What follows is a true story with dual story lines. Two parallel lines of my life's experience thus far. One line is of my personal experience with meeting God and what that means and has meant to me. The other line is my encounters and experiences with the christian religious system which claims to represent the God that I've come to know. The two story lines will intersect at times, and be clear and distinct at others. May this true story be of value to others who are willing to do what the Son of the living God says. And may the story continue with increasing faithfulness.
At the beginning of my physical life, I was adopted as an infant. My adoptive mom told me when I was about 13 or so, the reason I was available for adoption was because I was the unwanted result of an affair of a female English professor. I was never that curious about my biological parents since my adoptive parents had me since I was an infant.
I was raised in a relatively wealthy family in the suburbs of New York City. My dad was a physician, and we lived on Long Island, just about 50 miles from Manhattan. I grew up living in a 5 bedroom house on two acres of property on a private street with our own beach front on Long Island Sound. As I grew up in a home of a physician, I led a privileged life, going to some of the better schools in this nation. I grew up with all the advantages of being a physician's child. My parents provided all the material advantages the world considers important.
Unfortunately, my parents could not provide the most important things in life, like purpose, hope, meaning, and a real and lasting relationship. While I had all the material and social advantages that the world could provide, my parents did not try and answer life's most important questions for me, since they themselves didn't have them. They sent me to religious schools and organizations, but they didn't provide good answers to life's most important questions either. My relationship with my parents was typically shallow, and as I grew older, I never really did get to know them well. As they were of the world, they were raising their children according to the typical philosophies of many Americans which is essentially, 'we will provide food, clothing and shelter for you until you are 18, and then you must leave, attend college and start your own life away from us'. So, the “love” that I knew from my parents included needing to be away from them after I graduated from college.
While I was with my natural parents, our religion was Roman Catholicism and we went to the religious buildings regularly when I was young. I was sent to roman catholic schools through the 5th grade, and was thus fully indoctrinated in the practical beliefs of that christian system. I went through all the rituals and belief education that that system offered. My true stories to my parents about how cruelly some nuns and priests treated me was the primary reason I was taken out of the roman catholic religious system and put into the public educational system when I was about 12 years old. And even after my parents took me out of that system, I was still sent back to the roman catholic institutions for specific religious education called CCD. I remained in the influence of the roman catholic system up through my early teen years.
When I was in my teens, we were the typical roman catholic family for our area. This meant we went to the buildings twice a year for christmas and easter, and in the event of a death in the natural family, we would have the funeral serviced by one of their clergymen. In the event of a birth, the baby would have water poured on him/her with some words from the clergyman spoken over him/her. And of course, when someone was married, it was in 'the church'.
I grew up a typical American teenager. I was very involved in athletics and was somewhat successful at them. As such, I was part of the 'jock' clic and not part of the party-drug clic. However, I would drink alcohol just about every Friday and Saturday evening during high school to dull the growing hopelessness in my heart. I had no purpose except to succeed in the things I was taught were important - academics and athletics - and to pursue whatever brought me pleasure. I did many bad and foolish things during that time as I made my own path into the darkness of the world. And yet, I was considered a "good" young man with much potential to succeed due to my leadership abilities and my drive to do well at what I choose to do.
After I graduated from high school, I was accepted at the University of Vermont. So, I left for college at 18 years old. My interest at the time was environmental science, so my chosen major of study was environmental biology at the university. I was thoroughly indoctrinated into a reality-without-God faith at the university, and that my life and purpose was both totally random (evolution) as well as completely my own making. And so, I partied every Friday and Saturday night to both seek pleasure and dull my own hopelessness. I also did fairly well academically.
I met my first wife in college at the University of Vermont in 1983. I met her at a bar amidst many other drunken lost young people like myself. And so began a rocky relationship with this women who was much like myself, proud and fearful. However, her gods were money, professional success, and pleasing herself which were different than my gods at the time, as my gods were preserving nature and seeking to please myself. But we had the pleasing ourselves as common ground. My attendance at this university was from 1980 through 1984. Upon graduation, my wife-to-be received a red Porsche sports car, which I was very pleased about...this god of money was starting to sing to my heart.
After graduation, I moved back to my wife-to-be's house and neighborhood. I was impressed that her family had more wealth than mine, even though my environmental god said I ought to frown upon that level of lavish materialism. My wife's dad was a multi-millionaire and she lived in a million plus dollar house in Scarsdale New York. And so, my god of nature started to lose to my wife-to-be's gods of money and power. So after a year or so being a naturalist, I started to pursue a master's degree in business.
It was quite an ironic time, as I was teaching children to love nature during the day, and pursuing the love of money and power during the evenings at graduate school. I graduated from my business university in 1988 or so with a master's degree in business, and I thought I was ready for what life had next. So we decided to move to Florida. Florida had fond memories for us due to our having vacationed down there every now and then. We moved from Bronxville New York to Miami Florida, as my wife decided to become a lawyer.
And so, in the late 1980's, I found myself as a young man seeking the things this culture says are important - money, power, popularity, pleasure.
My wife started law school in Miami, Florida, and I found a job with a large corporation. I was doing quite well from this society's view point. We had a relatively expensive new house, a Porsche sports car, and free access to my dad-in-law's condominium on the ocean at Palm Beach. I was moving on the fast track of careers with a fortune 50 company. I had attained a personal income goal that I had set for myself three years in advance. Being with this large corporation, the largest and perhaps most influential in Miami, I had many privileges including the best seats at professional golf tour events, basketball and football events. I had a pretty wife, and a son on the way. In essence, I had most of the things this culture deems important and worthy of attainment. I was successful, and on the road to greater "success".
At this point in my life, I had turned away from all knowledge of God, for I was deep in unbelief. The hypocrisy of the roman catholic system was my excuse for my unbelief, and so I turned into a pure pleasure seeking agnostic...as opposed to a religiously labeled pleasure seeking agnostic/hypocrite.
Along with all this "success" came a lust for more, which I have come to understand is something called covetousness. I placed myself in the world's "fast lane" with all its temptations. This caused me to eventually separate from my wife. I caused her great pain due to my own selfish and sinful behavior at the time. Of course their were her flirtation affairs where she worked over the years, which didn’t help our relationship and served as justification for my own sin. But in reality, we were two lost people, barely knowing each other, who happened to be husband and wife and thus share our bodies, living quarters, and some of our material things.
Around this same time, I was starting to pay attention to the hopelessness in my heart and the resulting feelings of meaninglessness to my life. I had turned away from my god of nature several years ago, so this wasn't the main problem. I couldn't quite place my finger on it. I was attaining the American dream, wasn't I? I thought I had everything one was supposed to have, yet I was empty inside and growing more empty by the day. This was one of the reasons I became unfaithful to my wife, thinking I would find fulfillment there. I was hurting the one's around me I claimed to love, which I never planned on doing. I seemed to have no control over my behavior at that time. If you asked me what the purpose of my life was then, I would have not been able to give you a clear answer, but if I was honest, it would have been ‘to please myself no matter what’. I was being more consistent with this society's view of success, and this was leaving me more and more empty.
Then I met a man in the exercise gym who started to tell me about a person named Jesus of Nazareth. I listened, and after being separated from my wife, I eventually moved into this man's house in Ft. Lauderdale. This man was very kind and would persistently tell me about Jesus and the kingdom of heaven. I started to go to this man's religious organizations meetings, where, for the first time in my life, I heard some key truths of Jesus. I grew up as a Roman Catholic, and even attended Roman Catholic school up through the 5th grade, yet I never heard what Jesus said was the way to heaven. Instead, I heard of the wrong way to try to enter heaven - trying to be a good person, going to "church", observing the church rituals, etc.
About six months after attending my friend's religious organization’s meetings, a very special day came. It was “easter Sunday”, my physical birthday, and the first day in the new building of this religious organization. The clergymen taught a message about "coming home" for easter. By God’s mercy, the Holy Spirit opened my heart to the good news of Jesus from his Words in the new testament (and this in spite of the clergyman’s rejection of so many of Jesus' teachings), and on that day, at the end of hearing the clergyman tell of the great love of God in Jesus for me, I begged God for forgiveness for ignoring Him, and gave my heart and life to Jesus. Prior to that moment, the weight of my sin and guilt was great, and I desperately saw my need for forgiveness from the Creator of my life. And on that day, I went from darkness to Light, as I was born from above by the Spirit of God. The date was April 15, 1990...
Life began!!! : )))
And while personal Life began, what also began was my journey through the great darkness of christianity. You see, I could not clearly distinguish between the agent of some of Jesus' basic truths, and Jesus himself. And thus, I thought that the men who were reading his Words actually represented him and his Kingdom. As I would find out in the years to come, this was great error.
It was not long after my being born from above (several months), that my life began to change. I no longer had the emptiness in my heart, and I now, for the first time, I had true hope in my life. I started to receive the power to change my attitudes and behavior, something I did not previously have. About six months after I became a believer, I sought my wife and was able to reconcile with her. During that time, we had our second child, a daughter. It was not long after that, about a year, that I received a clear call from the Lord to serve Him as best as I understood that at the time. (I have subsequently come to understand that every true disciple of Jesus gets this 'call', which call is to change one's life to conform to his Way, which is far different than conforming to christian religion's beliefs and practices.)
I prayed about what I thought was my call, and mentioned it to my wife. She was not receptive even though she started to attend my religious organization’s meetings. I waited until about nine months after I heard what I thought was the call of the Lord - I waited until my wife agreed to allow me to attend seminary, which I was told by the leaders of the religious organizations was the first step in being able to effectively serve God. And so, I listened again to the religious leaders instead of to Jesus, thinking that they knew Jesus better than I and thus would not mislead me.
I resigned from my career position with the big company, sold our house and packed up our lives in south Florida, so that I could attend seminary in North Carolina. We arrived in North Carolina in June of 1993. I started attending seminary during a summer session, and we looked for a house to buy. I had finished the first semester, and we had found a brand new house, and placed a down payment on it. It was then that my wife abandoned me and left to go back to her mother's house in Scarsdale, New York. After another argument, she packed up, placed the children in the car and left. What had precipitated that event was that I had found material in our file cabinet from her flirtation affairs of years earlier, and I was upset that she held onto the material. The final argument centered around a placard I had placed on the wall containing the words, "The Purpose of Life: To love I Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Jesus Christ, Mark 12:30" My wife wanted to remove it from the wall, and I did not. The purpose to our lives was clearly divided.
This was a very difficult time for me. I really believed I was doing God's will in attending seminary (which I subsequently learned was error), but that was not God’s will and He had other plans. So, I forfeited the down payment on the house in North Carolina, sold most of what was left, and packed up the rest and headed for Scarsdale, NY, where my wife was harbored. My motivation for resigning from seminary was to try and reconcile with my wife, and to be there for my children as their dad.
I arrived in Scarsdale, New York in August of 1993. My wife had moved in with her mother in her big expensive house. I tried to live there for a time as well, but the not so silent ultimatum was that I had to forsake all the 'Jesus stuff', and go back to the way I was before I was born from above. It was amazing to me that my wife would rather have the old adulterer than the new child of God. She never understood that my power to stop being an adulterer was because of Jesus. This was not an option for me for forsake the One I had come to love, so I found an apartment of my own.
It was a difficult time in as much as finding a job was concerned. However, the Lord was faithful, and always provided enough to place a roof over my head, food in my stomach, and clothes for my body. I once was a manager in a large corporation on the fast track of corporate success, and now I was working as a secretary to support myself and my children. I once lived in luxury, and now I was living in an attic apartment and sharing a house with 3-4 other men. When I would interview with companies, they would ask, 'Why did you leave that outstanding position in south Florida?' When I told them I left so that I could attend seminary, I would not hear back from them.
When I finally found a full time job, I was eventually fired for not being a 'team player'. My boss was an ex-marine, and would ask the employees to go with him to bars to socialize. I would not do this. In reality, the boss intensely disliked some of my faith practices at the time, and not joining in with him as he sought everyone's approval of his true hope, the lottery.
Taking a step back, for a moment, it was back when I was in Ft. Lauderdale, that I was starting to see some of the hypocrisy of christianity. The wealth and pride of the Baptist organization where I entered into Life was starting to weigh on me as I saw Jesus teachings things contrary. When I questioned some of their traditions, I was met with defensive arrogance. If a truly needy, poor person walked into that building, it wouldn’t be long before they either ran out, or were ushered out or led to the organizations locker room to be cleaned up because the religious members with their plush red carpets and everyone dressed in their “Sunday best”, would not want to defile the 'sanctuary' with such low class appearance.
The people in this baptist organization would boast about their half-a-million dollar musical organ. They would boast that their christmas show was as good as a Broadway production. They would boast about their Sunday attendance numbers, and would not hide the fact that their president (what they called their senior pastor) would earn well over $125,000 a year salary, not counting his book sale revenue. The associate pastor needed a new sports car to fit into the Fort Lauderdale lifestyle. The average cost of the car in the parking lot was probably $25,000. They would boast about their $15 million plus dollar "church" building. I felt quite comfortable there when I first began because it was so much like the world I was a part of.
I learned some basics about the new testament at the Baptist organization, but that was about all I could learn there. There was an increasing tension between what I was reading in the new testament (particularly Jesus' Words), and how the baptist organization ran. When this tension got unbearable, I moved onto Calvary Chapel of Ft. Lauderdale, where I didn't see materialism promoted like I did at the baptist organization.
When I decided to attend seminary, it was a Baptist seminary, and it was after I left the First Baptist organization of Ft. Lauderdale. When I asked the president of First Baptist organization of Ft. Lauderdale - O.S. Hawkins - for a reference to one of their Baptist seminaries, he wrote me a short note of childish rebuke saying essentially, “ask Calvary Chapel for a reference to one of OUR seminaries and see if they can help you”.
Before I left Calvary Chapel to go to seminary, I witnessed Chuck Smith come to Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale. It was essentially no different than when I witnessed Billy Graham visit First Baptist church of Ft. Lauderdale. The people’s exaltation of these men was open and grievous, and it really spoke to me. These men made no public effort to rebuke the clear adoration they were receiving from the people. Although I could not see clearly at the time, I knew in my spirit that the people were giving these men something that they were not willing to give the one they proclaimed as their God, Jesus Christ. I could see that if the people adored and admired Jesus as much as these men, their lives would be very different…and at some level, I understood so should mine.
So, I tried Calvary Chapel for sometime, and even started getting involved in volunteering for one of their 'ministries'. There were some significant outward differences between calvary chapel and the first baptist organization of Fort Lauderdale, like the open and effusive materialism of the FB organization. But as the months went on at calvary chapel, I did start to sense the deeper similarities, although I could not articulate them at that time. Calvary Chapel's "Pastor" Bob was certainly adored no less than OS Hawkins at FB. And the people's lives were essentially the same. At CC, it was primarily different music representing a younger generation of Americans, and the other life-style differences between the less materialistic younger people at Calvary, and the more 'business success' life-style of the people at the FB organization.
So, back in New York, I struggled to try to follow Jesus and at the same time be a dad for my children in difficult circumstances. My wife became increasingly hostile towards my faith and eventually sued for divorce and custody of my children. While she hated me for my faith most of all, she was clever and used my discipline practices to take my children completely away from me without my even being able to say good-bye. Nor was I subsequently allowed to communicate with them. She was an assistant district attorney and used that power and influence - along with a great number of lies and perverted half truths - to force me away from my children. Her use of the legal system, along with her lies to my children, were very 'effective' in doing her will of forcing me away from our children. This was a great time of testing for me, for I love my children greatly. So I fought in the wicked legal system for access to my children, while I sought comfort and fellowship in the dead religious organizations in the New York metro area. Both of these endeavors were not the will of the Father, and so it was a difficult time of God breaking my will and revealing Himself and His Way to me.
Eventually, I heard the Lord’s voice to give up on trying to get my children back, as He graciously promised me that He would bring them back in His time and in His way. So, I was finally able to release them into His care. During this time, I also found that Jesus was not found in the religious organizations that people call ‘churches’. Time after time I either left, or was asked to leave, the religious organizations when I would start to question their traditions and practices as not being what the bible taught. They all said their practices were based on the bible, and yet I found that was not true. At this time in my life, I could not separate Jesus from the bible, because christianity teaches that the bible is the Word of God, not Jesus who in fact IS the Word of God. And so, I would find the bible saying one thing, and the christians practicing things against what the bible said.
For example, christianity makes very much of their meeting at what they call 'the church' (in reality, just building made of wood or stone). Since most christians believe that this Sunday meeting is perhaps the most important practice of their being christians; and they say the bible teaches that they ought to meet in this 'church'; then one should conclude that if the bible teaches about what a meeting should consist of, that the christians would be eager to follow that. Yet this is not so. Paul gives very clear instructions in 1 Cor. 14:26ff (which they say is the Word of God) on how a meeting of the christians should be, and yet I have not found one organization that takes those teachings seriously enough to carefully follow them during their main weekly meeting. The primary reason for that is because the teachings of 1 Cor. 14 don't allow for the meeting to be dominated by one person (let alone a 'professional clergyman), which is the way of the typical American christian religious organization.
Thus, at this time during my faith walk, I was spending most of my time trying to get christian's to follow the bible for the bible was my standard, not Jesus. I was not trying to get people to follow Jesus, for I myself did not know the difference due to my own confusion and lack of seeking the Lord. This part of my life was from about 1992 through 1999. One of my works during this time was my web site at www.John14-6.org. I spent many hundreds of hours developing that site, and it became quite popular. I thought I was an evangelical christian defending the faith once delivered to the saints! I thought I was to try and get christians to listen better to the bible they professed was the very Word of God. I thought I was to emulate men like Dave Hunt and other prominent religious leaders and defend evangelical christianity from the error of ecumenicalism.
It was extremely difficult for me to separate myself from christianity because I was taught right from the beginning that I needed to be part of a local 'church'. And so I went from one organization and sect to another, seeking those who wanted to follow the bible.
I had many sad experiences during these wanderings in christianity. In one organization, Manhattan bible church, as the clergyman was twisting the truth from his pulpit, I raised my hand in order to ask a much needed question since he was saying something against a biblical teaching. He was actually quoting another prominent christian from one of his books to try and counter Paul's clear teachings about the role of women. He pointed at me and said in a very demeaning fashion, “Tim, put your hand down…you need to receive what I am saying right now and start to learn some truth” or something to that effect. Not a person saw anything wrong with his harsh and arrogant words, in spite of their bible saying regarding a meeting, “What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification… For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted…” (1 Corinthians 14:26,31) No “all” in today’s Christian organizations…just the voice of the professional clergyman.
At another organization, I spoke a little truth about salvation at a promise keepers meeting, as well as some other things over the months. Things like addressing their promotion of a psychology clinic, and their getting the people to stand up during the meeting and do ‘the wave’ in regard to an upcoming athletic contest. Perhaps the straw that broke the camels back at that “evangelical” organization was my attending a promise keepers meeting and writing a letter regarding what happened at the meeting and giving that letter to people I knew attended the meeting. The day came when I was called into the “Pastor’s office” where he pulled out a file on me and proceeded to condemn me with the two rubber stamp “elders” nodding their heads all along. They were particularly upset at my saying that playing golf is a frivolous waste of time that mature believers should not even entertain.
Then there was my run-in with a Plymouth brethren organization. I could see a lack of love there, and a religious pride. One snowy cold day, less than a half a dozen of us were gathering on a Sunday morning for a “service”. A man walked through the parking lot as I was shoveling the walk. He looked like a picture of a vagabond, and I was excited to invite him in to warm up and hear about Jesus. He took me up on the invitation, and came into the building. He proclaimed to be a believer, and that was good enough for me. As he came into the upstairs “sanctuary” and sat down in a pew, the guardian “elder” came and asked him to please remove his duffle bag to the back closet. There was no one else on the pew, and thus not only was there plenty of room for his bag, but the request from the “elder” was shown for what it was. As the meeting progressed, there was the time to pass around the cup, and the man was purposely denied the cup. When it was time to pray, the “elder” prayed aloud in a self-righteous manner that the man might be saved. It was at that time that the man stood up like a rat trapped in a cage looking to get out. As he passed by, I said to him in tears, ‘this does not represent Jesus, please forgive us’. I approached the elder and tried to rebuke him.
Meanwhile, the man was scurrying to leave the building, and was blocked at the front door due to the snow. After a minute or so of my speaking with the “elder” I went to look for the man to apologize further for this wretched experience. I ran downstairs, and he was nowhere to be found. I ran to the outside door, and looked for him. There is no way that he could have gotten out of site given the way the building is situated on the hillside, and yet there was no trace of him. God used this to show me the state of the hearts of the leaders of this organization, and it was a short time later that I left.
During another time, I decided to go to a meeting of Spiros Zodiates missionary organization (AMG International), since I supported that organization for many years. The meeting was in Pennsylvannia. I arrived to a hotel conference room with a huge flag of the united states behind the pulpit which pulpit was raised on a stage like any christian organizations building. While at dinner, when people asked me what church I was affiliated with, I would answer that I don't go to any particular church. That obviously offended them, and that was pretty much it for the evening...it was as if I had said that I followed satan or something. The talk of the christians was absolutely no different than if I went to a wedding at a banquet hall on any street in the U.S.A. It was the world, children's educational success, politics, and social religious organization activities.
Mr. Zodiates message clearly was under-girded with, 'since I know the Greek language better than most, you ought to listen to me as a great teacher'. After his message, I approached Mr. Zodiates with a 'controversial' question. There was no one else there but himself and myself. Instead of giving a direct answer, he clearly avoided it lest he offend a supporter of his organization. Sadly, it was business as usual.
Then there was the time I sought comfort in a word of faith type organization...you know, the Kenneth Copeland type christians. It's name was "Christ Alive" church in Hartsdale New York. The music was wonderful and I was very lonely at that time. It wasn't long, however, until I could not ignore what was being taught. I remember standing in the parking lot and repeating Jesus' Words about wealth and how blessed are the materially poor if they are that way due to faith and generosity. This was anathema to this group since they believe that having much material wealth is a sign of God's blessing and to have little is a sign of God's cursing. After my discussion, the warning went out that I was a person who did not understand the scripture.
Soon after that, I found a married couple where the husband was legally blind. As I got to know then and become their friends, I found out that the husband was so hurt by the teachings of that place that he had contemplated suicide. After all, they teach that if you are sick or have some physical imperfection, all you need is enough faith to receive healing. Since this man's blindness was not healed, then the conclusion was he did not have faith or did not have enough faith. So, we all got out of that organization, but the came months later when we went back in to try and correct their error. I should have known that this man was not ready for this, but we went anyway. After the 'service' started, the man stood up and trying to say why these people's beliefs were wrong about materialism and physical healing. It took about 20 seconds for the clergyman's 'body guards' to physically force this man to stop speaking. We were then physically forced to leave the 'church'. It never occurs to christians like this that if they were secure in their faith and beliefs, they would not get defensive when someone challenges them. The average christian meeting's purpose is to reinforce the leader's beliefs, not to listen to other possible understandings of the bible, let alone Jesus.
I remember at this same Christ Alive organization, that I started attending one of its bible studies. They wanted $20 for a booklet their clergyman wrote...they would not let you attend their bible study without buying one. During that study, I asked one of their elders if God wanted me to have a Rolls Royce car. He answered, 'well, if that is God's will for your life, then yes, Tim, go for it'.
I found out later on, that during my first meeting with this organization's clergyman, the purpose of that lunch was to investigate what I believed to see if I would be trouble to his organization. I had a new testament with me, and months later after the falling out, he mocked that I had carried the new testament only and not the whole bible. I also found out towards the end of my experience there, that he actually called other religious organizations I had been to in the past to talk to their clergymen to get information about me. This fear is indicative of those who don't walk in the Truth, but rather exist to advance their little kingdoms. The religious leaders are just like their 'secular' counterparts, the lawyers.
Along that same though line, there was a time I was in a certain town, Ossining, NY, that I was doing some outdoor preaching at train stations and outside public school buildings. My friend at the time would come with me, and we would sometimes go into a religious organization and try to talk to people after their "service". I later found that word about out public preaching was so much of a concern to the religious leaders in that area that at one of their counsels (where they all get together, like the lawyers at their professional association's meetings), they had a public discussion about it to discuss what they should do.
There are many other stories, like the christian and missionary alliance preacher accompanying me to my outdoor preaching to the public, and making excuses as to why he would not join me. The C&MA is a very intellectual brand of christianity, and this particular clergyman seemed to think very highly of himself. He was the 'pastor' of the C&MA organization in Ossining, NY. He was obviously offended when he would be standing with his expensive suit on Sunday morning and only a few people would show up to hear his Sunday school lesson.
When he found out that I was publicly preaching, he decided to get the congregation to 'bless' my efforts by having them lay hands on me unexpectedly. I went along, but it wasn't long before at his bible studies, he was talking about how the clergymen only are equipped to teach the saints while the laymen who have not earned a master's degree in divinity were not really qualified to share the correct doctrine/beliefs with others. The preacher's wife, who was formally fairly kind to me, could not look at me after it became known that I was publicly preaching. It appeared as if she thought I was a threat to his position and success. If they would have just asked me and gotten to know me, they would have know I was not interested in that.
So, one day the C&MA preacher decided to accompany me to the train station where I was preaching. Instead of joining me and preaching elsewhere on the platform, he said, 'I'll go over there amidst the people and see how they are receiving it'. That was his only time 'joining' me. On another occasion, one of their 'elders' came and observed. After I was finished, his only comment was something to the effect of, 'oh, well, that was a little rough...I think you need to speak more of the love of God'.
Finally, this C&MA clergyman decided to move his family to a large C&MA organization in the mid-west. His last day in the organization's building was one of the saddest religious things I had ever experienced. He gave some speech about his leaving, and he built a small stone alter during the message. After the message, the people were weeping and crying and carrying on as if God had died. Truly, the christian's leaders stand in place of the true Good Shepherd. The christian groups are truly no different than any other group of people who have shared religious or political beliefs. They kept that little stone alter up in that building for many months in honor of their former shepherd.
I even knew a woman who once had an affair with a C&MA clergyman, Dwight Ford. Mr. Ford was a C&MA clergyman of a very wealthy organization in Westchester County, New York. When the woman's mother found out, she told her C&MA clergyman what had happened, and that clergyman went to the C&MA's leadership board. What was the action this good christian board took towards a 'fornicating pastor'? Nothing. That is correct, essentially nothing except perhaps to tell him to not do that again.
During this time in New York, I was at several points attending the local calvary chapel. What a mess. Men vying for leadership. People trying so hard to play church...to hold the congregation together in spite of their leaders falling morally and changing regularly. I eventually left that organization, but returned towards the end of my children being taken away, looking for comfort from someone. This was not to be, because the christians just could not understand how the law could be against me and I could be right. Christian's are, after all and generally, human law abiding citizens and due to Paul (Rom. 13) can't understand how their nation's legal system can be wrong. The Calvary chapel of Yonkers or Westchester clergyman at that time, was giving messages about how roman catholicism promoted faith too. This, combined with the utter lack of understanding the two kingdoms, led to my leaving. My last experience was of the clergyman's friends coming out to my car to threaten me to stay away from 'our church'.
It was during this time that the Lord graciously introduced me to my new wife – my true lifelong companion, friend and helper. I had been without a wife for over six years, and I wasn’t looking for a wife. My wife-to-be met Jesus about one year before we met. You can read her testimony at Patty's Testimony. The blessing of having a true disciple of Jesus for a wife is difficult to communicate. She is my wife, my best friend, and my life-long companion. She is truly my helper, and the wonderful mother of our children. Yes, the Lord has blessed us with more children through my new wife. As older parents of little ones, we see very clearly that they are in fact a most precious gifts from the Lord, and the most important people in our lives that our Father will give us the privilege of turning their hearts to him. Please pray for us.
Then there was the time we visited with a group of conservative Mennonites in Pennsylvania. We went to their meeting on Sunday morning, and spent time at their houses in the afternoon. They were quite kind as we were treated as prospective congregants. However, when I first met them in their building, I went to hand a card I had made about my internet ministry to their minister, and he did not lift up his hand to take it. He was too self-righteous to entertain a perhaps wayward young man's efforts to love God - apparently he thought it would be a sin to take the card. The woman all sat on one side of the building and the men on the other. The women not only had on head-coverings, but they were all the same type and color...kind of part of their church uniform. I noticed how all the men had beards.
Later on during the day when we met at the house of one of their elder congregants, I asked him why the men all had beards. I was expecting at least a quote from the OT, since I knew there was no support from the New. He said, "because our group thinks it's right and good". Quite a basis to force people to conform. This is quite common among the anabaptist religious groups, that is outward rituals, clothing and personal hygiene styles as a basis to try to be right with God. Sadly, so far from Jesus (Mark 7). When we told them that my wife and I had been divorced, they shut down and ushered us away, since no previously divorced people can be part of their religious group.
Back in the summer of 1999, I preached at the train stations that people would wait at for the train to take them to what we call the evil epicenter…that is Manhattan. There would be several hundred people gathered on a platform for about 7 minutes waiting for the train, so I had that long to proclaim the words of the Lord to them. I did this for about three mornings each week for about ten weeks or so. I would have a portable sign with our telephone number for people to call. Instead of an interest in the message I was preaching, I got mocking and cold indifference. The last day I went out to preach (I didn’t know it was the last day until the events unfolded), a man behind my back and from afar threw some large stones at me, which fell harmlessly at my feet. The message the Lord had given me that week was a challenge to the people for those who say they trusted in Jesus Christ to raise their hands. I preached to thousands of people that week and only two people raised their hands when I asked them to raise their hands if they trusted in Jesus.
About the same time, we were handing out gospel literature to arriving students in front of a high school. Some young thugs at the high school threw a brick at me as I walked by after telling others about Jesus, and the brick glanced by side, ripping my clothing. How grievous that at such a young age, these people are hating the words of Jesus and even handing me Satanic symbols and threats.
In the years after the public preaching, I had tried to start bible studies in our house - just bible studies mind you, not even serious attempts to live more according to Jesus' teachings. These always failed because the people expect American christianity to be blessed by us. So they last for a while and then move on once they start to count even a small cost of doing without their traditions and the things in the world they are unwilling to try to give up. And they have all of christianity's most popular preachers, teachers, scholars and clergymen to back them up as they leave and go find a comfortable religious club to be a part of.
I have visited and been a part of most major types of christian religious organizations that exist in the US. Catholic, protestant (of all stripes, liberal and conservative), evangelical, pentecostal, charismatic, fundamentalist, baptist, messianic, anabaptist, independant bible, jehovah's witnesses, etc. I can testify to the reader that they are all essentially the same. They are religious social groups where people follow their leader's rules and traditions in order to try and be right with a God they are unwilling to get to personally know themselves through Jesus. Their lives (behavior, words and purposes for living) are essentially no different than the people around them who they describe as "heathen" or "lost" or needing "church". The only primary difference is their affiliation with their particular religious group-sect. This has been my experience and this is my testimony. No doubt their are people with genuine faith among these groups, but if they continue to seek the truth with all their heart, they will not remain there...they will come out in order to obey the living God's Son.
It has been since about 1998 that I have been out of the “churches”, what I now see clearly as religious-social organizations and NOT the called out ones of Jesus (ekklesia)("religion" is people's attempt to be accepted by God by mean's other than Jesus' gives). The Lord has shown us that trying to proclaim Jesus’ words to folks involved in the christian religious organizations is truly a vain endeavor that He does not want us to partake in. If you read the gospels which contain Jesus' Words, you will see he kept away from the religious leaders and their zealous followers, and went looking for the lost sheep among their haunts.
We are now seeking to establish a Family in the Central US area. Please do contact us if you are able to help with this work. It should be one of our highest priorities, as follower's of the Light, to manifest the agape (love) that the Father's says is necessary. We cannot do this alone, we need each other.
May we all seek to lose our lives in this world in order to save our Life eternally. May our love for our Master and our selfless, sacrificial, compassionate behavior for each other, and the holiness of our lives, and the true humility in which we walk, be the foundation of our witness to the lost. Especially our agape for one another as his followers. For if we are not willing to do what is required to love other followers, then we cannot be an effective witness to this perishing world.
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this (love for one another, not bible or Jesus knowledge!) all men will know that you are My disciples, (but only) IF you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35)
...otherwise, they will not know, and our words alone will be dull and largely ineffective.
Please contact us.
Tim tim spiess