The Renewal of a Stubborn Heart

Sermon by 
Brandy Bustillos
June 16, 2020


Hi, everybody. My name is Brandy Tenorio, and this is my story on how I came to believe now and later fall in love with God. For me, my story really does start from the moment I was born. I was born and baptized as a part of the Catholic church. By the time I was six, my family moved from Los Angeles to Phoenix, and Catholicism and religion became nothing more than just an interesting dinner conversation. When I sit back and look at it now, I have so many vivid memories of the way that God was choosing to move in my life. And I have even more vivid memories of all the ways I would continue to resist Him time and time again. I remember being nine and spending months going to a youth ministry mid-week that a neighborhood friend would invite me to, refusing to hear the message of God, but was willing to go there and enjoy the comradery of other kids my age.

I remember from the ages of 11 to 13, my mom was sending me to a Christian based summer camp because she could trust that it would be safe. I went to camp cringing at the saying of grace before meals and sleeping through chapel, but loved going every year because of the memories I got to make. By my freshman year of high school, my parents began the process of their divorce, and this along with other life circumstances left me thinking that my life was better lived if I made myself into something and that had nothing to do with God. No one in my household had a belief in God and no one around me was going to change my opinion on that either. But God was still moving. I remember so many conversations in high school of what religion was, what it meant, and how people chose to use it in their lives.

I was always on the side of opposition though, willing to put up the fight that it was not real and unnecessary to living a productive life. I even left high school, having written a thesis on why people choose to believe in religion while suggesting why it was so unnecessary. Debate after debate, conversation after conversation of how God was not real and I had no purpose in my life, but God kept knocking at my door. By the time I got to college, I had a lot of mutual respect for what religion was and just remained fascinated on how it played a part of so many people's lives, but resisted any inch of it becoming a part of my own life. It was also my first year of college that everything would begin to change.

I remember it being October of 2016 in my freshman year of college at Arizona State, and I had chosen to drop out of my world religions class because I thought the content was boring. In my mind, my fascination with religion was just fascination. And in my mind, it was time to move on and to live a college life. I thought I closed the door to God, and again, He moved and opened another one. A week later, I would become fast friends with somebody who is now one of my best friends, and be found laid bare before God, but it didn't come without a fight on my end. I was able to become friends with her, but from the start, I was skeptical of her and her Christianity. I remember early in our friendship thinking that if I was going to be friends with a Christian, that they would try to convert me and I was not about to let that happen.

I remember getting dinner with her one night and asking her about her faith and what it meant to her. And she proudly shared her faith with me, and I was so quick to respond with a, "That's awesome that you have a faith that you love, but just to let you know, I don't, and I don't have any desire to," and kindly asked her that in our friendship, that she kept her faith to herself. She respected my request and her heart of friendship and godliness is what would continue to open my heart, and allow my heart to be open to God.

It was weeks later that she convinced me to attend a campus ministry event, saying that it was a fun event. And I went because I couldn't really find any excuse to say no. And I instantly fell in love with the campus ministry. Week after week, I would come to every social event that the ministry put on, but kept speaking on how I did not want God in my life, refusing any invitation to go to church, Bible talk, and to even study the Bible. After months, it was a known fact that I was just coming to hang out and everyone knew not to ask me about God.

And it was just known that if I were to be asked about God, that I would even stop coming. And I really needed that. It was the unconditional love of the campus ministry, even as I oppose them, that would be the catalyst to my relationship with God. After having come around for about six months, Capri Price challenged me, suggesting that if I were to say I didn't believe in God, and that it would be worth sitting down and proving the Bible wrong. Capri gave me a handful of scriptures to meditate on, and I found them incredibly interesting, but in no way convicting. A month later, we sat down to go over the scriptures. And after two hours of just trying to understand what the Bible even was, I left the time curious, but still unconvinced that God was real and still unwilling to admit that He had a role in my life.

But that was the start of something new. Week after week would pass, one wall after another would come down, and layer by layer, I was seeing everything that God had been trying to show me for so long. I found myself confused, resistant, but with an internal desire to want to see my life be changed. In a matter of only 40 days, my whole life was radically different. I learned what it meant to know God, to declare His existence, to let people into my life who are willing to understand my heart. I was able to learn what it would be like to live a life that wasn't for myself, but was entirely for God. I was able to make decision after decision of giving up my sinful desires and forfeiting so much of what I thought was worth living for in order to keep and take on a greater purpose.

It was during my time of studying the Bible that I was able to let my guard down and truly see that God had been knocking on my door for years. And it was on June 30th of 2017 that I was willing to open the door and declare Jesus as Lord. Since then, I have been able to live in faithfulness and excitement of how God still chooses to knock on my door and grant me opportunities. And these days, I'm a lot more willing to hear the call and follow suit. As I stand today, I'm able to look back and clearly see how my story has been the renewal of a stubborn heart and the birth of a life that wants nothing more than to glorify God. Thank you.

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