Archive for March 2010
There’s No Hope For You!
The preacher said, “Don’t ever sin after you have received the Holy Ghost, because the Bible says if you do, ‘there remaineth no more sacrifice for you.’ There’s no more hope for you, if you backslide. You can’t pray back through. You can’t be saved. You’re going to hell!
“Don’t ever say one thing you shouldn’t say, don’t ever do one thing you shouldn’t do, or go one place you shouldn’t go, or think on things you shouldn’t be thinking about! If you do, there is no hope for you” That’s what the guest preacher said at the Friday night Fellowship Meeting in the little country church in Indiana.
We were stunned. All twelve local pastors on the platform sat frozen, wondering what would be said next.
The preacher was sincere. He was preaching with tears running down his face. He had driven 400 miles to preach in this service. Most of us had never even heard of him before.
I looked at the second row. Six young couples from our church listened intently. Knowing some of their personal struggles and natures, I knew they couldn’t make it till Sunday morning without saying something they shouldn’t say, doing something they shouldn’t do, going somewhere they shouldn’t go, or thinking on something they shouldn’t be thinking about. They weren’t bad young couples at all. They were just human.
If they did do something they shouldn’t have, I knew they devil would tell them there is no hope for you, so why bother to go back to church.
Something had to be said. Waiting till Sunday to say it, would be too late if they didn’t come back. Damage control was needed now.
I felt the need to respond. Leaning over to the pastor, I said, “Elder, if you don’t mind, I’d like to take this service when he’s done with it.”
“I wish you would, the older pastor said, “I’m a backslider myself.”
We all stood reverently while our guest finished his sermon. He was crying. A number of the people in the audience cried too. We knew we were all so guilty that maybe none of us would be saved, if his doctrine was right.
When the preacher finished, I stepped to the pulpit and asked every one to raise their hands and pray.
I thanked the brother for coming. I have strong convictions against those that are harsh in the pulpit. But I felt I was fighting for souls.
I said, “This man has preached to us tonight from his heart. He has preached with a burden and a passion. He has preached with great sincerity. The only problem is, our good brother is sincerely wrong.
“Evidently, he doesn’t believe in a Great High Priest, who daily maketh intercession for us.
The Bible is trying to explain to us that if we sin, Jesus is not going to go back to Calvary to die for us again. He died once, and for all.
There is no license to sin, there are no indulgences you can buy, there is no hall pass you can get to do wrong.
“But the Bible does say, ‘If we sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous”
“What is an Advocate? It’s a defense attorney! Why would He provide us with a defense attorney, if there’s no hope for us?
“Who daily maketh intercession for us…
“Why would He make intercession for us if there is no hope?”
The church roared with thanksgiving and praise to God for His mercy and His forgiveness. Some wept with relief.
So should you!
I don’t care what you’ve done, where you’ve been, or how long you’ve been gone. Like the Prodigal, you’re still His child. When He sees you headed home, He’ll run to meet you too.
Thank God for His Forgiveness!
Your Leaves Will Grow Back!
“Honey, I don’t want to live anymore! I don’t feel like I’m trusting God, taking my heart medicine! I just want to go home and be with my darling!” My Mom confided to me.
My Mother, Content Ballestero had spent her life encouraging and blessing others. As her oldest child and only son, I had never known Mom to be anything but upbeat. One of our phone conversations, a few months after Dad’s passing in 1994, took a downturn. Mom was not sounding like her normal self. It caught me off guard.
I sat in my living room, 2,400 miles away feeling quite helpless. I had never been in this position before. What do I say? How do I respond to her? Sometimes I hated being a preacher, because you’re supposed to know what to say at all times. I don’t feel gifted in that department. I prayed silently that the Lord would give me words to speak to her.
“Mama,” I said, “Let’s talk about these things one at a time, OK?”
“Number 1, Why do you say you are not trusting God when you take your heart medicine? When you needed glasses to help your vision, you went to the Eye Doctor. You wear glasses. Why don’t you feel you’re not trusting God when you’re wearing glasses?
“You went to the Dentist and got false teeth, you didn’t say anything about trusting God, you just did what you had to do.” I reminded her.
“Oh honey, thank you!” She murmured.
“Number 2,” I continued, “If you want to ‘go home’ and be with Daddy, and you feel that God is done with you here, then go out into the backyard, find you the biggest old bucket you can find, and kick that sucker as hard as you can kick it.”
I knew that would shock her. Her response was that she needed that and she chuckled and thanked me again.
“Number 3, the Bible says we’re like trees planted by the river. (Psa. 1:3 “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water…)
“Mom, we’ve lived many years in Indiana, and watched the trees go through the four seasons. The trees bud, green leaves appear, they turn brown in the fall, and then they fall off and the tree becomes bare in the winter.
“But just because the leaves fall off, doesn’t mean the squirrels have to move to another tree. Just because the leaves have fallen off doesn’t mean the birds will move their nests to another tree. The birds and the squirrels stay in the same tree. The leaves always grow back. You’re leaves will grow back too, Mom!”
“Do the ladies and girls in the church still come up to you and ask questions, or ask advice or request prayer?
“Yes, almost every service.”
“Do you still get invitations to speak at Ladies Meetings? “
“All the time!”
“Well Mom, you may feel like your leaves are all gone, but the birds haven’t flown off. The squirrels haven’t changed trees. You’re still invited places and you’re still needed. Your leaves will grow back, Mom!”
“Oh son,” She exclaimed, “You are so wise!”
“No Mom, kids are like little piggy banks. When they are little, parents make deposits of information into them. Then sometimes when they get older, they don’t trust their own judgment like they use to. Then they ask their child questions, and what their child does, is let them reach into that piggy bank and make a withdrawal of information. What I’m telling you today, is just stuff that you put into me years ago. Today Mom, you’re just making a little withdrawal”
After she blew her nose, I heard her say, “Thank you son, I love you so much!”
Crying for Your Mama
One of the most uncomfortable passages in Psalms that I have read in recent years is found in Psalms 35.
David explains that there were some that hated him. More than that, the laid traps for him and even lied and brought trumped up charges against him.
These were the same people that David cared about. Those you love can hurt you the most. When they were sick, he fasted and prayed for them. This was the thanks he got.
David’s defense caught me off guard. He didn’t try to defend him self.
- Psa. 35:7 For without cause have they hid for me their net in a pit, which without cause they have digged for my soul.
- Psa. 35:11 False witnesses did rise up; they laid to my charge things that I knew not.
- Psa. 35:12 They rewarded me evil for good to the spoiling of my soul.
- Psa. 35:13 But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom.
- Psa. 35:14 I behaved myself as though he had been my friend or brother: I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth for his mother.
David’s response to their injustice was to bow himself down heavily (put his head on the floor) and weep for them in the same manner, and with the same emotion he would have used at his own mother’s funeral.
Imagine, crying unto God for your enemies, like you would cry at the loss of your own mother.
If this is a picture of what my response to my enemy is suppose to be, then help me Jesus.
If I am to mourn for my enemies, like I am crying for my my dead mother, then what is my prayer for my brother or sister in Christ supposed to be like.
- I am not sure our prayers are at the level in God they should be.
- We are all too selfish, our prayers are all about us.
When Job prayed for his friends, God turned his world around.
What would it take to turn ours around?
The Handkerchief Ministry
Whenever our church had a baby shower, or a special dinner or celebration that involved food, Helen Simon was the lady to see. If anyone ever had a gift of decorating and setting a beautiful table worthy of a Kodak Moment, it was Sis. Helen Simon.
She had been a member of Christ Temple Church for over 50 years. There are some people that would do anything to help the church and their pastor. That was Sis. Simon! She was a pastor’s friend.
Every special event found her involved. She worked long hours so that others could enjoy the occasion. On many such occasions, she brought her own “Old Country Roses” china from home, her own crystal goblets and cloth napkins with matching napkin holders and silverware. She spared no personal expense.
Diabetes was not kind to her. An emergency hospital trip provided the horrible news of the need to amputate her leg. Unthinkable, yet necessary!
Even though she was a senior, she was not happy about spending her remaining days in a wheel chair. But that seemed to be her lot.
Now her mobility was limited. There was no access to the basement fellowship hall. She couldn’t navigate the 2 flights of stairs. Her decorating days seemed over.
Not one to mope around in despair, she looked for something else she could do in the church that would be a blessing. What could she do? It was a process, just getting to church!
Finally one day she got it. She realized what she could do and be a blessing. She sent her husband Victor, down town to an expensive men’s store to buy several dozen of their best handkerchiefs. Then she washed them, and carefully ironed them. She folded them into a nice stack. Before church started she had her husband take them up to the platform and put them in the pulpit.
She said, “I might not be able to do much, but at least I can help my pastor when he preaches. If he ever needs a hanky, I’ll have one there for him. That way, I can help my pastor preach!”
What a Lady! Thank You!
I don’t know where all of the Helen Simons in our Pentecostal churches have gone today.
(They just don’t make them like the use to!)
Every pastor needs a Helen Simon!
The Last Thing You Lose Is Your Hearing
Bro. Henry Baskins fell like he’d been shot. The sound of his head hitting the floor was enough to make those nearby sick and alarmed. His fellow workers called 911 and anxiously watched for the ambulance.
Within minutes, my phone rang and informed me that one of the most precious men in the Kingdom of God was in a coma and being taken from the ER to ICU. My heart sank. Bro. Baskins was near retirement age. No one had an answer why he had passed out on the job. He’d had no previous health concerns.
He was a church favorite. Even though he drove over 20 miles each way to church, he was always an hour or so early. He had been an usher as long as I could remember. His pockets always contained a bag of candy for the children. That made him a very popular man after church.
Sis. Baskins lived a pampered life. He waited on her had and foot, did the grocery shopping, chauffeured her anywhere she wanted to go. What if he died? What would happen to her? She’d never even driven a car!
After calling the Prayer Chain in our church, I rushed to the Osteopathic Hospital. As I headed for ICU, I noticed family and saints were gathering too. There was a waiting room next to the ICU door.
No one, not even family was allowed to go in and see him yet. I told the folks in the waiting room to pray for Bro. Baskins. They prayed Pentecostal style.
I pushed the call button and announced myself. The nurse buzzed me in. She escorted me to Bro. Baskins’ room. My heart sank when I saw him. There were more tubes connected to him than I’d ever seen. There were tubes down his throat, up his nose, in his chest, his arms, his hands and his leg. It seemed like there were 10 monitors going. The pumping sounds of the machine doing the breathing for him were hard to ignore. He looked hopeless.
Even though he was unconscious, I announced myself to him. I said, “Bro. Baskins, this is Bro. Ballestero and I am here to pray for you.
My prayer was probably only a minute or so. I felt guilty being the only one allowed back in his room. I really didn’t want to leave even though my prayer was over.
My Dad had always said that the last thing we lose is our hearing, naturally and spiritually. I remembered that, and began to talk.
I said, “Bro. Baskins, no one knows what happened at work today. Those close to you said you just fell over and hit your head. You have been in a coma ever since. The ambulance brought you to the Osteopathic Hospital.
“The doctors are trying to find out what the cause of the problem is. They don’t know. No one but me is allowed back here right now. So, don’t worry about your family not coming in, because the nurses are being very protective of you right now.
“Your wife is in the next room. All of her needs are being taken care of. Your children are here. The saints have filled up the ICU waiting room and I have the Prayer Chain praying for you.
“When they start letting family come in here, it will only be once every 4 hours and then, just for a few minutes. Now don’t worry about anything. You just focus on getting well, we’ll keep praying. I love you!”
Every time I went to see him, I prayed, and then I chattered. I told him of the news in the church. I talked about his family. Reassured him of his wife’s comfort. Every day for about 3 weeks I visited his room.
One Friday, he woke up. They checked him over and checked him out. When I heard the news that he was home and walking around. I rejoiced! This was awesome news.
Sunday morning when I stepped into the auditorium, there was Bro. Baskins standing at his usual ushering post. He hugged my neck and tears came into his eyes.
“Bro. Ballestero, when you came into my room and prayed for me and talked to me, I heard every word you said. Thank you, Thank you!” He said.
He could still hear! Unbelievable! Even when he was in such bad shape!
Dad’s words again echoed through my memory. “The last thing you lose is your hearing, naturally and spiritually.”
42 times the Bible says, “He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear.”
Can you still hear?
Some Policemen sit at a desk all day.
Some Policemen drive cars..
Some Policemen ride motorcycles.
Some Policemen are traffic cops.
Some Policemen work in crime labs.
Some Policemen are Detectives.
Some Policemen are Patrolmen.
Some Policemen work Homicide.
Some Policemen direct traffic.
Some Policemen escort funerals.
Some Policemen work security at the Airport.
Some Policemen patrol our National Borders.
Some Policemen monitor gang activity.
Some Policemen catch spies.
Some Policemen monitor terrorists.
Some Policemen wear blue.
Some Policemen wear tan.
Some Policemen wear plain clothes.
Some Policemen are military.
Some Policemen are with the IRS.
Some Policemen are with the ATF.
Some Policemen are with the DEA.
Some Policemen are with the Border Patrol.
Some Policemen are with Highway Patrol.
Some Policemen are with the Fish and Game Department.
Some Policemen are with the Forestry Division.
Some Policemen are with the Secret Service.
Some Policemen are with a S.W.A.T. team.
Some Policemen patrol school crossings.
Some Policemen are forensics specialists.
Some Policemen inspect parking meters.
Some Policemen are Sheriffs.
Some Policemen are Mounties.
Some Policemen are Rangers.
Some Policemen are Marshalls.
Some Policemen are Troopers.
Some Policemen are Deputies.
Some Policemen are Agents.
Some Policemen are Chiefs.
Some Policemen are Investigators.
Some Policemen are Inspectors.
Some Policemen hold press conferences.
Some Policemen work in the basement.
Some Policemen have local authority.
Some Policemen have regional authority.
Some Policemen have national authority.
Some Policemen have unlimited authority.
The thing they have in common is they all took The Oath to preserve and protect. They are all Policemen with different duties and work in different departments.
We do not show disrespect to, or dishonor a Policeman, because he performs different duties than some other Policemen we know. If we have an emergency, we are always relieved when we see the badge, regardless of his department or rank.
Now, Lets Talk About Your Pastor, Your Man Of God.
- What badge does he have to wear to be a Pastor?
- What badge does he have to wear to make you happy with him?
- It is unwise and unfair to want him to wear every hat, badge, or uniform in the ministry.
- Let him do what God called him to do.
- Let him be what God called him to be.
- We have been given a 5-fold ministry.
- He’s a part of that.
- All preachers are different.
- Their deliveries are different.
- Some are teachers.
- Some are apostles.
- Some are pastors.
- Some are prophets
- Some are evangelists.
- Some preach long sermons.
- Some preach short sermons.
- Some preach doctrine.
- Some preach faith.
- Some preach evangelistic.
- Some preach practical living.
- He doesn’t even have to preach fast to be anointed.
- He doesn’t have to have a “National” ministry to be called of God.
- He may not be known outside his local area, but he’s still God’s man.
- Give you Pastor the respect and honor God requires.
- After all, he’s a Policeman of sorts in that he watches for your soul.
- In that day, he will even have to talk to God about you.
Heb. 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
May your Pastor always be your favorite preacher, no matter how much you enjoy hearing others!
Back in the older days of the AMF, especially in our imaginary “Section 19“, there was phrase coined some of us have never forgotten. “He’s Riding His Tricycle“. This was said about those that:
- Would go “off” on a tangent at a fellowship meeting when they got up.
- Talked a long time. Some times it was much ado about nothing.
- Added box cars to the end of a sermon.
- Got intoxicated with the sound of their own voice.
- Always had to put their 2 cents worth in.
- Tried to “get something going by bringing up a controversial issue. Just to start a fight.
We would say stuff like:
1. He’s Polishing his Trike.
2. That Trike has long antennas with coon-tails on them.
3. His Trike is so old, it even has an “I LIKE IKE” bumper sticker on it.
With that in mind, I see on various sites, what my generation called Trike Riding. I also see that the “Trike Salesman” don’t just sell to Older guys anymore. He is selling a lot of them to the younger men as well. He sells digital ones now to those with computers too.
Every opportunity some get to be in a Trike Parade, they join right in. Flashing their paint job. Squeezing on their blue bulbed horns. Putting Old Maid cards in the spokes to make extra noise.
Men that don’t pastor, never have, maybe never will, feel comfortable Riding Their Trikes in front of proven ministries and pastors of great churches. Treating them just like they were all in the same club. They’re Not. Attempting to display their skill while unbeknown to them, they are displaying a negative image of themselves.
Maybe they even went to “Trike U” and learned how to ride. It’s still not enough. Honor and respect is earned. It is not bought with many words. Especially many words that gender strife.
The feeling may be to some, that everyone’s opinion on the internet is equal. It’s not. I have seen men on Forums, Facebook and Blogs who are respected around Pentecost, deluged with comments and arguments, often disrespected or nearly scoffed.
That is the kind of stuff young men in our churches would have been set down for. (or maybe run off)
It makes old timers want to ask. Who was their pastor? Because if they had come up under a good one, they would know enough to behave differently. You may think this format to be a place where the playing field is level. It’s Not!
Maybe some are trying to win a trophy riding their Trike. If so, I hope they win it soon because my tired is starting to hurt. I’ve watch professionals ride Trikes. I know GOOD Trike riding when I see it!
You would have been impressed too. In those days, All of us younger men, found our place, kept it, and learned with our mouth shut and our ears opened. And just said. AMEN. With no back talk.
Well, I guess it’s time to go put my Trike up. Thanks for watching me ride.
Your Finest Hour
Illustrations: What is your finest hour? What is your one defining moment?
- England’s – (Winston Churchill’s Speech)
- America’s – Patrick Henry – Give me liberty.
- What you do under pressure, and against ALL odds.
- 9-11 – Firemen, Policemen.
- It’s not always what you do out of your Strengths that counts.
- It’s not always what you do out of your Successes that counts.
- But what you do when your back is to the wall.
- When you are looking Failure square in the face.
1. When You Get Back Up!
- It’s not your victories and successes that are so awesome, it’s your recovery from failure.
2 Tim 2:25-26 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
(2 Tim 2:26) And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
- When You Recover Yourself.
- Righteous man falleth Seven Times.
2. When You Stand Up To The Enemy
- Pea Patch
- David – Goliath
- Devil, I’ve had it with you.
- Take Dominion, Plead the Blood
- Moses, Refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.
- When you take a stand for Godliness, Righteousness, (Pay bills)
- Take a stand for Godliness at Home: (With children, companion)
- When you say to the devil, you can’t have my son! (daughter)
3. When You Surrender To God
- When They Say Yes To Him.
- Abraham Offering Isaac: (Now I Know You Love Me)
- Saul – Damascus
- When you turn from your sin, to God.
- Put Him First.
- No happiness living halfheartedly.
- Fall completely in love with Him.
4. When You Forgive
- Let go of your bitterness.
- Get your sweet spirit back.
- Stop counting your injuries.
- Release your prejudices and hate.
5. When You Recover What You Lost
- David – Gilgal
- Dreams, Vision, Burden
- Joy, Love,
- Prayer life, Worship
- Lit a candle and swept the house UNTIL she found it.
- Get Victory over Critical and Self-Righteous spirit.
- Find your tenderness again.
6. When You Come Home
- Onesimus went back to his master.
John Mark – was re-invited by Paul to join him in ministry. (He Become Profitable To Work Of God)
What’s Your Finest Hour?
When You Get Back Up!
When You Take A Stand!
The Ministry Of Covering
(Why Do Pentecostals Gossip?)
1Pe 4:7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.
8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.
9 Use hospitality one to another without grudging.
10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
- I am NOT talking about COVERING FOR someone.
- I am AM talking about PROTECTING one another FROM gossip and slander.
- What is our obligation?
- It seems that if our own soul is not important to us and we do NOT love out brother, then there are no off limits.
- We are living in the days of Gossip Sheets and Rumor Rags on display in every Supermarket checkout line. Inquiring minds want to know!
- My Dad had a sign in his office: “You can’t white wash yourself by blackening others”
What is there about this society and this age that just delights in knowing the worst about everyone and then telling it everywhere? Evidently, it’s OK to say whatever you wish about someone as long as you say “POOR THING” at the end of the sentence.
I. The Bible starts out with the worst-case scenario. Some attempt to find deeper meanings in this scripture. I only want to take it a face value for what it says, for today’s thought.
Gen. 9:20 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:
21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.
22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.
23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness.
- How horrible!! Your brother tells you, that your father got drunk, and worse yet, anyone who comes into his tent will see him uncovered.
- That never seemed to bother HAM. But he wound up being the father of the Canaanites, a people of sinful and corrupting influences.
Ham saw there was a problem, did nothing to help and then told others. When Shem and Japheth heard the news, they:
- Didn’t condone the drunkenness of their father.
- They disapproved of his condition
- They disapproved even more of their brothers response.
- He would never wash that from his memory
- (The longer you live, the more fault you can find and the more humanity you will see in your hero’s life. You can’t let it throw you, nor give you license to do wrong either.)
- They went into a defense mode.
- They found a covering.
- Put it on their shoulders.Backed in.
- Turned their faces away, so as not see.“I’m not going to look like HAM did.
- We’re closer to him than you are, but willingly blind ourself.
- Not that we approve, but we don’t want folks like you finding out all you can about a situation and then go tell it everywhere.
- We’re going to cover him.
- When he gets back up, we want him to have his self-respect.
- Love covers all
1Pe 4:8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.
Pr 10:12 Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.
Pr 12:16 A fool’s wrath is presently known: but a prudent man covereth shame.
The job of the Rodeo clown.
- To protect the fallen rider from the bull.
- The clown is no doubt one of the best athletes in the arena.
- He puts himself in the line of danger to protect a fallen comrade.
- Some of you clowns aren’t doing your job.
There is something wrong with those that have a keen interest in others sins.
- They more than likely will wind up having problems of their own.
- Knowing and telling, two different things
Shem and Japeth knew.
- They didn’t approve,
- They didn’t gloat,
- They didn’t laugh,
- They were appalled,
- They were mortified.
- They didn’t want their father to be a laughing stalk.
What is your intention when you spread the juicy details?
Prov. 6:16 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
Prov. 6:17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
Prov. 6:18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
Prov. 6:19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.
What’s Their Motive?
- This is a gossip generation
- News in Pentecost travels fast
- Cell phones
Paul, I am determined to know nothing among you, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
The Curse Of Caanan.
- There is a curse from the Lord upon those that gloat over another’s problems.
- Considering thine own self.
- God’s ministry is one of covering so the world and enemy of our souls can’t see.
- Why do you want to expose some one.
Just because you know about someone’s mistake, doesn’t mean you have to tell everyone!
My advice? Never play Private Detective or Prosecuting Attorney in the Kingdom of God.
Let’s be more like Him!
She Laughed Her Way Through Her Trial!
Southern California in 1958 seemed like another world to me. I should have been used to traveling and changing towns. This place had a different “feel” about it. But I knew I would adjust. At 14, I had already gone to 21 schools. My Dad, Carl Ballestero, had been an Evangelist or Pastor all my life. Moving almost seemed normal to us.
Daddy had just resigned the little storefront church he had started in Yakima, WA. He had gotten a letter from a pastor he knew requesting he come and take his church as he was going to the mission field.
Our family of seven was crammed into the two door 1948 Pontiac. A small tarp covered utility trailer holding everything we possessed in the world was hitched to the bumper. We looked like Gypsies, I’m sure.
When we arrived at the Pastor’s home to present ourselves, a shocked look came into his eyes and he said, “Oh Brother Ballestero, I am so sorry, I’ve changed my mind and I decided to stay. I meant to write you and tell you not to come.”
My Father smiled and thanked him as he turned back to the car trying not to let dismay or discouragement show on his face to his family. We drove down the road a ways and turned a corner and stopped the car. Daddy and Mother had to decide what we were going to do next.
We had nowhere to go. Daddy only had $85 cash left. My four little sisters seemed too young to understand the crisis. There was not enough gas to go another 100 miles.
Daddy bought a newspaper and he and Mom read the “houses for rent” section of the classifieds. There was a converted duplex in National City that might work. The price was $80 a month. The last line said “no children.” We went to look anyway.
Daddy said that he knew the Pastor in National City, a Brother Leaman Reynolds. I’d never heard of him. Mom said maybe we could attend his church while Daddy Evangelized for a while.
When we arrived at the rental house, the landlady was waiting. When she saw us 5 kids, she promptly told Daddy that children were not allowed.
“Do you need me to drown them for you?” was his response.
She looked us over carefully and smiled and then agreed to let us rent the house. Now, we had $5.00 left. We drove to town and Dad talked the Utility Company into turning on the water and electricity for $5.00.
The car and trailer got unloaded quickly. There were no beds, so pallets were made on the floor. I went behind the Safeway Grocery Store and found 4 wooden orange crates by the trash bin. We took a closet door off and laid it on the orange crates to make a dinning room table of sorts. We didn’t have any chairs. The good news was, the crates made the table a comfortable height for those sitting on the floor.
The first morning, I was awakened by feminine shrieks. The previous renters had lived in the house with 16 dogs. (We’d found out later.)
My little sister’s arms, legs and torsos had flea bites everywhere. All of us were bitten. The fleas were still visible and so thick that mom got her Electrolux Vacuum Cleaner and took the hose and vacuumed the fleas off of our bodies.
When that chore was finished, we turned our eyes to Mom. She said to Dad, “Carl, we don’t even have a quarter to buy flea powder. But God said in Malachi, that if we would pay our tithes, He would rebuke the devourer for our sakes. Now honey, we’ve paid our tithes, so let’s get down here on the floor and ask God to rebuke these little devourers for our sake.”
And pray we did. Or, at least pray Mom and Dad did. Most of us kids just scratched with our eyes closed. I think we scratched more than we prayed. Mom has always been one of those Holy Ghost women that can go from “0” to “100” in 3 seconds. It didn’t take Mom long in pray before we heard her shift gears and move on out to the “Glory World” in God.
I don’t remember what she said, but what I do remember is that, when that 15-minute prayer meeting was over, the miracle had already happened. From that moment till we moved out over a year later, there were no more fleas found in that house!
Mother had brought a large bag of Pinto Beans down from Washington. A 50 lb. sack, if I remember correctly. The beans provided or only source of food for about a month. There was no salt, pepper, or ham hock to season with. We all drank tap water and felt happy for that. Beans three times a day.
When we gathered at the makeshift dinner table for supper. We folded our legs and sat on the floor. Mom announced the menu every evening and came around one by one and asked the same questions of us all.
“Tonight Darlings, we have:
- Fried Chicken?
- Roast Beef?
- Swiss Steak?
Which would you like?”
“Oh, I’d like some chicken,” I said.
“Great choice! Do you want white meat or dark meat?” was her next question.
When I said I wanted white meat, Mom put a spoonful of beans on my plate.
“Do you want:
- Baked potato?
- Fried potatoes?
- Mashed potatoes?
When we answered, Mom would put another dollop of beans on our plate. If we chose mashed potatoes, she would put a few more on that pile saying it was gravy.
Then she asked, do you want:
- Corn on the cob?
- California blend?
- Fresh snapped green beans?
Another pile was added regardless of our choice.
The salad menu often included:
- Garden salad (Dressings required additional beans)
- Caesar salad
- Cottage cheese and pears
Mom smiled and we laughed together as she served our supper. It was funny to us to say we wanted one thing and then be served another.
There always was a saucer beside our plates. The saucer served as a dessert plate.
Every night, we got to choose between things like.
- Chocolate cake
- Banana Pudding
- Strawberry Shortcake
When she finished serving us there were often 4 or 5 piles of beans on our plates, not counting our dessert.
Mama made us smile at mealtime as she used her imagination to lighten the reality of life.
One afternoon after a month or so, a grocery store delivery truck backed up to our door. The driver looked at his delivery receipt and asked if this was the Ballestero residence. When we said it was, he opened the back door of the bobtail truck and there were sacks and sacks and more sacks of groceries.
Mother told him there must be some mistake, because we hadn’t ordered any groceries.
He looked at the delivery order again. And then said, “It says here the groceries have paid for by someone named: Anonymous. Over two hundred dollars worth paid in full. And they are to be delivered to the home of Carl Ballestero.
We cried with joy as the sacks of food covered the table, the counter, and the floor. We didn’t even know what to eat first. But what we did first was thank the Lord.
As a result of my Mom’s attitude during hard times, I was a full-time evangelist for over two years before I knew what a trial was. Mom had made our journey through hard times seem so fun and enjoyable, I didn’t know it was a trial. I thought everybody lived like that! She showed us that, “attitude was not something, attitude was everything.”
Thanks Mom! You’re the Best!