From the very day in September 1971 that I was born again, my life was flipped upside down and changing at a furious pace. I sought out other Christians at Muskegon Community College and found a campus ministry. Through students in this group I found out about YFC. That is how I immediately volunteered for Youth For Christ/Campus Life and became an assistant at some local high school groups.
At my church I began meeting with my former youth pastor, and dragging some friends into the path of seeking God. At the gas station, where I worked for my dad, I told everyone who would listen about Jesus.
Chuck Aycock led Youth For Christ and had training meetings/Bible studies that greatly helped me understand the Bible. Also, Mike Luker, my former youth pastor, opened his home for Bible studies to my new band of Jesus Freaks. We talked and talked keeping Mike and Deedee up late every time. We all went in rounds and rounds of discussions and friendly arguments trying to understand God’s Word. Friendships quickly grew.
One day I was on a bus trip for YFC with kids from Reese Puffer and Mona Shores High Schools and one girl shared her story and how she was struggling. But then she suddenly stopped and stared at me. She said, “You don’t even care.” Stunned I responded that I did but she asked, “Then why do you keep smiling?” I did not realize how much supernatural joy had flooded my soul. I didn’t even know I was smiling.
By then I had read Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV) “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, JOY, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” I was experiencing the overwhelming presence of God inside of me, but my brain could not keep up with God’s amazing grace. My emotions and spirit were on overdrive but it took me a long time to understand any of those words.
But my joy was short lived because another thing that happened from my salvation day was my conscience came alive. I did not understand that at the time either. All I knew was I quickly found myself struggling with temptation and it seemed I sinned like never before. Some of the Christian college girls were aggressive and I found myself getting in trouble again. All I knew was that it seemed that all I did was sin more than I ever did before I followed Jesus.
I became frustrated and defeated. A spiritual war broke out in me that I could not handle and I found myself on my knees begging God to forgive me and change me, over and over again. My conscience screamed at me for every evil action, every evil word, and every evil thought that I did. God was purifying me but I did not understand that then.
Also I felt an overwhelming nudge from the Holy Spirit to throw away all my music albums. So I gathered Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath, and all the rest that I loved, filled two large paper grocery bags and tossed them. All that music of drugs, sex, and satanic stuff was filling my mind with lies and it needed to stop because God wanted to renew my mind with His loving truth. Didn’t understand that yet either, I just obeyed.
Since I was less than six months old in the faith and consumed in all the inner battles and supernatural changes it dawned on me I never stopped and thanked God for what He was doing in my life. I realized how ungrateful I was that I did not even thank him for giving me eternal life. Maybe it was from the story of the ungrateful lepers whom Jesus healed and never said thanks that this idea was planted in my heart.
Because I wrestled and struggled with God every step of the way it still was no excuse to not stop to thank Him. I only prayed secretly asking the Lord how to be grateful and told no one about this prayer. All I remember was that words were not enough and it became an overwhelming concern. I needed to know how I could show Him I was grateful.
I began to pray this prayer daily until I got an answer, and something strange began to happen immediately. Everywhere I turned people would stop in the middle of our conversations and say, “Wow are you going to be a preacher?” Or “… are you a preacher?” I thought that was odd and always told them no with confidence. It began flooding in from people at work, Campus Life, and in fact, everywhere people were saying the same thing until it was echoing in my head. It was weird, nobody says this!
Finally in February, and not smart enough to see it was God’s answer, I rushed to Mike’s house on the next Bible study night and poured out this crazy story with the words, “I think God is trying to tell me something…” Mike let me go on for a little bit, and calmly looked me in the eyes and said, “I know, I have felt that God is calling you be a preacher since January (1972).
Goosebumps! It freaked me out and I laughed in unbelief. I still did not understand that God leads and guides His people. But now I know, if any Christian takes the time to ask, God will give divine guidance.
All I could think of was, NO WAY! That is impossible. No one in my family was a preacher. I never in a million years would have thought about being a preacher! I did not have any desire to be a preacher!!! I laughed at how crazy that sounded. I was in shock.
Over the next few days I tried to pray and gather my thoughts. Finally I could only pray, “Lord, if this is your will, I surrender to you.” It scared me. I was never good at anything, just average. How could I possibly do this for Him? But Mike was right, and from the day I surrendered to the will of God, no one again ever spoke the words “Are you going to be a preacher?”
So now what? If God wants me to preach, and I don’t have a clue what to do, I thought I better change course and go to a Bible school. Where are they? I was still going to MCC, but I needed a new direction.
This was before the Internet, Google, and computers. You just did not have access to information, so I had to dig, ask questions, and write letters. I got information from a few colleges, but they were expensive and I did not have any money. I used up my scholarship money and now I was stuck. So I gave up looking and prayed for God to direct me in what to do.
I prayed all spring and summer and waited for God to respond. I continued doing what I knew to do in serving God. But I still fought sin, still failed, still repented a lot, still cried over my failings. I never cried until God broke me and saved me, tears seemed to come all the time. Even with such grief and failure I also noticed some victories and I was getting tougher.
Determination replaced my defeatist attitude.
In my great wisdom I decided I was going to be like a Catholic priest and have no relationships with girls. It was the only logical solution to all my temptations. I did find in the Bible, “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” 2 Timothy 2:22 (KJV)
Since resisting temptation wasn’t working anyway, running in the opposite direction made sense now. So I doubled down and determined I was running with the Christians who chased after “righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” So, I ran away from dating the young ladies!
But it was now the end of August and God still did not answer my prayers until one afternoon.
I was pumping gas at Zephyr on Apple Avenue, my dad’s station, and I got talking to a college student that came in for gas. I quickly turned the chat to Jesus, and she shared that she was a Christian visiting her relatives in Muskegon. So I told her I was looking to go to school and one of my dead end stories. I mentioned my grandmother lived in Florida, told me about a Christian College, but did not know the name or where in West Palm Beach it was. So then the amazing happened.
She stopped me and said she would be right back. In minutes she brought a complete packet of information from Palm Beach Atlantic College, West Palm Beach, FL. By special delivery God handed me the very information my grandma could not give me. And this girl encouraged me to call them. I knew my Lord just gave me His next step for my life.
The next day, I signed up with PBA by phone, they offered scholarships for preachers, and told me I did not need any money, just come right away! My next adventure with my Lord God began!
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