THE TESTIMONY OF
I am come to send fire on the earth. Luke 12:49Howard Barnett Jesus said, "I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straightened till it be accomplished!"1
This statement with the exclamation point to emphasize it, combined with the prophetic word of John the Baptist (Elijah) regarding the fact that the same people that were baptized with the Holy Ghost could be baptized with fire by the same baptizer, who is Jesus - caused my spirit to begin reaching out for this experience with Jesus. When Jesus brought me into the baptism with the Holy Ghost, I experienced the greatest love that I was to ever know. Nothing else is even in the same realm of comparison. My speaking in tongues was a result of this union with Jesus. My Lord was and is, truly my Lord. Praise reaches far beyond the natural, as our ‘mind of the spirit’ speaks to Jesus. The scripture speaks that "we ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him."2
Jesus had given me a work to fulfill regarding his word. And when he removed my carnal doubt, I gave him my best effort. He rewarded me beyond all expectations. In his presence all things are possible. This test of the indwelling Christ redefined the word ‘zeal’ in my life. I wanted to shout His presence from the roof tops. I wanted everybody to know of this living love. Many thought of me as a fanatic, all I wanted to talk about was Jesus. I was to learn that even those I considered ‘pillars’ of the church, began to pull back when the discussion led to ‘speaking in tongues’ or the ‘baptism of the Holy Ghost’. "We know it’s a gift that has to be kept quiet in the church", was a reply I was to hear many times. In the spirit I felt a religious hand trying to sweep me into a corner or under a rug. People weren’t comfortable around a peg that didn’t match the hole prepared for it.
After my initial baptism with Jesus (He gave me more of Himself), I hadn’t spoken in tongues again until I began to fast and pray for understanding of God’s direction for my life. I had learned that no matter how good the intentions, the ministry can only give what it has received. ‘Men of calling’ were trying to explain with the mind of man the things of God. I really don’t need to be told how to pitch horseshoes by people who have never pitched horseshoes! The church world is full of experts on all that is written. I have found that the word is something you experience rather than read. Studying to show yourself approved is more than reading. The spiritual closet isn’t a natural room where you close out natural things. The closet is a denying of the desires of the flesh. Water and a little salt is all that is needed to turn flour into unleavened bread. It is also all that is needed in the spiritual closet to bring you closer to the voice of God. Fasting isn’t taught much unless it is for a season of fashion. Missing meals is not popular in our country of plenty. Every revival I have experienced, came out of my closet experiences. I’ve learned how to walk, talk, and do my job, and still be in the closet. The church that misses a few meals in their outreach for Jesus will have longer spiritual arms, faster spiritual feet, and more accurate spiritual words. The ear to hear is also acquired here.
No one taught me to fast. I found it referred to in the scriptures that are mentioned in conjunction with the ‘closet’, Matthew 6:6 and Matthew 6:18. I needed help so I turned to the source. After three days, God knew I was serious. The fourth day my prayer language came back - it has never left. I made up for lost time the next few hours. It seemed like I spoke a hundred mile per hour. I just held on for the ride. I would pray awhile and cry awhile. I believe I was dumping the spiritual clutter that religion had almost drowned me with. I prayed into a vision where the book was set before me and a finger caused the pages to flutter, as though blown by wind, and then there was silence. In just a few seconds, God honored my request with understanding. I came out of my closet with an ear to hear. I could now discern the anointed from the unanointed. The ear taught me to recognize the parts of the ‘efforts of man’ to praise and speak for the Lord. I’ve heard little children say more in ten words than some ministers say in an hour, measure by the anointing. Little is much when God is in it. My new ear began to discern between the doctrines to keep and the doctrines to examine. I no longer would ‘amen’ every shout or jump or message in tongues.
I was searching for the church, God’s anointed Eccleasia. I could only find bits and pieces scattered among many people. Lord where is it? I was to hear, "The people are my church, but many are not aware of it." There are more people that worship their form of worship, than those that worship God. The hunger for the word is almost a famine in the church world. Some haven’t been touched for years because they don’t expect to be touched until they are laid on some lonely hilltop until the resurrection comes, comforted only by memories, flowers and a headstone. Oh! Jesus, you are so much more than that. Why? Slowly, as the spirit led, I began to encounter an anointed people. They also had an ear to hear and a word that God would quicken. There was no large group that gathered in any one place. Their common tie was a love for Jesus. There was no outward label, but my spirit would leap for joy when I encountered these who had truly dedicated their lives to the Lord. Several might be in services in one area for a year or two. But it wasn’t about buildings. If God began to anoint a word, they would travel miles to stand with it. There was an expectancy of a coming change for the people of God.
A small group of us rented a building that once served as a tavern. We located some old theater seats that needed a little paint and polish. We hung up a sign and began holding services on Saturday and Sunday evenings. Holiness was one of the favorite themes. The building could be full one night and half full the next. People could show up from fifty miles away or more. Many services would last until the midnight hour. The prophets would speak two or three and one would judge. No one was in a hurry to get home. It was during this time that Jesus invited me to experience the baptism of fire. It had been a continual request in my heart, once I had known about it. I had only encountered a few people that had any knowledge of it. Most Pentecostal’s claim the fire as a zeal they received when they received the Holy Ghost. Not unlike the traditional church claiming the Holy Ghost with their salvation experience. When Jesus walked me through that realm of the spirit, it was like nothing I had ever experienced. His presence was all that sustained me. I was aware that the fire was all over me and around me. I was to experience a cleaning while in this place of the spirit that loosed bondages that I wasn’t even aware of. Religious spirits and familiar spirits (many inherited) fell off - tares wither and die in the presence of the Lord. I was to learn at the very next service that the fire was still with me. Even as the anointing of the Holy Ghost is a perceived presence of the Lord, the heavenly fire is more so.
In the early years, we were to witness the ‘spirit of burning’ mostly with visiting ministers, since the ministry is the first ‘partakers of the things of God’. I have seen and heard many witness to the ‘spirit of burning’ with statements like ‘my hands are on fire’ or ‘my face is burning’. I’ve seen people take off their shoes, walk across the platform and instantly be healed. Jesus is cleansing and preparing a people for His presence. Every man’s work will be tried by the fire. The Lord let me know with a prophetic word that he would loose me from my job to do a new work for Him. I did not see how that could be possible with two young kids still with several years of school ahead. But within a short time, my company announced a special one-time retirement offer for sixty people. Although I had almost thirty years of service, there were more than a hundred people ahead of me on the seniority roster. The incentive was the best the company every offered - prior or since. Half of all those people eligible to receive it would have to turn it down for my name to fall in the selected number. Just about all the people that were eligible, including myself, added their name to the list. There was about a six-week window of time that people could withdraw their name. When people began withdrawing their names, I started moving up the list. A day or so before the deadline, my name fell into the slot. I was the youngest to qualify. Here we go again, Lord, I hope you know what we are doing. Jesus had already let me know that all that was to be done, He would do with somebody. I had direction, but no real concept of what He was about to do.
I had been standing with a small church under the commission to ‘stand still and do the work of an evangelist’. I didn’t call myself Pastor, just brother. Our little services had reached a multitude by radio and word of mouth. The building was paid for, and taxes, utilities, and even the radio ministry were being paid out of a plate set at the back door of the church with the instructions - ‘feel free to give or feel free to take’. God provides. He met every need for the ten plus years we were there. Shortly after my early retirement, God let me know when it was time to go. Jesus gave me a double witness of His timetable. I was halfheartedly trying to walk in my new direction and hold onto the old. I’d already seen Jesus provide the people present in the services in wondrous ways. But for two straight weeks He kept them home. He can add and He can take away. Yes, Lord, I’ll go. But I still don’t know exactly what we are doing.
I began the ‘ministry of visitation’. I was visiting the fundamental churches to the North, South, East and West of my home. I taught some, ministered some, testified at several, but I didn’t visibly see where our presence changed much of what was going on. The ministries that were touched by the fire thought they had a fever or were coming down with something. I’ve seen many thermostats turned back and dampers readjusted.
During this time I had a dream, and in the dream I saw us moving to a local town. I saw the street and even the man who was to be my neighbor. I’d already met him at one of the local churches, where I had been led to visit. Well, Lord, just let me know in such a way that I have no doubt and I’ll do it .Within a few days a house next to my potential neighbor came on the market. I somewhat reluctantly checked on it. Someone had already signed a contract on it. Whew! Well, must have just been an unusual dream, maybe I’m getting old. A short time passed and I had the same dream again. Same street and same neighbor. Sure enough, another sign on the main highway -’House for Sale by owner’. Surely it wouldn’t be on that street beside that neighbor. But it was. And we did. My fleece was, Lord you will have to help me find a buyer for the farm. We had three offers on the farm within one hour. Here we go again, Lord!
WE MOVE TO TOWN
The convenience is great, the neighbors are really good people, and the kids like it. But what are we doing here Lord? I’m taking typing lessons on the computer where twenty-five words per minute with lots of mistakes, seems to be my limit. Lord, are you sure you want me for a writer - I’m a lot better at horseshoes. I continue my visitation. A service where I’m holding a bible study gets upset over the topic of tongues. "I can teach anything but tongues. Tongues has only caused trouble here!", they say. "That is why it is needed", I answer. If I had a cover, which I didn’t, I surely blew it with my statement, ‘sure, I speak in tongues’. I didn’t include that God often reveals what is said. The ‘gears of tradition’ were grinding. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like in the days of the early church, contending with the Sadducees and Pharisees. But I’m beginning to get a glimmer.
I feel it’s time to walk with my Pentecostal friends again, and I start visiting the local Pentecostal family, only to find that most are ‘country’ Pentecostals rather than ‘town’ Pentecostals. That’s all right - store fronts or garages - it doesn’t really make any difference, the people are the church. I enjoy the fellowship immensely, since my walk among the many traditional churches had left me hungry for the spiritual witness of anointed fellowship.
I perceive an urgency in the spirit. God is come on the scene and no one is ready. I just want to shout - "Don’t you know? Can’t you see?" I keep hearing God is gonna do. God’s gonna do - it’s no longer something that He is going to do - He is doing it now. I see the fire increasing. I’ve been in it for years and I know it won;’t consume the upright. But to be upright is going to require changes in all of us. I once had the Lord show me a room with many articles placed her and there. "What do you see?" was the question. "Now replace the light bulb." I exchanged the thirty watt with a sixty-watt bulb. "What do you see?" was the question. In the additional light, my concept of what I had seen earlier was greatly changed. "Now replace the light bulb, again." I exchanged the sixty-watt with a one hundred watt bulb. "What do you see?" was the question. I knew He had shown me the thirty-fold, the sixty-fold and the one hundred fold. The one hundred fold had removed all darkness. There is a place in Him where there is no darkness at all.
I feel a need to share those truths that will deliver from the fire. To reveal the tares that dry like serpents in the fire. Jesus, what can we do? We must walk through the fire to be cleansed. Only the fire can separate the wheat from the tares. Only Jesus can protest you in the fire. The generation that is now upon us will cause more change in the world than any before or any after. Even to many generations, saith the Lord. (See Joel 2:2)
We were to live in town only a few years. We felt a need to simplify, free up our time and rededicate our lives. The transition wasn’t easy but most changes require a little tribulation. We relocated to a piece of property we had retained from the sale of our farm. Down sizing wasn’t easy, but we made the adjustments. For a time we just waited on the Lord - "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still water: He restoreth my soul" God prepared a path for us. He does the leading. His rod and His staff are our assurance. Our table is in the presence of many enemies. But this anointing is a cup that is running over. We have the angels of goodness and mercy with us. We have entered in to remain forever.
"Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart: who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face. O God of Jacob."3
We are walking and writing. His rest is glorious.
He who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
1 Luke 12:49-50
2 Acts 5:29-32
3 Psalm 24:3-6