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Phil

[powerpress]

I grew up in a Christian household where we attended church every Sunday. Despite this, I struggled with the truth about God and the Bible and had little understanding on what the Bible was all about.

This lack of knowledge led to frustration and fear in my life. Rather than praying and reading to gain knowledge, I ignored it. It wasn’t until the age of twelve that I realized I was separated from God by my sin. This is when it sank in that there was nothing I could do to save myself. But when the spiritual blindfold came off I knew my sins were forgiven. I was now at peace and it was only because Jesus went to the cross to pay for my sin.
As I grew older, I realized God wanted more for my life and I was missing the personal relationship with him. I remember hearing teachers and relatives saying how God was working in their lives, how he was answering prayers, communicating with them and changing their actions. The whole communication with God really confused me. I had no idea how I could hear God and I didn’t know how he could hear me. I knew I needed to be praying and reading the Bible, but to me, the Bible was too overwhelming. I had no idea where to start and had a difficult time understanding what it all meant. I remember hearing my family argue on biblical matters and get into deep conversations about things in the Bible. This led me into more confusion and I lost all desire to grow.
At age 24, I married Brenda. Even though Brenda and I were believers, we were not active in church, nor was the Bible something we would discuss. After our first child was born we went back to church because we knew it was important to raise our children in the truth. We attended every so often, never getting involved beyond Sunday service. As child number two was coming we made prayer a bigger part of our lives as we would pray with our kids at night before bed. Brenda and I would start sharing our stories and start to talk about the importance of God for our household. Looking back, I see that satan had a grip on me and was blocking me from doing God’s will. I was spiritually stalled and wasn’t making any effort to improve it. As child number three was coming, we were determined to find a new church home for us. We talked about how important connections with other believers were, and we both had a desire to grow spiritually. The last two years at Northwood have been an amazing time for growth. [pullquoteright]I would have to say it all started with prayer. Only then, did God open doors for us and show us where we needed to go.[/pullquoteright]
About a year ago, Brenda pointed out a note to me in the Northwood news about a mission trip to Costa Rica which involved helping others and construction work. I felt this was a good fit and after some prayer I even felt God calling me to go. Before leaving, I had been praying more but was still not reading the Bible much. In Costa Rica, we were given a short study on the life of Jesus. Each morning we would get up, lie out on the grass and read. For the first time I truly felt God’s hand and his Spirit guiding me as I read. God was revealing things to me daily. As Jesus and I continued our relationship, through prayer and reading, I finally started to understand how we could communicate. I truly felt God used this mission trip as a catalyst to launch me into a stronger relationship with him.
After getting home, a few of us started a weekly Bible study. I was excited to study the bible and see what else would be revealed to me. After several months I had pages of side notes and still had a lot of questions on different issues. This combined with conversations with family members on biblical matters really fueled a passion and hunger to know the Bible even deeper. I didn’t want to just know some key verses; I wanted to know the truth on all topics. After time in prayer and reflecting on this issue, I felt God leading me to write a study on the Bible. It was a truth mission for me. I had never felt God leading me before like this and I knew it was a calling from him. In September I started writing a study on the 21 Epistles in the New Testament. It is developed as a reading plan with questions to help dig deeper into the Bible. Brenda and my dad have reviewed it for me and I will print it soon. Right now I am about half way through my second study which is on the four Gospels, and have a third book on the horizon to complete the New Testament.
I feel God has given me knowledge to understand his word and discernment to know if the things I hear are from God or from the world. Being a Christian, we are the body of Christ. We are the bride of Christ. Jesus wants us to be active not idle. Jesus wants our faith growing not dying. And Jesus wants us on fire for him, not cold or ever lukewarm. It was prayer that started my relationship with Jesus, and it takes reading the bible to keep it strong and growing.

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