Born in 1960 to Christian parents, I grew up in a small, southern town in Tennessee. Life in the 60’s in Fayetteville, Tennessee was pleasant, normal, and Rockwell-like. My parents were Godly influences on my life from day one until now. Being active in our church, active in school, and active in the community; our family developed many good and healthy relationships. No relationship was as important, though as our relationship with the Lord.
Attending Sunday School, Worship, RAs, Children’s Choirs, Church Training, Bible Drills, and more; I knew from the earliest of age the love of God for me. I heard it, saw it in my parents, teachers, pastors, and more. By age seven, there really was no doubt in my mind that I wanted this relationship with Jesus that so many told me about. Could I admit that I was a sinner and repent–turn away–from those things?Absoluetly, and as I told our Pastor when I came forward in church, “I’ll go and do whatever the Lord wants me to.” My parents were a bit apprehensive about my decision at this young age, and we talked about it for almost a year. I knew that I needed and wanted Jesus as my Savior. After making my decision public to the church, baptism was scheduled for me. At that point, I was terrified of water–even flunking swimming lessons! But somehow, entering the waters of baptism didn’t bother me. My pastor, Eugene Flemming baptized me as my dad stood by at the steps of the baptistry.
After beginning my walk in Christ, I continued to grow through church activity and parental guidance. I always had a special place in my life for church music. From singing in the preschool choir and playing the rhythm instruments to listening intently to the music in worship to playing with music at home, God’s music has always had special meaning to me. As I grew older, I took a year of piano lessons, got involved in Youth Choir, began to learn to play guitar, and started playing saxophone at school. At church one evening (while I was in the 8th grade), God spoke to my heart and I accepted the call to Ministry through Music.
Our new Minister of Music and Youth, Lawton Neely, came on staff and began discipling me. He taught me a lot about music and a lot more about the Lord. We played in musical groups together; presented music at weddings, civic events, and associational activities, and hung out together a lot. God used Lawton as my first mentor in the ministry. Throughout junior high and senior high school, I was able to train and learn more about the ministry God was calling me to.
After high school, I attended Belmont University and studied Church Music. I married my high school sweetheart in 1982 and moved to Smyrna, TN. I have had the privilege of serving five wonderful churches through the ministry of music and worship. Throughout those years God blessed me with five wonderful children, and he gave me the opportunity to lead them to the Lord and to baptize them.
My world was rocked in 2000, when my wife of 18 years left me for my best friend. For the next two years, a divorce would proceed, but God proceeded before me. Knowing that most ministers do not get to stay in the ministry through something like a divorce, on three occasions I offered my resignation to the Senior Pastor of First Baptist, Mableton, GA. He–and the church–showed what it means to be the Church as they trusted God, and allowed me to stay on staff. What a blessing to know that God would never let me go, even when it seemed the only thing that could happen would be to lose my ministry.
During those dark days, I learned more about and grew more deeply in my walk with God than at any other time in my life. As we would sing, “Every day with You, Lord; Sweeter than the day before,” I knew that to be true by experience. Today the Lord continues His work in me; shaping me, transforming me into the image of Christ. I am so grateful for One who allows me to “face tomorrow” and to remove all fear. “I know He holds the future, and life is worth the living just because He lives.”