Category Archives: Faith

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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First the Blade (Chapter 32)

First the Blade 

© 2019 by Larry Nevenhoven

Chapter 32

Faith Summary

 

You’re probably thinking this book should be entitled Faith One-O-One because of my emphasis on faith. But my deep belief is that we need to have a solid foundation of faith to persevere in our journeys with the Lord.

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

Walking with God always takes faith. Always. Always. Always.

I wrote this a few years ago, but it shows why we may need strong faith in the near future:

So, let’s say that you’re staying with your family at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel (where the movie, Pretty Woman, was filmed), just off Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California. But all of a sudden, terrorists arrive and begin shooting their AK-47’s and exploding grenades, killing, and maiming everyone they see. Confusion and havoc reigns.

Somehow you’re able to barricade your family and yourself in a first floor cafe. You hear the terrorists walking your direction.  Who can you expect to help you?

Will the president help you? He’ll make a statement on TV, deploring terrorism, and will probably add, “Most Muslims are good people. These are just a few bad eggs!” After all, he needs the Muslim vote in the next election and doesn’t want to offend CAIR.

Will the governor help you? This is California, not Texas, so the Governor will first take a quick telephone poll to discover what the people think. You know, he’s running for office again and the election will be a close one. He also will appear on TV, deplore terrorism, announce that he is considering all options, even calling out the National Guard and will take a helicopter to the scene.

Will the mayor and city council members help you? These guys will be relegated to low-level radio interviews. And of course, they will deplore terrorism: yada, yada, yada.

What about the police? They and their SWAT teams will surround the hotel. Phone calls will be made to the governor, mayor, police chief and whoever else needs to be contacted before taking action. Valuable time will pass before a decision is made.

What about a DMORT team? This is the one positive that will happen almost immediately. A Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team from Region IX will be dispatched as soon as they hear about the attack. They will bring victim identification equipment, body bags, and storage units for the expected dead people.

Our only hope will be our strong faith in God.

 

If you do not have a great faith revelation, I recommend reading and studying the Word of Faith teachings by Kenneth E. Hagin. I disagree with him about his teachings on the doctrine of grace, but he’s by far the best faith teacher. His teachings will build strong faith in you.

If you are wondering about the prosperity teachings taught by many Word of Faith preachers, Kenneth E. Hagin never agreed with those teachings. Before he died, he warned those teachers of their greed and asked them to repent. Few listened to him.

You can read many of his books on line by Googling his name or purchase them, used or new, at Amazon.com. If you have time, check Salvation Army stores and other used bookstores, often you can buy them for pennies on the dollar.

Studying Kenneth E. Hagin’s teachings may be a good investment of your time, which may pay off in huge dividends for you in the future.

(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 30)

First the Blade 

© 2019 by Larry Nevenhoven

Chapter 30

Building Mustard-Seed Faith (o)

Tiger Woods finished third in the 2011 Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, Georgia, and won $330,667 for his four-day effort. Not bad, right?

Zach Johnson, the 2007 Masters’ Champion, would have been satisfied with Tiger’s four days of golf scores because he missed the cut that year. Zach is not Tiger Woods nor is there another athlete like Tiger in the whole world. He is a minority of one.

Yet, Tiger by his own words was a failure: “Second place is first loser.” Third place would mean an even bigger loser by his definition, not a flattering description of his efforts at the 2011 Masters.

I myself cannot imagine the intense pressure Tiger must feel as he plays in a major golf tournament with thousands of media people checking him out from every angle. His swing. His putting. His attitude. His girl friends. His mistakes. It’s a wonder he can even hold a cup of coffee in his hands without spilling it all over himself.

What do you think drives Tiger Woods to keep putting himself through such a meat grinder like major golf tournaments?

Golf enthusiasts will say, “Its his deep pride which keeps him going. That’s the sum total of what Woods is all about: pride.”

To that, I will answer, “Liar, liar, pants on fire!”

I think Tiger Woods is driven by fear.

“Fear!” Woods’ fans may scream. “Not Tiger. He’s never been afraid of anything!”

What did Tiger first do when his infidelities and his marital problems became public? He hid out for months. Why? Because his life was a lie and his brand image a sham. He reacted in the exact same way Adam and Eve did because of fear.

I think Woods now heads to each major golf tournament, struggling to keep his fears in check. Fears that he will never ever again live up to the image of who he was in the past. And when you think about it: his image was a lie, not even a reality of who Tiger Woods really was.

Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15)

I’m not against Tiger Woods, nor am I putting him down, but I hate the dark system, which drives him with fear: the kingdom of the world. And nothing would make me happier than learning Tiger has surrendered his life to Jesus and become a member of the Kingdom of our Lord.

In the Kingdom of our Lord, it’s not my successes or failures which matter, but instead it’s who Jesus is and what He’s done for me. I am already a success in His eyes because I am a member of His royal family. Any earthly successes I might possibly attain will only pale in value when compared to my citizenship in the Kingdom.

I can walk in the faith of knowing I am a royal prince, son of a great King, who loves me, owns me, and is always for me.

With this great revelation, have I ever known fear? Yes and it came from an unusual place: a church.

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

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First the Ear (Chapter 29)

First the Blade 

© 2019 by Larry Nevenhoven

Chapter 29

Building Mustard-Seed Faith (n)

 

“Well, Larry, you have to be a little realistic, you know? God helps those who help themselves,” a Christian said after learning I had no health insurance and had not visited a doctor in years.

I shrugged my shoulders, not wanting to continue the conversation. What good would it have done? Her feet were stuck in concrete and so were mine. It most likely would have turned into a scripture-slinging contest.

Had she bothered to ask why I had no health insurance or had not visited a doctor for regular checkups, I would have answered her. “I’m not against doctors or health insurances. Both are important. But in our case, Carol and I had to make certain financial decisions. One of them was saving money by not having health insurance for me.”

I now have Medicare, but what about those many years when I had no health coverage? Did I ever worry back then about what would happen if I became sick?

No, absolutely not. I never lost a moment of peace over the decision and to be honest, I had some bad injuries from working on construction and selling cars. There were even times when Carol almost begged me to go to the doctor, but I would not.

Am I that stubborn? Probably, or at least many people, including Carol, tell me that. But my stubbornness is built upon solid ground: the promises of God.

The Lord gave me numerous promises for my life, most of which have not happened as yet. For those promises to ever occur, I can’t die. Plus, I have to walk, talk and write in order for them to be fulfilled.

Each time an affliction hit me, I reminded the Lord of His promises.

“Lord, you said I’d do such and such in my life which has not happened yet. I know You’re not a liar and that You foresee events like this before they happen. How are You going to get me through this affliction so I can fulfill the calling on my life and walk in Your promises?”

As they say, “the proof of the pudding is in the eating.” I’m still here and still seeking the Lord.

Is this great faith on my part? Not really, it’s just normal biblical faith based on the words of Jesus.

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. (John 14: 27)

And He said to His disciples, “For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for you body, as to what you will put on. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.” (Luke 12: 22, 31)

Fear is the opposite of faith with no neutral positions between the two.

Let’s look at how the world handles situations and how a Christian should handle them.

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

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First the Ear (Chapter 28)

 

First the Blade 

© 2019 by Larry Nevenhoven

Chapter 28

Building Mustard-Seed Faith (m)

It dawned on me one day: I’m tired of Christian music. Every Christian song sounded like a spin-off of Shout to the Lord. I was bored with the same-o, same-o music.

Thus, when I drove my truck, I listened to country music.

The CD’s I listened to were mainly golden oldies sung by Johnny Cash, Glenn Campbell, Don Williams and others. Most were even Christians. Their music seemed quite tame compared to many of the newer artists.

Yet at the same time I began listening to country music, I started having nostalgic thoughts and dreams about my high school and college years. An overwhelming collage of thoughts invaded my mind about girls I dated, baseball games, football, 4-H, school subjects and more.

I found myself wondering about the “what-if’s” and the “if-only’s” of my earlier years. I even compared those choices with the realities in my life at the present. Focusing on prayer or reading the Bible became a battle for me.

I sought the Lord about my problem.

The Lord eventually showed me the music I listened to had hooks into my past. When I listened to the music, it drew me back into that time period and what I was doing at the time. I also felt the Lord showed me all popular music has some sort of hook in it, which grabs our thoughts. That’s why the music is so popular.

What I then had to do was give up listening to a steady diet of country music. I changed my MP3 player so that it had 85% Classical music, 10% Christian, and 5% country and other music.

Just to put my music listening into its proper perspective: I never listen to music outside of driving a vehicle. I like quiet. This is my personal preference, okay?

 

Then, there was the issue of talk radio.

During the 2004 and 2008 elections, I listened to conservative talk radio hosts when I drove a vehicle. Talk radio is a great alternative for understanding today’s political issues for most people as compared to the major media outlets. But this was not true for me.

I am more of a black and white, right or wrong type of person who also struggles with judgmental and critical attitudes. Listening to talk radio caused me to be upset with Christians who did not agree with me on political issues. I was angry with them.

The Lord was not lenient with me on this listening problem. I now seldom ever listen to talk radio or any TV news programs, which might have editorial comments as a part of their regular show.

As far as TV goes, I hardly ever watch regular TV shows. The rare exceptions are a few sporting events. I do like movies, but I prefer the old ones, such as African Queen, Quiet Man, Hoosiers, and North by Northwest.

There are, perhaps, a great many kinds of languages [voices] in the world, and no kind is without meaning. (1 Corinthians 14: 10)

Now this is what I’ve have to do in my life to cut back on voices so I can more readily hear the voice of Jesus, who is the author and perfecter of faith.

What about the work place and other environments I happen upon in my travels?

I can only control my personal choices, and not what others prefer, so I rely on the Lord’s grace and His mercy in those situations.

Do I believe everyone should follow my example?

If you want to walk at your highest level of faith, you will have to make some hearing choices. But, you need to ask the Lord what voices you need to get rid of. Don’t just do what I did, okay? It may take time to sort through the voices in your life but it will be worth it.

Then He said to them, “Take heed what you hear… (Mark 4:24)

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

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First the Ear (Chapter 27)

First the Blade 

© 2019 by Larry Nevenhoven

Chapter 27

Building Mustard-Seed Faith (l)

 

Like Joseph’s two dreams, I had just enough revelation from my impressions and dreams to get me in trouble, which was probably how the Lord planned my adventure.

The people in the house and the home fellowship were amazed God would send a man, whom they had never met, via a dream to pray and encourage them. It was an exciting evening for all of us.

But I assumed someone would offer me a place to stay overnight in his home or apartment, but no one did. Nobody even asked why my truck was loaded with household goods and clothing. What were they thinking? I don’t know.

I could have asked them, but I didn’t. You see, I believe that if God is leading me then it is His responsibility to provide for me.

What did I do?

I drove off and prayed as I went down the street. The only idea, which came into my mind, was a nearby truck stop. I drove there, parked the truck, pulled two blankets out of the back, and slept in the cab. It was a late-October cold night.

In the morning, it dawned on me: God sent me here to trap me. Why? I had no clue.

I spent one of my precious quarters on coffee at a grocery store. I then went to the small city park and prayed all day. That night I went back to the truck stop and slept there again.

The next morning, I spent another quarter for coffee and prayed all day at the park.

At 6:30 in the evening, while I was praying, I had a quick glimpse of my answer: a scrap metal yard. I drove there, but it was closed for the day. It was another cold night at the truck stop.

The next morning after spending my last quarter on coffee, I went to the scrap yard and asked for the owner. He was gone until late in the afternoon.

“What did you need to see him for? Maybe, I can help you,” said the receptionist.

“I’m a Christian and just needed to see him,” I said.

“His wife can probably help you. I’ll give you directions to their house,” she said. She wrote directions down a piece of paper and handed it to me.

The home was only a mile away so I had enough gas to get there. I parked in the driveway and walked toward the house. Somehow, as I walked, I realized they were Catholics. I rang the doorbell.

While waiting on the porch, the Holy Spirit descended on me with all of His holiness. I wept and wept. And in that moment, I was delivered of my judgmental attitude of believing people had to attend specific churches or risk being out of the will of God.

The aftermath of this story was the people invited me to stay overnight in their warm home. They took me to breakfast the next morning and gave me $10 for gasoline. I drove back to my hometown. There I stopped at a business establishment who hired me for a painting project. I then visited my pastor and she had something for me.

It seemed the Lord laid my situation on a person’s heart. He sent a $200 check to my pastor for me.

Hopefully, this testimony underlines the importance of being careful of what we listen to? What else can we do?

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

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