Daily Walk With God

My Daily Journey With God in Athens Ga.

Obedience and Trust in God

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Sep• 16•14

2 Chronicles 16:9: For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.

This verse of scripture has always been a favorite of mine that I recite many times throughout my week. It serves as a reminder that God is present with me as I go about my day and even as I sleep. I am also reminded that God continues to play an active role in this world in which I temporarily reside. Just when it seems that the world is spiraling out of control, God’s word reveals to us that the God who created the universe is still in control. It’s difficult to find much hope or assurance in the things of this world. In God however, we can face the uncertainty of this world with the promise that God is watching over us and is sustaining us with his mercy and strength.

1 John 5:3: This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.

Being obedient and open to God’s guidance is crucial for us as we live out our lives in Christ today. We may do many good things for people, or for God’s kingdom, and many times we aren’t allowed to see the powerful effect that our actions have. That should not stop us from being obedient to God and living out the life of faith that we are called to live. Our duty is to obey God by following his commands and living out a life that shows others the way to Christ. God will take care of the rest and He will use us to further His kingdom here on this earth in ways that we cannot imagine. I believe that when we get to heaven, God will reveal to us how our actions made a difference in bringing others to belief in God and in Christ.

Matthew 16:27: For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

As Christians, we live in a world that does not value obedience to God. Many of our friends would probably ask us what we are receiving in return for our obedience to God. Of course, they are focused on an earthly return on our time and investment instead of an eternal reward. They fail to understand that we are not storing up treasures on this earth, but rather, eternal treasures in heaven. We may not ever see or understand the eternal effects that our actions have in this world. There will come a day however, a glorious day, in which we will completely understand just how important our obedience to God has been.

Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).

Where is your heart? Do you obey God for the hope of material gain or to be noticed? Or do you obey God because that is what your “heart” calls you to do? The Holy Spirit works powerfully in those who choose to obey God and are committed to advancing His Kingdom. Will you choose to obey God and allow Him to use you to proclaim the good news of Christ? Or will you choose the ways of the world? How you answer that question will have eternal consequences.

One Door Closes And Another Opens

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Sep• 09•14

Acts 16:6-12: Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

This passage from the book of Acts reveals some important aspects of how the Holy Spirit works in the hearts and minds of believers. Paul and his ministry companions are in the early stages of his second missionary journey from Antioch. Along the way they encountered ministry opportunities that were made available to them (doors opened) and some others that were not (doors closed). In this passage we are told how the Holy Spirit kept Paul and his companions from” preaching the word in the province of Asia” (Acts 16:6). Thankfully, Paul and his companions were persistent and open to God’s guidance. They didn’t give up, even though they may have been discouraged. Faith guided them forward, giving them further opportunities to tell others about Christ. God had a plan and a purpose for their ministry.

Paul was called by God to take the gospel message to the Gentile world and he was obedient to God’s guidance. So as Paul traveled into the northwest part of Asia, the Holy Spirit would not allow him to go any further – a door was closed. We then find that Paul tried to enter Bithynia, but again the Holy Spirit would not allow them to go there. It was becoming clear that Paul was not to “preach the word in the province of Asia.” Paul and his friends changed directions and spent the night at Troas. Then during the night, Paul had a vision of a man from Macedonia, begging him to travel to Macedonia and help them. The vision of the man from Macedonia, and his message, was clear to Paul. God was opening a door to a ministry opportunity and Paul was resolved to obediently follow God’s call.

In my own ministry, God has recently closed a door. I have had some time to reflect on this missed opportunity and I completely trust that God has another plan for my ministry. What happens when God says “no” and closes a door? The worst thing that we can do is to pull back and not continue to share our faith for fear of being hurt or disappointed again. If we follow God in any type of ministry, we will face rejection and failure. However, we cannot allow that door closing to prevent us from seeking other ways to serve and glorify God. God can take what seems like a failure to us and turn it into something that gives Him the glory.  Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

God will guide you, if you will trust in Him and submit to Him, in all your ways. Be obedient, available, and open to any opportunity that God places in your path. We can never be certain when the Holy Spirit will show up and direct us into a way of service that we would have never chosen if we leaned on our own understanding. It is moments like these when we know that the opportunity placed before us is from God. Embrace those opportunities and always remember to give the ultimate glory back to God so that His power will be evident to all.

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”
― Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

 

 

The Light of the World

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Sep• 05•14

1 John 1:5-7: This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

John 3:19-21: This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

As John writes in his Gospel, and in the subsequent  letter of 1 John, he uses the image of light to represent truth, and that which is good, pure and holy. In contrast, darkness represents evil, falsehoods, and that which opposes God’s kingdom. Two lifestyles are made visible: one represented by godliness and truth and the other by wickedness and lies. In the midst of persecution and false teachings, these early believers were encouraged by John to always walk in the “light.”

What does it mean for followers of Christ today to walk in the light? Walking in the light draws us to places where people are suffering and without hope. When you help out those in need without any kind of personal motive, you are revealing the light of Christ to people who so desperately need that light. When you offer a kind and compassionate word to those that so desperately need it, you are displaying the love of Christ to those that are hurting. When you take the time to listen to someone who needs to share their problems and worries, you are “in fellowship with one another” (1 John 1:7). As you attempt to live out a holy life that leads others to Christ, you live out your life in “truth” (1 John 1:6). You are walking in the light, humbly doing God’s work, without drawing attention to your good deeds.

Jesus didn’t associate much with the rich and well connected people of his day. He spent time with those who were shunned by society and were made to feel like second class citizens. Jesus reminds us as His followers, we are not citizens of this world, but rather citizens of heaven. And as His followers, if we are to walk in the light, we must go and carry His light into those dark and hopeless places in our community and throughout our world. Love and compassion for our fellow human beings should compel us to minister to those who are hurting and in need of some kindness. If we truly love others we must show them the way out of darkness and into the light of Christ.

As you begin to walk more in the light of Christ you become less concerned or focused on the things of this world. You are able to let go of worldly things, whether they are material possessions, fame, pride, etc. Those that seek these things are worldly and their focus is more on this world than on the eternal promises of our future reward in heaven. As you walk more fully in the light of Christ, you realize that you love God the Father more than you love the fame, wealth, or the attention of this world.

1 John 2:15-17: Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – comes not from the Father but from the world.

Do you love the world more than you love God? If you do, then it’s time that you walk out of the darkness of this world and into the light of Christ. The possessions and the desires of this world are fading fast, they are only temporary. This day, you must make the choice to let go of the things of this world and focus your attention on the concerns of God. 1 John 1:17: The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

Don’t Give Up! Do What’s Right

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Sep• 01•14

Galatians 6:9 (NIV): Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

2 Thessalonians 3:13 (NIV): And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right.

Have you ever been tempted to just give up? You try to do what’s right and it just seems that life gets more difficult. You may have said to yourself, “Why should I continue to struggle with doing what’s right when it doesn’t seem that my life gets any easier or more fulfilling?” I imagine that most every person on this planet will have asked themselves that same question during the course of their lives. We attempt and struggle with doing things the right way and we are disappointed when our efforts are not rewarded.

Remember the parable from Luke of the persistent widow? Jesus was teaching his disciples and he told them a parable that explained to them the importance of persistent prayer. Luke 18:1: Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. This is a verse of scripture that I refer to over and over again to remind myself of  the importance of persistent prayer and to never give up. My belief and faith in God and His will for my life, is the driving force behind my refusal to give up. I know that God has a purpose for my life and I want you to know that God has a purpose for your life as well.

The Apostle Paul endured many hardships and trials during his ministry but he conducted himself in the right way, so that others would come to know Christ through Paul’s example and teachings. Paul could have easily become weary in doing good but he knew that a greater reward lie ahead if he would not surrender to the many temptations of this world. That is what Paul is saying to the believers in Galatia and Thessalonica, “Let us not become weary in doing good, never tire of doing what is right.” “For at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

What is the “proper time?” The proper time is when God decides that we will receive our just reward for living out our life of faith in the right way. Paul describes that appointed time as ultimately being when we are given our inheritance in the “kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21). Every decision that we make in this life will have an impact on our future inheritance in God’s kingdom. The way that we conduct ourselves will reflect who we are as believers and followers of Christ. And it can also draw others to come to know Christ through the way that we live out our life of faith.

I remember watching a TV news interview years ago, where an elderly lady was talking about the many trials and temptations that her grandchildren were faced with. Her advice to them was simply to never get tired of doing what’s right. When asked how they were to know what the “right” thing was, she simply replied, “Read the Bible, God has put it all in there.” What good and timely advice, if we would only read our Bible and then put into practice what God has commanded us to do. We would then have what we need to help us when we are tempted and when we become weary. May God help you to not become tired or weary in doing good.

The Land of Glory

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Aug• 30•14

John 14:1-4: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Colossians 3:1-4: Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 

I try to keep up with current and world events, but the news that we hear daily is discouraging and depressing. Innocent people are being displaced and killed throughout the world, as various battles and wars, rage on and on. Individuals, families, and various people groups are fleeing for safety in the midst of many of these conflicts. Christians are under attack for their beliefs and are losing their lives for clinging to and professing their faith. And the men, women, and children of West Africa are faced with the Ebola epidemic that is claiming lives and spreading fear. Death is literally staring them in the face on a daily basis. All of these things have been weighing heavily on my mind and heart for several weeks now, as I consider what kind of world my children and their children are going to encounter. Every day it seems, the outlook for future generations on this earth appears disheartening and gloomy.

When faced with such distressing new, my focus turns to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who has already defeated death, and the pain and suffering of this world. As citizens of this earth, we will encounter many instances of grief and suffering while living on this planet. However as followers of the risen Christ, we know that our “present sufferings” only serve to prepare us for the future “glory” that will ultimately be revealed. The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 8:18: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” We live out our lives on this earth with our attention and our desire fixed firmly upon heaven.

Jesus said to his disciples, “You know the way to the place where I am going.” The cross of Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven. By belief in Christ’s death for our sins and in His resurrection, we find our way to the land of glory. And in that distant land, we will rejoice with all the saints that have gone on before us, and give praise to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Acts 4:12: Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved. Jesus Christ is the only way to eternal life and heaven.

Praying for Liberia

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Aug• 13•14

2 Corinthians 1:3-5: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.

Psalm 23:4: Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

As of Monday morning, 1,013 people have died in Africa from the Ebola virus. The four West African countries in which Ebola has spread are Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and also Nigeria. It’s impossible to imagine what these people are dealing with each day, as they attempt to come to grips with the Ebola outbreak. 

In 2006, I had the privilege to travel with the Senior Pastor of our church, to the West African nation of Liberia. We spent almost ten days there with a local church, joining them in worship, learning more about God, and appreciating the bond we share as human beings and followers of Christ. By the end of our time there it felt like we were leaving family. Not many days go by that I don’t pray for and think about our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, in Liberia. I feel deeply connected with the people in the church and community that we visited, as well as the entire nation of Liberia. They have endured great pain and suffering as a result of two civil wars and are now in the path of the Ebola outbreak. They need and desire our prayers.

So I ask you to pray for the people of Liberia, and also the other countries, that are trying to contain the spread of Ebola. Last night, our prayer group, prayed for God to show compassion and mercy upon the people in these nations and to comfort them as only God can. We prayed for God’s powerful presence to come upon them, enveloping them in God’s love and mercy.

The Apostle Paul reminds us that we serve a God who is present with us in our suffering and will comfort us in our troubles. Just as God comforts us in our troubles, we are called to provide comfort and prayers to our fellow human beings around the world that are facing trials and suffering on a scale that we can’t even begin to comprehend. 2 Corinthians 1: 5: “For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”

So let us pray with confidence for the people in Liberia and the other affected countries in Africa who need and covet our prayers. And may we also give praise to “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort” (2 Cor. 1:3). As believers, we serve a God who continues to work miracles in this world that we live in. We often don’t have enough faith to believe that God can overcome any and all of the many sufferings and trials that we face. Pray for God to bring a quick end to the spread of Ebola in Africa.

The angel Gabriel reminded Mary in Luke 1:37, “For nothing is impossible with God.” May each of us remember that as we pray for the people of Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria.

 

Slow To Anger

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Aug• 04•14

James 1: 19-20: My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

Ephesians 4:29:  Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

James, a brother of Jesus, and a leader in the Jerusalem church, writes to the scattered Jewish Christians. He seeks to give them practical advice on how to best live out their life of faith. Those words written long ago still have significant meaning for us as followers of Christ today. “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (James 1:19b-20).

All of us know people who always seem angry at something. Often times even they don’t know who or what they are angry with. They allow their anger to control them and to take up permanent residence inside their mind and body. When I meet a believer that is filled with anger, I can’t help but think about how their anger is quenching the incredible gift of the Holy Spirit, who lives and dwells within every believer. As a follower of Christ, if you project anger instead of compassion, you are setting a bad example for those who do not believe. How can unbelievers see Christ in us if we live a life filled with anger?

James tells us that we should be “quick to listen.” That’s good advice that most all of us could benefit from, especially if we have trouble controlling our anger. I notice people who always talk but never listen. And often the words that they speak serve to condemn themselves even more. But they can’t help themselves and they just continue talking, trying to tear down others with their hurtful and angry words. What they fail to realize is how much they are condemning their own souls. People like this are not “quick to listen”, they have already decided that they are right and the other person is wrong.

James tells us that we should be “slow to speak.” It’s sad that many believers rush to judgment of others and speak harsh words instead of following the nudge of the Spirit and remaining quiet. Being “slow to speak” is a gift of the Holy Spirit. I have had many occasions in my life when I could have said something hateful or hurtful, but instead, I allowed the Holy Spirit to guide my actions and my tongue. The Spirit produces self-control in those believers who rely on the Spirit and they are granted a life filled with peace instead of judgment and anger.

James tells us that we should be “slow to become angry.” I have not always controlled my anger well, especially in my younger years. But as I have matured and more importantly, allowed the Holy Spirit to guide me, I have made great progress in being slow to become angry. I feel sorry for people who live out their days filled with anger. Many of these people don’t even realize how the anger inside them is destroying their soul and their relationship with other people. They become judgmental and point out the imperfections in others while disregarding their own flaws.

Jesus gave some sound advice for those of us who are quick to judge others. In Matthew 7:1-5, Jesus said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

The Apostle Paul, writing to the church in Rome, also gives sound advice on how to be at peace with others. Romans 12: 17-21: Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

 

God’s Amazing Grace

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Jul• 31•14

Ephesians 2:8-9
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

John 1:17
For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

Romans 11:6
And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

Tonight, I need to be reminded of God’s amazing grace. As I was listening to different versions of Amazing Grace being performed, I remembered this video that I first saw several years ago by Wintley Phipps. I hope that it uplifts your spirit as much as it encouraged mine.

God’s Unfailing Love

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Jul• 26•14

Psalm 143:8-10 (NIV)

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. Rescue me from my enemies, Lord, for I hide myself in you. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.

Do you awake most mornings already feeling anxious about what the day ahead holds? Do you try to plan out your day hoping that if everything will simply go the right way, you just might survive the day? If you begin most days like this, you are not alone. Many believers start their day out in this same fashion. We try to accomplish whatever it is that we want by our own power. As Christians, we must believe that we serve a God who can ordain our day according to His plans so that His “unfailing love” can guide us through the many difficulties and joys of the day ahead. “Trust”, as the psalmist writes, is the vital ingredient so often missing from our walk with God: “For I have put my trust in you.” Do you trust yourself more than you trust God?

If this is the way you begin your day, then I want you to try something different. Instead of coming up with your own plans for the day ahead, ask God to guide you in the way you should go. Let go of your desire to control everything and allow God to direct your plans for the day ahead. It’s not easy for us to give up control, because even though we tend to make an absolute mess of our lives, we continue to trust in ourselves more than we trust God.

We must admit to God that we don’t really know what we are doing, even though he has given us free will. Ask God to “teach” you to follow His will for your life. Whether you believe it or not, God does have a plan and a purpose for each one of us. And He is ready to help us realize His purposefulness for us. He is waiting on you to take that first step of faith and trust Him. Psalm 139:16: Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

The psalmist asks for God to lead him on “level ground” and I suppose that each one of us would pray that prayer as well. And while we all need to spend some time on “level ground” it is on those paths less traveled that we grow and develop into the Christian men and women that God created us to be. We learn how to more fully trust in God through the many trials and setbacks that we endure. No matter what we encounter in this world, we know that God can take a difficult and seemingly hopeless situation and turn it into something good so that His glorious power can be displayed.

Life In The Spirit

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Jul• 17•14

John 14:16-17: And I will ask the Father and He will give you another Counselor, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him or knows him. But you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.

Romans 8:5-6: Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.

I preached a sermon on the Holy Spirit this past week and for me it was a Spirit led sermon. Let me explain that further because it sounds like I am boasting. Having thought about this sermon for several weeks, I had an idea of just how I wanted the sermon to go. However, somewhere along the way, the Spirit moved me in another direction. The sermon that I wanted to preach was changed into a sermon that the Spirit led me to preach. And before I fully realized it, I was led to give more of a testimony about how the Holy Spirit of God has moved in my life since I gave my life to Christ at the age of twelve.

I gave three examples of my life when the Holy Spirit moved powerfully within me. The first was when I was twelve years old and struggling with the decision to give my life to Christ. The Holy Spirit was drawing me to God and guiding me to accept Christ as my Lord and Savior. I remember that powerful and irresistible feeling within me that was calling me to publically confess my belief in Christ. I compared this impression to the feeling that the two disciples had on the road to Emmaus when Jesus came up and walked alongside them on Resurrection Sunday. The two men were kept from recognizing Jesus at first but they both had this response after Jesus revealed himself to them: They said, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32).

The second example of the Spirit’s work in my life was during a time of deep personal distress. I felt the overwhelming peaceful presence of the Spirit come over me and engulf me, giving me assurance that God, through His Holy Spirit, would guide me through this difficult period in my life. It was a feeling of complete peace and calm that overcame me and it gave me an unquestionable belief that everything would work itself out in the way that God intended.

The third example of the Holy Spirit moving powerfully in my life was about eight years ago when God was calling me to ministry. I had been struggling with my calling into ministry, mainly because I was convinced that God could not – and would not – use someone like me to minister to others. I didn’t have great speaking skills, I felt as if I didn’t know the Bible as well as I should, and I looked at myself in terms of my sinful nature, instead of as someone being led by the Spirit. I came up with every excuse possible to deny my calling, but God would not let me go. Every time I tried to convince myself that God was not really calling me, God put someone in my path that steered me back to God’s will for my life.

One night as I went to sleep, I remember praying to God for guidance. I continued to put off this decision to answer God’s calling because it just didn’t make sense to me. Sometime during the night, I had a vivid dream in which I was “floating” above the clouds. It didn’t seem like a dream – I felt as if I was literally flying or floating above the clouds.

Then the clouds began to part and I saw what appeared to be a town below. It was not a modern town but it appeared to be a town that looked like it belonged in the early 1900’s. I saw many plain white buildings below and I remember seeing a white church with a large steeple. As I drew closer, I saw a group of men standing in front of the church and all of them wore dark pants, with a dark jacket and a white shirt without a tie.

At this point, I was getting close to the earth below and this group of men that were assembled in front of the church. I remember descending very quickly upon this group of men and I remember thinking that I was actually going to “collide” into them. Then very suddenly as I came upon the men, one of them turned around and was face to face with me, and he said, “You are going to be a pastor.”

And immediately, I realized that the man speaking to me was my grandfather, who passed away in 1981, when I was 17 years old. In that short time span of 17 years, he had a profound impact on my life of faith. He demonstrated for me a life that loved and honored God.

I woke up immediately and was so shaken that I could not go back to sleep. I remember getting up in that early morning hour and reading my Bible and praying to God for several hours. During that time, I decided that I was going to obey God and serve Him for the rest of my life. And I also knew that I had to tell my wife about my decision that we both had wrestled with for almost a year.

I didn’t say anything to her that morning because I was still in a state of shock. When I got home that afternoon, we sat down and I told her about my dream and my decision to dedicate my life to serving God. She agreed, we hugged, and I began to cry like I have never cried in my entire life.

For the third time in my life, I felt a sensation come over me that was so peaceful and comforting – that I cannot fully describe it. The Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and my mind and told me that I had made the right decision. And God – through His Holy Spirit – has been with me every step of the way since. There have been many joys and disappointments in my calling – but God, through His Holy Spirit, has used all of these circumstances to mold and shape me into who I am today.

I cannot do what I do in ministry without the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit. I continue to rely and call upon The Holy Spirit to guide me in my calling and in my ministry.

Ephesians 1:13: And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.