Monday, November 28, 2011

OCCUPY The World... Til The RETURN of the KING

Matthew 20:6 And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?

We are hearing more and more about the Occupy Wall Street Movement as these days progress. At first I thought pretty much like everyone else did about this movement: another bunch of disgruntled, unemployed people that are angry and frustrated about the way things are headed in this nation.

Sort of like the Tea Partyers but with a harder edge; most of these seemed to be university age youth with enormous schooling debts and little prospect of getting the higher paying jobs they've been aiming for.

Then somewhere in the middle of all this, I began to notice things and wondered if this was everything that it seemed to be, or perhaps something much more. I started doing a little research, and to my (not very big) surprise, there were some discoveries made.

Here are a couple of articles that I submit for your consideration on the matter:

Occupy Wall Street is a Socialist Scam


Occupy Wall Street Follows (Saul) Alinsky Playbook

These people tout signs declaring that "Capitalism Doesn't Work" and others like, "Obama isn't a brown skinned Socialist that gives away free health care . . . you're thinking of Jesus". To see this and other signs, click on any of the images found here.

We are certainly living in turbulent times and there is so much happening, its hard to keep it all straight, and not feel overwhelmed at the way things are spinning out of control. Alinsky would approve of the condition of this nation, because he knew that such soil is ready to receive the ultimate seeds of revolution and transform a society into a Marxist haven where such Socialists can feel at home.

For us Christian however, there really is no place on this planet that we can call 'home'. Many times, somewhat tongue-in-cheek I refer to going to my 'earthly dwelling abode' - or my house - because I can't really call it home.
Our home is heaven, wherein we have our citizenship.

Spiritually speaking, we've been born from above (that is, heaven - or a heavenly birthing), born again (John 3:3, 5), regenerated by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5); as a result of our nativity in the heavenlies, we have no lasting citizenship here. We are pilgrims, strangers, foreigners:

1 Peter 2:11-12
¶ Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation
.

See also Heb. 11: 13.

We are just passing through this 'foreign land' called Earth, on our way to heaven. Until then however we are to have a lifestyle that is "honest among the Gentiles" who may speak of us disparagingly but if they were honest, they would have to admit to the good works we engage in and are called to (Eph. 2:10) and glorify God . . . "in the day of visitation," that is, when the LORD Jesus Christ returns to take us home, just as He and angelic witnesses have testified (John 14: 3; Acts 1:11).

Unfortunately some Christians are so caught up in looking for the LORD's return, that they are not being diligent in their service for the King. It would seem that many of these are only looking to escape from uncomfortable, even desperate circumstances rather than having the hopeful expectation of the arrival of the KING - any who genuinely seek the LORD with expectation will be busy about their work, knowing that His coming draws near, and such has a purifying effect on one's personal walk (1 John 3:3). Those not looking for the LORD's return, or looking only for their own benefit (delivered from having to pay off a mortgage, a lousy job, a life that is bland or difficult, etc.) will say "my Lord delays His coming..." (Matt. 24: 48-49).

Even though we are to be watching and praying always (Mark 13:33; Luke 21:36), looking and expecting our LORD's return (Titus 2:13), we are not to adopt a 'pie in the sky in the great by and by' attitude and be idle; Paul the apostle gently reproved the church at Thessalonica for these things (1 Thess. 4:11-12; 2 Thess. 3:6, 10-12).

No, we are to occupy* in this world, being busy about the business of the King, until He returns:

* Occupy in the Greek means pretty much what one would suppose: to be busy about something, engaged fully in the business at hand. The idea here is the same as Luke 9: 62; diligence, perseverance and endurance are all implied here, also an undivided heart that will not look back (as with longing over something left behind. Consider Lot's wife (Luke 17: 32-33).

Luke 19:11 ¶ And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.

vs. 12 He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.

vs. 13 And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.

vs. 14 But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.

vs. 15 And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.

vs. 16 Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds.

vs. 17 And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.

vs. 18 And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds.

vs. 19 And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities.

vs. 20 And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin:

vs. 21 For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow.

vs. 22 And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow:

vs. 23 Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury?

vs. 24 And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds.

vs. 25 (And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.)

vs. 26 For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him.

vs. 27 But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me
.

And from that point, the LORD Jesus Christ, the certain Divine nobleman, ascended up to Jerusalem where He made His grand entrance riding on a donkey, presenting Himself as the Messiah of Israel, but the "citizens" hated him - the religious leaders, and later the people in general with some notable exceptions - and would not have Him rule over them.

The Jews thought that the kingdom of God was near, but they were unaware of the LORD's plan of the ages, that because the nation of Israel would initially reject their Messiah, this would provide an opportunity for the Gentiles to find salvation in the mystery of the church, or the body of Christ, composed of both Jews and Gentiles (but predominantly at this time, the latter). While the kingdom of God was still far off at that point, the King Himself was in their midst!

The LORD Jesus gave them a parable that showed that He would return to His place, that is, heaven (vs. 12; see also Hosea 5:15) once He made His presentation to Israel and propitiation for the sins of the whole world.

As He left this domain and returned to His own, He left instructions and work for those who were genuinely His people (those believing Jews, such as the Apostles, those converted by them, and the early church in the first portion in the book of the Acts of the Apostles and later, the Gentile believers).

In this parable, every servant receives an equal amount - which I believe speaks of the Spirit of God via salvation, and by this same Spirit we are able to live and breathe and work in the kingdom of God (John 3:5).

By the Spirit are we able to affect those around us as we present to them the Gospel, and thereby reproduce fruit after its own kind, that being, salvation. Note that the first two servants are able to increase that which was given to them; the same thing is seen in Matthew 13: 8 in the parable of the Sower of the seed.

For whatever ministry and calling the LORD has placed into our lives (and that is everyone that are born of and citizens to the kingdom of God; every saved soul, every saint has a ministry: what's yours? If you don't yet know, ask the LORD for wisdom to perceive what He has given you, and He will. What sort of gifts do you have? This is a strong indication of where He would have you work in the body of Christ, and out in the world at large) there will come a time when we will be called into account, and receive reward (or not) for faithful service to our King (See 1 Cor. 3: 6 - 15).
Remember, eternal life in heaven is a gift by the grace of God (Rom. 6:23b; Eph. 2:8-9); whatever service we do for our LORD will receive - not gifts, but rewards: the difference being that gifts are free and rewards are earned for good conduct and work.

Yet even for our good works, we cannot boast, for if they are genuinely good (Eph. 2:10), then they are born of God's Spirit and to Him goes the glory and credit; we are just blessed to be included in the work, receive rewards and with which we shall be able to magnify God all the more (Rev. 4:10-11)once we arrive through heaven's portals and into His Presence!

And notice in the parable of Luke 19, that for reproducing that which was granted by the LORD, these first two servants receive an incredible privilege and authority: rulership over (ten or five) cities! How lavish is our LORD in bestowing such incredible reward - for work that was actually accomplished by He Himself: in the hearts of servants that were simply yielded and obedient to the call to service! Amazing!

And then we have the third servant . . . who didn't occupy til the LORD came . . . and this servant could hardly be called that. He was slothful, lazy, accusatory of His LORD; he calls Him "austere" or in a general sense, a very strict person, whose virtues are to the extreme.

Not only did this wicked servant not employ himself in the service of the King, he didn't even so much as deposit it in the bank, where though that wouldn't involve any labor on his part, at least it would draw interest - such is the apathy of this man, who didn't care at all for that which the King offered.
As a result, the ten pounds was taken from this wicked servant and given to the one who was faithful to the highest degree (the first servant). You might ask, "But didn't you say that the ten pounds represent salvation? If that's the case, then this third servant lost his salvation! You don't believe one can lose one's salvation, do you?"

No, I don't believe that a genuinely born again, Spirit indwelt believer can lose their salvation. A very good book on this subject by William MacDonald is called Once In Christ - In Christ Forever. I've read this book and recommend it highly. This very well may be used as subject matter for an upcoming FMF article and book review! This servant that the LORD calls wicked doesn't even keep the ten pounds, does not possess them, but goes and buries them in the dirt!
In my mind, this is hardly a person in possession of salvation! Also that which was intended for the salvation of this third servant, was then turned around and used as further blessing and reward for the first!

Finally, for those who would refuse the LORD in His rightful role as such, these are taken before the LORD in judgment where they are sentenced and executed (vs. 27); for those who reject Jesus Christ as LORD and SAVIOR, they will one day meet Him as their Judge!

2 Thessalonians 1:7-10
And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,

In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;

When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day
.

And for those of us who are diligent in serving our LORD out of a heart of love and devotion and thankfulness (1 Cor. 13:2-3) for all that He has done for us:

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of [his] goodness, and the work of faith with power:

That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ
.

Remember, we are not called to be 'busy' for it's own sake, but to serve the LORD out of a motive of love and devotion - we are not to be 'Marthas' nor really only 'Marys' (though this is the more important and "good part"), but both in their right proportion - See Luke 10: 40-42; also Col. 1: 3-10; 2 Peter 3: 13-14, 17-18.

Therefore may we indeed occupy Earth, this foreign land, this sphere of missionary service, this domain wherein we make true disciples and herald the Gospel of Jesus Christ the God man before a lost and ruinous world - until the LORD arrives and takes us home! I have a very strong feeling that as for the church, we won't be occupying for much longer! Maranatha!

To purchase the book with study guide by William MacDonald, True Discipleship, click here.

Lastly, I would like you to consider this video: The Disturbing Vision of William Booth

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Ye Shall Know the Truth and the Truth Shall Make You Free! Part Two

I had originally planned on continuing with additional details of my old man life. But why drag you through more that, right? So I thought it best to go this direction...

Things didn't get better they got worse for me, ...at first, solely because of the bad choices I made. 2 Peter 2: 22 sums it up:

But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

Frankly, I didn't have the internal strength to resist temptation and continue walking with God and and I went back to my old lifestyle. I did eventually figure a few things out though and today I endeavor to walk with God and learn his Word. And for all practical purposes, isn't that is what we all are trying to do?

The title of the above is based upon the Record of John 8 specifically vss 30-36

30 As he spake these words, many believed on him.
31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
33 They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?
34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.
35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.
36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed
.

Years ago these verses of Scripture became my favorites, they were the first Scriptures I had laid to memory. There was a time that I was so enslaved, I was convinced there was no hope for me.

And there was a time that when I heard these Words for the first time ...

...all of a sudden it became clear: the Bible IS more than this huge relic of a book reserved for brief spats in man made ritual. That the Bible WAS God's Word, God's communication to man ... That Jesus Christ God's only begotten Son WAS (and IS) the Word; God's communication to man in the flesh. That the written Word and the Word in the flesh were given so that I, ...so that all could be free...!? Emotions of unworthiness and thankfulness began to work overtime on my stone cold heart!

The above verses jumped of the page and rattled my being, it was as if a 1,000,000 candle light spotlight just lit up!! THERE really is TRUTH available in this world that is layered and layered with LIES, deceit, corruption, pollution, subtle evil that lulls, woos one into accepting the chains and bondage of sin; an evil that fools you in to thinking you have something to protect and guard and not let go of. A curtain of darkness so thick, so heavy...hope for release it would seem, was an exercise in futility!

Yet The Sword of the Spirit with surgical precision began to slice through the spiritual bars that were like a tourniquet to my heart. And for once in my pathetic existence there was reason to keep going, and my heaviness lifted. I could see a light at the end of a dark tunnel, and it was starting to light my way.

Thanks be to God!!

I took Bible classes, went on a mission, took more classes; tripped on the stumbling stones, fell flat on my face more times than I can count. Thought I knew a thing or two about a thing or two... Later learned I was wrong!

Started back over and we keep on pressing forth. I saw a bumper sticker many times that I think is apropos "Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven". That pretty much sums it up.

I met my beautiful wife 35 years ago, who like myself was hungry for truth, together we've went forward and are still going.
It was Sept '75 I was sent to Ft Smith, AR in August with eleven other young people like myself. We were going to start home fellowships, run Bible classes, and basically learn how to practically apply the principles in God's Word.
Our responsibility was to work part time and witness and fellowship full time. The people I was sent with were people from all different backgrounds (we didn't know each other from Adam) and we would set up housekeeping etc. One was basically put into a situation where one HAD to walk upon the principles set for in God's Word or suffer the consequences.

At first I was being challenged in the area of finding a job. I landed a job in a 24 hr mini mart working 10pm - 7am: not good hrs. The first night on the Job the owner shows me his Blackjack, and a loaded .45 pistol; tells me "Don't hesitate to use these, cuz, this place gets robbed a lot!"

I worked there for a few weeks and got robbed. The guy walked out with out paying for probably $30.00 worth of groceries I ran after him; he had a sock full of rocks or something and he swung hard, missed nailing me in the head by a hair . . . I wasn't about to shoot somebody for ripping off a few groceries.
Needless to say I quit the job the next day!

Shortly after I left, a woman was abducted and I don't think they found her, or her captors to this day! So, anyway I need a job and wasn't finding one. My family coordinator said to me, "You want to know the secret to getting a job?"
"Yeah..."
"Want one!" Anyway the next day I started out on foot, on the highway that we lived on, criss-crossing the street and would keep going until I found a job. Two, plus miles and a number of hours later I almost got run over by a crazy women driving an MG crossing the road.
I applied at every possible place I could and frankly I didn't think I would find a job. I was about to talk myself outta this approach, when I see a Pizza Hut across the road and I decide to go to one last place. It's after 2pm, and I am weary, but I check to see if they are hiring. The mnanger comes out and it just so happens that she was the same person that almost hit me in the MG!

She does in fact, hire me! I'm to work lunch rush and Saturdays... she says I'll be helping Tracy on Saturdays (hmmm I wonder what she's like?).
I was to stop by Friday afternoon and pick up my shirt. I met Tracy that Friday PM, and she made my name tag; I was thinking, Wow she's pretty, Should be ok working on Saturdays.
Being a relatively new Christian, I was more enthusiastic, than knowledgable. I personally never cared for high pressure sales or witnessing. Tracy will tell you she had to drag the witness outta of me; I will tell you that it was carefully planned strategy to not scare her off.

Truth is we both know that the hand of God was upon the whole thing. Tracy and I are as different as up and down. There's really no way we'd ever be married except for God. I could make a list a mile long detailing how opposite of each other we are. It took us a while before we learned that you don't fall in love, you fall in a hole.
True Love on the other hand is a decision of the will that manifests itself in giving. Our culture, in my opinion, stresses feelings...feelings come and go...hence the reason for the high rate of divorce! One day the feeling is gone and so people think they've fallen out of love.

Think about it: God so loved that he GAVE...John 3:16. I was taught and I believe that it's true that any two people can stay married IF ... and it's a big IF, they put God first and practice the principles set forth in his Word.

Anyway I was looking forward to working on Saturdays and I would endure the incredible cast of characters all week long so I could work with Tracy. Now Tracy really wasn't looking for a boyfriend, and I was supposed to be focused on witnessing and classes, etc. and that's what I did. But you know in Proverbs 18: 22 it says ...he that findeth a wife findeth a good thing.

And I did!
She was hungry and had loads of questions, and I was more than eager to try to answer them. She ended up witnessing to her entire family, mom, sisters, grandmothers! They all joined the fellowship! I have always been amazed that her family was so meek regarding God's Word; I've concluded it's because they had very little religious background.
We grew the fellowship as best as we could and it was sort of like canoeing through white water rapids: we capsized, fell out, bumped our heads, and kept on moving forward. You know that a quiet stream that has no rocks is safe, but it's the rocks in the stream that make it sing and brings a bit of adventure as you make each bend.

We were married in '76 and I wouldn't trade the time for anything. To me her price is above rubies... (Prov. 31: 10)

It was hard at times; we fluctuated in our walk with God and it took ten years to really grow in commitment to God and his Word, and to each other. A lot can happen in ten years and it did.

I am thankful for Tracy in innumerable way, not the least being that she won't allow me to get old and stodgy in my thinking. God uses the marriage as an example of the one body, the body of Christ.

Now, we have four of the best kids on earth and five of the best grandkids on earth. What else could one ask for? God has blessed us in innumerable ways. Together we are looking at that light at the end of the tunnel. We see through a glass and that we see through it darkly (2 Cor. 13:12). God has released us both from many prisons, and daily helps and blesses us more.

God's Word is inexhaustible, so you always have something to look forward to.

Job 5:8 I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause:
9 Which doeth great things and unsearchable; marvellous things without number:

Psalm 145:3 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable.

Romans 11:33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

Ephesians 3:8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ
;

Tracy and I have reached the point in life where there is NO turning back! You see God's Word isn't clever anecdotes and proverbs placed in a book - IT IS LIFE!

John 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; [makes alive] the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are SPIRIT, and they are LIFE.

We have attended fellowships, and ran a home fellowship for many years; we've been to a number of churches, and may go to a number more. We have witnessed to all kinds of people at all kinds of times, in all kinds of circumstances; seen people delivered and seen them walk away... and come back.
Through the whole thing we still wonder about a lot of things.

God bless you if you have read this far; if you are Christian I think you understand, if you're not I would encourage you to believe - -

Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation
.

So If you have any questions I am sure James, or anyone associated with him will endeavor to answer them. God bless you, thanks be to God who always causes us to triumph in Christ. Thanks James for letting me share! Thank you all for reading!

Before I close let me encourage you to think on these things:

Psalm 39:5 Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

1 John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.


As He Is that High Standard...we still fall short, yet it's true: He, that is, Christ Jesus is coming back!
Thats our hope and hope motivates. We can't wait...what a day of rejoicing that will be!!

And there you have it saints, and people, all - the testimony of our dear brother Dan, and his lovely lady, Tracy. We pray that reading this has been a blessing (It certainly has been FOR ME!) and that it has drawn every Christian who's read it, closer to the LORD; and for those who don't know the LORD personally yet, we pray that this testimony has made you thirsty to know He Who is the Living Waters, He Who is Himself: LIFE and TRUTH and LOVE made flesh - God the Son, the LORD Jesus Christ: To Him be all the glory and majesty and praise both now and forever and ever! AMEN!

Brother Dan has been gracious enough to allow me to post his email address, on the chance that some of you would like to ask him questions about how he and Tracy came to know the LORD and his life in JESUS now.

Perhaps some time later he might even encourage his saintly bride to write her own testimony, bringing greater detail into her own conversion and that of her family! If the LORD brings about such an endeavor for her, I could place links to both of their testimonies onto that of the other, so you could read one right after the other one!

His email address is: DanKnoll@aol.com

May the LORD bless you abundantly in Jesus Christ His only Begotten Son!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Ye Shall Know the Truth and the Truth Shall Make You Free! Part One

It wasn't very long after I subscribed to Facebook that I came across this gentleman named Dan Knoll.
We began communicating back and forth and discovered in each other avid students and lovers of God's Most precious Word.
I admire this brother, not just for his generous heart, his wit, his biblical knowledge and knowledge in general regarding pertinent subjects biblically related, but for the kind of man that he is: genuine, giving, and abundantly willing and able to exalt the LORD his God, and share the Word and the Gospel of our salvation with any one who is hungry for them.

It is, in part, for this reason that I solicited him to give his testimony on how he came to know the LORD and within about a single day, he delivered it to my email box (that was quick!). And so, with no further delay, here is the testimony of our brother in Christ, and saint of the living God, fellow citizen of heaven, and co-heir in Christ Jesus our LORD, Dan Knoll:

When asked, by James Fire to share my Christian testimony, I gladly jumped at the opportunity. And then it dawned on me, that I may have only verbally shared it in bits and pieces it the past. I am now past middle age and what seemed earthshaking years ago, is relatively mild nowadays.

I remember reading once in a Steinbeck novel, that "every body wants to leave their mark on the world even if it's a scribble." On the other hand I like what the Lord's brother James wrote,

James 4:14

Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.


I recall a guy I knew that was really an aggressive witness, who said that he would walk down main street with a toilet on his head if he knew it would cause a person to accept Christ.

So I believe that is the heart behind the sharing of Christian testimony, or how one came to know the Lord Jesus Christ:

I was a regular, relatively average kid growing up in Wisconsin in the '60's and '70's. My parents did the best they knew how to bring me up as a Roman Catholic. At 55 years young I am still learning just how many layers of deception exist in this physical realm we are trapped in. I was drafted into the altar boys and future priest club an so on and so forth. By the 4th grade I was a good Catholic boy or so they thought.

I think it was around that time I started to have some questions about God, and life. I actually believe to this day I was reborn around then since I would listen to the Gospel readings in the mass ritual and I believed in my young heart that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, that he suffered died and rose from the dead 3 days and nights later.


I did remember... wondering how they got 3 days and nights from Friday at 3pm to Sunday morning... the priests didn't really know either and just told me to accept it on faith or something like that. That would be one of many questions I never received a satisfactory answer for from the Roman Catholic church.

I must admit I was somewhat intrigued by evil, the devil etc. I was in a constant quandary between trying not to sin and sinning what seemed to be incessantly. I played 'Let's Make a Deal' with God on a weekly if not daily basis. And I think my prayers were never answered.

Adolescence brought with it an ample dose of rebelliousness. I was the oldest of 8 and the kid that broke the ice for my poor folks.

I attended Catholic grade school for 8 years, went to a public Junior High in 9th grade, and it was in my sophomore year that I really started to cast off much of my upbringing. I think it's safe to say that, though Roman Catholics wind up in Mass every Sunday. Their indoctrination basically permeates ones being.


Sorta like the old sayin' "You can take the boy outta the Roman Catholic church but you can't take the Roman Catholic church outta the boy". I have tried to prove that absolutely wrong!
I met a kid - "Lancey" on my way to school one morning and he ended up becoming influential over me at that time. He was a nonconformist in lot of ways; 2 years older than me, so I kinda looked up to him.


Like so many kids I was really getting into the popular music, and he open me up to new exciting music I never heard before. Started hanging out with him a lot. He played guitar; it's what every "hip" teenager at that time wanted to do. And I wanted to learn to play, and my buddy Lancey was more than happy to teach me.


Now alcohol was no big deal in my life, my Dad let me have a little beer every so often. All my relatives were drinkers, and smokers but only a few were considered drunks. Lancey, he would have a beer when we were hanging, and jamming, and of course I would join in. One day he asked me about reefer, I admitted to not smoking dope.


You see I was a bit of a book nerd even though I wanted to be cool, I replied to him with some cliche I had read; he didn't pressure me but told me that pot causes you to see the world from a totally different point of view and that it EXPANDS your mind.

So I started to read all I could about pot and the problem was, it seemed that the books I read all sort of bent in favor of pot and it's benefits. At any rate I became more and more curious, I was highly interested in expanding my horizons. Lancey, he really was a mentor to me and I finally told him I was ready to open my mind.

As you probably can imagine nothing happened except I was kind of paranoid on account of smelling like a reefer. Went home and my kid brother spouts off that I have been smoking cigs. My Dad was a truck driver and wasn't home and Mom she gave me the third degree but both my folks smoked cigs so it ended up as no big deal.

Later that week dad gets home and he gets the report, and more or less tells me not to smoke and if he ever finds out I'm smoking dope he'd kick my a--.
Wonder where he came up with that notion . . . ?

As you might have guessed I continued to pursue the pot scene, never got high like all my friends have been telling me. So I am about to blow the whole thing off as a bunch of hype. In the process of pursuing the dope scene I started changing the kids I would hang with. I abandoned my old RC school friends and started hanging with a new and exciting crowd of freaks, and these cats were cool. We had a really open campus; I mean if you didn't have a class you could leave school for whatever reason and go to the store or where ever.

A lot of kids would go out into their cars and smoke; and a buddy invited me to join him, his sister, and some other kids to smoke some new dope he just got. It was the third or fourth hour. So I go out with them and started smoking pot with them and thats when it hit me like a ton of bricks! I had gotten blasted! I was laughing my guts out non-stop. It was mind blowing; it also was the start of a downward spiral that would end a number of years later.

The counter culture of which I now was a part of seems to me to flow in parallel to straight culture. And I was able to blend into both relatively unnoticed. They say that the frontal cortex doesn't fully develop till one is well in their 20's - in my opinion drug usage further retards the process. Hence the stupid choices continued longer than they should have. Looking back 40 years it's pretty hazy. I ended up a doper extraordinaire and gained the moniker "Danny Stoner" I was cool and liked by the freaks . . . I thought . . . had friends albeit not really. And when I was straight for a few hours, I had a gnawing urge to break this habit, but I'd smoke it any way.

Now I was in what they called 'A track classes' in 10th grade, but my grades were dropping rapidly, and I started choosing easier classes in 11th grade, and I was barely making passing grades. I had a job bagging groceries; needed it to buy dope, but it was a drag, man! While I was working, I would see this guy come in with his wife and baby on many different occasions. I was 16, he was probably 20 or so.

Anyway there was something about him that I liked and wanted to get to know him. I asked around and finally someone told me his name was Gary, and said, "The dude is cool, he plays guitar, love getting high. And the dude loves Dylan" (who was my hero at the time).

So, I try to break the ice and strike up some small talk with him while I'm working and he's shopping for groceries. Found out where he lived, and just showed up one night after work. It was awkward at first, but we hit it off and I thought it was great spending many, many nights getting high, talking about everything under the sun - you know like God and man and law.

Gary became my best friend. Everything else around me was falling apart. School was a hassle . . . all I took was Art classes, the job was a drag, family life: uncool. Gary turned me on to peyote and he explained things like how modern thinkers really proved God was dead and the corporations were really running the show - we were all just pawns in their game!


We were avid readers but the choice of material was heavy counterculture LEFT. After numerous trips I had come to the conclusion the system was all 'BS - total lies everywhere'. Religion was truly the opiate of the people, the 'work day rat race' was bs, everything was bs, except Dylan and getting high.


In my art classes there were a bunch of slacker dopers like myself and some truly strange ones even to me. There was this girl, she sorta gave me the creeps but I was sort of fascinated at the same time. Her art was really good and she would whip it out in seconds, it was kinda creepy and amazing at the same time. She was sorta like the Ally Sheedy character in The Breakfast Club, but darker. I don't know but somehow I was placed at a table next to her.

Anyway one day she just out of the blue tells me "I am a witch!" Mentally I'm thinking, Yeah right! what ever trips your trigger!

Verbally I said something like, "Hmm, I'll be!"


There apparently was a number of girls involved in witchcraft and this was in 1973 and '74. I lived about 30 miles NE of Madison and Madison was inundated with witchcraft and drugs. They called Madison "Berkley East" or Mad Town and it lived up to the name!

Even the mayor was a doper!

This so called witch started crossing my path at different times and it was creeping me out...and I got into the drug scene deeper and deeper. I thought it strange that she would tell me in class, "Don't become a Jesus freak!"

I'm like thinking of all things, Why not a Jesus freak?


But don't worry. I have by this time become a pothead, tripper... not good in any way or form. I had gotten in much trouble at home, been caught with dope numerous times.

My Dad, from the old school, knocked my block off a few times: I really didn't like him. I stole his car once and crashed it; should have been killed, but just had a few bruises.

The wrecker driver asked me, "Is Bob Knoll was your old man?"

I said, "Yeah why?"

He says "I hope he's mellowed out since I knew him for your sake." He hadn't and . . . Well the thought crossed my mind to take off and not look back. The cops took me home and my folks were awakened at 3 am, I was pathetic to say the least. There are a lot of things . . . It's now late '74 I barely graduated High School, got canned from a number of jobs, still a staunch rebel, no real prospects for the future except doping and serving my own selfish interest.

I read all kinds of books about all kinds of ways "but heaven was 10 dollars a bag and god was still spelled "me". My buddy Gary was moving off to join a commune out in the southwestern hills of WI. I was bummed.

Started smoking pot at home in the basement; one morning around 3 a.m. Dad was on his way to work and obviously smelled the dope, handed me 20 dollars told me to "Get the F out" and "never wanted to see my face again."

Looking back can't blame him a bit. We have since grown relatively close.

I had an aunt that offered me some money to go to college and since all my other prospect were nil I took it. Enrolled in the system and chose a college in the southwestern hills of WI. Majored in art, minored in philosophy.


While I as at UW Platteville it was a wasteland. I tried to be a student but the drugs had a big grip on my being. I spent most of my time high, and reading Carlos Casteneda books on the Yaqui Indian Way of Knowledge, endeavored to dance with mescalito. Took my classes high or tripping.


I remember quite clearly one afternoon a girl knocked on my door and invited me to a open bible fellowship or something . . . I spouted off some far out nebulous bs and it didn't seem to discourage her in the least, in fact after constraining and being turned down 3 times at least, she finally left. I remember thinking, That person was different, in a good way.

It was February or March and I get a letter from my friend Gary from the commune in Mt Horeb. And I thought, How did he know my address, how did he know I was in Platteville?

Anyway, the letter was quite infectious, going on and on about how he found the answers we were looking for but were sure couldn't be found. 4 or 5 pages of positive upbeat wording, he closed with "You gotta get up here as soon as possible, it's gonna blow your mind!!!"

Frankly I couldn't think of much else! I think it was a Thursday and Friday I was hitching a ride to Mount Horeb. It was probably 2 pm when I got there. The trucker dropped me off on the main hwy. and I had to walk the mile or so down a country road to find this place. Fortunately I saw Gary walking toward me in the distance with Noah, his son on his shoulders.


We no sooner got over our initial greetings when Roger comes around the corner in a old red IH pick up hollering, "Hop in dude! And light up the CHIEF" as he tosses 'the chief,' a hollowed out pine tree branch home made pipe that held a 1/2 oz of pot. I commenced to light it and passed it to Gary and he put up his hand and shook his head!

...whoa this is not cool, I thought to myself, my best buddy passing on the reef?! What is this all about??

So as Roger gives me the nickel tour of the commune property Gary is uncharacteristically quiet. Anyway he says to Roger, "Drop us up on the ridge, I want to show Dan the scenery and we'll walk back."

It seem as though Roger and I smoked a ton of weed & I wasn't high at all but rather somber. After Roger left Gary sat on a log and point blank asked me, "What do you think about God?"

After an awkward silence I spouted off something like, "Well I am sure there is some sort of creative universalism out there but I haven't met him." As we walked back toward the living quarters he spoke of a life more abundant, and that there is a way of truth, and one can have true peace without drugs, and "There's this fellowship in Madison that I would like you to go with Polly and I and Noah. Would you come?"


Well I guess so. We made it back to the house. I don't remember exactly how many actually lived on the commune as people commonly drifted in and out quite a bit but there was Roger who was a Viet nam vet and Gary and Polly, a few single folks I didn't know at all, And this couple who were committed satanists of which I was oblivious to, until we got back and I went with Gary to his and Polly's room.

The rest of the night they both witnessed to me quite aggressively, and told me how their lives had become a living hell battling daily with the witch and warlock. They would wake up with evil scrawled all over their door, one night Polly said she awoke with a loud noise hitting the bedroom door and after a few moments Gary went to investigate and they found a butcher knife stuck through a picture of Jesus with the Words LIAR written in what looked like red paint or blood. I was stressed yet not afraid; I don't know if I was oblivious or whatever - my head was spinning from all the Word they shared with me.

Morning came early and I really didn't want to be around Ken & Katy after what Gary and Polly told me.

I am really pretty fogged up mentally, and Gary is excited to take me to this Bible fellowship?? And I am sorta not too excited, yet I am thinking there must be something special for Gary to be this excited. So we all pile in the van and head to Madison. The meeting was in a downtown complex of efficiency apts. and we make our way in and I noticed what seemed to be a genuine love as greetings were made.

I would say that there were 8-10 people crammed into the small apartment. All of the folks there were young people early 20's at the oldest. I sat on the carpet with another long hair, I couldn't help noticing everything was clean and simple in the apartment. The fellowship leader's name was Perry.

It was a relatively uneventful meeting, I thought. They opened with prayer, started singing old gospel songs a cappella...kinda square I thought. Then they prayed again, and out of courtesy I had my eyes closed. Then Perry said some one speak in tongues and interpret! And a young lady stood up boldly and spoke in tongues out loud and interpreted. And in a split second my eyeballs went from closed to being as big a saucers I am sure!! I immediately thought, These people are Angels, man! Whoa! I can honestly say that I went from a hung over foggy state of mind, to thoughts racing through my brain.

I vaguely remember an account in the Bible about "tongues like as fire" descending upon the 12 apostles YEARS ago - what?! Does this mean . . . ? I really don't remember what Perry taught on.


And I was a bit out of sorts to say the least, what I did notice as I watched these young Christians was a sort glow, a gentle calmness that is hard to put into words. I understood a little what Gary was talking about. After it was over everyone sat round and visited; Perry he asked me small talk type questions. He told me he was from Rochester, N.Y.; and Billy was from Port Arthur, TX; Bonnie was from Wichita, KS; And Cindy was from Bloomington, IN., and that they were in Madison for a year sharing God's Word and running Bible classes.


Gary says that he and Polly are "gonna take their class", and I'm excited too but gotta go back to school! And as I am kinda cooling off, ready to go, and as I started out Cindy can up to me and gave me a hug and in the most genuine honest way said, "God Bless you! I am so glad you came."

I didn't know it then, but the love of God she manifested at that time is what melted my stone cold heart. There was something different there; it wasn't phoney religious hypocrisy.

I was a basic loser, kinda shaggy, pretty messed up, a dope head, a freak, and yet somehow I knew she meant what she said. We drove back to Mt. Horeb and Gary & Polly spoke a lot of Word to me on the way. Gary shared Romans 10:9-10 with me, and John 10:10. He told me how he met these guys Billy and Perry, how they witnessed to him: he was sick with bronchitis for 2 months and they kept telling him how Christ came so we could have life, more abundantly.


He told me how he decided to go to a fellowship, which just so happened to be a communion service and he shared the bread and the wine and his bronchitis was healed immediately, and that he had accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior that night! He couldn't wait to get back and tell Polly, cause she really didn't want any part of it. But she saw the change in his demeanor; he was healed and she knew there must be Power in the name of Jesus Christ so she accepted Christ that night too!

And then all hell broke loose in their living arrangements. I was getting excited about God, his Word and our Lord Jesus Christ. I really didn't want the moment to end but I had to go back to Platteville. After heartfelt goodbye they dropped me on the highway and I started to hitch back to school. I had a lot of things racing through my mind, I'm gonna clean up my act, quit the dope: heck if Gary can do it I can do it! They told me to look for a fellowship in Platteville. Perry or Billy gave me a Bible, and I told myself I am gonna start reading it.

... Man it's taking a long time to get a ride. A blue Datsun stopped and a red headed dude said he's "going to Dubuque, so hop in". We make the basic small talk and after 20 or so minutes the dude says "there's some pot in the glove, roll us up one" . . . aw man! I really don't want to get high. So I said, "Man I not into getting high right now", and this cat just grins a weird sly grin and says, "Oh sure you are, don't be a leaker; come on roll us up a doobie man."

Well at the time I didn't know it but this was a classic display of John 10:10a The thief cometh not...but to Steal...the Word from you, to kill you if he can, and to destroy you... If we die before accepting Christ we don't have everlasting life and hence we are destroyed. Needless to say I rolled the doobie, smoked it with the dude but I didn't get high and I was again amazed God was calling me - wow I better listen! He dropped me outside Platteville and I had a lot of thinking to do . . .

I knew somewhere in that time frame that I was a child of God, after many years I have found that being a Christian is a way of life.
The things I shared above were just the beginning; Part One of my testimony.

It was a blessing to go back into the recesses of my memory and recall. The truth is . . . every week, month and year adds more to the story. I was to find out that the ride was just starting and what lay ahead was just gonna get wilder. Testimony and witness are the same word (in the Greek) and every day we add to our testimony and our witness.


The events above were 36 or more years ago. And through that time I have rose up . . . and fell down. I sometimes wonder how much have I really learned in that time?

One thing I know for sure is every day, every moment... we have to chose to live for God Who loves us as His dear children. He understands us, He knows our frame, know that we are dust. I love God now more than I did yesterday, I need to love others more too.

This concludes Part One of Dan Knoll's testimony; Part Two is also now posted as of 11/19/11!