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It had been years since I sat in church for a Sunday service. But hearing the words roll off the lips of The Rev. Don Bremer at the United Methodist Church of New Smyrna Beach about the apostle Paul struck a chord deep in my soul as my mind raced in re-tracing the steps of my life at 46.
Bremer was emphatic that the world had never had a teacher like Paul.
"He was convinced of two facts," Bremer said of the apostle. "First he was lost and now he was saved. In the end, it would cost him everything. In the end, all he had was faith. In the end, faith was all he needed."
How prophetic. The only certainty in life is that we are going to die. But there is everlasting life for those who truly believe in faith. It's more than a belief, however. It must be practiced.
And no where can the teaching to that practice be found than in the Holy Bible.
The point of Bremer's service was not to unveil 120 new crisp blue-bound Holy Bibles, but to reinforce or renew the word in them. I stress "word" over words because the message is singular. Believe and follow what is outlined in the Book that has stood the test of time -- the Holy Bible.
No one has the perfect life. I certainly don't. I have made mistakes and have many regrets. I also have many good fortunes and blessings along my journey.
Memories of my church roots go back to the time when I was 5 years old.
I was a solo singing act in a small stone Baptist Church near a cemetery where my mother was later buried.
She would dress me in a short-sleeve shirt, short pants and brown shoes. I sang the same song or two for weeks at a time to the tune of the organist, a lady who looked like Aunt Bea on the Andy Griffith Show.
My father would give me new songs from the hym book and sometimes I would forget the lyrics (the hymnal was too heavy to hold). So i would just ad lib, but the organist would play on like nothing was wrong.
I remember when I was older, we visited a church where the pastor sang a song that made my mother cry. That, in turn made others cry, too.
I don't remember the name of the song, but the refrain was something like this: "He could have called 10,000 angels, but he died for you and me..."
My mother was an angel and I miss her very much. So does my father and my six brothers and sisters. We were a close family and church was at the center of our lives. Now midway through my life, I have had my share of ups and downs, but I still turn to the Holy Bible my parents gave me on May 11, 1972.
Inside the cover, I have a photo of my mother in her last days in a hospital bed with me on one side and my father and son on the other. She passed on to a much better life on Aug. 27, 2003, on my father's birthday, her physical suffering over. She was and is at peace with The Lord.