Today during rush hour, I noticed the license plate on the Toyota in front of me read, “For Now.” Evidently the owner had plans for a more luxurious vehicle in his future.
For Now is a lifestyle to which most of us are accustomed. For example:
Paper And Plastic
Things made from paper and plastic were made to last mostly, for now. Paper plates are for temporary use. They quietly say that someday there will be china on the table. I’m only here for this one meal.
Very few retire from a fast food job. They only took the job, for now, because the one they want is unavailable at this time. As soon as something better opens up, they are gone.
There are “Temp Employment Agencies” who specialize in the for now.
Boyfriends and girlfriends come and go. They are the people you can like for now. Some day you hope to find a permanent person to love. It’s called marriage. Sadly, there are even some twisted people who rationalize that marriage is only a for now thing.
Real Estate Brokers sell starter homes. They don’t expect the buyer to grow old there. Those houses are for newlyweds getting a start in life. They are for now.
A Rent House is where you live for now. It’s what you have till you can buy your own house.
Motels are for those needing a place to sleep for now.
Moses chose to identify with the people of God, than with the house of Pharaoh. He understood that sin’s pleasures were only for now, and then they would vanish.
Hebrews 11:24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;
Hebrews 11:25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;
- Adulterers live in a for now world.
- Alcoholics, drug users and abusers are addicted to the for now feeling.
Saints of old sang: “This World Is Not My Home, I’m Just A Passing Through.” They were not focused on the for now.
Israel was content to dwell in the for now, whether that was in Egypt or the Wilderness. She had to be pushed into the Promised Land.
Esau willingly traded his most valuable possession for a bowl of pottage. His eternal birthright was swapped straight across for something that would make him happy for now. He lost his forever in his quest for now.
Demas was once the Apostle Paul’s travel companion and fellow laborer. His thoughts turned from things above to began to the world around him. He chose to live in the for now, and abandon any hope of the forever.
The Song Writer
Jennie Wilson words that have lasted for scores of years. She warned us all to build our hopes on things eternal.
“Hold to God’s Unchanging Hand”
Words: Jennie Wilson.
Music: Franklin L. Eiland
1. Time is filled with swift transition,
Naught of earth unmoved can stand,
Build your hopes on things eternal,
Hold to God’s unchanging hand.
Hold to God’s unchanging hand,
Hold to God’s unchanging hand;
Build your hopes on things eternal,
Hold to God’s unchanging hand.
2. Trust in Him who will not leave you,
Whatsoever years may bring,
If by earthly friends forsaken
Still more closely to Him cling.
3. Covet not this world’s vain riches
That so rapidly decay,
Seek to gain the heav’nly treasures
They will never pass away.
4. When your journey is completed,
If to God you have been true,
Fair and bright the home in glory
Your enraptured soul will view.
Troubles Are Temporary. They are For Now Moments.
2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
2 Corinthians 4:17 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Paul Challenged Us To Not Let the For Now Separate Us From Him.
Romans 8:38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Romans 8:39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What Happens When Galaxies Collide?
What happens when the gravitational pull of one Galaxy overwhelms another? In the world of suns, moons, planets, stars, and galaxies, the answer is not a positive one.
The same is true in the lives of Apostolic men and women. When our carnal world collides with our Spiritual World, what happens? Are there ever any survivors?
Some attempt to maintain the two orbiting worlds of Spirit and Flesh simultaneously, but it never has a happy ending. There will always be a collision.
Matthew 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
Especially in the last days, we all have all seen an abundance of human failures. May God help us all to order our worlds aright!
What Would Pentecostals Post On Facebook If This Were 70 Years Ago?
First of all, I am not sure how many would have even been on any social media. Some, in the 1940’s, regularly warned of the worldly influence of radio in Christian homes. Television was called a one-eyed monster.
Secondly, the whole world was at war. The saints of old actually believed they were living in the last days and most of them acted accordingly.
Thirdly, many of them had survived the great depression. Most had little money or possessions. Christ and the Church became the center of their lives.
With this in mind allow me to extract comments and excerpts from my family’s letters and wire recordings (Wire recorders preceded Cassette and Tape Recorders.) made during that same time frame.
I am sure they would have made the same type of affectionate greetings to family and friends.
We would have also read:
- Victory reports of revival and new church plantings
- Updates on our children and grand children’s lives
- Recipes and sewing tips
- But most assuredly, there would have been much talk about the coming of the Lord, the end time, Heaven, and the importance of being ready
Here are some comments taken from Carl Ballestero’s (my father) letters to Bro. Harvey Davis during WWII.
1. “I write to you, Harvey, as Jonathan would to David, with nothing but love and honor in my heart for you. I know nothing of your failures, (I have enough of my own, for we all are unprofitable servants), but I looked for Jesus in you, and bless His dear Name, I found Him in you in a very pleasing way. It really isn’t hard to see our Jesus in one another, if we would but look for Him.
2. “As I was sitting at the table thinking of what you said about going all out for Jesus, (you spoke my heart) and it seemed then, how few really want to see things done for God. Most people will go places for God when things are going good and when the message is popular, but only a handful are possessed with the “Jesus passions” for lost souls and genuine red-hot Holy Ghost revival fire to sweep not only their own hearts, but the whole community as well. I pray that God will give us a “go-through” spirit.
3. “May the Lord melt us and take away all bitterness from our hearts, for His Name’s sake.
4. “We’re strangers here, not wanted, not loved by man, we have a Heavenly City, not made with hands, and One ever beckons to the weary, tempted and tried pilgrims to “Come out from among them and be ye separate” for this world is not their home.
5. “Yes, there is hardly a preacher in Pentecost who doesn’t know how far short of the Apostolic power we are. Oh, it is true that we have the Gospel, but then too, “The letter killeth.” It is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing.” It takes more than plain good preaching to get people saved. It takes the signs following you spoke about.
6. “…But then may we now say, not “Where is the God of Elijah,” but “Where is the Elijah of God.”
7. “We, as young ministers could blame the preachers before us for this pitiful state of God’s Body, (and we would not be too far from wrong for they have not been altogether blameless), but we have a wall to build, whether we are the men to do the job or not, I am certain God is pleased that the thought is in our hearts. Let us therefore set our minds to the immense task that lies before us, and consecrate, humble, deny and keep under the Blood every fiber of our being that we might be of a truth, “The apple of God’s eye.” Surely He cannot help but bless that one who has determined to make his time God’s time, who realizes that his members are God’s temple, his very life and breath, a loan from a loving Friend who sticks closer than any brother.
8. “I can truthfully say, that my joy is to do the will of my Father in Heaven, yes, that is also my meat, it sustains me, gives me life, for Jesus is truly the “Bread of Life.”
9. “Let us evermore come to Him that we might have life and that more abundantly. Jesus said, “Ye will not come to Me that ye might have life.” We have life from Him, Brother, but not many have that abundant life, the holy and sanctified breath of God in them that makes giants out of weaklings, that makes heroes out of cowards, that makes intercessors out of sluggards, yea, that makes mighty, prevailing, unconquerable, rugged, self-denying Gospel and Gift entrusted Christian men and women who can move the mountains of sin in the abominable generation of our day.
10.“What then shall we do? Shall we be sorry for our faults, or defeats? No, not sorry, but rather repent. It is harder to get a Pentecostal person to repent than a rank sinner. Yes, repent and launch out into the deep, for surely hell will be full of sorry people.
11.“Most of my time is spent in the study of God’s Word. I now am spending more time in prayer that He first might make it burn in my heart so that I can preach it from the very depths of my soul with His fire and unction. I have a wonderful book entitled “The Preacher and Prayer” by Bounds, and if I can’t find any in the bookstores, I’ll send you mine. Marvelous truth! It will fire your passion for souls and shake you into a prayerful attitude.
12.“My typewriter has been in hock for a few weeks now, so that explains the pen and ink. I pawned it so that I could buy a turkey for New Year’s Day. I am sending you all the money we have, but my Father is rich, and “I shall not want”, for truly, with food and raiment, the love of God in my heart, the hunger for more of Him and for others to know Him is more than I deserve, and if I cannot say like Paul, “I have learned …” I can say “I am learning to be content in whatsoever state I am in.”
13.“Your letter touched my heart, just made me love you so, and cry, so I just had to write you these few lines. (It doesn’t seem many to me, for they flow from my heart.) If I have ever said or done anything to harm or hinder you, please forgive me, as I do want to make Heaven my home. If I have, it was not by choice, from my head, but not my heart.
14.“We send our love to each of you, pray daily for you.
15.“Other than what I’ve mentioned, in these dark and bewildering days, all that we have to look forward to is the coming of Jesus to deliver us from this body of death. The supposedly strong ones among us have forsaken our God and their cross and left the lambs to continue on with faltering step. It seems that those who really desire to pay the price and go through must do so amidst the railings of those who make a mock of sin, who have no confidence in Christianity, (and why should they have?) Yet, still the love and the Spirit of God pulls our feet homeward, saying “This is the way, walk ye in it.”
16.“When I listen to good preachers, I begin to wonder if I’ve missed my calling or not, but when I see the way people are failing God, and faith has vanished; when I see the holy standard of Jesus Christ dragged in the gutter, and a bunch of old reprobates who live in sin, and brag about all their wonderful results, and claim to be the “fathers” of this Jesus Name movement, I take courage and make an attempt at preaching anyway,
17.“Lose your money, lose your reputation, lose your car and all your possessions, but don’t lose your character, don’t lose the anointing of God, don’t lose your soul
18.“There’s no place like the everlasting arms of Jesus when one is burdened, over-weighted with much sorrow, and about ready to abandon ship.
19.“I would rather burn out for God than rust out.
20.“I’m praying for you almost every night without fail. Might have missed you once or twice, but you’re usually upon my heart for your love and fellowship means so much to me.
Bro. Ike Terry’s Comments To My Mother, Connie Ballestero:
- “Sister Connie, I want to share with you a brand new One God Scripture that I found today…”
Various Saints From The Bakersfield Church To My Mother:
- “They carried me home drunk on the Holy Ghost last night.
- “We had an all night prayer meeting.
- “My husband finally got the Holy Ghost during this revival, Hallelujah!
- If any of the old saints had slipped off to a movie, or read a questionable book they would they have posted it or talked about it openly?
- How much Sports talk would have been posted?
- What photos would they post?
- How much flesh would be on display?
- How much would be written about Church, God and Christian living?
There would still have been fun and fellowship on the news feed of the 1940’s FB I’m sure, but I would like to think the Coming of the Lord and the End Time would have never strayed from the main focus.
If You Really Believed Jesus Was Coming Soon…
What Would You Do?
I grew up in a generation accustomed to hearing sermons about the coming of the Lord. Since I was born during World War II, my parents truly believed they were in the last days and did their best to live and pray accordingly.
My Mother said that when I was born she never dreamed the Lord would tarry long enough for me to even start Kindergarten, but that was 70 years ago.
No one knows the day or the hour that He will come again. Yet, everything within me chooses to focus on the hope that today will be the day.
When I proposed to my beloved, we settled on the date of August 28, 1965. However, within weeks of our engagement, we heard a series of sermons on the coming of the Lord. We moved our wedding up to August 14, to beat the rapture… and we did.
Desert Storm brought backsliders back by the droves. Some of them didn’t wait for the preaching, but walked straight from the door to the altar. After the scare of the war was gone, so were they.
The reality is, folks who don’t believe that the return of Jesus is imminent, have a tendency to live like He is not coming soon.
If I really believed that Jesus was coming, what would I do? How would I respond to that news?
Imagine: If the Lord loved you dearly enough to give you a private ‘heads up’ that He was coming back for His church in one week, what would you do? How would you plan each day in preparing for the rapture?
These are quite possibly some things that I would do. Not necessarily in this particular order.
Day One – I Would Really Repent!
The first thing I would do is repent to God for everything I have done, said, thought or felt. I would repent for my wrong spirit, my bad attitude and every thing I can think of that would be displeasing to the Lord.
· I wouldn’t just pray, I would pray through.
· I mean really pray through.
· Not just a two-dollar tune-up but rather a complete major over haul.
When I finished, I would look in my mirror and see if I could find anything about the way I looked or the way I dressed that was displeasing to Him. I would make sure that my body was not adorned with things the Bible warned me about that would keep me from going up.
· I would walk through my house and remove anything and everything that had a carnal base or worldly flavor and influence upon it.
· I would make sure that every music album in my house would be something He would approve of.
· I would not want any thing in my house that I would not want Jesus to see or hear.
· I would clean my closet and remove anything I would not want to be wearing when Jesus came.
· I would look at my magazines and books.
· If I found anything that I didn’t want to be in my hand when the rapture took place, I would throw away.
I Would Repent. I Mean, Really Repent… Jesus Is Coming!
Day Two – I Would Apologize To My Brother And Sister In Christ!
· I would quit fighting with my brother and sincerely apologize.
· Even if I thought he was the one that should be apologizing first.
· I would choose not to be offended any more.
· I would ask him to forgive me for everything I had done and said.
And, if I had taken anything from him, I would restore it and pay extra for damages and them give him the Biblically required usury.
· I would tell him that I loved him.
· I would strive for unity in the Body of Christ.
I Would Want To Love My Neighbor As Myself… Jesus Is Coming!
Day Three – I Would Consecrate Like Never Before
· I would surrender my will to His Will.
· I would humble myself before the Lord.
· I would pray, not my will but Thine be done.
· I would no longer have a problem with Pastoral authority.
· I would ask my pastor if he saw anything in me I needed to change or improve before the Lord came.
· I would no longer have a problem with Doctrine.
· I would no longer have a problem with Holiness Standards.
· I would make sure that my attitude towards the things of God was right.
I Want My Heart To Be Right… Jesus Is Coming!
Day Four – I Would Focus On My Church Attendance
· I would make sure I made it to the mid-week services.
· I would get there early for prayer.
· I would sit as close to the front as I could.
· I would worship like I never had before.
· I would sing with all my heart.
· I would sing loud and clap my hands and say Amen.
· During the invitation, I would come to the altar and pray with seekers.
· I would even ask if I could sing in the choir. (I would like to be singing in the choir when the Lord comes.)
I Would Put My Heart Into Having Church… Jesus Is Coming!
Day Five – I Would Gather My Family Around Me
I would apologize and express my love to my spouse. I would speak gentle and loving to the members of my home.
· I would apologize for all the arguments and harsh words that caused hurt feelings.
· I would apologize to my children.
· I would apologize to my parents.
· I would apologize to my siblings.
· I would apologize to my in-laws.
· I would adjust my grumpy attitude.
I Would Wrap My Family Up In Love… Jesus Is Coming!
Day Six – I Would Have A Financial Review
· I would go through my bills and make sure they were paid.
· I would look at my Pay Check Stubs and my W-2’s and then look in my check book to make sure I was current with my tithes and offerings.
If Not, I Would Catch Up and Add The Biblically Required Twenty Percent To My Tithe… Jesus Is Coming!
Day Seven – I Would Wake Up In A Panic Thinking About The Lost!
At daybreak I would be at my friend’s house inviting myself to teach him a home Bible Study.
I would scramble around all day looking for every relative I could talk to and every acquaintance doing my best to talk to them about the coming of the Lord.
I Would Try To Take Everyone I Could To Heaven With Me… Jesus Is Coming!
So… What would you do if you believed Jesus was coming? Would you change anything about the way you live, talk, think, act, dress or believe?
Would you correct the things in your life that need correcting?
Would you do everything in your power to be ready for That Day?
Then Just Do It. He Really Is Coming!
Whatever Happened To Carefulness?
Modern Pentecostalism, as a whole, seems to enjoy flaunting its perceived new liberties in the face of all caution. To them who have lived their whole lives in spiritual carefulness before God, this mindset is repulsive, dangerous and scary.
Why Does One Generation Feel Freer And Less Cautious Than Another?
- Are they more enlightened in the Word?
- Is this a New Day in the Kingdom of God?
- Has God waited nearly 2,000 years to remove every Biblical principle and restriction?
- Why are things considered right today that were wrong yesterday?
- Are they backslidden in heart?
- Why is there an absence of Holiness and things HOLY among those who profess the HOLY Ghost?
There is a horrible price to pay if what our forefathers said is right. Old school preachers said things like: “When you lose your revelation of Holiness, it won’t be long before you lose your revelation of the Oneness of the Godhead.” That dear reader is a very fearful thing.
It appears as if the spirit of the age is one that wants to see how much one can do and still feel saved and justified.
Too many church folks have been influenced by the style and fads of this present world. Sadly, whatever the new style of the world is on display, it soon will be seen in some churches. It quickly appears in:
· Men’s clothing
· Men’s hairstyles
· Men’s facial hair
· Women’s clothing
· Women’s hairstyles
· And even makeup
- Can anyone else remember when it was uncommon to see Pentecostal women wearing form-fitting and revealing attire?
- Can anyone else remember new converts changing how they dressed and lived soon after they got saved?
- Can anyone else remember when makeup was not acceptable?
- Can anyone else remember when women considered long hair their glory?
- Can anyone else remember when men didn’t dress in a manner that questioned their masculinity?
- Can anyone else remember the day when Consecration services were not uncommon?
- Can anyone else remember when no one who claimed to be in church wanted to look like or dress like they were in the world?
- Can anyone else remember when there was an absence of facial hair on the men that were in the church?
- Can anyone else remember when no one heard of young girls kissing other young girls?
- Can anyone else remember when the saints lived their lives carefully, lest they displease the Lord?
- Can anyone else remember when saints were not addicted to prescription drugs?
- Can anyone else remember when TV was a bad word?
- Can anyone else remember when saints didn’t go to movies?
- Can anyone else remember when jewelry was not seen on church folks?
- Can anyone else remember when church services times were not scheduled around a Super Bowl Sunday?
- Can anyone else remember saints being careful about what they read, what they listened to, where they went and whom they went with?
- Can anyone else remember when folks repented to each other and before God because they wanted to be saved?
- Can anyone else remember hearing sermons on Hell and Judgment?
· What changed?
· Did God change?
· If God changed, not everyone got the memo.
Carefulness Is Produced By Repentance.
That’s The First Thing True Repentance Does. It Makes You Careful.
2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
2 Corinthians 7:11 For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
- Too many are not careful about giving God the tithe of their increase.
- Too many are not careful to manifest the Fruits of the Spirit.
- Too many are not careful about what they say, or whom they say it to.
- Too many are not careful about what comes into their homes.
- Too many are not careful to honor their parents.
- Too many are not careful to honor their pastor.
- Too many are not careful about their attendance to the House of God.
- Too many are not careful about their attitude.
- Too many are not careful to keep their marriage vows.
- Too many are not careful about their friend’s negative influences.
- Too many are not careful about where they allow themselves to go visit.
- Too many are not careful about the necessity of the Acts 2:38 Doctrine.
Sadly, We Have Gone From Carefulness To Carelessness.
I will have to answer to God some day. So, when I read verses such as these I feel cautioned to be careful.
Hebrews 2:1 Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.
Ephesians 5:15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
1 Timothy 4:16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them:
The Holy Spirit Warns Us All About The World’s Influence Upon The Church.
1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
2 Peter 3:1 This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance:
2 Peter 3:2 That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:
2 Peter 3:3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
I am sure most will continue to do as they please and feel very justified. That will be between you and the Lord on Judgment Day.
As For Me, I Choose To Finish My Days Walking Before The Lord As Carefully As I Can.
Oh, by the way, are you doing your best to be careful in your walk with God? If not, please join me.
On The Street
Your friends, neighbors, the DMV, and the postman know you by your full name. Your Driver’s License says your official name is ‘John Doe.”
In The Hospital
As A Patient In Room 123:
Every attending nurse and doctor always verifies your name and even date of birth when the come into the room to check on you..
Sometimes your name is displayed on the room door.
When You Die:
You are no longer referred to by your name. You are now no longer ‘John Doe’ you are now just a body. Your identity changed.
The doctor pulls the sheet up over the face of ‘the body.’
They then call the morgue and have them pick up ‘the body’ in Room 123.
At A Crime Scene
The first thing the Homicide Detective wants to know when he arrives at a crime scene is, “Where’s the body?”
The Coroner does not examine Mr. John Doe, thinking this is Mr. John Doe! All he sees is a dead body.
Mr. Doe is then placed in a body bag and hidden from view.
In The Morgue
‘The body’ is placed on the slab.
Sometimes ‘the body’ is put into a refrigerated drawer.
At The Funeral Home
The Funeral Home sends a Driver to pick up ‘the body’.
It’s ‘the body’ that is embalmed. As far as we know, no one says, “Mr. Doe is embalmed,” he is now referred to as a body.
‘The body’ is dressed and placed in a casket.
At The Grave
The hearse drives ‘the body’ to the Cemetery.
After the graveside service, ‘the body’ is lowered into the ground.
‘The body’ is later covered with dirt.
Sometimes ‘the body’ is exhumed.
This Is Understood In The Natural Life,
It Happens Similarly In The Spiritual Life.
We are proud of our identity.
We proudly proclaim our heritage and those famous in our family tree.
We promote ourselves.
We do what we enjoy.
(Philippians 2:21 For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.)
We fight to keep our identity.
We protect ourselves from identity theft.
We make cards to give to strangers with our name in bold letters.
We do our best to live as long as we can and enjoy life.
At The Altar Of Repentance
On the very first trip to the Altar of Repentance, we die.
We die out to sin.
We die out to self.
We die out the things of the world.
We die out to fleshly lusts.
We decrease so that He might increase.
In Water Baptism
We are buried with Him.
The old man dies and is buried.
When We Are Filled With The Holy Ghost
We take on a new identity.
We are no longer our own, we are bought with a price.
Now, it’s not about us, that no flesh should glory in His Presence.
Now we are part of The Body Of Christ.
We relinquished our old identity and receive a new one.
We are members of ‘The Body’.
We become Kingdom Minded.
We no longer are motivated to promote our flesh, but rather do all for the good of ‘His Body… The Body.’
The Day My World Wanted To Crash, But Couldn’t.
I sat on the side of my bed with our house phone against my left ear as I listened to my Dad’s voice. Tears were standing at ready in my eyes, just waiting for any reason to start flowing. It had been one of the worst days of my life.
I was already dressed for my Wednesday night Bible Study. The clock told me that I had only five minutes remaining before I needed to leave for church.
The sound of my Dad’s voice was the best medicine for my mind and soul at this moment. I didn’t tell him what the problem was, but he was very sharp and intuitive. He was a pastor in Sulphur, LA.
For the last eight hours or so I had sat in my pastor’s study at South Bend’s Christ Temple Apostolic Church trying to prepare for the service. Nothing seemed to make sense for me. Even with over 7,000 books in my library, I couldn’t seem to find anything that would prompt me. I read many chapters in the Bible and nothing stood out.
Well, to be honest, I focused primarily on me. I had felt like crying all day and I didn’t know why. I had the most wonderful wife and children a man could ever hope to have. I pastored a church full of people I loved and they were all so good to me.
I tried praying and was grateful for a legitimate format for me to open up and cry in. What was the deal? What was wrong with me? Was I going through some mid-life crisis at 40 years old? I didn’t know.
Was I being overly hard and harsh on myself? Was I crying tears of disappointment because of un-achieved goals and dreams? I was afraid to think too long about that.
Who could I call and vent to? Who’s shoulder would be broad enough? I could think of no one that I wanted to burden down with my heavy load of negative feelings.
Was I out of the will of God? Was God dealing with me about something? Who knew? My self-pity was working overtime.
Even then as I sat on the side of the bed looking at the blank wall, things still weren’t making any sense. I have no memory of that ten-minute conversation of unimportant and mundane things until I said I had to go.
I had spent most of the time listening to my Father talk while I held the mouth piece of the old beige phone up high over my head in case I accidentally sniffled. I couldn’t let Dad hear me cry.
“ I gotta run Dad.” I finally said as I looked at the bedroom clock.
“I need to leave here in five minutes but I want you to know I love you and miss you.”
Then came the words that would turn my world around that night.
“I love you too son,” Dad said. “Remember this. Psa. 46:1 says that God is our refuge and strength. Don’t you ever forget that.”
I thanked him for that word, told him again that I loved him, said goodbye and picked up my Bible. As I walked out the backdoor, I looked up the Scripture passage and marked it with a ribbon.
Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
I visited the prayer room. No Biblical illustration came to mind that could even remotely connect that verse for me. My mind was blank. I really didn’t want to preach that night, and besides, I had nothing to preach. I was a mess.
I sat in my chair on the platform later listening to the prayers and praise of the good saints. I’m sure the worship was wonderful as usual, but I was just going through the motions. My mind was still searching for a character to illustrate the verse. What was I going to do? I didn’t know.
Finally, it was time for me to step to the pulpit. I made a few announcements and read Psa. 46:1 to the congregation while they still remained standing. When I finished, I invited them to be seated.
I announced my sermon title for the evening message. “God Is Our Refuge.” Then, I closed the Bible because there was nothing else there in the verse that could help me.
As soon as I said that God was our refuge, I was reminded of the fact that Job had a hedge around him that was placed there by God and Job didn’t even know it existed.
I pulled a folding chair up for me to sit in while I demonstrated the point. Then the word Hedge stood out to me. So I gathered several chairs around mine into a circle hoping to make a visible hedge.
I looked at the crowd and in a spirit of transparency said. “I don’t know if I am preaching tonight to you or to me. If I am just preaching tonight to me, you might as well go on home now, and I will do the same when I finish preaching this sermon.
My mind has no remembrance of what I said next or how it happened. In about three minutes, the saints began to worship and weep. I wept along with them. Then they began to shout and dance in the Holy Ghost. I shouted too. It became one of the most precious moves of the Holy Ghost we had enjoyed in many years. The service ended with victory in the camp and in our hearts.
There were no sermon notes for later reference, no recordings of the message. It was just a God moment. It was a gift from the Glory World.
I was privileged to understand more clearly what Paul meant when he said to Timothy that by preaching, he would save himself and them that heard him. It happened to me that night.
We all went home with Holy Ghost smiles on our faces. My heavy emotional load had been lifted. That verse came alive just for me, if for no one else. I willing claim it, quote it and stand upon it to this day.
That Was The Day The Day My World Wanted To Crash, But Couldn’t. Because God Truly Was My Refuge.
He’s Your Refuge Too! And In The Words Of My Late Father… “Don’t You Ever Forget It!”