For October 19, 2008
Introduction - A life of "change"
Isn’t it remarkable how rapidly things change? In looking at this passage in Jeremiah my mind was drawn back over my life time. I was borne (I think I was born. Dad always told me that he found me in an old hollowed out log. Sex education in my day was tremendous.) In 1944. World War II was raging hot and heavy. My first few years of school were in a two room school house with each room heated by a potbellied stove. The Korean War was being fought. I vaguely remember the concern in my teacher’s voice as she spoke of the war. Life on our small farm life was simple, however.
I entered Appalachian High School, Boone, NC in 1958. Many of you are already hearing the music of the 50’s. It was good. You could understand it. No wonder it is coming back. I remember the ’55 Chevrolet, the first V8 Chevrolet built. What about the 5 x 7? That was a real car. The only problem was I didn’t have enough money to buy one. I traveled by “air.” With an outstretch thumb I would exclaim, "’Air’ you going my way?" after graduation from high school it was time for The Air Force. Marriage came in ’65 and college in ’68 after accepting the call to preach. Today, (October 17, 2008) marks our 43 great years together.
What about the 60’s? Vietnam was in turmoil. Our boys were dying and no one understood why. Our streets were filled with rioters over racism and the war. President Kennedy was killed. Martin Luther King and Senator Kennedy followed. Society was being ripped to shreds. In 1970 I entered Appalachian State University, Boone, NC, as a religion and philosophy major and psychology minor.
What an experience to study the liberal arts with the 60’s generation! I remember in psychology that we not only studied eastern mysticism, we actually practiced it. We had séances and the like with the youth in the church we were attending. I was absolutely ignorant of the fact that I was practicing so far outside the realm of our faith. What a decade was the 60’s.
Almost everyone here remembers the 70’s and the deep recession. My wife was laid off from work in 1975 and she was the major bread winner as I was a seminary student with a small pastorate. One great thing about the 70’s was the return of our nation to a more conservative mindset of the 80’s. The 90’s was the "so-called" decade of prosperity and "blindness" to the real world of terrorism.
Now we are well into the first decade of the 21st century. We enter it with a recession, 9/11, Afghanistan and Iraq and the war against terror. Regrettably we are seeing American’s focus on Christianity as more and more negative as I read in the Barna Research book Unwinding. Now we are experiencing an unwinding of the economy that some say we haven’t seen as bad since the Great Depression.
You will notice that the economic problems of today have moved the economy as #1 for both Senator McCain and Senator Obama. Change! Change! and more Change.
Change! Change! Every decade, year every year brings with it change. Politically, economically, environmentally, socially and religiously everything changes. I use to sing a song in elementary school called "The old gray mare she ain’t what she use to be." well, she ain’t. Everything changes. And it isn’t all bad. However, in the midst of a rapid and every changing society an individual who is wise will have his/her feet planted on some firm principles to help guide them through the complexities of an ever changing society.
Planting my feet solid on the "Rock"
In the midst of all the change in my adult life, there was "one decision" that laid the foundation for me to live my life in an ever changing world firmly planted on the Rock that never changes. What was that decision? It was the decision to surrender my "adult" life to the Lord Jesus Christ.
I was a single man living in Poston Apartments in Gastonia, NC, where I had a room in the apartment of the manager of the local Western Auto Store. I was working for Bill Godwin of Godwin’s Refrigeration. My car was a bright red 1960 Chevrolet convertible. "I was cool." On the surface I appeared being a young man who was living the "good life". But on the inside I was miserable. During that period of my life I hurt some people. Thank God for Calvary but that doesn’t "fix" the hurt I caused in those people. One can only ask for forgiveness.
But, way back in my history was a crucial moment in time when as a nine year old boy I had an experience with the Lord Jesus Christ. I gave my life to Him but during this span of my life, you would have never known it. I was a shame to the Cross of Christ. On a specific day in 1964 I was driving up Franklin Blvd. in Gastonia. I had just past McDonalds when it was as if the Lord came into that service van and sat down in the passenger seat beside me. To me, He said, as plain and firmly yet as lovingly as anyone could say, "Bob, I cannot protect you anymore. If you keep going the way you are going, you are going to fall off the cliff and it will be over for you."
The Road Juncture
That day, I knew that I was at the juncture of two roads. One road led to life with Christ, the other road continued down the same road that I had been traveling for over 3 years - death. That Sunday, I went to Grace Baptist Church in the city. I remotely knew Herb and Mott who attended that church. Soon after that first visit, during a revival meeting, I recommitted my life to the Lord Jesus Christ. It was quite an experience - almost as powerful as that first experience of Salvation.
Out of that one decision I met my wife now of 43 years (We celebrated our 43rd anniversary today, October 17, 2008). I accepted God’s call as a minister. I entered and completed college after almost 4 years. I went off to seminary where I spent 6 more years in school obtaining both a graduate and post graduate degree. At the same time I served as pastor of two churches. After seminary I have served 3 other churches including this one which has been my longest pastorate of 16 years.
And, it was as a pastor that I got introduced to Neuro-Linguistic Programming that has led to 11 published books that I contributed to plus numerous articles. It has opened up an international ministry for me (See www.renewingyourmind.com).
In an ever changing society, we need something or Someone to firmly plant our feet on so that we will not be persuaded by every wind that blows.
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