I grew up in a family with a non-believing father and a Christian mother. We went to several baptist churches as I was growing up, and except for Sunday school, where I learned some Bible stories, it was rather boring. But it did give me some basic knowledge about the existence of God if nothing else. I remember being about nine years old the first time I asked Jesus into my heart, and I remember doing that many times over the years. I believe the Christian phrase for that would be "rededicating your life to Jesus". Whatever it's called it sure didn't do the trick because I always wondered why I didn't feel any different afterwords and wondered if I really was saved, and that bothered me. It was all confusing to me, and I basically went on to live the average worldly life with all of it's ups and downs.
In 1988, after my second divorce, and right around my thirtieth birthday, I started to really seek God. I was seeking Him with my whole heart and was willing to do whatever it took to be close to him. I quit doing the things that I used to do and stayed home, praying and reading my Bible mostly. I heard about the baptism of the holy Ghost on a television program, and it caught my attention. I felt like it was from God, and I wanted it. The man on TV said it would give you a closer walk with God, and a prayer language to use to pray more efficiently to God. I called the phone number they gave and talked to someone there who prayed with me to receive the baptism. I didn't feel any different that night, so I continued to ask God to receive the baptism of the holy Spirit. One evening just a day or two later, I was on the floor kneeling by my bed talking to God and I started speaking in tongues. It felt wonderful. I didn't quite understand it, but I did know one thing, it was from God. At the time, I didn't realize the importance of the baptism of the holy Ghost, but I knew that it was something good.
Not too long after that, things in my life fell apart, and instead of crying out to God, I just slipped away from Him. Several years later, I was living in Montana. I was in a relationship with a woman that wasn't going anywhere but down. I started reading my Bible again, and talking to God. One morning, after doing this, I looked out the window at the mountains, and I heard the Lord speak to me. He said, “One day soon I will call you again, and this time you will not turn away, this time you will not say no”. In the spring of 1996, I started looking back on my life. Seeing two failed marriages, several other sad relationships, and plenty of other bad situations in my life, caused me to start seeking God again. I remembered those words the Lord spoke to me in Montana. I started crying out to God and telling him that I wanted a real life, with a real wife and a real family. Although I realize now that God was in control of my life from the start, I didn't think so at the time. I hated how my life had been up until that point. It was one big dead end after another. Everywhere I turned I saw the same thing. I was tired of dead ends, and wanted something real. Well, in the months to come, God made changes in my life so that I could start having what I had prayed for.
I started spending time with a girl named Julie who worked for the same company that I worked for. She didn't really know much about God back then, but looking back, neither did I. But, she was starting to have the desire in her to seek Him. After a few very short months, we both felt that God had put us together, but, not wanting to raise any eyebrows, Julie and I went down to the local court house to make it legal in the eyes of man, and were married by a local Justice of the Peace. I now feel that the Lord put us together in spite of where I was in my life spiritually. With what I have learned since then, I could not now with a clear conscience marry someone who hasn't been born again by the baptism of the holy Ghost. I believe God blessed me in my ignorance.
We started going to a couple of the local churches, but I never really felt like I fit in. I kept seeking God, and kept feeling more and more out of place where we were going. Finally, we quit going altogether. A young man at work started telling me about the church he went to, which was Apostolic. He told me some of what they believed, and since they sounded holy and godly I thought we would try this church. Well, we went with him as sort of a last resort, I think. I wasn't sure just what to expect, except that he told me they spoke in tongues. Well, I spoke in tongues too, so they couldn't be that bad, could they?
It was a terrible experience for us. It was very loud, and at one point, it seemed that almost on cue, people started crying and weeping all over the place. Now, I have nothing against crying and weeping, but this just didn't feel right to me. I felt alone. I cried out inside and said "Jesus, where are you? I don't feel you here. If you're here please let me feel you". He said to me "Don't worry, I'm here. Don't leave just yet. The service is almost over. When it is, just be polite and slip out as quietly as you can. And when you leave, I want you to wash your hands of this place and never return". Well, I was all too happy to oblige him at that point. I thought at the time he was telling me to never go back to that church, but later learned that he was speaking of the religion of Christianity in general.
I remember the next week at work telling God that I was tired of trying to fit in somewhere, and I said to him, "God, show me your absolute truth. I want to know your absolute truth." I didn't know what to believe, but I knew that there was something more out there. One day not too long after that, in the fall of 1997, I was looking around on the internet for things pertaining to God. I found brother Gary Savelli's web site, Isaiah58.com, and started reading through some of the tracts there. I read about the New Birth, I read about having true communion and true fellowship with God and with the saints of God; what that meant, what that included and what it didn't include. I read about who my true brothers and sisters in the Lord really are. It was refreshing. I liked what I was reading, and even better, I was feeling what I was reading. Unlike most everything else I had ever heard or read it just felt real. The Spirit in me was agreeing with the Spirit that was in that truth that I was reading about. Those first truths that I read have carried me on for over twelve years, and the Lord has been adding more truths to them as I go along this way. We were led to a group of saints that love the Lord and the truth that He has shown us, where there is real communion, real fellowship, and real life in God. We made several trips to see them before we moved here to be close to them. On one of our trips to visit, my wife Julie received the holy Ghost baptism.
God's truth is wonderful! It is real, and if you have a true heart for God, when you learn of His truths, you can't help but love them. I know that God is in charge of every situation in my life. I have learned and believe that this life is not about me...it is all about God! The Lord told me in one situation in my life, "The things that you are going through are for my purpose and for your good." I believe that with my whole heart, and I know that He is molding me into what He wants me to be. After all, it is all about Him. It is all a story of God.