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Geezer Up (Part 9)

Jane

Jacob Cohen (J.C.) Bates and his wife, Shira, waited for me in their BMW outside San Francisco International Airport in the passenger arrival zone. I noticed J.C. packed on twenty extra pounds to his five-foot seven-inch frame, but it did not detract from his rugged good looks. Shira stood a couple of inches taller than him, but the difference seemed even greater because of her model-like figure. Both were Messianic believers and servants of Yeshua the Messiah.

“Shalom, Jane,” said J.C., jumping out of the car and greeting me with a hug and a kiss. “Here, let me put your suitcase in the trunk.”

“Thanks and shalom to you, J.C.,” I said, handing him my black suitcase.

“Even though this may not be the best of times for you,” said Shira, standing outside the BMW’s passenger door, and also hugging and kissing me, “I was so excited to see you again that I went out and spent J.C.’s money on this new black sweater. But as usual, you win the fashion prize with your blond hair, Levi jacket, and khaki slacks. You look fabulous.”

Her gracious words should have reddened my face, but instead, I broke down and wept. Shira hugged me even tighter.

“God will turn your mourning into dancing,” she whispered.

“I sure hope so.”

“Let’s keep moving,” shouted a TSA agent, walking toward J.C.’s car. He pointed at us with a black baton to emphasize his point.

We obeyed and took off for their home.

 

If you have ever wondered what type of home three million dollars would purchase in San Francisco, J.C. and Shira’s condo on the fourth floor of a prestigious address in Nob Hill would be the answer. Twenty-three hundred square feet, three bedrooms, two baths, hardwood floors, gourmet kitchen, dining room, large family room, and captivating views of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge through floor to ceiling windows. The furniture and decorations looked like they had been selected by a top Bay area interior decorator.

Shira served a tossed salad with grilled chicken for dinner, but I only moved the food around on my plate without eating much. As soon as possible, I excused myself and headed for the guest bedroom. There I unpacked, hung up my clothes in the closet, and sat down on the bed without changing out of my traveling clothes. Somehow, I closed my eyes and dozed off.

Then, I had a terrifying vision.

In it, I stood before the Judgment Seat of Christ. I wasn’t alone because hundreds of other believers stood there in numerous rows, waiting for the Judge − Jesus − to appear in front of us. I watched Him off to my left walking down my row with a torch in His right hand. He stopped in front of each believer, looked down, and lit piles of what looked like grass and sticks at the feet of each person with His torch. The piles burst into flames. Then, the piles quickly burnt out to reveal gold, silver, precious stones, or nothing but scorch marks on the ground. Those who had precious metals and stones bowed down and worshipped the Lord. Those who had scorch marks wailed and screamed like they were in hell, even though they were in heaven.

I looked down at my feet and saw a puny pile. I knew this small heap represented all of my works done on earth for the Lord. Not much for a whole lifetime, I thought. A holy fear enveloped me.

I turned and looked at the person next to me and realized it was a successful Christian businessman, whom I greatly admired. He was an elder at Jedidiah Smith Community Church, Sunday School teacher, weekend street evangelist, and well-known benefactor. The newspapers were always reporting on his philanthropy and works.

I watched Judge Jesus bend over and light the businessman’s pile with His torch. The pile quickly burnt out to reveal nothing but scorch marks on the ground. The businessman fell to the ground and wailed at the top of his lungs. His screams echoed through my mind.

Oh no, I thought. If this businessman’s life did not please the Lord, how will mine be any better?

The Lord stood in front of me.

I looked into His eyes and knew His love was not on trial, but mine was at that moment. He bent over, ready to touch my puny pile with His torch.

“Lord, give me a second chance,” I pleaded.

He looked at me without straightening up. His torch remained close to my pile. “And what would you do differently?”

“I will serve you night and day without complaining. If need be, I will crawl across San Francisco on streets filled with broken glass to be Your ambassador. I will gladly carry cups of cold water to people and minister to them as Your servant.”

He straightened up and looked me squarely in the eyes. His love melted every hindrance in my heart. “Remember to do your works to please Me, not to please others like the businessman did during his life. He received his reward on earth. Go and be My servant.”

I woke up and immediately slipped off the bed onto my knees. I worshipped the Judge, King, and Lover of my soul − my Lord Jesus.

(Continued in Part 10…if you’re interested, the full series to date may be seen here.) 

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Geezer Up (Part 7)

Jane

“Hi Jane, I’ve been expecting your call,” said J. C. as he answered my phone call.

“Hi, I figured you would.”

“You probably want to know what happened?”

“Right! Dylan said that it was no big deal, but he’s the master of understatement. So, fill in the gaps between hate crime, no big deal, and a broken nose.

J. C. laughed.

“Well, as you know Dylan spoke and gave his testimony at our businessmen’s noontime luncheon down in China town. There were about thirty men there. All enjoyed his words and I’d say it was a great success.

J. C. was the owner of Bates Properties, a commercial real estate firm in San Francisco. His success caused him to seek ways on how he could give back to the city he loved. He ended up being involved in Business Men’s Fellowship and became the chapter president.

“After the luncheon, I was driving him to Mission Terrace to spend some time together before I dropped him off at the airport. We were heading down Market Street, past the Castro District, when we saw a Pride parade. He asked to stop and watch. I pulled over and walked across the street with him.”

“So far,” I said, “everything seems okay.”

“Yeah, nothing happened until Dylan stepped off the curb and began preaching in a loud voice, ‘Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'”

J. C. paused for a moment.

“Then everything happened at once. A couple of guys pushed and shoved him. Another hit him in the face, knocking his glasses off. He fell to the ground and quite a few kicked him. Two police officers came over and inquired what was happening. A man said that Dylan was preaching hate. One officer asked Dylan what he was doing and he replied he was preaching the Gospel of the kingdom of God. They cuffed him and threw into a police cruiser and took him off to jail.”

“That’s all my sweet hubby did.”

“Yep and he even forgave the crowd before he was ushered away.”

We talked a few minutes more. J. C. offered to pick me up at the airport and wanted me stay in his home with his wife and him.

I agreed to his offers, but I still had an unanswered question gnawing at me.

(Continued in Part 8…if you’re interested, the full series to date may be seen here.) 

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Geezer Up (Part 6)

Jane

My wife, Jane, can best explain what was going through her mind from the time of my phone call until the arraignment:

The first thought to cross my mind when Dylan phoned was to give him a big piece of my mind. We had planned our forty-sixth anniversary trip to Tahoe for months and even paid a nonrefundable deposit on a five-bedroom home on the beach. Our three children, their mates, and our eight grandchildren were going to be there, too. All of us in one home on the lake for seven days. It was a dream vacation and how many more of these could we expect to have in the years ahead? I could have chewed nails when I hung up, especially after him saying that it was no big deal!

I slammed the phone down and screamed.

That’s when the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart, “Quit acting like a baby. Call the lawyer. Get on a plane and fly to San Francisco. Dylan needs you.”

I fell to my knees and wept.

“Forgive me, Lord.”

But without missing a beat, I jumped up, phoned Jacob, our lawyer, and made standby reservations for a flight on Virgin Airlines out of San Diego International Airport to San Francisco. My flight’s departure was scheduled for 5:15 a.m., which gave me just enough time to pack and make the sixty-mile drive from Temecula to the airport.

Bluetooth allowed me to make four important phone calls on my trip. The first three were to our children, telling them about Dylan’s situation. The words “hate crime” never ricocheted off my tongue, but instead I termed it a slight misunderstanding, one that a lawyer could easily handle. We would see them on Saturday and have a big laugh over Dylan’s latest faith escapade. The three had questions, but I pooh-poohed their fears with a couple of quick Bible verses.

When I finished calling the three, I looked down at the speedometer. Ninety miles per hour! Jane Matthews: beloved wife, caring mother, doting grandmother, and committed believer of Jesus was acting like Mario Andretti at the Indianapolis Five Hundred, passing everyone in sight. I tapped on the brakes and slowed down to seventy-five miles per hour. A police car with a radar gun sat at the next exit.

“Thank you Jesus,” I muttered.

Then, I phoned J.C. Bates. Someone needed to fill me in on the details about Dylan’s arrest and J. C. was the man who could do just that.

(Continued in Part 6…if you’re interested, the full series to date may be seen here.) 

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Geezer Up (Part 5)

Dylan

The heavy-set bailiff with a booming voice announced, “The People of San Francisco against Dylan Matthews.”

Almost with a snap of a finger, I stood to the right of Artie Chin while a junior prosecutor stood on the other side of Chin. Judge Ester Strong sat directly in front of us. The sixty or so year-old judge looked down at the file in front of her and then over at me. A slight smile crossed her lips for a nano-second before she resumed her judicial posture.

Back and forth legalese-filled salvos from the prosecutor and my lawyer ended up with Chin saying, “My client enters a not-guilty plea.”

“I’m inclined to allow Mr. Matthews to be released on his own recognizance, without bail, but I do want to ask him a couple of questions,” said Judge Strong, leaning forward and staring into my eyes. “What will you do if I set you free this morning? Will you go back to Temecula and return for your preliminary hearing in two weeks?”

Three possible answers crossed my mind at that moment: forty-sixth anniversary trip to Tahoe, playing with grandchildren, or enjoying a few rounds of golf with my buddies. All would have pleased the judge so I could have walked out the door into the sunlight once again, but they all evaporated into nothingness. What came out of my mouth caused a reaction much like dropping a live grenade into the courtroom.

“I will walk out the door and go directly to the Castro District and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to that community. They deserve to be set free from the kingdom of darkness by the love of Jesus.”

Judge Strong stood up and pointed a finger at me. Her judicial mask slipped off her face, revealing her inner feelings.

“Mr. Matthews, you have no right to impose your self-righteous religious beliefs on our gay and lesbian communities. I will make sure your bigoted beliefs cost you dearly by setting your bail at one hundred thousand dollars and remanding you to our county jail. What do you think of that, Mr. Matthews?” she proclaimed loud enough for everyone in the building to hear her.

I shrugged.

“I shall not pay one dime nor allow anyone to raise money to set me free nor will I eat another bite of food until I am set free from this jail. Whether I walk out the door or am carried out in a casket is up to the Lord, I shall trust Him to set me free,” I replied.

“Well, we’ll see about your so-called God and how your arrogance holds up two weeks from now at your preliminary hearing. Next case.”

My lawyer escorted me back to the small holding pen.

“Maybe you would have answered differently if I would have warned you ahead of time that Judge Strong is a lesbian and staunch leader in the LGBT movement,” he whispered.

I laughed.

“Probably not.”

Then, a voice cut my heart.

“Dylan, Dylan, I love you…”

I turned to see Jane waving at me. She looked great in her yellow dress, one of my favorites, but all I could do was nod my head and wonder about what she was thinking.

(Continued in Part 6…if you’re interested, the full series to date may be seen here.) 

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Geezer Up (Part 3)

Dylan

The afternoon turned into evening and the evening into night. The only change was the fourteen people that joined us in the holding cell. The newcomers forced me to make a decision between sitting with murderers or with vomiting drunks and strung-out druggies. I chose the five MS-13 homies and behaved myself.

Do you remember how bad school lunches tasted when you were in first grade? Dry bread, chalky-tasting peanut butter sandwiches, and soggy potato chips served with stewed prunes and a dollop of day-old whipped cream. All of it ladled out on a yellow compartment tray.

Well, let me tell you, my first bite into the peanut butter sandwich made me yearn for the good old days of first grade. I gagged and spit up a mouthful into a napkin.

“Hey, old white man, about three in the morning, you’ll be wishing you ate this garbage,” said the youth with the teardrops tattooed under his eyes.

I shook my head and offered my tray to him. He took it and consumed both his and mine. I admired how he and his friends adapted to their situations without so much as a single complaint. I supposed being in jail was just a normal part of their lives.

But the smell!

Nineteen guys in a ten by twenty room with vomit, diarrhea, normal toilet usage, and BO swirling around us without a fan to alleviate the stench. My poor stomach tried its best to unload itself, but somehow everything remained below deck. Steady as she goes, I thought to myself in a moment of humor, which quickly passed

And sleeping!

If I leaned back, my back hurt because of the iron bars, but leaning forward moved my nose closer to the vomit and diarrhea on the floor. I compromised by slouching down like an old sweater midway between both positions. I dozed a little here and there throughout the night, but around 3 a.m., I had a vision.

In it, I was seated high above the city of San Francisco, maybe in the heavenly places looking down on the city. I heard the Holy Spirit speak to my heart, “I am going to use your time in jail as an opportunity to take on the spirit of depravity, which is the main principality governing San Francisco. Be bold and allow me to speak through you. I will give you more than enough grace for this experience.”

I then fell into a deep sleep, comforted by the gift of faith which enveloped me like a warm quilt.

(Continued in Part 4…if you’re interested, the full series to date may be seen here.) 

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The Rumors of Larry’s Death Were Not Greatly Exaggerated (Part 13)

(Click on photo to enlarge)

(Click on photo to enlarge)

A Catholic friend of mine hungered for the baptism of the Holy Spirit for many months. Her trips to large Charismatic Renewal conferences in Des Moines and Kansas City resulted in nothing happening for her.

So, she came up with a Plan B. When her husband left for work and her children attended school, she would go into the living room, place candles on the floor, light them, and bow down in the middle of the lit candles. There she cried out to God for the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Plan B failed, too.

On a July 4th holiday weekend, she invited another family to their home for a picnic. What says Independence Day more than hot dogs, potato salad, and a picnic, right? While she stirred a large batch of potato salad, she looked out the window at her friends and husband, and at that precise moment, she was baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues.

Now, think about this for a few seconds. What was God thinking when He baptized her in the Holy Spirit at that awkward moment? Couldn’t He have performed it at a more opportune time?

REMEMBER: God is Boss and He chooses the breakthrough times in our lives. We don’t!

A little over four weeks ago, I turned on the water, stepped into the shower, and the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart: “Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship.”

I was absolutely shocked because I had not thought about that particular men’s fellowship in over twenty-five years. The FGBF had been an important part of my life in my early Christian years, but I had drifted away when I moved to Ames, Iowa.

As soon as I dried myself and slipped on some clothes, I rushed downstairs to check on the computer for the nearest FGBF chapter. None were nearby or within fifty miles. Yet, in my Google searches, I ran across another businessmen’s group: Business Men’s Fellowship. There was a local phone number for BMF and I called it.

My phone call resulted in a meeting at Starbucks with Bill Keith, who had moved to Temecula a few months before and happens to be a great guy and the national president for Business Men’s Fellowship. What a remarkable coincidence, right?

We talked for a few minutes and then I looked at him and said, “I’ve been waiting for twenty-two years for you. Where have you been?”

(Continued in Part 14…if you’re interested, the full series to date can be seen here.)

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The Rumors of Larry’s Death Were Not Greatly Exaggerated (Part 12)

(Click on photo to enlarge)

(Click on photo to enlarge)

 

It was only a dream, but it seemed so real.

I stood on a starting line for a race. A man dressed in a long white robe stood off to my left, wearing leather sandals on his feet. His dark beard and long hair framed his bronze face. He held a starter’s gun in his hand and nodded at me.

“Are you ready?” he asked.

I pulled up my red track shorts, yanked my white athletic t-shirt outside my shorts for more freedom of movement, and checked to see if my shoestrings were tied tightly on my Nike running shoes. Everything seemed ready. I nodded back at him.

“Now remember,” he said, “you need to go as fast as you can. This is a timed race. You only have a limited amount of time to finish it, okay?

I looked over the racecourse. In the distance, I saw the finish line with healing, deliverance, prosperity, miracles, wonders, peace, and joy awaiting me on the other side. Between the starting and finishing lines stretched an obstacle course. Posts sticking out of the ground. Fences. Brick walls. Quicksand pits. Mud bogs. Trees. Rivers. Water falls. Railroad tracks. Highways. Tunnels. Dangerous cliffs. A narrow path zigzagged its way through the course like a switchback jungle road. It looks easy enough, I thought, just stay on the path and run as fast as I can.

I nodded again to him.

“Get ready.”

I got down on my haunches.

“Get set.”

I rose into a sprinter’s position. My feet and legs strained, set to slingshot my body forward.

“But first, you’ll need this,” he said before firing the gun.

He walked over and covered my eyes with a black blindfold. Not one ray of light touched my eyes. I could not see a thing, not even my feet.

“Now, don’t forget, you must go as fast as you can.”

I heard a faint whispering behind me, a soft voice saying something. I paid no attention to it.

BANG!

I took off like an Olympic sprinter, running as fast as I could.

BAM!

I hit a post and fell to the ground. My nose felt like it was broken with blood gushing from it. The warm wetness soaked through my t-shirt. It hurt so much I wanted to just lie there and quit.

The dark haired starter walked over and stood above me.

“Now, don’t forget this is a timed race. You need to run as fast as you can.”

I struggled to my feet. As I did, the same soft voice whispered words behind me. But again, I paid no attention and took off running.

YUCK!

I fell into a quicksand pit and found myself sinking under the heavy glop. The more I flailed my arms and legs, the faster I sank. The sandy goop soon reached my neck, not far from my nose.

“Help me, Lord,” I shouted.

My body relaxed and I floated over to the edge, crawling out of the pit. I flopped down there. It was all I could do to catch my breath from the all-out physical effort of trying to survive. I wanted to quit.

“Don’t forget. This is a timed race. You need to go as fast as you can,” the starter exclaimed.

Why I stood up, I don’t know. Maybe I was a glutton for punishment or possibly a modern day Don Quixote searching for futile endeavors to joust against. I brushed the sand off my legs and attempted to clean my shoes. I once more heard what sounded like soft whispers in the background, but like the earlier times, I ignored them.

My sense of direction was completely out of kilter. I could not figure up from down, let alone north, south, east, or west. However, I gave it the old college try and took off running.

SPLASH!

I feel into a deep river with fast-moving waters rushing over me. The hurtling rapids sent me flying downstream in a haphazard manner, smashing my body against rocks and floating logs. I attempted to swim toward shore, but the full force of the current battered my body, flinging me about like a rag doll in a typhoon.

“Lord, help me!” I screamed.

My hand reached out and grasped a tree limb. I pulled myself across the stream, hand over hand on the limb, and climbed onto the shore. This was the end. I couldn’t handle anymore.

I heard the soft voice whispering to me once again. This time I gave it my full attention and listened.

“Stand up,” said the gentle voice.

I obeyed it.

“Okay, now turn to your right ninety degrees.”

Again, I obeyed.

“Walk four steps ahead and stop.”

I walked ahead and waited for the next command.

“Turn forty-five degrees to your left.”

I turned.

“You went too far. Turn to your right five degrees.”

I adjusted myself in accordance with the instructions.

“Walk ten steps forward and wait.”

I stopped after walking ten steps.

“Won’t this take a long time to finish the obstacle course,” I said.

The gentle voice laughed.

“My system is the fastest way through the obstacle course. However, you can always choose to return to your running blindly method, but as you have learned, that can be extremely painful. What do you want to do?” the voice said.

“Lord, what’s Your next instruction?”

Then I awoke with a Bible verse on my mind:

“Your own ears will hear Him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left (Isaiah 30:21 NLT).

The dream made perfect sense to me: wait on Him and follow the voice of the Holy Spirit when He spoke to me. It seemed so easy at the time, but soon things became more complicated.

(Excerpt from The Hunt for Larry Who by Larry Nevenhoven, ©2014, Amazon eBook)

This dream certainly depicts my journey on building a publishing company.

(Continued in Part 13…if you’re interested, the full series to date can be seen here.)

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