I was born is a Carthage, North Carolina a little town about 60 miles south of Raleigh. I was the third in a family of seven kids. My mom and dad were always serious about their relationship and walk with the Lord.
We moved to Stamford, Connecticut when I was six and we were in church on Wednesdays and of course on Sundays. I sat and listened to the minister talk about how you were going to hell if you didn’t make Jesus the Lord of your life.
It was easy for me to make that decision because I knew I didn’t want to go to hell.
Romans 10:9, 10 reads, “If you will confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your that God has raised Him from the dead you will be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness and with mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
I remember going up with my sister Theresa when I was seven years old to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior.
I knew something had changed in me when I received the Lord. I knew deep inside when I did something wrong, nobody had to tell me. My heart was sensitive.
Deep inside I knew that the Lord wanted me to live for Him.
II Corinthians 5:17 reads, “That if any man be in Christ he is a new creature old things have passed away and all things have become new. And all things are of God.”
My spirit had been recreated and I was aware of the Lord. The bible says that we are spirits created in the image of God, who is a spirit. We have souls which are our minds, wills and emotions and we live in bodies.
You are not a body, you live in a body. The life-giving part of you is your spirit.
Even though I knew you should lie, steal or cheat, I would do them at times because I wanted to be popular. I can’t say I’ve always lived for the Lord because I haven’t.
I tried to blend in, but I knew right from wrong. My parents lived their faith in front of us. I’ve never heard my parents lie, cheat steal or curse.
I thought getting away from them and living the way everybody else was would allow me to enjoy my life more.
My dad was strict and I grew thinking he didn’t know what he was talking about.
He emphasized doing the right thing, staying out of trouble and getting your work in school. I didn’t have a lot of time for his agenda.
I started playing sports when I was seven and realized that I was a good athlete. I loved the attention.
I started getting a lot of recognition as a baseball player first. When I was thirteen years old, there was a big article in our local paper about how I was going to be a professional baseball player.
It was a lot of pressure on me at that age because people always took it for granted that I was going to be the best at everything. I would lay my head on my pillow at night and pray that I would some day be a pro like the guys on television.
My mom, who was my closest confidant would tell me to “keep the Lord first son and everything will work out”.
My hero at the time was my older brother James, who was four years older than me. He was the captain of the football, basketball and baseball teams at Stamford High School.
He was honor student like all the rest of us because my dad didn’t tolerate anything less. Thankfully we were all bright and if we worked at something we normally succeeded.
I had very successful high school career like my older brother. I was also captain of the football, basketball and baseball teams and an honor roll student.
I was an All-American in all three sports and had my pick of what schools I wanted to attend. I was being recruited by all the eastern schools, especially the Ivy League because my brother went to Dartmouth.
I could have gone to the Big Ten, Big East or the ACC, but I wanted wasn’t sure about where to go.
For some reason, the father of one of our rivals, Greenwich, who had attended the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, decided to call them about me and he sent a tape of our game.
They started recruiting me and it wasn’t much of a contest. I decide I was going to USC to play football and baseball. Los Angeles seemed to far enough away enough from my parents and their antiquated ways.
I went to California and got lost for the first year. I was hanging out with my teammates and the other students and doing just about everything they were doing.
We were drinking, getting high, jumping in and out of bed with just about any girl who was willing. At night when I put my head on the pillow, I knew I wasn’t living the way I should have been.
I would sense the presence of the Lord. I would hear His still small voice calling to me deep within me when I was quiet. I knew the truth but I wasn’t living it.
At night when I laid my head on the pillow, my heart would convict me.
I was living the life of a chameleon. I would be the blend in with whomever I was around. I was being a coward and knew it.
I didn’t do much in my freshman year in football, baseball or in school. I put more effort into my social life than anything else.
I met a young coed, Gwendolyn Taylor, up in Richmond, California after our Stanford game. We started dating and got really close, so close that I starting sharing the real me with her.
I told her if we really wanted to have a long-lasting relationship we needed to get the Lord involved and stop sleeping with each other. All of the things I had seen my parents do started taking more relevance.
I started going to church and letting all of my teammates and classmates know that I was a Christian. Some of the guys laughed but after a while they knew I had changed and was serious about it.
It’s a good thing that I made those decisions because even though Gwen had stopped our sexual relationship, we were soon to find out that she was already pregnant.
I remember how I had to grow up and start thinking and acting like a man with responsibilities. I got serious about school and football, but I dropped baseball because of pressure from the football coaching staff.
I knew I wanted make Gwen my wife, so we decided to get married. It was somewhat of a surprise to all of my USC teammates, who were at the wedding.
Five months later our older daughter Allie was born. We had our little family living in Los Angeles just outside the USC campus.
John Robinson named me one of the captains of what were some great USC teams, one of which won a National Championship. Ronnie Lott, Anthony Munoz and Marcus Allen were some of my teammates.
I was later drafted into the NFL and played 11 years in the league. It was answer to prayer and a dream come true.
I’ve had my ups and downs but I have come to realize that putting the Lord first place in my life is the best decision I have ever made.
I’ve had a lot of growing to do as a father and as a husband.
Pride has been an obstacle of mine. It’s a problem with a lot of men.
Like I’ve done at times, men live lives of lies, where they try to be somebody that they’re not. None of us are “all that” even though we try to make people believe that we are.
I’ve realized over the years that I don’t know everything and many times, I need to do more listening than talking.
God has put so many people in my life who have been blessing to me, but at times I have received what they were sharing. Most of the time, pride was the problem.
I’ve grown enough to readily admit that I need the Lord in every area of my life and I need my church, my wife, my family and my friends.
The Lord has been merciful and kind to me. He has blessed me with a wonderful family and a prosperous career both on and off the field.
I had promised Him years ago that I would let people know about His love along the way.
I don’t know who you are or what your background is but I can tell you that Jesus is the answer to whatever problems you’re dealing with. He will be there with you and for you regardless of where you find yourself.
He is the way, the truth and the life. He knows who you are and He wants to have a relationship with you. He has a plan for your life.
You’re not a mistake. There is a reason you’re here.
It doesn’t matter what you’ve ever done wrong. The Lord will forgive you and cleanse you of it.
Why don’t you ask Him to come into your heart?
Ask Him to be your Lord and Savior. If you sincerely ask Him to come in He will.
Afterwards, go and tell somebody you’ve made Jesus the Lord of your life, then find a good bible-believing church.