It might be meaningful to share a little about my own spiritual background. In Christian meetings plain sharing in the form of 'God talk' though probably the most important fellowship aspect, may not occur. So if I may, I will share a few pivotal events that highlight significant chapters in my own 'God quest.' This will be abbreviated touching on the principal events that brought me into belief in Jesus as savior. With the writings that I share on links above, I have included more details that relate to the transformed life. These are my God stories. These I offer that you may also be persuaded to believe in the supernatural intervention of Heaven and the Lord Jesus toward yourselves just as to me. All of these experiences are God initiated and God empowered. Skeptical listeners abound and rightly so since there are so many false paths to truth and salvation. But for the true and Living Way, unbelievers and skeptics will be difficult to persuade even if one were to testify having "risen from the dead!"
These are modest God stories of how God has allowed me to experience some of the realities of heavenly (Spiritual) things. The testimonies of many others are often more dramatic and follow unique differences for the story of every believer follows its own chapters. Accounts of "God encounters" are validated by similar stories written since the early days of the church's beginning, when the Messiah's apostles wrote to instruct and encourage all believing disciples. For truly God is the same yesterday, today and forever. The testimonies I write about here ought rightfully should be normal among believers. God remains very much alive and is still doing mighty exploits all over the world in this very hour. He may be revealing himself to someone just down the street and maybe tomorrow he will reveal himself to you!
are those who follow denominational traditions that say God doesn't
work that way anymore. To you I would advise not to disallow or marginalize
such testimonies. They are dramatic and life-changing. I will use
some italicized items
here and there. These denote matters that are significant, questioned,
misunderstood, or commonly rejected. In the final analysis, traditions
of men should never impede the truths which are given to us in Scripture.
In a time shortly to come the Kingdom of God will be manifested upon the earth. (Christians pray a prayer all the time, "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as in heaven.") After the Jewish nation receives their final redemption, the Messianic age will come. In this long awaited time, the glory of God will at last saturate a restored earth.
The apostolic epistles describe the God-transformed life called the new creation. This new creation experience allows believers to be recipients of a down payment of heavenly things for which Jesus prayed in John 17. This is the new creature is spoken of in 2 Corinthians 5:17. Strangely, while we become new creations of the God kind, the world neither recognizes this or comprehends it. God makes his selection from the world's humanity and causes the world to lose its allure to no longer be the focus of their lives.
I always had a curiosity and a desire to really know God from my earliest days. This curiosity focused on the supernatural and spiritual world. I sought the mysteries of God while in college and outside of church activities, in the world of Mysticism, Astrology and Eastern Philosophy. As I pursued knowledge in these studies I learned a lot; but these pursuits when finally put to the test proved to be empty, only vanity.
or three years before I was saved I returned from a night at
the local piano bar. It was my favorite social outlet, where I sipped
wine and sang in my company of good but worldly friends. Late that
night, I had a powerful
As the vision
I saw portrayed
before me an huge, ancient book. It might have been such as presented
in a book on magic or alchemy. As I turned each ancient page, my eyes
met with mysterious inscriptions, glyphs, charms and symbols representing
the deepest hidden magik, the mysteries of God. The next scene brought
an amazing transformation. As I turned each page, all at once, the
book turned into the Holy Bible.
In the next scene of the vision an unseen someone placed a white robe upon me. A voice of someone announced, "With the covering of this garment you will be a spokesman for God". Then another scene followed. I was among several others all gathered together in a circle. While I was wearing this robe, I experienced a mental transformation. I began to act as Jesus sharing amount his friends. There was a powerful spiritual presence manifested in our midst. God was acting through all, teaching and discipling. When I awoke from this vision my body was trembling. There was a sensation like a tingle of electricity pulsing through my body from head to toe.
Following this vision, I said to myself, "There IS a God life and a world of Spiritual world that I must one day pursue and when I do, I know it will be all consuming passion. It would be one from which I will never be able to escape or return to my ordinary life style.
In the next few years, my first marriage had descended to ruin. I was quite aware that I was not a devoted and loving husband, or a good role model for my children. During a time of growing marital stress, I felt greater depression and emotional instability. The marriage end with dissolution and final divorce. A powerful lonliness and depression grew within me. I felt unloved and unhappy. During this time, I studied to find out how I might straighten up my life and reconcile with my wife with a loving relationship. I attempted counseling and group therapy. Yet, no methodology, counseling or worldly wisdom could bring me peace of mind. I drank to medicate myself. I believe the Lord kept me from seeking another relationship which surely would have been another tragedy.
reached the nadir of my depression at the end of Christmas vacation
from my classroom teaching. It was 1980. The night of the New Year
of 1981. Having it a point of desparation, I called out with tears
for God to reveal himself to me and bring me out of the darkness and
fearful torment that possessed me.
Following this night I wanted to share with someone about my experience, my encounter with God. That night I learned about his power and his unlimited love and the changes it can make in someone's life. But who would I share it with? With students at school? Was there a church anywhere that this kind of testimony would be allowed? I didn't know of one. Such practices in church house religion is uncommon. Who would understand that I had really had an encounter with a Holy God? My ex wife only shared that she was happy that I did not feel so unsettled for what ever reason.
My youngest sister Edie had been born again a little while before this time and began to encourage me. Someone told me there was an evangelist name _I won't name him_ who shared deep Spiritual truths in his teachings. I thought that sounded promising. So I began to listen to that man's teaching. His message essentially said it is all in the Bible. There is just so much to believe in the Bible! The Bible when examined seriously has marvelous revelation. He also taught that there was a Holy Spirit power from God to enable believers. I began to read the Bible regularly. Strangely, when I tried to read and comprehend the Bible, I would fall asleep before I got very far. Life style patterns cling on. I still wanted to go about with my old friends, drink and carry on in the familiar pleasures of the habitual night life. I watched broadcasts of Christian evangelists and said the 'sinner's prayer' every chance I'd get.
A large evangelistic conference came to Minneapolis five months later, in May. It was the Kenneth Copeland Ministry. The auditorium was filled to capacity. I entered the building going up the ramp to the second floor. As I ascended the stairs I heard a huge volume of sound of worship coming from the auditorium. I could literally feel a kind of weight of the presence of God in a tangible way. There was amazing worship the kind I had never seen, heard or experienced. People were swept up in a true passion for worship. In a new electrified atmospher hands of the worshipers were uplifted. They seemed oblivious of anything else but God. Although I was thrilled with the experience I still wanted to leave early to meet my chums and sing with the piano bar folks. That very important mile stone moment did not change me to any great degree. My heart was still entangled in my habits and thought patters from my old life style. These habit patterns take a long while to drop off. These are the grave clothes that cling to the 'man of flesh' but through the GRACE which is the POWER that God provides the patterns and tastes of worldliness DO eventually end.
In July of that year, I was doing summer work on property I owned in rural North Dakota. I had been invited to sing in an AG church in a near by town that Sunday. This AG pastor had come to visit my sister Mary in town before that scheduled Sunday. She lived next door to me so I was invited over. The pastor told my sister, her husband, and I about the baptism of the Holy Ghost. I had no theological objections about the matter and wanted to go deeper with God. There were Bible verses shared to validate the practice. We gathered for prayer and the laying on of hands. I was embarrassed and somewhat put off, when I was asked to do something like expressing words outside of my own vocabulary. How can such a thing happen? I didn't know. Some kind of utterance was to be released in my Spirit. Self consciously, I said to the group, "I would go home and do it." I did just that. That night I had a deep and life changing experience. Later, that same night about 3 in the morning a friend came over demonized and drunk. I wanted him to know what I had experienced. I knew at then How Real God Is. But I was ignorant about too much! I knew too little about how to lead my friend in the prayer of salvation even though he was ready at that moment. Together without Bible knowledge we just took a chance and opened the Bible at Random. It opened to Psalm 107. It happened that is was most appropriate for him who was a practicing drunk. Nevertheless, he was open to the Bible and to God right then. I believe that was a seeding event in his life nonetheless.
The morning came. I may have slept a few hours. When I awoke, I was powerfully aware that I was aware that everything seemed totally new. I was experiencing the reality of the new creation. I felt lighter than air. The sky was bluer, the world was more beautiful, I felt peace and joy that goes beyond my ability to describe it. I wanted to know all the secrets that are in The Bible and I loved Jesus, though I still didn't know him very well. In the days following, the Bible became an asset I was never without. From Genesis the Revelation, It provided continuous revelation of the most amazing kind. I was at the new born infant stage of being a believer in Christ the Messiah, a Christian.
The following Sunday morning arrived. I was to sing at that church. Throughout the entire morning, I was in the grip of a compelling Spiritual force that possessed the focus of my thoughts. It was a force beyond myself. I became fixated upon one phrase, "Of all the sinners in the world, I am the chief!" For several hours I was inside what seemed a spiritual 'vacuum jar' like a spiritual vacuum enclosed in a jar. No other thought could enter that vacuum, "Of all the sinners in the world... That morning I came forward to sing my special. I was compelled to deliver that phrase before the assembled church. I didn't care what anyone might think or say? The words came out slowly as one delivering up in child in birth. After that moment there was an out-pouring of the anointing that gripped me, I sang with what is called the anointing though I would know this phrase for several months. The Spirit led my thoughts and studies. It led my desire to praise and worship. It grew powerfully. After that it became a regular feature of my life. God was so very present. His revelation was continuous. The Rhema of God attended the Scriptures as I studied. (Man does not live by bread only but by every (Gk. Rhema) that proceeds from His mouth.)
That fall, eight months after my first encounter with the Lord, I returned to my teaching job. Every evening I smoked my pipe and drank my wine and cocktails until my tobacco supply was gone. Soon I abandoned my liquor supply. The bottles were left, untouched. I had no desire to buy more. The desire to consume tobacco or alcohol disappeared.
For the next 3 years or more years or more, I taught school during the day and spent all of my free time after work listening to a number of (anointed) Bible teachers, then I would read the Bible into the night. God's powerful presence was a reality and that presence grew stronger and stronger each day. There was no interest in TV, no entertainment, no daily news reports. I was growing as a disciple of the Lord. During this chapter of my God story, my one passion was being with God and I basked in the warmth of His presence. Words here do not do justice to the life in God's presence.
Coincidental with this, at this time I was beginning to experience the Spirit of Truth and the phenomena of being Crucified to the World. To clarify, I can only try to explain that this was a clear witness within my spirit. I knew the things that were of God and the things that were tainted by worldly darkness or human vanity. Traditional Christian hymns and even contemporary Christian music for the most part, jangled my spirit. Too often In contemporary Christian music there is a sense that the artist was trying to draw attention to himself/herself with his or her own performance style. Many forms of music are laden with a religiosity without anointing. Soul music is the kind so imbued with the performer's ego that it loses its message and Spiritual power.
The Spirit of Truth was evident in the reading of Christian magazines and books as well as all worldly publications. Most published articles eminated an emptiness being without the Spirit. The content was from the human mind and not God's mind. They were religious, flat; essentially intellectual without anointing. In the domain of work, classrooms, at school activities and times spent with my own children, all public events and professional meetings registered as empty, full of dead noise performed with vanity. I now know this is what Paul the apostle called, being "crucified to the world and the world to me." I stood behind a glass that separated me from the activities where I was present as an onlooker.
these years, when I entered any
house (churches) if the Spirit
of God was absent. There was a pawl of deadness that prevailed. There
was a deadly emptiness. This was a sense that was clearly discerned
but not based upon intellect or reason. My spirit would become grieved
at the absence of God life. How long I would wonder have the souls
who come to this place not knowing that there was no God life present,
or even if He had ever been resident.
During my time of being discipled in my 'back of the desert,' I felt entirely like an alien in every respect. Church-house preaching "fell to the ground." Most sermons or teaching by Bible experts resonated similarly without anointing, without life or passion. Preaching was uninspired, filled with second-hand doctrine, not Spirit inspired revelation. To keep the interest of the audience, emotional hype and contrived preaching gimmicks were employed. I knew it for what most of it was, vanity and self promotion.
Discerning Life and Death in Religion
In the years that followed, I carefully listened to hundred of sermons by countless preachers, evangelists, and conference speakers. I believe I heard every conceivable sermon presented with varying degrees of knowledge and revelation, but whether evangelical or charismatic these had one commonality - - the messaged promoted the institutional church experience. It was from these dead ashes that I had been released. Something was so wrong with this churchianity. It labors under human paradigms, popular understandings coupled with human authority. Except in rare examples, Bible teaching portrayed theology and doctrinal concepts but frightfully little experience in heavenly matters and too much submission to hierarchical form and structure. Discipleship was for all practical purposes, a foreign concept as it deemphasized experiencing God or doing the works of God. Church life is for the most part, about promoting the institution and submission to it or its leaders.
In 1995 I began to write a book which might have been called The Gospel for Dummies, or Practical Discipleship, but I did not want to present another religious book title in the already glutted market of Christian Books. These already abound in tens of thousands of titles for Christian consumption, each claiming some new doctrine or revelation and each contrived to add to the fame (and fortunes) of the authors. So I decided upon this title, The Gospel Without Religion. The purpose of the writing would be to show to people who, like myself who were hungry to know God more about Christianity but were stymied in religion. To enable religious people to discover God's reality. Outside the context of the religious paradigm, I hoped to reiterate the simplicity of the God life, the way the apostles described it; no more, no less.
About a year after the anniversary of my first God encounter, in my one room back of the desert ghetto apartment, I was blessed to hear the audible voice of God on one occasion in a night vision. This voice (I always ask others to describe their own experience with the audible voice) addressed the message of Ephesians 4: relative to the gifts given to the Body to mature us all into the form of one perfect man:
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13) till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 140 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head- "
The years following were punctuated with more special times in the Spirit, God stories involving; (I wish to not be too foolish to draw attention to myself) visions and dreams, traveling to far away places to minister in the Spirit, angelic visits and some of such things that are attested to in the Book of Acts and the Epistles.
This kind of testimonial sadly will not be well received among most evangelicals. More often than not such testimonies produce doubts, questions or doctrinal argument rather than faith-building hope. As one prominent world-reknowned international Bible teacher once blustered on his radio broadcast, "If anyone ever told me that they had a visit with an angel I would tell him, it is time for him to visit the booby hatch." J. Vernon McGee,1990, Such well meaning Bible teaching results in one thing, disbelief. Such wrong beliefs and teaching grieves me. As Jesus the Great Shepherd and gatherer of his flock stated, "How I would loved to have gathered you as a mother hen gathers her own young, but you would not" (allow it.) And sadly the body remains so divided into disassociated fragments we can only wonder when this oneness, this one perfect man come to be?
Finally friends, I wish to say nothing in my testimony suggesting that I am any way different from those persons that God has called. Needy seekers who ask, seek and knock, find Grace in His sight. It is so pleasant to share koinonia (fellowship of the Body) with those of like hearts, who seek God with an openess to the Holy Spirit. It is my hearts desire that we who call ourselves Christians, welcome and receive from one other who are recipients of their own unique gifts of God. As it states in 1Peter 4:10.; For as many who have received the gift, minister (that gift) unto one another as stewards of the manifold grace of God. This is the very form given to us to express the kingdom of heaven, As it was in Simon Peter's day, so is it today.
In His presence there is peace and fulness of joy.
Understanding Home Fellowships