Tag Archives: Faith

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.)

Leave a comment

Filed under America, Christianity, Faith, New Christians, Writing

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.)

Leave a comment

Filed under America, Christianity, Faith, New Christians, Writing

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.)

Leave a comment

Filed under America, Christianity, Faith, New Christians, Writing

First the Ear (Chapter 26)

First the Blade 

© 2019 by Larry Nevenhoven

Chapter 26

Building Mustard-Seed Faith (k)

Like most believers, I was a sponge when I was first saved in 1985. This openness to spiritual teachings had its good points, but also had a few bad ones. One of the bad experiences happened at a Full Gospel Businessmen meeting.

I attended that particular Saturday night meeting to hear a man give his testimony. The man and his message are long since forgotten, but I still remember what happened afterward when I hung around, visiting with believers.

As I talked with friends, a man approached and joined our conversation. The group of friends then broke up and left, but the man continued talking with me. We talked about various things and then he asked a question.

“Larry, where do you go to church?” he said.

“Corpus Christi Catholic Church,” I replied.

He shook his head. “Too bad!” he said. “I used to attend an Assembly of God church, but now, I go to a Word church. This is where God is now moving in America.”

The man really thought he was helping me, but instead, his words were judgmental seeds, which planted themselves in my heart. The seeds were later watered and eventually grew into a deep-rooted belief that believers must attend specific churches or they were out of the will of God.

I eventually departed the Catholic Church and attended a small non-denominational church. It was at this church where I began speaking more and more prophetic words.

The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart. (Luke 6: 45)

Although we believers would all like to be perfect vessels so the Lord can speak whatever He wants to say through us, I haven’t met a perfect vessel in my thirty-four years of seeking Him. The stream of Christianity we associate with, the teachings we listen to, and any judgmental attitudes, which may be rooted in our hearts, often help to shape our prophetic words.

The importance of prophesying is not lessened because of our imperfections. We must give grace to people when they speak prophetic words and then graciously judge the prophetic words in love. Don’t kill the messengers, okay?

At the same time, each of us needs to continually ask the Lord to set us free from whatever hindrances we may have in our hearts. And guess what? We all have them.

 

Over a period of weeks in the early 1990’s, I had a dream and a deep impression about moving to a small town of 6000 people, forty miles north of where I lived in Iowa. The dream even included a certain house on a specific street, which I needed to visit.

I finally loaded up my rust-bucket of a pickup truck with my belongings and headed out.

My only problem was I only had just a few coins in my pocket and no bills in my wallet. There was barely enough fuel in the gas tank to drive forty miles.

When I arrived in the city, I quickly found a small park and spent time in prayer. I drove to the house, which I saw in my dream. The people living there welcomed me and I prayed for them. They even invited me to attend their home fellowship that evening.

But something failed to materialize after the fellowship meeting?

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

2 Comments

Filed under America, Christianity, Faith, New Christians, Writing

First the Blade (Chapter 25)

First the Blade 

© 2019 by Larry Nevenhoven

Chapter 25

Building Mustard-Seed Faith (j)

Rick was not really a bad kid, but he always seemed to be in trouble. If teachers weren’t keeping him after school for his misbehavior in class, then the small town police chief was knocking on his mom’s door asking for him.

At age eighteen, he signed a counter check (a blank check provided by banks) in a local store for ten dollars.  The only problem was he did not even have a checking account. The police chief found him easy enough because instead of using a forged name, he wrote his full name on the signature line.

The court assigned him an attorney.

“Listen, Rick,” the attorney said, “I suggest you plead guilty and ask for mercy. I think the judge will put you under court supervised parole and consider your time already spent in jail as your sentence.”

Rick stood in front of the judge and followed the attorney’s advice.

The judge stared at him with cold eyes.

“Young man, I’m going to make an example out of you. I’m sentencing you to ten years in prison.”

Rick screamed at his lawyer. The lawyer shrugged his shoulders.

“Sorry, kid, I don’t win them all,” he said, walking away.

 

I met Rick when he was forty years old at a church meeting where I was preaching in the spring of 1993. He had served seventeen years in prison, mainly for drug related problems. Rick was a Christian, but trusted few people and even spent time in prayer before the meeting on that particular day.

“Lord, show me if this preacher is the real deal or not. I don’t want to be misled anymore by prophetic charlatans,” Rick asked the Lord.

When I finished my message, I prayed for a few people. Then I walked over to Rick and prophesied to him. I gave him special words of knowledge about his past that only the Holy Spirit could possibly know about him. I prayed for his prophetic calling to come forth in his life. (86) Rick broke down and cried.

Rick and I soon became good friends. He even worked for my painting company.

Another time, Rick was going through a big problem and asked for prayer from me. I waited on the Lord and had a vision about Rick. I saw him sitting on a cot in a prison cell. He was facing a solid brick wall, but directly behind him, the cell door was wide open. All he had to do was stand up, turn around, and walk out the door. He was a free man.

I told Rick about the vision and he rejoiced about it, but sadly, I never saw Rick walk out the cell door of his personal prison. His past always kept in chains.

Why?

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 Amplified Bible)

Rick had an older brother whom his mom adored, but for whatever reasons, she did not like Rick. She scolded and belittled him. “You are never going to amount to anything. You are no good,” she would tell him over and over again.

If he made a mistake, she brutally spanked him. When he cried, she continued spanking him until he quit crying. And always, always after the spanking, she would let him know he deserved the spanking because he was no good and would never amount to anything.

His mother never once visited him, phoned him, or sent a letter in his seventeen years of prison. He had become what she said he would be: “no good and of no value.”

Rick’s life was an extreme example of a person hearing words, which have destroyed his faith foundation. He could do nothing about his childhood or his mother and it will take a supernatural deliverance by the Lord to set him free. But what about you and me?

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (Romans 10: 17)

Everyday, we believers make decisions on what we will hear. Conversations. TV. Radio. Movies. Cell phones. iPods. MP3 Players. All of these voices enter our minds through our ears. Once there, these voices may sow seeds, which may spread their roots deep into the walls of our mind. These roots become tough to remove.

If you doubt the power of voices growing roots in our minds, do you know the names these slogans are referring to: “Just do it.” “Where’s the beef?” “We try harder.” “Tastes great, less filling.” “Melts in your mouth, not in your hands.” “Finger licking good.” “What happens here, stays here.” “Betcha can’t just eat one.“

Most of us know the names without thinking because these advertising slogans have grown deep roots into the walls of our minds.

So, the second biggest hindrance to faith is what we believers listen to.

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

 

2 Comments

Filed under America, Christianity, Faith, New Christians, Writing

First the Blade (Chapter 24)

First the Blade 

© 2019 by Larry Nevenhoven

Chapter 24

Building Mustard-Seed Faith (i)

In May 2004, we sold our Upland home and bought one in Irvine, California.

Just seven miles from the Pacific Ocean, Irvine (population: 217,000) is rated the fourth best city in America to live in. It has the lowest crime rate of any American city and the median income is the seventh highest in America. The weather is Mediterranean-like and wonderful. Irvine sounds like the perfect place to live, right? And it is.

Carol worked at a furniture store in Yorba Linda and I sold real estate for a new home developer. We felt blessed.

Then, Carol’s furniture store was sold to another corporation in July. Her income instantly dropped 60% with the uncertainties and changeovers of new management. At the same time, new home sales nosedived. This double setback to our incomes was disastrous. We quickly began sliding into a financial black hole.

We had no fallback position and decided to put our home up for sale in early September. The housing market had cooled off, which was unfortunate because we needed to sell the home for $50,000 more than we paid for it, just to break even.

Carol came down with Bell’s Palsy in late October. She was forced to go on Workman’s Compensation Insurance and stayed at home, recuperating from the illness. More bad financial news!

Our savings and checking accounts flat-lined in December. The phones rang from 8 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. with creditors wanting their money right away.

That’s the background for our financial nightmare. It sounds like hundreds of thousands of homeowners today. We were up to our eyeballs in debt and stress, with no hope in sight. Each day was divided into two sections: when the phone rang and when it did not.

Our days normally began with Carol coming downstairs to sit with me in the family room to drink coffee.

“Did God speak to you this morning?” she would ask first of all.

“No, but I have peace about our circumstances,” I said over and over again.

“Oh boy!” she said more than once while rolling her eyes.

The Lord spoke to my heart in early January: “You will leave Irvine with money in your pockets.”

From that moment forward, we had a promise from God to hang onto with our faith. No longer did we feel like the waves could just toss us whichever way the wind blew. We had hope.

Did the circumstances turn around and get better from that morning onward? Absolutely not.

In a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises, because of the word, immediately they fall away. (Mark 4: 16-17)

When you receive a prophetic promise from the Lord about your circumstances, it is time to batten down the hatches because you will soon be hit by monstrous storms. Your will have two choices: believe your circumstances or believe the promise from God.

Trust me on this: the testing of your faith about your promise will always come. (85) Always. Always. Always.

Soon after we received the promise from the Lord, our mortgage company began foreclosure proceedings against us. This is usually a greased downhill slope for couples with financial problems, but we weren’t just another couple. We had a promise from God.

If there is one thing Carol and I have learned how to do: it’s how to hold onto a promise from God and disregard whatever circumstances may be screaming in our faces.

This did not mean the circumstances weren’t real because they were. This did not mean we did not have to fight our thoughts because we had to. This did not mean our friends and family agreed with us because they probably did not.

What happened?

We sold the home one week before final foreclosure took place, at a price, which was $50,000 above the last comparative home’s price. The comparative home had been totally remodeled with new hardwood floors, new floor tile, and a new kitchen with granite counter tops. Because of financial lack, we could only afford to paint our home. It still had its old carpets and old counter tops.

“Impossible,” you say.

“Yes, I agree,” I say.

But then again, all things are possible with God, especially when we are holding onto His promises.

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

2 Comments

Filed under America, Christianity, Faith, New Christians, Writing

First the Blade (Chapter 23)

First the Blade 

© 2019 by Larry Nevenhoven

Chapter 23

Building Mustard-Seed Faith (h)

Let’s say a young preacher starts a new church in your city. People who visit the new church report the preacher is four feet six inches tall. Not only is he short, they say, but he also has a weak presence and is a lousy speaker.

With what you know about the American church system, what’s your guess on his odds of ever being successful? Somewhere between slim and none, right?

The historian Josephus and scriptures state the above facts are true for the Apostle Paul. Unlike humans, God chooses men as His kingdom ambassadors, not on their height or outward appearances, but on their hearts.

Let’s look at how this short, weak, poor communicator handled a hopeless circumstance:

When it was decided that we should sail for Italy…(Acts 27:1)

Jewish leaders brought charges against Paul, causing him to appeal his case to Caesar. That meant he had to sail from Caesarea, and cross the Mediterranean Sea to Rome, while being guarded by a Roman centurion.

Contrary winds bogged the voyage down and the ship put into port. Because of the lateness of the year (October), the Mediterranean Sea was usually considered unsafe for navigation until springtime (March). Paul admonished them:

“Men, I perceive that the voyage will certainly be with damage and great loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.” (Acts 27:10)

The pilot, captain, and centurion disregarded the short preacher’s advice and sailed for Rome. The ship soon sailed into a typhoon, forcing the crew to dump the cargo, tackle, and cut sails. Nothing helped.

… from then on all hope of our being saved was gradually abandoned. (Acts 27:20)

After days of not seeing the sun or stars, the one person who had not given up hope, stood up in their midst, and got everyone’s attention. “You should have followed my advice, but you didn’t and now there will be damage and loss.”

Can you imagine what the pilot, captain, centurion, and crew thought when Paul spoke his words? Probably, something like, “Yeah, I wish we would have listened, but it’s too late now. We’re doomed!”

Paul continued on with his remarkable statement:

Yet, now I urge you to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. (Acts 27: 22)

I guarantee Paul’s words captured everyone’s attention. It did not matter if the men were Baptists, Catholics, Muslims, Buddhists, or pagans because Paul spoke words of hope. Drowning men will always reach out for anything, which will keep them afloat. Paul’s words did exactly that.

What did Paul have, that the other two hundred and seventy-five men not have?

But on the night immediately following, the Lord stood at his side and said, “Take courage; for as you have solemnly witnessed to My cause at Jerusalem, so you must witness at Rome also.” (Acts 23: 11)

Paul had a promise from two and a half years earlier that the Lord was sending him to Rome. Yes, the circumstances were impossible and the waves were high, but Paul believed the Lord was not a liar and that He also foresaw the typhoon when He made the promise. Paul chose to ignore reason, logic, and circumstances, and believe the Lord’s promise.

What did the angel say to Paul during the typhoon?

“Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar, and behold God has granted you all those who are sailing with you.”(Acts 27:24)

While everyone looked at the storm, Paul reminded the Lord of His promise from two and a half years earlier. He prayed for the lives of the other men on the ship. The Greek word charizomai, which is translated into the English word granted denotes God had done a favor for Paul by allowing the men to live. This is called intercession.

Next, let’s talk about a modern promise which saved my day.

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

2 Comments

Filed under America, Christianity, Faith, New Christians, Writing