I grew up at Calvary Temple since I was born—29 years ago. Two simple things were always predominant in not only what I was told but also in what I saw in the people around me: love God first, and secondly, love people better than yourself. My parents tell me the first Bible verse I ever memorized was Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity.” I was 3 years old, and of course couldn’t pronounce adversity so well. I’m sure I had no clue what I was saying. I had no idea how many friends were going to come and go in my life, and how many friends would actually stick with me through the tough days. But I’ve never forgotten that verse.
I’m also positive my parents were grinning ear-to-ear as they listened to me.
They were smiling because before I was born, they had decided that they would teach their kids about how much God loves them, and that it’s actually possible to have a relationship with God just like you do with a friend. In reality, a much better one, because God is perfect and your friends….well, they just aren’t.
And this is the cool part! This wasn’t just my parent’s goal. As a baby, I was “dedicated” in church, Calvary Temple which meant the whole church came together to pray over my life and dedicate themselves to the task of helping my parents teach me the importance of a relationship with God and what that looks like. It was 1986, when my senior pastor wore a three piece suit (I think everyone is glad the current dress code is a lot more relaxed!) and we had church services in a gymnasium.
Growing up at Calvary Temple, I learned more and more about God. I learned how to make your parents and teachers happy by saying all the right things, how to keep rules, and generally be a good kid. But that’s not what my parents wanted. That’s not what all the people who dedicated me wanted. Things hadn’t “clicked” yet. Finally, one day, it did click. And this is what I mean. It wasn’t during a sermon, or a school bible class, or during a heart-to-heart discussion with my parents. I was in my bedroom alone, giving thought to all those sermons, bible classes, and heart-to-heart parent talks, and comparing all those moments to what I’d seen in people’s lives. I couldn’t ignore the fact that even though they weren’t perfect, the authority figures in my life actually did what they taught me. I couldn’t ignore the fact that my parents, teachers, pastors, and some of my older friends who knew God were living a life I knew nothing about. They had a genuine, consistent joy and peace (not that fake-smile happiness you can spot a mile away on a stranger) that was based on something deep, not the circumstances. I wondered how that could be, with so many different people and varying personalities. They had an unwavering commitment to continue to teach me about God’s love that ran deep in their hearts and was fresh, not out of habit.
It was becoming clearer and clearer that they had something I didn’t. They kept telling me over and over again that I needed to decide whether to have a relationship with God on my own (not based on my parents beliefs), and that keeping rules wasn’t the point of life. My youth pastor Jeff had emphasized the phrase “Dig your own wells” which came from the Bible story of the Israelites wandering the wilderness who had to dig new wells to survive, as the wells previous generations had dug would dry up.
It became clear to me that I didn’t have my own relationship with Jesus, and wouldn’t be able to survive God’s judgment if I stood before him. I knew rules couldn’t save me, because I was always falling short (if not outwardly, in motive and thoughts). I decided to ask Jesus to become the most important thing in my life, and that I wanted to live out of love for Him, and not because of rules.
From then on my life changed, and my gratitude kept growing more and more for those people around me who had dedicated themselves to helping me serve God. Even though I had to “dig my own well”, these people were integral in showing me how to do that and cheering me on as I did. Words can’t put a price on the unconditional love I’ve received, and the priceless treasure of countless people who have poured their blood, sweat, and tears into making me who I am.
My life mimics the story of Samuel, who was a little boy in the Bible who was dedicated as a baby to serve in God’s house. One day, Samuel heard a voice calling him in the middle of the night, and he thought it was the priest Eli who was training him. When he ran to the priest, Eli responded, “I didn’t call you. Go back to bed.” This happened a few more times, until finally Eli told Samuel, “It is the Lord calling you. When you hear the voice again, just respond ‘Speak, Lord, your servant hears.’” When I finally said “Speak, Lord”, He did and ever since, I’ve had tremendous joy learning how to love and serve Him at the church I was born in.
I am thankful for the tremendous privilege of growing up at Calvary Temple, for the people who trained me and who sacrificed their time and energy to teach me how to love God first, and love people second. Nothing else matters! Here is my family now all grown up and we all plan on one day continuing to train up our next generation in this way.
About Calvary Temple
Calvary Temple is an independent church which holds to all Assemblies of God tenets of faith. Calvary Temple ministries include Discipleship Training, adult Bible college, media ministry, and an aggressive missions program.
Pastor Star R. Scott is Senior Pastor of Calvary Temple in Sterling, Virginia, where he has ministered since 1973. In addition to the pastoral gift, Pastor Scott functions in the five-fold offices of apostle and prophet. He has planted churches, and currently oversees the pastors and ministries of numerous satellite churches.
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