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My spiritual birthday

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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A chocolate and peanut butter cup cake with spiral pattern stick candles (Credit: Raj1020 via

Today I turned 39 years old.  That’s not a euphemism for advancing old age—it’s a reality.  While I was born physically in 1958, I was born spiritually on September 9, 1973.  My body will die one day, but I will live forever in the presence of my Father because of what happened on that Sunday morning.

Here’s the story.  My father was a Methodist Sunday school teacher before he fought in World War II.  He witnessed such atrocities that he did not attend church after returning home.  As a result, my brother and I grew up in a loving, supportive home but with no spiritual life whatever.

I was 15 years old, living in an apartment complex in Houston, Texas when a Baptist church in our area started a “bus ministry.”  They bought an old school bus, painted the name of the church on the side, and began knocking on doors to find kids willing to ride their bus to church.  So it was in August of 1973 that two men from College Park Baptist Church invited Mark and me to their church services.  We didn’t want to go, but Dad thought we should have some religious exposure, so he put us on the bus.

That Sunday I heard the gospel of Jesus Christ from the pastor’s sermon and witnessed the gospel in the lives of his congregation.  After returning for several weeks, I knew I needed what God had done in their lives.  Sharon Sewell, the pastor’s wife, was my Sunday school teacher.  On Sunday morning, September 9, I asked her how I could have what they had.

She invited me to sit down in a folding metal chair in the living room of the home where our class met.  There she explained the gospel and led me in a salvation prayer.  A few months later, my brother became a Christian.  A year or so later, Dad let us be baptized together.  Mark is today the senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Conroe, Texas, and I’m writing this post on our ministry’s website.

The next time you wonder if God can use your service in his Kingdom, perhaps you’ll remember that an old school bus, two men knocking on an apartment door, and a Sunday school teacher were used by the Spirit to lead two teenage boys, now vocational ministers, to God.  God’s promise is still true: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

I thank God today for Christians whose faithful service was used to bring me to Christ.  Who will thank the Father for you?