Friends Testify - Norman Ezell
1 - A Child
"Train up a child in the way he should go......" Proverbs 22:6
Sometimes while in prayer I have to imagine myself floating in space about three hundred thousand miles from Earth before I can set my feet firmly in this world. There, as I look at the sun, moon, earth and stars, I realize the insignificance of myself in comparison to God, the Creator of these things. I am reminded that because of His mercy, I have finally found the reason for my existence and for the existence of all things. I reiterate my thankfulness to Him for opening my spiritual eyes to the Light of the world, Jesus Christ. And I thank Him that my Mom introduced me to Jesus when I was a child and then prayed for me those nineteen years I went astray.
I was brought up in a middle-class home in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I began attending Alameda Community Church when I was seven years old. I thank God for that little church, because I received enough training in the Bible to realize later in life that I could turn to Jesus for help when I was in deep trouble....even saving me from the clutches of Satan!
That is why I know it is essential that children be taught the good and right way: God's Way.
I don't believe that as a child I ever made a real commitment to Jesus, although I attended church regularly and belonged to an organization called "Sky Pilots of America." We memorized Bible verses, built model airplanes and in 1954, I was named top "Sky Pilot" in the U.S. at a national camp meeting in California.
Obviously, my knowledge of Christ was in my head and not in my heart as evidenced by the three times I was "saved;" once at a Billy Graham Crusade. And then, holding to a form of Godliness, but denying the power thereof, I dropped out of church, "Sky Pilots" and turned my back on Jesus at the age of 14. Many times I've wished that I could go back and start over. If I would have continued to seek the Lord, I would have saved myself so much grief. But as the Apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 3:13, "Forget those things which are behind and reach forth to those things which are before."
I've prayed about this period of my life and the Lord has revealed to me some reasons for my turning from Him to a worldly way of life. I wasn't taught that Jesus is a Person with whom one can have a personal relationship. I wasn't told about His great lovingkindness towards us who believe. Mostly I heard about the Hellfire-brimstone-repent-or-die aspect of Christianity. There has to be a balance because the Bible has a balance! I'm taking much of the blame, however, and this is revealed in James 1:13-15: "Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death."
2 - Child on the Run ...
"When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child......" 1. Corinthians 13:11
Rejecting my Christian upbringing and accepting sin as a normal way of life was not an instantaneous occurrence. On the contrary, the process went on for nineteen years, gradually growing worse. At first, in junior high and high school, I began to use bad language, tell dirty jokes and smoke cigarettes now and then. I read my Bible less and prayed less and less until, as a senior in high school, I began to drink liquor and take out the 'easy' girls. At the time, all this seemed innocent enough, although in retrospect, I can see that I was developing deep guilt feelings because I was hurting God, other people and myself. Pride became a very important part of my life. I played football two years for Valley High School and was named to the New Mexico All-State team in 1960, playing in the all-star game as well.
I got a 'swelled head' and began to get into fights. 'Several friends and myself would drive across the Rio Grande River to a little town called Corrales and they would sell us wine illegally. I did some pretty wild things, like being involved in gang fights, wrecking my Dad's car and spending some time in jail. My life was beginning to follow a pattern of drunkenness, fighting and frustration. The influence of the Prince of Darkness was gaining more and more control!
College involved more of the same. I was still playing football and had a scholarship to S.S.C. in Durant, Oklahoma. Drinking and partying slowed me down and I became a worse player in college than I was in high school. By this time, God was the last thing on my mind and the only time I spoke of Him was in vain.
A new period of my life started when I took up guitar. I joined a musical group and we called ourselves "The Mutineers." We played a few months around campus, and in May of 1964, we went to Dallas, Texas, ninety-six miles south of Durant. There I lost all inhibitions and began to party every night in the nightclubs in which we were performing. This went on for two years, and then in 1966, we recorded our first hit record, "I See the Light" using the name, "The Five Americans. " Overnight, we became one of the most popular groups in the country, and followed this record with another smash hit, "Western Union." The next three years were spent playing concerts and recording albums, but mostly getting drunk, high on marijuana, mescaline, L.S.D. and speed. I was beginning to pay for this way of life when in 1967, I had to have eighty percent of my stomach removed because of ulcers aggravated by liquor.
However, still trying to fill the God-shaped hole in my soul, I was back to drinking and using drugs within three months of the operation. "The Five Americans" grew more popular, recording five Billboard Top 40 Hits, three albums, making appearances on such T.V. shows as Dick Clark's American Bandstand and live shows with groups like The Beach Boys .... Sonny and Cher ... and the Dave Clark Five. Even with the money and fame, I remained unhappy and began to use more drugs. Marijuana and L.S.D. changed my personality. I became dead inside and began to look at people as just objects, no more important to me than animals. Drugs are one of Satan's favorite means of ruining a person's life. I wish to God I had never touched them! After a bad L.S.D. trip in late 1968, I left the group and migrated to California. All I had left from fame and fortune was a Lotus Europa sports car.. and $60.00.
I stayed in Los Angeles for 1 1/2 years, trying to make it as a songwriter. I worked as a doorman in a nightclub. The nightclub life is Satan's citadel. I carried a blackjack for protection as many times my life was threatened. This led to my arrest for carrying a blackjack-a felony. Then after being arrested and thrown into the Hollywood jail, I decided to leave L.A. for good and moved to Carmel, California.
By this time, desperation had set in and I decided that the answer to my problems was marriage. That lasted one year and nine months, ending in divorce and I underwent eight months of Gestalt psychotherapy just to keep from committing suicide. Psychiatric analysis revealed many of my problems but failed to solve them!
In March of 1973, I went on tour with Holiday and Ramada Inns, playing guitar and singing in nightclubs. Performing mainly in the Midwest, I traveled most of the next two years with periodic visits to Ventura. During those lonely times on the road by myself, I always came back to the same questions: Why do I exist? Why does the Universe exist? Is there a God? In my search, I even delved into yoga, meditation and astrology. I continued to drink and use drugs and knew that I was hooked on them.
Then, in January of 1975, my whole life was changed dramatically.
3 - Like A Child
" and when he is old, he will not depart from it. " Proverbs 22:6
In late 1974, two girls had witnessed to me about Jesus and one had given me a New Testament which I took to my room, but didn't bother to read.
Jesus Christ was the farthest person from my mind as I set out that January night in 1975 in Ventura. In fact, the only thing on my mind was getting drunk, more stoned on marijuana and some female companionship. It's sad to say, but that's the only way I knew to kill the pain in my heart and to forget the loneliness of my room.
I picked up a girl in a little beer joint and took her out partying. We passed out on someone's kitchen floor but finally made it to my place where she stayed for two days.
She told me she was into witchcraft but that didn't bother me, as long as I got what I wanted. One night as we were going to sleep, her neck twisted into a very grotesque position, at a right angle with her body, and I asked her what was wrong.
She said, "He is trying to get me!" She seemed to be oddly excited and yet very frightened about it. I laughed at her.
Two days later, on a Monday, I took her to Los Angeles and stayed with her for a few hours in a room she shared for a year with a guy who was a Satan Worshipper. A statue of a half-man, half-beast creature with two horns and playing the flute leered at us from the dresser. As was my custom, I satisfied my lust and then left, not really caring if I ever saw her again.
Back in Ventura that night, I went to bed completely sober, reasonably happy since I had 'scored.' My happiness ended at around 4:00 A.M. when I awakened in my pitch-black room with a horrible, incessant crawling up and down my body. The room seemed to groan and move and there were vulgar noises like smacking lips emanating from the corners of the room. Right here, I must tell you that to my unspeakable horror, when I awoke to this strange atmosphere, my neck was grotesquely twisted in the same manner as this girl who worshipped Satan!
Even though the heater was on, the room felt like a deep freeze. I could sense a terrible and evil presence all around me and the air seemed to drip with cold slime. My fright was beyond comprehension and I felt tremendously deep despair, as I knew that nothing in this world would be able to help me in this situation.
The hours dragged by, and I pressed clinging against the wall with the light on. I never felt so all alone in my life. To really describe this experience is impossible because it was infinitely worse than any nightmare. The thing left at daybreak.
Many thoughts crossed my dazed mind that day, such as calling my parents or a psychiatrist for help, but I knew deep down that I was dealing with something not of this physical world.
Reluctantly, I went to see a man for whom I praise God: Pastor Bill Severn at People's Church in Ventura. I told him I disliked Christianity but that I needed help. He told me it was Satan. I told him I didn't believe him and left. I decided to pretend it never happened.
That night I smoked a couple of marijuana cigarettes and went to a movie, then came home and exercised until I was exhausted, hoping I could sleep through the night. But the demon returned and woke me up at around 4:00 A.M. and this time the symptoms were much worse! I was out of my mind with fear.
I don't remember much about the next two days, but on the fourth night, I felt that I should take my own life. I ran out to the house and around the block, but became more frightened out there.
Back in bed, I had two visions:
A tall man in a long, dirty white robe whose face was rectangular in shape with his eyes set at odd angles to each other, stood there just looking at me. Let me tell you about his eyes. One eye was lower positioned on his face than the other. They looked at me with incarnate lust. He had a very psychotic grin on his face.
The other vision I saw was a thin, feminine hand that was so pale, it looked as though it had never been in the sunlight. It had long, maroon, pointed fingernails. Something said to me, "This is the hand of Satan."
A deep, insistent thumping noise at the bottom of my bed brought me out of that vision. I turned on my back and went completely rigid. My body bowed up from the bed and my weight rested on the back of my head and my heels, as I sensed that the demons were coming into me!
I cried to God for help but got no relief. Then I asked Jesus to help me and the demons immediately left! I relaxed for the first time in four days and nights. I was reluctant to call on Jesus; now I know why. I didn't want to face up to my sinful and evil ways of life and Jesus is the only One who deals with sin in a person's life. Pastor Bill Severn was right, and what he said stuck with me, stubborn as I was.
Calling on Jesus was only a measure of desperation, however, and I hadn't really given Him my life. I left town for three days and really thought about all that had happened. I was still frightened, but not as much. Returning home on a Monday night, one week after all this began, I read the New Testament for six hours, from 4:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M.
All of a sudden, the evil presence was back .... but I was ready for it because I had read of Jesus' temptations by Satan in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). My spiritual eyes were enlightened and I suddenly saw my past life flash before me. I saw how my own lusts, along with Satan's deceit, had ruled my life. With tears running down my face, I screamed at Satan that I hated him for what he had done to my wretched life. I told him I was through with him and that I was going to follow Jesus the rest of my life.
That was what the Lord was waiting for!
The evil presence was again immediately gone and then the most marvelous experience of my life occurred. A sweet, floral fragrance came out of nowhere filling my whole being and the room. This too was not of this physical world. 1 felt a profound peace within my heart that was so beautiful! I sat there for a long time and just breathed in the Holy Spirit and I didn't even know it was the Holy Spirit! He was that fragrance, and it was like a gigantic burden lifted off me and I knew without a doubt, just as I do now, that Jesus is God! This is what the Holy Spirit was revealing to me.
A few minutes later, my wonderful reverie was interrupted by the sound of two demons howling outside my window. The howling was very high-pitched and eerie sounding and there was a distinct pattern as one would howl and then the other. This continued for a few minutes until the last howl ended in a low, guttural, choking noise. I didn't dare look outside, but I could hear a very real note of sadness in the sound. I know now that this is because the devil really hated to lose me. I had been one of his best disciples and didn't even know it. There's no telling how many people I influenced to follow the devil during all those years.
The next few days were really astounding for me. The whole world looked new and I threw away the drugs and quit smoking and cursing. I felt real, solid peace and hope and I began to turn away from sin as the Holy Spirit directed me. As He took over my life and restored the real joy of living, many people noticed and were amazed in my change of behavior. So was I! Truly, I had become the embodiment of Matthew 18:3: Jesus said, "Verily, verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of heaven."
4 - Man Child
" .....but when I became a man, I put away childish things." 1 Corinthians 13:11
I began to devour the New Testament and I read it about ten times during the next few months as well as reading the Old Testament once. I also began to memorize verses. (Psalm 119:11) My faith that the Bible is the infallible Word of God became stronger each day because the eyes of my understanding were being enlightened. (Ephesians 1:18)
I saw that God's wisdom and commandments as revealed in the Bible are the very foundation of all creation, and when we violate these commandments, we shake the foundation upon which our very life depends. I also realized that it is impossible for us to keep His commandments and that is the reason Someone had to keep them for us, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the sinless one.
Sin is breaking God's commandments and disobeying His Will as set forth in His Word, the Bible. The result of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Jesus not only lived a sinless life for us, but He also died for our old sins and the new ones we commit every day. cleansing us with His own precious Blood shed on the cross. (I. Peter 1:18, 19). Then God raised Jesus from the dead! (Ephesians 1:20) And Jesus defeated death, the last enemy, along with the devil, who had the power of death. (I. Corinthians 15:26; Hebrews 2:14,15)
Jesus has done so many things for me since my conversion. I have had four physical healings. He has healed my mind and soul from the effects of bad childhood experiences, fifteen years of pornography, alcoholism and drugs. He has provided me a ministry of Gospel music, helping drug addicts and other people in trouble to find the final and only solution to their problems: getting to know the Lord Jesus Christ!
I have many new friends who are real friends that I can trust. Best of all, I am no longer afraid of disease or death, because I know I have eternal life waiting for me with Him (John 5:24). What more could anyone ask for???
In conclusion, I want to say something very important to you, young people. Don't make the mistake I did. I was very fortunate to have Godly people praying for me. Many young people meet death and the throes of Satan's forces alone because they have no one to stand with them in prayer when Satan's forces surround them. Proof of this is the many tragedies we see every day, in the lives of those who are swallowed up by Satan because they wandered into his territory without anyone praying for them, or reaching out or caring.
Receive Jesus as your Saviour, study the Bible, pray, witness and hang around with other good Christian friends. You'll save yourself so much grief, such as venereal disease, abortion, drug addiction, alcoholism, mental illness and all other results of man's sin.
And even if you don't get entrapped in these things, if you're still an unredeemed sinner, you'll never get to Heaven in that condition. The only way is to make Jesus Christ Lord of your life and turn from sin. Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life and no one comes unto the Father except through Me." (John 14:6)
The Bible says, "The thief cometh not but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy." (John 10:10) That thief is Satan and he wants to steal what you have, kill you and everyone else he can, and destroy all good from your life. Jesus said, "I am come that they might have LIFE, AND THAT THEY MIGHT HAVE IT MORE ABUNDANTLY!!! [John 10:10]