MikeHessBy Mike Hess

Just for fun, try to remember the first time you stepped foot in a Bible-believing church. If you grew up attending church, this will be impossible. But I remember it clearly. Dec. 29, 1991, was a normal blistering cold day in a southwest suburb of Chicago. After being invited to church for several weeks by a good friend, I finally decided I would give it a try. That Sunday morning I walked into an independent, fundamental, King James only, old-fashioned, “Beulah Land”–singing Baptist church. I walked out a redeemed, forgiven, accepted, and justified follower of Jesus Christ who was immediately charging Hell with a squirt gun.

That Sunday morning a persistent and fiery itinerant evangelist could see me a mile away in my pink T-shirt and stone-washed blue jeans. Needless to say, I stuck out like a sore thumb. At the risk of being misunderstood, I do want to make something crystal clear: I will forever be grateful for the investment that little church made in me as a very young man. The sweet people there loved and accepted me as a brand new believer. The point of this article is not to attack their motives. Rather, it’s more of a record of my own metamorphosis of understanding what God’s Word teaches about growing in grace both internally and externally.