Coffee with Pastor Steve

Podcast 65

Blog Post

In this episode of “Living God’s Way in an Ungodly World,” B.R.Maul hosts an inspiring conversation with Pastor Steve, exploring the profound impact of sharing personal testimonies of faith. This episode dives deep into the journeys from darkness to light, highlighting the courage it takes to be vulnerable and the transformative power of faith stories.

The episode opens with Pastor Steve recounting his journey from Northern California to New York, and eventually to Minnesota. Each move represented not just a physical relocation but a significant chapter in his spiritual growth. The challenges of sharing one’s testimony are explored, focusing on the courage required to be vulnerable. Pastor Steve emphasizes that every testimony is valuable, aligning with Scripture and serving as undeniable proof of God’s work in one’s life.

Reflecting on his own family’s spiritual odyssey, Pastor Steve shares how their move from California to New York played a pivotal role in shaping their faith. Different churches had different impacts, from the sociable Methodist church to the profound Bible teachings of a non-denominational congregation. His dad’s background as a cop added a unique dimension to their understanding of faith and morality, making their journey even more multifaceted.

As Pastor Steve navigates his personal faith journey, he recounts coming to Christ at 16 and the challenges of high school and college. Despite being surrounded by godly peers in a Christian college, he observed other students losing their way. Marrying young and starting a family brought its own set of challenges, leading to a rebellious phase that tested his faith. Through service and submission, he eventually found his path, taking on leadership roles and deepening his relationship with God.

In the chapter titled “Share Your Testimony to Show Faith,” Pastor Steve and B.R.Maul delve into the internal struggles individuals face when sharing their personal stories of coming to Christ. They discuss the growing separation of genuine believers from apostates in the church and highlight the significance of trusting God. The conversation underscores that sharing one’s testimony involves more trust than we often realize, as it requires being open about intimate details that could be used against us. Yet, these personal stories are powerful tools for proving the genuineness of one’s salvation and the reality of God’s work in their life.

The next chapter, “Navigating Faith and Teenage Challenges,” explores the journey of faith and personal growth within a family. Pastor Steve reflects on his early years, contrasting his carefree childhood concerns with his dad’s challenge to discern authenticity in people. A transformative pastor played a crucial role in his dad’s spiritual awakening, significantly altering their household dynamics. The family’s move from California to New York brought them to different churches, each uniquely impacting their spiritual growth. The shift from the social Methodist church to a non-denominational church with strong Bible teachings was particularly significant, fostering a deeper understanding of faith and morality.

In “Navigating Faith and Personal Struggles,” Steve shares his experiences of being surrounded by godly peers in a Christian college while playing basketball. Despite this supportive environment, he observed many straying from their beliefs. His own journey was marked by the tension between self-autonomy and spiritual growth, especially as he married young and started a family. This phase was characterized by a rebellious attitude and a struggle to live a holy life. Yet, it was through these challenges that he deepened his relationship with the Lord.

The final chapter, “Finding Faith Through Service and Submission,” details Pastor Steve’s journey of spiritual growth and leadership within his church community. Initially hesitant to take on teaching roles, he eventually embraced greater responsibilities, becoming a deacon and overseeing various church programs. Each new task strengthened his faith and commitment, underscoring the importance of submission and following the Lord’s guidance.

This episode is a heartfelt exploration of faith, growth, and the courage to share one’s story. It emphasizes that personal testimonies are not just stories but powerful tools that can inspire and transform lives. By being vulnerable and sharing our journeys, we can encourage others and demonstrate the reality of God’s work in our lives.

Whether you are at the beginning of your faith journey or well along the path, this episode of “Living God’s Way in an Ungodly World” offers valuable insights and inspiration. It reminds us that every testimony, no matter how ordinary it may seem, has the power to impact others and serve as undeniable proof of God’s love and grace. So, take courage, share your story, and let your faith shine as a beacon of hope in an ungodly world.

Podcast 65 Transcript

This is a computer generated transcript of this podcast. This is NOT a typed transcript and it has not been edited. Expect grammatical and syntactical errors.

B.R.Maul: 0:29

Hello and good day. I am BR Maul and you are listening to Living God’s Way in an Ungodly World. Today is one of our coffee sit-downs and I’m with a good friend of mine. His name is Steve, he’s a pastor at one of the local churches and he’s agreed to share his story with us. Steve, it’s good to have you here. Thank you, good to be here. So, Steve, where are you originally from?

Pastor Steve: 0:56

So I originally was born in Northern California, closer to the Oregon border for 13 years, and then my parents moved back to their hometown at Catskills of New York, and then I was there for 20-some years Now the Lord has moved me out here in the land of Minnesota, that’s right. That’s right. For the last it’ll be four in July, living on each coast and now in the Midwest. I went from deserts and the edge of the Sierra Nevadas to the thick woods and mountains. Now I’m in the flatland of the edge of the tundra.

B.R.Maul: 1:27

Yeah, you’re right on the edge of the Red River Valley. So, you go a little further, you’re going to fall into that valley and roll right into it.

Pastor Steve: 1:33

Yeah, it’s the valley you can’t see. That’s the funny part for me. No, thanks a lot

B.R.Maul: 1:36

I appreciate, brother, you’re coming and doing this time because in this ministry that’s what it’s all about Go right through God’s Word, verse by verse, and also sharing stories, and for some reason it’s been difficult to get people to share their story of coming to Christ. I would like to hear your take on this before you share your story.

B.R.Maul: 1:56

But my take on this is I wonder if it’s because it seems like, as the Lord is stirring things up in His church, it seems like the apostates are being shown who they are, those who really appear on the outside to be Christian but really they’re not. And that seems to be a growing thing in churches. And I think the reason we’re starting to see it is because, as the goats and sheep are being separated, we have to admit there’s a lot of pastors, priests, whatever they are, that themselves are apostate and are not truly born again, and yet they’re teaching people. So I think a lot of people are realizing you know, I don’t know if I am born again, and that’s one of the things in this podcast that I do a lot of teaching about, because we’re told that we can know for sure. So what’s your take on that with the goats and sheep and the way things are moving in our world today with the church?

Pastor Steve: 2:52

Well, I think you’re right. I think there is a separation, that the Lord is drawing out His people and giving your testimony is definitely one example of the proof of how genuine your salvation truly is. Your relationship with the Lord is because once you start talking about it now, it opens up the world of. Do I actually know what I’m talking about or am I just putting on a show? So, without a doubt, the Lord’s doing that, but I also think there’s a second side the challenge of being vulnerable and learning how to not be ashamed.

Pastor Steve: 3:22

It’s more of the courageous aspect of I open up and share my story, which has intimate details of usually some wrongdoing or spot where somebody in the past has taken it and thrown it back against me and damaged me some more. If I do that, then will it happen again? So there’s an internal wrestling with I want to be honoring and courageous for the Lord by just simply telling his story and what he’s doing in my life, but at the same time, there’s still that fear of man that people wrestle with. How much do I share at one point and does that sometimes supersede my fear of God and stops me from doing what I’m supposed to do? Sharing your testimony, I think, involves a lot more trust than we realize in.

Pastor Steve: 4:06

God taking care of us, even though it’s not that. It really isn’t so like we’re opening up the word and giving a full theological sermon along the way, but it’s extremely personal. This is who God is to us, and the last thing we want is for somebody to attack us with it. Well, there might be a third aspect of that too. I think. We start to believe that we don’t know enough. So, therefore, do we actually trust the Lord to just use our testimony when we think we need to have all of this doctrinal understanding in a way, and then we start to think that our story means absolutely nothing and that the Lord’s not in it somehow?

B.R.Maul: 4:39

Which is unfortunate, because that’s really the one thing that the Lord gives all of his children to share is their story, absolutely, and there is no story that’s too boring or too scary or too anything, because no matter what that story is, there’s many who can relate on some level and go. You know, I get that because I do that quite a bit.

Pastor Steve: 5:01

Well, the best part about it is what I tell people regularly. The best part about it is when your story lines up with scripture and again it’s the proving who is genuine and who is not. But when you’re just talking about the biblical Jesus and how we’re saved by grace. But in your testimony, people cannot refute what God does in their life. Here’s why I know Jesus is real. This is where he took me. This is who I was.

B.R.Maul: 5:30

This is who I am now. How can you refute that? You know so. It’s a wonderful thing, and I think it’s a good tool when we come together in smaller groups, among brothers and sisters that we get comfortable with in a small group setting, to visit that from time to time, because we should be able to look at our own life and see what the Holy Spirit is doing, especially as we’re reading God’s Word and we’re praying to Him each day. You know, we should easily, without a doubt, be able to see that. And if we can’t, if a person can’t, that might be oh what am I doing? Maybe the person’s not in God’s Word at all, or maybe the person is living with a sin that he or she is just not willing to let go up, so the lord isn’t going to bless that you know whatever that might be, so it can be used as a tool too to sure to gauge our walk with with the lord.

Pastor Steve: 6:15

Well, I know, I I try to teach people. We make people give their testimonies before they get baptized and all that fun stuff, just, and it’s a learning experience. And you know, a comfortability thing, I can do it, it’s okay. Learning experience and a comfortability thing, I can do it, it’s okay, especially in front of people who love you. So it makes a big difference. But try to get the two different types, or I should say the short version. In case you run into somebody in the grocery store and you only have two minutes, five minutes, to talk to somebody, how can you give your testimony in a two-minute time span of that lead carrot and nugget but speaks the truth of why you love Jesus? Right, fan of that lead carrot and nugget, but speaks the truth of why you love Jesus, compared to the hour-long version of this is all the things that he has done and that’s why I continue to follow him. We shouldn’t have both versions.

B.R.Maul: 6:54

That’s a perfect segue, so hopefully we’ll get the one-hour version out of you instead of the two-to-five-minute spot. There. The little nugget, that’s all I’m allowed to preach. Two to five minutes, yeah right, that’s good. That’s good. Why don’t you tell us your story? Go ahead.

Pastor Steve: 7:13

Well, my story is in phases, I think, because I know, growing up as a kid, my mom always took my sister and I to church and we were in a handful of different churches. We started off with a very strong Bible preaching. It was an independent. It was in the handful of different churches. We started off with a very strong Bible preaching. He was an independent. He was in the middle of nowhere in the desert, which you couldn’t find unless you happened to be driving by. This guy was wonderful, involved in Sunday school, good friend of the family. My father at the time didn’t know Jesus. He was a deputy sheriff in California. So there’s kind of a split household of believers, faith goals, things that were going on. So your kind of a split household of believers, faith goals, things that were going on.

Pastor Steve: 7:47

So your mom was actively following the Lord, but your father was not, and of course she was struggling along the way too. So let’s paint the full picture she was doing her best to follow the Lord but still had her internal fights that we all have in being obedient. How do you do that? And then separating all the realities that go with it, especially with an unbelieving spouse? Then we ended up moving closer to town out of the middle of nowhere. Now we’re only seven miles outside of the main town and we ended up changing the church. We started going to a Methodist church at the time Went through four different pastors. Some of those pastors that were there were good and others were there.

B.R.Maul: 8:28

Did your family, Steve, during this time with your dad and mom? What about Christmas and like Easter, things like that? Was that recognized in your family or not? It was, it was, yeah, so there was always time taken out for the main holidays.

Pastor Steve: 8:43

Okay, but not necessarily the meaning for the holidays.

Pastor Steve: 8:46

Sure, well, time for family and every year we would hit the midnight or 11 o’clock, 11 PM Christmas service. They would do all the bells. They had a whole team that did the bells. Wonderful, oh, I like the bells as a kid. You’re just fighting to stay awake at 11 o’clock. But that was my favorite part.

Pastor Steve: 9:06

I was active in the Boy Scouts at the time, so I did a church and God study with one of those Methodist pastors which I remember absolutely nothing about except being there and getting the pin afterward. So there was always a biblical influence and teaching, some a little more than others. Which is pretty much how our time works growing up. Some are a little more in depth, some are periods of time or a little less. Dad was struggling at the same time that I was, but for very different reasons. I was just trying to figure out what’s real, what’s going on and then where to have fun with all the friends, while dad was trying to figure out who was genuine and who’s not, and has gotten real. You know, figure out who’s genuine and who’s not, and has gotten real.

Pastor Steve: 9:49

You know, the remarkable thing is, by the time I was 11-ish, one of the pastors changed and he was actually a more solid Bible teacher than the previous three. Two of them were good, but there just wasn’t a lot of extra teaching going on. One wasn’t that great at all, he didn’t last very long. And then this last guy took the time to sit down and teach and disciple. In combination with some other stories and dad’s life as a cop, the Lord started grabbing ahold of his heart. So by the time I was 11, right around there between 11 and 12, he came to know the Lord.

Pastor Steve: 10:15

The house changed pretty drastically the conversations, because we would go fishing, we would go camping, we’d do all the outdoor stuff, we’d be out there. But now he wanted to talk to me about Jesus all the time and it was irritating. Looking back, as a father, I greatly appreciate the transformation and recognize the extreme difference. But when you’re an early, pre-pubescent kid, that’s not what you wanted to hear. It was right about that time. They got me my first Bible. I think it was for my birthday. I was very disappointed that day. What am I going to do with this? I still have it, says the pastor of the church I know. Again, looking back, thank you for mom and dad doing what’s right and investing for the future.

Pastor Steve: 11:00

even though I didn’t want it at the time, it’s what I needed and would need a few years down the road. So all of that was working. No active relationship on my part, more of a social side, probably since I was four or five up until the 13. And then, when I was 13, we ended up moving from California to New York.

B.R.Maul: 11:19

Now in the upper Midwest, here, where I’ve lived most of my life and I’m originally from, many people are baptized as infants. Because of Catholicism and Lutheranism being very heavy in this site, were you baptized as a baby?

Pastor Steve: 11:34

Nope, okay, nope, that was never part of the group, or at least when the initial church I was going to in the middle of nowhere. They didn’t do that. Do the Methodists? I don’t do that.

B.R.Maul: 11:45

Do the Methodists?

Pastor Steve: 11:45

I don’t know A lot of the Methodists do the.

B.R.Maul: 11:47

Methodists do baptize and preach. Yes, okay.

Pastor Steve: 11:49

But it depends on who stands up front. But by regular standards they would do so. Okay, put on the fancy robe, sprinkle a little water and whatever speech that is given. I’m sure it’s a little different from variation, variation, but it’s still the same principle. But no, my sister and I never got into that.

B.R.Maul: 12:08

Okay, so for you that wasn’t an issue then of knowing the weather Okay?

Pastor Steve: 12:12

Okay, no, no. The issue is just is God real and what does that actually mean? So then, you know, 95, the summer of 95, we moved back to the Catskills in New York and we started going to the Methodist church in our tiny little town. That turned out to be more of a high school social club, so there wasn’t a whole lot of in-depth teaching from the current pastor Very nice gentleman, you know, loved people, but just not much with the word. So my parents decided in 97, we were there for two years to move to another church and check out somebody they remembered from high school that became a pastor and knew a guy and I didn’t really want to go because none of my friends were in the other church.

Pastor Steve: 12:50

Right Also, in the middle of nowhere, I think there’s a theme in my life that’s fine. You put you in the middle of nowhere, a lot of nowhere Around the wilderness, to find the Lord. There you go. There might, in nowhere, a lot of nowhere Around the wilderness, to find the Lord there you go, might be a theme in scripture somewhere.

B.R.Maul: 13:05

Yeah, I think so. There’s that wandering the wilderness thing.

Pastor Steve: 13:08

Now it was that time my parents started growing more in the Lord and their relationship. This other gentleman was a solid Bible preacher, great counselor, good disciple, loved the Lord, did everything to help his people come to know the Lord and grow as well. Is this also a Methodist church? Nope, this is an independent, non-denominational Okay so just a non-denominational church with all the beliefs and probably 90, 95% more on the Baptist theology side of things, just without some of the traditions. Then it started getting a little more fervent teaching inside the household from mom and dad, dad especially.

Pastor Steve: 13:45

Now. There’s a three-year span of this is where we’re going, where we’re growing, or at least a year span, I should say, because we had those two years with the Methodist church where things weren’t quite working out. Mom and dad weren’t satisfied. I was having a grand old time doing nothing but hanging out with people, hanging out with buddies, so it didn’t really matter about church, although there were things that were there and I was doing things for church and had absolutely no meaning, which goes to show you can be in church for a lot of years at any age and still have absolutely zero understanding, but think that you’re fulfilled and you’re not, and that’s the goodness of the Lord, how he reveals himself as we grow.

Pastor Steve: 14:20

So by the time I hit 16, now I’m getting better understanding. There’s more of a conviction in the heart. The more it’s drawing, there’s starting to be a separation of what’s right and wrong. So here’s my challenge, my internal challenge, because my dad was a cop for almost 18 years. There was always the teaching of lawfully what is right and wrong, and a lot of lawfully what is right and wrong and a lot of morality of what is right and wrong. Now we’re in New York. Well, he’s a judge now, right.

Pastor Steve: 14:47

So, 18 years as a cop in California, 12 years as a judge in New York that teaching is still there. But now, if you get in trouble in a certain part of the town, you got to stand before him. I knew where all the lines were. So if I was going to do something wrong, it wasn’t going to be on this side of town, Right, right. So I had this internal conviction as a teenager at 16 years old. Who are you? What do I believe in? What am I willing to give up for that belief. Is it genuine enough? And then you have girls in the mix of all that and the infatuation with lovely little ladies that are all throughout high school. So there’s that continual internal struggle.

B.R.Maul: 15:25

Well, and the world around us continues to be very loud and boisterous and it continues, with every generation, to be able to cable to. You know, suddenly the internet streaming kids walking around with cell phones. I mean, look how much the world, more and more, is able to touch the lives of everybody. But for a young person who’s developing 16, that’s a very important time of life. And when we have the world trying so hard to influence of life, when we have the world trying so hard to influence, you know, our young people, it’s all the more for Christian families to be very mindful about that, what they watch, what they listen to, because they’re taking all of that in and when it’s against god’s word, wow, there is that dilemma so well.

Pastor Steve: 16:16

on top of that, too, I was a respected well known in a two, three hour radius playing basketball. So now I’ve got a public eye and a growing interest that goes with this, and it was right. In that timeframe I even got selected to go play basketball for New York State with nine other guys in Hawaii against all the other states. There’s the mental prestige that’s going with this. What do you do with that and how does that make you and who are you in the middle of all of that? And you’re still just a growing kid, but in the middle of it all there’s Lord drawing and undoubtedly, looking back, you put the pieces together.

Pastor Steve: 16:52

So there’s that conviction of what’s right and what’s wrong, just in the natural way of living. Friends at the time were getting more involved in some of the extracurriculars where there’s a lot of alcohol, some of the parties you’ve seen. So now I have this tension. Do I do what’s right or wrong because it’s right or wrong or because of the fear of the repercussions if dad finds out Right? So both are healthy, but one is obviously more eternal than the other one. But I’m trying to balance all of that and figure out what’s right and wrong and I’m watching my friends do foolish things and a couple of them are getting pregnant along the way. Some of them are becoming large druggies and then some other ones are very foolish in their use of alcohol and I didn’t want to be any of that. It made absolutely no sense to me of how you would regularly make a fool out of yourself and call it fun. So that’s part of the drawing.

B.R.Maul: 17:49

Were you born again at this point? Nope, okay, just want to make sure I know the Holy Spirit is definitely working and speaking with you, with your mom and dad, with them Absolutely Walking close with the Lord, and that’s huge.

Pastor Steve: 18:02

So I just wanted to make sure I didn’t overlook anything In this drawing period of all of this, there’s a gentleman in the church, still a great friend today. He was an elder at the time who was an incredible athlete, played for Cornell University but went back to farming. But just a godly man, soft, Rarely. Did you ever see him get angry? I didn’t see him get angry until I was in my thirties. So he was just that soft gentle spirit who prayed for everybody. And he came alongside me in the sports realm, opened up the door, we played together. He showed me some things in his driveway and then he would talk to me and just take the time to talk to me about that. So that was a great influence of what on top of my dad? He was number one, but this guy came in as another one, because you don’t always want to listen to what your dad has to say.

B.R.Maul: 18:48

When I was 16, I knew more than my parents oh yeah, I still tell them that. I found out a long time ago. I don’t, so I don’t say that anymore, but there was a time I thought I knew more than my parents when I was in my teens. Oh, okay.

Pastor Steve: 19:04

Well, early teens, later teens, yeah.

B.R.Maul: 19:07

But the Lord does that. He places people in our lives. It is when we are fortunate and make that decision to follow him that we can look back and, oh, thank you, Lord, for this person or this incident or this trial, whatever it might be, oh yeah.

Pastor Steve: 19:22

So then, at the same time all this was going on, I was invited to go play with a group of homeschoolers. They would travel across New York State and play all their different tournaments. So I got to meet some new friends of a different mentality and ended up talking with more of the parents than I did with some of the kids. Then I got to witness the daily devotions and staying at some of the houses and in the hotels, and that was an eye-opening experience. There’s probably a dozen individuals now that are involved that the Lord is using to open up my perspective in the drawing process. Lots of questions, but all good. But in the middle of it you still want to fit in, and my friends are realizing that I’m not quite the same guy in how I look at things.

Pastor Steve: 20:04

Now I’m fighting against a leadership role in the school. They want me to do some extra things on behalf of the school. My little rebellious streak is flaring here and there and then we got to the spot where this continues and my basketball influence is continuing and I’m having to do more leadership that way. One day in the fall, dad’s talking to me before a game. I had a pre-nap ritual, pre-game ritual. I would take a nap right before a game. I took a nap since I was born. I would still do it today if I could. So he wanted to talk to me because his conviction is strong in trying to lead me to the Lord and, of course, we’ve had several hundred conversations by this point in time and it was that day that we ended up praying together for the Lord to come save me forgiveness of sins, and it took a little bit to sink in.

Pastor Steve: 20:56

It wasn’t one of the great climactic moments, even though there’s nothing to change. It wasn’t the 180 degree difference. It was still the now. How does this play out in the world that I live in? But my friends could see the difference over the next six months to a year. Now I’m watching the casualty rate, the cost of what it actually means to come to Christ and, though my high school friends respected me, the invites and the opportunities to do things afterward with them severely dropped off with a lot of there’s still two or three, but we’re talking 80% of all the people I know. You know, with the in-depth relationships after school.

B.R.Maul: 21:34

Which is interesting, and when I look back at some of those similar to my time as well, when I was walking with the Lord much later, but these were still people who called themselves a Christian and these are people who would for Christmas and Easter and all that no longer really wanted to do anything with me because I was taking the fun out of it, but they still considered themselves a Christian. You know, looking back, we can’t obviously know each other’s salvation, but we are told we can’t judge each other’s fruit. And I look back at that and I think many of them are not. I like the analogy that’s been used. You know, standing in a garage doesn’t make you a car anymore than going to a church makes you a Christian, but that’s what so many people think. But then when somebody really does come to Christ and they do know who Jesus is, because now the Holy Spirit is dwelling in you there’s that change that makes others feel very uncomfortable, that are not born again.

Pastor Steve: 22:23

So now you know, I’m graduating high school at 17.

B.R.Maul: 22:27

So you were 17 or 16 when you were born again 16.

Pastor Steve: 22:30

That was probably my early senior year when I got saved and then I turned 17. Now I’m graduating and I get recruited to play basketball for a Christian college. So now I’m going down the road and I’m playing basketball and on that team were three particular four, four particularly godly young men, two of which strong, chasing after the Lord, and that’s where I would sit most days after practice. We’d converse and talk, figure out what’s going on and deal with some of the life issues at 17 to 21 years old. At this point in time, while you’re going to church and you’re still getting fed. But it was in the different walks of our life the Lord uses different people to try to build up who you are and answer some of those questions and just help you deal with the struggles of life.

Pastor Steve: 23:14

Now I’ve got a guy I sleep over at his place, his dorm room, probably 50% of the time in college. I’ve got another guy who’s constantly just checking in and talking to me about the Lord. And then there’s another guy who’s the severe answer guy. You got a real big problem. You go knock on his door and he sits down with you. He’s just quieter in nature but just firm in his faith and really loved you. Another guy was more of the fun guy, so that you can go out and do all the stuff together, the Lord really surrounded you with some really solid brotherhood there.

Pastor Steve: 23:52

Yep, that is great Yep. And you don’t appreciate it at the time, although you enjoy it. Looking back, you think your life could have been extremely different if he didn’t do this. And how good is the Lord by putting all these different elements in? And I’m at Bible college and I’m still watching guys walk away from the Lord and challenge his own word and start to get involved in the party scene. And people think that doesn’t happen at Christian colleges and people are still people in their sinful nature and it happens all over the place. We’re going through that. I’m growing a little bit. I’m still dealing with my own independent, you know, a little bit rebellious phase that’s. It flashes here and there, but now I’m growing some influence up and down the East coast for basketball.

B.R.Maul: 24:30

How many years did you do the basketball?

Pastor Steve: 24:32

So I was there for two and then I ended up going back for another year a few years down the road. But there is where I met my future wife. So we ended up dating at the end of our freshman year, conversed for quite a while, so now there’s a new possibility that lies ahead at 18 years old. And then here we are. I get my associate’s degree because I have a big conviction of heart now. So my wrestling of who I am in the Lord. I’ve come to understand that the only reason I’m at Bible college is not to be trained to do something for the Lord, but only to play basketball. The schooling aspect just was not what was drawing me. The relationship with the Lord was growing, but I just didn’t care a lot about the classes at the time I get my associate’s degree, graduated associates and sets.

Pastor Steve: 25:14

I’m just going to go find a job for now. I can’t keep playing basketball if that’s all I’m here for, that’s not right to go to the Christian college. There’s got to be something more to go with this. These are again my convictions that are laying down. We get married when we’re 20, start our new life. First kid comes along a year and a half later. I think we’re 21 and a half. Now my, my real rebellious phase kicks in. I don’t want to listen to what mom, dad have to say. They were very good about offering advice, never pushy, but trying to instruct. Now I’ve got my own thing going now that you’re a dad, that yeah, now I’m married, I’m on my own.

Pastor Steve: 25:50

You know, I’ve got a kid. We got a little boy at the time. I just don’t want to listen to what people have to say. The Lord’s pushing me in a direction. I don’t think I knew what it was at the time, but I know. I just didn’t want to have any of that responsibility that goes with it. So I’m going to rebel.

B.R.Maul: 26:05

So what directions do you think, looking back now, that the Lord was pushing you?

Pastor Steve: 26:16

Was it where you’re at now as a pastor, or do you think was it something else? What was? I honestly still don’t know, other than a deeper relationship with him. Okay, so as far as direction, vocation wise, I had no clue. Okay, but did I want to put the investment in, in the study and living more of a holy life? That was the battle. I knew it was standard, I knew that’s where I should go, but my love of self was growing much more than it should be and I like the autonomy that, of course, the modern world absolutely loves and feeds. Right now, the more you can govern yourself, the better off you think you are, even though in the middle of it all, things are getting worse, right. So now my wife’s taking a little bit of the brunt. We’re still trying to figure out how to be husband and wife at an early age and make those two personalities. It was a struggle for a little while. Although things were good, it was still a struggle.

B.R.Maul: 27:05

Had you been baptized at this point or not?

Pastor Steve: 27:07

Yeah, I got baptized shortly after when I was 16. I forgot about that. That was the fun part. That’s why I always remember this. I got baptized probably early winter, late fall. So just a little bit after Salvation A tornado came sweeping through our town, which never happens because we’re in the mountains and tornadoes don’t usually hit the mountains. Well, it did, so I get baptized. We hear the tornado warning. We just get out of the church. Mom and dad and I Everybody else gets stuck in the church has to run into the basement. We run back to the house real quick and stuck in that basement, tornado passes right over the house, hit the mountainside right behind us, jumped over the house, landed a quarter mile on the other side of us, sealed by the Lord, I guess, saved by the Lord.

B.R.Maul: 27:50

Yeah, no damage done to the church either no damage done to the church, either no damage done to the church.

Pastor Steve: 27:55

Church and home are okay, yeah, all right. Just fun, remarkable things, right, but yeah, that was the normal part of the church Shortly after salvation. Let’s talk about getting baptized. Yes, and I was one of several that day, good day, baptized by immersion. We had to borrow the church next door because they had a baptistry.

B.R.Maul: 28:11

Okay, so you were baptized then shortly after being born again, yep, okay.

Pastor Steve: 28:16

So just following the commandments, doing the obedient thing, getting mom and dad apart process. So now I’m saved at 16. I’m baptized. The Lord has blessed me with a wonderful wife, still to this day, 22 years. But now we’re just struggling. I don’t want to do anything that I’m supposed to do and it’s getting real destructive. So I know what the Lord wants as far as obedience, because that’s what his word says.

B.R.Maul: 28:39

In this time of, say, rebellion. I think that was the word you used. Were you staying in God’s word? No, Okay, Were you going to church? Still going to church. So going to church. But what? Your personal walk with the.

Pastor Steve: 28:53

Lord. Then the devotional life was growing to be non-existent. Over the next four years, between 21 to 25, dad and I are at odds. We’re not agreeing on anything. Most of it’s my fault, I just didn’t want to hear anything. Anybody had to say Any good reason None, really whatsoever. But I just hit that phase of I’m in church, I’m listening, the conviction is there. Do I want hit that phase of I’m in church, I’m listening, the conviction is there. Do I want to respond to the conviction? Pride and the sin I’m allowing that to lead instead of the goodness of the Lord and the truth of the word.

B.R.Maul: 29:25

It’s a miserable place to be, isn’t it? It is, it is, and I know what’s right.

Pastor Steve: 29:29

That’s the thing. I know what’s right and what I should do. I just don’t want to do it. So I’m in that hole phase and it’s hurting my wife. And now we’ve got two kids, two young boys, and we’ve gone through at least five miscarriages between the two kids at this point in time. So we’ve called it quits For your health. We’re not even going to try anymore. We’ll be very happy with the one blessing that we have. And then, lo and behold, a month later, here’s a child, you know so. Then she had to go on bed rest. But in the middle of this, you know, I lost a job here due to the company downsizing, being laid off. She couldn’t work. Now we’ve got bills, no finances coming in.

Pastor Steve: 30:06

I’m still being rebellious and foolish. I’m not tithing accurately, which I know I’m supposed to be doing, so I’m giving God the absolute last of the last, if at all. You know it just brings us to the point where I’m putting on a show. It’s not any good. I know what the Lord wants. I know exactly what he did to save me and I’m pretty much making a mockery out of it by just how I choose to live, Not with the verbiage or any of the verbal communication I have with individuals. That was more of a show. People knew I was struggling. The guys who were still there from the very beginning at 16 were still trying to help at that spot. What I let them, it’s always the thing You’re a Christian friend.

Pastor Steve: 30:42

Yeah, the older gentleman in the church who came along to offer all their wisdom and insight Guys from their 40s, 50s, all the way up until their 80s. There was a wonderful gentleman that were in that church that tried to invest, but I kept him in an arm’s length for a while. So in the middle of this, the big struggle, here’s where I knew things got real bad. In my rebellion, I allowed pornography to enter into my life in that stretch, because it’s the natural progression of not listening to the conviction of the heart. No intake of the word now or limited of the heart. No intake of the word now or limited I should say intake of the word. Isolation from individuals. And even though I’ve got a beautiful wife and a great relationship, let’s just see what else the world has to offer. So now that’s become a struggle.

Pastor Steve: 31:29

So I reached a spot where I was just talking with a friend. The conviction is so great I couldn’t do it anymore, so I went home. We used to hang out in video games. He was one of my college basketball buddies. Okay, we still moved out and became a youth pastor for our church, so that was pretty good. So we were talking late one night. I went back home, couldn’t do it anymore. Well, my wife had to ask for forgiveness, the things that were going on, and that was a breaking point. I believe it was that night where true submission to the Lordship of Christ was finally just handed over the reins. And it’s not like I don’t try to take it back every once in a while for some foolish things, but not to that degree. But that was a great turning point, and not only in my life but in our marriage, of what is good and what is right, and also in my relationship between my dad and I. So how?

B.R.Maul: 32:18

old were you then? I was 25. Okay, so you’re 25 years old.

Pastor Steve: 32:22

Yeah, okay. Now I’m working for this company where I’m teaching people how to do their job. This is the humor of the Lord and how the story works. I didn’t fully appreciate at the time. It still makes me laugh today. So I’m training people how to do their job at this place and one of the guys the same gentleman who took me under his wing in church, Cornell the guy who went to Cornell finds out that I can actually teach. So he starts questioning me about it. And then one day he comes to me and says hey, do you want to come teach Bible study with me with? And I can’t say no to this guy because I respect him greatly, even though every bit of me didn’t want to do it, for no good reason other than I just don’t want to do so. I say yes, of course, because I guess, battling that flash.

B.R.Maul: 33:07

I don’t know, you know how much do we deal with that on a daily basis. I don’t feel like I don’t want to that.

Pastor Steve: 33:13

That’s it so. I take the next year and I’m working with him and another guy and I take my few lessons and I break stuff down and the Lord has gifted me with an analytical mind. That plays in with how you break down the word. I didn’t know it at the time, but it certainly did.

B.R.Maul: 33:28

The Lord knows what he’s doing when he’s prepping his children.

Pastor Steve: 33:31

That’s what I’m saying. So the great thing about this is, after the first two times that I do this, this gentleman, this elder named Brad, looks at me and he says why don’t you?

Pastor Steve: 33:41

do this on your own, you don’t need me to do anything. So I said no, that’s probably not true. I think you should. Now I’m teaching Bible study every once in a while with him, but he’s really not doing anything. He’s just we’re talking about stuff and he’s going through. And, as I started teaching, now I’m voted on to be the deacon. So I do that for six years give or take. But in the meantime now I’m not only teaching stuff. Now I’m overseeing a widow’s program in the church, taking care of a lot of the yard things, maintaining the building.

Pastor Steve: 34:13

We’re spending time praying with some of the older folks and just sitting down and having conversations and doing the normal growing as a young father. The Lord, just one stone after another, stone of okay, now that you’re doing this, let’s add a little bit of this and then add a little bit of that. Keep building on it, right? That’s where I’m actually paying attention. The devotional time is there, the investment is there, the love for the Lord is there. It all goes back to being submissive. Will I actually just stop fighting and follow the Lord? Things that I knew I should have done back when I was 16, maybe not to the extent of 25 into 30, but that’s the stretch right Now I’m going into, let’s see, I’m close to 32. Now I’m going into, let’s see I’m close to 32, and our founding pastor passes away from unexpected heart attack, 52, 53 years old, I think. Somewhere in that stretch he had some heart problems. He knew he wasn’t long for this world, but he devoted his entire life, 33 years of ministry in this town. What a wonderful man. Not perfect by any means, but none of us are Absolutely a great example for how you serve people. It doesn’t get much better. But in this time I’ve got a different job. I’m working for a home for troubled youth. I’m working third shift because that’s what was available. I don’t know why I’m doing this, but I start working there and I’m coaching JV basketball for a local high school at the same time. Here’s what happens in the preparation for this. I know the Lord is starting to give me the inkling. I want you to do something more.

Pastor Steve: 35:41

So the first year I’m there at the children’s home just getting figuring stuff out, working the 11 to nine shift, out of the Lord’s humor. What starts happening is the same basketball player lives in our town and worked over there too. So we would carpool. We would talk about the things of the Lord, talk about the things of the day. We had a nice 40-minute drive, 45-minute drive to decompress afterwards. So that was all right. But people started to come over from other dorms in the middle of the night and we would talk about the Lord. So for the next almost five years we would have little Bible studies and talk about people’s lives and witness and testify the Lord’s goodness to anybody and everybody who would come by.

Pastor Steve: 36:20

My coworker at the time came to know the Lord. A piece of what brought her to her salvation is walking great with the Lord still to this day. Several others. So how do you actually make this practical? While I’m wrestling kids and trying to talk with kids, I’m having more of an impact with adults than I am with my actual job, and he’s prepping me for later. So I know this. I know the Lord is wanting me to do something and I’m talking with my friend about this too, that I know the Lord wants me to do something. I have no idea what it is. Now our founding pastor passes away, goes home to be with Jesus. No greater reward. You know that’s what we’re all looking for. And what does he say in those moments, do your turn Go. And I went home to my wife and I said I think I’m supposed to be a pastor and she never wanted to marry a pastor. I remind her that she didn’t. I became one later, that’s right, that’s right, that’s not the same thing.

Pastor Steve: 37:19

So all she did was just lower her head and say okay. And that was my whole walk, leading all the way up into there from piece by piece by piece, from first pastor when I was a little kid, to another godly man who took the time out to spend time with my parents answering questions and investing, to a handful of other men in the church who took the willingness to do it, to college basketball guys, my teammates who were older than I was church who took the willingness to do it to college basketball guys, my teammates who were older than I was but took the time with a younger guy to talk about the goodness of the lord, make sure things were all right, back to the church guys and leading it all the way through with it with a wonderful godly wife. You know, from the beginning until today it was all the hand of the lord of. I didn’t do anything in that other than fight the Lord for a long time. It was just the grace of God who took me every step of the way. That is awesome.

B.R.Maul: 38:02

What a story. And you mentioned that there was that period where you were rebelling and that they were trying to speak into your life. I would challenge that and say they did speak. It may not have had that effect right away, but we can learn from that experience of yours as Christians and say we do need to continue to speak into those who are struggling when a brother or sister they’re saying they love the Lord.

B.R.Maul: 38:23

Sometimes we’re able to continue to speak into those who are struggling when a brother or sister they’re saying they love the Lord. Sometimes we’re able to see that in their life. Sometimes we just meet somebody we don’t know for sure. But to keep speaking into that and not just do what so many people in communities and, unfortunately, many churches do is just, that’s okay, you’ll eventually get over it. Or we don’t want to offend them, we don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. Ultimately, what that is is we don’t want to be judged, we don’t want to be disliked, but for these men to be able to still just speak into your life, knowing that you probably didn’t like it at times and you might not have liked them for it at that time, but that’s what the Lord continued to use of. I’m not going to let you get off this easy and continue to ruin your life.

Pastor Steve: 39:10

Those first 10 years even though a couple of those guys we still talk about some things, we live in different parts of the country now. But those first 10 years from 15 to 16, all the way until 25, and those hard who am I? Moments until that final act of submission and brokenness, that one night. It was a hard thing for them, although they did it joyfully. But I have no doubt they went home stressed and heartbroken on behalf of me for being foolish. And when will they listen? When will I listen? But they kept doing it and they kept doing it.

Pastor Steve: 39:45

And looking back now, you know dad was always the central figure, but it would be the random piece of advice that was either restated by these guys that dad already spoke, or a slightly different one, coming from a different perspective, that I needed to hear at that moment. For that reason, yeah, it’s a great teaching moment of how we don’t know the sanctification process in somebody’s life Right, and how long it takes to invest sometimes in order for us to finally say I get it, lord, I get it, I get it, I’m stopping the fight.

B.R.Maul: 40:17

I’m just going to go wherever you want me to go.

Pastor Steve: 40:19

And without that, without the Lord’s goodness working in their life, and without them, you know, especially in mine, but without them saying yes to the Lord’s work, just to invest in a kid, a foolish kid, most of the time, life could be very different and much more tragic. Without all of those pieces working together, there’s only one God who could put all those pieces together, working at the same time. Amen Right.

B.R.Maul: 40:41

I look back and I see then in your story how the Lord really did surround you, even at a younger age, with those who really loved him and primarily males in your life, absolutely. And the reason I share that because with me people can listen to my story as the first podcast For me. You know my dad. He Vietnam veteran, so he had PTSD and drinking problems. Growing up with that was pretty tough. My mom has always been a godly woman. With my father he wanted nothing to do with the Lord for the longest time and it wasn’t until about three, maybe four years ago that he was born again. So I share that because sometimes the Lord, like yourself, he puts people around you to kind of protect you, to move you to a certain spot. But I look back at my story and although I can look back and there were people that he was trying to put in my life, but I rejected that. I was one that he finally, because I was about 30 years old when you said it. Well, you said give the reins over to him Absolutely. And that was my time of. That’s it. I am done. I can’t drive this ship, I can’t do anything right. So either you take over or just take me home. And he put it in my heart strong Open my book and walk with me. Quit trying to seek who I am through other people. It just comes directly to me, and so I’ve been doing it ever since. People and just comes directly to me, and so I’ve been doing it ever since.

B.R.Maul: 42:09

But in that process he threw me in the direction of where people were at and said go there. And it was just interesting, because then in time, yes, once I gave up trying to control it and thinking I was doing the right thing because I was hanging with the wrong people then he was able to, when I was finally willing. He then started placing people in my life, small groups and things like that, men who have been walking with the Lord for a long time, and so they were much stronger in their faith and they could answer questions. They understood passages that I often would just read over because I still didn’t quite get them, and they taught me how to read the Bible. For me I had to really go out there and seek, but I think for me, because of my personality, he made me do that and other people.

B.R.Maul: 42:52

It’s wonderful to hear that he just sends to them, these helpers. You know that just won’t give up. And then someone like myself he’s like. You know what I’m going to make you work a little bit because I know your personality. So here’s what you’re going to do You’re going to take these steps and go to this or go to that and you’re going to get out of your comfort zone Absolutely. And it was very uncomfortable when I started reading his word and started to be around these people who were so secure in who they were as a Christian, and I’m just thinking I didn’t think that’s what you know. I thought you’re supposed to be like, oh, so awkward as a Christian.

Pastor Steve: 43:25

Oh yeah, no joy, no happiness.

B.R.Maul: 43:27

Exactly, you just got to follow the rules. Oh right, no fun here. Oh yeah, you know.

Pastor Steve: 43:31

Well, I will tell you my final little piece of wisdom. I guess when I finally got to the spot where I understood what Proverbs meant, that to fear the Lord is the beginning of all knowledge, understanding all wisdom, when I mentally and eternally understood that spot in a greater fashion, then I realized I was not very smart, that I needed to just listen and then follow instead of try to figure stuff out. And now it taught me how to tithe of my time to give the Lord the first fruits financially, even with the children, and then just receive the blessing of simple obedience because of the same motivation that Jesus had. I just want to please the Father, not to get stuff. I just want to please the Father, and out of the Lord’s goodness everything else goes. What a wonderful lesson that is to learn and be reminded of every now and then. Yeah, right.

B.R.Maul: 44:25

Amen to that. And I would challenge anybody who’s listening to this go to Proverbs 1 and 2, if you read the beginnings, there’s a lot of verbs in there. We actually need to seek, we need to bend our ear, we need to be intentional when we are learning from the Lord, reading His Word. That’s a powerful verbiage in there in those Proverbs. Basically, you seek, you’ll get it, not difficult. But we got to put our pride to the side. We got to put away what we feel like doing, because obviously watching a movie stuffing popcorn in my face is much more fun at that time. But really things have changed ever since then and now I’m just so eager to get into that word.

Pastor Steve: 45:03

So I wonder why Jesus reiterates that yes, amen, yes Amen.

B.R.Maul: 45:07

Amen. Well, brother, I really appreciate you sharing with us.

Pastor Steve: 45:11

Oh it’s been a pleasure. Thanks for having me.

B.R.Maul: 45:13

I like to remind listeners to stay in God’s word each and every day. That is how he speaks to us. Pray to him each and every day. I encourage everyone to meet with brothers and sisters on a weekly basis that can come together and meet, and if you are blessed to have a Bible teaching and preaching church like my pastor friend here, Steve get to it, worship and become a part of that.

Until next time,

God bless.

Songs from Storyblock

“Heroes Inspire Hope” and “Mountainscape” by Humans Win

Airy and Pensive Moody Synths for a Mellow Atmosphere. “Ripples In the Air” by Gerardo Garcia Jr.

“In My Heart” by Sounds Like Sander