Episode 11


       "Earthquake!"
       It was my first thought.
       Fear and anxiety gripped me.
       I had been suddenly awakened in the night. My bed trembled and shook.
       Lifting my head up off the pillow, I looked up at the dimly lighted picture hanging on the wall opposite me. Strange, it was not moving back and forth as I had come to expect during an earthquake.
       I listened for the sound of the building timbers creaking, but heard nothing.
       A memory flashed into my mind: The last time this had happened was when Jesus awakened me to give me a special message.
       With the bed still vibrating, a voice suddenly spoke into my ear.
       "I am coming soon. You have got to do my work. Time is running out."
       It's Jesus, I thought. The voice was unmistakable. It had a strange calmness overlaid with a tone of authority.
       I strained myself to hear more.
       There was only silence. I also noticed the bed had stopped shaking.
       In my mind I had the powerful, intuitive thought that Jesus was going to permanently appear in the world in about fifteen years' time. It was as if Jesus had implanted that knowledge directly into my brain, without my having consciously
heard it.
       The message from Jesus sent a wave of anxiety right through me. I knew I had been dragging my feet when told to do one-on-one personal witnessing to people in the shopping malls. I felt guilt about my timidity.
       As I lay in motionless introspection, I realized that the purpose of Jesus' message was to inform me that I needed to make haste in my evangelizing efforts. Time was running out. I needed to make a greater effort to help proclaim the good news of his soon return so the world would be ready to receive him when he made his public, physical appearance, his glorious second coming.
       In spite of my fear and reluctance to do the witnessing work, I resolved to put
much more effort into my commitment to carry out the will of my master, no matter what he told me to do.
       I thought about the prospect of Jesus returning at the turn of the century. What an incredible event that would be. I was sure I would receive my due reward from him when he came.
       A couple of weeks passed. Early on a Sunday morning, I started my meditation as usual. After lighting candles on the altar in my apartment, I said intercessory prayers, concluding them with, "I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ."
       After about a half hour of deep meditation, I started to receive clear directions
from my inner voice of conscience. "Go down to Venice Beach and preach the
gospel," it said.
       Fear flooded over me. Though my entire body started to feel hot, I especially
noticed a strong sensation of heat in the area of my heart chakra. I tore off my
sweater, even though the room was fairly chilly. The energy present felt powerful.
       I seemed to know intuitively that the direction was for real because the energy
was so strong. I fantasized preaching the gospel to a small crowd of curiosity
seekers on the beach boardwalk.
       I thought to myself: If God wants me to start preaching in public, I will have to do it. It seems I have received the commission. I don't want to go, but the time has come for me to start public preaching.
       I reasoned that every disciple sooner or later receives the call to deny himself and take up his cross. Now it was my turn to die to self.
       The inner voice spoke again: "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few," it said quietly.
       Then another Bible verse came into my mind as I contemplated the project before me: "Anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of
me. ... Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."
       In my imagination, I again fantasized, seeing myself standing beside the beach
boardwalk. I held a large Bible in my hand and boldly preached to the people
passing by. The more I thought about the scene, the more I filled with apprehension. What if no one will listen? What if someone starts to become violent with me? What if someone calls the police?
       I reasoned that if I were to become an evangelist, I would have to make a start
somewhere. Who knew; perhaps I would build up as large a ministry as Kenneth
Copeland's.
       In a way, the idea of preaching the gospel at the busy beach boardwalk seemed a more acceptable proposition than doing one-on-one witnessing in the fashionable malls.
       I decided to obey the meditation command without further hesitation. I knew it would be useless to resist anyway. I thought, "If God wants me to preach, then
that is what I will have to do." All preachers have to start sometime; perhaps it is
better to be thrown straight into the deep end. I further reasoned that it appeared
God wanted me to dispense with seminary training and all that sort of thing, and
I was required to just get out there and preach the Word.
       "Do it. Go," the inner voice kept prompting as I continued with my meditation. "The power of God will be with you. Go!"
       Without further introspection, I said special prayers for blessing on my preaching effort. Then I walked over to the closet and pulled out my best brown suit. All the great preachers on TV seemed immaculately dressed in a suit, collar, and tie. I reasoned that I should dress the same way. I straightened the tie in the mirror, picked up my Bible, and headed toward the boardwalk in my white, late-model Pontiac Sunbird.
       During the fifteen-mile drive to the beach, I soon started to feel absolutely sick in the pit of my stomach from fear. In spite of my resolve to do the will of my Lord, at every intersection, I felt like aborting the trip and driving away somewhere to escape. How nice it would be to visit a museum or hike in the mountains or just
drive out into the desert.
       My wandering imagination was brought to attention by the stern voice of my conscience. "Keep straight ahead," it scolded.
       "Go to the beach and preach."
       "You have to do this work."
       "Time is running out."
       "Go and preach."
       I fantasized being ridiculed by teasing unbelievers. I imagined someone confronting me and threatening to call the police if I didn't stop disturbing the peace. I started to hope that the drive to Venice would never end, or that with luck, I would be involved in an accident.
       However, no matter how sick with fear I felt inside, I was determined to respond to the great commission call. I had faith that I would receive divine protection. Perhaps even Jesus himself would stand beside me unseen and would assist me in my debut performance.
       Feeling hot and uncomfortable in the car, I turned up the air conditioning to high. My chest tightened as if a thick steel band was squeezed around it.
       "Keep going. Don't back down now," the voice interjected.
       Finally I joined the queue at the parking lot entrance. In a state of shock, I observed the area. It had been some five years since I had last visited the boardwalk as a curiosity seeker, and I had forgotten what a dilapidated, run-down area it was.
       I decided to first explore the mile-long main section of the boardwalk in search of a suitable location were I could stand and effectively preach to the passersby.
       I walked down the busy, crowded 15-foot-wide pedestrian street. An assortment of mostly older buildings - housing cafes and stores - lined the inland side of the boardwalk. The ocean side of the boardwalk comprised a wide strip of grass covered park area dotted with palm trees. Street vendors lined the sidewalk, selling all kinds of gadgets. At intervals, street performers peddled their artistry. I saw a fire eater, several solo musicians, musical bands, and even a chain-saw juggler.
       The farther I walked, the more dejected I became. I brushed past hobos who
looked mentally ill and in need of psychiatric care. Others suffered from horrible
sores and skin diseases. I walked past punk rockers with large safety pins piercing
their ears and with tattoos displayed on their arms. Homeless out-of-towners with
sleeping bags strapped to their backs hobbled along, looking as if they were searching for their fortune.
       While my attention seemed to focus mainly on the bums, they were actually in
the minority. Regular weekenders taking a leisurely stroll in the sun made up most
of the crowd. Some of the passersby even looked like affluent businessmen taking their wives out for an interesting Sunday adventure.
       I had lost all enthusiasm, but forced myself to continue searching for a suitable
preaching spot. The noise, the stench of booze, and the aroma of marijuana started to become sickening. I passed one street performer who appeared to be some kind of circus daredevil. He had spread out a large plastic mat covered with broken glass. His repertoire of feats included walking barefoot over broken glass bottles with sharp, jagged edges.
       "I have had enough!" I said angrily to myself when I saw what he was doing.
"This place is not for me."
       In my thinking I said, "I don't care what God wants me to do; I am not going to preach here."
       Turning around, I headed back to the car in disgust, shocked to think that Jesus would send me to this terrible abode of evil. In a temper I told myself, "The idea to preach at this place must have been a joke. I am never ever going to return."
       Jumping into the car, I slammed the door and roared off.
       The next Sunday morning during my meditation, I received an impression to attend a certain Christian church that I had never been to before but which I had
passed each morning on my way to work. I had often thought about attending it
just to see what kind of church it was but had never made any attempt to visit it.
       Christ's Community Church was fairly small and seemed to have a conservative atmosphere. I arrived early enough to attend the Bible-study class held in the pastor's office. We read one of Paul's shorter epistles and followed this with a prayer session to seek the Lord's blessing upon the worship hour.
       As the organist began playing the prelude, I entered the sanctuary and sat down quietly in a pew. Opening up the program bulletin, I glanced over the order of service. The closing prayer hit me in the eyes; I couldn't believe what I was seeing. There before me was printed The Great Invocation - the most important prayer of the New Age movement. The prayer was commonly seen in the Alice Bailey books, the metaphysical works published by the Lucifer Publishing Company, later renamed Lucis Press. Of course, New Agers consider Lucifer to have been a great king of Israel, not a fallen archangel.
       I thought it wonderful that this New Age prayer was used in some Christian churches, but was surprised to find it used in what appeared to be a conservative
church.
       The order of worship and the sermon were just like what I had come to expect in any regular Christian church. I saw absolutely no indication that this church was in any way connected with the New Age, other than the fact that the New Age equivalent of the Lord's Prayer was being used for the benediction. I very much doubted whether any of the congregation knew where the prayer came
from. I thought, "The Lord must have inspired me to come to this church to let
me know that his New Age energy really is beginning to manifest itself, even in
the traditional churches."
       It occurred to me that Jesus was showing me that if I faithfully carried out my
evangelizing work, I, too, could have my own Christian church, similar to this one. I even wondered if the Lord was planning to have me join this community church in order to assist in the introduction of other New Age ideas into its teachings.
       I joined the friendly church members in their fellowship luncheon, but did not
mention anything about my doctrinal beliefs or New Age background.

       In my meditations, the Lord impressed upon me the need to return to Venice to start a beach ministry. However, I was informed that the ministry was not meant
to be conducted quite the way I had originally visualized. I was given a new perspective as to how I should do my "preaching."
       In meditation, I visualized myself standing at the side of the boardwalk. Beside me stood a large sign displayed on an easel, the type used by artists to hold their canvas. The controversial message written on the sign was designed to attract attention. People stimulated by the sign and its message would then come over to me and ask me about my religious views. In this way I would be able to witness effectively to them. I was given clear instructions regarding the design of the poster display, including the appropriate wording.
       I proceeded to purchase the easel and art materials, and then carefully made the sign. After finishing it, I thought to myself: Jesus is very smart to have impressed me in such a way; the idea for the sign is brilliant. I was very pleased with it.
       The inner voice told me that initially I was not assigned to preach out loud to the passing crowds on the boardwalk. Jesus wanted me to attract people's attention
with the special sign and then witness to them individually as they asked me questions. In this way I could spread the gospel and gain practice in the skill of persuasive speech, a necessary prerequisite to any future public evangelizing activity.
       Even though the new assignment better suited my personality, I was still apprehensive about going to Venice again. I kept wondering what Jesus would want me to do next and found myself hoping that the weekend would never come.
       Saturday morning did arrive. During my meditation I received confirmation that I needed to proceed to the beach as planned. "You do not have any choice," the voice insisted. "You have to do this work; it is your destiny plan. The Father will bless you. Go forth in strength and preach!"
       This time I left my suit and tie in the closet. I had been impressed to dress casually in order to blend in with the beach scene.
       I packed the sign and easel into the trunk of my car and set off for Venice. I again felt a nauseating apprehension and tightening chest, but tried to ignore them. I
knew that if I wanted to continue in God's grace, I had to do this work.
       I remembered the biblical account of Jonah and his flight from the task the Lord had given him - to go and preach in the city of Nineveh. I felt like running away, just as Jonah had.
       "Lord, why me?" I asked in my thinking.
       "Why not someone else?"
       "Why does it have to be me?"
       There was no answer in reply except the words, "You have got to do my work."
       I finally arrived at the boardwalk parking lot. My plan was to quickly scout around for a suitable spot and then, without any hesitation, set up the display sign and carry out my work. I had committed myself that, come what may, I would stay for at least a full hour.
       Even though it was not quite midday, the boardwalk was already fairly busy. I
walked briskly down the boardwalk, trying to ignore all the bums and dopers, and intent on finding a suitable spot to set up the sign.
       About a quarter of a mile down the boardwalk a voice inside my mind suddenly interjected, "Here!"
       "This is it, right here. This is the place," it exclaimed.
       I was standing in front of a small Jewish synagogue positioned right up against the edge of the boardwalk. The facade was painted white and had two large brown
wooden doors at the front, one with a large star of David painted on it. The front
wall had Hebrew words written on it along with an English sign displaying the
name of the synagogue.
       I noticed that the street vendors and performers seemed to have avoided this little stretch of the boardwalk, as if giving respect to the holy place of worship. Across from the synagogue was a nice place where I could conveniently put up the sign and face the walkway. With the synagogue opposite me, it was a perfect spot.
The people would have only two things to catch their attention as they walked by:
my sign or, directly across from me, the synagogue.
       I thought to myself, If Jesus preached outside the temple in Jerusalem, I don't see why I shouldn't preach outside of a synagogue in Venice.
       Hurrying back to the car, I unloaded my sign and easel, recited a prayer for God's blessing, and then hobbled along with the bulky equipment under my arms, feeling terribly self-conscious. I almost wished I could hide the sign until I arrived at my destination.
       I was relieved to find the space still vacant. With a certain amount of trepidation, I set up the easel, placed the large sign on it, and stood at attention next to my grand announcement.
       The sign caused quite a stir with the crowd. Immediately a young couple stopped in their tracks as they passed in front of me.
       "Where is he, then?" the man eagerly asked.
       The unusual sign had grabbed their attention. In the center of the large poster was a colorful copy of the famous Warner Sallman painting of the face of Jesus Christ. Above the picture of Christ's face was written in large, bright-red letters:

       IF YOU ARE WAITING FOR THIS MAN TO COME,
       YOU ARE WASTING YOUR TIME.

       Below Sallman's picture of Christ was written:

       BECAUSE I CAN TELL YOU WHERE HE IS!

       I eagerly replied to the couple, "He has never left this planet. He is still here. But he does not exist in a flesh and blood body anymore. He let go of his flesh body after the ascension. He now exists in his spirit body and lives upon the spirit realms.
       "How do you know?" the man asked dubiously.
       "I know because I have seen him," I replied boldly. "He has appeared to me, he has given me healings, and I am a follower of his teachings.
       The couple seemed interested.
       "You see, Jesus has never left the planet," I explained. "He is still here. After his ascension, he did not travel to somewhere in outer space."
       Pointing up to the sky, I said, "The heavenlies are not some place out there. The heavenlies are right here on this planet." I waved my arms in an arc, indicating our present environment. "The heavenlies are simply a different dimension of our normal existence. Heaven is not some place in the cosmos; it is located right on this
planet."
       I asked the couple, "Have you ever had a vivid, lucid dream so powerful that,
upon waking, you were convinced you had been to a real place but you didn't
know were it was?"
       The woman nodded her head as if she related to what I was saying. Her boyfriend gave me a blank stare.
       "In those kinds of dream experiences, you have not been just dreaming. You
have actually visited real places in your soul body. You have been on a trip to
the lowest levels of the spirit realms."
       I explained further. "Now Jesus does not live on those lower levels; he exists upon higher levels of the spirit realm. But those spirit realms are right here on our planet - they are just in a different dimension." Pointing to the ground I commented, "Jesus is still right here in this world. He has the power to pass from the spirit dimension into our material dimension at will."
       The couple now started to look a little confused, so I raised my voice.
       "Jesus has power. He has the power to heal you and help you in your life. He can speak to you through the practice of prayer and meditation. He is really right inside of you. All you need to do is meditate, and he will teach you how to live abundantly. He will heal you. He is God, he is omnipresent, he is everywhere, and he has the power to heal you and bring wisdom into your life."
       The male companion started to look a little disinterested. I struggled to hold his attention. "The voice of God is right inside of you, if you will only take the time
to meditate and listen to him," I said.
       I hesitated for an instant to catch my breath. The man nudged his companion to
move on.
       My sign was attracting a lot of attention. Some people laughed when they saw it. Others looked more serious, and then glanced at me, as if to say, "Hmmm, I wonder who this guy is."
       When my legs started to tremble with tension, I deliberately breathed deeply, a
technique I had learned in bioenergetics training years before. This deep breathing
brought on calm and strength.
       Three young punk rockers approached me.
       "Where is Jesus, then?" one of them asked.
       "He is right inside of you," I replied as I pointed to the youth's chest.
       One of the youths asked sincerely, "In what way can he help me?"
       "Jesus has power," I replied. "He is God. He can transform your life if you let
him. For instance, if he took over your life, you could become president of General Motors. There is no limit to what God can do in your life. But you must meditate and seek his presence first."
       I gave the guys further encouragement before they left.
       At one point an elderly man started telling me how he liked to read the Bible. Glancing aside, I noticed a police patrol car slowly working its way through the people as it came up the boardwalk.
       Shifting my focus back to the man, I commented, "Reading the Bible is good, but it has its limitations. It does not tell you what God wants to communicate to you right now. The only way to know God's will for you right now is to meditate and listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit."
       The police car came nearer.
       Feeling uneasy, I glanced over to the synagogue.
       The car reached my spot and stopped.
       I wondered whether I was doing anything illegal. Perhaps the synagogue people had filed a complaint.
       The officer poked his head out of the open window and asked, "Where is he then?"
       His colleague in the car peered at me with a grin on his face.
       "He is right inside your patrol car," I replied with a big smile on my face as I pointed straight at their vehicle.
       I explained my gospel message to the officer. He thanked me and proceeded with his patrol.
       Many people approached me and asked, "Where is he?" Sometimes they stayed for quite a while listening to my discourse. At other times they began to walk away after my opening sentence. Some people were very serious in their questions; others looked for fun and entertainment.
       One man told me that he was a backslidden believer. At the end of our conversation he said he was going to start attending church again because of my encouragement.
       The main emphasis of my message was to tell the inquirer about the reality of
Jesus' existence on the planet and to tell him about the importance of meditation
as a method for gaining access to his great wisdom and healing power. If I could only persuade people to meditate, I knew that the voice of the higher self - that clear, quiet voice of the inner conscience - would do the rest in bringing the person onto a spiritual path. I hoped the seeker would find the New Age Christian path.
       I stayed at the beach all afternoon, witnessing to all kinds of people - Christians, Hindus, atheists, agnostics, and New Agers. For each type of person, I was careful to tailor my basic message to be acceptable for their individual background. The witnessing turned out to be a successful venture.
       As dusk began to descend, I started to pack up. I returned home feeling tired, but exhilarated. It was as if I had broken through a block by doing the work I had been commanded to do. The release and the inner joy I regarded as a special reward from God for my successful accomplishment.
       The wonderful feeling of joy and exhilaration lasted for a few days. I felt really high and even looked forward to visiting the beach again the next weekend.
       The sign did its job beautifully, enabling me to witness to a lot of people. However, I now realized that I needed a handout for seekers and passersby.
       In my meditations I received the inspiration to write a brochure called "The Search for Happiness." I listed my ministry under the name Light of the Way, a variation on The Lighted Way. I chose the name in honor of The Way, the first name given to the early church as recorded in Acts. In order to have a contact address printed on this publication, I obtained a post office box and subsequently had hundreds of the brochures printed.
       I spent almost every Saturday and Sunday afternoon witnessing at the beach boardwalk. The great feeling of exhilaration that I felt after my first visit was never repeated again. It was simply a matter of doing God's work, a somewhat tiring work, but a work that I had been specifically commissioned to do. I met all kinds of people and started several friendships, with some people coming to see me each week on a regular basis.
       I learned to be more careful when speaking to my "fellow" Christians; I didn't
want them to have the wrong impression about my ministry. It was best to first
ask each inquirer if he was a Christian. If the person answered Yes, I phrased
my ideas so that they were more compatible with traditional Christian beliefs. If
the person answered, "No, I am not a Christian," I knew I had much more liberty in the statements I could make to them.
       For example, when addressing New Agers, I would openly tell them that I used to be a New Ager. I informed them that Jesus Christ had come into my life, and I had become a New Age Christian. I told New Agers, I had discovered that Jesus has far more power than my former Hindu guru, and I explained to them that Jesus Christ was head of all gurus and masters.
       "Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords," I would say. "All masters and gurus are subordinate to him, and you are better off going right to the source of
all power. If you pray and meditate upon Jesus Christ, you will start to have miracles happening in your life. That is what happened to me."
       I was impressed to write a second brochure. This one discussed Christian meditation and gave specific instructions on how to do the meditation techniques I had learned at the New Lighted Way. I gave out copies of it to the diligent seekers.
       After I had spent several weeks on duty at the beach, a few individuals started to come to me on a regular basis for counsel regarding their personal problems, usually difficulties they were having in their relationships or in their religious experience. At the end of most counseling sessions, I would rest one hand on the brother's shoulder, hold my other arm in the air, and say aloud a prayer of intercession. I concluded each prayer with this invocation: "Heavenly Father, we ask this in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen." One man with a history of mental illness gave me his address and asked me to keep in touch with him. I was impressed to write him a long letter of encouragement.
       I became acquainted with a woman who lived in an apartment on the boardwalk very near to my spot. She confided that a couple of years previously she had seen Jesus appear right on the stretch of beach near where I had the sign. She said, "As I was sitting on that bench over there, suddenly a bright and shining figure appeared standing on the sand about thirty yards away. I knew it was Jesus. I turned around to a lady who sat next to me and said to her, 'Look there, can you see him?' After a few moments, Jesus mysteriously disappeared."
       Some people hung around for a long time, asking me all kinds of questions. One lawyer asked me what I thought of the second coming of Christ. I happily explained the nature of that very important event.
       "Jesus has already appeared to people on the planet," I told him. "But this is not his full second coming. Jesus Christ will soon appear in our world in a real physical body, just like the one he had in Palestine."
       The lawyer then asked, "When will Jesus come?"
       "I expect him to appear in about fifteen years. At least that is what he told me a couple of months ago."
       The man grimaced as if surprised by my answer.
       "He will soon materialize himself in another flesh-and-blood physical body," I continued. "He will then appear in the world permanently in order to claim his rightful position as Lord of lords and King of kings. This will be his second coming. He will come to set up his kingdom. He will inaugurate the millennium, and we will have a thousand years of peace and prosperity. The biblical book of Revelation prophesies all this."
       "Will he appear in the clouds?" the man asked.
       "Let me make one point clear. Do not expect Jesus to appear in the clouds of the sky with all his angels. It is not going to happen that way. The Bible term clouds is symbolic of etheric 'substance.'"
       Another person started to listen in.
       "When Jesus returns, the atmosphere surrounding him will sometimes have a mistlike vaporous quality to it. This is what is meant in the Bible when it says he will appear in clouds."
       My statement was in total contradiction to the clear description Christ gave of his second coming, as recorded in Matthew 24:27, 30, 31.
       On a few occasions, a whole group of people gathered around me to hear what I was saying. When this happened, I raised my voice and boldly preached to them in exactly the manner I had planned on doing the very first time I came to the
boardwalk in response to the command of Jesus telling me to preach the gospel.
       A few individuals offered to help me in my work. I became friends with one young man in particular. A newly baptized Christian and a keyboard player in a Christian band, he was very interested in my mystical experiences. We had dinner together on a couple of occasions, and I gave him counseling and encouraged him to practice meditation.
       While I found the beach ministry almost enjoyable in a sense, I still loathed doing the mall witnessing work. I avoided doing it whenever I could and only did it when I was absolutely forced to.
       I was supposed to do the mall witnessing in the evenings after work as a supplement to the weekend beach ministry, but I had done very little of it compared to what I sensed the Lord wanted me to do. Instead of witnessing, I often copped out by intentionally working late at my job and then going straight home to read my Bible or study other Christian literature.
       One Sunday morning I received clear instructions to go down to Venice Beach as usual. As I was leisurely driving down the freeway, the inner voice suddenly burst forth in my mind. "Turn around," it said. "There is a change of plan. You have to do mall witnessing today. Turn back and go to Carson Mall."
       "Oh no!" I exclaimed, "is this for real?"
       Feeling apprehensive, I did not know what to make of this unexpected intrusion, especially since I hated the prospect of going to the mall. Reasoning that the voice could have been nonsense coming into my mind from the astral realms, I listened for more. Not hearing anything further, I continued to the beach, although I felt a little guilty.
       As I drove along. I completely missed my freeway turnoff. Strange, I thought, I have never done that before.
       I proceeded on with the intention of taking the next turnoff. I missed that offramp too. It was as if my mind had gone blank. I began to wonder if these gross navigational errors were omens indicating that I should have turned around when I originally heard the unexpected instruction. I started to feel uncomfortable and wondered whether I should turn back and go to the mall, but I reasoned that it was too late - I was already near the beach.
       I meditated in the beach parking lot. My higher self seemed to tell me to stay at the beach and set up my sign as usual, but the direction was not very clear. Not receiving any further directions, I decided to stay at the beach.
       I did the work successfully and stayed at my post all afternoon. My good Christian friend from the musical band came to visit me. He shared with me his vision that at some point in the future we should set up a stage and preach the gospel to the beach people, using loudspeakers and a live Christian rock band.
       "This is is exactly what I have thought myself," I told him. Then I shared other ideas I had on how I planned to expand the ministry in general, such as renting a recording studio and making tapes for radio broadcasting with purchased air time.
       Trying to convince people to turn to Jesus Christ was tiring work. Dusk finally arrived, and I set off for home feeling drained and ready for a good rest. During the
drive back home, I noticed I was starting to feel rather depressed. By the time I
arrived home, depression haunted me like an assassin. I felt terrible.
       As I walked into my apartment, the inner voice abruptly pierced into my mind.
"See, you should have turned around and gone to the mall as I instructed on the
freeway."
       I realized that I had made a mistake in ignoring the surprise instructions.
       "You have to be prepared for my instructions at all times," the voice of conscience reprimanded. "You must do exactly what I tell you. I demand obedience."
       I started to feel anger toward Jesus for his reprimand, especially since I was exhausted from the long day of doing his missionary work. I looked up at the Sallman painting of Jesus that was hanging on the wall. I could not understand why
he should withdraw his grace and allow me to be punished with depression, just
because I made an error of judgment.
       Anger boiled up inside of me. I suddenly grabbed a sharp carving knife from the kitchen counter. In a fit of rage, I lurched toward the painting of Christ. Standing in front of the picture, I aggressively pointed the cold steel blade at Jesus.
       ''You bastard," I said angrily.
       My jaw tried to clamp down on the words.
       "You ----- bastard. I spend all day doing your work, and then you try to torment me like this."
       Then I started to shout in a muzzled voice, "You bastard. I hate you."
       Furiously, I waved the knife in front of Jesus. "I could kill you for doing this." I shouted aloud.
       After a moment's hesitation, I turned around and took a couple of steps away from the picture. Turning around again to face the painting, I pressed the steel blade against my stomach and glared at Jesus.
       "You're goin' to push me into doing this," I growled as the impulse to kill myself by hari-kari erupted in my emotions.
       There was silence.
       I turned away and put the weapon down, trying to control my anger before doing something stupid.
       Bending down, I took off my shoes. Suddenly I seized one of the shoes and repeatedly banged it on the floor in a fit of uncontrolled rage. I imagined that I was
hitting Jesus right in the face.
       BANG!
       BANG!
       BANG!
       "You bastard!" I shouted at the top of my voice.
       "You swine!" "I hate you!"
       BANG!
       BANG!
       BANG!
       I repeatedly smashed the shoe violently onto the floor with all my strength. It was as if I were exploding from all the weeks and months of pressure that I had been subjected to in order to be forced to do the mall and beach witnessing work. The requirement to send more $1,000 checks to Muriel in Texas had further aggravated my exasperation.
       BANG!
       BANG!
       BANG!
       My arm started to hurt. I paused to catch my breath.
       Looking up at the picture of Christ again, new rage burst out of me.
       BANG! I pounded the floor again.
       BANG!
       BANG!
       "You ----- bastard!"
       "Don't you dare do this to me!"
       "I'll kill you for this."
       BANG!
       BANG!
       "You bastard!"
       "I hate you!"
       Exhaustion overcame me, and I finally stopped. As I knelt there - panting like a mad horse, my hand numb from the pain of bashing into the hard floor - I started
to realize that what I had been doing was terrible. Collapsing on the floor, I begged
for forgiveness and mercy. Tears ran down my face as, sobbing, I prayed to Jesus.
"Lord please forgive me. I understand why you are disciplining me so strictly. I
know I have to overcome my weakness and be fully obedient to your will. Please
give me the strength to overcome.
       I believed that Jesus loved me and was stern because it was for my good in the long term, and because the mission of spreading the gospel had to go forward with haste. I told the Lord that I was sorry for my loss of temper and outrageous blasphemy.
       Strangely, as I begged for mercy. I somehow sensed that Jesus was not at all offended by my outburst. I intuitively felt that he was laughing at me. It was a strong impression, as if I could clearly hear his laughter inside my mind. I felt that I almost didn't need to ask for forgiveness.
       I reasoned that because Jesus was God, he knew about my frustration and chronic anxiety over having to do the witnessing work, and he must have completely forgiven me, even before I begged him for it. He had not been surprised by the tantrum.
       Getting up off the floor, I noticed I didn't feel any remorse over my blasphemous statements. The guilt had gone. Intellectually, I knew I should feel guilty, but I didn't.
       Walking into the kitchen, I noticed the depression had lifted. I felt hungry and started to make supper.

       You may be wondering if I ever had any doubts regarding the identity of the spirit that ruled my life - whether he was the true Jesus. The truth is, I never suspected I was a slave to demons masquerading as agents of light. My confidence in the New Age path and the spirit guides had been built up over many years. Once I had read the Alice Bailey books, I became a devoted "believer" in the New Age,
its spirit guides, and its philosophies. I then became an easy candidate for total
"possession." Almost nothing could shake my faith in what I believed and cause
me to doubt the authenticity of my spirit guide. Even my dedicated Bible reading
could not pierce through the web of deception because I was twisting the meaning
of many texts in an attempt to harmonize them with my existing metaphysical
beliefs.
       Satan has incredible powers of deception. This is why cults are so enslaving. The victims have built up an almost impregnable wall of faith around themselves based upon their acceptance of contra-Biblical doctrines. Once a person is immersed in cults, it takes almost a miracle to rescue him from the powers of darkness masquerading as agents of light. Satan's power is incredibly strong. No wonder even the elect are at risk.
      
       Jesus warned:

       Not everyone who says to me, "Lord. Lord, will enter the kingdom of
       heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
       Many will say to me on that day, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in
       your name, and in your name ... ?" Then I will tell them plainly, "I ne-
       ver knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!" (Matthew 7:21-23).

       Just because a person has a Bible in his hand and is preaching a gospel in the name of Jesus does not mean that the person is automatically a Christian, a true witness for the gospel of Christ. As indicated in the scripture above, the person who has a true relationship with Christ is "he ... who does the will of my Father who is in heaven" (verse 21).
       The will of the Father is revealed in the Bible. If anyone is teaching contrary to the Word of God, he cannot have the light of Christ. The Bible says, "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" (Isaiah 8:22, KJV).
       Christians need to protect themselves from false teachers and erroneous teachings by following the example of the noble Bereans, who "examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true" (Acts 17:11).

 

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