March 10th, 1986, was by far the most life-changing day that I have ever lived. Before that day, “dissatisfaction” described my deep inner self. Being hungry and thirsty in the physical characterized what I felt in my heart. Oh, the outside appeared well, an honor’s college graduate having had the privilege of traveling overseas three summers with a small choir. My upbringing had been good, my father pastoring in a protestant church denomination. I had been fairly popular in school, and now I was starting a career as a music minister. God had done things for me and others because God responds to faith, humility, and a repentant heart. I’d resolved to always live for God, but down deep in my heart, something was missing. With all my study, I asked myself the question, “How can I lead worship to God, when I don’t really know how to worship Him truly myself?” My current experience was shallow.
A song title reads, “Only Jesus can satisfy the soul”. When God sees dissatisfaction in someone who is seeking Him correctly, He comes through. Seeing my heart, He orchestrated events to show me how to find Him. The process of seeking His will lead me to McMinnville in 1984, feeling right to be half-time music minister / half-time custodian.
In preparing for the Easter cantata, 1986, we had chosen a dramatic type young lady named Laura to be the narrator. In the process of rehearsing with her, we discussed my desire to be a better worship leader and to know God more deeply. Laura had received the Holy Ghost following an accident leaving her confined to a wheelchair. Liz, her nurse’s aide, told us that she had a Bible study on the subject. If it was Bible, I wanted it, but not additions or subtractions.
We set the Bible study for my day off, Monday, March 10, 1986 at 5:00 p.m. I had a practice scheduled for seven with a city classical choir.
The study began with scripture upon scripture concerning the authority of the Word of God, the Bible teaching that along with the highest authority of Jesus, and that of the prophets of old, that Jesus gave the apostles great authority (Eph. 2:20). This made sense to me, because all Christians hold to the Old and New Testaments as scripture – the New Testament written by the apostles. Naturally, the spirit of truth written about in 1 John 4:6 was connected to listening to those with whom Jesus had given authority. The apostles termed their teachings as “the apostles’ doctrine”.
I still remember how I felt on that day when studying this. The two edged sword of the Word of God had pierced into my heart. Previously I had not heard Biblical teaching about the Apostles’ doctrine and felt God responding to my heart plea. At seven, I went to the choir practice, already organizing to continue the Bible Study later that evening. But, my heart was so stirred within me wanting to know “What is the apostles’ doctrine?” that I left the practice early and we continued the study.
“What is believing according to the Bible?” was the focus. In that one evening, God showed me a door with brilliant light within. I had known about Jesus and His sacrificial death since childhood. But my love for God sky-rocked when I saw that God’s love didn’t prompt Him to send another person in the Godhead to die, but the one God Himself, who as deity could not die, took on flesh Himself and died (1 Tim. 3:16). Believing wasn’t just on Jesus, but included “believing the gospel” and then “obeying the gospel”. God had more for me then just repentance. The Apostle Peter, the disciple to whom Jesus had given the keys to God’s kingdom, told his listeners how to respond to what God in Christ had done. When I saw what the Apostles taught to lost people on how to be saved (Acts 2, 8, 10, 19 and elsewhere), I chose to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins (buried with Him in baptism) and received the gift of the Holy Ghost, the same way they did in the Bible (speaking with other tongues as the spirit gave utterance). My thirsty, hungry soul was being satisfied.
“What does God want?” was of most importance in my heart. I devoured the Word of God for weeks searching it out making sure that this message was right according to God’s Word (not what is right for “me” or right for “someone else”, but right “according to God”). I wasn’t going to take a chance hoping God would somehow ignore what he had written. Besides, it was the door to abundant life. Why would I even want to refuse?
Since that day, I have never looked back with regret. I found how to connect with God. God has never disappointed me. I have disappointed me, blocking progress at times, but never God. When it comes to the anointed preaching of the Word of God, and God’s presence, He has never failed. Inside that door I found a totally awesome way to live.
God loves this way because He authored it. True heart-felt, truth-loving worship attracts God (John 4). When worship is real and right, God responds – the best time in God’s presence this side of Heaven – true satisfaction.