Category Archives: grace

First the Blade (Chapter 4)

First the Blade 

© 2019 by Larry Nevenhoven

Chapter 4

Building a Foundation of Faith (b)

Jesus prayed and worshipped with eleven of His disciples on that Passover night in the Garden of Gethsemane. The scene then quickly changed when 300 Roman soldiers, and thirty or forty temple officers and slaves, showed up with swords, clubs, lanterns, and torches.

But even in that moment, Jesus was in charge. At His words, “I am He,” the cohort of soldiers and the temple group stepped back and fell to the ground. This demonstration of power and authority by Jesus most certainly inspired his eleven disciples, who were not only outnumbered thirty to one, but they were armed with only two swords.

Judas stepped forward and kissed Jesus. The temple officers seized Jesus when they saw the kiss.

“Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” said one of the disciples.

In that same instant, Peter drew his sword and sliced off the ear of the high priest’s slave, a man named Malchus.

Let’s pause and consider the scene in the garden that night, okay?

Peter stood there, holding his sword, ready to protect his Son of David from the Romans and the Temple group. Adrenalin pumped through his veins. Maybe he envisioned himself as one of the two men who stood with David in the middle of a barley field, slaying an entire Philistine army. But no matter what, Peter stood there, boldly willing to die for what he believed.

The wounded man, Malchus, writhed in pain. Blood gushed out of the wound and his ear lay on the ground. No one paid much attention to the wounded man because all eyes focused on Peter and his sword.

Three hundred battle-hardened Roman soldiers, who were armed with lances, shields, swords, and armor, readied themselves to attack the insurrectionists. They had no fear of a fisherman with a sword and were ready to kill Peter and the other disciples, thus ending the rebellion at its outset.

The new Son of David – Jesus – then revealed His kingdom to everyone in the garden. He reached out and healed Malchus. He turned to Peter and said, “Put the sword into the sheath.”

In that moment, I think Peter realized what he had believed about his King David and His kingdom were incorrect. He had been deceived. His faith for the deception instantly dried up. He and the other disciples fled the garden without uttering another word.

So crushed was Peter’s faith that when he stood in the courtyard outside the Sanhedrin, where Jesus was on trial, he no longer had the heart to die for his King or the kingdom. A servant-girl and a few bystanders even heard him deny Christ three times.

When the women told about the angel and the empty tomb, Peter along with the other disciples believed it was nonsense. Jesus, upon His appearance, rebuked the eleven for their unbelief and hardness of heart in the matter.

We all know about Jesus telling Peter at the Passover supper he was about to be sifted by Satan and also, that Jesus had prayed for Peter’s faith not to fail. But have you ever noticed these two scriptures:

Saying, “The Lord has really risen and has appeared to Simon.” (Luke 24:34)

And that He appeared to Cephas [Peter], then to the twelve. (1 Corinthians 15:5)

These are the only two scriptures, which mention Jesus had a special meeting with Peter alone before meeting with the rest of the apostles. We have no scriptural record of what Jesus said to Peter.

What do you think Jesus said to Peter at that special meeting?

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

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What God Taught Me In My 310 Days At Walmart (Part 2)

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I interviewed for a cashier position at the the Temecula Walmart Supercenter on August 12, 2016, and was hired at that time. One of the questions asked was about any physical problems that I might have which might cause me problems in carrying out my duties as a cashier. I answered, “No.”

Did I lie about my physical problems? No, I don’t believe I did because it was my belief that if God called me to be a cashier, He would enable me to fulfill the job. The significance of my answer in writing was that I removed all liability from Walmart for any injuries to my wrists, knees, and back.

The Temecula Walmart Supercenter is ranked between number 5 and number 10 in dollar volume out of all the nearly 12,000 Walmart stores in the world. The store does around 165 million dollars in sales per year. A little over four hundred people work at the 24 hour store, with nearly eighty cashiers manning the registers at various times.

My first day was August 25, 2016. For the following two weeks, I worked with veteran cashiers who trained me. Then, I began working on my own in early September.

One of the lessons I have learned over the years is that when God calls you to do something, there is no use in being timid, just jump in with both feet, trusting that God will protect you. I call it reckless faith, much like Paul demonstrated in Acts 16:37. After being beaten, thrown in prison, and fastened in stocks, Paul refused to leave prison until the authorities came and apologized to Silas and him. That takes godly chutzpa!

So, I made up my mind to not protect myself in any way and to do every job asked of me as if I had no in juries. This resulted in some interesting situations, like trying to help a woman with a bad back put a heavy piece of furniture (150 pounds) into her vehicle. It so happened that a strong man walking down the parking lot aisle volunteered to help me. That was lucky, right? No, I don’t believe in luck. I believe in a heavenly Father who loves me so much that He will always be there to help in my time of need.

Did my hands, knees, and back hurt? Yes, so much so, that I could hardly sleep at night.

In fact, if anyone would have noticed me stepping out of my car in the Walmart parking lot and walking the one hundred yards to the store’s entrance, they would have wondered how a crippled, one hundred-year old man could possibly work at Walmart. Or that’s what it seemed to me.

Yet, when I walked in the door at Walmart, His grace fell upon me and I became Larry, the cashier with a big smile for everyone. The pain was still there, but it was only on the surface. And as long as I trusted in His grace, which I was forced to do at all times, I could walk through each day.

Just so you know: I averaged nearly 930 scans per hour – which is above average – and I even had quite a few customers who chose to go through my line when I was on duty. Why? They liked my smile and attitude and speed.

What major lesson did God teach me at Walmart:

If we want to serve God, especially us senior citizens, we can’t pray away every one of our problems. If we choose to wait, hoping miracles will heal or prosper us, we may miss our opportunities and if that happens, how many more can we expect to have in the future. But even so, we can always trust in this verse:

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)

One experience, out of many, was worth every ounce of pain that I suffered working as a cashier. It happened on a busy day when I first opened my register. A elderly man wearing a U. S. Marine veterans cap, rode an electric cart up to the register and placed his few groceries on the conveyer belt.

I looked at him and said, “How are you today?”

“I don’t know,” he replied.

“What does that mean?”

“Well, to be honest, the old Sarge is not doing well today.”

“Would you like some prayer?”

“Yes.”

I walked around the bagging console, grabbed his hands, and prayed for him. The presence of God fell upon us. We both wept like little children who just opened the best Christmas gift ever.

“Wow, that was awesome!” he proclaimed.

“Yeah,” I said.

I walked back and became a Walmart Cashier at register 6, scanning items. Customers moved to the line and life continued in a normal fashion or normal for Walmart.

(Conclusion)

 

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What God Taught Me In My 310 Days At Walmart (Part 1)

 

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When I felt the Lord speaking to my heart about applying for a job at Walmart, I must admit that I scratched my head a few times. You see, I was nearly 71 years old and had a few physical issues: both knees are bone on bone due to long ago football injuries, back problems from climbing ladders and falling off a few of them, and carpal tunnels in both wrists from gripping a paint brush and typing for hours and hours at a time.

I was certainly not a poster-perfect candidate for being a cashier at a high volume Walmart Super Center, but yet, I knew the Lord was asking me to do just that.

To better understand what the Lord was asking of me, I need to relate an experience I had almost thirty years beforehand.

At the time, I was employed by a Best Western Motel in maintenance and delivering “meals on wheels” to senior citizen centers. It was a bottom-rung, minimum wage job.

I had just read Fox’s Book of Martyrs, which relates the lives, sufferings, and deaths of the early Christians and Protestant martyrs. As I finished the book, I spoke aloud, “Lord, if this is my destiny, then let me die with a bullet to the head or by guillotine, but not by being burnt to death at a stake. That would be too much for me!”

A few days later, I was hurrying around the kitchen of the motel, readying the meals for the senior centers. I pulled a large tray of roast beef out of a top oven. As I pulled it out, the tray slipped, pouring out its 165° of scalding water and juices over my left hand. I somehow set the tray down without spilling the roast beef.

Then, I stood there looking at my hand. The chefs and kitchen workers were screaming at me to put my hand under the cold water faucet, but I ignored their pleas.

My hand fascinated me because there was no pain inside it – in the muscles, fatty tissues, or nerve endings. The pain was just located on the surface of my skin where it was a bright red in color, but it was really bearable. Not a problem for me to endure it at all.

The chef grabbed my hand and stuck it under the faucet. “Now, you have to go to the doctor and have it checked,” she screamed at me.

I laughed. “No, I’m okay and will deliver the meals to the senior centers.”

“Nevenhoven, you’re a nut.”

“Yeah, that’s probably true, but it’s only because of Jesus and His love for me.”

From that day onward, I have never feared what people could do to me because I knew His grace would help me through it.

(Part 2)

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32 Years Ago Today

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In 1985, my life smashed into a brick wall. I needed thousands of dollars to start a publishing company and bail my family out of debt. My sources were all maxed out and the hope level in my reservoir was hovering at empty. I was finished.

The only untouched asset I had was a $125,000 life insurance policy. So, my solution seemed obvious: suicide.

As for taking my life, I had no problems with it because I was an agnostic. No God equals no problems with eternal judgment, right? It wasn’t personal, just a business solution for my family and me.

My plan was uncomplicated. I figured on enjoying one last weekend with my family and then committing suicide on that Monday evening.

Thus, on May 20, 1985, I spent the day finishing up loose ends. Then, for some reason, I stopped at an insurance agent’s office. Although we knew each other, Bill and I were not intimate friends and had never really talked to each other before that day.

Bill invited me into his office. We discussed baseball. Then in the middle of our conversation, he stared at me and said, “You’re thinking about committing suicide, aren’t you?”

His words hit me like a sledgehammer. How did he know? I told no one. It was my secret $125,000 payday. I was speechless. As I sat there, a vision played across my mind about my car ramming into a viaduct and killing me.

I wept and although I tried to regain my composure, I could not. “How did you know?” I asked.

“Oh,” said Bill, “the Lord told me while we were talking to each other.”

His words shattered my unbelief. God was alive and He cared about me. We continued talking and he finally gave me a book to read: Power in Praise by Merlin Carothers.

When I arrived home, I began reading the book. After a few pages, I walked into the bathroom, closed the door and knelt in front of the sink. Looking into the mirror, I prayed, “Jesus, I’ve tried everything else and nothing has worked. I guess I’ll give You a try.”

Instantly, I was changed. Fear and shame were no longer a part of me, but instead, joy and hope filled my heart. Bowing and worshipping my new King, I promised to never let go of His hand.

If my story were a fictional Hollywood movie, perhaps it would resemble It’s A Wonderful Life. Jimmy Stewart would play me and Donna Reed my wife. The angel would get his wings and everyone would live happily ever after. The end.

But sadly, my life has not been a work of fiction. It has been a day to day journey, filled with a few good experiences, but also many mistakes, false starts and failures. Divorce. Loss of friends. Numerous firings from sales positions. Low-paying jobs. Poverty. Rejection. Loneliness. Not exactly, a picture perfect Christian life.

And yet, it has been in the deepest valleys where the Lord has truly revealed Himself to me. It was there He became my loving Father and I learned His grace was sufficient for me.

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Memories Pizza, Indiana, Christianity, and How Not to Win Spiritual Battles? (Part 1)

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Conservative leader Patrick Buchanan, author of Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025, in an interview for WND, urged Christians to fight the “LGBT fanatics” who are demanding they betray their faith, even if it means civil disobedience.

Buchanan stated:

“This battle can be won, but it cannot be won if we do not stand our ground and fight against this moral onslaught from the left,” he said. “The hill to stand on and fight on is the God-given natural right and the constitutional principle that people of faith may choose not to associate with those whose actions are abhorrent and whose lifestyle is insulting and offensive to that faith…

“The LGBT militants are not asking to be left alone,” he said. “They are demanding that we accept the morality of homosexuality and same-sex marriages, and manifest that acceptance, under pain of law and sanctions, in our daily lives.”

“As the Romans demanded of the Christians, the LGBT fanatics want us to burn incense to their gods. The answer is no. If it comes to civil disobedience, so be it.” (Full article on interview can be seen here.)

James Dobson of Family Talk Radio, Rick Scarborough of Vision America Action, Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, James Robison of Life Today, and Dr. Michael L. Brown are also mentioned in the article as supporting Buchanan’s hypothesis of possible civil disobedience. Dobson was quoted as saying:

“Are we going to sit on our reputations and go to our graves without having played a role? This is Roe v. Wade all over again. I am standing shoulder to shoulder with all who will stand up for God’s Word concerning marriage. We don’t know all of the steps that must be taken, but God will reveal His will. To the extent that I am able to influence anybody, I will do it with passion.

Dr. Michael Brown added:

“We will treat everyone with civility and respect, but the government or the media or popular pressure will not force us to violate our convictions and beliefs. You will not steal our religious freedoms.” 

So, should we listen to Patrick Buchanan and the others and follow their lead down the slippery slope to possible civil disobedience? And is this how to win the spiritual battle?

(Continued in Part 2)

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8 Exchanges at the Cross

 

My Aussie friend, Roger Williams, at Reality Revelations had the above video on his blog site. The video is 5 minutes long and well worth viewing, but what caught my attention was when Derek Prince spoke about the 8 exchanges which happened at the cross.

Prince said:

The cross is the center of the whole Christian faith. All the evil that was due us was thrust on Jesus. All the good that was due Jesus was made available to us. At the cross, 8 exchanges took place.

1. Jesus was punished that we might be forgiven.

2. Jesus was wounded that we might be healed.

3. Jesus was made sin with our sinfulness that we might be righteous with His righteousness.

4. Jesus died our death that we might receive His life.

5. Jesus endured our poverty that we might endure His abundance.

6. Jesus bore our shame that we might share His glory.

7. Jesus endured our rejection that we might have His acceptance with God the Father.

8. Jesus was made a curse that we might receive the blessing.

(This is a rerun from May 28, 2013)

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Learning How to Pray Effectively in 59 Seconds or Less (Part 9)

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Charlie Peace was a criminal. Laws of God or man curbed him not. Finally the law caught up with him, and he was condemned to death. On the fatal morning in Armley Jail, Leeds, England, he was taken on the death-walk. Before him went the prison chaplain, routinely and sleepily reading some Bible verses.

The criminal touched the preacher and asked what he was reading. “The Consolations of Religion,” was the reply.

Charlie Peace was shocked at the way he professionally read about hell. Could a man be so unmoved under the very shadow of the scaffold as to lead a fellow-human there and yet, dry-eyed, read of a pit that has no bottom into which this fellow must fall? Could this preacher believe the words that there is an eternal fire that never consumes its victims, and yet slide over the phrase without a tremor? Is a man human at all who can say with no tears, “You will be eternally dying and yet never know the relief that death brings”? All this was too much for Charlie Peace. So he preached. Listen to his on-the-eve-of-hell sermon:

“Sir,” addressing the preacher, “if I believed what you and the church of God say that you believe, even if England were covered with broken glass from coast to coast, I would walk over it, if need be, on hands and knees and think it worthwhile living, just to save one soul from an eternal hell like that! (Why Revival Tarries, Leonard Ravenhill, p. 32)

Like the prison chaplain, we American believers are hindered by our own apathy. Oh yes! We may toss a few prayer darts toward heaven for our children and family, but that’s about it. Our neighbors, friends, fellow citizens, people in foreign nations− they’re on their own. God helps those who help themselves, right?

Even though we are under grace, there are spiritual laws. One of them is:

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. (Galatians 6:7)

In the years ahead, when tough times slam America, we will each reap what we sow. If we have sown prayerlessness and apathy, we will reap the same in our desperate hours of need. But if we have been zealous and prayed for others, we will reap the prayers of many when we need them the most.

Make up your mind what you want to reap in the future now.

What are other hindrances?

(Continued in Part 10)

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