Do you have recollections of particular events in your life that helped shape your character and direction?

  • Perhaps it was the day you got married or the day the doctor told you the cancer you always feared was now a reality?
  • Maybe it was the morning you looked into the face of your first son or daughter?
  • Was it the day you buried your mom or dad?
  • Could it have been the day you walked your daughter down the aisle only to give her to someone else?
  • Or for you, was it the day your degree was placed in your hand and you felt you had the world by the tail?

There are so many moments in life that shape us, but we only enjoy a few of those rare moments that end up shaping us eternally — and those we never forget!

For me, my moment came in a small, red-brick church building on Sunset Street in Round Rock, Texas, in 1976. It was a cold morning — especially at 3:00. When I awoke in a sweat, I knew that the moment I had been fighting had finally come. The Holy Spirit had been pulling at the strings of my heart for more than a year. I knew I needed to get my life together and take the "plunge" and commit to a life of discipleship ... but I was afraid.

Was I really ready to leave the old life — including those friends and acquaintances who would never understand?

Was I ready to take up a new life — which meant I would be called to sacrifice more than I might be willing to sacrifice?

What if God wants me to do something I can't do?

What if God asked me to do something I might be unwilling to do?

Was I really ready?

If someone would have told me then the direction my life was about to take, I probably would have gone back to sleep and forgotten the whole thing. But thank God, I had a mom and dad who had taught me that listening and trusting the voice of God was more important than listening to my own fears!

Was I really ready?
When I was a little boy, I had "asked Jesus to come into my heart" and received baptism several weeks later. But that became a part of my struggle. If Jesus was in my heart, why was I acting like a heathen? I knew the world had me around the throat and something had to be done. It was then that the clarity of  Romans 6 answered my fears! You must die, Joe! Your must be buried, Joe! You must be resurrected, Joe!

On that cold morning, in that cold water, I did just that. Nothing has been the same since. Thank God, I have never looked back, not for long anyway. But when I do, that cold early morning moment from long ago ushers me back to the reality of who I now am in Jesus. Praise God for His matchless grace — and praise God for memory and praise God for grace!

Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to its lustful desires. Do not let any part of your body become a tool of wickedness, to be used for sinning. Instead, give yourselves completely to God since you have been given new life. And use your whole body as a tool to do what is right for the glory of God. Sin is no longer your master, for you are no longer subject to the law, which enslaves you to sin. Instead, you are free by God's grace. (Romans 6:12-14 NLT)