THE HAND OF THE LORD UPON MY LIFE
By Pastor Max Solbrekken, D. D.
The first printing of this book was in 1965. After just two years in the Ministry, I shared a number of personal accounts of my experiences before and after my conversion to Christ. It was a great blessing to many people who read it!
Now, after more than 50 years of proclaiming Jesus Christ and His great mercy, grace and agape love to multitudes across the world, I incorporate some of those earlier writings and add much more, to give a glimpse of God’s unfathomable compassion and faithfulness toward me.
He is faithful who has called us out of darkness into His wonderful light and what He has done for this His humble servant, He will for you my dear friend. And even more, because He is no respecter of persons, places or times and He is the same yesterday, today and forever! (1 Peter 2: 9; Acts 10: 34; Heb.13: 8).
MY CONVERSION TO CHRIST
In June 1957 I knelt by my bedside in a little Motel in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan and prayed for forgiveness. I bowed my head in reverence to Almighty God and cried with a heart full of remorse and sorrow for my sin: “O God be merciful to me a sinner and saved me for Christ’s sake!”
The Spirit of the Lord was upon me and I was trembling and shaking like a reed in the wind. My stubborn will was broken and I threw myself completely at the feet of my Saviour, weeping uncontrollably in repentance to God.
I knew that I was lost; a hell-bound creature bound by the chains of pleasure, lust, greed, pride and worldly ambition. And the chain seemed to be secured by a supernatural lock with the devil holding the key. I was entangled in the web of worldliness and social position, and I was unable to free myself from the snare that had tightened its tentacles around the throat of my soul!
The convicting power of the Holy Spirit seemed to melt me and make me feel uneasy, guilty, ashamed of myself, and wanting to make reconciliation with God! The pressure of satanic power, however, was weighing me down like a millstone as the Spirit of God made battle for my soul! I wanted God to win, but I was unwilling to suffer the ridicule of the “straight and narrow” life that Jesus expects of a Christian. It was difficult giving up my own worldly, sinful life and to surrender freely to Christ!
It was now two years since this battle had been going on within me – two years since I had begun to feel the Spirit of God moving in my life again! God had called me as a youngster raised in a devout Christian home, during my confirmation studies and again at 17 years of age at SLB1 Lutheran College during revival meetings conducted by Evangelist Sylvan Johnson. Now He was calling me again!
Suddenly, I heard the voice of God calling me again! In my spirit I felt that this could be His last call to me. I had squandered many opportunities to give my life to Him and I had never felt this way before. I shuddered to think of the awfulness of being lost forever. To be shut out from God’s presence in a place of eternal torment, and hopelessness. And yet, the choice was again before me to receive Jesus Christ and life eternal, by turning my back on the world, the flesh and the devil!
IT WAS EITHER HEAVEN OR HELL!
What if I were to grieve the Holy Spirit and not feel God’s presence or hear Him call again? God was tugging at my heartstrings urging me to invite Him into my life and receive His eternal life for time and eternity! It was either heaven or hell and it could be now or never! At that moment, I realized that I must get saved or face the awful consequences of missing the ‘opportune time’! It didn’t take me long to decide. I made up my mind that I would become a Christian and follow the lowly Nazarene!
Nothing would stop me – all my worldly friends would not stand in my way. My business acquaintances would be no problem. My own dear wife, who was unsaved, could not hinder me. (Donna was saved six months later). I must repent and turn to God NOW! I must not hesitate. This was God’s call and I must answer it!
I fell to my knees, weeping, trembling and shaking like a leaf. My heart was broken before God and my sin was condemning me. I was sorry for my sin. I hated my sin. I despised my condition. I knew the devil had his grip on me. I knew I was a sinner! I knew I was on the road to Hell, but I also knew that God loved me. I knew that Jesus died for my soul. I knew that God was greater than the devil. I knew that Jesus rose again from the dead and I knew that He wanted to save me!
I confessed my sins to God. I told Him that I was sorry for my wicked ways. I asked Him to forgive me, to cleanse me and to change me! I cried out: “Lord Jesus come into my heart!” Suddenly, I felt a heavy burden lift from my chest, my shoulders, my life and I lifted my hands toward God and with tears rolling down my cheeks, I shouted: “I’m free; I’m free; I’m free!”
It had happened! I was born again by the Spirit of God and saved by the precious blood of Jesus Christ! My sins were gone, my heart was clean and I felt pure inside and light in my spirit! I knew that I had become a Christian. I knew that God had heard my prayer and forgiven all my sins and that He had written down my name in the Lamb’s Book of Life. I was now a child of God!
The next evening we arrived at my parent’s home in Norquay, Saskatchewan. That night after supper, we all gathered in the large kitchen for a time of worship and prayer. My Dad had heard that I had given my heart to Christ the day before, so he asked me: “Do you want to be filled with the Holy Ghost?” I replied: “Yes, I do!” I wanted what my parents and other members of my family had received. I wanted power in my life to be a good, strong and effective worker for Christ! I wanted power to stand true to God regardless of persecution or temptations.
I was so tired of seeing young people and older ones too, living a double life. I didn’t want that kind of hypocritical Christianity! I wanted the kind of Christianity they had in the New Testament – A Religion that worked! Yes, I wanted the Holy Ghost and Fire and I wanted to be filled right away, because time was short and there was so much to do for God! I fell to my knees, acknowledging His Lordship.
My Dad asked me to raise my hands toward God and ask Him to baptize me with the Holy Ghost! He had been healed miraculously and filled with the Holy Ghost more than a year earlier while listening to Oral Roberts’ radio broadcast. I was a Lutheran and not used to this, but I was so hungry for God and I needed His power! My family members gathered around me and laying their hands on my head prayed that God would give me the gift of the Holy Spirit and fire!
As I raised my hands toward the Lord in total surrender, I could feel His presence like a powerful electrical current coursing through my veins. My heart was filled with a great hunger for God and my spirit thrilled in expectation as I realized I was about to receive the mighty ‘Baptism of the Holy Ghost’ – the same gift that Jesus promised His disciples, as well as “their children and those who were afar off, even as many as the Lord our God would call”. (Acts 2: 38-39)
This was the same Holy Spirit that He had poured upon 120 spiritually hungry followers of Jesus (including twelve disciples and our Saviour’s mother) in the Upper Room in Jerusalem nearly 2000 years earlier! This was the same Holy Spirit that had given them the power to preach with authority, perform miracles, signs and wonders. And had empowered ignorant and unlearned men with boldness and wisdom (Acts 4: 13), so that they had filled Jerusalem with their doctrine (Acts 5: 28) and turned the world upside down (Acts 17: 6)
I began to tremble as I realized the greatness of the gift that I was about to receive, the power it would bring and the responsibility that would come with it! Wasn’t it the gift of the Holy Ghost that had changed the life of Simon Peter and made a pillar out of a rolling stone (Gal.2: 9), a bold, fearless man out of a coward (Acts 5: 29) and a soul winner out of a backslider? (Acts 2: 39) Yes, it was!
My heart began to pound in excitement as I realized how close God was to me. “Yes”, I thought, “This is what I need. I am as weak as Simon Peter and I need the same power that changed him. I must have this power to be a strong, useful Christian!” I cried out to God for mercy and grace, asking Him for this great gift, realizing everything we get from Him is free (Acts 8: 20) and that God gives the Holy Ghost to those who obey Him. (Acts 5: 32) im for that great giftHimm fgor this great giftHHH
Then, I remembered the Scripture (Luke 11; 13) that promises that He will give the Holy Ghost to those who ask Him. Suddenly, I began to praise God with a loud voice as I felt the glory of God fill my soul! I felt His mighty Spirit filling my body and as I continued praising Him, I could feel Him taking control of my entire being. My breath came shorter and shorter until my chest seemed to be filled and I felt as though I were dying. My knees became weak and I fell to the floor, prostrate under the mighty power of God!
I was dying alright! All the evil, carnal self was dying. The old man was dying and God was making me a new man. (Eph. 4: 24) Even though I could hardly stand any more of God’s presence, yet I wanted more!
My family members were praying all around me, yet I hardly heard them as I was having a private conversation with God. Faintly, I heard someone say, “O Lord, send the fire”, and I thought, “Yes, I need the fire.” (Luke 3: 16) Someone else prayed, “O Lord, send the power”, and I thought, “Yes, I need the power.” Kneeling beside me, one of my brothers prayed, “Give him more Lord” but my mother said, “No, I think that he has got enough!”
Immediately I said, “Yes, I want more, Lord, I want more,” and I received more as the power of God surged through me from head to toe. Suddenly, I began to speak in a beautiful and sacred and unknown tongue. As the words flowed out toward God, my spirit was lifted into the heavens and such peace and love flooded my soul. I kept saying, “Jesus! Jesus! I love You, JESUS! I love You, JESUS!”
The Bible says that the Holy Spirit magnifies Christ. Jesus said: “But when the Comforter (Paraclete) is come, whom I shall send unto from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, Which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me.” (John 15: 26)
“Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: for He will show you things to come.
He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father hath are Mine: therefore said I, that He shall take of Mine, and shall show it unto you.” (John 16: 13-15)
I became instantly aware of the abiding presence of God and a great love filled my heart for Jesus Christ, who had given his life’s blood for me on that ‘old rugged cross’ on Mount Calvary!
Earlier, I had been afraid of dying without Christ and going to Hell and being separated from God and my loved ones. That fear was gone and a great peace flooded my being, and a new concern was immediately born within my spirit for the lost and dying of this world who were heading toward eternal damnation and perdition.
Another thing that happened was the immediate desire I received to read the Word of God, together with the ability to understand the Holy Scriptures. Naturally, being been raised in an Evangelical Lutheran (pietistic) Church, I was well acquainted with the Bible, but suddenly the Scriptures became living to me and I understood that the blessed Holy Spirit was teaching me His Word!
When I heard a preacher on the radio or listening to our pastor, I could discern truth from error. I knew when a preacher was interpreting the Scriptures from a humanistic mindset, and when he was anointed by the Holy Spirit and was declaring the truth. I found myself challenging the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and the anti-Pentecostal fundamentalist evangelicals!
The Holy Spirit would direct me to the passages in the Bible that dealt with each situation: “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth.” (2 Tim.2: 15)
The Bible says: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers having itching ears; and they shall turn away their eyes from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Tim.4: 3-4)
“…there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the Way shall be evil spoken of.” (2 Peter 2: 1-2)
In 1965, I had a very unusual and dramatic experience in the city of Montreal. I had been invited to the Le Centre Evangelique (French Pentecostal Church) for a Gospel crusade. Arriving late at night, I was taken to the Pentecostal Bible College residence and after some refreshments retired to my room! I quickly fell asleep, but was awakened at about midnight by the presence of the devil in my room.
Although I was very tired, Satan’s evil presence made me wide - awake! Immediately, I began to confess Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord and to command the devil to leave!
The Bible says: “Submit yourselves therefore unto God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4: 7) My dear friend, if you will submit yourself to God and resist the devil in Jesus’ name, HE MUST LEAVE YOU! He cannot stay! He will make tracks. He will depart, because he is duty bound to flee!
I submitted myself to God and made the ‘Confession of Faith’. I called upon Jesus and told Him how much I loved Him. I confessed that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He died for me on the cross and rose from the dead! Then, I said: “Devil – you filthy, unclean, evil, unholy, tormenting demon, Get out – LEAVE, in the name of Jesus!” In a moment, he was gone and I fell soundly asleep!
A half hour later I was awakened again by an even stronger presence of evil. This time it took me longer to get rid of him. I did not see him, but his presence was so evil and so unclean and so tormenting that I could actually feel the heaviness, the oppressing demons of Hell in the room! Failing to immediately expunge the awful presence of evil spirits, I turned on the light and read the Scriptures audibly for about twenty minutes. Then, in the name of Jesus Christ I commanded the evil spirit to leave! In a moment he was gone and I fell soundly asleep!
At 8:00 AM someone was pounding on my door, saying: “Brother Max, come quickly.” I jumped out of bed, pulled on my pants and ran down the hallway. The Bible School students were almost hysterical. They ushered me into a room where a young female student lay on her bed, with her mouth open and her jaw locked. She had been attacked by the devil and was terrified. I laid my hands upon her and began praying for her deliverance and commanded the evil spirits to leave her in Jesus’ mighty name! The power of God touched her and after some powerful praying, her jaw relaxed and the healing had begun.
It was 8:45 AM and I was scheduled to speak at the 9 o’clock devotions. Heading down the hallway to my room to get ready for devotions, I was physically attacked by the devil! Nearing the public washroom, I was suddenly struck by a thunderous blow to my solar plexus that caused me to double up and almost keel over.
I became instantly weak, sick to my stomach and extremely nauseated. I staggered into the washroom, fell to my knees over the toilet bowl and PLEADING THE BLOOD OF JESUS, I cried out to God: “The devil has attacked me. The devil is in this place and he has attacked me. Please, O Lord, help me and deliver me. You know how much I hate vomiting. O Lord, help me, in Jesus’ name! ”
By the grace of God, I didn’t vomit. I rose to my feet and looked in the mirror. I was as white as a ghost, I was shaking and I was as weak as a kitten! I washed my face, went to my room, picked up my Bible and staggered down the steps and into the chapel just as I was being introduced. I was so weak that I could barely stand up. Five minutes earlier, I had been healthy, well and strong, but the devil had physically attacked me. I knew, however, that when I would read the Scripture text and pray that I would be healed!
I sensed that the students were filled with fear and torment. A spirit of fear and oppression was pervading the College. As I read the Holy Scripture and prayed the Spirit of God come upon us and strength entered into me. And as I preached I was completely restored! I related to the student body what had happened to me in my room and Satan’s attack upon me after praying for the young lady. Then, I proceeded to drive the demons from that Bible College in Jesus’ name. I called for a 3 day fast and on the third day, God broke through in His almighty power in our crusade and a revival ensued!
On Thursday evening while I was preaching, a great supernatural wonder happened. I was in the middle of my message when suddenly the Holy Spirit gripped me and even though Pastor Emile Lesagues was an admirable interpreter, suddenly I was catapulted into a place where I forgot about him standing by my side. I had just finished saying, that early on the morning of the third day after His efficacious death for us, Jesus Christ arose triumphantly from the dead, and tore loose the bars of death, hell and the grave!
In the distance I could hear Brother Lesagues saying: “Brother Solbrekken, wait for me. Give me a chance.” Just as I finished declaring Jesus Christ’s awesome victory over the devil, a young mother who was standing in the foyer of that large church holding her baby in her arms saw a huge ball of fire hanging over the pulpit. Suddenly it burst into many flames and fell on the people.
At that moment, hundreds of people rose to their feet and began to stream down the aisles toward the altar. Some fell in the aisles and some fell at the altar. Many were speaking in tongues, others were crying out for mercy and forgiveness for their sins, still others were divinely healed. For about an hour the Holy Spirit ministered to the people as the power of God fell upon us and revival came to that Church!
The devil’s power of fear and frustration, torment and discouragement had been broken and God set the Church and the Bible School on fire! The devil had attacked me physically, but we drove him out in Jesus’ Christ’s name!
I have not been attacked by the devil – in that manner - before or since that time! I was fortunate to have been a sparring partner for Trent Kecheson – who became the champion of the Canadian Navy – light heavy division – when I was 15 and 16 years old, and his specialty was powerful ‘body blows’ and ‘knock out punches’ to the jaw, so I learned a few thing about boxing from him. He pounded me mercilessly every recess break for about two years as he perfected his boxing skills and that gave me an opportunity to toughen up my midsection!
And I learned how to take a powerful blow to the ‘solar plexus’. No one had ever hit me as unexpectedly or as hard as the Evil One, however, but he was unable to knock me off my feet. Here’s the reason why: “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4: 4) Greater is Jesus Christ our Lord and greater is the Divine Paraclete - the blessed Holy Spirit - Who lives within us, than the devil who is in the world! Amen.