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Amazing Grace

I had the blessing of growing up in a Christian home. From a very early age, I was aware of who Jesus is and what He did on the cross. It is, however, not uncommon for individuals like me to know all about Jesus and yet think it’s just about being a good kid. I learned to follow a list of do's and don’ts until I started to succumb to peer pressure and began to break the rules I was taught to follow. At first, I lived in fear waiting for God's judgment to fall while simultaneously hoping my parents would never find out I wasn’t as good of a kid as they thought. I found out that I could navigate two worlds and two different ways of living pretty well. I didn't know the word back then, but I grew up living a duplicitous life. I lived one way with the church scene and parents and another way with my peers. If you asked me if I was a Christian, I would say yes, but I was lost.

A major transition occurred in our family when I was sixteen years old. My dad, who was a high school teacher in inner city Indianapolis, took a teaching job at a small Christian college in southern Minnesota. In late July of 1977, I experienced the first major transition of my life - leaving my hometown which I loved, Indiana basketball, the Indy 500, aunts and uncles, and close friends and moving to a town of 12,000 strangers and a new high school to start my junior year. There was heartache and intrigue in my soul. There was heartache in leaving all that I had ever known and intrigue with the spiritual journey of my father. He was a different man, and at the time I didn't know how to label it, but now I know he was on the journey of a Christ-centered life. I was experiencing him as a very different dad.

I was also experiencing some new friendships. Mark, a high school student and Russ, a freshman in college who was on the cross country team my Dad coached, became the real deal of the Christian life for me. Their authentic lives quietly and profoundly exposed my hypocrisy and legalism. Between my Dad's transformation and my two new friends, I came to the place where I realized that the decision to trust Christ for my forgiveness of sin and new life is something I had never done. It was in October of 1977 that I trusted Christ.

I will never forget the following morning waking up and knowing I was a new person. Shedding legalism and spiritual insecurity were real challenges in the early years of my faith journey. It wasn't until my days at Dallas Seminary that I began to really understand how to grow in grace and not in religious performance or activity. I am truly humbled by how God has and continues to work in my life. This is why I am so passionate about the Bible’s clear message of grace. I look back and see how God used the first major transition in my life to confront me with my spiritual lostness and bring me to faith. How the words of the great hymn ring true in my life, "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I am found, was blind but now I see."

Tim Bowers
Staff Pastor


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