I din’t always follow Jesus. In fact, I spent the vast majority of my life not believing He was real at all.
You see, in 1989, on a Wednesday Night, I went to church with my mom, and I remember the Free Will Baptist preacher saying that if we wanted to be saved, then we needed to come down to the altar and he’d pray with us. I was only 7 years old at the time, but I clearly remember what he told me after I walked down there. “From now on, your life is going to be perfect.”
As a kid who was a little dorky and was being picked on some at school, I thought, “Sounds good to me!”
But you know what?
The preacher exaggerated.
The very next day I got kicked in the crotch and ribs by a bully at school. And it was after this moment, that I decided that everything about God had to be a lie.
I spent the next 15 years wrestling with feelings of insecurity, inadequacy, and self-loathing, but still did not believe.
It wasn’t until I saw the change in my wife’s life, that I became curious about God again. You see, she was asked to serve on the worship team at the church that my uncle pastored.
I wanted what she had because she was different. And different in a good way.
So I did what any normal person would do; I snuck a bible out of my house and began reading the “red words” in my office at work.
I remember reading:
- How much God loved me.
- How Jesus would satisfy me.
- How Jesus would give me peace.
- How Jesus would take away my emptiness.
- How Jesus would take away my anger.
I thought, “All this sounds great, but I’m still not sure.”
It wasn’t until a Sunday morning in July, when everything changed.
He spoke to me.
Yes, He spoke to me.
For the first time in my life, I knew He was real.
And it completely wrecked me and changed my life forever.
I write all this, my story, my testimony, to tell you why I am a Nazarene, because The Church of the Nazarene gave me a language, a map, for the things that I had been reading in the bible that I snuck out of my house.
Note: These are just a few of the reasons.
Sanctification, in short, and I mean really short, is when our heart is cleansed and we are filled with indwelling presence of The Holy Spirit, enabling us to live a holy life.
God removes our calloused and hardened hearts and gives us His heart instead. It’s as if we receive a heart-transplant.
You see, God took away my anger and feelings of inadequacy and filled me with His love.
He gave me a new heart.
One of the things that I love about the Church of the Nazarene is that we are a “sent” people. We believe that Jesus has called us to take His life changing message of love and grace to those who have not heard it.
I liken this to my son on Christmas morning.
When he opens up the gifts that we give him, he always wants to call people and tell them about how awesome his gifts are. In the same way, I have a desire to share the gift that Jesus has given me with others.
Part of something bigger than myself
The Church of the Nazarene has over 29,000 congregations in 159 world areas. That means that though, I pastor a small congregation in the grand scheme of things, I’m part of something bigger than myself.
And that’s a good thing.
Actually, no, that’s a great thing because I want to be part of something that not only changes my neighborhood or city, but something that changes the world.
I love Jesus.
I love His Church.
I love The Church of the Nazarene.
And I’m thankful that I get to serve.