The questions flashed in my mind. Will I believe God? Or will I believe the devil?
A split-second later, another thought rolled like deafening thunder. It's more than belief. Will I serve God? My heart pounded in my head. Or will I serve the devil?
Unseeing, I stared at the sky. "Oh, God," I moaned, "I thought I'd devoted my life to serving You. Never in a million lifetimes would I have served the devil intentionally." I sighed. "But I was wrong, wasn't I? I was deceived."
I had considered myself a New Age Christian. Now I realized there could be no such thing. In New Age, destiny is based on each soul's works. In Christianity, destiny is based on Christ's works. The two beliefs had conflicting foundations. I had to choose.
New Age did not build on the Bible. The Bible condemned the basic tenets of New Age. I had to choose.
New Age said my soul continued to live when my body died. The Bible clearly said it did not. I had to choose.
I shook my head. "God, I can hardly believe what I've done. I was deceived because I didn't use Your Word as the standard. I didn't just believe wrongly myself, I taught the devil's lies to others." I closed my eyes. Even though the sun shone warm, a chill cut to my heart. "Could You ever forgive me?"
A Bible verse flashed into my mind: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
"Please forgive me, God," I cried. "I finally understand that Your truth in the Bible makes more sense than reincarnation. Now I see that You are a God of greater love and patience than I ever dreamed. I accept You -- the God of the Bible. Please forgive me. Please accept me."
The turmoil, the frustration, the confusion of the last weeks drained away. Peace washed over me.
I can't explain what happened that afternoon. But I sensed God's love as I never had before. Not just His love for all humans through all time. But His love for me, Jay Christian -- plain, ordinary person who'd made a mess out of life and hurt a lot of people along the way.
A new thought struck. Wonder filled me. "God," I said, "it's like ...Jesus lived all my karma for me. I never have to worry about karmic debt again!"
As the days came and went, I felt an unnatural calmness. At home, I continued to study the Bible and find new and practical ways of dealing with life. At work, I handled with composure situations that would have angered me earlier.
As I continued to apply the Bible study principles Pastor Riggs had recommended, the issues became ever more clear. There are only two sources of information about God -- God or Satan. The idea of reincarnation was clearly not from God. It had to be from Satan.
One evening I thought back to earlier discussions with Christians. Supporting reincarnation, I had won every argument until I ran into Annette and Pastor Riggs. How could it be, I wondered, that so many Bible-believing Christians couldn't support their position against reincarnation?
Days passed. Then one evening the force of the answer shocked me: Maybe few Christians have studied in depth what the Bible says about death. Maybe many don't know about thorough study principles, such as the ones Pastor Riggs recommended. Unfortunately, Satan uses their misunderstanding to misrepresent God's character ... to make people think God is harsh rather than loving.
Satan also uses misunderstanding about death as a medium to present a variety of subtle lies. I remembered Pastor Riggs's comment: "Misunderstanding death makes a person vulnerable to being deceived by Satan on other issues." I would never have given up the things I saw and heard from the spirit world if I didn't understand that death is an unconscious sleep.
But those who don't understand. What will happen if the "spirit" of their dead grandmother, or a favorite aunt or a respected pastor appears to them and instructs them in ways that disagree just slightly with the Bible? I shuddered, knowing how real such experiences were.
So, how important is it to know the truth about death? Understanding the truth of unconsciousness in death, I realized, is the only protection against Satan's deceptions in New Age.
"Oh, God," I prayed. "Thank You for leading me to truth."
Annette and Cari stopped by my apartment one evening. "We just baked some chocolate-chip cookies and we had to come to town so we brought you some." Of course I invited them in. Quickly! Didn't want to take any chance on their changing their minds about sharing freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies!
We visited briefly. "Well, we gotta go," Annette said. Her face was flushed.
"Are you feeling the same way you did the night we saw the dog?" I asked.
"Not nearly as bad as I felt that night," she said. "But I still feel a dark ... heavy ... presence. And voices are whispering in my mind."
"Have you been feeling that sort of thing anyplace other than my apartment?" I asked.
Annette looked down, thinking. Shock crossed her face. "Hm-m-m. No."
After they left, I collapsed into the orange love seat. "God," I prayed, "why would Annette be attacked when she comes to my apartment? Is there something wrong here?"
My eyes were drawn to the bookcase. A lead weight dropped onto me.
"No," I cried. "Not that!"
The turmoil I'd felt weeks before boiled up inside again. Do I want to keep deception in my home? Will I serve God? Or will I serve the devil? The devil doesn't give two hoots about my welfare. God loves me. The devil wants to kill me. God wants to give me eternal life, eternal joy, eternal peace.
World War III raged inside me. I wanted to run but I couldn't move.
I've allowed deception to stay in my home. Does that open the door for the devil?
I'll get the New Age books out of here. I'll give them away.
No! That just passes lies on to someone else.
I'll box them up and put them in the basement.
Why do I want to keep deception around?
"God," I finally cried, "I want You. Whatever it costs, I'll follow You."
I stood, with strength I hadn't possessed until I'd made the decision. I carried the thirty-gallon garbage can to the bookcase and pulled a backwards paperback from the shelf. "God, you've got to help me do this," I cried.
I opened the book. Tore it top to bottom through the binding. Grabbed a section of pages and ripped them in two from side to side.
I'd based nearly my whole adult life on these books. They were my friends.
I grabbed another section of pages. R-r-rip. Another section.
I felt like my best friend had struggled to my door in a blizzard. And I, warm and cozy in my house, waved him away and shouted, "Go die in the blizzard. I know it's minus thirty degrees, and the wind is howling it colder. I know there's no other warm place anywhere near. You can't come in here. Go freeze to death in the storm."
Tears flowed. I slid another NewAge book off the shelf. R-r-rip.
"Help me, God."
Torn pages and book covers piled up in the garbage can. The bookcase emptied. Tears flowed. Prayers ascended.
When the job was done, I felt weaker than if I'd just run a marathon. I hauled the can to the curb. It was almost more than I could do not to grab a scrap or two for memory's sake.
In the aparunent, I fell on my knees. "God, please cleanse my apartment from all the effects of the demon-inspired books I had."
In the morning darkness, the garbage truck rumbled closer, a house at a time. "God, with Your strength, I'm not going out there!" I prayed. "You love me. You wont deceive me. You only ask me to give up what would destroy me. You are truth, God. You are truth."
Then the crew was just outside my window. As they moved on, I heard the hydraulic cylinder and packer clunk and squeal, compressing the truck's contents.
I rolled over, tears soaking the pillow. "God, I choose You."
I struggled with my decision. Did I do the right thing?
The next Sunday at work I asked Annette if she'd stop by my apartment sometime in the next week or so. She and Cari dropped by several evenings later. We visited awhile. Just before they were ready to leave, Annette said, "Something's different here, Jay. This is the first time I've been in your home that I didn't feel that awful heaviness. I don't hear voices either. No problem breathing." She looked at her watch. "We've been here an hour, and I feel just fine."
A couple weeks later, I worked a long day of sales in Clarksville, then met a late dinner appointment with a client. Fighting sleep on my way home, I pulled off at a wayside park to catch a nap. I leaned my seat back and fell right to sleep.
The next thing I knew, a low bass hum vibrated inside me. A dim light filled me. I couldn't move. The hum grew louder and louder. The white light grew blindingly bright. My internal organs trembled. I couldn't open my eyes. Couldn't move my arms. Couldn't speak or scream. I felt imprisoned in a body that might explode any instant.
What is going on?
My body shook from the inside. The light was brighter than any I had ever seen, and it kept getting brighter. In my mind, I could see light shining from my ears and nose, even forcing itself out my closed eyes. The hum blasted so loud I thought my body would disintegrate.
Terror filled me. Terror like I hadn't felt since that spirit had shown up in my house. I startled at the thought. Could this be demons? Am I being attacked?
I still could not open my mouth. Mentally, I cried out, "Satan, leave me alone!"
The deafening hum wavered.
In my mind, I screamed again, "Satan, leave me alone!"
The hum roared louder than before.
I had read there was power in the name of Jesus. Unable to speak, I trusted God to hear my prayer and work in my behalf. Mentally, I screamed at the top of my lungs, "Satan, in the name of Jesus Christ, leave me."
An electric shock jolted me. All was quiet. I opened my eyes. Darkness. I sat up and looked around. The two other cars that had been there when I arrived still were there. Crickets sang nearby. Anyone else would have thought it was a perfectly peaceful night.
"I'm awake now!" I said aloud. I started the engine and got out of there.
"God," I prayed as I drove, "I choose You. Please protect me from Satan and all his demons. Lead me to understand Your truth more fully."
Why would such a thing happen to me? I wondered. Because I served the devil for years, I realized. He didn't want to let me go. He'll force his subjects into submission if he can. I'm not big enough to fight the devil. But Jesus is!
"Praise God!" I exclaimed. "Thank You, Jesus!"
As I fellowshipped with my God on that trip home, I began to see that Satan had worked hard to keep me from learning truth. He'd tried to keep me from hiring Annette. He'd overcome me with sleep when I started to read truth. He'd attacked Annette to try to keep her from sharing and encouraging me to search for truth. He'd attacked me to try to force me back to himself.
"Yes!" I exploded. "I made the right decision when I chose God! I made the right decision when I destroyed the books! Thank You, God, for leading me to You. Help me always to choose You!"
Life moved on day by day. It still had its stresses -- work being a major one. But as I continued to search the Bible for God's wisdom, as I talked with the God of the Bible as a Friend, as I fellowshiped with other Christians who also sought truth more than convenience, I learned to trust God with my life. I began feeling an inner calm I'd never known.
I continued to sense God's love. I had never felt so accepted. So good. So comfortable meeting people. I didn't have to impress them anymore. I could just relax. Ask them questions. Find out about them.
Occasionally someone who'd known me for a while would act surprised after we'd talked a few minutes. "What's wrong?" I asked on several occasions.
"Oh, nothing. You're just ... different."
"I don't know." Finally one person added, "I can't explain it. You're just... nicer."
Nicer? I didn't have a clue what they were talking about.
One evening I telephoned a friend in North Carolina who lived in the path of a hurricane. "Doug. This is Jay. How are you?"
"OK. But I'm surprised you got me. The police just let us back in for a couple hours to survey the damage and get what we could out of our house. None of us were hurt, but a tree fell through the roof and rain's pouring into the living room. It's a real mess!"
We talked a few minutes, then he asked, "Are you all right, Jay?"
"Yeah. I'm doing great. Why?"
"You don't sound like you.... I mean ... well ... don't you want to say anything else?"
"What do you mean?"
"Like, where's the sarcasm?"
Surprised, I replied, "Well, I just called to see how you were doing. Just wanted to be sure you were okay."
"Yeah," he responded, "but I've never heard you talk this long to anyone without a few sarcastic jabs. Some smart aleck remarks. It's just not like you."
Was I changing? I was enjoying life more. I didn't really see much change, but people responded differently to me than they used to.
Within weeks after I accepted the God of the Bible, I left V105. Six months later, I returned and worked there nearly a year as a consultant. When the receptionist heard I was leaving the second time, her mouth dropped open. "You're leaving?" she asked in a tone of disbelief.
"Man, Jay, I hate to see you go."
Her reaction surprised me. She hadn't said a word when I left the first time. Of all the places I'd worked, Johnson City was about the only place I'd ever gotten any heartfelt goodbyes.
We chatted a bit, there in the lobby, then she added, "You know, Jay, the first time you left ... uh-h-h .. ." She lowered her chin and rolled her eyes off to her left. She hesitated -- as if she'd gotten herself into something she really didn't want to finish.
I chuckled. "Go ahead. Out with it."
"Well ... uh-h-h ... frankly ... I was glad to see you go. To be honest .. ." She hesitated, then pressed on. ". .. Well, you were a pain. But this time, I really will miss you. You have changed."
Yes, Jennifer, I have changed. I finally know the truth about God -- He is love. I finally know the truth about me -- I am loved. I can accept and serve my fellow humans even when they are vastly different than I -- God loves them too. I don't have to know tomorrow -- God does. I can live my todays calmly no matter how turbulent the journey -- finally, the Captain of my ship is the One who stood in a tossing boat in a ferocious storm and said, "Peace."
Yes, Jennifer, I have changed, I fell for a lie, New Age beliefs nearly killed me, but the truth of the Bible set me free. ...
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