For I fear, lest by any means, that as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ […] for we are not ignorant of his devices. (2 Corinthians 11:3 & 2:11)
I will never forget that late night after training. It had been a long day—a day filled with new techniques and teachings, a day filled with blood, sweat, and tears, a day spent striving to obtain that which the grandmaster, under whom we all worked to advance in the art of kung-fu, sought to impart to us. It was nearly midnight. I, along with a handful of other men, now waited to see what this man with more than 45 years of experience, renowned for his rank and ability in the martial arts, would have us do.
Usually after a weekend seminar like this, the man we called Sijo (Founder) would dismiss us and send us home, with our thoughts racing as we tried our best to comprehend and remember all that we had learned. But today was different. After dismissing the rest of the students, he had asked that the black belts remain that evening for some specialized training—training which he was unwilling to openly share with those not yet initiated into the higher levels of the Eastern arts. So we waited in anticipation, hoping to learn something which would give us another clue to the mystery of true martial power.
As we sat together, after eating with our instructor, he began talking about the celebrities and personas so often recognized in Hollywood and the music industry for their often-uncanny abilities and charisma. As he described the skill and “talents” of men such as Jimmy Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, and others, he said something that I will never forget.
This man, who was recognized as a 10th dan in two systems of the Chinese combative arts, and well known as a master instructor in martial and medical Qigong, told us that the same power which we were taught to use at the higher levels of training within the martial arts—a power known as Chi, Prana, Ki, Oregon, or vibrational “energy”—was the very same power which these men were able to “tap into” and channel while performing onstage or onscreen.
The alarms began sounding in my mind…
As I had grown up as a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, memories of things my mother had read to me came flooding back to my mind—words from the Bible, and pages from a set of little red books written by a Christian woman long ago:
[Our Lord] looked with compassion upon men who were becoming corrupted, ruined, murdered, and lost, through choosing a ruler who chained them to his car (train) as captives, and yet these slaves were so bewildered, so beguiled and deceived, that they were actually pleased with their slavery as they moved on in gloomy procession toward eternal ruin […] to death in which is no hope of Life, toward night to which comes no morning.
Satanic agencies were incorporated with men. The bodies of human beings, made for the dwelling place of God, had become the habitation of demons. The senses, the nerves, the passions, the organs of men, were worked by supernatural agencies in the indulgence of the vilest lust. The very stamp of demons was impressed upon the countenances of men […] and human faces reflected the expression of the legions of evil with which they were possessed. Such was the prospect upon which the world’s Redeemer looked. What a horrible spectacle for the eyes of infinite purity to behold! Wherein can He behold His image? (Desire of Ages, pg. 36, and Review & Herald, October 22, 1895, emphasis added)
I knew that these men and women whom Hollywood and the music industry held up as icons in the entertainment world were anything but Christian; but how was it that their gifted abilities were derived from the same source as ours in the martial arena? Was this even possible? After nearly 25 years of active teaching and training in these mystical arts, had I been subtly deceived?
As we near the close of time, there will be greater and still greater external parade of heathen power […] heathen deities will manifest their signal power, and will exhibit themselves before the cities of the world; and this delineation has already begun to be fulfilled […] All need wisdom carefully to search out the mystery of iniquity that figures so largely in the winding up of this earth’s history. (Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, pg. 117-118, emphasis added)
What I share here is only a small portion of the testimonies we have been given of the lives and experiences of many of today’s well-known actors, actresses, and musicians who are unashamed of the powers of darkness upon which they have called in order to perform as they do. It is my sincere prayer that their eyes will be opened, and that they may see and know the love of their Father in heaven, the price that has been paid for their redemption, and His great desire to set every captive free.
In the lyrics of his 1979 song, Gotta Serve Somebody, Dylan says, “Well, it may be the Devil or it may be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody.” Twenty-five years later, in an interview with Ed Bradley of 60 Minutes, Dylan, then 63, revealed the true source of that inspiration which brought him fame and fortune, and guided him throughout his career:
Bradley: I’ve read somewhere that you wrote ‘Blowing in the Wind’ in 10 minutes, is that right?
Dylan: Probably (he answers, thinking)
Bradley: Just like that?
Dylan: Yea (Dylan answers, as he slowly nods his head)
Bradley: Where did it come from?
Dylan: It just came, it came from, uh, like um, right out of that “well spring” of creativity, I would think. You know?
Bradley: Do you ever look at music that you’ve written, looked back at it, and said, “Whoa, that surprised me?”
Dylan: I used to. Uh, uh, I don’t do that anymore. Uh, I don’t know how I got to write those songs.
Bradley: What do you mean, “You don’t know how?”
Dylan: Those early songs, they were almost magically written; “Darkness at the break of noon, Shadows even the silver spoon, The handmade blade, the child’s balloon, Eclipses both the sun and moon, To understand you know too soon…” There is no sense in trying, well, try to sit down and write something like that. There’s a magic to that, and its not Siegfried & Roy kind of magic, you know, it’s a different kind of…penetrating magic.
This is a startling admission, especially from someone who also reportedly surrendered their life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Ed Bradley goes on to ask the legendary musician, after nearly 5 decades of performing, “Why do you still do it? Why are you still out here?”
Dylan: Well, it goes back to that destiny thing. You know, I made a bargain with it, you know, long time ago. I’m holding up my end. (slowly answers)
Bradley: What was your bargain?
Dylan: Get where I am now.
Bradley: Should I ask who you made the bargain with?
Dylan: With the Chief, you know, the chief commander.
Bradley: On this earth?
Dylan: This earth, and the world we can’t see.
In another more recent interview, Ed Bradley of ABC’s 60 Minutes asked Oscar award-winning actor, Denzel Washington, after reviewing his 2001 film, “Independence,” how he was able to bring forth such a powerful performance. Denzel’s reply will never be forgotten:
Denzel: Basically, what I did was…got on my knees. And sort of, communicated with the spirits. And when I came out, I was in charge.
Bradley: Powerful scene.
Denzel: Powerful scene…it, it would, I couldn’t have acted that. I couldn’t of written that down and made a decision to play that.
Yeah! Literally, it’s like possession; all of a sudden you’re in, and because it’s in front of a live audience, you just get this energy that just starts going. But there’s also that thing—it is possession. In the old days you’d be burned for it. But there is something empowering about it. I mean, it is a place where you are totally—it is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, where you really can become this other force. Maybe that’s why I don’t need to play evil characters [in movies], ‘cause sometimes onstage you can cross that line and come back. (Robin Williams, by James Kaplan, US Weekly, January, 1999, emphasis added)
When we take a close at many of these superstars, we find that, although they profess faith in Jesus Christ, their lives and work actually stand in direct opposition to the testimonies of His Spirit in God’s Holy Word.
I ask God for grace, and the power of the spirits […] Calling on you. Calling on you. […] I really believe I can call her (the spirit) up. Her and so many others. (Oprah Winfrey, Journey to Beloved, pg. 54)
Oprah Winfrey calls these her “go there” moments, spiritual episodes of divine guidance that far transcend the chatty exchanges with her studio audiences […] Winfrey says that she has come to know each of them (these spirits of the dead) personally and calls them in at will to guide her in her work. (“Daring To Go There,” TIME, June 24, 2001, emphasis added)
What had been revealed to me that night by our Lord and Savior, I should not have forgotten. However, like so many of us, I did all that I could to stifle the conviction and push the thoughts from my mind. After all, I was a Christian, and regardless of what these people called upon to inspire their work, I knew in Whom I believed. But as our LORD tells us, “…the devils also believe and tremble,” “…but faith without works is dead” (James 2:19-20).
Struggling with the Still, Small Voice
A few months later, I found myself traveling to see the grandmaster again. I knew I was getting closer to the day when I would be honored as a 6th dan, and recognized as a master in the arts I had trained and taught for so many years. And I was yet unwilling to sacrifice this coveted privilege and title for that which I was being led to perceive as a simple premonition, rather than the still, small Voice (Word) of the Living God—that sense of foreboding I had felt late one night, when the Spirit of God was knocking, and seeking entrance to the door of my hardened heart.
As I walked into the training hall (do-chang, dojo) that afternoon, I was greeted with a smile from my teacher. As I look back now, I realize all too well that he also was listening to the voice of his instructors as he waited to hear that which they would have him reveal to me that day. As we began an ancient exercise called “Five Animals at Play,” a young black belt arrived at the school, carrying a large piece of artwork carefully wrapped in brown paper. He excitedly told Sijo that the artwork which he had commissioned to be done was now complete; the young man was then dismissed with a nod of the grandmaster’s head.
I watched with anticipation as Sijo (founder, great ancestor of the art) unwrapped the mysterious package which had just arrived. As the artwork was revealed, I beheld the familiar calligraphy of an experienced Chinese artist. My teacher look very pleased as he considered the place in our school to display the painting. It was then that I asked, “Sijo, its beautiful, but what does it mean?” The grandmaster turned and looked deep within my eyes, as if measuring something which I could not see. He then answered in words I will never forget. The closest translation in English would be, “It’s the devil that’s in the details.”
After all the years of searching to truly understand the nature and the mystery of the arts I sought to master, I was finally brought face to face with the Truth—a truth which I had desperately sought to avoid. Memories flashed through my mind of all of the lessons I had received from the Sensei, Gurus, and instructors of the arts I had loved. I saw the admonitions and warnings given by our Father in heaven in His Word, and each time my Savior had sought to pierce the darkness that had blinded my eyes.
To the ancient Chinese, it is this spiritual energy which they call “Chi” that is credited as the source of the martial artist’s true power. And it is this same mysterious energy that is said to be channeled through the practice of Tai-chi, Qigong, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Aurveda, Yoga, Reiki, and almost every other Eastern mystical art form.
It is these same spiritual powers today which are working through their subtle whispers to prepare mankind for the coming of an “overwhelming surprise”—an event foretold in the Holy Scriptures that will take place just prior to the return of our Sovereign King and Savior in the clouds of heaven and glory (2 Thessalonians 2:3-12 & Maranatha, pg. 161).
I could no longer ignore that Voice sounding in my heart and mind:
How long halt ye between two opinions? Choose ye this day ___________ (your name) whom ye will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served and obeyed, that were on the other side of the Jordon, or the gods of the Amorites [Babylon], in whose land ye now dwell […] If the LORD [Jehovah, Yehuwah] be God, follow Him, but if Baal, then follow him […]. (Joshua 24:15 & I Kings 18:21, emphasis added)
My only answer could be, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”