This is what I read before the church on July 25th when I was baptized.
Hi, my name is Phil Cotnoir, and I was born and grew up in a loving Christian family. As I grew older and continued attending church and youth group, I came to the conclusion that I was a Christian, but just not a very good one. This is because I never read my Bible or prayed by myself at home. It’s not that I hated God or the Bible, I just found video games and sports far more interesting. I see now that my desire to live a good Christian life was not the result of the Holy Spirit moving in my heart, but it was due to the fact that in my family and church social group, that was the expectation. On a purely social level, it was expected and rewarded to act like a Christian, and so I did. It was out of self-interest, not out of my love for God.
As I grew older and went to High School, I began to struggle with and eventually became addicted to pornography. I was truly a slave to this sin, and I continued to be in slavery to it until Jesus – the Son – set me free, and then I became free indeed. But I am getting ahead of myself. This part of my life was hidden. I was one person at church and at home, and quite another at school with my friends, and then quite another still alone in the darkness of my private thoughts and life. It was during this time that I was baptized the first time. I wanted to get baptized because, again, that is what people my age were expected to do, and my brother was getting baptized, so I did too.
Things started to turn around in the Spring of 2003. I was driving home from school, when after a moment of inattention I plowed my car into the back of an SUV, making it roll over three times on the highway. By God’s grace no one was hurt even though both vehicles were totaled. I started to really ask myself if I was sure I was saved. What if I had killed someone? What if I had died? Over the next few months God revealed to me that I was not a true Christian.
On the night of September 21, 2004, God chose to open my eyes. I realized for the first time the depth and weight of my sin, as well as the holiness of God. I knew these things before, but that night they became incredibly real to me. I remember being overwhelmed with how sinful, rebellious, and proud I was – and I knew that if I died in that moment, and stood before God in all of his blazing perfection, I would have nothing to say for myself. All my good works seemed like straw next to the mountain of my guilt – and even my good works had been done for my glory, not God’s. Yet I was a very good person in everyone’s eyes. So if you think your good works will appease God, I feel compelled to tell you that you are incredibly mistaken. Like me, you don’t realize the depth of your sin OR the intensity of God’s holiness.
But as I realized these things, I suddenly felt how desperately I needed a Savior. And that is when I really understood why Jesus had to die on the cross. Nothing short of death was needed to pay for my sins; and nothing short of Christ’s perfect life was needed to clothe me and make me able to stand before God.
Since that night God has radically renovated the inner parts of my life. The next day I remember thinking “So this is what it feels like to ‘walk in the light.’” By God’s grace alone, I have been brought from darkness to light, and from death to life.
For the past 5 years I haven’t been sure whether I should get baptized again or not. But after Pastor John made it abundantly clear at the last baptism that if you came to Christ after you were baptized, that you needed to be baptized again, I decided to go through with it. So that is why I am here. Oddly enough, my Dad also came to know Christ after being baptized, in fact he was already a deacon and treasurer when he was born again. He was baptized a second time as well. I guess it’s something of a family tradition now…
In conclusion, I just want to say: We have such a wonderful, powerful, precious and beautiful Lord and Savior in Jesus Christ. I implore you to put all your hope and trust and faith in Him today.