I was saved at the age of 4, through the outreach of Neighborhood Bible Time at our church. I grew up in a Christian home, where we were not only faithful to church three times a week, we also had devotions each night, and were given many things to remind us of who we were, and who God has called us to be. As I grew up, I continued studying the Bible and memorizing passages. When I was in 7th grade, I felt that the Lord had some sort of ministry for me to do, and I committed myself to do whatever He showed me. In 11th grade, I was voted Student Body Chaplain of the school that I was attending at the time, which was a great honor, and also gave me an avenue to share the Bible with others.
Once I got out of high school, I wasted a couple of years on community college, and working - having no success with the former and limited success with the latter. Finally, it hit me - maybe I was not finding success because I was not doing that which God wanted me to do. I then contacted Bob Jones University in Greenville, SC, about going there as a ministerial major. They conditionally accepted me, providing I did better there academically than I had done at the community college. On the first day of class, I met my future wife, and by Christmas, we were engaged. I also had a 4.0 average when grades came out, so I was accepted into the university's ministerial major program.
We married about a week after classes were out in May of that next year. We were not able to return due to some unexpected expenses (what I've come to simply call “life”), but we still planned to return. During this time, we were active in our local church - I led music some, I preached some (I had to preach 12 times over the summer, but even after that, I filled in some), and my wife and I both helped in Children's Church and with the youth group. More “life”, and we were there for another year.
Through much prayer, I decided to join the Air Force and do computer programming. While this was not a vocational Christian ministry, I strove to make my day-to-day life a ministry to both my country and those with whom I work. On the first day of basic training, we had been together maybe a half an hour, and there were kids coming up to me crying about missing their mom or their girlfriends. (I was 23 when I joined, which made me the “dad” of the flight.) From day 1, the Lord brought people into my life that needed His love shown to them. On that first night, I led the entire dorm in the Lord's Prayer after we turned out the lights (at their request). By the end of that time, we had moved it to the back of the dorm, 10 minutes before lights out - and there were still about half of the flight that came back for a verse and prayer.
After my technical training, we were sent to Montgomery, AL; and while we were there, we had 3 children. The Lord has blessed me with a better family than I could ever ask for - and, while I'm blessed, I also realize that this is a responsibility that I cannot take lightly. There are no “second chances” in rearing children, so we did our best to establish a Christian home of our own, and bring our children up the way in which we believe God wants us. We were active in our church - I taught Sunday School and sang in the choir and in a quartet; Michelle was active in the ladies' and mothers' ministries of the church; and we both worked in the nursery each month. Once we moved to Albuquerque, NM, we were active in our church there as well. We then spent several years in Biloxi, MS, where I served as the minister of music at our church. God worked through us wherever we are, and I count it a blessing however He chose to use me.
My favorite book of the Bible is James. I've heard it called “the Gospel in shoe leather” by more than one preacher - it is full of practical application for our lives. I do believe that doctrine is important, because it is the basis for the application of Scripture - and, I enjoy studying it as well. However, I much prefer an application-oriented approach to the Scriptures and to Bible study. It's great, for example, to learn the names of God (Jehovah-Jireh, etc.) - they are very interesting. But beyond that - what do they mean to our every day life? I believe that the Bible is a very, very practical book - and through finding the answers to that question, It can guide us through most aspects of our life.
To sum it up - I am very blessed to have known the Lord nearly my entire life. I shudder to think where I might be or what I might be without His guiding throughout my life, and I look to Him to guide me as I do my best to live for Him. He has blessed me beyond what I deserve, and even beyond what I ever could have imagined. He has been faithful even when I was not, and he has proved Philippians 4:19 true, supplying all of my needs and even many of my wants. For my life, I strive to follow Joshua 24:15 as my life verse:
“And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”