Read an Excerpt
IN GOD'S TRUTH
By NICK BUNICK
Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc.Copyright © 1998 Nick Bunick
All rights reserved.
The Monster Named Fear
When the child was very young, the child was taught that there was a closet in his or her bedroom; and the child was taught that in the closet there was a monster. And the monster's name was Fear.
And the child was warned that the monster should never be let out of the closet. If the child did not obey, surely God would punish the child. And then, when the child's body died, the spirit of the child would be put into a devastating place called hell; the child's spirit would be punished, tortured, and burned for millions of years into eternity.
And the child was warned that, if the monster was let out of the closet, a supernatural evil force would take over the child's mind and soul and require the child to do acts of evil, leading to the child's soul being punished by God by burning in that eternal hell.
And the child was continually taught to believe that there would be people who on occasion would try to persuade the child to open the closet door to let Fear be released and that the child should recognize that these people trying to persuade the child were wicked people who hated God; and the child was taught that God would punish these people, for surely the child would recognize that these people were agents of the supernatural evil force that was an enemy of God.
The lessons were so reinforced in the child, that the monster was not only contained in the bedroom closet, but also in the mind and heart of the child.
As the child grew older, Fear was accepted through continued reinforcement. The child was too young to question and understand what he or she was being taught. The child only knew that somehow he or she would learn how to live with Fear and would always be on the alert to recognize the enemies of God, who might try to persuade the child at various times in life to release the monster.
Was it not the responsibility of these teachers and preachers to give the child the strength and vigor to contain Fear in their hearts and to recognize God's enemies when they would try to persuade the child to live otherwise by releasing the monster Fear?
When the child became an adult, the closet grew larger, the monster grew larger, and the teaching had succeeded. For the child, who was now an adult, had learned to live with Fear. In fact, these lessons that had been learned so well enabled these adults themselves now to become teachers and preachers, teaching their children that this monster also lives in their closets, and that their children should also protect and respect Fear.
On the morning of October 15, 1997, my colleague, Brian Hilliard, and I walked into the aging building of the newspaper publishing house in St. Paul, Minnesota, where the child who was now an adult was waiting for us. He was leaning on the counter as we entered the lobby. He was wearing a gray cardigan sweater, and wire-rimmed glasses were pressed against his silver hair.
As I approached him and shook his hand, I immediately recognized by his body language, his forlorn look, and his animosity, that the child who was now a man had resigned himself to having lived with Fear. And, by his wary looks of suspicion and frustration, he recognized me as the enemy, a person who had rejected Fear, a person who was trying to corrupt the minds of others by trying to persuade them to open their closet doors and throw the monster out of their lives.
We walked up a flight of stairs into a nondescript conference room. The man motioned for Brian and me to sit across from him. He took out a pencil and a pad of paper. He cautiously looked at me over the lenses of his glasses, with his head slightly bent, his face masking a painful scorn, and began the interview.
He was the religion editor of the newspaper. I did not know if he had volunteered, or had been assigned the task of interviewing me. I only knew that he was engulfed in great discomfort and that Fear had been successful in controlling this man's heart and soul for many years. I asked him if he had a tape recorder, so that my remarks and comments could be quoted correctly. He told me it would not be necessary, for he would take careful notes, as his pencil poised above his lined pages.
I knew the questions that he was going to ask, for he was not a stranger to me. I had met him in many other cities across America the previous few months that I had traveled. Sometimes he would wear a tie, sometimes a sweater, sometimes a dress. Sometimes he was tall and thin, other times short and heavy, and even sometimes a pretty lady. No matter what the outside image, I always recognized the child that had grown into an adult. An aura of gloom was worn like an invisible garment around the man. Although it couldn't be seen, it could be sensed, felt; it almost was capable of being touched and tasted. It was the aura of Fear.
He began to ask me the same questions I had heard many times, in the same wary tone, with the same discernible hint of scorn and discontent. He told me he would write his notes as I gave my answers. I placed my chin on my right hand, my elbow resting on the pine-colored wood conference table, and I closed my eyes as I carefully answered his questions.
Brian and I had just flown into the "Twin Cities" on a 6:00 A.M. flight from Cleveland, and the day before had flown into Cleveland on a 6:00 A.M. flight from Memphis. This was the twenty-seventh city of my book tour, and although my commitment to share what I knew to be truth had never waned, I was tired. Surely the man would not object to my resting my head as he took his careful notes.
He asked me why I claimed that the story of the apostle Paul was not accurate. Did it not say in the Bible that Paul was on his way to Damascus from Jerusalem to persecute Jews in Syria when they had accepted Jesus as the Messiah? Did not Jesus then appear before Paul, temporarily blinding him, and did not Paul then make a conversion?
I explained to him that Paul was not in a position to persecute anyone. I asked how it would have been possible for a person of the Jewish faith to travel 140 miles from Jerusalem to the foreign country of Syria, to persecute Syrian citizens because he did not like the way they were practicing their religion? I asked, would it not have the same probability that Iraqis from Baghdad could travel to Minneapolis to persecute Christians because they were not practicing the Islamic religion?
I carefully answered the man's question by explaining that, when Jesus came to Paul in the desert outside the gates of Damascus, Paul did not make a conversion. There was nothing to convert to. It was Paul who founded Christianity several years later. So, how could Paul convert to something that did not yet exist? It was a commitment that Paul had made. Not a conversion. A commitment to spend the rest of his life teaching the messages of God and Jesus. And it was the pre-medieval church, four hundred years later, that insisted on calling Paul's commitment a conversion.
As I carefully answered his questions in a quiet and gentle manner, I had tried not to arouse the monster Fear. But I could feel Brian continually poking me in my ribs with his right elbow. I thought, what do you want, Brian? Surely this man does not take offense to my resting my head on my hand, as he is taking his careful, copious notes.
It was only later, after the interview, that Brian told me that he was poking me because the man had not been taking notes. Instead, he had been staring at me incredulously, as he had tracked from one question to another. His years of training had recognized me for what I was. Was I not the enemy of God he had been warned about as a child? Was I not truly influenced by the supernatural evil force? Was I not speaking words that were attempting to persuade others to open their closet door and remove Fear?
How dare I explain that two thousand years ago there was a dump outside of the city of Jerusalem called Gehenna? And that the people of Jerusalem would bring to Gehenna their refuse, their throwaways, and that the dump burned twenty-four hours a day. And when one person would get mad at another, they would say in jest or in anger, "Go spend the rest of your life burning in Gehenna." How dare I claim that the English translation of Gehenna was "hell" and that Gehenna was the model for the fourth-century church for the creation of the concept of hell.
How dare I attack fear. Where would people's souls go when God punished them, if I were to convince people of my lie? No wonder the man sat engulfed in Fear, unable to write my words with his poised pencil, but instead to stare at me with contempt.
Weeks later I read the following excerpts of his article in his newspaper. He did not share my words of universal love or universal compassion. Instead, he composed his own words of Fear. Some of the excerpts were as follows:
The Messengers Offers Little Help on Spiritual Journey
... Finally, God has allowed us to meet the apostle Paul, and he is one slick and cool hombre.... Bunick claims his life has been radically changed by the angelic message that seeps into his brain every day and laps over into flashy books about spiritual messengers.... I decided to speak with the fellow during his Twin Cities visit in desperate hope that all is not bogus in the world of today's religion.... He informed me that God speaks through him.... When I asked Bunick about his own Damascus road experience, he lowered his head, placed his hands at his temples and began to recite, as if in a trance.... Bunick says he can slip in and out of the St. Paul personality when he wants.... During the hour I spent with Bunick, no sexless, long-haired, 7-foot tall angels appeared.... What aura of mysterious gas has dulled our sense, allowing this story to captivate the intellects of thousands—hundreds of thousands—of otherwise sane people? This is not the truth One truth about truth remains: It is a hard-fought discovery and almost beyond human grasp. Perhaps there is one other: You can't get there from the pages of The Messengers.
The man asked me as I was leaving, "Why do you believe we have to come back again? Isn't life miserable enough that we don't have to do it again?" To this day I feel sorry for the man who never learned to release Fear and never learned how to enjoy the journey we are all on.
Several weeks earlier, in the friendly confines of Kansas City, I delivered a 90-minute presentation in the beautiful auditorium of the national headquarters of the Unity Church. It was a mini-version of the three-hour symposium I was presenting across the United States. The event had been billed as an "author appearance," but the approximately two hundred people who came to the presentation knew that my words, instead, would be a sharing of the messages of Jesus and Paul, as I knew them to have been spoken two thousand years ago.
At the completion of my mini-symposium, I allowed time for people to ask questions. As always, a feeling of love and sharing had been created during the presentation that now filled the auditorium hall. I often think of it as the creation of sacred space, for I can feel the energy and love emanating from the hearts and souls of my audience; I can feel the presence of their angels. That day was not an exception.
As I stood on the stage behind the podium of this impressive facility, with a small portable microphone attached to the collar of my shirt, I saw a petite, elderly woman in the rear of the hall raise her hand, and I acknowledged her. She asked in a very quiet and hesitant voice, "Do you believe that Jesus died for our sins?"
I looked across the auditorium at this loving, gray-haired lady with sadness in my heart. I could feel the pain of the burden she had been carrying all these years. Why, God, have they taken this child, who is now a senior adult, and convinced her to carry this guilt all these years of her mortal life?
I slowly and gently responded by asking her, "Are you referring to the sins that you were told you were born with as you entered this world from your mother's womb, or to sins you committed during this lifetime?"
In her hesitation to answer, the entire audience turned their eyes toward her. I could feel them sharing my compassion, wanting to reach out and embrace her with love, to open her door and allow Fear and his companion, Guilt, to be released now and forever.
She momentarily stumbled as she replied, "Well, I guess the sins I committed in this lifetime."
I answered, "What sins could you have committed in this lifetime, two thousand years after our beloved Brother died on the cross, for which you would take the responsibility of his death? If Jeshua (Jesus) was with us today, not only in spirit, which he is, but standing next to me on this stage, he would tell you that he lived for you, not died for you. He died on the cross to show his love for God and his commitment to God's messages. But he lived for us, not died for us. And he would never ask you to carry the burden of that guilt."
I prayed in my heart that she would understand my answer. I prayed, "God, please release her from this burden so she can experience the love of Jeshua (Jesus) in her life without the burden of guilt. Please, God, allow her to release from her fragile shoulders, from her kind heart and loving mind, the incredible burden of the belief that she somehow is responsible for our beloved brother dying on the cross two thousand years ago. Please, God, allow to be erased the feeling of guilt that the teachers and preachers of Fear and Guilt had put upon her, since she was a young and vulnerable child."CHAPTER 2
Crossing the Threshold
There may come a time in your life when you reach a critical point and are faced with a major decision. There will be a threshold in front of you, and you must decide whether or not you are going to cross that threshold or turn your back to it. And in making that decision, once having crossed that threshold, your life will never be the same again. Having crossed that threshold, it will have been a decision of no return.
Come with me to that threshold. Be there with me, for I want you to evaluate in your mind what you would have done, if you had to make the decision whether or not you would have crossed that threshold.
Let us pretend that you are a woman in your early forties. You have two young children who are teenagers in high school. You live in a modest neighborhood in a friendly town; you like your neighbors, and in turn, you have their respect. Your husband is employed in a middle management position for a small local company. You took a job as a bank clerk several years ago to earn additional money for the college education of your children, and because it had been difficult getting ahead on just your husband's income. You grew up in a family that believed in God, and, like your parents before you, your family goes to church occasionally, although you do not think you are overly religious.
One day you receive a phone call from a woman friend who invites you to visit her on Saturday, so that the two of you may spend some time together. She lives on the outskirts of town, a mile or so off the main road, where there are attractive woods and the houses are far apart. When you arrive at her home, there is a note on her door telling you she had to run an errand and that she would be back in an hour. "Make yourself at home." It is a beautiful spring day, so you decide to take a walk along the dirt road next to her home. The road takes you deeper into the quiet woods, further from the main road. As you enjoy your peaceful stroll, you are conscious of the sounds of nature around you; the fresh country air; and the smell of the pine trees, the firs, and the cedars. To your right there is a lovely piece of property with a sign announcing that it is for sale.
Your heart and mind is at ease, and you are grateful to have these quiet moments to yourself. All of a sudden you hear a strange, loud popping noise to your right, the kind of sound you made as a child when you blew up a paper bag with the air from your own breath and then smashed it with both your hands. You are startled, and, as you turn towards the sound, your entire body freezes and your heart begins to pound. Standing in front of you is an angel, a beautiful angel, translucent, bluish and white in color, with wings by its sides.
The angel is smiling at you, and the fear leaves your heart. But you are paralyzed with the awe and excitement of this incredible moment. The thought flashes through your mind for several seconds that you wish somebody was there with you to witness what you are experiencing.
You hear the angel's voice, but you are not consciously aware if it is speaking out loud or if the words are being spoken in your mind. But there is no question or doubt as to what she is telling you. The angel is telling you in a gentle, quiet, loving voice that God wants you to become a messenger to others of God's love, and of the plans God has for the future of mankind. The angel is telling you that God wants you to purchase this property in front of you, and to build a shrine memorializing this experience you are having, that you should leave your job and spend the rest of your life teaching others to have faith in God and to love one another.
You are told that God has given you free will. It is your decision either to accept the responsibility that God is asking you to undertake or to reject it, and instead, continue life as it has been. The angel suddenly begins to grow fainter to your vision, and you now find yourself alone, in this beautiful sacred spot.
What do you do? Do you run home to your husband and share the news? Do you contact the local media and share your experience? Do you leave your job, buy the property, and begin to build a shrine? If you go public with your story, will people believe you? What effect will it have on your husband's job? How will it affect your children and their lives? Will your neighbors become uncomfortable around you? Which friends will support you and which ones will shun you, certain that you have lost your mind?
Would you cross that threshold?
Excerpted from IN GOD'S TRUTH by NICK BUNICK. Copyright © 1998 Nick Bunick. Excerpted by permission of Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.