Table of Contents Chapter 12 of 12 Previous Next Exit
the Author- Philip Paul Sacco
When Christians awaken to the full power, we may reward ourselves; we may fulfill God’s plan for our life and we all benefit. When we keep mindful of God in our life, we immediately recognize certain events as confirmation, or evidence of God’s will. Events we may have otherwise called coincidence, or serendipity, take on a new meaning when the purposefulness of a divine plan is apparent. I desire the reader have a better understanding of my position in regards to these matters, as well as the type of events to which I am speaking. God’s hand has been active in my life, and understanding how I have come to recognize this may help you to come to a greater understanding of incidents that may occur in your life as well. Please indulge me, as I believe these lessons are faced by us all.
If your faith-life seems to be on hold, could it be you are not the empowered Christian you think you are? Jesus taught us to welcome our trials and tribulations, as this develops us in understanding and wisdom. The point is, that it is easy to find out how threatening the enemy considers you, for the enemy only leaves the sleeping and non-threatening warriors alone. Only if the enemy sees you as a threat, will he come against you. You can take it as a compliment the more arduous his attacks upon you. For the enemy, this is an exercise in futility; but do not let-on to the secret! The victory has already been given us. Learn what it means to walk the way of Faith . . . it is a very interesting walk!
My walk of faith has been an ongoing state of preparation to present the message of this book. It is only in hindsight that many of the unusual and seemingly disjoint episodes of my life have come into proper focus and the hand and design of Creator God seen. To complicate His divine plan (if any of us can truly complicate anything for Him), I have often unwittingly strayed from the path He had set me upon. Some of us never “get it right,” some of us are “late bloomers,” and some of us are “just plain stubborn.” What is important is that any one of us “WAKES UP” and gets with the program.
I have learned not to question God’s timing. Not only is He the keeper of time itself, but He has a sense of humor as well. It is infinitely more fun to get out of my own way and let God bless me as He sees fit rather than direct Him in His ways. Though telling God how to act in our lives is typical of human nature, it is as fruitless as telling an orange tree to bear apples. While apples are sweet, they bear the seed of poison. God knows our hearts better than we do, and as a just and loving God, He knows best. It is when we interfere that we generally have complications occur.
Surely, the enemy knew what God had planned for me. Death approached my crib when I was an infant, and had I not been born with a quiet spirit, when I whimpered, my mother may have otherwise “let the baby be.” As it was, she was not accustomed to hearing my cries. It took her a few seconds to realize what it was she was hearing. She was so surprised to finally hear me cry out, she hurried to check on me. As my cries were so unusual, she carried me in her arms from the room. As she carried me through the doorway, the entire ceiling collapsed filling my crib with plaster and wood. This was the enemy’s first attempt to “plaster me” at an early age.
I was yet three or four years old when the next incident occurred. I was nearly separated from my intended support structure, my loving family. My family was on vacation in Florida. My six year old sister Lenore, Mom, and I, were sitting by the pool just beyond the French doors to our room. Mom wanted to make us some sandwiches. She left me with my sister, instructing her to watch me for a few minutes while Mom made lunch. Within scant minutes, Mom returned to find my sister alone, sucking on a lollipop. “Where’s the Baby . . .?!” my mother put to her . . . “Oh,-. . . that nice lady wanted to take a picture of him . . . ” was the response. A frantic scene followed as my mother rushed down the corridor throwing open any open door, no doubt near hysteria. Quickly, she came upon a room with several couples standing around a bed illuminated by studio lights, with me sitting on the bed, sucking on a lollipop of my own. In a moment, I was retrieved by my mother who didn’t give anyone a chance to explain anything. In the blink of an eye, I was gone. Just as quickly, by my mothers quick thinking and speedy actions, I was thankfully recovered. No doubt, within minutes, my entire future would have been quite different in the hands of strangers.
As I grew up, it became evident I had some special skills. As early as the fourth grade, I began to be groomed for public speaking. It was years before I discovered public speaking is ranked as one of the three greatest fears among people. It was also during the fourth grade I had my first on-stage experience, a passion that I actively engaged in until the late 80s.
Over my adolescence, I had a strong inclination towards things chivalric in nature. I displayed an inborn knowledge of martial combat. So pronounced was my understanding of things well beyond my experience, or study, I was asked to speak before my fourth grade class on--of all things--the Roman gladiatorial games and the persecution of the Christians in the arena. My teacher was so impressed with my delivery and knowledge of arms and armor, as well as the Roman games, she had me speak to all the other fourth grade classes as well.
When I was just a few years older, the feeling that I had somehow missed my time, that the days of knighthood had escaped me, weighed so heavily upon my young mind, I cried myself to sleep many nights. I can still remember my mother’s concern when she held me and desperately tried to understand what bothered me so. I would put it to her simply, “I want to be a knight . . . I just want to be a knight . . . I’m supposed to be a knight . . ..” She tried to help me understand that was a time long gone by. I could not understand why this was so, or what she meant. I am sure my mother was both confused and concerned for me, but no more confused and concerned than I was myself. I tried to find other ways to get back to that ancient time, always wanting to learn how to sword fight as I had watched in so many movies. As sword fighting isn’t exactly commonplace today, I turned to archery, drawing castles and armor, building models of knights in armor, and dreaming of days (and knights), gone. Watching Richard Harrison in Camelot and reading every tale of King Arthur’s Court only made things worse. These were too strong a reminder of what I wanted for my life. It would be years before I began to “come into my own” again.
Even at this early age, my father saw in me an aptitude for the military way of life. He approached me with the idea of going to a military school. Had my mother not intervened, I would more than likely been a Lieutenant at the time of the Vietnam War. The Lord only knows what may have become of me. Personally, I am sure I was spared many horrible experiences; perhaps the most tragic of all. As it was, dear Mom would have no more consideration of me going to a military academy, and that was that. Dear Mom took a primary role in a major course adjustment which effected my life, yet again.
Death followed me, however, and sought many opportunities to prevent me from raising the Sword of the Spirit; military man or not. His next attempt to take me was while I slept, in a car accident. We were on vacation at the time of the accident. The turn of events necessitated our waiting for our car to be repaired before we continued our journey cross-country. The good Lord provided us with a gracious family that took this family of six strangers in to their home. While awaiting car repairs, I was treated to “celestial fireworks” while watching Fourth-of-July festivities at a local park. Hailstones the size of oranges struck the field from which my older brother, sister, and I watched the fireworks. As we ran for cover, I slipped, falling to the ground. My brother ran back and snatched me from the ground by my arm just before three of the “hammers from the heavens” embedded themselves where I, mere moments before, had lain. We ducked for cover in a concession stand. No sooner had the door slammed upon my heels behind me than a rapid hammering jarred and dented the aluminum door. These hailstones crushed car roofs and smashed windshields. I could easily have been killed. Death would have to wait again.
Evil is an insidious thing. Its attacks are fluid and dynamic. When the subject of an attack is to well guarded, attacks against supporting elements can be expected. In considering the tremendous preventive shield my mother had to date shown in my life, it is quite possible that the goal in the above mentioned wreck was in fact the elimination or disablement of my mother. The injuries she sustained in the accident continue to effect her to this date.
Being born into a Catholic family, I was raised Catholic. At the proper age, I was confirmed in the church. I took quite seriously the solemn vow of becoming a soldier in the army of God. To me, this was something real. I expected orders at any time. Unfortunately, at that young age, I did not understand the teachings of the church, nor the reality and nature of Spiritual Warfare. I was young and uninvolved in true spiritual study. For a time, my life of faith lay dormant.
Other attempts were made on me, though more diabolical in nature. To kill my body is one thing, but to kill my spirit is another. 28And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Matt. 10:28. As I grew older, I searched for power and meaning in my life. With the promise of control and power, I was lured into witchcraft and tarot, casting a spell, which nearly cost my father’s life. Fortunately for me, God took this time to get my attention in a very real and personal way. In my sophomore year of High School, I repented and accepted the redemption of Jesus for my then worthless hide. God blessed me with close prayer friends over the next year, especially Hank Edmondson, who provoked me to study and receive the Baptisms of Water and Fire. My life changed immediately and radically. When I found the power of the Book of Ephesians and the spiritual gifts discussed in Corinthians, I beseeched God to show me His majesty and allow me to engage in spiritual warfare, if it still existed. This was just before the release of the movie The Exorcist. Everyone was sure such things were not real. Only a small number of spiritually aware individuals attempted to bar the release of the movie. They understood the danger of releasing this information upon the unaware masses. I found out within one week of my prayer that they were wrong. I was about to learn just how real this war is.
My best friend in those days, Danny Merrill, called upon me to assist a friend of ours who had been cursed by his grandfather, a confirmed warlock. Steve maintained contact with this malevolent spirit with a Ouija board. Steve had a blood lust and had taken to attacking humans, as small animals no longer filled the bill. Realizing the gravity of what he had done, Steve cried out to Danny for help. God directed Danny and me in praying over Steve, and in the saving of his spirit. After some three hours of uninterrupted spiritual confrontation clasped in prayer over Steve, the spirit of oppression and blood lust was soundly defeated by the power of the Holy Spirit and in the name of our Lord Jesus. Steve was delivered from the malevolent grasp of his grandfather. During the process, I witnessed a wooden cross actually blister flesh! This entire encounter took place in his front yard.
The Lord saw to it that we had not one interruption or the prying eyes of neighbors to contend with. When Steve was delivered from the oppressive spirit, it was evident in his demeanor, countenance, and in that, the light of his eyes was restored. Steve was led in a prayer of salvation and he immediately felt the dark oppression of his past replaced by the love and acceptance of our Savior. Praise God. I lost contact with Steve as he attended another school and graduated that year.
Almost ten years later, Steve looked me up and filled me in on how his life changed following that monumental night. He married his girlfriend of the time, completed seminary training, became a minister, and had a son. Steve admitted that had Danny and I not answered the call, he most likely would have been driven mad, ended up in jail, or been killed. To God belongs the victory!
Having now squarely declared myself for God, and having “thrown down the gauntlet,” Death approached me with renewed vengeance. I was assailed by brute force; this time, a racially motivated attack. Following a gym class, I was brained with a detached locker door. This resulted in my having some eight to twelve stitches and a mild concussion from the blow to the rear of my head. A prayer friend, Wally, was immediately at my side. He led me away from a bloody confrontation and to the nurse’s aid station to be taken to the hospital. At that time, I made no connection between the incident and my spiritual stance. I continued merrily on my way in my life seeking out ways to embrace chivalry and honor in my “normal,” every day life. Throughout high school, I crusaded against witchcraft, tarot, and Ouija boards, burning any boards and tarot decks I could lay my hands on.
It was the summer of my high school graduation when I had one of the most harrowing experiences of my life, one that would be repeated several years later. I had gone to Savannah Beach with my girl friend Debra, her girlfriend Diane, and Diane’s boyfriend Larry. We all enjoyed watching dolphins playing in the surf. When the tide changed, Larry and I mounted air mattresses and swam out to the primary breakers about half mile out in the hopes of entertaining ourselves with the dolphins. It was at this time, when I started horsing around with Larry, trying to dunk him, then he tells me he can’t swim! This was bad enough, but just after laughingly telling me this, Larry points towards what he believes is a dolphin between us and the beach. Larry starts paddling towards it. I was horrified, for I knew the triangular dorsal fin coursing along the beach was characteristic of a shark, not a dolphin! I quickly stopped Larry’s splashing, then calmed him down to brace for a harrowing experience. The shark turned in our direction, and began to circle us. This monster of the deep swam closer each time it circled. It finally began what I knew to be a feeding approach. . . directly towards me! I prayed as I don’t think I ever prayed before as I watched, transfixed, this monster approach the end of my air mattress. The shark was close to the surface, the shape of its snout and back clearly visible. As the shark raced under the length of my float, I could see its back was wider than my raft. I had the feeling it could swallow me whole . . . almost. It seemed like it took forever for this nemesis of the deep to pass under me. It must have been some 12-16 feet long.
We waited a few minutes, and not seeing the shark again, I took a grave and calculated risk. I had my Scuba fins on, “turbo fins,” capable of propelling one at incredible speed in the water. I got in the water and had Larry get on top of my mattress as well as his. I told him to keep a sharp eye out for the shark. Keeping my body as low in the water as possible, I began pushing Larry towards shore using a very powerful stroke known as the “dolphin kick.” I hoped the near and recent presence of dolphins would aid in camouflaging the turbulence I created with this powerful stroke. Larry joked about the wind he felt in his hair as we sped towards shore. I certainly felt the protection of angels as I noted we left a wake through the waves behind us. When we made it to shore, the girls asked us where we got the motor. Fortunately, they had missed the episode with the shark, as I am sure they would have been terrified for us.
Ever since I was a kid, I had feared water. It was not until I was almost twelve that I learned to swim. I never felt comfortable with the ocean, and this experience did nothing to endear me further towards the deep blue sea. Several years later, I gave up any interest in the ocean after having yet another similar experience. Such is my life.
The following year, I had the good fortune to meet three time Cuban fencing champion Eliana Salizar, and her husband Rudy. I began training in--you guessed it--Fencing (a modern day version of sword fighting). The ante was raised, as this Warrior-in-training was still on track to meet his destiny as a recruiting officer for God’s army. If the spiritual combat had not been serious enough yet, it soon would take a more severe turn as the minions of darkness formed a new strategy.
I had developed a thirst for the power of God’s Word, and studied the spiritual gifts listed most literally in 1 Corinthians and Acts. I became active with a very charismatic and Spirit filled worship group. I bore witness to singing in tongues, several miraculous healings, prayer in tongues, interpretation, and prophecy. My interest in eschatology began at this time. I became convinced that our days would see many signs described in the Bible, which we have been cautioned to watch for. Shortly after this, our prayer group was ousted from our meeting hall. The directors of the Catholic school and my church at that time did not ascribe to the “full gospel” teachings we were manifesting. It was a number of years before a sympathetic and understanding priest took charge of our church and the group began reforming. I, however, never found another group as profound and spirit filled, and my life had taken me elsewhere. I no longer met with them. My access to a strong supply depot had been eliminated.
Darkness crept close to me during my first year of college. On one memorable morning, I encountered what I can only refer to as an advance guard of evil. I was roused from sleep to a feeling of oppression and dread. I tried to go back to sleep. When I found the oppression physically perceptible, I turned to my Bible and ensconced myself in the Word.
The entire house was still, very still, unnaturally still--even for it being three in the morning. I prayed in earnest for protection and strength as I could feel the breath of evil nearby. No matter how many lights I turned on in my room, the darkness never seemed to leave the corners of the room. I felt an unnatural chill in the air. Matters came to a head when I turned and looked out my partially opened door to see a black, shadowy figure standing in contrast against the darkness of the house beyond. Gleaming red eyes peered at me from without and an audible hiss met my ears as it quickly darted from my sight.
The spirit of fear welled up within me and I turned to the Lord in prayer. Part of me thought I was surely still asleep, a hard slap and pinch assuring me otherwise. I felt an instinct to check on my sisters, Lenore and Carole, in the adjacent room. I was afraid of waking my sisters and crept into their room quietly. I leaned over them to find my younger sister sleeping fitfully in her bed while my older sister, Lenore, lay perfectly still, seemingly asleep. She seemed to be holding her breath. I prayed the good Lord to watch over them as they slept and moved towards the door.
Before I had left the room, I heard Lenore’s hushed voice tentatively call out my name, quaking and full of fear. She asked me if I had been in the room earlier. She had seen a dark figure lean over the bed of our younger sister. It had just leaned over her bed before my entrance. Lenore said she felt its presence as it pressed down on her bed just as I had entered the room. She thought she was dreaming, but as I prayerfully entered the room the figure of darkness had hissed audibly and rushed from the room through the wall between their beds. Numb with fear and lack of understanding for what was happening, she lay perfectly still watching as I then prayed over them and moved to leave the room. I knew I was not dreaming. More than that-- so did my sister. I knew what I had to do. The Holy Spirit led me to go to the bathroom, fill a glass with water and bless it in preparation for cleansing the house.
Now that I knew I was not seeing things, and sensing the tangible cast of evil, I proceeded to move through the entire house, blessing it with Holy Water in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, I awoke my parents. Initially alarmed, I prayed the Lord bless them with restful and secure sleep and proceeded throughout the remainder of the house while my sister stayed and explained to them what had happened and that I was not mad, that I had not “lost it. ” They were soon asleep again, secure in the blessed protection of our Lord, assuredly circled about by His angels of goodness and light. It took some time to bless the entire house. When I was done, I spent some time in the scriptures praising God for the victory. I climbed back in bed sometime near six in the morning.
The following morning I removed the old hold-out vestiges of the lies I had bought into prior to turning to the Lord: writings of Allister Crowley, The Satanic Bible, books of witchcraft, tarot cards, and a Ouija board. Burning them was truly a blessing, as the Ouija board uttered the most profound groans and screams when having been blessed and burned. To date I have managed to destroy some seven to eight Ouija boards and several tarot decks. They are tools of entrapment used by the enemy. I found out the hard way the traps of the enemy are regularly tended.
After the incident with the minion of darkness, my elder sister and mother took an avid interest in what I had been saying about the power and Baptism of the Holy Spirit. My mother came to me some time later and shared with me her personal acceptance and empowerment of the great Comforter in her life. While my sister Lenore never mentioned anything as specific as having received the “Baptism of the Spirit and Fire,” she no longer doubted my tales and has been blessed since this episode with several angelic visitations. Her kids and husband have also seen these messengers from God in their home when they prayed for protection and blessings. Both of my sisters and my mother continue a strong and very involved life in the spirit and are active with their respective churches. My father, while a spiritual man, is quiet and conservative in his devotions and tends to keep his professions of faith to himself.
By this time, I had been competing for about two years as a regional novice in the fencing circuit and was gaining notoriety. Time was ripe for the enemy to attack again. The pre-emptive strike came in the Savannah River one summer afternoon. In the same spot I had saved a dear friend of the family from drowning, evil smote me in the foot in an attempt to slow me down and, no doubt, see me drown. I had heard of people stepping bare footed on broken glass in the river, so I made a habit of wearing thick-soled sneakers. While crossing an area of rapid and intense water flow in the rapids, I stepped upon what, at first, felt to be a smooth rock with my right foot. As I bore my weight down upon my foot, I felt the rock give under foot and heard conveyed through my body the sound of imploding glass. A stab of pain shot upwards through my leg and reflex action drew my leg up, forcing me to be carried away in the stiff current. As I swirled down river, I attempted to gain handholds to pull myself from the current. Kicking with my apparently injured foot felt most peculiar.
Once I had managed to pull myself to some rocks out of the deep, rushing current, I drew my leg up out of the water and noticed moss clinging to the bottom of the sneaker. Considering where I was, the bottom of my sneaker should have been clean. I took a closer look, as something was not right. It was not until I grasped the toes of my foot and pulled it higher for a better look that I noticed the razor fine slice across the middle of the sole and up the instep of the sneaker, almost as far as the laces. When I pulled on my foot to examine it, it folded eerily and easily upwards. The moss had been forced up into the bottom of the sneaker, and I assumed, my foot. I could put no weight on the foot and struggled to leave the river. Struggling against the current without the use of both legs was tiresome.
Once on shore, I removed the severed sneaker to closely inspect my foot. The sole of the sneaker had been very neatly sliced completely through as if I had trod on the edge of a sword. I found my foot had also been sliced as neatly, to the bone, up through the instep--two tendons deep within had been cut. Being versed in first aid, and thanks to the bone chilling water, blood loss was minimal.
Leaving the river entailed an arduous climb up a hundred foot bluff and then a one mile hike to a friend’s car before we could make the quick ride to an emergency center (my friends enjoyed having a good excuse to get a speeding ticket). It took a while, but my foot was tended to that evening and with its repair I had concluded yet another interesting escapade. It would be some time before I was fencing again.
The best was yet to come. It was Easter Sunday, 1975. Dad stayed at home and the rest of the family all collected ourselves to enjoy the clear, blustery day and fly kites. Off to the local college campus we went. We settled the ladies on a blanket. My brother Rick and I laid out the kite and line and gave it a yank. The kite quickly found the brisk air, and was sailing effortlessly in a moment. Having the kite up and out about seventy feet, the heavy-duty kite string suddenly snipped as if cut by scissors just before my fingertips. The kite played in the air at just the right height to keep the fleeting string scant inches from my grasp as the kite raced me over hundred yards to settle in the top of a tree. Neither my Brother nor I could understand how that kite stayed in the air for that distance. It was rather eerie as the kite had a picture of Herman Munster on it that gave us cause for a good laugh. We were having too much fun to lose that kite so abruptly. Besides, I wanted it back as I had been flying that kite since I was eight. It seemed obvious to both of us that by climbing a four foot wall and using my brother as a ladder to scale a nearby causeway, easy access could be gained to a roof from which the kite could be reached. Simple plans so often simply go awry . . ..
To make a long story short, in scaling the roof I fell, landing on my head and spending a brief period on the other side of life. I could write a book about this incident alone and the many lessons I learned from it. Suffice it to say, I became the veteran of a “Life-after-Life” experience and once again cheated Death. Just before my return, I was told “It wasn’t my time” as “I hadn’t done ‘it’ yet . . ..” I was not the same for quite some time after this little episode. My bell had been decidedly rung. The experience changed my life in many ways. While I gave my brother the scare of his life, experienced a breath of Paradise, broke my wrist, suffered from a major concussion and bruise to my brain, and experienced amnesia for the better part of a day-- all in an instant--this little episode took me over ten years to settle out over because of the spiritual experience it brought me. In one afternoon some ten years later, I brought all my issues and questions to a priest at Christ the King Catholic Church. I was able to lie to rest all of my questions and spiritual conflicts concerning my “After Life” experience. I was finally at peace with what I had gone through, having reconciled what I thought I had been taught by the church with what I had experienced.
Always persistent and not to be outdone, Death came knocking again within three short months of my fall from that roof. I had broken my left wrist in the fall. I had the cast removed three days before a trip to Myrtle Beach with my friends Perry and Bobby. Death stalked again-- another car accident--this time a severe one. All of us, some nine friends having convened at the beach, had all been heavily involved with a Christian fellowship club. We all found it peculiar that everyone seemed to have the same foreboding about the Opal GT two of the girls had come to the beach in. Its owner was Bobby’s girlfriend. Bobby, Perry, and I discussed the situation and we came to a decision. The three of us had taken Bobby’s car, an SJ, to the beach. It was much larger than the little Opal GT, so we offered the girls the larger car to ride home in just as a precaution. If they were to have a wreck, they would be far better protected in the SJ. What we had not discussed widely with the girls was our feelings that, if in fact the Opal were to have a wreck, we would rather be in it than see them endure the accident. The Opal did, in fact, have that wreck, a fairly high speed one. We went under the rear end of a Mustang, nearly decapitating me, costing me my “boyish good looks,” nearly lacerating off my nose, the tip of my tongue, two-thirds of my upper lips, and causing severe lacerations to several muscles of my face. I was nearly blinded in my right eye. It was almost an hour before a rescue ‘copter made it to the scene. We were airlifted to a hospital and in route I stopped breathing (these facts I found out years later when I discovered a copy of a letter of thanks my father had sent to the rescue unit). I discovered that the flight crew had revived me and kept me breathing until I was under hospital care. Hey . . . this was only three months after I was assured it wasn’t my time to go as I hadn’t done “it” yet, so as I certainly hadn’t had time to do “it” yet. It must not have been my time yet again. Death was a little too anxious perhaps . . . 28And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. John 10:28. I was being obedient and God had a mission for me yet . . . I just had to do “it.” Now if I could just figure out what ‘it’ was.
In my junior year of college, I decided my life apparently was not exciting enough so, I took up skydiving. I decided that skydiving was not for me after I watched three malfunctions in one day (while no one was killed or dangerously injured, it was a wake up call for me). Need I say the previous year had created many “issues” to settle in my life. I was searching for more direction, more answers in my life at this time. I became very involved with my church, St. Mary’s On The Hill, training for and becoming ordained an Extraordinary Minister of Communion. I also began reading the Gospel selections at mass as a Lector. It was only a year or so since the fall and the accident. I was still very foggy minded. It would be some ten years before I started putting my mind back together again. I was searching for answers to the questions the “After-Life” experience had raised in my mind. Spiritually I had become very unsettled.
At this time, being a little uncertain about the direction my life was to take I decided maybe I should have some vocational and psych tests done. I was a pre-med student and had many friends in the military, another primary interest as a possible career choice (I was only interested in becoming a flier, but my poor eyesight snuffed that possibility). Additionally, I had talked to a local priest about possibly working in the church, given the experiences I had. I felt torn in three directions. It was suggested by my sister that I go to a college counselor for some tests. While the good doctor did ask me if I thought I had a “death wish,” I assured her she just didn’t understand the experiences I had. Testing told me that a career in, well, do I need to say, the military, theology, or medicine all were equally and highly rated. A lot of help there, right? No clear decision was reached.
I graduated from college needing to take an extra year to complete my studies. Recession and corporate cut backs in research-and-development and quality control made it very difficult for me to find a job with my degree in science. I took a job in a major local gun shop. With the owner’s assurances, I had hopes of becoming a gunsmith. After almost two years of working for them it became evident, I had no future in this direction. I was quite distressed one night and confided in my brother that I felt as though God was repeatedly heating me in coals and hammering me into some weapon of His design. If I was to become a “Sword for God” I just wanted to know what I was to do. My dear brother Rick told me to be patient. If God had some special service for me to do, “it” would become clear . . . “It” eventually did.
My brother Rick was a practicing dentist at the time. After some discussion, he and I decided it would be great if I completed a degree in Dental Technology and worked with him as his in-house lab tech. I applied for the program at the Medical College of Georgia. On the Fourth-of-July weekend of 1980, I was informed that my application had been accepted. This news came to me as I sat dumbstruck on the floor outside of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) my brother was admitted to that weekend. He had fallen prey to a car accident, literally having his brains knocked out. God must have been watching after him. There was an ambulance in route to another accident in his immediate vicinity. They were rerouted to his accident site instead. There was an entire scrub team already being gathered at the emergency ward to receive the other accident victim who had likewise received severe head injuries (while his injuries were not as severe as my brother’s, Toby was not as fortunate as my brother, never recovering from his wounds and becoming physically disabled. He was in a room next to my brother’s in the ICU.).
While Rick arrived at the hospital alive was nothing short of miraculous, hopes for his surviving through the night were grim. I had been watching Rick’s monitors from the hallway outside the ICU when they flat lined, setting off alarms. My brother was on his way to his personal visitation with our Lord in Paradise, becoming a veteran of an “After-Life” experience of his own. I had collapsed to the floor and was on the verge of tears when the news of my acceptance to the dental program was delivered to me by Dr. Vericella, a personal friend of the family. He was also the admissions officer at the Dental School. Needless to say, the news was a little anticlimactic. What good was pursuing the dream of working with my brother after just witnessing his apparent death.
Rick eventually regained consciousness, making a miraculous recovery, the likes of which none of the doctors involved with his treatment had ever before witnessed or even read of concerning injuries of his type. He became known as the “Miracle Patient” by the doctors and staff of the hospital. His recovery was certainly one for the books as none of the doctors gave him any chance of ever recovering to live a normal life again, let alone without serious debilitations. While my brother was hospitalized and speechless, I was the only one he was able to convey information to. We had a special connection. I was the first person he spoke to upon regaining his speech. Nothing short of the touch of the Master’s hand could have saved him.
During the initial two years of his recovery, I completed and received my Dental Technology Degree, receiving State honors and graduating with the second all time highest grade point average in the history of the school. I had given it my all in the hopes that my brother and I would still work together. It was not meant to be. Shortly after my graduation from the program, he sold his office and retired from dentistry. Nevertheless, that summer as my brother was living alone in Atlanta I moved there to be with him and started my career in the dental industry.
My move to Atlanta positioned me for the next phase of my preparation. Soon after moving to Atlanta, I discovered and became involved with an internationally established medieval interest group. I began training in what I had always wanted to learn- armored combat, medieval martial arts. I was squired to a knight within a year. Over the ensuing years, I researched and developed an accurate thirteenth century fighting style. I became versed in combat with the single sword, sword and dagger, sword and shield, double sword, Bastard and Great-Sword, glaive (pole-ax), spear, spear and sword, and spear-and-shield fighting techniques. I purchased and learned how to make armor and learned the proper way to wear and fight in it. My many years of training, practice, and competition in Fencing went a long way towards enhancing my abilities and skills in armored combat. My fighting style became known within four kingdoms and I gained a reputation as an opponent to be respected, taking relish in fighting several opponents at once. Little did I know that my martial arts training was to have far more implications upon my life than my personal enjoyment of martial combat, competition, and staying fit. The basis for my understanding of the warrior had been laid.
During this time, I was active with a young-singles group where I attended church. I was asked to speak to them several times at retreats and weekend gatherings about my “After-Life” experience and my experience with the power of the Holy Spirit. I made many entreats to my friends to study the Word and become spiritually alert, joining in the fray. I explained to them that there were few of us in the front lines. One friend later came forward and accepted the empowerment and blessings of the Holy Spirit. Her name was Jennifer. Jennifer became a solid warrior for God’s army. We had many interesting stories to share with each other. I was with her when her car’s engine blew up in the middle of nowhere in southern Alabama. That was another unforgettable weekend. It was also around this time that I approached one of the priests of my church whom I knew quite well. I asked him for guidance, as I felt our Lord intended for me to be more involved with spiritual warfare. His message to me was “to not commit the sin of spiritual pride” and the church was the place to deal with such matters. Not exactly the kind of help or guidance I was looking for, and he certainly “cooled my heals.”
God was nearly done setting the stage for me; Death was still in pursuit. The summer of 1990 saw me open my dental lab. I became involved with a civic society, the Jaycee’s. After the first year of founding our chapter of the Jaycees, the organization held a statewide convention at Jekyll Island. My new friends and I all attended. As we would be spending five days at the beach, I had taken with me a recently acquired portable pontoon sailboat to enjoy with my good friend Derrick. On our second day at the beach, Derrick and I took the small sailboat out and had quite an adventure. We were caught in a rip tide, having to sail down the beach and eventually having to reef the sail and swim the small craft in. At dinner that night, we were told by many of our friends that where we had been was the middle of the hammer-head breeding grounds and it was mating season. We counted our blessings and had many a good laugh about it while we had our feet on dry ground.
The following day, I took the boat out by myself. I was careful to stay close to shore, my experience of the day before fresh in my mind. I sailed uneventfully for about an hour, and then made one bad mistake. I turned away from the beach, just once, to come-about and wound up in contrary winds going--you guessed it--right back out to where I had been the day before with Derrick. I steadily attempted to sail the boat back to shore. The wind and current continued to drift me further out and down the beach regardless of how I maneuvered the tiny misfit craft. I could easily see my friend Derrick following my progress along the shore at first. When he was becoming unidentifiable by the distance, I knew I would have to do something quick. I put on my life vest, reefed the sail, and tied the small rig to my belt. I had become a strong and accomplished swimmer after years of Scouting and swimming in the family’s pool. I thought more about what was in the water than the distance I would have to swim. My fears were amplified when something brushed my legs and attached itself to my right foot. I can only assume it was a young hammerhead looking for a meal. Fortunately, I was wearing a pair of heavy leather sandals (they were in fact a pair of caligae that I had made) that completely covered my feet. The entire sole of the sandal was nearly torn off my foot. I prayed that “Mamma” was not around to give junior a lesson in proper dining and steadfastly kept swimming for shore. I thanked God for being with me that day as it was a beautiful day for a swim. I hoped that it would not be my last. I swam for over an hour and a half to reach the beach against the current, towing the troublesome sailboat behind me, praying the entire way. When I finally reached and collapsed upon the shore, I was met by my friend Derrick, a cold beer in his hand. Shore patrol arrived shortly after I left the water. They were glad the dangerous waters off the beach had not offered up another drowning or shark attack for them to deal with. Again, I was told how lucky I was. I did not go back into the water again on that trip. While I have been to the beach since, I have no fondness for the ocean. I keep the sandals as a keepsake.
By this time, I had about eight years of training and combat experience in armor. It was time for the birth of “The Warrior.” A friend of mine, Cathy, ran a series of weight loss clinics. She approached weight loss as a spiritual matter. She had a brainstorm one day and approached me to discuss the pertinent aspects of being, or becoming, a warrior, and how this may be applied to help her subscribers with their weight loss. We discussed it for some time. She hit upon an idea: I would be introduced during the third or fourth meeting of each group. I would do a presentation on what being a warrior was all about. She would call her clinics “Weight Warriors.” My appearances were always well received and very powerful.
It was at one of these meetings that I made a friend who would prove to be instrumental in the future of my presentations. Ellen Marks, the wife of a Baptist minister, had really liked what I had to say during one of these sessions. She apparently received a spiritual message. She approached me afterwards and asked if I would come and speak to their church youth group. Prior to my appearance with them, I met her husband Al, and we enjoyed the growth of a wonderful friendship. It turned out that Ellen was in the process of writing a book of her own. It was a medieval period work centering on the education of a young lad by a Christian knight who teaches the lad about values, morals, and Christian ethics. Ellen found me to be a fountain of information and inspiration for her book.
As it was, our continued friendship in Atlanta was not to be. Within a year of our meeting, Al and family were moved to California. The hand of God was certainly at play. While they had been moved about as far away as possible, once they had become settled they asked me to come out to their new church and do a presentation on the armor of God. Ellen and Al were very supportive of the message. They expressed their feeling that I should consider making it a ministry. As I had just tied up all of my resources and energy in starting up my lab business, the timing did not seem right. It would be another six or seven years before this message was heavily impressed upon my spirit again. The seed for “Awaken the Warrior” had been planted many years before, but now it was being watered and about to sprout new life and grow into its own.
I had several more harrowing experiences, including being bitten by a black widow during the ensuing years. Probably the two most death defying incidents involved yet again an automobile. The first occurred while taking a road trip for Valentines Day with my girlfriend in 1995. We were in an all-wheel-drive sports car traveling in the center lane of a four-lane highway doing a little better than 75mph when the car’s entire drive train locked up. The forces of the transmission were sufficient to break a rear axle, an inch and a half thick steel bar. The car went into an uncontrolled four-wheel skid in the middle of highway traffic, all four wheels having been completely seized. We crossed two lanes of traffic and came to a rest on the inside shoulder of the road three feet from the concrete highway barrier. Other than the frayed nerves and the total destruction of the transmission, we were fine. Nothing short of God’s angelic protection could have spared us.
The second and even more amazing incident occurred the weekend of Thanksgiving 1997. This was just one short year before I would start writing Awaken the Warrior. I was taking one of my godsons, Alberto, home to visit my family in Augusta. We were traveling on the same strip of road my brother had his accident on so many years before. This was a very well known road to me as I had driven it countless times over some twenty-five years. We were moving at the posted speed of 45 mph as we approached a long curve in the road. Suddenly, all traction on the wheels was lost. We had come upon a stretch of black ice. The car felt as though it was sailing on a cushion of air. I mentioned to Alberto that the car was out of control, as it was not responding to the wheel. We expected to go straight off the road at the curve and into the culvert or hit one of the many high-powered electrical poles along the shoulder. As we entered the curve, the car began to spin, making two complete turns. Magically, we stayed on the pavement while spinning and traveled the entire distance of the curve, over a half-mile stretch of road. As the car came out of the curve, it actually reversed its spin and came-about 180 degrees. This put us traveling backwards as we came out of the curve. The entire episode seemed to take forever, occurring in slow motion.
We both felt as though we were on a carnival ride. I was looking over my shoulder trying to regain control of the car that had been spinning wildly out of control when the car abruptly straightened. The only problem was we were headed down the road backwards now. Pole after pole flashed past the car. I eased the car off the roadway and onto the shoulder. We were still doing a full 45 mph, the car not having slowed down at all, as we hit the shoulder. Dirt and mud went flying everywhere as I braked the car. It was a bumpy ride, but we ended up in a ditch three feet deep in mud and a scant three inches short of hitting a concrete pillar. I have traveled that road many times since, and know the distance we spun out of control to be a little over ½ of a mile from just before the curve to our final stopping point. The entire time, the car stayed in its lane and never left the road for the entire stretch of the curve. We both felt as though the car had been “played with” in the hand of a giant, invisible child, much as a toy car is played with on the floor of a playroom. I sensed the hand of my Guardian Angel, yet again.
Throughout the 90s, I busied myself with the demands of my laboratory, things staying as frustrating as they always had been in the industry. I prayed that if God wanted me to make better use of other talents and skills he had blessed me with, the proper doors be opened for me as I was knocking on many of them. It was late September of 1998 when my orders came to me loud and clear. I was driving home from a delivery run and the Holy Spirit touched my heart. Actually, that puts it far too tamely. He grabbed it and shook it REALLY HARD! I was impressed upon to go home, put on my full armor, and just start walking down the street spreading the news of God’s message. Now I had been called upon to do many rather unusual things in the past, but this took the cake. The message was so pronounced, however, that I simply could not ignore it. Full of emotions, I immediately went to my church and asked to speak with a priest. There were several new priests at the church at the time. Father Ron was the only one in particular I would have felt comfortable talking to. I had no idea which priest would be available but God most certainly blessed me as it turned out to be Father Ron.
I explained to Father Ron the gravity of the message I felt. He could tell that I was certainly having to contend with tremendous emotional strain as I recanted to him my need for direction. He simply suggested that I go home and when I felt calmed down sufficiently, that I write down the message or information I felt directed to relate. I was compelled to do just that. I was home in a flash. After calming down enough to put pen in hand, I began writing. I wrote more than twenty pages in one sitting and had a complete outline of the book that would take me two and a half years to complete.
Looking at one’s life, many instances may be found which strangely work towards a common good. With God, all things work to accomplish His design. I relate this information so that the reader better understand the reality of Spiritual Warfare and recognize how God may be operating in their own life. Reflect upon your life and consider how situations may have directed you to a certain point in your life.
I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith; all there is to come for me now is the Crown of Uprightness which the Lord, the upright Judge, will give to me on that Day; and not only to me but to all those who have longed for His appearing.
2 Tm. 4:6-8
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