PART TWO – Pentecost to Israel (cont.)
It was a lesson in who is rich and who is poor, and it was a lesson in giving. How is it the poor despised what we gave and those with more enjoyed it and were thankful?
“For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will abound. But from him who has not, even that which he has shall be taken away from him” (Matthew 25:29 MKJV).
We became very discriminating as to whom we would give. We learned that while some were poor in pocket, they were also poor in understanding and gratitude. On the other hand, there are those who have more of this world’s goods, but are poor in spirit, like Joseph of Arimathea, for example (Luke 23:50-53). To give to some poor was clearly a waste and to give to some apparently rich could be rewarding. Not that reward is what giving is all about.
We would have several other lessons over the years to bring these truths home in different ways.
God was also teaching us the difference between marriages put together by men, even with license, ceremony, and celebration, and those made in Heaven, even though common-law. Not that all formal marriages are wrong or all common-law marriages right. But there are such things as “formal fornication” with papers and informal marital unions without papers. We would learn this big time in a few years.
While we were living with Dave Grier, Marilyn had a dream wherein she, a male person (being the personification of faith), and I were running together over green hills. Marilyn isn’t sure, but it seemed that she was behind us and then caught up and perhaps even surpassed faith. (This reminded me of the dream she had before we met wherein she walked on water.)
Around that time, the Lord gave me another song – “The Power of Jesus.” Dave liked it.
(Click HERE to listen to “The Power of Jesus,” or to read the lyrics.)
Sometime in the late ‘70s, I had a vision of a mortar and pestle appearing in mid-air, the pestle suspended just above the mortar. Written over the front of the picture were these words: “You are My son; you are My discipline.”
At some point in our lives after receiving the Spirit, we soon began to recognize a pattern. I would be agitated or troubled for a day or so, just before an event. I could easily be upset, and oftentimes Marilyn and I would squabble. After this, invariably, some person we had never met, or didn’t expect to meet, would come along, and I would have things to say in the Spirit to that person. When the job was done, the agitation was gone.
It came to be that when such turmoil between Marilyn and me arose, we recognized that something was coming and that perhaps I would have to speak a Word to someone, though we didn’t know what would be said, to whom, or when; only that it was close at hand. Marilyn would say, “Let’s pray; I think something is coming again, and the enemy is trying to get us off balance.” Sure enough, the event came. (I believe it was Marilyn who first noticed the pattern.)
Recognizing these things would help us take courage and refrain from striving with each other. We suspected that the enemy was at work at such times to sabotage what was shortly required of me to speak forth.
Around this time, I had a vision wherein I saw myself being pulled up through a tight hole in the heavens, as through a cloud to the realm above. There were two men, friends, pulling me up into the midst of an ancient battle raging immediately beside and all around us. The battle was perfectly silent, yet furious, with battle gear, swords, bows, spears, and such. I seem to recall that the warriors were without body armor.
In another vision, I saw a throne from the side, somewhat like a sofa chair, perhaps wooden. It was outdoors, in the middle of a vast plain. I was seated on the ground, leaning against, and facing in the same direction as, the throne. My legs were folded almost under me but to the side away from the throne. My right arm was bent and resting on the throne’s left arm. I was dressed in ancient white casual garments, looking ahead at a great battle in progress.
The humble throne was the Lord’s. Ahead of it, about fifteen feet away, Jesus stood facing away from the chair and me (I and the throne were behind Him). He was watching that same battle raging in the distance. I knew it was a battle between the forces of good and evil. Jesus was calmly watching, in full control. It almost seemed He was orchestrating it; He certainly knew the outcome and was perfectly confident of it.
They are called “Two By Twos” by the secular world. Two women came to our country home looking for proselytes. They said they were preaching the gospel. One was the elder, the other, her disciple. They called themselves apostles.
These people claim that they have no formal structure and that they have not been registered with the government as a church or religious organization. However, if one were to look on the net under “Christian Conventions” in the US or “Assemblies of Christians” in Canada, as well as for incorporation in other countries of the world, one would find that they were indeed registered with the government. In Alberta, they have been titled the Alberta Society of Christian Assemblies.
Visiting with the women for two hours or more, we talked to them about the Lord. He was foreign to them, nothing more than a great man, not the Son of God and very God Himself. Their thing, as with most nominal Christian organizations, was religious works and doctrine, not knowing that the works and doctrine should come by His power and revelation and point to Him.
The younger woman was confronted by a prophecy Marilyn had for her, that she was to seek after the Lord with all her heart, and doing so, she would find Him, as He promised. There were other things that were said, but I don’t recall what they were.
While living with Dave Grier, we bought the groceries and kept house while he worked and paid the rent. Our earnings for all of 1976 were $3,400 from mobile home sales and odd jobs. We tithed 50% and therefore lived on $1,700, paying for all the food, our travel expenses, and incidentals. We were in want of nothing. We shopped at Prince Albert OK Economy grocery store and often purchased distress produce, cheese, and halvah at greatly discounted prices. Removing the bad parts, we ate very well on a very low budget. Dave put on weight, enjoying the food and Marilyn’s innovative cooking.
Gary Pilon, Mickey’s next door neighbor in their duplex, was the produce manager at the OK, and he often accommodated us in friendly fashion. He was a Catholic boy, married, friendly, unassuming, quiet, and helpful.
I was quite capable of throwing the biggest pity parties one could witness, and while everyone was invited, nobody wanted to come or stay. They were real bashes, and I mean that in the worst sense.
One day, I think Dave made some smart remark about something I said, which he was quite capable of doing. Marilyn laughed with him, and I began to sulk. I sulked for three days. I thought, “From now on, if they aren’t going to respect what I have to say, then I’ll show them. I won’t talk unless I have something very important to say. They’ll learn to wish I was talking.”
I can somewhat imagine how they felt. I know how I feel when people sulk and brood around me. I hate it – it’s such a horrible thing. I must have put them through Hell. Today, I wouldn’t tolerate it with anyone. I would first try to reason with the person; failing that, I would rebuke them in no uncertain terms for their selfish, abhorrent behavior and insist they snap out of it. I feel awful just thinking about how horrible my conduct was for others, especially Marilyn.
I find it quite unpleasant recounting these things, but I want people to know how unpleasant such behavior is and how unpleasant I have been. We kill our wives, brothers, sisters, children, and loved ones in many ways. Guns and knives can be more humane. Physical pain has nothing, nothing at all, over psychological and emotional pain.
Major Mackenzie of the Salvation Army was holding Bible studies and services in the Prince Albert Correctional and the women’s jail. He asked us to help him in his work.
There came a time when he was going to be away for a few weeks, so he asked if we could fill in, which we did. We held Bible studies with the men on Wednesday evenings and Sunday morning services for the women.
Our approach was quite informal compared to Major Mackenzie’s. We talked, sang some songs, prayed, and red the Scriptures. The women wanted to talk -they wanted to express themselves and be free to unburden. By the time Mackenzie had returned, almost every woman in the prison was attending. With the men, it was the opposite. They preferred to avoid personal contact in many cases, choosing the cloak of formality or impersonal atmosphere.
There was a young inmate from Quebec, Robert Sauvé, who began to profess faith in God with enthusiasm. He volunteered to read the Bible out loud in our studies and gave an all-around impression that he had found new life in Christ. As a result, we made plans to help him in his new Christian life and adjustment to the world outside, expecting that he might come and live with us.
I suppose he thought the authorities might be impressed with his attitude and conduct, judge the prospects of rehabilitation on the street favorably, and give him early release.
Days before it came time for Robert’s release, his girlfriend, Lise, and her younger sister came from Quebec to receive him from prison. He asked if they could stay with us until they found a place to live. We consented, thinking that perhaps we could talk to them about the Lord. We communicated to them the Scriptures with some English and my limited French. Lise only understood French; her younger sister (who was pregnant) translated for her with her limited English.
There seemed to be times when something was happening with them as they heard truth, but on balance, it seemed they could hardly conceal their scorn. They tried, I suppose, seeing they had free board, lodging, and transportation.
Those were a few dark days. The girls were basically lawless, reveling prostitutes. The younger sister even made a physical move on Dave. We were forced to expel them and their drinking friends, who began coming by before Robert was released, partying outdoors late at night.
The girls left with stolen goods. We knew they were stealing because we noticed items of value missing. Once when they were out, we checked their packed suitcases and found the goods. Rather than retrieving them, we added more to their cache, to let them know we knew, and to rebuke them in a positive way (although we could be faulted for searching their private possessions). One wonders if they even noticed anything different.
Ironically, it so happened Lise lost her engagement ring and accused us of stealing it. I was amazed at their contradiction and chutzpah.
We felt we should give Robert the benefit of doubt, hoping his profession of faith in Christ was real. On the day and hour of his release, we appeared at the prison gate, and so did the girls. Robert immediately turned away from us with a sheepish expression and joined them. He looked crazed, like a madman ready to make up for lost time and pleasure in any way possible. The girls subtly gloated at us as they walked away.
Back home, we searched for, and soon found, Lise’s ring. I quickly drove to town, hoping they were still around and praying that, if so, God would lead me to them. In a matter of minutes, in a city of 20,000 to 30,000 people, I spotted Lise on the street. I thanked God for answering me and directing me to them. I pulled over and handed the ring to her through the passenger window.
I couldn’t talk to her in French, and she couldn’t speak or understand anything in English, so little was communicated. I would have understood “merci” (“thank you”), but there was nothing of the sort coming from her. She was a hard, brutish, contemptuous ingrate. I wondered if Robert knew what he was getting himself into.
That was a sad event. We saw their darkness, hardness, and folly. A veritable sumptuous banquet was being offered them to replace rotting garbage scraps, and they refused it with contempt, as if I were a street person offering social elites scraps from the trash bin. I was sorry we had committed ourselves to them as we did.
“During the time [Jesus] was in Jerusalem, those days of the Passover Feast, many people noticed the signs He was displaying and, seeing they pointed straight to God, entrusted their lives to Him. But Jesus didn’t entrust His life to them. He knew them inside and out, knew how untrustworthy they were. He didn’t need any help in seeing right through them” (John 2:23-25 MSG).
Pearls to pigs notwithstanding (Matthew 7:6), we believe that what we spoke to them was not without effect.
One day in June ‘76, while we were helping in the prison ministry, I had a song come to me for the men, “Life’s a Road.” I sang it to them and cried doing so. Some of the men were crying, too. I had compassion for them.
(Click HERE to listen to “Life’s a Road,” or to read the lyrics.)
It wasn’t long before our time was up helping Major Mackenzie.
Major Mackenzie must have thought we were having financial problems when he saw me crying as I sang to the guys in prison, which wasn’t really the case; it certainly wasn’t why I was crying. A few days later when we returned from town, we were surprised to find a Salvation Army grocery care package at the door.
Hearing that fluorocarbons were damaging the atmosphere, I decided to stop buying or using products in aerosol cans. What to do with those in our possession? I buried them in the yard. Silly! Why did I not know that I was polluting the earth and eventually the gases would escape to the atmosphere anyway?
As Christians, we can be so ignorant, naïve, impractical, and foolish, while thinking we know and understand more than others who don’t believe.
Ever since I became a believer in February 1973, I had been trying to bring my parents to faith, reasoning with them, constantly praying for them, arguing from the Scriptures, and testifying of what the Lord had done for me. Now they came to visit us in our country home, and though it was a pleasant place, its remoteness didn’t impress my father (they got lost finding us). Neither was he excited about the fact that I wasn’t working. Understandably, he had always hoped for “better things” of his son.
Everything was bothering him that day. His agitation was obvious. While seated for dinner, I proceeded to give thanks. Suddenly he stood up and belligerently started crossing himself in religious Catholic tradition, reciting the words (in Ukrainian, three times), “In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” and proceeded to recite “Our Father.”
I decided I was finally fed up with the opposition I had been tolerating patiently those 3+ years. Though my memory doesn’t serve me well with details here, I believe that from that day forward, I decided I wouldn’t call or visit them anymore.
In the months to come, when they no longer found me phoning, my mother would call and try to persuade me to renew contact. David also tried to gently reason with me on their behalf. I finally relented and renewed contact.
In one of those years, my father made a declaration: “I was born a Catholic and I will die a Catholic.” Somehow I believed him and thought, “That’s the way it will be.”
Whether at about this time or another, I believe I cursed my father. A proverb says, “If you curse your parents, your life will end like a lamp that goes out in the dark” (Proverbs 20:20 GNB). I felt justified, seeing he had opposed me in faith, mocked me, and complained about me to everyone, painting a picture of me that caused others to hate me. I didn’t care anymore, I was angry, and I cursed him.
It was difficult dealing with my father for another reason. He had a history of heart disease and had suffered one or two attacks. I often felt badly for him and very much wished to lead him to the Lord.
Marilyn recalls my incessant prayers for my parents, brothers, and sister, perceiving me to be clinging to them. While to some this may have appeared to be faith and steadfast prayer and intercession, it really was the opposite. I wasn’t believing the Lord; I wasn’t taking up the cross and forsaking them, which made it hard for everyone.
I came to realize that my family was no more important to the Lord than anyone else, and that if I were truly identifying with Him, I would care as He cared, for whom He cared. My family was too important to me; I had yet to forsake my family, as is required of all those called of Jesus to follow Him.
I discovered something that year about Bill Prettie, whom Bob Vail had hired from Ontario to occupy the managerial position at Homes Canada, from which they had dismissed me without notice nearly three years earlier. Bill was fine with Homes Canada until he and another fellow bought a franchise to market a type of liquid spray foam insulation for buildings and began developing their own business. While it wasn’t in direct competition with Homes Canada, it was at their expense in Bill’s time and management energies.
Poetic justice? Homes Canada had evicted me to preempt just that kind of conduct on my part even though I was innocent. That which they feared came upon them.
Then Bill got his, too. After borrowing and investing money in the franchise, Marketplace, a CBC television program presenting documentaries of harmful or questionable products, blew their new business venture ship right out of the water.
Bill also informed me that his business partner betrayed him financially. As he sowed with Homes Canada, so he reaped. So often have I seen that what goes around comes around. God’s judgment is alive, well, and fully active on Planet Earth at all times.
Who says there is no God?
Bill seemed to get a kick out of mocking my faith, often arguing with me as I worked with him in the office. I was surprised when one day he absolutely insisted that we come to a house party he and Linda were having. I finally promised we would come.
At the party, I thought he was serving us fruit juice mixtures while serving alcoholic beverages to others. Then I tasted some alcohol at the bottom of one of my drinks. I suddenly realized he was secretly trying to get me drunk. I had been wondering why he was looking expectantly at me from across the room during the evening. Perhaps he hoped I would end up being the life of the party – an abstaining Christian getting drunk in front of everyone.
“The scalawag!” I thought, not telling him I had caught on to his scheme. But I liked Bill, and we got along. I just had to watch myself with him. I wasn’t drunk; I don’t even know if I was “feeling good.” I think the Lord was covering for me because, as I recall, I had about 3 or 4 of those beverages. If there was alcohol in all of them, I should have felt something.
Lesson: Why did we go to a worldly party? I don’t recall, except that I didn’t want to be a spiritual prig, and I was looking for some excitement or adventure, or perhaps even some acceptance from Bill. I also thought that I, as a Christian, could handle any circumstances without fail.
Over the years, I have learned that there are places a Christian goes and places he doesn’t go, things he does and things he doesn’t do. Unless we are given direction from above to do something questionable, we ought not to try to prove how down-to-earth we can be as Christians. (Neither should we ever try to prove how Heavenly-minded we are.)
Gord Campbell gave us a call, presenting me with a little problem their group was having. Evangelist Charles Enloe was to preach to them at a rented country hall, but he wasn’t able to make it. Would I come and preach? I was surprised they would ask me. Who was I? At the time, I had nothing to offer and wasn’t ready for anything. However, I accepted and brought my guitar.
The people had gathered to hear an entertaining speaker, someone who was charismatic. I was neither charismatic nor entertaining. I preached on how to hear God’s voice, and ironically, I wasn’t hearing from Him myself in that circumstance. The sermon was dead. I tried singing some songs, but they were songs the Lord had given me, not common songs people could join in singing, and they weren’t entertaining.
The event was a bust and I realized two things that night: one, people were there to be entertained, not fed to follow the Lord; two, it wasn’t my time or place to be a minister of God.
For a second time with the Campbells, I walked away in defeat and humiliation. There were friends of the Campbells there who relished the pleasure of my defeat, which wasn’t so much a problem for me, knowing they weren’t right, but it wasn’t pleasant.
In August of 1976, Marilyn and I decided to take a trip to Caroline, Alberta, to a family retreat at the Frontier Camp. It is now known as the Living Faith Bible College, founded and run by Cliff Stalwick, a former Lutheran priest who received the Spirit and was expelled from his denomination for it.
There, in private prayer with the three of us, Cliff prophesied that Marilyn and I were as Abraham and Sarah, traveling, not knowing where we were going. And that was the way it was. Little did we know how long it would last!
At the Caroline retreat, we met Harvey and Irene Wicks, farmers from Earl Grey, Saskatchewan, with whom we became friends, and with whom we would have more to do the following year. Harvey informed us that he was leading a small new fellowship in his area.
There we also met Ernie Chadwick, the pastor of a small young church in Prince George, British Columbia. While singing and praising, Ernie had a vision for me. He saw a piece of wood, broken in two, but the two pieces were joined and held together by a right-angled piece of metal. He prophesied that there was to be a change of direction in my life, but I wasn’t to be concerned. The iron was the will of God, keeping me. He also mentioned seeing carpentry tools, like a hammer and a saw.
In years to come, there would be many breaks of a sort, even involving tools, and in each of these, I thought Ernie’s vision was fulfilled, only to discover soon after that it wasn’t. When finally it was, I would know it. The event would be, all at once, the fulfillment of an accumulation of visions, dreams, and prophecies of several prophets and believers.
I was planning to see Terry Johnston (one of the former owners of Homes Canada, now living at Campbell River, British Columbia) to talk to him about the Lord. I shared this notion with Ernie Chadwick. He said, “Are you and your wife in agreement on it?” Marilyn wasn’t. Ernie indicated that unless she was, I should seriously consider whether or not it was God’s will that I do whatever I was thinking of doing.
I took that advice to heart, changed my mind, and from that day forward, I sought Marilyn on most of my decisions. If she agreed, I considered it to be of God; if not, then I would usually (not always) scrap it.
In effect, she became God to me that day. What if she was wrong? In some things, she was right; in others, wrong. The day was coming when she would be very wrong, and I would be led as a lamb to the slaughter.