I am thankful for the upbringing I had. My parents were moral and took me to Sunday School every Sunday. In my teen years, I became very active in the teen group at my church and was involved in the leadership of the group. In our youth group, we had fun times as well as serious times, and we did some pretty good things, but I recall little told about salvation and knowing for sure that you are bound for heaven when you die. I guess it was a given that if you went to church you would make it to heaven.
When I went to college in 1975 I wasn’t sure where to attend church, so I didn’t go anywhere on a Sunday morning. This left me feeling empty on the inside, so one Sunday I went to the church service held on the campus. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, and when I went I didn’t like what I saw. The man who turned out to be the preacher was doing some things before the service I didn’t think were right. The service also turned out to be different, too. “Thus, this experience gave me a sour taste, and turned me off from going to church while I was at college.” Thus, this experience gave me a sour taste, and turned me off from going to church while I was at college.
In my junior year at college, the Lord conveniently placed me in a dorm room three doors away from some born again Christians. I liked what I saw in their lives, but because of my prior experience at college, I was reluctant to get too close to them. However, in the few talks we had, they challenged me about my relationship to God. Figuring I wasn’t that bad of a person, I thought I was okay with God.
When we returned for the second semester that year, I found out my roommate from the first semester had flunked out. I soon got a new roommate–a freshman. Although he wasn’t a bad person, we didn’t have much in common. Thus, I sought other friends, in particular the two Christians down the hallway. Their lives continued to impress me, and I determined that what they had I wanted. One night I got down on my knees in my bedroom and prayed a prayer to God. “I don’t recall what I prayed, I just knew I wanted what these two men had.” I don’t recall what I prayed, I just knew I wanted what these two men had.
After that experience, I got involved in some campus ministries and started attending church while at college. I even started reading my Bible and praying. Upon graduation in 1979, I got a job in the Allentown area and one of the first things I wanted to do was find a church. Through an acquaintance at my job, I got involved with a Young Adult group in a church in the area. I got actively involved with the group, and met a young lady, Robin Warmkessel, whom I married in 1981. We were both very active in the church. However, there were some things that bothered us about the doctrine (Note: “doctrine” means teaching) in the church as it didn’t line up with Bible doctrine.
The Lord had conveniently placed some neighbors near us who invited us to the Lehigh Valley Baptist Church. We liked what we heard in the preaching at the church as it was straight from the Bible. We knew this was where we belonged so in 1988 we joined the church.
A lot of the preaching was on salvation and being sure that you’re bound for heaven. “This challenged my soul for some reason, but I figured I was OK as I had prayed a prayer back in my junior year at college, and I had gotten very involved in religious activities since then.” This challenged my soul for some reason, but I figured I was OK as I had prayed a prayer back in my junior year at college, and I had gotten very involved in religious activities since then.
One Sunday night in 1992, two ladies who were active in the church came forward and announced they had recently gotten saved (Note: “Saved” is a Biblical term referring to the forgiveness of sins by God and rescue of the person from the power and penalty of that sin. This is God’s requirement for everlasting life). This shook me up a little bit, but what bothered me the most was at the invitation (Note: “Invitation” is a time given after the preaching service where a person can come forward to speak to the pastor or come to the altar to pray and make things right with God). My wife went forward expressing her need for salvation (which occurred the next morning). That really shook me up and I could hardly sleep that night. I thought my wife lived a Christian life, so I had no idea that she wasn’t saved. Doubts about my own salvation flooded my soul. During the next number of weeks, I wrestled a lot with God, had many sleepless nights, and had many unproductive days at work. I knew I had to get the matter of my own salvation settled, but I wasn’t sure what to do. I knew the first thing I had to do was realize I was lost (Note: “lost” means having no relationship with God). This was humbling to admit, but I finally realized in God’s eyes that I was lost.
On the night of November 29, I told our pastor at the invitation that I was lost. He had someone talk to me about salvation that night, but I wasn’t ready to repent (Note: “repent” means turning from your sin and desiring not to do it anymore) of my sins and put my faith in Christ.
The following night our pastor visited me at my home to see how I was doing. I shared my struggles with him, and he shared some Bible verses with me. He didn’t put any pressure on me to do anything, but after he left, I felt the Holy Spirit was working in my heart and that if I put it off any longer, God may not give me another chance. Isaiah chapter 55 verse 6 says, “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near.“
After the children went to bed, I read a few more scriptures and knew God was at work in my heart. At 9:30 p.m. on Monday, November 30, 1992, I knelt by the couch in my living room with a repentant heart asking God to forgive me of my sins, and I put my faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. A tremendous peace flooded my soul after all the weeks of struggling and fighting. God had come into my life andsaved my soul, and I knew that I was bound for heaven when I died.