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The Redemption Project

What is there to say when you were taught what is correct, but you assumed you could return to it at a later date?

What can be said when you said with your lips as a teenager that you wanted to follow God, but you also wanted indulge in all the 21st century has to offer?

Can you flip a switch and say you are ready to return to God on your terms? Will He be there waiting with open arms like you assumed?

I am sure He is there waiting with open arms. The Bible teaches us He loves to rejoice over the return of a found sheep, and He throws a feast with the fattest calf for the Prodigal that returns home.

The issue is not with God. I believe He has not moved. He is sitting on his throne where He was when we decided we needed to go see what the 21st century has to offer.

I remember the decision making process well. I would commit the sins that I assumed would not stain me permanently. I would not smoke cigarettes with my friends, but I would dip on the golf course. I would not drink liquor alone, but I would chug beer at parties. I would not do hard drugs in college at parties, but I would smoke weed with my friends when I had no responsibilities. I would not have sex with my girlfriend, but I would happily receive oral sex…and even return the favor when she insisted.

At 18, heading into the den of sin some call college…I felt fully equipped to successfully keep half of me untarnished while the other half was free to explore all the “fun” I had never experienced. I remember growing up “under the thumb” and always feeling like there was so much “fun” I was missing out on. I was eager to go see what I had been missing.

I had no idea I was marching to my death. I had no idea the sin that began to entangle me was changing my perspective. I was no longer 50/50 on the fence. I was now a full time sinner that could remember how to clean up and play the part at church.

Can I return?

This blog will explore the psychology that led me to my undeniable status of “prodigal”.

I believe you may find yourself somewhere in these pages at times. I do not believe my story is also unique for a millennial who grew up in church, while also living in a sinful world.

I have suffered for my sin. I want to return to the Lord. My hope for this blog is to encourage other prodigals like me, while potentially preventing a few people from slipping into the pit falls I fell into.

Thank you for joining me,

Millennial Sinner

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Gameday

Ah, in-state rivalry week. A week of epic battles between many of the schools closest neighbors. This week, neighbors will be waving different flags at the same game. Neighbors will be trying to ruin there closest neighbors chance for a championship, or a big bowl. I love college football because I love the tradition. I love how the players are fighting hard every play. Some fight because they want to get promoted to the NFL, some fight because they know this is the last time they will ever put on a uniform, I just admire the fight.

Today is going to be a big day with lots of good games. I’m ready.

COLLEGE

I should not have gone to the college i did. I chose to go to this college, no one forced me. I was not a “legacy” at the school I attended. Most of the reasons I chose the school I did included knowing it would be a wild place. I had a few reasons for going where I did. I wanted to go to a school that had a great college football game day experience, I wanted to go a school in state that I could use my in state scholarships, and I wanted it to be far away from where I grew up. I had an intense desire to go blaze a trail for myself.

At this point in life, things were not going well at home. My relationship with my parents was not good. They were fighting a lot at home, and I never felt I could live up to my dads expectations. Instead of striving to live up, I withdrew from his criticism to the shadows. I learned to show my best face around my parents while really leading a secret life outside of there vision. I felt the things I enjoyed and was into were nothing like the things I was supposed to enjoy in my parents eyes. To my dad, I was supposed to be an adult at 15. This included getting a job, making good grades, and looking like a professional. This did not include prioritizing friendships, sleeping in on Saturday’s, and any self discovery.

I was really ready to get out from under this shadow. I got accepted into the largest most prestigious school in the state. I did not attend because I thought it may require more studying than I was ready to do, and my sister went there. I was also dying to get out from under her shadow. I was dying to no longer be compared to her academically. In hindsight, staying as close to her coat tails for as long as possible would have been a great thing for me. She is an amazing person who has stayed faithful to God and worked hard in life and is enjoying an abundant life.

So, I wanted to get out from under any shadows that I felt were preventing me from achieving happiness, I didn’t want to go an academically rigorous school, I wanted to be able to cheer on a big time football program, and I wanted to be able to sin freely. For my desires at the time…I chose the perfect place. The truth is at this time I got exactly what I thought I wanted out of my college. I found the people who had the best weed quickly, I was not tested academically, and I had a completely clean slate to reinvent myself. I say this to say, it wasn’t my parents divorce that drove me to sin, it wasn’t the people around me, and it wasn’t something I had to do.

It was me.

It was all me. I drove my self into a hypothetical ditch because I felt like my parents were preventing me from experiencing all the fun that was out there. I wanted to experience this fun because I had lost faith that God was in control of my life. God was distant to me, bc of my sin. I did not blame myself for this. I blamed Him. I really just wanted an excuse to pursue my flesh. That’s exactly what I did.

Hindsight is 20/20, but I needed Christian mentorship during this time in my life. I needed positive influences to keep me between the lines as I dealt with my mom calling me crying weekly. I needed people to point me toward Christ, instead of toward instant gratification and self pleasure. Surrounding myself with people who pursued Christ was the thing I needed most at this time. It should have been my top priority over everything. It was clearly not.

I chose the wrong college.

-Millennial Sinner

Black Friday/Societal Norms

Go Go Go, Get the things we want…but do not need.

Go Go Go, you did not want to pay full price…but they will take ten dollars off the price today. So of course you should buy it.

There actually isn’t anything wrong with shopping on Black Friday. There isn’t anything wrong with enjoying the rush of getting in the crowd and racing to get what you want. This isn’t automatically sinful at all.

It is interesting though how societal norms dictate our mindset and behavior. Think about it, millions will go buy gifts for others and themselves tomorrow simply because they can save a few dollars. They will also shop the day after Thanksgiving because millions of others have decided the day after thanksgiving is the day to go shop. There isn’t anything wrong with Black Friday shopping, but millions will Black Friday shop simply bc millions of others are doing it. Society has deemed this the normal thing to do after Thanksgiving.

I think of some of the more harmful things that we almost automatically do that have become societal norms. Sometimes I consider the things I used to do and honestly I am disgusted with myself. I think “what was I thinking”, “how could that have that seemed okay to me”. The answer is because I was not connected to the vine that is described in John 15. I was not abiding in the Him, so my moral compass for what was right and wrong was dictated by societal norms. This is an extremely dangerous place to be for a millennial. My parents would love to teach me pitfalls to avoid, but they are not even aware of the half of them! Without abiding in Jesus, it is almost impossible to not get tangled into sin these days. Sin is on tv, sin is on smart phones, sin is at public school, sin is in the home at the family desk top computer. Sin has more than just crept in, it has taken over almost every area of life that humans live in. Sin is no longer the bad things that bad people do, it is THE SOCIETAL NORM!

I went with the flow of society after my parents divorce. The root of this was my faith was not really my own in my late teen years. My faith was my families and then when that seemed to shatter, my walk with Jesus seemed to shatter. In reality, I had built my house upon the sand. I built my house on the sand and when the storm came I followed societal norms. I followed whoever accepted me in my time of need. I followed the path of instant gratification. I was in a dangerous place. I did not come out unscathed.

Millennials, be weary of just following the pattern of the world around us. They are not headed where we are supposed to be headed. They are living for their own pleasure and they are headed straight to eternal doom. If we do not build our house on the rock, recognize the dangers of blindly following pop culture, and do not make a conscience effort to abide in Jesus…we will be led astray. Everyday is an opportunity for the devil to get us to follow after our own desires.

Let’s recognize the tools the devil uses to pull us astray. Let’s abide in Jesus and live set apart like the Royal Priesthood we are told we are. Let’s build our homes on the rock. Let’s prepare for the storm.

-Millennial Sinner

Valuable

How do you treat things that are valuable to you?

I often keep them in a “safe space”. I will put my valuable things somewhere that they are protected from harm. I will certainly do my best to keep my valuable things free from damage. Valuable things are items that are important to me. It is not surprising I would want to keep them in a position that they will last as long as possible.

I have two championship rings from my time working with a top collegiate football program while in college. I was never good enough to play college football, but I loved the game and saw working for the team as a great way to earn a stipend to help pay for school. The rings are valuable to me because they have monetary value. They are massive and filled with diamonds. The rings are also valuable to me because they remind me of a special time in my life. I have regrets about how I handled temptations in college. I was not connected to the vine as described in John 15. I lived a sinful lifestyle and this puts a stain on my college years when I look back on them. But many good things did come of my time in college. I made a few friends that are still special to me to this day, I got a degree, I was a member of a championship football program, and I learned a lot about life and myself. Those rings help me remember all the good and bad things about my time in college, and they mean a lot to me. I keep them safely in a drawer. I hardly ever wear them. They don’t come out, because I don’t want to lose them. They are valuable to me.

In life, it’s more obvious than people realize who values their life. It’s pretty obvious to see who has a healthy sense of self worth, and who doesn’t. The guy who doesn’t wear deodorant thinks you would not talk to him even he wore it. The girl on the internet sharing pics in risqué attire does not think you will give her attention if she does not show skin. The teenager trying drugs for the first time does not want the drugs to kill him, but he finds value in the acceptance getting high with his peers earns him. He does not feel valuable enough to be accepted just for who he is. He will “figure the rest out” later. The over weight person in your youth group may be lazy. But most likely their depression drives them to prefer eating over getting healthy. I know when I am depressed I lock up and can sit on my couch for hours staring at my phone. During this time, I often will be eating junk and not getting much exercise. The outward cost of this is I gain weight and do not appear healthy. I’m doing nothing to preserve my life another day. I must not value myself in these times. After all, I’m doing more to preserve my championship rings, than to extend my own life on this earth.

I think most sins and bad decisions are rooted in a lack of self value. Especially for us Christians who were taught the truth at an early age. We knew what was right and walked away for really only a couple of reasons. 1) we desired our flesh over God and 2) we didn’t feel worthy of a role in Gods game plan.

I think I have fallen into both categories in the past. Sometimes, I just wanted to treat someone poorly so that I could elevate my own stature in front of others. Sometimes, the desire to serve myself certainly was the sad root of my sin. But more times than not I believe my downfall was actually rooted in number 2. I didn’t look at pornography because I preferred imagines over real sex. I looked at pornography because I did not believe Gods promise that he would bring me a wife. I was always good at making girls laugh, and getting attention. But I never had a girl tell me I was hot. I was never one of the “beautiful people”. I assumed at 16 I may never actually get to have sex with a real girl. So I cheapened Gods design for sex and started looking at sex online. I didn’t have enough self worth to realize that was silly. I did not trust God that His promises in that department were for me.

I believe most people who know the truth but walk in sin do not feel like the blessings from God would be for them either way. This is an issue of not feeling valuable. In the media age, nearly 24/7 voices are telling us where to find our value, and telling us what we are worth. Sometimes these voices make us feel good, sometimes they can destroy us. There is a constant voice that speaks to our value though. It is found in the Word of God. It constantly reminds us that God loved the people of the world. He loved the people so much He sent his Son to provide a route to restoration. The Bible says I was fearfully and wonderfully made. It also says that He knows how many hairs are on my head, and how many days I will live.

Millennial Christian, our value is plainly described to us. If we reject this explanation of our value, then we are telling God the earthly voices are louder and more trustworthy than His. Millennial Christian, let’s reaffirm daily what He says about us by spending time in His word. Let’s pray for faith if we lack it. Let’s pray that His voice would be our guide and that His is the one we would believe and follow. He has told us plainly who we are, let’s believe Him.

-Millennial Sinner

Thanksgiving Prayer

Lord,

Today, I thank you for my family. I thank you for my grandparents that are still alive. I thank you for my sister who is always there for me. I thank you for my mom who loves me infinitely. I thank you for my dad who always wants what is best for me.

Today, I thank you Lord for the ability to write this blog. I thank you for the people who will be ministered to by my shortcomings on this earth. I thank you for my home, and for my dog. My dog has brought me lots of joy and has helped relieve loneliness. He truly is a friend, and I thank you for him.

Today, I thank you Jesus for the sacrifice that you made for me. I thank you that even though my sin is great that I can be redeemed. I thank you for my ability (through you) to still be useful for the kingdom. I thank you for sparing my life. The Bible says the wages of sin is death, but because of your sacrifice and grace I might can escape eternal death.

Today, I pray for faith in that promise. I am thankful for your Word that explains that even I can be saved if I believe in my heart that you are the Son of God. I am thankful that your burden is light. I understand now what it means to walk freely in your promises. I am thankful for grace for the times I have walked outside of that freedom. I was carried away by the lust of the flesh and my own desire. I start today with a morning prayer of thankfulness, and a desire to put away distractions and to know you more. I thank you for making yourself known to a prodigal like me.

Thank you Jesus.

-Millennial Sinner

What Now

What now? Yes, I have screwed many things up beyond repair.

What now? Yes, my sin has deprived me of joy.

What now? Yes, I squandered my blessing and gave myself to harlots and feel defiled.

What now? Yes, I have failed most tests that God has given me.

Okay???

Okay, what?

Okay, Jesus knew what I was going to do before I did it. Jesus knew how bad I would screw things up, and He still hung on that cross. He still lived a perfect life, and was punished for nothing that He did. Jesus knew I would squander my birth right. Jesus knew I would sin in unimaginable 21st century ways. Jesus knew I would have more sin than any generation before me.

Yet he still came, lived a perfect life, gave himself as a holy sacrifice, and provided a route for me to be a child of God.

This is hard for me to accept. I believe it conceptually. I could never deny it, it is my only hope. I pray it is true. I also pray when seeds of doubt creep in that I remember the things I have personally seen Him do. I also can think of the faithful Godly men that I know who truly have been transformed. I know many who have stepped from death to life.

Sometimes, I still feel stuck in death.

Partially because there are sins I am still having trouble laying aside. I know this prevents me from walking forward with the Father. How can I grow closer to God when I am entangled in earthly filth? The other main reason I am having trouble stepping into life is that I cannot forgive myself. There are things that were done during my time of sin that I cannot reconcile. I cannot understand how a “Christian” could slide so far as to do some of the things that I did. It makes me think i must not have truly been a Christian at the time. It makes me think my confession that Jesus Christ is my only way to heaven, and his promise that He would send me a helper had not happened.

Furthermore, I believe that I sinned so much during those days that I must have hardened my heart. I must have callused my sense of hearing the spirit. I do remember Him urging me away from things. I think at the time I referred to Him as my “conscience”. I remember suppressing that still small voice so that I could go sin and engage in filth. I remember this feeling until one day I looked back and could not remember the last time I had that feeling. This is when I knew I was in trouble.

What now?

It would be easy to wallow in my filth and my mistakes. It is so easy that I actually do it often. I must resist this though. It is true I have mountains of regret. I regret I am where I am today, because I am reaping what I have sown. I regret I did not take the words of scripture seriously. I regret I heard the Good news, and at some point was led astray by the desires of the flesh. I regret these things daily. Must I beat myself up about it daily and let it paralyze my future? Easier said than done, but I pray not.

I pray I can continue to let the past be the past. I pray when the consequences of my past sin cost me things in the future, that I will thank God I am alive. The truth is I do not know if others have suffered for their sins. My reasoning tells me a child of God gets correction, while God understands a lost person is just doing what the natural man does.

I pray these things as I open up the Word daily. I water my soul in hopes that the soil may be softened. I want to know Jesus, I want to be useful to His Kingdom. I do not want to sulk in my shame any longer. Now is the time to get in the game. Pray for me.

-Millennial Sinner

Failure To Launch

Most Millennial Sinners with the mindset I developed probably had a similar origin. I was raised in a Christian home at an early age. My home was so Christian that there was no varying view points presented. We did things a certain way, and that was the only correct way. I remember sitting at family dinner and discussing how everyone else on the street was so weird. Looking back, this was an interesting thing to discuss at family dinner. We did not talk much about what had happened at work or school. We did not talk much about our friends or hobbies. We discussed what was wrong with the neighbors. Nothing could be wrong with us.

Now, imagine a young man being told how to do things, and the only explanation he received was that it was the right way to do things…and this family does things the right way. This is actually an interesting mindset to dissect because a few different dynamics are establishing themselves in a home like this.

First, the parent is making the assumption that the desire of the child will be to do things the right way…no matter what. The parent is assuming that through out the temptations, disappointments, good times, and bad times in life that the highest desire of the child at all times will be “to do what is right, because it is right”. This is assuming he will never need an additional reason to do the right thing. One potential additional reason to do the right thing would be the logical explanation of why an action is bad, and how that action could practically hurt you in the real world. When none of these logical reasons to avoid pitfalls are explained, one is left with hoping “doing what is right, because it is right”, will be enough, at all times.

Secondly, the parent is assuming the role of torchbearer for the “do the right thing” crusade. They are essentially committing to only presenting the side of themselves that does the right thing, even in the privacy of their own home. This puts a massive target on the back of the parent. One major slip up and the seed of “why should I do the right thing, when you don’t always do the right thing” begins to take root in the child. It happened to me.

Deep in my soul the mindset that I was normal, and others were weird or wrong was quickly taking root. The seed that I was correct and the problem must be with others was getting watered daily. I had set up a prison in my mind where I was correct, I could do what I wanted if others did not notice, and the only consequences for not doing the right thing was simply, “not doing the right thing”. I lacked the knowledge of the reasoning behind why certain things need to be avoided.

I was heading down a dangerous road.

-Millennial Sinner