Testimony-Jesus sets me free
MY LIFE AS A PHARISEE AND A NEW AGE MOVEMENT FOLLOWER
I grew up without my biological mother due to her issues with addictions. Growing up I struggled with issues relating to belonging, feeling loved, rejection, self-worth, and loneliness. I always felt that if a mother really loved their child they would choose their child over drugs. Since my mother didn’t choose me, I felt unlovable. I never thought that I was good enough, pretty enough, smart enough or talented enough, this affected how I related to my family and peers.
I will start my testimony with my experience as a Pharisee. I attended a large church regularly from the age of 11 until I was about 23 years old. Looking back now, I am grateful for the experience I had at my old church because that was where I learned about God.
I have nothing against traditional churches but I have to share this part of my life as the foundation to my journey in knowing God. During my years of attending this church, I developed a Pharisee mindset due to the traditions and values that the church held. I watched people at my old church look down on people and shun them because they did not have the “right church look”, or the “right church language.” I saw people command others to live a holy life, even though I knew that they were not living as holy as they proclaimed. I watched some of the deacons and ministers become belligerent with people if things were not handled the way they wanted it to be handled. I knew about the leaders in the church being addicted to drugs, having affairs, and not living as holy as they instructed the congregation to do. Watching all the chaos as a youth got me very discouraged and disappointed in those I had looked up to for guidance, encouragement, and support. I knew that their actions were wrong, and I should not follow in their footsteps, but I still became very judgmental, critical and unmerciful with people.
As a teenager, I looked at the wrong actions and faults of people and would measure their “wrong” against my “wrong” and always find that my “wrong” was justified. With a Pharisee mentality, I went the whole nine yard; I questioned authority and became very disobedient because of me not knowing the “Truth.” I could not take any constructive criticism from others because I was so easily offended. Anytime someone criticized me, I would become defensive and speak against the person’s character spreading “my so called truth” to others about them. I often found myself grumbling and complaining about “EVERYTHING” every day. That was the cycle of my life, a very bad place to be.
When I was about 23/24 years old, I took inventory of my life and discovered that I could not find any positives in my life because I was focused on the wrongs and negatives rather than the positives around me. This realization made me rethink my ways and my opinions about everything; I started thinking that life could be different and this prompted my interest in other cultures, religions, and traditions. I was so fascinated with my new discoveries and my learnings of new ways, new ideas, and lifestyles that I didn’t realize that I had become involved with the New Age Movement.
As I was finishing up graduate school; I had a full-time internship at an agency that specialized in assisting children in crisis. My internship supervisor and I became quite close because I spent a lot of time in the office with her. I began to look up to her because there was something about her that I did not have in my life, it seemed like she had her entire life in order, the opposite of what my life was then. She was beautiful, smart, witty, in a good relationship, well off financially and exuded positive energy. I admired her to the point that I asked her about how she became so self-sufficient and independent because my life in comparison to hers was filled mainly with struggles. I thought that if I learned from people who were ahead of me, I could do what they did and then my life would be better. At the same time, I was tired of being depressed, anxious, overweight and fearful of my future.
My supervisor told me that a few years prior to my meeting her, her life was in disarray, and she started seeking for ways to make her life better. She and her friend began attending seminars about connecting with their guardian angles by using meditation, yoga and other methods to enhance stillness. She told me that she started working out with her best friends’ husband to get herself physically in shape and then started working with a lady who helped her achieve stillness and ultimately helped her to get in shape mentally, emotionally, energetically and spiritually.
I was fascinated by her story and to cut a long story short, I contacted her weight trainer and began working with him. I also got in contact with the spiritualist; the woman that would help me achieve all the happiness and joy that my supervisor experienced. I began going to yoga and actively trying to clear my mind of everything in order to become a blank slate. I started attending weekend seminars in order to connect with the spiritual world and to meet my “guardian angels.” I had weekly sessions with the spiritualist who tried to help me to go back and heal my past with guided meditation. Even though I knew in the back of my mind that I was not living right, I felt justified with the decisions I was making because it was my life and I needed to take charge of it and live it the way I wanted to live it. Despite all I was involved in at the time to try and get my life straight; peace, joy, and fulfillment eluded me.
I did not stop going to church, I was mixing everything together. I had a feeling that it was time for me to leave my first church because I did not sense anything supernatural there. I had deceived myself into believing that I was still living a Christian life, though I was practicing and living a life that was completely different from what the Bible clearly commands. I visited some other churches and one of the churches was the one I am a member of currently. The first time I attended their service, I was welcomed warmly by the congregation and after attending the church a few times, I realized that it was time for me to leave my old church and join my current church.
The more I went to my newfound church, the more I realized that the way in which I had been living was wrong and I slowed down with the “New Age Movement” practice. I quit going to yoga and I quit speaking with the spiritualist because I felt a conviction in my heart that the lifestyle I was living was very wrong. At that time, I also had custody of my Goddaughter and I realized that I had to be a good example for her, so we started going to Bible study, Church services, and Sunday school. I began to read the Bible more and I felt like I had turned over a new leaf. However, the Pharisee mentality was still ruling the way I thought, I was more concerned about my outward “appearance” to the point that I was not was able to establish a genuine relationship with God.
On the outside, I was clean and polished but on the inside, I was far from clean. I still looked down on the same people that I used to be associated with, I would pass judgments on everybody that I thought did not live up to my expectations, and I was very vocal about it. I became a bully and I thought I was justified because I was doing the work of the Lord (or so I thought). I became very negative again and complained about everything. I felt like since I was now living the right way and doing everything “right” I should have been getting the blessings that I saw in many people’s lives. I started thinking about hell and the devil and I got afraid because I truly believed that the devil ruled the earth and that Christians were doomed. The fear that I had daily rendered me useless, I was so depressed and anxious that sometimes I did not leave my house and it was difficult to focus on getting anything accomplished. I resisted the convictions of the Holy Spirit constantly, and I felt defeated and hopeless all the time, this led me to believe that God listens to everyone else except me. I really thought I was defective and not worthy enough for God to welcome me into His presence or enter into an intimate relationship with Him.
At this point, I was moved to seek counsel from my Pastors (my new church) and other people who I knew had a genuine relationship with the Lord. Through their counsel and insights, I renounced many of the negative ways that I had become accustomed to and began my journey with becoming acquainted with the Lord.
In 2014, I started the course “4 Keys to Hearing God’s voice” through a local church in Buffalo, NY. I attended a few classes but I eventually quit due to my struggles with doubt, fear, and uncertainty. Even though I quit the class, I knew in my heart that this class was something that I needed to do, so I started the class again in 2015. It was during this time that I started seeking the Lord and His mighty presence and I actually began to experience Him in a different way that I had never known before. I started to journal and I was really surprised that God was speaking to me because it seemed so easy to hear His voice, though sometimes the spirit of doubt and unbelief tried to discourage me, I kept pressing forward. Right from the beginning, my journaling with God during my quiet time would just flow and I could not believe that I was talking to God freely despite all the bad things I had done.
OVERCOMING NEW AGE MOVEMENT AND PHARISEE MENTALITY
In my journals, Jesus would talk to me about His undeniable, unconditional and unfailing love for me. He would talk to me about the importance of me trusting in Him and His Word. He would speak to me about my fears, doubts, and unwillingness to come to Him and would reassure me that I could trust Him and count on Him. He was always telling me that He could use me no matter what I had done or the sins I had committed and all He asked of me was to focus my total being on Him. He was clear in His instruction to me to seek Him daily and to stop waiting until I was empty to come to Him. He said if I spent every day with Him, my life would improve considerably.
I learned a lot about contentment during this time, realizing that even though the situations in my life did not automatically change, I had changed and a transformation had taken place in my life. I could go through the storm peacefully and joyously because Jesus is with me. I started experiencing peace, joy, love, and hope, which I had not experienced previously in my life before.
During this time with the Lord, I realized that I have finally overcome the deception of being a Pharisee and New Ager, I have been able to experience what it really means to be a believer in Jesus Christ and it is a beautiful journey. I seeing others the way God wants me to see them, I no longer judge others and I now live my life in submission to God and only for His will to be done. I surrender all of my five senses of my spirit to God daily to be used by His Spirit. I am learning daily that being a Christian is a process and that each day is a gift and an opportunity to be more like Christ. Every day is another opportunity to press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14 KJV). I no longer listen to the lies of the devil that God does not love me and that there is no hope for me because of my sins.
My story is different today because of God’s unconditional love for me and when I do something that I sense is not pleasing to Him, I am quick to ask for forgiveness and know without any doubt that God has forgiven me. I have found a wonderful freedom in my relationship with the Lord because I have taken Him out of the “box”, He is doing wonders and miracles in my life. I am learning how to be merciful, patient, compassionate and loving to my neighbors and brothers and sisters in the body of Christ. I am experiencing God afresh daily like never before, I do not feel condemned and I know that this is only the beginning. I have only scratched the surface and I look forward to God taking me deeper, higher, and closer to Him. I am eternally thankful to God that I am no longer hindered by Phariseeism or New Age Movement belief and practices. I am a Blood washed believer and I have the right to the inheritance promised to me by the Father of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I am no longer deceived, I am free in Christ and He is All in All to me!
Contributor: C. Holmes