I was born again at home in Dallas, Texas and sometime in 1973.

I was twelve years old.

               My brother Karl had found Christ while in high school and was visiting us in Dallas while on leave from the Army during the very end of the Vietnam war. He explained to me how I was a sinner in need of God’s mercy, how Christ died for me and would save me from my sins and eternal punishment if only I’d believe and place my trust in him. My heart had been readied by God to listen and understand this simple witness, but I didn’t immediately accept Christ.

                After several discussions with my brother, I remember one time being alone in the house. I got down on my knees in the hallway right outside my bedroom door, and I prayed to God asking him to forgive me for my sins and to save me.

             Salvation in the New Testament is not merely about that one day in the past when you were “saved“. It’s about being saved continually throughout your life. It’s about waiting and trusting that upon our death we will be truly and finally saved from sin, saved not just from the penalty of sin but from its power over us. Eternal security is not about feeling secure in our salvation. It’s about needing God to persevere with us, while trusting that God will keep his promise and that we will, in fact, do so. Sanctification is not about observing the past progress; it’s keeping one’s mind on how much more progress is necessary.

                Therefore, let us not merely thank God for having saved us one day in the past. Let us thank God for saving us each and every day! Let us feel the need to be saved that day, notwithstanding any assurance of salvation that we understand.  Let us thank God for saving us that same day we’re thanking Him for it.  Let us thank God for saving us tomorrow because we know that even by tomorrow, we will once again fall short; it’s our old nature.

           Karl gave me a New Testament in the “Good News for Modern Man translation, and I devoured it like a starving person at a dinner table. Karl also gave me several comic book tracts and Navigator booklets with comic book descriptions of the Christian life– how I should walk and grow in the Christian life. God’s Holy Spirit motivated me to try to grow fast in the Christian faith.

                After my prompt devouring the Good News New Testament, Karl gave me his own copy of the Scofield Reference Bible, and he encouraged me to read 10 chapters per day. I, however, thought the Bible was a book, so I just read it front to back like I would have read any other book.

               I attended Believers Chapel in Dallas.    Believers Chapel is a church that allows the free exercise of gifts during a spontaneous Sunday evening Lord’s Supper service. At this service, any member of the congregation is free to stand up and share, exhort, sing, or teach, as the Spirit so moves. It was at these services that I first began to preach.

                One Sunday evening I stood up in front of the congregation and preached for about 15 minutes from my notes about what God meant to me as a father in light of my not having a human father. I believe my primary text was a Simon and Garfunkel song which I quoted extensively. The “sermon” was well received by the congregation and several of the elders encouraged me to speak again. I was

                Soon I was almost a regular Sunday evening preacher, standing up and expositing about some Biblical text or theme that was meaningful about once a month. Although I felt that I had a gift and was being moved by the Spirit to preach, I took these sermons very seriously and put the great study time into them, carefully followed an outline and even practiced them in front of a mirror on Sunday afternoons.

                One time, not funny for me at the time, but funny in retrospect, I was preaching about the importance of a Christian education. I guess I went on too long, and before I was finished another member of the congregation arose and said, “While Brother Randy finishes, let’s all stand and sing Hymn no. such and such. “I was quite shocked, but more shocked when the senior pastor immediately arose and said, “No, let him finish.“ What an experience!

                I believed the congregation and elders of Believers Chapel recognized me as having a gift and the elders encouraged me to consider the ministry as my vocational calling. I too was convinced that I would go into the ministry and that this was my true calling. No one anticipated what would happen when I went off to college in the Fall of 1979.