As a Christian I feel an obligation to share about my faith in my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. My purpose in this post is not to address the steps to salvation. For that topic, I specifically wrote “Do You Have An Insurance Policy For Eternity?” earlier this year. This is just a simple story about how God has been working in my life from my earliest days as child to the present…and how incredibly blessed I’ve been.
I grew up in the church with my Dad working as a music director during my grade school and junior high years. My Mom’s Dad, Pappa Coker, was a Southern Baptist preacher and provided a solid Christian foundation and heritage for my family. My Dad’s parents were also strong Christians and great role models in my early years.
It was my Grandmother Perkins who first talked to me about accepting Christ as my savoir when I was just a little boy. She explained what it meant to be saved and then baptized in the church and I was eager to take the next step. My Dad was the music minister at Tanglewood Baptist Church in Jasper, TX at the time. He gave Pastor Buddy Reed a heads up that I was on the verge of making the decision for salvation.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
One Sunday soon afterwards when I was finally resolved in my heart, I made my way down to the front of the church during the invitation. Pastor Reed and I knelt and he led me in the prayer of salvation where I confessed my sins and then asked Christ to forgive me and to be the Lord of my life. I wasn’t really paying any attention to my Dad, however I learned afterwards how while he kept the choir & congregation singing, his attention was clearly directed at me. It was one of the proudest moments of his life.
That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For“whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:9-13
I was baptized soon afterwards and started my journey of faith as a Christian. Growing up with the strong Christian influence of my parents and grandparents was truly a blessing. I realize now that not everyone is so fortunate and count it but for God’s grace that I was given so much. My early exposure to God’s word and teachings really set me on the right course for life and while I wavered occasionally, I’ve never strayed far from my Christian roots and foundation.
Following my graduation from college, I never left the church however my attendance definitely wavered. As an assistant golf professional for the first few years after college, I worked practically every weekend. This was a poor excuse and yet any excuse will do when it comes to rationalizing why we don’t do things. When I left golf to start my career in sales, I took on a more standard Monday through Friday work schedule. This allowed me to start attending church again much more regularly.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16
I credit my first wife for finding Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, TX. Sarah actually found Dr. Jack Graham’s PowerPoint radio program and fell in love with his daily messages. This led us to visiting and ultimately joining the church. While our marriage ended back in 2005, I’ve never stopped going to Prestonwood. Dr. Graham is my moral compass and my faith has grown by leaps and bounds because of my exposure to God’s word as shared by the ministry team at Prestonwood.
Starting in late 2005, I committed to giving God the first part of my day in bible study and prayer…and this has NEVER changed. I’ve always been a morning person and the highlight of my day is getting up and reading God’s word from my John Maxwell Leadership Bible along with a “big” cup of coffee. In January of 2012, I started adding a second step by listening to one of Dr. Graham’s old messages. This practice of daily “hiding” God’s word in my heart has caused my faith to consistently grow and it’s a habit I will continue for the rest of my life.
Beyond Dr. Graham, leadership expert John Maxwell has made a huge impact in my life. I’ve been reading his books for close to 20 years going back to my first purchase of “Failing Forward”. I’ve seen John speak on numerous occasions and he is truly a gifted communicator. He has an uncanny ability to take the complex and present it in a simple straight forward fashion.
While John has influenced me in many ways, the biggest would be in the desire he’s instilled in me to never stop improving…to be better able to serve and add value to others.
As a tribute to John, I want to close this with a short story about him. I had the good fortune to see John speak at a leadership conference back in the fall of 2009 in Dallas, TX. During one of the afternoon breaks, we briefly met and he signed my copy of his Leadership Bible with his name and the following which has become a life verse for me.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Of all the verses he could have shared, it was with specific intent that he used the latter…for how we think determines our path in life. From the greatest authority on leadership ever, this has turned out to be wise and life changing counsel.
Closing thoughts for my readers:
As the days in our world “darken”, I feel all the more sorry for people who don’t have the hope, assurance, and peace that can only come from a daily walk and relationship with Christ. To have your place in eternity as nothing more than a big question mark would be a sad and lonely existence.
The Bible is full of God’s promises and the following are among my favorites. My hope especially for those who have not secured their eternity with Christ, is that these will cause you to seriously consider your future…today…because we have no promise of tomorrow.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly.
Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.