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CBN.com “Carpe –diem.” Maybe you’ve heard somebody say that before… it means “Seize the day … don’t worry about the future.” In theory, it sounds great, unless the concept is taken too far. It's how Jeff bright lived for years. He didn’t care if he lived or died. In fact, death had no place in his mind at all – until it came knocking at his door.
Jeff Bright of Grants Pass, Oregon has lived most of his life behind bars.
"Uh, handlebars," Jeff says. "It’s just a feeling of incredible power."
Today, biking is a hobby for Jeff, but for many years it was his identity. He dropped out of school when he was 16 and joined an outlaw motorcycle gang. As the youngest member in his club’s history, Jeff got into a lot of trouble.
"I used to say that you know, Harley Davidson was my God and sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll are my tools of worship. I looked at the world as just a big playground. I just loved to party and ride my bikes, and I was a wild kid. I carried a .45 automatic pistol."
And he didn’t hesitate to use it. Jeff was quick to defend his fellow bikers. He demanded respect and got into fights all the time. Nothing scared him — not even death. He remembers when his grandpa died, and he asked his father about death.
My father just said, “Hey, don’t worry about it, son. You know, when you’re dead, you’re dead. That’s it, you know?" He said, “Never give it another thought.”
And he didn’t -- until one of his closest biking buddies lost his life.
"It really stepped me back. It was the first time in my life that I ever really thought about ... what’s life really about? What’s really going to happen when I die?"
Jeff started searching for answers. His first theory involved outer space.
"Basically, God is an astronaut or an alien, and he came here years ago. I went to the movies, I read the books, and I was almost convinced that really all it is there is no God -- that you’re going to see or that’s going to come back, but it’s a bunch of alien brothers that put us here," he thought.
One day, Jeff was repairing equipment on a playground, when he heard a voice …
Jeff, I love you.
"I’m looking around and I’m thinking, I mean, there’s nobody out here. And about 15 minutes goes by then, 'Jeff, I love you.' And this time, that voice was all consuming yet, so peaceful. Boy, it just almost buckled my knees."
“I rode to the closest bar I could find, and I just started down, and man, you know the thoughts were racing through my mind. What was that? Who, could there really be a God?"
The questions haunted him for weeks. He tried to get the experience out of his mind by focusing on his alien-god concept. He even talked to his cousin about that.
"He [Jeff's cousin] looked up at me, and his eyes got full of tears and he said, 'Jeff, Jesus loves you,' " he remembers.
Jeff ran away again—but not for long.
"I basically reached the place where I mean, I wasn’t dumb – I realized that something was happening, and I needed to find out about Jesus, you know what this is all about."
When Jeff was ready, he took his questions to his cousin. He told Jeff how he could start a relationship with Jesus... how he had nothing to lose by giving God a chance. And this time -- the only place Jeff ran was to the foot of the cross.
Jeff prayed, "If you’re real and you can take nothing and use it, you know, then I want it."
"It was from my heart. It wasn’t just a play thing. I was very serious. And because of that, I experienced a tremendous conversion."
Jeff stopped fighting, drinking and cursing. He even gave up his motorcycle club membership.
"I wasn’t an outlaw. I just knew that I was now a Christian, a child of God. There was really a God, and He really did love me and save me. Just like the Scripture says that, 'Behold, all things become new. I’d say even the world looked new to me, it looked better.' "
Jeff had tried to read the Bible before, but it never made sense.
"Now I opened that Bible, and it just came alive. It just came off the page, and I read 13 chapters and I slept like I’ve never slept in my life. It was like I felt like a backpack literally had been taken off of me," he says.
Through the years, Jeff has learned that the Christian life isn’t always an easy life -- but that God is faithful, even in the very hard times ... like when Jeff lost his wife and two of his four children in a car accident.
"I can’t tell you that I handled it perfectly. I mean, I seriously had my moments of struggle. But without God, without being able to get on my knees -- to be able to even direct my anger or my confusion to Him, I don’t know how a man could handle something like that."
The loss is still heavy on his heart.
"I see little kids play, you know, and it’ll take me back to my son. But, I also know that I’m going to see him again some day and that gives me tremendous joy. You know, that gives me tremendous peace to know that though they are dead, yet shall they live."
It’s a very different perspective on life and death than Jeff had before. Now, Jeff has hope. He’s happily re-married to a woman named Sherry, and he’s a member of a Christian motorcycle club.
"If you would get on your knees and ask God, 'If you’re real, come into my life' ... you’ve got nothing to lose by doing that. I was lost, and now I’m found. I was blind, but now I see."
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