Confession of an Unlikely Reformer

Special Guest Post by Daryl Updike

My name is Daryl, and I’m a Presbyterian. I wasn’t always a Presbyterian. In fact, I wasn’t always a Christian. As many stories of conversion go, I was a terrible person on the road to destruction. My wife and I were very close to getting a divorce.

We, at the time, had been married for 8 years and had a three year old daughter. Then, August 24, 2012, a friend of mine gave me a movie. This was the typical Christian movie that I normally wouldn’t have watched if an actor I watched as a kid on ‘Growing Pains” Kirk Cameron wasn’t the main character. The movie is called “Fireproof.”

I watched this movie by myself, and I believe it is what God used to bring me to Himself. At the end of the movie, I cried out to God to change me. I asked him to change my selfish ways so I could live to Him and for my family. Ever since that day I have not looked back.  I have been continually in the Scriptures and reading, as well as listening to, sound teachers.

But this is a Reformed blog. Why would my conversion story, starting with a not so much theologically reformed movie, have anything to do with being Reformed? Before I answer that, let us back up much earlier in my life.

I grew up going to a Roman Catholic Church. My Mom, who died in 2004, took me and my older sister to church every Sunday. We also attended Catholic school in our youth. I believe this gave me a foundation of sorts. While the gospel was never truly preached or heard, I knew the bible stories and the names.

When I turned 18 and went to college, my Mom didn’t make me go to church anymore. Although I occasionally went on my own in college, I was not a regular attender. Even when I stopped going, I didn’t consider myself an atheist but definitely was not a Christian. I was probably more likely to say I was spiritual and not religious. I still often hear this from people I share the gospel with. They are spiritual and not religious.

Fast forward to 2012. I had been working as a personal trainer for 7 years. In that world, things are influenced by eastern philosophy and new age thought. I leaned in that direction, being influenced by books like “Think and Grow Rich” and gurus like Anthony Robbins. (I once had a phone call with an Anthony Robbins life coach who told me, “It sounds like you need Tony Robbins in your life.”)

That is a little of my spiritual background leading up to conversion to Christ. It is all important to the story leading to my reformation. On coming to Christ in 2012, my friend told me a about a CMA (Christian Missionary Alliance) church that I might like. It was a more charismatic church that met at a movie theatre. It had the stage lights and worship band, that I would eventually come to join as a drummer. With my Roman Catholic background this was much different. I thought at the time this was more biblical. I did not have much knowledge of the Bible at that time.

As you can see from this brief description, the church was not reformed. So, how did I get to be presbyterian?

In short, Christian AM radio led me to Reformed theology. I started listening to a local station on the recommendation of a friend.  This station had teachers like Alistair Begg, RC Sproul, and John MacArthur. In fact, the first time I heard of election was from listening to John MacArthur. I remember listening while I was driving and feeling angry when I first heard this. But then I looked at the passages he was referencing and low and behold, it is there. The Bible teaches election.

As I began to listen to these teachers more, and read other scholars, and study the Bible, I saw more and more Reformed teachings to be biblical teachings. It began to be hard to believe these teachings and continue to be in a church that does not teach them.

My wife and I started to see that Reformed theology is not just five points of Calvinism. While soteriology is an important part of Reformed theology, it is not all Reformed theology teaches.

There is church polity, church practice, and covenant theology to name a few doctrines other than the doctrines of grace. The out workings and practice of these teachings show what a person believes the Bible teaches.

After leaving the CMA church, we were members of a nondenominational (aka Baptists) church for a while, but some of the same issues of practice arose. This eventually led us to where we are today: We are members of an OPC (Orthodox Presbyterian Church). We love how Reformed theology informs what the church does and teaches. We love the adherence to the Bible and to the Westminster Confession of Faith. We love the way the church government is structured. We love having morning and evening worship.  And, as I am pursuing ministry and in seminary, I love how I have been taken under care of the Presbytery.

While am I aware there are no perfect churches this side of heaven, we are grateful for God leading us to Grace OPC. I am grateful for the journey along the way from growing up Roman Catholic to now being Presbyterian. I am grateful that God is sovereign over my salvation. I am grateful for faithful men preaching and teaching that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, according to Scripture alone, to the glory of God alone.

If you are new to Reformed theology, I pray you will see all the blessings there are in these teachings. I pray you see the comfort and assurance in knowing God has done all in saving you. I pray that you will find a church that teaches, not only the doctrines of grace, but also everything that comes along with them and it shows in their practice.

As one, who started as a Roman Catholic, went eastern philosophy/new age, to CMA/nondenominational, I am most thankful that I am a Christian at all. I was, as seen from the outside, unlikely, but am now very happy to be Reformed and Presbyterian.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

2 Corinthians 13:14

Say hello and send a tweet to Daryl on Twitter at @DarylUpdike