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Let’s Fight Principalities and Powers Now (Part 4)

Spiritual warfare? How did it come about? And why?

Before the creation of man, God set up earth under an angelic form of spiritual government. The governing angels − or principalities − were located in the heavenly realms over earth, but still underneath God’s heaven, which Paul referred to as the third heaven. 

The head over this angelic government was God

We have no clue what Satan did at first when he and his horde of angels were cast out of God’s third heaven. My guess is that the Devil’s hatred for God and His works caused him to continuously seethe at how God had treated him unfairly. After all, the evil one felt he could have been just like God. 

Satan and his horde became a government in exile. They had no authority and no subjects to rule over.

Let’s fast forward to the first man: Adam.

God formed a new kingdom government on earth with His creation of man, giving dominion over all the earth to man, through Adam. God was the King, the King’s angelic spiritual government was set in place in the second heaven, and His flesh and blood ambassador on earth was Adam. 

All worked well until Adam sinned.

Adam’s act of treason overthrew God’s kingdom government on earth and also God’s angelic spiritual government. Satan became the god of this world and his demon hierarchy of angels took over the principality sites in the heavenlies. Man and creation were no longer connected to their King and under His direct reign and protection.

Also, because Adam forfeited his face-to-face position before God, Satan regained a position before God in which he accuses the saints day and night. 

Through Satan’s coup d’état and by default, Adam and all future subjects on earth, were placed under the reign and authority of Satan and his angelic government.

Spiritual warfare has been fought between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness since the Garden of Eden. The King desires to reclaim His subjects under His righteous reign while Satan hopes to continue his government of enslavement, depravity, and sin. The battles still rages today.

For us believers, we are dual subjects while we live on earth, in that, we are royal sons of the King, but still live in a world ruled by Satan. Our dual citizenship poses daily problems for us.

(Excerpt from Storming the Kingdom by Larry Nevenhoven, © 2014 by Larry Nevenhoven, Amazon eBook)

(Continued in Part 5)

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Let’s Fight Principalities and Powers Now (Part 3)

Let’s check out our spiritual adversary: Satan. Scripture gives us a little insight about the evil one and a few other conclusions can be drawn through biblical reasoning.

Satan was created as a covering cherub or a type of angel. Angels are spirits and not flesh and blood creatures like God created on day five and day six in Genesis. Therefore, Satan is a spirit.

Scripture doesn’t state when God actually created Satan, but I believe we can deduce that Satan and the other angels were created before the end of the fourth day or Genesis 1:16. (Maybe even as early as the first day.) Why?  Because His angels perform God’s word and the angels rejoiced when the foundations of the earth were laid. They may even have been the ones who helped to determine its dimensions.

God created Satan to be perfect in wisdom and beauty. But Satan’s pride corrupted his wisdom and caused him to rebel against God. 

When did Satan rebel against God?

Jesus stated that Satan was a murderer from the beginning, never stood in the truth, and was the father of lies. Thus, by deduction, I believe Satan must have rebelled soon after God created him along with the other angels. 

Where did all of Satan’s fellow demons come from? My answer will seem a little roundabout, but bear with me, okay?

Prophecies in Scripture may have an early and a later fulfillment to them. Usually, the early fulfillment is a partial one whereas the later one is a complete one.

For example, Jesus referred to John the Baptist as the “Elijah who is to come.” His words referred to the prophecy in Malachi 4:5. Yet, John did not fulfill all the words of the Malachi prophecy. We have to wait until the time just before Jesus returns to earth for the complete fulfillment.

Another example, Jesus answered the disciples’ questions about when things would happen by prophesying in Matthew 24: 4-31. The disciples would have thought Jesus was referring to the destruction of the Temple. Yet, when Roman soldiers destroyed the Temple in 70 A.D., not all of the scriptures were fulfilled. The complete fulfillment will occur during the tribulation.

And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So, the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. (Revelations 12:7-9)

If you read Revelations Chapter 11 and all of Chapter 12, the only conclusion you can reach is that this will happen during the tribulation. But I believe an early fulfillment of this prophecy happened when Satan and a third of God’s angels rebelled against God and were cast out of God’s third heaven. I believe these angels then became Satan’s demonic hierarchy in his kingdom of darkness.

One scripture that backs my theory was when Jesus said, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” His words did not refer to the tribulation, but something He saw while He was in heaven, before His birth to Mary.

There are other scriptures, but this should give us a basic understanding about Satan and his demonic horde.

(Excerpt from Storming the Kingdom by Larry Nevenhoven, © 2014 by Larry Nevenhoven, Amazon eBook)

(Continued in Part 4)

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Let’s Fight Principalities and Powers Now (Part 2)

I watched various students crisscrossing the Campanile Esplanade on their way to classes. They looked normal, wearing typical college apparel. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. My spiritual eyes then kicked in, and what appeared normal in the natural realm was not so normal in the spiritual one.

Have you ever seen pictures of a flying dinosaur known as a pterodactyl? It has a long, slender head with a mouth of sharp teeth, scaly-like body, web-like wings, and talons for feet. This sort of resembles the creatures I saw, sitting on the shoulders of almost every student walking below me. Each creature was the size of a large crow and had wolf hair on its body and a slender rat’s tail. They constantly whispered into the ears of students while holding a wing over the students’ other ears. The creatures also defecated and vomited on the students so that each person dripped with slop and sewage. It was ghastly and I yearned to warn the students.

“Follow those two over there,” said the angel, pointing toward two guys.

I focused on the two students. They continued talking to each other as they walked into a free speech area where a street evangelist preached the gospel of the kingdom of God. Both stopped and listened. I watched the pterodactyl-like creatures use their beaks to snatch the seeds of the gospel out of the twosome’s hearts with swift surgeon-like precision. The two students walked away after a few minutes, none the better for their experiences.

I wanted to shout and warn everyone. Someone needed to do it. Why not me?

The angel touched my shoulder again with his hand. I turned toward him.

“Now, it’s time for your spiritual ears to be opened.”

He reached up and touched both of my ears with his hands.

Wouldn’t you think it would be quiet in the spiritual realm over the University of California, Berkeley? Well, it is not. There is constant clamor, reverberating throughout the whole atmosphere, most of which comes from the ruling principality. But what really shocked me was the demonic principality’s words mirrored the liberal attitudes on the campus, from the deans down to the professors, and then, to the students. The religious principality constantly spewed out proclamations like: 

“All white Americans are racists… All wars are immoral and wrong… Homosexuality is not a sin… Pro-choice is a woman’s right… Same-sex marriage is morally acceptable…Traditional Christianity is irrelevant, mean, hateful, judgmental, and dogmatic…Jesus never said anything about homosexuality…Jesus is the Way which is open to other ways, such as Hare Krishna, Buddha, and Mohammad…God is a God of love and not judgment… Satan and demons are fictional beings, thought up by fundamentalist nuts…The Bible contains no more authority than the Koran, Buddhist sutras, Veda, and other spiritual writings…Creating social justice is the main emphasis of the gospel…Global warming is a Christian stewardship concern…”

I stood there with my mouth open, drool running down my chin.

“Hey, many of these statements I agree with,” I muttered aloud, not realizing I had done so.

“And that’s why you are deceived.”

“Deceived? Me?”

“Yes, you and most liberal Christians who believe such garbage.”

“But, but –”

“Not only are you deceived, but your faith is dead when it agrees with Satan’s agenda. He’s always a liar, even when his words sound like truth. Your faith, in order to have life, must be based on what the Lord has stated in Scripture and is presently saying to His church.”

I kept quiet as his words ripped my theology apart.

He paused for a beat or two.

“Not only is this IOU collection day, but it is your deliverance day,” he said in an authoritative voice. “Your past deception, your dead faith, and your deliverance from all of it will give you an understanding of the spiritual battles taking place on America’s college campuses, beginning with the University of California, Berkeley.”

His eyes locked on mine.

“But how –” I stopped myself. How could I complain when I did not know what I was talking about?

The angel almost grinned.

“Now, you’re starting to learn.”

He pointed down again.

“Look.”

There just below us, was a student resembling a fluorescent light bulb walking across the esplanade. She lit up the whole area around her as she hurried on her way. Unlike the others, she did not have a creature sitting on her shoulder, but instead, one hovered around her head, trying to alight on her, but for some reason, the creature could not land. Deep frustration etched a gully in the creature’s face.

“Listen,” said the angel.

My ears adjusted themselves to only listening to the girl. Her footsteps and the movement of her arms came through loud and clear, but also something else.

“Dee, dee, bah, bah, hooka mah hundae,” she whispered over and over.

She spoke in tongues as she walked along.

“Your message to Christians on college campuses is very simple,” said the angel. “It’s the same one Paul gave to the believers in Ephesus when he said, ‘Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, with all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.” Then he added, “In case you have forgotten, these scriptures are located in Ephesians 6: 17-18.”

(Excerpt from Deceived Dead and Delivered by Larry Nevenhoven, © 2012 by Larry Nevenhoven, Amazon eBook)

(Continued in Part 3)

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Let’s Fight Principalities and Powers Now (Part 1)

The angel reached over and grabbed my left hand. We took off at the speed of light. I looked down as Albert disappeared quickly into a black dot and heard a faint “wolf” fall out of his mouth.

The dome of the San Francisco City Hall appeared directly ahead of us. It looked like we would crash into it. But before I could scream aloud, we passed through it and landed in the Supervisors’ meeting chamber on the second floor. A wooden bench somehow telescoped out of the wall, up near the ceiling, which he motioned for us to sit down on it.

The eleven supervisors sat in leather swivel-chairs down below us. Each had a laptop computer on the desk in front of them. They talked and carried on. It was the weekly San Francisco Supervisors’ meeting.

The angel turned toward me. His robe whispered softly as he pivoted around. 

“Open your eyes and see,” he said with a quiet power filled with heavenly authority.

I looked down again. This time my spiritual eyes opened.

There I saw grotesque creatures sitting on the right shoulder of each of the eleven supervisors. The chimpanzee-size beings had a mixture of what looked like reptile, dragon, and wolf-like body parts with stubby tails, talons for feet, scale-covered wings, web-like hands, and misshapen faces which protruded into long snouts and were filled with sharp teeth. They resembled dingy, gray gargoyles.

Each creature held its right wing over their assigned supervisors’ eyes. Their right hands were curled into a megaphone shape so they could speak directly into the supervisors’ ears. Their left hands looped behind the supervisors’ heads and covered their left ears.

The creatures never rested. When they were not speaking into ears, they looked up, around and at each other, their heads constantly moved about, their eyes searching to and fro. They seemed to be driven by a deep dread, almost as if a cruel slave master’s power instilled a fear in them about possible future punishments.

What is this? I thought. Why am I here?

“Today is show and tell day, preparing you for your first assignment next week,” said the angel.

“First assignment, next week?”

“Quiet, I’m the teacher. You’re the student. Understand?” he whispered a stinging rebuke at me. 

His voice contained no anger and love cushioned the blow, but yet, I felt the power behind the rebuke. I shuddered and nodded. 

“Earlier today, you had a vision. In it, you saw yourself being used as a sword by the Lord Jesus against a brass gate. The brass gate you saw was a gate of Hell over this city. It must be attacked so the truth from heaven can be heard in San Francisco. You are His chosen weapon for the undertaking.”

I bit my tongue, but my brain continued to be plugged in. I wondered if His weapons ever suffered pain, especially with the vigorous way the Lord swung the sword against the gate. O Lord, will it hurt? I thought.

He paused a beat before continuing. 

“Your spiritual eyes have only been dialed up two notches, but that’s more than enough for you to get an idea of what’s happening in the Supervisors’ meeting room,” he said. “As you can see, demons sit on the supervisors’ shoulders, blocking information that is contrary to Satan’s agenda. At the same time, evil ideas are constantly spoken into the supervisors’ ears.”

He pointed a finger at me. 

“Remember: our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the hordes of Satan.”

I nodded.

He pointed at the supervisors. 

“Look again.”

This time I saw words streaming through the ceiling on what looked like hologram ticker tapes carried on laser beams. These words flowed to the ears of the creatures, the supervisors, and everyone in the room. I read them: “Alternative life style.” “Pro-choice.” “Gay pride.” “Toleration.” “Christians are bigots.” “Abortion is a woman’s right.” “Separation of church and state.”  “San Francisco Pride.”  

With each new message, the creatures spoke into the ears of supervisors. A source from above orchestrated everything.

The angel pointed up. 

“Look.”

The ceiling and roof opened up, allowing me to see into the second heaven. My eyes took a few moments adjusting to the spirit realm, but then, I saw a creature sitting on a large brass throne, blocking a portal coming out of the third heaven. Light rays attempted to flow through the portal, but only a fraction of the rays was able to pass by the large creature.

The creature’s appearance alternated between looking like a beautiful angel dressed in white and that of a gigantic monster version of the dingy, gray gargoyles, sitting on the supervisors’ shoulders. Like the smaller demons, the creature never rested. It caused fear in the hierarchy of demons below it and, at the same time, seemed fearful of its own cruel masters in the ranks above it.

The words I saw, streaming through the ceiling like hologram ticker tapes, emanated from this creature. I saw additional word streams coming out of the creature’s mouth, heading toward Sacramento, Hollywood, Washington, D. C., New York City, newspapers, television networks, movie studios, publishers, corporations, and thousands of other places.

The angel interrupted my thoughts. 

“What you are seeing is the spirit of depravity. It is a ruling principality over San Francisco and guards a gate of Hell over the city. This spirit is so powerful that its wickedness is spread throughout the nation.

“The reason the spirit switches back and forth between appearances is it is creating confusion by this maneuver in the minds of people, whereby good is called evil and evil good.”

(Excerpt from Jonah by Larry Nevenhoven, © 2012 by Larry Nevenhoven, Amazon eBook)

Obviously, the above is a fictional story on how I perceive the demonic realm may influence our earthly realm.

(Continued In Part 2)

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New Book Release: “A Black River”

“I had a vision that showed a black river flowing out of America’s inner cities, filled with black apostles and prophets. Their moralcharacters were at a level never before witnessed in America.

“No longer would believers have to gaze back at John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Finney, D. L. Moody, Billy Graham or whomever for examples of godly men because these black apostles and prophets would raise the bar of godliness to a level approaching the character of Jesus… This is the generation of men that America has been longing to see. (Excerpt from Chapter 13 of A Black River)

God is never late, but He sure misses lots of opportunities to be early. This is especially true for Black Americans who have suffered through four hundred years of oppression and discrimination while chasing the American dream. The years have all merged themselves together into long days of weary hopelessness. 

But now at last, hope arises. The same God who looked upon Israel’s captivity in Egypt, is looking down on the Black Americans living in our nation’s inner cities and is preparing to act.

How? What? Why? 

A Black River is one of the most important books published in 2021, especially for those believers hungering for revival.

81 pages    Author: Larry Nevenhoven    

Kindle eBook: $2.99 

Available for Kindles and Kindle Apps

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New Book Release: “What Did God Accomplish in the 2020 Election?”

After writing quite a few blog posts on the 2020 election, I decided to write a short book on the 2020 Presidential Election:

Over forty years of America treading down a path of superficial spirituality has brought us to this moment of time, with Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States.

How could the Lord have let Evangelical Christians down? What about all of the prophecies proclaiming a victory for Donald Trump? Didn’t God understand the importance of the 2020 presidential election? What about Israel? What about Planned Parenthood and abortions? What about our religious freedoms? What about this? What about that?

What did God really accomplish by allowing Joe Biden to win the 2020 Presidential election? 

This book answers many questions about how white Evangelical Christianity, the Prophetic Movement and the Republican Party have ended up in the mess we are in right now. And what we can do to move forward.

One of the most important books of 2021.

Publication date : February 3, 2021

43 Pages                   Author and Publisher: Larry Nevenhoven

Kindle eBook: $2.99

Print length : 43 pages

Available on Amazon for Kindles and Kindle Apps.

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Are You Willing to Pay the Price?

The vibrant sounds of Mozart’s Piano Concerto Number Seven swirled through the Beacon Hill mansion’s ballroom. The fifteen females seated around the grand piano, listening to the maestro, had proper Brahmin names like Cabot, Coolidge, Forbes, Lodge, or Shaw. Each traced her ancestry back to the earliest Puritan settlers of Boston. This blueblood lineage insured their invitation to the social tea, no nouveau riche Johnny-come-latelies were among the invitees.

When the pianist completed the piece, he stood and bowed. The women showed their appreciation with warm applause. One of the ladies put her white-gloved hands to her mouth and said, “Oh, I would just do anything to be able to play the piano like that.”

The maestro turned and stared at her. His eyes exploded with fire.

“No you wouldn’t,” he said.

The crowd collectively gasped. All felt sorry for the woman who had been openly rebuked by the man’s insensitive words.

As for the lady, she sat stunned, paralyzed by his harsh eyes, tears rolled down her cheeks. Then, as if she remembered her privileged pedigree, she mouthed three defiant words at the pianist: “Yes, I would.”

“No you wouldn’t,” he said again, leaning over the piano toward the lady.

“Because if you really meant what you said, you would have been willing to give up your youth, your teenage years, and eight to ten hours every day practicing on the piano. You see there is a price to sit on this bench. I’ve been willing to pay it, and you have not!”

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. (Matthew 16:24)

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I AM NOT RACIST…or am I?

It wasn’t until the death of George Floyd that the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to the part my apathy had played in racism.

Apathy?

Out of the 807,391 words used in the New American Standard Version of the Bible, the word “apathy” does not appear one time. And the word “apathy” does not appear even once in the other top ten selling English translations of the Bible.

But a well-known synonym for apathy does appear in a verse in each of the top selling Bible translations –

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked (Revelation 3:15-17)

Lukewarm?

Most Christians think that term describes believers who give their lives to the Lord at a Jesus Crusade and then fall away, no longer fellowshipping with other believers, praying or reading their Bibles. They have their stay-out-of-Hell fire insurance card and that’s good enough for them.

Is this an accurate description of all lukewarm believers?

Let’s check out my life on the morning the Holy Spirit pointed His finger at my sin of apathy:

I climbed out of bed at 4:30 a.m. that morning and spent two and half hours in prayer. I read the Bible for sixty minutes and listened to some teachings by Mike Bickle on my iPhone throughout the afternoon as I worked. Plus, I fasted two days that week.

This was not an atypical day or week for me. It is the routine which I have followed for over thirty years. It does not matter whether I am struggling through the worst of times or enjoying a season of blessings, I continue to plod along and seek the Lord. It is my life.

One of the prayers I prayed that morning, as I do almost every morning, was this one from a psalm by King David:

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life (Psalm 139:23-24 NLT)

“Point out anything in me that offends You, Lord.”

There is not much I could say to the Lord when He answered this prayer by pointing out my sin of apathy, except, “Forgive me, Lord.”

Normally, I just keep on walking with Him and don’t look back after I ask the Lord for forgiveness. I know He isn’t angry with me nor does He love me less because I sinned and fell short of His glory. Yet, on that morning, I felt like I needed more information and asked, “Lord, how did I end up being lukewarm in my love toward my black brothers and sisters? “

The Lord eventually dropped His answer into my spirit. It was far different than I thought it would be – like hello! Doesn’t that always seem to be the case?

The Lord reminded me how for the first fifteen years after my salvation, I did not listen to newscasts or follow politics. I felt it was a waste of my time when compared to seeking Him.

This changed in early 2000 when I read a prophecy spoken by a man I admired – Bob Jones. “A burning bush shall come out of Texas and be elected the next president of the United States,” he prophesied.

Jones’ prophetic words stirred me to follow politics and to begin listening to newscasts and a few conservative radio shows while I drove my truck. I soon began thinking the GOP was God’s Own Party and the Democrats were controlled by Satan and his minions.

Almost 90% of black Americans vote for Democratic candidates. Thus, love for my black brothers and sisters became collateral damage in my new political thinking.

I continued on this political path until January of 2009. That’s when the Lord let me know He loved both Democrats and Republicans and I should do the same. He told me that I could be delivered of my attitudes toward Democrats if I quit listening to news programs and conservative talk radio – AND – quit voting in elections.

It took six months, but the Lord’s proposals changed my life. I no longer looked at a person through a political mindset. I saw each person as a valued being, created in God’s image, one who Jesus died for on the cross and one who He loved with all of His heart.

Take a deep breath, okay?

I am not you. The Lord knows my heart and how to set me free of my attitudes. If you have a bad attitude toward Democrats or Republicans, seek the Lord on how to love them as He does.

Just so you know: I don’t listen to the news, but I do read some news articles and check out headlines on news sites on the internet. Thus, I do keep abreast of what is happening in America and the world.

And He said to them, Be careful what you are hearing. The measure [of thought and study] you give [to the truth you hear] will be the measure [of virtue and knowledge] that comes back to you—and more [besides] will be given to you who hear. (Mark 4:24 AMP)

As I wrote earlier, love for my black brothers and sisters became collateral damage with my change in political thinking. My spiritual ears no longer heard their cries for freedom nor did I feel their pain anymore. This love did not return when the Lord delivered me of my attitudes toward Democrats, but instead my attitude was that my black brothers and sisters needed to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” and join the twenty-first century here in America.

Sadly, I forgot how I wasn’t able to set myself free from most of my problems without the help of other believers.

Bear one another’s burden, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)

Thus, I ask forgiveness from my black brothers and sisters for my sin of being lukewarm in loving them.

(Excerpt from my upcoming book entitled A Black River by Larry Nevenhoven)

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Over 60? Is it too Late to Build a Prayer Life? (Part 4)

praying

Along with our friends, Tony and Janelle, Carol and I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, in late 1997 to join The Watch of the Lord prayer ministry and to attend All Nations Church. Mahesh and Bonnie Chavda headed both ministries.

Each of us felt the Lord directed us to move there. Our billfolds lacked money and credit cards, but faith filled our hearts, believing God would somehow supply our needs.

We pooled out money together and rented a room with two double beds at the Charlotte Residence Inn. The room contained less than two hundred square-feet of floor space with a kitchenette, two beds, four chairs, table, and a bathroom.

A mortgage financing company hired the four of us as telephone sales reps on our second day in Charlotte. The company paid its employees on a biweekly basis, which meant our first paychecks arrived two weeks later. This posed a problem because we only had enough money for one week of rent at the motel.

Each morning the four of us gathered together and prayed for our finances, as in, “Oh Lord, help! HELP!”

We introduced ourselves to the church and ministry as soon as it was possible. The members said we were the answers to many prophecies spoken to the group about people moving from different parts of America to be a part of the ministry. Their words encouraged us, but our money still dwindled daily because of food and gas.

A couple from All Nations Church invited us to their home for a small group meeting and Christmas party on the last night of our motel rental. The four of us agreed not to mention our dire financial needs to the group, but instead, we were determined to trust the Father, according to Matthew 6:6 −

But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

The married couple lived in a beautiful new two-story home located in a picturesque area with tall pine trees. It had a large living room, three bedrooms, fireplace, two bathrooms, and large kitchen. A perfect place for four needy, soon to be homeless, believers like us.

The meeting began with Christmas songs and prayers, with the group then waiting on the Lord to hear His voice. The group leader broke the silence by turning to Tony and Janelle.

“Do you guys need something?” he asked, looking at them.

Tony and Janelle shook their heads.

“Not really. The Lord is taking care of us,” said Tony.

The group returned to waiting on the Lord, but the leader was not satisfied and again turned to Tony and Janelle.

“I just don’t feel good about your answers. What do you need?”

Tony and Janelle answered again in the same manner.

“The Lord is taking care of our needs. Thanks for asking.”

The leader would not quit. He continued to ask them what they needed.

“Okay, here’s the story,” Janelle finally said, “we’re out of money for rent and groceries starting tomorrow morning. We don’t know where we shall go or how we’ll survive until we get paid next week.”

How do you think these joyous, Christmas celebrating Christians replied to her statement? And remember: it was December and cold outside.

The group’s leader digested Janelle’s statement for a moment. He motioned with his hands.

“Let’s gather around these two couples and pray for them.”

Tony, Janelle, Carol, and I stood in the middle of the living room while ten Christians placed their hands on our shoulders and prayed. They cried out to the Lord with passion for our circumstances.

I cheated a little by keeping my eyes open and watching the group. Oh Lord, I thought, this looks like the sum total of their aid for our needs. If so, I feel like puking all over their carpet for their level of Christianity.

The rhythm of their prayers reached a crescendo and backed off, waiting for someone to speak.

“I see the Lord raining drops of gold on the four of you,” prophesied a woman. “And all you have to do is reach up by faith and grab what you need. Just reach up right now.”

The prayers ended and we sat down again.

What a convenient prophecy, I thought. They actually believe they don’t have to help us in our time of need because of the woman’s prophetic words. Shouldn’t someone ask how much gold we were able to cram into our pockets during the prayers? Why did the Holy Spirit unmask our financial needs? To reveal our lack of faith or to reveal the group’s hypocrisy?

Various types of Christmas cookies, fudge candy, sandwiches, chips, and potato salad kept the four of us busy after the prayers. We stuffed ourselves and then graciously said our goodbyes and left.

The four of us did our best to pray blessings on the group and forgive them for their lack of hospitality on our drive back to the motel.

We checked out of the motel the next morning, packed our cars, and went to work. After our phone sales shift, we drove to a large shopping mall and stayed there until it closed at 9 p.m. We then drove both cars behind a large motel and slept in our cars.

How we handled the cold December temperatures was out of necessity rather than comfort. We only started our engines when the cold became unbearable. As soon as they warmed up, we turned the engines off to conserve fuel.

This routine continued for days.

I now wonder about the what if’s, such as, what if we had been four fluffy Golden Retriever puppies abandoned by a cruel master on the couple’s front steps. Would the small group have ignored our pleading eyes and whimpering yelps, allowing us to freeze to death outside in the cold weather? I don’t think so because that’s too inhumane, right?

But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth (1 John 3:17-18).

If we want to build our prayer lives, we have to prepare ourselves for the possibility that we might end up being the answer to someone else’s prayers. If we don’t want to do that, why even pray, right?

(Continued in Part 5)

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35 Years Ago Today, A Baseball Game Was Rained Out and I Met Jesus

baseball_rain

 

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 Sheridan 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.

Oh yeah! The baseball game, right?

On May 20, 1985, the Cleveland Indians versus the Milwaukee Brews baseball game at Cleveland Stadium, became the first rain-out of the 1985 Major League season.

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Filed under America, Baseball, Christianity, Church, Salvation, Testimony