early days of my spiritual journey of faith... in 1978, I was visited by a
local established Christian denomination that was seeking people within our
lower income apartment complex to visit their Church. They had what they called
a School Bus Ministry... where they would offer rides to and from their Church.
I was pleased to see them... and eagerly told them of my encounter with the Holy
Spirit.... assuming they would be thrilled for me and my family welcoming us
into the fold with open arms. I was surprised when they suggested that I not
visit with them after all, because they did not believe as I did... remarking
they would be concerned for the Soul of others who might come in contact with my
beliefs. After asking if they could pray for us before leaving, I was
astonished when I heard them pray for the Souls of my children, completely
ignoring their concern for me. Even though this experience left me stunned.... I
was not shaken in my core belief and I prayed for them and other established
denominations, that they might grow in unity in the knowledge of God and His
ways.... as His Spirit leads us to all truth. I saw this experience as God
sending them into my life… planting seeds through my testimony… with the
intention of harvesting them. Since that time frame...
many of their denomination as well as other established faiths have come
to see a relationship with God through the Holy Spirit to be a normal, vital
part of their Christian faith. As they have each evolved spiritually
through having come into His Presence... He having brought them in... revealing
Himself, in His own unique way….. many have left off serving a form of
religion for a genuine relationship with God Himself. As they have walked
forward… they have been pioneers for those who would follow…. just like
those in the book of Acts in the New Testament. Babes growing to a place of
maturity…. as their lives are surrendered to and controlled by… His
Spirit…. Within and without. Exponentially.
Around the same
time... to my delight, I discovered a program on TV called the 700 Club. I
had never seen a Christian TV program before. All I remember about the Show was
their offer to pray for us, if we had any needs... and their suggestion that
Believers gather together with Others of a like mind. It dawned on me,
that I had never asked God to lead me to the Church of His choice before... and
since I was also looking for a job that would allow me to be with my small
children... I called them asking for prayer. It was strange... asking
for someone to pray for me... exposing my needs... but since these people seemed
to genuinely care... and wanted God's will for my life... and their own...
it just seemed like the most natural thing to do at the time. I don't know
why it did not occur for me to pray alone... like I usually did. I suppose
this was God's way of knitting me to the family of God on a more intimate level
as well as one of His many ways of meeting my needs.
I was amazed and pleased when the person on the line told me of a Church about half an hour away... as well as an opening for a Christian Day Care Teacher in the same area. I called both numbers I was given. I discovered the Church I was referred to, believed in my experience calling it a baptism of the Holy Ghost... they invited me to visit their mid week service that evening and suggested I listen to their Pastor on the radio at noon every Saturday. This was a new concept for me... I only thought Churches met on Sunday mornings. This was also my first encounter with a Christian Radio Station.... it was becoming obvious to me, a whole new world was opening up for me. I had entered into the Kingdom of God... which was coming on earth... as it was already established in heaven... an answer to Our Lords' prayer.... which He taught his disciples as written in Luke 11.* When I called the Day Care Center... I was thrilled to discover the job was still open, and someone would be calling me back at a later date to set up an appointment.
Although I was a little nervous... I was looking forward to their mid week service and to my surprise it was packed with people who were caring and friendly. During my times of seeking 'the right church', I had never seen one quite like this before. It was obvious the people really wanted to be there and were glad when others joined them as part of the family of God. The Pastor was extremely charismatic.... and those who gathered with Him referred to themselves as being a part of a new spiritual movement of God... which they referred to as the Charismatic Movement.
Later God revealed to me this new movement was a small part of a wave... which had increased since the Jesus movement of the 60's.... and it was continuing to increase in its Force that it might become a Spiritual Tidal wave... as God makes His Presence known to individuals He is bringing together... calling them by and with His Name. Some of these... call themselves the body of Christ... or at times... a remnant... from the early church disciples... the elect of God called and chosen to know Him and to become the Bride of Christ.... to be Priests and Kings with Christ... read Revelations 5:9-11; as HE intercedes from within them and intervenes through them over coming sin in their lives... having given them His life... and power to overcome... a mystery revealed.
Their worship service was filled with energy. It was very lively... everyone was enthusiastically praising God in his or her own way with a freedom I had never seen before. The music was full of life and the words had a life of their own as well. Adults and children alike... rejoiced with singing... clapping... dancing, shouting words of love and joy and gratitude to God... while lifting their hands up to heaven as if they were reaching out to receive all which God had to offer in return. As I stood with them, watching... during their time of worship... I felt a feeling of discomfort and doubt beginning to come over me. I was not sure if I belonged there. I wanted to leave... but was not sure if I should. I could feel myself wrestling inside, being tossed between the desire to leave and the desire to stay... if it was God's will. I asked God to speak to me, to somehow confirm it if I was suppose to be there, when the Pastor asked us to introduce ourselves to someone we did not know.
Before I had time to think, someone touched me on the shoulder from behind. A couple a number of years older than myself introduced themselves... indicating with excitement after finding out who I was... they had been looking for me. She indicated I had talked to her on the phone earlier that day and she had been praying for me ever since. They said the Lord had told them to bring me a book to read and they wanted to give it to me. It was called: In His Presence.... by E.W. Kenyon. This helped me to relax a little... so I decided to stay. After the service we talked... although I was not sure if I wanted to return another day... I was glad I had come and was looking forward to the Pastors' Radio Broadcast that Saturday called 'Sword of the Spirit'.... a term I was to later discover means the word of God. for clarity read Ephesians chapter 6, especially verses 10-20* in context.
While talking... they wanted to know how I found out about their Church. When I told them, including the part about the possible job interview... they asked the name of the School. I was speechless when they told me that Day Care Center was part of a Christian School, which was affiliated with their Church. I was flabbergasted when her husband informed me, he would be the one who would be interviewing me for the position, once all of the appointments were set up.
Before we parted, they invited me back... informing me that the Church Service on Sundays is so full... that they no longer meet in the church building, "On Sundays... we have people who will direct you to a parking spot. Don't be surprised when they direct you to the Gymnasium... it's our temporary solution for so many who come to gather with us . As you have probably noticed, the dress code is casual. Some even wear shorts and sandals in the summer. We figure God does not care what we wear... He only looks at our heart."
When I heard her words with regard to clothing.... what flashed before me were the same words coming out of the mouth of my father, because someone had made a fuss about the way he dressed his small children for Sunday School when he allowed us to visit an established denomination from my mom's childhood. crinoline dresses and patent leather shoes were the correct attire at that time. He says he told the ladies the same thing, calling them hypocrites... telling them not to expect his children to be waiting for their School Bus Ministry next week and never let us go to Sunday School again. Although I don't remember any of this I do remember being taught to talk to God by my mom, who I saw read her bible off and on. My Father a mathematical genius... believed in God because He saw Him through the patterns in numbers... respected the 10 commandments and the premise of the bible for the most part... but did not understand anyone's deep passion to search it's depths nor their desire to speak of God with others of the same mind.
I had never heard of or seen a Church that full.... it seems people who heard this Pastor on the metropolitan area wide radio... often came from long distances... and this core group of people were busy ministering to them... while bursting at the seams. I was to discover later... the Pastor also wrote Christian books... and sold teaching tapes... because the demand for the insights God was giving him was so great, don't forget this was in 1978. After listening to the Pastor on the radio that Saturday... I continued to visit that church unless I was led elsewhere, since it was my habit to ask for God’s direction each day. Who this man use to be... a Native American from NY, who God’s Spirit revealed Himself to through a supernatural visitation... when he was ready to take his life... having been thrown in jail once again for stupid actions while drunk... to who He has become... were nothing compared to what God’s Spirit was doing in and through his life, and those he gathered with on a regular basis, at that time. I had never heard such testimonies before. From that time on, I have eagerly listened to all who will offer how God intervened and intervenes in and through their life today Psalm 66:16.... it is indeed good and wholesome spiritual tithing/food for eating, which will nourish the Spirit and Soul. AListeningHeart@EnterRest.com
I was hungry to
read the bible as well as the book they gave me... but as I did... I noticed I
would become so sleepy after a little while... I could hardly keep my eyes open.
I had a hard time concentrating on the words and would be compelled to put the
book down. When I mentioned this to the couple, they told me it was because the
book was full of meat, and it was their belief Satan did not want me to read
it.... and this was one of his ways of using my flesh to keep me from hearing
the truth. They told me not to worry about it… suggesting I only needed
to read a little at a time, so I could digest what I read anyways. It was then
they told me to pray a certain prayer for myself everyday…. so God’s Spirit
could strengthen me. They recommended I pray words which the Apostle Paul
prayed, putting myself in the prayer: Ephesians
1:17-19; I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious
Father, would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of
Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so you may know what
is the hope of His calling, what are the glorious riches of His inheritance
among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power to us who
believe, according to the working of His vast strength. As well as: Ephesians 3:14-21; I bow my knees before the Father from whom every family in
heaven and on earth is named. I pray that He may grant you, according to the
riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the
inner man, and that the Messiah may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray
that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend
with all the saints what is the breadth and width, height and depth, and to know
the Messiah's love that surpasses knowledge, so you may be filled with all the
fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask
or think--according to the power that works in you--to Him be glory in the
church and in Christ Jesus the Messiah to all generations, forever and ever.
Although I did not understand what these words really meant... I prayed them, believing God's Spirit had led me to do so through this couple and HE would have to make whatever they meant happen. At the same time… I was in awe as to what I was reading in the book of Acts… in the Bible and I told God, " I would love to be someone as dedicated to You as the Apostle Paul… and the early Apostles. If it is Your will, could I be one of Your apostles someday.... assuming they were still around."
I deeply desired to dedicate my entire life to Him… for the preservation of the teachings of Jesus… that all could come to know and love God having known His love for us which was revealed through His Son.. I also prayed, "If it is in Your plan... could You cause my husband and children to serve You according to Your plans for their life. I would love to be married to someone with a Pastors heart.. or someone like that and I would love that my children's life would be one, which would honor You. Please help them to be the person You created them to Be... and if they should marry... please prepare them and their spouses to Be... according to Your plans for Them, as well."
Most of my prayers are simple conversations to God where I take the time to listen to Him and speak to Him in return. Over the years how and what I have prayed has evolved... and changed... but in its core... it is one of simply relating as companions who honor and love each other…. I believe He desires this for all of us.
By the time I was offered the job as a teacher... transportation had become a problem for us. The job seemed perfect... it began after my children finished Headstart, a government program giving children of a lower income a head start through a educational program, I volunteered there a lot enabling me to leave with just enough time to get to the job. Although it was only a part time job, I was going to be able to bring both of my children with me to work... my greatest desire…. which would save on day care costs as well... so I prayed, if it was God's desire that I get this job, that He make a way.
Out of no where, my husband who had been in deep depression since leaving the Marines after the war in Vietnam decided to change jobs... and found one within walking distance.... which he interviewed for. He was not able to find work using his college degree, nor his skills as an Officer in the Marines. He was mainly doing menial tasks through construction work. He had always wanted to be a lawyer.... but after the service never went back to college, due to some traumatic emotional issues. I'll never forget what followed, that Friday... a man called indicating, if my husband called him before closing... he could have the job, beginning that Monday, with a pay increase for us. I had no way of getting in touch with him... so I prayed, telling God, "In the bible, it is written... if we seek Your Kingdom and Your righteousness first... that all of our needs and our families needs would be met. Based upon this... I am asking you to meet our financial needs, however you know is best." read Matthew 6:32-34 in context. Neither of us felt good about having to live in low income housing.... and it was my belief God would help us to better ourselves.
I asked that He meet our needs... fully expecting something to happen, although I was not sure what. Even so I was surprised when my husband walked in the door early. When I asked why, he said, "The guys were knocking off early for a beer party but I decided to come home."
I was speechless... being an ex-officer in the Marine Corps who was expected to socialize with the guys at the Officers Club drinking after work, it was not like my husband to turn down a drink with his buddies... or to come home early. While working at that job... my husband was befriended by a Christian man... who confirmed to him the things I had been saying. Even though the passion I feel for God has not happened for him, it was then he became more open to what I was telling him about God in my life.
My husband had been raised to be a devoted Catholic. He went to early mass every morning and followed all of that denominations traditions until he was 14. One day out of no where, his mom figured he was old enough to decide for himself about God... and she no longer needed to practice her religion for his benefit and she stopped going to mass. Under the circumstances... shortly afterwards, he became disillusioned, and stopped going himself.... although he continued to believe in God, in his own way. No matter how much I tried... I was soon to discover, there was no way I was going to be able to get him to believe like me... or to desire for his life, what I now desired for my own. Although I prayed for this all of the time... and still loved him very much, we began to grow apart. I had lost interest in what we use to be interested in together as a couple one example, we use to enjoy watching adult movies and smoking pot together and I never complained about how much he drank and he did not desire to follow me to the places I was going, even though I took our children with me. He preferred staying home alone... and as was his habit since the Marines... drank until it was time for bed... just like his dad.... and his dad before him, no condemnation intended, today he is sober and has grown through having had the experiences life has given him. *smile
In this midst of all of these answered prayers I was given the following short poem written by a long time family friend, which I took to heart and have lived by ever since:
My Little White Rose Bud
Written by Harry Lonergan on his 90th birthday
It is only a tiny Rose bud, a flower of God's design. But I cannot unfold the petals with these clumsy hands of mine. The secret of unfolding flowers is not known to such as I. The flowers God opens so sweetly, in my hands would fade and die. If I cannot unfold a Rose bud, this flower of Gods design. Then how do I think I have wisdom, to unfold this life of mine? So, I will trust Him for His leading, each moment of everyday and I'll look to Him for His guidance, each step of the pilgrim way. For the pathway that lies before me, my Heavenly Father knows. I'll trust Him to unfold the moments, just as He unfolds the Rose...
One day I was overwhelmed with a desire to call the Church office with the hopes they might know of someone in my area I could meet, connect and socialize with more intimately, with my family. Perhaps you can imagine my surprise to discover... there was a widow woman in her 40's who lived in my apartment building who visited off and on as her health allowed. She was an excellent seamstress, who was primarily homebound due to chronic pain in her back because of a disease. No amount of surgery or prayer had helped. I introduced myself... and our friendship blossomed... and we remained in touch for years... until I moved out of state. She became the older woman who is to teach the younger woman to be keepers of the home, in my life, read Titus chapter 2 in context. God used her to help bring balance and maturity to me. Sometimes we were led to meet together on Sundays or other times in her home to discuss and study matters related to God in our lives and the bible.... believing as He told us, "Where two or more are gathered together in My Name... I Am there among you." read Matthew 18:20 in context. I admired her greatly, she was like a second mom and grandmamma to our entire family. Even my in laws who had a problem with the passion of my faith... loved her.
While I was
working at this Day Care Center... I discovered their lending library. One
particular book stood out to me... entitled: Abide In Christ by Andrew
Murray. I read it along side my bible... and it blessed me so much, I began to
ask God to lead me to the books of His choice... they continued to leap out at
me or come from unexpected sources, to my delight. The thought came encouraging
me; What others had spend years learning... can be taught in just a
short amount of time through these books. Being obsessive by nature, I
learned I needed to Be careful not to let this get out of balance, causing me to
neglect my responsibilities. My inability to read and comprehend was no longer a
hindrance... although I did need to read slowly... and stop and think about what
was being said.... as I asked God's Spirit to speak to me through what I was
reading, giving me His insight. Eventually God warned me, "Know... just as
it is important for you to feed your body, mind and Soul... for healthy
growth.... it is equally important that you feed your Spirit. Be aware of what
you are eating... on all levels... and remember you can only go as far as the
teacher you find yourself under has gone." It was then I remembered, the
Holy Spirit was my first teacher and not a man…. and I have chosen to allow
Him to remain my first teacher ever since.
As my journey progressed... God began to answer my prayers in unique ways... ways I did not always understand at first... but came to appreciate in the end, having learned a valuable lesson... at the same time, seeing God and some of His ways through new eyes.... His eternal eyes. One such prayer had to do with our car. It failed inspection... and we did not have the money to fix it. I found myself in a catch 22 situation... if I did not drive it, I could not earn the money to fix it... so I drove it, supposing this was the wisest thing to do... asking for God's protection.... being very careful not to take advantage of the situation and to drive only when it was absolutely necessary. When I was pulled over... and received a ticket, I was offended... and I complained to God. "This is just going to put us behind further financially. I can't imagine why You allowed this to happen... after all You know my heart... I was sincerely trying to do my best. I was only trying to be responsible!"
He reminded me... "Eve was sincere too... Be encouraged me... Be anxious for nothing... do not worry, but seek Me and My will first next time. My ways are not your ways... nor My understanding your understanding, but know I can be trusted and I will provide that which you need." read Proverb 3:5-6
When the time came to pay the ticket, I did so, unaware my husband was writing a check at the same time, which would cause mine to bounce. When I found out... I was distraught, to say the least. I was sure I would be going to jail! I didn't know what to do... so I asked for God's help and guidance this time. I reminded Him... "I am seeking first Your Kingdom and Your righteousness... and it is written, and You have said. You promise that You would meet all of my needs if I did so.... so Your will be done!"
After I finished my prayer... I had so much faith that this situation would be taken care of... that I fully expected for a stranger... even an angel to walk up and hand me the money. *smile I believed all I needed to do in this situation was to wait on Him… because He has a plan. I believed whatever happened would be simply amazing... and it would glory Him.
next was totally unexpected. I received a letter in the mail from the
Court House... indicating the Officer who had written my ticket was no longer
with the Force and all of his cases were being dropped... in the envelope was
the check I had written, it had never been cashed.
It was then I began to recognize on a personal level God was in control of every situation in my life… and nothing was happening by accident... and everything was going to work out for the good in the end... as He worked on my will making it one with His own. I began to understand… the circumstances I found myself in… were meant to develop my faith in who He Is…… as God revealed His nature to me, while teaching me some of His ways. I understood first hand... indeed I had nothing to fear.
I was beginning to understand Him to be My heavenly Father... who Is Holy and just... all-powerful... all-knowing... all-encompassing... all-consuming.... ever present.
His Spirit was teaching me Father God could be trusted... and what His truth is... and is not. I understood this is His creative work, and not my own.... HE having initiated the relationship... and I can rest in His love.... and His power.... which would prove His faithfulness to me as we walked together... becoming of one mind though the life of His Spirit having been birthed within.
Eventually He revealed to me, in exchange for my old life... my old ways of thinking and being... His Spirit offered, the resurrected life of His son to be formed in me. I was not sure what those words meant... nor how they would be manifested, but I embraced them as truth. As time passed... He continued to reveal Himself to me as my loving dad... consistently working to recreate my life... through the restoration of my Soul, birthed through this mysterious union with His son. This transformation unfolded a day at a time... as my old ways of Being and thinking... the entire old nature... was brought to death... and given a new life.... with new choices.
Luke 11:1-13 Beginning of Jesus' Teaching on Prayer
1 And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.2 And he said to them, When you pray, say, Our Father who is in heaven, holy is Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.3 Give us day by day our daily bread.4 And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.5 And he said to them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go to him at midnight, and say to him, Friend, lend me three loaves;6 For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?7 And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you.8 I say to you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needs.9 And I say to you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.10 For every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened.11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask for a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?12 Or if he shall ask for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
**Ephesians 6:10-20: The Whole Armor of God
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.14Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints-- 19and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.