I guess I should interject here that this is not my autobiography, just a blog to highlight various spiritual encounters that shaped who I would later become. The 1970’s was a blessed decade for me. The emergence of what was termed “The Charismatic Movement” gave me an opportunity to see the Holy Spirit in operation outside of what I was raised to believe was only in my own denominational boundaries. It also gave me an opportunity to perfect my teaching gift outside of my racial and denominational restrictions.
By the mid-seventies I felt like a yo-yo pulled on a double string in opposite directions. In the Black church I was becoming popular as a keyboard player with Gospel music and in mostly Caucasian churches a developing bible teacher around the country. In fact, at times I felt like I had a double identity. A “superman” complex began to emerge. As “Clark Kent” I served as a musician and as my alter ego, I was becoming a gifted teacher. Ultimately what should I do? How could I balance music and ministry? Was there a balance or should I replace one for the other?
I have to confess here that it was my “Charismatic” worship experiences that began to put my spiritual gifting in perspective. So as I traveled around the world with various “Charismatic Teachers” of the day and increased my personal and professional bible study, a new man was emerging. While at the same time I was serving various ministry functions within the Black church. It was during this season, my ministry developed from imitating preaching styles I was accustomed to – to initiating a unique teaching style of my own.
This is Part 9 of the series “My Personal Journey”
I could recount all the miraculous times the Lord rescued me from danger over my brief military career. However, let me conclude that it doesn’t take a “rocket scientist” to discover that there was purpose on my life. So in Anchorage, AL in 1969, my spiritual journey got a boost from a little red cover book I was introduced to titled “The Spiritual Man” by Watchman Nee. The impact of the insights I gained from this series revolutionized my thinking for years to come.
By the time I returned from the military I was a changed man. I had developed from the boy preacher, I left as, into a developing teacher with some life experience. Somehow I managed to maintain the nick name “rev” throughout my military career. However, various bible schools and self-study materials was now answering questions for me, while my prayer life was blooming.
When I returned to Baltimore I also returned to my Dad’s church as an organist and later assistant pastor of the church. I knew by then that “Bible-Teaching” was going to be my passion. The church atmosphere I found myself in though was more conducive to preaching instead of teaching. It didn’t take me long to figure out people were more interested in having their emotions stirred than their minds caressed. I was often branded “dry” and “slow” in my presentations, so I retreated to my music while secretly increasing my personal bible study.
This is Part 8 of the series “My Personal Journey”
Today marks the official memorial of my first public sermon, July 28, 1963. My first sermon title was “Saved by Hope – Romans 8:24-25. Although I have had a media library for the last 30 years, I haven’t been one to log my sermons, so I couldn’t tell you how many sermons or lessons I taught over the last fifty years. For me the point is not how many, but how many have been effective and productive.
You see when I finally did get my GED in the military and got to my first bible college experience, I failed “Homiletics.” My professors tried to get me to write my sermons out and I wanted to just talk them out. When I started in the ministry I was under the impression, “You just open your mouth and God would speak for you.” However, I did learn structure in college and eventually how to outline my sermons.
However, my journey is just that. My journey. Of course with the triumphs there were many mistakes and failures along the way. That is the beauty of survival and longevity in ministry. You learn from mistakes, repent and move on to teach others the wisdom you learned, if you learned and they will listen.
Even though I was only fifteen, going to church for me meant a lot more than the music, the preaching, the devotions, and the activities. I wanted so much to gain an understanding of what I believed and why. I had no mentors or spiritual fathers to guide me, so with a hunger that was eating at my insides and a poem that filled my mind, my spiritual journey began. It wasn’t so much the peer pressure that made me leave school as the need to not socialize and be alone that was consuming me.
Learning to navigate around the bible was instilled in me early. I learned the books of the bible, the divisions, the authors, and any basic bible knowledge I could retain. My mother taught me the importance of prayer and that it was those private times with God that were more important than the information I was trying to ingest.
I haven’t spoken much about my spiritual encounters that I guess began as early as when I was 8 years old. I would have strange dreams of the future and see ghostly figures come to my room at night. It was not the normal nightmares of children because with most of these I was fully awake. They didn’t frighten me just disturbed me. For the next few years I got used to nightly visitors to my room. But by the time I was twelve, they suddenly stopped. Now before you think I am crazy, let me interject that my childhood development sat the stage for my later spiritual maturity.
This is Part 4 of a series. Part 1 can be found at –
I was raised in church, the older of two sons my parents had at the time. My dad, Bishop Milledge Golphin, now deceased, was a memorial preacher in Baltimore and was known as “the preacher’s preacher.” My mother, also deceased, sang in the choir and played the piano. My brother, Gregory and I were raised singing duets in the church. So it was not that unusual that I gravitated toward ministry early. What was unusual was how my childhood developed. My parents separated over “church experiences.”
You see in those days, my dad founded a Baptist church in 1947, having migrated from South Carolina with only a sixth grade education. He taught himself to read studying the bible and following a reader as he preached. His personal insights in the scripture were legendary. We grew up on the Westside of Baltimore and somehow, my mother and a few of her friends at my dad’s church, were attracted to an “Apostolic Church” in south Baltimore. They received the “Holy Ghost” and came back speaking in tongues in my dad’s conservative Baptist church. I vaguely remember the church meeting that voted my mother and her friends out of my dad’s church, but from then on we (my brother and I) were going to the “store front apostolic church” in south Baltimore with my mother.
This is Part 2 of My Journey. If you started here, you need to read Part 1 –
A Christian is determined simply by how one worships and what one believes. How we live in light of these two pillars is the issue. What is needed today is an investigation into what is the scriptural norm for defining a Christian. We are divided regarding what is essential for a person to be called a Christian and what is the correct way of expressing this. Personal temperaments and traditional upbringing play a greater part than perhaps we realize in determining our view of what is a real “Christian” faith. In order to be a real Christian, one must have a proper Theology of God and a commitment to serve what we believe. To be a progressive Christian one must constantly evolve or mature our perception of God. But our understanding of God is revealed as we become more holy and sanctified in our thoughts and character, rather than our gaining information about Him.
We talk unity but practice division every day. The practice of Christian unity is a difficult task for the church. Many things divide Christians from other Christians—gifts, doctrine, church government, mode of baptism and so on. Whether we like it or not, divisions have occurred, and we must live with them. But we must be inspired and guided by Scripture and prayer to do better or things will only get worse. But real unity is not unity in sameness but unity in purpose and function. We must all be united in the fact that God is God; that Jesus Christ is Lord; and that the Holy Spirit is present today in the believer’s life. How that works out in every day practice is the struggle of sameness, not unity. What we believe ought to be consistent. How we practice what we believe is the question.
Our culture today urges us to seek our identity in our possessions, our personal achievements or some lofty title to impress others. The Church has brought into this false sense of self-worth and is not sounding the alarm while society is decaying. Yet Scripture tells us our identity is not derived from these things. It depends not on how others see us, but how God sees us. But a proper understanding of basic Christian beliefs helps one wrestle with questions that have baffled people for centuries. In our day there is a wishy-washy relativism that masquerades as faith. “It doesn’t matter what you believe, just as long as you believe.” “All roads lead to God.” “The important thing is to be sincere.” If we know what we believe, we will resist such shallow claims. God is personal. He has told us about himself and what he requires of us. All the rich knowledge of God is expressed through our Christian beliefs. Christian beliefs not only guide our thinking but also direct our behavior. In our day we desperately need leaders of integrity, people who are living examples of biblical values. As we learn these basic values, the Holy Spirit gradually transforms us into the likeness of Christ himself. Christian beliefs build Christian character.
When Jesus came, the religious elite were fussing over what Moses really meant in the Law. Standards of holiness were redefined and people mentally, socially, and economically were in bondage. Sound familiar? Jesus solution in His day was to offer rest (Mat 11:28-30) from tradition, power positioning, and intellectual gaming and just demonstrate “love” (Jn 13:34-35) as an antidote for power shifting.
The body of Christ is in trouble. When I view the competition in ministries, the jealousy regarding spiritual gifts, and the lack of participation among believers to witnessing, I know that we need to recoup our attention. We have enough external problems without creating internal conflicts among ourselves. I wonder sometimes with all the bickering over doctrine, worship, methods, and style when can we hear a fresh word from the Lord regarding direction and purpose? When will we overcome the handicaps of the past while we prepare for the mandates of the future? When will kingdom building and demon chasing become the focus of attention again in the body of Christ?