Updated: Jul 9
My life with God, and with Jesus Christ, began on May 17, 1964, almost exactly 57 years ago. On that date, I was baptized at St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Mapleton, Iowa.
It was at St. Matthew where I first heard the old, old stories of Jesus and his love. It was at St. Matthew where I first heard the old, old stories of Noah and the ark, of Abraham and Sarah, of Moses and the ten plagues, and of David and Goliath.
It was also at St. Matthew where I learned the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostles’ Creed, and the Ten Commandments.
And it was at St. Matthew where I learned to confess my sins and where I received absolution for the same. It was at St. Matthew where I first received our Savior’s body and blood. It was at St. Matthew where I first called upon the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.
Growing up, I took my relationship with God for granted. To be honest, my faith really wasn't all that important to me.
In 1982, after graduating from high school, I joined the US Air Force. During basic training, and at my first duty station in Altus, Oklahoma, I continued to worship on a regular basis. This changed a year-and-a-half into my four-year enlistment. I was re-assigned to serve at RAF Greenham Common and RAF Welford in the United Kingdom. During the 23 months I worked overseas, I never once attended church or a chapel service. I did not realize it at the time, but I had put myself in grave spiritual danger. Why is this? Simply put, there is no real life with God on our own.
A LIFE CHANGING QUESTION
In the fall of 1986, after my four-year enlistment was over, I returned home to Mapleton. A short while later, I enrolled at Wayne State College in Nebraska. At the time when I enrolled, I decided to pursue a degree in secondary education with the plan to teach high school social studies.
One of the classes that I took during my very first semester at Wayne State was Western Heritage II. As the name implies, the class was about the history of Western civilization. The course was a year-long, covering two semesters. Because I didn’t enroll until January, I ended up taking the second half first.
Western Heritage II was taught by a truly remarkable professor, Dr. Douglas Taber. Thirty-five years later, I can still picture him teaching. Dr. Taber had long gray hair and a thick, bushy beard. He always wore a sport coat with patched elbows; the coat frequently became dusty as Dr. Taber leaned against a chalk board. He lectured, without notes, for the entire 90 minutes of the class. Students labored furiously having to copy down all that was said. Why was this? It was because our exams were in essay format, and anything that Dr. Taber talked about could appear on our tests.
Western Heritage II began with a discussion of the Renaissance and Christian humanism. This was followed by lectures on the Protestant Reformation. As a long-time history buff, I was enthralled, even if my hand was shaking from all the notetaking that I had to do.
It was during one of these lectures that my life was forever changed. As Dr. Taber talked about Martin Luther, I have to be honest, being a life-long Lutheran, much of what I heard wasn’t news to me. Still, I couldn’t help but think about our namesake. I found myself confronted by a simple question: “Brian, if Luther’s faith meant so much to him that he risked his life for it, shouldn’t your faith mean more to you?”
That simple question ended up being one of the most pivotal moments of my life. It had a hand in almost everything which has followed.
At this same time I became involved in Gamma Delta, the predecessor of what today is called Lutheran Student Fellowship. As important as Gamma Delta was to my spiritual growth, something equally important happened at the same time. I began to read the Bible, from cover to cover, a few chapters at a time, each day. (Daily Bible reading had previously never been a habit of mine.)
Over the next few years, as the Word of God took hold of me, something happened. It was not a mystical experience of any kind that I had, but it was deeply religious, and profoundly transformative. I couldn't help thinking about God almost all the time.
Following my graduation in December 1989, I ended up taking a job as a social service worker with Region IV Services in Norfolk, Nebraska. (Region IV was an agency that assisted people who have developmental disabilities.) During this time, I continued to read the Bible, cover to cover, a few chapters at a time, with the help of a devotional magazine called Daily Walk.
HARD TO PUT INTO WORDS
As I read through the Bible, God became more "real" to me, for lack of a better term, than He had ever been before. This began to change the way that I saw the world, especially those around me. I wanted what had happened to me to happen to them.
I wanted those around me to have God become alive for them. This is where words fail me. It was not that God was not alive. But in the past, God simply was not on my mind all that much. However, as I read the Bible, He began to dominate my thinking, and my way of viewing life. His Word was alive and active.
This changed how I looked at those around me. I wanted the Word of God to come alive for my friends, co-workers, and neighbors. In time, I made the decision to return to college. In the summer of 1993, accompanied by wife and infant daughter, I moved to St. Paul where I enrolled in the Director of Christian Outreach program at Concordia College (as it was then known). I went on to serve as a minister of discipleship and outreach at Bethel Lutheran Church in St. Paul from 1996--2004; then returned to school, in this case, Concordia Seminary. Following the completion of my course work at CSL, I began serving at Our Saviour's in June, 2006 where I continue to serve as a pastor today.
I have spent the past twenty-five years as a minister helping others in their walk with God. I have started my online diary in the hope that my own life with God, struggles and all, will assist you to fear, love, and trust Him above all else, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.