1 Timothy 1:12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; 13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. 14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. 15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
35 years ago this week, I was sitting at a round table in the gym of Pacific Coast Baptist Bible College, filling out my class schedule.
I packed my duds in my ’73 Nova and moved from Montrose, Colorado, population 7,000 (salute!) to LA, an area of 12 million souls.
-New Testament Survey, Professor Shrader – check
-English, Professor Shrader – check
-Theology 1, Professor Shrader – check
-Missions, Professor Baskin – check
-OT Survey, Professor Harju – check
-Personal Evangelism, Professor Guess – check
Way heavy on Professor Shrader, let me tell you!!!
About then, an old friend, Rhonda Shook, of the Singing Shook Family approached and said, “Gary, I have someone who wants to meet you.” She introduced me to Pastor Tom McCreary of Grace Baptist Church, Riverside, CA. He said he needed a music director right away and hired me…$50 a week! That was about enough to pay for the gas that I spent getting there every day, my tithe, and a hamburger on Sunday nights at the San Dimas Greek greasy spoon with the little table TVs that ran on dime power (which I couldn’t afford).
And that was it, friends, my start in full time ministry.
It has been a “never a dull moment” 35 years since. I can only give credit to God for His faithfulness and a challenge that my dad threw my way in the beginning, “It will never last” for me still preaching all these years later.
So next month, I turn double nickels, 55. Where my wife works, when your years of service and your age total 85, you get to retire, get a good pension and take it easy. Where I work, when your years of service and your age equal 90, you are basically just beginning! You are considered a young pup, naïve’ with a lot to learn. Guilty! I have friends whose age plus service equal over 140 years! They say things like, “Well, you have to admit, the old man has still got it!”
The things that strike me as I look back over these 35 years:
*God is faithful, me, just a super stubborn German.
*He is the great Enabler, otherwise, I got nothing!
*He counted me faithful. Man, does He overlook a ton of ‘stuff’!
*He put me in the ministry. Did He call? Did I answer? Did I just volunteer? No, He orchestrates and the musicians play. I am just the 7th chair clarinetist playing my part with a squeak here and there.
*He is a gracious Boss, I am an unworthy, but grateful servant.
*Paul, greatest preacher ever, considered himself the chiefest of sinners, I agree only because that is part of the inspired Word of God, otherwise, I would have to argue with him.
Thank you, Lord, for putting me in the ministry. I am not very good at it, but, barring the rapture, I would love to hit 140 years of age plus service like some of my mentors.