Genesis 3:1 “Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?”
Here we see Satan’s first action in the Bible: to cause God’s creation to question His Word. He hasn’t changed his methods. I grew up in church. My dad was a pastor from the time I was born until I was nine years old. After he left the ministry, my family remained in church and even today I know my mother and my sister will be in church this Sunday. Every Sunday morning, Sunday evening and Wednesday, I was there. Our youth group, Teens Alive, met every Sunday morning and Wednesday Night and, during the school year, the first Friday of every month we had a youth rally at a different church. I enjoyed attending these rallies and the annual youth conference at Shawnee Baptist in Louisville every August, but if I’m honest it had more to do with seeing my friends and trying to get a girl’s address (this was pre-cell phones, so writing letters was our form of communication). And while I remember hearing Godly men preach and knowing what they were saying was right, as I got older my rebellious teenage attitude only grew. I would hear messages from leaders like Brothers Tim Russ, Steve Epley, Reno Likens, and Pastor Lonnie Mattingly warning me of following the world. They talked about Biblical separation and the dangers of immersing yourself in a godless culture (?). As they described the woes of worldly music, drugs, alcohol, and inappropriate relationships, all I could think was, “how do you know?” See, in my eyes all these men lived perfect, squeaky-clean lives, many of them sharing testimonies of never even touching these things, so how did they actually know all these things were bad? Just like in the garden, Satan began whispering in my ear, “yea, hath God said?”
What began with questioning what the men of God proclaimed would slowly lead to me questioning everything. I knew I was saved, that happened on Oct 17 th 1991 when I was 7, but I began to question everything I was taught. My heart gradually hardened and, by the time I was 18, I completely abandoned church. Following high school graduation, I decided to attend a secular college in Kentucky. The moment I drove into Richmond Ky, I knew this was my town. I was on my own, and with my parents over three hours away, I knew I could do whatever I wanted. I remembered what I had been taught about abstaining from the worldly pleasures, but again how did they know it was so bad? What was the big deal, anyway?
When I started my first year of college, I told myself, “I’ll drink and smoke a little, that its.” By my senior year, I was deep into drugs; my boundaries had loosened severely to just one remaining rule: “I won’t stick a needle in my arm.” I was depressed, I lost friends, lost my testimony, was homeless, hurt my family, but most importantly, I hurt God. The next year? In March I found myself sitting on a stoop at 3:00 AM. Hopeless, homeless and lifeless. I prayed that night, probably the first time in a long time, and asked God if there was any hope for me. I remembered when I got saved, when I was called to preach, all those youth rallies and conferences, and I sat there and wondered, “How did I get here?” Of great importance, the whole time this was happening I had a mom that never stopped praying for me
and friends at a church back home that never stopped loving me. When I moved back home to try and clean up, my mother required me to go to church to live in her house. After two months back in church, I came under such conviction that I could barely move. I went to Pastor Tim Russ and told him we needed to talk. That night, in April 2007, I got things right with my God.
I’ve now been in the ministry in some facet for ten years and God has opened the door for me to share my testimony with many people. See, I understand the thoughts you have and the questions that go through your head. I understand the pain and the struggle. But when Satan tries to make you question what God’s men are saying from God’s word, take head that His word is truth and truth shall set you free. So you’re asking, “Brother Lee, how do you know?” First because the word of God says it, second because I’ve lived it. Because I’ve buried eight friends who have died from drug, alcohol, suicide or murder. I’ve lived with the physical pain from the consequences of some of my actions. How do I know? I’ve been there.