My Story: A Tail of Faith, Facts, and Fiction
Overview and early childhood
I was born in the Bible belt. A conservative Christian family with Jesus movement influences and fundamentalist leanings. The oldest of what would eventually be nine siblings, we stood for the homeschooling, Bible believing, spirit filled, faith walking, believers who went on to eventually become 5-point Calvinists, missionaries, and church leaders.
As a young child I remember clearly hearing the entire Bible read a chapter or two at a time all the way through. And I mean literally the entire Bible, every chapter from Genesis one to Revelation 22. By the time I was 7 and reading sufficiently, I was plowing through the Bible on my own in addition to the family daily readings. By the time I was eight I had checked off my first personal read through the entire Bible.
On top of this we had weekly Sunday services, off and on weekday services, off and on morning devotionals (probably read Proverbs and Psalms up to fifty times), individual Bible studies and devotions, more Christian biographies than I can count, and a Christian based, Bible centered homeschool program.
By the time I reached college, I do not doubt that I had read the and heard the Bible more than 99% of Christians. By the time I graduated I would go so far as to say I was in the top 1% of fundamental Bible-believing evangelical Christians including those in the ministry for my age. As you will see later this is not to brag. This is simply to paint a picture of how I grew up. And when I say top 1%, I don’t mean I was a better person than other Christians. But I knew the Word and understood the faith more than most.
Some of my earliest childhood memories involved Saturday morning Bible study where we would discuss as a family in depth a particular passage of interest. This was usually something my father found interesting and most often involved theology from the New Testament. We would read the passage and discuss the deeper theological implications. While I didn’t always enjoy this as a kid, I think any animosity stemmed more from being made to sit still on a Saturday than from a distaste for my faith or Scriptures.
We were what I would call a charismatic, spiritual Christian family with some of the excitement of Pentecostals but without the rules on head coverings and dresses for women. I recall at 6 years old seeing my first person get “slain in the spirit” as I later learned. He appeared to pass out, and at first I was quite concerned for his safety before realizing this was simply the newest thing in Christianity. People called it being slain in the spirit because it was believed that God’s Spirit would come upon a person so strong that they could no longer stand up.
Having witnessed dancing, holy laughter, prophecy (foretelling the future), praying in tongues (speaking in foreign or unknown languages as a prayer to God), interpretation (interpreting what people speaking in tongues were saying), stories of miracles, and the likes; I guess it simply followed that people would fall down involuntarily. Interestingly enough this was something I did not wish to ever happen to me. In fact, I was so concerned that this not occur that I recall one evening prayer service waiting till the spiritual leader with the ability to “slay people in the spirit” had left the service before asking for prayer.
From a quite young age I understood the need for a savior. Partly through the Bible, partly through my parents teaching, and partly through examining my own self, I felt that I must except Jesus. By the age of 4 or so I had made a commitment to Christ and, as I put it, “asked Jesus to come inside me”. I was later baptized at the age of 7 to reaffirm this. This was not the only time I dedicated my life to Christ, there have been many times where I had doubts, felt sin may require it, or questioned the sincerity or understanding of previous conversions. My understanding of the Bible, made me want to be very certain I didn’t mess this one up.