Friday, February 17, 2017
First Baptist Church O Fallon Pastor Doug Munton: My Story Of Faith
Chris Rice Cooper
Senior Pastor/ Dr. Doug Munton
My Story of Faith
My faith story begins around 80 years ago. That is amazing since I am nowhere near that age. (Depending of your definition of “near”, I suppose!)
Eldon R Munton (Doug Munton's father) gravesite.
About 80 years ago, my crippled, struggling-with-alcohol grandfather and my young and spiritually searching father-yet-to-be went to a small church in a small town and heard a big message.
Painting attributed to Martha Ryther 1937
They heard that Jesus is the Son of God, that He paid the price for man’s sin on the cross, that He rose from the dead and that He loves sinners like them. They repented of their sins and placed their trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. It was a radical and life-altering decision.
I grew up in a home where I heard about God’s love before I could talk. I had parents who loved me and loved God. I learned the truths of the Bible from the earliest age.
My parents were imperfect like all parents, but they lived out their faith and gave me every opportunity to learn about God’s story.
As a boy I came to a couple of unmistakable conclusions. One, I knew I was a sinner. I didn’t have to search real hard for that understanding. I wasn’t bad by comparison to the world, but I knew I fell far short of perfection. But the second conclusion I reached was that I need a Savior.
While I wasn’t as mean or ornery as some (I have three brothers and we often argued about who was the orneriest!) I knew I had lied. I had disobeyed my parents. I had stolen small things. In short, I was a sinner. I knew that Heaven was holy and that I could never self-improve my way to perfection.
After a struggle with myself and my future, I made a radical and life-altering decision of my own. I surrendered my life to Jesus, turned from my sin and asked Him to save me. That night, as best I knew how, I gave my life to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
Soon thereafter I was baptized as a symbol of my new faith and in obedience to the teaching of the Bible. I remained active in church and attended worship services, Sunday School classes and a myriad of activities. I am thankful for the firm foundation of teaching that I received.
Just before my Senior year in High School, my family moved to a new town. For the first time I had a strong, active youth group at church in which to participate. I saw some of my peers, not just adults, with a sincere and dynamic faith. It was empowering. I did, however, sort of segregate my faith from my everyday life. I was reluctant to talk about faith issues in school or among my unchurched friends. I was moral in comparison with most, but I kept my faith more personal than public.
I began a struggle that many Christians understand. It was the struggle with whether or not Jesus would be Lord of all of my life or just parts of it- like church and basic morality. This struggle was most serious for me in my last year of High School and my first year of college at a committed Christian school.
I confided in this struggle with one of my Christian friends that first year of college. I told him that I was questioning with whether or not the faith was real. Is Jesus really the Son of God and the only way to Heaven? Is the Bible really true? He gave me a well-meaning but unhelpful answer.
My friend said it didn’t really matter ultimately because the Christian life is the best way to live your life whether true or not. But I am not wired that way and I came to a maxim. I said, “If Christianity is not true, I’m not going to live as though it is.” But I also came to its corollary. “If Christianity is true, I’m not going to live as though it isn’t.” That led me to a decision that Jesus is going to be the Lord of my life. I haven’t lived that truth perfectly, of course. But it is the guiding principle of my life.
I told the Lord that I wanted His will in my life. That led to His surprising call to become a pastor. I didn’t see it coming. I was deathly afraid of public speaking and pastors speak publicly a lot. I am somewhat introverted and that seemed a tough match. And my sensitive soul knew that pastors face criticism. But the call was unmistakable and God knew what He was doing and I am so glad I made the decision to allow Him to be Lord of my life.
Life has many challenges whether you follow the Lord or not. But I am so grateful to be following the Lord through these challenges. My life is not perfect, but I do have a perfect Savior. I don’t always know where I am going, but I do have a perfect Guide.
I want to leave you with one piece of advice. I can’t make you take my advice, of course, but I offer it in the sincere hope you will benefit from it. Trust Jesus Christ for salvation and live for Him as the Lord of your life. Start your own faith story.