Written by : Michael Cross
About me: A child of God, follower of Jesus, vessel of Holy Spirit and student of the Word. Happily married to a wonderful daughter of the Most High King. Father/Step-Father and Grandfather of some pretty amazing kids. An Assembler at Philips/Respironics who enjoys his job. A volunteer Advocate for Compassion International and frequent volunteer with The Pittsburgh Dream Center. Absolutely loves thought provoking conversations, music in a multitude of generes, reading a good book and food. Fan of C.S. Lewis and the Pittsbugh Steelers. Often known to wander from the “straight and narrow” but never for long. Tell me a good joke so we can laugh together!
My Testimony: When I find myself in conversations with friends or co-workers about God, faith or the Bible, I’m invariably asked something like “What denomination are you?”. I always answer Cathapentabaptheran. And, yes, they always get the same look on their face that you have right now? (unless you’ve heard my explanation, before).
My parents didn’t agree on church. My father was saved in a Christian Missionary Alliance church when he was a young man. My mother was “born and raised” in the Catholic church. So, what to do about raising their two sons in a “religion”?
Since my parents were married in my mother’s church, they had to make a “vow” that any children would be raised as Catholics. So, I started out as a Catholic. My dad, however, was attending an Assemby of God church.
Catholicism didn’t hold much interest for my brother and me. We didn’t much care for going to church with our mother. I’m guessing we fussed about it, but I don’t remember because I was only 5. So, my dad convinced her that she should let him take us to his church once. We loved it! I mean, what’s not to love about a Pentacostal Sunday School? We didn’t want to go back to my mom’s church. So, our parents didn’t make us.
Eventually, my mother decided that she wanted to see what the big deal was with my dad’s church and for the first time in her life she felt the presence of God. She didn’t go back to the Catholic church, either …
Life happened to me. I was a pretty good kid. Didn’t do great in school, but didn’t do too bad. I was being raised in a church-going home, so I assumed that I was a Christian. But we know what happens when one assumes. I was your typical, American Christian. C.S. Lewis summed us up perfectly when he said “We regard God as an airman regards his parachute; it’s there for emergencies but he hopes he’ll never have to use it.”
Funny thing is, I liked church. I liked the Bible stories – and not just the ones I heard in Sunday School, but the harder lessons that I eventually heard when I was old enough for the adult service. I liked the liveliness of the worship service. I believed in God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I appreciated everything that going to church had to offer, but I never really let it have an impact on the way I lived my life.
At some point church attendance started dropping off. Yet, at the same time, a friend had invited me to a Baptist youth group called Boy’s Brigade. I was the oldest in our bunch and it was kinda cool to be the guy that all the other guys kinda looked up to. And we did a lot of fun stuff. And, of course, there was more Bible teaching and lessons. Life was good.
By the time I got to high school, I was firmly set in my ways. I could talk about the Bible, God, Jesus or any number of stories or lessons I had learned, but I still wasn’t living it. It’s not that I started down any dark path of sex, drugs and rock-n-roll, but I was a teenager, which meant that these things were on my mind from time to time.
Once again, a friend invited me to a youth group. Strangely enough, it was at the church that my parents and I had been sporadically attending for the last 10 years or so. I will admit, a part of the reason why I was willing to go was girls. As a teenage boy, I wanted to check out the girls and maybe even get together with someone. But, that was also a part of my friend’s reason for going, since it was his older sister who had invited him, in the first place.
It was about this time in my life when the movie The Omen came out. A brief synopsis for anyone who has never seen it: a U.S. ambassador to the U.K. has a baby that will one day grow up to be the anti-christ. The idea that our generation could see the rise of the anti-christ and the Great Tribulation freaked my friend out. I had already heard it all …
We became interested in prophecy. Being the 80’s meant we had more than enough sensationalized prophecy to consume. Yet, it still hadn’t changed us. Until our church had a speaker come in to talk about The End Times Prophecies. We had to be there!
It wasn’t sensational. I can’t even remember the guy’s name. All I remember is that he explained a lot of strange stuff and left us with the knowing that God was in control. And when you think you’re facing the Great Tribulation, that can be a comforting thought – but only if you really know God. I realized that I didn’t.
Sure, I knew about God. I knew about Jesus. I knew about the Bible. I could speak Christianese with the best of them. But I didn’t really know God. I had never really taken the time to seek Him out for Him, only for what He could do for me. But here was this guy, talking about end times prophecy telling me that what I knew about wasn’t the same as really knowing God. He gave an altar call and my friend and I both went.
After the service, the speaker talked to us individually. He gave us each a little New Testament with Psalms. I’m sure you’ve seen them before. And he wrote the date in the front. And I’ve never forgotten what he told us: “There’s today’s date. Now the devil’s going to try to tell you that none of this is real or that it means anything. When he does, you just look at this and remember. that’ll put that liar in his place.” That was May 8th, 1983.
Now, I know i’ve shown everyone where the CathaPentaBapt comes from. I don’t want to get into the details of my life from that day til now. But I do have to share something more.
I spent many years of my life living my faith the best way I knew how. I also spent many years in a sort of casual apathy towards God. Eventually another friend invited me to get involved with his church. It was a Lutheran church. It was there that I began to fully embrace the grace that God had for me in my backsliden state. And that’s when the latest part of my journey of faith began.
Now, here I am, serving God in whatever way He sees fit.