I have been in church all my life. My parents were both Christians before I was born. In fact, my father was called into full-time ministry and was preaching about five years before I came along. Growing up, the Bible was the most important book in our home! My dad was not an educated man. However, he had a strong work ethic and a deep love for Jesus and the ministry. My mom actually taught him how to read when they were just married.
I grew up in a home (with one brother and three sisters) that placed a strong emphasis on Jesus, church, the Bible, and prayer. The first things I can recall reading were Bible stories. We had a children’s Bible that had Old and New Testament stories illustrated. I can recall reading about David and Goliath from that Bible. In fact, I can remember how neat it felt to go to church or Sunday school and hear the teacher or preacher talk about a story that I had already read on my own at home. I’ve always known about and believed in God, but there was a time when I realized that I had to meet Him for myself.
When I was thirteen years old I became a Christian. I remember hearing my dad preach, and feeling the conviction of God. I sat in the chair, under the tent in Ocala, Florida and wished that he would stop preaching so the knot in my stomach would go away. When he invited people to come to the altar and pray to be saved, I went to the front of the tent, prayed, and there gave my life to Christ.
There was another time when I was 19 that God touched my life, as well. I had been to a revival in Jackson, Ohio. The preacher had preached all week about living a life that was completely devoted to Jesus. He preached about the Spirit-Filled life of the believer. He placed a strong emphasis on following Jesus…not just calling yourself a Christian. I began to pray and seek the Lord for help to live this kind of commitment.
I recall one afternoon as I was walking a path that used to be an old railroad track. I would walk and pray and stop at times to read from the New Testament that I carried with me everywhere. One afternoon in August, as I prayed, I felt the presence of God cover me like a soft blanket falling on me from above. I began to cry, and feel such an overwhelming sense of Joy and Peace. It felt as though God himself was reaching His arms around me and saying,
“I love you, My Son.”
As I prayed and worshiped, and just enjoyed His presence it seemed to birth in me a deeper love for Christ, His Word, and a desire to be in His presence than I have ever known before. It wasn’t just an emotional fix that lasted that moment and then passed. It was the start of something that caused me to change the focus and direction of my life. My dreams, goals, ambitions, had all been transformed. All that mattered was to follow Christ and to please the Father who had shown me His love first hand.
I had read about the Apostles and how they were filled with the Spirit and with Boldness to live a life separated for the work of God. My life became more than just going to church on Sunday and Wednesday. It became a life that allowed Jesus to penetrate every area of my day, and affect every relationship I had. It was a transformation that gave me the desire and the boldness to witness to others about Christ.
In my opinion, one of the most important questions that w must answer in our life is, “Who is Jesus to me?” For me, the answer comes from the confidence that I place in the authenticity of the Bible as the Word of God. With that in mind, I believe that the answer is as simple as this: Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the father, but by me.” (John 14:6). In John 10:9 Jesus said, “I am the door: by me, if any man enters in, he shall be saved….” Jesus taught in John Chapter 10, “…if a man tries to enter any other way but through the door, he is the same as a thief and robber”
I am convinced that our world is shaped, not only by what we believe but how we live as a result of what we believe. Being born into a Christian family is not a substitute for being Born again into the family of God. I've heard it said that God has no grandchildren. In other words, being raised in a Christian home and growing up in church is great. However, there comes a time in everyone's life when we must meet God and experience the joy of salvation for ourselves.