From the age of 13 I knew I was called to the ministry. I would lie in my bed at night and preach to the dark ceiling in my bedroom before turning over to sleep. I had not even made a confession of salvation at that point, but I grew up in a family that believed in going to church and I was there from the earliest of my remembrances.
I remember my mom taught my toddler class. We sat at small tables in small chairs in a small room in a neighborhood called Small, near Aurora, and would learn Bible stories and then cut n paste or color. Some of my earliest childhood I can surprisingly remember. As I grew to become a teen, I sat in my youth class that was taught by my grandmother. I was in this class until I was practically out of high school.
I was in the youth choir. At the age of 16 I finally let go of the the trim on the back of the pew in front of me and walked to the front and gave my heart to Jesus during a revival around June 9th 1966. My mom was so proud. Her dad was a long time Baptist evangelist turned pastor until he retired due to his health. He became my example.
Don’t go thinking all this was happening to a squeaky clean teenager. There was a lot of shenanigans that went on that potentially could have landed me in Juvie or jail. But that’s another story for another time.
Then at age 19, the Army got me for Vietnam. God had other plans, though. I was stationed in Germany for 19 months, but was cut five for an early out. Still, I was told even if I didn’t go to Vietnam, I was still considered a Veteran of the Vietnam Era. I will say that I went willingly to do whatever was required of me. But God had other plans.
From then till I was 26 or 27 I floundered about in life with no real aim. My first wife and I made a feeble attempt to go to church after her mom died, but it flopped more than a fish on a pier and it died, too. When I reached 27, though, God had me in a pickle. He started dealing with me over commitment. It started slow. At first I was what I called a “Home Baptist”. That’s right. I sat at home on Sunday morning and watched Pastor Jerry Falwell. His contribution to my growth was his recommendation of a Thompson Chain Reference Bible, a Vines Expository Dictionay and a Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.
In 1977 I made a promise to God that I would serve Him and He took me up on it. He sat me in an Assemblies of God church, with salvation reaffirmed and baptized in the Holy Ghost. My life changed dramatically. The call to preach was back on me strong. Even with that, I was still deathly afraid of public speaking. There is so much to tell in between all I’m saying here and perhaps I’ll expand on it later, but not now for sake of brevity.
During the time with the AG church I heard this man teaching on a Christian radio station. Not only did he say a lot of things that clarified what was happening in my life, but he also tweaked my “religious” beliefs to the point I got angry with him and refused to listen to him on his radio program for several months while I tried to disprove some of his teaching. I’d already found some of what he taught to be expounded by others in a book I picked up in Cox’s Christian Book Store in Wilmington. That upset me as well, before I ever heard this man’s teaching.
What I didn’t realize at the time was God had this provocation put me in motion to not only read, but study in depth. The Word came alive to me during this time of solitude with Him and all that I tried to disprove became the factor that made me realize I was wrong. I had to change. That is a difficult process.
After about five or six months a couple of elderly ladies I knew invited me to go see him in a church in Brunswick County and I reluctantly went. His teaching was on the Kingdom of God, What It Is, Where It Is and The Ruler-ship of God over it. It forever changed me again. I ate it up.
For 30 plus years I was a part of the ministry of this man. He was and still holds some of the most profound teaching anyone will ever experience. He was a friend, but not a close friend. He and I were so much different. He was a driven person, I was more laid back, but we both dug into the Word as deep as we could. That scared people. Namely my family. My dad had told my brothers to not engage me in Christian conversation. I lost friends over it.
I wrote a couple of tracts, but for the most part I was, and still am, a musician. I played in the church band for 25 years. I ran the church print shop for sixteen years keeping 45 books in stock. I produced cover designs, printed newsletters, posters and materials for the Christian school we had. I worked the sound board when I wasn’t playing. Eventually I was ordained as a deacon in the church and was assigned duties as a Care Pastor to a portion of the congregation. I counseled with my people. Helped them get their bills paid so they didn’t go without. I also conducted the funeral of one of my people in my care. I preached outside the house once, but all other times I preached in-house. Oh, way back in the 80’s when I was to minister my first time I was still deathly afraid of crowds, but while in the prayer room before that first time, God spoke to me. It freed me from the faces of men completely and I began to laugh. I went out that night and ministered a good Word on God Is Building a House. Can’t say the delivery was even close to good, though. That takes time to improve upon.
Then came the darkest of days for me in my mid-fifties. I feel from grace. I became burned out. I lost the most valuable of lessons. It wasn’t until well after the loss of my dignity, marriage and a lot of money that I came to realize that the reason I was diagnosed with severe depression and suffering from anxiety attacks was because I was too busy doing instead of being. It’s been a long road back. I remember one thing a preacher once said. Everything that has happened to you, good or bad, is something God can turn into rocket fuel to propel you into the future He’s prepared for you. I had a lot of rocket fuel.
I did a lot of things wrong, but God turned it around. He’s given me a new wife. A Godly wife, who is on par with me. She taught me unconditional love. She is God’s gift to me that saved my life from the pit.
We started attending church together and we grew in the humbleness of a Christian Church, Disciples of Christ in the beginning. We were married there. We still love the people there, but God moved us on to another church where my wife grew exponentially. Then He pulled the feathers out of that nest, as an eagle does to get the eaglets to be uncomfortable enough to try their wings.
I had been searching for the door to ministering again for about the last five years. God gives me titles to messages and some understanding of it, but I never was given opportunity. The door remained closed until last September. I never suspected we’d end up in a fresh new congregation that was a result of the previous two other ministries in the same building where I spent 30 years.
After hurricane Florence I stopped in to see what extent of damage was done to the building and met the new pastor. I felt a kinship immediately. He’s a young man of 25 years old, but with a wisdom that is developing and will be something to watch as he grows. God spoke to my wife and I to attend there and that is where we are now. Kingdom Culture Church.
I asked nothing of the pastor. He offered nothing to me other than a place to come and worship freely. Lib and I felt God moving in every service. We call it our home for the rest of our lives. I told Pastor that. He and I can talk openly and freely. I haven’t had that since my pastor from the AG church in the 70’s.
Now. The surprise to my cries. I’ve felt to search for the open door to my complete restoration. It came this week. I’d already been placed on the Bible Study roster and will be teaching the 28th of February, but I got a text asking me was I ordained. I said I was only ordained as a deacon by Praise Tabernacle Ministries years ago. The person who texted asked me would I accept ordination from KCC. I gave it a couple of days to sink in. Then I accepted this invitation. There was no expectation on my part, but God has finally decided I’m ready for a new level. As I sat in Bible Study Thursday night a woman I know that was in the ministry at PTM took my hand and leaned forward and spoke to me that God was about to promote me quickly. I asked was she aware of any conversations I’d had with the Pastor. She said no, she has been sick, which I can attest to since she’d been hospitalized and is slowly recovering now. It was my final confirmation I’m on the right track.
All my life I’ve known this would come to pass. All that has happened good and bad, has fired off the rocket fuel to the 2nd of February when I will be ordained into the ministry. From life’s experiences I’ve been qualified. My studies and school for ministry in the early 80’s have qualified me. Even the bad things have qualified me. I am touched deeply at God’s decision and calling on me. As I read the biography of George Muller many years ago, I saw he didn’t start his traveling ministry till he was about my age and he preached in many places for about twenty years afterward. He lived into his nineties. That speaks to me. I still have issues, but God has the answers to those issues. It’s my part to obey. . .and the answers will come.
If you, who reads this, finds you’ve lived as best you could, yet feel you have failed in some way, big or small, take heart. I didn’t write this for my own glory. It’s for the glory of God. I was reminded, too, on Thursday evening that God’s purpose and bringing it about are bigger than my ability to fail. If you think one minute you’ve failed, you’re wrong. Give it up, because God’s ability to bring you into your calling is bigger. That’s what this writing is all about.