A Man, Drugs, & Penn State Revivals

[The following is a true story based on events that occurred at Penn State during their Christian Revivals of 1980-1983. If you don’t believe me, look the revival up. This story was once told to me from the person who experienced it.]

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Yesterday was cocaine. Today is weed. Just an ordinary Spring day at Penn State when Mark and his friends would skip class to get high. They sat around the sofa stoned, laughing hysterically at the stories they’d tell of their latest escapades. Freshman year was a blast and sophomore year for Mark and his friends was a breeze.

One by one the guys left Mark’s dorm room as they wrapped things up. Mark remained on the sofa –  his eyes glazed, shoulders slumped, his head barely upright on his body. Somehow the drugs hadn’t reflected in his college grades. Mark was a decent engineering student to the point where it would be impossible to guess what was going on behind closed doors – or so you would expect. The year is 1981 and drugs are a normal recurrence with many students on campus. Buying a bag of marijuana was almost easier than buying box of pencils.

As Mark’s high eventually began to calm down, he realized that he’d soon have a choice to make. Up to this point Mark had done (and enjoyed) practically every drug except heroine. His friend Ashley was able to buy some heroine earlier that day and they planned on doing it together. They say, as Mark thought to himself, “Once you start heroine there is no going back.”  Nevertheless, he settled on joining her that evening. Since Mark could handle all the other drugs he concluded that he could handle heroine just fine.

Just before evening time there was a knock on his door. As he opened it he barely recognized who it was, but he’d seen them around campus before. They were two preppy-looking Freshmen guys inviting him out to a Christian gathering for later that evening. They added that there would be food and the opportunity to meet some new people as well.

[The odd thing about this occurrence was the rarity that someone would even come to Mark’s door about this. Percentage-wise, Christianity was not a big thing at Penn State at the time.]

Mark, extremely reluctant because he didn’t know much about religion, heard his conscious urge him to go so that he could get out of his heroine date later. After little debate, Mark decided to take a chance and go to the Christian gathering instead.

At the Christian event that very night, Jesus saved Mark and he began to believe.

In the days following, Mark went cold-turkey from all his drugs. He would still hang out with his normal crew of friends and just not partake in the usage. His friends didn’t mind. Sure, they thought it was strange, but it just meant more enjoyment for them.

When Mark wasn’t in class or hanging with his old friends, Mark now spent all his time swimming in the scriptures and going to the Christian events of that small campus ministry.

After about a month of being saved Mark and his two closest old friends took a weekend camping trip. That night his two friends pulled out some Crystal meth to use. They begged and pleaded Mark to join them. Mark initially refrained.

They reasoned with Mark, “Come on man, just this once like old times. It’s not fun if you don’t join us. You’ve gone a month without a high anyways.”

Mark eventually gave in. The three of them got started and immediately the high kicked in for each of them. Mark could feel the familiarity from the high that he used to feel, but something was different this time. It was as if his heart wasn’t for it. He began to feel his face melting, which is a typical reaction to meth. Mark glanced over at the flames from the fire pit and heard a distinct high-pitched, demonic laugh come out from the fire.

[To this day Mark believes that was Satan’s demons laughing at him as they realized they’d gotten one of God’s chosen to slip.]

Without delay Mark fell to his knees after hearing the demonic laugh. He began to cry out loud to God that he was sorry. All the while his friends stood enjoying their own highs. Mark cried continually asking that Jesus take away the high. After repeatedly praying aloud for healing…. suddenly…. the impossible happened…. Mark’s high vanished. Not only that, but Mark’s friends had their high abruptly taken away as well.

[You see, a Crystal meth high doesn’t just abruptly end after a few minutes. A Crystal meth high literally lasts anywhere between 8 to 24 hours and has a gradual decline of its effects.]

Knowing this from their past experience, Mark’s friends freaked out. They frantically asked Mark what just happened. Before Mark could respond his friends tearfully got on their knees and asked Mark to tell them about this Jesus he’d been following the past month. This same Jesus who Mark just prayed to who impossibly took away their high. What a miracle, what a God. Mark’s friends got saved and accepted Jesus Christ as Lord that night.

What happened the rest of the school year at Penn State was nothing short of a miracle. revivalMany other of Mark’s drug friends also became believers. There began to be a Christian revival on campus that year and subsequent years. Numerous campus ministries formed and each experienced drastic growth in numbers.

But for Mark, how long did it last? Was it just a little phase or spiritual high that Mark went through?

There are other spiritual stories to tell of Mark and his obedience to Christ. However, I’ll end with this: Today, Mark is pressing harder than ever into Christ as he wrestles for more faith as his wife of many years is now struggling with ALS. Both having a life lived well for the Lord, are now living life well through suffering. But still, the fight goes on. “It is the worst time and it is also the best time,” Mark says encouragingly.

Mark and his wife were asked, “If you knew what your life would hold, would you still choose it?”

Their reply – a resounding ‘Yes’.

Oh to have such remarkable faith.  The angels rejoice over Mark and his wife. For all eternity, we will celebrate.

“I’m a pilgrim passing through. We’re just passing through on this journey. I’m blessed that I’ve had such a wonderful wife all these years. Whatever God gives us today will be wonderful. So what about the dreams we had, heaven is so much better. It is said that it is better than anything I can hope for or imagine. And I have a pretty good imagination.” – Mark

The Young Boy And His Fear of Dogs

 

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Young Todd could barely catch his breath as the neighbor’s dog attempted to chase him down. He hid behind the playground wall that was just high enough to cover his entire body. Todd’s heart pounded with fear as he tearfully pleaded with his own thoughts for the dog to go away. In his mind this was a matter of his life being on the line. He was a long ways from home at this point.

The young boy had always struggled with a borderline phobia of dogs. Dogs were mean, hateful, and always seemed to chase or bark at him relentlessly. He had never even patted a puppy before for the fear that the puppy would bite him. Though his brothers would love to own a puppy one day, their parents have always opposed because of Todd’s fear.

After less than a minute of searching for Todd, the neighbor’s dog finally gave up and left. Little did the young boy understand, all the dog wanted to do was play. Still, in Todd’s head, that dog wanted to eat him skin and bones. No sense in taking chances and playing with fire.

By the time Todd made it back home his mother was standing on the porch, tapping her foot. Frustration was practically stemming from her – “Where have you been, Todd? You’re supposed to be home by 7:30 and you’re not supposed to be out alone either. It is 9:00; your brothers are already in bed and we’ve been worried sick.”

“But but Mm Mom,” stuttered Todd, “Brodie jump over the neighbor’s fence again and chased me all the way to the park.”

Remorseful, but still frustrated, “Ok Todd. Come inside. But you’ve got to eventually get over your fear. Dogs aren’t here to hurt you. One day I hope you’ll understand that.”

Todd and his mother went inside the house where there were leftovers ready for him on the table.

His mother still concerned said, “Todd, I’m going to pray over you. Heavenly Father, I thank you for my son. For his heart, his laughter, and his joy. We thank you for the gift of life. I want to ask that you take away the fear of dogs from my son. Help him see that dogs aren’t dangerous. Help him see that you created them in all their beauty. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.”

After finishing up dinner, Todd heads to bed and is tucked in by his mom.

“Goodnight, Todd.”

“Goodnight, Mom.”

That is when it happened:

Next thing Todd knows he is in a dream. Though, apart from most dreams, this dream seemed magically real. Todd starts off walking through the lobby of a building. His is the only one around but can hear slight commotion from behind the walls. Suddenly, tall, light brown double doors appeared that led to behind the walls. Oddly enough, at the moment, Todd had no sense of fear. Having nowhere else to go he opened the doors to walk through.

Todd was now in a gigantic room filled with people everywhere – so many that he could not count. Todd was a short kid anyways, so even if he could count that high he would not be able to see overhead enough to look yonder. The sea of people parted as they created a pathway for the young boy. By this point all the chatter settled and all eyes were on Todd as he naturally walked down the aisle. It was as if Todd knew where to go. On the other hand, he had no other direction to go. Still, there was a strange sense of peace in him.

Eventually his gaze left the crowded people to focus straight ahead up the aisle. What he almost saw now was a man – though he wasn’t fully a man. Todd vision was distorted a little as his eyes tried to figure out what he was looking at. He’d never seen a man like this before. He was half man, half spiritual-like, wearing a long robe. When Todd was finally directly in front of the man his eyes finally adjusted to see the angelic being in front of him. Todd was in awe. The hairs on the man’s head were white, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire. Still, Todd felt a calmness that he never felt before.

The man standing before Todd then slightly bent over to hover above him.

“Hello Todd,” stated the man. His voice threw Todd off guard. The man’s voice was not simply that of a human’s voice. It sounded similar to the roaring waters he had heard when his family went white water rafting. “I love you. I am going to put a crown on your head. Right now, I want you to see my creation the way I see my creation!”

Instantly, dozens of dogs came from behind the angelic man coming toward Todd. Though his inclination was to panic, this time he could not do so. The dogs looked different. He could absolutely see they were dogs. That did not change. What Todd sees now is “Love” in the dogs. It was as if Todd was looking at multiple real-life hieroglyphics in a 4th dimension. Todd can see his mother, his father, brothers, his favorite teacher, his favorite food, all his warm life moments, AND each dog simultaneously…all while he looks at the dogs. Todd could not believe it. For the first time he did not want to run. He wanted hug all the dogs. And that is exactly what he did. With all joy.

The man, still standing there then uttered, “You see Todd, I create Love. Nothing that I create is bad.  You view things dimly. I have the ability to open your eyes to more joy. Now wake up, and see”.

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Angels & Fairytales: Imagine a Box

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Focus. Picture a box. Imagine what the box will look like. It’s simple and open at the top. Now picture yourself climbing into the box. Sit down. Run your fingers along the surface. Maybe you have to hug your knees to your chest in order to fit inside. Now enlarge the box to a size that will allow you mobility. Imagine that from the day you were born until this very day…that all that you know is inside that box. Now enlarge that box even further, making its dimensions indefinite. Picture a community of people to live in it with you – consisting of family, friends, and strangers. This box and the surrounding 4 walls are all that your subjective awareness holds.

Here comes the tricky curveball:

Continue to imagine yourself inside this indefinite box. Really transfer your mind and soul into imagining the reality of this “box” scenario. My question is – Can you imagine anything outside of the box that is not presently inside the box? That is, would your brain be able to create a single story that goes beyond what you have experienced your entire life within those 4 walls?

The answer is that it is impossible to do so. If you were somehow able to imagine anything outside the box then what you created was a fairytale or myth, with respect to the foundational elements that already exist in your box. Therefore, by creating a story outside the box, all you have done is subconsciously grab hold of some form of truth from within the inside and transcend it outward. This explains why, ever since the beginning of time, we have been able to create stories of a spiritual world. Myths and fairytales exist to satisfy primordial (i.e. original) human desires. Myths are not lies, they convey the essential truth and primal reality of life itself. Anything pictured outside the box MUST be innately created. Craaazzy huh? Let see if it can get a tiny bit clearer…

ImageThis box represents the laws of materialism. Taking superiority in our society,  materialism states that “physical matter is the only reality and that everything, including thought, feeling, mind, and will, can be explained in terms of matter and physical experience.” Materialism imprisons us in a world of matter and physical facts; void of any divine god. They’ve basically convinced us that this is all there is. Materialism is one of the fruits of “The Age of The Enlightenment”. We studied this for only about 1.5 days in the 9th grade, ha (remember Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferon, etc..). The Enlightenment started in the 18th century and boomed in popularity. They believed that human reason could overcome superstition, tyranny, and the troubles in their world at the time. Many really great things came out of The Enlightenment that we benefit from today. However, one of their main targets was the Church. The Enlightenment brought in ideas of individualism and identity of self; and coupled with a new rebellious nature, against authority, that said, “No one is the boss of me”. So now we have some massive problems. The key being that it turned man’s eyes further away from God and deeper onto himself in every aspect of life and culture. We were already sinners, but now The Enlightenment exalts the “self” beyond what was normal and made it worse.

But lets bring it back to our simple box. If this earthly box is all there is, how are we able to picture and imagine things outside the walls. How can we create stories, spanning thousands of years, of a true loving God that created the universe if he does not exist? Stories of the supernatural. This boils downward to the everyday Disney movies, Justin Beiber songs, and the current craziness over the NBA Playoffs. Is it not ironic that Disney Movies always seem to portray an unlikely hero that comes along to save a people. These are all shadows of something bigger. Myths are a beautiful video that allows us a fleeting, but powerful glimpse of what is truly outside. They allow us to escape the 4-walls of materialism to see the truer beauty that lies above.

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My favorite chick-flick is Serendipity. I watch it about 25 times a year, at least. It is a story about chance and fate. About not quitting until you find that mythical “soul-mate” (It’s cheesy but it’s totally awesome!!!). You see, the screenwriter did not pull this fairytale of fate and everlasting love out of fictional thin air. As J.R.R. Tolkein once put it,

“We make things by the law in which we are made. We create because we were created. Creativity and imagination is God’s image-ness in us. We tell stories because God is a storyteller. We use words. He uses history.”

Serendipity’s plot of fate was taken from our innate sense of the prophecies and promises of Jesus coming as our Savior. Serendipity’s yearning for true-love was taken from our innate desire for the unfailing love of Christ.

Christianity is the archetype of all stories. It is the story in which all other stories have their source.

  • Greek Mythology, as fake/counterfeit as it is, still dips its authorial hands into Christianity for its wonderful stories.
  • Video games such as Halo and Call of Duty sell big because the gamers get a high from the feeling of glory each time the achieve a killing spree.  (FYI, playing Halo was the best years of my life)
  • We flock to watch Game of Thrones, Iron Man 3 and Superman because the glory depicted in the films makes us feel great.

This glory should be experienced in the worship of Christ and living out his exciting call on us. This can go on into music, politics, culture, and other domains of society.

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C.S. Lewis nailed it by saying, “If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning.” Luckily, for believers we know that ‘In the beginning was God.’

Picture a box. Picture yourself climbing into that box. Now picture Jesus in walking towards you and the box suddenly disappearing.

Some sources…

  1. http://public.callutheran.edu/~brint/Arts/Tolkien.pdf
  2. http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705307318/1815-30-Birth-of-modernity-and-the-rise-of-materialism.html?pg=all
  3. http://www.apologetics315.com/2012/06/cs-lewis-on-reasoning-to-atheism.html
  4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_Enlightenment#Influence