, that got me hooked. That and the candles.

I doubt whether anyone who reads the account above will take it seriously, but my conscience tells me I ought to take this opportunity to set the record straight and give glory to God. So here it is ...

My Testimony, or, How I Really Got Here

intend not to draw this out (which is always a danger with a student of history, mind you). I grew up in a family whose faith could be described as a few degrees above nominal (Christian in name alone). Even so, I rise up and call my parents blessed for taking my siblings and I to the non-denominational Bible Church in which we were nurtured, however slow we were to respond to its Gospel teachings.

When I was 12, my older brother, Doug, was killed in an auto accident. It was devastating to our family and perplexing to my pre-adolescent mind, but God used this profoundly upsetting event to draw my parents, my sister and I closer to him (Rom. 8:28). We were sensitized to spiritual things almost immediately.

When I was fifteen a well-meaning friend loaned me some Hal Lindsey books (he's now the pastor of this church in Washington state). (Don't laugh: God used Lindsey's Satan Is Alive and Well on Planet Earth, of all things, to bring me to a true knowledge of the Gospel!) I believe it was then that I was converted and began this walk I'm still on, by his grace.

I had no one to disciple me. No one knew I had been converted but me, and I didn't know what I needed. I actually mingled with some very, er, non-Christian folks for the next few years, before finally deciding to follow the Lord outright. Grace outran my sin. God is great!

I was active in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Texas A&M, where I got my bachelor's. After college I was aimless and started regressing spiritually. This went on for two years. Grace abounded again, God lovingly made me miserable in my sin, and I returned to him. Obedience then led me to seminary in Dallas. I was blessed with a wife I don't deserve, on top of everything else (we now have two sons, for whom I thank God most days).

I started seminary in the hope of getting a counseling degree. In the course of the curriculum I concluded that my gifts and desires were leading me to academics, and God willing, to teaching. Joel Lawrence, a friend from seminary, was especially inspiring to me in this regard. I switched gears and began to think about going on for a doctorate.

As for the Puritans, I had been introduced to them through my relationships in InterVarsity, which brings Protestants of all flavors together: dispensationalists like me, Reformed folks, and charismatics too. I always perceived something very unique and winsome about the Puritans' faith -- how could one not? When it came time to decide on a subject of study for my PhD, I chose these early modern dynamos. No regrets yet!

Thanks for bearing with this brief summary. There are lots of other people, organizations and occurrences I could name that God has used to draw and sanctify me. May they all be richly blessed.

Winston Churchill famously said, "Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm." With Jesus Christ leading the way, I've found that's a snap.

My son is grimacing because he wants me to finish my studies and get a job.


Anonymous said...

Now THAT'S a funny video!

Thank God he still uses people like Hal Lindsey (and me!) in spite of their (our) shortcomings!

I've had your blog in my favorites list for a while, I think I'll start reading it a little more frequently.

Anonymous said...

jonathan alexander said...

chris ross... i had no idea what i was doing giving you a hal lindsey book when we were like 15 or some incredibly stupid, irresponsible age like that. now people are going to think that northshore is some "out there, the world-should-have-ended in 1983... and it hasn't so we're stock piling toilet paper, black nike work out suits, a bit of old kool-aid, and packets of raman noodles." what are you doing to me?!?!?!

you rock and you better come back with a kickin' scottish accent...



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