What a ride! Turning 50, I felt as if I was starting on my second lifetime.
In my high school yearbook, my advice under my picture with me wearing braces was, “Life is what you make it.”
So true! So grateful!
Though I was an atheist at the time, I was open enough to ask if God were real. I am eternally thankful He introduced Himself to me! For nearly 50 years, the Lord Jesus Christ has been the Lover of my soul, He filled me with His most precious Holy Spirit, and empowered me to walk with my gracious Heavenly Father.
In my life, I have been privileged to pastor four churches (having founded two), as well as serve as associate pastor at a large church, having started out as a youth pastor. I have owned several businesses. I taught for 18 years in public schools. I have raised my great children and Shirley and I now have ten wonderful grandkids!
I experience great joy when recalling the multiple trips I’ve made across much of the US holding ‘Great Commission Seminars’ where I preached ‘Faith for Souls.’ The congregations and pastors and I would go together into their neighborhoods, sharing the Gospel, seeing many come to Christ. Many believers, for the very first time, led precious souls to Christ.
I’ve also made 70 mission trips, including Europe, South and Central America, Africa, the Caribbean, Mexico, China, Nepal, and India. I have witnessed firsthand how “God shows Himself to be God” in and through the lives of believers — frequently with neither of us knowing the other’s language!
To provide more insight as to who I am, I would like to share a poem I was required to write for a class in my master’s degree program.
I Am From
I am from a kind man and a good woman.
From love, belief, devotion.
All else fails, but not love.
I feel its pulse yet.
I am from a tall man of action
And a red-headed woman of reflection.
She is an artist like me.
He is a champion for others.
I have hope.
I am from laughter and good memories
Where who I am is accepted
Where being artistic
Is different but good.
I am from Italy, a hospital where no one spoke English.
From my father’s laughter as he
translated from the nurse to my mom,
“Push, lady, push!”
I am from checkered table clothes and red wine.
A gondola ride, the boat almost tipping
All wanting to see the ‘Piccolo bambino,’
Fat American baby boy.
I am from countless hours on planes, buses, taxis & cars,
From foreign streets, with brothers hearts beautiful.
Comradeship. Love. Devotion.
Quest for God.
I am from miracles.
A birth not expected. A hand, now mine
upon eyes that are blind.
Now “it is very bright, it is very bright!”
Husband contented. My mind is blown!
Inside I’m screaming,
“Can this life be mine?”
I am from faraway places.
The streets of Bombay reek with decay.
Earnest faces eager eyes asking,
“How do you like our city?”
My heart speaks truth what I could,
“The people are wonderful.”
I am from wonders.
Deaf who can hear.
Beautiful child beaming,
Mom’s eyes glisten gratitude you can feel,
“Who am I? I am just flesh!”
I am spirit, soul & flesh yes,
but someone more,
Oh how wonderful the human,
Color, race, age is no more.
Beautiful, beautiful persons.
Each in their way all is so precious.
How can they see? There is more hope.
There is a better way.
Rev. William Burgess
When I came into this world, my father was stationed in Italy by the US Army. I was born off-base in an Italian hospital. Within the year, we returned stateside to the San Francisco Bay Area. During my high school years, I played water polo, swam, and was active with the Boy Scouts.
During that time, my family took in exchange students: one year a Swedish student, the next a Yugoslav. Both these young men came from socialist countries. Both were atheists. Combined with our family’s minimal attendance in arid, lifeless, liturgical churches, I agreed with my exchange student brothers and concluded there was no God.
While still in high school, a friend asked if representatives from their church could visit my family and my father agreed. My dad enjoyed the visits. On the other hand, my mother feared these religious folks, hiding in the kitchen whenever they were present. Me? I was the quiet ‘artist guy’ who simply sat and listened. Then standing at our front door when leaving from their final visit, one man gently confronted me face to face, “Bill, I want to ask you if you would ask God if He is real?”
Nervous but intrigued, I agreed. Kneeling on my bedroom floor late one evening and knowing absolutely nothing about how to approach ‘talking to God,’ I read aloud from the page, ‘Our Father, Who art in heaven…’ By that prayer’s end, God’s presence entered my room. I was forever changed (not born-from-above yet, but forever changed nonetheless).
After I arrived at college, a teammate led me to Christ. Not long after that, God brought a strong Christ-follower across my path who guided me through a Navigators Bible study for new believers. Later that same year, while studying the Book of Acts, I was filled with the Holy Spirit and sang in a new prayer language for the first time.
It was an excellent initial foundation for a new believer.
I hold a Bachelor of Arts in Art Education from San Jose State University; a Masters in Educational Leadership (Administration) from the University of Cincinnati; a Diploma from Rhema Bible Training Center (Pastoral) in Broken Arrow, OK. Since 1986 I have been ordained through RMAI (Rhema Ministerial Association).
Completing college, I moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma to attend Rhema Bible Training Center, an experience that significantly impacted my life! Through my studies, I became grounded in crucial truths such as:
- Who we are in Christ
- Faith & the power of speaking God’s Word
- Divine Healing
- Ministry Gifts
- The Gifts of the Spirit
- Hearing the Voice of God
- And more!
While there, I had the opportunity to sit under incredible men of God such as Kenneth E. Hagin, Lester Sumrall, Kenneth Copeland, T. L. Osborn, Charles Capps, Norvel Hayes, Billy Joe Daugherty, and many others.
What a marvelous foundation! However, apart from Bible school, God gave me a personal revelation of ‘Faith for Souls’ through another student (I will write much more on this topic in articles here at Miscellaneous Ramblings). I will simply summarize all that here with this: God’s ability to flow through us to reach another person for Christ can be seamless, effortless, and powerfully effective. Jesus promised:
Then Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”Mark 1:17
As mentioned earlier, I pastored for many years and have traveled as an evangelist, but I have also been a high school art teacher, fine artist, business owner, parent, and happy grandparent. God has done much in my life, helping me through my missteps, losses, and low times. He has been my amazing Comforter and Friend.
My Personal Vision
My greatest desire is to see believers empowered to “do the works of Jesus.”
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.John 14:12-14
The secret to living that out is in Him. There is much I want to cover, but that is why I am now writing here. God wants to strip fear (as well as the shame of procrastination and disobedience) from our lives. He took a scared ‘quiet artist guy’ in college, confronted my apathy and fear, created a hunger to reach the lost, and ultimately showed me just how easy it is to be a witness flowing with His spirit. He came that we might be free — free to be a witness so God can bring his lost children home.
This is brutally simple: Look at Jesus!
The Son is the dazzling radiance of God’s splendor, the exact expression of God’s true nature — his mirror image!Hebrews 1:3a TPT
For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; Colossians 2:9
…He who has seen Me has seen the Father John 14:9
He is the ‘Word made flesh and dwelt (dwells) among us’ (John 1:14). And most of all, Jesus never changes (Hebrews 13:8).
He is all we need.
I can summarize God’s intent and design for every one of us in a single word: healthy!
Jesus was ‘perfectly healthy’ in spirit, soul, and body. He walked ‘without a limp.’ He was purely birthed from the Father by the work of the Holy Spirit in human form.
- He had no ’emotional baggage.’
- He did not have ‘issues.’
- He was not manipulative
- He was never passive-aggressive.
- He had no ulterior motives or hidden agendas.
- He had no chip on His shoulder or axes to grind.
He loved life, He loved His Heavenly Father, He loved people. He wants all of us to be well — spirit, soul, and body — through our being perfectly well with God.
He came so we would be free!
My favorite phrase in all of scripture is this one:
He has made us accepted in the beloved. Ephesians 1:6
That’s the Gospel!
Jesus came so we may have life and to have it more abundantly (John 10:10). We must receive the New Birth (John 3:3-7) to become a ‘new creation’ so He can make ‘all things new.’ (2 Corinthians 5:17). God is not mad at us. He poured all of His wrath, all of His judgment upon Jesus:
For God made the only One (Jesus) Who did not know sin to become sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God through our union with Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21 TPT
The Gospel is truly amazing if we rightly discern it.
I will be sharing much about personal soul-winning. Nowhere in what the Master Soul Winner has taught me on this topic will you ever hear your performance is required to please God.
Quite the contrary! His completed performance is what enables us to bear fruit.
Salvation is the eternal gift. From this gift, we do any Christian act because we are forgiven.
Flowing out of that gift, we obey Him, as opposed to our trying to earn His favor through our useless acts of dead religion. Walking in grace is integral to every area of our lives and is foundational to every doctrine of Scripture.
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.John 10:10
Jesus came for a specific purpose — that we might have life! And specifically the life of God which was infused into us when we experienced the New Birth. It is the thief who comes to destroy our lives.
I believe Jesus!
John tells us, “You…have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (I John 4:4).
Let me briefly tell you a testimony. A friend in the men’s group at my church requested prayer. His best friend’s daughter had experienced a severe heart attack. Her husband, a former Marine, had brought her back to life, but by the time the EMTs arrived, she no longer had any brain activity. The doctors told her husband after three days he had to let her go because there was no hope of improvement and they should take her off life support. A huge amount of prayer was taking place not only among the men in our group, but also all across the US.
As the doctors unhooked his wife from life support, her eyes suddenly opened. They immediately assumed this was merely an autonomic response with no conscious thought processes behind it. But as time passed, she began watching the other people in the room. Then she began to speak. Within a week she was home, perfectly normal except she had no memory of the event. Glory to God!
Even had she not revived, there was never a downside; she would have been together with Jesus in heaven that very instant!
We, as children of the Most High God, always win — but only when our complete dependence is in Him.
Christ is returning for His victorious church!
Let’s get on with it!