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Growing up in a suburb of New York City, a city where St. Patrick’s Cathedral is probably the best known religious landmark, and where the biggest influx of Catholic Irish and Italian immigrants first came to America, I know a thing or two about Catholics.
To this day, my own father, who was brought up Catholic, vehemently denies core characteristics of the Christian faith, but maintains that he’s still Catholic. To me, this strange, contradictory behavior demonstrated, not just by my father, but by many Catholics, is the result of the following:
When you are baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, you are supposed to know what you’re doing. The act signifies that you repent of your sins and that you desire to be made a new creation by allowing the Holy Spirit into your heart. In the Catholic Church, newborns are the ones who usually get baptized, so the significance of the act is lost. God doesn’t care about a ritualistic gesture, he cares about the intent behind it. This means that, with rare exception, many Catholics don’t have the Holy Spirit operating in their life because they haven’t made a public profession of faith. If this describes you, then you need to say some version of the following to God ASAP: “Lord Jesus, I know that you died on the cross so I wouldn’t have live in bondage to sin, or go to hell when I die. I repent of my sins and wrongdoing and I want you to change me from the inside out. I invite the Holy Spirit into my heart and I make you Lord of my life.” If you say this prayer and really mean it, then God will hear you, the Holy Spirit will start to work on you, and you’ll be saved.
It doesn’t matter how “good” a person you are. If you reject that the Lord Jesus is who He says He is, that he died on the cross for the sins of humanity and that the only way to eternal salvation is to believe in Him, then you’re lost. The Catholic Church overemphasizes ‘works’ and good deeds as a means to salvation, going as far as to declare certain people ‘saints’ due to their acts of service. Not that service in of itself is a bad thing, but the Bible says that anyone who is saved and has the Holy Spirit is a ‘saint.’ The indwelling of the Holy Spirit naturally desires to express itself through service, but a works-centered salvation puts the cart before the horse. Remember, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesian 2: 8-9). A works-centric perspective perpetuates the misguided notion that it’s extremely difficult to please God and that it takes Herculean feats of selflessness and servitude in order to win God’s favor and truly be blessed. This may be part of the reason why many Catholics fall away from their faith. God helps us along our journey by giving us the Holy Spirit as our teacher to gently, or not so gently coax or admonish us when we mess up.
I don’t know where to begin with this one. This is probably the biggest difference between Catholics and all other forms of Christianity. Martin Luther himself had to break away from the Catholic Church just to admit what everyone with a brain in their head already knew. Firstly, that masses shouldn’t be in Latin, a language few understood back then. Secondly, that people should be able to read the Bible for themselves in their native language. If you haven’t already, read up on the Pre-Reformation History of the Bible. The Pope at the time was so incensed about the movement to translate the Bible from Latin, that he threatened anyone in possession of a non-Latin Bible with execution. If that’s not reason enough to distrust the Catholic Church, I don’t know what is. The worst part about it is that the Catholic Church hasn’t changed very much. There’s still this ingrained notion that the priest supposedly has a better standing with God than the average Joe sitting in the pew. It’s this idea that the average guy needs someone in a position of authority to intercede for him, whether it be in a confessional, or in any capacity. Living out our faith takes on a whole new meaning when we stop outsourcing our relationship with God to some priest, or pastor, regardless of church denomination. Faith is participatory and active, just as the Holy Spirit is active. We all have a direct line of communication with God if we just learn how to use it. The moral of the story is never rely on another human being, or a set of church doctrine for something as important as your salvation.
Prayer is a gift. It’s how we communicate with God. It was never meant to be turned into a solemn ritual with the same words said over and over ad nauseaum. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t pray the Our Father or the Rosary, but when we turn praying into an obligation, doing it just because we feel like we should, or because we’d feel guilty if we didn’t, then it becomes a burden. This robs us of true communication with God. Instead of praying something rehearsed, just have a conversation with God. Talk to God about how you’re upset about something someone said to you, or how you liked or disliked a commercial you saw on T.V. Our relationship with God is real, it’s not this overly formalized thing. God has a personality, He wants to talk to us and have a relationship with us. People say, “But God doesn’t talk back.” Oh yes he does. If you talk to Him and start to wait and listen, He’ll start talking back to you in the form of mental pictures, a still small voice, through people, circumstances, dreams etc.
Sermons lack teeth when there’s no talk of God’s judgement anywhere in the message. It also presents a distorted view of Christianity as a whole. The Catholic Church is especially guilty of this, but so are other churches who only seem concerned with their congregation’s comfort level in order to receive maximum tithes and offerings. At the Catholic sermons I’ve been to, the message has always been a warm, fuzzy anecdotal story about love and never a really instructive teaching about God’s judgement. When a newcomer to the faith gets too used to a message like that, he figures, “Hey, this church thing is a piece of cake. I don’t really even need to go if that’s all there is to learn.” Meanwhile, he thinks he’s in good shape, but he’s missing huge parts of it. I stumbled across a short, but informative video on Youtube that discusses this issue and how to solve it.
The gifts of the spirit are for all, so why doesn’t the Catholic Church talk about them? Spiritual discernment, speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, the gift of prophesy, healing, administration and the list goes on. These were meant to edify the Body of Christ, meaning all believers. But they’re being ignored. Why? And then we wonder why people are bored with church. Spiritual gifts, in of themselves aren’t what we should be seeking after, of course, because the Bible warns us about that, but we should definitely be seeking a closer relationship with God and the fact of the matter is spiritual gifts help us to do that. Unless you have an experiential relationship with God, you’re probably not going to desire to know God more. You’re going to get stuck going through the motions of ‘religion’ and traditions. Sadly, I think this is the case with most people who say they’re Catholic.
You walk into a Catholic Church and what do you see? Stained-glass windows, statues and symbols. But the Bible says, “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me” (Exodus 20, 4-5). Not only do these graven images make it seem like people are worshiping idols, they also make it easier for people who practice witchcraft to come into churches and worship their gods and goddesses a.k.a. demon spirits under the guise of Christianity. This blending of the occult and Catholicism has been going on for a long time in many parts of Latin America and the Caribbean. The blatant hypocrisy of this is not lost on people wanting to go to church to have a relationship with God that is read: spiritual, not material in nature. This makes the Catholic Church seem out of touch with the Word of God, and out of touch with the real needs of people.
Challenge yourself to forget about church denominations for a second and focus on the life of Jesus Christ. Forget about the he said, she said of man-made, organized religion and instead concentrate on the truth: the Gospel message of the Lord Jesus.
Re-read the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the New Testament and when you’re done, legitimately and with an open mind, ask yourself, “Is Jesus who He says He is?”
You have to understand, I’m an idea man. I habitually write down ideas that pop into my head. The right hemisphere of my brain is always thinking of creative ideas for new businesses, ideas for articles etc.
When I first had the revelation that I needed to branch out with the concept for the eternal planner, I knew it wasn’t coming from me because it was too perfect. That and I was given supernatural confirmation. My body started to vibrate and I physically saw this golden light coursing over me.
It was December of 2011 when it happened. Training at the gym was picking up and things were pretty normal, except I was frustrated with covering the political beat on my radio show. At the time, I was doing ‘The Rob Rennie Show’ which was a libertarian political talk show.
Hoping and praying that Ron Paul would get elected and return the country to constitutional principles seemed like a temporary fix at best. That and it seemed increasingly unlikely considering the stranglehold the mainstream media had over political discourse on all the major networks.
Deep down, I knew that fixing our broken political system wasn’t a matter of changing political parties. Both parties believed in feeding the military industrial complex and giving out favors to the big banks and the politically connected. They could care less about the little guy.
The average American’s quality of life was going to continue to worsen along with the already greatly diminished value of the dollar. Whether you were working like a slave as an employee, or trying to get your business off the ground, you were going to get skewered either way because the price of goods would continue to sky-rocket due to Washington’s recklessness.
Something inside me recognized that the real solution to our current woes was going to require a spiritual revival rather than a political movement. The country needed to realize that the political and the spiritual are and have always been intimately tied together.
Kind of what Alexis de Tocqueville observed after coming to the United States as an ambassador from France when he said, “Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.”
As I pondered, I also knew that this solution didn’t necessitate the explanation of some complex philosophical idea, but rather something entirely new.
I started to think of a form of one-on-one coaching to teach people how to invite the Holy Spirit into their lives and allow Him to operate.
At the time, I was also watching a lot of “Sid Roth’s It’s Supernatural” on Youtube. I was seeking how to hear the voice of God and stumbled upon a wealth of information about all sorts of supernatural phenomena.
Something that stuck out to me as I watched Sid’s show was that many of his guests were living out their faith and having supernatural experiences that seemed straight out of the Bible. It was refreshing to see that signs and wonders weren’t just real, but that they were happening today.
During this particular season in my life, on this one particular night, I had the revelation. I was mulling over some of the things I already mentioned while doing some routine household chores.
After I finished washing the dishes, I headed downstairs for bed. As I was going to bed, I couldn’t shake this idea that kept repeating itself over and over in my head. It was the idea that there should be a service where people were coached as to how to ensure their salvation. A service separate from the church itself and geared toward non-believers.
What would such a service-provider be called? Then a phrase I read somewhere came to mind, ‘eternal planner.’ When it came, I started to feel really hot and my body started to shake all over.
As I thought more about the term ‘eternal planner,’ I started to get this urgent feeling. I think it was coming from my desire not to see people go to Hell unwittingly for lack of knowledge, or due to the church’s ineptitude in reaching out properly to the masses. At this point, I also started to become aware that this wasn’t a normal kind of excitement and that the Holy Spirit was active during the whole experience.
And then it was one idea after another, ways that I could use my radio show to promote the concept, how I could turn it into a large enterprise for God, everything came to me on the spot.
I knew it was all being ‘downloaded,’ so to speak, from the Holy Spirit. This is also when I started to notice a golden light flowing over my bed where I was laying. I reached over to my night table and started frantically taking notes on my Blackberry as this was happening.
Normally, when I have what I think is a good idea, my mind usually finds reasons why it wouldn’t work. But in this case, I couldn’t think of one reason why it wouldn’t work. And I had this tremendous peace about it in my spirit.
Since that night, I haven’t been the same and I know that this task that God gave me is what I’m meant to do. As I reflect on it, it’s almost like all of my life experiences have prepared me for this moment.
Whenever I’m at work, I have this underlying sense of frustration because I’m temporarily unable to further this blog, or the radio show. Whenever I’m on task, though, I feel this sense of peace and satisfaction that I’ve never felt before.
So there you have it. The idea of the ‘eternal planner’ initially began as a business concept for a service provider similar to a Personal Trainer, who would instruct people as to how to ensure their salvation, exercise their faith and discern spiritual truth. Who would have thought?
Monitor your response after watching an episode of Sid Roth’s It’s Supernatural. Is your spirit uplifted, or repulsed?
If the latter, then I would encourage you to soldier on in your search for the truth. As long as you commit to finding the truth, you will. Just don’t get complacent or rely on half-baked notions that you don’t think through for yourself.
Although, it’s easier just to ask the Holy Spirit a.k.a. the spirit of truth to guide you.
There is a spiritual realm out there. We live in a supernatural world. This is by design and God, who Himself is supernatural, is the designer. For anyone who doubts what I’m saying, let the following be your wake-up call, as it was mine.
For a long time, I’ve had supernatural things happen to me, but I’d rationalize them away because it would make me uncomfortable to think about them.
One time, when I was very young, I remember going down the staircase in our old house in Yonkers and hearing the laughter of three or four children as they were trying to beat me down the staircase. I heard the rumble of their feet as they ran and saw their shadows alongside me on the wall as they passed by.
All through my adolescence, I would wake up aroused and feeling this cool, sex-sensation on my penis. The bed would be rocking slightly. I would see the bed-post hitting the wall, but there would be no one there. This would continue off and on through my twenties.
I’ve also experienced what many call ‘sleep paralysis.’ This is where you would wake up not being able to move a muscle, or speak. You become aware of this ominous feeling in the room and you feel terrified, but you’re not sure why.
During college, this even used to happen to me in the middle of the day, while I was wide awake. I would be studying at my fraternity house when this tired feeling would come over me.
All of a sudden, I would feel paralyzed and would just sit there on my couch with my eyes stuck wide open. I would sense that something was watching me, or manipulating me, but I couldn’t see what it was.
I kind of accepted that these things were happening to me, but I wouldn’t do anything about it. I didn’t even know that I could.
The church I grew up in was a Methodist Church and we never discussed the realm of the supernatural, or the spiritual nature of Christianity, except for maybe the miracle of Jesus’ birth and ascension. So there was no guidance there.
It wasn’t until I started to do my own research on the Internet that I started to think that maybe these experiences were caused by some form of spiritual entities.
Just to give you an idea of how recent this was, I first started to look into these things after the bank bailouts. This is when I was still in bondage to pornography. I would research a lot of 2012 predictions because I remember feeling like the world was about to end.
I would also expose myself to a lot of New Age garbage and occult ideas due to the excessive time I had on my hands after being unemployed for a bit. So, needless to say, I was wide open to a lot of demonic influence at the time.
This is when the previously inexplicable happened, but to a much more severe degree.
This one night, about two years ago, I went to bed and fell asleep. I had a nightmarish dream that shook me to my core. I was scared out of my wits in this dream. Unfortunately, I don’t remember what the dream was about, so I couldn’t tell you.
All I know is that there was a tipping point where I was so scared that my spirit actually left my body. I remember floating to the top of the ceiling and looking down at my body asleep in bed. My body looked lifeless, like a rag-doll, except there was something different and evil about it.
I remember somebody or something telling me that I needed to go back into my body. Looking back on it, I believe this was the Holy Spirit. So I merely thought about going back into my body and boom, I was in.
The only problem was, I wasn’t in control. There was something else in there. I was taking a back-seat to something that had apparently seized control of my body. It was scary.
Being a Christian, I started to pray the Lord’s prayer. “Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. . .” As I prayed, there was this rumbling inside my body, or spirit-body, let’s call it. It started to vibrate in response to my prayer.
Whatever was in there was not liking this prayer, so of course, I continued to pray it. I said the prayer two more times, and by the time I finished saying it the third time, I could feel this entity leave my body. I felt at peace again and completely free.
Immediately after this happened, I opened my eyes and sat up in bed. I wasn’t just waking up because this ceased to be a dream when my spirit left my body. There was no transition period where you would normally wake up from the dream-world and come to. There was no grogginess about me.
And that’s when I realized that I was being demonically oppressed. How did I know? Because I repelled the thing using the Lord’s prayer.
Almost every night for the next couple of weeks, I would have similar experiences, but I would never go through another out of body experience again. This is because I would say the name of Jesus whenever I would sense that I was being attacked and it would immediately stop before it could escalate to that point.
I’m happy to report that I don’t get oppressed anymore because I’ve learned how to deal with it. I haven’t had any night episodes of any kind for more than a year now. I sleep like a baby practically every night.
Now, I don’t tell you this to scare you, or even to entertain you, but to inform you that angels, demons, God, and Jesus are all real.
For me, after this all happened, I was a changed man because I no longer had to rely solely on a head knowledge of what Christianity was about (vague notions, going to church on Sunday, tithing etc.) Now I had a verifiable experience.
Now I knew that there was a battle raging between good and evil and that everything I heard as a kid, heaven, hell and eternal salvation, were real concepts. It made everything much more urgent. I also started to see how others in society were being influenced either one way or the other.
This would be the start of a long journey that I’m still on.
1) If you can relate to any of the experiences I mention above, then I would use the name of Jesus as your weapon to make it stop. You’ll be amazed at how quickly this will put a stop to it. This is because demons are subject to the name of Jesus. All you have to do is say, ‘Jesus’ in your head, or out loud, and it will stop.
2) Something else I like to do as a safeguard is to pray before going to bed. I ask God to put a hedge of protection around me, my family and my community that we may have a restful and recuperative night’s rest, free from any type of negative influences. Amen. Always ask in faith, and believing that you will receive and you should be in good shape.
I’m a part of a small group at my church called ‘Collision’ and this past weekend, we all went on a retreat. The destination? America’s Keswick Retreat Center in Whiting, New Jersey.
The theme of the retreat was, ‘Hearing the Voice of God.’ Not in the Timothy McVeigh sense, but rather in the genuine, life-affirming sense. The way real Christians are supposed to hear the voice of God. That is, if you’re a Bible-believing Christian.
If what I’m saying seems odd or fanatical to you, I would urge you to re-read your Bible because there are literally tons of examples of this happening, whether it’s through prophets, apostles, or other believers.
But the point is, all professing Christians have the ability to converse with God due to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, especially at this particular point in time.
In Acts 2: 17, it says, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, said God, I will pour out of my Spirit on all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.”
So according to this verse, when the Holy Spirit is in operation, we are fully capable of hearing the voice of God.
Some ways that this can happen include the following:
1) Through scripture – whenever you’re reading the Bible and something jumps out at you, or catches your attention.
2) Through circumstances – a series of either unfortunate or fortunate events, such as the opening and closing of ‘doors’ or opportunities is another way that God speaks to us.
3) Through prayer – when we pray to God, he answers us through emotions, feelings, and mental pictures.
4) Through dreams and visions – not all the time, but sometimes, in our dreams, or even while we’re still awake, God shows us things.
5) Through other people – similar to ‘circumstances’ except with an emphasis on other people interceding on your behalf.
Now, an integral part of the retreat was a group activity where we sat in a circle and practiced prophesying over one another. This means waiting for the Holy Spirit to reveal information about another person, then conveying that information to that particular person.
Before I tell you what happened when they got to me, let me stress that this was the first time I had ever been prophesied over. That, and the other people I was on the trip with didn’t know me very well and vice versa. I had only been attending this small group for the past few months, if that.
I’m emphasizing this point just to illustrate how incredible it was to hear them tell me things about myself that practically no one else knows, except apparently, God.
The other thing to remember is that this is nothing like fortune-telling. Fortune-telling is an occult practice masquerading as a cheap parlor trick. It’s an imitation of the real thing. Prophesying over someone is the real deal and it’s only made possible through the activity of the Holy Spirit.
Anyway, here’s what happened. As we sat in silence for upwards of two hours, the Holy Spirit began to reveal things to different people in the group. When one of us would receive a message, that person would immediately share it.
It also seemed like the Holy Spirit liked to go about prophesying in an organized fashion because He focused on one person first, then went on to the next, and so on and so forth. So for example, if someone revealed something about X person, then someone else might also reveal something about X person, until there would be no more messages for X person, then He would proceed to Y person.
It went around for a while starting with other people in the group first. At least two people started crying after the Holy Spirit confirmed things for them. They would later describe how God spoke words to them regarding things they’d only shared with God in moments of solitude praying.
When it was my turn, I wasn’t sure what I’d hear, or if God even wanted to say anything to me.
The first person who received a message gave me the word, “Ox” along with a story from the Bible. It was from the story of Elijah the Prophet from 1 Kings Chapter 19. Here is a big chunk from the story, just to give some context to the revelation:
“And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword.
Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time.
And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there.
But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.
And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat.
And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again.
And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee.
And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.
And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?
And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.
And the LORD said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria:
And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room.
And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay.
Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.”
Then she tells me that there’s strength in me, but I’ve felt alone in my strength. There’s strength in numbers and that God is sending other to join me. I’m not alone.
She also said that, like Elijah, I tend to think that I’m the last one, and that everyone else worships Baal, so to speak. And yet God says that there are “7,000 in Israel, all the knees who have not bowed to Baal.”
When she said this, or rather, when God said this (because that’s the way prophesying works), it really struck a chord with me because I’ve always been a loner.
I’ve felt like there aren’t many people out there who commit themselves to seeking the truth or doing the right thing, and that if I happen to meet any, based on my own experience, I wouldn’t get along with them. So for Him to tell me this was huge!
The crazy thing was that God was telling me exactly what I needed to hear in exactly the way I needed to hear it.
Then someone else had an image for me. She said she pictured a lone rock in the middle of the ocean with waves crashing over it, but it stayed strong in the midst of it and that I should stay strong.
I guess I’ve gone through a lot in my life, like everyone else, but I’ve always relied on very few people to help me, except for God and my parents. Knowing that God acknowledged and valued this about me was very encouraging.
So, to reiterate, there was no way that anyone would be able to know these things about me just by looking at me, or anything like that. This was deep, heavy stuff. God was revealing things that were at the core of my being. The whole experience was intense.
And the best part is, you can do the same thing!
This is an easy one. Go and seek out situations where you can have other people prophesy over you, or where you can learn how to prophesy. As it says in the Bible, the gifts of the spirit are for all.
Your best bet is going to be a spirit-filled church, like an evangelical or pentecostal church, but I don’t want to limit it to these two denominations. I would say it depends on the church and that there are plenty of non-denominational churches out there who believe in exercising gifts of the spirit as well.
Go out and do it. You won’t be sorry.
If you’ve been awakened to the spiritual nature of the world around you, either through studying your Bible, petitioning God, having a supernatural encounter, or all of the above, then you’ve most likely accepted God, Jesus, angels, and demons as being real.
If you’re not quite at that point yet, but you have an open mind to learn more, get ready because I’m going to make a case that you’ve already had contact with the supernatural without realizing it.
But before I do that, let me just address some typical concerns regarding this topic. It’s an understatement to say that this subject makes a lot of Christians and people in general a little uncomfortable. It makes most, if not all people extremely uncomfortable!
A lot of people think that if they discuss, or research this subject, the boogie-man is going to jump out of their computer screen and grab them. They get this spooky feeling that the candelabra is going to fall from the ceiling like in “Phantom of the Opera.”
The first thing you have to realize is that demons don’t want you to believe they exist. They benefit from this fear mind-set which keeps you docile and unaware of their schemes. That way they can have their way with you without you even realizing it.
But if you’re emotionally prepared to handle it, what I’m going to tell you about demons is the spiritual equivalent of TNT. It will greatly reduce their ability to influence you, and thus take away all of their ‘power’ and I use that word very lightly.
What are demons?
Demons are fallen angels who rebelled against God and who’ve been condemned to the physical realm until the day of Judgment. They’re also sore losers.
What is their primary weapon?
Their one and only weapon is deception. They lie like there’s no tomorrow. They lie about everything. They want us to be in complete spiritual darkness so that we don’t realize our own power, potential, or who we are in Jesus.
Who are we?
We are children of God, made in God’s image. We also have full authority over ‘the enemy’ a.k.a. demons. Luke 10:19 says, “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”
How do demons operate?
Demons will sidle up to you in times of distress, elation, or any highly vulnerable emotional state and whisper things to you. They will suggest or present you with ideas or thoughts and try to make you believe that it was your idea.
When you’re thinking about something, sometimes an idea will pop into your head and you won’t necessarily know where it came from. This is the hallmark of demonic influence-peddling.
Is it always a demon? No. Sometimes it’s our own flesh, but other times it is a demon, so it’s important that we use discernment and ask God to help us to be able to tell the difference.
What does this look like in real time?
You need to watch the following clip from “Passion of the Christ.” It’s a great, albeit dramatized version of how a demon might interact with someone. It’s very close to the way it usually happens, minus the full-on manifestation of satan or snakes.
In the majority of cases, you won’t physically see anything. You may sense something, but that’s usually the only indication.
Note: If you do sense something, like a fleeting fear-like feeling, say, “The Lord rebuke you,” or “Jesus rebuke you” either out loud or in your head. Demons are obligated to flee from you because they are subject to the name of Jesus. There’s no reason to fear as long as you are walking in God’s protection.
By the way, the clip you are about to see is based on true events in the Garden of Gethsemane. This episode also serves as Biblical proof that demons exist and that they try to influence us through our thought-process, just like they tried to do with Jesus.
In the garden, Jesus was highly vulnerable because He was about to get captured, sentenced and eventually nailed to the cross, so satan used the opportunity to try to persuade Him to take the easy way out and desert his mission to serve as a living sacrifice for the sins of humanity. Big mistake.
“A Dark Place”
Think back to a time when you were in a highly vulnerable emotional state. This could have been a traumatic experience during your childhood, while growing up, or maybe even something more recent.
Can you pinpoint an exact moment following the experience when you were left reflecting on thoughts that seemed uncharacteristic of you? Thoughts that seemed to pop into your head and escalated your feelings of either fear or despair? Did that moment serve to solidify any belief-system that then became your automatic way of thinking about a certain topic, like a negative reinforcement mechanism?
If so, then a demon may have been trying to erect a ‘stronghold’ in your mind. They do this because they despise us and want to wreck our lives so that we die and go to hell. Like I said, they’re pathetic losers.
Spend time with other Christians, or church leaders and start separating the lies from the truth. When you’ve untangled all of the lies, then you will truly be on the path to recovery and walking in the authority that God gave you.
Yes, Jesus hugs people. No, I’m not crazy.
I know it sounds outside the realm of possibility for non-believers, but it surprises me when even professing Christians like my mother, who’s a pastor’s daughter, and was raised her whole life to know the Word of God, finds this hard to believe.
Too many Christians vehemently deny the supernatural. They say things like, ‘Miracles and healings were for Jesus’ time. They simply don’t happen anymore.’ But this is Biblically incorrect.
The Bible says the following in Mark, Chapter 16: “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; “they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
If you’re still not convinced, consider this passage from John Chapter 14: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.”
Jesus was referring to what He did when He walked the earth as a human being. If you read the Gospels, this means, miracles, healing the sick, casting out devils, the whole nine yards. And He says we will do ‘greater’ things than these. Got it?
Now do you really think it’s ‘impossible’ for Jesus to do a simple thing like hug me?
Anyhow, here’s what happened. I was at church on a Friday night for ‘Pursuit’ which is where the worship team gets together and we just have worship and prayer for like three hours.
It’s called ‘Pursuit’ because its purpose is to help create an environment where we’re actively pursuing a closer relationship with Jesus. And the way you do that is by reading your Bible, praying, worshiping, being in community with other believers and genuinely desiring to know Jesus more.
So I was there and I really wanted to get closer to God, so I was singing and praying and asking God to come. When you do this, even if you’re home alone, you will feel the atmosphere change, and God, who is a spirit, will start to speak to your heart.
Now imagine a packed house all praising and worshiping God at the same time. The word that comes to mind is, ‘pregnant’ because I could feel something was going to happen, I just didn’t know what.
This is the moment I became aware of Jesus’ presence manifest inside the sanctuary. I didn’t see Him with my physical eyes, but I felt Him with my spirit. And there was no confusion over who He was.
He was this awesome, powerful presence, like an energy vortex hanging out with us in the sanctuary.
He was walking around, possibly observing us, possibly touching people, or both. I could feel His presence move from one side of the sanctuary to the other. It was like sensing concentrated love move about the room.
He was walking over to me and that’s when I started to lose it. Inside, I was like a teenage girl at a Justin Bieber concert, but I had to keep my composure because I didn’t want Jesus to think I was a herb.
At the time, the thought didn’t occur to me that He already knew everything about me.
I was so shaken by what was happening that I had to resort to giving myself a self-talk: “OK, stay calm, it’s just the Messiah, God Almighty. Keep breathing. Don’t think about sex.”
Everyone else didn’t seem to notice what was going on. I guess you could say they were lost in worship.
When He got closer to me, I could sense Him stop and just stare at me for a few seconds. What He was thinking, I can’t even begin to understand. Just the thought that the Creator was giving me a once over was overwhelming.
Who knows? Maybe He was thinking, “Let me see if I can really freak him out.”
After about ten seconds, I could feel Jesus clearly side-hug me. He grabbed my right shoulder with His right hand and just hugged me like I was his bro for about forty seconds.
When He did that, I could feel this heat, or what felt like this energy of the cosmos emanate out of Him. I even felt the heat-imprint where His arm was draped over my body.
I also felt this absolute love and acceptance, but I didn’t cry or anything. Honestly, I had to divorce myself on an emotional level from what was happening just so I could deal with it.
It’s very difficult to be in His presence because He’s so mighty and all-powerful. All you want to do is worship Him and try your hardest to please Him. You become like an obsessed fan. You could be the President of the United States, it doesn’t matter.
After about twenty seconds, I got this welling up inside me and I just had to start asking Him questions, but as I was doing that, I got the sense that I should stop.
He didn’t want to talk. He just wanted to be with me. He just wanted me to feel what it’s like to be in His presence.
But I couldn’t help it. I kept talking about what, in retrospect, must have sounded like self-centered ramblings and that’s when He left me for a few minutes. He started making His rounds again.
I sensed that He was in the back of the sanctuary with someone else for a while. The worship continued.
A little while later, He stopped by again, but this time to say goodbye. He approached me from the opposite side and stood next me for a few seconds, then left again.
It was an incredible experience. I’ll never forget it.
For you non-believers out there, I recommend you start just having a dialogue with God. Just start asking Him questions like, “Are you real?” “Are you up there?” and demand that He answer you.
DON’T start like this: “Well, I was reading this bogus website about God and it said I should try to ask you questions, so here goes. God, who I don’t think is up there, can you show me some proof your existence? I know it won’t be scientific or plausible, but whatever so-called ‘proof’ you can muster would be fantastic.”
You need to turn your face toward the heavens and with a genuine desire to know the truth, say: “All these people are saying that they know you. They devote their whole lives to serving you and they’re unashamed of their beliefs in the face of tremendous adversity. They claim to know the truth. I want to know the truth. Are you real? If you are, please show yourself to me.”
If you pray like that, God will answer you. It’s a simple as that.
I’m in a unique position right now because I do personal training at the neighborhood gym, but I also substitute teach at my old high school. This means that, number one, I see students from the high school a lot, both at school and when they’re training in the gym, and number two, I get to observe how they interact with one another in various social situations. I guess you could say I’ve gotten to know many of them pretty well.
One thing in particular that makes this arrangement even more interesting is how God has allowed the gift of spiritual discernment to operate in my day to day life. I’ve gotten into the habit of using discernment on a regular basis now, so much so that I can attest to something that at first surprised me, which is how active the enemy is during our most formative, high school years.
For those of you who’ve never heard of terms like ‘spiritual discernment’ or ‘discernment of spirits,’ it’s very simply the ability to distinguish right from wrong, or truth from falsehood. People who have this gift are able to easily determine what is of God, what is of the devil, and what comes from man’s own power. This can mean in a general sense, or specifically discerning the presence of either angelic or demonic spirits. In my case, discernment is one of my strongest giftings, but I’m still in the process of developing it.
A quick word on spiritual gifts. Everyone has some kind of gifting. Some of the most common examples other than discernment are speaking in tongues, prophecy, administration, encouragement, mission work, prayer intercession, pastoring, teaching, giving, miracles, helps, knowledge and healing.
There are others, but the point is, all of our gifts come from God, whether you believe in Him or not. These gifts will manifest in different ways depending on how far along we are in our walk. In the case of non-believers, gifts tend to often be used improperly, or out of sync with what God’s will is.
If you’re curious about what your spiritual gifts are, you can take an online test here. Just keep in mind the questions are worded using Christian terms, so just re-word them for yourself using secular language if you happen to be a non-believer or skeptic.
But getting back to my old high school, what I’m saying is that I use spiritual discernment while substitute teaching. In a few words, I do it because I want to know specifically what I should be praying for. For example, if I encounter someone who needs a specific type of prayer, I can often discern what they might need and pray it for them, in many cases, without their knowledge.
Yes, it’s pretty cool. No, I can’t see manifestations with my physical eyes. Yes, it’s real and I encounter things often.
Before I continue, let me explain something important when it comes to my ability to sense things. Whatever ability I have comes from God, but at the same time, to me it’s not that ‘special’ because the way I look at it, I’ve just learned to develop what I believe many of us already have, but often ignore. Some people call it having a ‘sixth’ sense.
What does this ‘sensing’ look like?
At times, this ‘sensing’ comes in the form of an emotional response, such as a fleeting fear-like feeling. Other times, it comes as an idea, or image that pops into my head. I also like to use muscle-testing techniques using my own reflexes to decipher the subtleties of ‘yes’ or ‘no’ when asking the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth to me.
It’s similar to listening to what non-believers call their ‘gut instinct’, except they don’t realize what it is. Many Christians call it listening to the ‘still small voice,’ which is how God speaks to us most of the time. If you’ve ever shut out all distractions, your iphone, ipod, T.V., internet connection etc. and pondered something in complete silence, you’ve probably felt it. Some people make a conscious effort to feel it all day long and that’s kind of what I do.
Now picture this. I’m substitute teaching in different classrooms all day, monitoring students, interacting, when all of a sudden, my spirit gets piqued by something. It’s like you’re in a submarine using sonar to determine the enemy’s coordinates when all of a sudden you hear something bounce back. In my case, I don’t exactly hear it, but I can feel it.
Whenever I come across a student who is being influenced by the demonic in some way, I pray that God would take that spirit away from them so they can reach their full potential and not be derailed from the plan He has for their life. And the best part is, it works and I can even tell when the spirit leaves them. Usually, it’s accompanied by a change in behavior.
Here are a few accounts:
1) There was this one popular girl who was very pretty who had a spirit on her not too long ago. Whenever I would pass her in the hallway, or come by her desk, I would sense this strong fear-feeling for no apparent reason. High school girls don’t scare me, so this feeling didn’t make any sense.
When I consulted the Holy Spirit about it, sure enough, she had a spirit of pride on her. Taking pride in your looks, or accomplishments isn’t inherently wrong, but when it devolves into a feeling of superiority over others or something you fail to give thanks to God for, it can become a problem.
So I prayed for her and a few days later, I noticed a swift change in her behavior. Where previously she was cold and distant, not smiling much, or taking pleasure in anything, now she was totally relaxed, yukking it up with her friends, and saying “Hi” to random students in the hallway! She became open, friendly, and completely the opposite of self-conscious to the point of goofiness.
Before, she was nothing like that. She was your typical calculating ‘mean girl.’ I know what a lot of you are thinking. ‘You must have caught her on an off day, or at the wrong moment when you first observed her.’ Trust me, this was a radical shift in paradigms for her. Like I said, I’ve observed these students and others on and off for more than a few years now working as a sub. This was revolutionary.
2) There were these two girls from the high school working out on the elliptical machines. They waved ‘Hi’ like they usually do, and I came over to ask how they were doing. As I got closer, I was bombarded with a strong fear-feeling that almost pushed me away. It was an all-consuming feeling, but I didn’t want to let on that I was affected by it because at first, I thought it might be coming from me because it reminded me of how I used to feel talking to girls I liked back during my high school years.
The only problem was I didn’t have any intention of talking them up or anything. We were just having your typical floor trainer conversation about workout routines and what not, so this strange feeling didn’t seem to make any sense. I was trying to stand my ground, but the feeling was so intense that I broke out in a sweat and had to excuse myself. I walked away thinking, ‘What the heck just happened?’
When I prayed about it, God showed me that one of the girls had a Jezebel spirit on her. One characteristic of this spirit is that it despises men. This means that this particular girl must have entertained a hatred of men at some point in her life, possibly due to some traumatic experience, in order for her to have something in common with this spirit and for it latch on.
The demonic is parasitic; it’s how they operate. We have to leave what Christians call an ‘open door’ in order for them to come in and affect us. Once they’re influencing us, though, they can press our buttons more easily and before you know it, we’ve taken on more of their nature thinking that it’s just us, or the way we are.
So just to be clear, I’m not saying this girl was possessed. Possession is the full-blown version. What I’m saying is they start affecting us in stages, so the beginning stages are various forms of influence through ideas and suggestions when we’re the most vulnerable.
Long story short, after I prayed for her, I noticed the same positive changes in her behavior as I did with many of the other students. She no longer had this desperate sense of fear on her and she was a lot more relaxed in general.
3) When it comes to middle-school students, I noticed that many of them don’t have spirits influencing them. This is probably because they are at or below the age of accountability, which means that God protects them because of their young age, either through the love and attention given to them by their parents, or through other means we can’t even imagine.
And yet, some of them do have the beginnings of demonic influence on them, and I noticed that when I would pray over an unruly classroom, these students, typically the disruptive ones, along with everyone else, would suddenly quiet down and start focusing. This happened practically every time.
4) Sometimes, occult objects in the room can trigger bad behavior in classrooms I’ve been to. One time, I was subbing at the elementary school for this Social Studies teacher and I saw that he had an enormous dream-catcher displayed prominently on his wall. Dream-catchers are those Native American hoops made out of wood with a web woven into the center and feathers hanging off of the bottom that people hang near their beds, or on their rear-view mirrors.
They’re supposed to block bad dreams, but a lot of people don’t realize their pagan origins. Believing that a dream-catcher is going to aid you in any way is like saying, in a spiritual sense, that “This mystical object is going to protect me, so I don’t need God.” God doesn’t want any other belief systems to interfere with a person’s individual relationship with Him, so He looks at all occult items, practices, and beliefs as idol-worship.
I was having a particularly hard time this one day and I couldn’t figure out why. I had that familiar fear-feeling about the dream-catcher, but it didn’t hit me until later that I needed to pray over it and bind it in Jesus’ name. I could feel a peace come over the room after I did this and I believe the students felt it too.
Looking back on my own high school experience, I definitely had a least one prominent spirit on me and I know that a lot of my friends at the time did also. In my case, it was influencing me for a number of years and has already done a lot of damage to my life. Thank God that’s all over.
If there’s a good thing that comes from all this, it’s that with this knowledge, the whole high school experience is now much more forgivable for all parties involved.
A lot of people hang on to those old high school wounds, harboring anger at people who’ve done them wrong. They never really forgive, but maybe now they can forgive.
What did we really expect? We were raised at a time when these spiritual influences literally started running amok, due to the marginalization of Christianity and the rejection of Biblical truths throughout all sectors of society. We were giving license to this sort of thing through our neglect of the truth.
I love my sleep. I make sure nothing interferes with it. It’s so important to me that I will stop everything in order to make sure I get it.
When I was in college, I used to forgo studying just to make sure I was rested enough for the exam. Interestingly enough, I would do better on the exam.
Same with my lifting routine. I prioritize sleep and workouts always come second. The results? Progress has been steady.
Back when I was a full-time English teacher, my sleep would suffer because of late nights grading papers and stressing out over lesson plans. What did I do? I reasoned that life was too short to be perpetually stressed-out and short on sleep, so I walked away from the job at the end of the school year. Regrets? Nope, best decision I ever made.
So when I tell you that I get to bed every night at 10 or 11 PM tops, I really do.
This one particular night, though, I woke up suddenly at 2:30 in the morning. It was one of those weird instances of waking up and feeling completely rested.
I don’t know if this has ever happened to you, but sometimes I will wake up and think that it’s morning because I’m that rested. I don’t know the scientific reason for why this happens, but I’m not convinced it has anything to do with science. I believe it’s spiritual and comes from God.
Anyway, I tried to go back to sleep, but I was having trouble, which is unlike me.
Then I remembered what a friend of mine said about being woken up by the Holy Spirit in the middle of the night to pray. So I thought, “Maybe that’s what God wants me to do.”
So as I was laying in bed, I began to pray. At first, I had no clue what to pray about. The Holy Spirit wasn’t giving me any guidance, so I just prayed generally for the community, for the schools, for local government and for God to confuse and frustrate the enemy’s plans to steal, kill, and destroy.
I said the prayer, turned over the pillow and tried to go back to sleep. Within minutes, I had a visitor in my bedroom.
A demonic presence entered my room and started venting its anger on me. I’m way past feeling afraid when getting visitations like this, so now I just find it mildly amusing. I knew it was demonic because they always use a form of paralysis on us. In many circles, this is called, ‘sleep paralysis’ but it has more to do with the demonic.
That familiar paralysis was coming over me as well as a distinct feeling of fear for no apparent reason and right away, I knew what I was dealing with. It got close to my head and started yelling and screaming at me in a language I couldn’t understand. It wasn’t physical sound, but spiritual sound. It sounded like Charlie Brown’s mother or when you try to shout while underwater.
I couldn’t make out any particular words, but I got the sense that it was angry with me, presumably for my prayer. I told it to leave in Jesus’ name and seconds later, the paralysis was gone, it left and I got some sleep. That’s the great thing about being a believer. There’s never anything to fear because we can just blast them with the name of Jesus and they’re rendered defenseless.
This encounter was significant, though, because it made me realize how powerful our prayers are. We can throw a giant monkey-wrench into the gears of the enemy’s entire operation just by praying a heart-felt prayer.
It also made me realize that I need to pray more. Imagine if I continued to pray more than that simple prayer? I’m sure I would have had a bunch of visitors trying to silence me and make me stop. Maybe that’s what I’ll do next time. Let me think . . sleep, or warfare prayer? That’s a tough one.
Get in the habit of praying short, but effective prayers not just at night, but all day long. Pray as an ongoing thing, while you’re walking around running errands, or working, or interacting with people. It’s easy. Just speak life and love over people. Bless people and pray that good things happen to them, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Recently, I’ve been going to the same church on a weekly basis. This is a big deal for me because in the past, I would go church-hopping and kind of scope out the situation, then leave never to be seen again.
In the metro New York area, where I live, going to church is a rare thing for people in my age bracket. Most of the time, you won’t find too many people in regular attendance who fall within the 20-30 range, which is disappointing, but that’s the way it is here.
Hey, this isn’t Dallas, Texas, in the heart of the Bible belt, or anything. More like the opposite.
But I’ve been pretty regular lately at Harvest Time Church in Greenwich, right over the New York-Connecticut border, and I’ve even started going to some of the small group meetings during the week. Once again, kind of a big deal for me.
Anyway, this past week, after the small group meeting was over, I headed upstairs to the main lobby of the church. This is when something clearly out of the ordinary happened.
Now, keep in mind that there’s a Latin service that occurs in the sanctuary upstairs during our small group meeting, but by the time we’re done, everyone is usually cleared out.
Once I reached the top of the stairs, I could see that the lobby and sanctuary of the church were completely dark. Even though it was dark, it still felt like there were people hanging around somewhere, but I didn’t see anyone.
I walked through the lobby and headed toward the darkened sanctuary, mostly to pray because I like to pray in complete solitude if possible. This was my main reason for heading upstairs to begin with. I wasn’t expecting the next part.
What I initially felt in the lobby only increased as I entered the sanctuary and began walking down the center aisle. Immediately, I could sense what felt like hundreds of eyes watching me. The sanctuary must have been filled with angels because I literally felt like my every move was being monitored.
To be quite honest, it was an intense and overwhelming feeling. I wasn’t scared, but I was definitely uncomfortable. I also started to feel dirty because I felt like I was in the presence of something or someone immaculately pure and holy. Once I got settled into one of the pews, I immediately started repenting for sins I wasn’t even sure I committed. The need to make myself clean was very strong.
There was also this feeling of power that you just don’t encounter in your every day life. It was a feeling of absolute authority. I’m a guy who has a decent sized ego, but in this presence I felt like I was nobody. It was like God Himself was in the sanctuary in the form of a glory cloud or something, that’s how powerful this feeling was.
As I began to pray, I started to feel something coming toward me. In my spirit, I knew it was an angel, I just couldn’t see it in the physical. It came right up behind me and stood there. I had no idea what it was doing, but its presence was obvious, just like a person. For some reason, I could also feel that it was very tall. I almost didn’t want to turn around, but at one point I did and of course, I didn’t see anything.
A lot of people who have angelic encounters like this talk about experiencing a feeling of absolute love, but I didn’t feel any of that. It was more a feeling of power and authority than anything else. I was slightly on edge the entire time, but I knew I was safe. It wasn’t a feeling of fear like when I encounter a demon.
Because its so integral to the story, I’m going to do something I wouldn’t normally do, I’m going to tell you what I prayed for.
I prayed that God would give me guidance in developing my radio show and that he would show me how I could make a future for myself, financially and otherwise, doing what I loved i.e. fitness and evangelism, instead of caving and having to take a job I can’t stand just to pay the bills.
After I was through praying, I got up and left. As I walked out of the front entrance of the church, I could swear I was still being watched through the windows of the sanctuary.
But that’s not all. The following week, at the end of the 11:30 AM service, Pastor Glenn had a “word” for “someone in the audience.” Here’s what he said:
“I have a word for someone here in the audience. The Lord says you have a ministry that you’re starting and not to worry about the financial end of it. He says just move forward with it and plunge yourself into it. Put your faith in God that He will provide.”
Did you catch that? The Lord answered my very specific prayer by speaking though the Pastor of the church I attend. Pretty cool, right? But wait, there’s more.
A friend of mine, who’s also a strong believer and someone definitely in tune with God’s voice, confirmed what the Pastor said without even knowing my original prayer, or what happened the previous Sunday. Here’s what she said, word for word:
“I’ve been praying a lot about your show lately and the Lord was showing me that you just need to jump into it and do it. Don’t worry about anything else.”
And that, my friends, is called a supernatural encounter.
Okay, first of all, if you’re not sensitive to the spirit realm, you probably won’t get anything I’m saying here. It’ll seem stupid and lame to you. If this is you, then I want to challenge you to open your mind.
The spirit realm is real. Some people feel like they have to get involved in the occult, like tarot cards and witchdoctors in order to experience it, but this is totally false. In fact, tarot cards and stuff like that are the devil’s counterfeit version of real Christian spirituality.
If you’re genuinely wanting to learn more about this whole realm, my advice is to seek out a church that believes in spiritual gifts and the supernatural. Unfortunately, not every church does. Start speaking to the church leaders and even other members regarding experiences they’ve had.
I would also say start getting used to using your spiritual senses. Do you know that feeling of either tension, or affinity between you and another person as you pass them by in the corridor? How about the feeling of pure joy and elation you get watching the sun-set? We tend to think of these as purely physical emotions, but they actually originate in the spirit. Your outward emotions are really just a barometer of what your spirit is feeling.
Some of what you feel emotionally is due to hormonal shifts and nutrient-balance, but this isn’t always the case. More often than not, you feel a certain way because of spiritual influences, either good or bad.
I suggest the following exercises for those of who’d like to experience more of the spirit realm in your every day walk.
Notice how the atmosphere always changes during real heart-felt worship at church on Sunday.
Notice how certain people, places or things give you a feeling of fear for no apparent reason.
Notice how you just seem to click with certain people and not others.
Notice underlying feelings you get listening to certain songs.
Walk into an empty sanctuary after a particularly powerful church service is over. What do you notice about the spiritual atmosphere around you? Does it seem spiritually charged, or different somehow? How would you describe it? What do you think causes it?
eternalplanner.com | I was sitting in the fitness lab, where I spend most of my time explaining fitness-related concepts to clients when I was hit with a tough question. It wasn’t formulated in any specific terms, but the meaning was clear.
The person asking me the question, who shall remain nameless, wanted to know more about my beliefs and I was happy to share, except I fumbled the ball, due mostly to lack of preparation.
I don’t generally make a concerted effort to bring up my faith with clientele or members at the gym. Inevitably, it’ll just sort of happen whenever I mention an inspiring story about someone I just had on my show, or when someone wants to know ‘what I do.’
Usually, when I get to the part about my ‘Christian’ radio show, they’ll just say, “Oh, that’s nice,” or “Good for you,” depending on whether or not they happen to be a believer.
It was that kind of situation, except on this occasion, it was with a regular who I knew fairly well. This person was not a believer, but she was intrigued that I was.
Previously to this, she had gotten into the habit of telling me, “You’ve got a lot going for you, why do you need God?” emphasis on the ‘you.’ I was glad, though because this time she was going out on a limb a little bit and genuinely inquiring about my faith.
So we were talking and at a certain point in the conversation she said, “Look, I was brought up very strict by my parents and I never stole as much as a candy bar from the corner store. And me, I’ve never been to church and I’ve still managed to do the right thing.”
Her point, of course, was, ‘What’s so special about Jesus?’ In other words, there are a lot of good people out there who don’t know a thing about Jesus and yet, they manage to do the right thing, at least for the most part.
This was a great point and I had no idea how to address it. My initial reaction was to wait for the Holy Spirit to give me a hand with the answer, but I never got the communication, so I just said, “It’s hard to explain” and that I could direct her to people who were more adept at explaining things than I was.
I didn’t want to say something that would sound like nonsense to her, so I backed off.
Later that night, though, God spoke to me through a Bible verse. Before I ‘hit the hay’ I usually read a randomly selected Bible passage. I just flip to a section in the Bible and play eenmie, meanie, miney moe and see what happens. It’s very unscientific, but it’s what I do.
It so happened that I turned exactly to Ezekiel 18:24.
“But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.”
God works in mysterious ways. In this case, God was reminding me that good works are great and that they’re important, but we’re only truly ‘saved’ through grace. Let me repeat that. We are only truly saved through grace.
Yes, good works should accompany a person who is truly saved, but without the being saved part, you’re basically spinning the roulette wheel when it comes to ensuring your salvation. All dogs don’t necessarily go to Heaven.
But how do you explain to a non-believer that there’s a Heaven and a Hell, and that they might end up some place they don’t want to be if they don’t repent and believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ who was sent here to die for us??
Regardless of the inherent truth in Jesus Christ’s divinity and what he was sent here to do, to a non-believer, and even some believers, the whole thing tends to sound fantastical and too out there.
Especially to someone fed a steady diet of mainstream popular culture, rationalism, and the denial of everything supernatural, which is sadly most Americans.
But that doesn’t change the nature of the message. Truth doesn’t change. So the question now becomes, how do you come across with the Gospel message in a way that is going to be well-received and free of bad feelings?
The answer is, it’s not possible. The truth is inherently controversial. The truth divides into two categories, one being ‘lies.’ Calling out someone as a ‘liar’ is rarely ever going to make you any friends. That’s why so many Christians are martyred, even today.
This is also why lies are so popular. People like lies because they circumvent confrontation. Who likes to confront someone? Answer: no one.
However, I’ve found there to be a surprisingly easy way to make someone think hard about their belief system. I call it the ‘If God, then what‘ line of questioning. It was used on me with great results.
It goes something like this.
Rob Rennie: “Do you believe in God?”
Non-believer: “No, but I believe in the universal mother-force.”
RR: “Okay, so you believe in a higher power.”
RR: “Is there a Holy Book, or something that you read to find out about who this ‘higher power’ is?”
RR: “Well, if there were such a book, would you be interested in what it had to say?”
RR: “The Bible has been an accepted authority on who God is for hundreds of years. Two of the world’s biggest religions consider the Bible to be the actual Word of God. Have you ever looked into the Bible?”
NB: “No, but I’ve read ‘Siddhartha’.”
RR: “Well, in the Bible, God makes it clear that He loves us, but that He has certain expectations of us, things that are of crucial important to our existence here on earth and even beyond the grave. Would you agree that knowing what these things are might cause you to think differently about the world around you?”
NB: “Yeah, I guess.”
RR: “Sounds to me like you really want to be reading the Bible then.”
NB: “Yeah, maybe I should read the Bible. You’re right!”
Okay, it tends not to go as smoothly as this, but the point is, once you get someone to admit that there is a Creator of some kind, then you can logically lead them to the conclusion that they should learn about who this Creator is.
Caution: this may not work for atheists.
If all else fails, then just tell them the raw truth without even trying to pre-digest it for them.
RR: “After the fall of mankind when Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command to not eat from the tree of knowledge, we became ‘fallen’ and we would from that point forward forever be subject to sin and death. Prior to this event, there was no such thing as ‘death.’ Fortunately, God allowed us to reclaim our ‘pre-fallen’ status via a galactic ransom of sorts involving His only son, Jesus Christ, who was also God incarnate. Jesus came to earth in human form to “destroy the works of the devil.” The way this gambit works is if we believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God, indeed a personality of God Himself, and that He came here to die for our sins, and make us clean again, we can be ‘saved’, ‘born again,’ whatever you want to call it, ‘a new creation.’ With this new mantle, we take on new characteristics and begin to be conformed to the likeness of Christ in all purity and holiness. If we abide in God’s will, then He will use us mightily to spread the Word of God and ‘set the captives free’ meaning cast out devils and heal the sick. In this way, we can do as Jesus did and make the world a better place until His coming, which no one except God Himself knows when will be. When our bodies breathe their last breath, our spirits will live on forever in Heaven.”
NB: “Bro, have you lost it? Do you really expect me to believe that?”
RR: “Well, I did my part. Let’s work shoulders.”
Ask a non-believing friend if they believe in a Creator or not. Use the “If God, then what” line of questioning. See what happens.