Rev. Phil is a passionate follower of Jesus.
That was not always the case. Growing up, he went to church early and often — his dad was a Christian Education pastor. He remembers learning that he was to love God and love other people. Given a choice in high school, he happily dropped out of church. He could do those two things on his own — love God and other people — and get to sleep in on Sundays. Yes!
At the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign he met some people who talked about religion in a new way to him — about having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It was not just a bunch of do’s and don’ts. They showed him where the Bible said that Jesus, God’s son, came to earth to die for him so that he could know God personally.
This was different. He talked about it and argued with them (he was a political science major). “So you mean to say,” he asked a friend, “that if I don’t believe just like you do I will not get to go to heaven?” “Yes,” they said, “that’s what the Bible clearly teaches.” Without thinking, he replied, “That’s a hell of a choice.” They both laughed.
At the end of his freshman year at the University of Illinois, he finally came to the understanding that he could — and wanted — to know Jesus personally. So, he asked God to forgive him and make Jesus the boss of his life. No lightning bolts came. Nothing. Until a few days later when he went to a church service with some friends. The Bible was alive! It all made sense. It was relevant to his life. He was now a child of the living God. Not because of his good works — God’s standard is perfection, he is nowhere near it — but by receiving the free gift of God in Jesus.
Turns out he didn’t get a religion, he got a relationship with the living God. It’s way better.
So, he believes that the Bible is completely true
(Get the easiest-to-read Bible, the New Living Translation.) He believes that a person can only be made right with God by trusting in His one and only son, Jesus, who died for our sins (Jesus did not have any) and rose again (what we call Easter). Jesus is alive at this very moment.
Now, Rev. Phil does things hoping to please God out of gratitude for the forgiveness he has given him by his faith in Jesus.
It is a life of freedom and purpose.
Pamela, who was later to become his wife, studied the book of John (the fourth book of the New Testament) at a different dorm her freshman year at the University of Illinois. Within months of him, she too came to put her faith in Jesus.
Getting married to Pamela is the second best decision he has ever made in his life. Trusting in Jesus is number one.
By the way, your ceremony can be as religious or not as you two want it to be. Most couples he marries have some kind of religious upbringing but are not so practicing. (If they were, they would get married in a church or other house of worship.) That’s OK.
He will not force his “religion” (actually, his relationship with Jesus) on your ceremony.