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Part One


Detroit Michigan and my empty life there, holds dreaded memories for me of disgust, cruelty and distress. By birth-father was killed by the V-3 rockets, our national hero Werner Von Braun engineered for Nazi Germany’s use during World War II. I was only two years old then and it took another two years to transport his closed casket remains stateside from the harbor of Antwerp Belgium for the funeral service and internment. Arrangements were made by my mother’s then fiancée. They married soon afterward. My new father was a notorious police officer named “Black Jack” because of his racial prejudice and black jack weapon. My mom became an alcoholic lush; and I was unwanted baggage to my step-father.

So at age thirteen, I drank some beers with my cousin Ted and committed my first grand theft auto. By my sixteenth birthday I had robbed a gas station and run away from home on a stolen motorcycle. My life went downhill for the next twenty-two years until I pleaded with Jesus to save me, and He did!

Still lost and in my teens, I recall walking beyond the Randolph Street Police Precinct, and heading toward the Capitol Bar and Strip Joint on Broadway Avenue. A bum on every corner, panhandling pocket change, sipping brown bag wine and pimping cheap whores. A white renegade teen in the midst of simmering racial hostility. My bowie knife at hand and an unregistered pistol under the driver’s seat of my nearby car.

I noticed an unusual stirring as people began to move toward the next block and a crowd began to gather. It was pitch black night but yet there was an eerie glow in the sky that was glistening against the backdrop of low lying clouds. What I was about to witness was to become a golden moment that would change me in mid-life crisis. It was a visual aid to gain insight that the Lord Himself had prepared to be remembered many years into the future. As I turned the corner and stepped into the mob of milling onlookers, I saw a four story building with the entire top floor blazing. The heat was so intense that we stood across the street as if before an open oven on a blistering day.

An awe-inspiring circus of flames, climbing sparks and billowing smoke filled the atmosphere in a wonder of ruin run rampant. Pick-pockets began working the street and hawkers were packing local bars with street-side windows to capture the spectacle in air-conditioned comfort. The screaming siren stopped short as the engine pulled up and sent it’s ladder to the fourth floor inferno. Firemen immediately surveyed the crisis amid the barking of dogs and clamor of the audience as the top floor provided a fourth of July spectacle of miniature explosions. One defiant fire-fighter finally took the hose upward, step by measured step and made his fearless stance, too close to the flames, water pressure now at full throttle. Back and forth he fanned the white hot flames, steam mingling with soot.

This nonsense delayed for what seemed like an extended period of time and the people began murmuring and shuffling in dissatisfaction with this lone man not accomplishing a thing. The water produced steam and the inferno raged into the third floor, determined to burn it all to the ground. The whole burning building would soon be destroyed! My own blood-pressure began to rise as I went through a slow burn over the inefficiency of this ridiculous Fire Department effort to quench the fires. This was a pathetic tragedy of wasting taxpayer dollars. This struggle to extinguish the blaze was futile! Destructive criticism and pointless arm-chair quarterbacking called for this uninteresting fireman to go home, let it burn to the ground and save the City this ridiculous expenditure.

What would I do if I were the Fire Chief? Constructive criticism: It was a rational question to reflect on and I gave it a lot of thought for a sixteen-year-old runaway. I had it! I would hose down all the combustible material on the third floor, soak it thoroughly and when the fourth floor fire reached the sodden third floor, it would just smolder out. Yes! I would go to the CAUSE and leave the EFFECT alone.

A lifetime later this remembrance would play an essential role in my management of life-crisis situations in the Name of Jesus. The true life story of the burning building came to an unusual conclusion, one I would have never guessed. But let us go back to the beginning to further grasp the end.

In this depiction of a true life event, the flame represented the EFFECT of the fire. All human effort to reverse or overcome the EFFECT failed because the CAUSE continued to exist and permit the flames of destruction. The CAUSE was the combustible material that continued to catch fire, floor by floor and demonstrate the EFFECTS, sparks and flames. And all human effort to stop the CAUSE was also in vain. That lonely fireman was not equipped to conquer the enemy and neither are we.

What was the answer to this predicament? What had escaped my notice of this dilemma? The firemen I did not see fighting this blaze on the outside, unknown to me or to those watching from the curb, were deep inside the building’s lower level, hard at work attempting to locate the SOURCE of this puzzling holocaust. The revelation was finally at hand.

Leaving the EFFECT and apparent CAUSE, they had found the SOURCE: a broken gas main! The solution was to turn off the flaming gas line and then turn on the fire quenching water. And so this lesson for problem solving was made crystal clear. The miserable EFFEC of sin (wretchedness) must be dealt with at the SOURCE (sin) CAUSED by our nature (fallen). The fires of hell must be shut off so that the living water of Jesus Christ might flow. Such is the wisdom of this practical day-to-day revelation. Repent of your sin and unleash the source of salvation, the mighty Word of God. Reconcile the sinful cause to Christ and the consequence of sin will be no more.

You are about to step into your own burning building and share with me the triumph of defying the gates of hell. It’s prize is your spirit. But allow me to bring my personal testimony forward a few years to set the scene for the next teaching that follows.



Two years after my Christian experience at age forty, word quickly spread about my previous life of alcoholism, drug addiction, promiscuity, violence and worse. One day I received a call from the team leader of a few seminary students that had been doing a weekly chapel service at the local county jail. They asked be to connect up with them and give my personal testimony at the next scheduled worship service. I reluctantly accepted, and wasn’t too thrilled to be voluntarily going to jail! In my youth, I had been cuffed and locked down five times that I could remember. Being four locked gates deep in an all too familiar jail was not my idea of having a good time, but I would do it for my Savior. So I went anyway and gave my testimony. The altar was overflowing with repentant prisoners seeking the forgiveness that only Jesus Christ can offer. I felt like I had put my finger into a 220 watt wall socket, an electrifying experience! I continued to frequent these weekly meetings and in time the students eventually graduated and scattered to all parts of the country, pasturing their respective churches. I was left alone and without new seminary students to replenish them.

That first jail service by myself rendered an unforgettable experience that would change the direction of my life up to this very moment.

The inmates began filing in and the chapel was swollen to overflowing. They were sitting in the aisled, on the steps and across the stage. The thought of a jail break slipped through my mind and maybe I was going to be taken hostage! Almost seventy street-hardened criminals were between me and the only exit from the chapel. Resigned to the task at hand, I had a message to preach. I did, and at the conclusion of the message my eyes were drawn to the last pew, the inside aisle seat closest to the door. There sat the most ghastly looking convict I have ever seen.

He was like on e of those neck less weight lifters that are so muscle bound that they can not even bend their arms to comb their hair. He was brown skinned with white splotches scattered about his face and arms and entire body. It looked like he had been randomly splashed with bleach or lye. His left eye was missing and you could see twitching beneath the sunken eye-lid. There was a poorly stitched scar that circled his throat from ear to ear and all his front teeth were missing except the two protruding eye teeth. Satan had put him through hell and back.

Our eyes met in a steely stare with a serenity that suspended time. My blood ran cold as he deliberately got to his feet, kept eye contact and walked down the center aisle directly toward me. I was paralyzed with fear!

When he finally reached me he began to weep, dropping to his knees at my feet, sobbing as deeply as a man is able. I was dazed and startled at this turn of events. I cleared my head and witnessed a sinner seeking a Savior. The sinner’s prayer … finally focused on my purpose … lead him to the Throne of Grace. Holding his hard-featured face in my two hands, we began speaking in prayer of repentance together. Looking into his battle-raged face, something very extraordinary happened to me!

You can call it hallucination, drug flashback, or a vivid imagination, but for me it was an unforgettable, supernatural vision.

I looked deep into his grotesque face and I saw the cherished face of Jesus Christ looking back at me. His Word went though my veins like fire: “Whatever you do to these brethren of mine, even the least of them, you have done it to me.” I was blessing Jesus!



Polycarp 65-150 AD to Irenaeus


“I could describe the very place in which the blessed Polycarp sat and taught; his going out and coming in; the whole tenor of his life; his personal appearance; how he would speak of the conversations he had held with the Apostle John and with others who had seen the Lord. How he did make mention of their words and of whatever he had heard from them respecting the Lord.”


The following letter excerpt purports to have been written by the Church at Smyrna to the Church at Philomelium, and through that Church to thee whole Christian world, in order to give a succinct account of the circumstances attending the martyrdom of Polycarp. It is the earliest of all the martyria and has been accounted the most interesting and authentic.


“Now, as Polycarp was entering into the stadium, there came to him a voice from heaven saying, “Be strong and show thyself a man O Polycarp.”


“No one knew who it was that spoke to him, but those of our brethren who were present heard the voice. And he was brought forward, the chaos became great when they heard that Polycarp was taken. And when he came near, the proconsul asked him whether he was Polycarp.


“On his confessing that he was, the proconsul sought to persuade him to deny Christ saying; “Have respect to thy age.” And other similar things, according to their custom such as, “Swear by the fortune of Caesar; repent (of Christ) and say; away with the atheists (Christians).” But Polycarp, gazing with a stern countenance on all the multitude of the wicked heathen then in the stadium and waving his hands toward them, while with groans he looked up to heaven and said, “Away with the atheists! (unbelievers).” Then the proconsul urging him saying, Swear, and I will set thee at liberty, reproach Christ!” Polycarp declared, Eighty and six years have I served Him and He never did me any injury; how then can I blaspheme my King and my Savior?”


“The proconsul then said to him, I have wild beasts at hand; to these will I cast thee, except thou repent (of Christ).” But he answered, “Call them then for we (Christians) are not accustomed to repent of what is good in order to adopt what is evil; and it is well for me to be changed from what is evil to what is righteous.”


“But again the proconsul said to him; “I will cause thee to be consumed by fire, seeing thou depisest the wild beasts, if thou will not repent of Christ.” But Polycarp said, “Thou threatenest me with fire which burneth for an hour and after a little is extinguished, but art ignorant of the fire of the coming judgment and of eternal punishment, reserved for the ungodly. But why tarriest thou? Bring forth what thy wilt.”


“When he had pronounced this amen and so finished his prayer, those who were appointed for the purpose, kindled the fire. And as the flame blazed forth in great fury, we to who it was given to witness it, beheld a great miracle and have been preserved that we might report to others what took place.


For the fire, shaping itself into the form of an arch, like the sail of a ship when filled with wind, encompassed as by a circle, the body of the martyr. And he appeared within not like flesh which is burnt, but as bread that is baked, or as gold or silver flowing in a furnace.


“At length, when those wicked men perceived that his body could not be consumed by the fire, they commanded the executioner to go near and pierce him through with a dagger. The centurion then, seeing the strife excited by the Jews, placed the body in the midst of the fire and consumed it.”


This old saint was oblivious to the killing flames and white hot timbers. Truly, the fresh springs waters of Jesus swelled up within his soul and became his source of conquest. With unswerving faith and courage, he had conquered the fires of hell. Being damned to die at the stake was the EFFECT of his refusal to worship Caesar, the CAUSE, which had for it’s SOURCE worshipping false idols; the prideful lust of Satan to be worshipped as God.


How can we sound the depth of this well of living water? Only by faith and prayer. You cannot possess one without the outcome of the other. Prayer is our response to faith and enhanced faith is the reply to ardent prayer. The hell fire is doubt which is the very opposite of faith.





Maximum security penitentiary leaps off the screen of a James Cagney movie with long metal catwalks and tier after tier of cages holding the incorrigibles locked down 23 hours a day. The level 5 security risks are separated into four geographical quadrants so that even at chow or shower-time, the gangs cannot assemble together. Divide and conquer is particularly applicable to this bizarre nation of murderers and mutilators doing life without parole sentences.


Once a month, at my evangelistic service, the chapel is the place where all the camp general population is restricted to a central and presumed contained location: the chapel!


As over four hundred inmates began filing in by group sections, I was painfully apprehensive that two high-powered rifles were being directed at them by sharp-shooter officers from the safe positions overhead and behind my back.


They assembled into their respective gangs: Chicago, East St. Louis, Gang Bangers, Black Muslims, White Aryans and course the Christians.


The Warden came up to me and he said that he anticipated an insurrection to take place because he was compelled to allow sixty trouble makers and effeminate homosexuals from Protective Custody to join us from the balcony overlooking the auditorium. These infidels could not even live with their own! The bottom of the barrel.


The balcony began to fill as they flexed their muscles, sneered and could be heard cursing the name of Jesus. The crowd was growing anxious and I sensed the awesome presence of Satan.


I signaled the praise team to begin singing and I dropped to my knees in foreboding desperation of the danger I had led my devoted volunteers into. I cried out to the Lord and began rebuking Satan with all the faith that was in me.


A hallowed hush fell over the chapel and through tear blurred eyes, I looked out over the assembly and witnessed a modern day miracle.


About two hundred Christian prisoners had turned their backs to me and were standing upright, in the midst of this living hell. They lifted their holy hands to the balcony and began praying out loud in the Spirit of the Lord. Those few minutes seemed like an eternity as I observed the Spirit of God rush through that demon possessed gallery of incorrigibles. Behold, fourteen notorious gang leaders rose to their feet and cried out to Jesus for salvation! With tears streaming down their faces, the overwhelmed gang members on the ground floor began to stand with their leaders to do the same and I had yet to deliver a word to any of them. I cried out, “The Lord with us!”


The service then began and at the completion I gave an altar call. The altar was flooded with a sea of repentant sinners. I was sobbing too hard to even recite the sinner’s prayer, so I handed the microphone to the black Pastor assisting me. He too was helpless to say a word: speechless. So a prisoner doing a double-life sentence plus 50 years led them to the Throne of Grace: the old rugged Cross!


When the service had concluded and the men were led out cell block by cell block, I gathered our team for praise and prayers of thanksgiving. I later learned that twenty-three shanks (knives) were left on the stage! Faith coupled with fervent prayer had prevailed.


Life after death. The flesh had died so that their spirit could live. A repetition of the original experience of our Lord Jesus Christ. No one in civil government has ever had a closer witness of the miracle but Pilate. The following is a fragment of the primitive, reliable Roman records of the reply of Pilate to Herod’s charge of his (Pilate’s) incompetence written to Caesar. These are the actual words and testimony of Pilate following the resurrection of Jesus.



Pontius Pilate 30AD


“A few days after the sepulcher was found empty, his disciples proclaimed all over the country that Jesus had risen from the dead, as he had foretold. This created more excitement even than the crucifixion. As to the truth, I cannot say for certain, but I have made some investigation of the matter: so you can examine for yourself, and see if I am in fault, as Herod represents.


“I sent for Malcus who told me he had placed his lieutenant Ben Isham, with one hundred soldiers around the sepulcher. He at first thought that the women had come to embalm the body of Jesus, but he could not see how they had gotten through the guards While these thoughts were passing though his mind, behold, the whole place was lighted up and there seemed to be crowds of the dead in their grave clothes. All seemed to be shouting and filled with ecstasy, while all around and above was the most beautiful music he had ever heard; and the whole air seemed to be full of voices praising God.


“At this time there seemed to be a reeling and swimming of the earth, so that he turned so sick and faint that he could not stand on his feet. I asked him if he could not have been mistaken to the sight; was it not day that was coming in the East? He said at a stone’s cast it was exceedingly dark. I asked him how long the scene lasted. He said he did not know, but he thought nearly an hour. I am almost ready to say as did Manlius (the Centurion) at the cross, ‘Truly, this was the Son of God!’’




The latest edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica uses 20,000 words in describing this person Jesus. His description took more space than was given to Aristotle, Cicero, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Buddha, Confucius, Mohammed or Napoleon Bonaparte.


Concerning the testimony of the many secular accounts of Jesus of Nazareth, it records, “These independent accounts prove that in ancient times, even the opponents of Christianity never doubted the historic Jesus.”


Obviously who Christ is, is as important as what he did. So we ask the same question. Who is He? As Albert Wells puts it, “One marvels at the way in which he draws attention to Himself, placing Himself at the center of every situation that arises.” He continues, “He certainly does not fit the mold of other religious leaders.”