Monday, February 07, 2011

14 Years Ago Today

It's so weird to think that it was fourteen years ago tonight that I accepted Jesus in to my heart. l was sitting in my dorm room (er...Residence Hall Room, we were instructed not to call them "dorms") as a Resident Assistant (R.A.) at Pittsburg State University, talking to a guy named Brian. Brian was the first Christian I had met that didn't push what he believed onto me. He clearly led the life of a strong Christian, but he respected where everyone was at in life. Brian and I hung out from time to time because I was an R.A. He actually assumed I was a Christian from the beginning of our friendship. He entered my dorm just for one semester. He was an Education Student who needed one last class in order to graduate, and it was only offered in the fall at the college he was previously attending, so he came to Pitt for that one semester.

We were in my dorm room talking, and he said something about being a Christian. I told him I wasn't sure if I was a Christian. He paused and said, "Haven't you asked Jesus into your heart?" I looked down at the floor and said, "No." Then he talked me through what it meant, and we said a prayer.

It feels like it was yesterday in some ways, and in other ways it feels like it has been a lifetime.

I can recall that I didn't even know how to look up scripture at that point. I was in a Bible Study and Loretta had to teach me how to look up scripture because I hadn't been taught yet. It was just the beginning.

Fourteen years later I look back on what a ride it has been.

My first church in Pittsburg had a church split when some of the leadership received Baptism of the Holy Spirit. I didn't know what to make of the church split, and at the same time I was somewhat struggling with "church". I got up and went because that's what I was supposed to do, but it was boring. Is that too blunt? It's true. I would walk out of church, get in my car, and ask God, "REALLY, IS THIS IT?" Fortunately, it wasn't. *grin*

I got involved in the Baptist Student Ministries called CrossQuest. I enjoyed CrossQuest, and served as "Minister of Transparencies." I traveled with the band and enjoyed it. We would go and lead worship at churches and youth gatherings all over. It was a WONDERFUL foundation for me, as we had weekly Bible Study, and I grew so much during that time. It was also during that season that I discovered my love for Praise and Worship Music and how deeply I connect with Him in that. I am SO thankful that God gave me that season.

Not too long after that I met PD, who was leading a small church (New Song) in Joplin. It was my first Spirit-Filled church experience. I was hesitant at first, but liked it because it was that "more" I was praying for in my life. Church wasn't boring anymore, it was honestly FUN. I led the youth for a little over a year, and enjoyed it. The church eventually folded so that PD and his wife could open The House of Prayer in Joplin. In that season I was a sponge. I loved it!!!

At the same time I had a lot of questions. In that season, there was such a movement for righteousness that God's love was not accepted. I can remember sitting in New Song and asking God about his unconditional love that I thought was there. It was something not preached or talked about. That confused me. I accepted it though because I wanted God so much that I figured that perhaps if I spent my quiet time bargaining or repenting that it would work.

When New Song folded, I joined Promiseland Fellowship. At first it was GREAT. The people there were (and still are) serious about God. However, I found myself in the same position. God's love was considered a cop-out. Even after finding the House of Prayer and discovering God's Love, my knowledge of that was assaulted in that church. I stayed though. I was young and I was not very wise in the things of the Lord yet.

Then one night, it changed. I was sitting in a Wednesday Night Service where the pastor and a young man were debating Scripture in front of the congregation. It was then that I felt the PEACE of the Lord and I knew it was time to move on. I knew that my roommates wouldn't agree (and I was right, but surprisingly they were more supportive than I thought they would be.) but I left because I knew it was time for something HEALTHY.

That was when I discovered BYKOTA!!! Gosh, talk about a paradise after PLF!!! God's love was accepted, taught, and lived out!!! For several years I sat under Pastor Mike and his leadership, and was blessed beyond words over and over again!!! Talk about a place to call HOME!!! Wowowowowow! It wasn't perfect, as there is not such thing as a "perfect" church, but it was a healthy one where I joined a real FAMILY of believers. I also taught Sunday School two Sundays a month and loved those kids. I was home.

I also built a lot of strong Christian friends who I still communicate with today. I am blessed beyond words with the people He has put in my path. *grin*

Also during my time at BYKOTA, I met Mrs. Laura who introduced me to Camp Barnabas!!! Gosh, I can't imagine my life without camp now! Camp has taught me SO much, that I can't put it all in words. You can experience God at church, home, work, etc, but God out at Camp is AMAZING! You CANNOT do a week of Camp without God! Period. I have learned dependence on God, and His purest form of love out there. This Summer I get to serve during Terms 6 AND 7!!! I am so very thankful for Camp AND for Laura. I am blessed beyond words.

Of course, this post wouldn't be complete without mentioning IHOP-KC. I actually discovered IHOP-KC on a weekend trip with two of the girls from the Youth Group at New Song. We actually came up to visit another church, but spent some time in the old Prayer Room, which was four trailers side-by-side. It was small and we didn't fully get "it" but we could feel the Lord there.

When I was at PLF, we did a trip to Onething in 2002, and I was undone. I knew in those four days (1.5 of which I was really ill.) that I wanted to live here. I started praying then for it, and made SEVERAL trips to the Prayer Room over the years and watched the ministry grow. I became the "IHOP JUNKIE" and over the years I grew closer to God with every trip to IHOP. I am convinced that God put IHOP in my path to get me through my PLF experience. You know, I wouldn't be the person I am without either one of those experiences.

Today I live here, and still pinch myself in services because I can't believe I live here!!! I know it's not perfect, there's not a perfect church anywhere, but similar to BYKOTA, I am at home here. Between shuttles, work, and the Prayer Room, I am definitely at home.

By the way, I have learned a lot about accepting where people are at in the Lord. For me, being Spirit-Filled is a blessing. At the same time, some people are not comfortable with that, and I TOTALLY respect that. After all, it's not about that, it's simply about a relationship with Jesus. Period. *grin* I know this post has pretty much been a review of my church history, but I know a lot of people not in a church that are closer to God than I am. It's all about Jesus. Period. *grin*

Wow...fourteen years. It makes me wonder what the next fourteen years have in store for me. *grin*


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