PART TWO – Pentecost to Israel (cont.)
On more than one occasion, Aunt Hazel tried to tone me down in my zeal to speak to my family about the Lord. I recall speaking to my sister Barbara on the phone from Aunt Hazel’s home. Barbara foolishly and ignorantly accused me of reading a prepared script to her.
Hazel felt I shouldn’t have been saying anything to her. She was right, and she was wrong. I wasn’t ready to sow or reap, and my sister wasn’t ready to receive. I was preachy. It seems to me it would have been better to just share my life’s experience, if anything at all, and leave it at that. Or perhaps I simply should have walked away.
Yet, as I now see it, babies must burp, gurgle, soil their diapers, fail, be disappointed, and learn by trial and error. It is part of the process in all of His creation. These things are natural and necessary. I must therefore conclude that, as awkward as I was, and as foolish as it appeared, it was good that I spoke – all part of His plan.
Sadly, Barb would pay a horrific price for her opposition in time to come.
There was an arts instructor at the technical institute in Dauphin who did some ceramics. I decided to meet with him to seek out possible benefits for ARC Industries. He was an Egyptian and a member of the Baha’i religion. He invited me to his home, so Marilyn and I visited him and his wife.
They soon brought forth their beliefs and tried to persuade us of their religion. The following excerpt from bahai.org describes the basic philosophy (emphasis mine):
“Throughout history, God has revealed Himself to humanity through a series of divine Messengers, whose teachings guide and educate us and provide the basis for the advancement of human society. These Messengers have included Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad. Their religions come from the same Source and are in essence successive chapters of one religion from God.
Bahá’u’lláh, the latest of these Messengers, brought new spiritual and social teachings for our time. His essential message is of unity. He taught the oneness of God, the oneness of the human family, and the oneness of religion.”
We informed them that Jesus Christ was no mere messenger, but God in the flesh, while all other religious founders or messengers were men, some true prophets of God and some false.
“How do you know that?” they asked.
I told them we could only know if we knew God personally or if He revealed the truth to us.
“Are you a messenger, then?” they asked.
I replied, “I am.”
To them, “messenger” comes with a capital “M” and a Messenger coming means nothing less than a historical earth-shaking event. They couldn’t conceal their scorn, though they tried.
“We are offering you the last and the best of religion. Why would you refuse?” they asked.
“We have something better – we have God Himself. How can religion ever beat that?” we replied.
They were incredulous and politely scornful, the party was over, and we soon left.
We had an exciting visit with my brother Bob one day at our apartment. We began to discuss addictions, of which he seemed to have two. He had a smoking addiction and couldn’t overcome the habit, though he seemed willing to do so.
He was also gluttonous, given to regularly eating great portions of meat, particularly beef. He would go to the A&W, for example, and order a Poppa Burger with five meat patties. Mom would do up roasts and keep them in regular supply in the fridge especially for him. Bob could devour a beef roast in one sitting, though he was a small person. Mom was unwittingly entertaining what the Lord revealed to me to be a demon of meat gluttony.
We prayed for Bob and rebuked the demons of nicotine and gluttony. He then took his cigarette pack from his pocket and, without hesitation, tossed it in our trash. Days later he declared he no longer had the compulsion to smoke or to eat unusually large amounts of meat.
Who says there is no God or devils?
Though we can’t vouch that he was finished with his overeating problem by personal witness, we had no reason to doubt it. He didn’t smoke anymore, so I believed that if he was delivered from one problem, he was delivered from the other (it isn’t quite as easy to smell roast beef on one’s breath, hair, and clothing as it is cigarette smoke).
As Bob was leaving our place one day, we could see he was resisting us in his spirit. While he paused at the door, I placed my right hand on his forehead, prepared to pray and rebuke devils. If I had a chance to say anything, it was, “In the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ…” and that was it. He fell to the floor, like a rock, seemingly unconscious.
We knew what was happening. We prayed for him, commanding the demons to come out of him, and then I took him by the hand. He immediately came to, and said, “I feel so clean and peaceful now. Do you know I wanted to hurt and even kill you, but I couldn’t move? It was like I was tied up.” (We knew it was not he, but devils in him, that wanted to hurt us.)
Who says there is no God or devils?
Bob was now free and able to speak and relate to us. He gave us each a big grateful hug and left. He was freed of smoking and gluttony, but he still didn’t prize the company of believers above that of his companions in the world.
Was his lack of desire and interest to be with us a social thing, perhaps age-related, or was it spiritual? What we had just learned from my other brother’s situation should have clued us in.
Bob and his girlfriend, Marilyn Robak, didn’t keep in contact with us. Not having seen or spoken to Bob for some time, we invited them for supper. That evening, we decided to have the “Lord’s Supper,” providing the bread and grape juice.
I walked away from that situation feeling soiled. They were bored and falling asleep, eyes heavy with slumber, having nothing to say and showing no interest. Bob did say he hadn’t had much sleep, but I felt there was more to it than that. Something wasn’t right. Where were we going wrong?
I learned something in the days to come while contemplating that experience with Bob and Marilyn. The Lord isn’t at all after the ritualistic act of the “Lord’s Supper.” He is after not outer, but inner, righteousness.
And there is no intrinsic spiritual value in these outward observances. We saw that all those we had baptized in water were gone to do their own thing. What good did water baptism do? What difference did it make? Of what value is the “Lord’s Supper” to all the dead churches who do their own thing?
Besides, was not the “Lord’s Supper” derived from Passover, which was a feast held but once a year, at a certain time, with certain prescribed elements that were no longer necessary, valid, or even feasible?
So what of the Lord’s apparent commandment that Paul relayed to the Corinthian church?:
“In the same way He took the cup also, after supping, saying, ‘This cup is the New Covenant in My blood; as often as you drink it, do this in remembrance of Me’” (1 Corinthians 11:25 MKJV).
Was this not an allegory? Was He calling on us to have a regular ritual, or was He demonstrating and signifying a spiritual reality? His instruction of partaking of His flesh and blood wasn’t meant to be an occasional physical ceremony, but a constant way of life.
Jesus was speaking in parables, as He often did. We came to understand that fellowshipping with the brethren in Christ was partaking in His body and blood. Partaking in His Body, eating His flesh and drinking His blood, was a matter of obedience to Him, ministering to, and receiving ministry from, His brethren, the saints.
He is the Bread of life; the life is in the blood, His blood, and true believers are His Body of flesh and blood, in whom, by whom, and with whom we partake of Him. It has nothing to do with a ceremony or ritual. The ritual is just another of man’s attempts to be righteous in his own power, without the substance of God.
My mother invited us to their place on Easter Sunday for lunch. My sister Barb and her husband Ron would be there. Why did we go? We always had the hope that there would be a breakthrough. We also naïvely thought we were wanted there as guests. We didn’t celebrate Easter, though, and they knew it. I think they were simply trying to attempt some family unity.
The whole time we were there, a cloud of doom and gloom filled the room, directed at us. The faces and spirits were black and very few words were spoken. They acted as though we had recently eaten their babies.
At the time, it seemed we were unable to withstand or confront the powers of darkness. Soon after we left, Marilyn was in tears. We felt so abused. We swore we would accept no more invitations from them.
Many times I was chagrined at wrongs done against me. I thought, “Lord, if I am Yours and You are mine, then why do You permit these things to happen?” I knew, however, that all His servants, prophets, and apostles were treated evilly without cause, as was He in His days on earth. I was never forgetful of His warning to His chosen – they would be hated by all men. Still, I sought understanding as to why it was this way. He revealed the “why” to me:
Men must have the full opportunity to do their evil. By these doings, the way is concluded for God to judge them. When they crucified Him, they became fully indebted to Him. Being fully indebted, He was now in position to have mercy on all and judge them in righteousness.
Furthermore, if I were to exact any retribution or revenge of any kind against those who did me evil, I would effectively neutralize His opportunity to judge them. As it says:
“Do not be glad at the fall of your hater, and let not your heart have joy at his downfall: For fear that the Lord may see it, and it may be evil in His eyes, and His wrath may be turned away from him” (Proverbs 24:17-18 BBE).
Hence, the need to refrain from vengeance. It is His, not ours. With us, there must be the spirit of forgiveness at all times. When God decides to turn a soul toward Him, we must be ready, and not only ready, but joyful. I have wondered how difficult it was for the saints to forgive and receive Saul of Tarsus (after he believed) for imprisoning, torturing, and slaughtering their loved ones. It was only by God’s grace.
There is another event I regret, in which I lacked wisdom and judgment. I advised Bob several times to put away alcohol. One day, he came to our place, crying. He had gone drinking with a friend; they got drunk and headed down Main Street, damaging meters and cars.
The police were searching for the offenders, the parents didn’t know Bob was involved, and nobody else knew who had done it. Bob came to us in fear, confessing, wondering what he should do.
My judgment was that he wouldn’t willfully do what he did in sobriety. Being drunk, he didn’t know what he was doing. I also believed that though he was repentant, the authorities wouldn’t be able, by law, to recognize or forgive him, though God would. Therefore, I told him that his repentance before God was sufficient. Marv Isum, former Lutheran priest and now a Charismatic pastor, agreed with me (more of him later).
My conviction later changed, recognizing the sovereignty of God over all, that He rules in the hearts of all men, and knowing all hearts, He would render perfect judgment by the authorities He has set in place. I now conclude that Bob had been more guilty and afraid than repentant. He would prove this to be true, and I would come to regret that I didn’t urge Bob to turn himself in and make restitution for his offenses, drunk or not, intentional or not.
Soon after this, the Lord led me to confront Bob on deciding between Him and the world. I made it clear to him that, as a Christian, he couldn’t company with the world, the drunken spree a case in point. He needed only to remember what happened to David. He went home and into the attic at the parents’ place, where he remained for three days without food, deliberating.
Our parents became concerned and called for the family doctor, a young man new in town, who visited Bob. I don’t recall what was discussed, if I ever knew.
I also visited Bob, and he wasn’t receptive. I have learned that if there is any debate, it is almost certain that the choice is already made, and it isn’t for God.
Bob deliberately chose to retain his friends, reasoning that he wouldn’t have any company if he broke off relations with them. I tried to tell him that the Lord was sufficient for all things, and that by entrusting oneself to Him, He, the Worker of miracles, the Great and Wonderful Provider, would gloriously make a way where there was no way. It boiled down to basic faith in God.
“Easy for you to talk,” he replied. “You have each other, but who will I have?”
I had a hard time believing what I was hearing. I said, “Where there were only two, now there’ll be three! You have us and we have you. And who knows whom the Lord may bring from there? Trust Him!”
He didn’t want to hear it.
Bob concluded in unbelief and withdrew from us permanently. He wouldn’t give up his friends. That day, I saw my youngest brother die, having decisively chosen the creature over the Creator. The fruits of that decision would be tragically sad.
A letter came in from Mickey Patrick, now in Saskatoon at Mount Zion Christian Center. He wrote, “You can’t survive spiritually on your own. If you don’t find a Spirit-filled fellowship, you’ll fall into the vicious delusion of the enemy.” As far as they were concerned, theirs was the church we were to join, the only one truly “Spirit-filled.”
The Patricks had left us. Dave Grier had left us. Those in Dauphin were now all gone. We found no place or people with whom to fellowship, in Dauphin or anywhere else. Indeed, those we knew in Dauphin wanted little, if anything, to do with us. Everything seemed to be crumbling.
Should we have followed Mickey and Lynn to Saskatoon after all? Was the group there not a Spirit-filled fellowship, where healings and miracles were happening and where hundreds were finding joy? Did not Dave Grier find joy? Why didn’t we go with them? Were we too proud or independent? Why did we come to Dauphin, just to find desolation?
But we knew we couldn’t be partakers with them. We had to believe the Lord, His sovereignty, and His direction in our lives. Still, Mickey’s words would haunt me for some time to come.
My mother had remarked that I couldn’t help Bob because I was spiritually immature. I was annoyed with those words, thinking, “She hasn’t even repented, much less received the Spirit. Who is she to judge me?”
Whether she understood, or had any right to judge or not, she was right in what she said. It would be many years before I could do that which was right and good before God concerning others. All these things troubled me. I fell into unbelief and worry, which caused literal headaches.
One day I made a remark about Martin Luther that indicated he was a true believer. “Luther was a Christian?!” my mother exclaimed with incredulity. I insisted that he was, surprised that she should react that way. I assumed it was because she was indoctrinated as a Catholic to believe he was nothing less than a heretic of the first order, a devil.
I took for granted that Luther was a believer because he was the chief proponent of the Reformation concerning sola fide – the belief that we have favor with God not by works, but solely by grace through faith. In the years to come, I would be learning much more about Luther. Was my mother right? How much did she know? How did she know what she knew?
I once saw, by dream, an angel (messenger or saint) as an ordinary man, casually sitting on a staircase and speaking to me through the spindles of the railing as I sat and listened below. He told me that I was a dry root. He was matter-of-fact and gentle about it, but I took it very hard.
I had been hoping I was fruitful, healthy, and spiritually powerful. It was so hard for me to hear that, but it was certainly true. How could I argue? Why couldn’t I see the truth about myself? Was it not obvious to everyone else?
The Richardsons, who were Pentecostal evangelicals from Yorkton, Saskatchewan, held a meeting at the Orange Hall on Main Street in Dauphin, and we decided to go. They believed in the use of head coverings for women in church services, which the Lord had taught us was not what the apostle Paul was talking about to the Corinthians. As they had their meeting of prayer, song, and testimony, I sat there with a degree of cynicism, yet hoping that, somehow, the Lord might do something for me.
He did. One of the young ladies, perhaps in her late teens, wearing a headscarf, stood up to prophesy. She said, “There is a man here who has believed men rather than God. He has been confused and full of doubts, so much so that he suffers headaches.” It didn’t take me long to realize I was the man. She asked that the man would stand and acknowledge the message, that it is for him from God. I was too proud to do so.
Meanwhile, a couple of others stood up, thinking they were the man. I knew they weren’t, and the girl knew they weren’t. She insisted there was another. Finally, I put up my hand. She was satisfied and ceased to ask further. She had no idea who I was or what was going on with me. I had the sense that she knew her message was for me before I put up my hand. Was that true, or was it my conscience speaking?
I felt badly that I had been cynical towards them and also too proud to confess I was that man. I knew the Lord had spoken to me. I hadn’t realized that unbelief caused my turmoil and headaches. I was relieved to know that it wasn’t where we were (in Dauphin), or what we were doing, that was unacceptable to God (He was indeed ruling and leading), but my lack of trust in Him.
From that day forward, I resolved not to believe what Mickey or my mother or anyone else had to say in criticism. I decided to believe the Lord. One of the things I determined to believe was that He spared us from joining Mount Zion Christian Center. This faith would soon lead to fruition, a revelation about Bill Kellers and Dave Roberts.
Dal Fulford was the manager of ARC Industries. He was an evangelical Christian and member of the local Grace Bible Church. He was in his sixties. I appreciated working for him. What a contrast he was to former employers I had, who had little or no respect for the Scriptures, integrity, or godliness!
I found something peculiar with Dal, however. He had a strange passion for money. He had been a former credit union manager, I believe, and whenever he would speak of making money for the shop, he would rub his hands and have a gleam in his eye.
The Lord gave me a vision of Dal. He was a man who was quite pleased about his faith and spirituality. I saw only his very large head and there were words to accompany the vision, something about pride, but I have forgotten them. I quite liked the man, but the vision didn’t speak well of him.
Marg McGregor, a co-worker in her late fifties or older, supervised another department at ARC Industries. Marg was formerly Anglican and her husband died an alcoholic (I recall being at one of his drinking parties, as a high school student). Marg became a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and was always trying to assert her beliefs upon all. Somewhat educated, intelligent, and well able to express herself without showing fear, she sometimes lashed out mercilessly at anyone who provoked her. These strengths would make her rather formidable in a confrontation with anyone.
I had a vision of her as a wolf, with a long toothy jaw, in the form of a standing kangaroo, having paws with big claws. I saw her eating people, chewing their limbs in her mouth.
She sincerely described me as “dedicated.” We had our discussions, disagreements, and times of both contempt and respect for each other.
I have often seen Jehovah’s Witnesses to be bitter and cynical, coming from unhappy backgrounds or finding fault with others as their foundation. It seems to me they prefer to hate the false, rather than love the true. They have made a religion of non-religion.
Marg and I clashed, but while she was often cynical and caustic, I appreciated some things she had to say. For example, my ceramics department made and sold a Hoi Toi, a squat Buddha figurine. She pointed it out to me, arguing that it was an idol and that I shouldn’t be making it. I didn’t worship it, and it was a good seller, but I really couldn’t argue with her, so I got rid of the mold, and we made no more of them.
I wondered why I wasn’t on to it before she was. After all, I was supposed to be the more enlightened one, especially compared to a Jehovah’s Witness.
There was a local ceramist, Doreen Inkster, who helped our department at ARC in many ways, with skills, knowledge, connections, and even some charitable help from time to time, being a supporter of the cause of the handicapped. She was one of our best customers for greenware (raw clay pieces).
When she found out I discontinued pouring the Buddha figurine, for which she had supplied the mold, she protested and reported me to the board of directors, on which sat her brother-in-law. Dal Fulford approached me on it, and I told him I wasn’t prepared to promote an idol. He declared that he would stand for my freedom of conscience and not fire me or permit the board to remove me.
His support seemed like welcome gentle rain on parched ground. It sure was nice having someone stand up for me. That had been so rare in my life. The only other case I recall was when Cy Puls took Dad to task for complaining about my Christian lifestyle and choices.
Even without Mr. Fulford’s willingness to stand with me in principle, I think the board of directors wasn’t too enthusiastic to fire me, because the Lord had blessed my work in ceramics. The dust level from the ceramics was dramatically reduced, so the whole shop was much cleaner than it had been before. The handicapped participants were learning and able to do things theretofore thought unlikely, if not impossible. Business volume had increased manifold, and the cost of operations was reduced, which made Dal and the board quite happy.
Besides, the whole issue of the statue was a tempest in a teapot; there was nothing to it. Didn’t they have many other better things to bother about?