Episode 10

       Standing in a bright and ornate palace, I appeared to have been taken up into the heavenly realms. Words cannot describe the beauty of the building's Roman style interior. A wonderful atmosphere of peace and holiness pervaded the court.
       Before me stood a beautiful woman with a shining, angelic glow on her face. Looking like some kind of divine priestess, she had a floral garland on her head and wore a long white gown. Her wonderful smile of joy was a delight to my beholding eyes.
       In her hand she held a golden neck chain, from which hung a small brown wooden cross. It looked like a chain a priest might wear. The angelic being placed the chain around my neck, the wooden cross proudly hanging in front of my chest.
       Her beautiful blue eyes were as deep as heaven itself. She smiled and said, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."
       I intuitively realized that I had just been initiated into the priesthood of Christ.
Suddenly, I awoke and found myself lying in bed. The dream was so lucid and powerful that I was convinced I had been taken up into the heavenly realms in my soul body and had undergone initiation into the priesthood.
       I was impressed to purchase a real cross and chain as a token of my ordination. At a local Christian bookstore, I selected a wooden cross and chain that were identical to the ones I saw in the dream.
       When I returned home, I lighted the two candles on my altar and burned incense. Holding a private devotional, prayer, and meditation service, I consecrated the cross and chain, solemnly placing it around my neck.
       I regarded myself as having been called by God for training into the Christian priesthood and wanted to become a minister. It was my deepest desire to help save people from the illusions and glamours of materialistic living and bring them into eternal life through the consciousness of the grace given by Jesus Christ.
The next day, I attended the Sunday morning church service at the New Lighted Way. I was wearing my newly consecrated wooden cross hidden beneath my vest because I didn't want to be pretentious and have the cross visibly displayed. I regarded my selection for the priesthood as a sacred, private affair between me and God.
At my turn during our customary candle lighting ordinance, I walked up to the altar, lighted a white candle, and placed it next to the Christ candle. Muriel closed her eyes to channel a personal message for me from the Holy Spirit.
"I see you wearing a wooden cross suspended on a gold chain," she said. "Upon the spirit planes you have received an initiation into the priesthood. The Father is very pleased that you have accepted the offer of becoming a servant of Jesus Christ."
       Wow, I thought, it really did happen. My cross and chain are completely hidden from view, so the Spirit must have revealed one scene of my initiation to her.
       Muriel continued. "You will be greatly blessed and rewarded for your decision to become a disciple of Christ. A glorious future is awaiting. You will eventually leave your current employment and be involved in evangelism."
       Smiling with satisfaction, I returned to my seat.
       Muriel had previously stated that she was a member of the Melchizedek priesthood. I thus assumed I had been initiated into this same priesthood also, although I regarded my status to be probationary until undergoing further training.
       In remembrance of the death of my savior and master, I resolved to wear the wooden cross at all times. I wanted it to be a constant reminder of my commitment to the sacred life of the priesthood.
       Muriel began her sermon and talked about the necessity of living a pure life by following the example of Jesus Christ, as described in the Bible. She emphasized the requirement to obey the will of the Father as manifested through the voice of the Holy Spirit, but warned about the existence of satanic entities in the spirit realms that might try to lead one astray.
       "One has to be very discerning," she advised. "If you are not sure whether a spirit entity is from Christ or is satanic, ask the entity, 'Are you of Jesus Christ?' If the entity is not from Christ, it will flee from you. The name of Jesus is the most powerful name in the universe. You can use it to protect yourselves from evil powers. For example, if you feel you are being oppressed by an evil force, you can use the invocation, 'In the name of Jesus Christ, I command that you leave.' The entity will have to depart."
       After a pause, Muriel changed topics.
       "Now there may be a rapture. It is inferred in the book of Revelation. We will be part of the 144000, the redeemed first fruits. I have not yet received full clarity on this from Jesus. But a time may come when all the saints are lifted up in the air and we can levitate. We will probably visit other planets.
       My mind was starting to get confused again. I had thought I had the resurrection figured out; now this rapture idea had muddled things up. I concluded that I would have to meditate earnestly upon the matter and have faith that the Holy Spirit would reveal the meaning of the book of Revelation to me.

       A couple of months passed. The annual Kenneth Copeland West Coast Believer's Voice of Victory Convention began at the Anaheim Convention Center. I was inspired to attend every evening during the week-long event. Copeland's topic for the convention concerned the covenant relationship existing between the Father and his people.
       What a difference between my attitude at this convention and my attitude at the previous one. At the earlier convention, I had identified myself as a metaphysical New Ager, a disciple of the venerable Djwhal Khul. Regarding my master's esoteric knowledge to be far superior to the biblical knowledge of the Christians, I had gone to the convention merely as a spectator. I attended only because Muriel had praised Copeland so much and because the inner voice of my meditation told me to go.
       Since that previous convention, much had changed. I now identified myself as a born-again Christian, even though I still felt part of the New Age movement. However, this did not make me feel any sense of separation from my Christian brothers at this visit as I lifted my arms in praise and glory toward God. I enthusiastically took part in all the singing. As we all joined hands, I prayed to the Lord Jesus, along with the 10000-person congregation, and whole-heartedly pitched in my generous donations at the offering time.
       When Brother Copeland preached, I eagerly listened to what he had to say, carefully following the Bible texts referred to. Regarding myself as one of the fellow believers, at the end of each evening I felt absolutely ecstatic after the final singing. I was filled with joy and felt high, as if I were walking on air. Rarely had I been so filled with happiness.
       I even felt this joy while at work during the day. The songs of praise rang in my heart. For example, during one morning of the convention week, I was sitting at my desk at work when our company's outside salesman called me on the phone. He was a conservative elderly fellow whom I had known for several years.
       "Will, how are you doing?" he asked.
       I burst out in the most vibrant, enthusiastic, and happy voice imaginable, "I am doing absolutely fantastic!"
       Our salesman was silent for a moment. Then he said in a serious tone, "Is there anything wrong?"
       I assured him that nothing was wrong; on the contrary, everything seemed so very right.
       At the end of each evening I returned to my apartment and on my knees gave thanks to the Father for bringing me into the full knowledge and power of Jesus Christ. The inner voice of meditation then encouraged me to attend the convention again the following evening.
       Brother Copeland gave an altar call each evening for unbelievers to come forward and accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior. I realized that I had already been born again, and it would not be appropriate for me to go down to the front with the new converts.
       I wished Kenneth would have a special altar call for people who felt the calling of God to enter into the gospel ministry and were willing to publicly acknowledge that call. In honor of my ordination into the Christian priesthood, I wanted to respond to such a call. Underneath my vest I proudly wore my sacred wooden cross.
       Much to my delight, on Thursday evening Kenneth announced the altar call I had longed for. He specifically asked only those people who had made a serious and dedicated commitment to enter the ministry to come forward.
       There was no hesitation on my part. I rushed down the flights of stairs and joined the group surrounding the platform at the front of the arena. Oh, how much I wanted to be an evangelist like Kenneth Copeland, if the Lord would only anoint me with the power.
       Copeland was joined at the lectern by other members of his ministerial staff. They prayed for our blessing and asked God that we be given the gifts of the Holy Spirit to carry out our gospel mission. At the time, I did not anticipate how soon my ministry would begin.

       Shortly after the convention, I received a phone call from Muriel.
       "The Father has told me to move to Texas," she said. "I am going to close everything down here in Los Angeles and start the New Lighted Way in Fort Worth."
       Her statement shocked me. She had been operating the Lighted Way in Los Angeles for more than twenty years.
       "It appears that Texas needs to be told all about mystical Christianity," she explained.
       Having observed Muriel's obedience and dedication over the years, I knew she would pull up her roots and carry out the direction, even though she appeared to be in her sixties and had lived in southern California for most of her life. I wished her well and expressed confidence that the Lord would take care of all her needs.

       The Call to Evangelize.
       "Go down to the mall and preach."
       I heard the words clearly inside my mind as I was kneeling in front of the altar in my apartment. It was a Saturday morning, and I had just begun my meditation period.
       I said to myself, "What? Go preach at the mall?"
       Listening for more information, I heard nothing further. Shrugging my shoulders, I carried on with my silent introspection.
       For several weeks I had been devoting my weekends to the study of J. Gordon Melton's Encyclopedia of American Religions. Continuing with this reading, I spent the rest of the day at the local city library. The history of the various Christian denominations intrigued me. Accounts of the work of such greats as the Wesley brothers, Finney, the Campbells, Moody, and others captivated my interest.
       A week passed. I began my weekend morning meditation as usual. "Go and preach in the mall," the inner voice remarked.
       "What do you mean, 'go and preach'?" I asked in my thinking, as if telepathically addressing the originator of the mysterious command.
       There was no reply.
       Something special about the voice this time struck a chord of fear inside me. It was the same inner voice of conscience I had so often heard before, but this time it was especially gentle and precise, with a strange power that drew my attention.
       I started to imagine myself boldly preaching to a crowd of shoppers congregating outside the entrance to the local mall. They inquisitively listened to my proclamation of the imminent return of Jesus Christ.
       Laughing at the fantasy, I thought: Who knows, maybe the Lord wants me to become another John Wesley; instead of preaching outdoors to coal miners, I will be preaching to shoppers outside of malls.
       I dismissed the message as something mischievous coming from the astral realms. After all, who had ever heard of preaching at a shopping mall? The idea was absurd.
       Continuing with the meditation for about an hour or so, I received no further inspiration and closed with a prayer requesting that I be made a clear and pure channel for Jesus.
       Later that day, I had to go to the local mall to do some shopping. As I walked up the entryway, a fantasy suddenly flashed into my mind. I stopped and imagined myself preaching to passersby right where I was standing. An uncomfortable feeling filled my stomach, and my emotions sank as fear gripped me.
       "Does the Lord really want me to start preaching down here?" I asked myself. "Oh, I hope not," I sighed as I took a deep breath.
       "Excuse me," a woman exclaimed as she brushed past pushing a baby carriage, jolting me out of the daydream. I proceeded to the store.
       The next morning was Sunday. I meditated as usual.
       "I want you to go down to the mall to preach," the voice of conscience said firmly.
       "What was that? What did you say?" was the inquiring reply spoken in my thinking, even though I clearly heard the instructions.
       A strange sensation of warmth appeared in the upper-central area of my back. The sensation seemed to be located in the heart chakra region.
       In my mind, I asked, "Is this some kind of joke, or is this a real direction coming from God?"
       If it's from God, I thought, what exactly does "preach" mean? Am I supposed to go to the local mall and stand at the busy entrance, waving a Bible in my hand as I loudly preach to the people?
       "No, no, this is just wild nonsense thinking," I reassured myself. "My mind is getting carried away; I need to discipline my thinking more carefully." I tuned in to the deeper levels of my higher self, trying to get clarification on the matter.
       "Yes, I want you to start preaching to people at Del Amo shopping mall. It is now time for your ministry to begin," the inner voice stated.
       I broke into a cold sweat. Closing my mind's openness to the cosmic, I brought the meditation to a prompt halt. I didn't want to listen to any more nonsense.
       During the following week, I had several flashbacks to the fantasy of preaching to people at the mall. An uncomfortable uneasiness gripped me every time the idea came into my mind.
       I reluctantly started to entertain the idea that maybe the Holy Spirit was speaking to me and really was asking me to go to the mall and preach the gospel. A morbid apprehension arose that would not go away. The command became an obsessive "thoughtform," a powerful and persistent idea that cried out for action.
       My meditations now clarified exactly how I was supposed to preach to people. I was not being instructed to stand at the mall entryway and preach. Rather, I was to approach individual people in the mall and witness to them about Jesus Christ. I was to tell them about his soon coming appearance on the planet.
       The inner voice informed me that this witnessing work was a form of preaching; it was preaching to individuals. The voice stressed that this personalized preaching was a valuable work in spreading the gospel, as well as being excellent training for future evangelizing work of a more exalted kind.
       The idea of witnessing to strangers in the shopping mall petrified me. I resisted every command to do it. Each evening and weekend I came up with one excuse or another as to why I was not able to go to the local mall and witness to the lost souls.
       Sometimes the excuse was, "I am not ready for it yet"; sometimes it was, "I am not in the mood." At other times I deliberately procrastinated in my secular duties so that I did not have time left in the evening to go to the mall.
       In spite of loathing the witnessing idea, I believed that if Jesus were asking me to do it, then somehow I had to be courageous and do the work, irrespective of how much I dreaded it.
       A few days later the inner voice of meditation once again told me to witness at the local mall. Again, fear gripped me. I had been hoping the Lord had forgotten all about this witnessing work.
       I came up with several excuses why I could not go witnessing that evening: I was too tired; I didn't feel like it; I would not be successful anyway; I would go tomorrow instead.
       Tomorrow came. I felt awful all day at work. The prospect of witnessing after work depressed me terribly, and I felt sick with worry. It seemed like the stimulation to do witnessing work had completely taken over my life. I thought about it constantly and was powerless to stop the obsession.
       "You have to do my work," the voice of Jesus exhorted throughout the day.
       I frequently looked at my watch in dread of quitting time. Finally the dreaded hour arrived.
       "I am not going to do it," I said to myself. I copped out, consoling myself with the thought: Tomorrow I will feel different about it; the worry and anxiety have made me feel too fatigued to do anything this evening.
       I decided to rest up and go to bed a little earlier than normal. Burying myself in the blankets, I welcomed sleep.
       I woke up at around one o'clock in the morning, feeling absolutely terrible. The fact that I had not obeyed the order to witness in the mall seemed to haunt me.
       The inner voice of conscience taunted me. "You must do my work," it asserted. "There is no escape. You have aspired to take up your cross and follow me. Why don't you do it?"
       Tossing and turning, I tried to get back to sleep. But no sleep descended to take me out of the misery.
       In my imagination I pictured people fishing in the darkness from the pier at Redondo Beach. I was aware that even at this time of night a handful of fishermen would be on the pier.
       "Get up and witness to the fishermen right now!" the inner voice commanded.
       "Get up," it blasted.
       Wanting to hide, I pulled the bedcovers tightly around me.
       As I lay in bed, I felt so depressed that I wanted to die. The oppressiveness was so powerful that I felt actual nausea; my stomach then convulsed involuntarily, and I had to sit up to suppress it. Rationalizing that Christ must have totally forsaken me, I concluded I was feeling the utter emptiness of life without God.
       Recalling my frustrating experience of resisting the orders to use my credit cards to make thousand-dollar donations to support the Lighted Way, I remembered how futile my resistance was. I perceived only two choices were before me: Either I committed suicide, or I did exactly what Jesus was commanding. Unable to bear the terrible oppression any longer, I had to do something.
       I finally reasoned that doing the unpleasant witnessing had to feel better than the way I was feeling, so I gave in and decided to go witnessing to the fishermen.
       As soon as I started to get out of bed, I immediately felt better. I perceived that this scenario was in operation: if I obeyed God, I felt better; if I disobeyed him, I felt depressed as he withdrew his grace.
       In the quiet of the night, as I slowly got dressed, a particular biblical text came into my mind. Jesus is making a statement to Peter:

Feed my sheep.... When you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old ... someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go (John 21:17, 18).

       Having read the text a few days before, I now applied it to my situation. I thought: When I was younger I did as I pleased, living a rebellious and worldly life. Now that I am older, God is leading me to places where I do not want to go.
       I concluded that there could be no turning back from my ministry. My choice was to obey God or face the deathly depression of separation from him.
       Picking up my Bible, I left the apartment and drove toward the pier.

       The Mastermind's demons had gained total control over my life. I had become a slave to their will. The fact that I carried a Bible and preached about Jesus Christ did not mean that I was a true witness for Christ, even though I looked like one.
       In reward for my obedience to his dictates, the demon with the masquerade of "Jesus" told me to take a vacation visit to the Findhorn New Age community in Scotland. My colleagues at Findhorn were surprised and bewildered by my statements declaring that I was now a follower of "Jesus Christ," the only divine "Son of God," the "King of kings" and "Lord" of all New Age Masters. Faced with their astonishment, I did not push the issue, concluding they simply were not ready for the "revelation knowledge" I was privy to.
       Overall, the vacation was enjoyable, with only one mishap. On the return train journey, while traveling through the snow-covered mountains and forests of northern Scotland, I lost one of my personal diaries. These journals meticulously recorded all the details of important events along my New Age discipleship path. As I had begun that particular journal only a short time before, its loss was not disastrous. However, during the remainder of the journey back to Los Angeles, I wondered if the diary's disappearance was some kind of omen with esoteric significance.


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