My God! How had anyone been able to stand me? Why hadn’t somebody killed me long before now? I didn’t like the sudden blinding revelation that showed me to myself—the revelation that I, who had always thought I was so wonderful, was a total washout as a person. It sickened. It hurt. I wanted to deny it, but try as I might I couldn’t think of one justification for my life. There wasn’t a single good, decent quality in me. Why was God letting me live?
Maybe He wasn’t! The thought careened through my head, and I couldn’t stop it. Maybe the flashing of my whole life before me was a prelude to its end…that very day. But God! I’m not ready to die!
I drove aimlessly around the city for several hours going like an automaton through the mechanical motions of stopping for traffic signals, changing lanes, accelerating, slowing, thinking….
As I considered the life I’d lived, really seeing myself for the first time, the evil that was in me seemed to swell larger and larger, until I feared I would burst with it. But why? Why had I been like that? Why had I never seen it until now? Was there any hope for me?
As the unanswerable questions swirled, I considered crashing my car into the fast-moving traffic to wipe out the awfulness of the past. But I was afraid. If I did that, maybe I would land in hell, stuck with my own awfulness for an unending forever.
Unexplainably, I found myself parking in front of a big bookstore I had frequented in the past. As I entered the store, my feet took me automatically down the aisle to the New Age section. There, a book with a blue jacket leaped out at me—The Bible, the Supernatural, and the Jews by McCandlish Phillips. I reached for it, it fell open in my hands, and I began to read:
If you would not thrust your hand into a snake pit, you should not permit yourself to be drawn into an involvement with one or another form of occultism, even in a tentative and experimental way, without knowing that it is possible for you to step over a threshold and past a door that will slam shut behind you as soon as you stand on the far side of it—slam shut so tight that nothing you can do can ever get that door open again so that you can get back out. 1
Had the door already slammed shut on me because of my involvement with horoscopes, fortune-telling, and mind control? My heart was beating wildly as my eyes skipped through the pages a little further. There I read something even more terrifying:
The door that can never be opened again slams shut faster on a Jew than on a non-Jew.2
The author went on to say that this is true because every Jew, whether he knows it or not, is in a covenant relationship with God.
I felt beads of sweat popping out on my forehead. My throat was on fire. The gooseflesh of fear enveloped my whole body. But I couldn’t put the book down. I shoved some money across the counter to the checkout clerk and dashed back to my car, the book tightly clenched under my arm. I wasn’t even aware of driving to the apartment, just of suddenly arriving there, slamming the door of the car, and dashing through the lobby and into my room, torn with warring desires. Part of me wanted to devour the book, to read every word; another part of me wanted to rip it to shreds, to set it on fire—anything to get rid of it!
The page to which I opened named prominent Jews who had lost their lives because they had dabbled in the occult, opening the door to the supernatural through acid rock music, alcohol, marijuana, drugs, yoga, martial arts, meditation, channeling, séances, psychic healing, acupuncture, hypnotism, and mind expansion. There was Brian Epstein, manager of the Beatles. Brian, a multimillionaire at 30—he was a Jew. He had dabbled in the occult, and died of an overdose of drugs. I shuddered, thinking how close I had come to following in his footsteps exactly. But I didn’t want to die! I wasn’t ready to die!
Oh God, help me! Somebody, help me!
I had to get in touch with God! I had to tell Him how sorry I was. For everything.
But I didn’t know how to get in touch with God, and I didn’t know who could help me. My fortune-teller couldn’t help me. The mind control people couldn’t help me. They said there was no such thing as evil. My rabbi? He’d probably send me to a psychiatrist who would lock me up and throw the key away. My mother couldn’t help me. She didn’t know how to reach God, either.
Panic stricken, I rushed out and ran to a jewelry store in the neighborhood. There I bought a mezuzah3 and hung it around my neck.
Maybe that would show God that I belonged to Him. I telephoned Joy, my estranged wife.
“Pray for me,” I pleaded. “Pray like you’ve never prayed before! Pray to your God for me! Ask Him to help me. Please ask Him to help me. Ask Him to spare my life!” I let the phone fall from my hand, weeping in an agony of despair.
I could feel the fear building in me, a tangible thing building toward a crescendo. When the crash came, where would I be? Or would there be anything left of me to be anywhere?
Feeling like a man under a death sentence, I put a Bible under my pillow, touched the mezuzah around my neck, and crawled, trembling, into bed. Lying there on my back, rigid with terror, I cried out to God for help. It wasn’t much of a prayer, but it came from a broken, empty man.
Before I tell you how I found a solution, I need to show you how I got to this pivotal place in my life...
Years before, in my effort to obtain instant riches, I “invested” $2,600 in a sure-fire scheme with someone who turned out to be a con artist. Needless to say, I never saw the money again. But I was on my way to make a million, and $2,600 was less than a drop in the bucket. My wife, Joy, finally quit bugging me about it. I guess she felt that I had suffered enough. Mom kept building me up by talking about what an awful cruel man my ex-friend had been to bilk me of our savings in that way.
My own indignation was used up, my wounds began to heal, and my eternal optimism took over. Having just moved back to my hometown of Washington, D.C., I poured myself back into the role of becoming a millionaire in a hurry by selling life insurance.
My first year in life insurance I wound up with policies worth almost a million dollars in force. I was doing so well that Joy quit her hated secretarial job and went back to school full time to learn to be an interior designer. We had moved into our own apartment, a great relief to both of us after having been cooped up with Joy’s parents for two months. We almost felt we were happy together again. But it wasn’t real, and it didn’t last. Soon we were back in our respective roles of merely tolerating one another’s presence.
One day, my Uncle Abe called, all excited about a new kind of life insurance policy that was tied in with a mutual fund. It sounded different all right, but lousy. I told him so, and insisted that what I was selling was far superior to what anyone else had to offer. I knew that Uncle Abe had my best interests at heart, however, and I agreed to meet with him and the other agent and hear about the other guy’s “superior” product.
Much to my surprise, after two hours, I agreed that his product was better than mine, and I was ready to change jobs. When I told my boss I was quitting, he was furious, because not only was I quitting, I was taking two of the best salesmen on his force with me into the new thing.
“Sid, you can’t do that!” He roared. “It’s against every rule of ethics! We paid to move you up here, and we’ve got a big investment in you and those other salesmen. We’re entitled to a return on our investment!” The louder he shouted, the more right he was, the more immovable I became.
“Look,” I told him, a menacing tone in my voice, “I’ve already contributed more than enough to this outfit. I’d be a fool not to put my own best interests first, and that goes for these other guys, too. You don’t own us, you know.”
After the sneering way I talked to him, it’s a wonder he didn’t throw me out.
During my second year in the insurance business, this time with Chatfield Associates, I sold over a million dollars worth of insurance again. By the end of the year, I was a manager with ten men under me. My sales unit was one of the top production units in the country, and hardly a week passed without a telegram congratulating me for some new sales achievement.
Somewhere along the line, after about a year and a half with Chat-field, it occurred to me that if I could sell so well for other people, I was a fool to line their pockets. I ought to move out on my own, start my own company, and then I’d really be bringing it in.
But my own company wasn’t doing well. Something seemed to go wrong with my selling ability, and I wasn’t able to communicate it to the men I hired to work for me. The office moved too slowly, and after less than six months, I closed up shop and took a new position with another outfit. For part of a year, I worked for them as a regional manager, traveling a lot, setting up offices, and training personnel. But it went sour, too. I recognized that I was going nowhere fast, and I began looking for another position, one where they would really appreciate me. In spite of my initial success in selling life insurance, all I wanted was out.
In the midst of my job-hopping, Joy told me that we were expecting a baby. Well!
After our daughter was born, even I could see that hopping from one poorly done job to another was no way to raise a family. When I was given a chance to go to work as an executive with Merrill, Lynch, Pierce, Fenner, and Smith, one of the finest investment companies in America, I recognized it as being exactly what I needed. No more peddling life insurance. Any clod could do that. This was the career spot I should have been in years ago. The sky was the limit.
After three months of local training, I went to New York for more intensive instruction. During the two months I spent there, away from Joy and our baby girl, I made the rounds of the singles’ bars at night. I turned into a real swinger. Whatever shreds of our marriage had been left hanging together disintegrated completely.
Not because I wanted to, but out of a peculiar obedience to some kind of ought to, I telephoned Joy from a bar on New Year’s Eve. She was crying when she answered the phone, but she managed to sob out that her father, who had been an alcoholic for years, had just shot himself in the head.
Joy sounded so pitiful, so alone, so upset, that I got a cab to the airport and was on the next plane for Washington. But where I had been and what I had become were so sickeningly obvious to Joy when she saw me that she told me I needn’t have bothered to come home. Our marriage was finished.
Joy had endured all the unfaithfulness, all the neglect she could take from me. She wanted just one thing more. A separation.
Separation. Unthinkable for a Jewish family. When I was a child, my parents had talked seriously of separation once. My father had said that he and I would move to New York, and Shirley would stay in Washington with Mom. He promised that I’d love it in New York with him, but I couldn’t imagine life without Mom fighting my battles for me, and I couldn’t imagine Dad living without her, either, no matter how violently they disagreed about some things.
Somehow they had worked out their differences or figured how to live with them, and the split hadn’t happened. As I examined my own feelings, I admitted that a part of me wanted to leave Joy all right, but there was another part that seemed to want us to stay together in spite of everything. It was going to be a difficult decision for me to make.
For the last two years, I had been turning to a fortune-teller for help with the major decisions in my life. I would ask him what I should do.
For as long as I could remember, I had been interested in everything to do with the New Age, occult, astrology, fortune-telling, handwriting analysis, reincarnation, hypnosis, communicating with the dead, spiritualism, Ouija boards, and psychic powers. All held a fascination for me that was far beyond a mere hobby or fad or interest. It was as if a supernatural force drew me, and when one of my mother’s friends had told her one day about the new fortune-teller she’d discovered and how positively fantastic he was, I was quick to get his address.
When I first went into the nondescript office building where he had his place of business, I found the fortune-teller himself to be a very solid, ruddy-faced individual instead of the wraith the atmosphere of the place suggested. He was sitting behind a screen in the corner of a shabby room that served also as a waiting area for his clients, and I seated myself across the rickety card table from him. The first thing he told me as he shuffled through his cards and fanned them out sent chills down my spine.
“Sir, your parents live near Sixteenth Street in upper Northwest near Kennedy Street,” he said matter-of-factly.
Wow! How could he have known that? They lived just one block from Kennedy! That was near all right. And there was no way he could have known that just from looking at me.
I was so impressed with the fortune-teller’s supernatural knowledge that I consulted him about every major decision from then on. Several times, Joy and I quarreled over the fact that I couldn’t seem to decide anything without consulting him first. There were periods when I visited him several times a week.
Once it occurred to me to wonder, since he had such supernatural powers, why he wasn’t a millionaire in the stock market, why he didn’t have a plusher office, why he needed my miserable three dollars a visit. But I quickly brushed such questioning aside. I was hooked.
When I asked the fortune-teller whether or not I should leave Joy, he gave me a strong go-ahead, and I was relieved that I didn’t have to make the decision for myself.
Looking in the newspaper for a place to stay, I found a roommate referral service that put me in touch with a swinging bachelor named Jeff. His apartment was nicely furnished, immaculately clean. There was only one catch. Jeff’s girlfriend shared his bedroom.
“Sid, do you mind if my girlfriend sleeps with me?” He asked. “Yes,” I answered. “I do mind—because she isn’t sleeping with me.” We laughed, and I had passed the test.
When Joy was at work the next day, I moved my clothes out of our apartment and drove off into my new, exciting, glamorous, bachelor-at-large life. Wanting to make a clean break with everything in my past, I asked the fortune-teller if it would be all right for me to change jobs again. He had always approved my job changes before, even triggered my looking for a new job sometimes by telling me that I would be changing jobs soon, but this time he turned thumbs down, advising me against leaving Merrill Lynch. He had an elderly client who sold stocks from time to time and gave the money to him. I was a convenient broker to handle these transactions without asking foolish questions.
Still, I knew I wasn’t measuring up at Merrill Lynch, and it would be easier to start over somewhere else than to dig in and do a good job there. I didn’t take the fortune-teller’s advice but jumped when a new company offered me a stock option for going with them.
Having failed to take the fortune-teller’s advice I decided not to see him again, but I felt absolutely lost without someone to turn to for guidance.
One day, Mike Wasserman, my assistant sales manager at Glen-wood Equities, my new job, was talking to me about one of his cases.
He knew I had consulted a fortune-teller in the past, and he started telling me about a friend of his who once had no fortune-telling ability of his own at all, but who had taken a mind-control course that revolutionized his life. Now he had supernatural abilities far beyond those of any ordinary fortune-teller. He knew things about other people that he had no natural way of knowing; he knew what was going to happen in the future; he knew everything he needed to know.
Wow! That sounded like exactly what I needed. I could no longer hide the fact that my ability in business was getting shaky. My sales had no staying power, and I was losing clients right and left. My best salesmen were leaving me. All in all, I had hit a real string of bad luck. If I had some of the psychic ability Mike’s friend had received from the mind-control course, maybe then I could stay on top of things. Why, with that kind of ability, I probably wouldn’t even need a job!
On my next Saturday off, I drove up to New Jersey to meet Mike’s friend to give him an acid test. “Russ,” I said, getting right to the point of my visit, “your friend Mike has been telling me that the mind-control course you took enables you to tap into supernatural power so you know things you have no natural way of knowing. Is that right?”
“Try me,” he challenged. “See for yourself. Just give me the name of someone who’s had something wrong with him, and I will tell you what it is. Anyone at all.” “Gilmore Young,” I said, giving him the name of Joy’s father. Russ closed his eyes, seemed to be concentrating intently, his eyelids fluttering, and said, “I see a light starting toward this man—toward his head. It’s entering his head…and starting to shatter…”
Russ’s eyes popped wide with wonder as he stammered, “Could this man have been shot in his head…with a bullet?” That was all I needed to know. Russ had supernatural power all right. Just think what I could do when that power was mine!
A new mind-control class would begin in the DC area in a month. I marked it on my calendar, crossing off the days as it came closer and closer. I knew it would be what I had been searching for all my life, a can’t-fail approach to acclaim and financial success.
If I could have known that what lay ahead was not acclaim and success but stark terror, I’d have run screaming in the opposite direction. But I didn’t know. And I would not know until after I had plunged headlong into hell.
Class in Session
The day finally arrived, the day when supernatural powers beyond anything I had ever observed in the fortune-teller would begin to be mine. I drove with mounting excitement to the Sheraton, where the introductory mind-control lecture would be held.
The instructor appeared to be in his middle twenties, intelligent-looking, neatly dressed. There was nothing outward to distinguish him or his 20-odd listeners from people at a typical organization meeting. He told us that after the one-week course, we would be able to, among other things, control our weight, improve our memories, know what other people were thinking, cure illnesses, and better our finances.
It sounded too good to be true. But it had to be legitimate. There was a money-back guarantee. Anyone who couldn’t demonstrate real psychic ability by passing an acid test at the end of a week would have his money refunded.
As the instructor talked on, I knew I was going to make it big. All my former failures, those I had pretended were successes, faded. It was as if my life was beginning all over again. Right, this time. Goodbye frustration and failure, spinning my wheels, going nowhere. Hello happiness, going somewhere.
The first two days of class we learned how to relax. The object was to lower the speed of our brain waves to the state that occurs in sleep. After reaching this level, we were told to imagine that we had a counselor in our head. The counselor would be able to answer any questions we might ask, to perform any test we asked of him. I listened intently to all the instructor told us, practiced relaxing to lower my brain waves, got acquainted with my counselor, and was ready for the acid test the last day of the course.
The instructor gave me the name of a woman I had never heard of. I closed my eyes, lowered my brain waves, and began to meditate. In a few moments, I saw a stick figure of a woman in my imagination. She had a large “X” over one of her breasts. “Could she have cancer of the breast?” I blurted.
“That’s right, Sid! That’s right!” The instructor applauded, and the class joined him. I had passed the test. Supernatural power was mine.
When I went to the office the next morning, I could hardly wait to experiment with my new talent. My boss passed by my office and I called him in, asking him to give me the name of someone I didn’t know—someone who was sick. My boss looked at me as if he thought I had flipped my lid, but he gave me the name of a man.
I closed my eyes, lowered my brain waves, and suddenly, without warning, I felt my arms begin to shake. “Why, that’s exactly what my father does!” My boss exclaimed, obviously as surprised as I was. “Could he have Parkinson’s disease?” I heard myself saying. I didn’t know what the disease was nor anything about its symptoms. The name just came to me.
“Yes, that’s it!” My boss said, excitedly rising from his chair. Then I told him that I didn’t need to shake my arms anymore. “That’s right!” He exclaimed again. “Yesterday my father started taking a new medication, and his shaking was controlled!”
Wow! This new ability was terrific. The power seemed to be increasing all the time. Yesterday I only had visions; today I feel the symptoms. I wonder what new thing will happen tomorrow? The power was real all right. And the more I experimented, the more uses I found for it.
One afternoon I was lost in the maze of roads winding through a park, and I said, “Counselor, direct me home.” I made turns without hesitation on streets that were totally unfamiliar to me and found myself home in record time.
If I needed a parking space, all I had to do was ask that a space be available.
It didn’t matter how hard the situation was, my counselor was able to take care of it. There was no telling how high I would climb with all this supernatural power at my disposal.
Almost as quickly as I thought of something I wanted, without my saying a word people began doing my will. All I had to do was ask. I would never wait for anything again. I had found an illimitable pot of gold at the end of an unfading rainbow.
One of my first thoughts, when I realized I could have anything I wanted, was that I shouldn’t work for anyone else ever again. I should go back into business for myself. This time, I was bound to prosper.
Almost as soon as I had the thought, Jim Fisk, an attorney whom I knew only casually, just happened to drop by my office. “Sid,” he said, “I’ve been thinking that you just might want to go back into business for yourself. In case you do, I have some extra office space available in my building. We’d be glad to let you have it free until you get on your feet. We’ll supply your phone and secretary. You might even be able to sell some stock in our company and make some extra commissions for yourself for a starter.”
After he left, I thought I’d check with my new power to see what he thought about Fisk’s offer. “Counselor, make me money,” I said.
Immediately I was led to open the dictionary at random and point to a word. When I looked down, my finger was on the word “anchor.” That was the name of a mutual fund company I had worked with one time in the past. I called them up, and the regional man said they would be delighted for me to open my own office and go into business representing them. Just like that. And just like that I resigned from my job and set up shop in my free office.
What Is the Source of Your Power?
At the time I set up my own office, I was ignorant of the fact that Jim Fisk, the president of the computer company that gave me the free space, was a Bible believer. That was bad enough, but even worse, Jim had all the “Jesus people” in town trooping through his offices, and they had prayer meetings morning, noon, and night.
Somehow, although I thought they were all kooks, I liked them. They were more than nice to me, projecting a kind of love and acceptance I had never experienced before. And they did it even though they didn’t approve of my mind-control involvement. Well, I was glad they had that kind of love, but it wasn’t for me.
Soon after I had moved into my new free office, I met Art Lane. He was tall, well-built, distinguished-looking with prematurely gray hair, and very articulate. Art had every quality a man of the world ought to have, and I came to admire him greatly. But there was something strange about him.
Although Art was a Jew, he attended the Bible studies with the Gentile guys in the office building. I couldn’t understand why a Jew would be studying the Scriptures with a bunch of Gentiles. It didn’t make sense, but it did arouse my curiosity, so I began attending the sessions, too.
I gave them a hard time, questioning everything they said and ridiculing their faith. But they didn’t throw me out. They didn’t even give me harsh answers. Gradually it dawned on me that they were praying for me! That made me laugh. It was utterly ridiculous. But if it suited them, let them go ahead. I was glad for my free office and the friendship that gave and gave and gave without requiring anything from me.
One day Art Lane stopped by my office to talk about the insurance business. We talked about other things, too. He told me that he himself had come to “know the Lord” through reading the Hebrew Scriptures and understanding that Yeshua—Hebrew for Jesus—was the One who had fulfilled all the prophecies about the coming Messiah. Then he asked me a question.
“Sid, do you have a Bible?”
“Well, no,” I admitted.
“I’ll bring you one the next time I drop by,” he promised. “But in the meantime…”
Art opened his Bible and showed me some Scriptures telling about the Messiah who was to come and some additional Scriptures in the New Covenant that showed that a Jew named Yeshua had fulfilled every single Messianic prophecy.
I was bored with the whole business. “Look, Art,” I interrupted, “if the Messiah had already come, the rabbi in our synagogue would surely have told us all about it…”
“Oh, but that’s part of the prophecy, too, Sid,” Art smiled. Then he pointed to some verses in the book of the prophet Isaiah, and I read: “Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?…He is despised and rejected of men…and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:1,3 KJV).
“You see, Sid,” Art went on, “if we Jews had received Yeshua when He came, He would not have been the Messiah.” With that intriguing remark hanging in the air, Art left my office. But the gleam in his eye warned me that he was in league with the Bible believers who were praying for me.
Well, they could pray all they wanted. But I was quite satisfied with my own life, thank you. Being separated from my wife, I had freedom to come and go as I pleased, and with my fast-growing mind-control powers, I would soon have the material world on a string. If there was a Messiah, I didn’t need Him for anything.
Another one of the men in the office building who attended the Bible study and prayer meetings was Gene Griffin. He was an inventor who had spent a year in a kibbutz, a community farm in Israel. I thought it strange that a Gentile would take a year out of his life just to help Israel. And I noticed something else strange about Gene. He didn’t act like a businessman or an inventor. It seemed that every time I looked at him, he was reading the Bible.
“You know, Sid,” Gene said to me one day, “your God, the God of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, is not pleased with your involvement in mind control. He condemns all New Age, occult practices.”
“What do you know about my God?” I challenged.
“Plenty,” he assured me. “Because there’s only one God. My God is the same as your God. And if you’ll read the eighteenth chapter of Deuteronomy in your own Tanakh, your Jewish Bible, especially the ninth through the twelfth verses, God’s opinion about the occult will be plain to you.”
I picked up the Bible Art had given me a few days previously, thumbed to Deuteronomy and read:
When thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch. Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord… (Deuteronomy 18:9-12 KJV).
Talk about relevance! The Scripture made it sound as if reading my horoscope (observer of times), visiting my fortune-teller (divination), and consulting my counselor or channeling (consulting with familiar spirits) were things not pleasing to God. They were actually abominations! But what was this “necromancer?” I looked it up in the dictionary. It meant to communicate with the dead.
So séances are wrong? What about reincarnation?
Gene said, “Those who claim to be reincarnated and those who communicate “from the dead” at séances are not our loved ones but are familiar spirits who know everything about our deceased loved ones. They even know the events of history because they existed during those events. These spirits are looking for a body to inhabit. That’s how channeling really operates.
“Reincarnation and the laws of karma say you keep coming back until you are perfect. The Bible says ‘…man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment’” (Hebrews 9:27 NIV).
“Even if you could come back, it would not make you righteous. We only become righteous when we receive the free gift of the Messiah’s righteousness. A true Christian or Messianic Jew will never be more righteous than at the moment he makes Yeshua Lord. We are “… the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). And you can’t get any more righteous than that!”
“Aw, that can’t mean what you think it does,” I told Gene, closing the book. “Just like I’ve been telling you guys, God’s in charge of all knowledge. Why, He probably wants us to explore every avenue of knowledge—supernatural, natural, the whole bit. Everything we can learn about good or evil is to our benefit.”
“Ever hear what happened to Adam and Eve when they nibbled at the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?” Gene asked.
“Fer cryin” out loud! How naive can you get?” I exploded. “Don’t you guys realize that these things have been handed down and handed down from one generation to the next? There are many difficulties in translating any language, and probably so many errors have crept in the Scriptures that what they say now isn’t even remotely related to what the original said.”
I didn’t realize I had been shouting until Gene answered me in a super-soft voice, telling me that God had protected the authenticity of the Bible in supernatural ways. But I wasn’t buying any of that.
The Prayer That Changed Everything
The next afternoon, I was trying to talk Jim Fisk into digging into his subconscious mind through mind control. Apparently he had had more than enough of my hassling, because after a while he put his hands over his ears. When I took the hint and shut up, he let me have it.
“Look, Sid. I don’t want to talk to you anymore about it. I don’t want to argue with you. I can’t handle it. Tell you what you can do. You won’t take my word for anything; you won’t take the Bible’s word for anything. OK. But why don’t you ask God who Jesus is?” With that, he strode out of the office.
I hadn’t told Jim I would ask God about that, but it was an interesting question to think about. I wondered what God would tell me if I did ask Him. But God had never told me anything before. And I wasn’t in the habit of asking Him anything.
“Look,” I told myself, “I’ll accept that this Jesus was a man, a real historic figure. And He probably was a good teacher, lived a moral and upright life…. But if that’s all He was,” I interrupted myself, “why are people so all-fired excited about Him two thousand years later, just as if He’s still alive?”
That was another interesting question. But it hung in the air, unanswered and unanswerable.
At that moment, I happened to notice a little white leaflet parked on the corner of my desk. Jim Fisk had handed it to me one day. I had flipped through without reading it and had put it down on my desk where it had rested, undisturbed. For some reason, I picked up the leaflet now and began reading.
“Have you heard of the four spiritual laws?” The cover asked. I hadn’t, so I read on.
The leaflet was simple, easy to read. The first law said that God loved me and that He had a plan for my life. Well, that was all right. I had a plan for my life, too; I wanted to be famous and rich. God’s plan couldn’t beat that.
The second law said that man is sinful and separated from God. And the punishment for sin was eternal separation from God at death with no chance of reversing it. Then the third law said that Jesus, Yeshua in Hebrew, was God’s remedy for man’s sin and separation from Him. Yeshua lived a perfect life and died as my substitute. The fourth law said that in order for a man to have this substitution, he had to “receive Jesus…by personal invitation.”
After the four spiritual laws had been explained, there was a page with a prayer on it that a person could pray to invite this Jesus to live inside of him.
I wasn’t really interested in doing that, but I figured it couldn’t hurt anything. Sitting in my chair, I read the prayer aloud, very softly so that if anyone happened to come in they wouldn’t know what I was up to:
Lord Jesus, forgive my sins. I’m sorry. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Live inside of me. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be. Thank You for coming into my life and for hearing my prayer as You promised.
That was all there was to it. When I had finished reading the prayer, I didn’t feel any different. No lights flashed; I didn’t hear anything. I figured the prayer hadn’t “worked.” Well, that was perfectly all right with me. I had just read it for kicks anyway. I had known all along that there wasn’t anything to all this Jesus business, and now I was satisfied that I had proved it. But there was something supernatural about that prayer, and despite my not feeling anything, God now had access to my life.
At quitting time that afternoon, Gene Griffin stuck his head in the door, breaking into my thoughts with a startling question. “Sid, if God says that all who dabble in the occult are an abomination to Him, guess where your supernatural power is coming from?”
Gene just stood there, waiting for my answer. But I didn’t have one! Where was the power coming from?
Fear hit me for a split second. Was there a devil? Could I be in league with him? Could the devil be the source of my power in mind control? It couldn’t be. That bit about the devil was just superstitious nonsense. I snapped back to my senses.
“Look, Gene. Like I told you, I don’t believe the Bible we have today is the Bible God wrote originally. Man has changed it over the centuries. And there probably isn’t such a thing as the devil.”
Gene didn’t answer. He just smiled and slipped quietly from my office, leaving me to argue with myself. Even though I didn’t understand all of that Deuteronomy scripture and I wasn’t sure the Bible was the Word of God, the thought that I might be in league with the devil was planted in my mind, and it began to grow.
I decided to get the answer from the mind-control people themselves. I would ask them where the power was coming from. They would know.
That night I went to see my local instructor. “Bill, just where does this power we use in mind control come from?”
“Search me, Sid,” he said. “I don’t know. I’ve never given it any thought, actually.”
He didn’t know! The man who had tapped me into my counselor didn’t know where the power came from!
Bill saw the fear in my face. “Sid, maybe you’d better not take the advanced course,” he suggested. “I’ll refund your money. But if you really want an answer to your question, I’ll arrange a meeting for you with the top instructor in mind control in the country.” I jumped at the offer. The meeting was scheduled for two weeks from that day in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
I could hardly wait to tell Gene about it. “You and your friends and your Bible can go with me to Harrisburg,” I said, planning it all out in my mind. “You can sit on one side of the table and the mind-control man on the other. I’ll sit in the middle, and may the best power win.”
But Gene said he’d have to pray about it first, and after he had prayed, he told me that God didn’t want him to go to the meeting with me. I exploded. That messed up my beautiful plan, and when the day came, I found myself on the road to Harrisburg feeling more foolish with every passing mile. I felt as if I was taking the trip to defend the Bible, a book I didn’t even believe in.
When I was seated across a luncheon table from the instructor, we talked about everything except the burning subject until the waitress brought our dessert. I began by asking, “What do you think of evil?”
He laughed at the foolishness of my question before he dismissed it with an unequivocal answer, “There’s no such thing as evil.” He was so cocksure I knew he had to be right. How humiliating it would be to argue with someone who spoke with such authority.
Almost apologetically I showed him the Bible and asked him what he thought about it. He smiled and said, “It’s a good book, but there are lots of good books.” His manner suggested that any fool would know that.
To my great relief, before I could ask him anything else, he called for his check and said he had to be going. His parting remark was, “By the way, Mr. Roth, the next time you want to ask me something, no need to drive all these miles to do it. Don’t pick up your telephone either. Just address your thoughts to me, and I’ll pick them up and send your answers back, mind to mind. Cheaper than postage, you know, and a whole lot faster service.” He slid a tip under the edge of his plate and strode to the cash register and then out of the restaurant.
I just sat there with my mouth hanging open. Boy! Think of how tremendous his powers were. Just wait until mine were that developed! Mind control was really the thing. I would stop listening to my kooky religious friends who were trying to scare me out of using it.
They could stay back in the boondocks if they wanted. I would get ahead with my life.
Seed of Fear
At the next mind-control meeting I attended, someone told me that a friend of his had used his mind-control powers on a jockey at a horse race, causing him to fall from his horse and nearly get killed. The accident let the mind-control guy’s nag win the race! Wow, that’s power, I thought. But some long-dormant vestige of conscience in me bristled at the thought that mind-control power could be used to hurt somebody. I had been told it could only be used for good.
At the same meeting, some of the more advanced students were asking their counselors what they would be doing in the future. I asked the most advanced student what his counselor saw me doing a year from now.
“Just a minute, Sid, and I’ll find out,” he said. He closed his eyes, lowered his brain waves, and almost immediately his eyes flew open. There was a startled look on his face.
“Sid, I don’t understand. My counselor has always been a perfect gentleman with me, but when I asked him what you would be doing a year from today, he started cursing and using all kinds of vulgarity. And he refused to answer my question.”
The instructor had no explanation for this strange kind of behavior from a counselor. He’d never encountered such a thing before, he said. What was wrong? Did the counselor see something so horrible he couldn’t mention it? The seed of fear in me began to sprout and push upward.
At another meeting a few days later, the whole class went into deep meditation. Something new happened! I saw myself come out of myself! I was so excited I came out of my meditation and breathlessly told the woman next to me about it. “Oh, Sid,” she said, “I’m so happy for you! You have just found your astral soul. Now you can really have everything you want, greater power than you ever dreamed.”
For a few moments, I sat there quietly exulting in the fact that nothing would be beyond my reach. But then I felt her hand on my arm. “But Sid, let me warn you about something. Never let your astral soul take you too far from your body. You might not be able to find your way back.”
“Not be able to find my way back?” I could feel the gooseflesh rising on my arms. “But that would mean…that would mean…I’d be dead…if my body was in one place and my soul in another…” I stammered. She nodded gravely, closed her eyes, and went back into her meditative state.
The seed of fear that had sprouted was growing in me. I shoved it down, rubbed my arms to make the gooseflesh go away, and resolved to be careful not to go too far from my body. The sensible thing was to keep my body in full view at all times. That way, I could always find my way back. Satisfied that such a precaution would be sufficient to prevent anything bad from happening to me, I continued to exercise my powers.
At a mind-control meeting the next week, the subject of astral projection came up again. The instructor explained that every time we sleep, our astral soul goes for a walk. I nearly fell out of my chair. The pricklings of fright were chilling my flesh again. When I was awake, I could control my comings and goings, but how could I do so when I was asleep? I shook my head, trying to clear it of my gruesome imaginings. After all, I wasn’t asleep. I was awake. I was in perfect control of myself.
The next morning at the office I had an urge to do my dictionary trick again, this time without asking a specific question in advance. I opened the book, wrote down the first word my finger pointed to, closed the book, opened it at random again, and continued the process until I had five words written on a piece of paper. I did a double take when I realized that they made a sentence: “Refrain from this sinful dictionary.”
Where was that advice coming from? I crumpled the paper, flung it in the wastebasket, and pretended to return to the work on my desk. But the disquiet inside me wouldn’t settle down, wouldn’t be still. I was seething with some kind of spiritual distress, something I had never felt before.
When Gene walked into my office a few minutes later, I told him what had happened and how I was feeling. To my surprise he didn’t try to comfort me, he just threw his hands into the air and began to laugh and praise God for His goodness. That didn’t make me feel any better.
Next, Jim Fisk walked in to see what all the racket was about. When Gene told him, Jim looked long and hard at me and said, “Sid, you look like you have a bad case of spiritual neurosis.” Then he winked at Gene and made a victory sign, saying, “Looks like Sid’s about ready for his breakdown, huh?”
Jim was obviously needling me. What were they doing? Were they trying to crowd me into some kind of hysteria or something?
The office was getting unbearable for me. I had to get out, so I threw some papers in a briefcase and got out as fast as I could. Could it be that my Bible-believing friends were right? Was there really a devil? By my involvement in the New Age, had I cast my lot with him?
Out of the Pit
As I backed my car out of the parking area, I kept getting flashes of incidents in my past, all ugly ones. My childhood tantrum on the train, racing around the table to get away from my father, copping out on my paper route, tattling, lying, cheating in school, refusing to staple letters together, leaving snarls of improperly done work behind me in more job changes than I could count, always trying to get something for nothing, profiting at the other fellow’s expense, being unfaithful to Joy and thinking I was so smart to get by with it….
That was the afternoon of increasing terror. That was the night I went to bed with the mezuzah around my neck, the Bible under my pillow, fear enveloping me, and a broken heart inside me. That was the night I prayed, “Jesus, help!” That was the night I asked Joy to entreat her God on my behalf.
When I was a child I tried to imagine what death would be like. Since we never discussed death in our family, I concluded that life must end in nothingness. But that concept was so objectionable I did the only sensible thing: I stopped thinking about it.
Until now. For the first time in my life, the nothingness of death looked better than continuing a tortured existence. And with that thought I fell asleep from sheer exhaustion.
The next thing I knew, it was morning. There was a tangible presence in my room. The atmosphere was pure love. I was flooded with so much peace, I couldn’t worry even if I wanted to! Sunshine streamed through my window and woke me up. I was alive, really alive. The fear was gone, the counselor gone, and in its place was an indescribable joy.
I knew that Jesus was responsible. There was a greater power in His Name than in all the forces of darkness that were trying to destroy me! I knew this deep within my being.
It was just as God had promised:
“ I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit in you and move you to follow My decrees and be careful to keep My laws” (Ezekiel 36:26-27 NIV).
I was free at last. And I was grateful, very grateful. Moreover, I knew that I had received the gift of everlasting life. This revelation, by itself, brought a major transformation in my thinking.
When I was in the New Age, I met people who introduced me to the doctrine of reincarnation. This appeared very Jewish to me because Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism, teaches that we keep coming back after we die. Later I found out that this is not Jewish but Hindu. Hinduism has hijacked Jewish mysticism.
True Judaism believes you live once and then you are judged by God. Daniel, the Jewish prophet, taught that after you die, there is a resurrection. If your name is not written in the Book of Life, you go to everlasting shame and contempt. If your name is written in the Book of Life, you go to everlasting life (Daniel 12:1-2). So you really only have one chance at life. We need to live it to the fullest. We can only do that by entering a relationship with Yeshua as our Messiah and Savior.
Once I did, I knew my sins were gone. In fact, it was as if I had never sinned. You can’t get any cleaner than that. Only when you are cleansed by God can you truly become His friend. A huge gap between heaven and earth just disappeared. It was no longer “God up there” and me “down here”—heaven and earth connected in my life and I felt God accept me as a friend.
Shortly after this experience, I heard God’s wonderful, audible voice for the first time. He said, “Return to your wife and daughter.” My marriage was healed. My heart was healed. It was like I was raised from death to life. Now my life is finally where it needed to be all along: right in the hands of the everlasting God. And the best is yet to come!
Commentary by Mike Shreve
A pivotal point for Sid was when he realized that the spiritual practices in which he was indulging were clearly forbidden in Scripture. But why would God decry fortune-telling, channeling, astrology, wizardry, witchcraft, spiritualism and other occult practices? Is He selfishly trying to rob people of legitimate spiritual experiences? No, quite the contrary—He is lovingly trying to protect people from spiritual deception and demonic influence.
God wants truth in our lives, not a false or counterfeit spirituality that detours us from our purpose and hinders us from a real relationship with Him. Many humble, sincere, God-loving people have gotten totally off track spiritually by subjectively deciding what feels right for them as they seek “spirituality,” instead of following the instructions God has given in His Word. Sid would have avoided a lot of pain and wasted years if he had only consulted the Bible sooner.
Every seeker of truth should seriously consider measuring the acceptableness of their spiritual practices the same way. Years ago I visited the studio of a yoga teacher in the Los Angeles area. Janice was very involved with the teachings of Yogananda and the Self-Realization Fellowship. For 17 years, she had been deeply devoted to the practice of yoga and meditation. I sent her a copy of my book, In Search of the True Light, and she came to a meeting we conducted in the area. I found Janice to be a deeply sincere, peaceful, pure-hearted person. However, when I walked into the large room where she taught her yoga classes, the first thing that drew my attention were the pictures of various gurus sharing wall space with a large picture of Jesus (Yeshua)—as if all these persons were all on the same level.
With as much gentleness as possible, I pointed out that she was breaking the first and second commandments just by adorning her walls with those pictures and having images in her home (like statues of Buddha or various Hindu deities). At first she expressed surprise. Her questioning eyes were saying, “How could that be? I love God with all my heart!”
To support my assertion, I described the amazing visitation of God that took place when the commandments were given. After the children of Israel were delivered from the bondage of Egypt, they spent 50 days in the wilderness and then arrived at the base of Mount Sinai. God told them in advance He would visit them in a supernatural way on the third day—and it happened with intensity! The ground shook with the force of an earthquake, and holy, supernatural fire consumed the mountain. Black, billowing smoke poured up into the sky and blocked out the light of the sun. Then the Eternal One, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, spoke out of the fire to His people. Like lightning and thunder, His awesome and powerful voice rolled across the desert expanses with absolute authority as He delivered His “Ten Commandments.”
The first two commandments dealt with a critically important issue: the interpretation of the nature of God. The God of Israel said in no uncertain terms:
“ I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image— any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; You shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me. But showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments” (Exodus 20:2-6).
I explained to Janice that this was no “Impersonal Life Force” that descended on Mount Sinai (a mere “cosmic power” could not communicate in such a way). This was the personal God of Heaven—the one and only true God to whom we are all accountable. The same God who outlawed channeling and witchcraft prohibited the use of any images of gods or the worship of any god other than Himself (practices which abound in Eastern religions and New Age circles).
Then I further explained, “Your guru, Yogananda, was born of a man and a woman. He was a natural, normal human being who lived and died and his body is still in the grave. He was not God. On the other hand, Jesus was born of a virgin. He was God incarnate in human flesh. He lived a perfect life, died, but then rose from the dead, and ascended to heaven. He now reigns as King over all creation. You have them side by side, as if they are on the same level. To grant equal respect to the picture of Yogananda is idolatrous. One is a mere man, while the other is the Almighty God.”
Then I proceeded to tell her that if there were any statues of deities in her home, she needed to get rid of them—because they were misrepresentations of the true nature and name of God. They were myths, created by human imagination.
For instance, Ganesha is a very popular god in the Hindu pantheon, depicted as having the body of a human, but the head of an elephant. You see statues and pictures of this “god” in many places. He is supposedly the deity gifted at helping people overcome obstacles. Why? Because he overcame an awful obstacle: decapitation. Because of a misunderstanding, Shiva (another Hindu god) cut his head off. Then, realizing it was an error, Shiva tried to repair his mistake. So he sent servants to the earth with the instructions to cut off the head of the first living creature they found and bring it back to the celestial realm to place on Ganesha’s body. Unfortunately, they found an elephant—so now you know why he looks like he is half-human and half-animal. This is quite evidently a myth, created by some religious storyteller. To pray to such an imaginary god who DOES NOT EXIST is an affront to the TRUE GOD, in whom we “live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). After realizing the words I spoke were true, Janice complied.
It took great humility on Sid’s part to accept the biblical standard that challenged his spiritual practices. It took great humility on Janice’s part to accept the revelation from Mount Sinai that challenged her spiritual practices. And it may take real humility on your part to set aside some things you have believed in up to this point, in order to experience the awesome love of your Heavenly Father. He desires you to know Him, but you need to set aside that which is false to find that which is true and enduring. That’s really not too great a price to pay.
1. McCandlish Phillips, The Bible, the Supernatural, and the Jews (Cleveland, OH: World Company, 1970), 5.
2. Ibid., 6.
3. “The Mezuzah is a small case in which a small hand-written scroll of parchment (called a klaf) is placed. The scroll contains the words of the “Shema” (Deut. 6:4-9) passage, in which God commands Jews to keep His words constantly in their minds and in their hearts. The scroll also contains another passage (Deut. 11:13). The passages are written in Hebrew, and contain 22 lines of 713 painstakingly written letters.” Judaica Guide, “Mezuzah,” Jewish Information, The Mezuzah, http://www. judaica-guide.com/mezuzah/ (accessed April 29, 2009).
Sid Roth has investigated the supernatural for more than 30 years. His television program It's Supernatural! documents miracles and is viewed internationally. It's Supernatural! deals with subjects that most shy away from.
Be sure to check out our Publications homepage for all new updates on Jewish Voice Today magazine and our Connections newsletter. The first part of this article was featured in our November/December 2011 edition of Jewish VoiceToday.
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