My walk with God I would like to say began in 2013 when my son Myles was born. Myles first few weeks of life were tough. He suffered a major health complication within the first hour of being born and we were not sure if he was going to make it. After having to deal with the loss of our first child thirteen years earlier, the thought of experiencing this again scared us deeply. I believe God was merciful though and sent someone that helped us through this difficult time. This caused both my wife and I to second guess how we were living our lives. It was at that point that my wife and I started attending church regularly.
All throughout my life, I had several different church experiences. At different points I would attend church either with friends or aunts and uncles. My beliefs at the point of Myles birth were that there probably was a God, however I did not want anything to do with Him as what little I knew through the bible scared me. I knew inside me who I was and all the things I had done since I was just a child. I was a sinner and deep down I always knew it.
When Myles health turned around, after the Pastor of our old church had prayed with us for the first time, we decided the least we could do is start to go to church. Throughout the next two years a lot of stuff started to change in our lives. I believe God was preparing us for where we are today. In early 2014, I realized God was in fact real, and I started reading the bible and could not get enough. At some point, shortly after this, I thought it was time to get baptized and give my life to Jesus. As time drew near to being baptized, I was asked by my then Pastor to write my testimony. But this was extremely troubling as there was sin that was eating at me that I believe God wanted me to confess to my wife before I could go any further. Just a few days before I got baptized, I came clean about the affairs I had. Though none of the affairs had happened recently It was critical that I apologize and come clean. This really broke the relationship I had with my wife. We attended counseling as a couple and as individuals to try and get through the mess we were in. The guilt and the shame that I felt was too much for me to bare. This caused me to cry out one night and I asked God to deliver me from sin I had committed. I specifically remember crying out and telling God that I was ready to give it all up and go his way. I remember hearing a voice in my head that night, that I believe was God saying, that is why he sent His son to the cross. From that moment I believe God lifted the guilt and the shame of my adultery from me. He was gracious to me.
From that point forward I always believed that it was at that moment that God saved me. Things were good for a few years and both my wife, and I continued being faithful members at our local church. I was the drummer in the church band, we both ran Vacation Bible School, and helped with lots of other events for church.
But overtime, the newness started to wear off. I started to struggle and what I was reading in the bible was not matching up to what I was seeing in the church. From the leadership of the church all the way down to the individuals who also claimed to be saved. I did not see a lot of fruit. As I look back on it, I really was not saved either. Though at times I would confess my wrong doings and had some growth that was visible I really was what I might consider a false prophet. Claiming I had something that I did not actually have.
It was during our last year at our old church that I believe God really came in and started working in our lives. The Pastor of CCC had announced early in the year that he was going to be leaving the church. This threw the church into a lot of turmoil. It bothered me greatly. So much so, I apparently sounded depressed on the phone one day talking to my work colleague Cliff Thompson and he asked me what was wrong. At one point early on when I started working for Nefco Cliff and I had talked a little about who we were. It never really went any further though. I knew he was a preacher, and he knew I attended church and ran VBS. After a short discussion explaining what was going on at church. He gave me the best advice I had heard in a long time. That God was in control, and I could trust Him.
That first conversation became the catalyst for many more over the next several weeks. God even put it on Cliff’s heart to offer to come and Preach to CCC if they needed someone to fill a slot that the interim pastor could not fill. Shortly after offering, CCC had a spot open, and Cliff came up from Maryland to preach a Sunday in July 2019. We were excited as my wife, and I thought that just maybe he would be considered for the pastoral position at CCC. And even though that was not what God was doing it did open my eyes to a true biblical man of God. What I saw was much different than what I saw at church.
Later that year my wife and I decided to go down to visit Cliff’s church, Beulah Baptist Church. Beulah just loved on us! They welcomed us in like we were one of them and we got our first taste of something that was real. It was an amazing visit and after leaving my wife did not want to go back to our church. And in fact, she did not. However, over the next several weeks I did. And every time I walked into that building it felt so dead. There was no God there for me. It was very depressing. It really caused me to cry out to God for a new pastor, something in my life that was like what I saw in Cliff and Beulah.
In November, we were making our yearly trek to Florida, to vacation, and visit my mother in Ocala. Cliff & Charlie (Pastor of Beulah) said that if I we wanted to visit Hope Baptist Church in Inverness, we were more than welcome to go, and worship with them on the one Sunday we were down there.
We arrived at Hope never meeting anyone from that church in advance. It was a little odd but no different than walking into Beulah for that first time. We were absolutely overwhelmed with the love that we felt. It was the same thing as Beulah. It felt like God was just giving us one big hug. About thirty minutes into the service and Brother Scott was getting up to preach, I looked around and could not believe what I was seeing. There was life in these churches, and I knew, right then, that I was never going back to CCC, that we had a home with these churches. I was not sure how God was going to work it out, but I knew we were on the right path. I could see the light in all of it. I remember looking over at my wife that day and saying I am done. I never want to go back to CCC. And she agreed.
From that point forward we started getting online with Beulah for Sunday and Wednesday services. I even started getting online with the men of Beulah weekly for their men’s prayer meeting. And in January 2020, Charlie, Bryant, Cliff and James took turns coming to CT every other week to preach to us in our home. We did not know what God was doing but we knew He was working.
A few months in Charlie came up to preach and it gave me some time to give him my testimony. At the same time, he gave me a biblical description of what common salvation was. I had seen salvation over and over in the bible but never had anyone explain it to me like he did. I started to pray about my testimony and whether I was lost or saved. And it was not long before God answered me on my standing with Him. We visited Beulah in February and that Sunday God showed me that I was naked. That I was not clothed in the robe of righteousness and that I was lost. It was from that point that he really started to work on showing me who I was and who he was.
During our first time at camp, God started to reveal Jesus and what a true “TREASURE” He was. I always struggled to see Jesus as that treasure that the scripture talked about. After Camp through most of the summer up until I was saved, I struggled mightily even just praying or reading my bible. It seemed that God would only show up when preachers would come up.
It wasn’t until the week that Charlie came up and preached for a week at our home that a few things were brought forth, I realized that Jesus was peeking at me for some time now, it wasn’t just Charlie hiding behind the curtain pretending to be Jesus peeking at my wife and me. This felt very similar to what my wife and I did the first night we met. For the entire night we exchanged flirty glances at each other. I could not stop looking but being my shy self, I refused to go after her. So, we continued to flirt with our eyes until she mustered up the courage herself to come talk to me. Charlie was preaching Christ in the song of Solomon. He was peeking and flirting with the woman. He even goes as far as knocking on her door, but she refuses to get out of bed until it was too late. Jesus has for a long time been showing himself to me, but I refused to get up and answer the door. Through the issues that came the following the night, I realized that with all the turmoil going on that all I wanted was Christ and wanted the little foxes to stop trying to spoil the vines (SOS 2: 15). And it just got worse the following night with a very unwanted guest coming over uninvited. In a lot of ways, I was starting to feel like God was locking me out of what I was trying to go after.
For the next few weeks, it became all about searching for Christ, however, I was unsuccessful, I struggled with my sin, choosing my sin over God daily. I would wake up early and try to pray or read the bible but with no success. My flesh continued to spoil my plans. No matter what I did nothing was working. The only times I had any chance at finding Christ was in the times when Beulah would send a preacher.
It was not long after that Charlie had told the lost that God was saying that He had already given us everything we needed. That it was just a matter of mixing it with a little faith. And it was the first time I believe God was giving me the word consider. This really was eating at me. It even became a part of the few cries to God that I had in me. I could not understand what exactly Charlie meant by “knowing all that I needed”. If I had everything, why was I still lost? My prayer or what little I could pray became, where are you God? I felt so alone, far away from God. I cried out where are you? Why have you left me?
All week long I was reading Jeremiah chapters 1-6. Something about Israel and how they had left God was not sitting right with me. Then James came up to CT and was preaching on Isaiah 49-50. When he had gotten to
Isaiah 50:1-2 and the words where is the bill of your mother’s divorcement whom I have put away? Or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away?
I felt God was saying it was my fault I felt like I was so far away! It was not Him that walked away from me, it was my sin that cast me apart from Him. It brought me to back to Jeremiah. I was Israel that had walked away from God who was providing for them and doing great miracles right in front of their eyes. I felt that I was on the outside and that I did not have any hope of making it in myself. And the very Savior that was peeking at me, I was the one spitting in His face!
Isaiah 50:5-6, the Lord God hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back. I gave my back to the smiters and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.
I started to cry out to God a little more, but still struggled mightily. I was praying that Jesus would help. That I would be delivered from this place.
The week before the November camp, the weight of my sin started to really multiply. I remember starting the week continuing the struggle on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. It felt like I was getting further and further away from God. My sin was clouding my ability to see and get to the savior. That night James was preaching, and he was troubled with his message. There were two words eating him up and he did not want to preach the message that was on him but felt he would be disobedient not giving it to the church. The two words were Willfully Disobedient. He preached out of Exodus 33. This message aimed right at my own heart. I realized that God was telling me directly that I am not just disobedient but Willfully disobeying God and willfully disobeying the preaching. From the very first message I had ever heard from any of the preachers at Beulah, Cliff who had come up to Collinsville had talked about at the very start of his message was that we are to do something with what we heard with the preached message. That we had to try to apply it to our lives. My sin did not allow me to do this. Though I was trying I was finding it impossible. The next morning, I got upset with a close friend as they had chosen a very fleshly possession over a very important need in their life. I got angry. However, I feel like God spun it right around on me after hearing James’s message the night before. I need Christ more than anything in life right now, yet I willfully choose the world every day. The weight of my sorrow was growing fast
That weekend Cliff came up and preached and went back to James 1 which was continually being preached through the last few weeks. The words I got were trust and ask. And do not waver as the seas.
The following week was November Camp. And on Wednesday morning of camp Brother Scott was preaching on the Israelites in the Wilderness
Psalm 95:7-9 for he is our God; and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness, when your fathers tempted me, proved me and saw my work.
God was doing a lot of work in and amongst people but few recognized. The word I got was harden not my heart and to consider what he had been doing in my own life. Consider what God had already done in my life. This brought me back to Charlies preaching to the lost about how we already had everything we needed and to consider the work already done. After service, I continued to try and look back and see. We as a family truly have been blessed. God was doing a good work in us. Jesus had been peeking and revealing himself to me this entire time. I needed to heed the advice, consider the works, harden not my heart so that I would see rather than not enter his rest due to unbelief. This message gave my soul a little boost at the time.
It was the following day of Camp (last day), and I was listening to Brother Mikes message. At the very start of the message, he had mentioned that he was going to preach the Gospel but that it was not where God had him. Instead, he preached to the saved. There was absolutely nothing in his message that was there for me. I could feel nothing outside of God speaking that I was not a part of this message, that I was an outsider. After the first two days holding some good stuff that I believe God was speaking to me I went away that afternoon with my soul distraught. I remember preparing lunch, going out onto the deck, sitting down, in the midst of an unusually warm November day in CT, and feeling heavy with burden. As I ate, I was sick to my stomach. I forced the food down but did not really want to do much of anything. The remainder of the day was the same. As dinner rolled around something in me got a little excited. I thought to myself, Brother Greg is preaching tonight. I know Jesus is going to show up. So, I finished dinner took a shower and came downstairs. As he began to preach, I closed my eyes and prayed. I just want to sit at your feet Jesus, I need help. God Help me, God help me. I sat there for most of the message with my eyes closed waiting on Him.
Greg preached about a Happy God. A God that was Happy and Happy all the time. This was not the view point I was seeing at that very moment. I was starting to get worried that Greg, typically the evangelist of the group of churches was not going to bring the Gospel into the message. And of all things to have happen while I sat there, waiting for Jesus to show up, I fell asleep!
My wife had nudged me, and I lifted my head and I realized Greg was gone. My heart sank a bit and was starting to accept that maybe Jesus was not going to be there for me. Bro Terry was up and all week he had not preached. I figured camp was over and I was going to have to wait on Sunday for another chance at getting a hold of Jesus. But then Bro Terry starts in saying how good of a word Bro. Greg had given. He felt the need to expound a bit upon what God was trying to say. He said I have few scriptures for you and let’s see if we can go a little further in explaining why God is so Happy even though we can plainly see his anger at times.
I believe he started first with an analogy. He said the Sun is always shining. God is always Happy! We may not always see the sun but it is always shining. The clouds cover up the sun, so though we cannot see the sun even though it is shining. In the darkness of the night the sun is still shining. We can see that sun is shining because of the reflection off the moon. Somewhere on this earth, at all times, it is light because the sun is always shining. He then went into some scripture. I believe first up was
“For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made.” KJV
He explained God would not always be angry, he does not need to be. We may anger him for a time, but he is always happy. God could not stay angry otherwise we would all end up in Hell.
Next was 2 Corinth 7: 8-9
For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent; for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry. THOUGH IT WERE BUT FOR A SEASON. Now I rejoice not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance, for ye were made sorry after a Godly manner. That ye might receive damage by us in nothing.
This was just more proof that the sorrow would only before a season. I believe he also mentioned that the storms would come and go, and that day and night would also come but the sun was always shining. With how I was feeling I believe that God was pointing right at me explaining to me that the sorrow I felt was but for just a season and for a purpose. A purpose to bring me to my knees and recognize the need of a savior, which is all that I had left going into the evening.
Then came the Final piece of scripture. I remember Brother Terry specifically saying, I thought Greg was going here, but he did not, so I am. Let’s turn to Zephaniah 3:14-15.
Zephaniah 3:14-15 Sing, O Daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy, the king of Israel, even the Lord, is in the midst of thee: though shalt not see evil anymore.
What I felt after reading this and what I heard was that all the sorrow I was feeling, over who I was as a person and my standing with God, was taken away, that there was no reason to be sorrowful anymore and to rejoice! That He had cast out the enemy, that the Lord was in the midst of ME. And that I shall see evil no more! It was the finished work of the Son.
And it was because of this finished work of the Son, that God was happy all the time! I could rejoice in that!!! The sun is always shining! I finally believed and understood that I did have everything I needed. God does not change, and the perfect work of His son perfectly satisfies him. It is Finished! I was told earlier in the week to Consider the work He has done. Consider the work he has done in my life. God was already working, my cry in distress for Him two years previous he answered, He came to me in the way of Preaching through my brothers at Beulah. He had already been working. God cannot change and His word is true! When he starts a work, he finishes it. And He will lose none!