PART TWO – Pentecost to Israel (cont.)
When we left the Baptists after being rejected because we had received the Spirit, we returned to the Alliance church. It was now quite different in spirit or atmosphere. Granted, we were in a new spiritual realm within, but I could see that, compared to what the congregation was like before their new building – relatively more humble, alive, and busy – now they were subdued. The people had lost something in their construction and expansion.
In my pre-Spirit baptism days as a repentant convert to Christ, I had admired the Alliance pastor, Ernest Regier. I saw him as a meek and humble man. After I received the Spirit, however, I realized that he didn’t have the spiritual traits of meekness and humility, that what I had seen was only an attempt of the flesh to be godly or Christlike. I was now seeing through him.
This was at least the fifth pastor in the first few months since being baptized in the Spirit, whose heart had been partially revealed to me. I now wrote my first letter after receiving the Spirit, and I told Mr. Regier what I saw.
Why didn’t I tell him personally? I don’t know. Was it fear or lack of confidence? Maybe. I did think that perhaps he wouldn’t listen to me if I tried talking to him, and I had a better chance of expressing myself more accurately and completely on paper.
The following Sunday, he and his wife made a beeline for Marilyn and me when we entered the church. They wanted to demonstrate their love for us and show that they weren’t offended by my letter, but there was no opening to talk. I had expressed myself; he rejected it and, I think, presumed that I had a critical spirit. Of course, I did have a “critical” spirit, but for good and not for evil.
Glen and Bea Bradford were young newlyweds at the Alliance church. Being Charismatics, they were excited to hear that we had received the Spirit.
Glen was looking for work while Bea ran The Way, the quiet Bible and Christian bookstore they had established. When I went back to working as a salesman at Homes Canada, I invited Glen to join the company as a salesman, which he did. At the office, Glen and I began to share many things together. He and I would spend many hours talking about the things of the Kingdom of God.
Upon reading my letter to Ernest Regier, the Alliance pastor, and seeing that I had discriminating things to say about others, Glen said to me, “You know what, Victor? You’re a critic.” I looked at him. “I don’t mean that in a bad way,” he explained, “but a good one. I believe God is giving you to be a critic.”
I pondered those words in the days and years to come, not sure I liked the idea. Who likes critics? Years later, I wondered, “Is that what a prophet is? A ‘spiritual critic’?”
Call it a habit established from the beginning, or the first signs of a gift, but I have written many letters to many people, especially in the last few years, concerning spiritual matters. I find there are many advantages to letter writing over speaking directly:
- I get the opportunity to express all my thoughts, and if others have that same opportunity, which I welcome and prefer, I get to hear theirs and give them a fair hearing.
- Often when speaking, people would interrupt or wander from the issues at hand, or I would forget what I wanted to say.
- When I write letters, what I have to say is on record. So often, I find people saying, “You said…” when I said or meant no such thing. Even with letters, I still frequently find people misinterpreting, misquoting, and misunderstanding what is said. They will even argue the opposite of what is being clearly said. Those in darkness can be so stubborn, obtuse, and proud.
- Letters give people a record to which they (and I) may refer at any time.
- While conversations cannot be accurately repeated, letters or written documents can, and perfect copies can be made.
- When others besides the original persons addressed have opportunity to read the letters, they can be, and often are, impacted.
- There are even occasions where other parties help the person whom I have addressed understand what is being said.
- Letter-writing is therapeutic, not that I should think of myself, but I get to express what is often fire in my bones that I cannot hold back.
- It seems that while I have not been gifted with speaking (Moses and Paul the apostle also mentioned this weakness), I have been graced with the ability to write (though not nearly as much as have others), something I never expected.
A downside of a written record, if you can call it that, is that once it is public, it isn’t so easy to reverse or conceal. But even there, a tenth advantage can be that one will be more careful of what he writes. And if it isn’t right to write, is it fair to say?
Notwithstanding the numerous indisputable advantages of writing letters, I am sometimes suspected or accused of cowardice for not speaking directly. I have often wondered about it myself, but I am invariably willing to meet face-to-face with anyone, and when I declare so and ask for an appointment, the accusations of cowardice abruptly cease.
About the time we returned to the Alliance after leaving the Southern Baptists, there were “revival meetings” scheduled, going on for a week. They had speakers from out of town, people who had allegedly experienced great things of God. The leaders’ supposed intention was to inject some life into their church.
(This activity was the result of something that had started years before with the Sutera brothers, Ralph and Lou, in Saskatchewan.)
During the meeting, there were confession of sins, repentance, tears, singing, and apparent conversions to Christ. However, I perceived that the people were falling short of the will of God and what was available. I saw no gifts operating, and I wasn’t convinced that what was happening would last, unless they broke through and went further. It didn’t happen.
I got up to testify, full of emotion and crying, saying, “People, it isn’t enough to confess sins. It isn’t enough to repent, though so good and necessary. You need to receive the Spirit of God in order to have the power to live the Christian life as God would have it. One must receive power from on high.”
I said some other things as well, and there was sudden silence in the sanctuary. Some were moved, some cried, and some wondered what I was saying. Others decided that my words were not of God and thought to shut me up, but the director of the “crusade” decided to let me continue, seeing I was moved to tears. His judgment was that one ought to be careful when someone was speaking with tears, considering that it may well be of God. His was not a spiritual discernment, only a judgment of the outward appearance and intellectual reason.
I tried to talk to one of the main speakers, Don, about the baptism in the Holy Spirit, thinking that if he had truly experienced a spiritual revival, he would be receptive. While he was nice, he was not agreeable, and he wasn’t familiar with the things of the Spirit.
I brought up how John the Immerser (Baptist) prophesied that while he baptized with water, Jesus would come and baptize with the Holy Spirit. His reply was a strange one: “John the Baptist’s ministry wasn’t of the Spirit.”
I assumed, perhaps erroneously, that he was suggesting there was only one experience of the Spirit, that being conversion to Christ. While in my spirit, what he said didn’t ring true, I had no answer. Later, I found that the Scriptures refuted him by saying that John was filled with the Spirit from his mother’s womb!
I pointed out the first chapter in Ephesians where it describes more than one stage of spiritual development:
“In whom also you, hearing the Word of Truth, the gospel of our salvation, in whom also believing, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13 MKJV).
Don said that it was all one and the same event. I had no reply for that, either. While praying that evening, the Lord succored me and took me to Acts 19. The apostle Paul had met some Ephesians who were already believing disciples, having been baptized unto Jesus by John’s baptism years before. When Paul told them of the Spirit and prayed for them to receive, they received the Spirit with manifest gifts.
The Lord then pointed out that the letter Paul later sent to the church at Ephesus clearly described their twofold experience. He was faithful to give me Scriptural testimony to answer all questions and refutations of the truth. Constantly, I was full of joy to receive such revelations to keep us on His path.
Marilyn really had no idea what she was getting herself into when she married me, and I really had no idea how much I would need her. I discovered that things were eating at me from childhood and would surface every morning. If I was not going to work, we would talk about these things, sometimes for hours. It would be the same things over and over, things like remorse and regrets, “should haves and shouldn’t haves,” money matters, fear of hidden sins, fear of being deceived or departing from God’s will, fear of conflicts with the religious, and mostly fear of just plain being wrong.
I wasn’t trusting God. There was so much unbelief in me, and Marilyn had to have enormous spiritual stamina and patience – the grace of God – to bear up under this constant barrage of negativity, from first rising, day after day, for many years. Eventually, there would come an end to this burdensome daily nightmare (or daymare), and what a marvelous way it would come!
There were two particular causes of my troubles – recurring dreams stemming from repetitive unpleasant experiences, and a neck injury, neither of which I was aware of as a source of emotional, psychological, and spiritual torment until the time of deliverance and healing, as you will see. There are also two other troubles that have remained with me for my good.
Having received the Spirit, I expected that we would have power in preaching, power to love and persuade, and power to convert people to God. I expected people to be receptive of a glorious opportunity to have wonderful fellowship with the Lord on a higher level than they had experienced. I was expecting a revival.
It didn’t happen. We were shunned, rejected, and accused of delusion and devilry. I was amazed and greatly disappointed. As a result, I sank into bouts of depression and doubt. So where was my victory and wonderful fellowship with the Lord I was hoping to lead others into?
These bouts could last a day or even a week. The first was the longest, and the worst. I wondered if we had truly experienced the baptism in the Holy Spirit or if we were deceived, as others were saying. This doubt and depression would come and go for the next few years, causing us no end of grief and difficulty. Eventually, in believing and giving thanks to God for what He was doing and how He was doing it, along with being encouraged by seeing the Lord unquestionably manifest Himself often to us and on our behalf, the depressions disappeared. The fire was doing its work.
Marilyn’s father, John, kept a herd of beef cattle, part of which was Marilyn’s and part Les’s. Every year he would sell the calves and give the money to them. I decided that if we were to walk with the Lord, we would be wiser to forego these kinds of earthly family ties.
Furthermore, we believed one ought not to be in debt, that debt could be disastrous if hard times came, which we suspected might be the case. John had debt, like payments on his pickup, and though his ranch was on a veteran’s low interest loan, he did owe some. I thought it best that he keep the money and get out of all debt.
We wrote him, saying he need no longer send us the annual income from Marilyn’s cattle. We asked him to pay his debts with the money. But I think he gave Marilyn’s share to Les, which we didn’t appreciate.
Our main purpose, however, was to forsake all such ties and gratuities from those who weren’t in the walk of faith with us. They could do what they wanted with what was theirs; I simply didn’t feel free to receive from them.
There is no question that I have been an unbelieving “Christian” hypocrite, however. I recall shopping for a car in the spring of 1975, while working at Homes Canada with Bill Prettie. A Datsun was advertised, I answered the ad, the owner brought the car by, and we went for a test drive.
I didn’t know what to make of the car. Buying used had been one of my nightmares, more than once, and I was anxious not to make the same mistake again. Well, I made it. I ignored the fact that I had no peace about the car. Perhaps buying it for the right price would have been the answer, but the seller seemed locked into a finance debt on the car and wasn’t willing to budge on the price.
That night, I dreamed. I believe I only heard words that I should buy the car. I then called the fellow, saying I would buy the car. I told him the dream and witnessed to him about the Lord, telling him how good it was to have the Lord’s direction in all affairs of life. He was quite pleased. I gave him a check, along with a Campus Crusade “Four Spiritual Laws” tract, hoping he would believe.
Then Bill Prettie lifted the hood and looked around. Being somewhat experienced in these things, he found evidence that the car had been in an accident and the frame had been repaired, but likely misaligned. I began to realize that when taking the car for a test drive, there seemed to be a funny feel to it, but couldn’t identify it. We called a local body shop and, sure enough, they had repaired the car. Bill strongly advised me against the purchase, saying it was almost impossible to completely correct a car with this problem.
I called the seller and asked him not to cash the check. I also asked him why he didn’t tell me the car was in a major accident. I don’t remember his answer entirely, except that he said I didn’t ask and that he was under no legal obligation to tell me. But his reaction, and that of his mother with whom he lived, was, “I thought you said God told you to buy it!”
They gave me a very hard time over backing out, and I felt guilty, particularly for canceling after claiming that God directed me. I was concerned about how this would affect his spiritual welfare, but not as concerned as I was about my financial interests. He returned the check and tossed the tract on my desk, sarcastically saying, “You can have this back, too!”
Was I wrong? Yes, one way or another, I was, terribly so. Was the dream from the Lord? I’m not sure, I now don’t think so, but even if it wasn’t, I believe I should have followed through, having made the commitment. One may say that the fellow wasn’t up front about the condition of the goods, which was true, and that the Lord spared me, which could also be true.
Lesson: If you aren’t sure something is of God, be it a vision, a dream, a prophecy, or whatever, then conclude it isn’t; there must be the peaceful assurance that it is of God. If sure, then obey, no matter what the cost.
As it turned out, we went on to buy a Volkswagen fastback in good condition from a local mechanic for a fair price. We moved to Dauphin nearly two years later, where there was a Datsun dealer, but not a Volkswagen dealer. When we had problems with the car, which had fuel injection and required trained personnel, we were stuck, because the nearest dealer was 120 miles away in Yorkton, Saskatchewan or 200 miles away in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
The summer after moving to Dauphin, we drove through some hot country in the North Dakota Badlands. Being the engine was air-cooled, we overheated it, eventually resulting in an expensive overhaul, all of which wouldn’t have happened had we bought the water-cooled Datsun.
Do I know for sure that we should have bought the wreck? No, but I think if I had stuck to the deal, to my hurt, keeping my word, the Lord would have taken care of things. The tragedy is not my financial loss so much as the likely damage to the fellow’s spiritual welfare because I broke our agreement while professing the Lord’s Name. May the Lord make things right for that man.
When Marilyn and I married, I was debt-free, but she was over $3,000 in debt from student loans. I selfishly required that Marilyn work to help pay the debt. She worked for John and Peggy Neudorf in their gift shop in Prince Albert for a while, which she found boring, and later substitute-taught some Catholic high school students, which she enjoyed. Soon, however, we came to the conviction that a Christian wife’s place was in the home:
“Let the aged women likewise be in reverent behavior, not slanderers, not enslaved by much wine, teachers of good; that they may train the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, subject to their own husbands, that the Word of God may not be blasphemed” (Titus 2:3-5 MKJV).
Marilyn had no occupational work until many years later, when new things entered the scene that I least expected. But I look back now and wonder what she did with all her time alone at home all those years. I didn’t know or care, it seems. How shameful of me!
“Be angry without sinning. Don’t go to bed angry” (Ephesians 4:26 GW).
Don’t let it happen. One night, instead of praying with Marilyn as we always did, I was very angry with her. Whereas we would invariably resolve our differences and get to the root of the problem before the Lord, this time I refused. I had barely fallen asleep when I was attacked and nearly strangled by what I could best describe as a crushing “electrical charge.” I couldn’t breathe and I knew it was an intelligent and nasty spiritual being.
I also immediately knew why it was there. Helpless, I cried out within to the Lord in repentance, and the attack was stopped. I confessed my wrong to Marilyn and apologized to her; we settled the problem before the Lord and went to sleep, troubled no more.
In receiving the Holy Spirit, we also received, in the days to come, the gifts of the Spirit – tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophecy, miracles, healing, the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, visions, dreams, praise and thanksgiving, revelations, and discerning of spirits.
There are some Pentecostals who teach that unless one has received tongues, that person has not received the Spirit. We knew early in our days of the Spirit that such a notion was false. Many make tongues happen and send people away “rejoicing” with the mistaken notion they have received the Spirit. Indeed, as the Psalmist says, the works of men are the paths of the destroyer (Psalm 17:4).
I began to realize another thing. When Catholic, I had been taught that we were the true, original Church of God, and that our doctrines and beliefs were the right ones – I had all there was to be had. Then I was converted to Christ. Jesus Christ took over my life through the revelation of Scripture and the ministry of a non-Catholic. My life was dramatically transformed. I learned that the Catholic Church had not been right – far from it.
Then, when baptized in the Holy Spirit, I discovered that there was yet more, though evangelicals (Alliance, Baptist, Salvation Army, Mennonite, and others) told me I had all there was to be had when receiving Christ in repentance. As with the Catholics, the evangelicals had not been right. Was there still more to be had? Was there yet another step to higher places?
Before I was converted, my priest and many other priests and nuns I knew were against exposure to literature from other churches or religious organizations. Everybody else was wrong; case closed. When I was converted, the Alliance and Baptist people condemned “Pentecostalism” and the gifts of the Spirit. We were discouraged from pursuing a direction towards any doctrine that didn’t generally agree with theirs. Fair enough.
However, when Marilyn and I received the Spirit, immediately I had the thought that had we sought out other religious circles, we might have found truth that we were told by our circles was error, and we might have found out that what we believed was the error. As far as we were concerned, everything was now up for review.
Were the Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, as wrong as we were told? Were they, perhaps, the true Church of God on earth after all? Did they have no truth whatsoever? We determined that we were going to let the Lord, not men, lead and control us. That is true freedom, is it not? How dangerous a notion is that?
We found out, however, that the JW’s, as with so many other groups, aren’t free at all. When they come to our door, they make it quite plain (when pressed) that they will not read outsiders’ literature. Indeed, they are afraid of it.
What are they afraid of? Their leaders are afraid of losing their followers. Why? Because they aren’t secure in their “truth.” Why? Because it is not the Truth. Truth makes secure, confident, and free. The JW leaders, however, lay down the law that their followers are not to expose themselves to teaching and doctrine from the outside, telling them that it is of the world and the Devil.
Jesus wasn’t afraid of His followers being exposed to opposing views or falling away. He spoke hard words to His disciples knowing full well that the seventy would turn away. He knew who were His, as granted of the Father, and who were not. The JW directorship knows nothing. Surely this proverb describes them to a tee:
“The wicked are edgy with guilt, ready to run off even when no one’s after them; honest people are relaxed and confident, bold as lions” (Proverbs 28:1 MSG).
This notion of JW’s being fearful may sound suspect, seeing they are the ones most often found exposing themselves to doors slammed in their faces. But appearances are deceptive. Fear can take on the boldest of countenances and activities. I believe it’s fear that drives them to go door to door, lest they should fail of the Kingdom of God.
One day in March 1975, Marilyn was praying, and she began to pray in tongues. This was the first time the spiritual gifts of tongues and interpretation were manifested with us.
Asking the Lord for an interpretation, she received two things: We would be going to England, and Archie and Cathie would have a baby boy. At the time, Cathie wanted children, but was told by doctors she couldn’t have any. They had been married for about two years and had thus far proved the doctors right.
Sometime shortly after receiving the Spirit, I had a dream that signified some puzzling realities. These things were about my pre-Christian friends and about false religion and its power, all of which I would come to better understand in the years to come.
I dreamt I was in a hockey stadium with my unbelieving friends, among them Gerry McClintock and Dave Miller. We were high up in the stands watching a strange performance on the ice. There was a tall (perhaps fifteen foot), regal, beautiful woman, dressed in white, I believe, with something like a wand in her hand. She was orchestrating everything that was going on in the stadium – the performances, the performers, and the mood and response of the audience.
Suddenly, I felt the urge to go down to the ice. She was beckoning me to come, not by audible voice or visible gesture, but by some power. As I headed down over the bleachers, Gerry and the others looked at me like I was crazy. They were perplexed and annoyed with me.
When I reached the ice, she immediately and mysteriously gave me the power to figure skate. I began to do things I had never been able to do, and I knew that she was doing it. She then motioned to the audience to applaud. The audience, under her spell, obeyed her.
As I skated, I enjoyed the power, the attention, and the applause, but I sensed there was something sinister about it. Therefore, I began to make my way to the other end of the arena where it was darker, without people. I fell to one knee and prayed that God would deliver me from this great woman’s power. I knew I couldn’t resist it any more than a fly could resist a forest fire.
A silver candlestick holder about two feet high with three lit candles appeared before me on the ice. Somehow, in connection to this candlestick holder, the woman’s power was breaking and I received strength to leave the ice. I began to make my way up some empty bleachers, on skates, heading back to find my friends.
The dream ended there. In real life, I would never “find” my friends again. There was an uncrossable chasm between us.
I recall that at the very beginning of the dream, before seeing the woman, my friends and I had been seated in lower rows, near the other end of the arena, watching hockey. A puck came flying up at us, and while I was apprehensive about it, Gerry wasn’t. It seemed to me that he had better qualities of character than I.