So at the end of part two, I was heading for Arizona (fleeing hurricanes) with two cats and singing the song, “The Potters Hand”. I was trusting God to lead me in the right direction, because I had no idea what was ahead of me.
Below is the 3rd and final part of my testimony:
Listen to it on Spotify:
My Testimony Part 3:
The Phoenix area had several United Church of Christ churches. I was looking for one that had contemporary music. I ended up attending the one closest to my apartment, but their concept of contemporary music was performing classic hymns with band. There were other things in that church that made me feel uncomfortable. I’ll talk about those at another time. This church closed down for the month of August for vacation, or maybe just to not have to pay for air conditioning in the hottest month in Phoenix.
So I went to a small Calvary chapel near my apartment and I liked it. They had good contemporary music and I felt free. I could raise my hands in worship if I felt like it, I could say “amen” if I felt like it and I didn’t feel weird.
A year after moving to Phoenix, I bought a house and I started church shopping near my new location. Again, I was looking for a contemporary service in a nondenominational church. That’s when I found First Christian Church of Phoenix known as FCC.
I loved the music and the sanctuary was really cool being a historic Frank Loyd Wright building. I attended what they called at that time the “101 Class”, which explains what the church’s beliefs were and what it was like to become a member there.
The pastor at the time, Scott Pixler, brought up baptism by immersion. I’m thinking, here we go again. And somebody else in the room asked about being baptized as a baby. I thought, at least somebody else has the same question as I do.
Then Pastor Scott said,
“There’s no sprinkling in the Bible.”Pastor Scott Pixler at FCC in 2006
That got me to thinking because I had done so much research for my novel which takes place in first century Italy about the first century churches.
I remember reading something about baptism. So I went home and I dug up my notes and I found instructions on baptism from the early church fathers back in the 2nd century in a document called the “Didache“.
See back then, the idea was to get all new converts baptized as soon as possible. So, the best way was to do it in living water. That would be a lake, the ocean, a stream, river or pond that flowed naturally. If living water was not available, then a pool, tub or any water deep enough would do. The idea was that the person being baptized, died to their old self as they were dunked and they rose and are reborn into a new self as they come up out of the water. (This stems back to the Jewish tradition of ritual purification in water that had to be done in pools like the ones found in Jerusalem — the pool of Siloam, etc. — the water flowed into the pool. It could not be drawn and poured in by a person.)
But the church of the first and second centuries was growing so quickly that if someone wanted to convert—to believe in Jesus, & wanted to be baptized, they may not have had a body of water big enough to dunk somebody in, so then if that wasn’t available, then it was OK to pour water on top of them.
That’s how the whole sprinkling thing got started. So all of a sudden that made sense to me. The other thing was that you needed to admit that you were a sinner, that you repented of your sins and that Jesus was the son of God and you want to invite Jesus into your heart. You can’t do that as a six month old baby.
So, I was baptized again in March of 2006, confessing that I believed that Jesus was the son of God and I asked him into my heart. Now my conversion was complete!
I had gone from being a Catholic, to being a prodigal, to being a progressive and halfway Christian, to finally being Born Again and truly feeling loved by God — which I never really felt before.
My life changed—drastically.
I went from being a Democrat to being a Republican. You can read about that in a past blog article. I stopped listening to secular music. I found even the rock and roll songs that I knew by heart, I found offensive. Now, I only listened to Christian radio.
A lot of the TV shows that I used to watch, I found offensive. I also stopped watching certain R-rated movies.
However, in some areas of my life I wanted to still embrace the worldly ways. I won’t get into details at this time.
Life was going smoothly. I was in my house for a little over two years, just did some renovations to it, had a really nice middle-management position until the fall of 2008 — yes, recession time. I kind of saw the writing on the wall — by the way that comes from the Bible. I got laid off that September. I was unemployed for two years. That was tough. Very tough. If it wasn’t for my church family at FCC, I’m pretty sure I would not have made it.
I lost my house, I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis, I was depressed, I was living in a friend’s spare bedroom with bunch of my stuff in storage. I realized at that time that I had to wholly surrender my life to God.
You see, I was trying to keep 1 foot in the kingdom while having another foot still in the world.
Picture this: you’re standing on a dock at the edge of a lake or the ocean. You put 1 foot in a rowboat but you still have 1 foot on the dock — which is not going to move. Now if that boat is not securely tied to the dock, it’s going to start floating away. You can’t keep your foot on the boat and still stay on the dock. It was one or the other, I couldn’t do both. Jesus is the solid rock. I needed to hold on to Him and wholly surrender my life to Jesus. Being “halfway” wasn’t cutting it.
At that point, I realize that I had to surrender my whole life to God. What a difference that made! It still took me almost another year of trusting God to find the right job for me. I got a job working for a gentleman who happened to be a Christian! I was sitting in his office when he had to step out. I was looking around his bookshelf and there was a Bible! I thought, this is it! God, thank you!
So, it took two years of unemployment for me to totally trust God with my life. It was two years of prayer on my part and prayer on the part of my church family. I learned a lot, but I still had a long way to go.
My point here is don’t wait so many years to listen to God. You might be attending a Catholic church because that’s where your parents went, or a Presbyterian Church or any other denomination. Or you might be attending a church that really doesn’t preach the full Gospel truth.
Either way, you’re a halfway Christian if you are not born again. Being born again is not an option. You don’t have your ticket to heaven unless you are born again. It’s that simple. The other option is Hell and you don’t want to go there.
If you’re asking yourself, “do I have my ticket to heaven?” Then you probably don’t. If you’re still seeking something, and you’re not sure what it is, I can tell you, it’s Jesus. Only Jesus can fill that hole in your heart. And you’re not gonna find Him anywhere else but on your knees.
So if you want to go all the way and get that ticket to heaven all you have to do is pray, right now with me,
“Lord Jesus, I confess that I am a sinner. I repent of my sins. Jesus, I need you in my life. Please come into my heart. In your name, I pray, Amen.”
If you prayed that sincerely and wholeheartedly, then you’re in!
Now, you need to find a Bible-believing church, be baptized and join a Bible Study group. If you’re in Phoenix, I invited you to FCC. We’re on 7th Ave, between Maryland and Glendale. Services are at 10:30 am on Sundays. Their website is Fccphx.com & you can learn more about it.
My testimony is by far not over. I’m learning and getting closer to God every day and there’s no turning back.