by Mike Oppenheimer
I was brought up in a Jewish home, observed Shabbat faithfully and celebrated the High Holy days at the temple and with family. I attended Hebrew school twice a week and was bar mitzvah and confirmed. While attending classes I asked a lot of questions about God that the rabbi could not answer. Though I continued each year, mainly to please my parents, I became less interested in traditional religion. Feeling hindered in my spiritual development, I leaped headfirst into my own brand of freestyle spirituality after high school graduation.
By reading and attending lectures, I got involved in the New Age movement, became a vegetarian and for fifteen years practiced yoga and meditation. I used psychedelic drugs as part of my religious observances and smoked pot as part of my lifestyle. I experimented with various religions and the occult. I felt they each contained some part of the truth of the one "true" religion.
I studied the Ancient Masters, learning about Buddhism and Zen. I had a number of spiritual experiences which at the time I was sure were from God and leading me to a greater knowledge of myself and him. I discovered and believed in the Ascended Masters that were guiding our world into a greater evolutionary path. I was involved with UFOs and channeled messages. I was sure I was on the right spiritual path because of the various signs; things just fell into place. At the same time I also read the Bible (even the New Testament), not denying my Jewish roots.
I had also started to surf before beginning my spiritual pilgrimage. I fell in love with the sport and began traveling, surfing and entering contests. Surfing became my livelihood after I learned to shape surfboards. I became the New York champion and the eastern surfing champion. Hawaii proved to be an irresistible attraction due to its fantastic surf. I moved permanently to Hawaii with my girlfriend, Kathy, in the mid 1970s.
This gave me more freedom to pursue both surfing and my freelance spirituality. We thought we were becoming enlightened, reading about the Ascended Masters and "learning" about Earth's past history on Lemuria and Atlantis. We wanted to become servants of the New Age movement, convinced that if we all united we could usher in an age of spiritual cooperation and enlightenment. After nine years Kathy and I started to pursue our spiritual hunger more seriously and became involved in the "I AM" movement (the Saint Germain Foundation). We called on angels and powers unknown to us and tried to eradicate past life karma. Kathy practiced affirmations and mantras, studied herbology, polarity therapy and kinesiology, and learned about the supposed spiritual energies of the body.<
Then one week we had two friends over who had recently become Christians. One was a surfer who I knew from New York. We talked about end-time events for hours. I had been reading the Bible for years and was especially fascinated about the end of the age. My friends invited us to a Christian seminar on the New Age movement. During that same week I heard an audible voice say, "I am the Lord your God. You shall not want." From my Jewish upbringing, I recognized "shall not want" from Psalm 23. I had never experienced anything like it. Inside I knew this was the God I was searching for.
I attended the seminar on Bible prophecy and the New Age Movement while Kathy stayed home doing her New Age affirmations. The information I heard at the conference seemed incredible. The speakers knew all about the occult techniques Kathy and I were practicing and about the New Age Movement's master plans.
Though I was reading the Bible all these years, I was blinded by the viewpoints ingrained from the New Age influences. I was challenged by one of the speakers on my occult practices. He was aware of the "I AM" movement. He asked me, "If you're God, did you create the universe?" I had never thought this through. How could I become God through all these New Age techniques, when God is always all knowing and all powerful?
I could relate to what another of the speakers had experienced, especially in regards to the Ascended Master "Jesus." She spoke about another Jesus—the true Jesus of the Bible, which came as a total shock. I never thought there could be false Jesuses parading around as the real one. They were only Jesus by name but not the One who is God come in the flesh. It all made sense. When she prayed, my heart was pierced, and I knew I had heard the truth. But what would I do about it?
All the way home I wrestled with the realization that I had wasted the past fifteen years believing and doing the wrong things. I asked my friends who took me to the meeting numerous questions. Being new Christians, they could answer only a few. They just kept saying, "We know the Bible is God's Word and Jesus is the truth."
Kathy was waiting up for me when I got home. It was late and she was scared that I would come home a Jesus freak! As I came in, a peace came in the house and on her. I shared with her what the Scriptures say about the last days and how it isn't anything like what we were being taught in the New Age movement. Kathy suddenly realized that not only were we following the wrong Jesus, we were worshiping Satan, and that he is a real being. We got down on our knees and prayed to the true living God to forgive us for the occult beliefs we had been deceived into practicing.
The next morning we both went to a church, and the pastor said that he felt led to change the sermon. He spoke on sin, Satan and Jesus; we thought our friends had tipped him off! After the message, we dedicated our lives to God. That was in 1986. Five weeks later, Kathy and I were married and today have a 21-year-old son, Micah.
Immediately, I began to study the Bible in order to answer those who ask why we believe in Jesus. Since 1988 I have continued teaching on the cults and the occult, specifically the New Age world view. All through my searching I held on to my Jewish roots, and now, through Y'shua (Jesus), the Jewish Messiah, those roots have grown even stronger.
Mike Oppenheimer has hosted a TV program as well as a live call-in radio show, "Let Us Reason," on a local station in Hawaii. In 1994 he founded Let Us Reason Ministries as an up-to-date resource center to help equip believers in Jesus with both biblical and logical answers for their faith. You can visit the website at www.letusreason.org.