It was 1:30 a.m., September, 1971. I was only sixteen years old, but already I had earned the nicknames “Drug Bear” and “Iron Man.” I could do greater quantities of drugs than any of my friends – and live to brag about it! Whether I was shooting heroin or using hallucinogenics like LSD and mescaline, taking mega-doses of drugs had become my lifestyle. But this time I went too far. I took enough mescaline for thirty people, and my friends put me on a bus alone, sending me home to fend for myself. They thought it was a big joke! Actually it was a matter of life and death.
I became delirious and got off the bus more than a mile from my family’s home on Long Island, New York. I became disoriented and got lost just two blocks from home. I sat down on the ground in mental torment, feeling like I had entered a maze from which I could never get out. I thought I had died and gone to hell.
Then, at that late hour of the night, a friend of my parents came by, walking his dog. He looked at me with shock as I screamed, “I’m burning in hell!” I was shocked too. “Why is he walking his dog in hell?” I wondered. As soon as he walked away, I made a decision: “I’m going to jump in front of the next car that comes by. I can’t take it any longer.” I was losing my mind.
Within minutes, a car came racing around the corner. I jumped into the road directly in front of the car and threw my hands in the air. The car came to a screeching halt just inches from my body. It was my parents! The man with the dog had gone to my house and, deeply shaken, told them what he had seen. They came looking for me and were ready to stop. If it had been any other car I would have been killed.
But what was I was doing there anyway, stoned out of my head? How did a nice Jewish boy like me get so messed up?
I was born in New York City in 1955. My father was the senior lawyer in the New York Supreme Court, and he and my mother were as happily married as any couple that I have ever known. My upbringing was typical of many New York, Conservative Jewish children. We moved to Long Island, I did well in school, I played sports, and, like all my friends, I basically stayed out of trouble. But something changed. It all began innocently enough ...
When I was eight years old I started to play drums. There was no question that I had ability. In fact by the time I was fifteen I had played on a studio album. But my favorite music was rock, and after my Bar Mitzvah in 1968, I wanted to be a rock drummer, and all my role models were known for their heavy drug use, rebellion, and flagrant immorality. I wanted heavy drug use, rebellion, and flagrant immorality. I wanted to be like them.
In 1969, at the age of fourteen, when I was asked if I wanted to try smoking pot, I was only too happy to oblige. Soon I tried smoking hash too. But neither one had any effect on me. So I tried harder drugs until I started using ups, downs, and LSD. “But I’ll never do anything worse than that,” I thought. Yet I was deceived. Soon I starting using speed, then I started shooting speed. (Of course, I had been sure I would never put a needle in my arm!). Then, I got the opportunity to try heroin. I loved it! I was fifteen years old.
By the time I was sixteen, my grades began to slide, and drugs, rock music, and filthy living were my daily portion. My friends and I even broke into some homes and a doctor’s office. We experimented with the drugs we found and almost killed ourselves. We were cool! We were doing “our thing.” One day we would be famous rock stars!
Truthfully, I was messed up, and looking for something – but it was not God! And I absolutely did not want to change. I loved my lifestyle!
As for Jesus, he was no more important to me than Muhammad or any other foreign religious figure. After all, I was Jewish! And, I thought, if there really is a God, He knows that deep down, I have a good heart. If there is a heaven, He’ll surely accept me. In spite of my lying, my drugs, my drinking, my pride, my rebellion, my stealing, my immorality, my filthy mouth and mind, I thought that I really was a pretty good person. Little did I know then that the Bible said:
“All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but it is the LORD who weighs the hearts.”And, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” Human nature always tries to justify itself!
During the spring of 1971, my two best friends (and members of my band) began attending a little church. Why? Because they liked two girls who went there! Then, in August, I went to the church too. Why? Because I wanted to pull my friends out! You can guess what happened. I lost the fight! The love of the people began to break down my stubborn pride, and, totally unknown to me, their prayers began to have an impact. Something started to get under my skin! I actually began to feel guilty about the filthy things I was doing.
Amazingly, I had never experienced the slightest remorse for stealing money from my own father, or putting my parents through grief because of my drug use, or double-crossing my best friends, or viciously cutting down anyone I didn’t like with my sharp, cruel tongue. Now, something was happening. I started to feel uncomfortable with my lifestyle, seeing myself as more of a jerk than a cool teenager, and I began to dread those long night hours alone with a feeling of being unclean, alone with my sin.
Less than one year later, I was living for God and telling people about Jesus, the Messiah and Lord of both Gentile and Jew. Today, I have traveled around the world preaching and teaching. I have had the privilege of speaking on university campuses (including Harvard and Yale), written books and articles that have been translated into more than a dozen languages, debated and dialogued with rabbis on radio and TV, earned a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University, lectured as a visiting professor at leading theological institutes, and served as president of two Bible colleges. The Creator of the universe is now my Father, Jesus the Messiah is my best and closest Friend, I live my life free of anxiety and fear, and the peace and joy of God renew me every day.
Condensed from original. Please visit Dr. Brown’s web site for full version and resource materials, including the newly released DVD series “Countering the Counter- Missionaries.” http://askdrbrown.org/
Dr. Michael L. Brown is one of the most sought after speakers when it comes to explaining why Jesus really is the Jewish Messiah and answering theological objections to Jesus. He has written several books including Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus Volumes 1-4 (Published by Baker Books). These books are a wonderfully addition to any library and offer Biblical explanations to current misunderstandings in Scripture.