Time 87 minutes
This is the first section of my Book, Through the Eyes of a Child (a work in progress along with 3 others). It will give you insight, not only into where I came from, but how God has sovereignly led me through various denominations to show me there is both truth and error in every Christian Religious System. Similarly, no human person is the possessor of all truth for we see through a mirror dimly. We must be responsible to discern and learn the good, while eliminating the error. Never dismiss a child of God, a Brother or Sister in the Faith, on all points because you disagree on some issues which are not directly salvation related. “Eat the meat and spit out the bones.” Scripture and The Holy Spirit will identify what is meat and what is bone.
Mark 10:15 – ESV
Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
THROUGH THE EYES OF A CHILD
Sherry Driskell Griffin
Thanks for taking time for me!
Why on earth should you care what I have to say about the Scriptures?
You should care because I am exactly like you. I do not have a degree from Seminary, I am not a Rabbi trained in a Yeshiva from early childhood and I do not know the doctrinal position of the more than 41,000 Christian denominations in the world.
What I do have is an insatiable desire to know the Truth of the Scriptures, the Father who created me, the Son who died for me and the Holy Spirit who daily guides me. I want to know the same Truth the disciples knew, the Truth Paul spoke about and the Truth Abraham experienced with God. I want to know about the Hebrew family our Heavenly Father chose to bless. They are my family and your family whether we are the Natural Born Seed of Abraham or have been grafted into the Olive Tree that is Israel, for the Root and Branch of the tree is Yeshua, Jesus the Christ – One Tree. Without the nourishment drawn from this tree, the lifeblood of Jesus Himself, we cannot grow and flourish.
Israel was preserved from a flood and rescued from Egypt. They slew giants, fought kings and won against insurmountable odds by the hand of Yahweh. They disobeyed the Father, were sent into exile, but remain His chosen family, His chosen Nation, His Elect. Yeshua (Jesus) is coming back to take those of us who have Believed in His Finished Work on the Cross, both the dead and the living, to Heaven to meet the Father. This first stage of His Second Coming is called The Rapture and He will return after 7 years of the most horrific time imaginable on earth, The Tribulation, to rescue The Remnant of Israel and set up His Millennial Kingdom.
I have no interest in learning about religion. Man devised religion and created the Tower of Babel, their own sinful effort to force God down to Earth at their command. We already know the end of that story and it did not work out well for mankind. I am fascinated by the Creator of the Universe and His Son, what He has instructed us to do and be in the Holy Scriptures by the Power of His Spirit. I desire above all things to personally know and walk in the way of our Creator. He tells us in Genesis He is the I AM and we call Him JEHOVAH (in Hebrew – YahWeh). He sent his Son, Yeshua the Messiah, whom I’ve known all my life as Jesus Christ to die on a cross for my eternal salvation and yours. Yeshua (Jesus) said that He must go, so the Comforter could come, the Holy Spirit (Ruach Ha’Qodesh). This prophecy of the Comforter was fulfilled on the Feast of Pentecost. I will refer to them often as Yahweh, the Father and Yeshua, the Son and the Ruach, the Holy Spirit. Once you learn why – you may agree.
Why do I write? The Father instructed me by His Spirit to pen the path He has brought me down. The years have been mind and life altering as the Ruach instructed me, but the past four years immeasurably so. We must “receive the kingdom of God like a child”. My search has brought me full circle to the unquestioning, unwavering faith of my childhood – without precondition or limitations of man placed on God. We have all known a time when we simply believed what our earthly Father told us . . . and this is where we must be mentally to receive the kingdom . . . Father God said it . . . Amen!
Amen means – I believe it is true – I come into agreement and thus everything God promised, every prophecy given is already Finished! The work is complete . . . we are simply awaiting its final manifestation in our own lives and on the earth. The faith of a child does not seek to see why the Word of God cannot mean what it says nor why God cannot or will not do what He says. A child simply . . . Believes!
When Holy Spirit first made clear to me I would write for the Kingdom, my first question was, “why me?” Now, I understand. The simplicity and purity of His approach to Scripture had to come from a lay person who was under no denominational obligation, with no previously published works which could be threatened and even refuted by truth and no seminarial indoctrination. He wanted to go back to the beginning of the faith, to the foundation of scripture alone. He has brought the circumstances and the teachers. I have done my best to be obedient. The instructions to me throughout this venture have been – question everything you have been told I meant in order to learn . . . WHAT I REALLY SAID!
I am blessed from earliest memories with knowing and never doubting Yahweh, the Creator of the Universe, is my Father and He loves me beyond measure or doubting. He has forgiven my faults, shortcomings, outright disobedience and rebellion. He will never leave me and He is always right. If I think he’s wrong, I’m confused. If I am confused, it is not his fault, I simply need to go back to the Word and study more deeply.
Train up a child in the way he should go: And when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
WHERE I BECAME A CHILD OF GOD!
In the Beginning – my earliest memories are waking up on a quilt on the bench or floor of Bluff Springs Baptist Church deep in the back woods of central Mississippi. Isn’t it telling I remember the church first and not our home? I was adopted at birth by my Great Aunt Mae and Uncle Dock, who were Mother and Daddy to me. They were in their 50’s when I was dropped in their laps, so I was fortunate to have parents with life experience and massive patience. Mother taught Junior Sunday School and Daddy taught the Adults. Pap-Paw Lewis was the Worship Leader. From about the age of 5, I was blessed to play the piano by ear and at every service on Sundays I played piano and sang. On Saturday nights, Daddy and I went to “Gospel Singings” across half of Central Mississippi where I played and sang until near midnight with all the adults.
We had a membership of about 32 in our church and I don’t believe there was another place where the Scriptures were taught with more fervor or received with greater love. Saturday night singings were hosted in people’s homes, churches and campgrounds all over the area. If they could hum it, I could play it! At Sunday morning service my fingers would still be sore from playing the night before, but we would be ready to lift our voices and hearts once again in praise and worship to Almighty God.
It was an ideal training ground in many ways. We didn’t have enough members to support a full-time pastor so we “shared” a pastor with another church. He preached for us on the 1st and 3rd Sunday and at another church on the 2nd and 4th. Most of the preachers came from Clarke College Seminary and we were their training ground. Our deacons had walked with the Lord for many years, so there was no lack of experience, knowledge of the Scriptures or heart for God.
Our lives revolved around the church. We had a chore list and everyone signed up for their turn to clean the sanctuary, mow the lawn, provide the flowers for service and invite the Pastor and his wife for Sunday dinner. Everyone took turns and we planned solos, Christmas Pageants, Easter programs and Vacation Bible School. We had missionaries come and tell of the heart breaking hunger and need of the third world countries and helped as much as we could. We had evangelists and artists who created beautiful paintings with chalk and others with sand, Southern Gospel Quartets, Soloists and Guest Speakers. There were only 8 or 10 children, giving us individual attention and every opportunity to ask any question we could think of. I had lots of questions. God made the specific decision for me to be raised in this environment, although I certainly struggled with abandonment issues. In retrospect, I see the Hand of God placing me exactly where He chose to prepare me for His purposes.
Somewhere around the age of 6 or 7, I developed my own method for dealing with questions I did not get a satisfactory answer for in Scripture. I made a lovely box in my head, nicely decorated with beautiful colors and a giant question mark emblazoned on the front. It was and remains my God Box. Anything that didn’t make sense to me or did not line up in a way I thought reasonable went into my God Box. I never felt the need to disregard a whole teaching if there was a part I didn’t understand or even a clear conflict in its presentation. Most clearly at that age, I knew God had the answer, man was the problem and I would understand when it was time. That insight was not a child’s insight, it was Holy Spirit teaching me even then how Scripture should be handled wisely.
I absolutely did not question God. I knew the issue was either me or the people who were explaining it to me and just because I didn’t get it, I did not have permission to be mad at people or rail at God. For this part of my brain function, I will forever be grateful to my Heavenly Father. It kept me out of the really serious trouble of doubting the existence of God or His ability to create and continue to hold the Universe in place. This mindset was a precious gift to me from my Father in Heaven when I was formed in my Mother’s womb. I have returned to that place and ask you to join me there. I see the Kingdom of God and His Word . . . through the eyes of a Child.
I have grown in my understanding of the Way of God over the years in fits and starts. It has not been in a straight line and never as consistently as I would have preferred. One gratifying progress indicator for me has been an Answer that causes a Question Mark Issue to come flying out of the God Box in my mind. As I’ve gotten older, technology has gained a huge foothold in my life and I’ve now apparently equipped my mental box with a Whoosh sound effect for outgoing questions similar to that when my email is sent. When an answer solving one of those seemingly irreconcilable issues or nagging questions presents itself, I hear a lovely Whoosh! You probably didn’t need to know that, but I found it interesting.
My Daddy was a spiritual, psychological genius and pretty close to perfect. I’m also sure that’s an unbiased opinion. I was not the easiest child. I had pretty serious trust issues and can tell you more than you want to know about the Spirit of Adoption and the good and bad results accompanying it.
I did not always understand Mother’s natural resentment of me, but hindsight lends clearer vision. When we are small we don’t have the ability to reason or understand adults and their own real fears. We assume they have life all figured out and possess all truth and wisdom. It is simply not true. I was not her natural born child, I had seemingly usurped her position and a baby comes with loads of work for an already overworked farm wife who wanted to continue working full time. She had been the center of Daddy’s world for more than 30 years . . . and then along came little Sherry.
Thankfully, Daddy dealt with me as an adult from Day One, so did Mother and most of the people in our little community. After all, I learned to read and write long before I entered first grade, thanks to Mother. We were in church at least 4 times a week and every time the doors were opened for the first 16 years of my life . . . we never missed a service . . . it simply wasn’t permissible. My questions were dealt with seriously by wise parents and teachers. Logic was presented for my understanding and faulty reasoning identified. I didn’t miss a childhood, mine was just quite different from most. There were other children, but none nearby for several miles so my life was one of mostly joyous solitude, animals and books, oh how I loved books. They were then and remain so today, treasures offering passage to worlds and minds unknown . . . I could travel anywhere.
HORSES AND FRIENDS OF THE HEART FOREVER!
My closest friends nearby were Martha, Becky and Pam. We weren’t allowed to visit nearly as often as we’d like, for there was work to do. Their Dad and Mom were terrific, but those girls worked hard. If I happened to show up and they were clearing brush in a pasture, I cleared brush. Ed Dickinson was no slouch when it came to working or making his girls work and I was just one of his girls when I appeared. He was like most men of that time and place, hard work was necessary, but by including us he gave us a gift like no other. He allowed us to understand Privilege and Responsibility – unfortunately, you can’t have one without the other. When we were finished with work, he’d let us ride on the tractor or on his back or even take us for a swim in the pond. He was a precious treasure to me and I still hold him dear and close to my heart.
Riding horses was our passion. What a treat to ride the trails, woods and roads all throughout the country. It didn’t happen as often as we’d like and Mama Gladys wouldn’t let Pam go with us until she got a bit older. Mama Gladys thought for sure we’d break her. We were fierce cowgirls and tough trail riders! Sunday afternoon after church was usually our riding chance and we never missed an opportunity. Spending time with my friends was a rare and special treat and brought some of my favorite memories.
The created universe and all its creatures were my classroom and my greatest joy was to read. Whenever possible, I would slip away, climb a tree and read a book, I would be lost for hours in worlds different from my own and usually in times long past. One transgression I committed often was to be found by Mother, long after bed time and lights out, in my bed with a quilt over my head and a lamp underneath reading. She was not amused!
My earthly instructors were seasoned with life experience, hard work and a moral compass that never wavered. There was no babysitter, no television permitted without adults and work around the farm was a time of learning. Any subject was open for discussion and hard work and responsibility came with the territory.
LIFE LESSONS FROM GRANDMOTHER FLORENCE
The lesson about lying was particularly memorable for me. I was spending the day at my Grandmother Florence’s house while Mother and Daddy worked. I must have been about 4 and I really felt the need to impress my Grandmother with the special things I could do. Not having anything particularly laudatory or special at 4 to offer, I peered over the table as she cracked eggs into her bowl with one deft hand and the flick of her wrist and for no Godly reason spouted. “I love to eat raw eggs.”
She stopped her progress in mid crack and with the same wisdom I saw in Daddy, for she was his Mother, said, “Really, why I’ve never known a little girl who liked raw eggs. I’d really like to see you eat one”, and she handed me an egg.
Not wanting to confess I was a liar and certainly unwilling to be branded a coward for refusing to eat it, I took the egg, broke it open and swallowed it whole. With the greatest decorum I could muster and as much patience as Jesus would allow a little fibber, I wandered around the kitchen for a few seconds and then shot out onto the porch . . . down into the yard . . . behind the chicken house and . . . hurle
Upon my return, no words were exchanged or acknowledgement made of my swift departure and wretched appearance. Grandmother had, ever so sweetly, taught me a great life lesson. Never let your alligator mouth overload your hummingbird behind . . . lies are never okay . . . the cost will be greater than you are willing to pay . . . and the aftermath is really ugly.
NOT ALL TEACHING IS HEAVEN SENT
I was still very young and had gone to my granddaddy’s for a short visit one summer. Pop Bailey, my birth father’s dad, was a real character with a slightly wicked sense of humor. He was a prison guard at Whitfield, the state facility for the criminally insane. He’d been there for 30 years and had seen it all.
This particular summer he chose to instruct me in the fine art of prayer before I went home, I’m certain this was a “gift” to Mother and Daddy since he wasn’t particularly thrilled I was living with them in the country, rather than with my birth parents who had given me up. I already had one confused little mind about being given away and though his intentions might have been good, he really didn’t help.
I was still young enough to be seated in a high chair, so I was not long on discernment. At supper the evening I came home, I was excited to deliver my new prayer for Mother and Daddy. They sat down and Daddy asked if I’d like to say the Blessing. I quickly agreed and began,
“Lord look down on us with a little of a twist and send us a biscuit as big as your fist.”
Whop – across the side of my head came mothers hand and slapped me nearly off that high chair. She did not find one thing amusing about me or my prayer and I was banished to bed without supper. Daddy slipped in a bit later with a biscuit . . . so even my inappropriate prayer was answered!
I did notice after this incident Mother was quite resistant about visits to Pop Bailey’s.
I am about 6 years old and have reached a theological impasse. It is time to take action. I wait by the side of the dusty, red clay road for Daddy to come home. That clay was a miracle in itself. If the road had been graded through a hill and a small underground spring came out of the side of the bank, it made the best slide in the world. What it did for clothes when you used it for a slide doesn’t bear repeating! It also made a really fast track on the road for wagons, horses and cars to go sliding into the ditch, purely for the purpose of entertaining a child, I’m sure.
Every afternoon . . . without fail . . . I never missed . . . I am allowed to go about a half mile up the road from the house and wait for Daddy so I can ride home on the running board of his truck and talk to him about life as I see it. I typically store up my important discoveries and earth shattering questions for this time of day while we do our chores together. This particular afternoon it’s just about dark and his truck comes rolling around the bend. He sees me and eases down to a stop to let me hop on. I jump up on the running board and hold onto the door as he creeps along toward home at about 5 miles per hour. Usually I am chattering and he’s listening, but today I am quiet, so he knows right away something’s up. He grins at me and says, “So what’s on your mind?”
I almost laughed, but held it back. I had to be really serious because this was important. I’d reached a major decision and he needed to understand. “Daddy, I’ve been thinking about this long and hard and I made a decision about church.“
He said, “Let’s hear it.”
“Well, you know some of those ladies at church have been fussin’ and fightin’ about things for a while now and they just won’t do right. A couple of ‘em won’t speak to each other. They’re not actin’ right and I decided I’m not gonna go sit in church with a bunch of hypocrites every Sunday.”
He eased on up the road to the house, stopped the truck and sat real quiet for a minute. Finally, he looked at me and just nodded his head and said, “Well, I hate to hear that. But, you know, I decided a long time ago I’d rather go on Sunday and sit in church with a bunch of hypocrites for a couple of hours than I had to burn in hell with them for all eternity, but you just do whatever you think is right.” He never said another word or mentioned it again. Sunday morning I jumped out of bed, dressed and went to church.
OBSESSIVE MOTHER AND CHILD!
Mother’s contributions to my life and education are too many to be counted. She was probably the hardest working human being I’ve ever known. She was a very accomplished seamstress. She worked in a shirt factory . . . on production. The big commercial sewing machines were tightly packed in rows with one row after another, and only a small passage to squeeze through to sit down. The noise was incredible and the smell of the dye from the fabrics was suffocating. When you worked on production, there was a quota of how many pieces had to be completed each day. If you couldn’t “make production”, you risked losing your job. They worked from 7:00 a.m. to 4 p.m. with 1 break for 15 minutes during the morning an hour for lunch and 1 break for 15 minutes during the afternoon. The time clock reigned supreme and if you had to be away for a few minutes, you punched out. Do it often and you lost your job. Throughout the day, they sat curled over those pounding machines, risking a hand moved too closely to the giant needle, the same needles that injured so many, and no pity given for those who couldn’t keep up the pace. Today they’d call it a sweat shop and shut it down, but in our little town it was a great place of employment for many, many women who desperately needed and wanted jobs.
Mother also possessed the most amazing green thumb. She could grow any flower or vegetable and loved it. She and I were responsible for preserving the plentiful fruits and vegetables produced with our hard work. Daddy plowed the ground and we all planted and harvested. At her side, I learned hard work was not anything to be ashamed of and necessary for survival. She knew where every berry patch, fruit tree and wild grape vine was anywhere near our farm and we harvested those as well. If God grew it, she insisted it be canned, preserved, frozen, dried or stored. She made sure I knew how to do it as well. She had a full time job, gardens for vegetables others for flowers, trees and shrubbery tagged from the woods to transplant into her yard in the fall and she sewed all my clothes. I cannot begin to understand how she managed to do all that and still make three hot meals a day, but she did. She made biscuits every morning because Daddy said he simply would not eat what he called – “Loafers Bread”. In our part of the world, everyone worked and contributed, children as well as adults. It was necessary, it was expected and it was how we learned to be functioning adults.
Our little farm home was always immaculate and I had my responsibilities which were necessary for the family. The ironing was my duty from the time I could reach an ironing board and you were not allowed to sit down, for Mother assured me, it was impossible to do a good job ironing while sitting. Pillowcases, shirts and pants as well as play clothes had to be starched and ironed. She was not lazy and she did not tolerate laziness in those around her. Waxing floors weekly, ironing, making beds, dusting and putting away dishes were just some of my indoor responsibilities. Hanging out the clothes and bringing them in were my outdoor jobs near the house. We all worked together to gather vegetables & can, freeze and preserve.
Daddy and I took care of the animals, milked and prepped the gardens and fields. We had horses, mules, cows, chickens and pigs and they were not only for companions. They worked and they fed us! You never named the beef cows, chickens or pigs – for they would ultimately show up on the dinner table. The milk cows you could name – for they were safe!
Mother could sew anything, with or without a pattern and she could also crochet, cross stitch and quilt. She made sure I learned those skills as well by the time I was 7 or 8. One of my Freshman classes was Home Economics. Mrs. Nichols taught young girls to cook, sew and manage a budget and a home. I’m certain it’s entirely too practical to be included in curriculum today and that’s a real shame.
Our first project was to be our own choice and many of the girls chose to do pillowcases or hand towels for this was their introduction to a sewing machine. In my treasure trove of books, I had read about a Burgundy Velvet Suit worn by one of the heroines and I could picture it perfectly in my mind, my choice was made. When I told Mrs. Nichols about my project, she indicated that might be a bit challenging, but she’d be happy to help and if I finished it, all my sewing requirements would be completed .
My poor Mother was a child of the depression and to indicate she was frugal, would be a grand understatement. She packed a lunch for herself every day, a thermos of coffee with a biscuit and sausage or bacon left over from breakfast. She often retorted she was not about to “stick her nickel in a coca cola machine”. Yes, they were a nickel back then.
Imagine her shock when I advised her I had a school project to complete and I would require a pattern for a lady’s 3 piece suit with pleated skirt, satin for the lining, buttons to cover for the coat with pearl buttons for the vest and burgundy velveteen fabric. The cost was a veritable fortune to her way of thinking. I was certain she’d cry as we left the fabric store, but pay for it she did and without so much as a whimper of complaint. I made the suit and it was quite lovely.
My point in telling you this story is to give you a bit of an insight into my personality and make-up from a very young age. Now they’d probably send me to a psychologist and medicate me, but back then . . . back then . . . they simply advised you how you could achieve what you sought to do, rather than stressing how age inappropriate it might be or warn you of the impending crushing disappointment if you failed.
BOOKS HAVE LONG BEEN MY GREAT FRIENDS
I had never been a big fan of the institution of school itself, for it was quite confining and did separate me from Daddy, but I loved learning and to me that meant reading. One of the luxuries of my life, which Mother never scrimped on, was my books. I had long before read everything in our little town library . . . it was a very small library. We received a newsletter in our classroom with a list of paperback books available for children. She allowed me to order as many books as I’d like, every month – no restrictions. I had ridiculous lists, but she never complained. My Sophomore year included a new teacher of Literature, Mrs. Roebuck and she had no inclination to corral any of my notions of what I should be able to read and study, in fact she encouraged me.
As the time approached for Book Reports to be assigned for the Semester, I approached her desk with my latest grand scheme – I had selected War and Peace by Tolstoy. She looked up and calmly inquired, “Are you aware War and Peace is almost 1900 pages in length, is entirely focused on a society not of your own experience and seeks to follow a myriad of characters through the psychological changes brought about by their lives in both War and Peace in Russian society?”
I agreed with her summation and added, “But, do you not agree I will likely never be able to live in Russian Society directly and so I can only seek to experience and understand it through a book? Is that not a worthwhile endeavor for a literature class?”
She nodded and I plunged ahead, “Since I am interested, the book is available in the high school library and you understand it, I would think this would be an outstanding opportunity for both of us. Don’t you agree?”
She looked at me skeptically and nodded, “Fine”, then added a warning. “If you begin this project, you will not be allowed to change your mind and make another selection. You will not be given additional time to complete the work and I will expect the quality of your report to reflect the quality of the work you have chosen. It is one of the greatest novels ever written and it must be respected.
“Why share this bit of teenage drama and trivia with you?
The project turned out quite well. Mrs. Roebuck was very pleased and I had developed a new skill set which would serve me well over the years. I had learned to research! The things I did not understand, and they were myriad, I had to look up and then place them in the writer’s context. Remember, there were no computers and Google didn’t exist back then. More importantly, Holy Spirit had begun the process of instruction to give me confidence I had the ability to learn about a culture I had no personal knowledge of. He was instructing me even then for the project to come, the one which He wanted completed. War and Peace would barely hold a candle to the Holy Bible with its History, Mystery and Matchless Truth . . . and what a joyous challenge it is!
THE CALL OF GOD TO WRITE!
Surely Holy Spirit recalled this encounter when He later instructed me to write a book about the Scriptures. He certainly knew I’d never tackled a project of this magnitude before, but War and Peace was a nice basic lesson. His call for my writing was to join the Old and New Testaments in the minds of readers so they could see and experience the melding of the two . . . and it must be done in such a way that people would neither be intimidated nor overwhelmed by it, but enveloped in its majesty. The rules the theologians call Doctrine were to be incorporated, but in a fashion interesting to read and clearly described in Scripture.
In our life together, my husband Ed has mentioned to me numerous times a point I’ll share with you. Almost always it has been issued as a cautionary compliment, with a hopeful look in his eyes. It usually goes something like this –“I’m excited for you, Do it! I appreciate you do not recognize the difficulty and I’m praying no one makes you aware.”
Ed’s encouragement is precious to me. Like almost all of my teachers in school and throughout my life he advises caution, yet never tempers my enthusiasm. Not any of my teachers has ever sought to force me to recognize my plan was slightly foolhardy, perhaps impossible and likely over my head. I believe in my heart, even then, God surrounded me with those who would encourage me to fulfill His purpose in my life. They surely listened to Holy Spirit, for He deals with me in exactly the same way!
Some people are wired by God to simply perform their very best, do what they’re told and ignore the seeming impossibility of the task. If your mind does not perceive it as impossible, it’s highly likely you can accomplish it. I also know I have an edge that is unequaled. This writing project is my responsibility to study and do the research, and that’s my favorite task. Then I begin the process to commit it to paper in a logical manner. Once I begin to be obedient, the Holy Spirit fills in the gaps, instructs and directs the focus where he chooses. I simply must listen and write.
Just like my life of Faith, it hasn’t been a straight line and there have been fits and starts, retrenchment with reconsidered ideas. What was one book, in my mind, has now become four and most of the time, I feel as though I am an amanuensis. I am the assistant who simply writes down those things Holy Spirit highlights in my heart. You will be the ultimate judge of how successful I’ve been, for if only one person is encouraged and strengthened in the Faith, I will have been a resounding success in God’s eyes . . . and after all . . . His opinion is all that really matters.
DADDY’S DEATH AND A DARKNESS UNIMAGINABLE
I am 15 years old. My Daddy is dead and my entire world, as I know it, is destroyed. I feel completely alone and adrift in a fog so black and thick I’m not sure I’ll be able to find my way back to light, if it still exists. Life has ceased and all my moorings have come undone. I am Little Dock – where he goes, I go and I can’t go with him this time. The one person on earth who knew me and loved me unconditionally despite my shortcomings is gone.
He’d had a heart condition for years. Often at night I would slip into his room and check to be sure he was still breathing. Satan attacks when we are vulnerable and as a heartbroken girl, I heard him whisper accusingly, “Are you sure your own fear did not cause his death?” When I heard the growling evil, I recalled the verse in Job . . .
Job 3:25 KJV
For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, And that which I was afraid of is come unto me.
Never underestimate the devil’s knowledge of Scripture and his willingness to use it to destroy you. In Scripture, Job’s greatest fear was that his family, his children would not be obedient to God and follow His Commandments. When they feasted to celebrate their birthdays, Job would pray continuously – apparently fearing they were involving themselves in riotous living. I had been taught Job’s fear was the door that Satan had used to have God allow him to test Job. Had I opened a door because of my own fear that cost Daddy his life? I did not think it was true, but then I wasn’t thinking very clearly at the time and it was horrific to contemplate. Only years later was I able to clearly see this was merely a hateful demonic attack.
My Daddy is so loved by the people in the towns and countryside around for he always had a ready smile, kind words and a helping hand for anyone. What a beautiful legacy, but I could barely see it at the time. The funeral procession is over a mile long, the church packed and people are standing outside. Daddy’s friends have always called me Little Dock, and now they aren’t sure if it’s okay. They want to help, but don’t know how. I still recall the palpable emptiness as if it were a vacuum into which I’d been drawn with no hope for return . . . to what . . . Utter Devastation, without the one and only person who had accepted me Just as I Was, loved me without condition and was dependable beyond any imagining.
My life had centered around my Father, he was my life. Gospel Singings every Saturday night together, church on Sunday, ride to work with him every day and he takes me to school. When I began the first grade, I boarded the bus like all the other kids, but it was a totally foreign world to me. The kids are loud, they bounce around all over the place snatching at things and pushing and shoving. This is not the world I am accustomed to, I am out of my element. I choose to get up a couple hours earlier and ride with Daddy and he drops me off when its time for school. Daddy was my focus of love and security. I would do anything . . . anything to stay directly at his side and it had been so my entire life. My abandonment had contributed to me clinging to my Father in a way no one can truly imagine!
Several times during the first grade, Daddy would walk me into the classroom with my books, get me settled at my desk and then walk back to the truck. I’d race out the door just after he left, take a shortcut down to the truck, jump up in the back and under the tarp before he could clear the building to see me. I’d hide there until he got to the job site and it would be so far away, he didn’t really have time to take me back once he discovered me and still get his work done. I’d just stay with him and the teacher had assured him I already knew the material and was simply bored.
Mother had actually contributed to the problem, though now she was horrified by it. She’d taught me to read, write and do math long before first grade. The other students were learning to read and I already knew how. Mrs. Adams suggested it would be best to move me up a grade because I was bored, but Mother wouldn’t consider it. Thus, my attendance was not to be counted on throughout Elementary School. I always did the work and the homework, but the classroom was another matter. I realize this is not a trait to be admired and it really caused Mother serious aggravation, but it was actually a problem of her own making.
Lunch was another problem, its food I’m not accustomed to – it’s mostly cold and not nearly so good as food at home, so Daddy picks me up for lunch. We go to the cafe in town for a plate lunch together. Daddy and I shared an unbreakable bond and if he is happy, I am happy. The only discipline I ever needed from him, was a look and in the quietest voice imaginable – “I am really disappointed.” Everything I considered was filtered through the lens of an unwillingness to disappoint my Daddy – self-imposed, my choice, but it existed nonetheless.
The truth was he’d longed to have children, but Mother could not bare a child, and he’d never dwelt on the disappointment with her. She thought they were perfectly content, but when I came along, I became Daddy’s world as much as he was mine. Our relationship was a lifesaver for both of us, but its end was unimaginable devastation to a wounded child.
I play basketball, yet now he’s not at every game. I run track, he is not there. He has never missed a play, a recital, a game or a night gigging when I needed a frog for biology lab. He is a builder – I am a builder, he is a farmer – I am a farmer, he plows – I plow, he drives the mules – I drive the mules, he slops the hogs – I slop hogs, he milks the cows and I milk the cows, but never again . . . never, ever again.
For me, life as I knew it had ended and nothing worthwhile remained. I was unable to speak of Daddy for 15 years without crying . . . it was the only time I ever cried. I determined to never again risk attachment, for the loss of it was debilitating and soul destroying. The walls I built were immense and they were high, almost impenetrable, for you see, I had vowed to protect myself from the pain of life and vows which exclude God must be renounced. The enemy of our soul knows those are open doors, legal access points to harm, harass and seek our destruction . . . But God always has a better plan . . . a plan to heal the broken heart of His children and bring them safely home to Him and His Loving Arms!
Fifteen backslidden years and a human angel sent from the Father in Heaven will be necessary to bring me back from the blackness of this dark pit, but my Heavenly Father has not forgotten me. There are cycles of life for everyone and this was a wilderness cycle for me, just like the ones the Israelites experienced as they wandered in the desert. It is glory of the mountaintop experiences we recall, but the desolation and despair of the wilderness is the time when we are honed, sifted and purified.
In the rearview mirror, now I can see the refining fire of the Holy Spirit doing His work in my life and heart, even in the wilderness when I was unaware. I can also see the roads not taken, some with regret and others with immense relief. I see clearly now I had gone silent, but my Father in Heaven and His Holy Spirit never left me. He had taken me at my word when I had walked that aisle at the age of 7 and professed my belief in Jesus Christ as my Savior who died on the Cross, was Buried and Resurrected to pay the debt for my sins. He sealed me with His Holy Spirit that day. He had surrounded me with His angels to guard and protect, though I had no awareness of His presence. I thought I was really lucky and really smart . . . in truth . . . I was greatly loved by My Father in Heaven . . . a love I could not fathom and had no right to expect.
There would come a day, when I would recognize Daddy was an idol to me. As desperately as he loved me, he had no control over his dying and my fear did not cause it. Heavenly Father would bring all those difficult experiences together for a deeper understanding of the truth of the Word of God, but not for many years to come.
When you make a conscious decision to eliminate feelings for others in your life, there are far reaching consequences you cannot anticipate. Humans are designed by our Creator for relationship and when those relationships are fractured or avoided the unintended consequences are enormous. If human feelings and attachments aren’t available, you learn to experience emotion in other ways – though you may not be aware of it. We are created as feeling beings, we NEED to feel.
I became an Adrenalin Junkie – Skydiving, Shotokan Karate, fast cars and challenging career choices, always pushing the envelope. Tournament karate was a challenge of strength and endurance, but not nearly so inspiring as Skydiving. You can always tell the difference in pilots and jumpers on climb out to reach jump altitude. The Pilots are totally comfortable and the Jumpers are a bit anxious until the door is opened. It is at that moment the jumpers feel safe again and the pilot becomes nervous. After all, jumpers know the airplane could crash, but with the door open we can get out of there and be totally safe out in the atmosphere with a good rig, a parachute, on our back. It was grand and I did love it, but I also picked up some bad habits as well, to say the least.
The substitutes I used for deep emotional connections prevented, in my mind, the risk of loss. All those pursuits were exhilarating, challenging and even character building, but not an arena where Godliness and Righteousness was nurtured or prized. Humans need and will find a way to feel, but perhaps not in the appropriate way. I had made a decision to do things my way, rather than the way God intended. He would be patient with me and He would bring me home . . . back to Him . . . with the Faith of a Child!
YOUR PIGPEN MAY BE VERY NICE . . . BUT ITS STILL A PIGPEN!
Business, career and some personal success has given me the best husband in the entire world. Ed loves me in spite of my shortcomings and his 3 great children, whom I love as my very own, have made my life full and purposeful. Shawn, our daughter, was raised by her Mom and the boys Rock and Dane with Ed and myself. The part of my life which was the church just doesn’t exist anymore in my mind. I have completely walled off the part of my heart where church and the things of God resided, I don’t think about it. I simply walked away, I abandoned God, just as Daddy abandoned me. But, the greatest news in all the world is, we can never go so far God cannot find us. The Father of All has not abandoned me and He has a greater plan. He just hasn’t shared it with me yet.
Ed and I work together as a marketing, consulting team. We are in Wisconsin at a land development for a resort and our son Rock has gone to the airport to pick up a computer consultant for the project. Rock walks into the conference room with all the execs and announces, “Ladies and Gentlemen, please guard your language, this is Mary and she’s a nice lady.” I asked him later what he was thinking and he said, “I don’t know, there’s just something about her I can’t explain. I didn’t want anyone swearing around her. She’s not like that.” I considered his reaction and thought it was strange but very interesting and quite nice.
As soon as the meeting is over and I met her, I understood why he said it. I can sense something completely different about her. It’s not what she says, it’s her. She exudes absolute peace, a sense of wholesome goodness and its almost as if light shines from inside her. She is different. I just know I could talk to her and it would be safe. I don’t talk to anyone except Ed, but I know I could talk to her and trust her. I don’t, but I know I could.
SKYDIVING IS THE GREATEST RUSH OF ALL . . . UNTIL YOU MEET GOD!
I had spent 7 years in the Mississippi National Guard, Active Duty and Civil Service, a Sky Diver trained by the 82nd Airborne with 134 jumps, and the first and only female on the Mississippi National Guard Parachute Team. There is nothing more exhilarating than to dive out of an airplane at 8,000′, wrap your arms to the back and bottom of your pack and go into a nose down dive at 75 mph while heading into the meticulously planned formation with your teammates. Come in too hot and you crash the star and ruin the dive . . . then you’re the goat! Come in too slow and reach and it causes you to backslide and you never make it in. Once you’ve reached your designated, planned point of entry, you grasp the flight suits of those on either side and shake to let them know you’re solid and they can release and let you join and the formation builds. Precision and Practice makes perfect!
Tournament karate taught some pretty bad language and behavior I needed to lose as well, but I never considered how I sounded until Mary came. Without conscious awareness, I don’t use that language in front of her. It’s not because of anything she’s said, it’s just who she is. I can’t name it, but . . . she is different.
Mary and I enjoyed working together immensely, we were productive and the time seemed to fly by. There were two 1-day delays for more equipment to be shipped in, but before you know it, the computer network is completed and Mary’s preparing to leave.
She’s been here for 3 days, was supposed to be here for 1 day. I’ve spent all this time with her and I still can’t put my finger on what’s different about her. But, clearly she is not like anyone else I’ve ever known. We have not had one conversation about anything except business and light impersonal thoughts and now she’s leaving, I do not want her to go and I have no idea why. As I drive her to the airport, we’re sailing along the freeway toward Milwaukee and out of the blue she says, “Sherry . . . do you know Jesus?”
I felt as though I’d been hit in the stomach. I sat in stunned silence for a bit and she just waited, without another word. Finally, I almost spat out, “Well, I know who he’s not.”
She just looked at me with the sweetest smile and said, “Good. Tell me who he’s not.”
With an anger that exploded out of me from somewhere I couldn’t identify, I said, “He is not locked up in some box in a pulpit somewhere so the preacher can take him out on Sunday and then lock him back up so everybody can get back to who they really are until they show up again the next time.” I had no idea the anger was inside me, but it released like a bomb. It was as though my heart had opened unwillingly and the angry, broken teenager spoke, with all the pain that would not go away, front and center. Had I believed when Daddy left, he took Jesus with Him and I was simply waiting to be reunited with both of them in Heaven? Perhaps . . .
Mary sat patiently, and thoughtfully said, “You are so right. But do you know He was sent to this earth by our Heavenly Father to take care of us and He loves you?”
In a strangled voice I barely growled out, “I don’t need anybody to take care of me, I have my Daddy. He’s in Heaven now and he takes care of me.” It was as though that angry, damaged little girl had risen up inside me to prevent her Father from being ripped away once again.
Mary turned in her seat as we’re flying down the freeway at 70 mph and said, “Honey, your Daddy’s gone and he can’t help you any more. But God sent His Holy Spirit to help us after Jesus went home to the Father. You need to let your Daddy go so God can take care of him and He will send His Holy Spirit to take care of you. Maybe it would help if you would just take your Daddy and hold him up in your hands as an offering to Father God. Just trust Him to take care of your Daddy.”
It is a bright, beautiful sunshiny day and, in my mind, I crack up with angry laughter. I’m thinking, this lady is a certifiable nut case. I gave up my Daddy once and I would rather drive this car into that tree beside the road than do it again. It is not happening today or any other day . . . no way . . . forget it.
But, without conscious volition, I see a perfectly clear picture in my mind’s eye of my own hands outstretched toward the sky and Daddy standing in my hands. As I lift him up toward the scudding clouds and bright blue of the sky, the brightest light I have ever seen in my life reaches out of the cloud and scoops him out of my hands. I can see the light, I can feel it in my hands and I can hear it with my physical ears. He is gone and fire begins to run through my body. I can see the flames as they touch my hands and run down my arms, I can feel the warmth on my skin. There is no pain, just warmth and the most incredible peace I have ever known. Tears stream down my face as Mary touches my arm and whispers, “Praise God, there’s the cleansing.”
As she touches my hand, I hear the sound of water rushing out of my belly in a roar, like a river. I can feel it from the very walls of my abdomen, I can see it with my physical eyes, I can hear it with my ears and I can actually smell the water. I reach my hand down and dip it in the water to see if I can feel and see it on my hand. My hand feels the water, but there’s none on my fingers when I look. The fire is still running from my arms and down each leg and back up to my arms and head. I recognize this is supernatural and I know just as clearly it is the most real thing that has ever happened to me. My life will never be the same . . . Thank the Risen Lord who created all of Heaven and Earth!
I had no ready reference for what just happened and yet in the far reaches of my mind I remembered reading about Water Flowing from your Belly and Fire. At almost the same minute, we arrive at the airport and I realized we might miss Mary’s flight. As we scramble out of the car and grab her luggage, I glance up and sheepishly say, “Well, you’ll just have to postpone your flight again. I have a lot of questions and I need some answers.”
She serenely replied, “No, I’ll make the flight. I was beginning to wonder why He sent me here, but now I know and my job is done. You’ll be fine.”
I began to feel a bit of panic, “Mary, I don’t even remember how to pray. I need you to stay.” I couldn’t believe she wouldn’t extend her stay again, she’d never hesitated before, but she knew her job was done and she was obedient to God.
“No, you don’t need me.” She replied, “He’s filled you to overflowing with His Holy Spirit you’ll be just fine. He’s brought you this far, He won’t dump you on your head. He has a plan, don’t worry about it. Just pray, ‘Father, in Jesus name, give me Wisdom, Knowledge and Discernment’.”
We are literally running through the airport toward her gate and the Flight Attendant is standing at the door waving for us to hurry and urging, “You have to hurry, they’re holding the plane.” And Mary was gone.
The fire runs and the water flows for almost 24 hours. Every third breath, I’m praying, “Father, in Jesus name give me wisdom, knowledge and discernment.” I drive back to the Resort and Ed’s finishing a training session. As I step into the back of the auditorium, he is at the front of the room at least 150 feet away, but he stops at the podium in mid-sentence, looks at me and asks in front of the whole crowd, “What happened? You’re different.” He is right. I am different, no one knows how different and, thankfully, I will never be the same again.
PENTECOST – THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
ACTS 2:1-4 KJV – PENTECOST
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
SIDETRACK – BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT – The Holy Spirit, the Ruach, enters every believer, some with fire-works and some as a gentle breeze. Initially, He does so at Salvation to seal the Believer. Every good and charitable thought encouraging you to be a better person comes from Holy Spirit. As you grow in the wisdom and knowledge of the Father through the guidance of His Spirit, you will grow in power and grace. We are sealed with the Holy Spirit when we are Saved, “Born Again” – so if you are a Believer you have the “Holy Spirit”. But, there is also a subsequent filling to overflowing called the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit”. It can be simultaneous with Salvation or afterward, as in my case. We are all individuals and there is no right or wrong way – the Spirit decides.
My Southern Baptist theological doctrine and training has given me no explanation for this extraordinary event I would later learn is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. I know it is real, but I have no instruction from man to explain and understand it, although I could remember the Scriptures which described it. Hindsight assures me this was as planned, so the lesson came only from God, untainted by man or his opinions, no suggestive programming. I scrambled to find a Bible to research it, I certainly don’t carry one around anymore. I stopped on the way back to the development at several stores in a small town in Wisconsin and, not a Bible to be found anywhere for sale, very odd . . . the town is not that small.
When we get back to the Lake House the developer had provided for our consulting stay, I’m looking through the bookcases for a Bible. I need to know what just happened and all I can find is a Bible written in Hebrew. If I could have read it then, it would have contained only the Old Testament, the Torah. This is not helpful and not funny at the time, but it is very prophetic. Thirty One years from now I’ll remember this and it will be hilarious and another reminder of Holy Spirit’s unbelievable sense of humor and the Precision of God’s plan for each and every one of us. It was my first clue I should have started at the beginning of the book in Genesis and learned about the Hebrew roots of our faith. I missed the clue, but Father God made great use of the detour!
THE WORD OF GOD IS ALIVE!
After a couple days, I finally get my hands on a copy of the Scriptures called The Book. It’s a paraphrase, The Living Bible, and it’s meant for ease of reading in everyday language, not the stilted proper English of the King James Version I’d grown up with. I read the New Testament from cover to cover several times. The Words seemed to be alive and almost moving on the page. As many times as I had read the Bible, I had never experienced this type of understanding, the Words really did seem to be moving, not only on the page, but in my Spirit.
Many Protestant denominations teach that Christians are only bound by the New Testament and the Old Testament is just a history of the earth and the Church. Little did I know, that bit of misinformation is totally incorrect for the Old Testament is all about Israel, Jesus and prophetically the Tribulation. I read the New Testament, more interested in the present than the past, the part I’ve been told applies to me today. It would require a lot of years and many more intervening human angels for me to understand the Old Testament was the beginning and the foundation upon which the New Testament was built. Now I know I should have started over at the beginning of the Bible, not in the middle, and I’d have been wiser.
I call Mother in Mississippi to get some guidance and explained exactly what had occurred. “Mother, I don’t understand what happened. I’m reading the Scriptures and Jesus clearly said in John 7:38, “Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’ ” Then I added, Mother I remember in the King James it said out of the “Belly” shall flow rivers of living water and that’s exactly where it came from.
And in Acts 2:3-4 it says, ” 3 Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. 4 And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.”
You told me all of this happened in another dispensation, that it doesn’t happen anymore. That’s not true, because it just happened to me, exactly and to the letter as it is described. Why did you say it didn’t happen anymore?”
She was completely silent for a bit and then said, “Sherry, God gave you a good mind. Yes, I’ve always been taught and understood that was in another dispensation and it doesn’t happen anymore. But, you know what you saw and experienced and what the Bible says. You pray about it and let God explain it to you. I don’t know, but He does and you listen to what He says, not what I said.”
With wisdom beyond education and degrees, she freed me to follow my Heavenly Father and His Holy Spirit, the Ruach. This day is the beginning of my understanding how clearly and effectively God communicates by His Spirit and through His everyday human angels with His children on earth. He means exactly what He says in Scripture. But, what I begin to realize is, some of the things I had been taught as iron clad facts, aren’t correct. From my Southern Baptist background, I had just been introduced to the reality of Evangelical Christianity, Charismatics and the Full Gospel world of other brothers and sisters in His Body. The Father had so much more to teach me and my responsibility was to “cling to the hem of his garment”, pay attention to the voice of Holy Spirit and stand on His Word while ignoring the religious doctrines of men.
You see, man has partitioned the Body of Christ into denominations. We see the Church as a box with divided rooms inside – Baptists in one corner, Methodists in another, Presbyterian and Catholics another. We have no scriptural authority to do such a thing. The Body of Christ is exactly what it says – the Body of Christ – not a boxing ring. No, we are not all alike, we aren’t supposed to be. Some of us are His hands – we provide for others. Some are His feet – we carry the gospel to the 4 corners of the world. Others are His Heart – We pray for people and teach them according to the Word. Others are His Spirit and speak to spiritual things, those beings and places in the Father’s realm. We should all cross over and communicate – flowing from one responsibility to another as blood flows throughout the entire body of a human being. We will have areas in which we have greater gifting. We were never created to be “The Same”. We are to be in Unity on one thing only – Jesus’ Christ – His Death, Burial and Resurrection for our Sins. Everything beyond that point is important but does not warrant breaking fellowship over. We must stop cutting off our hands and feet. We absolutely must learn to disagree without being disagreeable.
Yeshua discussed one way, The Way to the Father – through Him, the Narrow Path. Whether Christians want to accept it or not, we are all one body. These false divisions we’ve created are man made, not of the Father and I believe totally motivated and encouraged by Satan himself, the Father of Lies. Each denomination has both truth and error. If we set aside the labels and really listened to each other, our growth would be exponential. I did not know it then, but I had just been set on the Father’s path to see how truly damaging these schisms and divisions are to the growth and effectiveness of the Body of Christ. They literally serve to hide truths granted to one part of the body from other parts of the body. Our responsibility, as members of the Body, is to stand on the Truth of the Word alone, without giving quarter to any denominational bias.
Mary was the first of the earthly angels He arranged to guide my path. They come seemingly from nowhere and are dropped into my world when I have questions I can’t answer or even before I know the question. They arrive at Holy Spirit’s bidding. Most often they appear when the Holy Spirit is ready to upset my theological apple cart and show me truth rather than man’s tradition. I’ve learned to embrace and welcome them with open arms and a discerning heart. They typically come only for a season, but always for a specific reason. They are not divine, they do not possess all truth, but they carry a lesson from my Father and nuggets of truth He wants me to make my own.
SIGNS AND WONDERS
I will never question again whether Yahweh is the same yesterday, today and forever. He worked miracles and moved with signs and wonders when He was on earth and He still does today. We have to be in close proximity to Him and when He determines we are ready, He allows us to participate, when He chooses. They are called Signs. They’re not done at our command, for our convenience or even solely for our well being.
Not everyone in Jesus’ day was healed. Healing miracles were a mercy to the individual, but if healing had been the only purpose Yeshua could merely have spoken the words “be healed” to the entire nation. Healing and all the miracles of Yeshua were done as a “Sign” to Israel, for they always required a sign. The miracles were physical proof He was her King, her Messiah and thus the Kingdom had come to Israel and He was not merely a man. Yet, the leadership chose to sacrifice Him in order to preserve their position and keep Rome happy. Make no mistake, the leader’s decision was preservation of self and position, it was not about God and His Son. Prophecy was certainly fulfilled by their actions, for God knew before the foundation of the world the hardness of their heart.
Signs from our Father are a special privilege, they are purposeful and never to be treated casually. Signs and miracles are our first indication we are no longer simply “of the earth”, but have already begun our transformation into the Heavenly Kingdom of Our Father. Once we are born again, we are spiritual citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, no longer subject to Satan’s control, unless we choose to allow it. Acknowledge and anticipate your coming life in Heaven, the glory to come is almost beyond our human ability to imagine!
Our Father in Heaven controls all signs and wonders. Why is one healed and not another, why is a child allowed to die in a car accident, why is there suffering in the world? The simple answer is we live in a fallen world and we have an enemy who wants us all dead without Christ. The earth is under the current proprietorship of Satan and he is a thief who seeks only to steal, kill and destroy. It is helpful to begin to anticipate and understand our coming life and new home in the Kingdom. We are in the world . . . but not of the world. God has a plan to reconcile all things unto Himself, through Jesus and His sacrifice. Don’t waste time second guessing God’s plan, just get on board and follow it. Free will allows both good and evil choices and is necessary to His plan. He wants all who come to Him to do so freely, of their own volition. He will make all things Just and Holy . . . in His time . . . when He chooses . . . it is not up to us.
By the way, I now know what was so very different about Mary. We should all strive for it. It is the overflowing Presence of Holy Spirit, available to all Believers. She was continually being filled to overflowing by abiding in the presence of the Father and His Spirit in study and prayer, set-apart from the world and it’s ways. She lived in a state of constant, quiet prayer while she went about her everyday normal life. She was “In the World, but not Of the World” and it quite literally changed her countenance. She was one of the most joyous, kind, loving and comforting people I’ve ever known. We, as Children of God, should be identifiable by our presence and behavior. There should be something manifestly different about the children of the King. Mary was my evidence of this truth for she was . . . a living example . . . and manifestly different!
I wish I could tell you I took the fabulous gift of the Holy Spirit, read the Bible, had instantaneous understanding of everything written and my feet never touched the ground since that time, but it’s just not true. It has been a process, not an event, and it will be ongoing until I reach Heaven, saved by His Grace and covered by His Blood, the Blood he shed on Calvary for all our sins. Holy Spirit is enabling me to recognize the Truth of the Cross and the Finished Work of Christ. Jesus’ finished work is my beacon, guidepost and access to my final destination. I am debt free now, because of what Jesus’ did. My fleshly home is constructed of sin, rebellion and heartbreak. I can no longer afford it and I don’t have to live there anymore for He paid for my new home of Peace in Him. When the Father looks at me, He no longer sees my sin and rebellion – He sees the Blood of His Son and His beautiful, newborn Child, bought with a price no man can truly fathom.
THE SCRIPTURE IS SIMPLY TRUTH
It is a bold and beautiful beginning, but only a beginning. I now have Truth, because I myself have experienced verses straight from the Bible, word for word, letter for letter and the seed is planted. No one can take it from me . . . for not only did He give me knowledge through His Word . . . He gave me Wisdom when he moved it from my head to my heart by experience.
Walk through the mental door into a new understanding of truth – a new home. Spend time with Him and His Word and listen. I spend time in Scripture and I hear the voice of Holy Spirit, it is not audible, yet it is clear in my Spirit. I know it is His voice, because it is profound, it is precise and it is clear.
Holy Spirit always points to Jesus and agrees with written Scripture. The earliest manuscripts will withstand any amount of scrutiny and question, while the translations are in agreement on most issues. The more you investigate, the more Truth He reveals to you. Question everything to determine if it is true and can be verified by the Word. If it does not agree, it is religious dogma, ignore it.
NEW LIFE IN THE SPIRIT – NOW WALK IN IT!
Once we’d returned home to Oklahoma I knew we were to find a church, but had no idea where to begin. I knew the Baptist church of my youth would not accept the truth I had experienced so clearly, even though it aligned exactly and perfectly with scripture. I prayed about it and heard in my Spirit, “Rock Church”. I told Ed we are to go to Rock Church, so I looked in the directory, no “Rock Church”. He said, “What now?” I told him, we wait and Father will make it clear to us. Within a couple days, one of our employees, Jack, invited us to his church. I asked him the name and he said, “Church on the Rock”. I just smiled and told him we’d see him on Sunday. We attended our first nondenominational service and stepped into a new arena of learning and blessing.
As we stood in worship, I watched with fascination the joy and adoration on the faces of the people. They were “engaged” in the service. Their hands and voices were raised in Praise and Worship in a way I’d never seen or experienced. My Spirit within me longed to join in, but it was so very far from my comfort zone and my arms felt as though they weighed 100 pounds each, yet finally an inch at a time I began to lift up my hands until they were at half mast and finally fully raised and singing in full throat. For the first time, I sensed the freedom of the Spirit. There was no disorder, no unruliness or weirdness, simply a group of people worshipping the Lord of All the Earth with their arms raised in surrender and voices in unison.
Once the music stopped, Pastor Clarke Whitten stepped forward and said, “I believe someone has a Word from the Lord. We’ll wait.” He bowed his head and I stood with everyone else and heard clearly the Word within me from the Spirit, yet I literally did not know what to do or how to convey the Word I’d been given. I was totally out of my element and as I stood attempting to figure out the “protocol”, I thought I’d go up in literal flames. I felt fire at the bottom of my feet and increasing up my legs until I was certain I’d be one of those people who simply imploded and burned up. Rather than succumb to such a fate, I began making my way down the row, excusing myself as I had to pass in front of people to reach the aisle. It was a large church with at least 2500 people there, only one of which I’d ever met before, our friend Jack. I slipped out of the row and as I walked down to the podium, it seemed it must surely be a half mile away. I thought I’d never arrive and had no clue what to do when I did, but at least I was moving. As I approached the front of the stage, I still didn’t know what to do so I just motioned to Pastor to come out from behind the Pulpit and toward me. He did and leaned down to allow me to whisper the Word of the Lord to him and he spoke it aloud to the congregation.
“The sacrifice of your pride is but a small price to pay for my presence.”
As I returned to my seat, walking up that long aisle and looking at the faces of the people, I was certain they must think I was a complete idiot. Yet, they’d begun to worship quietly in another chorus and, gratefully, weren’t paying any attention to me at all. I had assumed there’d be glances and whispers, as there certainly would have been in a denominational setting, but they were singly focused on the Lord and didn’t even notice me. As I returned to my seat, Ed leaned over and softly whispered in my ear . . . HOLY CAT HAIR!
I wish he hadn’t said it . . . because, it was funny and it wasn’t laughing time. We were literally ducks out of water, but we were learning to swim . . . in a whole new world!
Later, I understood the protocol was to speak the Word from my seat, but I didn’t know, at least I was obedient. My sense of Baptist decorum and dignity had just encountered a Holy God who wants obedience. Our “dignity” can easily be the one thing holding us at arms length from the Father.
The raising of Holy Hands is a surrendering of “self” to honor the Creator of all. The resistance I felt to those hands being raised made me grasp its importance. Satan cannot so easily manipulate a surrendered soul. Pride and surrender are mutually exclusive. When our enemy finds pride, it is his legal entry point and his perfect weapon. Believers have the ability to choose, continue to serve as an indentured servant to Satan or rise up and claim our inheritance as Children of the King. Satan’s control over any Believer is merely a bluff, for we are the Bride of Christ and Joint Heirs with Jesus. Our shortest route to Victory is Surrender!
THE STORMS OF LIFE WILL COME
Shortly after our return home, an old enemy returned as well. I had experienced devastating lung problems before we’d gone to Wisconsin. They debilitated me to such a point I was bed-ridden and now the illness had returned. We sought new treatment through multiple doctors and finally at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. After prodding, testing and examining for weeks, they pronounced my lungs were not functioning properly (big surprise) and I would be on Theophyllin, a bronchodilator, for the rest of my life. Further, I was not to move from the bed, which meant I’d be an invalid at the advanced age of 30. But God had another plan. Sometimes God chooses to calm the storms in our life and command them to “Be Still”, at other times, His plan is to carry us through the storm so we can experience His nature, His character and His unfailing Love for His children . . . in the difficulties . . . the wilderness . . . we can learn much.
I spent day after day and night after night in bed, reading, studying Scripture and listening to pastors of all stripes on Christian TV. I was the proverbial sponge hearing things about God I’d never heard before, for these folks were from many different denominations, including Full Gospel. I remembered, as a child, we’d drive down the road past a Pentecostal Church and I’d hear Mother whisper, “God Bless the poor ignorant Holy Rollers”. She wasn’t being mean or ugly, she’d been taught they were horribly deceived and disrespectful of God. Yet, when I heard their pastors, they were teaching straight from the Bible the things I’d experienced.
One evening, a minister spoke up after the message as they began the closing prayer and said, “There is a young woman watching right now and you’ve been given a death sentence. You’ve been told your lungs won’t work properly and you have no hope save to stay in bed. God wants you to know that’s not true and he wants to heal you. Right now, by Faith, just lift up your hands toward the TV and agree with me in prayer for your healing.”
I had never heard such a thing, but I knew instantly in my Spirit he was referring to me. With a heart filled with great faith, NOT, I first looked around our bedroom to see if anybody was watching because I didn’t want to appear foolish. Then with all the faith I possessed on this subject which was exactly the size of a mustard seed, I lifted my hands toward the TV and listened as he prayed for God to heal me. Almost immediately, I saw with my physical, literal eyes a ball of fire, about the size of a basketball come from the direction of the TV toward me. I watched in fascination as it approached and when the fireball hit my chest, it was physical enough to rock me back in bed. I looked down and watched and felt the warmth as the fire ball began to turn and burn in a perfect circle over my chest area. After he closed his prayer, I don’t remember what he said exactly and I don’t remember the man’s name for those things don’t matter, I knew it was a sovereign act of God . . . I could breathe normally again without twisting my body in order to catch just a wee bit of air as I’d done for weeks.
I do recall he closed by saying, now confess your healing before others and give God the glory for the miracle and that’s exactly what I did. The point is simply, I believed what Scripture said. I had returned to simple, childlike faith. Read it, believe it and let God do the rest. There is a special wonder about believing what the Bible says without all the doctrinal limitations of religion telling you what God can and cannot do or how He must do it and when and why.
God is a perfect gentleman and He will obey the restrictions you place upon Him entering into your life and body. Will everyone always be healed instantly? No, it is God’s decision and we must come into agreement with Him without asking or needing to know “WHY”. Paul asked for healing for the “thorn in his flesh”, yet he was refused and finally ceased to ask. We do not know exactly what the affliction was or why it had to remain. God had His reasons and Paul respected it . . . we must do no less.
I got up from the bed for the first time in several weeks, walked down the hall to where Ed was watching TV and said, “God just healed me, I don’t have problems with my lungs anymore”. Ed said, “What are you talking about? Are you okay?” I explained what had happened and finally just told him, “Jesus just healed me, really healed me, I can breathe.” He continued to look at me in amazement and I explained to him, “We don’t have to understand it, it’s a miracle and it’s a gift.” He was absolutely astonished. It truly was a miracle and it was complete and total with no “getting better” and no relapses. I was simply, completely and instantaneously Healed by the Mighty Hand of God, Praise His Holy Name!
Why was I healed and others are not? I believe it was a sign for me, for my family and for those of you with whom I’d share it in the future. Was I somehow more deserving than others – certainly not. Was I without sin in my life which “allowed” God to heal me – certainly not. Never doubt God’s Sovereignty, His Power and His Mercy! This was literally experiential teaching by the Holy Spirit, for He had just instructed me in the operation of the Word of Knowledge and the Miracle Healing Power of Jesus. The pastor was given the Word of Knowledge, he spoke it forth, prayed and asked for a miracle of healing, I received the gift by faith, although it was only the size of a mustard seed, and God did the work! Praise Yahweh or a word you’re very familiar with which means the same – Hallelujah. The first part of the word – “Hallelu”, means an overabundant boasting and the last part of the word – “Yah” – means Yahweh – God! So Praise God and Hallelujah both offer overabundant glory and praise to Our Father.
1 Corinthians 12:8
For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
The Word of Wisdom and Word of Knowledge are 2 of the 9 Spiritual Gifts described in Corinthians. The Word of Wisdom is the giving by the Spirit to aid in resolving a problem or directing one to the correct path based upon the Word of God. The Word of Knowledge is given by the Spirit making you are aware of previously unknown or unknowable facts which can change a situation and enable God to intervene.
THE FRAGRANCE OF HEAVEN
It is 1982. I sit studying the Word, enjoying the intricacies of His plan and my part in it when the room is filled with the most incredible fragrance I’ve ever encountered. Everything stops and the room is filled with breathless anticipation as I hear Him speak with absolute clarity in my mind. This is an audible voice to my mind, rather than a knowing as is the voice of Holy Spirit. This is the voice of Elohim – the Manifest Son of God – Jesus Christ!
“Heavenly Father – Earthly Father. Glory to God! My Pathway is Clear, My Power is Pure, My Message Divine. The Task is Mine, I give it to you! You cannot accept half a truth! If you accept salvation, that is only part, you must accept the Whole Truth of the Word. You cannot accept half of Jesus. How can you accept half of the Word, for He is the Living Word? Is half or a portion of Jesus a lie? Then how can we accept only a part of his message and life? God is not fear. God is Jesus. You are not alone for God is with you always, even unto the ends of the earth. By my Spirit which is within you. I give you not a Spirit of Fear, but of Power, Health and a Sound Mind. How can we believe Salvation if we do not believe everything. Mine is not a Selective Gospel!”
I know it is exactly what He said. I wrote it down, I have it still, I carry it with me.
This encounter would be one I’d cling to repeatedly throughout my life and especially in the challenging days we were facing. We were still in Oklahoma at the time, in the house where he’d healed me from the lung condition. It had been a horrific spring of rainstorms, tornadoes and unbelievable weather. It was during my first years of walking in the Power of the Holy Spirit and being used by Him for His people. I had received a miraculous healing and been allowed to pray for others and seen them healed as well. I had been shown visually destroying winds turned in mid flight and, in my spirit, even a flood threatening our house held at bay by a choir of angels. It was my beginning and master class in the Supernatural and a still very Supernatural God.
On one particularly rainy and stormy day we were at work only 3-4 miles from home and the rain fell in sheets and buckets. Our house, which he’d used the angels to protect only weeks before, was hit by a flash flood that came in and receded within an hour. My sons car was in the garage and it was turned on its side, the garage door was pushed in and the filled freezer was overturned. The devastation a flood can cause is beyond understanding if you’ve not had the unfortunate experience to witness the result.
Vangee, my beautiful white Maltese dog, was home alone with her single little puppy, I had left them in the bathroom with the door closed and there was nothing low enough for Vangee to jump up on with the baby in her mouth . . . and he drowned. I can’t bare to think about their fear and long struggle.
As soon as the rain slacked enough, we rushed home because of the previous weeks concern over flooding and saw the devastation as we approached the house. The house was secondary in my mind, all I could think of was Vangee and the baby. I could hear her wailing as soon as I opened the door. I ran to the bathroom, the water had already receded and only the mud and mess were left behind. I opened the door to Vangee’s stricken little face and her heartbreaking cries as she prodded and licked her baby.
I locked myself in the bathroom and prayed for God to resurrect that baby for literally hours and I was absolutely certain He would do so. I could not believe God would refuse. I had seen so much and yet now, the answer was simply . . . NO! Vangee stalked the house shrieking, crying and moaning for days for her baby in both physical and mental pain. She was a Mama, full of milk with no baby. Every time I heard her cry, my heart broke again. God allowed me to FEEL His broken heart and her pain. This was not only about a tiny puppy. This was an object lesson in the sovereignty of God and the heartbreak he experiences over people, animals and the rampant evil we know and are surrounded by in the supernatural world. I knew this had been an attack of the enemy and yet I wasn’t allowed to understand then why the enemy action had not been thwarted.
The Grief of God for His creatures is real. Miracles are for a sign to Believers and others of who God is. They are not our choice, but His and He alone decides when, if and by what means He will display them. He is Omniscient for He knows all things. He is Omnipresent for He is everywhere. He is the All Powerful One for by His Hand all things were created and are held in place. He is in control of all things at all times. I accept and rest in that knowledge and come into agreement with His choices, whether I understand them or not.
Later we would learn our home had been flooded prior to our purchase and improperly repaired. The walls were filled with black mold and long-term exposure to black mold is extremely dangerous. I was particularly allergic, so when we were home between work assignments for long periods of time I became very ill. God had healed and supernaturally protected me in our home for a long period of time despite the mold. I believe, in retrospect, He allowed the flood only once we’d gotten strong enough in Him to withstand the tragedy while He moved us to safety.
WILDERNESS WANDERINGS – WHEN YOU DON’T GET WHAT YOU WANT
The question I’ve learned to ask when I don’t get what I expect or want is – “What can I learn from this situation that I could not have learned without it?” What you get when you don’t get what you want . . . is Brutal Experience! The wilderness time can be cut short often by simply stopping, asking and realizing what He wants us to see in the event. Once I learn the lesson, then He allows me to move on. If I’m not paying attention, I have to stay in the midst of the difficulty until He has my focus. I realize He doesn’t teach everyone the same way, but my thinking can be pretty black and white and He meets each of us at our need, at the point where our knowledge can become wisdom.
Not all “wilderness wanderings” are times of privation or misery. Wilderness in Scripture refers not only to a barren desert place, but often to sin and separation from God. The Wilderness for me is often the busyness of life, work, responsibilities at home and to others. When those things take precedence over God, His Word, His Son and the Power of the Holy Spirit – you are in a Wilderness place. If we must identify the sin, it’s a neglect of your own Spirit and God Himself. Learn to recognize your place of estrangement and come out of them quickly. I was not in the Wilderness of the World, I was in the Wilderness of Religion and it is, perhaps, the most deadly for you may be doing much good in the eyes of the world, your church or fellow Believers. But, if it is not what God called you to do or requires of you, it is still rebellion and it must end.
It’s 2013 and I have spent many hours in the intervening years with great teachers in tiny churches and mega churches. I learn from them all, but they are not the final authority. Only the Word of God, taken internally and often leads to truth. I “feel” once again the distance from my Heavenly Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit. I have experienced the Power of His Presence and this is not where I am abiding now. He loves me, I am His child, but I am not walking in power and fullness as I have done in the past.
I am successful financially, I am physically well, my business as a Realtor could not be better. My husband is the best, we’ve had fabulous adventures together for many years, I have great friends, our children are contributing members of this world, I live and serve in a Town that’s pretty close to storybook and yet there is something missing again. I have allowed myself to push aside the important for the urgent. Life on this earth has gotten in the way of Relationship with the author of Life itself!
RELIGION IS NOT JESUS
Religion is a very subtle, easy trap to fall into and it leads to an almost lifeless spiritual existence. We surround ourselves with so many of the trappings of religion, we don’t sense the absence of the genuine article – the power of the Godhead. It is all the more dangerous for you have Religion, but no Jesus, no personal Relationship, in your life and thus no Power.
When I awakened to my stagnant spiritual condition, I was still a “good” person, and I was still “saved”. If I’d died that day I would have gone to heaven, but my Reward at the BEMA – the Judgement Seat of Christ, would have been less than it might have been. I had not knowingly harmed anyone, I had helped people and given to the church and others. On paper and in the ways most Christians who are entirely “religious” evaluate themselves, I was in great shape. I loved to talk about Jesus and how He saved me and how I was on a fast track to Heaven because of His Grace. It was all true, but the problem was, I was talking about Him, not talking with Him.
Think about it for a second. If you always told other people “about” your spouse or your children, but you never actually spoke “to” them or did anything “with” them, how long would your relationship last? Real Relationship requires communication with someone, not just about them.
I have lost my singular focus on what is important . . . on God and Our Relationship. The Scripture says I have “lost my first love” like the Church of Ephesus in Revelation. My focus has shifted, very gradually and it stops now. Once you have known Yeshua and His Holy Spirit, His absence is keenly felt if you are paying attention. I know enough to know He is not the problem, I am. He has not moved, I have. He has not lost focus on what’s important, I have. I will not wait for Him to send a human angel to pick me back up again, though I have no question He would have if I hadn’t awakened on my own. I will go home again, to my Heavenly Father’s arms and the Comfort and joy of the Ruach.
LIKE THE PRODIGAL SON – GO HOME!
Just like the Prodigal Son, I had realized it wasn’t necessary for me to continue in the pigpen of life, slopping hogs for an ungrateful master and surviving off the scraps left by the animals with no real nutrition from the Meat of the Word of God. My Father loves me and the servants in his home are fed better than I. I’ll fall on my knees and beg forgiveness for He promises all we need do is ask . . . and He is faithful!
I returned to the Word. Jesus IS the Word, and His Spirit inhabits the praises of His people. He changed my life for His purpose before, He will again. I’ve moved, He never changes. I’ve been doing religion, being religious and it’s not enough. There is no recrimination, there is no, “You blew it and I’ll be mad at you for awhile and you can sit in the corner until I’m ready to talk to you again”, or “you go and get this straightened out and then we’ll talk.”
I find my most productive prayers are the shortest so I prayed, “Father, I’ve lost my way again. Help me.” Please understand, I wasn’t living in manifest sin, I hadn’t adopted the New Age or become Hare’ Krishna. I was still a Christian who loved God and was loved by Him. To all outward appearances we were doing all the right things, but when a laser is even slightly out of focus, it is no longer a precision instrument fit for delicate or important work. It is time to refocus and I had enough experience now to know how! With arms open wide, I sensed almost immediately in my Spirit – “Welcome Home, now can we get busy? We have much work to do.”
James 1:17 NASB
Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.
I picked up a daily devotional guide, my Bible and set a literal appointment in my calendar for the Father every morning. No longer will the appointments with the world take precedence over my Father in Heaven. He shows up faithfully as He always has and daily I sense my Spirit beginning to reawaken. The presence of the Holy Spirit and the consumption of the Word of God is food and drink to a starving spirit.
My favorite place for our visits is out on the patio. I am His Creation and I am in His Creation. I can see and sense Him in every bird, every blade of grass and in the wind as it rushes through the trees. I am awestruck once again by His power and majesty. He’s been right here, patiently waiting for me, I just got distracted and stopped noticing!
RELIGION FEATURES WOLVES IN SHEEPS CLOTHING!
Life in Christ is Relationship with Jesus, for we ARE the Bride of Christ. Many Christian churches today seek to manipulate God and His Word for personal benefit. Some refer to it as the “Prosperity Gospel” while others term it as “Hyper Grace”. The bottom line is they have taken great TRUTHS of scripture and turned them into TOOLS of MANIPULATION OF GOD.
THE TWISTED MESSAGE
“It’s all about me anyway, about just being a good person, being happy, being wealthy so I can help others, being kind to people because when I do the right things I’m forcing God’s hand of blessing. Even praise and worship is not for God, it’s for my benefit. He has to bless me financially and personally when I’m doing good things. Those are His rules and you benefit from knowing them and using them to your advantage.”
This is Religion, man’s interpretation of God’s Word, and it is a distorted, disgusting and vulgar understanding of the Gospel and it is prevalent in churches today.
Matthew 7:15 KJV
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
The wife of a very famous pastor in a mega church in America actually preached this twisted message from the pulpit. Thankfully, it did create a firestorm of sorts, but she stood by it, even doubled down on it and it has now been forgotten, yet they remain as pastors. When you see it on paper you know it is wrong.
Doesn’t this sound very much like the Church of Laodicea, the end times church of Revelation? Laodicea will go into the Tribulation to “buy of me gold tried in the fire”? How do you “buy” from Jesus? You live in the Tribulation and refuse to deny His name or worship the beast. This is not a shopping trip you want to be part of.
There are ravening wolves in many of the pulpits throughout the world. Discernment is necessary and only possible when in communication with Holy Spirit and continually being washed with the Water of the Word. Wolves will appear in all ways as sheep. They will speak all the right sheep phrases, wear the appropriate attire and deliver truth, but it will be laced with poison and lies. Jesus told us to beware . . . why then do we find it so hard to believe?
There must surely have been wolves leading the Church of Laodicea in Revelation for the people were convinced they were rich, increased with goods and had need of nothing. Yet, Jesus told them what their real condition was. There are some Overcomers (people are genuinely saved) in Laodicea, but most members of this assembly are “head knowledge” only Christians. Examine your personal spiritual status in light of the letters to the 7 churches in Revelation. Are you a member of the Church of Laodicea? If you are, cry out to God and . . . Come out of Her!
Revelation 3:14-18 KJV – The Church of Laodicea
14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; 15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
HELL IS REAL . . . THE WORD OF GOD DECLARES IT!
The fate of those who refuse Jesus invitation during the Church Age, is to live in a period of history so horrible it has never occurred before, The Tribulation. They must overcome by Trusting in Jesus’ finished work and refusing to deny Him. Doing so will almost certainly result in the loss of physical life. Do not wait for the final chance of The Tribulation. You may not survive to see that time. If you have not done so already, accept Jesus’ freely offered Gift of Grace today. There is a great difference between “knowing” Jesus in your head and “trusting” Him to pay your sin debt. Those in the Church of Laodicea clearly knew about Jesus, but they did not know HIM personally and had not Believed upon His Finished Work on the Cross. Thus, they will go into The Tribulation. Only a relationship with Him can bridge the chasm from this Earth and our sin debt into Heaven.
It’s as though most Christians have been “vaccinated” with religion. They have enough understanding to fight off the “Living Word” – Jesus. Why do you go to Church? Is it a social connection or to make you feel better about yourself? Does it make you feel as though you’ve done a good thing? Do you go because its the tradition? Are you there because others think you should be? You are a real Christian, a true follower of Jesus Christ only when you trust in His death, burial and resurrection to pay for your sin. Your good behavior or attendance, tithe or service do not equate to salvation. These are works and laudable and will be rewarded if done for the right purposes, but they add nothing to His Gospel . . . to salvation.
For the Unsaved, this is a defining choice between Heaven and Hell for Eternity and only Jesus and his shed blood can bridge that gap for you . . . Receive His Free Gift . . . Hell was meant only for fallen angels, but there will be those there who have refused Christ . . . do not be one of them.
If you are already a Born again Believer in Christ, be very careful about the condition of religiosity. Your Salvation is safe in the hands of Jesus Christ, but you want to fulfill your destiny, your purpose while you are here on this earth. If you have succumbed to “going through the motions”, it is a treacherous place, a place of defeat and you are starving your Spirit. Man does not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds out of the Mouth of God – if you are not living in and through His Word, you are not being fed and you need the spiritual nutrition which can only come from Him.
THE OLD TESTAMENT – IN FLESH AND BLOOD!
Within a few weeks of my new focus and reawakening, I had a call from a man who wanted to see a property I had listed. He gave me his name and asked if I’d show it to him. I agreed and a couple days later arrived at the property to find an Observant Messianic Jewish Rabbi and his beautiful wife Shoshona. I knew immediately Jehovah God, Yahweh, had once again supernaturally injected a new instructor into my everyday walking around world and was about to shift me into a higher gear. Coincidentally, his name was Rabbi Mark Griffin. Hebrews do not recognize Coincidence, they simply term them God Incidents.
My Heavenly Father had just opened the door to the Old Testament and invited me to step in. More importantly, he’d brought living breathing examples as though they’d stepped from the scrolls of Israel, and they loved Yeshua. One more earthly angel is dropped into my world and turns it upside down! Messianic Judaism brings another element of Scripture I’ve neither heard nor understood and would ultimately lead to an introduction to the Hebrew Roots movement and Torah.
Rabbi, Shoshona and I are talking one day in my office and he mentioned Yeshua’s soon return at the Rapture to bring his Body, His Bride home and reflexively I responded, “No Man knows the day or the Hour.”
He grinned and said, “Do you know what that means?”
I looked at him, and without even thinking, out popped my deep theological insight, “I’m pretty sure it means No Man Knows the Day or the Hour.”
He laughed and added, “That’s right, but did you know there is a period of time during Yom Teru’ah, The Feast of Trumpets, the Rabbis refer to as ‘No man knows the day or the hour’. It has to do with the actual commencement of the New Moon cycle at the Temple Mount when the first sliver of the Crescent Moon is sighted.”
“Once it had been confirmed by Two witnesses who certified the sighting to the Sanhedrin, the waiting signal bonfires would be lighted. They were already prepared and waiting to serve as beacons once lighted, with the message traveling from one hill to the next. As the fires blazed from hill to hill, one after the other, all the Nation of Israel and surrounding areas knew the Feast had begun! The countryside watched, staring into the darkness of the night, waiting to catch the first glimpse of the signal fire to . . . begin the celebration!”
“The sighting could occur any time during a 24 to 48 hour period of time and was referred to as, ‘No Man Knows the Day nor the Hour’. Is it possible His return could occur during The Feast of Trumpets some year when . . . No man knows the day or the hour?” I literally must have sat staring with my mouth hanging open as he proceeded.
“In ancient days NASA didn’t exist, there were no Satellites and telecommunications weren’t around to tell us the exact time of the New Moon in Jerusalem. Calendars and thus all the Torah mandated feasts were tied to the physical sighting. This was a major event and of great, critical significance to the Nation and the practice of Judaism. The Nation, its people and the Temple Priesthood were dependent upon those waiting and watching witnesses. Once the Sanhedrin accepted their report, they authorized the signal fires to be lighted to transmit the news.”
I was stunned, confused and even quite angry . . . at no individual in particular, but religion as a whole and my previous faulty instruction specifically. Why had I never heard this? This is really important information to understand the scripture about the timing of the end. If no one bothered to tell me about this, what else did they leave out? What other things might I be wholly ignorant about that related to My Heavenly Father and His plan and instruction for us in our world? My own personal, internal bonfire had been lighted and I would seek to know what else was missing from my education and theology. One more branch of the family tree had now been intellectually joined to my understanding and my mission to learn and know more of its history had commenced. Only later would I discover the verse in Matthew, “No Man knows the Day or the Hour” speaks to the Final Return of Jesus after the Tribulation, not to the Rapture. Much to learn . . . let the research begin!
When God is gracious enough to send you human angels, you latch on immediately and seek to learn everything they’ve been sent to teach. I never questioned this supernatural appointment and its importance to my education. Rabbi Griffin, Shoshona and the beautiful people of their Shul, their Synagogue, gave me a glimpse into a world within the Bible I had no idea existed. They welcomed me to their services, answered my questions and loved me without question or reservation as a Sister in Christ. Almost immediately, I began to see the connections I’d missed before between the Old and New Testament and how important they truly were to understand the “Why” questions I’d asked so long ago.
This encounter and the many discussions to follow were ordained by Abba Father, I never questioned it. All He had required of me was to ask. Holy Spirit had planned the introduction to another branch of my heavenly family, Not only that, He had quite easily torn down another wall of partition in my mind existing in the Body of Christ. The Old and the New Testaments were about to become one and, with this reunion, another leg of my journey would begin. This day would ultimately bring me full circle and home to the Scriptural Truth of who we are, why we are here and what will be . . . the culmination of the greatest story ever told for us all,
SIDETRACK – HEBREW – You will notice I refer to Jewish Rabbis, Hebrew Scriptures and the Hebrew language a lot. Guess what? Jesus was Jewish and of the Hebrew culture and He was teaching and preaching to Jewish people. We have lost so much insight by not understanding the culture and language of His day. This is not about becoming Jewish, we are seeking knowledge and understanding of our Savior and His will for our life. The Scriptures were written in the context of Hebrew life and if you fail to understand their context, you will miss more than you can even imagine. No, I did not “become Jewish” and neither will you for the privilege of our ancestry is determined when we are formed in our Mother’s womb by God Himself. But I did begin to realize how ignorant my approach had been to Scripture and to the Father’s Perfect Will.
DEEPER INTO “THE WAY”
I chose to walk with my Father, the Creator of the Universe, many years ago. I have finally come to understand it is absolutely necessary to do it His Way in His Perfect Will, to stay on the Narrow Path, the Way that will actually produce the results He tells us to expect. It would be awfully nice if the path we seek had lovely rails as the one to the left, and in fact it does, they are found beginning in Torah and continuing through the entire Bible. The Hebrews refer to Torah as “guard rails”. Holy Spirit had decided to teach me those rails so that I may pass them along to you! To accomplish this, we’ll look at the entire Bible, in context . . . not simply half of it.
My background and life experience from the time I could crawl, literally, was farming and construction. Daddy was a farmer, builder, plumber and electrician. He was not only my literal earthly rock, he was kind, gentle and loved the Lord with all his heart. I watched him, I listened to him and I learned from a very early age to emulate his method of solving problems. I followed him every step he made when he was home plowing or planting the fields, tending the animals or making repairs. If he went under a house, up a ladder or plowed a field I made every step he made as often as possible. I listened to him talk to his friends about problems with crops, houses or buildings and saw how they found solutions. Foundations were everything, how you started, what everything stood on and was supported by . . . if it was wrong, everything following would be impacted and would fail.
He aways insisted you look back to the beginning and how you had laid your foundation. The diagnosis would reveal the error, allow for correction and the completed structure would then have no lean or variance. Each piece must fit properly into the whole at the right time. There was no shame or hesitation in saying, “I don’t know, let’s look it up.” You didn’t force things to fit and you didn’t guess. Electricity and guesswork are not good friends. Error begets error. Begin with a false premise, you’ll arrive at an erroneous conclusion. If it’s wrong, tear it down and begin again. Don’t take shortcuts, do the work.
WHY STRESS THE OLD TESTAMENT?
Real Growth, Spiritual Insight and Revelation Knowledge for me began when I came to the earth shattering realization I had never heard large portions of the truth of Scripture. I absolutely did not understand their cultural context, their foundation. I had learned partial truths, Bible Stories, but not the whole truth. Many of the connecting points were missing, the “why questions” I had been so fond of as a child. One big one was, Why did Jesus have to die for my sins? Who said He did? I didn’t question whether he had died, just who said it was necessary and why. It’s clearly explained in Scripture. There is no redemption without the shedding of blood in the Old Testament system of sacrifices taught to Israel by Elohim. Jesus, Himself, became the sinless, perfect and final blood sacrifice for the sins of the whole world and fulfilled the law violated by Adam and Eve which gave the title deed to earth and all of mankind to Satan. Mankind and the earth had to be “redeemed” or repurchased, “bought back” from Satan. We were bought with a price, our sin debt is paid in full. It is a finished work in the Spiritual Realm, we simply await its ultimate manifestation in the Earthly Realm, but the outcome has long ago been established.
The denominational doctrines of man had been taught as fact and I had simply accepted them without personal corroboration. I had knowledge in my head, but I had not verified it in Scripture and made it my own, converting it to Wisdom by the power of the Holy Spirit. Now, God has taught me to see things through the eyes of a child . . . with purity and absolute dependence upon My Father and His Son. He also gave us one further admonition, which seems contradictory and thus can only be accomplished by the power of Holy Spirit.
Matthew 10:16 KJV
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
The second part of the problem was the Father’s timing for me and the world in which we live. He reveals things in Scripture to His people when they are ready and when the time in which they live necessitates it.
He told us in the End Times there would be a great increase in knowledge. We are in those End Times now, for we see prophecy being fulfilled in the very Heavens above us with the Revelation 12 sign. Does that mean 10 minutes, 10 days, 1 year or 10 years? I don’t know, but we can speculate and we should for we are told to Watch! It is part of our mandate and a Crown of Righteousness awaits those of us who watch and wait . . . longing for His appearing. I unabashedly claim qualification for this Crown, for I await His arrival with eager anticipation.
The rapid rate of increase in Revelation Knowledge is certainly an indicator we are getting closer. I’ve assumed the great increase in knowledge spoken of in the Scripture referred to technological and science advancements. I’d never considered it would also mean a new unfolding of clarity and knowledge in the Scriptures themselves to men on earth, both ordained and laity. Yes, this is happening to a degree unimaginable. Students of the Word are seeing and understanding more and more.
I look at my many Bibles and numerous translations, a Theological library unrivaled, the Greek, and the Hebrew and read them with my brain engaged. They literally look as though someone opened fire on them with a paintball gun because of all the highlighting, marking and notes I’ve made of new things Holy Spirit is emphasizing. They have been there all along, now they are made apparent. What I have read my entire life, is new again, with divine enlightenment. The Old Testament is the Context for the New. The New Testament writings did not exist when Jesus was alive, they were penned by the disciples to memorialize his Words and instructions. When Scriptures are mentioned in the New Testament, they refer only to the Torah, what we term the Old Testament. References to Scripture in the New, is a discussion of Torah. Much of what is spoken in the New is a reciting and restating of the Old with applications Jesus’ Himself directed. Both Torah and New Testament are necessary to each other – just as all Believers are necessary to other Believers.
SIDETRACK – BEREANS – In Acts 17:11 the writer of Acts – Luke – tells us The Bereans were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. We should all emulate the Bereans.
It’s our responsibility as followers of Yeshua the Messiah to cut through the dogma, the man-made roadblocks to Truth and our own feelings of inadequacy and become Bereans. We must thoughtfully, studiously and carefully investigate and search to know who Yahweh is, and what He instructed us to do and simply . . . do it!
SCHOOL DAYS AGAIN!
School time again, but this time under the direct tutelage of Holy Spirit. No waste of time here . . . expect Revelation and knowledge. The Bereans did not just take Paul’s word for truth, they examined the Scriptures. We are expected to do no less. We dare not say, I am unqualified. He does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called. The disciples were chosen, yet they were fishermen, shepherds and tax collectors. They did not have theological degrees and were not taken from the Yeshivas, the rabbinical schools. Yeshua chose ordinary people then and He is doing the same today, people like you and I. He clearly knows what we are capable of for He created each of us individually. We have the responsibility and the ability given us by the Creator to comprehend Scripture, just as the Disciples did. It was Supernatural then and it will be Supernatural again today.
Each individual has a specific mission and calling. You may be the only person entrusted with a particular bit of revelation knowledge. Your failure to discover or disclose it would be a complete loss to the Body. God’s overall plan will still be accomplished, but it may be done in another manner. You may only speak to one person about your revelation, but what if the one person was Billy Graham or Martin Luther and without your input they had never given their life to Christ? How very different our world would be today. You and I do not live outside space and time. We do not know how important our piece of the puzzle is, no matter how small and insignificant it may appear to us, But God . . . knows all things! We have a responsibility to place our piece on the board where it fits, at the appropriate time. It’s important and we should all long to hear Jesus say . . .
“Well done, thou good and faithful Servant.”
Many believers have mentally checked out of their spiritual lives, even though they love the Father and His Son with all their heart, like the Church of Ephesus in Revelation, they have lost their first love. They have accepted the role assigned to them by the religious as dumb sheep. They’ve convinced themselves, their part in fulfilling the Great Commission is to “do right” (whatever that means), show up on Sunday morning, pay a tithe and hang on bare knuckle and worry until the pastor tells them they’ll get to Heaven.
We are told and submit, “The missionaries, evangelists, pastors and teachers will use the tithe and offering we’re providing to ‘bring in the lost’. This is how it’s supposed to work.”
This is not The Way – this is Religion’s Way. It is the way of the Nicolaitans and Jesus was particularly harsh in his disgust for this system, for it set the leadership over the “laity”, the people.
If we aren’t visibly, measurably different than the world, there’s a problem. Our life is our greatest witness. Going through the motions of Christianity is not relationship with the Savior. Relationship produces fruit beneficial to the Kingdom. Religion produces confusion, a system of man-made control and defeat in the Believer.
Do I have a point? Yes.
Scripture was given to common men by the power of the Holy Spirit for common men (that’s you and me) to understand and apply to our daily walk in this life. It is not so heavenly minded it is of no earthly good. Paul said it best when speaking to the early Hebrew converts about the Melchizedek Priesthood (that would be you and me) of the risen Messiah Yeshua,
Hebrews 5:11-14 Amp Bullinger AD 52-53 (Underline emphasis Mine)
11”Concerning this we have much to say which is hard to explain, since you have become dull in your [spiritual] hearing and sluggish, even slothful [in achieving spiritual insight]. 12For even though by this time you ought to be teaching others, you actually need someone to teach you over again the very first principles of God’s Word. You have come to need milk, not solid food. 13For everyone who continues to feed on milk is obviously inexperienced and unskilled in the doctrine of righteousness, [that is, of conformity to the divine will in purpose, thought and action,] for he is a mere infant—not able to talk yet! 14But solid food is for full grown men, for those whose mental faculties are trained by practice to discriminate and distinguish between what is morally good and noble and what is evil and contrary either to divine or human law.”
We simply must go back to the beginning, to the foundation, to what the Father said. We determine how He said it and to whom and we DO what he Says. We seek solid food from this point forward, no more milk. Solid food and growth in Christ is the sole purpose of this book and my life.
Knowledge becomes Wisdom only by the aid of Holy Spirit, once we understand the “guard rails”, the doctrines of the faith and where those rails have been damaged or breached. We then take wisdom and apply it with the trust, clarity and simplistic faith of a little child who believes in the goodness and absolute honesty of Eternal Father!
I pray I am given the opportunity to speak into your life as we examine the scriptures together as Bereans to determine . . . Our own personal piece of the puzzle God has created us to fulfill!
SIDETRACK – SECTION TWO IS NEXT – This is the end of the First of Three Parts of my book Through the Eyes of a Child. God’s loving guard rails many call “Doctrines” will be detailed in Part Two with the ditches beyond the rails, the Doctrinal Errors and pitfalls in Part Three. I’m not sure about you, but I learn better when things are presented in story form. That’s how God has taught me, so I’ll stick with His method. Just as we’ve done today, we’ll address those important truths . . . with the ease, clarity and keen eyesight of a Trusting Child!
Thanks for taking time for me . . .
Sherry Driskell Griffin
P. S. If this was a Blessing to you . . . be a Blessing and pass it along!
WHAT IS . . . THE BEST
CHRISTIAN SITE . . . ON THE INTERNET
OH . . . FOR THE LOVE OF BISCUITS . . .
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