PART THREE– Israel to Bernalillo (cont.)
Art and Doreen returned within a few weeks to apologize to us for their behavior. Doreen did all the talking because, contrary to their religious doctrine of women not wearing “that which pertaineth to a man,” she wore the pants in the family.
Concerning women and their legs, they believed women could “cover” their legs with see-through pantyhose or stockings, and thus wear dresses that would show much of their legs that were theoretically or technically covered.
So, as Doreen sat in the sofa chair across from me, talking to us, with her legs crossed, one could see two-thirds of the way up her thigh. But she covered her legs with hosiery! As I was listening to her apology, I thought, “I wish I could say something to them about their contradictions, but there’s no talking to them.”
Their apology wasn’t born of genuine repentance. They were just trying to remove the self-incurred tarnish from their religious image. They had been exposed even more than her “covered” legs – quite naked actually, yet unchanged. They weren’t capable of genuine change for the better. The apology they gave to cover their nakedness was as revealing as her pantyhose.
Nevertheless, I told her that we didn’t hold anything against them, forgiving them. They immediately left, having “done their duty,” just as I had expected. I’m sure they went away dissatisfied with our reaction.
Is it any wonder Jesus couldn’t and didn’t spare His words with the scribes and Pharisees, the champions of external holiness?
We took to heart the Beals’ counsel not to eat unclean meats. I had made the connection now between eating much pork while staying with the Mielkes and the problem with my “aggravated” anus. Within weeks, the itch disappeared. Parasites? Likely.
I had gone to a doctor for treatment, and the young intern, embarrassingly, put his finger up my rectum for examination, caused it to bleed, and prescribed a medication to be applied externally, but it didn’t work.
There goes the medical profession, treating symptoms instead of getting at the root cause, and dealing in quick fixes, though fixing very little, because knowing very little. Dealing with the cause and cutting out the pork was the solution.
The Lord knew, however, as He knows all things. Not only did He know, He also made it known to us – that’s the great part! He is indeed the Great Physician.
Who says there is no God?
Paul’s ex-wife, Alison, called our place. I don’t remember why – likely, she was calling Paul to complete some divorce papers. We talked a bit. I encouraged her, telling her there was no condemnation for her.
She said, “I know you believe and are sincere in what you’re saying.”
I knew there was no resentment with her. I appreciated Alison and wished that she could join us, but I knew she couldn’t. The Lord wasn’t calling her.
Months after they had apologized to us, Art called. They needed a truck to haul some of their furniture. I hauled it for them and didn’t charge them for it. Was I a naïve sucker for punishment, or was I given by God to give to them? I was never told we were doing wrong in being generous with them, and we never lacked any good thing.
Mike Trepanier often complained of how God wasn’t fair. I was taken aback by this notion, especially when he would act so religious. I told him he needed to take up the cross of Christ, rather than seek glory and pleasure in His Name.
Paul wished to address Mike in his attitude and thinking, but I disagreed, thinking there was no good reason to speak to him. Likely I didn’t understand what Paul wanted to say. I later came to understand more of what Mike was like, and was thus sorry for having prevented Paul. The day would soon come when I would see Mike’s spiritual need much more clearly.
Fall of 1980 arrived, and we hadn’t seen my parents in Dauphin since leaving for Israel in the spring of 1979, nearly a year and a half before. We decided to drive to Dauphin, 200 miles north, in our Ford F250. Paul was with us.
The moment we walked into my parents’ house on 8th Ave. SW, across the back lane from where they once lived, I found my mother cleaning her oven, using a bread or butcher knife.
She came up to me with a menacing look. She brandished the knife in my face and said, “I’ve been praying to God that He would bring you.”
No gladness was expressed, though it may have been there and Mom wasn’t able to show it. It was more like a defiant, “See? God hears my prayers, too.”
(As I look back, I believe it must have grieved them that we hadn’t come to visit them after returning from Israel. I can only say that we weren’t free to do so.)
As always, Mom had nothing of substance to say. So often, I had tried having a serious personal discussion with her. She would even call, saying, “Let’s talk,” and when pursuing it, nothing would happen. It was frustrating. She would talk about “putting down” 10 quarts of pickles, crocheting a doily, making a quilt, anything but what really mattered. Mother was locked in a prison, unable to escape to the outside world; she couldn’t face reality.
While it was obvious my parents wanted a relationship with us, it was also plain they wanted it on their terms. I couldn’t see myself indulging them in the slightest, without denying the Lord.
While we were in Dauphin, we spent the night in their home. The house was spiritually dark and disorderly. I don’t recall if it was then, or shortly thereafter, that I had another vision of my mother, a horrible one.
My mother was puttering with papers in her house. From under her dress, coming out the back and immediately down to the floor was a large serpentine tail, starting out as thick as her body and gradually getting thinner as it extended through doorways and along stairs, filling the whole house.
The next day I decided to go visit Barbara and husband, Ron, at their farm. Why? I was foolish. After all those years of rejection, I hadn’t given up trying to reach them. Marilyn refused to come with me, having much more sense. Paul didn’t come, either.
While there, Barb did all the talking, and the subject matter was superficial. She and Ron decided to give me some decent quality suits and leather coats Ron could no longer wear, having gained weight. It was ironic; at one time he was the slim and I the overweight one.
As I left, Barb gave me a hug, saying, “I believe in the Lord, and I love you.” I was skeptical, if not convinced that what she and I meant by “believe” differed significantly, as night and day.
Marilyn, Paul, and I paid a visit to my second set of parents on earth, my father’s uncle Bill and aunt Anne. I didn’t know it would be the last, though it didn’t take a nuclear physicist to realize the distinct possibility. They were thankful to see us and enjoyed the visit. I find it sad that I didn’t have it in my heart to be more considerate of all these people, but I’m convinced it was, and had to be, the way it was.
As a kid living six miles from their dairy and grain farm, I always enjoyed visiting, and especially spending some summer vacation time with, Uncle Fred and Aunt Mary Prestayko. Aunt Mary was my father’s sister, the youngest of nine. They were hard-working people and well-off as farmers, enjoyed company and always took an interest in others, no matter who they were, young or old. They teased, laughed, and enjoyed getting into controversial subjects, whatever they might be. And they were unpretentious.
On this trip to Dauphin, Paul, Marilyn, and I paid them a visit. They enjoyed it, and so did we. I again testified to them of the Lord and they listened, soberly, though questioning and mildly objecting. There was always the reality that I was divided from them, however – they naturally sympathized with the rest of the family, and I had to let them go.
Bob was my oldest cousin by about 10 years, Fred and Mary’s only son. His mother’s great interest was Hollywood. She loved buying all the magazines and reading up on the stars. Her aspiration was that Bob be a star, an actor or singer. He did have a super voice. However, even after being granted auditions, he couldn’t get over stage fright. He failed to realize his mother’s dreams (I now realize it wasn’t his dream). Eventually he returned to Dauphin.
Bob was in derision of my life in Christ, though not aggressively. It wouldn’t go well for him.
The Lord Jesus Christ calls all those who would follow Him to forsake all:
“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26-27 MKJV).
“So then, everyone of you who does not forsake all his possessions, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:33 MKJV).
Forsaking means letting go. It involves willingly leaving behind, in terms of preference, that which is near and dear. It’s hard to part with those you love and who love you, but that’s what forsaking family and friends is all about.
Forsaking family was very difficult for me. My hesitation and looking back caused a great amount of complication, aggravation, and pain. If one is to forsake, he ought to get on with it and not delay or compromise.
As we were parting from my parents to return to Winnipeg, Olga Gerard dropped by. We had a strained few minutes. She sympathized with my parents concerning our relationship or lack thereof. I gathered she perceived us as religious, selfish, deluded fools who were dreadfully hurting family and friends.
Though I knew my parents were hurting, there was nothing I could do, except that which I should have done, and didn’t do. I should have left them, put my hands to the plough, and not looked back. I should have let the dead bury the dead. Instead, we lived a few years of frustration, complications, sorrow, and vexation, trying to bridge the uncrossable chasm between us. That visit with them was the last personal one I would initiate for several years, though we would see them sooner, by their arrangement.
As we watched, Olga whispered something to my parents from her car as they stood by, leaning over. My father looked at me, and I could see they had heard something unpleasant, though they were all in agreement. Olga drove off and we left for Winnipeg.
It’s hard to see one’s parents siding with others against their own children, particularly when the children seek their parents’ good. It downright hurt, but there was nothing I could do.
“And a brother will betray a brother to death, and a father his son. And children will rise up against their parents and will cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake, but he enduring to the end, that one will be kept safe” (Mark 13:12-13 MKJV).
In the trip to Dauphin and back, the alignment in my truck was off. I felt the slight pull, but thought, “The dealer was supposed to look everything over to make sure it was OK.”
By the time we returned to Winnipeg, a new set of 16-inch front tires were destroyed. I felt badly about it and took the truck to the used car dealer from whom I had bought it. They sent me for an alignment, and the truck had a peculiar problem. The alignment technician scratched his head, trying to understand what was wrong. Try as he might, he couldn’t bring the truck into alignment.
I thought, “They sold me a dud truck! Now what?” I cried to the Lord for help. No sooner had I done so, the technician realized the problem. He found that a part in the steering system wasn’t the right size, forcing the alignment off. (Possibly the former owner, a thrifty do-it-yourself farmer, had put it in by mistake.) The tech replaced it, thus correcting the alignment, I bought two more tires, and we were in business again.
Who says there is no God?
Because of unpleasant monetary experiences in my childhood, I very much hated suffering loss or being taken advantage of in any way. The tires I had to replace became precious to me, being relatively costly and seeing I hadn’t received value out of them because of my ignorance and lack of due diligence.
One other detail of these tires was of great significance to me: When I bought the truck, the dealer obtained, at my request, a used spare tire and charged me for it. God was going to do something unusual with it.
One day after Paul had returned to be with us for a while, he and I took a haul to the dump. Paul left the tailgate open, and so we lost the unsecured spare tire. When I discovered what had happened, I was very upset with him.
Why? I was covetous and I hated losing things. I was still hurting from having worn out two new identical tires because of negligence. That kind of tire was hard to come by secondhand and could be expensive to replace. I eventually found another used one, but still regretted the loss. I was angry with myself for having trusted Paul to do things properly, he being young and inexperienced. I was annoyed with him for some time. I had a thing about that tire.
The loss was God’s first half of the plan, but there’s more to that tire, as you’ll see….
We worked hard in the hauling, doing everything the hard way, including carrying 17-cubic-foot (or larger) freezers, fridges, washers, and heavy hide-a-beds up and down long sets of stairs. Finally I wised up and bought an appliance dolly. What a difference it made!
Why do we not see these simple things? Why don’t we learn sooner? In my case, one of the reasons was because I was so miserly. To skimp is very expensive. Love of money costs life.
Art and Doreen called, inviting us to a meeting at the Mount Zion Apostolic Church in north Winnipeg. Their friend, Franklin Walden, was in town from Georgia to preach. We went.
Franklin was trying to preach as do Negro preachers, with passion, gravelly voice, and theatrics. He added the Negroid language and voice characteristics, which Caucasians don’t naturally have. It was all show, and we couldn’t enter into the atmosphere of the meeting. People were shouting, singing, praising, and raising their hands, as is often the case at Pentecostal meetings.
When Art and Doreen saw we weren’t falling in and flowing with the crowd, they were offended and accused us of disturbing the “moving of the Spirit,” in which case, they said, we would “jeopardize souls being saved.”
At the end of the service, most people were responding to the altar call, going forward and raising their hands toward Franklin Walden as he stood there. He seemed to be taking in all the worship and praise for himself.
As we watched, who should come in but Moishe Weinberger! He acknowledged us, but was in a hurry to get to the front of the sanctuary to meet someone there by appointment. At the front, we saw someone give him some money. Of course! He had no sooner received it than he was swiftly on his way out the door.
As we watched the people at the front, the Lord spoke to me saying, “This is a Baal worship service.” I was floored. I knew He wasn’t speaking figuratively. The meeting was literally what He called it.
When I later asked Art about Walden’s black preaching style, he explained that, being from Georgia, Walden preached as the blacks there like to hear it. Was he being all things to all men, or was he a manpleaser? (I didn’t see one black at this meeting.) If I am to believe the Lord’s words, I would have to say he was a manpleaser.
In pondering the Lord’s Word about Baal worship, He later revealed to me that it was essentially hero worship. People in the churches are following men and worshipping those who are charismatic, impressive, or outstanding, like Billy Graham, T. D. Jakes, John Hagee, Joyce Meyer, political leaders, famous, wealthy, and powerful business people, and movie and sports stars.
Man looks on the outward appearance. Those who excel in the flesh often seek to be, and are, worshipped. The greater crime is that in religious circles, these things are done in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I came to delight in Jehu, king of Israel, who invited Jehonadab to join him in his chariot as Jehu demonstrated his zeal for the Lord. He destroyed wicked King Ahab and his wife Jezebel, and took decisive measures to wipe Baal worship out of Israel. But I was saddened to see he didn’t go all the way with God. He failed to remove the idolatrous worship center and images King Jeroboam of Israel had devised to keep the people from abandoning him (see 2 Kings 10:15-31).
Around this time, the Lord gave me another shocking revelation. The ancient false gods Israel worshipped in Biblical days are being worshipped today in nominal Christian churches, as well as by all non-Christian religions. These gods are namely Ashtoreth (the goddess of love, fertility, and prosperity) and Baal (the god of might and heroism). Most Christians are worshipping these, yet they think they’re worshipping Jesus Christ.
They worship heroes (Baals) such as prominent televangelists, and walk in false love. Their love is a feigned, selfish, self-righteous one, the counterfeit spirit of Satan, who comes as an angel of light. It is a getting love and not a giving one. The worst of it is that they do these things in the Name of Jesus.
I was called to move some furniture in Winnipeg’s north end for a young cook at a pizzeria, who related to me that he was a new convert to Christ. Besides paying me for the work, he gave me a free pizza.
That wasn’t all he gave me. There are those rare occasions where one experiences something wonderful, in whatever dimension, though he may not realize it sufficiently. He invited me into his house, where there were several people, friends and family, I suppose (I wasn’t introduced).
In the living room I sensed that I was present with people who were believers and those who weren’t, but I couldn’t tell which was which. I didn’t have time to focus on individuals, and the fellow, being a new believer, was still rather worldly. Some were drinking beer and some weren’t, but one party wasn’t rejecting the other, at least from appearances.
I saw that the young man was having a difficult time finding his way through the complexities of faith in the midst of an unbelieving world, trying to judge and do what’s right. Though I didn’t know it then, I was seeing that light shines best, not in light, or among other lights, but in darkness. And salt is useless in a shaker if it remains there. Light and salt must be used where they’re needed.
What I appreciated, upon reflection for many years, was the absence of religion – of formality, posturing, and pretense. All these people were themselves, and those who believed didn’t judge or condemn those who didn’t. I suspect I perceived the casual atmosphere and Christ’s unobtrusive Presence, without condemnation for sinners.
Those who didn’t believe were realizing that they were being left behind by those who believed, while those who believed weren’t trashing everything and everybody, as if they were suddenly superior or holy.
What I witnessed was a wonderfully welcome contrast to what is found so commonly in churches, where those professing faith parade their righteousness before one another, impressing nobody but those they please, “preaching to the choir.” I saw in this house, not posturing, but reality. Which reminds me of another vision or dream I had, and which I have forgotten about for so long….
I don’t recall if this was a vision or dream, and I don’t recall when it came. It’s been many years since then.
In the scene, I was surrounded by several older saintly people, both women and men. By “saintly,” I don’t mean anything like what the Catholic Church portrays in pictures. Those are merely figments of an artist’s carnal imagination. What I’m talking about is an unaffected, unimposing piety, a “right being” with genuine innocence, humility, joy, peace, and love for all.
They seemed outwardly poor or humbly dressed, but oh, how rich they were within! Their spiritual wealth was evident in their eyes and countenances. It was so good to be in their company. It was so real that I now wonder if I had not met such people before, not remembering where or when.