How I Got Here-Part 1, the Early Years

I connected with a High School (and elementary) friend through Facebook.  She was curious about how I became a preacher/minister type guy and suggested I share my testimony.  I thought that was a good idea, and now months later, I am finally getting around to it.  I would be very interested in hearing your spiritual journey, as well.

Did I grow up in a Christian home?  I wish that were easier to answer.  Kinda yes, is the best I can do.

My grandfather on my mother’s side was a preacher.  My grandfather on my father’s side was an elder.  My father was a preacher until he couldn’t physically speak any longer because of Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS).  His last sermon was from a wheelchair with slurred speech.  I was 2 or 3 when he was diagnosed and 4 and a half when he died.

The next ten years can be split in half.  The years that my preaching grandfather lived in town, we attended where he preached.  The years after he moved hours away, we rarely attended anywhere.

In that ten year period, my mother struggle so much with personal baggage and worked nights, so I was kinda on my own.  I don’t remember much about the Bible, prayer, or Jesus during that time.

We had just started attending worship again a couple of months before she died.   I was 14 and a half. I had been immersed, mainly because of her prodding, a little over a month before she died in an automobile accident.

Saying that my life changed would be an understatement.  Saying that my life changed for the better probably sounds disrespectful and cruel.  But looking backwards through the eyes of faith, I can’t judge God or ask why.

From that point on, I was in a home where I saw adults reading the Bible and prayers were offered at every meal.  I had been transferred from an unpredictable and often frightening home situation into one where peace and love ruled.

It was also a home where church attendance was assumed.  The little country congregation had lots of problems.  Good people, some bad theology, some bad attitudes (if you want to know why I am not real high on MSOP, it is from personal experience).  When this congregation began to unravel, we began worshipping at a larger and healthier church in town.

This is where my faith really began blooming.  A series on the Book of Romans by Mike Tanaro at the Lone Oak Church of Christ is how and where my faith got kick-started.  This would have been around 1992-1993.  I will always appreciate that congregation for many reasons and always thank God for them.  Mike Tanaro is still one of my favorite preachers.

I suppose this is a good stopping point.  Suffice to say that I was still young and immature.  I do recall reading the entire NT for the first time out of blue KJV during these same years (early 90s).  But I was learning and seeds were being planted.  My life had gone from crazy to calm.

I will talk about my college years in the next installment.


20 thoughts on “How I Got Here-Part 1, the Early Years

  1. Thanks for sharing this Brian. I think it always helps us understand each other’s thoughts when we know more about their background.

    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer

  2. Hey Brother,
    I am mesmerized! I love peoples stories! Thank you so much for sharing and it opens up a whole new light into who you are! Can’t wait for the next one.

  3. Thanks for sharing. I know it must have not been easy. I don’t think the “change for the better” comment is bad at all. Just honest.

  4. I agree. This is riveting. I hope you keep going.

    I’m guessing MSOP is the Memphis School of Preaching. (Now that I’ve said that, I hope I’m right).

  5. I loved the story too. Amazing how God uses people and things to reach us. I don’t think I’ve met Mike, but I’ve heard great things about him and I do know his son.

  6. Brian

    MSOP=memphis school of preaching

    i am sure many kind, gracious, peacemaking, godly men have come from there, i just haven’t met them yet or didn’t realize that’s where they went to school (no sarcasm intended whatsoever)

  7. Carl Feril

    Glad to read your story. God’s process is so unpredictable but his ways are so good. As a BVSOP grad, sometimes it takes a while to get rid of the bulldog mentality to be able to enjoy his grace. I look forward to the next installment

  8. Brian,

    I came to this post via a link John Dobbs shared on Facebook and only when I got here did I realize how long it must be since I dropped in last. How long has the blog had this format?

    Thank you for sharing your story, and keep it coming. I don’t imagine I’ll be sharing mine any more, but I appreciate hearing yours.

    Oh, and I had to look up “MSOP”!

  9. One week, a young Christian lady was pouting in the corner, angry that her mom seemed to force her to go to church, overheard her talking about it to someone, had to put in my two cents.

    “You’re mom really loves you, have to understand that, and only wants the best. She knows this would be good for you, even if you don’t see it”, then I drifted off and told her how I was young waaaay back in the day and this is how it was with me:

    Mother and father died when I was young, lived with my elder Aunt Myrtle in the small town of Dallas, NC. She was Presbyterian. Went to the boring business meetings that seemed to be forever, the choir always sang differently than the organist, and I was forced to wear this itchy, scratchy wool suit. During church, all I wanted to do was go home, change my clothes, eat some fried chicken, and watch reruns of the little rascals. See, I had a routine, did anyone notice? :0)

    One day, my Aunt got real sick and my Grandma came down to help us out. She no longer was a Presbyterian, but now was going to this church called Church of Christ. She told me about it, and I was like “Yeah yeah, another Church, but you know, I’ll try it”.

    When I walked in, it was like an oven. So much loving and sincere people came and made sure they shook my hand. Many of them offered to take me out to dinner, so that really got me excited.

    But really, I was used to being loved and getting attention from different people, like Auntie, people at Presbyterian Church (too busy complaining to notice), at school where they encouraged me to write my poetry and loved hearing me quote CS Lewis’ book “Narnia” even with sound effects.

    But in retrospect, the biggest thing that had an impact was church, didn’t feel it to later years. No matter what I was doing, where I was at, if I was good, if I was bad, church was always a constant. Many garbage things happened to me, but hey, somehow I always go through it, but it felt like I was under Remote Control, always knocked on a new path. This time, I could relate to where I was at, didn’t focus on doing what I wanted to do and get it over with.

    Aunt died, came up to NJ, was baptized a month after. Grew up knowing I had brothers, sisters, whatever I wanted with a different blood relationship-the blood of Christ.

    Now so happens where I attend now, Echo Lake Church where Brian is the minister, it reminds me waaay too much of the Church in Dallas,NC. So, I guess this has come full circle in a way, a new adventure, different people, but still plenty of love to go around from The Church of Christ.

    Maybe it wasn’t the presbyterian church that was boring, I didn’t know what was good for me yet. But really, Church of Christ broke it down and things became clearer. Each day is a fight. Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus, going on before.

  10. Andrea

    Hey Brian- Even though we were in school together never really knew what happened to your family. I knew who you lived with and that your mom had passed away but never knew details. I am so glad you are sharing. I like everyone else, am looking forward to the rest of the story! God Bless you for sharing!

  11. Brian, I also didn’t know your personal story. Thank you for sharing it! I wish we could visit with you and family- maybe a trip to NJ once we get settled here 😉 We even looked for jobs in the NE.
    I was wondering what MSOP was- that isn’t connected to HUGSR is it?
    Bacioni a tutta la famiglia. Say hi to your wife.
    Con affetto, Miriam

  12. Brian

    hey miriam
    thanks for the comment. we are close to NYC, come up some time and stay with us.
    msop is in memphis but not associated with HUGSR, they probably don’t like HUGSR.

    hey to your fam as well, Dio vi benedica

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