Up close and personal with @papa-pepper
It’s been a while since I last posted, but I’ve been actively engaging with many interesting people in our Steemit community. As a result, I’ve decided to interview some of those wonderful people I’ve had the pleasure meeting through Steemit, and dig deeper into who they are and what drives their lives.
For today’s interview, I had the pleasure of chatting with @papa-pepper. Our discussion centered on Steemit, faith and life. Hope you enjoy our conversation, and if you have any questions for @papa-pepper, please leave a comment in the comments section below and I’m sure @papa-pepper will be more than happy to respond.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with me.
You have one of the highest ranked reputations on Steemit. Tell me a bit about how you first joined Steemit and how you have found the journey so far.
You know, my incredibly high reputation ranking in the steemit community has been one of those things that completely surprised me. I guess that I’ve just put out a lot of solid content over a long period of time, so I have gotten a lot of votes. I joined last July, and for months I was working hard to put out four posts every day so I could get a lot of exposure. Right from the beginning, whales like @pharesim and @complexring took notice of some of my posts, and although the whale support has varied over the months, it seems that at least someone always has their eyes on me.
It was @noganoo who first introduced me to steemit, and it was really my first entry into the digital realm. There is always so much going on at home, at work, and outdoors, that my previous online computer time was very limited, consisting mostly of a little google, youtube, a few emails, and craigslist. Since I had no prior “social media” experience, I wasn’t really sure what to expect on steemit. The only reason that I joined in the first place is that it was an opportunity to potentially earn some extra finances, but the solid and caring community has been an incredible blessing as well, and I’m glad that I have been able to meet a handful of others in person.
Tell me a bit about yourself. Who is @papa-pepper? What are you passionate about and what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
These days, @papa-pepper is a happily married father of four and counting. I am passionate about living my life to the fullest, which includes both a daily investment in the lives of my wife (@mama-pepper) and children (@little-peppers) as well as a genuine concern for other people that I meet in the world. I enjoy being out in creation, so I garden, hunt, fish, forage, and play in the outdoors with my family often. A lot of my life has also been spent attempting to expose others to the truth and to let them know that there is a better way, and an eternity after this life ends.
Tell me a bit about your upbringing. What was it like for you growing up? Were there any special occasions or pivotal moments in your childhood that stands out in your memory?
I am the oldest of three boys. My parents are fast approaching their 40th wedding anniversary, so I had both parents growing up and ever since then too. My appreciation of creation and all the wonderful creatures began when I was young. I was always checking out bugs and turtles, and anything else that I could catch or observe.
My family used to rent a cabin in northern Wisconsin every year and we would spend a week up there once school got out. I really appreciated being able to pretty much live at the lake for that week, and check out fish, snakes, salamanders, and turtles. My family would go camping a lot too, which was always a special time. Often, I would be neck-deep in the swamp catching turtles and other creatures for much of the summer.
You are quite outspoken about your Christian faith. Can you share a bit about how you came to believe in God and become a follower of Jesus?
Often, it seems that people are free to be just about anything these days, except for a Christian. When I first joined steemit, I wasn’t sure how much of my personal and spiritual life I should actually share.
Suddenly, @papa-pepper started to become pretty huge, and I knew that my “fame and fortune”, so to say, was not reproducible, so I started an alt-account named @narrowminded. The goal was to see how hard it really was to enter steemit at that point as a nobody and attempt to make it. Basically, I wanted to be better able to understand what others were dealing with at the time. I stacked the odds against myself too by only posting Christian content, so curation guilds and such wouldn’t really be upvoting the account either.
After about two months of posting daily from that account, I think it was only worth about $20.00 or so. I had really posted some seriously great content, and even @stan, the father of @dantheman, took notice.
After a bit, I decided that it was time to let the cat out of the bag, and let the world know that @papa-pepper was @narrowminded. I expected some backlash or perhaps to lose a few followers, but everyone seemed pretty accepting, which was a relief.
I came to faith in Jesus Christ when I met @mama-pepper. I was not exactly a nice guy or a faithful man in those days, and just did whatever I wanted to do, but when I met her, I wanted something else out of life. I knew that I could really fall for her, which terrified me. After dating for a little bit, I finally asked if she would be my wife. She accepted my offer and we made plans to get married on the one year anniversary of us dating.
Since people often get married in a church, we went to one to try to set something up. The Pastor there said that we would have to do three things in order for us to get married by him. First, we would have to stop living together until after the marriage. Second, we would have to go through 10 weeks of pre-marriage counselling. Third, we would have to change our date, because he was busy on the day that we had planned.
With who I was at the time, that was three reasons to walk out, but, somehow, I said, “Even if we won’t change our date and you don’t marry us, can we still go through all that other stuff?” I guess that I figured since God made man and woman and marriage was His idea, I wanted to know what He said about it. This surprised the Pastor, but he agreed.
At our first pre-marriage session, he asked me where I was going when I died. I replied, “Heaven.” When he asked why, I told him, “Because I’m a good person.” Trust me, that was a lie!
Anyway, next he began to share the Ten Commandments with me, and I realized how guilty I was of breaking God’s moral law. Once I saw my guilt, he shared with me about Who Jesus Christ is, and what He did for me. I figured if God was willing to forgive all of my sins, then I’d better accept His offer. At that point, Jesus made sense to me for the first time in my life.
If anyone asked you what does it mean to be a Christian and why did you decide to become a Christian, how would you answer?
For me, being a Christian means that I realize that I have chosen to disobey God, and my conscience, and do things like lying, cheating, and stealing. For this sin, I deserve to be held accountable by my Creator, which means that He would find me guilty and send me to hell. However, because He still loves me, He took on flesh as Jesus Christ and lived a sin-free life, so that He could pay for my sin. After accomplishing that payment, He rose again from the dead to prove it was true.
I cannot deny that I have broken the Ten Commandments, and I cannot deny that God does indeed exist. A lot of people devote their whole lives attempting to deny the existence of God, because they know their guilt, and they don’t want to be held accountable. I simply chose to accept His offer of forgiveness and put my faith and trust in Jesus Christ to pay for my sin and make me right with God, my Creator, rather than pretending that He doesn’t exist and that I can do whatever I want to without having to take responsibility for my sinful choices.
Has your life changed in any way since becoming a follower of Jesus?
Honestly, my life has changed in about every way since receiving Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.
Previously, I had never been faithful in my relationships, but now I’ve been faithfully married for almost ten years. Before I was a lying thief, constantly, for decades, but now I choose not to lie or steal. Before I was a drunkard and a drug addict, now, I have been completely sober for over eight years.
I know that I could never do that on my own. Once, when I lived in New Orleans, I got in trouble in Florida for having illegal drugs on me. Basically, I was facing felony charges and was looking at some jail time, at least, if not prison. The state cut me a deal, and said if I went through some classes, paid some fines, and stayed sober, then I wouldn’t have to face the full charges. Basically, it was “sober up or we will throw you in a cage.”
Honestly, even when the law was breathing down my neck demanding my sobriety, I could not do it. Every time I was tempted, I would give in. Luckily, I was able to fake my way through it, but this really is something to think about. You see, a while after becoming a believer and getting married, the Lord revealed to me that He wanted me to be sober, and to quit getting drunk and high all the time. I told Him that He was asking of me the one things that I was sure I could not do. However, He told me in the Bible that He could do it through me, if I let Him.
At first, I was afraid to even pray and ask Him to, because getting drunk and high was the only life that I knew at that point. I was afraid to be sober, and I think I was afraid to pray because I knew that He could do it if I asked Him to. Well, after a few days of disobedience, I broke down and cried out to Him for help. Amazingly, it worked and He has helped me to be completely sober ever since. Somehow when real men standing in front of me demanded that I be sober or they would throw me into a real cage, I couldn’t do it. I had all the encouragement in the world to sober up, but I lacked the power to so. Then, the God Who I cannot see let me know that He wanted me sober, and that He would help me to be sober if I let Him, and suddenly I was no longer a drunk or an addict.
That is one of the biggest earthly changes in my life. All my desires and focusses in life have completely changed, and He’s helping me to become the man that He wants me to be. I can only imagine the disaster my marriage and the lives of my children would be if I had kept living my life my way, instead of His. Honestly, I know that marriage would have been over years ago, if it wasn’t for the Lord. @mama-pepper can testify to that!
What do you think is the biggest misconception about Christians among the general public?
I think that one of the biggest misconceptions is that we are “good people” who just like to judge others for their sin. Yes, many claim to be Christian and have done horrible things under that title, but I don’t exactly believe that God would have called many of them followers of Jesus Christ. You see, we can lie, so just because someone says that they are something, like a Christian, doesn’t mean it’s true.
True Christians know that they are not good, but that they are sinful. This is why we need the Savior, Jesus Christ. True Christians also know that all sins are equal in the eyes of the Holy Creator, so they don’t focus on just “attacking” certain sins in people lives. Jesus even said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” This means that we have no reason to think that anyone out there should be obey anything that God says, unless they choose to love Him. An atheist claims not even to believe that He exists, so obviously he doesn’t love Jesus or have any reason to obey Him.
That said, some claiming to be Christians have certainly added to the misconceptions. In reality though, Christians are just forgiven sinners who care for those whose sins have not yet been forgiven. God is the Judge, not us, we just know how He will judge, because He already told us that much.
You often heear people say, all religions are the same, and all roads lead to God. What is your opinion on this?
That is a very interesting question! First of all, religion is mostly about man trying to be “good” enough to reach paradise. Christianity proclaims the exact opposite, that no one is “good enough.” This is why Christianity is so different, and is really more about a relationship with Jesus Christ the Savior and God our Creator, Who Jesus reconciles us to, if we choose to receive Him as Lord and Savior.
It is worth noting that more contradictions exist, one of the most astounding being what Jesus is recorded saying in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me.” If we are going to claim that ALL spiritual belief systems are equally valid, then we must admit that any lie man can come up with is also true. If Jesus is the ONLY way to heaven, then no other way exists. If other ways do exist, then Christianity cannot be valid. Many questions only have one correct answer, so it should be no surprise that eternal life is the same way.
By way of further consideration, technically all paths do lead to God. However, it then becomes a matter of where God will send you from there. There is nothing that man can do or believe that allows Him to escape being held accountable by God when he dies, so all paths do lead to God, they just don’t all lead to heaven.
Thank you for your time.
Thanks for asking me these thought-provoking questions and for taking the time to interview me. It was a pleasure!