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”
I spent a lot of time in my teens building my library from the local “Baptist Book Store.” Seemed strange since my classical apostolic background was anti-Baptist. But I was really led to Church History and Biblical Interpretation. So while my musical skills were growing and I played the organ regularly in churches around town, my hunger for God was being pursued in my private prayer and study times.
I have at admit my real introduction to life outside my small church and social community in Baltimore in the 1960’s was being drafted in the Army. I had few friends; I was a loner and deep thinker; and my dad’s church had done a good indoctrination job on me. I had more questions than those around me could adequately answer. So I entered the military with a limited world view of society at large but I got a quick education in people, relationships, and religion.
My best friend in Basic Training was a red neck from Kentucky who had never personally interacted with Black people before. We seemed to be drawn to each other out of the shock of the new environment we found ourselves ultimately having to adjust to. Our favorite pastime was singing “Sly Stone’s ‘60’s hit, “Don’t Call Me Niger, Whitey.” It really didn’t take me long to score high with a rifle and become an expert in hand-to-hand combat. So while the army was molding me into a soldier, I was also developing discipline that would shape my ministry career for many years to come. All the while trying to figure out where I should go from here.
The summer of 1963 was a summer to remember. I had my call into ministry, participated in the Civil Rights March to DC, and heard Martin Luther King, Jr. give his famous “I have A Dream “ speech and get my first job. Which by the way was as a dish washer making $35 a week. I would give my mother $20 and pay my tithes of $3.50 to my dad’s church and use the rest for myself. I was not permitted to minister outside our local church yet that would come later.
So for the next few years, all that sticks out to me was a pattern of work and attending church every opportunity that arose. Raised in a church environment where everything was sin, from the music you listened to – to killing the infestation of roaches that filled our home, it was difficult distinguishing what sin really was. All I can remember is that we could do nothing right and beat ourselves into an emotional frenzy in church to kill the flesh. While any form of entertainment or enjoyment outside of attending some church event was opening up to the devil. Children were not permitted to have fun.
We were small in number because we had the “Truth,” and any form of “large” church activity was viewed as not preaching the truth. No church was right except the “Apostolic” churches we fellowshipped with and other churches who did not believe in the Oneness of the God head or the right baptism in Jesus name were in error. The word “Trinity” was a dirty word in our circles and anyone who used it was referred to as “Three God people.” I got the impression from Sunday School that there were the bible days and then there is the present times. No link between history and the scripture. All I knew was from the pages of scripture to every day life today. So by the time I was drafted in the Army and entered Basic training, I was a mixed up young man.
This is Part 6 of a series entitled “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 –
This month I celebrate an important milestone in the history of my ministry. It was in July, 1963 in Baltimore, MD that I preached my first public sermon and began both a spiritual and intellectual journey in discovering the God of Christianity. I am not clear now on what exactly brought me to this discussion to embrace ministry in my teens.
I do recall several events that may have influenced me. My dad was a pastor; we were having an explosion of youth receiving the Holy Ghost, as we termed it in those days; and my quest for biblical knowledge was consuming me. There were several sign gifts that helped build my confidence as I started out. I discovered I had a phenomenal ability to memorize scripture and I started playing the piano without any pervious lessons.
By now, I was used to hearing people call me strange, different, odd, and a loner. But it was my sixth grade teacher who made the biggest impression on me early in school. She kept telling me “You are an intelligent young man.” Not sure I even knew what that meant, but it resonated with me for years. While reflecting on my 50 year journey so far, I discovered that 2013 and 1963 are identical calendars. What does all this mean? A long history that has come full circle and accomplished very little.
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 current climate in churches today is not to create an atmosphere to worship and praise God but to attract and appease people. Most people are only attracted to a church where they can “feel” God. A George Gallup polls suggest that, “We are having a revival of feelings and not the knowledge of God.” The church today is more guided by feelings than motivated by knowledge. We want a good feeling, not a good experience with God in worship. That was the attraction of the two “Great Awakenings” a need to experience God emotionally apart from what we knew intellectually. It also was the motivation of Western “Pentecost.” In 1906 with the popularity of the Azusa Street Revival, we shifted worship from getting to know God to seeking to be empowered by the presence of God with major spiritual empowerments.
Passion for God – the ability to seek God with your total being has been substituted for a need to express my release emotionally while addressing my status as a gifted saint. Is it wrong then to want to feel God? No, but it is danger if all we want to do is “feel” and not get to know God. That is the beauty of intimacy. Not just the feeling but the communication. We move from one extreme to the other. If we seek knowledge from God the danger is being labeled an “egghead” and “dry.” If we seek the presence of God only in music and song, the danger is becoming “too emotional” and surface orientated. The balance is expressed when we can seek God intellectually without getting “puffed up.” Then we can become “passionate” for God without it becoming a celebration of my talent and not an elevation of God’s Glory. Keep in mind promotion carries two parallels. The danger of pride and the demotion of self-glory to the danger of becoming more than a player on the cosmic stage to the star of the show.
We need a new breed of worship leaders that understand the mandate of prayer and praise. New leaders who are not making news headlines, but delivering the Good News of the kingdom; Honest leaders that will take the time to sanctify themselves to and for God in this hour; Charismatic leaders that are not just speaking for God (prophets) but speaking to God (priests) regarding the sins of nations, governments, societies, and churches. Leaders that will propel us into the future with a healthy perspective of lessons from the past. Finally, we need true intercession in this hour, warfare prayer that restores and refreshes the supernatural power of God in the earth. Not by a troop of gossiping prayer bands, but a worship leader who can both discern and command the conflict and calm the storms of life.