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"For we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not of ourselves."

An Appointment with God

Jesus People on the beach

Spring of 1967 San Francisco, CA

by Dave Hoyt

   “Give me an answer! Why would God reject people from different religions who seek him?  Millions are born into religions other than Christianity and worship God in their own way!  If they are sincere – how could a loving and good God not accept them?”    

“This is difficult to answer”, Timothy Wu replied –followed by an obvious pause. “Humans intuitively know there is a God and many follow the urge to seek out something to worship.   In ancient history people fashioned objects of wood, stone and metal to worship, or the sun, moon, stars and planets. Gods in the form of animals were a central part of worship in some cultures. Kings had images fashioned in their likeness and made people bow down and worship them.  Fertility gods have been worshipped by many people groups and tribes.  Other people believed in a type of god that could only be pleased by child sacrifices, or types of unnatural sexual practices.

poster: Too Many Gods

Thousands of temples have been erected to the gods.  Egyptian, Greek, and Roman cultures each chose their own gods to worship.  Objects of worship have ranged from mythical gods and deities – to spiritual leaders, philosophies, power, material images, and everything in-between.  Expansive religions have sprouted from human origins, and none of these represent the true God who is Spirit.”

Jesus taught, “True worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks” (John 4:23b NIV).

Timothy continued, “Many are sincere, and cling to their perception of god with their whole being.  Unfortunately this type of devout worship to something false is terribly flawed and doesn’t help them find God.  There is only one True God who created the universe, mankind and everything in it. 

God Doesn’t Want to Reject or Exclude Anyone! 

In the earliest of commandments cited in the Bible, God urges humans not to worship anything but him (Exodus 20:3-4).  Since that time to now, nothing has changed – people continue to worship things other than him.  I believe that God is righteous and fair and will receive those who love and seek him.  The important thing is that you are hearing the truth about God who is Spirit now – and you have a chance to discover for yourself if what I’m saying can be trusted!”

I wasn’t satisfied and interrupted sharply, “It’s not acceptable to me that there is only one way to find God, and that single door is through Jesus Christ. Why are you so narrow minded?!”

Calmly Timothy responded in a softer tone, “If I opened my soul and spirit to all of the man-made gods, their religions and error, I would be sick spiritually.”

He continued speaking about Jesus Christ as if he knew him as a friend, saying, “God loved us, his creation, so much, that he sent his own son to this world and allowed him to be born as a human. He came to reveal God and show us what he was like.  God’s Son, Jesus was filled with the presence of God and seeing him was just like looking at the Father (Hebrews 1:1-3).

cross against sky

He performed miracles, exposed sin and all that was false – teaching people the truth. Then, he completed the mission God had given him – by dying for human sin.  He was part of God, and his blameless death is what was needed to break the power of Satan’s hold of evil and free those who call out to him.   When Jesus died – he paid for our sin.  When we believe and confess our sin – he hears us.

Accepting Jesus as God’s gift is where we must begin. God backs this up by sending his Spirit into our heart and mind. Experiencing forgiveness and being fully accepted brings us into a friendship with God.  The reason that Jesus is ‘the-only-way-to-God’ is because he was sent from God and is the divine bridge that reconnects us to him.”

God’s Presence and Timothy’s Directive

Taking a step closer to me Timothy put his hand on my shoulder, looked me in the eyes, and asked, “Do you want to know the truth?” Taking in what he’d just said – I nodded, unable to find any words to counter his probing.  

Emphatically he added, “You have been deceived by a religious ‘spirit of divination,’ but God is calling you. He has a place and work for you. Within several weeks you will be taken out of this place, and you will come to know the true God.”

As he spoke a presence came over me, similar to what I had experienced years earlier – but it was a steady, even power. Could God be speaking to me through Timothy?  I stood there stunned – feeling small. “You need to stop chanting the mantra and begin calling out directly to God!” Timothy added.

“But how can I do this while living in the Krishna temple?" I thought.  Now I said it out loud, “How?”

   Call out to God, and he will hear you.   He’s been listening to you all through your search and has brought you to this moment – so that you might find the truth – and be free!

A holy hush seemed to engulf us as I stood staring at Timothy.  Without hesitation, he opened his Bible and read from the New Testament book of Romans, making sure I could see the words. “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved”  (Romans 10:9).

“This is God’s promise to you,” Timothy urged.  “Invite Jesus Christ into your heart and life. Confess that you have sinned, and ask God to forgive you!   This is the way to God.  God sealed this plan when Jesus died for our sin, but God raised him from the dead and made him the door to a relationship with God.”

An Internal Battle Rages

Up to this point, I had been listening intently, but suddenly a resistance to what he was saying returned. Angered – I told him “I think you should leave!”

He said, “O.K., but first, let’s pray.” Saying a short prayer, he appealed to me one last time. “Just ask God to reveal Himself to you, and answer the question about whether Jesus Christ is the true Son of God. You’ve got nothing to lose! If what I’m saying is not the truth, you can forget this whole thing and go back to chanting. Give God a chance to speak to you. Go directly to Him! I know He will answer you.”

Timothy turned and left, and I was alone. With the events of the evening whirling in my head, I decided to take a walk. The night air was cold and damp as I stepped out onto Frederick Street, but it felt good. Thinking about the study I felt angry.  Angry at Timothy for some of the outrageous comments he’d made, and mad at myself for not speaking up more. I was frustrated with Kent for bringing Timothy Wu and angry with God for dragging me through this maze of confusion. When was it ever going to get clear?

Both ways traffic sign

From a distance moving rapidly
The arrow flew swift to the center
My soul was not content

Engaged in the great search
The pursuit for God and Truth!
As I search– it too seeks me out
The God of all life, seen and unseen
Reaches out – but will I hear Him?
Whose ear is tuned to the voice of the Almighty?

What will He sound like?
Will He speak with an audible voice?
How will I know it’s truly Him?

   It was like a recorder playing in my head I could hear the words Timothy had said playing over and over.  I knew I’d led a sinful life, and years of incarceration had contributed.  Lying, stealing, hating, getting high, battery, bad attitudes, cursing, lust, illicit sex and the list went on. As I’d searched for truth, some things had fallen away, but hate, anger, and private sins remained.  Deep down I believed God could fix me and I was suddenly unsure my devotion to swami and chanting could.  Thinking about it all, it hit me, "only God could forgive sin!"  Maybe I will stop chanting the Krishna mantra and go directly to God!

Troubling Images Appear and Vanish

Several days passed, and one evening while lying on my bed in the temple I saw two sets of images. The first began in a huge marketplace with people from various parts of the earth buying and selling. Many cultures and languages were represented – each dressed in their native clothing.

Without warning, a piercing blast cut through the skies. Everyone stood still and I heard a song of worship in a language I could not understand. It was coming from different people scattered among the massive crowds.  As they sang, they lifted their hands toward heaven and then their bodies began to rise.  In a split second, my eyes saw a form filling the whole sky. It was the face and upper body of Jesus Christ with nail wounds in his hands, with arms outstretched. It looked like he was gathering his followers. Around him was a huge army of warrior angels.

The image changed as if caught on film and now I saw myself standing with a group of seekers. I looked up at the face of Jesus, then down at my feet.  My feet were on the earth along with the other seekers.  I was troubled realizing I was not ready – having not believed in Jesus.  As quickly as this picture came it was gone.

Swami AC Bhaktivedanta Bhaktivedanta "Pride"

Several minutes later, a second series of pictures came as clearly as the first. I saw the face of a famous guru I had taken a correspondence course from, Paramahansa Yogananda.  He appeared radiant and glowing but as I kept watching closely, his face contorted, becoming evil. The same thing happened with several more spiritual teachers I’d studied about – concluding with the face of Swami AC Bhaktivedanta.

“What was going on?” I thought.  “Why were images of my favorite gurus turning evil?” I lay there for a long time praying, asking God to help me figure this out – pleading for an answer.  Unexpectedly, the word PRIDE came into my mind with this understanding accompanying it: "These spiritual swamis are taking the place of God to their followers."  The silence that followed was thick with something supernatural – darkness and light was at war.

   I’d never experienced anything like this. “Where did these images come from?  Was this a dream, a vision?  Is God speaking to me?” I could only remember crying a few times as a kid, but this night in the darkness of the temple basement, my eyes swelled with tears as I called out to God and drifted into a restless sleep. 

O God, Help Me!

Unsure, I consciously chose to stop chanting from that evening on. As long as I was in the temple I appeared to chant, but began praying directly to God. I could lip the chants, but I wasn’t saying them from my soul. I couldn’t take the chance; I had to get this right.  My prayers were urgent.

Hoyt in denim jacket

Help me to distinguish what is true.
Let me know when you are present,
Answer me!

Who is Jesus Christ?  Is he your son?
Is he the door to finding you?
Can I be forgiven through him?

What is idol worship?
Is it wrong to follow a guru, or swami?
Is there a hidden evil I can’t see?

Open the words of the Bible to me.
Show me what is real. 
Rescue me – if I’m deceived

Please – meet with me God.
Reveal your true self
Protect me from what is evil!

A week past and I continued praying for God to show me the truth.  It was weird going through the motions of outwardly chanting while trying to pray directly to God at the same time. Gradually I got the hang of it. Into the second week of this I woke up one morning feeling something was going to change.  Things had to get better! Waking up late, I could hear the morning chanting beginning upstairs.  I got up, dressed quickly and slipped into morning ‘Kirtan’ worship as quietly as possible – taking a place near the basement door.

Worship progressed as usual, with the exception of a dirty look from the temple commander – for being late.  As number one under swami at the San Francisco temple he always seemed an unlikely representative of God.

Fire in the Temple

Pretending to be singing the ‘Hare Krishna’ chant, I gazed around the temple taking in a panorama view – more aware of my senses.  The drone of the small harmonium organ, the sharp taps of the Taba drums, and the ring of the Manjira hand-cymbals were prominent.  The smell of the pungent incense was strong as I watched its smoke waft through the temple.  The devotees and visitors were engaged in dancing and singing Hare Krishna – lost into a realm of ecstatic ritual worship – some oblivious to everything around them.  But their faces appeared strained and unnatural.  I was beginning to feel like I was on a bad drug-trip, when a visitor began yelling, “Fire! Fire!”

Immediately, the temple commander ran to the phone calling the fire department.  At the same time devotees and guests flooded out the front door in a panic. With the smoky haze from thick incense I hadn’t noticed that the ceiling of the temple was filled with a dark smoke. On a quick inspection – we saw the smoke was curling in the temple from the top of the basement door where Wayne and I lived.  Dropping my cymbals I lunged for the door and opened it letting a large billow of smoke into the main room of the temple.  My buddy Wayne reached the door at the same time and we both headed down the stairs.   Taking a few steps we could see it was a wood altar in our living area that had caught fire – probably ignited by a candle or incense.

Following Wayne I reached the half-way point of descending the stairs when I felt the same presence I’d encountered in the last Bible Study.  An unusual calm came over me and I heard a voice saying, “Call on me now! Call on me now!”

I didn’t know where the voice was coming from but knew it was speaking to me.  Taking a deep breath I offered up an urgent silent prayer. “Lord, show me the truth. Jesus Christ, if you are the Son of God, help me. Forgive me.”

hand held up

At once a burst of light entered my body and I was flooded with a presence from God. A brilliant light was around me and in me. Instantly, without words, there came a clear realization that Jesus Christ was God’s Son, and he was freeing me.  He was present – alive!  He was the true door to God.  I intuitively knew my sins were being forgiven – and God was receiving me, he had heard my prayers.

   I was aware of things around me, but everything seemed to be moving more slowly.  I could see Wayne throwing things away from the fire.  I finished walking down the stairs, helped Wayne and grabbed my Bible that had escaped the fire.  Wayne had already smothered the fire, but a large block of alter wood was still smoldering.  Just then, the San Francisco Fire Department arrived feeding a hose to the basement and finished dousing the smoldering wood and making sure the fire was out.    

While they were wrapping things up, I walked slowly up the stairs, still feeling waves of God’s presence. I felt clean on the inside for the first time since being a kid.  The persistent, tormenting restlessness was gone and I felt a deep peace.   The long search was finally over!  I could tell something evil and confusing had left me.  I’d come home to the true God – finally calling out to the right source. Wow!

   Nine years of being locked up had been a living hell, but the last three years-plus of searching through a maze of esoteric, mystical, and world religions had been mentally, emotionally and spiritually exhausting. 

Hoyt meditating

My quest for truth and peace had come to a conclusion in a way I would have never been able to imagine, invent, earn, or contrive.  I didn’t do anything to deserve God’s mercy and forgiveness – but it came to me through Jesus Christ!

My anger and sins were a burden too great to carry alone.  The closer I came to God, the more aware I was of my sins.   I finally got it – God had been seeking me out by creating a hunger in me to search for him.  My questions, doubts and frustrations along the way were needed to help me be clear about what was true and false now.   Being lost, without certainty of something as important as the truth about God, was an unsolved mystery I could not ignore.

In the end, he revealed that I couldn’t be made whole and forgiven by anything or anyone but him! Receiving Jesus Christ had released me from the grip of counterfeit religions with some truth woven into them – but it was not ultimate truth from the True and Living God.

Later that morning, I took off the neck beads the swami had given me at my initiation and threw my collection of expensive religious books into a large metal garbage can in a nearby alley.   Doing this was a decisive step.  I knew these ties had to be broken and that I’d be leaving the temple.    I wrote on the basement wall, ‘Jesus Christ is the true way to God.’ That afternoon, I walked out of the Krishna Temple, never to live there again. I felt relieved that Swami was still in New York visiting the temple there, as I needed time before seeing him face to face.

As I packed my few possessions – several close friends from the temple wept. They didn’t understand.  I said I’d visit them, but had to leave.  It was a sincere, loving and unusual goodbye, as I knew things would never be the same.  I was no longer a devotee of Swami Bhaktivedanta.   

entrance to GGBTS
Kent’s Help

Walking down Stanyan Street with my small suitcase in hand, I thought, “I need to contact Kent.”  Finding a phone booth I called with the news, “God has visited me and I know that Jesus is God’s Son.  Can you help?  I need to get out of the city.”

Kent was surprised and elated saying, “Wow, I’ll pick you up in twenty minutes in front of Golden Gate Park.”  On the drive back to Mill Valley he offered me a temporary place to live with his family at Golden Gate Baptist Seminary.

In Kent’s seminary apartment I felt at peace.  I was in a safe setting to begin to understand what had happened to me.  Being out of the Krishna Temple and the city was a relief.   Kent and Bobbie had two small girls named Dori and Gracie who kept the place hopping when they were home.  Kent’s family welcomed and accepted me – taking the risk of helping a new Christian with a less than normal background.  During part of the day, I had the apartment to myself to study the Bible or take walks on the seminary grounds.

Reading mostly the New Testament portion of the Bible on Kent’s advice, I was intrigued by Jesus’ encounters with different types of people.  Those who believed in him each had some revealing by God’s Holy Spirit – that Jesus was the Son of God!   Trying to understand the Bible before was next to impossible.  Now, as I read, it was as if a light was shining on the pages and they came alive.  It was real and understandable and strengthened my convictions about everything that happened over the past year.

During the first month as a Christian, feelings of hatred toward cops, born in the fires of correctional incarceration, simply disappeared.  It surprised and amazed me; something tangible that God just took away!   This and the absence of religious confusion were noticeable signs of Jesus Christ’s presence and power at work.  Inner peace was something I’d never had in my teen and adult life – up until now.   These specific changes confirmed God had performed spiritual surgery and I’d begun a new life. 


Read previous articles in David Hoyt's "Jesus Revolution" Series:

Part 1: Jesus People Days

Part 2: A Cry Rushed Upward to a Place Called Heaven

Part 3: Ripe for Change and Heart Revolution

Part 4: Recollections of My Search for Truth

Part 5: My Search - A Prelude to Finding God

Part 6: A Search for God Unraveling

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Last Update: 2017-07-24 18:55