In many ways, I had an idyllic upbringing. I was surrounded by lots of relatives. We went to church every Sunday. However, the faith thing never really stuck with me. I learned stories and Bible verses, but it wasn’t very real.
Our church had a very active high school youth group. I joined the group because they played basketball regularly and had lots of cute girls. However, some of the kids in that young group were different in a strangely attractive way. They talked about God as though he was their personal friend. I was intrigued because I didn’t know God like they seemed to know him.
One night, for reasons I still can’t explain, I was watching Billy Graham alone on TV. He talked about becoming a Christian. I knew that I really couldn’t relate to what he was talking about, what the different kids in the youth group talked about, what my parents and grandparents talked about.
So, I prayed a completely honest one-sentence prayer, “God, if you exist, then I’ll take you seriously.” I sat still for a few minutes and waited for something to happen. Nothing happened at all. I went to bed and assumed that I had done my part but God wasn’t real.
The next morning I woke up and immediately knew that something had happened deep inside me. I really couldn’t explain it, but I couldn’t deny a major change had occurred deep inside my core. I keep sensing a voice saying, “I love you.” It seemed to imply that whatever I did or had done or would do—wouldn’t ever change the fact that I was loved in my inner core. I still feel/hear that voice today. If that seems weird to you, I’m not surprised. It still seems weird to me.
Over the next few days, I sensed that I had to do a few things. The first was that I to tell my dad that I was reading porn. I didn’t want to do that because I expected that he would be angry. He was.
Second, I had to tell my friends at school what had happened. I knew if I told them what had happened to me, it would change their lives forever. It didn’t. No one seemed to be interested. But I told them anyhow—another act of obedience.
Third, I needed to read the Bible. I read the New Testament cover to cover over and over. Every word seemed new. Previously the Bible put me to sleep. Now, it was exciting and illuminating.
These things happened a long time ago. However, I remain loved by the Lord Jesus Christ. I have more confidence that Jesus is alive than that I am alive. I sense that I have nothing to fear in this life or the next. My relationship with Jesus is the core of my very beginning. It is the reason I exist. Everything that I have experienced, personally and professionally, is all because Jesus loves me.
Teddy Roosevelt: It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
reading, sports, gardening, waterskiing
Fantasy dinner guests
my parents and grandparents--all of whom are deceased
Best advice I ever received
My undergrad alma mater
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
My worst subject in school
If I weren't a professor, I would
any with a beautiful warm beach
My latest accomplishment
raising money for a new building for our school
interplay between taxes and business strategy
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