Growing up in Liverpool can be rough and there’s often conflict. Having seen enough of where my older friends were being led, and having already had my fair share of trouble and fighting, skating was something that presented a whole new world.
As I began to skate more and more, I discovered the Liverpool street scene that would begin to shape my teenage years. 50 to 100 skaters, skating together through out the week, while often traveling the country entering for contests and events, all in the name of fun.
I finished school at 15, going on to take Art courses at Liverpool College for 6 months before being invited by Geoff Rowley, also from Liverpool to come stay with him and the Flip crew in Huntington Beach, California. My first time on the West Coast of America and I knew I had found my home.
The next few years involved living in apartment after apartment in Huntington Beach with Andrew Reynolds, Jay Strickland, Jim Greco, Ali Boulala and the whole Warner Ave Crew. Riding for Tony Hawks Birdhouse we spent day and night skating everywhere we could, filming and shooting photos. I was a teenager traveling the world with no responsibilities but to skateboard, eat and hang out in the local Jacuzzis.
Life had played out fine as far as what I had set my goals on and what challenges I had faced. And then at around the age of 19 I got into a serious relationship with my future wife to be. We hung out non stop for four months, and with myself about to leave back to the UK, we opted to drive out to Elope to Vegas and declare our love to the world…
We were so sure of how all of this would work out, living happily after ever, that we went ahead and decided to start a family.
I was 19! And we also opted to not tell our families, but only a handful of friends.
Our love was as true as love can be as far as the world goes, and we were more than happy when we found out we were pregnant. I was skating, had a pro model for Birdhouse coming out, and a pro model shoe for Adio on the way, riding for Volcom so everything seemed solid. But somewhere between getting pregnant and having a one year old our whole reality changed.
When we meet people, building emotions, beginning to fall in love it is often out of own selfishness. We like the person because of the way they look, think, act, treat us, and so it is more about ourselves than it is about them. We were all about each other and as Tracy adjusted to becoming a mom I had no idea what was taking place. By the time I had gotten used to trying to be a father, her hormones re-aligned and she was now in need of the same honey moon stage romance. We were all over the place!
I was touring, and through the issues that many marriages face early on, we had no clue of how to walk in true love. We were lost, and soon we were arguing like crazy. We talked about being separated so much that after just a few years we ended up divorced.
All those feelings of anger came back from being a kid in Liverpool. While making money, while traveling the world, while living the so called dream with skateboards and gear with your name on I had no clue about anything really. The thing that mattered most, my marriage, had failed, and I was frustrated, wounded and hurt.
I moved out into an apartment with a few more skaters and this only resulted in chaos.
I had made it to America, was living out the American Dream, but was soon divorced, not yet a US Citizen and becoming aware that life was making no sense.
I was raised about five doors down from a huge Catholic Church. Giant brick building with all sorts of images all over. I guess I had some sort of belief that God may be real, but had no reality of Who He is. Just an idea, something you talk about along with UFOS, Bigfoot and Ghost stories late at night.
I did pray at times and never liked hearing people blaspheme, but pursuing God was not something I was focused on. After getting plenty of skate tickets and being assigned anger management, and needing to fulfill “Community Service” while looking through the list of where to serve, I read “Christian Thrift Store”.
I thought about the cool vintage shirts, the old school baseball tees and the rest of what America throws away. And having not spent anytime with Christians really, this should make my 120 hours community service pass fairly easily.
My wife and I were separated but did we stop loving each other? Did we want it to work? Our friends gave the typical advice of “we would meet other people” and that we were not the “right ones for each other” but were they right? We had no idea of Gods plan for marriage, so with ourselves at the center, seeking our own, we didn’t work to fight for the vows we had said “I do” to.
Feeling like life had no purpose and knowing I was going to be at a Christian Thrift Store I decided I was going to look for God with the goal of proving He wasn’t real. If He wasn’t real, then everything is permissible and nothing truly matters. We are all just happenstance, and road-kill, who came from “nothing”, and so my divorce, my having no understanding about life, would be justified away. This would also in a sense let me off the hook for having no clue about life, and whatever may be, then so be it, I guess, right?
As sad as it is to say, I thought about suicide a lot, but having my son was definitely something that encouraged me.
To challenge God I took the direct approach. Read about Religions, figure out where they started and what they claimed, look into evolution and many of the accepted theories, put it all together and when it collapses, the only thing standing should be Truth. Surely there is no God!
As I began at the Thrift store I had already ordered the History channel and National Geographic DVDS about The Bible. I was reading Darwins “Origin of species”, looking for what the world has to say against God, and of course, for the first time, reading The Bible.
While folding clothes, stacking books and moving furniture around the Thrift store, the mood was set by songs like “Hank Williams”, “I saw the Light” and many of Johnny Cash’s Gospel songs. Most people there were actual Christians who were part of the local Church. All of this was new to me remember, so everyday was an adventure.
The Thrift Store would also give me extra hours for serving at the local church service on a Wednesday night. So there I was, in the kitchen cooking fries and flipping burgers for whoever walked through their doors.
I was e-mailing Priests and Rabbis, questioning the book of Mormon and the Watchtower, trying to understand what “Enlightenment” meant. Why were my Rasta friends so mellow? What actually happened in the Crusades and where is God today?
My community service was broken up over 7 months because I was still traveling for skating. Over those months I realized how so many of those Godless DVDS where just theory, an idea, and often times prejudice. I saw how many of the faiths never started and ended anywhere and didn’t answer the most basic questions anyone would expect to understand if there was a God. I also saw how many people that professed faith, often never actually tried to walk along with what they confessed.
In a nutshell, there was no evidence for evolution. Darwin himself said his theory would be proven or not, within 50 years. Many faiths have a numerous amount of gods without there being any accountability, so in a sense, whatever one thinks, or comes up with, people can roll with, and so making us our own gods. Most faiths don’t deal with the issues of why we are here, if we matter, how things should be or what happens after we die.
Through those seven months I found a book on the shelf in that Thrift store. “The Case for Christ”. And this book helped answer a lot of the questions I had and led me to pursue the scriptures even more.
I was still fighting with my now ex wife, as nothing had changed, and I had gotten even more frustrated. I made the decision that if God didn’t show Himself then what did it matter if I lived or not?
By now I was reading in The Bible about the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The God who said He created man in His Image. The God who said He spoke the Uni (single) verse (sentence) into existence. The God who made a covenant with Noah, with Abraham and also with the Hebrew people and eventually out to the people of the whole world. This God, was a God who cared, a God Who was personal, concerned with mans affairs. And this God had set in place laws for which His people were to keep. And so as Israel bore witness of their faith in GOD, YHWH (YAHWEH), the neighboring peoples would hear of Who He was choosing to submit to Gods authority, or not.
Time and time again Israel rebelled and fell into sin and so God withdrew and sent them a Prophet to challenge them to turn their hearts back to the Father. Eventually God withdrew from the Nation for a season and sent his only Begotten Son, Jesus, once and for all to die on the cross making atonement for the sin of all who would repent and call Him Lord.
Is this possible I thought? Did all of the Old Testament verses pertaining to sacrifices, temples, the shedding of blood, and coming Messiah point to Jesus?
I read and read, watched and watched but had not yet met Jesus. I was looking to God as a way to fix my life, to give me a sign of some sort, but the Truth of it is, what I really needed, is what all people need. I really needed to be forgiven of my sins.
I had been skating up at the Skate Lab and had ran into Christian Hosoi who had recently gotten out of prison, where he had become a believer. Little did I know someone had told him I was searching.
As we began to connect the next few weeks I ended up attending the church he was attending, The Sanctuary, and began to hear more about God.
In my personal life I knew I wanted to be around until my son was at least 5. I figured that way, he would at least know me, and how much I loved him. This led to my buying a house, and even inviting my ex wife to move in.
As I was finishing up community service and upon sitting in services at church I heard a message out of Matthew particularly, where Jesus tells us “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven.” Matthew 7:21
And also Galatians 5:16-21 “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
I was beginning to understand that I was going to God to fix my life, make me feel better, and for my own reasons, yet God was drawing me to Himself, because as a sinner, I needed to be forgiven. I had lied, blasphemed, disrespected my parents, and lived everyday with myself at the center, instead of God.
That night after church I went home and again got into another fight with my ex wife. Later that night I found myself in my office and got on my face before the Lord. It was around midnight and I began to pray.
Praying a prayer about how I was over my life and that I was sick of fighting with Tracy, and not knowing how to be the Dad I should be. I called out being as serious as I could be and shared with the Lord my heart… Of course He already knew.
I said I was over everything, and began to plead with Him for around 40 minutes about the simple things I don’t understand and the things we fight about that I am sorry for. I acknowledged my sins asking to be forgiven telling Him that based on the scripture I understood how in Christ, Who died in my place on The Cross, I can be forgiven, be made new, have eternal life, as He leads me to repent, and sends The Holy Spirit to confirm this in me. Hearing that Jesus not only lived, but died and rose again, fulfilling hundreds of prophecies, with many yet to still be fulfilled, I knew my life was never going to be the same.
Upon asking for forgiveness I said I would:
Give Him my skating
Remarry my wife.
That’s night Just as Jesus Christ claims in His Word, that He has shed His Blood for the sins of whoever calls upon His Name, He was faithful.
There was an assuring moment in that room that night, that I can only describe as knowing it was His presence, confirming my forgiveness. Everything about my mindset and doubt was changed. He did what He claimed as I was born-again.
Kneeling beside that bed with joy, yet weeping thinking about how so many people still do not know He is real, and a forgiving and loving God.
I knew Gods was Holy, and how sin had separated us, and that all people are born into this world spiritually dead, and that we need to be forgiven as we are spiritual “born-again.”
I spent the next 40 minutes praising and praying for Gods Will to be done in my life.
Going to bed at around 1am I laid down next to my son with my ex-wife on the other side. She sat up with her eyes closed and gave me a speech about everything I had just prayed, confirming what had just happened. She laid back down and the next morning could not recall ever saying what she had said.
Awaking the next day everything had changed. I remember saying I wanted to follow Christ and wasn’t interested in the house, who she could be with or what she wanted to do. Her being raised Catholic she began to question and challenge everything I was saying, telling me I was not catholic and that I was not baptized. Continuing in prayer, it was around three weeks later that after a man had preached at Church that she had her own personal moment of salvation.
I was baptized September 12th 2004, and we were re-married within a year.
We began attending church consistently, connecting with fellow believers leading to my attending Bible School, beginning to travel for outreaches, beginning to preach and teach to nowadays all sorts of global ministry.
My sponsors soon changed as my focus became about The Gospel.
As a kid I got knocked out on a handrail and woke up saying I had seen God, saying I had heard from God that He had a plan for me in America. I could not remember my sisters name, or the most basic facts at that time, but I was so persistent in saying that God had revealed something to me. I also said He told me I would forget much of what I was told but that I would ride for Airwalk and would be living in America one day.
I was a 15 year old kid who had never been to Church or read The Bible and had no sponsors. For the next two weeks I had more joy than I had ever known. Everything was amazing and I would walk around talking about Jesus, about God and how amazing He is.
Fast forward to when I actually came to faith, and as a believer I was trying to explain the feeling to someone of the Lord saving me in my office that night and while I was trying to relate it to something, I recalled “one time as a teen when I was knocked out skating…”
It was here that I realized that I had forgotten all about this experience. It was the exact same feeling from claiming the Lord revealed something to me, to years later when He showed up and set me free. I had forgotten all about what I said had happened, but it was confirmed years later. Amen!
Consider The Gospel
I grew up thinking that there may be a God. And I believe we all look around and wonder if something or someone created all of this. Do I matter? Am I happen stance? Paul’s tells us…
Romans 1:20 “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse”
So what I was viewing in life, and all that is around, is an evidence of His Eternal Power and Divine Nature. If we stop and think, there are two options: Created, or not created! Either everything is happenstance, or intentional.
When people told me about Jesus or God it never made any sense, as the Bible itself says… “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18
So to the unbeliever, the one who doesn’t know Jesus, the Bible tells us that the message of Jesus coming to die for our sins is foolishness to that person.
In John 3 Jesus told Nicodemus
John 3:3 “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
So man cannot see the Kingdom of Heaven if He is not born again. Upon hearing this Nicodemus asked Jesus
John 3:4 “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
John 3:5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
So Jesus has told Nicodemus, that He “cannot see the Kingdom of Heaven unless “one is born again.”
Why not? Because of our sin! Because we are separated from God. It doesn’t matter if you think you sin or not, we are not the judge, God is! And our sin must be forgiven for us to be in right standing with God. We have been born into a world where we have inherited the first man, Adams fallen state, and so we are spiritually dead, and cannot see nor understand. Any idea I had about religion, or likewise that you may have, was that there were certain rules, and that we needed to be perfect, never struggling, trying to live by some standard, almost like karma, trying to be good enough.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:18 “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”
So the world will pass, but the Word of God won’t, meaning His Scripture. And this is how God speaks, so that when people hear it, Gods purposes will be accomplished.
Isaiah 55:11 “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
So Gods Word, it accomplishes its purpose, either giving life, or condemning, as people hear, and either respond, or not.
How does it give life? We see that by it we are sinners, in need of forgiveness and that it is Jesus alone Who can save us from judgement, and eternal guilt. He is the Sacrifice, the Priest, the One Who makes a way for us to be right with God.
Thats why He told us “No one comes to The Father but by Me.” John 14:6
Paul said in Romans 7:7 “For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.”
So without the Law, Gods commands telling us we have lied, lusted, hated, blasphemed and so forth, we would not have known what sins was. Sin, is doing the opposite of what God said. Sin is transgressing Gods Law.
Galatians 3:24 “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”
How does it bring death? When we reject it and don’t believe, our sins condemn us, and by our very nature, we are born in opposition of God.
Most people say they are good, by doing good deeds, or being nice, but the Bible says
Romans 3:10 “There is none righteous, no, not one”
So no one is good!
Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
We have all sinned!
James 2:10 “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.”
So if we have broken just one of the 10 commandments, if we have lied once, we are a liar, lusted after someone, we are an adulterer, looked at our brother with hatred, we are a murderer, used Gods Name in vain, a blasphemer. We are guilty of it all! We are not good! And so what state does this leave us in? What is our payment for being a sinner?
Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
If you want to know if you are a sinner, ask yourself why you die, and no matter what reasons you may come up with, God has said that it is because we are born in sin, and just like Adam, who died, every human there after will also die.
Hebrews 9:27 “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.”
So once we die, we will stand before God and be judged, and as we have already read, we are all already guilty, standing condemned. Also note that once we die, we are judged, not reincarnated.
Many people challenge the idea that God will judge, famously saying “Only God can judge me”, which is true, but because God is perfect, and He has to pour out the sentence for sin, it is not a good thing to die a sinner, without being forgiven.
John 3:18 “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”
So all people, right now, are either, condemned or not. Forgiven or not! And how you may ask, does one escape condemnation?
Hebrews 9:22 “And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.”
The Law, the Ten Commandments, requires the shedding of blood as payment/atonement for sin. The Jews ritually sacrificed animals, shedding their blood, as a yearly payment to show that the nation was sorry for their sins. These sacrifices needed to take place every year, and showed man that he was consistently struggling with sin, and in need of constant sacrifices. These were all a foreshadow, of the promise of God, that one day He would provide the ultimate once and for all sacrifice, in and through His Son Jesus, for the sins of all who would confess Him as Lord, repenting of their sins and putting their faith in Him, as they continue living out their lives.
Hebrews 9:26 “He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”
But most people, sadly, will reject this message, as the Bible says…
Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
Repentance, means acknowledging and turning from our sin, as God leads, being forgiven, and our being born-again into His Kingdom.
The Apostle Paul said…
Romans 10:9-10 “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
Ephesians 2:8-10 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
And so it is clear, in scripture, that we are not good, we have all sinned, are guilty, in need of The Savior and that in Him, Jesus, we find Grace, Mercy and our purpose, and can continue living out the rest of our days pointing the way for others to come to faith and be forgiven. Because at the end of the day, we all enter the grave, will all be resurrected and should want as many people as we can reach to hear about The Gospel.
We are all a heartbeat away from Heaven or hell, and the Bible says “tomorrow is not promised; today is the day of Salvation.” Do you know Him? Have you been forgiven? You don’t need to rush out to a Church, to sit before a priest, to how someone wipe your head with Holy water. Instead, you need to ask yourself if what you believe above is true. Do you need forgiveness? Has God spoken to you through His Word?
Are you hearing of His Grace and Mercy, and that God in His Love made a way for you?
Jesus told us that “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” John 10:27-28
Are you hearing His voice? Do you know that you need to follow Him?
I pray that if you have read this far that you see the work that Jesus did upon The Cross, Crucified for our sins and providing a way for Repentance, Redemption and Salvation, and that here and now He begins a work in your heart leading you to faith, and into an eternal relationship with Him.
Please don’t hesitate to personally message me for prayer, with any important questions, or to share how God is moving in your life.