Category Archives: America

First the Blade (Chapter 38)

First the Blade 

© 2019 by Larry Nevenhoven

Chapter 38

Grace (Part 6)

Fifteen years ago, I listened to a teaching tape in which Bob Jones related the following experience to Mike Bickle:

Jones told how he had prophesied to his church that something big was going to happen at the next church service and everyone needed to be there. But when the night arrived, nothing happened. Period.

He went home, totally humiliated, and depressed by his missing the voice of the Lord. He stated how he told the Lord he resigned from his prophetic calling. He jumped into bed and fell asleep.

Jones then had a dream in which he stood in the throne room of God. The Father and Jesus sat on golden thrones directly in front of him. Heavenly persons stood all around and watched on.

As he stood there in awe, he felt something on his leg. He looked down and saw he was wearing a Pampers diaper and nothing else. The diaper was filled with poop and urine, which ran down his leg.

Oh no! Jones thought. What will the Lord do to me?

The Father leaned over to Jesus. “What’s happened to our little Bob?” He said.

“Oh, he’s messed himself up something terrible this time,” replied Jesus.

“Well,” said the Father, “let’s give him a bigger insurance policy of grace and send him back to prophesy twice as much.”

Jones stated he went back to his church and prophesied twice as much because of his dream. The church was blessed and so was he.

Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly… (Romans 12: 6)

We will probably make mistakes in our walks with the Lord. The mistakes may be big ones at times. What will we do? Resign our callings or gifts. Jump in bed and pull the blankets over your head. Sit on a back pew. Run away. Or will we be secure enough in Jesus to remember we can always do the following:

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4: 16)

Frank Viola wrote

Perhaps you are thinking, but what if I sin against Him? The reality is that your sin doesn’t change His love for you one millimeter…Let me remind you that He saw your mistakes before you ever made them. So, He’s not surprised by them. Nor did they prevent Him from choosing you to be His before you penetrated the womb of your mother… (From Eternity to Here, 2009, Frank Viola, David C. Cook Publishing, page 75)

It is my firm belief that the highest levels we Christians will ever reach in our walks with the Lord will be directly proportional to the level of security we have in Jesus Christ.

In simple words, we all need a revelation of His grace.

Okay, do you have to agree with my “once saved, always saved” and “eternal security” revelation? Probably not. Leonard Ravenhill, John Wesley, John Lake, and many others did not agree with my revelation of grace and they were certainly used mightily by the Lord during their days.

But remember this: we are in the day when sin abounds more than ever, thus grace should abound much more. So, my advice is to study grace in the Bible and ask the Lord for a bigger revelation of His grace.

(Continued…but if you want to read all of the parts to date, you can go here.)

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First the Blade (Chapter 37)

First the Blade 

© 2019 by Larry Nevenhoven

Chapter 37

Grace (Part 5)

 

When I began seeking the Lord about His grace, I knew that if I could somehow lose my salvation for whatever reasons, then grace was vastly overrated. What good was unmerited favor from God if it could be withdrawn because I no longer deserved it? I supposedly never deserved grace in the first place, right?

I had no answers to these questions.  At the time, I still believed the Arminian teachings of Kenneth Hagin, Leonard Ravenhill, Smith Wigglesworth, John Lake, John Wesley, and others who taught we could lose our salvations if we turned our backs on Jesus. Those teachings made sense to me. How could a holy God allow a man to be eternally secure in his salvation, if the man turned his back on God?

Yet, the special children intrigued me. They did not read Bibles, pray much, or ever pay attention to their salvations at all. Did God have different rules for children with IQ’s under a certain level?

I meditated on the Bible verses Hagin, Ravenhill, Lake, Wigglesworth, Wesley, and other Arminian teachers used to justify their beliefs.

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. (Hebrews 6:4-6)

For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. (1 Peter 2:20-21)

Doesn’t the word meditation conjure up thoughts of me sitting on the floor with my legs crossed and humming aloud?

The word meditation in the Bible actually means saying the scripture over and over again. One version calls it muttering aloud to oneself. I did a variation, which has worked well for me over the years.

I memorized the scriptures in Hebrews and 2 Peter and then said them over and over in my mind while I prayed in tongues. I did this for at least one hour a day over a period of several weeks. There were times when my brain wanted to do anything but meditate on the same scriptures, but I muddled onward, day after day.

Then, one day it happened.

You see, if you believe God is real and He is a rewarder of those who seek Him, the Holy Spirit will eventually show up and enlighten you. That’s what happened to me. In a blink of an eye, I knew there were no limits on grace. My salvation was eternally secure and depended on Him and His grace. It no longer depended on my actions or me.

Did I totally understand the scriptures I meditated on? No, not really, but my revelation was so profound I knew there had to be other explanations for the scriptures.

Marion loaned me her copy of J. F. Strombeck’s classic 1936 book, Shall Never Perish. Strombeck’s explanation about the two scripture references is the best I have ever read and is still quoted today.

This happened over twenty years ago, but I can still remember where I sat and how I felt at the precise moment the Holy Spirit enlightened me. I jumped up and down with joy, knowing that John 3:16 was an absolute, eternal, never-ending truth.

Why is grace so important for our walks with the Lord? And do we all have to agree one hundred percent with my revelation on grace in order?

(Continued…but if you want to read all of the parts to date, you can go here.)

 

 

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A Summer Thanksgiving Story Without Turkey and Stuffing

 

The drive to meet Pastor Rick took me past the Temecula Valley High School baseball field where our son, Cole, played shortstop for the Golden Bears during his four years there. Cole was a good player, but that wasn’t the reason I always thanked the Lord for His mercy when I drove by the field. It was because of a special miracle the Lord did twenty-two years earlier during a state playoff game.

On that particular day, the Golden Bears were playing the Norco High School Cougars. The pitcher for the Cougars was Carson Riley, a right-hander, who threw around ninety-five miles per hour and was a solid major league prospect.

Cole stood in the right side of the batter’s box to lead off the seventh inning. Riley’s first pitch was a fastball, which tailed inside and hit Cole in the middle of his chest, knocking him to the ground. He laid motionless on the ground.

The three coaches for Temecula Valley rushed to him. One of them took out a cell phone and made a call.

Jane and I were sitting in the bleachers above the dugout on the first base side of the field. I grabbed Jane’s hand. “Honey, we need to go out there. Cole’s in danger,” I said.

We stood up and hurried to field.

Jim Dawson, the head coach for the Golden Bears, looked up as we approached home plate. “Dylan, he’s not breathing. I phoned for an ambulance, which should be here in four minutes,” he said.

Jane and I dropped to our knees and began praying. She prayed in tongues while I placed my hand on his chest.

“Father, You gave me a promise when Cole was born that He would preach the gospel and do miracles in Your name. When You made that promise, You looked into the future and saw this day. And yet, You still made that promise to me. I am not leaving until You honor Your promise and Cole stands up, totally healed in Jesus’ name. You did it for Elijah when he prayed for the widow’s son and I’m asking You to do the same thing for Cole, right now,” I prayed.

Coach Dawson grabbed my shoulders. “Dylan, let’s wait for the ambulance,” he whispered.

I shook his hands off me. “Let go of me,” I shouted. “God is doing a miracle here.”

Dawson released his grasp and wandered off. A siren could be heard pulling into the school’s parking lot.

“Father, I didn’t ask You to give me that promise for Cole. You did it on Your own. So, honor Your promise, in Jesus’ name,” I prayed again and again.

“What’s happening here?” asked a paramedic, rushing toward us with a stretcher.

Cole’s green eyes fluttered and opened. He looked into my eyes. “Dad,” he whispered, “I met Jesus. He said I had to come back to life because of your prayers.”

My son was totally healed and wanted to stay in the ballgame, but of course, the two paramedics insisted on him riding in the ambulance to Temecula Valley Hospital. Jane and I followed them in our SUV.

All of the tests on Cole proved to be negative. The Lord healed him.

Cole graduated from high school two weeks later and now lives in San Diego with his wife Allyson and their two daughters, Mia and Madison.

If I drove by the baseball field a hundred times in any one day, I always thanked the Lord for His gracious miracle every time. I always wanted Him to know how much I appreciated what He did for our family on that day.

That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving and declare all Your wonders. (Psalm 26:7)

(Excerpt from Still in the Fight, an upcoming new novel by me.)

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First the Blade (Chapter 36)

First the Blade 

© 2019 by Larry Nevenhoven

Chapter 36

Grace (Part 4)

When I began helping Morris and Marion’s home ministry in 1992, I was divorced, lived alone, and sold cars at a small used auto dealership. An average day began with me praying from 3 a.m. until 6 a.m. I then showered, ate breakfast, and hustled off to a prayer meeting at a local church for an hour or so. I studied the Bible and read Christian books for a few hours before heading to bed in the evenings. No TV. No radio. No writing. Not much of a social life.

This was my routine for a seven-year stretch and varied little on weekends or holidays during the time period.

I occasionally did some teaching at a small home meeting, but not often. Most people thought of me as a prayer warrior and little else. I understood my calling and had messages stirring within me, but there were no open doors. Thus, I was forced to wait on the Lord to move in my life.

I assumed the Lord would eventually set me in a place where I would teach on spiritual warfare and prophecy, but silly me, huh? He put me in a home group where I prayed for boo-boo sores and dolls. Yes, dolls. One of the children, a seventeen-year old, carried her doll to the home meetings and asked me to pray for it.

And you know what? I fell in love with the children.

I remember several times when it would be just Morris, Marion, a few children, and me. We would end up praying and the Holy Spirit would show up.

The kids and I would end up lying on the floor. Morris and Marion would be sprawled out in their Lazyboy recliners. We’d be gone for thirty minutes or so. Where did we go? I haven’t a clue, but it was wonderful wherever it was. Some might say we were slain in the Spirit…and maybe we were. But who cares?  It was glorious.

When the Holy Spirit lifted off us, who do you think had the visions and dreams to talk about? Not Morris, Marion, or myself. It was the children who would have the awesome stories to tell us.

“I was running and playing with Jesus. He’s fun,” one might say.

Or another might add, “Do you know that Jesus loves my doll? He told me so.”

My rigid theology was pulverized week after week by experiences such as this. Morris and Marion kept referring to what happened in their home ministry as the grace of God.

But I just could not get a handle on grace.

I understood prayer. And faith. And discipline. And prophecy. And studying the word. And waiting on the Lord. But all of this was dependent on my efforts. Grace was unmerited favor and depended solely on God. How could He love people so much He just flooded us with something we did not deserve or earn?

So, I sought the Lord about grace and did it in a backward sort of way.

(Continued…but if you want to read all of the parts to date, you can go here.)

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First the Blade (Chapter 35)

First the Blade 

© 2019 by Larry Nevenhoven

Chapter 35

Grace (Part 3)

A few years ago, I heard a Mike Bickle cassette tape where Bob Jones told about one of his visions. In it, Jones was watching a baseball game between the Lord’s team and Satan’s team. It was the bottom of the ninth with two outs.

Love was at bat and Satan threw his best pitch. Love hit the ball into the outfield for a base hit. “Love never fails.” Faith came to bat and promptly hit a base hit. “Faith works with love.” The next batter was named Godly Wisdom. Satan threw him four straight balls and Godly Wisdom was issued a walk. “Godly wisdom does not fall for Satan’s pitches.” The bases were loaded.

A player named Grace walked into the batter’s box. Jones noted the batter was not much to look at and wondered about his ability to handle the tense situation. Jones also noted Satan’s team relaxed when they saw the weak-looking Grace stepping up to the plate.

Grace swung at the first pitch and Jones said he had never seen a ball hit so hard. Satan’s center fielder, the prince of the air, leaped to catch the ball, but the ball went through his glove, hitting him in the head, and knocking him to the ground. The ball continued its flight over the fence for a grand slam home run. The Lord’s team won.

The Lord turned to Jones and said, “Do you know why Love, Faith, and Godly Wisdom could get on base, but they could not win the game for My team?”

Jones shook his head.

“If your love, your faith, or your wisdom could win the game for you alone, you would think you had done it. Your love, your faith, and your wisdom can only take you so far, but then you need My grace to bring you home.”

 

This experience became a reality on my first visit to Morris and Marion’s home in late 1992. Marion had a Thursday night youth ministry for the neighborhood.

What Marion forgot to mention was half of the thirty kids who attended her Thursday night youth meetings were special education children with IQ scores of 60 or less. These youths ranged in ages from 15 to 23 years old, but yet, were like little children, with attention spans of approximately thirty seconds.

The party consisted of games, apples, candy, and drinks, just a normal Halloween party, but a twelve-year old girl mentioned she had problems. Five or six of the special children gathered around her and prayed for her.

And without a doubt, the prayers by these special children were the worst ones I had ever heard. None of their words made sense. They did not seem to have a clue about what they were saying. Yet, the young girl broke down, wept, and gave her life to Jesus. The girl’s problems disappeared with Jesus’ appearance in her life.

I stood there with my mouth open, trying to understand what I had just witnessed. As I watched on, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart. “The young kids’ hearts are right with Me. They just don’t know how to express in words what they feel in their hearts. So, I poured out My grace on them, something you don’t fully understand.”

The Lord had my attention.

I thought I had come to the group to teach them, but instead, Morris, Marion, and the kids became my teachers about a marvelous treasure called grace.

(Continued…but if you want to read all of the parts to date, you can go here.)

 

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First the Blade (Chapter 34)

 

First the Blade 

© 2019 by Larry Nevenhoven

Chapter 34

Grace (Part 2)

If you have read my testimony, you would think if anyone understood grace, it should be me.  Yet, for the first eight years of my walk with the Lord, the word grace meant little to me. I knew grace was God’s unmerited favor, but so what? The definition was just another entry in my memory bank. Nothing more, nothing less.

After my salvation in May 1985, I was hungry to learn about God and listened to tapes and read books. Kenneth Hagin, R. W. Schambach, Leonard Ravenhill, Roberts Liardon, John Lake, Kathryn Kuhlman, David Wilkerson, Smith Wigglesworth and others blessed my life with their invaluable teachings.

These teachers leaned heavily toward Arminianism and away from Calvinism, especially in their teachings about grace. Each taught that a believer could eventually lose his salvation if he did not continue walking in faith or committed an unpardonable sin.

Who was I to disagree with these teachers? They had powerful anointing on their lives. Wigglesworth raised at least fourteen people from the dead. Kuhlman healed the sick by the thousands. Lake had over a hundred thousand recorded healings during a five-year period in Portland, Oregon. All were powerful and gifted preachers.

Therefore, like many Christians, I assumed the miracles, signs, and wonders on these anointed teachers’ lives meant God approved of every one of their teachings. Unlike the Baptists who seemed to only teach grace, these teachers taught a message, which was called the Full Gospel.

But during my eight years of not understanding grace and also believing I could lose my salvation, a scripture really bugged me:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5: 17 NKJ)

What bugged me about the scripture was my wondering how could a believer get rid of the new creation, which lived within him? Do you ask it to leave? Do you somehow kill it? Do you have to reverse the work of the cross to end the new creation’s life? What do you do to be unborn again?

I taught, preached, and prophesied against the eternal security of a believer and against the doctrine of grace for years, but this scripture chipped away at the legalistic teachings in my heart.

I reached a crossroads in my life when I met Morris and Marion.

(Continued…but if you want to read all of the parts to date, you can go here.)

 

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First the Blade (Chapter 33)

First the Blade 

© 2019 by Larry Nevenhoven

Chapter 33

Grace (Part 1)

The quart of Jim Beam did little to numb his senses. His emotions still quivered in spasms of anguish. How could a woman love him one night and then treat him so badly the next day? What was she thinking about when he embraced her? How long had she been planning on leaving? What did Dick offer her that he didn’t? The questions ricocheted off the walls of his mind. He had no answers, only battered and abused emotions.

He pushed the chair back from the dinette table and staggered into the bedroom. There he knelt down and opened the bottom drawer of the oak dresser. Under some jeans, he found what he was looking for – a brown handled Smith & Wesson revolver. It was his dad’s. The cylinder was loaded with six bullets.

“Life’s not fair,” he mumbled as he stood up.

He undid the gun’s safety and walked into the bathroom.

Wanting to muffle the gun’s report, he grabbed a white bath towel from the rack, winding it around the gun, and his hand. He sat down in the tub, cocked the trigger, and stuck the barrel in his mouth. He tried to imagine where he would wake up after he squeezed the trigger.

DING DONG!

The doorbell. What are the odds? He reasoned to himself. This can’t be happening. He sat there, barely breathing, his heart pounding in his chest.

DING DONG!

Could it be a pizza deliveryman with the wrong apartment number? Or a drunk? Or a policeman? Or what? He thought as he continued to sit without moving, waiting for the person to give up and go away.

DING DONG! DING DONG! DING DONG!

“Okay, okay, I’m coming. Hold your horses!” he muttered.

He stepped out of the tub, laid the gun on the toilet seat, walked to the door, and opened it up with one fluid motion of his left hand. A pink blur shot past him. What was that? He wondered. He looked over his right shoulder just in time to see whomever it was disappear into the bathroom.

“Hey you, come back here,” he said in a heavy alcohol-soaked tongue. His left hand rested on the brass doorknob. Not even the shock of the cold air blowing in his face or the blur’s appearance sobered him up.

Ten seconds later, an old woman wearing a tattered pink chenille robe marched back into the living room, holding the revolver in her arthritic fingers. Attached to her fingers was a blue veined hand that quivered out of control from some type of nervous disorder. The gun swayed back and forth while he put his hands up in surrender.

“Young man, what is this?” she said in a raspy, slow motion manner.

Her gray eyebrows arched upward while her left eyelid drooped over a prying eye. The woman looked more like a Mad Hatter reject than a miracle worker.

He lowered his hands and shrugged.

“Rats are a problem in this apartment complex.”

“You sit on the toilet with a cocked pistol ready to shoot rats, right?”

Jonah looked like a little boy with his hand caught in a cookie jar. He looked away from her piercing brown eyes. It was almost as if she could read his mind and knew everything about him.

“God told me you were going to commit suicide. So, I ran over and rang your doorbell.”

His eyes opened wide.

“God told you,” he whispered.

She nodded.

“Yes, that’s right. God told me.”

“But, but …”

The woman pushed past him to the door.

“You smell like a drunk on Skid Row. I’ll stop by tomorrow morning. Get some sleep and we’ll talk then, okay?”

The pink blur was gone and the door was closed.

Jonah stood there staring at the six-panel door like a puppy that had watched his master disappear. Finally, he shook his head and walked over to the sofa. He slumped down on it and within seconds was asleep.

(The above excerpt is from the eBook novel, Jonah, by Larry Nevenhoven, 2012, Amazon.com)

 

Like the fictional character Jonah in the above eBook, I know what it’s like to have God’s grace rescue me from committing suicide. But also, like Jonah, I struggled for years trying to understand the value of grace in a believer’s life.

How important is God’s grace? And what are the limits of His grace?

(Continued…but if you want to read all of the parts to date, you can go here.)

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