We believe that church should happen wherever life happens. You shouldn’t have to leave life to go to church.
— Neil Cole, Organic Church
Oh, what my eyes have seen!
7… The number of completion.
The retelling of my story ends today with, well… today.
15 years later.
I have spent the last week recounting the events surrounding the day I was saved, and revealing thoughts, reactions, and the experience of being redeemed by my Savior, Jesus, at the age of 15.
Since that “fateful” week, I my life has been quite the journey (far more than I could have ever imagined)!
The journey has included (not in any particular order):
- Bible college
- living in Pennsylvania and Detroit
- now living in Pensacola
- a daughter
- being on staff at three churches
- now planting a new church
- traveling to several foreign countries for ministry
- witnessing great miracles of healing
- experiencing great miracles of provision
- praying with many to receive Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord
- baptizing a bunch of teenagers
I have been so blessed by God.
I definitely can NOT imagine what my life would be like had He not saved me!
My spiritual journey began in Pensacola, FL while I was living in Attleboro, MA. Now, I live in Pensacola and am currently planting a church here.
God is so good.
I pray that this story as encouraged you.
It has been so great reminiscing…
… but now, onward and upward!
This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you.
2 Timothy 1:6
Fanning the flame…
If you have not followed the story from the beginning, you can click here and start from day 1 🙂
Now begins the 1,400-mile trek back the frozen homeland.
Less than a week has gone by, and yet everything has changed.
What will school be like?
What will my (then) girlfriend say?
What will my friends think?
What will my brothers do?
All these thoughts ran through my mind…
… and it didn’t really seem to matter.
I will never be the same!
Look what the Lord has done!
Whatever the responses will be, it won’t deter me from pursuing my Savior.
I have been born again… born in the fires of revival… and something unquenchable now resides in me.
What is store for me now?
What will my life be like?
What will God ask me to do?
To be continued…
This day, 15 years ago, I was a new person.
I was only two days into this new life.
I had grown up in church.
I knew the songs.
I had heard sermons and illustrations and testimonies my whole life.
There seemed to be something, though, at these meetings, that had gripped my heart.
There was this buzz-word…
Not only was it the name used for these services that we were attending, but is seemed to be something greater.
I had heard it used before, but being only 15 years old, there wasn’t any significant association to it.
What was this revival that was being discussed, preached about, sung about, and even experienced?
Christian revival is a term that generally refers to a specific period of increased spiritual interest or renewal in the life of a church congregation or many churches, either regionally or globally. This should be distinguished from the use of the term “revival” to refer to a evangelistic meeting or series of meetings. (Read the rest of this definition by clicking here.)
What I was quickly learning is that there is something that is very distinct in these revivals: The active power and presence of the Holy Spirit.
Not that the Holy Spirit isn’t present at any other time or place. But there seems to be a greater, ummm, “level” of Him in these occasions.
Why is that?
I didn’t know.
There seems to be some key elements that I was hearing preached, taught, and was observing at these meetings:
- A strong desire to simply give glory to God
- Much fervent prayer
- A hunger for more of God’s power and presence than what is considered “normal”
- Surrender of strict, religious control of meetings
This was all new to me.
I knew my life was now radically different.
I wasn’t really sure what to make of this revival thing.
All I knew at this point was that whatever this was, I wanted it…
… and I didn’t want that desire to go away.
To be continued…
I woke up, and something was different.
Could I really explain how I felt? No.
It was the morning after a night like I had never experienced before.
It sounds like I got wasted at the night club, doesn’t it? The difference is I remembered everything that had happened.
My world got rocked.
I laid there on the floor Wednesday night and poured my heart out to God, confessing how much of a sinner I was and that I needed Him to change my life.
This wasn’t some hyped, confused, over-emotional, mislead decision. I said a moment ago that I couldn’t really explain how I felt, but it doesn’t mean that I didn’t know what happened and the consequences that were to follow.
I got saved!
Saved from the drugs!
Saved from the alcohol!
Saved from the stealing!
Saved from all the other addictions, short-comings, insecurities and lies that I was living!
I was saved from my sin!
My life was on a new course now… a different path.
As I spent our second full day waiting in line, just like the previous day, I suddenly had a different perspective. Whereas I really didn’t understand why people would wait all day in line, now I understood.
Something was happening here…
There was something different… more different than I had ever experienced before…
Something so powerful that I was moved beyond words to a place of desperation…
… and I was wanted more.
To be continued…
[This entry was written on location, and the photo was taken at the time this post is being written. The photos being held in the shot are of the line outside at Brownsville Assembly of God, and was taken by myself the year following my first trip (1998)]
First full day was spent waiting in a line on the sidewalk.
Yup. I didn’t stutter, or mistype if you will. We waited in line, all day, from about 8:30 AM to when the doors opened in the evening.
Did I know why we were waiting in line? I only knew that a lot of people were coming to this thing, and we didn’t drive 1,400 miles to sit in one of the other rooms.
The day was filled with throwing a football, lunch at Barnhills, naps, and sun bathing. (Yes, it was February; but remember that we came down from the frozen north. This was like April weather to us!)
As the time approached for us to enter the building, we put away our chairs, blankets, coolers, etc and began to tighten-up the line. An older gentleman was on a white megaphone, and was saying “Single file line. Single file line. No drinks, bags, coolers, umbrellas allowed inside.” (The last part may not be exactly the order.)
We were fortunate enough to get front row seats.
I was front row, middle isle, inside seat.
Yeah… in the bulls-eye. The spit flying from the mouth of Steve Hill, the evangelist preaching in the service, was flying over me. That’s how close we were.
I did what I knew to do: stand and seem interested.
All I remember is staring at the cross inlaid in the wall behind the stage, and being brought to tears.
The rest of the service was kind of a blur, until the end…
We were ushered to the back of the room because the seats we were in were only temporary seating, and they were making room at the front by removing those seats.
As I stood in the back of the room, Steve Hill made the call to those who needed to respond to the Gospel. I don’t really know why, but I knew that I just needed to respond, so I ran down to the front and threw myself on the floor, and began to weep.
Something was happening to me that had never happened before.
To be continued…
We travelled down the highway all day long.
Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, then Florida…
By this time, I already had some arguments with the teenage son of one of the pastors on the trip, listened to my “Devil music” over and over, complained about the dude that stunk up the on-board bathroom, and had a great meal at Shoney’s.
So far so good (as good as my god-hating state could be in).
When we finally arrived in Pensacola, FL it was already getting dark. Apparently there was a Tuesday night prayer meeting already in progress, which we joined, of course.
I wasn’t sure what to make of all the commotion I voluntarily walked into. I had never witnessed this kind of prayer meeting… people pacing, walking all over, loudly praying over everything… yes, even the bathrooms. I know this because I quickly made my way to the men’s room to relieve myself after our long, arduous trip, only to be creeped out by the dude mumbling some prayer at the urinal next to me. I slowly and slightly angled my body, as a precaution (you know what I mean), and as not to draw attention to myself or make the other guy feel bad. It was just… a little creepy for me…
The sanctuary was packed with people walking, sitting, kneeling, laying down, worshiping, and praying. There were banners on tall poles stationed around the room, and people were gathered around these banners praying for the different subjects/categories on them. There were banners representing the government, family, schools, revival, etc. I wasn’t really sure what to do, and I didn’t want to simply sit in protest in the corner (at this point I’m not really sure what would have happened if I did), so I knelt in front of the “schools” banner and pretended to pray. In fact, I think I remember kneeling next to my friend Elizabeth and trying to hold her hand… I know what you are thinking, pretty slick maneuver… I know.
Once the night was over it all seemed pretty harmless. I wasn’t sure what the rest of the week was going to hold, but I was enjoying the short-sleeve weather and a great game of hotel “manhunt” (until I collided with one of the other kids on the trip and hurt my leg… but that’s neither here nor there).
To be continued…