This coming Saturday marks my 43rd birthday. For much of my 43 years on this Earth, I was lost in the fog of the physical world, not knowing the Lord nor caring to. I think that as we get older, on the occasions of our birthdays and anniversaries (my 20th wedding anniversary is coming up on Friday – I know, strategically placed so as not to forget!) that we look back on the times we have lived through, the changes that we have seen, and give thanks for the time the Lord worked in order to shelter us even in those days when we had turned away from Him. We can look back and clearly see the path that we have been on, the various twists and turns, the bumps along the way, and see the different signposts that the Lord put up in front of us to guide us to the place and time that He wanted us to be in to do the most effective work in His glory. I know that is certainly the case with me, though I was a stubborn man, thinking I knew what was best for me, and though I was a wretched man, wrapped up in the sins I was committing. I am writing this here today to show you the various twists and turns that I took, my pitfalls and ultimate triumph, so that you might know that you are not alone in the road you are traveling, and in the hopes that my poor words might be stumbled upon by someone very much in need of reassurance that no matter what you have done in your life, who you have been, that you can still find acceptance in the Lord, and that He will remake you into the person you need to be.
I grew up in rural Oklahoma, just north of the Red River. While I know many of you probably think of Oklahoma as flat and dry, which most of it is, I grew up in the southeast corner, where we have what is called there “mountains” but are really the foothills to the Ozarks and the Ouachita National Forest stretches from within Oklahoma and into Arkansas. Tiny natural lakes dot the countryside and the Kiamichi, Glover, and Little Rivers, together with Muddy Boggy and Beaver Creeks flow through a land of hundreds of shades of green.
It is one of my first memories associated with church that I believe shaped much of what was to come in my life and the associations that I held with the church for many years. Indeed, it shaped much of what I thought about Christianity for many long years. I don’t remember exactly what age I was. I know that it was before I even entered kindergarten, but I already had some measure of knowledge of right and wrong, instilled in me by my parents. At the time, we were attending a Baptist church in our town. At the time, my mother was volunteering in the nursery of the church, and my older brothers and I would first go to Sunday school, and then attend the main service if we wanted to wait for our mom to get done, or we would walk home (hey – it was the 70s, no one questioned a couple of 10-12 year olds walking home with their 4-5 year old little brother, even if it meant walking from one end of town to the other!).
There was a older man that went to our church, and I honestly wish I could remember his real name. I always despised using the name most of the townsfolk called him and so I will simply call him “Joe”. Anyway, he was mentally handicapped, and was mentally not much older than we were. He absolutely loved my older brothers, who were twins, and all together he called the three of us “Little Brothers”. Every time he saw us, he would come and talk to us, and also give us some candy. In those days, you were very much taught to respect your elders, so even though we knew he was not altogether “there”, we showed him the same respect we showed every other adult. He led a hard life and the taunts of the townsfolk and other children had to have been tough for him to bear. But he was a good man and never meant anyone any harm. Although he did often smell (I don’t know looking back now if there was anyone actually giving him care to make sure he was bathing regularly), he wore a suit to church every Sunday. Even despite his mental deficiencies, he knew that his presence upset some of the people, and so he would come in and sit in the back, far away from everyone else. He just wanted to come and listen to the sermon, and he would usually be gone before the other people made their way to the doors out.
Looking back on it now, it hurts my heart so much what I saw that day, knowing what a church is supposed to be and how we are to treat one another. It was upsetting in that day, too, but now it hits me much harder. The last day I was ever in that church, my brothers and I had decided to go to the main service, and “Joe” showed up, just like usual. We were coming in around the same time as him, having checked in with our mother between Sunday school and the service. We talked to him briefly before going in, and we sat in the hall on the opposite side from him, but also in the back. Before the service began, several of the church elders came back to talk to him, and they told him he would have to leave. He began to sob and explained that he wouldn’t bother anyone, he just wanted to hear the service. After several minutes of arguing, the men gathered him up and physically removed him from the church. My brothers and I were outraged and appalled. As they carried him out, we ran to the nursery to tell my mother what had happened. She has us stay with her, waited for the conclusion of the service, when all of the people had picked up their small children, and then told us to go wait in the car. I’m not sure what she said to that pastor that day, but I know my mother when she was angry, and I am sure she let him have it. When she got to the car, she told us that we would never go to that church again. And we never did.
You might have noticed that I didn’t mention my father in the story above. He didn’t go to church with us. He thought it was important for us, but he didn’t go. Later in life, he would go on to establish a relationship with God, but at that time I think he had a hard time reconciling some of his decisions with God. That isn’t to say he didn’t believe, but like so many of us, he was caught up with the physical world at the time. He worked hard and drank hard. I never saw him without a cigarette in his hand until his health had gotten so poor that he had to give them up. He was very much a presence in my early childhood, but when I was eleven, he and my mother divorced. Shortly after that, he moved to Dallas and though I would spend spring breaks and summers with him and his new family, I had little contact with him other than that. It was something that I held against him for many years, but I understood better when I got older. I lost my mother in 2003 (and subsequently, my father in 2014), and he was by her side throughout her struggle before her death. We scattered her ashes in a place where we used to go camping as a family. After, I told everyone I was going to go to the store to pick up more beer (I drank hard back then) and he told me he would give me a ride. Although my dad drank hard for most of his life, he didn’t then. But when I got the beer, we drove out into the country on an old dirt road and drank most of it. He apologized to me for the effects his actions had on me. I told him that yes, it was difficult, but without all of those experiences, I would not be the man that I am today.
As I said, my parents divorced when I was eleven, and by the time I was fourteen, I was beginning to get involved in many things that I shouldn’t have. I won’t list everything here, but I am sure that most of you can imagine what all I was involved in. Now, when people make remarks about my mostly white hair, I tell them that it isn’t always the amount of miles on a car, but the way those miles were driven, and from my early teenage years to the time I met my wife, I drove the hell out of this body. I am sure that many of the people that knew me back then would have a good laugh knowing that I now write the kinds of things I do now.
It was when I entered my late teenage years that I began to feel a thirst for something more than just this physical life. I was searching for something more, and I read every piece of spiritual literature I could get my hands on. I re-read the Bible, I read the Koran, writings by the Dalai Lama, the Book of Mormon. I read Wiccan books, books on witchcraft and I read many of the books written by Aleister Crowley. I got involved in the occult. Perhaps one day I will write more on my experiences in the occult, but right now I would just share this: 1) most people will tell you that magic doesn’t work – they are completely wrong; you just can’t be sure how it is going to work or with what entities you are making contact and are acting both on your behalf but also entrapping you; 2) if you read carefully, there is some wisdom there, as the enemy will whisper half-truths; however, you should only do so with discernment and with the full protection of the Lord (see the second part of the statement above; also, you can gain this wisdom through the Lord, so why tamper with such dangerous entities?); 3) you will notice that in my writings, I very rarely use the enemy’s name – there is danger in using names of entities, as this brings their attention to you; I say this not because I don’t believe in the power that the Lord has given us to tread over such evil, but to put it into military terms – just because I can call on airstrike in on an enemy position doesn’t mean I am going to broadcast on his channels. After some very scary encounters, I finally left that behind. But I still was not ready to give myself over to the Lord.
In the mid-90’s, I met my wife. She and my children have been the singular most positive and persistent presences in my life. I cleaned up my act, for the most part, and it was the birth of my son, along with the lack of opportunities for employment in the area where I was born and raised that spurred me to join the military in 1996. My life in the military has been somewhat of a mixed bag – while I am very thankful of the skills that I have learned, the experiences that I have had in the military (seeing locations around the world where literally only a handful of Americans have ever been), and the discipline that the military instilled in me, it is not without cost. I am not yet prepared to talk about all of those costs, but the stress of being an enlisted military man contributed to my returning to drinking hard. In 2005, I entered a special duty where my family and I lived in Germany, and from there I traveled all around Europe, the Caucasus region, and Central Asia performing a plethora of missions involved mostly in arms control and the inspections that are conducted verifying information exchanges.
During this period, I was averaging about 50% of the year away from home, but that was not six straight months at a time, but a week here, nine weeks there. The stress of being away from home, together with the stresses of the work, began to take their toll. At the time, I was never really sure what grade my children were in, let alone anything substantial going on in their lives. My wife took care of the home front, and then put her own life on hold each time I left and came back. Adding to her stress, I returned from one trip to Kazakhstan where I was in a very bad car accident literally in a wheelchair (no, I wasn’t driving) and another with the two smaller fingers in my left hand broken completely in half and set like “X”s from an incident in Moscow. So when I was away, her and the kids were constantly worried for my safety, while the times I was home, I was continuing to drink heavy. And there were other issues that I won’t go into, but that are common to military families, unfortunately, in dealing with the military member being gone, and also in his coping with that time away. I could feel myself literally slipping away. As I stated on the Hagmann and Hagmann Report recently, I had this increasing anger building in me. I remember just always being in a bad mood. Small things would set me off. I want to make clear that I was never physical with anyone, but I was constantly enraged.
The breaking point came when my wife and I almost split up. While I won’t divulge exactly what all was going on at the time, I will say it was mostly my fault. The constant time away and dealing with being at home one week and gone for the next two months, only to be home for two weeks and off again, the transition from being alone to having my family again, just built up. The drinking didn’t help. I knew that I needed help, but didn’t know where to go. My wife was going to counseling for herself and wanted to do marriage counseling, and she thought it would do me good to get some counseling myself. While she and I had a really good marriage counselor, and we did end up making it out of that quagmire together, what I received in my personal sessions could hardly be called counseling. The doctor had me fill out paperwork about my feelings, talked to me for a few minutes, and then diagnosed me with depression and put me on SSRIs. After that, each session was really just checking to see if the medication was working, but nothing to deal with the anger I had (he claimed that anger was the depression manifesting itself that way).
I recounted my experiences coming off the medication on the Hagmann show, but will simply reiterate that once I wanted to come off it was only through prayer that I was able to – deciding on my own and trying under my own power had no effect. Once the prayer got me off the medication, I started praying every day, and developing that personal relationship that I speak so often of in my articles. I prayed for discernment, for wisdom. I knew that something was wrong with the message that had been presented in the churches I had gone to throughout my life. I had so many questions that the church had never answered. And the Lord guided me to a number of people that began to answer those questions, not in real life, but through YouTube videos. He led me to the Hagmann show, where I first heard men like Pastor David Lankford, Steve Quayle, and others. Even as my faith grew, He led me to friendship with Jon Robberson through Mike Kerr and the Hear the Watchmen Conference. Now, He is opening paths before me to continue not only what He led me to do in the first place, but He is doubling the efforts through appearances on broadcasts, working together with Jon and Mike on Brothers on the Wall, and so much more. He watches over even the smallest details of my and my family’s personal lives, making so much possible that would have never been so but through His will.
In closing, I never imagined that I would sit here this afternoon and basically write an autobiography, and yet there is so much left unsaid here. My intention was not to glorify my own life or myself, but to show that even someone that was so far removed from the Lord as I was can make it back. I don’t care if you are a drunk, a prostitute, a teenager that cuts themselves just so that they can feel something…it doesn’t matter what you have done or been in your life, the Lord wants you. He has a greater purpose. He has a gift to give to you, if only you be obedient and learn to listen. I really hope that some of you will share your own stories and testimonies with me, and maybe we can begin to work together to lift one another up, and make this world a better place.