Randy Stonehill is a Christian recording artist. His latest release is an album of children's songs. He has been a Grammy Award nominee and played at the Greenbelt Festival in England for more than 30,000. He recently spoke with James Linzey, D.D.
Question: When and how did you meet Jesus?
Stonehill: One of my musician friends invited me to give my life to Christ. I was extremely nervous, because I knew it meant relinquishing control of my life to a mysterious force.
My response was, "I don't really want to pray."
Then he said, "So, you're not ready? Anything God removes from your life, He does so He can replace it with the gift of Himself."
Something about that convicted me. I was away from home for the first time. So, I decided, if I was going to be a man, then I needed to face this issue like a man. And, if God was real, I decided I'd better find out. So I said, "Ok, I'll pray."
I prayed, "God, I don't even know if You're real, but I believe You're real enough to be talking to You. I don't use words like sin, but I confess I am a sinner and I want You to come into my Life. I'm Yours."
I had a lightning-bolt experience. God honored the openness of my heart. I came out of the roller-coaster ride of the '60s - chasing girls, listening to rock music and taking drugs. As I look back, it seems God was saying, "I am a richer, more powerful experience than anything you know."
From there, I started working on this Father/son relationship. And I began writing songs about this incredible spiritual revolution that had taken place in my life.
Question: Comment on spiritual gifts and their relevance to a Christian's life.
Stonehill: I've been a Christian for almost 30 years. On occasions when I pray, I speak in tongues and feel the intense presence of God. I know my spirit is circumventing regular channels of communication and going right to God's throne. It's a wonderful thing.
The Spirit is active today. My caution comes when a Christian allows the gifts of the Spirit to take precedence over hearing God's voice and communing with Him.
Our human nature allows pride, judgment and confusion to slip into a healthy move of the Holy Spirit. But, it's not likely to happen if we keep our sights on our relationship with Jesus. This relationship keeps other manifestations in prospective.
Question: Your constant travels must be a challenge to your devotional life.
Stonehill: I begin each day by praying, "I abandon my agenda for Your agenda."
If I can't be in church because I'm 37,000 feet in the air, I read my Bible and Oswald Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest. I talk to God in airports, hotel rooms and backstage.
Taking opportunities helps me let go of my grasp on my dreams, anxieties and temptations.
Question: Give one of the highlights of your ministry.
Stonehill: Something really precious happened when I ministered in Guayaquil, Ecuador, in a slum area by a river. I was visiting a Compassion International school. I stood on the stairs inside a two-story schoolhouse. Children stood above me on the second floor looking over the railing, and children stood below me on the stairs and on the first floor.
I taught them to sing "Shut De Door."
We were singing together and God's presence was there. I thought, If I die now, I can say I've had a truly amazing career if just because of this single experience. It was phenomenal.
Question: Anything else?
Stonehill: Real freedom, joy and peace can only be found in communion with God. If communion with Him is the thrust of your life, you will experience freedom throughout your life.