Y'Know, if you're Jewish you can only grow
up to be one of three things, and I'm Jewish. Those are a doctor, a lawyer or
a failure. And a... (Congregation laughs). And a preacher definitely falls in
category number three, if you understand what I'm saying.
how did a nice Jewish boy like me end up doing what I do for a living? That's
what I want to tell you all about today, and I hope that as we talk about this,
that maybe some little piece of my life will connect with some piece of your life,
and that God will use what we're going to talk about today to really make a difference
in your life.
born and raised in Portsmouth, Virginia. Both my parents were Jewish. We were
Conservative Jews. You know, there are three major branches of Judaism: Orthodox,
Conservative, and Reformed. We were Conservative Jews. My mom lit Sabbath candles
every Sabbath. You know, if you saw the movie, Fiddler on the Roof, you saw the
mother in that movie do that; my mom did that. We would go to synagogue on Sundays;
I would go to Sunday School at the synagogue. My father would usually go to the
Men's Breakfast and Men's Fellowship that they had every Sunday at the synagogue.
I went to Hebrew School twice a week when I was in elementary school and junior
high school, two days a week, after school. We would all go to the synagogue and
go to Hebrew School. I was bar mitzvahed at age 13, the way every good Jewish
boy ought to be. But, you know, in terms of the real presence of God in our home,
it really wasn't there. We didn't own a Bible, I'd never read a Bible. We didn't
sit down and pray before meals. We never prayed at all in my home. We were just
run of the mill, standard Jewish people who went through the things that you're
supposed to go through as Jewish people. We went to High Holiday Services, we
went to Yom Kippur, we had a Passover Seder at our home, but really the presence
of God, Himself, was just simply not a reality in our life.
I can remember, as a little boy, praying a few times. I can remember laying in
bed as a little boy, trying to talk to God. I can even remember a few prayers,
that I believe as a young child, God answered for me. I kind of grew up believing
that God probably existed, I mean I had a sense that God was out there somewhere.
But I didn't know Him, I didn't know anything about Him; I had no connection with
Him at all. And this is how I grew up.
Well, when I was 13, I was bar mitzvahed, and then immediately after that I would
help reading the Torah in the synagogue. Sometimes I would go over for daily services
which happened, and I would read the Torah a little bit, because I was pretty
good at that. But when I got to high school, my whole relationship with the synagogue
began to change. I got involved, I got interested in other things: girls, and
partying, and drinking, and let's face it, guys, the synagogue just didn't hold
much of a candle compared to that stuff, you know! And so, I began to trail off
in terms of going to synagogue. But the real coup de grace came when I was about
16, maybe just approaching 17.
I was involved in the acting group at high school, in the Thespian troupe. When
we would practice plays, if you weren't particularly on stage and your lines weren't
up, we would just sit and talk. So I was just sitting and talking one day with
a girl that was also in the play and she began asking me about whether or not
I knew for sure I was going to go to heaven. She began asking me about my personal
relationship with God. Well, I'd never even heard of a personal relationship with
God, never really talked or thought much about heaven or hell because you just
don't talk about that in the synagogue. She kind of shook me up a little bit.
Solomon's College Thespian Troupe
the very next time I was at the synagogue, I asked the rabbi if I could talk to
him, and I asked him a question. I said, "Rabbi, I need to know - do Jews go to
heaven, or hell?" And he went "Excuse me?" And I went, "Well, no, do Jews go to
heaven or hell? I need to know this, because I've got a girl at my school who
keeps telling me that I'm going to hell." And he said, "No," he said, "Here's
what I need to tell you. All Jewish people go to heaven." And I said, "Really?"
He said, "Yes. Hell," he said, "is a gentile problem." (Congregation laughs.)
"That's wonderful!" I said, "That's wonderful! But just so I can defend myself,
explain to me why this is, so I can tell this girl." He said, "Well, we are all
Abraham's descendants, and as Abraham's descendants, we have a kind of a different
arrangement with God than the rest of the world does." And I said, "You mean to
tell me that I could do all kinds of stuff, you know, I could lie, I could be
nasty, and I'm still going to heaven because I'm Abraham's descendent?" and he
said, "Yeah." Now, actually, you know, there is a passage - that I ran into many
years later while I was doing graduate work at Johns Hopkins University - from
the Mishnah, from the Jewish Rabbinic writings that actually says that very same
thing. It's in the Tractate San Hedron and it says that very thing, that except
for a couple of real bums, every Jewish person's going to heaven. So, I was like,
"Wow, this is fabulous!" And I thought to myself, you mean, even if I never come
to synagogue again, I'm still going to heaven? And the answer is "Yes," and so
that was pretty much the end of my relationship with synagogue. (Congregation
laughs.) Well, I took him seriously, you know!
went off to the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, as an 18-year-old
young man, confident that I was going to heaven, because I was Jewish, and that
that was pretty much the end of the story. But I went off to the University of
North Carolina excited about being out from under my parents' roof, excited about
having those constraints removed, and excited now about being able to do everything
I'd always fantasized about doing, but you know, when you're living at home, you
can't pull it off, you know. So, I joined a social fraternity when I got to Chapel
Hill. And if you saw the movie, Animal House, my fraternity made Animal
House look like, you know, a Christian Day School. (Congregation laughs.)
I mean, you just cannot imagine what went on. I began getting deeply involved
in drinking and partying and women, and gambling. We would gamble all night. We'd
start playing cards around four or five o'clock in the afternoon, we'd play all
night long, then, about eight o'clock, nine o'clock in the morning, go to bed.
(We'd) wake up and you know, eat some lunch, and about three, four o'clock, start
again. And this was life in the fraternity house. You say, "Well, what about classes?"
What classes? We weren't there for classes, we were there for fun! And all you
had to do was take enough classes to stay out of the Vietnam war in those days
and everything was fine. Get a 2.0, and everything was copacetic.
Well, I did a couple of years of
that, but by the beginning of my junior year, all of that was starting to get
old. I don't know if any of you guys have been down that road, but you know, a
lot of things that start off like that, being exciting and very titillating, they
wear out, and after awhile it's like, getting drunk one more time, having one
more woman ... I mean, it's just not all that exciting any more. It's kind of
"Been there, done that, got the T-shirt" type of thing, you know what I'm saying?
(Congregation laughs.) Like, "No ..." So at the time I was beginning my junior
year, and all that started getting stale, I had begun to think a little more seriously
about the issues of life. You know, "Where was I going? And what was my life all
about? What am I doing here?" and those questions were beginning to plague me,
and I didn't have any answers for them.
So I ended up that summer, up in the Borsht Belt, up in the Catskills Mountains.
A couple friends of mine and I had hitchhiked up there and we were looking for
a job. We finally found a job, working in one of the restaurants, one of the resort
hotels up there, working in the restaurant, and serving people. We made a lot
of money that summer. This was the summer of 1969. Although when I went up there,
I'd never heard the word, Woodstock, and had no idea what the word, Woodstock,
represented. The Woodstock Music Festival was happening not too very far from
where we were working. Some friends of mine that I made up there who were from
New York, said "Hey, we need to go to Woodstock." And I'm like, "That's cool.
What is it?" They explained to me it's this big music festival and I was like,
"That's wonderful!" So we all bought tickets. I may be one of the very few people
in the world who actually bought a ticket to Woodstock. (Congregation laughs.)
They did sell 'em, honestly! They expected 50 thousand people, that was it. They
sold tickets. I wish I had kept it - I mean, they would be worth a lot today -
but I didn't. But I actually bought a ticket and then 500,000 people showed up
without tickets, and tickets, you know, just didn't matter.
But I went to Woodstock, spent the
entire weekend there, and as a part of this whole New York experience, I began
to get very deeply involved in drugs. I had dabbled with drugs in Chapel Hill
before I'd gone up to New York, but when I got up to New York it was the first
time I ever dropped LSD. I had some friends who said, "You know, if you're looking
for answers to questions about the universe, you need to take this stuff." (Congregation
laughs.) "This stuff will enlighten you. This stuff will expand your mind. This
stuff will help put you in touch with real expanded consciousness." And I was
like, "That sounds cool, let's do it!" And so the first time I ever took LSD was
up in New York, that summer. As I began taking LSD - we had done a lot of grass,
and we had smoked a lot of hash, but this was the first time I ever did psychedelics.
I came back to North Carolina, to
Chapel Hill to start the next year of school convinced that I had gotten onto
the pathway to expand my mind, into the pathway that would help me find answers
to the universe. I came back as a very strong advocate of drugs. As a matter of
fact, about 50 or 60 percent of the people in my fraternity who have ended up
using drugs, I was the one who initially talked them into it, encouraged them
to do it, and the one who initially provided the drugs for them to get involved.
I was an advocate of this.
We began doing drugs all the time. I mean we would smoke dope many times a day.
I grew hair out to my shoulders, a big old afro. See, my hair doesn't grow down,
it grows OUT. (Congregation laughs.) So I had this huge afro, almost out to my
shoulders, and I wore bell-bottoms and tank tops, motorcycle boots, and love beads,
and really looked the part. The nice thing about hair like that is I could hide
joints behind my ears, and pull my hair over them (congregation laughs) and the
police would never think to look behind my ears I figured. So a normal day in
Chapel Hill would start off with six or eight joints, four behind each ear, and
as the day went on, we would smoke 'em. That was a normal day in Chapel Hill.
We dropped LSD three, four, five times a week, sometimes more. You say, "Well,
Lon, if you're taking LSD three, four, five times a week, and smoking dope every
day, how in the world did you ever maintain any presence in class?" The answer
is, "We didn't." It was much more fun to sit up in a tree and smoke dope than
it was to go to class. So we just didn't go. As a matter of fact, I brought a
copy of my year book, of the year book from Chapel Hill that year, 1969-1970 because
there's a picture right in the front, a full page picture of me and several fraternity
brothers sitting up in a tree smoking dope. I'll never forget the day it happened.
I remember very well the day it happened. We were sitting in this tree right in
the middle of campus, smoking dope, as I recall, my math class was happening at
that moment, or some class, anyway, and I remember hearing down below us, about
ten feet down, this "click, click, click, click," and we looked down, and here's
this guy, looking up and snapping pictures of us! You say, "Well, didn't it worry
you, didn't it occur to you that it might be somebody with the police?" Yeah,
well, that occurred to us, but, frankly, it was just too much trouble to get down.
(Congregation laughs.) We were just like, "Hey, what are you doing down there,
man?" and he said "Well, I 'm taking pictures for the year book." We were like,
"Oh, OK, that's cool. Go ahead." And then when the year book came out, here we
are in the front, right on the inside front cover of the year book, this huge
picture of us, sitting up in this tree blowing dope. I brought it for you to see.
It's up here in the front, you can come up afterwards and see it. But that was
life in Chapel Hill.
were sitting in this tree right in the middle of campus, smoking dope.
I'm not telling you this because I'm proud of those days, or I'm proud of my lifestyle.
I'm telling you this because I want you to get a sense of who I was at age 21
when Jesus Christ reached down and grabbed a hold of my life. I was not some nice,
run-of-the-mill everyday person who just went about my business and suddenly I
decided I wanted to get religious. That's not what happened here. I was living
a lifestyle that was about as separated from Jesus Christ and Christianity as
you could possibly imagine.
I may be the only person in the history of the University of North Carolina to
have flunked honors chemistry. I got into honors chemistry because my chemistry
grades the first two years weren't too bad, but then, I never went to class. I
took it my senior year, and never went to class, never showed up in class, except
for the first day. At the end of the semester, the guy gave me an "F." I thought,
"How dare he give me an F?" So I went to see him and I pleaded for a "D." He said,
"Are you kidding? You were never here!" He flunked me. I had to stay and go to
summer school, because I flunked honors chemistry. I doubt if there's another
student in the history of Chapel Hill that ever flunked honors chemistry. All
you do is show up, and you get an "A." I got an "F."
I also became well-known in the city of Chapel Hill as a dope-pusher. We would
get dope from New York City; we would travel up there, buy large shipments of
dope, bring it back to Chapel Hill, cut it and sell it. We had a friend who went
to Amsterdam several times a year, and would bring hash back sewn into the inside
lining of his overcoat - large amounts of it from Amsterdam. These were the days
before the dogs, and all of the modern equipment that they have now to stop these
folks. He generally had no problem whatsoever getting huge amounts of dope in
from Europe, then we would sell it. I put myself through my last two years of
school selling dope; that's how I made my money. I wouldn't want to go out and
get a regular job. You could make a lot more money and it was a whole lot easier
work just selling dope to people, and that's what we did. You say, "Well, how
in the world did you stay out of the grasp of the law? How is it that you didn't
get yourself arrested?" Well, the truth is, I almost did. In the spring of 1971,
just before I became a Christian, a matter of a couple of weeks before I made
a decision for Christ, there was a knock one morning at the door of the house
where I was staying. It was the police. There was a guy sleeping out in the living
room, and the police said, "We have a warrant," (this is a totally true story)
"... for the arrest of Lon Solomon on dope charges. Is he here?" Well, I was there,
I was back in my bedroom. My friend at the front door had enough presence of mind
to say, "Could I please see the search warrant?" They had a search warrant for
the house. The search warrant had the wrong address - it had the address of the
house next door on it. He picked this up and he said, "You can't come in here.
This search warrant is not for this house, it's for the house next door, you've
got the wrong address on here." He wouldn't let them in. If they'd have come in
... there was dope all over the house. I'd have been in jail! They actually went
next door, went into that house. The people living next door were friends of ours,
fraternity brothers of ours, we had sold them the dope that was in their house.
They found the dope, went to class, arrested my fraternity brother right out of
his class, put handcuffs on him and took him to jail. He got arrested, but it
wasn't him they were looking for! It was me. So, that's how close it was. I liked
to (back in those days) I liked to say to my friends, "I'm so hot that the air
crinkles when I walk around." Because we were well-known. I mean, the police knew
who we were. But I'm getting a little ahead of myself here.
All the time I was doing dope like this, I want to tell you, I actually thought
that I was making spiritual progress. I actually thought that spiritually, I was
moving towards a place where I was going to get all these answers to the universe,
that I cared about. And again, I'm telling you all that because I want you to
understand where I was in 1970 when Jesus Christ began to make an impact on my
Now the real turning point in my life, as
I look back, came in the very early spring of 1971. I was sitting on a wall in
downtown Chapel Hill, there's a little wall right there, if you've ever been there,
right on the edge of campus. It was about two o'clock in the morning. My friend
and I (my good friend and fraternity brother that I did a lot of dope with), he
and I were sitting there, tripped out on LSD, and we were talking. I said to him,
as part of this conversation, I said, "You know, David, something is really bothering
me. You know, here we are, we're doing all these drugs and we're the flower people,
you know, we're the love children. But instead of getting better, instead of getting
more loving, and more caring, and more kind, you know, I really feel like I'm
getting worse. I feel like I'm getting, not better, but I'm going in
the other direction. He turned to me and he said, and I don't know - he wasn't
a Christian, and I don't know that he had any sense of the impact he was about
to make on my life, but he turned to me and he said, "Lon," he said, "Maybe you're
not getting worse." He said, "Maybe you're just getting more honest about what
you've really been all the time." I was like "Whoa, dude, that's heavy, man!"
(Congregation laughs.) To him, it was a passing comment. To me, it was like a
sledgehammer had hit my life. Because, you know, I had grown up believing my own
PR. I had grown up believing I was a good person, a nice person, a kind person,
a giving person, an unselfish person, and a person that was going to heaven. That's
what my rabbi told me. All of a sudden, I was faced with the fact that maybe I
wasn't all of that. All of a sudden I was confronted with the fact that maybe
the truth is that that was all a bunch of PR that I had blown out, that the real
me was a very different person. The more I thought about what he said to me, the
more I began to realize that he was right. As I began coming to grips with this,
really taking a hard, honest look at myself, I want to tell you - what I saw,
I didn't like. I didn't like what I saw. All of a sudden, my perspective on myself
totally began to change. Suddenly, I began to see myself as a person in need.
Not a person that was fine, and doing all right, but a person in deep and desperate
need. Suddenly, I began to see myself as being selfish, and self-centered, and
self-ingratiating, a person who was immoral, a person who was unethical, a person
who was profane, and I had to finally admit to myself, "You know, Lon, to see
yourself any other way, you are kidding yourself, friend, you are deceiving yourself,
and it's a big game. You are not the person you always projected that you were,
this is what you really were, and it was not, not a pretty picture."
Well, I began to realize, as a result
of this, that I needed help. I needed some change! I needed someone, or something
that could change me from the inside out. That was a major turning point in my
life, because up to that point, I didn't really feel that I needed any outside
help. But now I did. It began to grip me. Drugs began to become passe' at that
point in my life, because I realized, I'd been doing them for years now, and I
realized that they could not change me from the inside out. I decided I needed
religion. I needed God, in some form or another.
So the first form I got into was Eastern religions. I went down and bought all
these books on Eastern religions, Taoism, I read a lot of that; Confucianism,
read a lot of that; got a lot of books on Zen Buddhism, got a lot of books by
Alan Watts and other writers and read a lot of those books. You know what was
interesting about these Eastern religions? They sounded wonderful on paper. But
I just couldn't make them work in real life! I mean, I would go out and read Zen
Buddhism for the first three hours of the morning, sitting in the woods with my
legs crossed, under a tree, and then I would get up and say to my friend, "Hey,
what's for lunch?" and blow my whole Zen for the day. You understand what I'm
saying? Zen's gone. I couldn't make this work. I really tried. I wanted to cut
my hair in a pony-tail and go dance around on the street with the Hare Krishnas
and do all this stuff, except I hated their food. Have you ever eaten that food?
(Congregation laughs.) It's awful! So I couldn't be a Hare Krishna, because I
knew I'd starve to death, I couldn't eat the food! (Congregation laughs.) So I
gave up on being a Hare Krishna, because of that. But I was trying to make the
rest of this work, and I couldn't.
So I decided, all right, I'm not going to be an Eastern religion person, so I
decided, maybe what I need to do, is I need to go back to Judaism. That's kind
of my ace-in-the-hole. Maybe I need to go get deeply involved in Judaism, and
maybe I can find in Orthodox Judaism the Answers that I need for life.
So there was a campus rabbi, and
I went to visit the campus rabbi. I walked into his office with my hair and my
bell-bottoms and everything, and I plopped down in his chair, and I said to him,
I said, "Rabbi!" "Yeah?" I said, "I think God wants me to be a rabbi." He looked
at me and he said, "No, I don't think so." (Congregation laughs.) I said, "But
Rabbi, listen, I have some deep-seated needs in my life; I've got some questions
I really need answers for ..." I began sharing with him about the hunger in my
heart, sharing about the needs that I had, and he - I don't even think he had
a clue what I was talking about. He gave me a couple of books to read. I didn't
want books! I wanted somebody to come up and sit down next to me and look me in
the eyes and say, "I know the answers to the questions you're asking. I know how
you can get changed on the inside, and not be the ugly person that you've realized
you are. I can help you." He didn't do that for me. I don't think he even had
a clue how to do that. I walked out of his office and said "Ppbbb!, man, there's
nothing there for me."
Now that was pretty depressing, because Judaism, going back to Judaism had kind
of always been my one ace-in-the-hole. You know, I figured if everything else
fails, I'll go back to Judaism. Now, I had gone back, having tried everything
else I could think of: women, drinking, partying, drugs, Eastern religions, now
Judaism, and I still had no answers as to how to change myself. Remember, guys,
the issue for me at this point was not so much that I was concerned about going
to hell. I still believed what the rabbi told me at that point, that I was going
to heaven. That wasn't my issue. My issue was, I couldn't find the resources I
needed to live life. I couldn't find the answers I needed to make life make sense
and make me into the kind of person I was proud to be. I couldn't find that. Those
were my issues.
I would sit and talk to my fraternity brothers about these things. They thought
I completely lost my mind. We would sit around and smoke dope and I would say
to them, "You know, guys, why are we here? And why are we on the earth? And what's
our purpose in life? And where are we going? And what's the meaning of life?"
They would all go to me, "Ahh, man, you are bumming us out! Man, what is wrong
with you, man? Why you gotta ask questions like this? Why don't you just be like
a normal person, you know? Why don't you just graduate from college, and get a
job, and get married, and have kids and raise 'em up and be a grandfather, and
die, like normal people?" (Congregation laughs.) "Why have you got to
have answers to all these stupid questions?" My friends began to think I'd flipped
out. They began to wonder whether I'd lost my mind.
And you know what? I began to wonder, whether maybe I'd lost my mind. I mean,
you read about all these guys who go trip out on LSD and then they never come
back. I thought, "Well, maybe I'm on one of these trips and I never came back!
(Laughter.) I mean, I didn't think that I'd never come back, but who that never
comes back THINKS that they never came back? You know? (Laughter) Did that make
any sense? So I'm like, well, maybe I've never come back, and maybe I just don't
know it, and I'm really in some psychiatric hospital, and I'm going under shock
therapy and I'm thinking I'm an orange and hiding under the bed or something."You
know? Reality was really messed up for me in those days. I mean, that's where
I really was. Now, I was so confused, I didn't know what reality really was anymore.
I began to plan suicide. I said,
now this is stupid. It's absolutely stupid for me to grow up and live that kind
of life, and go through all the heartache and the pain of living life, if I don't
even know what I'm doing here. I don't even know what my purpose in life is, and
I hate the person I am on the inside. This is stupid! Why don't I just go ahead
and take my life? And I was really planning on it. But I procrastinated in so
many things, that I was going to, I just hadn't gotten around to it. (Laughter.)
But I had every intent of doing this.
In the spring of 1971, all of that changed.
One spring day, I was walking on the streets of Chapel Hill. Chapel Hill is only
about two blocks. I was walking down Chapel Hill, on this nice, warm spring day,
very crowded day, with my dog. I had a German Shepherd, about 80-85 pound German
Shepherd named Noah. I don't know why I named him Noah, but I'd had him since
he was a pup. He got into a fight, a little dog fight, right in front of the weirdest
man in the universe.
Let me tell you about the weirdest man in the universe. The weirdest man in the
universe was a man named Bob Ekhart. Bob Ekhart was a man in his forties at the
time, who worked in Durham, about eight miles away from Chapel Hill. But he would
come to Chapel Hill every Saturday with his Econoline van, his white Econoline
van. He had scripture verses written all over the side of his white Econoline
van. He had two big megaphone speakers mounted on the roof of his van, connected
up to a record player where he would play scratchy old seventy-eight hymns, and
blast them down the street out of these two megaphones. He would stand out on
the street corner of Chapel Hill handing out pamphlets about Jesus Christ. And
he would do that along with his wife, all day, every Saturday.
Now, he was not well-received in Chapel Hill. People spit on him, people threw
the tracts back at him, people cursed him out. People were incredibly nasty to
this guy, but week after week after week, that Spring, I saw him down there. I
avoided him. I didn't want to get near the man, you know, this was like out of
a circus or something! But anyway, that day, my dog got into a fight right in
front of where he was standing. I pulled my dog apart from the dog that he was
mangling at the time, (laughter) and this other guy, Bob Ekhart helped me a little
bit. So here I am now, eyeball to eyeball with the weirdest man in the world.
What do you say to
the weirdest man in the world? I mean, I didn't want to say something wrong. So,
I looked at him, and I said, "Hi!" and he went "Hello!" Well, now what do you
say? So I said, "Gotta go!" And he said, "OK, see you!" And I went, "OK ..." and
off I went. The whole encounter could not have lasted thirty seconds. But I have
to tell you, in those thirty seconds of being eyeball to eyeball, about two feet
away from this man, and looking in his eyes, I walked away and something inside
of me said to me, "Lon, this guy has what you're looking for." You say, "How do
you know that?" Friends, I can't tell you how I knew it. I don't have any empirical
evidence. I can't put into a test tube what I was feeling, but I'm telling you,
I walked away and something inside of me said, "Lon, this guy's got what you're
looking for.The peace, the contentment, the wholeness, the healthiness, that you're
looking for - he's got it."
Man, that plagued me. I mean, that plagued me. But it also gave me some hope.
Because I have to tell you, folks, I had begun to wonder if anybody in the whole
world had what I was looking for. I'd never met anybody who had answers to the
questions I was asking. My fraternity brothers didn't. My drug buddies didn't.
I didn't know anybody who had answers. I'd begun to think, "There are no answers
to these questions." Then, suddenly, I met a man, who gave me some hope, maybe
there really were some answers to these things.
In a few weeks, I would wander by him and take his tracts. I wouldn't talk to
him, I was too scared to talk to him, but I would take his little pamphlets that
he was handing out. In fact, I developed a nice little stack of pamphlets at home
on my dresser. I didn't read 'em. But I took 'em, because I felt bad for the guy.
I mean, I felt like - he's a sincere guy, and people are treating him nasty, and
sincerity is at a premium, and somebody ought to at least be nice to him and take
what he's giving out. So I would take 'em and go home and stack 'em up. I really
wanted to talk to him, I just couldn't get up enough guts to do it.
Finally, "This is stupid! You just
need to go talk to this guy." So I walked up to him one Saturday morning, Spring
of 1971, and I said, "Hey," I said, "Um, I'd like to come talk to you sometime."
And he said, "Well, that would be wonderful. How about three o'clock this afternoon?"
Now, I wasn't ready
for that. (Laughter.) You know, it's kind of like when you see somebody at church,
and you say, "Why don't you come over for lunch sometime?" and they go, "Fine,
how about today?" (Laughter) That's not what you meant! I didn't expect him to
say, "Today!" I expected him to go, "OK, in a month or so ..." and it would give
me enough time to work up some courage. But he said, "How about three o'clock
this afternoon?" and I'm like, "Um, well, no ... I can't do it this afternoon,
I got something else to do, I got another appointment." Now, what kind of an appointment
does a hippie have at three o'clock on a Saturday afternoon, in Chapel Hill, North
Carolina? (Laughter.) I was lying through my teeth, friends. But I was scared!
By now, I was totally freaked out, and I said to him, "I gotta go. I gotta go.
Maybe some other time, we'll talk another time." I started walking down the street,
and I got maybe ten, twelve yards down the street, with my dog. A crowded day,
streets packed, in this warm Spring day in Chapel Hill, and this guy cups his
hands around his mouth, and he screams at me. I had said to him, "Well, maybe
I'll see you next week." And he screams at me, "YOU MAY NOT BE HERE NEXT WEEK!"
(Laughter.) And I'm like, "Oh, my goodness ..." I'm looking around trying to pretend
like I don't know who he's talking to, either. (Laughter.) I don't want all these
people knowing that the weirdest man in the world is yelling at me! I don't even
want them to know I've talked to him.
So, I hurried down the street, I ducked around the corner, and leaned up against
the brick wall, and I went, "Arggh! That was the worst experience of my whole
life. I can't believe I did that." But as I began walking around that day, I began
thinking, "Well, that guy's right. I've got no guarantee I'll be here next week."
I'd already lost several high school friends. One had died in a motorcycle accident,
one had died of a kidney infection. And I thought, well, you know, he's right,
I might not be here next week, I should go talk to him. So three o'clock, I showed
He was gone! I
mean, he didn't know I was coming. So he finished up, and he'd left. This was
awful! Because I felt like this guy had laid a prophecy on me that I wasn't going
to live for another week! (Laughter.) Now, I know that sounds silly, but it's
not silly. I mean, I was terrified that this guy had predicted my death!
The next week was the most horrible
week of my entire life up to that point. You know, a good friend of mine owned
a motorcycle, let me ride it all the time. Didn't ride it that week! I didn't
walk under ladders that week. You know, God help me if a black cat walked in front
of me. I looked both ways before I crossed the street, deliberately, I climbed
steps one at a time, holding onto the handrail. I was terrified!
The week finally went by, and next
Saturday came, and I got up at the crack of dawn, which in those days was about
ten o'clock in the morning. (Laughter.) And I went downtown to see this guy! I
don't know what would have happened if he hadn't come to town that day, but sure
enough, faithful as ever, about ten-thirty, he came punting into town in this
white Econoline circus van. He got out of the van, and I walked over to him, I
had been sitting there waiting for him. I walked over to him and I said, "Look.
Because of you, I have just lived the worst week of my entire life. Now, we need
to talk." I said, "There's got to be a sales pitch that goes with this thing you
do here. I didn't know what to call it. I said, "So, give me the sales pitch!
I'm willing to listen."
Now, I should drop back and tell you one quick thing. During the middle of the
week I was so scared that I thought, "I'm going to go buy a Bible." You gotta
understand, friends, dope pushers don't own Bibles. You understand? None of my
dope-pushing buddies owned Bibles. None of my fraternity brothers owned Bibles.
You know, the lifestyle we lived did not fit with owning a Bible. And so, I thought,
well, if I have a Bible, maybe I'll make it through the week, kind of like a Talisman
or something. So I went down to the bookstore in town to buy a Bible.
I did not know how expensive Bibles
were! I couldn't believe it! I was like, "Wow, that's an awful lot of money for
a Bible." I only had about five dollars to my name then. We were between dope
shipments and five dollars was about all I had. I was eating scraps out of my
fraternity house kitchen. I would serve the dinner, and then, as my payment, they
would let me eat the leftovers. I ate a lot of broccoli, a lot of cauliflower,
not much steak. You understand what I'm saying? And so that's how I was surviving.
Well, the cheapest Bible I could find was three dollars! A little, tiny paperback.
I was standing in
line to pay for it, and my friend, the one who had said to me, "Well, maybe you're
just getting more honest about what you were all the time," came by, saw me in
line, and came into the bookstore there, the university bookstore. He said, "What
are you doing?" I said, "I'm buying a Bible." He said, "You what?!?" I said, "I'm
buying a Bible." He said, "What in the world would you do something like that
for?" And I told him a little bit about the kind of week I was having. So as we
are standing in line, he says to me, "Lon." He says, "Now stop for a second, think."
He said, "If this God that you're worried about is so real," he said, "Don't you
think He could give you a Bible without you having to spend fifty percent of your
life savings on it?" (Laughter.) And I was standing there and I went, "Yeah, that
sounds spiritual. That sounds real spiritual." I went, "Alright, that sounds good."
I went and put the Bible back. Now you need to know that because of what's going
to happen now.
next Saturday, I'm talking to this man, and so he takes out a Bible and starts
reading from it. He reads from the Old Testament, he reads from the New Testament.
He began telling me Bible stories that most of you probably know, but I didn't
know them. He read to me about Elijah and the prophets of Baal up on Mt. Carmel.
I thought that was the greatest story I'd ever heard in my whole life! I was like,
"This is a great story!" He read me other things. We talked for about two hours.
It was like water on a dry sponge. And at the end of two hours, he said to me,
"OK, now, are you ready to receive Jesus?" I'm like, "Huh? Excuse me!" "Are you
ready to receive Jesus?" he said. Well, I didn't even have a clue what that meant,
but even the little bit I could kind of figure out about what I thought it meant,
I said to him, "No. No, no, no. Hey, it's been fun talking to you, man, and this
has been wonderful, but I'm Jewish! Jewish people don't do this. Jewish people,
we just don't do this." He said, "Well, sure, Jesus was Jewish." He said, "Do
you realize that all the early followers of Jesus were Jewish? The whole early
church was Jewish. Everybody who wrote the Bible with the exception of Luke was
Jewish!" I said, "Nahhh, come on!" He went, "Yeah," he said, "Did you know Peter
was Jewish?" I was like, "You've got to be kidding!" He's like, "No." I was like,
"Really?" "Yeah!" Well, I never knew this, nobody ever told me Peter was Jewish,
I figured he was, you know, white, Aryan, WASP gentile. (Laughter.) Who knows?
I didn't know what he was. We don't study Peter in the synagogue, you understand.
So I was like, "Really?" He's like, "Yeah." I said, "Now look, Peter, yeah, but
Peter doesn't have to go face my parents. You know? You understand what I'm saying?
No, I'm not ... I don't really think so." He said, "Well, look, would you do me
one favor?" I said, "Maybe." He said, "Would you, would you be willing to promise
me that at least you'll read the Bible and let God speak to you from the Bible?"
I said, "Well, yeah, I don't think it would do any harm to read from the Bible."
He said, "Do you have a Bible?" I said, "Uh, no." He said, "Come here a second."
And he opens up the back of this van, and here is this huge box of brand new Bibles.
I mean, cellophane wrapping and all! And he takes one of these Bibles and he says
to me, "Here." And I said, "Well, I don't have any money. I can't pay for this."
He said, "Well, I don't want you to pay me anything for this. If you promise me
you'll read it, I'll give it to you." Whoa! I mean this was getting too close
to home, now! (Laughter.) Because, on Wednesday, I had said to God, "If you're
really real, God, you prove to me you're real by giving me a Bible." But folks,
where was I going to get a Bible from? The people I hung out with did not walk
around handing out Bibles. The odds of somebody giving me a Bible were less than
zero. Four days later, this guy opens his trunk and hands me this brand new Bible!
And I mean, it was like, Oh, man! This is, this is getting too scary here. So
I took the Bible and I said, "I gotta go." And I left.
And as I walked away, I remember saying to
myself ... Now, this is freaky! This is really freaky! Do you really think this
could be right? I mean, could this really be what he said it is? Could Jesus Christ
really be the Messiah of Israel? I mean, could you have backed into the God of
the universe here? That's what I walked away thinking. Well, I was pretty skeptical,
but I kept my promise. I took the Bible home, put it on my nightstand, and I began
reading it a little bit every night before I went to bed, because I love to read
before I go to bed. I started reading in the Old Testament. I didn't know where
to start. I mean, who knows what the Bible's like? So I started in the Old Testament.
I read about Adam and Eve and all this good stuff. I mean, I'd heard their names,
but I never knew what the Bible said about them. And I thought, well, that's a
pretty interesting story there. But then I got to that section where so-and-so
begat so-and-so, begat so-and-so ... I didn't know how long that went on. And
I thought, well, man, this ain't getting me nowhere. Maybe I should switch to
the New Testament, 'cuz that's what talks about Jesus.
I didn't know whether the New Testament went: Introduction, Main Body, Conclusion,
Anti-climax ... I didn't know whether it was a collection of short stories, whether
it was an anthology of poetry? I didn't know what the thing was! So, you figure,
if you don't know, you start at the beginning, right? So I turned to the gospel
of Matthew, and I started reading. Man! I couldn't believe some of the stuff that
was in there! I must have read the Sermon on the Mount seven or eight times in
a row before I could go on. What I could not get over, the thing that impressed
me the most, was how Jesus used words to cut right to the heart of things. I mean,
he could say more in one sentence than professors I had had could say in the whole
semester, it seemed! He cut right to the core with one sentence! I couldn't get
over it! I kept on reading and I finally got to Matthew, Chapter 11, where Jesus
said, "Come to me, all you who are heavy laden, and who are burdened down, who
are overwhelmed, and I will give you rest. You will find peace for your soul."
And when I read that, I'll never forget, I'll never forget looking up and saying,
"Bingo! Bingo! This is exactly what I'm looking for! I couldn't have even put
it in words that good myself!" I remember thinking. "Heavy laden ... burdened
down." That's exactly how I feel. And what I'm looking for is peace, and rest
for my soul. This is it! This is exactly what I'm looking for! And here Jesus
is, promising that if I'll come to him, he'll give it to me!
Well, I thought, you know what? I gave drugs a fair shot in my life. I gave Zen
Buddhism a fair shot in my life. I gave Judaism a fair shot in my life. I gave
women, and partying, and drinking a fair shot in my life. It's only fair I give
Jesus Christ a fair shot in my life. So, I decided I was going to do that. But
I didn't know HOW? I mean, this guy had said to me, "Receive Jesus." I do not
have one clue what that means. Not one! I mean, if the guy had said to me, "Stand
on your head and spit nickels," I would have at least known what position to get
in. (Laughter.) Do you follow what I'm saying? "Receive Jesus" means absolutely
nothing to me. So I figure, OK, I'm on my own. You say, why didn't you call him?
I didn't have his phone number! I had no way to get in touch with this man. So
I'm on my own.
got down on my knees, 'cuz, I don't know, it just seemed appropriate. And here's
what I prayed. I prayed, "OK, God." I said, "I don't even know if you're real.
And this Jesus character, I am really confused about. But, God, I'm empty on the
inside. And I'm hurting on the inside. And I'm lonely on the inside. And I'm scared
on the inside. And I need some help. And here's Jesus promising me that he can
give me rest, and that he can give me joy. So God, here's what I want to do. I
want to give you my life for one month. One month. And I'll do anything you ask
me to do. I'll go anywhere you ask me to go." (I didn't know how he was going
to ask me or tell me, but I mean, I was sincere about it!) And I said," Look,
at the end of that one month, God, you haven't given me this joy, and this rest,
that you're talking about, I reserve the right to take my life back and cancel
the deal. How about that? But, if you really give it to me, this rest and this
joy, then you can have my life for good. A deal's a deal. Amen!"
You say, Lon, that is the worst
salvation prayer (laughter) I have ever heard in my entire life. Well, but I'm
flying on my own here, guys! I'm going by the seat of my pants. YOU weren't there
to tell me how to pray a salvation prayer. I didn't know how to pray to God! I
just got a sincere heart, and I just want to do business with God! And I figured,
a month ought to be long enough, if you're God, you know. I'm so glad for a verse
of scripture in the Bible that says this: (1st Samuel 16:7) Man
looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. I'm so
glad that God, up in heaven, said, "Solomon, that is the most awful prayer for
salvation I ever heard, but you know what? I'm going to look past that prayer,
son, and I'm going to look at your heart and I see in your heart, you mean business.
So, I'm going to forget about the prayer, and I'm going to deal with your heart."
I'm so glad God sees the heart!
And I got up off my knees, and I said, OK, well, now we'll see what happens. I
was very skeptical. I got to tell you, I was very skeptical. I really didn't think
this was going to work, but I thought, "Well? Who knows?"
But then I thought, "Well, I need more than this. I mean, this, some kind of ethereal
feeling that God's going to give you. That's not enough." So I got back down on
my knees and I said, "God, one more thing. My dog has the mange." (Laughter.)
Now, you know what the mange is. The mange is when the hair, your hair, the hair
starts falling off the dog. I had been putting this salve on it, that the vet
gave me, and it wasn't helping, it was getting worse. So I said, "God, one more
thing, here. My dog has the mange." And I said, "I need more than just some feeling
you're going to give me. I need to know you're real. So here's what I want you
to do." I said, "God, I'm going to stop using the medicine on my dog. I want you
to heal my dog." And then, I got up and I thought, "Well, maybe that's not fair
to the dog. You know. Because maybe you should ask God to levitate the bed or
something else, you know." (Laughter.) But I said, "No, no, no, a prayer's a prayer.
We'll see what happens." Because, I figured I wanted a God who was at least powerful
enough that he could handle a case of mange! You understand what I'm saying. (Laughter.)
Well, all I can tell
you, folks, is within three or four days, the mange had completely cleared up
on my dog. You can explain it any way you want to explain it, but I'm telling
you, I knew it wasn't that medicine, because I'd been using the medicine on the
dog and the dog had been getting worse! I stopped using the medicine, and the
dog got better, and the mange went away. And, I knew. You can attribute
it to anything you want, but I knew what I'd prayed, and I knew God had
done something for me.
And God began doing some other things for me on the inside, that I couldn't outwardly
prove to anybody, but I knew things were beginning to happen on the inside of
me, that had never happened before. And about a week later, I got back down on
my knees and said, "God, I'm convinced! I mean, you have changed, not only did
you do that thing for my dog, but on the inside, man, there are things happening
inside of me! There's a joy, and a peace, and a contentment I have never felt
(before). And frankly, there's also a sensitivity to sin that I've never experienced
before in my life." The things I used to be able to do without the slightest pang
of conscience suddenly, they were bothering me. And suddenly, the only way I could
deal with them was when I asked God to forgive me, I would feel fine. But I'd
never been through that before. It never bothered me before. So, all of this was
happening on the inside of me, and I knew I didn't create it, and I knew I didn't
generate it. And I had no explanation for all of this, except that something supernatural
was going on.
got back down on my knees a week later, and I said, "God, I'm convinced! I made
a deal with you, and a deal's a deal. I told you that I would give you my life
for good, and I don't know what you can do with a hippie with hair out to his
shoulders, and love beads, and bell-bottoms on, who blows dope, but whatever you
can do with me, a deal's a deal, God. I give you my life, for sure." And that
was in the spring of 1971.
Well, the next time this man came to town, I went up to him and told him this
whole story. Just laid this whole story on Bob Ekhart. Bob Ekhart grabbed me,
he hugged me, he called his wife out of the back of the van. He said, "Amy, Amy,
come here, quick, you gotta hear this!" And he said, "Tell her, tell her!" So
I told her the whole story. She said, "Praise the Lord!" She was dancing around,
and I'm looking at these people and they're hugging each other, and I'm like,
what in the world have I got myself into? (Laughter.) I hope I'm not going to
act like this, well, you know, when I'm a Christian for awhile. They were so excited!
You know what? Bob
Ekhart's still living, today, as I record this, and, uh, we talk on the phone
every once in awhile. And he has said to me that in all the time he came to Chapel
Hill, all that Spring and Summer of 1971, every single Saturday, and as far as
we know, I'm the only person that came to Jesus Christ as a direct result of him
being here. Now, there may have been others that we don't know about. But you
know, I like to think that God sent Bob Ekhart to Chapel Hill just for me. Just
Well, a couple other things, and then, we're
done. The next thing he said to me is, he said, "You need, Lon, you need to go
get baptized." I said, "Huh? What?! Baptized? I'm Jewish, man! Jewish people don't
get baptized." (Laughter.) He said, "Well, Jewish people don't believe in Jesus,
either, and you said you do that!" I'm like, "Good point. OK." (Laughter.) So
I went home and I began thinking about it, and I thought, "Well, you know, if
I mean business here, then I need to mean business here. I mean, you don't get
half pregnant. And you don't become half a Christian. So, if I'm serious about
my relationship with Jesus Christ and I read in the Bible where Jesus said, 'You
need to be baptised,' and I said, 'OK, let's do it!'" So he baptized me in a pond,
down in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
And then I decided it was time to go tell my relatives. (Laughter.) Well. Um.
That was a very interesting experience. I don't have the time to go deeply into
it right now, but just let me say I was, everybody was not excited when I came
home telling them that I'd given my life to Jesus Christ. They would have rather
had me come home and say, "You know, I've been using LSD five times a week." (Laughter.)
"Smuggling dope in from Amsterdam and almost got arrested." "OK, Lon, no problem."
(But) "I believe in Jesus Christ." "YOU WHAT?!?!" That's kind of how the reaction
But, you know,
over the years since then, I've had the privilege of leading my dad to Christ.
My mother came to Jesus Christ before she passed away, and my only brother, my
only sibling, is now an active Christian, living for Jesus Christ today. So my
entire nuclear family came to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Although
it took twenty-two years of praying and sharing to see that happen. It was twenty-two
years before my mom, the last of the group, came to know Jesus Christ.
I want to just tell you two quick
vignettes and then I'm done. The first is about my housekeeper. Back then, there
was no politically correct language. We called her a maid. She was an African-American
lady, (a) wonderful woman. Her name was Cora Lee Goodman. And she, she looked,
if you want a visual of Cora Lee Goodman, think of "Mammie" on "Gone With the
Wind."And that's what she looked like. And she was just one of the most precious
women in my whole life. She came to work for my family when I was two months old,
and worked for my family all the time I went away to college.
Now, Cora Lee Goodman was not an educated woman. She could not write her own name.
She could not read. She could not drive a car. She was not an educated woman.
But this woman, when I was a brand-new Christian, and I began hearing Christian
songs, you know, like Blessed Assurance,
Jesus is Mine, and some of these very familiar songs, I remember
thinking, "Wow, you know, I've heard that song somewhere before! Where have I
heard that song?" I mean, I knew they didn't sing it in the synagogue. (Laughter.)
So, I thought, "Where have I heard that song?" And I could remember, when I was
just a little thing, as Cora would be ironing, or she would be fixing meals, and
as I would be toodling around her, then I could hear her humming these melodies.
So I said, "You know, I'll bet she's a Christian!"
So I hitchhiked up to Portsmouth, Virginia to find her. And I found her house.
Remember, I've got hair, a big old afro out to my shoulders. She hadn't seen me
in three or four years, and I knocked on her door. And she pulled back the little
curtain and closed the curtain right back up! And I knocked on the door again;
she pulled the curtain back. I said, "Cora, let me in! It's Lonny!" That's what
they called me, back then. And she opened the door, still had the little chain
on it, you know how they do, and looking out, and she said, "What are you doing
here?" I said, "Cora, I came up here to tell you that I've given my life to Jesus
Christ." And she said, "Good God, Almighty! Honey!" She said, "Come on in here
I went on in and we sat down, and I told her the whole story about how I'd come
to Christ. And it was just a wonderful time. She's with the Lord, now, and has
been for many years. But she said this to me. She said, "Lon, I want you to know
something." She said, "I have been praying for you, and for your family, since
I came to work for you when you were two months old." (Now, I'm 21, now, as we're
sitting having this conversation.) She said, "I have been praying for you and
your family for now, 21 years." She said, "But, Honey, I NEVER thought I'd see
the day YOU become a Christian!" (Laughter.) I said, "Well, here I am!"
We had such a wonderful time together.
You know, Cora went on to be with the Lord in 1975. But my mother, my father,
and my brother all became Christians, and I'm convinced the reason my entire family
came to Jesus Christ, is because of this woman, this godly woman, who took us
under her prayer wing and prayed for us faithfully, until she died, which would
then have been 25 years. And all of my nuclear family, as a result, came to Jesus
Christ. As far as I know, this is the only Christian who was praying for me all
those years. And friends, I don't believe that anybody becomes a Christian, but
that somebody's not praying for you. And I attribute my being a Christian today,
and my family being a Christian today, to the prayer-life of this dear African-American
woman. Couldn't read. Couldn't write. Couldn't drive a car. But she could pray.
And God bless her for that.
Well, one more story. Can I tell you, in closing, about how my dad came to Christ?
I had the privilege of leading my dad to Christ, just before he died. He was in
the hospital down in Charlottesville, Virginia. My dad had a very serious heart
condition. He had already had three heart attacks, the fourth one had killed him.
And I'm already older today than my father was when he had his first heart attack.
My mother had called me and said,
"Your dad's in the hospital. He has hepatitis. He's very ill. You need to come
see him." She had made it sound very serious, so I rushed down to see my dad,
praying all the way. I'd been a Christian now, about seven years. And I walked
in the hospital room and my dad was sitting up, eating a banana, in the bed. And
my first response was anger. You know, my mom did it to me again. But I had a
Jewish mom, and you know how that goes.
And so, anyway, then, we started talking and my dad said, "How's the weather?"
"Fine." "How's your wife?" "Fine." "How's this?" "Fine." And I knew something
was on his mind. I just knew. So we exchanged a few pleasantries, and then he
said, "You know, Lon, " he said, "I've been doing a lot of thinking lately." And
I said, "Well, Dad," I said, um, you know, "Thinkin's good. It's good to think."
He said, "Yeah, I've been thinking a lot about all this stuff you've been telling
me about Jesus Christ." And I'm like, Oh, my goodness. And I'm holding my breath.
"You know, and I'm beginning to wonder if maybe everything you're telling me,
isn't right?" And I'm like, Oh, God, I don't believe this. You know how you pray
for something, and pray for something, and pray for something? I was praying for
my dad, every day, sometimes twice a day, because I knew how sick he was, and
I could get a call any minute that he had died, unexpectedly, from heart trouble.
And suddenly, here he is, saying that. I felt like calling the nurse and saying,
"Nurse! Clear the next bed here in the room! I need it!" (Laughter.)
But I said, Oh, Lord, please don't
let me say something wrong now, and I said, "Dad, there is no doubt in my mind
that I'm right." I said, "But I'm, I'm, why, why, you've never been interested,
you've never wanted to talk about this. You've always ignored all my conversations.
Why, all of a sudden, are you saying you think I'm right?" He said, "Well, Lon,
I gotta tell you." He said, "I know I'm a sick man." He said, "Now I decided that
I could find in Orthodox Judaism everything you found, that you said you found
in Jesus. So," he said, "I stared going back to synagogue. I started going back
religiously. He said, I went to the high holy day services. I went to Rosh Hashana.
I fasted all of Yom Kippur, looking to find some assurance about what was going
to happen to me after I die." See, for him, the issue was death. He was
terrified of dying. And he said, "I finally walked out of the synagogue after
Yom Kippur services, the Day of Atonement." He said, "I stood on the front steps
of the synagogue," he said, "And I said to myself, 'No, I don't have any more
assurance of what's going to happen to me after I die now, than I did before I
went through all that ritual. The ritual is nice, but I don't have any assurance
whatsoever. Maybe Lon's right.'" And I said, "Dad, I am so sure I'm right, it's
not even funny."
the next morning, I had the privilege of getting down on my knees, next to my
father's bed. He got out of his hospital bed, and got down on his knees, and the
two of us prayed, and he asked Jesus Christ into his life. He died one week later,
to the day. Never left the hospital. Had a heart attack in the hospital, and died
in the hospital. And the last time I saw him, I went down and saw him one more
time before he passed, and he was hooked up to a trach, and everything in intensive
care. He couldn't talk, but he frantically wanted me to give him this little,
um, piece of paper, you know, with plastic over, where you can spell words out,
when you're in intensive care. It has the alphabet on it. And I gave it to him,
and he spelled this out. Because, you see, his number one issue was, he wanted
the assurance Jesus gave, but he didn't want to stop being Jewish. And we had
to talk about that, and I had to say, "Dad, you don't become a Gentile when you
believe in Jesus! You're always Jewish! You complete everything that being Jewish
is all about." So, he got this sheet, and here he was - this was the last time
Dad and I ever saw each other on the earth - he got this sheet, and he spelled
out to me: "L-O-R-D" (Lord) "A-N-D" (and) "J-E-W." (Jew.) And I knew exactly what
he was telling me. He was telling me, "Lon, I've got the Lord in my life, but
I'm still a Jew." What a wonderful confirmation, that even under the sedatives,
and even in intensive care, he still had enough presence of mind to spell that
out to me and say, "I know exactly where I am, Lon, and I've got Jesus Christ
as part of my life."
Well, folks, that's really about all I've got time to talk to you about, but let
me just close by saying this. I'm convinced that the only solution to life's mysteries,
and the only way to have the assurance of eternal life, and the ONLY way to have
the deep-seated joy and peace, and contentment that we're all looking for in life
... And I'm not saying that we don't have problems. You know, Christians have
problems. But we have a joy and a peace that supersedes the problems. And the
only way to live a life that's full of meaning and purpose, I am convinced, is
to have a personal relationship with the God of Israel. And the only way to get
a personal relationship with the God of Israel, is through Jesus Christ, the Messiah
of Israel. Jesus, Himself, said - John, Chapter 14, verse 6 - "I am the Way, the
Truth, and the Life. Nobody comes to God unless they come by way of me." Jesus
said that. And if He's right, and I believe that He is, then, the only way to
get that personal connectedness with God, is through a personal relationship with
Jesus Christ. The only way to get answers to the universe, and that deep-seated
peace, and the assurance of eternal life is through a personal relationship with
I TRIED everything else. I tried them with equal commitment, equal passion, and
equal openness to the idea that they were going to work! And, you can go try them
all, if you want to. I tried them all. And I'm here to tell you that the reason
those things didn't work is because none of them were the true way to God. I FOUND
the true way to God, and I found it in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
And I believe, from my experience, and from the truth of the Bible, that this
IS RIGHT. Any person who will give Jesus Christ a sincere chance to prove Himself
to them, Jesus will DO IT.
I mean, as we mentioned earlier, my salvation prayer wasn't the greatest. My whole
approach to God, making this deal for a month, you know. You know, God doesn't
take kindly to making deals with Him, but you know, my heart was right. And if
your heart's right, God will deal with you, because Man looks on the outward appearance,
but, Thank God, God looks on the heart. If you're here today, and in your heart,
you haven't been able to find the things that I've talked about that I was looking
for, and you've looked in many of the places I've looked, my invitation to you
is to give Jesus Christ a sincere chance to prove Himself to you.
Just give Him a chance. And if you're sincere, He will take you up on the opportunity
and He will prove Himself to you, just like He did to me.
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