Some of the following things I am certain that I have told you about in your younger years. But now that you have recently married, your mother and I are forced to realize that you are grown up. Perhaps some of these experiences will help build your faith during the coming years as you go about living your own experiences along the Way.
I have been curious about what Yehovah (God) expected of people from the time that I first considered that there was a Creator. What would a loving Elohim (God) do with the billions of people who had differing concepts about who He was, or if He was, or even how many gods there are? How could Elohim condemn people to hell for not pleasing Him when for all practical purposes He has been in hiding for most of the last 6000 years. Wouldn’t it further His plan if He were to let us know what He wants?
The earliest spiritual conversation that I held with anyone that I can recall was with your patriarchal great grandfather, Wesley Martin. He had been a lifelong minister in the Nazarene Church. He helped get that church established early in the last century. He had even been a friend of the famous Billy Sunday, and I was told that that was a very good thing. I understood that he was highly revered by family and friends as a spiritual guide—and I had a problem. I decided that this time I would not sit on his lap when I spoke with him because this was going to be a serious conversation. So I sat close to him on his left side and challenged the idea that a loving Elohim would torture people forever in an ever burning hell fire. I knew that he would not be happy with me because of this challenge, but I couldn’t let that stop me. The Creator’s plan was important to me. If He could build the universe in a week then He must be smart enough to realize that eternal torture was a bad idea, I reasoned. He tried his best to assure me that hell was a good thing, however we just couldn’t agree.
A couple of years later I remember sitting in Sunday school and singing a song that contained the words “I may never fight in the infantry, ride in the cavalry, shoot the artillery but I’m in the Lord’s army”. But I was singing “I WILL never fight” so loudly that I didn’t even realize that everyone else was singing “may never”. They stopped me and informed me that the words were “I may never fight”. I was horrified that they might indeed fight and kill other people, so I kept on singing—“I will never fight”!
I lived my first 13 years on a street full of [people of a particular religion]. I was a natural target for every kid who wanted to show off. When they would hit me or throw stones and bricks at me I would never fight back. Somehow I had become a pacifist even tho no one had ever influenced me in that direction. It was a terrible place to grow up. I used to walk a mile to school because I felt safer alone than on a bus full of kids. On occasions the neighbors would threaten me with guns and other weapons. Once someone left a live WW2 hand grenade by the gravel pit that I walked by daily. I showed it to another guy and we took it to school. Back then, we were considered a “good boys” for taking it to school to give to the teacher. Today that would make me a terrorist!
Because of my situation, I hid in our basement for most of my first thirteen years that we lived on Bishop Ave. I called myself “a cellar dweller”. In that basement was a large number of college textbooks and many religious reference books. These books became my only friends. The only book that I could not get thru was Fox’s Book of Martyrs. I became keenly interested in “Christianity”. You might say that I did not have a normal childhood. My mother said that I was never a child.
I never saw much of my father. He was one of the most important nuclear scientists at the now condemned Fernald Atomic plant. By the time he was forty three years old, the year that he died, he was in charge of his own Top Secret atomic operation in Houston Texas. During my youth all I knew for sure about his work was that on the occasions when my mother took him to work, there were armed guards and steel bars. That seemed normal to me because from my earliest years, when I would on occasion see my grandfather Roth’s place of employment at the Marion Power Shovel plant, they had steel barred windows as well, and for the longest time I thought that grandma took him to jail daily.
I had become quite withdrawn from people even before I started into school. I made a game of seeing how many school years I could go without speaking to the teachers in class, and most years I “won”. I liked and respected most of my grade school teachers, but I thought that it showed weakness to “beg” for help. One of the first papers that I had to write in school really destroyed any hope that I might have ever had of developing a use for teachers; from then on I did not trust them. When I was about ten years old, I was accused of plagiarism. I distinctly remember the teacher saying: “You could not have possibly written that.” For my remaining years in school, I refused to talk to teachers except to answer questions specifically addressed to me, and for the next 36 years, I refused to express any significant thoughts in writing, with just a couple of exceptions: a fourteen page letter to my “mentor” J.I. Rodale concerning Biblical dietary laws when I was an early teen, and two published articles to show Jeremy [My son] how easy it is to get published.
I had been taught that the Nazarene Church was the “best” church because they taught that so many more things were sinful than the other “liberal” churches. They also taught that not only were they “saved” like the other churches, but better yet, they could also be “sanctified”. I never could figure out exactly what evidence we were to have to know for certain that we really were “right with God”. Very often I would respond to an emotional altar call, only to be greatly disappointed afterward when “nothing happened”. I told people that I was sure that I was the same person as I had been before I made the trip down the church isle. Other people would jump up and down or even run laps around the “sanctuary”. There was whooping and “praises” and great displays of emotion but it never “took” with me, no matter how much I wanted to know that at least God loved me.
I began to learn that many of the teachings that I had been brought up with were not Biblical. I thought that it would take me the rest of my life to figure out which portions of my “inherited” religion were right and which were not right, as well as answer all of the things I hadn’t thought to ask yet! I figured that if my decisions in this life had eternal consequences, I’d better get it right!
I had seriously contemplated becoming an ascetic monk, but I had no use for Catholicism and didn’t know where I would fit in. I told a friend of my parents (who they had asked to council me) that perhaps the Puritans had been right, being so fervently religious, and that perhaps I might have to become the only Puritan of the 20th century. When I was nineteen, I bought a remote eight acre woods with my life’s savings and intended to stay on it for the rest of my life, subsisting on eatable “weeds” of which I was fairly knowledgeable and living in the $300 dollar home that I had built. I craved peace and quiet until I had it. The quiet life was not nearly as good as I had hoped for, so I made the woods my second home. I was only a hermit for three days before I decided that I couldn’t stand being alone!
I had been convinced that I needed to be baptized and I didn’t want to baptize myself, so I decided to have the Nazarenes do it for me. I loved the people there and my friends at church were happy that I had made that choice. However when the minister failed to lay hands on me, I was really bothered and decided that to quit attending right away!
My biggest fear was that the Sabbath truly was on Saturday, as a casual brief study began to reveal to me. That is the one topic that I did not want to be true because I thought that I would lose all of my friends if it were truly on a day when only “Jews and Adventists” were in church, and I was pretty sure that I didn’t want to be one of them. Still, what the envoy (apostle) John had to say about the Commandments was extremely sobering:
John 12:50 I know that His Commandments lead to eternal Life. So the things I’m saying are what My Father told Me to say.”
John 14:15 If you love Me, obey My Commandments!
John 15:10 If you carefully obey My Commandments you’ll remain in My love, just as I have obeyed My Father’s Commandments and remain in His love.
1 John 2:3 In this way we can sense that we know Him, if we obey His Commandments. 4 Anyone who says, “I know Him”, but doesn’t obey His Commandments is a liar—not a person of truth.
2 John 6 This is love, that we live by the Commandments. This command has been heard from the beginning, and we should live by it.
Revelation 12:17 The Dragon was furiously angry with the woman, and he went off to make war with the rest of her offspring, those who obey the Commandments of Yehovah [TORAH] AND have THE TESTIMONY OF YESHUA.
By 1972 I was working in a steel mill in Marion Ohio. I had happened on an offer for a Sabbath booklet, and I had worked up the courage to send for it. I had resolved that if it were true I would keep it for life even if I had to do it alone. The Sabbath booklet arrived on a Thursday. I read it entirely that evening and decided that I would rest on the next Sabbath—some how. The next day I was walking thru another department, on my break, when I overheard a conversation by a guy who was explaining some unique teachings that I was nearly certain were taught by the Worldwide Church of God. After the other guys left, I asked the fellow if he would tell me where he got those ideas. He was quite reluctant to say. Then I said to him that I was prettysure that he got it from the WCG. When I put it that way he reluctantly admitted his source. Then he surprised me by mentioning that there was “a Church in Columbus”. I was shocked. He told me that he didn’t know where it was but that his brother-in-law had visited it. I then found out where the brother-in-law lived and went there after work. Just after the brother-in-law gave me the address and time, I was ready to begin keeping my first Sabbath—starting at sundown when I got home from his house!
The next morning I arrived at the exclusivist Sabbatarian Church, and tried to walk in just as hundreds of others were doing, only to be stopped at the door by a deacon. After questioning me he then tried to get me to leave! I assured him that I was going to keep the Sabbath there whether he was happy about it or not! He then proceeded to explain their teachings in such a bad light that I would want to leave on my own! When I still did not leave, he admitted that he had just made up part of what he had just said! He then asked me if I knew [the minister]; I said that I did, but did not comment further. Actually, all I knew about him was his name. [The deacon] then thought that apparently I must have been acquainted with the minister. Months later [the deacon] told me that he would have forced me to leave were it not for his thinking that I had already been in contact with the minister. (Police intervention is how it was handled then.) But [the minister] had a chip on his shoulder and refused to speak with me, or even be civil with me, for the several month conclusion of his assignment in Columbus, because I had bypassed his authority to attend. I was the first person to begin attending their exclusive meetings in Columbus OH—uninvited—just as their extreme exclusivity policy was being abolished by their headquarters. However, once during that time I asked someone to invite the associate minister to their home so that I could (surprise) be there and ask some questions. (It was only after twenty-eight years of attendance that I got that long awaited personal consultation from one of their ministers, now a minister from [one their latest major factions] in my home.)
It was during these circumstances in 1973 that I “counciled” for baptism. I cornered [the associate minister] one day, after the assembly, and without stopping to let him possibly argue with me, I listed all of the reasons why I wanted to be baptized. When I finished thoroly explaining how I felt, he had only one question for me. He asked me if I were keeping the commandments. When I said “yes”, he included me on the list of a dozen others who would be baptized that month. To my horror, despite the fact that this group was non Trinitarian, they baptized me “into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit”. Constantine would have been proud!
My trials really started piling up after I walked thru that church door. My union job became an immediate problem and most of my formerly close relatives were convinced that I had joined a cult. I was fired after attending my first Feast of Tabernacles, but I waged my first civil rights suit and won back the privilege to work for them again. I decided not keep my “bid” job but rather to stay in the “labor pool” so that I wouldn’t be a burden to them. I just filled in for others who were absent or when some nasty work needed to be done. Several times I had to crawl into holes or pollution control devices and become the human cork screw to free up the clogs. Often my entire body was pitch black.
One day, shortly after I was baptized, I was working just outside of the steel mill whacking weeds squarely in the middle of the railroad track. The mill was very noisy with heavy machinery clattering and with red hot banging steel. I was working perhaps thirty feet away. There were no walls on the building. This allowed the excessive noise and heat to escape. All of that thundering noise was enough to disguise the noise coming from the locomotive switch engine, similar to the one pictured here, fast approaching me from behind. Instantaneously I found that I had been bounced (or whooshed) off of the track! I was lying flat on my back inches from the passing locomotive. I was looking straight up at Virgil, the engineer, who was intently gazing ahead—as if I were not even there. Immediately, I realized that Father had performed two miracles. Had I been smashed by that locomotive, I might have been hurt! Secondly, the fact that Virgil could not see me when I had, just seconds before, been standing square in the middle of the track, with my back to him, indicated to me that I was invisible to him! Later that afternoon, as I was back on the tracks whacking more weeds, I was thinking about the miraculous occurrence and wondering whether I should ask Virgil if he had possibly seen anything unusual. Of course I was being more careful now, I was facing the direction of trains entering the loading area and glancing up from time to time. Suddenly I found myself lying on my back again. Talk about dejavu! The exact same thing had happened again, but he came from the other direction! Virgil was straight up from my point of view, with his arm again resting on the side of the cab, as he intently gazed ahead of me, the invisible man. This was a mirror image of what had been burned into my memory only hours before. I never did tell Virgil what happened, but I did wander into his little shop later in the day to see if he had anything to say about it. He didn’t, so I didn’t.
I have had more than my fair share of miracles since then, it actually does little good to tell them to many people. It is like being Jacob saying that he was special to his father. While no one has tried to kill me or toss me into a dry well, they do give me that nut-case-stare if I mention miracles. Another miracle I want you to know about is that a few years ago I was high on a ladder painting in high wind. A strong gust came along and blew the ladder over. The ladder slid quickly across the slick freshly sprayed wet paint, as if it were sliding on grease. When it had fallen over to about a 45 degree angle it screeched to a stop! I quickly climbed down from the ladder and then it continued its fall while it was still in my hands! There was not so much as a loose nail to slow its fall.
My recollections from WCG would not be complete without mentioning that I was excommunicated from it in 1993, ironically for believing in one of the teachings that had originally brought me into that church; namely believing that the Trinity is a false god. As a child, I had thorouly examined that teaching and proven it to be of pagan origin. When I began to be exposed to it again, twenty some years later, I couldn’t keep quiet about it. When they tried to disguise the doctrine of the Trinity by calling it the “hypostasis”, I looked the word up in Webster’s dictionary. One of the meanings of the word is: “a sediment or deposit, as from urine or blood”. That is what they wanted for me to worship! I began explaining the doctrinal change to all of my friends in Columbus until the point where I felt that I would be excommunicated the next time I showed up. Then I decided to go to the Mansfield church and get in a few licks there. I told my friends there that they were worshiping “urine sediment” and that they should look into it! That was my last Sabbath in the WCG. Under conditions of apostasy, I easily decided that I’d rather try to pull some people out of the fire than not even try.
A few years later I wanted LCG [a major splinter sect from the nearly disbanded original group] to address some doctrinal considerations that I had submitted to them in writing, thinking that they might be more open minded. I sent what has now become chapters of my book to various leaders over a considerable period of time with no comment except for a few jabs from the pulpit. Once I got dishonorable mention (not by name) during a Feast of Tabernacles sermon by [an evangelist] shortly after he received my findings on, among other things, the death of Satan, which he ridiculed. I decided that I had better start looking for another Church, in case I got the boot again. I began to consider my options. Shortly afterward I came across a magazine article that I did not want to read. Your mother, however, asked me to read it on two occasions. So I sat down and looked at it. Immediately I knew that I was in trouble.
In 1993 I had seen some genuine truths about the Jewish Calendar, presented by a tiny group of extreme exclusivists who claimed to be the only true “Philadelphians” while claiming that [another group] was the only “Laodicean” group. For the next few hours I gathered as much information about the Jewish Calendar as possible, via the Internet, and in desperation I even asked [someone who thinks I’m crazy] for more source material. This was certainly not something that I had hoped to find, but I immediately decided that I would not “postpone” study on the annual Sabbaths as I had done during my teen years concerning the weekly Sabbaths. Within twenty four hours I was positive that I would be celebrating the Feast days on different days than I had ever done. Ironically, I had thought to study into the Jewish calendar as soon as I began to celebrate the Sabbath, so as not to be fooled again, however my church had so completely won my trust that they nearly derailed my “train” of independent thought, and I essentially trusted ministers for the next 27 years. I had allowed my train incident, among other things, to convince me that the church I supported was the reason that my life was spared.
After trying for a couple of years to attract the attention of the ministry, as tho I were jumping up and down and waving my hands, ironically I now had some understanding that they had failed to notice that I wasn’t going to mention! I knew that acknowledging that the Jews had tampered with the very “calendar” that Yehovah ordained to determine when His Feast Days fall on was considered heresy. (Despite the fact that the Jews’ own Encyclopedia Judaica details the breach.) I only told family, but as you know, three can keep a secret only if two of them are dead! Almost immediately I endured eight consecutive sermons that condemned “calendar traitors”. So I decided it was time to leave again, only this time I left before being forced.
As a result of looking for that “second best church”, I found myself on a lifelong quest of seeking out the many mysterious truths of the everlasting kingdom—after a quarter of a century of checking my brain in at the doors of a “church”.
Is 9 years too late to add a PS? Anyway, the severe angina pains that I have been suffering with for 6 years suddenly turned unbearable. It felt like an elephant was standing on my chest. You know that six years ago when I went to the emergency room it cost me $5,000 to find out exactly what was wrong. They wanted to use stints immediately, but when I asked how much it was going to cost, I just got up and left. Then one night recently  I was in agony for two hours before I thought to flush down a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, preventing the heart attack. I considered going to the hospital, but I haven’t been able to buy insurance for decades, so I hoped I could get by without help. But the next night the pain set in again. The pain was so unbearable that I didn’t even remember the cayenne that stopped a heart attack the night before. Again, I hadn’t awakened your mom. I didn’t want her to watch me die. When she woke up and found me gone, she got up and reminded me about taking cayenne, so again the horrific pain stopped and I eluded sure death. So after deliberating a few hours, and after doing some research online, I confirmed that my angina had become “unstable”, and that I would probably die very soon without intervention. So I decided to go to the hospital in the morning. The doctors found that I had all five major arteries going to my heart 100% blocked. They were shocked to find me still alive! After the operation, one of the doctors asked me if I had signed a deal with the devil to pull off a stunt like that. I told him it was not with the devil. I’m pretty well convinced that I still have some work to do.
Day of Atonement, 2011: I just learned today that I have most of the symptoms of attention deficit disorder [ADD]. I was tipped off by a young friend who was describing his symptoms. I sort of like some of the side effects—particularly the hyperfocus! That explains why I can study virtually every waking hour of the day, day after day, when something grabs my attention.
“It can be helpful to think about attention deficit disorder as a collection of traits that are both positive and negative—just like any other set of qualities you might possess. Along with the impulsivity and disorganization of ADD/ADHD, for example, often come incredible creativity, passion, energy, out-of-the-box thinking, and a constant flow of original ideas. Figure out what you’re good at and set up your environment to support those strengths.”
Is 18 years too late to add a PS? Anyway, I have experienced several ministrokes trying to happen. Each time the vision in an eye goes partially obscured to totally dark for a minute or two before slowly recovering. Yesterday, it happened again. My right eye was so blurry that I asked for intervention and continued editing my final draft of the book of Job with my left eye. But this time it just stayed out of commission. So I said “Ple”, and before I could finish saying “Please”, my vision completely returned!
Here is an article from Jennifer concerning the question: Should Christians Eat at Restaurants on the Sabbath?