April 28, 2006

In the beginning, my beginning

In the spring of 1998, the daughter of some friends of mine had invited me to their church, Redeeming Love Christian Center in Nanuet, New York, to hear her recite the announcements. When she had finished reading the announcements the pastor would soon begin his message for that Sunday. Pastor Clinton Utterbach was preaching that Sunday morning and little did I know how the invitation I received, and the one that would be given, would change my life and my eternal destiny.

Pastor Clinton said that he would be preaching his sermon for the next 60 minutes and I had never sat that long in church listening to a sermon ever. I distinctly remember when I grew up, I attended the Assumption School in Peekskill, New York, where the homilies were somewhere between 15-20 minutes long. Those messages then never had an impact on me the way the message spoken in 1998 had. The message I was about to hear would truly change my life.

At the end of Pastor Clinton’s sermon he gave two invitations to the entire congregation to anyone who wanted to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their life. Each of those invitations was followed by gentle nudges from the father of the daughter whom had invited me. I quietly assured my friend that, "I was good to go with God, that I had been to Catholic school for a few years and that I had read the bible." Not from beginning to end, or even an entire chapter, but a few verses here and there. I continued to tell my host that I knew that God made me and my host just nodded his head as if I really knew that I was in a good standing relationship with God. Well the third invitation was given only this time the pastor says, "I'm waiting for one man to come down here and accept Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Come down here and become a real man for God. Everything that your hand touches would prosper if you accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior." Well, no nudge this time from my host. He just sat there. Now, I was thinking, was this God calling me, asking to come into my life to understand what it really meant to know Him? Was that a personal invitation from God, through the pastor, to accept the invitation to receive Christ in my life? I had heard or even read a Scripture verse about the prosperity of my hands yet I had no clue where in the bible that was. There wasn't much of a delay on my part at that moment to realize that God was speaking directly to me. So I got up from my seat and made my way down to the center of the sanctuary floor to publicly acknowledge and receive Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

It was a roller coaster of a walk in the beginning when I lived to please myself rather than pleasing God, by the things I did. It took some time, but I am so thankful that God has become closer to me as I made it a priority to grow closer to Him on a daily basis. For the past four years now my walk with the Lord is much better. I have stumbled along the way at times, but I’ve learned from some mature brothers in Christ, how to get back up from a fall, and even better to learn how to avoid the obstacles along the way.

My life now has a greater meaning and sense of purpose. It is my desire to fulfill the Great Commission, which Jesus commanded us to do before He ascended to heaven. Because of what He has done to save me from death when I placed my faith in Him, I want nothing else greater in my life than knowing Jesus Christ more intimately each day and that anything else is simply worthless compared to knowing Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior.

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