A few weeks ago our pastor challenged the church congregation to “Be Courageous and Share Your Story”. A few days later it hit me that one way, not the only way, I could do that would be online through my blog or on Facebook. So here it is, Here is my story and I welcome any questions, comments, or snide remarks.
I grew up in a great home, a happy home, and while I felt very sheltered from a lot of crazy things in life, I knew that I was blessed because of the environment I was raised in. My parents were both involved in church and so consequently, so was I, but again I didn’t mind. I loved church, I love the people in the church. My friends in church were different from most of the other students at school. I had a few good friends at school, but most of my close friends were in the church with me. Because I had a long history of being in church I knew a lot about the Bible, facts about God, and felt like I had a grasp on why things were the way they were. As an early teen I began to notice that my brother and some other friends were making a choice to trust Jesus as their savior and they were baptized later on. After a few months, it hit me that I knew a bunch of facts about the Bible and God, but I had not yet taken those facts to heart. I had not really placed my faith, my trust in Jesus in my own personal way. One night, while at a youth ministry event I really felt convicted within me to stop putting off what I already knew I needed to do and go talk to someone about making my faith personal. I still get reminders today, because of my job, of how scary that can be for a teen, to walk out of a pew or crowd and go talk to someone. I knew what I had to do, grab the closest person near me and make them go with me! I grabbed a great friend named Susanne and stepped out to find someone to talk to.
That night, April 30, 1988 I sat down with a man who went over the gospel of Jesus with me quickly to make sure I understood what I believed and what my need was. For the first time I placed my trust in Jesus, that His death on the cross was payment for my sins and even though I didn’t understand it all, I knew that I was far from perfect and that I needed Jesus not only for an eternal life, but for a great life now. I said a short prayer and asked God to forgive me of my past sins, I placed my belief in Jesus, for who He said he was, and I turned my life over to God to be my Lord, or boss for a lack of a better term. A few months later I was baptized by my grandfather, who also was a pastor, in Yazoo City, Mississippi.
Since I have placed my faith in God I have had some interesting times, some great times, some challenging times, but they have all helped me grow in my relationship to God. During my college years, I struggled with the idea that, perhaps I was a Christian only because I was raised in a Christian home. I didn’t want the faith of my parents, I wanted to own my own faith. I began to look at all the other worldviews and examine then for myself. I knew after all, that not all the different worldviews could be correct. I begin reading books on other religions and studying them to get a better understanding of them. I admit at first I kept a close grip on my faith and didn’t want to be pulled from my own faith. Some might say I was studying with a presupposition. I was lucky enough to be taught though by my pastor and other teachers that I should do the research and examine things for myself and not just except the way things are because someone tells me so. Trust is earned. What I read was backed up by what I read for myself and what I found to be true in life. My faith was becoming my own.
Right before finishing college, I began to question my career and what God really wanted me to do after I graduated. I had always felt that God wanted me to be a teacher, but the last few months before graduation, I believe that God used a few different people to speak to me about being a pastor/minister. After a few months of pushing the idea aside I finally quit telling God “no”, and I told God that if He wanted me to do something different with my life I would do it and trust Him for the things I didn’t know. It was amazing what happened immediately after I had that conversation with God in my prayer time. I felt this peace just fall over me like a heavy blanket. I knew right then and there that I was not going to be an orchestra teacher anymore.
Right about this time, God opened a door for me to work in a church as an intern for the youth ministry. Six months later the church came back and offered me the job permanently. That was in 1997. Fourteen years later I have had the joy of serving 3 churches as their student pastor and have loved every minute of it. I don’t feel like it is a job, but rather a calling. Over the past 14 years I have grown in my passion for teaching the Bible and have also found a love for apologetics. Apologetics is the study of “why you believe what you believe” or backing up your faith with reason and evidence. Apologetics has allowed me to get a better grasp in what I believe and made my faith stronger. Over the last few years I have opened up my reading and began to read books from both sides of the debate between atheists/agnostics and believers. I try to read both sides to get an honest view-point from both sides of the aisle. I have yet to find anything that worries me or that might cause my faith to stumble. My passion today still lies with both the teens in this generation and teaching them apologetics that will prepare them for the vastly different world in which they live today. It is a different world in which I lived in 20 years ago as a teen.
If you have any questions for me I would be glad to try to answer them for you. I don’t know all the answers, not even close, but I would be glad to share what I have found to be solid ground to stand upon in my life.