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How I Came...

"From Rock To Rock"

The Testimony of Eric Barger

  

Though my name appears here, this is also the story of my wonderful wife Melanie, who came to Christ before I did. I am eternally grateful to God for her Christ-like love, help, support and prayers as I made the journey "From Rock to Rock."
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My life was not unlike a lot of other kids growing up in the 50's. I was the only child of two other "only" children who met and married too young and who divorced before my recollection. Due to my mother's advanced rheumatoid arthritis, which she had contacted at age 16, we lived with her parents. When my dad and mom split up, my grandfather and grandmother accepted the responsibility of raising me and did so as if I were their own son. I am grateful to them for the values they presented to me and even more so that today my earthly father and I enjoy a rich and loving relationship.

Like most of you reading this, I was raised going to church. As a child, I attended St. Paul's Methodist Church in my hometown of Parkersburg, West Virginia. Every week I attended Sunday School. I took part in the usual activities such as church plays and camps and can still remember the various Vacation Bible Schools I attended. I was not a bad kid. I didn't cause a lot of trouble and just fit into the crowd. If you had asked me if I were a Christian, of course I would have answered "yes". I heard all the great Bible stories, learned about the Bible's characters, and had some general understanding of the Christmas and Easter stories. But to my remembrance, no one ever explained to me in a way that I understood that becoming a Christian was not a set of church activities, charity, or good works. Those things are all proof of one's salvation and relationship with God, but are in no way the means by which to be saved. Though I would have claimed to be a Christian and did all kinds of Christian things, like so many who have an unbiblical concept of Christianity, I did not possess the authentic salvation experience needed to cross the line between "lost" and "saved". I had never trusted Jesus as the Lord and Savior of my life, but instead had fallen into the pattern of doing church stuff. So let me be clear about what I wish someone would have communicated to me so long ago - church membership, being baptized and doing nice things are fine; but those things do not gain one admittance into God's Heaven. It is faith in what Jesus did for us on the Cross of Calvary, and nothing else, that cleanses us and assures us of eternity in the presence of the Lord. I say this to you early in this piece, because I truly wish I would have understood this at a young age. It would have saved me from much heartache and would have radically altered the path of my life.

eb.9yrs.ds.jpg (7449 bytes)Early in my life, it became evident that I had musical talent. By age ten, I had begged my grandmother for a guitar and began taking lessons. I learned the songs of the day, by ear, from the records I had purchased. The Dave Clark Five, The Supremes, Jan & Dean, The Beach Boys - they were all my favorites. They taught me how to play rock n' roll guitar . . . at least through their records. In those days, the music being produced, and the lifestyle and attitude being advocated by the musicians, were vastly different from those of today. The most rebellious song on the radio in those days was Leslie Gore's "It's my Party and I'll Cry if I Want to"! It all seemed so harmless, but little did we know where the music revolution was going to take us. There were no songs glorifying drugs, the occult, murder, gangs, sexual acts, or rape. In the 1950’s record companies, the media and the public at large would have shunned any group or artist who glorified Satanism or suicide in their music. They would have found no audience. Yet today, themes like this garner those responsible various esteemed artistic awards, loving accolades from large fan bases and of course, lots and lots of money.

I first made money playing music when a local disc jockey hired my band, "The Echoes", to play at an area teen dance. That was in early 1963 and I was only eleven years old. By the fall of 1964, our band was busy just about every weekend playing dances and parties. Getting up to go to church on Sunday morning quickly became a thing of the past. After all, how could my grandparents expect me to do that since I had been out late the night before entertaining somewhere? To say it frankly, since they had become less dedicated to church as I had grown older and since our home was at best a minimal witness for the Lord, I was allowed to slide and was not told that I had to attend church. Now don't miss this - you see, if Satan can separate a person from any sort of Christian fellowship, then he has accomplished a real coupe in their lives. He is continually working to undermine and destroy God's will and purpose for each and every life. As long as I was in church, there was always the possibility that I might have heard the gospel presented in such a way that the Holy Spirit would have convicted me. I might have turned my life over to Him before the world, the flesh and the Devil could get a paralyzing hold on me. But without any church influence and only the fleeting memories of Sunday Schools from years gone by, Satan had me right where he wanted me, insuring that I would fall for his plan for my life instead of following God's. A major part of Hell's plan for me began to unfold on a Sunday night in February, 1964 when I first saw The Beatles. Watching their performance on the Ed Sullivan Show was a turning point for me, and probably thousands of other aspiring young musicians. I said, "That's what I want to do. I want to be a musician for life." Little did I know what that was going to mean for me.

By the time I turned sixteen, I was playing in the largest party bar at Ohio University six nights a week. I was popular and financially successful for my age. My high school English teacher even told me that I was making more money each week than she was! I grew up too fast and I was growing up without consistent godly guidance, having elected to follow the morals and lifestyle being led by my musical heroes. In short order, I had thrown off the upbringing that Grandma and Grandpa had tried to give me, exchanging it for sexual experiences, hashish (drugs) and the rock n' roll lifestyle. The idea of going to our little church seemed "weird," and "old fashioned" - in short, a waste of time. I gave it little or no thought as I soon had my eyes firmly planted upon my selfish desires and myself as the ultimate center of my universe.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am extremely grateful for my grandparents and what they did for me. They loved me and provided for me in every way they knew how. They did not neglect disciplining me when I needed it. But as I grew older, so did they and though they were aware of some of the unsavory changes taking place in my life, I feel now that they were lost as to know just what to do with me. It is certain that the scriptural value system, which parents are to employ, was sorely missing in our home. This is in no way a knock on my grandparent’s character or upon their earnest desire to see me grow up right. However, one cannot teach what one does not know and as I look back it is apparent to me that instead of growing closer to God, our entire family moved further away.

Gran had tried to deal with me but I was out of control and not willing to listen to much she or my grandfather had to say. I know I grieved them greatly in those days and only wish I had come to my senses in time to get things right with my grandfather before his death in the mid 70's. By hiding my sin, in particular the drug use, they really knew relatively little of what was really going on in my life. It wasn't until years later that I allowed the truth to surface of how my teen years were spent with a joint in my mouth as I experimented with my newfound promiscuity. Life for me was the ultimate in "doing your own thing" - a prescription for certain disaster.

Some may wonder, "What's wrong with that? We live in a free society. Besides, everybody's doing it!" I understand that rationale. I felt that way for many years, living in my "do your own thing" existence. I couldn't see what harm could come from getting all of the self-gratificationSLUGGO.JPG (44941 bytes) possible. After all, it was my life.

At seventeen, with one girl pregnant 1 and my 23 year-old girlfriend very upset, I split for the West Coast. That was where it was all happening: rock stardom, fame, and fortune. And for me, it would be a fresh start. But nothing in my life really changed except the scenery. By twenty-one, I was playing regularly in the Seattle area recording studios and bars. Playing lead guitar with groups like “Front Page”, “Shaker”, and “Sluggo”, my songs were full of lyrics about love, but I didn't have a clue about what that word really meant.

Life had become one big "high". Sex, drugs and rock n' roll were all I really cared about. Traveling with my band and living with one girl, while spreading myself around to any willing groupies and taking mind expanding MDA, psychedelic mushrooms, and LSD became my daily staples. All the while I was after the elusive record contract that would enable me to "make it" in the music business. I was searching for reality in eastern mysticism - something now called "the New Age." I had a lingering affair with a bonafide practicing witch who dabbled in candle magick and astrology. I wanted to know why I existed and where I was going, but my very existence was distorted and the forecast for my future was at best “cloudy with limited visibility.”

With my search for reality at a dead end, I found myself burnt out, disillusioned and in a fog, I left the group and invested what I had into a recording studio. It was there that I found the most worldly success. From that first small studio, I moved through several others and finally became the studio manager for what is now the largest state-of-the-art recording complex on the West Coast. I had found my niche. I had a gift for hearing sounds and arranging music. Future Grammy Award winners Kenny G, Queensryche, and others were regulars there. I had my own production company, a Lincoln Continental (gained in a failed record deal), and more money than sense. I was on my way - to what, I didn't know, but I was going!

I continued to play in a local bar with friends "just for the party." We were called "The Sin City Ramblers." With all of my apparent successes, I had actually hit the bottom . . . thinking I was heading for the top.

It was at this point in my life that I met Melanie. At first she was destined to be no more than just another notch on my belt, another sexual trophy. But I really began to feel something different for her. After knowing her for only three weeks, I moved out of my girlfriend's house and did what I always said I'd never do - I got married!

Melanie and I had a lot in common. She had a library of reference books on witchcraft and the occult. We were both into partying, drugs, and rock n' roll. What else was there? In my confused mind, life was complete. But the bliss didn't last. It wasn't long before Melanie found that I couldn't be satisfied with just her. The scars of a life without morals were deep and impossible to change - or so I thought. Each day at home was a fight. Since I never knew what responsibility truly was, I ran to the things that made me feel good: my studio and my cocaine.

Marriage just didn't fit in my plans. Though we had eloped in what I thought was true love, the daily responsibilities of a committed life together hindered me. But as far as I could understand what love was, I loved Melanie. What was I to do? I see now that I really loved the convenience of marriage, but had no understanding of the respect and care that comprises authentic unconditional love.

We tried marriage counseling, the secular brand. After two visits, we both agreed that was a dead end. So on we went - drugging and drinking and partying and bickering.

One day during a heated argument, Melanie threw a two-inch thick phone directory of yellow pages at me. I had made a smart comment about getting our lives straightened out through a marriage counselor. Shaking off being nailed in the back of the head with the yellow pages, I picked them up, shook them at her, and for reasons unknown to me, I said, "But it's gotta be a Christian marriage counselor." She screamed, "You figure it out; you *@&$%!!"and slammed the bedroom door, locking it for the night.

The next morning I opened those same yellow pages to "religious counselors", closed my eyes and jabbed my finger at the page. The number I hit was that of a real live, Bible-believing, Christian minister who counseled people from the office of his real estate firm. He answered the phone, "Good morning, God bless you."

I explained that my wife and I had "problems" and we needed a counselor. In the back of my mind I kept thinking, "She needs help, so I'll get this counselor so she'll get off my back and leave me alone!” What I didn't realize was that I needed help too, as well as our daughters, having been raised in an ungodly environment where drugs ruled from behind closed doors and rock n' roll was the master of ceremonies.

During that first conversation with the counselor, he asked if we were "Christians". I said, "Oh sure. We were both baptized in the Methodist church as kids." Besides, I was thinking, what did he think we are? We weren't Hindu or Muslim and we lived in America. Of course we're Christians! He knew just by the way I answered the questions he asked that I didn't have any notion of who God was, and surely didn't have a personal relationship with His Son. You see, to my knowledge, this was the first time in my adult life that I was communicating about anything the lease bit theological with a born-again Christian. In all the nights I played in bars and concert halls, and on the many occasions I had to travel and converse with people, I never recall anyone ever evangelistically sharing the salvation message of new life through Jesus Christ with me. I had even been hired (by Christians) at one point to help write, record and perform a Christian “rock-opera” in which I played the part of the Apostle Peter! Yet, if anyone ever actually did challenge me about my need to know Jesus, it doesn’t come to mind at all. What a tragic and telling indictment against the church in America.

Ted, the counselor, would eventually counsel us separately or together over fifty times. It was during these sessions that he kept suggesting something that I didn't understand nor want: that I "take responsibility in our home." He also kept talking about the Bible - something I knew only as a "good book." For though I called myself a "Christian", I knew nothing about God.

After three sessions or so with Ted, I began making up any excuse possible to get out of going to see him. Melanie kept going and was genuinely seeking and receiving help. She was immediately drawn to his presentation of Scripture. I however, felt very uncomfortable and wanted no part of this business. I know now that while she was being drawn by the Holy Spirit, I was under what Christians understand as "conviction." Boy, was I! God was after me, but I wasn't at all willing or ready - yet.

I came home from the studio one evening in my usual state of being loaded on drugs to find a Bible sitting on the coffee table. I thought, "That's nice . . . as long as Melanie doesn't get weird with it."

She got weird.

Melanie began to read the Bible and supernaturally God slowly drew her to faith in the Jesus that the pages revealed to her. She stopped being my drug partner. Our $500-$1,000 a week habit was now mine alone. Her speech changed. She stopped smoking, drinking and partying. She was different. But my life was still on a downward spiral until once during a counseling session (which she had cajoled me into going to) when I openly rebelled. When the counselor asked as he always did if either of us wanted to "receive Jesus as savior", Melanie said yes. With huge tears flowing down her cheeks, he led her line-by-line in a prayer of commitment. I watched as my wife made an open confession of her faith. But I determined that no way was He getting me!

I had long since disdained the counseling, but now she had "flipped out" and become a "Jesus freak." I'd had it. I promptly left her for several days, but as time passed, I missed her and our girls and I was getting tired of sleeping on the floor at the recording studio. So back I came to find that her witchcraft books were gone - not because a well-meaning Christian had advised her to throw them out, but because God had already dealt with her heart that she only needed ONE book. She had also discovered "Christian" music, and I had to admit that it was indeed pretty good. It had life and was a far cry from what I had always thought church music was. I had always thought that Christian music was an organ playing in a minor key that made you cry or feel depressed.

There was one more change. Over the span of just a few days, she had become like the Apostle Paul's sister! But when she realized that preaching at me was not going to facilitate any change, she started loving me unconditionally, which was nearly unbearable. It was then that I began to feel an inkling of what I now understand to be the drawing of the Holy Spirit as He began wooing my heart. Still, I rejected God. Though He was showing me close up in Melanie what He can do to cleanse and restore a life, I was deeply entrenched in my hopeless condition.

Weeks passed, then months. We were still together, in theory, but it was anything but happy or peaceful. Melanie read her Bible and attended a Bible study group and church services, while I plunged deeper into cocaine and my work. She was going to Heaven, while I was going to Hollywood! I had lost my drug buddy and partner in perversion but I was still determined to follow "my dream", regardless of what it cost or where it led.

One Friday night she discovered my car close to a girlfriend's house. Though she didn't catch me there, I knew I'd been caught by the note she left on my windshield. That night I did as much coke as I ever had, throwing me into a state of hyper-paranoia. I spent the next day trying to "come down" in a hotel room. The coke had taken me into a new level of experience but not a good one. I couldn't stop shaking, and my worst fear was realized when I found my dealer had run out of the white powder I craved.

Melanie spent the day praying and crying to God for direction. She and our counselor had prayed on the phone at 1 am "God . . . whatever it takes . . . GET ERIC!"

Sunday was a cold, rainy Seattle day. Melanie went to the bookstore to find something that would give her peace. Finding nothing on "peace", she walked out with Racing Toward Judgment by prophetic author David Wilkerson. Reading it entirely, her mind had been diverted from dwelling on me. For all she knew, I could have been dead by then, but she was comforted with the peace that only knowing God can give.

My memory blurs on the actual chronology of events from those days. Concerning that night, Melanie has had to help me accurately reconstruct this story. She says that in my drunken state, I came through our front door screaming obscenities at her. Just as had been my habit, I began blaming her for all our problems. This is often the kind of demented psychology that individuals execute on others, when they are themselves unwilling to take responsibility for their own failings. At some point I simply sat down on the floor and passed out. Two hours later I came to with perhaps the worst drug and alcohol hangover of my life. I hadn’t slept in three days, had overdosed severely, and had been drinking heavily for most of that period. All I had on my mind was finally ending our ruined marriage – the reason I had come back to our house early that night.

I climbed up onto the couch where she had been sitting quietly praying for me. I was trying to find the words to inform her that I was finally going to divorce her when I picked up the book that was lying there between us. In my nervousness, I simply flipped Racing Toward Judgment open to page 60. There on the left side of the page, underlined with my wife's pen from just hours before were three words: "GOD HATES DIVORCE!"

It was then - at the lowest state of my life - that I finally reached out to God.

I fell on the floor and burst into tears. My wife began to cradle me in her arms. I know now that through her, Jesus was hugging the adulterous, abusive, drug addict. I genuinely pleaded with God (and my wife) to forgive me. I'd said I was sorry to her before, but only because I had been caught. This time however, I had hit the bottom and I really meant it. I was finally crying out to the God who I had heard about in that Methodist Sunday School, and who had radically transformed my wife, delivering her from the same pit that He was now pulling me out of.

I was forgiven right there of every evil thing I had ever done. How am I sure? Because the Bible promises that "whosoever calls on the name of the Lord SHALL BE SAVED" (Romans 10:13). You say, "But how can you trust the Bible?" One simple thing separates the Bible and Christianity from every other religion: the historical fact that Jesus Christ died and rose from the grave. I had searched enough for "inner enlightenment" to know that the answer to life didn't lie inside of me. For the first time, I had an inexpressible feeling of wholeness and value. I was clean. I was saved! Although I never went through a drug or alcohol rehabilitation center, I miraculously never experienced any withdrawals from the years of abuse. The Holy Spirit of God came and did it all!

eb-mbds.3.2.jpg (12291 bytes)Our lives were radically changed! God called us into the ministry - to travel and warn people about the messages being sent through the lyrics and lifestyles of the Entertainment and Music worlds. We now teach how the New Age Movement offers "self enlightenment," but is only repackaged occultism in a humanist guise, and we train people how to effectively wage Spiritual Warfare.

We never dreamed that in a few short years, God would send us across America and Canada speaking in crusades, appearing on radio and television, writing for publications, and even publishing books. He's been so good to us. We've truly come "From Rock To THE Rock!"

You can too. My prayer for you is that you won't "hit the bottom" on your way to the top. You don't have to. How tragic that so often we have to get to the very bottom before we can get turned around. Though many people comment to me that we have a "great" testimony, I really wish my story were much different. I wouldn't wish what Melanie and I experienced all those years on anyone. More than once I have wrapped my arms around my now-grown daughters and asked their forgiveness for the things I did during their formative years, most of all for just neglecting to be a good, loving dad.

Some "church people" hear a story like ours and think, "My, they really needed God. Isn't it nice that they got straightened out?" But please understand that each and every person needs the same cleansing experience from life's sins that Melanie and I received.

As human beings, we have one major flaw. We have all sinned, yet we all want to think that we are "ok", "nice people", or that "God will accept us just because we're good and kind." This is a lie that will take millions of people on a one-way trip to a place called Hell. You don't have to go there, but there is only one way out. Jesus came and died to right all your wrongs. He already paid the price for you to enter God's Heaven - forever. All you have to do is ask Him for forgiveness and follow Him with all your heart. He doesn't want to spoil your fun or ruin your life. He wants to replace counterfeit joy with the real thing. The joy and peace of knowing Him is the greatest high I've ever known. This is NOT "religion." This is a personal relationship with the creator of the Universe!

How do YOU get it? Just ask. He's waiting now, but He won't be for long. He's coming back for His people, those who've put their life and trust in His hands. And, by all that the world is experiencing - earthquakes, wars, terrorism, the threat of annihilation and economic uncertainty - the Bible says that His return is imminent. What would happen if your life were to be suddenly taken? Where would you be for eternity? Remember, as I said before, there is a line to cross from being “lost” to being saved”. Have you crossed it yet?

Call out to Him today, right now. Just sincerely say, "Lord Jesus, forgive me of all wrong doing and thinking. Change my life and give me peace. I accept your dying in my place on the cross 2,000 years ago and by faith I receive your salvation - not based on my goodness or actions but on your shed blood. Replace my pain with your Holy Spirit. Thank you, Amen."

If you've prayed that just now, you may not fully understand what you've done. You may not "feel" anything. Those words alone cannot save you nor transform you. Feelings cannot help you - but Jesus can. If you ask Him - and mean it from the depths of your heart - He will truly become your "Rock." That is the difference - praying and meaning it. If you ask Him to save and change you, He has promised that he would never reject you (Matthew 28:20). If you really want Him to, He'll make you a new creation - with a fresh start on life (II Corinthians 5:17-21).

To find out more get a Bible (start by reading with the New Testament), begin talking with God in prayer, sharing with Him your needs, joys, sorrows and requests. Its important to also find a good Bible believing church that teaches the whole gospel. Then as you grow in Him, and remain faithful to His word, watch what God will do in your life. He has a great plan for you because He loves you! If we can help you in any way, please let us know. God bless you!

DEDICATION

I had many opportunities to talk with my beloved grandmother before her passing at 103 years and 10 months in 2001. When my grandfather died from cancer I was not a Christian. His unexpected death was an overwhelming shock, made worst because I didn’t yet know God. When my mother passed away in 1989, I had been a Christian for over eight years, and God had given me the precious opportunity to lead my mother to the Cross of Christ just nine months before she too succumbed to cancer. Though her passing was agonizing and painful, God saw my grandmother and I and my family through.

It was during that period, through our many talks and through our many tears, that I was able to discern with all certainty that indeed, my grandmother did know Jesus personally. I will be forever grateful that time and again I was able to say “thanks” to her for being there for me. So though my boyhood home did not fully operate under the Christian principles that those who love and respect God should set their sites on, I recognize the fall of mankind and the enemy of the soul as the culprit and posthumously extend my unreserved love, grace and mercy to the couple who loved and cared for me so many years ago. It is to them that I dedicate this booklet.

(1) I now see my son, Chris, when my traveling schedule permits. And though we'll never have a normal father-son relationship, I praise the Lord that He has allowed me to have communication with my son.

Copyright 1997, 2009 Eric Barger

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