Disciple | Christian Conference Speaker | Men’s Ministry Speaker | Author
Author of Midnight Approaches: Understanding the Times and Knowing What To Do About Them
Former Director of Strategic Relationships for Promise Keepers
Regular contributor to the men’s ministry website thirdoptionmen.org
Bachelor of Arts in Christian Management & Leadership from Trinity College & Seminary
Extensive experience in church-based ministry as a worship leader, teacher, and youth minister
To learn more, go to www.davidsjesse.com
Diary of a Ruined Man
I guess from the very outset I feel it’s my responsibility to tell you that I’m a ruined man. My life has been turned upside down. After thinking I had everything figured out, my life was totally changed. I’ll never be the same again.
And I wouldn’t want it any other way.
It all started one Saturday morning a few years ago.
My wife, Christy, and I walked up a tree lined street and turned to our right. We passed through an old iron gate and into a garden. It was beautiful. There weren’t a lot of flowers. Just a few ancient olive trees scattered around, with a pebble path passing between them. We were actually with a group of about 70 others. The garden is called Gethsemane. It is at the base of the Mount of Olives. And it is there that Jesus made His ultimate decision to deny Himself and take up His cross. The group was having a time of teaching and worship, but I didn’t join them. I was overwhelmed with emotion. So, I sat on a small rock and took out my Bible. I read Matthew 26:36-46. A crack opened up in the very center of my soul and spread throughout my entire being. For a week I had been traveling throughout Israel. I’d been to Galilee. I’d spent time in Ein Gedi, the Ellah Valley and Masada. And the entire time I felt that something just wasn’t right. Now, in a garden famous not only for the prayer of my Savior, but for the silence of His Father, that feeling turned into anguish. I came to realize that we had been spending the past week talking almost entirely about what God could do for us, and very little about what we could do for Him. It is here, in the garden, that I saw that modern Christianity has lost its focus, and that what Jesusintended for the Church is no longer even visible. This thought consumed me throughout the rest of my travels in Israel.
The contrast is clearly seen in the differences between the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and Gordon’s Tomb. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is the traditional site of Calvary and the tomb of Jesus. It is ornate. It is covered with a chapel and gold and paintings. People are everywhere. Gordon’s Tomb is a different site that others believe is where Calvary and the tomb could have been. It is quiet. It is simple. It is a place of peace. I remember walking through the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and just wanting to get out of there. Something seemed so overblown and false about it. But Gordon’s Tomb – I could have stayed there all day.
I don’t know which the correct location is. I don’t think it really matters. But the difference between the two illustrates what I believe has happened to the Church. We’ve become so overblown and focused on pomp and circumstance; on programs and memberships; on size and status; on what’s in it for us; that we have lost the meaning. And today, what the world sees makes them want to stay away. I don’t know if I blame them.
In the movie The Matrix, a mentor-like figure named Morpheus describes the Matrix to his young pupil, Neo, as “a splinter in your mind.” That is what my trip to Israel became to me – a splinter in my mind. A festering nuisance that kept me awake at night. A thought – that we’ve become something we were never intended to be – consumed me. I returned home to Colorado and all I wanted to do was study. Something in my spirit said that I had to go back to the beginning. I needed to reject 2,000 years of church history and focus on the start. What was the original Church like? Who were the original Believers? What did they believe? And, most importantly, what was Jesus really like? What I discovered has forever changed my life.
It will change your life too.