I started going to church 9 months before I was ever born. A little General Regular Baptist Church in Wadesville Indiana, I’ve always called my home church, even though we left there before I was old enough to remember. I was memorizing scripture and old hymns years before I knew the Lord. Singing and grinning has always been my trademark, and I guess always will be. I played my part in all the children’s programs, sang in the children’s choirs, always there; because my dad became a minister. Always on my best behavior, at least when folks were listening and watching, which I found out to my hurt was often more than I knew or care to mention. I’ve always enjoyed going to church, and always enjoyed the old hymns and I guess always enjoyed a good sermon. Went through 4 years of catechism classes, made a public confession at 12 years of age and must confess, I guess it was more of a challenge to God, sort of like Jacob’s prayer when running from Esau, than a prayer for forgiveness or salvation. Oh! Did I mention my name is also Samuel.
Sounds like a good start, you might think, but no where does the bible teach that any of these things save you or please God. In fact it says in Romans 4:5:But to him that worketh not (KJV), but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is accounted unto him for righteousness. I’ve always said I grew up in a bubble world, sheltered from the evil things of this world. By no means a perfect (cause I was in It) world but free from so much of what I now see around me. Maybe it was just a gentler world back then, in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, or maybe I was just naïve. What I really was, was an unsaved sponge. Yes a sponge, the moment I tasted the world’s pleasures I was soaking it in. A drunk, a pothead, on and on and on."Compared to others I wasn't that bad", was a term I never used. I was just living.
God hadn’t forgotten about my challenge, but He was waiting for me to realize, that I was tired of being me. Well the night came. The newspaper stories tell the details at least as they were told to them. And as usual my side of the story was much different. God knew it, and knew whose was right, but He wasn’t concerned about my story or theirs, but weather I was tired of being who I was at that moment. Will several nights later down on my knees in the County Jail I knew it: “I was tired of being me.” God’s never early or late He’s always right on time. Long hair, no teeth, smelly and dirty, and surly deserving of the best that Hell had to offer, I gave my heart to Jesus. But not before I had bargained with God, which happened the night before. “Lord if You’ll help me out of this, I promise I’ll” For some reason He wasn’t impressed. The next night I knew there was a God and I wanted to be His, If He’d have me, BUT "NO PROMISES", just as I was. I’ve often remarked that He said “Father I died for that one, I’ll take him.”
That was almost 28 years ago. I've had a number of different leadership positions in the church. The best part a wife and 5 children. Messages, Testimonies, a number of songs and poems written and sang into existence. But when I add it all up, or should I try to tell, it would read “I started going to church 9 months before I was ever born, but over 50 years later I’m still growing up.” “THANKS TO CALVARY.”