Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me
— And Beyond!
Hey, I forgot to update this last week so week 2 and WEEK 1 appear below.
God willing, I will try to have a new page with a series of posts on my first year in Christ. It will be a very different mood than what you are reading here!
The lead graphic for the new page is complete! Expect a new post on a new page on, or just after, Friday January 24, 2020.
Click right here to go to the last two posts.
As you might know, after weeks and months the posts of a person active on Facebook will get buried by new posts. So I thought it best to archive them on at least one of my sites. My Oasis Of Hope seemed to be a great place for it. We begin with the oldest, which I posted on January 31, 2019. Anyone trying to learn English by reading these posts, they were written in what might be called, “freestyle” or “casual American English”. Grammatical rules are not followed at times. Also, keep in mind I purposely do not capitalize “satan” unless it begins a sentence.
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 51: As I start this countdown to the 50th anniversary of when God in His mercy translated me from darkness into the Kingdom of His dear Son, I ought to give the background. My Dad was Russian Orthodox, and Mom was Roman Catholic. Back then (and I think it is still the case now) in such a union the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) insisted that the non-Roman Catholic of such a union had to agree that their children would be raised RCC. And so it was for my sister and I.
Neither the RCC, Russian Orthodox, or any (and I do mean any) religious group can save a person from the wrath of God, Hell, their sin, and their sin nature. Only a direct connection with God through Jesus Christ can anyone be saved (John 14:6). So, like the overwhelming majority of the population of the world, all four of us were unregenerated sinners. And, like for some if not many, there was a mixture of good times and bad times.
Personally, going back 50 years from this week I would say things were mostly bad, yet, God in His mercy was working in various ways and through various branches of the Body of Christ. As I countdown to Week 0, the last week of being unsaved, you will read a lot of negative things in my TBT posts. I am whining and I SURE DO NOT WANT SYMPATHY. I do want to bring out the magnitude of two things, viz., the magnitude of sin with its devastation but also THE MAGNITUDE OF THE GLORIOUS MERCY OF GOD.
I desire any Christian reading this to be involved with evangelism, spreading the Gospel. Someone may be suicidal, even a child. That husband and wife you know who are constantly fighting each other can be redeemed and brought into the realm of Christ where they live together in love and forgiveness. And more.
In the next few posts there will be some more background after which I want to fast forward to 1969. God bless!
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 50: More background before I dip into 1969. Gotta go back to the later 50s, early 60s. Catechism was part of the curriculum at Saint Stephens School, Kearny, NJ. I did pretty well in that. I can still remember confirmation day. We were assembled in St. Stephens Church. THE Bishop was there. He asked us questions based on our catechism training. There was a bunch of us. Most everyone raised their hands on every question he asked. He would point and select a child. For some reason I was selected three times, and gave the correct three times. I was good Roman Catholic boy – for that time.
However, one spring day we were assembled in the school yard to pray, and I guess sing, to Mary. I believe the girls were to crown her statue with flowers. At some point we were about to pray the Hail Mary. It was then I felt God say to me, “PRAY TO NO ONE BUT ME.” Uh! Um? So while most, if not all, were praying the Hail Mary, I prayed the Our Father. I figured that was safe.
That was good. But something else came along. There was the Biafran crisis. The TV kept showing pictures of African children in a state of extreme starvation – stomachs swollen. Then, one Sunday in church the priest announced they would like to place a gold arch over the altar area and were seeking donations for it. What!? What about those African children? I developed an anger over that, then a hatred for the RCC, which grew into a hatred for all religions – but, oddly enough and as satan would have it – ESPECIALLY FOR CHRISTIANITY.
I had to add that to my countdown because it was this hatred of religion that to some degree hindered me from receiving Christ as Savior and King, and become part of true Christianity. That was the big struggle in the four to five weeks before I came to Christ.
Despite this, God was at work, helping me to align my mind so I might repent and surrender to Him.
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 49: Right now in 2019 it is Valentines Day, and so the perfect time to bring up my parents' relationship with each other BEFORE they came to Christ. It was shaky and scary, very shaky and very scary. Heated, heavy, highly vulgar arguments would occur from time to time. I still remember one wintry or fall time coming back to Kearny after visiting relatives in Jersey City. We were on a highway that was underneath another highway (almost like a tunnel). Dad was driving, Mom was the front seat passenger, and I was on the back seat. I do not know what the problem was, but they were very vehement towards each other. I thought one might kill the other. I started crying, wrote “help” on a steamed up window, laid down, cried more and shook. Probably no one but God saw the word “help” and little did I know my parents would receive His help over a decade later.
They slept apart. Dad had his bed, Mom had hers. One day my dad had either pneumonia or a very bad cold, did not go to work, and stayed in bed, coughing, etc. I was in bed. After a time I heard my Mom tell my Dad that when he got better he was going to fix certain things and then she was going to divorce him! Divorce! That was worst than hearing their vehement vulgarity. That cut right into my heart! For months and years I worried about that. Would this be the week? Are my parents going to split?
Thank God it never happened. However, one day I came home from school and my Mom took my sister and I – I guess she said WE had to go somewhere. Unknown to me at the time – or maybe I did hear at that time and forgot I heard – Mom had been in the basement arguing with my Dad when Dad took a sickle, held it to his throat, and said, “One of these days Mae ...”, and made a slit noise while moving the sickle past his throat. So Mom figured he indicated he would kill her.
So we fled the house while Dad was on second shift. First stop was the Kearny Salvation Army for counseling for my Mom, then a friend's house where another fleeing mom was. A phone call came in from her husband and the lady of the house lied and said his wife was not there. But something made us children to yell, “We're here!”. But the lady of the house hung up and said to us he did not here you.
From there my Mom fled to Jersey City, placed my sister somewhere and placed me with my aunt Anna (whom I would call Ancha-banana). Unknown to me, my Mom checked into the hospital across the street for a nervous breakdown. She would be there for about two weeks. Saint Stephens somehow sent school work to me. It was there my cousin snapped my neck to the right – after I aggravated him. That is why my head leans right.
Again, let me repeat: I am not whining or complaining. I want no sympathy. It is designed so I have sympathy. This is stuff that leads up to my conversion to Christ and this particular scenario no doubt is a factor in an aspect of my ministry: proclaiming hope and healing for any marriage through Jesus Christ. If you need some help please see my marriage pages at https://oasisofhope.neocities.org/ma00.html .
Dad found out where Mom was at and we went back to Kearny. It remained shaky and scary, though somewhat subdued. A godly change would occur in 1970.
A few more posts like these and I will head to 1969, my last year being without Christ.
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 48: Adults often like to ask children “What do you want to be when you grow up?” My reply starting from grade school times would be “a scientist!”. The 1950s bristled with interesting people like Dr. Jonas Salk, Alexander Flemming (and others), and Albert Einstein. Like millions of others I was the recipient of polio vaccine (Salk). A little later, penicillin got acquainted with me after bouts with scarlet fever and scarlatina. I forget which one it was but I was strictly told by a doctor I could do nothing for two weeks. Was not even allowed to walk around. Dad had to carry me upstairs to bed. And, of course, Albert Einstein was very impressionable, even after his death.
So I thought science had ALL the answers! I was so much of a science hound, in the earlier days I hates sports and could not care less about keeping up with the names of the makes and models of cars (and, lol, I still don't).
The government and some businesses were encouraging youth to get into the sciences. The Cold War was on. And in 1957 it seemed to me that the adults around me and on the radio were shocked and concerned about the Russian Sputnik 1 – the first man-made satellite to circle the earth. It would not take Russia long to develop long range nuclear weapons (the soon development of IBMs made CONELRAD obsolete https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CONELRAD ). Despite the scariness of all of this, when my grand parents got a pet German Shepherd I named it Sputnik.
Eventually I was asked if I could be more specific as to what type of scientist I wanted to be. Given the various colors of liquid I would see in mysterious looking flasks and test tubes in pictures and advertisements I settled on being a chemist.
My parents eventually got a chemistry set for me – I think for a Christmas – made by a company called Gilbert. Colors it had: red cobalt chloride, brown tannic acid, yellow sulfur, etc. Dad made a space for me in the basement so I could have a small laboratory. I bought additional equipment with my allowance. One prized purchase, around $20 (at to me that was A LOT of money) was thistle tube. I bought it from Alexanders in Paramus. That thistle tube looked great in my lab until (to be continued – check back next week on how I gave myself, and my parents, a good scare!) …
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 47 (learn about Uncle 1 = my invitation to the occult): As mentioned last week, I took a great liking to chemistry. My Dad made a space for me in the basement for my very own little lab. Over the course of time I saved up enough money to buy a $20 thistle tube to add to my equipment. That thistle tube looked great in my lab until I tried an experiment that would produce hydrogen gas. I can't remember if I was using one flask or two. Either way I was to see some type action. I was using the that wonderful thistle tube for some reason. As I added substance “A” through the thistle tube to substance “B” I noticed there was a reaction but no indicator of release of pressure. Hydrogen gas was accumulating in the flask, but there was no flow out of the flask. No flow = it might blow. It might blow! I ran up the steps hollering “It's going to blow!”, frightening my parents. The moment I got to the first flow I heard POP, SMASH! No explosion but the pressure blew the thistle tube up to the basement ceiling and smashed my $20 thistle tube to bits.
I liked other sciences too: geology (had a rock collection), meteorology, electronics (got kits), etc. During our trips to and from Jersey City we would often go by the AM transmitter sites along NJ Rt.7: WOR, WNEW, WMCA. I sure would have liked to work in radio (and I did after over a decade from coming to Christ).
To add to my intellectual scientific realm I had an uncle, whom I will call Uncle 1, who was very bright. One of the places he worked for was Honeywell. Anyhow, he was very knowledgeable in the sciences. I would ask him loads of scientific questions when he would visit. I would bounce my theories off of him and he ably explained why a lot of them would not work.
He was scientifically smart, but not spiritually smart. He was the uncle that introduced me to the occult. I / we started to get a subscription to an occult magazine. I started to mess with Ouija boards, palm reading, tea leaf reading, Tarot cards, astrology and more. I almost went way too far, especially one night – but that will be saved for another TBT countdown. I need to explain why it was the grace of God I was a junior in high school 50 years ago. I might have been a grade or two behind (the educational system did not play around back then).
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 46: Fifty years ago I was a junior in high school, but only by the grace of God. As you might recall from the previous posts about 60 years ago I aspired to be a research chemist. Up until the fifth grade my academic grades indicated I had the capability to reach that goal. The only blight was on the backside of the report card issued by St. Stephens School. "Emotional Stability" was often marked at the highest with an "I", meaning "improvement needed". The vehement relationship between my Mom and Dad was partly the cause of that. Christ would take care of that situation at the end of 1970.
I had great academic grades and I thought I would be sure to make Mom and Dad very proud of me some day, graduating college with flying colors, landing a job somewhere that made good money, and maybe, just maybe making some sort of discovery in science that would make me as famous as Einstein! I wanted to own the swamp - LOL! - between Kearny and Jersey City so I could put a large research science facility there and employ hundreds (AND I SURE THANK GOD THAT NEVER HAPPENED -- sorry (not) town of Kearny.)
Those high hopes were dashed one day. I had been going to a place where my parents told me not to go and began breaking the law. Then one day I was arrested by a juvenile detective. I WAS SUNK! The detective told me I had to lead him to my correct address. I told him. We get to my block and to my dismay there was no parking space anywhere near my house. So the detective had to park at one end of the street. That meant we had to walk down about half the block -- right past any neighbors who might be out or be looking through a window -- and they would see this detective holding my arm in a special grip so I would not run from him. EMBARASSING!
My head hung low. We ascend the front door steps to my house. "Mom, Dad, this is detective ----- ", and I ran upstairs to my bedroom, shut the door, and bitterly cried. Being arrested was one thing. Disappointing my parents, whom I loved, was unbearable.
I did not want to come out. No. Not because I thought they would punish me further, but because I could not bear to look them in the face -- I had disappointed them. Though the officer laid restrictions on me, I punished myself. For about a year I felt I could not eat any meal with my family (my sister was still there at that time). I was too ashamed.
My shame and my guilt were unbearable. I actually wanted to die -- and I was not even a teenager yet. But God had a plan. Remember, I do not write this stuff for sympathy, but as an outreach to others that might be hurting.
More next week, but consider what is currently happening. Child abusers are being exposed. Secret murders are being revealed, etc. It sounds horrible, but I would say it is the mercy of God. For example, if that detective did not arrest me I might be in horrible shape today -- if I was not killed instead. So, pray for those that are being exposed that they might surrender to God through Christ. It is far far better to be exposed now, repent now, become born again now, than to die in sin and then resurrected to eternal condemnation.
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 45: First, for those who want to know what all of this is about, all of these posts can now be easily found at https://oasisofhope.neocities.org/TBT.html . Second, you are about to read what I consider the darkest time of my life. I am not looking for sympathy, but doing this in part to reach out to others who may be deeply hurting and point them to the Savior Who can straighten up anyone. Yep, anyone!
Last time you read about my first arrest. I was deeply hurt because I felt I had disappointed my parents. For about a year I punished myself, refusing to eat with the family, – ate in the parlor watching TV. Quite often when we sin the devil seems to enjoy taking things further – into ungodly guilt, mental torment and depression. I thought just about everyone knew what I did wrong. I felt I was the fool of the earth. I considered my appearance ugly and thought there was a growth from the top of my head almost covering my eyes and everyone could see it and knew I was THE FOOL of the earth. Oddly enough, the song, Fool On The Hill came out about that time (and I forgot to mention “My Little Runaway” came out around the time my Mom took us and ran away from Dad). Though Wikipedia credits The Fool On The Hill to the Beatles, the rendition that ran through my mind was the Sérgio Mendes & Brasil '66 version. Nonetheless, I was in torment – were they singing about me?
A dismal hopeless doom prevailed in my mind. Some of the music of the times and the growing drug culture did not help. Crimson And Clover was one of the songs. I did not take any illegal drugs, but it seemed I WAS being mentally drugged. I felt ashamed, a failure, and worthless. I hated myself. Attached (hopefully) is a picture I did NOT want to be in at that time. But Mom insisted I get a picture taken with the neighbor girl. Perhaps she was trying to snap me out of things. I now think it happened – planned by God – so I can present it in this post.
I am sure my sister and her husband or husband to be (cannot remember when they got married) knew what I did and certainly saw how emotionally low I was. About two or three weeks after my arrest it was insisted I go with them to the movies to see … Mary Poppins. I did not want to go. I kept my eyes shut in theater, but peaked every now and then. I remember peeking at one point and seeing the boys in the pic, and they sort of reminded me of the boys that informed the detective.
Now, I praise God for two things: 1.) psychiatry was not all that developed back then and 2.) psychiatry meds were not all that prevalent back then. I am sure my loving parents would in all well meaning would get me some “help”. Looking at what some people do today for mental anguish I am so glad that never happened.
My grades “took a nose dive”. I almost failed 6th grade. But the providence of God saw to it certain things were done and said in order delay any suicide attempts. And there was one thing in particular that was a factor for me to eventually make peace with God through Christ a few years later. God willing I will post some of those things next time.
However, if you are a Christian, be very attentive for any nudge of the Holy Spirit to pray for someone. If you are going through a dark time yourself, Christ desires to help you. You are NOT worthless. If you do not know God through Christ, if you have not been born again, please turn to Him now.
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 44: Last week's post was very dismal but I cannot put into words how horrible I felt. However, I said God soon did certain things that eventually led me to Him. I will mention two in this post plus something my sister said that lessened my suicidal tendencies.
But first, one more negative thing I forgot to mention: I had stopped taking piano lessons. When I was younger one day my family went to a wedding reception (I guess that is what it was). Not sure if I was four, five, or six – young enough to do something weird like pick up cigarette butts off of the floor, put them in my pocket, go to a backroom and put them in the trash. Hey, I was trying to help. lol! However, I think it was at that time I met an upright piano with keyboard opened. Just what do you think a little boy might do? Yes, I hit one of the notes, and it was a deep base note, and I thought it was fantastic.
So, when my parents asked what instrument I would like to play I said “piano!” So I had around five years of lessons from a Mrs. Maybee on Sealy Avenue in Kearny. God enabled me to memorize musical pieces and I was in a number of competitions for memory and performances. Mrs. Maybee taught me how to compose. However, after my first arrest I was not practicing the piano very well. I decided to quit taking lessons. I am not sure if the expectation of my teacher for me to play a duet with a young girl had anything to do with it or not. Instead, I began taking martial arts. That hardly lasted two years. And my piano skills rusted and lay dormant until some years after I came to Christ.
Now, turn around point number one, and probably one that would explain why 50 years ago in early 1969 I was actually high school junior and had not fallen behind by a grade. Remember, the education system play around back then. If you failed a grade YOU FAILED A GRADE and if you could not make up for it during the summer you did not progress to the next grade. Well, I think it was 6th grade that I almost failed. So, as I continued to poorly perform in seventh grade, they transferred me from 7A to 7B. 7B! Horrible! The “B” groups were (in my mind back then) for the bummers, the dopers, slouchers, scummers and the losers! I hated every moment I was in the “B” group.
And that was the best thing Saint Stephens School could have done for me. I was determined I WAS NOT going to stay in that “B” group. So I worked hard to get my grades up. They did come up. I was transferred back to the “A” group. However, my grades never went back up to where they were in grades one through five, and remained average of just under average.
Now, I do not remember if it was about that time or later, but my sister said something to me one day that lessened my suicidal tendencies and gave me hope for at least a tiny pit of brightness. I am posting this to encourage others to say something positive – and not negative – to those who depressed or even suicidal. As you recall from the previous posts, after my first arrest I had very low self esteem. When I looked into a mirror I saw a fool, a loser, a failure. But, one day when we were over at my sister's house my sister Pat said to me, “When you get older you will be handsome looking.” Alright, stop laughing folks. But that is what she said and after that my suicidal thoughts lessened.
A third turning point was truly a godsend. My parents did not take me to psychiatrist nor was I ever given medication. But my parents did give me something that turned out to be one of the ways God reached me. God willing you will read about that next week.
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 43: 50 years ago I was in the second half of my junior year in high school – but only by the grace of God. I had just about failed a middle school grade but God saw to it that I was determined enough to improve after being put into what I would call a bummer class. Also, despite my suicidal tendencies I was still alive, partly due to what my sister had said. However, passing from grade to the next and deciding to live does not get anyone into heaven. Like everyone else, I had to repent, and make Christ King and Savior in my life.
As I said, I was in great anguish for being arrested and disappointing my parents. The required probational visits to the police station were mentally unbearable for me. I would eat bits of plastic, hoping I'd get sick and would have to go the hospital instead. My parents saw my torment, and once again I thank God no psychiatric medicine was given to me. But they did give me something that got my mind off of me from time to time.
The day came when they gave me a multi-band radio, having longwave, shortwave, and 6 meters (around 50mHz) bands. I was able to tune into all sorts of radio stations all over the world! At my finger tips were ships, international broadcasts, radio-teletype, amateur radio, time signal stations, all sorts of stations including SPY operations! I took on the hobby of DXing / shortwave listening. DXing is the short way to say distance listening. I used other radios like stand broadcast band radios for the hobby too.
Attached to this post (to the right just) is a picture of the multi-band receiver my parents gave me, a Lafayette HA225 receiver.
Now, keep in mind this was the 1960s, we were fighting in Vietnam and the Cold War was on. Until I got headphones, the sound was turned up mighty loud. Looking back I have to wonder what my neighbors thought when I listened to Radio Moscow and Havana Cuba!
Part of the hobby was to collect QSL cards, or some type of verification, from stations you heard. Sometimes you had to pay return postage through international reply coupons. Some of the QSL cards I collected were from Moscow, Australia, Afghanistan, Ghana, Ecuador, Japan, Taiwan, Canada, Fort Collins Colorado (time signal station WWV), Hawaii (time signal station WWVH). Some stations like the one in Bulgaria would send not only a QSL, but information on their culture. Taiwan also sent a decal.
Attached to the right is a picture of some later QSL cards in my possession. Top to bottom, first column is Netherlands, Hawaii, South Africa; center column Bulgaria, Taiwan; column on your right Ukraine (I think), and Australia. Most stations had interval signals that identified them before their scheduled broadcast. Australia had “Waltzing Matilda”.
I had always hoped to get cards from remote places and islands. I found islands amusing, and that, coupled with my hobby, opened the door of my mind to begin to understand the mercy of God and His desire to bring each of us into His kingdom. One day I tuned in just the right island. More next time.
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 42: As you read last week, in order to snap me out of my deep depression my parents did not take me to a psychiatrist and get medication for me, but they gave me a multi-band radio to encourage me to get further into the hobby of DXing (distance listening). Little did they or I know that it would be a tool for God to eventually get my life right with Him through Christ. Also, I mentioned that as a young boy I considered islands to be fascinating.
I got into DXing big time, even staying up at night when the “skip” (propagation of radio signals) was better. I sent out reception reports and began collecting QSL (verification) cards and letters. My main antenna was a windom antenna, a wire stretching east to west in our back yard, tapped at 1/3 of its length. It was especially tuned to the 31 meter band (approx. 9.5mHz to 10mHz). My Lafayette HA225 receiver had an antenna tuner so I could adjust for reception on other frequencies.
I had always hoped to find remote stations, especially those on islands. However, any island was fascinating. One set of islands, the Netherlands Antilles, had a station at Bonaire, operated by Trans World Radio (TWR). I tuned it in one day. Yes, the Caribbean is not all that “remote”, and TWR at Bonaire was not a rare catch by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a station on an island and I wanted a QSL. The trouble was, it was a religious station! BLEAH!
Those were the days I was often in a “hate God” frame of mind. I hated God and showed it by never capitalizing God, unless it was for school work or the family would see.
Well, it was an island and I wanted a QSL from an island. So I monitored a TWR broadcast from Bonaire, taking notes for a reception report. Back then, most of us DXers would use the SINPO code for reception reports: S = Signal Strength; I = Interference (from other stations); N = Natural disturbance (cloud static); P = Propagation (any fading in and out of signal strength); O = overall rating. The reception report had to include the time the station was heard from start to finish in UTC (GMT), date, and frequency.
But, to really prove you heard it, you had to provide some program details. Well, in pain I listened to the Gospel, getting angry every now and then. I was not very nice in describing the program, probably writing, “then the male speaker talked more about the Jesus trash”, “there was a stupid religious song”, “a female announcer talked about phoney salvation crap”, etc. etc. I think I even used worse than that!
Now, today as a minister I remember how I was before I came to Christ – very nasty toward the Gospel, and so when I come across people like that I know there is still hope, and I smile.
Anyhow, I sent the reception report – as nasty and perhaps vulgar as it was. Would I get a QSL? I did, but more. See next time what else TWR sent.
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 41: As you recall, I was in a “hate God and all religion” frame of mind when I wrote my reception report for Trans World Radio – probably punctuating it with vulgarity here and there. Nonetheless, they did send me a QSL card, but also a Gospel tract called Religion Is A Drag. An image of a copy of it appears with this post and is a scan of a tract that Kearny Assembly Of God had. The actual tract is probably in a folder somewhere with other tracts that I was using in a teaching at the church we currently pastor.
I remember thinking, “Yeah, that is right” when I saw the title. So I decided to see what the tract had to say. As I read it, my mind considered the possibility that religion is one and God another. They could, and perhaps should, be distinguished from each other. Well, I was still angry, but I did not tear up the tract. So, into my desk drawer it went.
My dxing (distance listening) hobby was enjoyable and often diverted me from gloom. My grades improved slightly, so much so, however, that I could stay in those “A” groups. And, in 8th grade the day would come I and others would have to meet with Kearny High School (KHS) staff to map out our four years there. I was still Roman Catholic in name, but I really hated religion and God – if there was a God. So, instead of opting to go to Queen of Peace, I decided to go to the local public high school. It would save my parents money anyway.
However, I was in for a bit of trouble when when I met the KHS staff. Hear about that next week, God willing.
If you need to catch up on these posts they all can easily be found at https://oasisofhope.neocities.org/TBT.html .
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 40: About this time fifty years ago, around spring 1969, one of the high school classes in I was in was physical science. I did not do too well in that class and like I said in previous posts it was only by the grace of God I was even in high school in the “right grade for my age.”
Though I had been in a state of deep depression, my parents helped to snap me out of it by getting me into the hobby of distance radio listening. Though I almost failed 6th grade, my grades started to climb back up. When eighth grade arrived it was time to make some decisions as to what high school to attend and what course to take. As you have read, I had enough of religion and God, so no Catholic high school for me (although for some odd reason I went to “Christian” confraternity class for one year). So, it was Kearny High School (KHS) for me.
Then came the day some of the KHS staff came to St. Stephen's school to interview the students who wanted to attended and have them select a course and other items.
Because I still wanted to be a chemist I wanted the college prep course and because of my Russian ancestry I wanted a class in Russian as my language class. My turn to be interviewed came. When I said I wanted college prep the counselor tried to talk me out of it. I do not remember if I insisted with tears or anger or both, but I sure did insist. They finally said “okay”. Then they asked what language did I want to learn. I said Russian. This time THEY were adamant! No! They said Spanish or French. I hated French so I said Spanish. Down the table from me was a female student. She was in tears. For some reason I think she wanted college prep too, but they would not allow her.
Since I mentioned “Christian” Confraternity Class I think I am being prompted by God to write about that, and at least two lesson I feel God wanted me to learn – one of which he used a guy called “David Dulanery” to teach me.
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 39: As you read last time, it was only by the grace of God that I got into high school “on time” without be held back a grade and that the high school permitted me to take college prep. Since I had a secret hatred for God and all religions I did not even try going to a Catholic high school, but for some reason I decided to go to “Christian” Confraternity Class (CCC) for one year. Perhaps it was to see to it neither my Mom or other Catholic relatives would catch on that I had left the Catholic Church in my heart. I can think of two lessons from CCC in that one year, one from a student named Dave Dulaney and the other from chess games.
You know how a lot of unsaved young guys are, smart mouth at times and challenging each other. I forget what started it, but Dulaney and I were mouthing off at each other after CCC on the way home. Then, Dulaney shoved me against the school fence in a final threat and pinned me there. I could not move. I was big, but had hardly any muscle! My one year of martial arts did no good. However, in those three to five seconds I was pinned I thought to myself, “This is the last time this will happen.” Lesson 1.
So I got into lifting weights. I did develop muscle over time. However, progress dramatically slowed after I disregarded instructions. I had caught a cold and did not lift for a week or so. When I went back to lifting I disregarded the instructions to reduce the amount I would lift. Before I caught the cold I was deadlifting 120 lbs. After the cold I when right back to the 120 for a deadlift. Something popped in my lower back, and unto this day I have paid for that stupid error. Another lesson, but not directly from CCC.
Some of us in CCC would play chess. I had learned chess from the same cousin who had “kindly” snapped my neck. Anyhow, as challenged each other it came down to the big game. I would be pitted against a player who had beaten all others. He was a very bright young man.
So, the match was on! If I remember correctly CCC only lasted about an hour so you can imagine this game went on for a few days. It was on a Friday that we were playing and my move was next. I saw I had fallen into some sort of trap. My opponent would have me in checkmate in the next move. As we studied the board the nun in charge said CCC class was about to end. So my opponent and I copied down the position of the pieces and put the game away until Monday.
At home I reconstructed the dilemma on my chessboard. Yes, I was trapped. He would win in the next move. I looked and looked. Then I saw if I made a certain move whereby he was forced to take my piece (I think it was that I had to sacrifice my queen) I would then be able to place him in checkmate! Monday came. About 5 or 10 minutes after CC class started we reconstructed the game board and commenced. I made the sacrifice, he had to take my piece, I made the other move and put him into checkmate. The second lesson learned as a youth in CCC was to try to take time and look things over. Now, as a born again Christian, I learned this is coupled with prayer, trusting God and seeking His direction.
The chess victory was pleasant. But something unpleasant awaited me in sophomore year in high school – but it was still part of God's glorious plan for me. That is for next week.
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 38 – A Most Bitter Disappointment: As you might remember in the earlier portion of this countdown, I had desired to be a chemist, had great grades until my first arrest, nearly failed 6th (if not 7th), but after an intelligent move by Saint Stephens School my grades began to improve. However, I had to insist on the college prep course and that is what I had in Kearny High School (KHS).
I still tinkered in my small basement laboratory, and when my freshman year at KHS, if I remember correctly I enjoyed and did fairly well in the general science class taught by Mrs. Manno. So, in my mind the hopes of my becoming a research chemist were revived, until . . . .
With great anticipation I looked forward toward my sophomore year because THAT was year I would be in chemistry class. That day came, and the first few classes seemed a little hard. But then they got REALLY HARD! I had no idea what the textbook was saying, nor what our teacher, Mr. Stanley Kopaki, was saying! I remember that at one point I sat in that class and thought, “I will NEVER be a chemist, not even a scientist. I HAVE NO FUTURE.”
My mental depression came back, with the old thoughts of suicide, and those thoughts of hopelessness and suicide would grow stronger right into my senior year. My grades again suffered.
I, with the help of KHS counselors, looked into other scientific careers. One was to become a meteorologist. I cannot recall much on this, but I think that was not pursued because of my weak grades. But time marched on and I was to graduate and supposedly go to a college in 1970.
College for what though? When I got to physical science class I sort of hated it. I would sit there at times and write poetry until one day our teacher, Mr. Confessore, kindly told me now was not the time to do that.
Well, I thought, so much for science. Then, I think it was in the latter half of my junior year I was to be in biology class. Yes, I know I wrote earlier that 50 years ago to this time of the year I was in physical science, but reviewing things I think that was the first half of my junior year.
Anyhow, … biology? I was already predisposed to hate that branch of science. What did I care about plants and messy animals? However, God, in His great mercy and longsuffering was working on me. Come back next week for more info.
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 37 - A Close Call With Possession: I was going to mention biology class in this post, but I need to mention something else first to keep a logical flow of things.
If you read back, you will remember "Uncle 1" who, though very intelligent in the sciences -- especially electronics, introduced me to the occult " palm reading, Tarot Cards, soul walking, astrology, and more. You will also recall I had developed a great hatred toward God, Christianity as I knew it (which was nominal Christianity), and religion in general.
I was doing all sorts of occult practices. Certain ones I had to do privately in my own room. I will not say what I was attempting nor any details about it, lest someone tries if for themselves. I must say, though, it required me to be in a trance where I purposely emptied my thought processes to encourage something else.
So, one time in attempting to reach the desired objective, my breathing slowed and I went deeper into the trance. I soon heard a very wicked laugh. I had to decide at that precise moment to get out of the trance. It was a struggle, but I tried. I finally broke out of it and sat up, scared to no end about what had happened.
I then knew I had to break with the occult. I thought maybe I should go the other direction, maybe check into some religions. A level of hating God, if there even was a God, was still there, but no more trances for me, no more making my mind empty.
This change provided another way for God to speak to me. So, next week, God willing, I will get back to high school where I faced taking biology class -- something I did not want to do at first.
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 36 - A Change Of Direction: Last week you read about my close brush with demon possession which jolted me away, for the most part, from the occult. I then thought perhaps I need to take care of my spiritual nature and my mind opened a bit more toward the religious realm, but oddly enough there was still a level of hatred to God – if there was one.
I got to the point in high school where I was about to take biology. I hated the thought, especially in the realm of dealing with animals. But, God did something to my mind.
As I sat in Mr. Nasello's class I began to learn about living cells. I learned they contained what I call “gizmos” and special molecules. I learned about mitochondria, ribosomes, DNA, and much more. I saw the construction of cells. Then I figured there had to be a God. Though I was taught evolution, I also thought there was some type of intelligent design in cells.
Very soon I began to take a liking to biology. I would go down to the puddles at the railroad tracks, collect algae and get planaria to study. I started to learn about plant – ferns, liverworts, etc. As I started to enjoy all of this, one day Mr. Nasello said he needed a lab assistant – someone to clean equipment, feed the critters, and so on. I volunteered and got it!
So, once again my hopes of getting into a scientific profession were kindled. And, I was immensely enjoying taking care of the biology. The guinea pigs squealed with anticipation when I entered the room, knowing they would soon be fed. There were rabbits. There were big roaches in an aquarium. Mr. Nasello would blow cigarette smoke on them as an experiment.
But the big thing is my mind was very open to the fact there might just be a God. But, such a fact leads most people in the direction of trying to get on His “happy side”. More on that later. But next week I want to introduce you to a major player in bringing me to salvation in Christ. God was sending in “the big guns”, lol!
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 35 – God Sends In The “Big Guns”: A Gospel Tract, a devilish scare, and an unexpected delight in biology were some of the tools God used to get my God-hating, religion-hating mind going in another direction. However, the day of “the big guns” came.
Living perhaps under two miles away from the high school I would walk to and from school. When I had enough time, Kearny provided a variety of routes between my house and school. One never got bored, at least I did not.
It was in my junior year that at some point that God in His mercy would send “the big guns” after me – in the form of a sophomore shorter and thinner than me. One day as I headed home Bob Wittik (seen to the right) came along and befriended me. I cannot remember how it all got started, but I soon figured he was “cool” to walk home with. We would talk about various subjects and what intrigued me about Bob was his intelligence. I nicknamed him “the child prodigy”. I was delighted he would talk with me about the sciences. Current events often came up, since it was the 1960s and occasionally he would slip in the topic “God”. Bob would reference Holy Scripture quite often when it came to current events. While I did not believe the Holy Bible was the Word of God I did think it might contain some mystical messages, especially about the end of the world.
It was probably when we were discussing current events that Bob said I should listen to “The Hour Of Decision” by evangelist Billy Graham on the radio. Okay. I wanted to see what he had to say about what the Holy Bible says about current events. So I started listening each Sunday night at 10 p.m.. I still harbored a hatred toward God so almost each time I heard the theme song “How Great Thou Art” I would raise a fist upward and say “How great Thou art not!” Sometimes I had second thoughts, though, whenever there was a thunderstorm, lol! I also had to think of the jets flying over our house.
God, in His mercy, did not strike me down. And fifty years ago on most Sunday nights I would listen to “The Hour Of Decision” by Billy Graham. However, I was still lost and unsaved – but that would change after 1969 would end.
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 34 – Other “Guns” : Last week I introduced Bob Wittik to you, a young God had sent my way to eventually tell me about salvation in Jesus Christ. In regard to Bob I said God sent in “the big guns”. Not is not to say all other ways that God attempted to reach me were less important.
In fact, I forget what year it was, and as I remember, one day when I left school I headed out one of the doors that aimed northward, but I then went out of school property at an exit below that so I could head to Forest Street. Going the other way toward Devon would have been quicker but as I recall for some reason I favored Forest Street. (In this area of Kearny some streets are laid out in alphabetical order from west to east, viz., Chestnut, Devon, Elm, Forest).
As I headed out the exit I had every intention of using Forest but when I looked westward there was a small group of people on the corner of King Street and Elm Street passing out literature. Considering myself to be sort of intellectual despite my horrible grades I thought I might see what they were passing out. So I headed to Elm instead.
Well, apparently they were church people, perhaps from the Baptist church on Quincy Avenue. They were passing out Gospel tracts. They asked me if I wanted one. I indicated I would and they gave the Gospel tract titled “Chicken” by David Wilkerson. (You will hear more about him, God willing, in another TBT post a few weeks from now.)
I think I might have glanced at some of it on the way home. I do know I did read it. At the end of it was “the sinner's prayer”. I did not pray that prayer at that time and I forget what my opinion was of the tract at that time. I did not throw it away but placed it in my desk drawer in my bedroom.
Just like the “Religion Is A Drag” tract sent to me from Bonaire, I do not know where that “Chicken” tract is at the moment. It is probably with the Bonaire tract along with some others I used in Cornerstone for teaching.
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 33 – Which career, if any.” : Fifty years ago, June 1969 meant the end of my junior year in high school. One year remained before graduation. Would I get to college? If so, what college should I go to?
The answer to that was partly depending upon what would I do for my life's work. Chemistry was out because I sure could not understand it. And though God touched my heart that I would actually like biology, and even thought of being a marine biologist (I liked oceans and lakes too), a knowledge of chemistry would be needed.
Some months before, the high school counselors administered some tests so we could see what we might enjoy as a career and might be good at. As I recall, a job outdoors would be suited for me. Forestry? Nah. However, meteorologist appealed to me.
As I previously mentioned, I liked almost all of the sciences and still do. Meteorology was very understandable for me. I could read and interpret the weather maps of the 1960s. However, for some reason I did not pursue that course of action.
That might not have been a good thing. Look at the picture to the right. A meteorologist is using a device to determine relative humidity. He swings it around, records the readings, then does the simple math. I considered myself a klutz. I would probably start swinging that thing around and wind up smacking my head! My fellow meteorologists would surely laugh, and I would have to pay for any broken equipment.
Unknown to me, in less than a year God in His mercy would save me from myself, from sin, and from hell. And, June 1970 would be exactly opposite from the doom and gloom of then end of my junior. In the meantime, thoughts of suicide would begin to grow.
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 32 – The Final Walk Home As A High School Junior” : As you remember, I had no career in mind as I finished out my junior year. I did take some type of test that indicated an outdoors job might be a possibility. That appealed to me and maybe that is why I would often walk home along “Forest” Street. Chestnut, where I lived, would be a few streets up the hill but that more direct route would mean I would walk right by St. Stephens School which would bring back many negative memories.
I had enough negativity and the walk along Forest was usually pleasant. However, the last walk as a junior no doubt presented a few concerns. Kearny NJ is an interesting town. Except for the railroad tracks and perhaps some businesses near and just past Midland Avenue, there were numerous homes and apartments along Forest.
I had to wonder if I would have my own place sometime after graduation. I loved my parents but most of us back then felt we had to move out once we were old enough. But, again, what type of job would I have anyway?
Also, I guess from the time I was born I was Mom's “little boy” – super-protected by her over the years and you can imagine the rest. My Mom, like my Dad, was not saved. She was a heavy smoker, prone to depression, and domineering. I had to get out. I had to get away.
But those homes along Forest – and any other street in Kearny – reminded me I would some day have to face total responsibility. I had little idea what it meant to be a home owner. I knew if you bought a home there was a mortgage – and I can remember my Mom meticulously checking off the amounts due on their mortgage document.
I also wanted to have my own business. Again, I knew very little about that.
With poor grades and little knowledge of everyday adult life I was in poor shape to face life.
However, this time fifty years ago, there were a few pleasant distractions from my concerns. More, God willing, next time.
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 31 – “Merchant Marine Dad” : I think you would agree that it is good for a young person to consider well the responsibilities that they will face in the future as they near their exit from secondary schooling. It is, but for some, like it was in my case, too much thought along that line leads to despair – especially when you have rotten grades and do not have a clue of what you are supposed to do as an adult once you get there.
So, when summer came around it was good to hear my Mom say “we are going swimming” on any certain day. Since this post is coming just after Fathers Day Sunday 2019 I would like to mention my Dad (pictured in this post) who served as a Merchant Marine in WWII. Like many dads, especially those of the 40s and 50s, he knew many things. And, in his case, having been a Merchant Marine he knew a few handy tricks. I think there was one time he discovered a crack in our car's gas tank and patched it with soap until it could be fixed!
Mom did not have a drivers license so he was the family driver. In early years beach going meant Lake Hopatcong. I remember we had to use US 46 until I-80 was built. Though unsaved I was fascinated by God's creation whether it was the highway cuts through hills and mountains, the lake itself, or even the pebbles on the beach.
In later years, for some reason, we went to Midland Beach on Staten Island. It was still a great treat! And unknown to me at the time God was doing a work not far away in Brooklyn. I will save that for another post.
Anyhow, we would pick a spot on Midland Beach and set up there. Sometimes my sister and her husband was with us.
There were many times when each of us was involved in what we were doing (I could hardly get enough of the ocean), that Dad, unannounced, wandered off. He was nowhere to be seen.
But then, one of us would look to the left (northeast) and we would seen in the distance a man swimming toward a distant island. Most likely that was Dad! Now that we have Internet and computers, just a few years back I checked Google Maps and saw Hoffman and Swinburne Islands were in that location. Wikipedia indicates both islands were training locations for Merchant Marines during WWII. If that was Dad swimming to them, then I could see why!
And, if that was Dad I thank our heavenly Father he always made it safely to and from those islands. Not one of us was saved from our sins at the time. However, within two years he would receive Christ. I would be coming to Christ first.
Midland Beach was a nice distraction from the gloom that would confront me. And so were occasional family parties. Most people have those, but remember, no one in my family knew what dark turn I made a few years before graduating from high school. So, thinking I was a “good Roman Catholic”, I was selected to be . . . (tune-in next week).
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 30 – “Pete, The Godfather” : Going back a few years, as you recall I had a strong hatred for God and religion, and I eventually dabbled in satanism (I do not capitalize that). During that time I became an uncle. Wow! Always wanted to be someone's uncle.
But, a surprise came with it. I was asked to be the little girl's godfather (see picture with this post). Though I hated God, religion, and was into satanism I said “yes.” I was afraid to let my Catholic family know how I was and what I was into.
My niece was born around Fathers Day so a June birthday party was a brief distraction from the sobering thought of having only one more year of school which would include an attempt to get into college.
By my junior year I was no longer a satanist. Heart-wise I was no longer Roman Catholic. I had a religious philosophy which I will post about at a later date.
As I posted a few weeks ago, after having to force myself out of a trance upon hearing a very wicked laugh, I thought I had better drop much of the mystical stuff and maybe get on God's good side – if there was a God.
And there was at least one more thing that bothered before having to force myself out of a trance. I forgot to bring that up in earlier posts. But I will have to mention it, because once I reach zero in this countdown and start counting up I will have a testimony about it. And it was another thing I never told my parents about.
By the way, if God permits me to live and continue, once I reach week zero in January 2020 I will start counting up – and week after week you will see a DRAMATIC change of my everyday life, full of the blessings of God – and only because He is good and faithful. Much of the negative points I have posted, if not all them, will be reversed.
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 29 – “Did I Have A Brain Tumor?” : OK, no one be a smarty out there and reply, “But Pete, you have to have a brain first!”
I forgot to mention this when I first started this series, but when I was very young there times I had a tremendous buzzing inside the right side of my head. It happened at least twice before I came to Christ.
The worst time I can remember was when I was very young. I think we (Mom and I) were at McCrory's or Woolworths in Newark, NJ. If I recall correctly, along with naturally getting a little tired from shopping, the buzzing began a little before lunch and gradually got worse. When we did get to the lunch counter it was roaring away.
When I was young, whether it was school or elsewhere, I did not like cafeteria settings. I guess I just did know what to do. But now, in the store we were at the lunch counter and I had that terrible roaring on the right side of my head. The counter worker, a lady, asked me a question. When I did not reply my Mom repeated the question. I exploded! I hollered and yelled and I am sure my Mom was embarrassed.
Another time I recall is when I was at St. Stephen's Church in Kearny during a mass. I was sitting in the right side overflow section. And it was during the days I hated God, the Catholic Church, all religions, and I was dabbling in satanism. I had to be there, though, because it was some type of special mass and I was to sit with the other boys in my class.
The buzzing started as the mass neared its central point. It got worse and worse. I finally had to go out the side door and sit in the stairwell with my head between my legs until it stopped.
I do not recall anyone following me out to the stairwell. And no one knew how I hated God, Jesus, and religion. My Catholic peers thought I was a good Catholic, so much so that some friends asked . . .
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 28 – “Pete, the 'good' Roman Catholic'” : A couple of weeks ago I told you I was selected to be my niece's godfather. The family thought I was a pretty good Catholic. But only God the Father knew I had dabbled in satanism (I do not capitalize that one) and other evil things.
A lot of my friends also thought I was a good Catholic. Aside from my regular group of friends I developed a friendship with two boys on the corner of Laurel Avenue and Chestnut Street: Mike and Dennis Whitby, also Roman Catholics. They were well mannered and respectable.
Mike and Dennis served as altar boys at St. Stephens Church, the one I was supposed to go to. At one point Mike and Dennis asked me to become an altar boy. When I was a baby my mother had hoped for me to become a priest (later, she said doctor), so becoming and altar would make her happy. The moment Mike and Dennis asked me I thought “You guys have no idea how evil I am. I had been in satanism, and had some hatred toward God.” I declined their offer.
Nor did the Whitbys, or anyone else except for God, knew that I really did not go to church. My Mom would just send my sister and I to St. Stephens The church had multiple services on Sundays so my sister and I did not always go at the same time. And, when my sister got married and moved out – ha! ha! – I realized I could skip church and no one would know.
So, that is what I often did. I remember one time that I walked south to the very end of Chestnut Street (which I think terminated at West Hudson Park) then walked back home via Kearny Avenue, dropping into a bakery not far from St. Stephens. Mom had given me money to get donuts and the Sunday paper after church. So I came home with the donuts and paper and no questions were asked.
No one knew, but God. That point is so true of many lives today, not just for Roman Catholics, but for Protestants, all religions, all atheists, all agnostics, – everyone. Some people think some others are good. Many think they themselves are good.
The truth is no one is good (Romans 3:12). And the truth is each of us need to be saved from ours sin and need Christ as King in their life. Until that happens, each of us are on a dangerous spiritual path.
A number of weeks ago I had posted the account of how I almost became demon possessed. For the next post I feel led to bring up a common occurrence that can lead anyone down that path. Keep scrolling to the next post please!
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 27 - “Science And Patriotism Give A Break From Gloom!”: I was going to write about the dangers of urges, but realizing that this July 20, 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the USA landing on the moon, and knowing precisely what I was doing at that time, I am changing the topic.
Backdrop: If you read back you will see folks from my time grew up when there was scary Cold War between the USA and the Soviet Union (USSR). Both sides were in a nuclear weapons race. The fear of nuclear attack increase when the USSR was the first to put a satellite around the earth in the later 50s. CONELRAD was developed and the radios we purchased marked two locations on the dial or band window so we knew where to turn to for Civil Defense instructions.
From what I remember, the advent of Sputnik marked the beginning of a race against the USSR to get a man on the moon. Despite my poor grades and the gut feeling I would never be the scientist I wanted to be (which, in part, led me to attempt suicide later in 1969), my interest in science was still there. Also, my patriotism was surging – as it was for others – this time fifty years ago.
We had a reel to reel recorder and lots of reels. I think I purchased a few reels for this week fifty years ago. We may have had more than one recorder. Nonetheless, if I am not mistaken when we snapped on the TV to watch Apollo 11's lift off I recorded the audio of the event. We were blessed to live near NYC and could easily receive WABC, WCBS, and WNBC. Also, as a shortwave listener (SWL), I recorded what I could of the international reaction.
I recorded the landing on the moon, and the first time a human stepped upon it. On shortwave, a number of countries announced the accomplishment in their news broadcasts. I think the BBC was quick on the timing. However, if I recall correctly, it took Radio Moscow almost a full day to get around to it. And I am pretty sure I have that recorded!
What I could not record, what no one could record – but God, was that period of radio silence when Buzz Aldrin observed the Lord's Supper (Holy Communion) on the moon. I do not think I knew about this until after I came to Christ. And, the more I think about it, realizing this weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, the fact that the phases of the month directed the Jewish reckoning of a year with its religious occasions, and the fact that every day now – not just once in a while – every day now some current event confirms we are in the last days of the times of the Gentiles, I really think that Lord's Supper on the moon was extremely significant.
In the past few years we have seen a number of anniversaries and coincidences in the spiritual realm. Just a few years ago, oddly, Hanukkah and Thanksgiving occurred about the same time. Four “blood moons” in the course of two years occurring on Passover and The Feast of Tabernacles – then, bingo, – a few scant years later a U.S. President boldly states Jerusalem is the capital of Israel (Now read the first part of Zechariah 12.). June 2017 marked the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War when Israel gained control of Jerusalem – but then permits the Muslims to religiously control the Temple Mount (now, read Revelation 11). October 31, 2017 was the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation (which Google never uttered a peep about – no special Google doodle for that event). 2018 marked the 70th anniversary of Israel “back on the map” – after almost 2,000 years.
I can think of no other nation wiped off the map for over 1,000 years, then coming back. And, just before they did, the United Nations was formed in 1945. Now read Joel 3.
If Christ is not really King – not just Savior – in your life, please be open to the wooing of the Holy Spirit upon you and surrender to God through Christ.
Now, next week, God willing, we will get back to “urges” I had, no doubt motivated by an unholy spirit!
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 26 - “Urges, part1” : Looking back over the previous posts I see I had left something out that would shed more light upon my first arrest and, later, my brush with what was probably demon possession.
Every one of us are prone to temptation. When that is coupled with a desire for a thrill, a little excitement, then strong spiritual danger is at the door – especially when a temptation becomes an urge. I want to give two examples, one in this post and one in the next. Hopefully the second post will underscore some things.
A lot of children, especially boys, at times get into mischief. Since this is being posted on a hot day in Dorchester County let us go back more than fifty years ago, maybe 1959 or 1960, and, at that, in the winter.
After a heavy snowfall I was able to play outside. There was more than a foot of fresh snow on the ground. I went to my neighbor friend's front yard to play with Johnny (known by many as not the nicest boy around – had a temper for one thing). Coming down the street was Mrs. “G”, his neighbor that would be walking past his front yard (sidewalks had be shoveled).
As I recall she was a little elderly and a little heavy-set. Thought comes to my mind: “Oh! A target!” – especially when I saw she was not paying one bit of attention to us. I got a snowball ready. As she passed, and when her back was toward us, I lobbed the snowball.
It was a direct hit on her seat. The moment I saw that I made a direct dive into the snow! Mrs. G turned around and really told Johnny off (she might have used a few choice words).
“I didn't do it!,” said Johnny. “He did!”, pointing downward to me in the snow. But Mrs. G. could not see me. Instead, she agreed with him pointing downward and declared the “he” that did it was the devil inside of him.
I remained face-down as Johnny, still arguing with Mrs. G. while crying ran into his house. I got up about a minute after Mrs. G. got into her house.
Some might chuckle at that. However, because of my sin nature, my desire for excitement, and urge that I yielded to, I caused a great indignity on both Mrs. G. and Johnny. Johnny already had a bad reputation, and I shamefully took advantage of it by not standing up.
By contrast, when one comes to God through Christ they learn to push wrong thoughts out of their mind. They learn not to yield to temptation, to urges. They eventually learn to be directed by the Holy Spirit, and get their thrills by radical obedience and service unto Him.
That was one of many urges I yielded to. In the next post you will hear of an urge I yielded to that caused physical damage.
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 25 - “Urges, part 2” : A number of years before my first arrest I was down the street at Bell Playground in Kearny, NJ. A favorite spot for me was a big (for a boy) natural conglomeration of all sorts of stone by the fence near Stewart Avenue. Cars would be going back and forth along the avenue.
Usually trying to climb that mound was enough of a thrill. However, when I was by the mound one day there were one or two stones by it on the ground. The thought entered my mind to pick one up an lob it at a car. A thrill! That would be some excitement! I thought about the thought – and whenever we roll an ungodly thought over and over in our mind we are in trouble. Soon, there was an urge: do it! The urge got stronger. A car started down the hill heading toward Devon and Elm. Yep. I picked up a stone and lobbed it. It struck the car. I ran. Parents paid the bill.
Thrills were not confined to mischief like bombing cars or Mrs. “G”. Occasional shoplifting brought thrills and sometimes gave me some items for my chemistry lab. Stealing occurred in various forms like cutting pictures out of books to add to my science information and stealing money from my sister. No human on earth knew what I was doing – but God did, of course.
Sneaking into some industrial buildings when they were closed was exciting, but there were a few that held dangers I was unaware of at the time. Looking back, walking the wooden walkway on the west side of the Kearny Avenue bridge was dangerous. The one on the east side was falling apart but I was stupid enough to step on the “good” part.
The desire for thrills and yielding to urges can be a dangerous, especially when one has an uncle (or any relative) that encourages them to get into the occult. For information on that, see the post for week 37 above about when I had a brush with demon possession.
Yielding to thrills and urges got me into trouble with the law and brought years of mental anguish. For information on that, please see the post for week 46 by following the link in the previous paragraph. My mental state got worse in the fall of 1969 to where I would attempt suicide by the end of the year.
I would have one more brush with the law as a juvenile. God willing I will post that next week.
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 24 - “The Threat Of Trenton” : Even though I was not saved, not born again, I was blessed with some pretty good friends when I was a youth. “Some,” however, is a keyword in that sentence. There were two or three that enjoyed teasing, testing, and getting into mischief.
One summer some of us would gather a few times a week at the house of one of the friends with a mischievous streak – when their parents were not present. I forget what we usually did, but one we started causing trouble.
Like in just about every school system there is always someone we could pick on. Most of us at this friend's house had gone through the same Catholic grade school. One of our fellow classmates was obese. We had no problem picking on him, including myself, though I myself was a bit on the chunky side.
One day when we were at this mischievous friend's house we started to misuse the telephones. I think the calls were made to a few different people, but the obese classmate was a prime target. Aside from disguising our voices to make insulting comments to the boy's household, that address got unwanted deliveries of pizza, among other things.
Within a couple of weeks the law was at my door. I, with the others, had been caught. Each of us had to apologize to the young man and his family. This second brush with law was far less traumatic than my first. Perhaps that was a spiritual danger signal.
But, that was strike two. The word on the street at that time was that juveniles who had attained a third arrest would be sent to the juvenile detention center in Trenton.
That would be another thought on my mind as the weeks marched into my final year in high school, and would be one of many things that told me I was a miserable failure, helping to fuel my suicidal thoughts.
But, I also had a summer job which would get my mind off of things. Little did I know, though, that a certain person would be working there at some point.
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 23 - “Suicidal Thought Relief 1” : About 50 years ago around this time I was just four months away from attempting suicide. But such thoughts were infrequent thanks to the providence of God through a number of factors, some which were already mentioned.
Getting a job and keeping it helps some people. Over 51 years from this point I had started my first summer job, near Harrison NJ, but when they realized I was going to high school they laid me off!
I eventually got work at Shop Rite on Beech Street, and if I recall correctly it was more than summer work, working part time, of course, during the school year. I cannot recall when I started, whether it was when I was 16 or 17, but it was before I surrendered my life to Christ.
Unknown to me, Bob Wittik (the young man that would try to tell me about salvation in Christ) had a brother, Bill, that worked there. I cannot recall meeting Bill there before I came to Christ, but I would not doubt that Bob told Bill about me so Bill would be praying for my salvation. Eventually Bob would also work there – God would double-team me! LOL!
Holding a job is a help for many people. Since I have come to Christ and have been in the ministry there have been a few times I have seen the depressed get “help” from the government, drop out of work, and simply get worse. Two hooks are used, viz., money and drugs. The government will pay you for “disability” and have you take medication that, in most cases, they say you “have to be on it for the rest of your life.” Friend, it is a trap from Hell.
Avoid that trap. Surrender fully to Jesus Christ. Employment or no employment, Jesus will keep you busy by serving Him. Everyone has a purpose in God, and more so for true Christians.
God permitted other things to happen to help ward off suicidal tendencies, even in sports. Yes, I said sports. More on that next time, God willing.
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 22 - “Suicidal Thought Relief 2” : Sports … bleh! I did not like sports. If you read back you will see I was a science geek. I can remember sitting on our steps with a friend when we lived in Jersey City. We got into a stupid debate. He said sports were important. I said science was important. We went back and forth for a short time until he threatened to throw his soda on me. I beat him to it – I threw mine at him. So much for THAT friendship!
But, children must play and just about all of my future friends wanted to play sports at times. Well, I joined in – when asked. But I was hardly ever good at sports. When we lived in Kearny, my friends and I would play behind Schuyler School on Forest Street. When it came to be picked for a team I was one of those boys who always got picked last or next to last.
That is not too good for self-esteem, but I could hardly blame my friends. Admittedly I was Mr. Butterfingers. Baseball and football were the main games, and I hate baseball. I was always assigned to right field. One day someone on the opposing team hit a popped fly in my direction. The ball missed my mitt, but my glasses caught the ball. :(
Now, explain this: I was lousy at sports but if you look back at previous posts I was able to bomb my elderly neighbor with a snowball and a car with a rock. Ummm.
Though I hated baseball, I started to like football. However, after a short while I was ALWAYS the center. I guess I did OK at that because, if I remember correctly, and one point the guy I on the opposing team that I would try to prevent from getting the quarterback just forgot about that and went downfield to help in getting any receiver. I just stood there.
BUT, that changed! I cannot remember who the quarterback was, unless it was Michael Goffredo, but as we huddled he said “This time Pete is getting the ball.”
MY EYES GREW BIG!
“Do not worry, Pete,” he said, adding, “I am going to HAND you the ball.”
Me: “But I will ...”
Cutting me off in mid-sentence, he said, “No! You will do okay. Turn and look at me when defense leaves you.”
We broke huddle. Went to the line of scrimmage. The QB got the ball. Again, I was left alone. I turned as instructed. He gave me the ball. I ran as fast as I could move my fatness.
“Pete's got the ball!.” someone hollered.
I ran towards the goal line. More shouting! “Get Pete!”
To this day I do not remember if I made the touchdown or not. Just getting that ball and not fumbling it was a success in my mind, along with someone from the opposing team loudly saying, “From now on, cover him!”
That was a high point I would thing about from time to time to push away gloom. Also, after a time I was no longer the last or next to the last to be picked. That also help. Eventually I took interest in soccer.
A lot of people face depression. One thing that helps is to find something positive to think about.
I think God provides those little positive moments to everyone. Whether or not we realize it, He is there. And sometimes His Holy Spirit is moving in a community not far away. We might not realize that either, as I will mention next week, God willing.
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 21 - “Just A Few Miles Away” : Before I get into the main thought for this week I have to add something to last week's post in regard to my suicidal thought relief through certain sports incidents. I had asked Michael Goffredo if he was the quarterback that, in great faith, handed me the ball. He said he was not, but reminded me of another fun occurrence.
We were playing baseball on a cloudy and, of course, I was in right field. The batter hit a pop fly in my direction. I got in position and . . . actually caught the ball. At that precise moment the sun came out from behind the clouds! Boy! Did the guys have fun with that one! And that was one of a number of things I had to think about to ward off sadness and gloom.
Fifty years ago it was probably the last week before school started, so most likely my parents and I headed back to Midland Beach on Staten Island. Again, Dad would disappear, perhaps to swim to Hoffman Island and back. I would look out in that direction, and sometimes a little more north where I would see the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge. About 10 or so miles away in that direction from where I was was Brooklyn. And I had absolutely no idea that something had been going on there.
God is everywhere, but there are times people get into His presence deeper. A sort of revival happened in Brooklyn in the 1960s. David Wilkerson, an Assembly of God preacher (AOG) who was pastoring in Pennsylvania, read reports of gang activity in Brooklyn. He felt he had to do something and drove out to Brooklyn. At one point a court case was going on. He felt he had to say something, do something. So he enters the courtroom with a Holy Bible raised up in his hand. Reporters snapped his picture as he was removed from the courtroom. He did not know it at the time, but that gave him an in-road to some of the gangs.
You can read all the details, including how he came close to death, in The Cross And The Switchblade. Many gang members surrendered their lives to Christ. Eventually God led brother Wilkerson to start Teen Challenge which eventually became known for a drug cure rate of over 80 percent for those who went through the whole program.
Well, I was not a gang member, but I was just as damned as everyone else (though I would not accept that truth at that time). I was completely unaware of what was happening in Brooklyn. I just knew summer was ending and I would soon start my senior year in high school. Neither did I know the next four months would be devastating (note that word) and I would attempt suicide by the end of the year.
But, neither did I know that under five months from the end of August 1969 that I, too, would meet the same Savior some of those gang members did. I never had a brother, but I would have oodles of them, and sisters too, by the end of January 1970! I would have a whole lot more. Neither did I know that just over a decade later I would be teaching for a short time in a Teen Challenge induction center for ladies in Harmony, North Carolina.
So now, we are really counting down, and I mean down, to the day I came to Christ. Like everyone else, I would have to lose my life for the sake of Christ in order to find it (Matthew 10:39b).
God IS moving in various ways. If you do not have Christ as King, if you are still in charge of your own life, move towards Him and surrender your life to God through Christ. If you have grown cold towards Him, return.
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 20 - “My 'Last Chance' Semester Begins” : If you read from the start of this blog (see https://oasisofhope.neocities.org/TBT.html) you will see I had desired to be a scientist but through misbehavior, foolishness, and stupidity I went from a “straight A” student to “below average”. More can be said but just go back and read.
On this day fifty years ago I was back in Kearny High School (KHS) starting my senior year. Despite below average grades I still wanted to go to college. Being a “mama's boy” I applied to three generally local colleges. For sure, Rutgers was one. I think applied for Princeton (have to laugh at that one), and I think Hofstra was the other one. After a time KHS placed a roster on their main floor listing who was going to what school. I would pass by that roster almost everyday.
In my mind this was my last chance to go to college and become a scientist. If you read back you will see originally I wanted to be a research chemist but for various reasons I eventually shifted to biology, particularly marine biology. My frame of mind prepared me for my suicide attempt in December 1969.
But God was preparing something else. Something that would bring real life and note death. When I started taking biology classes I noticed intelligent design and many awesome workings in all living things. I thought, “There has to be a God.”
I finally settled, sort of, on a religious belief system. More on that next week, God willing.
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 19 - “Pete The Pantheist” : Last week I mentioned I had started my “Last Chance Semester” in high school. Years before that my parents somewhat introduced me to the fact of death. A pet of ours died. I was assigned to bury it. I got the message, and the message was underscored by religious training in a Roman Catholic grade school. Like many people, I was horribly afraid to die and I realized it happens to children too.
If you read back (https://oasisofhope.neocities.org/TBT.html), in my heart at one point I left the Roman Catholic Church and developed a hatred toward God and toward all religions, especially Christianity. I had torn up my rosary beads (which really have nothing to do with true Christianity) and tossed them off of the Chestnut Street bridge.
With some influence from an uncle (Uncle 1) I had gotten into the occult. Wanting more thrills and power over those who pestered me I wanted to get in league with satan (I do not capitalize that). Then one evening, while in a heavy trance I heard a very wicked laugh. Definitely scared, I attempted to snap out of the trance, but there was no snapping: I had to force myself out of it.
So, methoughts (lol!) it would be better to go off in the other direction. For a while I was not too sure if there was even a God, but God Himself showed me His design in nature when I was in biology class. Hence, I deduced there was a God.
Now, I cannot recall what happened first, but it seems to be as follows. I think I first heard about pantheism, and to my mind it turned out to be “everything is part of God and is God.” That sort of made sense to me since I sort of got the idea of E=M x Csquared. You know, energy is kind of the same thing as mass, and mass sort of the same thing as energy. I had always heard God was all powerful so then to my mind all the mass and all the energy of the universe is all the power, therefore God.
However, certain things were not right. That meant all crime – murders, rapes, thefts, – all war, all wrong, all injustice and more were part of God. Hitler was part of God. Whoa! It did not add up. (And, where did my sense of right or wrong come from?)
Somehow I had a book on the main religions of the world (pictured in this post). There was no sense reading about Christianity because I hated it. I also felt God did not need a human to represent Him or be Him. Judaism was monotheist but the religious stuff was a “turn off” to me. Islam was monotheistic but some of the claims about Mohammad were ridiculous to me. I had enough of Hinduism after dabbling in yoga and other things. Buddhism was a little too complex for me. Shinto, Jainism, Taoism were also unsatisfactory.
So I was sort of a pantheist, but not a Spinoza pantheist. Maybe if I just sought God things would be OK. Perhaps there would be less punishment, or no punishment, when I die. So I sought God, and what I call “raw God”: no human figure, no religious trappings – just God.
That was somewhat my mindset at the start of my senior year. However, God in His mercy was still reaching out to me, and His “big guns” were back at me.
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 18 - “God Sics Wittik On Me Again” : God knows all things and He knew I was trying to figure Him out fifty years ago. I wanted what I called “raw God” – no human figure or go-between – no Buddha, Muhammad, Jesus, or anything else. I was somewhat stuck with pantheism, but that has its drawbacks.
God knew I delighted in the intellectual realm. My Uncle Number 1 was a treat in that respect, but I had very little idea he was a spiritual threat. By contrast, in my junior year God sent HIS messenger to me, Robert Wittik, who was a year behind me in high school.
Bob was very smart, so smart I called him a prodigy. At one point – either before I came to Christ or after – he told me he went to Kearny Assembly of God. I made a little twist to that and said, “... Assembly of Prod.” Bob got a kick out of that!
Fifty years ago I was in my final year of high school with all sorts of questions and thoughts in my mind, many times about God. Sure enough, Wittik sought me out upon afternoon dismissal and together we headed home from school.
I cannot remember if Wittik invited me to his church before I came to Christ. He probably did, but I do not remember. And, that in itself might be a point, because the objective of God is to bring the lost to Him and not to a particular church. No church, denomination, fellowship saves people from their sin and damnation – only Jesus Christ.
At some point when we were discussing current events Wittik said I should listen to Billy Graham at 10 PM Sunday nights. He said the Holy Bible touched upon some current events and that Graham would often mention those points especially in regard to prophecy.
I was interested in prophecy, any prophecy – Edgar Cayce, Jeane Dixon, Nostradamus. Since the Holy Bible had prophecy and Graham would speak about it from time to time I thought it would interesting to listen.
I got hooked on listening to Graham and, in the process Graham got me hooked onto something else. God willing I will post that next week.
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 17 - “Tuning In To Billy Graham” : Read back and you will see that my Uncle #1 was a strong influence to get me into the occult. With that, my family and I were introduced to psychics / “prophets” like Edgar Cayce and Jean Dixon. I can remember repeatedly borrowing a book with the prophecies of Nostradamus from the library. It was something else, and much of the time his quatrains made no sense whatsoever.
I think Uncle #1 did make occasional reference to the Holy Bible, but more so as mysterious book equivalent to the writings of Nostradamus and others. Also, the occult magazine we subscribed to would at times mention the Holy Bible.
The late 1960s were very turbulent (but not as turbulent as today). Some people would occasionally mention “the end of the world.” Current events indicated something was brewing (even more so today). So I was greatly interested when Bob Wittik said I should listen to the Bible preacher Billy Graham. A radio station out of New York City aired “The Hour Of Decision” 10 PM every Sunday evening. So I tuned in.
Rev. Graham had a magnetic voice, and was passionate at times. Indeed, he would often start out with a newspaper headline or some current fact, then bring you right into the Holy Bible. I ignored much of what he said about Jesus, and just picked out any reference to the Holy Bible. Not believing they were one and the same Being, I just wanted God - “raw God” - and not Jesus. Seems like my fist raising to heaven and saying “how great Thou aren't” when I heard the theme song “How Great Thou Art” might have subsided by this time since I was in search of “raw God.”
And, of course, when it came time to pray “the sinner's prayer” I ignored that too. The radio was snapped off. However, God use Billy Graham to get me to read the Holy Bible more. It was bits and pieces at first, and only the prophetic portions. At this early point I would ignore any other passages, especially about Jesus. But what I could not ignore was Billy Graham's repeated reference to a particular book of the Holy Bible. That book was . . .
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 16 - “Getting Glued To The Book of “The Revelation Of Jesus Christ'” : Recap: God sends Bob Wittik to me to be a witness of Him. Wittik tells me to listen to Evangelist Billy Graham. Brother Graham addresses current events, pointing to various Holy Bible passages. Quite often they were prophetic passages. At some point, brother Graham either preached from The Revelation Of Jesus Christ, or made numerous references to it, or both. I looked those passages up.
Many were quite scary. The book itself seemed quite scary and mysterious. And, it was the LAST book of the Holy Bible, – the final word, the final warning. Though I somewhat placed that book in the league of general prophecy, it was somewhat distinct from anything I had read. It made a whole lot more sense than the writings of Nostradamus. Perhaps God did have a little something to do with it. To me at that time it spoke heavily of judgment, and I knew the world needed to be judged. Hitler and many others never got what they deserved while here. There were unsolved murders and other crimes. I felt all of this had to be made right.
Perhaps if I started at the beginning of the book I might know more. So to the start I went, and I can remember seeing the title “The Revelation” and thinking, “This is mysterious. There is some sort of higher power here.” And I began to read, behind closed doors, in my room, no doubt quite often on my bed – the same place where I had to force myself out of trance after hearing a very wicked laugh. At it was the same Holy Bible I used in an occult practice to foresee the future (which I never could).
Anyone who starts at the beginning will come across verse 3: “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.”
God knew how to start the scariest book in the Holy Bible – with a blessing! So, I figured if what Revelation said was true, and if Graham was right about the nearness of Armageddon, perhaps I might escape or, in the least, my punishment lightened if I read that book. So, I read on. I figured “hear” meant “pay attention,” but I was not too sure what “keep those things which are written in it” meant, unless meant “keep in mind.” But I immediately went back to “scary” when I read, “for the time is at hand.” It is? Now? And verse 1 had “things which must shortly come to pass.”
Seven churches, seven Spirits, and Jesus Christ being the first begotten of the dead was all mysterious. Sadly, at that time I guess I rejected the idea of a human figure to bring us to God when I read (verses 5 and 6), “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” I also figured at the time that the “us” was special group and would never apply to me.
Verse 7 was very scary: “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.”
Verse 8 was very mysterious. What was meant by “Alpha and Omega”? To me that was a little interesting because I knew the Greek letter omega was used in electronics to indicate ohms.
Let me fast forward to verses 13-16. For an unsaved chap like me that was a completely bewildering and scary description of Jesus Christ! What did all mean? And verses 17 and 18 were frightful, but a bit hopeful: “And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” And, then there was mystery in verse 20.
And then as you read through it there is that extremely frightening term, “second death.” What was the second death? I was already afraid of dying, so how much more fearful is a “second death”? It is extremely fearful!
Scariness, bewilderment, mystery, but occasional hope. What a book! And keeping in mind the blessing of verse 3 I continued to read, and read, and read. I would have read Revelation four times through before I surrendered my life to Christ in January 1970.
And, unknown to me, as verse 3 indicated I would be blessed every time. In His loving mercy God was conditioning me to recognize my need of Christ in order to escape His judgment. But, was I OK? I considered myself sort of a good person now. After all, I left satanism and I was seeking God. I was not a terrible person. I was good person – and God would soon use Bob Wittik to burst that bubble with His merciful Truth. In order to really receive the Good News we must realize, and admit to, the bad news.
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 15 - “A Horrible Atmosphere'” : As mentioned last week I began to read The Revelation Of Jesus Christ, verse by verse, and being very focused on its contents. Much was mysterious to me and much was going through my mind in regard to the possible “end of the world” (which, in many cases, is “end of the age” – but fifty years ago I would have no clue as to what that would mean). Revelation was interesting, but also gloomy.
“Gloomy” would be the way I would describe the atmosphere of the Macinta household much of the time before we came to Christ. The religion I was raised in seemed to have an eerie focus upon death, even the macabre. A most morbid and frightening thing to me was the adoration of the sacred heart of Jesus, pictured in various ways (including blood coming out of a wounded heart), and, to my knowledge, always encircled with a ring of thorns. Most pictures of Jesus that I saw depicted Him as “spaced-out,” and the same was true of many of the “saints” that were venerated.
And, as you recall (or read back) there was very little love between my parents, and keep in mind my mom told my dad she would divorce him. Every now and then a raging, vehement argument would ensue and the cussing was the worst possible, extremely vulgar.
There was something wrong with my mom, even before she entered menopause. Most times her eyes indicated gloom. Aside from times she was drunk, seasons of happiness were rare. I understand this was due to a number of factors. She went through The Great Depression during which time her and her siblings might have to get something to eat from the trash. I heard that one night she was in bed, felt something on her chest that she thought was a cat, but as she petted the critter she realized it was a rat and immediately she ejected that bugger across the room. One of her brothers had Saint Vitus' Dance who came at one time with an ax. Her mother was possibly abused by her third husband – there were times she heard her mother cry, beg, and scream. There is more, but I will stop here and present a glimpse of what would later happen to her: She found peace when she came to Christ.
But fifty years ago from the date of this post there was no peace in the Macinta household. Instead, anger and gloom seemed to prevail. And I sensed death, was “around the corner.” Back then there was much talk about cancer, and my mom, who was a very heavy smoker, had some indications she might have it. I think I still have that piece of paper where I wrote the word “cancer” and wrote something vulgar about that disease. One of the indicators was that her appetite was sometimes abruptly lost. I can remember there was a time she had prepared a nice meal. All of our plates were were pretty full. She took a few bites, said she could not finish, got up and dumped the rest of what was on plate in the trash. She was slightly bent over and every now and then she would complain of a sharp pain in her back. At one point she said she wished I would become a doctor so I could treat her.
Indeed, death seemed to be right around the corner. What about me at seventeen? Teenagers die too. Where would I go if I would die? Death was a horrible thought, and when I would read about the SECOND death in Revelation, that was very frightening.
However, I thought if there was a God He would be fine with me. After all, I was seeking Him so I figured that would remove me from being eternally condemned as I figured Hitler might be or the guys I heard doing dope.
But, there came the day that Bob Wittik, in trying to bring me to Christ, said something that ENRAGED me – and it needed to be said.
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 14 - “I am never going to walk home again with Bob Wittik! Never ever!” : Fifty years ago by this time I would have started my second reading of The Revelation, the last book of the Holy Bible, and for me it was very bewildering and frightening.
I wondered if the punishments would apply to me. I sure did not want the flying scorpions after me. But, at least I was reading Revelation which had a blessing at the start of it for those who read it. And besides, I was not as bad as Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, or some serial killer. After all, I was seeking the one true God and surely I would not be punished, especially by that “second death.”
And the walks home from school continued with Bob Wittik, almost always using Forest Street. But there was one day I decided it would be THE LAST day.
As we walked along Forest heading toward Midland Avenue, somehow our conversation turned to God's judgment of everyone. I forget what I said, and almost all Bob said, but I am sure he probably told me something along this line as we crossed Midland Avenue: The Holy Bible states we are all born sinners (Romans 3:23) and unless we repent and surrender to God through Christ (Romans 10:9-10) we are all damned (Romans 6:23).
Stopping almost midway in the westbound lane of Midland, a very busy road, my eyes widened, and I exclaimed to Bob, “You mean to tell me I am going to hell!?”
“I'm afraid so Pete,” said Bob.
I stood right there for the moment! Behold, I have used an image* from Google Maps to show you about where I stood, stunned like a dumb deer blinded by headlights! You see the cracks in the road? That is because the weight of shock was so great on me (not really, that was 50 years ago and this image is from June 2018, lol!).
Me, going to Hell? Not ME. I was a good person for seeking God. I was reading the Holy Bible. I was not THAT bad of a person.
Glancing east I saw there was no oncoming traffic, but I had better move anyway. Bob had gone a little ahead of me and I finally got out of Midland and crossed over. I think the thought ran through my mind to leave him right there and go another way, but I went along with him. I remember that red brick wall to my right and thinking, “I will never walk home from school again with him. Never!”
I do not know what he said anymore after that. I was glad to get home and away from him. However, I am sure Bob saw I was bothered and prayed for me on his way home to North Arlington.
Many in the world today, even some who say they are Christian, would say Bob should never have done that, and it was a very unloving thing to do. NO! It was a most loving thing!
Looking back, the way Bob said it, “I am afraid so,” was very nice. However the Word of God clearly shows that under the direction of the Holy Spirit sometimes it must be done a little more harshly. Some people need to wake up. I know there is the hypersensitive element in today's society, but coddling to their hypersensitivity will not help. Being directed by the Holy Spirit does help.
Before one really accepts the Gospel, the Good News, they must hear the bad news. Each of us is damned. The Good News is God has provided the remedy, and the only remedy, Jesus Christ – NOT Catholicism, NOT Protestantism, or any ism, – JUST Christ (John 14:6) in you and me if we would surrender to Him.
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 13 - “Uh, did I say, 'Never?”” : Bob Wittik indicated I was going to Hell! The NERVE OF HIM! After that day I made it a point to avoid him. I forget how I did it, but I think it involved leaving about 15 minutes later and / or walking another way home. The fact that there was a weekend did not matter a bit in soothing my anger, so when Monday rolled around and for some days after that I continued to avoid him.
I do not think many unsaved people enjoy hearing that they are going to Hell. However, that is the truth. This is one reason why the Gospel is good news, because trusting in Christ saves us from the bad news.
Do not think for one moment that what Bob did was unloving. It was very loving. What if you had a terminal cancer that could be cured but your doctor would not tell you that you have cancer? Hell needs to be presented more.
I began to miss the intelligent discussions we were having, but there was more. Bob had something I did not have, but I sort of wanted it. There was something about him. It was actually Someone in him, but I did not know it at that time.
As you can guess, I had to start walking again with Bob. So, I made myself discoverable. The walks and talks continued. I would need Whom he had as my life plans were about to be crumbled to bits.
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 12 - “Halloween 1969”” : Halloween fell on a Friday in 1969 which meant the weekend was ahead after I left school. I probably did not “cruise the Avenue” that night due to the abundance of trick-or-treaters. Most likely I stayed home and at some point thought about things. At seventeen I was too old for trick-or-treating as was more interested in “eye candy.”
By this time I had probably received my first rejection from a college. Would I get two more? If that did occur, perhaps I would be better off dead. Of course, now I know better, but not being born again at that time I was more in tune with what people said, what they thought, about the afterlife. I figured there was one, but the wicked were somehow punished and the “good people” were not. Perhaps we are reincarnated. At any rate, perhaps I would be better off being dead. The way death is always trivialized by Halloween offered that possibility.
Keep in mind the other things I mentioned: the atmosphere of death in the Roman Catholic Church and in our home, the passages of Revelation of impending doom on earth, and my continual success at being a failure. Anyhow, surely if I would ever kill myself my pantheistic God would not punish me – I was not a Hitler, a murderer, a hardened criminal, and whatever else. Despite the fact Bob Wittik indicated I would go Hell I judged myself as worthy of not being damned.
Halloween happens every year and what most people do not realize is something very powerful and very holy “broke loose” over five hundred years ago on October 31. A Roman Catholic priest, Martin Luther, nailed ninety-five theses to the door a church building hoping for dialogue to correct some of the abuses of the Catholic Church. Nope. It was mostly greeted with persecution. But, for those that determined to follow God and the Word of God there was grace that liberated them from sin and dissolved sinfully contrived religion – replacing it with a living, vibrant, ongoing relationship with God through Christ.
The remnant that for centuries had refused to be governed by man and to be enslaved in a system of works became more vocal, rose up, and let God use them as the Protestant Reformation.
And unbeknown to me, God was using that movement to reach me. Billy Graham, Transworld Radio, those religious people that passed out tracts on the corner of Elm and King Street, and, of course, Bob Wittik can be considered “spiritual descendants” of the Protestant Reformation.
I am not saying all Protestants are right and are right with God. Indeed, Protestantism itself needs a Holy Ghost reformation! But there is that remnant, those few, that do not depend upon religion, but have a true relationship with God through Christ. If you are not one of them, please give this some serious thought. And, no doubt you have heard a lot about the soon return of Christ – and I hope it is very soon. Spiritually, it will be a horrible time for the unsaved. However, keep in mind any of us can die at any minute and then comes the judgment (Hebrews 9:27).
Do not be fooled like I was, thinking that as long as you are a “good person” you will be OK afterwards. I almost went to Hell about six or seven weeks after Halloween 1969. Death was starting to look to me.
But, I still had some glimmers of hope. Besides, though there was no Halloween candy for me, as an unsaved young man I delighted at times to indulge in “eye candy.” Comments on that next time, God willing.
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 11 - “Cruising 'The Avenue'” : By this time fifty years ago I probably had received my second college rejection. So, the roster on the main floor of Kearny High School of those going to colleges did not have my name on it. Well, I had one shot left.
When Friday hit this time I probably did borrow Dad's car and head for “The Avenue,” Kearny Avenue, which went along the top of the ridge on which the residential section of Kearny straddled on both sides.
As it is this day, all sorts of shops, churches, schools, apartment houses, homes and more lined both sides. See for yourself in this YouTube video posted by someone on one of the Kearny Facebook groups I am in. The video shows you a ride from south to north, near Harrison to North Arlington. At North Arlington the name of the road changes to Ridge Road. God willing you will hear about Ridge Road again next month when I tell you about the night I attempted suicide twice. That will be the most difficult post for me to write.
Fifty years ago about this time it would be pretty dark and nippy out so I would probably have a safe drive. I say that because a few months before I almost had a fender bender with my Dad's car. I was 17, unsaved, and number of girls back then did not mind wearing miniskirts. I was heading north to south on the avenue not far from where it meets Laurel Avenue. Ahead, across the street to my left there was a girl with a miniskirt, waking northward. I looked, kept looking – uh – oh, the light at Laurel! I had to slam on the breaks to avoid hitting the car in front of me that stopped for the red light.
Today, there are many distractions around us that want to grab our attention that we may slam right into Hell. If you are born again, keep your eyes on Jesus. Promote and proclaim the Gospel, not politics. If you are not born again, or if you have gone away from Christ, turn to God through Christ now before the snare Christ spoke of (Luke 21:34-35) springs into action.
I was still listening to Billy Graham and reading The Revelation, but the true opiate of society, . . . Next week God willing.
I have bought a USB extension cable in the hopes of having a special Facebook Broadcast on the 50th anniversary of my coming to Christ, January 25, 2020, probably starting at 8 or 8:30 ET
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 10 - “Add Morals To The Weight” : I mentioned “cruising the avenue,” Kearny Avenue last week and posted a video of what the avenue currently looks like. I remember driving that road and others in Kearny and North Arlington with, of course, the radio on.
A favorite station of mine was WABC, New York City, and my favorite DJ was “Cousin Bruce” or sometimes referred to as “Cousin Brucey.” His theme jingle was something like, “. . .Movin' and groovin', having ball, with Cousin Bruce.” His on-air name was Bruce Murrow, but his actual name was Bruce Meyerowitz.
Many of us young people back then enjoyed The Four Seasons (Rag Doll, Big Girls Don't Cry), The Beach Boys, and The Archies. Every time I recall cruising the streets as a teenager I can still hear “Sugar, Sugar” by The Archies in my head and envision my hands on the steering wheel, gently moving the wheel to the beat.
Being shy and awkward, dating was sporadic for me. My parents never told me certain things, probably because I was not “tellable,” and I was bewildered to a degree as to what was proper. Though I had rejected the Roman Catholic Church and even dabbled in satanism I thought there had to be some set a values a person should go by, particularly on dating. What was the rule? I guess go by the girl's standards? But what if they were more “relaxed” than mine? At one point, I erred a little – not drastically though, lol. Nonetheless that was one more weight of sin and guilt. And, looking at some the hypocrites in the United States that viciously seek the blood of any conservative, I am probably disqualified for public office, lol! Good!
By this time I might have started my third reading of The Revelation, and I was still listening to Billy Graham. I figured some type of judgment was on the way. Will I be OK with the “raw” pantheistic God I was seeking. What was right or wrong in regard to anything?
Well, the radio was helpful to ease my mind from all that was piling up on me. And, now that I know God through Christ, I see religion is not the opium of society, but a lot of music is. There was one more college I was to hear from. Perhaps I will accepted and become some type of scientist or something, or at least say I had went to college.
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 9 - “NO!” : It was probably around this time fifty years ago that I received the last response from one of the three area colleges I had apply to. No drum roll here. You know very well what it said. I had received my third rejection.
No. NO! I would never go to college. My name would never be on the roster at Kearny High School who were accepted into college. Worst of all, I would never be a scientist, something I had always wanted to be.
Unknown to me at the time was that God, in His time and in His ways, would reverse all three of those conditions. But at that moment it was unknown to me because the One true God was unknown to me. And all I knew was failure, and to my knowledge no future.
The option of suicide became more frequent in my mind. I mentioned it at least once to one person and why I did I do not know – except for the very strong possibility that satan wanted me to say something to him because his shameful reply was something like “go ahead Pete.”
And another problem loomed ahead. Thanksgiving would be next week and we would gather for a Thanksgiving meal at my Uncle Gene's. For years my relatives had known I unswervingly stated I was going to go to college and become a scientist. Most knew I was in my senior year and was slated to graduate in June 1970. Someone was bound to ask what college I was going to. I would be very embarrassed to say, “none.”
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 8 - “Thanksgiving 1969” : To the best of my recollection almost every Thanksgiving gathering for the Macintas / Maciutas was at my Uncle Gene's (Eugene), on 5th Street, just a few doors west of where I first lived. The picture I am posting shows our 1969 Thanksgiving, which I think was taken by me. To my knowledge, none of us were true Christians, disciples of Christ, therefore you will see booze and smokes.
After the initial “nostrohbya” (A to “our health” toast, usually with a shot of brandy or whiskey), we all looked forward to some of our Eastern European ethnic goodies along with the traditional American fare of turkey, cranberry sauce, and other yummers. There were many times after the meal that I would head to the backroom where the leftovers we kept for additional samples.
However, fifty years ago I somewhat dreaded to go to the feast. My relatives knew I was to graduate from high school in 1970. They knew I wanted to be a scientist and had intended to go to college. They did not know all my college applications were rejected. So I was dreading the question from anyone, “What college will you be going to?” Nor would I want to ask what did I plan to do upon graduation.
Thankfully no one asked anything like that. I was generally left alone. My mind was still wondering about God and the end of the world. Many of my relatives would attend church – at least on the important days. They were a mix of Russian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and a smattering of non-tagged heathen. My Roman Catholic godfather was there. Regardless of religious background, vulgarity and a few other things were common. Some were drunk and a few were tipsy. As I looked around at most everyone's behavior, including mine, I had to think that some had a religion, but what if they are still going to Hell? What if all the church going really meant nothing. It somewhat seemed vain to me. It was somewhat scary to think that that one could be a good Roman Catholic or Russian Orthodox and still go to Hell. And what about the Russian Orthodox? I knew little about it, but who was really right, Russian Orthodox or Roman Catholic? Being trained Roman Catholic how would I really know?
I consoled myself that at least I was seeking God, “raw God.” Forget the “spaced out” Jesus so often seen in Roman Catholic artwork. But what I could not console about was the looming fact I was a failure, trash. My grades were so poor that I had to wonder if I would even graduate. These thoughts continued to plague me, and would continue to do so, and a couple of weeks away I would make a most horrible decision. Looking closely at the picture I am posting I see my Dad, (fifth from your left) seems to be looking proudly at me. Little did he know – and ever know – that I almost gravely saddened him and Mom in December 1969.
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 7 - “Deciding For Death” : It use to be that when any December would come around I would look forward to the coming weeks. Both parents had birthdays, then Christmas, and then New Years – which I had always anticipated as being better than the previous year.
But, it was not so this time fifty years ago in 1969. My senior high school year was almost half over and my grades were far below average. The seven-year-old boy who thought for sure he would make his parents proud was a shameful disaster ten years later. I tallied my life up: arrested twice, went from straight “A”s to barely passing, messy, a thief, filthy (morally), clumsy at sports, gave up piano playing, gave up martial arts, got into a little trouble with a girl (which probably ruined any “good guy” reputation I had with any girls), rejected by three colleges, and a few more things.
Satan, whom I once worshiped (read back), was right there helping me to mold my sadness and despair into a very deep depression. Guilt and hopelessness weighed heavy upon me. I had no future. I was at a dead end – so I might as well be dead. As the days and nights marched through December 1969 the thought of removing myself from the world seemed to be much better than just floating through life from one failure to another. Despair and guilt presented me with no other option but to kill myself.
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 6 - “Suicide Attempt” : About this time in December 1969 I had decided my future was completely hopeless. If you need the details as to why I came to that conclusion you may read back. Death was better than present life. I decided the best way for me to die was in a car crash.
It was a regular thing for me to borrow Dad's car “to cruise the avenue,” “the ridge,” and other streets of Kearny and North Arlington. So Dad and Mom had no idea I was going to take the car for one last ride.
Think of how stupid that was. My parents would lose their only son and my Dad would be without a car for work. That would have been far worse for them than the fact I had a police record and would not be going to college.
And, speaking of police, there were hardly any around that night. I cannot recall seeing a patrol car anywhere. Fine.
I picked a street that would cross the ridge at a stoplight. The plan was to time it in such a way that when I reached the top at high speed the light would be red for me, but I would speed through and be struck by another car.
Now, think of how stupid that was! Of course I had hardly paid attention in physical science class and did not realize I would be more apt to kill the other driver than myself, depending how the vehicles crash. Also, it was mighty stupid of me to include another person in my death wish.
Nonetheless, I stepped on the throttle hoping no police were around. I raced upward. The light turned red as I had hope. I kept going, but then stopped in time before the intersection.
Naturally I rethought the situation, but the more I thought, the more I felt my life was hopeless and useless. I decided I would crash into the river. That was another stupid idea that could have involved another driver.
However, this once straight A student was a horrible mess wrapped up in himself. I located a street that would lead me to the Passaic River and stepped on the throttle again. Again, no police around. But, about a short block away I stopped.
I stayed there for a few seconds. Try again? No. The desire to die weakened. I accepted what I was. I said, audibly, “I can't even commit suicide. I guess I will always be a failure.” Sheepishly I turned the car down a side street and went back home.
I forget if both Mom and Dad were downstairs when I entered. It seems to me that someone was there. Nonetheless I just simply went upstairs and went to my room. I never told them what I did. Mom was already depressed and had she found out she would have fallen to pieces. But, they never knew. For some time no one knew but God.
Now, aside from the fact that I did not kill myself and Dad's car was not damaged, what was actually the best thing I did that night? The answered dawned on me a week ago when I started preparing this post: It was when I confessed I was failure and would always be a failure.
Surely, someone reading this will say, “no.” Well unless I add something to this you will not understand. I was not born again, not regenerated by the Spirit of God. According to the Word of God (John 3:18) I was already damned like everyone else. Even if I had not messed up my life, went to college, became a scientist, operated a facility that employed hundreds, made some great discovery like Einstein or Salk, or anything else, because I was outside of Christ it all would be nothing (John 15:5, “. . . for without Me you can do nothing).
And, more than that, I was now in position to receive Christ as my Savior and Lord. How? The reason I was going to kill myself was because I had lost MY life, viz., becoming a great scientist and making my parent proud of me. Jesus said (Matthew 16:25), “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” If you would like, you can hear message on that passage that I delivered to Cornerstone at https://archive.org/details/LoseItOrLoseIt .
You see, I was “half way” there. I lost my life. It would not be until six weeks later I would lose my for the sake of Christ. But during those six weeks preaching, witnessing, and I am sure prayers – and no doubt prayers from some people in a little Assembly Of God Church on Elm Street in Kearny – would now be more effective.
Just a few days ago, something else dawned on me. I was also blessed in another way. It involves the absence of the police that night. Can you guess what that blessing was? It has nothing to do with not being ticketed. It is the same observation I made months ago in these posts.
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 5 - “I Would Be Home For Christmas” : In the previous post I told you about my suicide attempt one December evening in 1969. I was planning a car crash, stupidly thinking that for sure death would be instantaneous, and not thinking I would endanger others and bring tremendous grief to my parents.
If you read that account you will see that despite the fact I was speeding there were no patrol cars around. In fact, the streets I had been on seemed deserted.
As I was writing these recent posts something occurred to me that I had never thought of. It involves the fact there were no police around, but has nothing to do with tickets, fines, or warnings.
If I made it to the Passaic River chances are I would not have been killed. Police and an ambulance would arrive. Or, let us say I was stopped for speeding. Surely an officer would question me. In either case it might have been discovered I was going to kill myself. Then, what might have happened?
More likely than not I would be sent to a psychiatric facility, be evaluated, and perhaps MEDICATED. As I said months ago, I am very appreciative of the medical discoveries like polio vaccine, smallpox vaccine, penicillin, and more. But, when I was first arrested and lived in emotional misery for more than a year I so glad my loving parents never took me to a psychiatrist.
Had it been found out by law enforcement that I wanted to kill myself for sure someone would see to it I would get psychiatric help. But now that I am born again and ordained to the ministry I have seen down through the years that many times such medication becomes a trap, especially when an adult is placed on disability. In that case it is a double trap! The government gets a person hooked on drugs and in some cases pays them not to get a job – when all the time decent work is actually great therapy.
What a person needs is a new life that can only be given by Jesus Christ. Next to that, and especially until they come to Christ, is that people pray for them. I would not doubt that fifty years ago that Bob Wittik prayed for me and brought my name up for prayer at Kearny Assembly of God. No doubt my future pastor and his wife, brother and sister Bricker, after hearing prayer requests for me would pray for me as directed by the Holy Spirit.
If you are reading this and you feel like your life is hopeless, worthless, or you just feel like something is missing, I encourage you to find the same peace with God and fulfillment as I did just over fifty years and one month ago. Do not hide behind religion or pride. Do not let your sin nature (that we are all born with) hold you back! Surrender to God now by turning your back on sin and self, confess your sins directly to God and admit your need of Jesus, and invite Jesus Christ (Messiah) to into your heart to be you Lord, King, Savior, and Friend.
If you do that, please take my FREE (did I say, “FREE”?) course, Basic Elements Of Christianity located at http://sapphirestreams.com/bec/ . It is interactive and has quizzes. If you do not care to read, currently each lesson has at least one mp3 you may listen to. It is not just for new converts, but anyone that wants to go deeper. Go for it, and go for God!
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 4 - “The Final Christmas Of Darkness” : Christmas 1969 for the Macintas in Kearny, NJ, was brighter than what might have happened: a dead son and a ruined car. Or a son in a psychiatric facility being medicated. My parents were in the dark in regard to my suicide attempt.
All of us were in the dark of our real need for God, whether it was my Russian Orthodox Dad, Roman Catholic Mom, or me, Pete the some-type-of-pantheist. There was always the family manger scene below the Christmas tree but not one of us fully knew the true meaning of the incarnation. To me, it was just another religious story. We might sing some Christmas songs but not truly know what they meant. How many times had I sung Hark! The Herald! – born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth – and never really knew what that meant! Our religion, including my pantheistic view, was good enough.
No one knew it, but things were about to change. In a few weeks I would be singing hymns and actually know what they meant. I would experience the lyrics of many God honoring songs. And, in less than a year, my parents would not be the same.
I sure cannot remember what I got for that Christmas from those on earth, but less than a month later I would receive the greatest gift anyone can get!
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 3 - “Not Expecting Any Luck For The New Year, 1970” : As I recall, at the start of 1970 the pressure was off of me to commit suicide. To this day I have to wonder if someone was praying for me. Did Bob Wittik or someone else bring up my name in prayer at Kearny Assembly of God?
I was also very much resigned to the thought I would be a hopeless failure just floating through life however long I lived. As we entered 1970 I naturally wondered what was ahead. Would I be drafted, or just work at Shop Rite for a while? I did not look forward toward Vietnam, but then my Dad had served in WWII as a Merchant Marine and a number of my relatives were veterans. I was raised to have a patriotic streak in me and I despised the draft dodgers of my time. Since I enjoyed bodies of water the thought of joining the Navy crossed my mind.
That New Years Eve I stayed up to watch the ball drop. Someone had opened a bottle of cherry wine, my favorite back then and I indulged of course. To occasionally be drunk was no big deal in our family. That night I was little tippsy, so when a former girlfriend called I knocked the phone over.
I do not know about anyone else with Eastern European roots but a New Years tradition was to eat a piece of . . . pickled herring. Yep. Pickled herring. I guess I ate a piece but I was of the state of mind it would not matter. What was luck? Was it real? In previous years I considered it real and would pursue it. However, I was unaware that by the end of the month I would encounter something greater than luck.
Upon returning to classes at Kearny High School I simply ignored the roster of those going off to college and elsewhere upon graduation. I would just have to concentrate upon making sure I could graduate. They did not play around back then – and society was much better for it.
And God was not playing around. Bob Wittik still walked home from school with me from time to time. Along with witnessing, if I recall correctly he was doing a little spiritual prepping on me with the hope I would surrender to Christ. He told me what he knew about certain church fellowships and denominations. This would be help to me four or five weeks from the first week of January 1970.
And, I was still listening to Billy Graham and musing about the events recorded in Revelation. A certain passage really bothered me, and I am sure the providence of God had something to do with it.Newest . . . and also WEEK 1 below it!
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - Week 2 - “A 'Sting' To Add More Punch To The Fifth Trumpet” : By this time fifty years ago I had finished reading Revelation for the fourth time. However, I was still thinking about many of its passages. One of the most frightening sections to me was the sounding of the fifth trumpet where flying scorpions were released from the bottomless pit and torment people for five months (See Revelation 9:1-11). The pain inflicted by these freakish insects would be so horrible that their victims would want to die – but they would not be able too.
For years I had a great fear of many flying insects thanks to a simple incident that occurred when I was very young. We would occasionally visit my maternal grandmother's gravesite at Holy Cross Cemetery in North Arlington, NJ. It was probably in the spring or summer months that Dad parked the in the usual area, near the dead end of Elm Street (if not Devon). We would enter the cemetery through its perimeter at the dead end. There was no fence back then. If you look at the images provided there is a fence there now.
To get to her grave we would go through a thin area of a treeline. I always thought that was “cool.” Most young chaps like a little adventure. In the street image provided it seems like we can still see part of the start of the old path we and others would take as a shortcut to desired points. That might just be it!
But on that day, something popped me on the right side of my forehead causing slight pain. Of course, to me that was frightening and an emergency, so I wailed away. My parents did not see anything wrong so perhaps I was simply visited by a “sweat bee.” However, ever since that time, until about a decade after coming to Christ I was very fearful flying insects. I considered the dragonflies at Lake Hopatcong to be a threat.
Nonetheless that childhood fear followed me into adolescence and in January 1970 the thought of the flying scorpions in Revelation would often come to mind. What if Revelation was true? Bees were one thing, and certainly knew about regular scorpions. Those were frightful enough. What about the ones that flew? I am sure they could latch on to someone with their legs (or whatever you call them) and hit them real good with their stinger.
What if Billy Graham was right? Looking at the world conditions it seemed like he was at least part right. What if everything he said was true? What if the Bible was really the Word of Almighty God? I was in trouble.
And, the world was messed up (and it is even more messed up now). I believed there was a God and surely He would do something about it. Rev. Graham kept mentioning Jesus, but I still thought I could just have “raw God” without any human-like figure to turn to. Nevertheless, with all the unsolved murders, the Holocaust, violence, and more there had to be some type of judgment. After all, consider . . . .
Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me – WEEK 1! - “Valley Of Decision Before My Hour Of Blessed Decision” : Adolf Hitler was heavy on my mind as the second half of January 1970 rolled in. From my Dad and others I heard he was responsible for the imprisonment, torturing, and murdering of millions. I had seen pictures of people in concentration camps and heard stories of how people were burned alive, lampshades were made from human skin, and much more. But Hitler was never adequately punished for any of this before he died, and that really bothered me.
For me, that was one reason among a few others as to why I thought there had to be a God. There had to be some type of reckoning – for people like that. Hitler and other nasty people certainly deserved Hell. For others like me God would have no right (imagine me thinking that!) to send us to Hell because although He was God He never actually knew what it meant to be human (so I thought).
Jesus? Yes, evangelist Billy Graham always spoke of Him, but I thought Jesus was not necessary. We could all have just “raw God” – no religious figure was needed in my opinion. To me, Jesus was in the way – not understanding He is The Way! Yet, I had to figure Jesus had to actually existed since our calendar year was based upon the year of His birth (which I later found out was off by something like 4 to 6 years). There had been some powerful changes since that Jesus was born. Maybe He was real.
Additionally, Graham sounded so correct about the pending judgment of all mankind. Much of what he said made sense to me. What if he was right about Jesus? If he and Bob Wittik were right then I was damned. The nasty contents of Revelation awaited me, including “the second death” – whatever that was. I carried a load of guilt. If you read back, as young boy I was arrested for something embarrassing and no doubt greatly disappointed my parents. I had done so many other things that were wrong – stealing, lying, cussing, messing with a girl – and the list went on. What should I do?
This post was placed on Facebook January 16, 2020. Going back to January to around January 16, 1970, what I have just posted was the state of mind I was in at around that time. I would listen to Graham again on January 18, 1970 and this thought cycle would continue until a week later when I snapped on the radio again on January 25 at 10 PM to hear “The Hour Of Decision” by Billy Graham. That night God, in His tender mercy, would change me for His glory like He has done for millions. By His grace, and not on my merit, He translated me – one that used to hate Him – from the realm of darkness into the Kingdom of His dear Son.
No matter what you have done or what you are or what you think you are, God wants to translate you too! Pedophile, murderer, homosexual, bisexual, liar, a failure, thief, Mafia member, adulterer, or just plain human, or anything else, God will change you if you let Him! Admit you have sinned, you are a sinner, that you have no merit no matter how good you are, and completely surrender yourself and your entire life to God through Christ.
This is the final main post for “Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me.” God willing I will begin a new series on or shortly after January 24, 2020. I am undecided on the title at the moment, but be looking for that link at the end of this post.
God willing, next week I will begin a new series on or shortly after January 24, 2020 which will recount when I became a new creation in Christ and a very unforgettable first year in Jesus! That first year in Jesus was jammed-packed with happenings! See how God begins to flip some of the negative aspects of my life. No future? Not when you let God through Christ redeem you! Stuff eventually even happens to my unsaved parents!
Here it is! → Throwback Thursday: What A First Year In Christ!
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