"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life."
The earlest recollection I have of the possibility of God being in my life is that my mother took me one evening when I was very young (pre-school, 1938 or '39) to a local Baptist church where we sat in a back pew and I remember the song being sung, "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so....." The words and melody remained in the back of my mind all through my years as an unbeliever, periodically re-surfacing as a dim but definite memory. Then there was also the Sunday school teacher who tried one day several years later at another Baptist church to tell us about Jesus. We had moved from Inglewood, CA to West Los Angeles in '41, and my dad would sometimes take me on a bike to church some blocks away. There were three of us boys that day and the other two were fooling around and not paying attention to what the teacher was saying, so he was trying to get their attention by telling them about Jesus. He started talking in such a personal manner about Jesus that I immediately was interested and looked at the two boys wishing they would stop what they were doing and pay attention too. But they did not and finally the teacher just gave up and stopped talking. I was very disappointed that he did not continue but was too shy to say anything either to him or the two other boys. I never forgot that incident either. Though I also attended a number of the regular morning services there, I never remember anything else being said about Jesus.
During high school and college years (1950-57):
I was part of a Methodist Youth Fellowship which was noteworthy for fellowship but a total loss for spiritual growth. I attended faithfully the "Bible studies," choir rehearsal, played piano for the choir, went to the summer camps, etc. The only thing I remember that was truly worthy of note during those years of high school and college was when the director of the Wesley Fellowship at UCLA was asked by a female student (whom I had dated and knew capable of asking childlike yet profound questions that would go straight to the heart of an issue) if a person could truly "know God." I remember saying to myself, "Yes - a good question to ask!" But the director looked pensively up at the ceiling and smiled somewaht cryptically as he replied, "No...." He of course then went on to address briefly the philosophical dilemma of the finite not being able to encompass the infinite. But I wasn't listening any longer. I was sitting at the back and I felt like angrily throwing around the empty chairs that were near me - but I didn't, because I didn't want to draw attention to myself. As I didn't know any better (the Bible was a closed book to me at the time, and I thought the director should know what he was talking about), I concluded that if a person truly could not know God, that would have to mean that God did not actually care - and if He did not care, then why should I?
This was the first major "crossroads" I encountered and the first really important decision I made in my life. It was perhaps the worst decision I have ever made, and sometime later I concluded that if there was a God, He would have to love (and care), but since I wasn't aware of any evidence of God's love and care, I decided there really could not be a God after all. So I became an atheist. Years later, after I had become born-again, I learned that Bill Bright's Campus Crusade for Christ was just getting its start at that time on that same university I was attending. I could have saved myself much heartache and trouble had I known they were there and would have been able to provide me the right answer. And I have always since wondered whether the female student (Janet B. was her name) who had asked that fateful question really knew the correct answer and was trying (unsuccessfully) to set the director up to give what was certainly the most important information concerning why Christ died (John 3:16). Perhaps I should have talked to her about her question and asked her own opinion about it. But I was too angry to think of that and instead took the wrong road at that "crossroads." As years passed, I became increasingly cynical, very sarcastic, could the majority of the time reduce a person's opinion (or belief system) to ashes through that cynicism, sarcasm and an adroit use of logic. The passing years increased this ability almost exponentially.
US Army (1958-62):
The very few people who tried to tell me of God's love I ate up and spat out - or ran away from and avoided. While stationed at Ft. Holabird in Baltimore, MD I met and fell in love with Patty, a young lady who lived in Washington D.C. During my time there she would try humbly to share her belief in God and Jesus Christ with me, but I considered myself too intellectually superior to consider what she was saying seriously. During this time also I received word that my best childhood friend had died - asphyxiated sleeping in a church basement by a leaky gas heater. He had been the son of a pastor, and had amazed all who knew him with his complete lack of guile and the love of God resident in him that enabled him to communicate effortlessly with any person no matter what their background or station in life. His presence had seemed to give evidence that there might be a God after all, though he had never witnessed to me other than with his life - never told me that what he had I could have also. I never considered at that time that I could have what he had. Such a concept would have been unreal to me. If anyone had told me I could have what he had I would have had a very real hard time believing him. His death further proved to me that God could not exist. Why should such a "light" be removed from this earth?
The Army trained me in counterintelligence work at Ft. Holabird, then transferred me to Monterey, CA to the Army Language School (now Defense Language Institute) to study the Czech language for a year (1959). There, in the summer of that year, my relationship with the woman I loved in D.C. was ended by her. Also, at that time I clumsily but severely hit my self in the head with a tennis racket while playing tennis. The trauma of my breakup with my love in D.C. and the blow to the head must have had some effect because one morning I awoke in the barracks with a severely altered sense of reality that can be best described briefly as "2-dimensional" instead of the normal "3-D" world of reality I had been used to. Like the 2-D world of dreams, except I knew this was not a continuation of any dream-state of being but real life. This "2-D" state of being has continued to remain with me and is present with me still.
In January, 1960 I was sent overseas to Munich, Germany, where I remained till 1962. I was stationed at McGraw Kaserne (all the photos I took in Germany were lost - never store them with relatives!) with the Military Intelligence detachment there, right above the classrooms of the University of Maryland extension. But with others stationed there, I lived off base in a residential section on Lindenstrasse near the zoo. I fell in love from afar with one of the young ladies attending U of M. During the Christmas break of '60, a plane carrying a load of UofM students and other American passengers hit the St. Paul Church while flying over Munich and crashed into the square below, hitting also a streetcar full of Germans. I heard the carnage described on the radio by MPs through their tears. I knew some of the students who were on that plane and one of the MPs. But I didn't know if the girl I loved from afar was till the students returned from the Christmas break and I waited to see if she returned to a class I knew she had. She did - 5 minutes late. I remember writing home during that period viciously striking out against any concept of God that would have allowed such a tragedy. "No God exists," I declared. My mother, reading my letter through her tears tried to share her belief in God with me, unsuccessfully. I did get acquainted with that young lady "I loved from afar" and after my discharge met her again in San Francisco. But she was a daughter of a Navy Captain and I was a lowly Sergeant in the Army so - that ended also. After she left Munich in '61 to return to the US to join her family in the San Francisco area I met another young lady who was also a student at the UofM in Munich and we had a brief enjoyable romantic relationship. She was an excellent classic pianist, and because of my background in that we had a kinship that was refreshing. When my tour of duty in the Army was up, I stayed in Europe to do some traveling using the book, "Europe on $5/day," How much is it now? several times that, I suppose. I spent my time in Italy, visiting Venice, Florence, Rome and Milan. Earlier I had visited Paris, fulfilling a goal I had as a child. I loved the opportunity to experience the various cultures as much as I could. This later proved useful on the mission field.
(Some years after I became a Christian in 1969, I was able to re-visit Munich, and McGraw Kaserne, where God helped me successfully deal with and lay to rest the “ghosts” of what I described in my testimony above. It seemed like I was dealing with another person and another lifetime, but that is understandable in light of 2 Cor. 5:17. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."So as I have written in my testimony elsewhere of the Lord dealing with and healing me in other ways, He also healed me where I needed that in regard to my Army service in Munich.)
I received an Honorable Discharge in '62....
....and spent some time travelling in Italy (visiting Venice, Florence, Rome and Milan) before I returned to the States and got involved in things I should not have, sinking deeper and deeper into a rut of being involved in self-destructive activities. I was a sophist -- for me there was no such thing as truth, or good and evil.
I was also becoming manic-depressive, losing control over my life. At one point, I felt myself literally losing control of my mental stability - my sense of reality totally slipping from my control, and sometime in '68, in the privacy of my apartment, curled up on my bed in a foetal position, cried out desperately for "help." To whom? There was no one else there - and I was an atheist. But nevertheless I felt a Power reach into my life and heal me so I could adequately function again. With that came the warning: "This is the second time." (A year earlier I had encountered a less severe experience that had threatened my mental stability.) "Next time will be destruction." Well, there was a "next time." But I was still in the rut. It was amazing that I did not consider seriously what had happened, nor consider trying to seek advice or counsel. But from whom?
I remembered the warning, so when a "next time" seemed imminent and visible on the horizon during '69, I quit my job, hid out in my house in Simi Valley, CA and began perusing the books I had in my personal library in a desperate attempt to find a solution to my ruined life.
Finally I came across a book ("Peace of Mind," by Joshua Loth Liebman) I had purchased some time before. I had encountered it in a book rack in a grocery store, and saw at that time that the first half of it at least might be of interest. The second half was about God and I decided to ignore that and buy the book. Written by a Jewish psychologist, the first half dealt with psychological problems. Reading that helped me so much I became curious enough to read the second half - and discovered this Jewish Rabbi had a worldwide recognized ministry to atheists. In his book he wrote about the God of the garden of Eden - a God who loved the man and woman He had created, and when they had sinned had given them up to the consequence of their wrong choice but lovingly desired that they would return to Him. Reading this brought some of the pieces of the puzzle of my life together enough to put the possibility of God's existence back into my life after so many years, and that night I prayed sincerely for the first time in my life (July 25,1969 - at the age of 34), "If you are really there, God, please come into my life and help set it straight. I've made a terrible mess of it." I was trapped in a prison of manic depression & knew that i was in a rut headed for certain destruction, of which I had received warning. But I felt that I had touched something, or Someone. All day long the next day, my mind was flooded with a cascade of memories of things I had done wrong, people I had hurt....... Sins upon sins upon sins...... Till finally at the end of the day in desparation I cried out,"I know I have done wrong! What do I do about it?" Atheists don't ever get answers to questions that they "throw out" like that, but God answered me. He said, "Get acquainted with My Son..." I knew He must talking about Jesus! Some time later I learned that this in itself was a direct refutation of what the director of that Wesley Fellowship had said - that you can't know God.
"Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." (John 17:3)
My life with God:
"But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me..." (Gal 1:15-16)
The only way I knew how to get acquainted with God's Son, Jesus, was to read the Bible. My mother had given me a copy of the King James Version as a Christmas gift in 1945, which I had kept with me ever since - though unread, as I said. I remembered I had seen two New Testaments the previous week on a bookrack in a grocery store, so the next day (my birthday - 7/27/69) I returned to that store and purchased those New Testaments - a "Good News for Modern Man" and a Phillips paraphrase. I started reading at the beginning of Matthew and read for 8 hours a day - all three together. For the first time in in my life, God opened the Bible to my understanding with His Holy Spirit like a beautiful flower & the Person of Jesus became so real that I felt at one point I could literally walk around a corner in my house and "bump" into Him in the flesh! I became "born again" of God's incorruptible Word (1 Peter 1:23) & became a "new creation" in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17)! Thus, my birthday (I was born July 27, 1935) also became my spiritual birthday! Hallelujah! God had given me the most wonderful birthday gift ever! I became a new creation in Christ, old things passed away. Behold, all things became new. (2 Cor. 5:17)
When my cousin and his wife heard of it, the first thing they did was to get me involved with them in youth ministry at their church. I was at first reluctant to become involved in a church because of my previous poor experiences with them when I was an unbeliever. And my cousin's church was really no exception. It was part of the "Disciples of Christ" denomination, liberal social-gospel in their thinking. But they were friendly, and my cousin and his wife would give me a ride there. My cousin, who had been raised in that denomination, was also of course liberal in his thinking, but as he saw me grow in my knowledge of the Bible and bring up things I found in it for discussion, his thinking changed. During one period of time he became sick and was forced to spend a good deal of time in bed - and he decided to read the New Testament for the first time in his life! The first Sunday I went with them to their church, there was a potluck on the church grounds after the service. My cousin (an elder in the church) was engaged in conversation with another elder, but they were discussing inconsequential things. After a little while I could no longer remain silent and suddenly interjected, "Isn't Jesus wonderful!" I shall never forget the expression on the other elder's face. He was in the middle of a sentence and he simply stopped speaking, his eyes became glazed and fixed on apparently nothing and he just stood there speechless. My cousin understood of course both where I was coming from and what was happening with the other elder. He tried to re-engage him in conversation, but it was useless. As our involvement there continued in the church's activities, we prayed that the pastor might come to know the truth and be born-again. But he remained adamant in his ways and God preferred to use us to lead members of the congregation into the truth of the born-again experience and receiving the fullness of the Holy Spirit - and He then led them into other churches where they could be properly fed. I remember attending one summer camp as a counselor and co-teaching a group of kids about Jesus. The other teacher was obviously not born-again and "didn't agree" with me in what I said. During one session, the "overseer" or bishop for that area entered the room and the discussion. He told the kids, among other things, that "The Bible is useful as a tool, but the Church is the final authority." I could hardly contain myself at this, but I did - and later during the "rest" time went to have a talk with him. He was gracious, and we had a good discussion, but that's all it was. I considered his statement to be in the same category as that earlier statement I had heard to the effect that, "You can't really know God...." WRONG!!!
I was concentrating on reading the Bible every day, and God quickly let me know that He desired my study of His Word to be complemented by practical application as part of the learning process. When I came across Matt. 6:33, I stopped and considered very carefully what it said. "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things (you are daily normally concerned about) shall be added unto you." I said, "OK, God, I will commit myself to seeking first Your kingdom and righteousness (whatever they are) and will just leave in your hands my other concerns. I think that either you are real and can help me get my life together enough that I can get another job or if You're not - then there is no hope for me and I will perish." I considered that God would be able to help me get my act together enough in about three months and I would then be able to go get another job. I was about to learn my first real lesson about the fact that God has His way of doing things and does not need advice from us how to do them or what length of time needs to be involved. But at the same time I did determine that this would be between God and myself and I would tell no other person that I was out of a job - only that I had invited Him into my life to be Savior and Lord.
But the three months came and went and I continued reading the Bible. When I resigned my job I had about $2000 in the bank, and was making house payments. Four months passed, then five months and Christmas found me with less than $100 left in my account. Nevertheless at nights I was "sleeping like a baby." In January I quit answering the phone, knowing it was enquiries concerning payments on my house. Then God told me to cash in the life insurance policy I had purchased while I was at the Army Language School in Monterey, CA in '59. That gave me some spending money, and I learned later that within a month that insurance company went bankrupt. Finally the beginning of March, '70 God told me to begin looking for a job. I decided to be frank about what was happening in my life with prospective employers and by the end of the month had found employment again as a workman's compensation underwriter. On the basis of the promise of having a job and owning a car I was able to get a loan to pay off what was owing on the rent on my house. When I did, I was told that foreclosure proceedings would have begun in 45 minutes if I had not paid what was due. So I had the opportunity to witness and tell of God's provision.
As an atheist, I had a habit of posing questions about life but not expecting an answer. Who would answer? An atheist does not expect answers - and gets none. But one day I was standing in the kitchen of my house and one such question popped from my mouth spontaneously as had happened many times before. I don't remember what the question was, only that this time I got an answer. I stood there absolutely amazed - I had not expected any answer, but I instantly knew Who answered me. I rejoiced that the Holy Spirit in me was answering me, and would do so constantly from now on. (John 14:16-17; 26; 16:1315; 1 Cor. 2:11-16) Later, being grateful for what God was doing in my life, I asked Him, "What can I do, Father?" He answered me, "Go and do likewise." At the time I was not well enough acquainted with the Bible to know that what He told me was what Jesus had said after telling the parable of the Good Samaritan: Luke 10:37. What He said I would come to know the meaning of as He involved me in reaching out to others in need as He had reached out to me. This is perhaps the most important message for God's church today - that we all must walk with an attitude of forgiveness. But more about that later. During this time also, worshipping God in the privacy of my bedroom and in gratitude for the mercy He had shown me, I spontaneously lifted my hands toward heaven and prayed, "Heavenly Father, I don't know everything about all You have to offer but I want to have whatever You want to give me. I don't know how You can use a fool like me (Ps. 14:1), but I want to be used however you can use me." Thirty-one years later, as I write this, I realize that God has answered this simple prayer according to His promise in Ephesians 3:20-1: "Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen." The adventures that God has had me involved in have been amazing beyond expectation, both in number and type. "But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise.... (1 Cor 1:27)
One day standing in my house I prayed simply, "Heavenly Father, I give this house to You to use as You want." I had purchased a three-bedroom 2-bath house in Simi Valley, CA. Within a week I was approached by a young man who asked if he might move in with me - he was having trouble at his parents' house. He was quickly followed by others like himself until my house was filled with both believers and unbelievers - permanent and transient. My life was no longer my own, and I was no longer the "lone wolf" I had previously been. I took in troubled young men to live with me - my cousin and his wife took in the girls. Later, other members of the Assembly of God church we attended joined us in opening up their homes also to needy youths. We were told that the county in which we lived had the fourth worse drug problem among counties in the US. There was also teen prostitution, delinquency, etc., and even a number of witches covens in the area. As an ex-atheist I had a passion for telling everyone who would listen to me that there was a God who loved us and desired that we would turn to Him, repent of our sins - the wrong direction in which we were going - and open our lives to His entrance, putting His new life in us - literally transforming us from spiritual death to life. I stopped people on the sidewalk, spoke to them in parks, picked up hitchhikers, etc. My cousin, his wife, a young lady from our church and I co-founded a ministry we called "Teen Hope." We listed our home phone numbers in the local newspaper as "24-hour hotlines" for youths to call to discuss problems they might have. In addition we went out on the streets Friday nights and Saturdays to talk to any and every one - but especially youths. I remember one evening, while I was standing outside the local movie theater, I thought about a day previous to when I had resigned from my job in '69. I was riding to work with my boss and other passengers in his VW van. The man who rode beside us ( an executive at Universal Studios) told us how he had overcome a stuttering problem by adopting a "cause" and going out on street corners to preach about it. I thought to myself at the time, "Far be it from me to ever do any such thing that would mean having to talk to strangers on street corners." When I was young I had an awful problem with shyness. But here I was standing under a theater marquee waiting for the movie to end and the customers to some out so I could tell them about Jesus! I had to chuckle to myself, "What a sense of humor You have, Lord," I said. During this time we sought and received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I'll never forget that weekend. I led six people to Christ, praying the "sinner's prayer" with each one. It was so easy! One young man I picked up who was hitchhiking and immediately handed him a "4 Spiritual Laws" booklet and told him to read it. He did as we were driving. When the time came to drop him off he had finished reading and I asked him if he wanted to pray the "sinner's prayer." He replied, "Yes." We prayed, he got out of the car and left and I sat there in a state of shock admonishing myself because I had not remembered to ask for his name and phone number to follow up on him.
We opened a coffee house in a section of town that had a high crime rate, and quickly found the local police on our side as they told us the crime rate was dropping because of our ministry there. Our coffee house was on the corner of a small shopping plaza with six shops in it. Next to us was a spiritualist tea-leaf reader, two doors down from her was a bar and next to that was a massage parlor. The people in our church had mixed reactions - one very spiritual lady, a prayer warrior, told me, "Paul, I will gladly contribute financially to your ministry - but don't ask me to do what you're doing." (I'm not the one who "asks," though - God is, so her argument was not with me but with God.) The pastor was amazed as his church filled with youths we met on the street: ex-"druggies" who gave their lives to Jesus. God put in my mouth the words, "Jesus is coming soon - are you ready?" which I would shout to people driving into the parking lot, entering or exiting the shops, or standing on the corner, I shouted at the passing motorists. Of course, if there was the opportunity to do so, I could then tell them how they could be "ready." One night a man drove up in a beat-up pickup. As he got out I shouted at him, "Jesus is coming soon - are you ready?" He paused, looked at me, and I called out to him, "How about a cup of coffee or hot chocolate?" He walked toward me and we entered our coffee-house together. We sat a table and talked until the coffee house closed early in the morning. Then we all went to my cousin's house for breakfast. As we sat there, the man pulled out a loaded 22 cal. snub-nose revolver, unloaded it and handed me the bullets, then told me, "My wife has left me taking our children. I decided my life was no longer worth living so I was planning on going to the bar near your coffee-house and stick this in the barman's face like I was holding him up. I know he has a sawed-off shotgun behind the counter and I was hoping he'd use it on me to end my misery." He did find an "end to his misery" that night as God gave him forgiveness of sins and he found new life in Christ. He was with us quite a while, helping us with our coffee-house ministry.
This was an amazing period of my life, as a very young Christian. It was a period of exploration and discovery. I remember my cousin one night remarking to me, "Christianity has the ethics but the eastern religions have the power." I replied, "But Jesus says He has all authority in heaven and on earth. (Matt. 28:18) Why don't we see what He means by that? Why don't we put it to the test?" My cousin thought about that and agreed. I had been investigating the claims the Bible made, experiencing God's presence and power in my life, reading books on the baptism of the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, etc. and visiting Kathryn Kuhlman's meetings in Los Angeles and reading her books. I had an attitude of honest enquiry concerning the things of God, and used scepticism very judiciously. I never then nor now ever accepted anything anyone had to say without testing it against what knowledge I had - and as I became better and better acquainted with the Bible and more knowledgeable concerning it I have used it as a "proof text" against what I hear said by "authorities," "experts," "leaders." It alone is my "Rock" on which I stand. I am constantly amazed at Christians who allow themselves to be "sponges" and soak up everything they hear from Christian leaders whom they may admire. "I don't have time to study the Bible like he(she) does," I hear said. Hogwash, garbage, cop-out, rationalization!!! Read Eph. 4 and understand what is being said there and what God wants for His Church. And get away from your TV and yakking on the phone long enough to do your own Bible studying. God doesn't want you in anyone else's shadow but His!
I remember one night we went out street-witnessing. We went to a bowling alley and I saw a car drive by with a couple of young women in it. Immediately the Holy Spirit burdened me to pray for them. They drove off and left. A little while later we left there and went to MacDonald's. While we were there talking with people and passing out tracts, the same car with the two women I had seen earlier entered the parking lot and began driving around it. I immediately began praying out loud, "God make them stop," repeating that request over and over as my cousin, his wife and another sister stood by watching. The car continued to circle through the parking lot as I continued to pray out loud for God to stop it. It continued out to the street on the other side of MacDonald's, stopping for traffic (though there was none to speak of) and the driver put on the left-turn signal. As I continued praying, suddenly the car's reverse lights came on, it sped back and then forward into a parking place just a few feet from us, and I could see the driver sitting there with a bewildered look on her face as if she were thinking, "Now why did I do that?" We went over to talk to them and discovered they were prostitutes. We had a good talk with them, gave them some literature, and presented the Gospel. They didn't give their hearts to Jesus at that time, but we "planted seeds." Another evening we were out witnessing to people in a shopping plaza. There were several youths with us, witnessing to others about the new life they'd found in Jesus. Suddenly a man in his late '30s or early '40s who was drunk advanced menacingly toward one of these youths. The youth, who had his back turned to the drunk, was not aware that he was being menaced by a drunk in an obviously demonic rage. I was just a few feet away and advanced to interpose myself between the drunk and the youth, but God stopped me and said, "Watch!" So I stopped and watched the drunk come within arm's distance of the youth and attempt to reach out at him and attack him. Amazingly, he was totally unable to do so! Some unseen obstacle was restraining him from harming the youth, who was still unaware of what was taking place. One of God's angels was obviously protecting the youth's back, and after striving against the angelic restraint for a few moments the drunk gave up and walked away.
"Fear" is not the only thing we have to deal with as we go out into the streets to witness, but of course it is perhaps the most obvious thing the enemy will put in the thoughts of every believer and we must learn how to overcome it. First, we need to remember that God wants us there, so it's really a simple matter of obedience to Him. But it's also helpful - in fact, necessary - to have God's perspective on whatever situation we are in. This is also a very simple matter of knowing God's Word. In Isa. 55:8 we read: "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." But 1 Cor. 2:11-16 states, "For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment: 'For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?' But we have the mind of Christ." Whatever situation I am in. I simply ask for God's perspective on the matter - or towards the person involved. I know God's perspective concerning witnessing and telling the Gospel to another person, for example, is that of being literally a "life or death matter." Knowing that, I can remind myself when "fear," or anything else that might interfere with doing what I know God wants me to do, assails me - and it will no longer effectively hinder me.
"Tiredness" can be another hindrance. I returned home one Friday evening from a day's work so tired all I wanted to do was just relax, rest - sit down in a chair and maybe watch TV. But I knew that Friday evenings at that time were reserved for our outreach to the youths of the area, and since I was one of the leaders of our ministry, if I didn't show up the others probably would not go out to witness. So I decided at least to go to my cousin's house where we usually met to discuss and pray about the evening's planned outreach. It was decided that we would attend a football game at the local high school, waiting for the fans to come out after the game was over and talk to them about Jesus. When we arrived and the crowds were converging on the parking lot, I felt led to talk with several young men standing together. Later, the others in our team joined me as the talk continued. It turned out that one of them seemed to be the "leader" and his interest in what we were saying influenced the others to continue talking with us. The final result was success as they all prayed the sinners prayer with us and began attending the weekly Bible study held at my cousin's house, eventually joining in our outreach ministry, witnessing of the new life they had received in Jesus Christ. We learned later from city officials that these young men were members of a gang that had caused much trouble locally and were considered "incorrigible" (i.e. - "bad beyond reform"). As I watched them grow in their knowledge of God's Word and commitment to Jesus, I would reflect about that evening when I had returned home from work so "tired" but with the Lord's help and encouragement had not allowed myself to give in to it. I was thankful to the Lord for His promise in Isa. 40:31 - "But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." There were quite a few times when we would spend almost whole nights talking and ministering to the youths who would come to our homes - ignoring the fact that the next day we had a full 8-hour day of work at our jobs. But the lives we saw changed made it worth that.
Another time we picked up an elderly woman at a rest home to take to a Kathryn Kuhlman meeting. She had cancer and wanted healing but when we were helping her into a wheelchair she was expressing such bitterness at being left alone there and her relatives not visiting her that I knew in my spirit she would not receive healing. She didn't. Instead my cousin's wife, who stood behind her wheelchair, was healed of severe stomach ulcers.