GOD REVEALED HIMSELF TO ME WHEN I LEAST EXPECTED IT!
(The Norm Rasmussen Story: Part 1 of 2 - Full length Version)
(By: Norm Rasmussen)
If you would like to watch Norm's full-length video testimony, you can click on the following link:
What a joy it is to know beyond all shadow of a doubt that there really is a God. Not just to believe there is a God and leave it at that, but to have personally experienced His presence in my room. That was the morning my doubts about God and Jesus Christ changed forever!
It is my hope that if you are somehow doubting the reality of God, God will use this testimony to help begin to change that. After all, to believe that Jesus Christ is merely the Son of God is one thing, but to know by the Holy Spirit to the depths of your soul that Jesus Christ is also God Himself -- knowing that He is co-equal with God the Father (though He submits His will to the Father) and God the Holy Spirit - One God in three distinct persons . . . that's when Christianity takes on a whole new meaning and importance! Why is that? Because Christianity was never meant to be a "religion" in the first place. It is a relationship -- an intimate, personal relationship with our Creator.
Early in my childhood, around 1955, at about age nine, I accepted Christ as my Savior, when a traveling evangelist came to the little logging community of Bates, Oregon where our family lived. With a child's mentality, I'm sure I did it to hopefully make God happy with me, and so I wouldn't go to hell, which was an understandable motive, but I just didn't follow up on associating myself with other dedicated Christians after that who could help me grow in my relationship with God, sadly. (As is often the case ... I had no spiritual input nor encouragement from my parents, which is so important in a child's life to build a strong spiritual foundation for the rest of their lives).
After high school, at age 18, in 1966, I enlisted in the Army. I wanted to serve my country. A few days before Christmas, 1967, I landed foot on the shores of South Vietnam; full of fear and apprehension.
Experiencing first-hand the horrors and injustices of that war (as there are in all wars to one degree or another), my concept of an "all loving, all merciful, all compassionate God being in control of this planet drastically began to alter my belief about Him. Seeing all the pain the Vietnam conflict was bringing to the lives of so many people, including mine ... I wasn't sure I wanted to put my trust in any supposed God any longer who allowed such things to happen.
In Vietnam, I was a Prisoner-Of-War interrogator at the field level. Our main objective was try to help save the lives of our fellow soldiers by providing accurate and timely information about the enemies' activities (and for that I am thankful I was able to help do), and of course, trying to stop the Communists from taking over South Vietnam. In seeking information from prisoners, "Intensive" interrogation techniques were sometimes used to extract information from hard-core prisoners (otherwise they wouldn't reveal information they had) that helped deaden my conscience to any value to life I may have gone to Vietnam with. While in Vietnam to deal with pain, alcohol and drugs were as common to me as they were to many other Vietnam Vets. Every night I went to sleep pretty much stoned. It became a nightly routine. If I didn't go to bed stoned, there would BE no sleep from the dreams that tormented me.
To try to forget yet deal with pain, and to try to put the whole nightmare behind me and get on with my life as best I could, I came back from Vietnam a hard-core alcoholic with a heart as cold as steel. My wife had a very emotionally unstable and troubled husband to deal with, though I certainly was into denial to it, sadly and regrettably. At different times she would encourage me to seek professional help, and I tried a few group therapy sessions off and on, but in listening to other Vets share their pain attributed to Vietnam, or even asked to share my own experiences about Vietnam, anxiety would start boiling up in me, and it would only trigger more crazy and tormenting dreams, not to mention other manifestations that I'm not comfortable sharing about publicly. Thus my solution was simply do everything I knew to do to try to forget that I had ever been in the Army, and especially in Vietnam.
EMOTIONALLY RAPED - JUST WANTING TO FORGET
Though thankful to be alive, I left Vietnam very emotionally troubled - (feeling emotionally raped, is probably more like it) - wanting to forget everything about Vietnam. Feelings of betrayal will do poisonous things to a soldier's mind (American soldiers being killed and maimed and marriages and families be ravaged for ultimately exactly WHAT?) will do poisonous things to a soldier's mind. For the most part, I had little use for God. Most likely, I was bitter at Him as well, yet was totally clueless about it for many, many years.
Then having to deal with issues back here in the United Sates once I returned -- the anti-war critics stateside (wondering who my enemy now really was), who didn't seem to care that most American soldiers hadn't volunteered to go there in the first place, but were drafted and forced to go as I was, plus feeling like I had let the very people down I had been sent to help liberate, the South Vietnamese people, especially when we pulled out our military forces just a few years later and left the South Vietnamese people to fend for themselves ... made things even worse. Part of me grew so upset at times at unsympathetic American anti-war protesters and unsympathetic politicians that I became frightened at what I might do if caught in a confrontational situation with them -- knowing that if I didn't avoid those situations, I was going to most likely spend the remainder of my life in jail otherwise, if I survived a confrontation. Thus I avoided confrontation as much as possible, and buried my anxiety and pain with more alcohol and isolationism to try to deal with my depression, and other emotional issues, (inability to remember and stay focused in the work place - relate properly in marriage - my confidence in being able to move up in advancement to provide for my wife and family ... among other challenging issues both on and off the workplace), not to mention sleeplessness (from tormenting dreams and nightmares most often associated with Vietnam plus increasing severe back pain and leg injury from complications that resulted from a surgery prior to going to Vietnam) that came along with it all.
Thus to deal with life, I continued to go to bed stoned for many, many years after Vietnam, to be able to get a few hours of sleep. Along with the alcohol and drugs to try to cut down on the nightmares, I also began to take more and more pain killers for my back pain which manifested the worst while lying down.
Most marriages suffer conflict at one time or another. (Statistics have shown that Vietnam Veterans have had a very high rate of divorce, not to mention dysfunctional/emotionally challenged children raised in that marriage). When conflict rose in ours, I tried to bury most of my feelings with alcohol and isolationism, rather than seek on-going professional advice to help work them out. Like mentioned previously, it was hard for me to open up to others, especially about Vietnam issues. It just seemed to me like no one really understood, unless they had served in Vietnam. (Some people think when you say that, you're in some form of self-imposed mental exile of sorts, but I have another view of it. I realize this is a bit graphic, but I think it gets the point across. When you're locked inside an institution where everyone is either crazy or right on the edge of going crazy, it's really rather difficult to explain your feelings of your environment with others OUTSIDE that environment who aren't fully immersed with you in it. I'm sure many soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan could/can relate a lot). Even when I was able to find another 'Nam vet to open up to, it seemed like that vet's anger and frustration only triggered more anger - depression - anxiety in me, and vice versa, and I grew to even make it a point to especially stay away from other Vietnam vets as much as I could for that reason.
Like many others have done, in weak moments I began to think that an intimate relationship with another woman might bring a little happiness to drown out the depression and numbing pain inside me. Sad to say, adultery followed, and the "happiness" was short-lived, because the guilt ate at me constantly. My wife didn't deserve my doing that; not in the least very bit, nor did my two precious children. To bury that guilt, I drank even more quantities of alcohol mixed with pain killers, marijuana, and smoked more cigarettes and sought out whatever else was at my disposal to deal with my pain -- namely pornography (sexual lust to find a little pleasure) and things associated with it.
IS THERE REALLY A GOD?
And through all those trying years, I still wondered if there really was a God. Part of me wanted to believe there was, yet there was another part of me that had difficulty believing unless I could "prove" there was a God. I had read a number of "positive thinking" books that the devil had used to convince me that if a person can believe hard enough, you can create your own reality. I had experimented with hypnotism at an early age, and had experienced manifestations that many have not. Reading about and experimenting with hypnosis, I was an ardent student of "mind over matter." Meaning ... God can become real to you . . . but that doesn't mean He really exists. Little did I realize how strong the sin of independent pride was that had been operating in my life that caused this deception. Worse yet, little did I know that I was addicted to the MOST LETHAL KIND of drugs known to fallen mankind: The demonic, spiritual drugs of anger, doubt and unbelief keeping me from clearly believing Truth. As I look back at my life then, I essentially was tied to a gurney with needles in every vein of my body taking in the three drugs of anger, doubt and unbelief seven days a week, 24 hours a day. [Fear is the drug that often accompanies these other three, but I was so filled with anger and pride, I essentially feared nothing ... (until I was about to pass over into eternity that fateful weekend that God made Himself real to me).
I was quick to find fault in Christians and organized religion as well; totally unaware of the devil's influence over my thinking -- totally unaware of how much influence Satan has been allowed by God to have over the human race until his time is done ... including Christians. Like many others, I felt all churches wanted was to try to control you and con you out of your money. After all, if one believes there probably is no God unless it can be "proven," how can that person possibly believe there could be a devil or Satan who has been allowed by God to have great influence over people and the affairs of mankind until his time is done? My belief about the devil or Satan or demons was that it was just something early Christians had come up with to try to put fear into people to get them to believe the way they wanted them to believe.
The classic overflow of my doubt and unbelief-addicted mind was that I also felt a person was stupid to believe that they could trust the Bible. I had taken the belief (fallen for Satan's lie) that man screws everything up and you couldn't convince me that that modern-day accepted translations of the Bible have been preserved by God to be trusted to know what God wants mankind to know about Him and properly relate to Him and others. And another question I had: Why would God allow so many different translations of the Bible to be printed anyway?
[Sidebar here: Thank God that with all the new translations of the Bible that keep popping up year after year, the message of the Cross still remains in them. One wonders just how long it will take for THAT to be removed, or become so distorted it will not make sense! Years later, I've come to this conclusion. If a person is looking for excuses not to become a Christian, there will never be fewer reasons until Jesus returns!]
And why would He allow so many different denominations and different religions? Why couldn't it just be kept simple in black and white? It just made no sense to me whatsoever, thus I came to the conclusion that there was no sense to be made of it period.
Fortunately though, there were people God used along life's way to influence me positively about God. An older sister, Flora, and her husband, Jerry Cheadle, were two of those people. Flora and Jerry had become "born again," and their enthusiasm and devotion about their intimate relationship with Jesus Christ captured my attention.
My youngest brother, Dale Rasmussen, the black sheep of the family as far as I was concerned growing up, (really because of some very lacking parenting; he's so precious to me now), also had a powerful born again experience in his twenties. It was seeing the incredible change in his life for the better that began to make me take a more serious look at my comprehension of "personal relationship with Jesus Christ" Christianity. When I would talk with Dale, all he would tell me was to forget about my hang-ups about Christianity and organized religion, and just fall in love with Jesus Christ. He said the rest of it would all fall into place in due time. But I didn't really have much of a clue who Jesus Christ was, or should I say, IS. That's because I refused to believe what the Bible says about Him is true (from Chapter 1 of the Book of John in the Bible; Colossians 1:13-20, as well as a few other places in scripture). I believed the lie that all the translations of the Bible cannot be trusted. If you allow the devil to convince you of that you'll have a very difficult time coming to know truly who Jesus Christ really is. When you don't realize who He really IS, you don't realize GOD Himself died on the cross for you -- taking full punishment for your sins so they won't be held against you on the Judgment Day ... not just a "good man" who did some very incredible things.
WALKING TIME BOMB
Alcoholism, anger, emotional instability, depression and stress continued to take its ugly toll, as well as the other affects of sin in my life. Near age 35, I was told unexpectedly by a nurse that my heart was like a walking time bomb, ready to explode. My heart was ready to quit any minute due to extreme high blood pressure. I was sleeping very little, smoking 3 packs of cigarettes a day minimum, and drinking close to half of a fifth of hard liquor a day most of the time, not to mention various amounts of beer and wine ... to try to cope with the pain of living.
When I was told that I had to quit smoking and drinking or else suffer a heart attack, part of me didn't care if I died. In my mind, it was a way out of my pain and misery. After all, it would be death through "natural causes." Who would ever know the real reason?
Yet another part of me wanted what my sister, Flora Cheadle, and her husband Jerry, and my younger brother Dale Rasmussen had found, which was a personal relationship with whom they believed to be the Creator of the universe -- no substitutes. They weren't propagating a religion, a denomination (or denominationalism), or a teacher. What they were propagating was a personal relationship with the triune God: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, and I liked the exciting fruits, or results you might say, that they were getting. They had peace and joy in their life that I didn't have. They had purpose for living that I didn't have. No - their lives were not spared from conflict. In fact, conflict actually increased due to demonic attacks constantly coming against them, which I've come to realize is quite typical). Even so, their lives had become centered on helping others come to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and grow in their relationship with Him, instead of being self-consumed with pain, bitterness and confusion like mine was.
So by age 35 (in 1980), I was a total wreck. I was facing death by essentially my own choosing, and I wasn't convinced in my heart that I would go to heaven (if there was such a place: my doubt expressing itself at the time). My marriage had essentially dissolved; my life was in shambles. I had two precious children who did not have a suitable father and an emotionally strained wife who did not have a suitable husband. I had reached a place in my life where I felt like the first 35 years of my life had pretty much been mental hell, and I didn't look forward to spending the last 35 years of my life experiencing the same. Death seemed the only way out, yet I really didn't want to die either. All I really wanted was to have a purpose for living that I just wasn't able to find, no matter how hard I tried, and a little happiness that lasted longer than another alcohol high.
Is there really a Heaven and a Hell?
Despair descended upon me, and fear of dying began to suddenly plague my thoughts. What if there really WAS a heaven and a hell, and a Judgment Day? How could I actually prove there wasn't? Furthermore, if there actually was a heaven and a hell, once on the other side, what assurance did I have of having a second chance to get right with God? All I had ever done was live for myself (not even taking into account all the people who had suffered, some even killed) by being an interrogator in Vietnam, or the people I had hurt (used) prior to and after Vietnam). What would God find in me that would make Him want to let me be in heaven with Him? I had no valid reasons I could come up with. My despair eventually turned to desperation.
Though I had cried out to God all night long starting on a Thursday night with nothing happening, everything culminated two mornings later.
Backing up -- I went to bed that Friday evening, like I had done the night before, and started crying out to God . . . if there was a God who could hear me, or wanted to hear me. "Let me know you are real! I do want to obey and serve the real God, but I've got to know you are real! I've got to know that what the Bible says about you is true! I've got to know if you really care for me!" I cried and agonized to God until the wee hours of dawn, but all I heard was silence. "God. . .do you even hear me?"
More silence . . .
I finally gave up. What a fool I had been to cry out like this all night long, I rationalized - thinking that maybe - just maybe - God would have compassion on me and somehow reveal His reality to me in a way that I wasn't so doubtful and confused about Him.
It was just starting to break day that early Saturday morning and then it happened! The bedroom instantly became about 30% brighter. I looked for a light to be on but none was! I thought maybe the sun was now up and I had fallen asleep and had wakened hours later, but the clock said differently. No - I wasn't imagining it nor was I dreaming it. The light was real! It was of equal intensity throughout the room. An invisible presence was in my room. The reason I know so was because an indescribable love was so strong in that room that it seemed there was not enough room to contain it all! I felt like I was being shoved back by a big hand into my bed, the love was so strong. And I knew - don't ask me how I knew - I just knew that I knew that it was the presence of Jesus Christ in my room! I didn't see any person-like figure, but His unmistakable presence filled the place.
God Is Real!
At that moment He spoke very powerfully to me. Not audibly, I don't think, but powerfully to my inner being (I've come to realize He spoke to my spirit, which is a common way for Him to speak to people). The intensity of it was so strong though that it might just have well of been audible. He told me what I had to do to make my relationship work with Him. Then instantly all the anguish and pain and misery and confusion and doubt of a lifetime was sucked out of me. And all that was left was peace. Sweet beautiful peace . . . and knowing that God is real.
Then the room instantly was darkened again as before. And the presence of Christ was now gone. The whole thing didn't take more than a few brief moments to happen, but happen it did! I was now a believer! Moments later, I pulled the covers off from me, sat on the side of the bed, and made a solemn vow to God. I said, "Thank you, Lord, for revealing yourself to me in a way that I can believe in you. I know I don't deserve what has just happened here, and I promise to serve you the rest of my life as best as I can. I'll do whatever you ask me to do." (Though I knew I was going to need a lot of His help).
I've done my best to keep that promise, even though I've made many mistakes and fallen short often since then. Have I attained sinlessness? No way! Do I ever get angry at God? Many times! Do I ever tire of disappointment after disappointment? Like the plague! Do I ever grow weary of praying and feasting on God's Word and doing ministry? Oh let me count the times! Are their times when my faith is weak and my hope is a distant, flickering flame, or so it would seem? More times than what I care to remember! Do I always "count it all joy" when trial after trial seems to be more frequent than not? Not nearly as much as God would like. Am I now the "perfect husband? Ha! Ask Kathleen, my wife! Am I the "perfect" father? Brian and Shawna, my two children from my first marriage, could write a book on how lacking I am! I'll be the first to admit I'm not "super-saint -- super-Christian." Yet I serve a forgiving and patient God. (The Grand Canyon wasn't formed in a day). He's also a God of incredible love (See how God revealed this to me at a later time by reading this testimony: LOVE ON A DUSTY ROAD).
However, least I portray myself as one of the most carnal Christians you can imagine, like my wife and I have discovered - and many other believers are discovering - the spiritual attacks upon Christians is growing more intense. You can click on this link for some insights that might be of great help in your own situation:
God also did some major surgery on me months after this fateful weekend regarding the hang-ups I had about the Bible and who Jesus Christ actually is, and some other very important spiritual matters: You can read about them by clicking on to following titles:
Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me." (John 14:6). Once the Holy Spirit breaks through your spiritual blindness and reveals to you who Jesus Christ really IS, then you will understand why a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is everything. How can that be? Because the One who died for your sins some 2,000 years ago -- He wasn't just a mere man -- He was all of God in human form. And He died especially for YOU. You can discover this for yourself in John Chapter 1 and Colossians 1:13-19). In fact, if you were the only sinner on planet earth, He still would have died just for you! Why? Because His love is that unfathomable -- that great!
He desires that you be in heaven with Him when you die -- not going to hell when you die. He wants you to experience eternal joy throughout eternity -- not eternal pain and suffering, anguish, misery and sorrow.
However ... why in the world should you take my word for it - right?! I agree! May I make a suggestion? Make it your goal in life from this moment forward to do everything you know to do to find out WHO Jesus Christ REALLY is. If you think you can prove that Jesus Christ did NOT die for all your sins, please let me know of what believable proof you have, okay? Maybe your reply to that would be: "What proof do YOU have, Norm?!" Clicking Here would be my first answer...
Who REALLY is Jesus?
Furthermore ... If you do not have peace, dear one, and the assurance of where you will go after you die (heaven or hell), I want to encourage you to seek answers about who created you and for what purpose....because He is the supreme PEACE GIVER (See: John 14:27). The first most important thing you can do in this life is to ask God to reveal to you who Jesus Christ really was ... and is. He doesn't want to keep it a secret from those who will truly turn their lives over to Him once He does, and remain a disciple of His, at whatever the cost -- whatever the pain. The highlighted portion on the Home Page of our website that reads: "Your eternal spiritual well-being is God's highest concern" means exactly what it says. Many people will refuse to take it at face value, because they want a state of "spiritual well-being" without any cost, without any pain [that's ME!], without any demands on personal change ... and they want it right now ... poof ... instantaneous! Jesus Christ didn't qualify Himself to be our High Priest through ease and personal pleasure. He became qualified through the things He suffered (See: Hebrews 5:8). Trial after trial after trial was the means God the Father used to qualify Him to be our highest of High Priests. Believers in Christ Jesus are also being made "kings" and "priests" unto God (See: Revelation 1:6, 5:10, 20:6). If we are in Christ Jesus - the death, burial and resurrection has already qualified us for these two high positions in eternity ... yet as long as we are alive here on this planet ... God wants us to learn how to measure up to those very high positions we have been given in Jesus Christ. That almost always involves trials - emotional pressure - (gulp ... stress).
If your life has little meaning and purpose, and you are searching for a reason to keep on living, I can't encourage you enough to ask Jesus Christ to become the Lord and Savior of your life. He created you for an eternal, useful purpose, and until you know what that purpose IS (of course, your spiritual well-being is the primary, ultimate purpose), nothing will fill the longing in your heart....like He has filled that longing in my heart with meaning and purpose. As God had done time after time with so many lives ... He can take your "mess" and turn it into one "glorious message" that will be used to touch the lives of many others for His glory and your eternal reward. God didn't die for us just to make it to heaven. He desires that we also seek Him to learn how to become "ministers." A "minister" uses the gift(s) God gives each of us to first learn how to minister to God, then secondly, learn how to minister to others. "Ministering to others" can be as uncomplicated as being a trusted listener to others who need someone they can trust to open up to -- praying for others in need -- or sowing a dollar to a ministry that God is using to help others come to Christ and grow spiritually. The list can take up pages!
If you can identify with many of the hang-ups I have experienced regarding Christianity, especially your need to have God "prove" His reality to you, like He did me, I want to ask you this question: what is holding you back from getting alone with God and seeking after Him until you can walk away a different person?
Jesus said: "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." (See: Matthew 16:25) An expansion of this truth is found in Mark 8:35: "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it." Literally, sharing the Good News around the planet through the Internet, Cable TV Public Access broadcasts, prison ministry, and the other ways God is allowing us to share it: that God took your and my punishment ... there is eternal forgiveness for our sins ... that entrance into heaven is FREE and can be ASSURED ... how glorious and exciting and rewarding this NEW spiritual life has become, regardless of the "challenges and trials" that come with it!
THE ROAD TO HAPPINESS
My former life was lived to find a little happiness to keep on going. My new life is striving to live to be pleasing to my Lord, though the journey sometimes has been very "rocky." Serving Him by being used to minister to others is what now makes me the happiest. It's a happiness this world knows little of. (Actually, it is more joy than happiness, because I have discovered that though the afflictions of the righteous are many (see Psalms 34:19) devoted disciples of Jesus Christ have the assurance that God is working our afflictions for eternal good (See: Romans 8:28-29; 2 Corinthians 4:16-17; 1 Peter 1:7; James 1:2-4) if we will trust Him through every storm -- every demonic battle -- even to the point of painful and perhaps unjust death. The best way I have found to do this is to give thanks to Him "in all things" and "for all things." (See: 1 Thessalonians 5:18; Ephesians 5:20). As Calvin Bergsma, Pastor of Georgetown Christian Fellowship Church (Hudsonville, Michigan) church likes to say, "Praise and thanksgiving is the language of faith."
Anyone can praise God and give thanks when things are going "well." Only when we are under constant bombardment from the devil for the purpose of trying to get us to believe (through feelings, getting us to believe his lies, and adverse circumstances) that God has betrayed us -- totally let us down ... does it become the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. (See: Psalms 107:22; 116:17; Hebrews 13:15). Determining to praise and thank God with our lips through all of life's challenges and adversities is more precious to God than all of the wealth of this world (See: 1 Peter 1:7). That's when the most priceless treasures get stored up in heaven for us, as Jesus speaks of in Matthew 6:19-21. Offering sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving in the midst of our trials and suffering is also a heavenly means by which Christ is being more fully formed in us day by day ... which Colossians 2:27 and 3:1-4 addresses.
In my former life, I don't remember hardly any prayers ever being answered. In my new born-again life (See: John 3:3), I've experienced so many answered prayers that it is abnormal to not have them answered (See: John 15:7-8), though sometimes my patience wears thin like most everyone else's does at times at seeing prayers answered. Most born-again Christians can tell you the same, when they've learned to pray wisely, unselfishly and be patient with God. I've learned that when God delays answering our prayers the way we would like Him to answer them -- when we would like them answered, He has very good reason for it. Everything God does and/or allows to happen on our behalf has a very good reason for it. Through all the rat-maze of spiritual confusion and frustration life can hand us ... we must always try to hold on to one simple fact: God is only good, and whatever He allows to happen in our lives and on this planet is working ultimately for His good -- the good of the church, the Body of Christ, (The Bride of Jesus Christ), and the good of all creation, ultimately. Remember ... life does not center around you and I only. It centers around what God wants. The sooner we can get beyond what we want all the time and enter into what God wants for us, the greater emotional and spiritual peace will rest upon us. I personally haven't mastered this priority, and if you have, please keep me near the top of your prayer list, okay?!
God has given me a purpose for living beyond anything I could have ever imagined. My number one purpose in life is to be a willing vessel God can use to minister through to others who are hurting, lost spiritually, or discouraged. In so doing, it forces me to seek for greater intimacy with God. To take someone as messed up as I was and give them not only a second chance at marriage, but to then watch God use us together through this Precious Christian Testimonies ministry outreach, the local fellowship we are a part of, (Currently: Georgetown Christian Fellowship), and ministry in prisons (through Prison Fellowship) -- to impart hope, encouragement and spiritual insight to others across the Internet, TV, and prisons ... that is something my precious wife, Kathleen and I, are so thankful for.
Quoting again from John 14:6 where Jesus says: "I am the way, the truth and the life," -- In my old life, before I was born-again, I would have said in regards to this scripture, "So - big deal." AFTER I became born-again and grew in some understanding of the Holy Scriptures and how I'm to relate with God, I now say, "Biggest deal in all of creation and eternity!" Why? Because what is really being communicated in the above portion of scripture is either the most profound fact in all the universe, or either the biggest lie. Though I never totally believed it was the biggest lie in all the universe, it took God to bring me to the brink of eternity before I was willing to push through the demonic blindness the devil had over me and that didn't happen until I was willing to first begin obeying from scripture the God who created me. In my trying as much as I could to obey Him ... He began to reveal the treasures of the Bible that I had been so prideful stubborn about and so blind to before.
I have a few final comments to make about my time spent in Vietnam and thoughts associated with war. First of all, I am now very, very thankful to have had the opportunity to serve in that conflict. Perhaps of all that conflict helped me to realize, is that until Jesus Christ returns, God is going to allow evil to remain on this planet to different degrees. When you're not sure that God is even real, Satan doesn't even enter into the equation as far as I was concerned. If this is no God, how can there possibly be a Satan or devil? That's the conclusion many come up with, and I was in that camp. Then there are those who do believe there is a God, but yet struggle with WHY does God continue to allow such evil on this planet to keep prospering? Why hasn't He done something about it long before now? No one has all the answers to that question, and I suspect we aren't going to get them all until God decides when its time.
However, this much I've learned about good and evil, and why God still allows evil to prosper on this planet. Without some means for testing us, there is really no true means of measuring our character. Character growth is what God is more interested in than anything else. When Jesus said in Matthew 19:30-31: "That many of the last shall be first, and many of the first shall be last," He is addressing character. It will be Christ-like character that God rewards the most in eternity, because Christ-like character exists for one purpose: To use everything in one's power to glorify his/her Creator. Those who understand the wisdom of allowing God to form and fashion Christ-like character in them are the wisest of all people on this planet, because Christ-like character is the ONLY "commodity" that God will trust His TRUE RICHES to through eternity. Satan is believed to be the most powerful angel God ever created, yet he ended up falling and hating God in the end because of one major character flaw: He was more driven about satisfying himself than he was driven to glorify his Creator. God has no eternal use for any of His created beings whose sole purpose for living is to not purpose to glorify his/her Creator.
As Hiram Johnson so perceptively states in his insightful, wisdom-packed book regarding matters of suffering: Tragic Redemption - "We know adversity builds character, but it also reveals it."
Regarding war: I also believe God hates war as much as you and I hate war. But I also believe that just as much as God hates war, (because of the pain it brings to so many innocent lives), there comes a time when evil needs to be restrained, and for reasons known only to God, rather than sovereignly stopping the hearts of those spearheading that evil God wants restrained, God often uses human soldiers to deal with it. The Old Testament Bible is filled with historical facts of God dealing with evil by using military conflict.
No American or ally soldier wanted to have to die or come back home handicapped (mentally, physically or both) to stop Hitler's advances, but Hitler was driven to conquer every nation on the face of this planet, not to mention rid Earth of all the Jews, and it became apparent that America, England and other nations who also joined in against his military might could no longer sit back and wait for Hitler's soldiers to come on American soil to continue his advance across this globe.
Communism (socialism - governmental control over the masses without checks and balances, in other words) was and is an evil that wasn't content to stay in one small locality. Certain of it's leaders wanted worldwide dominance. Why certain leaders of America chose to become involved in Vietnam to halt Communism from spreading we'll be debating until the Lord returns. What happened to the South Vietnamese soldiers and their families after America pulled their soldiers out of South Vietnam tells me just how evil those Communist leaders were who wanted to control it, and ended up controlling it. Ultimately, in one sense, I believe Satan won the conflict in South Vietnam. He not only was able to put Communism in control of the people, he sent back to America many spiritually and emotionally crippled soldiers that to this day many never received the one thing that can bring more healing to a soldier than anything else: Honor. When a man or woman puts their life on the line for another, and survives, there is a longing to be honored in some way that never leaves. In fact, when only silence or dishonor is bestowed on them, you have a potentially dangerous individual to be reckoned with.
[I want to take this one step further. If I was President of the United States, one of the first things I would do would be to push through legislation if it killed me to declare a national holiday for police and another national holiday for our firemen. What an insult to them and their families that we have a national President's Day, but not a holiday for these two professions. I think that is very indicative of just how insensitive past leaders have been to emergency workers on our home front who put their lives on the line, yet receive no major recognition for it that they each would be so blessed to get. Just as much as soldiers deserve to be honored who put their lives on the line for our military, I believe policemen and firemen and all who put their lives on the line to try to save another, are every bit as much deserving as soldiers are, and perhaps even more so in some cases].
We now have a more sophisticated multi-faceted evil on this globe to deal with that is gaining stronger and stronger momentum, and it's not going to go away. It is spiritual in nature, financial in nature, and repressive in nature, to say the least. Satan of course is the ultimate one behind this evil. This evil in one sense doesn't have to come to the shores of America or any other free and fair voting country. It's already there! It's primary goal is to minimize as quickly as it can Christianity that adheres to Biblical Truths (what truly pleases God, in other words) - any and every way it can. Satan knows that when he can demoralize enough Christians, and/or motivate them to compromise spiritual Truth and wink at sin, they'll quit praying and trusting and ultimately obeying God, especially if he can get them under fear. A Christian who quits praying unselfishly and seldom if ever fasts to get closer to God are the easiest of all for Satan to deceive. Satan full well knows that Christians are God's ambassadors and vessels (spiritual soldiers) to work through on this planet, and the less He can keep them cooperating with God to first discern evil, then combat evil, the easier it becomes for Satan to make critical advances. Satan's real fear is not an American soldier equipped with high technology weaponry. Satan's real fear is Christians warring on their knees in prayer and praise and with fasting in unity of purpose and admitting to disobedience to God and God's Word, with a willingness to let God deal with them ... because it is using primarily those three weapons that God has won every war on this planet that He chose to become involved in.
Evil's secondary goal is to try to weaken and cripple the economy of every nation that is actively standing in the way of its advancement, and in conjunction with this is to ultimately control as much of the the financial wealth of the world as possible - any and every way it can. If we want to know more about this evil, God has given us some insights to it, found primarily in the Book of Revelation and near the end of the Book of Daniel. I won't take up any more space here writing about it, other than to say that if you are a soldier, or serving your country to try to slow down this evil in whatever means you are so doing, I personally want to thank you and your loved one's for the sacrifices you have, or are giving, on behalf of the Lord's causes. Trying to hinder the advancement of evil is what our Lord Jesus Christ is all about. The battle between good and evil started a long, long time ago, and it will continue right up until Jesus Christ returns to Earth to deal fully with it, which He is going to do.
You've got to experience God's peace
Dear Reader: Please forgive me for going so long here. You can hear about all the glorious things God has done (and continues to do) in my life and in the lives of others, and they can give you hope, comfort, and spiritual insight (and of course, this should never be minimized!), but they won't bring you sustainable joy and peace with God. All they are, are roadmaps and a compass to lead you to your final destiny: Him. You've got to experience God's peace and joy for your life personally and that will only come through a personal relationship with the One who Co-Created you ... Jesus Christ. Once you accept Him as your personal Lord and Savior by asking Him into your heart and life, a time will come when you will be as excited as I am to point OTHERS to Him as well. Yes - you'll experience a lot of pain like all other Christian's do. Satan will not let things be "easy" for you, because God will allow Him to put you through a lot of trials to bring spiritual growth and maturity in you. (After all, life is about being tested; about trust; yet it's very temporary ... in light of eternity). But nothing in life is easy that will matter in eternity. Only those things that we have to work hard at to overcome the pain [which often-times involves "feelings" of betrayal from God. Here are a couple of recommended writings on "feeling betrayed by God": “Feeling” Forsaken By God? and “Feel” Like God Has Let You Down? are the very things that will mean the most to us when we pass into eternity.
How true this saying will become once we're on the other side: "Only one life will soon be past -- only what's done for Christ will last." What is done "for Christ" is seeking Him for the purpose you were created for, and doing all you know to do as God opens doors and provides the means for you to fulfill that purpose. If one is seeking to find purpose while bypassing the priorities of God given in Matthew 6:33 ("Seek FIRST the Kingdom of God and His righteousness ...") - your efforts in finding purpose will ultimately come to naught (wood, hay and stubble), especially when rewards are handed out on the Judgment Day.
If you don't know Jesus Christ personally, dear reader ... He's knocking on the door of your heart. He won't break the door down - He is a gentleman. You have to invite Him in. (See: Revelation 3:20). You have to step over the line of fallible human reasoning that fallen man seeks to dwell in ... into the realm of faith that releases God to do the impossible in you, and through you. It may seem scary at first, but once you step over, you'll be like everyone else, thinking: "Why did I wait so long!?"
Thank you and God bless you for taking the time to read this part of my story. I'm so thankful God has given me one to tell. Had God not intervened that fateful Saturday morning years ago ... I'm sure I would be in hell right now. I deserved to go there. Jesus Christ wants no one to go to hell. Anyone who will mean business with Him can have the assurance that eternal joy in heaven can be his or her everlasting destiny upon death in this life (See: John 17:1-26), if they want that assurance. Much of that joy can be experienced even here and now! It's freely given by the Holy Spirit to those who hunger to be right with the Heavenly Father ... that can only be found in and through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
In alignment with Truth, God promises: Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who diligently search for him. (Hebrews 11:6 NIV)
If you would like to read Part 2 of this testimony, you can click on the following link:
Dear Reader - are you at peace with God? If not, you can be. Do you know what awaits you when you die? You can have the assurance from God that heaven will be your home, if you would like to be certain. You can even have that assurance RIGHT NOW! Either Jesus Christ died for your sins, or He didn't (He did!). Are you prepared to stand before God on the Judgment Day and tell Him that you didn't need the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross to have your sins forgiven and get in right-standing with God? We plead with you...please don't make such a tragic mistake.
To get to know God, to be at peace with God, to have your sins forgiven, to make certain heaven will be your home for eternity, to make certain that you are in right-standing with God right now ... please click here to help you understand the importance of being reconciled to God. What you do about being reconciled to God will determine where you will spend eternity, precious one. Your decision to be reconciled to God is the most important decision you'll ever make in this life, because in Christ, it is impossible to put a value on the worth of your soul in light of eternity.
PLEASE HELP US HELP YOU SHARE THE BEST NEWS GOD HAS FOR EVERY PERSON BECAUSE...
JESUS DID IT! and...
Remember: All that we do in this life comes back to our God-given purpose which is to serve and glorify God. The money and assets we accumulate, the fame and power we've attained or seek to attain - all of the things of this nature will one day pass away, but those lives of others we impact for Jesus Christ will last for eternity, and we will be rewarded for the part we helped play by impacting those lives ... for eternity. (Matthew 6:19-20 is our assurance)