Jesus Loves Me
“As you go, make this announcement: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those with skin diseases, and throw out demons. You received without having to pay. Therefore, give without demanding payment.” Matthew 10:7-8
Driving today in search for a text that my wife needed for seminary a question began to rattle around in my head. This question became more apparent when looking for the book in particular Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis. At one store his texts were located in Christian Living and in another they were simply placed in philosophy. Ironic because the question was, “How do our personal philosophies develop?” and “What separates philosophy from religion?”
Reflecting on my personal philosophies and how they developed, to me they are the foundation of my personal relationship with God and thus my faith. Through my writings I have shared many aspects of my philosophy and faith have been shared, but the full picture of what these are have not been discussed at any depth. If you have been around for a while you will know that my wife and I found God in the darkest situation our lives have seen to this point; when in jail.
There were people worse off than us witnessing to us. This had an impact on us that has not left us, but that is not where my philosophy started. No, my philosophy started from my youth and earliest memories when standing up in front of a church and after singing Jesus Loves Me and preaching about how Jesus truly loves not only me but everyone else at the precious age of four. The pastor remembered that so clearly that when he saw me again some 12 years later he remembered me and recognized me instantly.
I had forgotten this until he spoke to it. 16 was a period of my life where I was beginning my slide into darkness and it was that first nudge that God gave me that he was still there waiting for his wayward son to return home to him. I was not fully listening, but had a searching heart. My foundation in faith and what it meant to be a Christian was shaped by a string of bad experiences. Experiences from lucid visions and a violent temper to Christian leaders that just seemed to have a cold heart to the struggles I was facing.
Granted I was a kid telling some vivid stories that would seem to be just a loud imagination instead of a real problem. I would have a hard time believing as well. I have forgiven those that I felt wronged by a while now. Still, these lead me to question if I wanted salvation. This had me question if I wanted to follow God, but never question if he was real. I knew better than to question that.
Early in this struggle I found myself saying, “Well maybe it’s a Baptist thing.” I began to do research into different denominations of Christianity and the history of the church. I had tried a few different churches over the years but none that seemed welcoming. When 17 I had really wanted to try another church so I went to three different churches and at one just a silent face with no acknowledgment that I was there. The second was Vacation Bible School and went alright, but I didn’t feel like I fit in.
The third found me picked up from church by my father after people saw me there started spreading the message that I was a Satanist and asking questions about wicked things. My dad managed to hear about this from the gossip chains passing to someone who cared and called him. This lead him to roll into the parking lot playing AC/DC’s Highway to Hell wearing a black t-shit, which these people stated was one of the ways they knew I was a Satanist. I love my dad dearly for just how he deals with fake people and people that do not care to understand the situation.
That was the last time I went to a church for 8 years or so. From the judgmental teachings and the neglect, gossip and negative speech the lessons that I had learned as a child was not present. The God that I sang about and preached about as a toddler was just not present in the hearts of these people, if it was I could not see it. That was all that was needed for me to continue my spiral out of control and into the arms of the demons waiting to take me in.
Questions of how and why were the foundation of my searching. These questions are still very large questions for me to this day. I have a questing mind and soul. I wish to understand things and help others understand things. However the greatest changes on my philosophy was yet to come. Through the darkness came light.
I continued my spiral in attempts to learn and understand why I was such a different person. Why was it that I knew when my Grandfather left the house the night he died that I would never see him again? Why did I feel so bad being in or around ICU? Why did I have subconscious fears of people and places that helped save me from bad situations more than a few times, including a situation that I feel I would have been kidnapped as a child?
These questions lead me to begin to look at the more spiritual aspects of what these things were and this set me up for the question that sealed my decent. My mind was worked on long enough that the seed just needed to be watered. The enemy had me right where he wanted me, but I feel that God did as well. I’ll get into that later though. The next statement that set me on my way was, “You know magic is real don’t you.”
This came from a Wiccan friend. My questing and seeking mind and soul, which was yearning for something to latch onto, was hooked. I picked up Living Wicca later that week. I began studying and researching paganism online. I already had a very deep fascination with Mythology. I was very intrigued by this thought that this kind of magic was possible, but I had to have proof.
Proof in the supernatural… Just let that sink in for a moment. I was seeking proof that the supernatural was real and existed in some form or fashion. I took a candle outside and lit it. I had gone through all the stuff to prepare it as an extension of myself and said a prayer and said, “If Magic is real let this flame change colors.” The flame turned white.
My feet were now planted. Wicca is something that people say many positive things about, but for me I could never follow it. I knew that there were evil people and dark things in the world. I knew that not everything was happy sunshine and bliss, so for only white magic to be real was false. So then I began to explore other denominations that explored this. Witchcraft, different from Wicca, acknowledged that black magic was a thing and evil spirits existed but said they were things not to be messed with. Protect yourself from them, but be not of it.
This was a little better, but still not feeling right. Still seeking I began to practice and followed the Nordic pantheon and the pagan deity of Odin in particular fascinated me. It felt right for the moment. During this time I was in a very abusive relationship with drugs and alcohol a standard regiment of my diet, as well as arguments and fights. I began to practice black magics at this time. I sought out spirits to control and exorcise my will on them. Little did I know that by doing this I was allowing other evil spirits to gain more and more control over me.
This continued corruption lead me all the way down to Satanism, but not this Church of Satan stuff. Not this pretty painted Atheism. No, I knew God was real. I knew Satan was real. I knew the Angels were real. I also knew that demons were real. I followed the denomination of Satanism known as Theistic Satanism. They have denominations just like every other religion.
Here is where I learned just how bad good people could get. Corruption and perversion had already been set in with my early 20’s of parties, clubs, and involvement in the BDSM scene. I was primed and ready for what Satan had wished my final coat of paint. God had other plans. Just when Satan had thought that he had corrupted me to the point of no return, God stepped in and said, “No this one is mine.”
He wrestled me in Durham County Jail until I was his again. He also did the same thing to my wife for I believe him when he says that marriage is a sacred thing. God allowed me to have my questions answered and then brought me out, and brought my wife along with me. Time and time since re-realizing my faith and relationship with God, and finding that the God that I knew and sang about as a child was real, that phrase was, “God would not let you go through that if he is not going to use it for something.”
When going through deliverance, I knew that I would be doing that someday. I would be helping people as I was being helped. That means that I will face the demons that I was not strong enough to face on my own once more. However, this time they would not have power over me. The question of, “What if I fail?” The last thing I want to do is hurt someone else. I did enough of that when I was working against God.
In Deliver Us From Evil by Don Basham Don talks about this same fear and tells of times that his ignorance on the topic lead to hurting others. But even deeper is the fear of facing these enemies that know my weaknesses. Facing these things that know my temptations and resisting them. How am I to think I am strong enough now when I was not then?
For the answer to that I have to say, I am not alone. God stands with me, I have been bathed in the blood of Christ and if poor Thomas could perform miracles, so too can I. It is no less scary, but It is a point in which I can draw faith. This is where philosophy melds with faith for me. This is where my life journey has shaped me as a person and as a Christian. As a Christian I learn why I did not fit in, I do not belong to this world. I belong to God and with that I can go back to a childhood. Jesus loves me, this I know for the bible tells me so. My relationship goes a step further with for my Lord has told me so. Through Christ I gain the strength that I do not have as I am but the air in the communion bread, but God loves me anyway.
“When observing Satan’s strength… and his true ugliness, I began to see what I was up against in this new ministry. And I must admit it sobered me. Who was I to deal with such a formidable foe? And yet wasn’t it extraordinary! Jesus sent you and me out to do battle with this very Satan…” Don Basham, Deliver Us From Evilby