I had run out of reasons to not turn my life over to Jesus.
Just a couple years into sobriety from alcohol, I was in a lot of mental and emotional pain. Sure, I was sober, but something wasn’t right.
A few weeks prior to hearing guest speaker Lee Strobel talk at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, during a Sunday worship service in November 1998, I had said a prayer to accept Jesus. That prayer was made over the phone with an associate pastor from another church I was attending at the time.
Even though God had given me a clear sign just a few days after that prayer that I was heading in the right direction, I felt unsure about whether my salvation had “taken hold.”
Strobel’s life story includes the fact he was an atheist who turned Christian — and a journalist.
I wasn’t an atheist but I was a journalist. My “belief system” prior to accepting Jesus was more about being a hedonist — a pleasure seeker. I didn’t necessarily believe there was no God, but I didn’t think about God much at all. I avoided the subject and the story of God could have been all fake for all I knew.
Strobel earned his Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri and his Master of Studies in Law at Yale Law School. His bio states that he was a journalist for fourteen years at The Chicago Tribune and other newspapers, winning Illinois’ highest honor for public service journalism from United Press International. He also led a team that won UPI’s top award for investigative reporting in Illinois.
He is the former award-winning legal editor of the Tribune and best-selling author of more than twenty books. The Case for Christ details his conversion to Christianity. For the last twenty-five years, his life’s work has been to share the evidence that supports the truth and claims of Christianity and to equip believers to share their faith with the people they know and love.
Strobel’s “credentials” made an impression on me, but what impressed me most, back in 1998, was not only that he was a journalist, but a crime beat reporter and editor for the Tribune. As I sat there at church while his story unfolded I thought to myself that Strobel being a journalist was cool, but being a reporter of his kind, the crime beat kind, meant he came from a most cynical lot.
I better listen.
Still new to this Christianity thing, and still confused about what it meant to be saved, I listened to Strobel intently as he shared about how he set out to disprove that Jesus was who he said he was and had others believe in Him. He said he cross-examined a number of experts and recognized authorities in their own fields of study. He conducted his examination with no religious bias, other than his predisposition to atheism. In the process of his investigation, Strobel said he not only proved that Jesus was real, but that Jesus entered into his own life and could enter into anyone’s life by simply surrendering to Him.
That same month, almost 20 years ago, at a weekend service at Saddleback Church, I said a prayer to accept Jesus with a man behind the Celebrate Recovery information table. It felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders.
This time, I knew “it took!” My life has never been the same.
Later this month, Strobel’s newest book, The Case for Miracles releases. The subhead for the book reads: A Journalist Investigates Evidence for the Supernatural.
Yes, there were many “seeds” planted in me along the way, but it is a journalist that God chose to use in order to speak to me clearly and impactfully, and to catapult me into an amazing new direction.
While setting out to debunk what he didn’t know was good news with the possibility that he would regurgitate fake news, Strobel found the real news. That’s what he wrote about then and that’s what he writes and talks about now — good news.
Today, know that the media is not your enemy. Stories of God moving in our lives are being reported on all the time. Just be open to finding where those stories are being published.
“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)
Editor’s Note: The church I attend, Brooks LA, is hosting a free screening of The Case for Christ, on Sunday (March 18) at the Downtown Independent Theater. To reserve your general admission seats go here.