When I was growing up, I was regularly taken to a house of dead religion. It said Church on the sign, but it was basically a club where sinners got together on Sunday morning and acted religious. Billy Graham was ridiculed from the pulpit. We were told we didn’t need to receive Jesus because He had already received us, and one speaker even stated that a loving God could never send any person to hell. They taught that if they did something to you as an infant, you were a Christian, a fact that was to be “confirmed” later. No one ever told me how to be born again, and I didn’t even know such a thing was possible.
I was very talented and had an ego to match. I started taking piano lessons at the age of 4, and by the age of 7 had done my first piano solo with a symphony orchestra.
When I got to be old enough to take “confirmation class,” I had already decided I didn’t believe anything they taught; I refused to say the prayers or sing the hymns. I was a thorn in the side of the class teacher; when asked, “What words does Communion remind you of?” I promptly replied, “Commune! Communism!” I was the only one in that class who refused to be “confirmed” although my friends in the class didn’t believe the teachings either, they just did it to please their parents.
I stopped going to church after that (probably to no one’s regret) and became an evangelistic atheist who tried to talk Christians out of their faith. I had seen what I was told was Christianity and could tell that it was just a religion fix that wasn’t doing any good (an opinion I still have). Unfortunately, no one told me that what I had seen was not Christianity at all; Christ was missing and it was just Inanity.
I started getting more involved in the occult, which I had actually started doing when I was very young when I used to use a Ouija board with my aunt in my grandmother’s basement. I knew that it was real and there was power there, unlike my experience in the house of dead religion. Unfortunately, I didn’t know who I was dealing with at the time.
I started writing rock songs, but not ones you would hear on any CD’s I’ll actually publish. Some were quite raunchy. A popular one was called “Mama Would Die if She Ever Knew But It’s Worth It to Get It On With You.”
I remember visiting my Aunt Glenna (actually a great aunt) in Indiana. She scared me! Her house was full of Christian things and she prayed and read her Bible all the time and seemed to be very happy. I even said to myself, “Good thing we only spent a night there because that lady would probably have me believing like her if I stayed out there long.” Coming home, I lamented to myself, “I wish that I were stupid like Aunt Glenna. She can believe in all this Jesus stuff because she doesn’t know any better, and she’s really happy. Here I am, cursed with all this intelligence so that I know better than to believe that stuff, and I’m unhappy.”
In college (Michigan State University), I told anyone who would listen my “proofs that there is no God.” One consisted of taking George Carlin’s 7 dirty words you could not say on TV or radio, and yelling them up at the ceiling (God, you’re a ____. God, you’re a ____ing ____, etc.). I would then tell people, “See, if there were a God, He’d do something about me!” My 3 roommates, who were not Christians, begged me to stop because they were afraid lightning might hit the room or something. I also told people that all religion was cultural, and they were only Christians because we have a Christian culture -- if they lived in the bush in Africa in tribes where they beat the tribal bongo drums and dance around with hardly any clothes on, they would have been animists, too. No one knew anyone from the African bush who could refute that.
One day, I was sitting alone in the cafeteria when a fellow student who was dark as midnight sat next to me. I said, “I take it you’re not from around here.” He said, “No, I’m from Kenya.” To impress him with the fact that I knew that Nairobi is in Kenya, I asked, “From Nairobi or from the bush?” “From the bush,” he said. Then I HAD to ask him the next question! “Are you from one of those tribes where they beat the tribal bongo drums and dance around with hardly any clothes on?” “We used to do that,” he said, “but then a missionary came to us and told us about Jesus Christ. We all gave our lives to him. I trust him with everything in my life, and He took me from there to attending this university for free!”
He had busted my theory, so I had to listen to him! He went on to tell me that Jesus loved me and wanted to come and live inside me, make me a new person and save me from my sins. No one had ever told me that before, even though it turned out later that I did know some Christians. Fortunately, this guy didn’t keep the good news to himself.
I didn’t receive Jesus right away, but told him I’d talk to him some more as long as he would meet me in obscure places like the top of a stairwell, a laundry room, etc., where my crazy friends wouldn’t know that I was talking to one of those born again Christians! He agreed to do it and we met several times.
Some Christians thought that they would try to expose me to a Christian church, and they knew I liked to write skits. So they gave me the opportunity to write and act in a skit that their college group was performing at their church. I figured I would really fix them and beat them at their own “clever” scheme. So I acted in a skit I wrote where I made idolatrous pronouncements from their Christian pulpit! After the skit was over, I thought, “There! I’ll bet I got all of them really mad! Ha ha ha!” But my glee was short-lived, because no one berated me, ran me out of the building, or anything else. Instead they invited me to church and told me that they loved me and so did Jesus. (I understand that they did make some changes about skits being approved in advance after that, though.) So I had something to brag to my buddies about, but I couldn’t brag about how I got them all to hate me, which is what I was hoping for, because they didn’t.
The student from Kenya leaned on me to pray a “sinner’s prayer” with him, so I did, just to make him happy. I didn’t mean a word of it and nothing happened. I know from first-hand experience that you can pray a “sinner’s prayer” and not be saved because you don’t mean it! I had been feeling very uneasy about my eternal destiny, though, and I came up with a plan to make that feeling go away -- I told the student that I never wanted to talk to him again! Before he left, though, he made sure that I understood the plan of salvation -- “just in case” I ever changed my mind and wanted to get saved.
That didn’t solve the problem, though, and I started getting really worried about where I was going to spend eternity. I was trying to organize a Ouija board party on my dorm floor, but I knew that Jesus and the Ouija board would not mix. (After all, I had asked the Ouija board a long time ago if Jesus and God were for real, and it gave me a definite answer “No”.)
Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I was afraid that if I actually surrendered my life to Jesus, He would tell me to be a preacher, which seemed like a horrible fate at the time. But I didn’t want to go to hell! I was alone in my dorm room, and I threw myself on the floor and prayed my own version of a sinner’s prayer, which went like this: “Jesus, I don’t want to serve You. But I don’t want to go to hell, either, and I know that if I don’t give me life to You, You will throw me into hell. So all right, I give up! You win! Take my life. I’ll do whatever You want, and I promise to be just as fervent about serving You as I’ve been about opposing You.” Now I don’t recommend that as a prayer to lead your friends in, but this time it was sincere and Jesus came to live in me and made me a new person. I only found out later how good He really is and that He wants to bless us and heal us. Nothing “cosmic” happened but I suddenly had peace that I didn’t have to worry about hell anymore, and I went off to class.
I promptly canceled the Ouija board party.
A few months later, I was received into membership at the church where I had committed idolatry from their pulpit.
I stopped writing and singing my raunchy songs, much to the disappointment of some people who really liked them. Figuring that God didn’t like my music, I just gave up music for a short while. But I was walking through some of the cornfields on campus when the idea came to me that maybe I could use my musical talent for Jesus. I’ve been doing it ever since.
I had awful allergies growing up; they ran in the family. One day I followed Jesus’ instructions to “believe you receive when you pray.” The symptoms got WORSE the next morning -- a lot worse. But I stayed with Jesus’ instructions and said that I was not going to let the devil rob me of the healing that I had received the night before. Around noontime, the symptoms disappeared and I’ve never had allergies since then.
I started looking for sick people to lay hands on in the name of Jesus -- and they started recovering!
Years later, I had a kidney stone; apparently a predisposition to them runs in the family too. But once was enough! I “believed that I received” my healing before I went to the Emergency Room. The doctors did X-rays and told me that I would probably be in severe pain for several weeks until the stone worked its way out. That wasn’t acceptable! I knew that God had made a healing covenant with me. Finally they told me there wasn’t anything they could do, and so I asked why I should stay in the hospital in that case. They sent me home. About a day and a half after I went to the ER, suddenly every bit of pain left and when the stone passed out, the only way I knew it had happened was that I heard a clunk. I believed for healing for whatever predisposition my body had, and I’ve never had another attack like that since.
Then I had trouble with my left eye getting blurry; straight lines started looking wavy. I thought I just needed new glasses; I’d worn them since I was in Kindergarten. But the eye doctor checked my eye and said that I had central cerrous corioretinopathy, which turned out to be a fancy way of saying that I had a growth in my eye. He said it was inoperable because it was near my optic nerve -- if they did laser surgery to zap the growth; they would zap my optic nerve and I’d go blind in that eye. I asked what they could do and the doctor said, “You’ll just have to accept having blurrier vision in that eye for the rest of your life.” Instead of doing that, I got some friends together after a prayer meeting at church and told them to agree with me for my healing, and I would believe I receive it while we prayed. We prayed -- and my eye got worse and worse for over a week and a half! I had to really walk by faith and not by sight; it was getting to the point where my job was in jeopardy. But after that, it was like a giant flash went off inside me one night, and I have had no trouble since. The eye checked out BETTER than 20/20 when I went back to the eye doctor.
You can do everything I did -- God doesn’t play favorites. You can receive new life and forgiveness for all your sins when you receive Jesus, and you can be healed of ANY ailment you might have in your body!