Tag Archives: supernatural

UC Berkeley; it’s prestigious, it’s competitive, it’s acclaimed…it’s full of spirits: Receiving the Holy Spirit Part 3

26 May

On the morning of September 11th 2001, planes crashed into New York skyscrapers…and I had to get to class. It was my first semester at the University of California at Berkeley and not even an attack on domestic soil was going to cancel Sasha Goldman’s lecture. With a classroom full of stunned and emotional students, Sasha ditched her rhetorical analysis of Marcel Proust heady novel to address current events. “I know this is traumatic; what are you guys feeling right now?” Some were in tears, others expressed disgust or sentiments for the lives lost; but for Sasha, this was chance to wipe the whimsy from the minds of her students, to reveal the true, atrocious nature of the United States government. “It’s the government’s fault!’ she proclaimed. “They smashed those airplanes into the buildings.” She went on to enumerate the evils of our country and what she perceived to be U.S. war crimes against a multitude of nations. In the next weeks and months, the campus would become a political battleground complete with protests, rallies, and marches on lecture halls. While sitting through a lesson in Wheeler Hall, our small classroom on the second floor of the monstrous stone building began to bounce. Protesters were crashing like a wave through the halls, chanting and stomping and shaking the old building to its foundation.  Unsure of what mood this mob might take, a large oak outside the window looked pretty appealing as a fire escape while the flood of embolden malcontents went by our classroom.

While a handful of professors and large population of sycophantic students “raged against the machine,” the sense there was something larger, more ominous at work was accentuated during a night lecture on the north side of campus.  In the barn-sized shingled building, Sasha was screening “American Gigolo.” A storm had come in earlier that night, but during the film, rain began pelting the windows and lightning could be heard clapping in the distance. Pelting turned into pounding and what was once a far-off “crack” in the night-air, had now become a roaring thunder. As the weather intensified, so did Sasha; she was determined to awaken her impressionable students to the deep analytical mysteries of this “cinematic masterpiece” which challenged societal sex roles indefinitely. As the rain grew louder, she grew louder; she strained to talk over the downpour but then BAM!…a bolt of lightning struck just outside the building. Students were screaming, but you couldn’t hear it over the deafening rampage of the storm. The building, shaking from the power blast, was rocked a second time as a lightning bolt hit the ground right outside the window and lit the whole room up with its glow. Paralyzed with fear I prayed, “Please Lord, don’t kill me like this.” I had thoughts of Sodom and Gomorra being charred to the ground under a deluge of fire from heaven.  “Spare me and keep this building safe!” I begged. Sasha willfully continued to lecture, but it was in vain; she was actually inaudible and finally gave up talking until the storm had moved on enough so she could shout her points.

As draining and difficult as Sasha Goldman was as a professor, it wasn’t Sasha, it wasn’t the war, it wasn’t the students or even the demanding course load that wore me down to a breaking point.  Yes, all of the above didn’t help, but over my first year at UC Berkeley, there seemed to be another…a larger force at work challenging me, draining me. While the angry opinions, hateful political views and discontent attitudes around campus were intense, it felt like they were being empowered by something outside themselves, maybe someone with a larger objective.  Maybe I was in a Spiritual Battle? As crazy as she seemed at the time, the weird Holy Spirit lady’s words came to mind.

“That place is heavy spiritually, a real war zone. I hope you have been preparing yourself for battle and ready to fight the good fight of the Lord!…You’re gonna need the armor of God to survive in that environment! Most of all you’re gonna need the power of the Holy Spirit to lead you in God’s paths of righteousness!”

Maybe she wasn’t so kooky after al; her words began to ring true to me! I did feel like I had been in battle! I did feel battered and bruised spiritually! I did feel the heaviness! I guess I do need the armor of God…and I guess I do need the Holy Spirit. I finally broke and turned to God. As I was going to bed, I decided this was the night I would ask for the Holy Spirit to come and live in me. I shut my eyes tight and prepared myself to receive, but in my mind all I could think was, “How do I know which spirit I’m letting in? What if I let in the wrong one?” Then the Ouija board event came flooding back and terrified me, “What if I let in a bad spirit or even a demon!” My doubt was working me up into a frothy fear. My mind was dominated by worry, which spilled out from me and apparently opened a spiritual door. Pouncing on the momentum, terror and darkness filled my room. It felt as though an encompassing black void engulfed me, I was shaken to my core and paralyzed with terror. Satan had capitalized on my weakness, and there I lie unable and unwilling to move through the dark hours of night…

 

*Names were changed to protect anonymity

 

Intersecting Stories: Welcome into my Heart Jesus; Just Don’t Touch Anything! Receiving the Holy Spirit Part 2 

Don’t Play with Ouija Boards Kids, All spirits are not the same: Receiving the Holy Spirit Part 1 

Welcome into my Heart Jesus; Just Don’t Touch Anything! Receiving the Holy Spirit Part 2

17 May
To be brutally honest, I don’t distinctly remember the event of accepting “Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.” However, I do faintly remember being asked by my parents or a Sunday school teacher, “Do you want to let Jesus come and live inside your heart?” It sounded like a good idea at the time and I didn’t think it would hurt…so sure, why not! I pictured this miniature Jesus wearing his white robe.  He walked up to my heart-shaped heart and paused for a moment. Turning his head to catch my gaze, he waited for permission to enter. As soon as I gave the go-ahead, he smiled and put his hand to the brass knob, opening a little door and entering into my heart. Once inside the dark and hollowed-out heart, he sat down, and closed the door behind him. There he was forever in me…my heart-sized pal.
For years, nothing seemed any different; I was right, it didn’t hurt a bit! In the fall of 2001, I was going to be attending UC Berkley.  Before my course load could take over, my mother suggested we attend The ALPHA Course at our church, so I could get a better understanding of my faith. The lessons cover everything from “Who is Jesus?” and Why did he die?” to “How can I resist evil?” As I sat through the courses, I finally learned who this Jesus was residing in my heart. He wasn’t my pint-sized helper; he was a radical man who came to remove the barrier between humanity and its Creator. But the classes that rocked me the deepest were about the Holy Spirit: “Who is the Holy Spirit?” “What does the Holy Spirit do?” and “How can I be filled with the Holy Spirit?” Although the sessions were enlightening, the whole thing creeped me out.
“Spirit!” I thought to myself, “I remember the last time I got mixed up with spirits!” It was as though the word “Holy” was not just before the word “Spirit;” I didn’t care if he was Holy, un-holy, good, bad or ugly; no “spirit” was getting inside of me!
Nearing the end of my final semester at junior college, I was attending an awards ceremony with my mother. As we waited for it to begin, a woman in the receiving area struck up a conversation with us, “where are you transferring to?”
“UC Berkeley,” I responded, very proud of myself and sure that she would be too.
“Oh wow!” she responded, but then took me by surprise, “Are you a believer? If you are, you better be careful!”
“What are you talking about?” I responded offensively that she wasn’t purely impressed with my future University, but rather was focusing on my faith.
“That place is heavy spiritually, a real war zone. I hope you have been preparing yourself for battle and ready to fight the good fight of the Lord!” She swung her arms wildly and took on a warriors stance, “You’re gonna need the armor of God to survive in that environment! Most of all you’re gonna need the power of the Holy Spirit to lead you in God’s paths of righteousness!”
“This woman is crazy!” I thought to myself. “And what is the deal with this Holy Spirit? If she’s what ‘having the Holy Spirit’ looks like…no thank you!”
And when I attended UC Berkeley that fall, I strong-armed the Holy Spirit as long as I could…until I couldn’t.
Here’s a link to The ALPHA Course – I recommend it HIGHLY!

Public Prayer…He hated it and so did I!

22 Apr

As the man approached, my guard went up; while his words conveyed he was simply a stranger in distress, I found myself doubting his story. We were in the heart of San Francisco, two blocks from the water; Ava and I sat waiting for my father outside a Starbucks on Market.

“Good evening mama, could I bother you for just one second,” the man had made eye contact with me and was approaching humbly, his two boys in tow. “I was wondering if you could help me out. You see, we just came into town and this morning both our luggage and our car were stolen. I have called a local hostel and they are willing to accept us for the night, but we need some money for a cab to get to the east side of town. Can you spare any extra change?”

Having lived in the Bay Area all of my life, requests for financial aid from people on the streets is a common occurrence. Are they really in trouble? Maybe…maybe not. Are they lying to you for money? Maybe…maybe not. Yet while his story might or might not have been true, his question was still the same, “Can you spare any change?” At this point in my life, the answer to that question simply depended on my mood and what I had in my purse. Most times the answer was “No,” and I would walk off quickly, a tinge of guilt trailing behind me, hoping they wouldn’t ask again or shout something rude. Other times, I simply ignored the question, trying to pretend I hadn’t heard them or hoping they were probably speaking to someone else (avoiding eye contact is essential in this scenario). And rarely, when I was feeling really generous, I would hand over a few dollars. In my head, this looked a lot like Mother Teresa ministering in the slums.

As I was about to make a decision on how to respond, my dad came out with his coffee and joined us. And while the gentleman re-explained his situation to my dad, I watched his two boys; they were about Ava’s age, five and six. Climbing all over the brick planter box, they appeared completely uninterested and emotionally unconnected with their father’s attempts to get strangers interested in their cause.

After hearing the man out, my dad made a decision and asked; “Can we pray for you and your sons?” my dad asked the man.

“Wait, what…No!” I thought to myself. “The man is asking for money not prayer!” I was repulsed by the idea for a number of reasons. 1. I don’t know these people. 2. He didn’t ask for prayer. 3. We are in PUBLIC. 4. We are in PUBLIC. 5. Did I mention, we are in PUBLIC…in the middle of San Francisco…with cars and business people passing by!

While I was having my own issues with my dad’s “monkey wrench,” it seemed so was our new acquaintance. Almost like a teleprompter, his face displayed extreme disgust. He seemed annoyed at us for wasting his time, and to add insult to injury, now he had to endure some old man’s ministry time with no payoff at the end.

Reluctantly, very reluctantly, all six of us formed a circle and joined hands on the sidewalk of the bustling city-center. Just before I closed my eyes for prayer, I caught a glimpse of the two boy’s faces. My cold heart melted as I saw their eagerness for prayer. These two boys, who just a minute prior were in their own world, trying to avoid their father’s “hustle,” were now completely engaged and anticipating someone doing something different, something that felt like love.

I don’t remember what my dad prayed; I’m sure it was amazing. What moved me (and I think the boys too) was not the words of the prayer, but simply the power of praying for someone personally. Caring, really caring, for the needs of another person enough to petition God on the matter, that was sparing something maybe even more valuable than money; that was real “change.”

“Could we spare some change?” Apparently that was the same question God had for me. Was there room enough in my life for “change?” Could I drop my prejudices and judgments? Was giving and caring for the needs of others something I even had the right to quantify or pass through a series of litmus test for validity?

As the man grabbed his boys, thanked us curtly for the prayer, and moved onto his next prospect, the boys’ eyes lingered on my father. Still in shock, but quietly grateful for what just happened, I began to notice the strongest, most fragrant smell of roses. It was as if a bouquet was right under my nose. As I panned the area looking for flower carts or passing perfume wearers, nothing seemed like a logical explanation. And as the wafting sweetness stayed for nearly five minutes as we made our way to the cable car, it seemed to me, this was a gift from God in acknowledgement for my “Change.”

While my story is great, here’s a real class act!

Luke 10:30-37 Parable of the Good Samaritan

30 Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.

31 “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. 32 A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.

33 “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’

36 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.

37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”

Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”