HE WAS LISTENING
Seasons of Faith
The beginning of my spring occurred upon hearing a working neighbor say the name, " Jesus Christ". At the age of five and not having any scriptural understanding, I created quite a stir when I quoted that name in front of my parents. I must have hit the neighbor’s emphasis pretty closely, considering the lecture I received on taking the Lord’s name in vain. No doubt, this had some bearing on my beginning to attend the local Sunday school. I still remember those first teachings about Jesus. The teaching where we would all go to be with Jesus in Heaven after we died was especially inspiring. For on that same night after learning the "Good News," after my traditional ‘Now I lay me down to sleep . . . ’ I asked God why I had to wait until I got old and died to be with Him. " ‘Lord, I want to be with you now.’" That was my simple but very real request. And, I was heard!! God let me know at the age of five that "He was listening."
After learning that God was listening to me I began to talk to Him from time to time other than during my nightly prayers. When things came up that were too much for me to handle, I would ask God for his help. I did this in the form of a bargain with God. "‘If you’ll help me with this God, I’ll be a preacher for you when I grow up’." He was listening.
We had four churches within a few blocks of our house and I became acquainted with all but one of them. The fourth one didn’t look like a church on the outside, just some kind of store building. And no one ever did explain to my satisfaction just what a ‘Holy Roller’ was. When I would ask my parents about that church, I remember the way they looked at me, rather than the answer they gave me.
I became acquainted with the local Methodist church through vacation Bible school. I enjoyed just about any kind of craft activity and beside, a lot of my friends were members there. As a matter of fact, I remember them to be very persuasive members. I recall a group of us attending a meeting one night when an altar call was given. One of my buddies dared me to go forward. He said he had tried it the night before and that I would be a ‘chicken’ if I didn’t go up. I took him up on his dare and went forward. I would like to admit that the experience changed and inspired me, but in reality, it mostly scared me. The lady that knelt beside me kept telling me to ask God to forgive my sins. I would have, but I didn’t know what they were. He was listening.
My exposure to the local Baptist church came through the Boy Scouts. The troop utilized the basement of the church for their meetings and thus a ‘reverent’ scout should attend that church. Besides, my parents were attending and that was sufficient leverage for a young man. To join the Baptist church you needed to walk forward and shake the preacher’s hand and be baptized. Easy enough requirements, especially for a Boy Scout looking to earn a ‘God and Country’ Merit badge. I got my badge. God let me know, "He was listening."
My first year as a teenager was traumatic to me, because my family moved to another town so we would be closer to my Dad’s job. The first day in a strange town and I lost my dog. Mom drove me all around while I yelled out the car window, but we couldn’t find him. Several years earlier, Dad had found a small pup in a cave and brought him home. The two of us had immediately claimed each other. Tarzan, my dog, didn’t bark, but instead yodeled and thus the name Tarzan. But, he was gone now. The next day passed, but he was still gone. The third day, I knelt in my yard and asked God to help me find my dog. When I opened my eyes, Tarzan was running straight for me. God let me know, "He was listening."
During my fifteenth year we moved to a farm. Ball teams and hunting became my number one occupations. I attended a local country Methodist church enough to meet my ball team’s requirements, but I was there in body only. My mind was either on a hillside hunting squirrel, at some local ball park hitting baseballs or visiting with the girls that the church seemed to attract.
By the time I had reached eighteen, my ball playing ability had helped me get into college. But I still would hit the hillside with the old shotgun when time and opportunity offered. I like walking back in the woods before daylight and sitting under a big oak, waiting for the squirrels to come out. One cool October morning found me and my shotgun sitting on a remote knoll in great anticipation. The early morning quiet and the location of the scenic knoll really got me considering God for the first time in several years. My education and my personal pursuits had placed God on a back burner. Somehow I felt at a crossroads on that hill that morning. The unbelief in my mind was telling me that God was a waste of time, the universe I had been exposed to was too big for him. Somewhere though, deep inside me a small voice was saying "God listens." So there in the solitude of that morning, I decided to see if He was still listening. I set my shotgun against a tree and knelt on top of that wooded knoll. My prayer was ‘God, if you are really there I need to know. Please give me some sign for the direction of my life’. The woods remained quiet as the sun came up over the horizon. I stood up thinking ‘that is that’ - no God. But as I stood there I heard a strange sound in the wooded hollow below me. A rushing wind was coming up the hill toward me. I didn’t know whether to run and hide or just stand there. But as I waited the whirlwind came up to me. The leaves were whirling in the air around me. Then, just as suddenly, the woods were quiet and the leaves silently drifted down about me. As the leaves were falling, somewhere in the distance a church bell began to ring. All this on a Monday morning! God let me know, ‘He was listening’.
I was still attending college part time so church was only every now and then - mostly then. My classes in ‘Religions of the World’ had broadened my vision of the church. I could argue "religion" with anyone. Church visitors were often invited in for the fun of the debate. My newly saved younger brother along with an elderly ‘church mom’ let me know they were praying for me. I thought I was above that. But God has many directions and I was walking toward His focus.
My wife’s uncle passed away and we decided that it was time for our son to be exposed to a funeral. Death, as Life, is a learning process. We had to explain to him a little concerning heaven and Jesus, but were satisfied as to his acceptance of the relative’s passing. A few days after the funeral near his bed time. I overheard him talking to someone in his room. Knowing that he was alone in his room, it got my attention. I slipped down the hall to listen. Now the only item the previous owner had left in our house was a picture of Jesus which covered a hole on my son’s bedroom wall, which we had just left in place until time allotted repairing the hole. I naturally assumed my son was cutely talking with the photograph of Jesus. He was asking Jesus questionsabout the uncle and about Jesus himself. I quickly stopped smiling when I heard a deep voice begin to answer my son’s questions. My son could have lowered his voice and pretended to answer the questions. But these were answers he could have never known. We weren’t taking him to church. Where were the answers coming from? Woe, despair and misery fell on me.
It happened again the next night! Woe, despair and misery got worse. I began to read the Bible. I needed answers. Woe, despair and misery got even worse. It happened again the third night! More answers and more woe, more despair and more misery. A few mornings later a bitter, miserable sinner man knelt beside his bed and talked to Jesus. He was listening!
I began attending the small fundamental church next door. I also began traveling about to revivals. If the door was open - I was there. I began reading the Bible earnestly. I wore out the first one quickly since I carried it with me twenty four hours a day. I had lots of questions, but not enough answers. During services I would try to testify, but I couldn’t say much through my tears. Someone told be that this sadness I felt was a ‘blessing’. But I soon began to encounter people at various meetings whose ‘blessing’ seemed to be great joy. They would just bubble over when talking about Jesus. I began to pray for that joy. In my reading I had found a scripture which said to covet to prophesy (covet means to desire strongly). So I began praying for prophesy. My neighbor who came to church regularly and lived as close to Christian principles as most church members, began to say he wasn’t satisfied, he didn’t believe he was saved. I began to pray for him. ‘God, give me a word, anything, that I might say or do to win my friend for you’. He was listening.
By age thirty, I had grown in the Lord by the normal church standards. I was helping the church leadership, still wearing out Bibles, and still attending college part-time. I was still praying for joy, still praying for prophesy and still praying for my church friend. But something was missing.
Then an unusual thing happened. God gave me a vision. In the vision I was walking into the church and greeting and being greeted by the members. My friend and his family were there. When it came time for the Word, I saw myself walking forward and reading three scriptures and then begin to speak a message that, in the vision, had a profound effect on my friend.
The next Sunday evening I was asked to read and say a few words because the pastor could not be there. The people were all there, just as in the vision, and I wanted to relate to them what I had seen myself speaking in the vision. But an inner voice was saying ‘you’ll make a fool of yourself if you speak about fire from God that will bring healing to the Church. Read something from John’. So, I read something from John. He was listening!
It didn’t happen all at once, but my forward march in God, became a slow retreat. I began building my family a new house, which became my excuse from attending services. I hired my church friend to help me. So now we were both missing services. By the time the house was done a couple of years had passed and my retreat from church had become a rout.
Then came a phone call from my church friend. While driving home from working on my house, he had been wonderfully touched by the Lord. The rejoicing that should have been in me wasn’t there. And I really missed it. Just a few days later while I was driving to work, I began to bargain with God again. ‘Lord, if you will restore my blessing, I’ll do anything that you ask of me. Just let me know in a way that I will have no doubt that it is you’.
He was listening.
I began attending the local Methodist church that had known me as the ballplayer. My desire to do anything I could for Jesus, soon found me as the youth leader and a teacher for Bible study. My father, who had retired with a heart condition, had a wonderful experience during one of our prayer meetings. While he was praying a warmth started at the top of his head and moved down over him. He began speaking in another language while this warmth was present on him. He claimed he was healed and quit taking his medicine. His regret was that he had not kept speaking. Although it was spontaneous, he had quenched it because he knew it was not allowed in this fellowship we were attending. His experience inspired me to read a few books concerning the speaking in tongues. I knew it was in the Bible. So why is it not taught Lord? He was listening.
The second vision came to me in March 1973 on a Sunday morning while at work. I sat down at a table to complete a project I was working on, when the vision appeared to me. I was in a church meeting where I recognized many of the people present, just as in the first vision. I saw myself walk forward to the podium, read three scriptures and then begin to expound on them in a bold voice, God’s direction for the hour. I was so interested I listened to every word. The message was the first I had heard concerning the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. The vision shook me, but I said ‘God if this is something you want me to do, just let me know in a way that I will have no doubt it is you and I will do it’. He was listening.
That same evening when I arrived at church, I was met at the door by the lay leader who asked me to read some scriptures, since the pastor had been called away on an emergency. Oh my! You mean now Lord?!
I went to my seat with butterflies abounding, when again a voice in my mind said ‘Don’t do it. You’ll make a fool of yourself if you speak about the Holy Ghost. Read something in John’. John was about to win out again when during the testimonies a lady stood up and claimed God wanted her to read a scripture. She read one of the three that God had given me to read. I began to mentally compromise with God. ‘ I’ll read what you gave me God and then from John’. Suddenly the same lady stood again and claimed God wanted her to read another scripture. She proceeded to read the second scripture that God had given me to read. I quickly said ‘God you don’t have to make her read the third. I’ll do it!! But please help me with these butterflies’. The lay leader called the church to special prayer. During the prayer the butterflies left me. I went forward when the time came and read and spoke the message as best I could. That night a lady came forward to Jesus, the church rejoiced and I didn’t feel foolish! He was listening.
The very next day my younger brother came to my house having heard a rumor that his big brother had "preached" at the local church. I told him that as far as I knew it was a one time only thing. I really wasn’t qualified to be a preacher. My brother asked if I remembered what yesterday’s date was. He reminded me about my first vision. In it had been the number 3,3,33. He said yesterday was the third day of the third month of my thirty-third year. He had been watching for that day for more than two years.
My father came to visit and it soon became ‘where two or three are gathered in His name’. When they were getting ready to leave a voice spoke to me "you all need prayer." I asked if they would pray with me before leaving, we began to pray and suddenly the room became electrified. I only thought I knew love before that day. God so whelmed me (the meaning of the Greek work for baptism) with love, that my language was turned over to Him. My brother began to prophesy and my father began to interpret. As I continued to speak, God anointed my mouth. Spiritually it felt enlarged enough to be heard for miles.
I would continue to shake for hours after this encounter. I had a sister in the Lord who had once said Heaven came down and kissed the earth and she was caught up in the smooch. I could relate to that. I had finally found the joy! Lord, I feel ready to do anything for you. He was listening!
The following week I made an effort to be somewhere in a church meeting every day. I didn’t know what to expect, but my anticipation was in high gear. I only knew God was going to use me someway. Near the end of the week, while driving home from work, God again gave me a vision with a message for the church. I came to myself parked in a supermarket lot five miles from home and very tearful. I couldn’t remember the thirty miles I drove to get there. I knew it was a word from the Lord. The message related to a non-consuming fire that produced a Holy ground where his children could walk. I called my pastor who felt I should share this message with the church next Sunday. I did. He was listening.
Almost magically, the young people’s group grew from eleven to seventy, the Bible study increased and more and more young people were getting saved. Many of them were seeking a deeper experience with God. I had begun to consider the requirements to become a Methodist minister. Many of my college credits would have been transferable. Then, the church ministry rotated. A new man came in as the pastor. The system no longer extended liberty to me. My zeal to serve was exceeding certain limits. Although I had been re-baptized into the Methodist church, the gears were turning too slowly. Bible teaching became the pastor’s job. The parents of some of the young people complained their children were fasting and praying toomuch. God I need direction. Do you want me to be your minister here? He was listening.
My old church friend and fellow builder, now a brother in the Lord, upon hearing of my ministry called with a request for me to baptize him. The ministry at his church had given the okay with a few stipulations. But as I began to prepare for the baptism and was studying to show myself approved, the Bible was contradicting the traditions and stipulations that had been placed on me by my friend’s church. I baptized my friend with the stipulations, but I now began to fast and pray for real scriptural understanding. God, why are there so many different directions among your people? He was listening.
Come ye out of her
God’s answers are beyond any doubt. He let me know three times in a very short period to come out of tradition and be led of the spirit.
I had begun to visit with some Pentecostal people through revivals and meetings. I even returned to the fourth neighborhood church of my childhood - the store front. It had become the largest and most far reaching center in that part of town. It was a real wall shaking service. As the service was ending, an older gentleman went forward asking to pray for the Holy Ghost. The minister called for anyone who felt led, to come forward and help pray with the brother. That night the man received the Holy Ghost. I learned later that he had been seeking this for twenty-five years. No wonder the rejoicing of the people was so great. God is always worth the wait. About this time I received two words at two different services that confirmed each other. "Come ye out of her, my son." I began to ‘come out’. He was listening.
I learned early that fasting was the real prayer closet. I was in the closet again seeking for wisdom. Coming out is a lot more than just changing the building you attend. The religious chaff within our spirits does not shed easily. After three days in my closet, praying fervently in the spirit, a book appeared before me and a finger pointed at the book. As it did so the pages opened and fluttered as if blown by the wind. My answer came in just a few seconds. But little is much when God is in it. My understanding was opened and it turned those things I thought I understood upside down. Repentance began anew. Every branch that I thought was the whole tree had to be pruned off. I came to understand the dung as well as the desert that Paul had spoken of.
Time passed and I became an associate pastor of a small holiness church with its long hair, long dresses, and long services. I was in Holy Ghost School trying to be separate from the world. I began praying for Jesus who had baptized me with the Holy Ghost to give me the ‘fire’ that John the Baptist spoke of. He was listening.
A prophetic message had come forth from a very reliable source during a service at a small church where the pastor was a good friend. The word was that there would be a baptism of fire, not many days hence. The church was praying and waiting. I was not aware of the prophetic message when the pastor called and asked me to fill in at one of the services. That night I was the recipient, to be whelmed by the fire wasn’t what I had expected to receive while filling in for the pastor. I had received Jesus at a judgement level. The Spirit of burning (Isaiah 4) began to work at God’s will whenever the anointing was upon me. The serpents (lies) of religion began to fall off into the fire. The Gospel of Man (shoes) had to come off. I now could see that Holiness, the ‘eye opener of God’ was so much more than meat or drink or dress. Please God, help me be obedient to your leadership. He was listening.
I began holding services in my home. The rec. room was converted into a sanctuary complete with a piano, a guitar and of course, tambourines. My call was to stand still and do the work of an evangelist. We held service on Saturday night where the crowd could be ten or thirty. No two services were the same. Each was special. Visiting ministers with a word were extended liberty. If you had a more perfect revelation, we praised the Lord for it. Only truth can set you free. And we were searching with an open mind to loose the bondage of tradition. We wanted nothing builded up that could be torn down. A brother once wrote that God gave him a choice of either being petrified or putrefied. He rightly chose putrefied, because that he could change. After two years at home, services were moved to a nearby building. Part of the motivation was personal. My wife wasn’t happy with the overzealous Pentecostals. So services began in a new location but it didn’t change things at home. Back to the closet. He was listening.
God’s answer while I was in the closet came froma man named Michael. While I was on the job one day he walked up to me and began relating a sailing experience he had. He had been taking a sailing lesson one day, when a coming storm began to toss his sailboat out of control. The more he struggled with the tiller the worse it got. His teacher’s instructions were all that kept him from capsizing the vessel. The instruction was to ‘let loose of the tiller’ and immediately the boat stopped tossing to and fro.
I let loose of the tiller and became a casualty of the little known statistic that preacher’s suffer thirty seven percent more divorces than anyone else in American society. Job - I know you better now. I was soon to find out that if you divorce and remarry, most traditional churches close the door on your ministry.
Working, caring for a teenage son, maintaining a house while keeping God first had me crying out for help. God, if you have a help mate for me, please let her play the piano. He was listening.
My season of fall began in my fortieth year, remarried with a new daughter, a son in high school, working full time and pastoring a small full gospel church. God had shown me an open door. We were starting with just seven of us. And he began to add daily such as should be saved. Our vision was on quality rather than quantity. The effectual fervent prayer of the righteous has power. The sacrificial lambs of religion are not to be compared with obedience to a living God.
My younger brother and his wife became filled with the Holy Ghost. My burden for the family is to see my wife experience this closer walk with Jesus. She was a gifted singer and pianist, but hadn’t made up her mind to accept this form of God after spending many years in the Episcopal church. After the birth of our son, she began to stay home more from the services. My young daughter and I continued to go.
One snowy night, when most of the crowd couldn’t even make it (many were traveling quite a distance to worship with us), God’s anointing filled the church in a marvelous way. A prophesy came forth "Thus saith the Lord. This daughter shall lead her mother to the Lord." I thought, oh God, she is so young. Must I wait till she gets older for her to speak to her mom? The Thomas in me didn’t want it - but I knew it was God. Abraham and Sarah had their problems when it came time to believe God concerning their children.
The following week my daughter asked if she could stay home with her mommy rather than go to church. It was the first time she had asked to stay home. But I left her there with her mom and younger brother and set off somewhat saddened without her. But let God be God, Amen!
When I arrived home after the service, my wife met me at the door astounded and shaken. During the evening my three-year-old daughter had scooted a footstool over in front of her mom’s chair, had picked up a small rubber baton and held it like a microphone and had "preached" a word to her mother. A few weeks later, after two more messages from God through my daughter, my wife was wonderfully filled with the Holy Ghost. He was listening.
God began to give our music a fresh anointing. We began to write many of the songs as God inspired. The whole church could break out in spiritual singing. We were trying to reach the new song that had never yet been sung.
It was prophesied that we would be on radio and television soon. Although we only made TV once we began a weekly radio ministry. The only down side was the rumor that went around that the black box we carried in every week (our tape recorder) was full of snakes. ‘The way of truth will be evil spoken of’. The church was given a prayer cloth ministry, where anointed cloths were passed hand to hand among the believers and then sent to people who had special requests for healing. We had reports of cancers healed, the insane becoming sane, marriages and finances turned around for people in need. One sister in the Lord took a cloth home to her grandson. He was baptized with the Holy Ghost upon receiving the cloth. The oil, when first prayed over years before, became too hot to hold. We had carried that oil forward through the years. And although we used that oil for many years the level stayed the same. Yet I knew of no elder or brother that was adding to it. "How much more the body of Christ" was the word from God for this ministry.
God began to direct me toward the ministry that Holy Ghost school and his pruning and Revelation had prepared me for. I could sacrifice in gifts and offices, but obedience would require more. A prophesy from a visiting Oklahoma minister likened the walk to the days of Moses coming out of the desert. God direct my path. The visions are coming to the realm of reality. He was listening.
All that God does will be done by somebody and through somebody
My people which are called by my name need to know that the manifestation of the sons of God (Roman’s 8:19) and the coming of the Lord - are the same thing. God let me know it was time to prepare for a new work to be done in the earth. He would soon loose me from my job, anoint and direct me in writing a new revelation that would be read around the world, He is the Revelation! The spirit of judgement and the spirit of burning are the pen and pencil that will redeem Zion and reveal Him. We are the open pages. He has come - He is come - and He is yet to come to His own and still His own receive Him not. But to those who have received Him, He is empowering them to manifest Him. He is coming in flaming fire (2 Thessalonians 1:8) and He is being glorified in His saints.
Open ye blind eyes in the name of Jesus and behold the glory of the Lord.
Anointed ministries are already perceiving His fire. The judgement of the church is upon us. Religion has not prepared us.
Are you ready? He is listening.
I am entering my winter season and I am about my Father’s business.
And, He is listening.
He who hath an ear to hear let Him hear.