This study is dedicated to all of the beautiful memories of my wonderful wife, Mary. My soul's eternal salvation is the result of her dedicated effort to teach me the initial acts that brought me to accept Jesus Christ as my Savior, and to become a dedicated follower of His Christian doctrine.
I was nineteen years of age, in the United States Air Force, and stationed in Denver, Colorado. Mary was a seventeen year old, recent high school graduate. No doubt, we were just the opposite of each other. I always considered myself to be Mary's personal Christian conversion project. I was from the wrong side of the tracks, cared very little for religious matters, and tried to live by the erring motto, "eat, drink, and be merry." The good thing about our friendship was that when I went into military service, I realized that I was madly in love with her. In a letter I asked her if she would consider marrying me. She said she would think about it. My answer was received about 2 weeks later. Her gift to me was a two-volume commentary on the New Testament, with her note that said, "You know what you need to do." Yes, I knew. She was a member of the church of Christ, located in Palmyra, Indiana. Likewise, her parents and other family members were dedicated Christians. Yes, I knew exactly what she wanted me to do.
Her gift to me was the New Testament commentaries written by B. W. Johnson, titled The People's New Testament, with Explanatory Notes. That was the beginning of my studies of God's Word. Within a short period of time (about a month), I had studied these commentaries through the book of Acts of the Apostles. There I learned about formation of Christ's church on the Day of Pentecost, when the apostles of Christ preached the first sermon of eternal salvation through Jesus Christ. I read about the first 3,000 converts to Christianity, and the thousands that followed their example, becoming Christians shortly thereafter. During that same time, I found the Cherry Street church of Christ, only a short bus ride from Lowry Air Force Base, and began to attend each Sunday.
As my studies continued, I read about each recorded conversion to Christianity found in the New Testament book of Acts, and learned what was necessary to become, and remain, a child of God, a follower of Christ, and a member of His church. Now I knew exactly what Mary wanted me to do. The following Sunday, with my knees shaking terribly, I answered God's invitation, submitted to baptism for the remission of my sins, and became a brand new-born Christian. From that day forward, my life completely changed. I found joy, happiness, and peace of mind, and, on July 28, 1956, I married Mary Kathryn Coleman, truly the most wonderful wife in the world.
I still have the two New Testament commentaries, as well as the first Bible and a smaller New Testament, also given to me by Mary, which I have proudly worn out as I have continued to study God's Word unto this day. Soon after discharge from the Air Force, Mary and I began our family life together, one dedicated to raising two sons and a daughter, and leading a life committed to serving our Heavenly Father and the cause of Christ. Sure there were some "speed bumps" in life that we had to cope with, but we never faced any difficulty that could not be overcome through forgiveness, compromise, or prayerful love and devotion for each other.
Although I have read completely through the entire Bible many, many times, and have continued to study its truths, I have always been fascinated by the fact that I learned something new with each study. For the last 25 years I have written 1,001 of my own commentary lessons on the New Testament, from each of its 27 books, and either citing or referring to every verse contained in its pages. I have also written 100 lessons from Old Testament scriptures containing New Testament lessons. The results of this wonderful labor of love are found in this gift I want to share with you.
Studying God's Word is not only beneficial to you and your family, but it will become addictive --- you can't get enough of its wisdom and knowledge. In your studies, you will soon be "hooked" on it, and in its pages, you will find God's complete plan of eternal salvation. In it, and through obedience to its doctrine, you will find a happiness that you have never known.
Mary took me - a little rebellious, sacrilegious, ball of dirty clay and molded me into the happiest, most content, man in the world. I rejoice in the day I received the New Testament commentaries that Mary sent me. I will never forget that wonderful day I became a Christian - the day I was baptized into the body of Christ at the Cherry Street church of Christ. Dear to my heart is the wonder, knowledge, and wisdom I found in studying God's Holy Word. Every day I spent preparing these lessons brought happiness to my life and comfort to my soul. Those days I will always hold dear to my heart, but today, the day I give you this gift - this labor of love, that consumed much of my time during the last 25 years, is my finest hour.
During my life I have not accumulated much wealth. However, the rich memories of Mary, the most wonderful wife, mother, grandmother, friend, neighbor, and Christian in the world; the wonderful remembrances of my family, and my dedicated service to God in heaven, are far more valuable than anything this world has to offer. Dear to my heart, are the thirty-five to forty years I was able to teach various bible classes, lead congregational singing, and occasionally, in the absence of our usual preacher, stand at the pulpit and teach the congregation, a message from one of the lessons contained in this labor of love.
The sentiments I find in the apostle Peter's, words found in Acts 3, verse 6, serve as my gift to you: Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee. My earnest prayer for you is that you find as much happiness in life as did I through studying, and putting into practice during your lifetime, the Christian values, and guidance, that God makes available to you through His Holy Word. It changed my life to something that is more valuable than anything ekse acchieved in my lifetime. Given your dedicated study, I'm sure such studies will change your life to the same degree. Please accept my thoughtful, prayerful, and hopefully, instructive commentary writings on the Old and New Testament Word of God: accept them with the same love that they are given.