I was recently asked to speak to a business association in Portland. In preparation for that talk, I revisited and rewrote a bit of my story. Here is what came out! 🙂
Weird Al Yankovic
HOW IT BEGAN
I was born in 1959, in Los Angeles County, California, in the same hospital and year as Weird Al Yankovic! My father was a member of the LAPD. He died at age 49, when I was 6. I was neglected and didn’t bond with my mother, older brother or sister. I felt alone in the world. My father had been an angry, violent, racist, hard smoking, alcoholic. After he died, I tried to be like him. My mother was driven, self-focused, moralistic, self-righteous, and a workaholic. I learned from her as well. I was on the streets of L.A. during the ‘Summer of Love’ and I began surfing in ‘69 as well. The ocean became an emotional refuge for me. Surfing took me away from work, my family and put me in a group of surfing friends. Violence was a big part of my formative years. I had three credible death contracts on my life. – SoCal culture modeled to me that a life of wealth, leisure and sensuality was the meaning of life… but somehow, I became aware that life had to be more than work, houses, cars, money, sex, travel and parties.
I came up near the intersection of the
I-5 and 605 freeways in LA County.
HOW HE FOUND ME
I was Agnostic and aware that I’d been raised in a culturally Christian context. I thought that I was a product of my environment. What if the Bible was wrong and false? What if Jesus was a fable? At age 14, I began to ask philosophical questions and to process worldview issues. I read about religions and visited temples to see what other faiths taught. I interviewed priests and spiritual practitioners. Nothing was making sense to me. Realizing, in my search, that I had not studied the Bible, I began to read it. First I read Proverbs, then Ecclesiastes, then Genesis… and ultimately the Gospels and all of the New Testament. While I read, I believed that I was exploring a myth. Jesus could not have done all of those things! But the wisdom of the Bible had gripped me… So, against my own will, I gradually began to believe that Jesus is who He claims to be. I fell in love with Jesus. Finally one night, after reading scripture for hours, God touched my heart, forgave my sins and entered my soul. I had no idea what was happening to me but I began to believe, to cry for joy and to thank God for whatever this transformative experience was.
I started believing that Jesus is real
while reading the Bible.
So was that it? Did I just become a Jesus follower as a teen and live happily ever after? No. God did change me straightaway in several ways. But I was still an ignorant young man. God had saved my soul but I didn’t fully understand what the Gospel of Jesus (or The Good News) really was. I still had erroneous ideas, ideals and behaviors. But the Seed of Truth was cleaning my heart. Straightaway, without effort, I began to talk to my friends and to strangers about Messiah Jesus. They thought I was crazy. I’m not. I’d discovered Reality. My growth toward becoming more like Jesus has been long, laborious and painful. I thought, for example, that I’d become a minister and that everyone would like and want me. I was wrong. Serving others is hard and costly. Life with God is complex. But life without God is vapid and meaningless. I eventually graduated from real estate schools, university, Bible college, seminary, grad schools… But education did not complete or transform me. His Godly character is being formed in me, gradually.
I stated surfing at age ten. I still love to surf. This photo is not of me.
Remember when Jesus told Peter that he was acting like the Devil? I do because, like Peter, I do not like Jesus’ teachings about suffering, rejection and death. I want my life to be easy and I want to be The Boss – not Him. I’m selfish and proud. I’ve had to fight with God about His will and control over my life. He’s winning the debate. Jesus IS Lord, and I’m learning slowly that He is The Sovereign King and that I’m His Subject.
“But turning around and looking at His disciples, He (Jesus) rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind Me, Satan, because you’re not thinking about God’s concerns, but man’s!” Mark 8:33 csb
JOY & HOPE
As goofed up and broken as I have been, God has been most gracious to me. I’m still in love with Him and with my wife (since 1980). He gave us two wonderful daughters. We have two nephews who are like sons to us. We have a growing and beautiful family. I’ve been able to interact with friends from more than 50 nations of the world about the Jesus Story. I’m privileged to serve as a Bible teacher and pastor. God is good and… I am grateful.
“And He (Jesus) died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the One who died for them and was raised.” 2 Corinthians 5:15