I’m Ben, and I am excited you’re here!
“Here?” you say.
“Visiting my blog, Another Red Letter Day,” I say.
Who, exactly are we dealing with here?
My name is Ben Nelson, and I have been bouncing around Christianity all my life. I currently fellowship at Bethany Church – Washington Township campus in Northern NJ. BC is an Assemblies of God, Bible-believing, gospel preaching, mission loving church. But I have not been here, or in the Assemblies forever. The interdenominational stew of my spiritual formation contains the root vegetables from many a fine spiritual garden.
I grew up in a Christian home. My parents met in Bible College, so they were never SMO (Sunday Morning Only) Christians. Faith always figured in everything we did. In my earliest years, church was a Plymouth Brethren Assembly. If you are not familiar with this sect, it is an evangelical group, with a leaning toward a conservative and cessationist view of the faith. Having left the church at age 12, I can’t discuss them with much depth. I can tell you one thing about them. As a young boy, they led me to hide God’s word in my heart, and that is a treasure for which I will always be grateful and in their debt.
When I was in 6th grade, shortly after the founding of Pascack Bible Church my family started attending there. PBC is a non-denominational evangelical church. A couple years later, my dad’s job moved us to the Washington DC area. There we settled into Fourth Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, MD. For the four years we spent in the area, Dr. Richard C. Halverson served as the senior pastor. He later served as chaplain of the Senate. If you have ever read the book “Born Again” by Chuck Colson, the band of men who he discipled him hailed from Forth Church.
Since I was in the eighth grade when we landed at Fourth Church, I went through their catechism. This meant I gained confirmation (or whatever they call it) in the Presbyterian Church. This gave me a fair grasp of reformed theology and a good view of the potential of denominational Christianity.
From here we moved back to NJ and we headed back to PBC as a family. I met my wife and we married there at PBC. I served in many capacities there for the next fifteen years.
Then I met a man who would change my life. I met his wife first, at work. Kim and Sherri are now dear friends. When we first met though, she would talk about her relationship with God on a level that I had never experienced. Though I had asked Jesus into my heart as a child and had always been a good church boy, I could not say that I KNEW Jesus. I might say that I had a “relationship” with the Lord (because we all knew that’s what you say) and I knew about Him, but I couldn’t say that I knew His voice, nor could I say that He was my number one priority. I am not sure where He figured in my priorities, but He did not make my top five for sure.
Sherri’s husband, Kim was a preacher, and she started giving me cassette tapes (yes, I am that old) of his sermons. One day, as I was driving along my pre-dawn paper route I listened as he talked about a rich young man. This young man did all the right things – kept the commandments, but never gave his whole life to serve the Father. I saw myself in the mirror of the Word. I pulled my car to the side of the road, wiped the tears from my eyes, and surrendered my life to Jesus. I submitted my life to Him as my Master, my Lord, my Boss.
After some deliberation, Kim agreed to disciple me. We spent the next twenty years or so together reading, studying, talking, fighting, playing, laughing, crying, vacationing and doing life together. We studied the works of Matthew Henry, John Wesley, and George Whitefield. We lived in the works of Leonard Ravenhill. We read biographies of great missionaries of the 1800s, and of great faith healers of the 1950s. We read the works of the Pentecostals, the Reformers, even the Word of Faith leaders. We embraced the writings of Jonathan Edwards and Smith Wigglesworth.
Not too long after giving my life to Jesus, we left PBC. We spent six of years in an Assembly of God church and another six in a non-denominational Charismatic church and ended up back at PBC largely because they had a strong youth program. We’ve since headed back to the AOG and have been worshipping at Bethany since 2016.
If you haven’t picked up on this yet, I have a pretty diverse theological background. I have no formal theological training, but I read, and study. I think and ponder. I compare notes with folks from all quadrants of the theological spectrum.
If I had to classify my own theological position, I would call my self a PentaCharisEvangeCostal. With that, I am sure I am leaving someone out.
I am passionate to see Christians drawn from hum-drum week to week (or should I say weak to weak) religion, into a vibrant relationship with the Lover of their soul. I see more and more the imperative nature of community to the Christian’s spiritual life and health.
One thing I have learned from running in so many Christian circles of various theological flavors is that we are not that different. If we can embrace our similarities, and give grace where we disagree, we can accomplish great things together.
As I mentioned above, I am currently fellowshipping at BC, and teach in a couple venues. These days most of my writing is here at AnotherRedLetterDay.com. I’ve been blogging on and off for a few years and love it. I work in IT for a printing company. I am a husband, son, dad, and now grandfather.
I’ve authored a book called “Encounters With Jesus,” which is a collection of retold stories from Jesus life told in the voice of those He touched during His ministry among us.
I love Jesus.
OK – I have talked your eyes off and if you are still with me at this point, you might be my mom. (smile) (hi mom) (Do they get the internet in heaven?)
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Shine where you’re plugged in!