PART TWO – Pentecost to Israel (cont.)
When I was first converted in 1973, I somehow came to believe that it was my responsibility to pray my immediate family into the Kingdom. Every day I prayed fervently that they would be saved. I believe this immature and unrealistic thinking and attitude came from the evangelicals. It comes when one is snared by Mystery, the harlot church and false religion, which captured me when I went forward that Sunday in response to an “altar call” delivered by Ken Campbell. Marilyn, on the other hand, didn’t have this problem, though she had been with Henry Blackaby and the Southern Baptists for a few years.
After receiving the Spirit, the Lord gave me the realization that my family was no more important to Him than others, and if I was going to identify with Him fully, His priorities would be mine and I would get to see all persons as He saw them. Therefore, the drug addict in the gutter might become as important to me as my own mother, the harlot as my sister, the atheist as my father, and the murderer as my brother. I ceased to pray as I preferred and began to depend on the Lord to lead me to pray as I ought:
“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with inexpressible groanings” (Romans 8:26 EMTV).
It was after the dream of Mystery, the great and glorious woman, that I began to realize something that might shock many. It took me years to come to terms with it and to not doubt what I was shown, something that seemed tantamount to blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
I began to realize, or at least suspect, that when I went forward at Ken Campbell’s invitation at the Alliance church in March of 1973, just days after I was converted, it was not the Lord drawing me, but the great harlot snaring me. From that day forward, I was Mystery’s, performing for her with zeal. I was set on saving the world, but was destroying it instead, so religious and contemptible I must have been to others. I shudder to think of it.
Eventually, the Lord delivered me from her awesome, tenacious power. It took years. But the Lord had me on His program all along, training and bringing me to understand these things.
“For the creation was not willingly subjected to vanity, but because of Him Who subjected it on hope that the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:20-21 MKJV).
We met certain others at the Alliance church who believed in the baptism in the Holy Spirit with attendant gifts. Among them were Steve and Ilene Rudd, who served in the Northern Canadian Evangelical Mission; Sally Hogg, who was married to Ron, an unbeliever; Glen and Bea Bradford; and Jim Hill, Bea’s father, who was continuously, loudly, publicly praising the Lord.
There was no unity among any of us. I once tried to bring together for fellowship all those who were for the things of the Spirit, but none were able or willing. They were quite content with remaining in the church system, while I, in good conscience, knew we couldn’t. God’s call on us to come out was clear and compelling. Besides, who was I to lead them?
At the Alliance church, we discovered that not only did Steve and Ilene Rudd believe in the baptism in the Holy Spirit, they also declared the existence of a third experience, termed “sanctification” by Bethany Bible Institute in Minneapolis, from where they had graduated. They were one of the first and among the very few to alert us to the availability of a third-stage experience in the Lord.
They told me that all we needed to do was pray a simple prayer for sanctification, believe, and receive it. I wasn’t convinced of two things: one, that they had entered that stage themselves; and two, that it was that simple.
It isn’t. The Hebrews writer exhorted that we labor to enter in (Hebrews 4:11). When I say I wasn’t convinced, I could use a more accurate expression – simply, the Spirit of God didn’t bear witness to me that what they were saying was true.
However, I believed in such an event in the spiritual pilgrim’s journey and was not about to allow anyone to delay me on this one if it was available. I set out to enter rest, or to be perfected or sanctified, as some would call it. I certainly didn’t expect to have to wait so long; it wouldn’t happen for many more years.
Around this time, in 1975 or 1976, Marilyn dreamt she saw a triceratops. I went up to it, opened the top of its head, and reached in to remove some eggs.
Interpretation: I was carnally-minded, always trying to understand spiritual matters with the intellect, the flesh, the mind of the “old man,” which is impossible, inevitably leads to false conclusions, and thus endangers us.
“For they who are according to the flesh mind the things of flesh, but they who are according to the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace because the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the Law of God, neither indeed can it be. So then they who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:5-8 MKJV).
How much turmoil I could have saved my wife, myself, and others had I heeded those words, but no, I had to understand (be in control of) everything!
While it is true that many seek after experiences and not after God Himself, this wasn’t so with us. We sought after more of the Lord – a closer walk with Him. I wanted to live according to His will, whatever the price to be paid. Emotional experiences didn’t enter into it. I wasn’t prepared to lose family, friends, vocation, or any other like-valued asset of this world for any experience, unless it meant a deeper and more intimate knowledge of Jesus Christ.
I’m not sure where it began… somewhere around this time I wanted someone to lead and teach me, someone at whose feet I could sit, for as long as it took, to answer so many questions for me. I wanted to learn and learn fast, yet it seemed nobody had answers – nobody. When I sought out older men and those who had presumably walked with the Lord for many years, I was only disappointed. God gave me no man to shepherd me. It took some time to realize He was calling me directly and that He would be my personal Teacher and Trainer.
The time would come, in a few years, when another prayed to God to send a man to minister to him, and his prayer would be answered.
After we received the Spirit in January ‘75, we let Dave Loewen in Calgary know, seeing he was the one who left the tract at our place, which tract was instrumental in our receiving the Spirit. Dave was quite excited. In a later personal visit, I admitted to him that while I argued with him against the truth of the baptism in the Spirit, I hadn’t even red his letters and arguments in defense of the experience. “You mean you didn’t even read what I wrote you?” he exclaimed. He marveled at that, though I’m not sure why.
In the first months of having received the Spirit, Dave invited me to a men’s Saturday morning prayer breakfast meeting in Calgary, Alberta, hundreds of miles from Prince Albert. A group of perhaps 15 men or so met on Saturday mornings at some restaurant. They would have breakfast at eight o’clock and share, pray, and generally fellowship in the things of God until about noon. At the meeting, I met Carroll Vance, a Calgary Police Service detective, and Jim Flynn, both known to minister prophetically.
I recall a day when about a dozen of us gathered in a circle facing inward, and Jim prophesied over several of the men. He came to me and spoke a lengthy message. I can recall God telling me He was going to bring me to many, and many would be blessed. I was to speak and not to strive with people. He was going to show me things that other men did not see. He said I would be alone. The Lord repeatedly warned me not to try to understand Him or to figure things out. There was much more I don’t recall (though I sense the essence within me to this day), and Dave Loewen marveled at what had been prophesied. I was thankful and excited, but I didn’t understand the implications.
Jim Flynn once confronted me, saying, “God is in full control, and He is going to reconcile everybody to Himself.”
I asked him if he was saying that everybody that ever lived was going to be saved.
“What do you think this is all about?” he replied, waving his arm at the outdoors around us. “Do you think anyone is any better than anyone else?”
I exclaimed, “That’s blasphemy!”
He calmly replied, “I won’t argue. I’m just going to leave this verse with you: ‘For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive’ (1 Corinthians 15:22 KJV).”
It was either that verse or this one:
“And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven” (Colossians 1:20 KJV).
There I was, thinking what Jim was trying to tell me was heresy, and wondering what kind of crowd I was getting involved with. But I couldn’t shake the words he spoke and the Scriptures he shared with me. The truth would prevail, but it would take a while.
The doctrine of the reconciliation of all things has been one of the most wonderful revelations to me, yet one of the most controversial. I marvel at how angry people can instantly become when hearing how the Lord, by His blood, succeeded far more gloriously than is commonly taught. His blood has prevailed to save, not a measly five percent of mankind, but all.
Crediting His blood with perfect success makes the blood of the “righteous” boil. They prefer to paint Satan as the less powerful villain, yet, in essence, the victor who, in spite of his inferiority, is able to destroy 95 percent of mankind in eternal damnation, people for whom Christ died. They prefer to believe that Jesus Christ, paying the price He paid and given all power in Heaven and on earth, succeeded in saving only a handful of souls, the privileged ones who, by virtue of their virtue, knew better than most not to reject His virtue.
Why does the truth of the reconciliation of all things, as declared in Scripture, so enrage people? My first reaction, too, was one of unbelief and indignation. What a reaction! Oh, we cling to our righteousness! We are such good people for having believed, while all those other people are so wicked! (I speak tongue in cheek.)
We had heard of Charismatic meetings held in homes in Calgary, led by John Hutchison. In the first months of our having received the Spirit, we went to one and were very cautious. John and others were singing, praising, and laying hands on people, praying for them to receive healings and gifts of the Spirit. I wanted the gift of prophecy, recommended by the apostle Paul as being the foremost of the gifts (I Corinthians 14:1).
I let the people lay hands on me, but prayed to God that I would be protected from evil influence. I was skeptical of John, who struck me as being quite carnal or worldly and self-seeking. I now see this as the gift of discernment working, a gift I didn’t realize I had at the time, though it had already been in operation since the beginning, as I perceived the spirits of Jack Connor, Bill Bye, Henry Blackaby, and others.
I believed and accepted that I had received the gift of prophecy, but I didn’t seem to experience it for quite some time. Now that I look back, I recognize that I was soon prophesying and not realizing it, in letters to others and even in songs and poems.
Immediately after the meeting, John headed straight to the lunch table and hungrily devoured a sandwich, seeming to be rather preoccupied with food. I didn’t know what to make of it. Is a man of God one who has overcome in these matters, or not? About a year and a half later, I would see John again, though we would not be conversing, and I would perceive more of him that would make me wonder.
Marilyn and I began to set aside one day a week for fasting. I don’t recall why or when we began or ceased. I believe the practice was beneficial for body, soul, and spirit. However, there came a time, only months later, when we felt it was no longer necessary for us to continue.
For edification in the things of the Spirit, Dave Loewen suggested we call a couple of men he had heard of near us – Bill Kellers and Dave Roberts, bachelor co-pastors of Mount Zion Christian Center in Saskatoon. He believed we needed to go to a Spirit-filled church for fellowship.
We called Bill and Dave and met with them at Archie and Cathie’s in Saskatoon. They acted like they didn’t want married couples, Dave even mentioning that they had no need of any, which I thought rather strange. We later found out that their congregation was preponderantly young singles, with close to a thousand members.
That night, Marilyn had a dream wherein she was on the ground, lying on her stomach, and Bill was moving his hand over the small of her back, without touching it. It was very hot and painful.
Neither of us was quite comfortable with them, though apparently they were ordinary good-humored, clean-cut fellows. What was more, they were Charismatic Christian pastors who were apparently Spirit-filled and known for their spiritual gifts, specifically miracles, healings, prophecy, and tongues.
We didn’t join them, but we did have a couple of visits with them over the next year and a half, once in Saskatoon and once in Prince Albert. I recall Dave Roberts once playfully saying to me, “I suppose you think you’re the two witnesses, huh!”
I thought, “Why is he saying that? Is he referring to Marilyn and me?” The remark was strange because we weren’t on the subject at the time and hadn’t so much as thought any such thing of ourselves. I surmised that perhaps it was common in Charismatic circles for some to think of themselves as the two witnesses of Revelation 11, though I hadn’t heard of any making such claims.
Years later, as I reflected on this occasion, it seemed a curious thing that we personally met these men at the outset of our spiritual walk and they made mention of the two witnesses. It also later occurred to me that meeting two male co-pastors was a rarity, the only case of which I am aware to this day. Did they think they were the two witnesses? To my knowledge, they never claimed to be, yet they had this uncommon dual male pastoring partnership.
I attended as many of those Saturday morning breakfast meetings as I could, likely four or five in all, over a year or two. Carroll Vance prophesied several things – that there was a great calling on my life (not in those words); the Lord said He had given me a wise woman; He said that the second crop would be better than the first; that I would be given what others had not been given to see; and that He would bring me unto many. Carroll prophesied that people would know there had been a prophet among them. He quoted Scripture by prophecy, saying that no weapon formed against me would prosper.
He said that I will speak things and ask myself, “Did I say that?” and I will realize that I had spoken those things, yet it was the Lord Who spoke them by me. He also prophesied, “Do not despise the day of small things,” that they are by no means small. He said there was assigned to me a powerful angel to go with me.
I was told many more things that I don’t remember. I wish I had recorded them. (I advise all those who receive things from the Lord to record them in every detail as soon as possible and never let go of them. Record the date, time, and circumstances.)
Marilyn and I paid one of our first visits as believers to my uncle and aunt, Fred and Delores Molnar, at their acreage on the outskirts of Calgary. Fred professed faith in Christ. Delores, a believer, was my mother’s sister. She had believed for several years before I did, and when I believed in 1973, she almost immediately declared that the Lord had chosen me as the sacrificial lamb for the family.
Delores’ younger sister, Lois Darlene Benson, was also visiting there at that time. She was not a believer then, and was resisting. I recall that she seemed to be looking for any excuse to pick a fight, and I did whatever I could to avoid one. Her first name means “famous warrior maid” or “warrior woman” according to some sources, and “good,” “better,” and “more desirable,” according to others. At the time, Lois was the proverbial “battle axe”; however, the event passed without incident.
Lord willing, you’ll hear more of Lois. Will she be “better” or “more desirable”?
After believing in Christ, I wondered about an old cherished friend of my memories, Bill Orr, and called on him in Calgary, Alberta. We met and visited briefly, but nothing apparent came of it.
Last I heard, he was a successful businessman in real estate and land development. Bill had intended to be a success in Canada, and seemed to know how to achieve his goal. He was a colorful fellow – popular, intelligent, not arrogant – who would not be deterred from his ambitions.
I was finding that the Alliance people were not as hospitable to the Spirit as they had been to me when I first joined them as a new convert only two years earlier. Indeed, many were afraid. It was sad. Here we were, being rejected or avoided as those in error by “believers.” I saw that, without the Spirit, professing believers were falling drastically short of the will of God.
I thought, “If what we have isn’t of God, why is it that they are the ones who are afraid? Why are we not afraid? Is fear right? Why will they not at least discuss these things with us? What do they have to lose?”
While attending Bible school, Marilyn and I searched for a good book on the sovereignty of God and found very little. Just after we were married, we thought there needed to be such a book written. The best we could find at the time (1974-1976) in the published world was Arthur Pink’s The Sovereignty of God (not saying it was the best). We debated the possibility of writing such a book for a few minutes, realizing the job was an impossible one, almost like trying to contain God Himself.
We agreed that God would reveal Himself to us in the coming days and years, wherein we would know Him and experience His sovereignty. Such a book would be us, decades in writing. I believe the book you are reading is it. I think you’ll think that, too, by the time you’re done.
Believing and having experienced the gifts, Marilyn and I began speaking privately of the Holy Spirit and praying for people for their healing. Some received healing, and some didn’t. For example, coaxed by her daughter Bea, we prayed for Mrs. Jim Hill, who had multiple sclerosis or muscular dystrophy, I think. We sensed, however, that Mrs. Hill was in unbelief and our prayer would not prevail, and it didn’t. (Others that were healed I will speak of later.)
Oftentimes I felt like Marilyn was manipulative and controlling. I suppose she was looking for affection or security, but I don’t really know why she was the way she was. She had been this way with people before we got to know each other.
One night at our Chalifour home, I got very angry with her when I felt she was crowding and clinging to me in terms of hugging and general physical affection. I told her that I resented it and that if I wanted any intimacy, she needed to allow me to take the initiative. I went on and on, in intense anger.
She didn’t tell me, though she cried and cried bitterly, that she had been deeply hurt. Our relationship was never the same again. Since then, I have often desired that she would take the initiative to show affection, with balance, but her feelings were tragically stifled from that day forward. I have been a brutish, insensitive beast.
As mentioned, we saw a 1973 canary yellow Volkswagen fastback advertised in the paper. The owner was a mechanic at Whitter’s Shell service station in Prince Albert. His price of $2,000 was firm. Glen and Bea were going to buy it if we didn’t, but we did. I saw this conflict of interests with them as part of the complication I had created by not buying the Datsun I believe I was supposed to buy.
At the Alliance, Marilyn and I began fellowshipping with Sally Hogg, a pensive, wary, somewhat troubled lady whose husband, Ron, didn’t believe. Her father (Mr. Waschuk) was an evangelical minister with a Christian Gospel radio program in Saskatoon.
Sally’s father had a very troubled wife who tried so hard to be spiritually convincing, but she was ridden with guilt. She was obviously agitated and openly critical of her husband, who appeared to suffer it patiently.
While praying with them in their home one day, Mrs. Waschuk was crying in prayer and carrying on, and Marilyn had one of her first words of prophecy – “I don’t want your words or your tears; I want your heart.” Mrs. Waschuk carried on in her pretence, as though nothing had been said, but we knew those words from God would impact her.
We later learned from Sally that years before, Mr. Waschuk received what was believed to be a call from God to preach in northern Canada among the native population, but his wife refused, and he complied with her wishes. It seemed to have been a deadly decision spiritually, for both of them.
Operation Mobilization is an international evangelization organization working with youth volunteers from many churches. We gave money to OM and found out that Sally was giving to them, as well. Sally got the idea that we should go on an OM mission, using our combined donations. We asked the Lord about it, received the go-ahead, gave notice to our landlord, and in due time, headed for New Jersey, where OM was gathering North American youth for a European evangelization campaign.
On the way through Manitoba, we stopped at my parents’ place in Dauphin. There we found my younger brother, David, at home alone and ill. Nobody seemed to know what the problem was, but guessed that perhaps he had the flu. He did have a fever. We spoke to him of the Lord, told him that the Lord healed, and talked to him about the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
Suddenly, as he lay on the couch, he began to shout, writhe, and gasp, crying for help, trying to say that something was choking him and he could barely breathe. I dashed over to him and began to pray, laying hands on him. I rebuked evil spirits in him, and almost immediately, he sank in the sofa, utterly limp. His shirt was wet with perspiration. He heaved a sigh of relief.
“Victor, I feel so good, so clean inside, so peaceful!” he exclaimed.
We prayed with him, and he confessed his sins and asked to receive the Spirit of God. Shortly after, he was praising the Lord and very thankful. We left, instructing him to stay away from sin, read the Scriptures, live for the Lord, and stay in touch. We were also very thankful for what had happened, not expecting the trying times soon to come for David, a brother I loved.
To my recollection, this was the first case of the spiritual gift of miracles (casting out of devils) being manifest by us. Truly, it was the first time we had personally ever seen such a thing happen.
Page 6 PART SIX– Harvest Haven to Surprise Visitors (cont.) Particle – Schussler's Aspirations John Schussler planned to ride a recent wave of agricultural opportunity, the saskatoon berry. He planted a few acres of them and designed a self-propelled harvester from an old combine to eliminate the high cost of handpicking labor. Saskatoons, also known as juneberries, are native to western Canada, a delicious, deep purple, pea-sized fruit growing in clusters on bushes 2 to 24 feet tall. They were a staple with the natives before the Europeans came. The natives would make pemmican, a mixture of dried buffalo meat, fat, and sometimes Saskatoon berries. Saskatoons can be eaten raw and also used for pies, muffins, jams, shakes, wines, cereals, trail mix, and snack foods. They are delicious and nutritious. As children in Manitoba, we did our annual pick and my mother canned them with some rhubarb in quart jars for an enjoyable fruit dessert. Domesticating the berry, farms sprang up throughout western Canada to meet a growing demand. Europe was interested and John was told that a business in Germany was giving him a standing order – “Supply us with all you can and name your price.” I thought, “Wow! That is some order, some opportunity! How is it we always seem to miss out on all these opportunities, agricultural or otherwise?” So often we heard of farmers getting in on the ground floor for something or other – Katahdin sheep, llam...
Page 13 PART FIVE – Moon River to Harvest Haven (cont.) Particle – Husbands Set Apart for Children I recall how Howard Benson remarked that when their first child was born, Howard felt neglected, if not abandoned, by Lois. Consequently, he said, he went and found other ways to occupy and fulfill himself, apart from his wife. I recall Jim Puls confessing in the 70's he was miserably depressed. I believe it was at a time when he and Ilene just had their first child. After many years, I realized the depression I had been feeling since Jonathan was born was due to a major portion of Marilyn's attention transferred from me to the one who needed and deserved it so much more. I didn't realize what was happening at the time. Had someone explained it to me and I understood, I think I would have found it significantly easier to cope with. But then, perhaps the poems I wrote a month after his birth might not have been written and wouldn't be serving others. (I don't believe they only expressed my feelings about what was happening in that situation, but how our lives were in our spiritual pilgrimage.) Particle – Consummate Inventor of the Wheel I often wonder why I've had to learn many things the hard way, re-inventing the wheel again and again. Where were the parents and grandparents, the teachers and counselors who could have helped me so much? There were none. Why didn't God provide them? Particle – Jonathan Falls Jonathan was just over a year old when he climbe...
Page 14 PART FOUR– Bernalillo to Moon River (cont.) Particle – Our Twenty-Third Marital Home Archie and Cathie moved out of Ashgrove, renting an acreage from Cam Peat on McNally Road. Marilyn and I found a home to rent at 5 Queens in West Lethbridge, owned by Eugene McNeely. This was Marilyn's and my twenty-third home together, and my fortieth home personally (the number forty represents a full term or generation). Here was another situation where people were trying to sell their home. Failing that, people often decide to rent to make the mortgage payments and have the property tended. It is also more saleable when occupied. Some owners try to make it look like they have no intention of selling, even promising renters they won't sell, but then list the home and sell it, leaving the renter to look for yet another place. This would be our final rental home. We had had enough of renting. Particle – Two Disturbing Financial Incidents At this time, two incidents disturbed me. One was that the rental papers hadn't been filled out properly by McNeely. We discovered that we were perfectly liable for an extra month's rent, with no way out of it. I was alarmed that I hadn't red the agreement more carefully, paying particular attention to the blanks filled in. It seemed like a fraudulent, manipulative move. However, Eugene had no intention of defrauding us, and he corrected the error. The other event occurring at the same time was also disturbing, given my weakness or faul...