My Dad was raised a Fundamentalist. When he was 13 years old and about to be baptized into his church, which many could have easily labeled a cult since they honestly thought they were the only denomination going to heaven, he began to question their doctrines. They simply told him he was a son of the devil for questioning them.
So naturally he rebelled hardcore. He began smoking cigarettes, drinking, and pretty much doing anything that would tick his parents off. They still forcefully compelled him to go to a college that was affiliated with their denomination. He soon dropped out of that school, went into the Navy, and began smoking dope and writing folk songs. I still have great memories of finding his reel to reel tapes of songs he had written while living in a Quonset Hut in Guam during the Vietnam war. I would play those things over and over, learning to play those songs myself. I’m definitely a huge fan of my Dad’s music.
My Dad was in a rock n’ roll band called “Pyramid” through most of the 70’s. It was a cover band that covered Crosby Stills and Nash, David Bowie, the Beatles, Lou Reed, James Taylor, originals and much more. He was living in a Puerto Rican ghetto in Cleveland and playing gigs almost every night, then sleeping all day. He was definitely heavilly into the drug and free love scene.
He and a few of the band members from that group, Rodney Psyka and Gary Jones actually wrote and recorded some really great tunes. They were on the verge of getting a record deal with Columbia, but couldn’t produce a live gig akin to the quality of the record (they each overdubbed a few of the instruments). So the deal became moot. My Dad quickly got sick of the music scene and violently quit. Though Rodney Psyka went on to have a decently successful music career with bands like “Breathless” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGvjFGwELjY (third from the right in the picture towards the end), and Michael Stanley Band http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQB4xf5JbPA&feature=related (he’s on the congas in the back)
So fast forward a few hundred empty whiskey bottles and roached out joints later, and I came into the world! My Dad always loved me, but because of his background he obviously raised me outside of the church. What he knew of “Christians” was judgment, condemnation, and a holy-roller mentality.
Man was my Dad shocked when I came out of the drug scene at the age of 18 and became a Jesus freak! He spent a lot of conversations trying to argue me out of it. I was not strong in my belief always in the early days so I would sometimes get overly defensive, and other times totally cave in to him.
Doug, a missionary from the Middle East, came and spent a year with my wife and I doing a meeting at our house back in 2004. We called it “the Agora”, named after the Ancient Greek Marketplace, and set it up as a philosophical forum for Christians and people of other beliefs to dialogue. Doug had certainly been through the wild scene of the 70’s, but had become wild for Jesus and hit the mission field.
My Dad used to come regularly. He would argue with everything we said, trying to prove everything we were saying was wrong. We would just try to stay quiet (which was hard for me, but Doug did a better job). Listening always helped him more than arguing back, and I slowly learned to listen to him criticize Christianity to pieces, and then respectfully but strongly tell the truth of the gospel.
When I got a job offer to work as a music intern for my church, my Pops was so convinced that they were taking me for a ride, that he told me, “Alright Ben, if they give you that job, I’ll become a member of that church.” I got the gig, and told my Dad that membership classes would be starting that Sunday.
One day my Dad came up to me after a Sunday service, his eyes and face beaming. “I get it man! I get it Ben!” he yelled. “What are you talking about, Dad?” I replied.
“I’m in baby, I’m in!”
“What do you mean?”
“I accepted Christ! I understand salvation and I’m going to heaven baby!”
From then on my Dad became a fireball. A difference maker in that church. He’s the type of guy that will hang out with the homeless, the orphan, the widow, the heroin addict and the barfly. He’s able to share the love and truth of Jesus with these people, and they love him. And hey man, it only took 57 years for the grace of God to overwhelm him! How much has it overwhelmed you?