My Story

September 28, 2011
Amy and me

Amy and me

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.

God Bless,

John


Favorite Songs on 2009

February 4, 2010

I thought I would reflect on a few of my favorite songs from the past year  And a little about why  I like them.  I like a good variety of music and I get bored with the same stuff.  There is not a Top 10 type list, I just have the songs listed in the order I downloaded them.  

Fee - We Shine

Fee (Rock/Worship) – We Shine – I heard about this group early last year and found out they would be leading worship at Dare 2 Share a conference we attend in March.  I downloaded the CD a month before the conference to pick up the songs better at the conference.  Several of their songs were also used at Centrifuge(camp)  this summer also.   I have enjoyed the CD all year-long.  My 3 favorite songs from the We Shine Album are; “We Shine“, “Happy Day“, and “How Beautiful the Blood“.  I have made a point to learn these songs for worship on Wednesday nights with the students.  

Lacrae - Real Talk

LaCrae (Rap) – Real Talk – Of all the styles of music I think rap is my least favorite, but I still have a good collection of it.  I had been introduced to LaCrae several years back and I must say he is my favorite rap artist because his lyrics are “hard-core” for Jesus and he doesn’t back down, not to mention the music makes you want to dance.  The Real Talk album is an old one, but I wanted to complete my collection of his music and The guys I put up on the church bus every week like rap so I figured it would be a great investment.   My 2 favorite songs from the Real Talk album are; “Crossover” and “Represent“.  

Relient K - Forget and Not Slow Down

Relient K (Punk) – Forget and Not Slow Down – I’ve been a Relient K fan for years.  It’s been interesting to follow their musical progression from year to year.  They are a unique band that, for a lack of better words is just wierd, but I love wierd.  It’s amazing to me how the timing of this album being released and some circumstances in my life took place at the same time.  Several of the songs really ministered to me when I was a bit down and reminded me to keep going and not give up.   Last year was a tough year for so many people and I would recommend giving the CD a listen.  My favorite songs from the Forget and Not Slow Down album are; “Forget and Not Slow Down“, “Therapy“, and “Over It“.  

Chris Tomlin - Hello Love

Chris Tomlin (Worship) – Hello Love – It seems like every CD that Chris Tomlin comes up with are hits.  His lyrics in the music seem to help you express what’s on your heart, like he knows you, scary! Many of the lyrics come from scriptures also.  What a great way to hide the scriptures into your heart than through music.  My favorite song from the Hello Love album is “I will Rise“, it will remind you of the hope we all have Christ that one day we will leave the earth and spend eternity with Jesus in heaven.   

Family Force 5 - Christmas Padgent

Family Force 5 (Rock/Alternative/Electronic) – Christmas Padgent – FF5 has been another group I have enjoyed their wierdness.  They have a unique style all to their own and I must admit while their lyrics are not deep spiritually, they do put on a good show in concert and lift up Christ.  They toured with Toby Mac a for the last 2 years and came on scene.  I was looking for some different Christmas music, because I got tired of all the radio station music that is the same year after year.  They have put their own spin on some Christmas music that keeps you interested.  My favorite songs from The Family Force 5 Christmas Padgent album are “Little Drummer Boy” and “My Favorite Things“.