My wife teaches English composition. She has her students write an essay called "this I believe". This I believe that becoming a Christian has happened to me and is happening to me. 20 years ago I thought I knew what it was to be a Christian. I now know I didn't have a clue. 10 years ago I thought I knew what it was to be a Christian. I didn't have a clue. Five years ago. I thought I knew what it was to be a Christian. I didn't know. I believe I still don't know but Iam and I am becoming a Christian. The Bible calls this moving from glory to glory.
I was raised in the Methodist Church (later United Methodist) or more specifically in two Methodist churches. During nine months of the year my family attended Jesse Lee a Methodist Church in the suburbs north of New York City. This church had many fine people and Christians but was a little liberal or at least sophisticated. We believed Genesis but were taught in Sunday school (8th grade) that Genesis was probably written by four writers with letter names X or Z or Q or whatever (I had no idea Moses wrote Genesis). Jesse Lee had a congregation of 350 or so parishioners. Despite the liberal bent it was long enough ago that Jesus and the Father were still being taught in a pretty much orthodox fashion. The Holy Spirit was mentioned once a week in the confession of faith.
During all or part of the summer months I attended Whitewater Methodist Church in the small farm community of White Water Indiana where my mother grew up and most of her family still lived and went to church. I was baptized (as an infant) in this Church and my parents were Married here. At the Whitewater Methodist Church you sang "Sweet Hour of Prayer" and "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" and you meant it. At the Whitewater Methodist Church Jesus WAS Methodism and Christianity (except for this one Sunday school teacher who thought that Christianity was following the 10 Commandments. It seems every church has one) and you prayed to Jesus or God the Father. They seemed to know the Holy Spirit at Whitewater better than Jesse Lee but as a part of a relationship with Jesus not as a separate person of the Trinity.
During my college years I spent quite a lot of time in Whitewater on the weekends where I would go to visit my Grandparents. At the time the Whitewater Methodist Church had a wonderful man of God named Charlie Radcliffe pastoring there. I was going through a period where Christianity was pushed into the background of my life and Rev. Radcliffe drew it forward. at the end of my senior year in college I had a very powerful experience with the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit showed up in power at a moment of great need and I was engulfed in a blanket of love and joy and peace. After that time I could tell you there's a Holy Spirit like I can tell you there is a desk. This is also the time I count as my conversion when I turned my life over to Jesus.
To be continued