My sister Michele sent me the following message in September 2018:
Acts 3:7 And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. 8 So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God. 10 Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
I thought of you when I read this! I’m so glad you can come help lead us in praise!
Since March 2018, I have been the fifth member of a praise team singing at my home church, Central Baptist in Central High, Oklahoma. Michele plays piano, sings alto and leads the group.
Michele is technically my sister-in-law, but we have been like brother and sister for a long time, growing up together as part of the Central Baptist youth group and at Central High School.
When I was 14 years old, and a young member of the Central youth group, I came to know Jesus as my Lord under the guidance of a spiritual leader of our church, our youth pastor, Lisa Hunter, now Blaine. Later that summer I followed God’s call to preach. At the age of 14, my pastor allowed me to preach in church three to four times per year. I am certain my sermons were unbearable, but we had an amazing congregation who have always supported their young people.
My life was full of hope, and doubt. I had hope in what God had planned for me, doubt in what use I could possibly be to God.
I was also in love with a beautiful young lady who was friends with my sister Michele. That courtship was perhaps the strongest romantic love I ever experienced, kindled further by the kinship we felt and the selfless love of her character.
In 1987, I went to Oklahoma Baptist University, leaving my high-school sweetheart behind to finish school. I was encouraged by my pastor to break off the relationship because he feared it would derail my plans to finish school. He knew we wanted to marry.
A few months later, I broke up with my high school sweetheart.
I was an idiot.
At OBU I was thankful for an all-you-can-eat cafeteria plan. But I ate my way through college and gained fifty pounds the first semester. By my junior year, I ballooned up from my high-school wrestling weight of 178 pounds to almost 300 pounds. I could no longer play racquetball with my roommate. I could barely walk to class. I frequented the emergency room because of chest pain (esophagus). I pushed myself to complete the degree requirements in only three years, a bachelor of arts in religion. I was no longer under the tutelage of my youth pastor. I was away from my brother and his wife and the rest of my family.
My pastor of my youth gave me a book my senior year of high school. It taught about Satan. It talked about the three disguises of the enemy. Satan disguises himself as God, as other people and as yourself. I began to understand that sometimes when I was conversing with myself, I was talking to an enemy. See Conversations
My pastor always said to me, “If the devil cannot take your soul, he will try to take your life.”
That was true. I made a lot of mistakes.
I know many people have a testimony about how bad their life was before coming to the Lord, followed by amazing transformation and a wonderful life afterwards.
My story is a little different. I came to know Jesus at 14. Failures abounded after that.
But today, 35 years later, I am on a new journey, “walking and praising God.”