I’m double my age!
I was 16 years old when I got baptized. Today marks 16 years since that day.
The amount of years I have lived unbaptized I have lived as a baptized individual.
Many think they are born in a church, but we all must be born again.
I think about the events that led to my baptism. At rock bottom, a new life was born.
As I look through these past 16 years, I think about the ups and downs in my walk with God.
I think about the adventures in ministries and how gung-ho I was. People tried to curb my enthusiasm or change my way of doing things. I kept pushing forward. I felt many times early on like it was me and God versus the world. No one seemed to understand my mentality. This drove me closer to Him. We built a bond of friendship. I felt like Jesus was ‘my boy’ and I was His.
I arrived in college and God and I were determined to take it over for Him. I started all these Bible Studies and coordinated others to do so too. I was a guy with fire inside of me and so I needed to move. I wasn’t the typical theology major. I didn’t want to be. They were viewed as Bible-thumpers. They were viewed as legalistic or lame. I was determined to change people’s perspective of the pastor. I was totally dedicated to God while hanging out with people being the fun guy. Whether it was doing stunts in the cafeteria, running through campus, or riding on the roof of a car… I wanted people to know, just because you follow God doesn’t mean that your life is boring. I saw people giving their lives to God, people start doing Bible studies, people started preaching… all without getting any chapel credit. It was so much fun doing ministry there. I felt like a vigilante.
Then there were moments were my time with God was being cut short, but I had to keep reminding myself of where the core of my spiritual life comes from and get back to the basics of time spent with God.
When I graduated I thought I would go straight into official pastoral ministry. I got picked up, but then curve ball happened and I ended up being sent to seminary for my graduate studies. I was heartbroken. I didn’t want to be stuck behind a desk. I wanted to be in the field. The harvest is ready, and I’m here having to read a textbook. After sulking for a semester, I remembered one of my mantras that I had so long ago. “Don’t wait to become a pastor, just be a pastor.” In other words, you don’t need a job or a title or even a church. You were called to do ministry, so simply do ministry. So I took out a church directory and started calling pastors to find a place to volunteer. One pastor answered the phone and we worked together for the next two years. He gave me the opportunity to get involved and serve. I had a blast.
Then I graduate with my masters and came back to NY where I was able to work as a full time official pastor. When I was introduced as their pastor someone laughed out loud in my face, because I was so young. But that was okay. I was glad to be different and unexpected.
Oh boy did people not like different. People got on my case and kept asking when the real pastor would arrive. It was annoying. It was frustrating. Then I remembered why I got into ministry. It wasn’t for a title. It wasn’t for a job. It was to reach souls. So I buckled down and focused on authentic ministry. I preached the way I believed God wanted to use me. I did my Bible Studies with the people who were willing. I started ministries with people who were interested in discipleship. I built connections with people who I saw that I could take under my wing.
Then I got the opportunity to pastor in a new district. It was going to be a challenge, because I never expected to get a district with 3 churches. Most pastors have 1 or 2. But I accepted the challenge. I made a decision that I would just follow God regardless of the consequences. And wow there were consequences. Week 2 there were consequences. It got to the point where stepping into church felt like I was walking into a boxing match. I know that sounds terrible, but it was good. It made sure that I was in prayer and connection to God. I have had days where people called the conference on me, yelled at me on the phone, shouted at me in church. Man was their opposition. But what was worse than opposition was to see lukewarmness from some. Those content with the status quo. That drove me crazy. I have had to stop and ask myself, why do I care so much? Why does this bother me? But shouldn’t it? In the Bible didn’t it bother God’s people when they saw these type of things? Didn’t it bother Jesus to the point where He flipped over tables? Doesn’t the Bible say that when one is lukewarm, He wants to spit them out of His mouth?
There were times when I started losing my priority in time spent with God. I mean I still spent time with God almost every day, but there were days were it was so short, but I knew I had to do it. Better to do something than nothing. But that something wasn’t enough. I knew if I was to spiritually survive I needed this to once again be the most important part of the day. Those were bad times when it wasn’t.
My Christian journey has not been perfect. Far from it. There have been plenty of times I have been straight up ashamed of myself. But the focus can’t be me. My focus needs to be on God. It’s that trust in God that has gotten me through these 16 years. And as I look to new horizons in my life with God, I don’t know all that God has planned for me, but I trust that He knows what He is doing. Like any great adventure, it is filled with unpredictability. That’s what makes it exciting. It has obstacles. There is a lot that is unknown, but something that I always know, is that the God want to take this journey with me. What I always know is that He is always with me.
After I got baptized on October 2, 2004 I picked out this book from my dad’s library to read while I rode on the train to school. It was a book called “How to Make Christianity Real” by Morris Venden. I saw truths I had learned from the Bible now explained in a structured way. That’s what I wanted, real Christianity. That’s what I still want, real authentic Christianity. It is what I found in God. It is what I want for His church. It is what I want for others.
I look forward to the adventure. I look forward to having more fun with Him. I look forward to spending more time with Him. I look forward to continuing to build my friendship with Him.