By Ron Leonard, Missions Pastor

"Once upon a time..." 

These are captivating words. As soon as they are heard, our attention is focused with anticipation of the story that follows. 

Have you heard many good stories lately? Consider some of the great storytellers from the past: William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Will Rogers, Stephen Spielberg, or perhaps Dr. Seuss! 

Whether the story is told verbally in person, written in a book, or portrayed in film, we are engaged in the story both with our mind and emotions. Consider your story, especially as it relates to your relationship with God. When was the last time you told your story? Could it be someone is waiting to hear your story?

Once upon a time, I was nine years old. I had been going to church forever (or at least nine years). I thought I had everything I needed. I was stubborn and thought I was self-sufficient. Even as a child I thought I could do things on my own, in my own way. I valued myself above everything else. 

Then at a revival service (a weeknight evangelistic worship service at church) on a warm August night in a tiny town in Arkansas-- I heard the true story from the Bible as told by Dr. Adams, an elderly Associational Missionary (aka Director of Missions). Under conviction from the Holy Spirit, I repented of my sinfulness, believed in my heart, confessed Jesus as Lord, and received salvation by God's grace.

My Dad, who was the pastor, baptized that skinny nine-year-old kid who was afraid of the water (because I couldn't swim). The baptism was at the First Baptist Church of a nearby town on the following Sunday afternoon because the tiny town church was so small it didn't even have a baptistry.

Many years later, a dear friend whispered this verse in my ear during an ordination service:

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” - Matthew 6:33

This verse has become a consistent reminder not to live for self but to live in Christ.

Since that time as a nine-year-old, I have certainly not lived a perfect life, but I have a perfect Lord and Savior in Jesus Christ.  I am thankful for family, pastors, teachers, and friends who have shared the Word of God and their stories along the way. May I always tell the story of God's grace and mercy through Jesus! 

I pray that you faithfully trust Jesus and have a story to tell of His great love... for Jesus brings life, abundantly ever after!  

(Tell your story at www.whativaluemost.com)

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