Some people have a thunder-crashing, lightning-flashing type conversion experience where the Lord saved them out of living a life that was totally at odds with God and His word. My testimony is not like that. My story is one that is similar to my personality. My story is one in which the Lord is slowly and methodically conforming me to His image.
I was born into a Christian family and never remember not going to church. When I was young we attended Madison Creek Baptist Church where W.W. Harrison was the pastor. He was an old- fashioned “Hell and brimstone” kind of preacher that never minded telling it like it was and stepping on your toes if he had to. It was at the young age of six that I felt the need to give my heart to Jesus and be baptized. Sure I had not gone out into the world and sown wild oats as a prodigal, but nonetheless I knew I was sinner and that I needed a Savior.
A few years later when I was nine I remember being in a revival meeting and pleading with two friends of mine, Charles and Kerry, of their need to be saved. During the revival week each of them made decisions for Christ and I myself began to realize how I had not been living for the Lord as I should. I went forward because I had doubts about whether I was saved or not. I requested to be baptized again.
My adolescent and teenage years were spent leading somewhat of a dual lifestyle. I faithfully attended church and was growing in the Lord, but at times I could act as if I never knew Him. I didn’t drink, do drugs, or act inappropriately with girls, but my heart was not always obedient to Him. I was mean toward my brother and sister, I used foul language while around the guys at school, I listened to secular music that totally contradicted my Christian faith, and I had lustful thoughts about girls. I can now certainly identify with Paul who basically stated in Romans 7:14- 23 that he was at war with himself. But then I did not see many problems with my actions because I acted better than many of my Christian friends.
Let me make something clear. I became a Christian when I was six and fully believe that I would have gone to Heaven had I died. Over time though the Lord has shown me the error in the way I was living and thinking. I cannot please God by comparing my life to others and thinking that everything is okay because I am not as bad as they are. Also, I cannot please God by doing all the right things on the outside while harboring sinful thoughts. God wants us to hold our lives up to His standard, Jesus Christ, and for us to try to emulate Him, rather than compare ourselves to others. God also wants to transform us on the inside as well as the outside.
I am grateful to the Lord for His patience, mercy, and grace toward me. I pray that if you are like I was, building a wall of good works on the outside, but not letting the Lord deal with you on the inside, that you will turn to Him and allow Him to break down that wall and begin to transform you from the inside out.
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I was raised in a Christian home and we faithfully attended church. At the age of nine, during GAs (Southern Baptist mission organization for girls), I accepted Christ as my Savior and I was baptized on Easter Sunday, April 10, 1977. I was "in church every time the doors were open" and I was a 'good kid'. I knew all the right things to say and do and I knew what *not* to do and why... My actions were in the right place but I'm not sure about my heart.
Fast-forward to 1993...Tony and I had been married for three years and Caleb was a little baby. We were in a wonderful little church at the time ( Stevens Street Baptist Church in Cookeville, TN). The pastor, Dr. Jimmy Arms, was preaching and I don't have a clue what he was preaching about.... All that I know was during that sermon the Lord revealed to me that while I had accepted him as my Savior as a child, I had never made him Lord of my life. It was then that I fully surrendered my life to Him and made him Lord of my life. Bro. Jimmy had an incredible impact on my journey during this time of my life. It was through his teaching that I learned to ask "Does this glorify God?" before making any decision. I thank the Lord for Bro. Jimmy and his straight-forward preaching. His wife is a gem too! (Which sets the stage for a birdwalk but I will resist the temptation right now--remind me to tell you later though!)
We moved from Cookeville to Brownsville TN and then to Paris TN and continued to be faithful workers in our local churches. In 1999 we moved to Coahoma MS and it was after this move and the ensuing 'church search' that we felt the Lord calling us to a deeper walk with him. We visited 'the big Baptist church' but didn't feel a peace about being there. It was so "program" oriented and we knew that's not what the Lord had for us at that time. We needed a place to worship where we could worship as a family, we needed a time of "getting out of the groove" that we had been in for so long. We found out about a little non-denominational church in the area and we attended there for a year. It was a time of growing and a real testing of our faith. It was like nothing we had ever experienced before--both for the good and for the bad. It was during this time that Tony decided if we couldn't find a body with common beliefs, a family to worship
and fellowship with, that we would just homechurch. Now, I realize it's not really "homechurching" when it's just your family, but that's what we did for a season. It was a good and important time for us, a time of reaffirming what the Lord was teaching us and a time of being open to Him in a whole new way. We did, sporadically, visit a little local church but it never felt "right" to join there.
We have then moved to Florida and have been very blessed to be a part of a semi-conservative Mennonite church. The people there are really sweet and it's so obvious they love the Lord! We are very thankful for the Lord leading to this body of believers. Over the years they have truly become *family* to us.
If you've made it this far, thank you for sticking with me. Now, remember that birdwalk I mentioned earlier... Well, one time I was lamenting to Diane that Tony wasn't this and wasn't that and blah, blah, blah...How I wanted him to be the Man and leader of our family, etc... Diane looked straight at me and said "Tony will never be the leader of your family until you stop being the leader. He will never be the 'man' you want him to be until you stop being the 'man'". Ouch. She was absolutely correct though. I was a very stong, outspoken person and Tony was a very 'keep the peace' kinda person. This was the beginning of my long journey of learning what godly submission really means. I'm still on the journey but I can see the destination now--thank you Diane!! Your words have stuck with me all these years.