"God became personal to me on a Friday night in the spring of my 8th grade year. Mom and Dad brought me to church from the start of my life, so God seemed familiar to me all along. Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, Children’s Church—it was all part of my life. I was 5, or 6 when we had the Jesus talk, I prayed “the prayer” and was baptized. But, by the time I reached adolescence, the understanding of God I had as a 5-year-old was not big enough for my life as a teenager. Christianity was supposed to feel—joyous, free, content. But instead I struggled with guilt, insecurity, and inadequacy. I know—typical teen stuff, but I was a Christian and it was supposed to be different.
I remember praying at the close of a church service. I was telling God that I couldn’t figure out how to live the Christian life and I wanted out of our deal.
I don’t know how to explain it, except to say that God told me I was right; I couldn’t live the Christian life, but that He would live it through me if I would let Him. Galatians 2:20 became a theme verse for my life. It says “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live. And the life I live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
It was like God gave me permission to be insufficient and promised that He would more than make up the difference for me."
"God became personal to me at a young age as I had the wonderful experience of being raised by Christian parents. In fact, my dad is a pastor and so was my grandfather. So, I was in church basically
from the day I was born and had many faithful people teaching me the Bible week after week, sharing the good news of Jesus and praying for me to accept Christ as my Lord and Savior. When I was 10 years old I became a follower of Christ and even from a young age I could tell that my life had been changed.
In an experience that others have gone through if they accepted Christ at a young age, the gospel of Jesus Christ took on some new and fresh meanings later in my life. Through God’s working, I recommitted myself to Him and this experience has changed the direction of my life as I decided to leave the financial industry where I had worked for over a decade and to enter the ministry. We serve a loving and gracious God and I am thankful for his steadfast love and patience in my life. My desire is to
continually grow deeper into the gospel of His Son Jesus Christ and serve Him as best I can."
"From my earliest memory, it seems that I knew God was real. I can remember being in grade school and asking God for help with friendships and scary situations. That type of relationship of asking for what I needed would continue on into my early adult years. But, at 24 years old, I found myself engaged to the love of my life, starting a new job as a practical nurse. I was also expecting a baby in a few months.
Overwhelming emotions of Joy, Fear, Uncertainty and Insecurity caused me to cry out to the Lord continually. I began to feel God's presence, unconditional love, and peace like never before. I developed a hunger to know scripture. My heart was totally changed and a deep faith grew. Psalms 27 in the Amplified Bible speaks best of my relationship with God:
'One thing I have asked of the Lord, and that I will seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord (in His Presence ) all the days of my life, To gaze upon the beauty (the delightful loveliness and majestic grandeur) of the Lord and to meditate in His temple...I would have despaired had I not believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for and confidently expect the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for and confidently expect the Lord.'"
"Growing up in church with wonderful parents who saw the importance of giving me a foundational belief in God and salvation, I have always had a sense that God was close. With the struggles of teenage and college years, I came to rely more heavily upon God “bailing me out” of situations that I shouldn’t have been in. But it wasn’t until my adult years that I really began to more truly believe and feel the closeness of God in my life. He was always my salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ, but there was more. Through personal struggles, God showed me that I am always forgiven in His eyes and that I am redeemable no matter what.
More than anything, I have experienced the closeness of God through the people in my life. It’s in forgiveness from another, a hug, words of confirmation, friendship, love, a really important talk, a sermon, through my kids, through my wife, and sometimes from someone I don’t expect. With the birth of my two sons I have experienced a personal God first hand. As personal as I am with my wife and children, is the same way God loves me! And through the intricacies of God’s creation, He shows us how much He cares and provides for us! My decision to leave my profession as an educator of 11 years to become Worship Pastor of First Baptist was a direct result of a personal God who gives guidance, reassurance, and peace to my life."
"God started to become personal to me when I was in junior high. I had a friend who was struggling with depression and would often call me in tears, feeling as if taking her life was the only way out. I felt so powerless to help her. The only thing I knew to do was to ask God to be near her and rescue her.
In January of 2012, my dad passed away unexpectedly and my whole world changed. Deep grief began to characterize my life and everything felt heavy. However, the bitterness of loss also brought a sweet time of feeling Jesus with me, speaking to me and giving me hope. It is safe to say God had never felt more personal as he brought me to a deeper place in my relationship with Him. I needed Him to get through each day.
As life began to feel easier, we found ourselves diving into foster care. It is both the most meaningful and most difficult thing we have ever done. And yet, it allows me to know God in a way I never did before. In all of these things, I am so comforted to know He is there when my heart is hurting. It is the place I find a personal God, who sees my burdens and does the heavy lifting for me."
"God became personal to me when I was ten years old. My grandmother watched my brother, sister and me while mom and dad were at work and in the summers. Her church was just next door, so we spent a lot of time hearing about God. I remember standing in her kitchen praying the Lord’s Prayer and reciting the 23rd Psalm before heading off to school. Her faith was so matter of fact that we assumed that everyone knew Christ.
It was in February 1963, while at church with her, that I knelt down at her pew and prayed for Christ to save me. She was right there beside me, praying and asking God for strength. Later that year while at VBS, I was baptized.
Like so many of my generation, life soon happened and my walk was not providing the best picture of Christ. But God who is never far from His children (since He never leaves us) would not let go of me. When I was fifteen, He brought a pastor into the life of my family and once again God became personal to me in a mighty way. In fact, over the decades since that encounter, God has shown himself to be very interested in my life. He has brought other men and women of faith into my life to help guide and pray for me.
If you ever wonder if God is personal, or if you think you can’t be personal with Him, take His words to heart. Proverbs 3:5-6 says 'Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths'. God has a plan for your life. And that is very personal indeed."
I grew up in church as a child attending Sunday School, Royal Rangers and camps with local churches throughout my elementary and junior high years. But when I got into high school, the faith I had built wasn’t strong enough to guide my teenage decisions. When senior year came, Jesus shook my world. God showed me that I couldn’t do things on my own and that I was in desperate need of a Savior.
Sometimes God gives gentle nudges as a reminder of His grace and love, but I needed to be knocked off my feet. After some difficult days, God faithfully placed some godly young men in my life connected to FBC who helped spur my faith on by being present and loyal in my time of need. During this time, I could see the hand of Jesus throughout my life orchestrating every move.
Hebrews 6:19 has been a verse that helps hold my heart in those dark times and in times of triumph, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”
All of my stress, my downfalls and my failures don’t define or confine me. My soul has been redeemed and my hope is in the one who conquered sin.
I spent nearly 7 years teaching and coaching at both the junior high and high school setting and volunteering with the FBC youth ministry. I always found myself working with youth in many various ways, and I knew that’s where God was consistently leading me, but I did not have a clear vision of what exactly I was supposed to be doing until the opportunity to step into the role of ministry arose. I love Jesus, our youth, this community and I want to see it grow for the Kingdom!