I was born Sept. 15, 1956. I was born again April 30, 1972. My old self was immersed in a watery grave of baptism. God gloriously filled me with His Holy Spirit for the first time. This rebirth experience was the beginning of my life as an apostolic, pentecostal Christian.
I was only 15 years old. My life had not been steeped in sin. My parents never attended church much. I had attended Sunday School on a regular basis since 7 years old - thanks to an aunt and uncle who made it a point to insure my sister and I did attend. I had always tried to live as holy a life as I humanly could. I had working class parents that loved me and provided a decent environment for growth. I had that good ole American work ethic instilled in me. My high school life was moving in a lot of good directions - a 3.96 GPA and membership in some good social and academic clubs. It seemed like I was heading in the right direction for the good life. My biggest problem was an insatiable curiosity about almost everything. I sometimes wonder if that curiosity would have got me in trouble eventually, if it had not been for Jesus Christ coming into my life in a personal way.
After I received God's spirit into my life, my curiosity turned toward religious history in a big way. I read my bible even more than ever before. I questioned all I had learned in my prior Sunday School years - even though these had been in a United Pentecostal Church. My Senior High sunday school teacher repeatedly provoked the class "Don't believe me by my words alone. Read the bible to prove their truth." My heart was driven to prove the biblical reality of my new experience. Why didn't all "Christian" churches believe this way? Why didn't all "Christian" churches baptize in the name of Jesus Christ? Why did some churches not believe the in baptism of the Holy Ghost? I found evidence of my same beliefs all throughout the history of the Church. I read how human minds had corrupted God's true Word in times past. I discovered how the ebb and flow of time continually tried to hide Truth, but somehow the light always found a way to shine away the darkness.
Being mortal, I've not always led a perfect life. Only one has and He had to die on a cross to fulfill the Old Testament sacrifice - an unblemished sacrifice - for our shortcomings. But I have never been a real, bad person either. I had always been taught to be honest and kind. I would not have made a good drug addict either. Even now, I have a hard time just swallowing a Tylenol tablet. God has blessed me to not have to know much about a terrible, sinful life.
Instead, I have to be careful lest I forget what I could have become without God in my life. I need to constantly remember that I'll always need God. The Church is not a crutch in my life. It's the Rock, the strong foundation, that I've built my life upon. God is the steadying force when my world is shaken by the storms that come to everyone. John 4:45 reminds us "he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." I'm just an average American, with a typical American family, trying to live the American dream.
I'll conclude with the words of the "preacher" of Ecclesiastes 12:13
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter. Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
My prayer is that God helps you in search for life as he has helped me. Amen.
Come visit my current church since July 2003 - First United Pentecostal Church in Rogers, Ark.
or come visit my old church - Northside United Pentecostal Church in Fort Smith, Ark.