Sunday, September 6, 2015

New to the Kingdom

I got saved at a time when the Jonestown mass suicide was a big news item. Perhaps that is why I was hesitant to attend any church right away. I somehow knew in my spirit that danger lurked in places called 'churches.' I didn't have enough information to know if I was walking into the door of a cult or not, so I stayed home just reading my Bible as long as I could.

As a new believer I could not keep my mouth shut about Jesus. With little to go on but my new faith, I told everybody I knew about Him. Some responses scared me when I did not have the biblical grounding to give a reasoned answer. But no argument could tell me that I didn't experience a true and profound encounter with the living God that changed my life drastically and forever.

In spite of my lack of knowledge, other members of my family were moved to get a Bible and see for themselves. Two of my sisters soon got saved, but they were anxious to get connected to the Christian community with no hesitation. Unlike me, they didn't any reservations about all the competing steeples in and around Orange County, California.

So I sorta got dragged out of my comfort zone. My older sister discovered TBN, and in particular a regular guest at that time, Hal Lindsey. So I would go with her to be in the studio audience whenever he would be there. 

My younger sister joined a Christian theater group that was doing a play that was to be performed at Melodyland, so she brought us aboard. Some in that group attended Walter Martin's Bible study and we began to attend. He talked so much about cults and a recent full-page ad that appeared in the newspaper with the headline, "The Christ is Here Now," and I learned about the coming Antichrist. That only confirmed my intense belief that deception was lurking in religion and in christendom. We were driven out of that study by some unscrupulous people for a year or so before the LORD led us back to Dr. Martin's ministry.

The three of us drifted from place to place before getting back to Dr. Martin. The LORD assisted me with the gift of discerning of spirits, although it didn't seem like a gift at the time. We attended a small charismatic service one time that was quite rambunctious. As the little group started singing a song about stomping on the devil and the leader addressed Satan during the prayer, screaming at demons to go into the pit, I could sense an overwhelming presence of the demonic -- something very evil although I had no knowledge of demons at the time. And I just had to get out of there. The guy who had brought us there told me I must have a demon since I could not bear being in there and so he prayed over me and spoke in tongues and instructed me to imitate his gibberish. I complied as best I could and was told I needed to keep practicing and that would be my defense against demons in the future. Every time I would practice this so-called tongues thing in private I would once again sense something very evil present. I quit doing it.

We drifted all over the place -- from the Eagles Nest in Santa Ana, a charismatic church pastored by a guy named Gary Greenwald who later hooked up with false prophet Bill Hamon to the Crystal Cathedral where my older sister joined the choir -- to Dr. Gene Scott's Faith Center, a long commute to Glendale where I became a volunteer answering phones. I finally settled on Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa where I had gone once before I got saved for a Christmas service. All the church-hopping got pretty tiring.

All these decades later, I know that my initial desire for Truth and my unlearned understanding that organized religion calling itself the church was tainted with error was really a supernatural word of knowledge from the LORD. He was cautioning me to test everything from the very start. And He has directed my steps ever since to live a life on the alert against falsehood while depending upon Him to give me understanding into His Word. 

I know many of you have similar stories -- unique to each one of us -- in how the Author and Finisher of our Faith has kept you and preserved you. And He will empower us to be overcomers and protect us from and in the evil days ahead.

"Trust in the LORD, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the LORD,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday.
Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him;
--Ps. 37:3-7a

“I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth." - Rev 3:8-10

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