PART THREE– Israel to Bernalillo (cont.)
As for the Hagin meeting, there was much hoopla and little substance. Kenneth is just another of many men with their names in lights, presuming to be serving God with knowledge and sensationalism, but leading many astray and lulling them to spiritual slumber and death. His doctrine of “Word Faith” (“name it and claim it”) is a pernicious one, its roots going back to William Branham and since taught by Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, and many others.
How is the “Word Faith” doctrine so pernicious? It gives the impression that we can properly exercise the power of God independently of Him and without sanctification. (For more on this, read about Joel Osteen: Everybody’s Friendly Enemy.)
Again and again, we were confronted with people to whom we spoke truth and tried to persuade from evil, but to no avail. They rejected what we had to say out of hand, and opposed us. We invariably saw them suffering the fruits of their foolishness, ignorance, and heedlessness, their works catching up with them in devastating ways.
And even then, they still weren’t getting it!
Marilyn and I decided to pay a visit to Steve Szmon, my mother’s brother, and his wife, Flossie, in Transcona. Steve had been a wild man, forever fooling around, rarely serious. He lost his arm in a factory accident. I don’t know if he took up drinking before, during, or after the mishap, but he certainly took it up: He and Flossie were alcoholics.
As we visited in their shabby home, he had a case of beer beside his sofa chair, and Flossie had her beer in the fridge. As they sat visiting with us, they drank, while we abstained. It was a sad spectacle. They were entirely sold out to alcohol. I had the impression that had we accepted their offer of a beer, they would have found it difficult to part with it. It seemed almost too precious to them to share with anyone.
Uncle Steve expressed appreciation that I should honor him with a visit. He seemed flattered. I wondered if somehow we could reach them for the Lord and bring them to life, but it never happened. Of course, God could have done anything, but He didn’t give us to say or do anything.
Our landlord asked me if I would paint our 2½-story building. It being aged, wood-sided with weather-worn wooden windows, I had much scraping and sanding to do. But I wasn’t very professional about it. I hung over the edge of the roof by a rope tied from the chimney to my waist to prep and paint the dormers (I used no scaffolding). I wonder about it now. What was I thinking?! I was thinking cheap – that’s what.
The house was to be painted white. At that time, Mount St. Helen’s erupted in Washington State and sent the ash thousands of miles, all the way to Winnipeg and beyond. What a surprise! Seeing a fine ash settling on everything, I thought my paint job would be in jeopardy. Who would suspect having such a concern? But it was OK.
I hired Merv Forbister, a muscular fellow, to help move furniture for a while. He was a bodybuilder and quite able to do heavy lifting, which was needed.
He was also a writer, or so he said. One day when I asked him what he wrote, he said I wouldn’t appreciate it because it was quite sexually explicit (he knew I was a Christian).
I had a constant struggle with him, always having to tell him everything again and again – to be careful, to tilt the furniture we were carrying in the right direction, to think ahead, to think for himself, and more. Otherwise, he was a hard worker.
I wanted to give him a raise. I thought, “He’s only getting minimum wage. Surely, I am cheating him.” The Lord withheld me, saying, “He isn’t worth what you’re paying him.”
One day after I lectured him, as I was dropping him off at home, he proudly, dramatically turned to me and said, “Oh, and by the way, you can take your job and shove it!” and jumped out of the truck. It was disconcerting and amusing at the same time. I was glad it was over.
I was hard on workers. I demanded performance and often upbraided them for their shortcomings. I had several quit on me. I was to be blamed, not having patience or understanding. Several of them tried hard to please, but I was never satisfied and would express it.
I recall one worker I appreciated – Armin Grueneklee, who was in his late teens. He was quiet, responsive, responsible, respectful, mild-mannered, unpretentious, punctual, dependable, and a hard worker – even though he wore an earring! I had difficulty being hard with him. On the contrary, I was thankful. I had plans for him for expanding into some handyman and landscaping business. The Lord, however, had other plans for me.
It is remarkable how well a life can speak without a word.
One of our customers was an intelligent elderly widow who had been married to a Russian (Belichenko). Recognizing my name as Slavic, she kindly commented on how her husband and Slavs in general were basically insecure, sometimes paranoid, due to their historical background of being forever invaded.
I recognized that I had fears and thought her explanation quite credible, partially because I had seen these things in myself and in my families (maternal and paternal), in contrast to many others who were not Slavs.
We received a call to do furniture delivery in the slum core of the city. We had just loaded our truck for a woman, when the back lane was blocked by a taxicab. The driver was her husband (or boyfriend), who owned the furniture with her and wouldn’t let me out until the truck was unloaded. They were breaking up, and she was trying to get away with his furniture! He had called the police, who were soon on the scene trying to mediate in the squabble. She wouldn’t pay me. “Too bad” was her attitude.
Doing another job in the same area, I temporarily recruited the woman’s boy of about sixteen years, seeing I had no helper at the time. Sean Smith wasn’t a great worker. I began to think that perhaps I could help him learn something, maybe even save him from the slums, so I tried working with him.
One day as we were driving to another part of Winnipeg, I was surprised to find that he had never been there or to any other part of the city. In his entire life, he only knew the tiny slum section in the core. I was amazed, but also recalled how many in the Bronx and Harlem slums of New York were the same, never venturing out of their local neighborhoods.
The boy had no idea about anything. His diet was atrocious. For lunch, he would have a slurpy and a bag of chips from the convenience store. In an hour or so, he was standing around in a sluggish, dozy manner; he had no energy just when we needed it. I tried to talk to him about proper food – protein for energy, for example.
He also had no idea of work ethics. He was standing around letting my customers lend a hand in work they were paying us to do, not because he was lazy so much as ignorant and without a shred of experience. It was pitiful.
I marveled at how lost and clueless people could be. His older brother, Tim, was a derelict, hooked on drugs, his mother a calloused opportunist, and who knows who his father was.
Some customers began complaining. I was having to repeat instructions to him, and he was reacting unpleasantly at times. I didn’t know what to do. Finding myself unequipped for the job of helping him, I let him go. I didn’t feel it was up to me to deliver him. Also, it seemed it wasn’t his place or time for deliverance.
I do believe that during the time we spent together, I said many things to him concerning principles of life. Perhaps those would help him, just as pieces of advice from concerned adults helped me when I was a child.
Time and time again, I found myself witnessing dire straits and various needs of others, but I was unable to do anything about them. This concerned me as a Christian. Wasn’t it my duty before God to find a way to help? Couldn’t anything be done? Was I not willing to sacrifice myself to that end? I just couldn’t do anything, and yet I harbored the hope that, one day, something could be done for many, if not all. One day….
I decided to check out the halls I once walked at the MIT from 1965 to 1967. One thing shocked me in particular. The floor in the Business Administration section was completely plastered with cigarette burns. When I was there, 14 years earlier, we smoked, but we put our butts in the ash trays provided. Now I witnessed a travesty. How lawless and destructive people have increasingly become! And that lawlessness grew (and grows) worse by the day.
Somehow we found out about Gunn’s Bakery on Selkirk Avenue in Winnipeg. They made great bagels and other pastries and breads, but we particularly loved their super knishes.
“Is it not good that he should eat and drink and make his soul see good in his labor? This I also saw, that it was from the hand of God” (Ecclesiastes 2:24 MKJV).
Two young men came by our home from the Watchtower Society (Jehovah’s Witnesses). I invited them in, and we visited for two or three hours. In spite of the reasonable arguments and evidence I gave them from Scripture, which they couldn’t reasonably deny, they were adamant and steadfast in their resistance, as are most JWs I’ve met.
While the elder was trying to be civil and measured in his response, the younger became impudent and even mocked me. I wondered how they expected to win anyone to their truth that way.
I also thought, “Better to provoke now and let their colors show. What about those who don’t provoke them, are deceived into thinking they’re joining godly men, and discover too late the folly of their ill-fated decision?”
There is a parable speaking of this very thing. It is the whole seventh chapter of Proverbs.
Finally, as they were leaving, standing at the door, unpremeditated words came forth from my mouth that surprised me. I said, “Go with your gods and be destroyed with your gods.” The expressions of both the reserved and the arrogant immediately changed and became as one. They were stunned, even the young, impudent one. God had turned them to destruction.
Carroll Vance wrote me a note (I’m not sure exactly when I received it), and closed it with words I knew were prophetic and significant:
“May you find grace in the sight of God, even as did Moses and Noah. ”
Those words would become more and more significant and meaningful as the years passed.
What a freedom when you come to the place where you don’t have to prove anything, when you can accept being nobody because you’re accepted by the Only One Who Counts!
I knew a man by whom I met Judas Iscariot. Judas, I learned, was a glory seeker, one who wanted in on the best this world had to offer, and who was prepared to betray any association to get what he wanted. Ironically, what he wanted was belonging, acceptance, recognition, social security, and most of all, glory. He lost it all or, rather, lost all opportunity of gaining such because he was so consumed with himself.
(Click HERE to listen to “It’s Great to Be Somebody,” or to read the lyrics.)
It seemed like a tight race between Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter during the 1980 Presidential elections. At the last moment, while people were in the polling booths, I received that they would vote for Reagan, and it would be a landslide victory.
When Ronald Reagan was elected, I had a vision in two parts. In the first part, he was driving what looked like a school bus. The bus was America. He drove into a set of deep ruts. In the second part, he drove the bus toward a cliff, and it seemed sure he would be taking it right over the edge.
In the vision, I heard that Reagan was going to take America straight down to Hell. Years later, it was realized by analysts that “Reaganomics” and the policy of deregulation did exactly that. Reagan’s deregulation legislation in the name of free enterprise has delivered America over to tyrannical powers operating in unrestrained greed. He has brought America to bankruptcy, powerlessness, and misery.
Marilyn’s kid sister, Sheila, fresh out of school, was planning to marry and wrote from Calgary to tell us so. We knew this wouldn’t be good for her and, by letter, strongly advised against it. We felt she wanted to escape her situation at home under her stepfather, Les Klein, who, we were told, was mistreating her. He also wanted her out.
She ignored our warning. Years later, we would hear of the sad results.
Around this time, I had a vision of a person lying on the ground, at the foot of a mountain. I was that person, mortally wounded or sick; indeed, for all intents and purposes, I was dead. Down from the mountain came a spirit being, shining in light, almost light itself, and picked me up. He began to carry me up the mountain, and as we proceeded upward, life gradually entered into me.
Soon he expected me to make an effort to climb by myself. And I did so, gaining vibrancy and strength. By the time we reached the top, I was transformed into a like spirit being, radiant with light. I then descended down the other side, and did for another as had been done for me.
It was in the summer of 1980. While fast asleep about 11:30 in the evening, the phone rang – it was Art Beals: “Were you sleeping? Ha, ha! Two sleeps are better than one, you know!” I was surprised to hear from them. We hadn’t seen them since ‘75 on our way back from Europe.
Probably being tired after a long, hard day’s work and having to rise early for another, I was a bit annoyed that they should wake us when there was no apparent need for it. Perhaps they had hoped we would invite them to our place that night? That didn’t occur to me, knowing they were in their motor home. We made arrangements to meet them at the Grant Ave. shopping plaza the next day.
Arriving there, we found them in a terrible state – defeated, depressed, and miserable. They were at the shopping plaza in their motor home, likely because they weren’t able to afford a trailer park. They were back in Winnipeg, ready to take up residence and occupation, having just arrived from Aylmer, Ontario, where they had moved several years ago, and where Art had taken on pastoring a small independent church. Their daughter, Andrea, was with them.
They told us of how they had been almost starving in their church. The people Art was shepherding weren’t bringing offerings sufficient to support them. Why they didn’t get a job, I don’t know – I suppose they expected others to provide for them. During that time, Art was also preaching some in the southern States with “Reverend” Franklin Walden of Georgia.
Having spare rooms in our suite and parking available at the back of our place, we offered them to stay with us till they found their own home. Instead of having them live in their motor home, we decided to sleep in our basement, give them the master bedroom, and Andrea another large bedroom. They remained with us for three weeks. I needed someone to help me in moving and hauling, so I hired Art and paid him wages, not charging him for room and board. They were free to help themselves to anything they pleased.
Art and Doreen had come under some Pentecostal influence known as the Holiness Movement. They believed women shouldn’t cut their hair or wear makeup or women’s slacks, or have an “uncovered leg.” They believed women shouldn’t dress appearing as men, in clothing, hairstyle, or any other way (we agreed with the principle of women presenting as women and men as men).
We didn’t disagree with these matters in principle, so much as with their application, particularly the peculiar notion of leg covering (which I’ll explain later). The problem was that they emphasized external holiness, but failed miserably to have any peace and righteousness with God through faith.
We found all of this rather ironic, because they had once been amused and even critical of us, thinking we were legalistic when Marilyn wore a head covering for a time in 1975, something we changed our minds about not long after. We didn’t change because of their criticism, but because it was revealed to us that a woman’s hair was given for a covering.
We found they hadn’t nurtured Andrea, their adopted daughter, in love, something we had warned them about in 1975. Now the chickens were coming home to roost. Andrea was in a state of mind toward them in which she swore that when she turned the legal age of sixteen, she would cut her hair very short, plaster her face with makeup, and wear the tightest jeans she could possibly squeeze into.
It was now time for more lessons on diet. The Beals didn’t believe in eating pork, being listed in the Biblical Law as unclean. We hadn’t yet come to that conviction, having been steeped in traditional orthodox Christian rationale and doctrine, though the truth of clean and unclean meats was plainly set forth in the Scriptures. Still, we were given to pay some attention, thankfully.
Marilyn and I went to a Chinese restaurant around that time and ordered breaded baby shrimp. While eating, I thought, “These shrimp aren’t at all crunchy. They’re very soft.” Two weeks later, we red in the Winnipeg Free Press that the restaurant had been shut down for serving baby mice as shrimp.
The thought of eating mice will tend to make one gag. I certainly felt betrayed and defiled. However, the Beals pointed out that shrimp and pork were no different from mouse, dog, cat, rat, gopher, or skunk, according to the Scriptures. God classified them all as unclean.
I also remembered the information Gary Fry had given me in Prince Albert in 1972 while he was working at Burns’ processing plant, about a high percentage of pig carcasses being rejected, from time to time, because of parasites.
(By the way, we had gone to the restaurant because we had a promotional discount coupon. “Cheap is as cheap does”? The unpleasant occasion was just another of many “eating out” lessons the Lord was bringing home to me.)
We were watching a newscast one day when Art said, waving his index finger as he was wont to do, “There’s going to be a nuclear war for sure between the USSR and America.”
I immediately received a Word from the Lord: “The superpowers will be brought down from within. ”
I took this Word to mean that we wouldn’t see the USA and the USSR destroy each other with their nuclear arsenals, which was a comforting thought; nonetheless, they would be coming down.
It was quite apparent, as days passed, that the Beals were becoming rather disgruntled. Perhaps eating pork was one of the things that bothered them while staying with us, though they were well aware of the Lord’s words, “And into whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you” (Luke 10:8 MKJV), interpreting them as a call to submission to eating the unclean in such situations.
But I think we soon limited or eliminated pork for their sakes. I’m not sure we did, but it would have been the right thing to do:
Romans 14:19-22 MKJV
(19) So then let us pursue the things of peace, and the things for building up one another.
(20) Do not undo the work of God for food. Truly, all things indeed are clean, but it is bad to the man eating because of a stumbling-block.
(21) It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor anything by which your brother stumbles, or is offended, or is made weak.
(22) Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Blessed is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.
They didn’t complain about anything until one day, without warning, Doreen blew up, and they stormed out in a rage. For one thing, somehow they saw us as an evil influence on Andrea. She had been helping herself to the non-alcoholic beer I kept in the fridge. As far as they were concerned, we were making a lawless drunk of her. Marilyn was also perceived as an evil influence on Andrea, because Marilyn wore slacks and cut her hair (though she didn’t wear it short). It seemed nothing was their fault or Andrea’s; it was all ours.
Paul came for another visit, and he was there when the Beals blew up and stormed out. The Beals were confounded by his speech and reasoning, unable to answer. This didn’t deter them from their chosen course, however, throwing all our hospitality in our faces without a cause.
Then and there I received another demonstration of how God was going to use Paul to confront religious hypocrites in their folly years later with truth, good reason, logic, Scriptural evidence, forthrightness, and boldness, yet without contempt or insult. (I had also seen indications of these qualities in Paul when he reasoned with people at Revivim.)
In one of these years, I had a dream and saw the moon turn blood red in a manner as though a can of red paint was spilled over top of it. I then saw the letters “CCCP” on the surface. I wondered if the Soviets or Russians were going to claim ownership or control of it, thus winning a major psychological and social, if not military, victory over the West and, indeed, over the world.
As of 1989, the Soviet empire was no more. As of 2009, it is still defunct. What to make of the dream, I don’t know; I only report what I saw.
“Here’s what I see in the dream: The Soviet and their socialistic system had ambitions to take over the world. They presented their system as the way to peace and prosperity, under their rule.
They particularly claimed there was no God – it was man’s endeavor and power all the way. The moon (man) has no light of its own, being dependent on the sun (Christ). So God gave them what they declared, and the Soviet system collapsed, extinguishing their light and hopes, whether for themselves or for any others who looked to them. Even China got away from pure socialism after the Soviet collapse.”
“But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars of Heaven shall fall, and the powers in the heavens shall be shaken” (Mark 13:24-25 MKJV).