Genuinely Phony

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I think I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior in August 1959 when I was 14 years old. But, my friends would have been surprised. One month later I “borrowed” a car from my Dad’s Chevy dealership to run an errand and get back to the car lot “in just a few minutes”. Turns out the car I found with keys in the ignition was a customer’s brought in for brake repair. This discovery was revealed when I approached my destination and pressed on the brakes. As I rammed into and through the restaurant, it dawned on me, “Hey, there’s no brakes!” By the grace of God, nobody died or was hurt. But, as the new kid in town, my reputation as a James Dean type cool guy began.

Rock n roll was the background music of my life. Did they make “Grease” and “American Graffiti” about me? Football was my true religion. “Friday Night Lights” was my real church. Girls were my objective.Mike2

And my Savior? Where was He? Each Sunday I went to the First Baptist Church of Whitesboro, Texas, where I was saved and baptized and posed as a Christian. Hey, I got my “fire insurance” policy against hell. What else is there to Christianity? During my freshman and sophomore years, I wrecked two more customer’s cars, lettered in football each year, went steady with a great gal who deserved better, cussed worse than a sailor, goofed off during school, cheated my way through Algebra….and more things I’m very ashamed about, but went to church every Sunday morning, sat in the front row, sang the hymns, looked religious, and genuinely thought that was okay to be a phony….until.

Until God took pity on me, disciplined me and snatched me out of that town, out of my American dream, and planted me in a town where Christian friends pestered me about being a real Christian. These teens challenged me to join their weekly Bible study. “No pastors, no parents will be there. Only Bibles. Don’t use commentaries.” As we worked our way through the Gospel of John, the first-hand exposure to the God’s Word pierced my heart. God’s grace drew me to my Savior, pulling me out of my phoniness, and blessed me with the sensation of being more alive more than I could ever imagined. For the first time, I went to church and sang the hymns with understanding and conviction and joy.

So, half a century later, here I am. A pastor. My old pre-Christian friends would probably laugh in unbelief if they could see me now. But, I would tell them  Romans 1:16, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes…” Even for me, even for them, and yes, for you, too.

How about it? Open your Bible to John. As you read it, answer these questions: Who does Jesus say He is? Why did He say He came? What does He want you to do?

By His grace,
Pastor Mike