FANTASIES, FABLES AND TRADITIONS
What I just said does not mean that I didn't seek God, or whatever it was "God" meant. But I was not looking for Heaven, or to escape hell, and certainly not looking for a closer relationship with Jesus. None of that made any sense to me. It was just a bunch of words for the grown-ups to understand, and it didn't look very much to me like any of them understood or cared either. It appeared to me that church was just a place to take the family where the kids had to be quiet, and where everyone compared their prized possessions and showed off their spirituality.
I just wanted one thing from church, besides the girls, and it was something I cried out for desperately. [I get teary-eyed just thinking about it.]
I wanted to be free of the extreme guilt I felt! I wanted to be free from the thoughts and the feelings and the drives that a new adolescent boy experiences, and is not aware that others are going through the very same crises. Things like that weren't discussed among decent folk. In my mind I was evil, the embodiment of evil, and if there was a God, He would have to be the one to save me from myself.
I didn't care how He did it, or even who did it. I just wanted to live day-by-day feeling "normal" like everyone else in the world seemed to be.
But it never happened.
I just took this to mean I wasn't worth spending the time and effort on in order to cure me. I thought God must be too busy taking care of the good people of the world to concern Himself with a wretched, worthless boy as ...
[ Pardon me. I just got back from a crying jag. This is hard to write.]
...as wretched and as worthless a boy as I was.
Spirit filled people were easy to spot. Whatever church I went to, whether it be Methodist, Four Square, Lutheran, Pentecostal, I knew right off who the Spiritual ones were. They were the ones who bowed their heads the lowest when they prayed; that sang the loudest; that raised their hands the highest; that clapped the hardest; that rolled around on the floor the most; that knew the answers when the teacher asked a Biblical question; that played the piano for the services; that preached; that taught; .... they were everyone but me.
I tried to sing; I tried to pray well; I tried to act like everyone else acted so that I too could be a good Christian boy.
But I knew better. And I knew that no matter how hard I tried, everyone could see right through my act and see my black heart.
Reading the Bible was foreign to me. Reading anything but comic books was a chore which I undertook as rarely as possible. Besides, I couldn't even understand or follow what was being said in Sunday School when it was being explained; how would I ever wade through the Bible on my own.
As I said earlier, I had no concept of what church, or Christianity, or salvation or any of that stuff was all about. Church was a ritual I endured because it was expected of me, and I really wanted to be looked upon as a "good boy."
I joined the Army. I joined the work force of labor. I did what every man did, at least externally.
But the boy inside of me never grew past that twelve year old who cried out to God for help. Nor did he let anyone close enough to see inside of him where they might discover what he knew could not be accepted.
Church fell to the wayside, except to attend with family occasionally in order to appease them.
And my search for peace had long since abated. I considered myself "Philosophical," rather than religious.
But I still believed in God. Not the God of the Universe, nor God the creator, nor God the Redeemer. I just believed in God.
I just didn't think God believed, or cared about me.
Why did I believe in God? I really don't know. I suppose it was because other people did, and He was apparently a part of their life.
Besides, what difference did it make if I believed or not? We didn't have any kind of relationship where believing or not believing made a bit of difference.
I lost everything; my possessions, what little I had, my respect in the community, my freedom; and finally, my will to live.
I found myself prophesying to the other inmates. I would open my mouth and out would come interpretation of dreams, predictions of what would happen to them in court, even telling men I knew nothing about all about their past, their family, and their future. And it was always correct, and fulfilled as I had said it.
Twice I had to talk hard and fast to convince an inmate not to commit suicide. One of these sent me a few letters and a small article that belonged to his son that was the last treasure he had of importance, and the next thing I heard of him was in the newspaper where he had hung himself in his cell.
[ Pardon me, more crying. I never thought I would be saying any of this that I have kept secret for 30 years. I certainly did not expect to be telling the world.]
Though I could prophesy (not me really, but through me), I could not preach. I knew nothing about the Bible or the Lord. When I left the jail, and was taken to my final destination, I began to study the Word intently and took a correspondence course on the Bible. I received and listen to tapes and sermons just as often as I could, and wherever I could.
And though I was gaining knowledge about the Bible (the Spirit of prophecy left me when I left the jail) I still did not know the Lord, nor did I have any concept of Him whatever. He was like the Apostles in my mind, a Spiritual man who lived long ago.
Oh, I knew all the words about Jesus. I had it all memorized. And I full well believed all that I read, and what I heard. But it was all in my head and I had no idea that there was any other way to "know" these things.
I believed, and I was a "believer." And, giving that God was working in me, I suppose I was saved.
But I didn't know Jesus.
Prayer for me was a ritual, if that. I knew I should pray, and occasionally I would get on my knees for a few minutes. But it seemed as if my prayers never got past the brim of my hat. It was not as if I thought God wasn't listening, I firmly believed He was. It's just that I didn't feel my prayers meant anything for some reason, that my efforts were just rituals for no other purpose than to do what I was told to do. Besides, I didn't even know how to pray or what to say.
I suppose part of that comes from hearing people who were so eloquent with their words, and so experienced that I knew I couldn't compete with them.
All that went before was nothing but fetal preparation for my birth. And like birth, part of the experience is what they call "afterbirth."
One day I found myself with everything I could want, and more than I could have asked for or ever expected; yet I was more miserable, more grouchy and complaining, and more fearful than I had ever been. And I was getting worse. I called out to God: "Where is your peace! You promised peace, but I'm miserable. What are you doing to me!?"
God said to me (not in words, but in feelings), "Turn around."
And I did. And everything changed.
All the light, all the happiness I sought, all relationship with God was right there behind me. While I followed my own dark, rocky road; the way I wanted for myself was in the opposite direction, right there at my back.
In that same day (though there was a process that took a while) the peace and the joy beyond understanding came to me. But part of this birth process into God's joy was ridding myself of the afterbirth. This meant all my attitudes had to be presented up to the Lord for pruning. I am an obsessive - compulsive person, and I had many, many boxes of my interests and hobbies. They all had to go. I cried when I tossed them, but felt very free once they were gone. All my prized possessions had to go; my house, my van, my art, my electronics, my music gear -- all had to go. (I still have them, at least most of them, but they no longer take up residence in my heart. If I lose them, I lose them. They belong to God now, not to me. Sound Biblical? It can be done.)
In the past there were three times I felt the freest; in the Army with just my dufflebag; on my bike trips with just my saddle bags; and in prison with just my bunkbed.
And now, with all I have around me, I have that freedom once more.
That's easy enough, I figured. I had been a Christian for over 30 years and had even prophesied for a time. Besides, I see people saying such things all the time and I know they don't know Jesus.
I couldn't say it!
My throat seemed to balk at the attempt. I felt myself getting a little frantic at what I was experiencing. The resistance was frightening, and I didn't know where it was coming from. Many things rushed through my mind. "Is it from Satan?" I wondered. "Am I demon possessed?"
With great effort I pushed through and the words "Jesus is Lord" finally came out.
What freedom I felt. What a warm glow of release and joy. From that point on all I wanted to say was "Jesus is Lord." I pranced around the room saying "Jesus is Lord!"
By this website I believe you can see that I am still at it. Only now I am not just saying it to my room, but to the whole world. "Jesus is my Lord!"
It could also be that I had judged others in a negative light who said "Jesus is Lord," therefore creating a barrier between me and that which I had condemned. Perhaps that is why Jesus said we must not condemn, or at least a reason.
How God speaks to others, like Abraham, the Prophets of old, and in these modern times, I don't know. I have experienced Him talking through me, and I have had Him talk to me as I am going to describe; but I try hard to learn how He talks to others. I may never know, but those who have told me they hear from God, I tend to doubt because of what they say He told them, and the manner in which He supposedly spoke to them.
When I was in jail, at about ten o'clock at night at an hour when all were sleeping, God said in a voice direct, commanding, and firm; "Call out My name."
I grew very nervous and couldn't do it. He Said again: "Call out My name." Again I was too embarrassed to obey.
A few minutes later I yelled out "Jesus!!" But it was too late.
I felt God, His Spirit, or whatever it was leave me; and in leaving me He left a feeling of total emptiness. I have never felt that way before or since, but I greatly fear it happening again. For a day and a half I lay on my bunk with this empty, dead feeling inside. As I recall I never even went to eat, just lay there on that bunk thinking that this was going to last forever, and wished to die.
Then I began to revive and the fulness returned. But, as I say, I won't take the chance of that happening again.
This lasted a month continuously, and I thought it would never end. I was wondering how I would go through life in almost constant tears. How could I relate to people? Was God going to use me like Jeremiah, as the Weeping Prophet?
I thought I might be losing my mind, and feared for this. But the freedom and joy I was experiencing, and the closeness to God I was enjoying showed me that it was not insanity, but the Lord.
The Bible says the Spirit will pray with groanings those things we know not what to ask. And that exactly describes what it felt like was happening.
A month later, the weeping stopped, except for on occasions.
Along with the weeping came another phenomenon, in fact two that seem to be parts of a whole. Where before I couldn't pray, prayer became constant. I find that when I think, and when I speak, I am talking to God. It's not like God speaks to me, it's more like you and I were always together, no matter where, and I was doing all the talking. If I am talking to someone, I am aware of God being right there, and I will occasionally direct my thought words to Him, or ask His opinion.
In fact, in Revelation it speaks of all the angels and all the saints, and everything else in creation doing nothing but praising God and singing to Him for all eternity. I am wondering if He doesn't expect us, or certainly encourage us to begin doing so right here in this lifetime.
Several things come from this singing, praising and talking. The first being the nearness and the relationship that is formed when you are with someone you care for, trust, and you know cares for and is watching out for you.
Another is that, along with this awareness, everything I say, do or think the Holy Spirit hears and sees. I do not want to offend Him, so I do not watch, listen to, or do anything He wouldn't want me to. And often I am surprised at what He does not like, at least what He does not like me to see or hear. And I know when He is offended because I become uneasy and uncomfortable. Here is one extreme example of this. In the beginning I was preparing to go into a video store I had gone to many times. I had no sooner put my hand on the door when I began to feel sickly, almost nauseous. I left in a hurry. I don't know what would have happened had I gone in the store, and I don't want to find out. That was almost nine months ago.
This connection with the Holy Spirit is very freeing. And it gives me a confidence that I am now in God's will, and I am, not deserving, but adequate for God to use me. I would relate it to being a soldier in the Army. In the beginning he is afraid, of everything. He is afraid of offending, afraid of making a mistake, afraid of failing. But after training, he feels confident, he knows what to do and when to do it. He knows who to listen to and who to trust. He feels ready and willing, though not necessarily anxious, for battle with the enemy if it comes to that. It has nothing to do with being deserving because he is just one of thousands, who are trained as he is, but he does feel adequate.
It's like when you get a tune in your head and you can't get it out. But in this case it has been going on for 9 months with no letting up, and I don't want it to stop. It carries with it a feeling of cleanness and satisfaction.
Entertainment, movies, music, nothing interests me any more; just my writing, sermons and Bible study. If there was ever anyone who could be called a "Fanatic," it's me. And I'm loving it!
I am surrounded by Bibles and dictionaries and lexicons of all sorts, all within easy reach. I wake up several times through the night and set my keyboard on my lap and continue what I was writing, or break off and start another study I had been given.
I never tire of it, but thirst for more and more.
This has not stopped. I started writing at about 2am this morning and it is now almost noon. This is not uncommon at all. It's all I want to do. I get on a story and I can't find a place to let it go in order to do the few daily activities I undertake.
[ I lay in bed to write because of a bad back and leg problems that prevent me from sitting for long.]
In the beginning I doubted what was revealed to me. I had several reasons for thinking this. The first and foremost reason is that I have such a limited knowledge of the Bible. On top of that I am a poor student, as described above regarding my school days, and I have a poor memory when it comes to technical things and memorization.
But as I studied the Word, I found that the lowest people are the ones Jesus sought out, called and used. And the fact that I had few pre-conceived "understandings" of the Bible, it allows me to receive what "educated" people would reject first hand without even examining.
Can you imagine a Pastor or a Theologian arguing doctrine with the Holy Spirit? Sounds absurd, doesn't it? But isn't that exactly what they did with Jesus? Remember, the Scribes, Pharisees and the Priests were the preachers, teachers and theologians of their time.
Besides, I thought, and I said out loud, what difference would it make? I hadn't even considered such a thing and could care less where it was. Besides, I was in the middle of another study and didn't want to break away from it. But I followed the nudging, looking up this Scripture, and a verse, a geography map, and a geology book - and sure enough, an hour or so later there it was as plain as a worm in an apple, the Garden of Eden!
But it was a so-what. It didn't matter to me. Interesting, you bet, but of no consequence that I could see. And I said so to the Lord; "Why show me this?" I didn't receive an answer. But I think the reason is fairly obvious. He just wanted to show me that He was in fact talking to me and directing my studies. I call them mine, but in fact I am writing about things I know nothing about, yet the Scriptures bare them out.
For instance; this was going to be a quick summary about the leading of the Holy Spirit showing some verses. It was going to be short, and having nothing to do with me. I had just finished the Confessional, and assumed my part was over.
I write what I am directed to write. And so far, when I try to prove or disprove a writing (since it often strongly contradicts the popular view), I find it to be correct. One single verse out of line will cause me to want to throw out the whole thing. But all soldiers stand in line. One or two might be a little kiltered, but not facing the wrong direction as in so many popular doctrines.
One morning I was on my knees praying and that voice I heard thirty years before in a jail cell said; "Shave your beard."
The Lord does not make small-talk. I can well imagine what the Pharisees felt when they confronted Him. And notice, unless they were speaking nice to Him, they were always in a group. And when the Temple police returned to the Elders and said; "Never a man spoke like this man," I believe I know what they meant.
My response, after being taken back and quickly analyzing my situation, was to say; "Ok, in a minute." A dumb thing to say to God; but then, how often does one get the chance to practice such a thing?
Again He said, more forcefully; "Shave your beard!"
And again I tried to hold Him off, thinking that if I waited I could get Him to change His mind, or at least persuade myself that I was just imagining the whole thing.
"Shave your beard!!"
"Ok, ok," I said, and got up and took my razor in hand. I had not seen my face for 44 years since I had started it when I was barely 22. In my opinion I didn't look too bad in a beard; In fact rather handsome for someone my age. And if not handsome, at least I presented an interesting, down-homey type image. Though I figured I hadn't changed that much in 44 years, I hated to shave it off. But when it's God who says to do it, who am I to argue?
I took one swipe with my clippers - and I was horrified with what I saw! I yelled out frantically; "Where's the glue!? Where's the Glue!?"
There was no going back. I was exposed as the saggy face, grumpy looking, sourpuss I really was. I could no longer conceal the fact, from others, or from myself.
I was frantic. And I was scared. I couldn't understand how this could happen to me. How all that could have been happening under a couple handsfull of hair.
I lay on the carpet and bawled bitterly. I cried out; "How could you do this to me!?"
Then after gaining a little of my senses, I realized that I had done it to my self, and that was even harder for me to take.
After a couple hours I was able to accept myself (though 7 months later when I shave or pass by I mirror I have harsh words to say to the ugly old man who stares back at me). I took my hat and presented my face to society. I got a lot of chuckles under the breath, and shaking of the head, but I weathered it ok.
It's been about 6 months at that little church, and I am enjoying it very much. They don't preach my beliefs, but who does? As far as I know there is no one who has anything close to my beliefs.
I don't try to tell them what I believe. That is the Holy Spirit's job. My job, as I see it, is to write this material and make it available; not to push it or to sell it.
I don't know.
Am I an Evangelist?
I don't know.
Am I a Theologian?
I don't know. I would hate to think so after all I have said about Theologians! But I seem to be doing the same thing Theologians do, only without the credentials, education or the ecclesiastical authority.
Am I a Preacher?
I don't know, but I can't say I'm not a preacher because I am preaching (teaching).
I don't consider myself any of these things. All I know is that I am getting a clear understanding of the Word, and that God has provided a means and an opportunity, and a willingness to share what I have learned with anyone who will listen. If there is a name for such a person, then I suppose it fits me. When a person has tasted home made ice cream he wants to share the experience with everyone, and is unwilling to go back to store-bought. What less could be expected of someone who has experienced the freedom and the Joy that the Lord provides?
I only know that if I have not been down a particular road, I know nothing about it except what I have read or heard from others. But if I have been down that road, and someone describes it differently than I had experienced it, I assume they have not been down that same road at all.
Those preachers who have not received the Holy Spirit will think they have done so, because they believe everyone who says "I do" is married to the Lord, therefore has the Holy Spirit roaming around inside them. These would not know they were in fact unwed virgins with no oil in their lamp, because there is no Minister residing in them to tell them that they are otherwise.
Only those who have received the Holy Spirit know what it means. For one thing, if a person has received the Holy Spirit it is all they care to think or talk about. They want everybody to know and experience what they have.
A new bridegroom or bride (or a boy with his first lady-love) can think of nothing else. He or she wants everybody to know how wonderful and perfect their lover is, and will hear no fault said against them.
Jesus referred to this in Revelation where He speaks of leaving your first love. Anyone who has had a first love knows what He meant. The feeling of extreme loss that causes one to lose the will to live. That loss that will cause a person to do anything to get back their first love.
I can especially understand that feeling because having never been married, I still spoon over my first lady-love, and relish her picture and her memories.
Understanding this helps to better understand what Paul was talking about in this misunderstood Scripture:
With such an understanding as the above, the assumption would be that Paul must have meant something other than what he said, so the Scripture is twisted to mean you will not be allowed to fall away. But reconnecting the dots from those Scriptures that talk about Grace to the one where Jesus talks about overcoming and leaving your first love, the verses take on an entirely, and more sensible meaning.
What does falling away mean? I said that when I was twelve I did everything the preachers called for. I cried out to God with all my heart, and I tried earnestly to "repent" of my thoughts and my desires. I was baptized. I attended church. I did everything I knew to do - but I fell away.
At 36 I prophesied. I studied God's Word. I was more of a Christian than the "good" people were.
But I fell away.
Yet Jesus stayed with me.
That seems to confirm what the preachers say about "I will never leave or forsake you," doesn't it?
It sure does.
But there was one element missing, a very important ingredient that makes the entire foregoing of none effect.
I didn't know Jesus.
I knew about Jesus, but I had no relationship with Him whatsoever.
And though I had prophesied, I had not received the Holy Ghost. I assumed I had, but now that I have, I know for certain that I had not.
Like having, and then losing your first love: Those who have not had their first love can not understand the feeling of lose. And those who have lost their first love will be able to empathize.
Explaining to those who have not been there does no good, and for those who have been there, explanations are not necessary.
Jesus said in Matthew 13 how there will be many at judgment who will be counting on the fact that they had prophesied and cast out demons and healed in the name of Jesus; and these will be cast out.
I prophesied, and I did not know Jesus, and according to Matthew, my prophesying did not mean that Jesus knew me at all.
God can talk through anything. He has talked through witches, He has talked though a donkey. And Jesus said during His "Triumphal Entry" that if the people didn't cry out, the very stones would cry out.
People are convinced from the pulpit that they have received the Holy Ghost when they are filled with the Holy Ghost, which, they claim is a sign of their being saved.
People all through the Old Testament, and into the New were being filled with the Holy Spirit. Often this occurred when a particular miracle or prophesy was made. It did not mean they were saved at all. It only meant that the Holy Spirit was working through them, not leading them.
Often we read about the Holy Ghost filling the Apostles for some speech they made. Does that mean they didn't have the Holy Ghost before? Of course not. But being filled by the Holy Spirit is not the same as the Holy Spirit residing in you, as a seed planted in your heart which will grow, if you allow it, and cause you to become in the likeness of Jesus.
And the way you receive the Holy Ghost is not by going to the alter, or being baptized, or repenting, or doing great works. All these things are fine, and they are important. But they do not cause you to receive the Holy Spirit. Check out these verses to find out what does. (Luke 11:13; James 1:5-8; John 15:1-8,16; 16:7-16; 20-22; 23-27; 14:12-27)
From my experience, I do not agree. And if my experience is normal, then I can't see why these preachers talk the way they do, and hold their congregation in their seats instead of moving them forward on the run toward their Lord. I would assume if that pastor had the experience of receiving the Holy Ghost he would be instructing them to do the same, and that he would, with tears, be chasing them with cattle prods and whips to the Holy Spirit, instead of corralling them like helpless sheep into the slaughter pen.
When I hear the sermons, often very good ones filled with enlightenment, I hear a well-rehearsed version of a fairy tale taken out of a book. The words may be different, and be presented in a prettier package, but the message is always the same. I feel like I am hearing a Christianized version of "I'm ok, you're ok." Then, for contrast they might add, "but everybody else is damned to hell."
A person who is in love, is in love every moment of the day and night. Love is like Spring where the sun never sets, and when there comes a time to part for a moment or two, you ache for the next moment together, and you carry your love in your heart and in your mind, in song and in thought.
But instead, I feel like I am a kid again, back in church, watching all the Christians doing churchy things, and the Pastor doing Pastorly things. And when the service is over, it's back to the world, until next Sunday-go-to-meetin'.
However, What I have told is actually no different than what the Bible tells us should be our experience if we are in the Lord. And when checking closely the lives of the early Christians, it can be seen how they appeared on the nutty side as well.
But none of that matters to me any more. Like I said, my image is of little consequence, where in the past it was all and all. If one person finds a step toward Salvation in my foolishness, it has been worth it all.
13If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? (Luke 11:13)
1Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; 2I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: 3And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. 4Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. 6But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate. 7He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. (Rev 2:)