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Displaying items by tag: Transformation

He's so great, really, when you think about it. He allowed a kid who was into all kinds of mysticism, who was involved in a pretty rough crowd, who was haughty and prideful and selfish—He immediately took me in and began His divine heart surgery to change my life. The next few months were pivotal to my growth in the Lord. He took my hand and literally directed the way. I was too zoned-out from the accident. I was dazed, I was half crazy with grief. I was in shock.

– Excerpt from Russ' Story.

Russ Brewer’s Story as of 12/1/00 given before a Korean High School Group

Good evening. I am excited to tell you about the changes that the Lord has brought into my life. It is my prayer that you will hear of my mistakes and be able to avoid them yourselves. It is my prayer that if you don’t know Jesus Christ now as your Lord and savior, that by the end of my message, you will put your faith and trust in the Lord of our universe.

Although this story may look like it’s about me, it’s really about how God directed my life and protected me. He did this because of His love for me and He will do the same for you. As you will hear from my story--more than likely, at some point in your life, pains will come your way. But pain and trials are gifts from God where we can turn to Him; purify our faith, and glorify Him as Lord. When the trials come, it is not right to ask why, for that is in the mind of God. Rather you should ask how are you are supposed to respond as a godly child of the Lord.

I will probably take every last minute Pastor Chi has given to me, so hang on and here we go.

I grew up in Middletown New Jersey. Growing up, my family attended a non-Christian church called Christian Science, not to be confused with Scientology by L. Ron Hubbard. Christian Science was started in the late 1800’s by a woman named Mary Baker Eddy.[1] She wrote many books detailing her brand of spirituality, the most notable is her book called “Science and Heath” which her followers believe to be as equally true as the Bible. In Science and Heath, Mary Baker Eddy explains that God made man in His image and likeness, therefore we are all gods. Thus since God cannot break his arm, neither can we. Since God cannot get cancer, neither can we. The reason why people appear to have broken bones and other illnesses is because of sin. Sin is not a violation of God’s holy law; rather it is incorrect thinking about who we “truly” are. Sin is error. Sin is being wrong in our conclusions about ourselves. According to Christian Science, if we think we have cancer we are sinning. The solution to sin is found in the great healer Jesus Christ. Jesus was not God per say, nor did he die for our sins on the cross. Rather He was the way-shower who told us how to really view who we are. Jesus tried to show us that we were gods and that if we recognized that, we could heal ourselves just as He healed others.

Christian Scientists deny Christ’s death on the cross as being anything other than tragedy. They don’t believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God nor do they believe in heaven or hell. All of us, according to their beliefs, will “translate” into another existence. Death is only a doorway to the next reality. People don’t go to hell because there is no hell because there is no real sin against God. Again, sin is just an erroneous understanding of who we are.

This was my exposure and spiritual diet for most of my childhood. Christian scientists are warm, kindhearted people. The books they read from are very complex and the language is old and difficult. Yet, my Sunday school classes consisted of three or four children in the same grade sitting around a small round table with one adult teacher who taught us theology. We learned their wrong beliefs about sin, healing, Jesus, God and power. I advanced through these classes from age 8 or 9 up till about 15 years old.

My parents actually never ever went to that church the entire time I was there. They were raised by Christian Scientist parents (that is, my grandparents) and both had independently forsaken the religion for themselves. Thus when it came to teaching their children religion, although they didn’t actually agree with Christian Science, it was natural that they would send their kids, my sister and I, to the only religion they knew.

Thus we were “nominal Christian Scientists.” On most Sunday’s my parents would drop my sister and I off at church and then go out for breakfast on their own. After 90 minutes they’d come back, pick us up and we’d go on our way. My parents never taught me Christian Science doctrine because they weren’t real impressed with it themselves. Thus when I broke a bone my parents took me to a doctor. When I needed a tooth filled, they took me to a dentist. Yet, to a degree, we were quasi-practicing Christian Scientists. That is, when we had colds we didn’t take cold medicine, when we had aches, we didn’t take Tylenol or Advil. Generally the watchword around my house was for general minor stuff, was “mind over matter”.

Like other good Christian Scientists, my parents were the kindest people on the street. They had well developed ethics and codes of conduct and behavior. I was raised to highly value the worth and dignity of all people. Jesus’ golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” was often quoted and applied in my home. During my childhood, I watched my parents take into our home people beaten by their spouses; others near death from alcoholism. I saw my parents helping with all kinds of volunteerism. Thus they were good people, perhaps better than the average home. These values were deeply instilled in me and although I didn’t know Jesus Christ as my Lord I did admire and follow His example of love and selflessness.

However, you can imagine that a religion, which denied Jesus, the Bible, Heaven, Hell and Sin, doesn’t really re-enforce deep convictions within its followers. Christian Science is New Age mysticism glossed over with Christian ideals. God is a transcendent, impersonal force to be used for one’s own advantage. The New Age mysticism is the same. It seeks to use mystical forces to achieve benefit for the person. Both are selfish, self-centered, and power-hungry. They do not seek to exalt, honor, worship and serve the Holy Creator. Rather both seek to selfishly give honor to evil that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. New Age often incorporates the beliefs of mediation, astrology, Zen Buddhism, and a bunch of other stuff into a giant salad bar from which its adherents pick and choose what sounds best to them.

Although my family wasn’t off the deep end, we were still in the dangerous waters of New Age. In my family, we did often speak of God and Jesus, but we also spoke of a whole realm of spiritual things. My parents weren’t teaching us doctrine of any particular religion, rather our family was always curious and open to what might be out there. The trend towards spiritual mysticism continued and deepened as I went through high school and through various means I had developed a sizable personal New Age reference library complete with books on out of body experiences, channeling, black magic, Stonehenge, meditation, etc.

I now know that I was playing with evil and I have suffered the spiritual consequences of my sins. One might ask if it’s really a sin to read books on the occult. Well, the book of Hebrews says that whatever is not of faith is sin, and Deuteronomy prohibits going to psychics and mediums and those who practice divination. I initially began reading the books out of curiosity, but eventually my curiosity got the best of me and I was reading because I believed them. Thus, I was sinning against the holy Lord who alone is wise. God’s plans are high—lofty—beyond the mind of man—and we are to only read and accept that which He has already revealed in God’s word. Any attempt to reach up to the infinite and pull it down to the finite is a sin against God. I Cor 10:13 says "So Saul died for his trespass which he committed against the Lord, because of the word of the Lord which he did not keep; and also because he asked counsel of a medium, making inquiry of it."

Well, once I entered High School, I started spending time with a pretty interesting group of guys. When I first starting hanging out with my friends they were really great people. Most were quite smart but bored with our classes. Some of us were boy-scouts and some nature lovers and our main hang-out was at a rope swing in the woods.

There was a large, heavily wooded park beside of the neighborhoods. (Now this is the east coast New Jersey. Have you seen the movie The Last of the Mohicans? Well, remember all the dense, green forests they ran through and you are pretty much picturing what we were hanging out it). In the middle of this park, about a 10 minute hike in, stood a large tree at the edge of a small rise of ground. A small stream ran through the middle of the park, over time cutting a small gully about 20 feet deep and 100 hundred yards wide. A tree stood at the edge of the top of the gully and it had a great, thick hemp rope. We spent so much time there we pretty we became experts. We would leap out, grab the rope and swing in every way imaginable. Once we even tied a couch onto the rope and we all jumped on it while it swung around. Lots and lots of fun, and a little dangerous—I spent a night in the hospital because of it, but that’s another story.

Every day we’d go there and hang out until the sun went down. We did this for years, thus over time we started bringing stuff back there with us. At first we brought back boom-boxes and chairs. Then we started grabbing furnishings that people were throwing out like couches and carpets. And I suppose