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.
This is Part 7 in the series
To start at the beginning click here – http://dmgolphin.me/2013/07/24/how-it-all-began/
Or continue on to Part 8 here – http://dmgolphin.me/2013/08/03/providence-before-academics-my-personal-journey/
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”
You can read Part 1 at:
Or continue on to Part 7 at – http://dmgolphin.me/2013/08/02/cultural-shock-my-personal-journey/
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 –
Or you can move on to Part 5 at
These are only reflections and I must get back to the task at hand. My mother was a strong and wise woman, Alice Mae Golphin. Although we spent all day on Sunday at church, most Sundays it was at least three services, she allowed my brother and I to go the movies on Saturday, even though it was against church rules. My dad had long since moved out and was living at a parsonage at his church. We only got to see him one weekend a month at his church which we visited and was now an “Apostolic” church also. By the time I was twelve, it seemed like all the young people had disappeared from my Mom’s church and my brother and I started going to my Dad’s church every weekend.
School was hell for me. I didn’t fit in with the school gangs and I was constantly in fights. I was constantly teased for my handwriting and the way I dressed. You see, we were very poor and my mom brought us second hand clothes from the Veteran warehouse to wear to school. In elementary school, I was left handed and was talented in art and numbers. I taught myself to write right handed to fit in and studied martial arts to protect myself. I didn’t make many friends but no one pushed me around.
By the Fall of 1963, I was headed back to school with my new found religion and was being teased daily for “being saved” and called “rev” as a negative nick name because the word got around that I was preaching too. Before the school year was out I had made the decision to leave school and get a job to help support my mother. But not before my ninth grade English teacher made me learn a poem that changed my life.
This is Part 3. If you started here, you need to start at the beginning
Or follow Part 4 at http://dmgolphin.me/2013/07/27/the-hunger-my-personal-journey/
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.
You can follow Part 2 at:
We are in a war between “rights” and “morals” and it obvious who is winning. America has a history of making what Christians have called in the past “vices” legal. When gambling became legal we got the lottery. When alcohol became legal we got state run stores. When churches became legal we got tax exempt status. What do we do when sin in general becomes legal? Constitutionally, we are enforcing the very core of this country’s real purpose. We were not formed to make a Christian nation, but a nation of individual rights. Everything in between we owe God praise and honor for the breathe He allowed us to experience. Government of the people, by the people, and for the people. A melting pot of culture, religion, and the right to live my life my way. If institutions interfere with my rights then we just have to change the institutions.
We really can’t expect the world to comply with what they have not embraced. Jesus command was to “Go make disciples.” The Church needs to return to evangelism. When was the last time you heard the terms “repent”, “sin”, even a call to salvation in churches? We have become so self-absorbed in marketing our empires all we worry about is getting enough money to, as they say. “Advance the kingdom.” But don’t we really care who is populating the kingdom as long as they have a contribution to make. Have they been discipled or merely celebrated because of their contribution? We even have this attitude in churches and congregations are running the vision and mission of the church in the name of the people. We have rights – yes – the right to live and die. Everything in between we owe God praise and honor for the breath He allowed us to experience.
The “Light” is getting dim in America. Who has the courage to flip the switch back on to the “Light” of God’s Glory? Who is on the Lord’s side, let them come forward and pray not fight.
I’m not writing all this as a neighborhood scold just to make you feel rotten. I’m writing as a father to you, my children. I love you and want you to grow up well, not spoiled. There are a lot of people around who can’t wait to tell you what you’ve done wrong, but there aren’t many fathers willing to take the time and effort to help you grow up. It was as Jesus helped me proclaim God’s Message to you that I became your father. I’m not, you know, asking you to do anything I’m not already doing myself.
(1 Corinthians 4:14-16) The Message (MSG)
Throughout the world, believers have been tempted to look upon those they call “spiritual fathers” who are mere mortals as if they were an individual’s supreme source of spiritual instruction, nourishment, and protection. The tendency to turn mere men into “gurus” is worldwide. The pattern is we honor or respect men in their positions, but we reverence and worship for His person. When this passage is taken in context it makes good sense. Spiritual fathers are not just after instruction, servitude and correction, but maturity and love for the spiritual son to become a proclaimer of the Gospel. Real fathers then proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not the elevation of one’s status. Real sons accept it by faith. Ultimately, The Lord is our supreme protector, provider, and instructor. Correspondingly, it is wrong to view any individual other than God as having these roles except as a proclaimer of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Spiritual fatherhood should refer to those who are wise counselors, not controlling freaks.
I discern that at some point, we have to stop going outside the present Church and starting new churches. We have to step back and stop reinventing and start maintaining. Churches are not man-made but God-given, and they are God-given through an actual historical tradition of faith and order. In fact, The real Church is hidden under, a mass of social, cultural and theological debris. To rediscover this ‘one true church’,which is there in all the three traditions of the Church, Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant, one must bathe in scripture, prayer, and tolerance for other expressions of worship pursing toward the same goal.
The media attention Christianity is getting lately might cause many to believe what they see rather than what they know to be true. In fact the best way to administer poison is to hide it in something good. So, false teachers are not standing up waving a flag saying they are teaching false doctrine. No, they are mixing truths, lowing standards, and secretly denying canal doctrines of the faith while we celebrate their greatness and are deceived by their glamor.
As Christians, each of us is given a valuable spiritual gift to build and edify the body of Christ. But these gifts should always be developed in the context of community—the harmony of many voices. Working together to develop team ministry and team participation. It is in effect unity by diversity. Our differences should bring us strength not weakness. We should learn how to celebrate and support each other. As Christians, we should celebrate our differences and not discuss our weaknesses with those who don’t offer positive reinforcement in your life.