A Lost Soul Found
My Journey Toward the New Covenant
For those Christians who believe that they were literally 'called' into the Body of Christ, and in some unexplained way compelled to follow Yah'shua (Jesus) by a power other than their own, and believe that "No one can come to Me (Yah'shua) unless the Father who sent Me draws him" (John 6:44, NKJV throughout), it is quite natural to be curious as to how another believer reacted when the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) began to confound his (or her) mind, and what circumstances emerged in the believer's life that eventually lead to his repentance, and subsequent conversion and fellowship in the Body. Each believer has a story to tell, and although the circumstances of each story can vary greatly, there are typically two uniting factors: the first, an intense desire to make one's life right with Yahweh, and the second, an attendant inner struggle that ensues as he begins to realize his many failings, and the fact that he must begin to correct them. My callings into the Body (yes, plural, since I have now had two very distinct callings in my life thus far) have certainly been characterized by these two factors. My first calling ultimately led me to the fellowship of the Worldwide Church of God (WCG), and the second, which is ongoing, I believe has led me to the primary fellowship in the New Covenant Church of God (NCCG), with a secondary fellowship with the United Church of God (UCG) while I await Yahweh's direction as to what my role in this work will be. As you read, perhaps you will see similarities to your own calling(s), and if your calling into the body has just begun and is ongoing, I hope you will be comforted by the fact that, like me, the fear, confusion, uncertainty, and brain overload you are likely experiencing, along with the wonder, joy, sense of anticipation, and strong desire to be close to fellow believers that you are likely feeling, is very normal and expected. So here is my story.
I was raised as a Catholic, and after having attended twelve years of Catholic school, it was ingrained in my mind that the ultimate path to heaven was lined with the seven sacraments. In school, there was little in the way of actual bible study, although I remember a few times that bibles were distributed in religion class so that we could read about some of Jesus' teachings and parables. When I was about eight years old, I remember seeing a passage in the Old Testament explicitly stating that the Sabbath day was the seventh day of the week (Saturday), and not the first day (Sunday), and this seeming discrepancy would stay buried in my mind and come back to haunt (or more appropriately, help) me a bit later, as the reason for my observing Sunday rather than Saturday was never answered to my satisfaction. Like most children, I was faithful to my religion, and did what was required of me purely out of fear of punishment by my parents and teachers. However, as I got older, and was no longer bound by fear, I drifted away from the church, and eventually disassociated myself from it altogether. This was not in any way the result of a disbelief in the existence of God since, in fact, I was quite aware of twinges of guilt that would surface when I felt that I had 'sinned', although I was somehow quite able for a while to put this guilt out of my mind. Rather, it was more the result of the fact that the church provided me with little in the way of spiritual nourishment.
By the time I was twenty-five, working, and living with my then girl-friend, I had not set forth in any church for about four years, and religion was the farthest thing from my mind. That is until one Sunday night when, while surfing channels on the TV, my finger just seemed to stop where a program called "the World Tomorrow" was being broadcast. I knew this program was of a religious nature, so it was something that I would typically have had no interest in. However, there was something about the topic being discussed, which was "Why Were You Born" that somehow captured my undivided attention. As I watched, the narrator explained the reason for mankind's existence purely from a religious perspective, about how our ultimate destiny was to become a member of 'Elohim', God's family, and how we would someday inherit the universe. For the first time, the purpose of life actually seemed to make sense to me. At the end of the program, free literature was offered. I hesitated ordering at first, because I thought 'Yeah right, free' since to me, this being a religious program meant that its real goal was to get my money. But I did order the literature; it was as though I couldn't restrain myself, and I felt that something was literally moving me to call. I then went to bed. The next day, I awoke with the subject matter still fresh in my mind. I couldn't stop thinking that day about what I had learned, and felt that I couldn't wait until the literature arrived, and certainly couldn't wait until the following week's program. I remember thinking 'what's wrong with me? I don't watch religious programs, let alone order religious literature'. But I was so enthralled by what I had learned that I even felt compelled to tell my girl-friend about it. I did, hesitatingly, and her comments that I was 'losing it', along with the incredulous look on her face, made it clear that I should not speak to her about this again. However, God was to perform a miracle with her a bit later.
I watched the program faithfully, week after week. Topics such as 'The Incredible Human Potential', and 'The United States and Britain in Prophecy' were presented. I was hooked, and after a few weeks the literature was piling up quicker than I could read it. I actually purchased and was reading the bible. I felt that I had discovered golden nuggets of truth, and I became obsessed to learn more. Then, one particular week, the topic 'Which Day is the Christian Sabbath' was expounded upon. It discussed how God had ordained the seventh day as the true Sabbath day from the very beginning of time, with scriptural proof as to why the seventh day was not only binding on Jews, but on Christians as well, and today! It was then stated that the Sabbath was 'changed' from Saturday to Sunday, without any scriptural or other authority to do so. It was at this point that my third grade religion class, the one where I read for myself that I should "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of Yahweh your God" (Ex 20:10) came to mind. I could not deny that what the gentleman was saying was indeed the truth, for it resolved a major discrepancy I had discovered myself many years before about the Sabbath day. Then, the penalty for breaking God's Sabbath command, which is the fourth of the Ten Commandments, was set forth; "You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death" (Ex 31:14). Whoa!!! I couldn't observe a seventh day Sabbath! I worked on that day, and I would lose my job! Also, as someone accustomed to conforming to what was generally accepted, I certainly didn't feel comfortable keeping a seventh-day Sabbath since I knew that I would be viewed as 'different' and 'strange'. And from that point on, the truth that was being revealed to me was no longer being viewed with joy, but instead now filled me with a sense of dread. This because I now began to see how I was not only breaking God's Sabbath law, but also his laws on tithing, and most especially, his laws concerning fornication. Now, the realization had set in that there were requirements, big ones, that I felt that I couldn't, and wouldn't be willing to do, and I began to shut down right there. I no longer loved or wanted to learn truth, I had enough!
However, I was quick to realize that this was easier said than done, for what was I to have done with the knowledge that I already had? Of course, I couldn't just simply forget it! As a result, guilt set in because I knew I was breaking God's laws. The Ruach (Spirit) was moving me to repentance, and when this occurs, guilt can seem to overwhelm and consume you, until you come to a point that you are willing to submit to God at all cost. At least that is what happened to me, as I felt as though I couldn't handle the guilt any longer. I was brought to this point in about nine months, but others may arrive there in more or less time, but it is my belief that if God is truly calling a person, that the person will reach this point sooner or later. For me, I knew what I had to do.
I contacted a minister associated with WCG, which produced the "World Tomorrow" telecast, and eventually met with him to be counseled on what I needed to do to become a member. He did not mince words! He told me that, among other things, I had to stop breaking God's Sabbath, and either separate from my girl-friend or get married to her. My faith was being severely tested, and I knew it! For me, even more troubling than the thought of losing my job, was the very real probability that I might lose my girl-friend as well. This was heart-wrenching to the extreme since by this time, we had been sharing everything, and I loved her deeply, irrespective of the fact that my new-found religion had driven somewhat of a wedge between us. When I asked her to marry me, she refused, stating that she did not need a 'piece of paper' to symbolize our love for each other. She certainly did not agree with my new beliefs. I had a difficult choice to make! I nevertheless resigned myself to obey God's will, but tearfully begged him for mercy, for more time to get everything in order, and for guidance and strength for the tough road that lie ahead.
I set a date to inform my job of my intention to no longer work on the Sabbath, which would occur after I returned from a trip to Hawaii. Looking back, I realize that I should have done this immediately, but I was weak and afraid. And although I had been fervently praying to God to open my girl-friend's mind to his truth, I assumed he was going to test me in this way, viz, who do I love more, Him or her. But God says "My thoughts are not your thoughts" (Is 55:3), and I was about to witness the power of God in ways I could have never imagined.
My girl-friend and I used to take walks together on weekends at this time, and during one of those walks, she stunned me when she revealed that she had read a few of WCG's booklets, and she began to ask me questions, and for the first time we talked religion in a non-hostile manner. I had no knowledge whatsoever that she had been reading the booklets, and her questions were such that I could perceive that she definitely understood what she had read. Like me in the beginning, she wanted to know more about God's purpose for us, and our ultimate destiny. As we walked and talked, suddenly, and without warning, she stopped walking, and with a look on her face that I can only describe as one that occurs when a concept typically difficult to understand is finally understood, she asked me if I would hold her! I knew right then and there what was happening, and after our walk, I praised God for his mercy, and for opening a mind that had been so closed, and for showing me his incredible power firsthand! This miracle (I call it a miracle for that is what it was) produced a boldness in me to follow God, such that after the trip, and afterward, things began to happen quickly. For one, as I had promised, I informed my manager of my intention to no longer work on the Sabbath. The transition was not easy, and for about two months, I was not paid for one day each week (the day I refused to work), and it became very clear that I was now intensely disliked, and ultimately would be forced to accept another position in the company. I gladly accepted what was offered knowing that God had provided it, even though I would have originally thought that it was beneath my level of experience. God was still testing me. Later, I applied for and got a better position, and one that did not require any work on the Sabbath. More important, my girl-friend and I were married and we both began attending services at WCG a week later, and were both baptized six months later. These are things that just a short time before I would have thought impossible. And although these were rough times, to be sure, I look back at them with joy, for not only did I get right with God, and was able to put aside my guilt in the process, but God gave me a believing and loving wife, and a better job a bit later. Hallelu-Yah!!
We stayed with WCG for eight years, until new leadership brought about changes in doctrine that literally turned the church upside-down. Many members fled during this time because of what were believed to be heretical teachings, meant to conform more to the ways of the world rather that with the ways of God. Many fled to splinter groups that began to spring up, and that held more or less to WCG's prior doctrinal beliefs. Some fled to other churches unaffiliated with WCG, while others, like my wife and I, fled to nowhere and just became 'unchurched', a result of all of the confusion, and subsequent distrust of any church organization. Unfortunately, instead of holding fast to our beliefs which led us to leave in the first place, we stopped practicing our beliefs altogether, and it was not long before we were following the ways of the world once again, a symptom of 'out of sight, out of mind'. For me, as much as I don't like to admit it, this occurred when I developed a bitterness towards God, the result of flawed thinking such as 'how could He allow this to happen to his church, and why?'. It took another eight years before I understood the answers to these questions.
For the past twenty-five years, I have been plagued by depression, sometimes mild, sometimes more severe. No psychotherapy or medication ever seemed to completely lift me out from under the cloud that always seemed to surround me, it was always present in some form. While in WCG, I was anointed by the ministry, and prayed that God would heal me, but healing never occurred. I resigned myself to the belief that there was some unknown grand purpose for this that I would discover later. While I will not say for certain that I now know for sure what it is, I now believe I have a clue.
A little more than two years ago, things began to happen in my life that would eventually shake my very being to the core. For one, my wife and I seem to be drifting apart, absorbed in our own work and activities, and it seemed that we had lost the closeness we had during our time at WCG. Then, I began to have problems with my job, which escalated when I changed departments and came under new management, and I was literally brought dangerously close to a nervous breakdown. Along with this, the depression I had all along began to become more severe. Eventually, I left my job and returned to school, determined to start a career in a field that I was most interested in. Unfortunately, this caused grave problems for my marriage, which have continued and have become much worse. Added to this, the depression became so severe that thoughts of suicide began to creep in, and this, along with guilt of knowing that I was once again not right with God, and knowing that I hadn't been for years, made suicide seem like an easy way out. I became desperate, and began to turn to God for help. Fortunately, any bitterness I felt toward God for everything that happened at WCG had already faded substantially, since I now was to believe that God allowed these things to happen as a way to separate the wheat from the chaff, and to purge those he was calling to his end work. The question; was I going to be wheat He would store in the barn, or was I to be chaff fit only to be burned (Lk 3:17). While surfing the net one day about five months ago, I came across a website discussing the subject of deliverance from demonic oppression. I can't remember what I was looking for that day, but do remember that this subject definitely caught my interest in a big way as I had never heard of such a thing before. I had of course heard of demonic possession before, where demonic spirits can completely possess a person, but had never heard the term oppression, in which a person could be plagued by demonic forces instead of actually being possessed by them. From here, I searched out other websites on this subject, and bought several books also. From this, I was able to deduce that there was a probability that at least some of my problems, notably the depression, could very well contain a spiritual component form which I needed deliverance from. I also understood from my reading that, once again, there were requirements of me, this being that I had to once again begin to walk with God and stay there, since one cannot hope to be rid of demons for good until he closes the doors of entry to them, and keeps them closed. Where would I go to obtain help with the deliverance I needed so badly?
Wherever that was, it was important from the start for me to find an organization that also followed God's commandments, all of them. Since I had already been reading literature for a few years on the website of a WCG spin-off, I decided to ask them if they practiced deliverance. I sent a somewhat personal e-mail message to the organization, and to make a long story short, after several more messages to different individuals, and after meeting a local member, I ultimately waited six weeks to obtain a response that was nothing short of heart-wrenching. More or less, the message said that the reason for my suffering was that I had never followed God in the way the organization prescribed, and appeared, at least to me, to be more a message of chastisement than one of hope. I can only describe the feeling I had after reading it as one that, had I been holding a loaded gun to my head at the time, the trigger would certainly have been pulled! I felt I had nowhere else to turn. More importantly, I felt as if God was flashing the caution flag in front of my face, for I had been giving some very serious thought to asking for membership in this organization. But I could not see any fruits of the Ruach there, especially the love of God. I knew that I should no longer pursue membership there after this incident.
Fortunately, I regained some composure and began to search in earnest for a deliverance ministry that met my requirements. By this time, I was praying again, and was begging God to help me find one that would meet his expectations. And he did lead me to that one, but unfortunately for me, my mind was closed to a certain belief the organization held, and I bypassed it. But He kept leading me there until I was so desperate for help, that I put that belief on the back burner for a time, until my mind was more amenable to accept the teaching. Actually, I think that perhaps God blocked this teaching from my mind for a time, so that I could obtain the help I needed, so great is His mercy! The teaching I originally disagreed with was patriarchal (plural) marriage, which I have now come to understand from a scriptural perspective. The organization was The New Covenant Church of God (NCCG), which I now believe Yahweh is calling me to be a part of. Perhaps Yahweh allowed the depression to continue so that I would be willing to open my mind and heart to this new organization?
I still have the first message that I sent to NCCG, which was very personal and lengthy, and the first response from Brother Christopher Warren, one that was so different from the message I received from the other organization. It arrived immediately, within two hours, with the opening greeting "We stand ready to help you in any way we can"! No judging, no chastisement, but a message of hope and love! When I read it I still become teary eyed. I knew I had found what I was looking for. Actually, I had found much more, for while many of NCCG's teaching are very different from those I was accustomed to at WCG, they are scripturally based, and so much deeper than what I could have ever hoped to learn before. Most importantly, I have gained the friendship, fellowship and guidance of two brothers.
Since the first message, I have received deliverance, and although I have not as yet been completely delivered from the demonic forces that oppress me (I was to discover that deliverance takes time, and much patience and learning), I am on my way. Since Yahweh is just now beginning to call people in the United States to this great work, there is not as yet a local congregation near me. So for now, I have been attending for six weeks now a local congregation of the UCG. I am very happy to be doing so again, as I had missed the fellowship and the chance to serve the congregation in whatever capacity is needed. I believe that Yahweh has brought me here, for some purpose He has not yet revealed, and I feel blessed to have been called at a time when the work is in many ways just beginning. For now, I will continue drawing close to Yahweh through prayer, study, and fellowship, growing in faith and knowledge, and contributing in any way that I can, in the hope that I will be ready if and when He requires more from me. Unfortunately, my wife has either not received her calling as yet, or has refused to respond to it thus far, but I am fervently praying for that to change so that we can experience the joy of being a part of this work together.
Right now, as I begin my journey toward the New Covenant, I feel like an infant again, as one just beginning to crawl and be totally dependent on his parents, and able to only drink milk. I feel totally dependent on my brothers to carry me as I begin my new journey with Yah'shua, and to provide the spiritual milk I so sorely need. Soon, like a toddler, I will be able to stand up on my own, but will be very wobbly so I will need my brothers watching over me just in case I fall, and I will need them to provide me with food that is a bit more solid, which can be likened to the deeper truths of Yah'shua. Finally, when I can walk with Yah'shua much more on my own, and have the ability to receive even deeper truths, perhaps I can begin to carry others who, like me right now, will just be beginning their journey. And I know that my newfound brothers will always be there for me, just in case I need them, and for that I am very grateful.
This page was created on 18 August 2009
Last updated on 18 August 2009
Copyright © 2004-2009 NCCG