“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner; but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God, who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. For the which cause I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto hi against that day.” 2 Timothy 1:7-12
Let me first say that God should get all the glory from anything we are able to do for Him! I was born in 1966, six weeks premature, 3lb. 15oz. and stayed in the hospital for a month. We moved to a couple southern states so that my parents could try to work out some differences. We ended up is St. Petersburg, Florida. It was there in St. Petersburg that I encountered bus workers from Metropolitan Baptist Church. I went to an Independent Baptist church for the first time as a ten year old bus kid. In about eight months our family moved back to North Carolina as my parents were on the brink of divorce. Eight years have passed; I am now 18 years old. I was invited to Riverside Independent Baptist Church in Durham, NC by a dear friend, Russell Iglehart. I got saved just a few weeks later when a friend, Judy Wright died from injuries sustained in a car wreck. Just after salvation, I started going soul winning and wanted to serve God any way that I could. I cut the grass, cleaned bathrooms and asked our Pastor, “Is there anything you need me to do?” In my heart there was a great desire to be part of a bus ministry; as a ten year old boy it made a great impact on my life while my parents were preparing for a divorce.
I visited Fellowship Baptist Church in Durham, NC in 1989. My life as I knew it was about to change. My wife and I of just two years were quickly drawn to Pastor Finley and the people of Fellowship Baptist Church. We loved serving God! I became a bus captain and loved every moment of the work God had for us. Three years after joining our church, in 1992 we had a two night revival with Dr. Jack Hyles. I was in awe as he preached and I said, “Wow!!!” God had begun to deal with me about full-time service but I kept saying no. On June 6, 1994, during a tent revival at Trinity Baptist Church in Mocksville, NC; Dr Jack Hyles and Dr. Bob Gray from Texas were preaching up a storm literally, as a terrible thunderstorm was over us. I knew that night I was going to have to make a decision concerning the matter of full-time service. I could not eat or sleep the rest of the week. Five days later Pastor Finley and I were to meet so I could get advice on my future. I decided that God was calling and I must answer.
For almost one year I worked on staff with my pastor, Dr. Rick Finley. It was a great joy to serve him and such wonderful people. We packed up in August 1995 and headed to Hyles-Anderson for Bible College. We arrived in Crown Point, Indiana and right away began to get involved at First Baptist Church of Hammond. School started in September and all was going well. In just a matter of days, both of my grandfather’s passed away. Two weeks later my wife was diagnosed with cancer for the second time and then in 1996 as a twenty nine year old man, I suffered a heart attack while at work in Chicago, Illinois. I was taken to Cook County Hospital there in Chicago, on a cold Friday night in January. As I lay there in the hospital bed from about midnight until seven o’clock the next morning, my prayers were that God would allow me to serve Him until I go to Heaven. I prayed that prayer over and over, knowing all the time that I could be on my way to Heaven that night. I had told God that I would graduate and serve him or die trying to, and I almost did. I was moved from Cook County Hospital in Chicago to Munster Community Hospital in Munster, Indiana. Dr. Jack Hyles and Mrs. JoJo Moffitt had contacted the head of cardiology, Dr. Giragos, who was a member of First Baptist Church about my situation and he was able to get me transferred to his care. I had an angiogram and was prepared for surgery if needed; angioplasty was going to be the first course of action if at all possible. After a few more days in the Hospital I went home. After recovering and getting right back to school, I graduated in three years, (1998) very focused and ready to start our new ministry.
In 2002 after starting our church and working well over one hundred hours a week for two years, my heart quit. I ended up in Duke Hospital for a week and a half. After a couple of procedures and another angiogram, I was told that I had a somewhat rare heart condition that would require a heart transplant one day. In 2004 another heart attack would come and I prayed just like I did in 1996 for God to allow me to serve him until I go to Heaven! It has been four years now since the last heart attack and I have spent many days in the hospital as well as thousands of dollars on medical bills.
I want remind you of something that my dear friend Dr. Ron Talley tells me often, “GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME!!!!” There are some days I can hardly get out of bed. I feel as if today could be the day and although I may die today, I refuse to live poor mouthing God or complaining about my health. I count every day a blessing and thank God for it. Mrs. Marlene Evans would say, “I think I’ll live until I die”, what a great statement! I am thankful for having a dad who taught me not to quit. He is a survivor and lives by a motto “when the going gets tough the tough get going.” I am thankful for my Pastor, Dr. Rick Finley who has not quit but continues through adversity. The next time you are ready to quit serving God in the shadow of death remember what the Apostle Paul said to Timothy, “But watch thou in all things, ENDURE AFFLICTIONS, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith”.
In 2008 we have compromise all around us. People quit over nothing, and most people forget the fact that we will stand before almighty God one day. Please let me give you some points that help me when I want to quit.
- I must remember those who have invested and sacrificed for me, my parents, my preachers, my teachers and most important my Saviour Jesus Christ. He went to Calvary-crucified, most would have quit.
- To whom much is given much is required: Jesus invested by giving His life, now He would like some return on His investment. I lived 18 years for the Devil. I want to serve God until I see Him.
- When you feel like quitting on God regularly read the crucifixion story in Matthew 27 & Mark 15.
- Someone is counting on you. If you quit, no matter how hard it is, who will quit with you, a preacher boy, a husband, a wife, your son or daughter? Be like Gideon passing Jordan (Judges 8:4) “faint yet pursuing.”
- Don’t lose hope in people, keep on soul winning, keep on giving time and talents and tithes, keep on running the buses, “and let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Luke 10:2 tells us that “the harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest that he would send forth laborers into His harvest.”
While in the shadow of death, count everyday a blessing no matter what comes your way, keep on giving the Gospel, keep on serving God, Keep on loving people and keep your eyes on the SON!
Pastor Bill Davis
Cornerstone Baptist Church