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
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
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,
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
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
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
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