I’m a husband and father. I write, read and occasionally think. I love art and music. I’m a Christian. I’d rather spend more on this page talking about the Author of my faith. So what follows is some storytelling that hopefully glorifies God rather than me.
NOTE: The first portion of this post was written in March of 2010. This one has more information than the first post in my Christian life, Immense, and illuminates much more than previous entries from my entirely wrong perspective could.
Lets just say that at approximately 4:45 pm on the 14th of August, in the year 2003, I hit the end of my road.
I’d been battling with my Wife for months over where my choices were taking our family. She faithfully stuck with me despite my utter self-centered and arrogant perspective on my life and relationship with her. Her return to faith in Christ was over a year prior and at some point there was a commitment made to continue with me as it seemed fitting to her God.
I sought modern marriage counseling, guidance from books and mentors at work regarding our failing relationship. I had advice that ranged all over the philosophical spectrum. There were three main threads:
1. Make changes. Do something different and look at your relationship from a new perspective.
2. It’s her problem. You’re born and raised and living military. You think differently and in a superior way so if she doesn’t get it, do it for her anyway (this one was particularly damning).
None of these made answers for me, though they made good sense. I wrapped myself in anything but relating to my family while I sought a way through what seemed to be a dead life. I wanted nothing more than to be free from all the bindings and pursue what I thought most profitable. If the solution included keeping family with me, so much the better, but that was negotiable. I was intent on keeping the other elements, Wiccan faithfulness, money, technical wizardry, civilian life, power over people, entertainment and above all, self-sufficiency that meant I depended on no-one.
But it was all decomposing before me. I was achieving none of these. Pieces of a poster-board and plaster empire that only could be seen by me were spontaneously falling around my ears, leaving fine dust all over and slowly growing piles of impeding clutter everywhere. I couldn’t turn in any direction to see clearly, much less make a step toward anything good or desirable.
A few months back, I remember telling Govan something. “If I was to convert to Christianity (and I’m not saying I would, ever), I’d be a seriously dedicated believer.” With all the defiant gusto which I’d had in my days after ditching my Christian heritage, I knew that the monumental change to Christ’s lordship would be in no way peaceful or unassuming. Of course that wasn’t going to happen, so it was a moot point, and prideful at that.
And then the cracks started to give way to holes in my palace walls. Bits of an ugly, desolate outside began to skulk in. I lost confidence in my own schemes; lost the last vestiges of desire to maintain the important parts of my life (all that I knew that was important regardless my reasoning for valuing it). About that time I began reading. I read book after book, delving so deep as to seek leadership principles from a Star Trek book (funny but sad).
During this short time, I got to debate my little brother on a few heated occasions about the veracity of Christianity. I remained unconvinced that God was of any value. Nothing clicked between my condition and what I thought and what Ben was trying to tell me about his faith.
I used up all my resources in a fairly short time, maybe a month, and ended up with “The Case For Christ” by Lee Strobel, which my mom had given me a couple years ago. Read that book for two days. Never finished it. I think I dropped it at about chapter 8 or 9. Probably 9 since that’s the most I remember, the psychological evidence section.
I can’t say that book brought me to my knees before God. I have to say that it was God alone who brought me there. All I knew was a desperate lack of control and goodness in my life. I knew I had no right nor ability to run “my show.” I think I’d been dethroned at that point and now needed a replacement master in my life. It was immediately apparent that that master was The Master. So, more than me asking him (though of course I did), Christ really stepped into my life. Lordship salvation is what it looks like to me, looking back on that day. There was no really formulated prayer or transcendental experience. There was no music or choir singing or visions of glory. There was a really rough, maybe violent shift in me that was essentially submission to the Truth. No conditions were made, I had nothing in me but to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior and Master.
I dropped the book and my last claim on my own life that day, the fourteenth of August, 2003.
If I can say anything about salvation to anyone, it’s that last sentence there.
“NO conditions did I make. There was nothing in me but to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior and Master.”
It is my absolute conviction that there is no way to have one without the other.
This section is originally posted as “By The Grace Of God” on Thursday, 14. August 2003
I was raised in a Christian family.
I left home to join the Navy and battled with my Christian upbringing for approximately one year.
When I arrived at my second ship, home-ported in Hawaii, I met a witch.
It took all of a week to jump from the last steps away from my inherited beliefs into a decade of devotion to mysticism.
I could write a couple of books about the depths of all that I experienced as a witch. Perhaps I will someday.
I met and married my Beloved in 1996. Our wedding was in the dead of night before a high-priest with vows of “a year and a day.”
Essentially, the life I led was filled with rituals, emotion, lust and absolutely no moral discretion.
After approximately 10 years of paganism, I was becoming disillusioned and spent a short time devoted to more purely intellectual humanism. I read and thought, still claiming the religion but more interested in the human-focused world of Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein and other science-fiction writers.
I lived more and more in a dark, self-willed world that consisted of my philosophy, my work and my own selfishness. My family became the monkey on my back, my job left me unsatisfied and my self-made religion offered me no solace from any of my pains.
Near the end I saw only one thing. My life was not my own to run. There was no way I could continue. There was much heartache and battle going on between my Beloved and me; battle that had been raging for a very long time. I realized that I was not going to fix that or any of the other problems in my life. I saw very clearly that I was not the sole point of orbit for the rest of the universe. But I did see what, or who was. I understood, all of a sudden, what God really was and what I wasn’t. My entire childhood’s experience in church and training in the Bible came upon me like a truckload of bricks. I realized not just that I had a mass of sins in my life. I realized that I was beyond any hope of reconciliation to the Creator of the universe, that I was entirely rebellious toward God and that I had no choice but to accept that the Son of Him who made the world died in replacement for the penalty rebels like me rated. My death sentence had been removed from the law-books of the universe. I was led by the nose to see and believe the grace that would change my life forever.
I accepted Christ as my savior, as the Lord of my life, on my knees in front of the one earthly witness who needed more than any other to hear of my salvation. That was my Beloved. She thought I’d come to her to inform her of divorce. I had come before Christ, to commit my life to Him who could save me and in the presence of the earthly love of my life. And the first effect of my salvation was the beginning of the restoration of that most important temporal relationship in my life.
And that restoration has been in the works since then. Still progressing, and probably continuing until the moment before we get to the other side. But my salvation was immediate and the change was immense. There is no doubt in my mind that the believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit upon salvation. I changed. From nearly ending my career, my marriage, pursuing depths of sin that may not have been recoverable, I turned to Christ in submission and faith. Not perfected, just saved. By the grace of God I was saved from me, and from Hell.
I was baptized at Anchor Baptist Church in Maryland not long after (still got the certificate somewhere). It took almost 6 years to finally reach a church that teaches the truth and my Beloved and our four children can attend as a family.
I’m always open to offer my experiences as a Wiccan from my regenerated perspective. I was a witch, I’m now a Child of God.
This testimony is a work in progress. There’s much I’m not sure about including here and probably some that I could and just haven’t thought of it yet.
This section is an update from March of 2011. It was post-posted to March 13, the day we joined our first church.
The development in my life in regards to theology has taken a strong direction in the last three years and I think I need to address it here, at least to a limited extent. In the majority of my posts from 2010 through Spring of 2011, it’s fairly clear that my family and I have grown very close to Covenant Theology, which has drawn distinctive lines in our denominational relationships for the first time in our years as a Christian household. Up until now, we’ve been under the division/separation radar network. Of course, up until now, we’ve not been under the authority of a specific church, either. Life is different all of a sudden. We’re members of a local church with all of us baptized as believers. And we’re in a potentially controversial state, being of what at I at least consider to be a minority: a Reformed church.
I’ve not had to defend my position as a “particular sort of Christian” before, nor really explain what makes me commit to the particular church of which we are a part. So here I am, a newly made Presbyterian at a PCA church, fully committed to confessing the Westminster Standards. The story of my growth is, to me, very exciting and clear. I’m not sure if everyone can relate or agree with this, but I see the path from first believing to now as leading to a destination that is actually somewhere, doctrinally speaking. I’ve come to a position that looks at Scripture, church, practice and relationships that’s particular. A couple months ago, we could’ve gone to any number of churches and looked for Biblical preaching and teaching. Now, we’re looking at this church. It’s a particular church with particular standards.
It’s been made pretty clear to me that I’m a fairly unsettled type of person. I go with the bandwagon all too easily. Since Christ called me, that has become a painful but present label applied to me. First it was a “temporary phase” for me to be a Christian. Then my development underwent numerous philosophical and theological reforms, going from nominal Christianity to semi-fundamentalist to semi-reformed and now I’m “into” full-blown Reformed Covenant Theology. I must assure readers that my progress has not been some spontaneous fad-phase sort of thing. I think the systematic development of my theology is fairly obvious and it has led just to where it is right now, not by my particular interests, but by sequential encounters in churches and theological studies. I’ve been led by the nose through increasingly accurate theologies until I’ve got to this place. Do I think I’ve arrived? In so many words, Yes. And I cannot foresee changing my mind. This is the first time I’ve met what I think is a thorough course of study and trustworthy system of doctrine. If that makes heartburn for some readers,
I must publish my regrets, but I think 7 years of laboring through the mire of quirks, false-teaching, truth-seeking, prayer, disappointments and denominationalism, this really is my home. I, due to my own desire to be relevant, humble, man-pleasing and self-preserving (cardinal sins in my department, mostly), am almost afraid to say it but I’m pretty much, no really much, a Staunch Presbyterian. I believe in the oh-so-unmentionable practice of infant baptism and that there is no future provided in the Bible for the nation-state of Israel. I just can’t see it. I love the PCA, love learning about it and love learning about those denominations with whom the PCA has close fellowship. I have no love of infighting nor inter-denominational hostilities that exist throughout the visible church of Christ, but I believe that I was dragged to one side, which most probably happens to anyone who attempts to read more deeply than John 3:16.
The Reformed church has been so kind to me, so honest and filled with clear teaching. I love the Word, so lovingly and faithfully served, containing both Law and Gospel in measure that reminds me of where I was and where I am now. I greatly desire the forgiveness that is proclaimed by the faithful minister of God’s Word every Sunday right after we, individually and corporately confess our sins. I love the sacraments, the weekly nourishment that Christ provides in His Supper and finally a freedom from the seemingly empty memorial system in which I grew up. I love that I may look back upon my baptism with hope and joy that God has made me a part of His Church, His Bride and that all His promises are sealed to me and finally a freedom from the personalized statement of public self-centered commitment that was integral to my Baptist upbringing. I love the idea of Covenant Families who are brought through the waters of baptism into Christ’s Church and are all treated, from months-old babies to generations-old hoary-heads, all as the same Chosen People under Christ’s headship. Therein, in this church, is a people who are all together in the covenant, for good or bad, with one label: Christian. And though it hurts, I love very much that we can deal with apostasy and “backsliders” in the way Christ taught and Paul executed: Discipline of the Church. I love that my church claims the Keys and does not hide them under the mat so any thief may put on some wool and break in without notice. Christ is preached here; His life, suffering, obedience, death, resurrection and ascension in clarity and bringing conviction. That is what a church should do and I thank God that this is where my family worshipped today.
There may well be plenty of occasions and reasons to be members of other types of churches. But our choice to join this church certainly sets us to one side. Our dispensational friends and Baptist friends see Reformed types now, and I’ve had to respond to that change.
For more explanation, I’ve uploaded a paper I wrote regarding my position and I’ve started blogging my way through it in small bites. It’s free for the reading and critiquing. My words and research entirely:
About the picture: This is our army (my harem). Me, my Beloved, our four in order of oldest to youngest. I don’t ever want to forget to praise Him for all His blessings. I’m proud of and humbled by the great gift of this, my beautiful family.
Rob Hickok, Daddy, Uncle Robbie, Big Brother, Pooka, Mr. Rob,
Gurp, Wild Bill, Govan, G-2, Amiel, Ivy’s Rest, Paper Screams.