Yom Rvi'i, 26 Shevat 5777 — יוֹם רְבִיעִי כו שְׁבָט ה' תשעז Wednesday, 22 February 2017
My Testimony: Bringing Into Captivity Every Thought To The Obedience of Messiah

I was raised in Texas, into an assimilated home, where my mother was an abject atheist but my father actually exposed my older sister, younger brother and myself to Christianity when we were young (though none of us had much, if any, religion until we were adults). My dad probably thought he was the only Jew ever to step foot in a church. I really cannot say. He died when I was 20 and I only saw him once after the age of 16.

All through my teenage years and early adulthood I was truly an abject atheist. During the course of my parent's divorce they sent my brother and me to Los Angeles to stay with our aunt and uncle. We went to synagogue with them, but religion of any kind held no interest for me. Ironically, though I professed disbelief in God, I actually had a profound hatred for Him, but I especially hated the name of Jesus and anyone calling themselves "Christian".

My spiritual journey actually began when I was in my early 20's, after a brief tour in the Navy followed by attending college. I remember taking a philosophy course, which had then caused me to re-think my spiritual position. I realized that it was intellectually safer to be agnostic than atheist. From that point in time, I took up the agnostic mantra, which says, "If God exists, he will prove himself to me" (of course, that was followed by a "ha, ha, ha", as in, "yea, sure!"). I didn't believe that it was possible that would ever happen.

Regardless of the circumstances, and I'll admit marijuana was a god I worshipped in those days, I was communing with "nature", in a deserted field, when a "profound sense of God's presence" overwhelmed me. I can't explain it and I know that may sound crazy, but there was an overshadowing presence I could feel, and I knew it was beyond my understanding of the nature of things.

Well, to me, this experience was horrific! The belief that I had so long held - essentially that God could not possibly exist - was completely shattered. This experience caused me to question the paradigm I had held so dearly! I was so devastated that I had a complete mental breakdown.

From that point in time, I became obsessed with searching for just who "God" was. Finding the meaning of life was of primary importance. My search ran from experimenting with drugs, seeking truth in the occult, even trying to experience Judaism (I went to a reform temple for a time). I read many different books (mostly occult), and I actually tried to read the Bible.

Nonetheless, in all my searching, I really was not seeking the God of my fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. What I had failed to acknowledge and realize, was that in my "anti-religion" of atheism and agnosticism, I really held a deep-down belief that I was somehow the creator!

And Why Not? That is, after all, what atheism is: denying the existence of the Almighty to the exaltation of one's own self!

I mentioned earlier that I had had a complete mental breakdown after my encounter with God. What I should have said is, "I really flipped out!" Looking back, I think it was probably my long-time belief in atheism's exalted self, combined with the self-absorption of the meaning of the epiphany that led me on a hellish and destructive path instead of heavenward. My mind juxtaposed history, myth and scripture to where I sincerely believed I was somehow the reincarnated Jesus. The fact is that I was literally insane.

It was Christmas-time, 1978, in Dallas, Texas. I went to visit my sister, who had recently come to believe in Jesus as the Messiah. Alone in her apartment while she was at work, and after smoking some marijuana we had been sharing, I began looking at her Bible at the kitchen table.

My mind was in hell. From the years of God hatred and particularly Jesus-focused hatred, to the new self exaltation, my mind was knotted and twisted out of control. I opened that Bible and it landed between Psalm 39 and Psalm 40. I somehow felt it profound and psychically significant that it opened up to that exact spot. I cannot say the reasoning I had in my twisted and conflicted thinking, but I ended up striking a match and lighting a fire at Psalm 39. I remember a thought going through my mind, when I was setting the Bible on fire, how fitting it was for the Jewish Messiah to burn the Christian Bible! I didn't allow it to burn long (alas, a short burst of sanity). After closing it, wanting to hide it, opening it and closing it, I decided to set it back on the table, opening it back up between Psalms 39 and 40 so that an observer could see the profundity of those biblical passages, as if my psychic brilliance would enlighten the true seekers! Another short burst of sanity, however, and I reasoned that I would probably no longer be welcome in my sister's apartment. Thus, without id, wallet, keys or money, I headed out - to wherever the "spirit" would lead me that day.

In my wandering, I found myself near North Park Mall. There was a synagogue near there; and, seeing it, I felt "how appropriate", and I entered as if I owned the place! Inside, I came across a stack of Chumash's. Thinking I was so smart, I took one and started perusing it. I remember, in my state of mind, thinking that I could both read and comprehend each page by merely giving each a cursory glance! When the rabbi approached and asked me who I was, I naturally exclaimed, "the Interpreter". Needless to say, he was not so enlightened, and he threw me out!

Surprisingly, I was not to be dissuaded. Since I had gone to the "Jews", I reasoned to myself that I was now going to go to the "Gentiles". With purpose in mind, yet armed without a plan, I proceeded to North Park Mall.

What I didn't mention, is that I hadn't had a haircut, nor had I trimmed my beard in some time. I may have been wearing blue jeans and I had on a dark blue, hooded sweatshirt (I recount really feeling spiritual when I walked with the hood over my head - though I may have been disheveled, "I was enlightened!").

I'm sure that the following account would make any "tree-hugger" proud! All I remember from the mall experience is that as I wandered through it, I was particularly struck with the electric lights that had been placed in all the trees. These were living trees, and I remember looking upon them, and really "feeling their pain". I felt, "How cruel was it that humans had been so inhumane to these poor, defenseless trees". I did the only thing any self-respecting defender of trees would do; I proceeded to take the lights off of the trees, making sure not to harm a leaf or a branch! And, of course, I spoke soothing words to those innocent trees!

Suffice it to say that the mall police came and physically removed me to one of their holding areas, but they were not as gentle with me as I had been to the trees and to the lights. I had no identification on me and I did not answer them until they decided to pick me up by my beard. I'm sure they were trying to keep within the Christmas spirit as best as unregenerate people can do.

However, I spent the next several days in the Dallas city jail in downtown Dallas. It was there that any paranoia I may have had previously took on a whole new meaning. Every person placed into a cell that Christmas was beaten up by the attending police officers. I was spared that welcome, most likely because I did not resist their verbal and physical provocations. I did not sleep, nor did I eat for the entire three days and nights I was held there.

Sometime on the third day, I went before a judge. He released me because he said I had not damaged any property. I did not leave the station for several hours, however.

I mentioned that I was paranoid. John Kennedy had been shot only blocks away from that jail. I was certain someone was going to shoot me when I left the building. I even stayed away from any windows. Nevertheless, when it got dark, I did finally leave, and walked the downtown streets for a while. I couldn't get into to the YMCA and there were no homeless shelters that I could find. With no place to go and temperatures in the low 30's, upon the advice of police I checked myself into the VA Hospital.

After spending a couple of months at the VA Hospital and Domiciliary, my sister allowed me to move in with her again. I went with her sometimes to her Baptist church and I got a job.

My search for God continued but I was still drawn to occult and esoteric interests, rather than to either Judaism or Christianity. That following summer, I moved to Austin. It only took a couple of months before paranoia and my sick mind necessitated another stay at a VA Hospital, this time in Temple, TX.

There, a fellow patient introduced me to his two sons that came to visit. These guys were very persistent with sharing the gospel of Jesus with me, though their words mostly fell on my deaf ears. What got my attention, however, was the time they brought three cassette tapes of a fellow by the name of Mike Warnke, who marketed himself as a Christian Comedian. I agreed to listen to the cassettes.

Mike Warnke claimed to have been a Satanist and to have done a lot of bad things. Through his stories and his witness, I realized that 1) there was someone who may have been as bad or worse than me on whom God found compassion, and 2) I was lost, and I felt that death would have brought me directly to the gates of a very literal Hell.

It was then that I really understood that it was my undisciplined intellectual curiosity, my own wrong way of trying to understand things, and my hatred of God that had placed me into a cycle of self-destruction. It took Mike Warnke's unconventional testimony to reach me. His stories, whether fact or fiction, still moved me to consider that Jesus was really the Messiah, that He had been killed, was risen from the dead after three days in the grave, and now sits at the right hand of the Almighty God, as High Priest interceding for all who trust in Him.

It was January 19, 1980, that those two brothers helped me to pray. I essentially told God that I acknowledged Him, that I knew I was lost without Him, that I believed that Jesus was the promised redeemer and I asked forgiveness for my hard heart, my sin, my lack of trust.

I will not tell you that life immediately got better, though it did improve over time. One of the things I was especially moved to do was to read the Bible regularly. That first year, as a new believer, I read the entire Bible (both the Tenach (Old Testament) and the Brit HaChadashah (New Testament)). I have repeated that through most of the years since (in my 10th year as a believer in Yeshua, I tried reading it in Hebrew, which slowed my pace.).

One of the passages that helped me significantly, in the early going, was where the Apostle Paul says, "And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints." (1 Corinthians 14:32-33). I interpreted that passage to mean that I was supposed to be in control of my own spirit, my own mind, not allowing any outside force to control it. You see, there was a terrible spiritual battle raging in my head, of which I had no prior knowledge.

Many years of atheism and seeking occult answers had taken their toll in my ability to think clearly, so when I realized that I was supposed to control my own spirit, my own thought processes, I found myself in a battle I knew I had to win. However, I had a profound sense that I could not win that battle on my own, without God's help!

One realization I had was as if God was telling me that it would be a long, slow process to heal because it had been a long slow process of wrong thinking that brought me to that point. Thus, my story of the road to wellness is a long and arduous one.

After leaving the VA Hospital Domiciliary in Temple, I attended a technical college in Waco. I was able to learn a trade and got a degree in Commercial Art and Advertising. It was there that I attended a local Baptist church where I was to meet my wife. Dana and I married in April 23, 1983. We had our first child, Rebekah, in January, 1988, and our son, Joseph, was born in June of 1990.

My life has truly been blessed in all aspects. God has healed me (or rather, I should say, He is still healing me!), He has given me a beautiful family, a nice home, provided me with steady employment, given me many great friends and a wonderful extended family of people with a like-minded faith.

The best thing is that I have a personal and meaningful relationship with God through Yeshua. I am truly a new man.