I was born to a loving father and mother who were both strong Christians. They raised me in a Southern Baptist Church where I became a believer at the age of 5 and understood the call as much as a 5 year old can. The strong emphasis of the church we attended was evangelism and attempting to limit sin in your life. They may have taught discipleship and the expectations of your commitment but if they did I didn’t hear it.
Near the end of college and in the beginning of my teaching career I began having questions about my faith. One of my biggest questions related to predestination. At that time in my life I didn’t have connections with believers who could help me with my questions. I assumed the way I saw things was the way everyone saw them and I had real problems with assuming God has predestined people for heaven or hell. I began living a life where I tried to generally live out Christian principles, like treating people the way you want to be treated, but I pretty much stopped attending church and began living according to what I thought was right, my own code of ethics.
In my 6th year of teaching, due to a loss in enrollment, I was assigned second school for one day a week (Gods providence). My first day there I met Jan. It was her first year at the school as a beginning teacher. It didn’t take very long until she and I were dating. She talked me into trying a church she had been attending. This church had a strong emphasis on small groups and discipleship. From the pulpit and from people serving as encouragers or disciplers I was encouraged to read C.S. Lewis “Mere Christianity” and Dietrich Bonhoeffer “The Cost of Discipleship” both of which significantly impacted the way I thought about Christianity. They also answered many of my questions about the faith as well as and describing the commitment being a Christian requires. Lewis had a totally different perspective than I on predestination. Bonhoeffer provided insight into the call to give my life to Christ as the reasonable sacrifice for his giving his life for me (Costly Grace). This is what we see in the gospels where the choice to be a Christian is seldom made easy. Jesus typical call required sacrifice and commitment.
As young Christians Jan and I had some very strong Christian examples of how to live, as well as failures and disappointments. We moved into a neighborhood where over half the people in the neighborhood belonged to the same Church. We were able to enjoy sharing life on a different level than most people are able to experience. We had mid week worship and sharing times as well as small group times. The church ultimately had divisions and problems like many churches and the experience ended at one level.
Jan and I joined Celebration in its infancy and we have enjoyed the relationships we have formed and the opportunities we have been provided to serve.
I have been blessed by the Lord in numerous ways. He has allowed me to work as a real estate appraiser for over 30 years and I am happily nearing retirement from this field of work. The Lord abundantly blessed me through my job with flexibility to do things with my children as they grew up and to financially provide for my family.
What’s next? I’m still trying to find my way. I’m praying and expecting God to show me.