My Journey to the Truth
This Web-Site was started by me a few years back and it never was really doing any good until recently. I was not able to keep it current. Now that Debbie is managing it for me it is being kept current with the activities of all three churches and I am grateful for her interest and help. She has a demanding profession as a teacher and the responsibility of caring for a husband and three daughters which she does extremely well. She also is the one her mother and I depend upon more as our energy diminishes with advancing age and the infirmities of the flesh become more prevalent. She still finds time to do free-lance writing and consulting in various educational venues. The Web-Site is financed totally by me and I am responsible for all the content. I could use the site to advertise and defray expenses or even make a profit, but I would be required to put references on it of products or ideas I could not fully endorse. If I suggest another Web-Site as a Link it will because I believe it to be useful to you for the sake of truth. I have been serving Prosperity and Providence for several years now and Union Hill for a couple of years. I am content to serve among God’s People where He leads and places me. Although I am content to remain in the field of labor God has seen fit to give me I am aware of the Kingdom of God in its broad spectrum extending to every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation. God’s power is not limited in His ability to save to the uttermost but His purpose according to His good pleasure is limited in scope to His People chosen in His Son before the foundation of the world.
In 1940 life was simple for me when I entered the world. My grandfather was a share cropper in Calhoun, County, Georgia. He evidently was successful at it. He worked the land of Bob Lovett and had my father in his employ and some others. He lived in a large old style house with a dog trot separating a wing from the rest of the house with a long front porch across the front. There were several out buildings, barns, tool sheds, smoke house, and of course the outhouse. It was an impressive complex situated on both sides of the road with a field road leading past his house a quarter of a mile to the train depot and across the tracks to B. Strickland’s [I never knew what the B stood for!] store complete with a hand cranked gas pump out front. We lived down the hill from my grandparents on the same side of the road and across from another tenant farm family. It was close enough for me to walk it when I was 3 years old which I did most evert day. My first memories are of living in this ‘Hallmark’ setting until my world was shattered by my parents moving away to Blakely where I experienced life in town. Until I was 17 we moved regularly enough for me to change school almost every year until I was 17 and a “drop out”. Two things brought stability back into my life. I joined the Navy which required a parent’s signature. My mother agreed on condition I complete high school later. I did and also earned a BS in Education from Southern Illinois University and an MA in Human Resources Management from Pepperdine University, all during a 22 year career ending in May 1979. The second and most important was getting married after a 5 year courtship with Linda Butler of Birmingham Alabama in July 1962. To that union of, presently, 54 years was added a daughter and a son. Through Debbie we are blessed with 3 granddaughters and through Frank we have 4 grandsons. Our oldest grandson has given us a great grandson and a great granddaughter.
We experience the world we enter at birth using the 5 senses, feeling, hearing, seeing, smelling and tasting, which come with us as human beings. These senses are made useful to us for our survival and pleasure throughout our life. All things detected by these senses are processed by the brain which makes a determination whether that which is registered is good or bad and should be embraced or rejected. My experiences as a human would have led me to leave at 17 and never look back because the last 2/3 of my experiences were bad and the first 1/3 could not be returned to because it did not exist. What I describe here I understand from what my brain, natural or carnal mind, can comprehend due to be being educated in the basics of human anatomy and psychology. What that education cannot explain is how my earliest memories were of more than what registered with me through these 5 natural senses. I cannot remember a period in my life that I did not have an awareness of a presence of something that I did not understand but felt it to be comforting. My grandfather was devoted to “God” and attended meetings regularly 6 from where he lived at Mars Hill Primitive Baptist Church. He would walk on the Saturdays when conference was held leaving my grandmother to labor with my mother preparing for Sunday Services which included “dinner on the grounds”. My mother and father were members as well as my grandparents but due to my father’s restlessness and penchant for alcohol they were not regular attendance. Even at that early age I associated the presence I felt with what was said by the preachers and my grandfather to be “God”. When I was 11 and again at 19 I was baptized, both for the wrong reasons and in two different orders other than Primitive Baptist. There were many conversations along the way about God and religion with many people but after making the second mistake at 19 concerning baptism I felt strongly convicted that I could only find the answers I needed or the comfort my soul was seeking through a concentrated search of the scriptures. Some well-meaning family member had given me a copy of John Gill’s Body of Divinity. It was not much help, mainly because I could not read it without looking up several words in every paragraph. By the time I was 21 I knew where I should be, among the Primitive Baptist People. I was baptized then for the right reason and have never had any regrets or desire to depart from the doctrinal principles expressed by those worshipping according to that faith and order.
After entering into the fellowship of the Old Baptist People I found the experience to one of great comfort and peace in my life. I began to understand scripture more and more. Even John Gill was not so daunting any more. I went on to read his commentaries and those of John Calvin, Matthew Henry and others. In 1979 I began to preach and studying scripture took on a whole new meaning. My greatest fear was saying something from the stand [pulpit] that was in error. I had already discovered all the commentaries and other books I had read had things in them that I did not agree with. That being the case I pushed them all aside and began to study the scriptures [King James Translation] exclusively and prayerfully with only Strong’s Concordance to assist me in finding what I was looking for and to give me a sense of the meaning from the standpoint of the Greek or Hebrew words from which it was translated. Along the way I found the book “Treasure of Scripture Knowledge”. It was a compilation of every cross reference for every verse in the Bible known to have been noted by every Bible Scholar recorded at the time of its publication. It had no commentary on any verse; simply a list of all verses that someone at some time thought was relevant to it. It helped me considerably, although I often did not see the connection that they evidently saw. At the same time I saw a connection with verses they had not referenced. I came to realize scripture will explain scripture through the leadership of the Holy Spirit. After all, we must consider who wrote the book! The Apostle Paul said in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” The Apostle peter tells us in 2 Peter 1:20 -21, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” At the time these statements were made the New Testament was not compiled. However, Peter alluded to them it in verse 19, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:” Without going into a doctrinal point at this time I will merely point out Peter was referring to an experience he, John and James were selected by Jesus to have on the Mount of Transfiguration [Matthew 17:2; Mark 9:29 and Luke 9:28-29]. Peter and all the rest of the Apostles, including Paul [Galatians 1:11-12], preached what was revealed to them in various ways. With Peter one of those was the experience he so vividly remembered and spoke of [2 Peter 1:16-18]. My desire is to deliver to the People of God what I have received of Him as it was with Paul [1 Corinthians 11:23].
Many questions coming to mind during my formative years and on into maturity have been answered. One in particular that impressed my mind as a child was this “felt” presence of “God”. I now understand that with those having the Spirit of God in them they have a spiritual; mind as well as the natural. Feeling is a natural sense with which the flesh experiences its surroundings. Only that which is material or physical can trigger the sensors which communicate with the natural mind. Feeling is an awareness of the presence of another object. “…Natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned [1 Corinthians 2:14]. Jesus said to the woman of Samaria at Jacob’s Well, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” [John 4:24]. It stands to reason, even with natural understanding; a person would not seek something they were not aware existed. Paul found people in Athens Greece to be too superstitious in all things and in their devotions they included an altar to The Unknown God. Paul told them they worshipped God ignorantly and it was this God that he came to declare to them. It was the God that made the world and all things and did not dwell in temples, made with hands. He said God made all nations of men and set the bounds of their habitation. Here another doctrinal point might be pursued, but again, for now Paul establishes what I have been saying in Acts 17:27, “That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:” They would not feel after something that did not exist! Spiritual awareness is followed by other spiritual experiences. Peter recognizes a person freshly born of the Spirit of God does not come forth in full maturity. He said, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious” [I Peter 2:3]. In Job’s answer to his miserable comforters he said, “Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food” [Job 23:12]. It requires an awareness of God to consider what He says more important nourishment than the food which sustains the freshly body. It can only be because of one’s sense that it feed’s and nourishes the spiritual needs of the person. The same is expressed in Psalm 119:103, “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” God said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him” [Matthew 17:5]. Many times Jesus said, “He that hath ears let him hear” and to the seven churches, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” [Revelation 2:7-3:12]. As with hearing God’s People have sight with which to see spiritually. Our vision is not yet perfect, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” [1 Corinthians 13:12]. We know, “Thou [Christ] hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him” [Hebrews 2:8]. What we do not yet see is our own death which will be swallowed up in victory at the resurrection [1 Corinthians 15:54], “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man” [Hebrews 2:9]. God’s Children are partakers of flesh and blood. Jesus took part in the same, “…that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” Hebrews 2:14-15. The gospel does not give life but for those who have spiritual life it declares to them Jesus Christ has abolished death and, “brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” [2 Timothy 1:10]. Knowing the truth will make us free from the bondage of fear [John 8:32].
I began preaching in 1979, the year I retired from the Navy, and was ordained and started serving congregations in 1980. During that time I have also worked at various occupations, mainly in education and real estate. God blessed me to always have enough but not more than enough, to meet the needs of me and my family. When I start regretting the opportunities I passed by for wealth and fame I am reminded of what a very wise man said in Proverbs 30:8-9, “Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.” Truth is more important to me than material gain. It is men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth who suppose “gain is godliness” and from such we are warned to turn away from, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out” [1 Timothy 6:4-7]. Contentment is learned through the experiences of life. We find through our spiritual senses testing all things and judging which ones will bring us joy or grief. 1 Corinthians 2:15 “But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man”. Philippians 4:11 “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” 1 Timothy 6:8 “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” We will probably never be satisfied but we can be content. If satisfaction comes it is for a fleeting moment. We are soon distracted by one thing or another that registers with our carnal mind we are lacking. Spiritually our hope rests in the finished work of Jesus Christ and that “…whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” [Romans 8:29]. David saw in his day the same thing and expressed it in Psalm17:15, “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.” The riches of my life cannot be measured by the scales of commerce. What could we ever accumulate from earthly labor which must be left when we are gone compare with what God has done for us through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ? Romans 8:18 “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”