Joseph Herrin (12-03-08)
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I have been blessed to receive testimonies from those who read this blog and can say with assurance that God is both faithful and loving. I would still encourage whose who have not taken the time to do so to take a little time out of your day and reflect on at least one particular instance where God has manifested Himself in your life, resulting in a knowledge of His presence and watchfulness over you.
The first two testimonies speak of God watching over His elect BEFORE ever coming to a knowledge of God. Yahweh is always the initiator of relationship with Him. It is the goodness of God that leads men to repentance.
"No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him...”
For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
The Scriptures testify that Christ died for us while we were yet His enemies. Such is the grace and mercy of God that He sends forth rain and sun upon the just and the unjust.
The second and third testimony also speak of Yahweh’s presence in our various times of need. We can call on Him at all times. He is ever watchful over us. He neither slumbers nor sleeps, neither is He disinterested in the events of His children’s lives. I encourage you to write down some testimony of the goodness of God and to send it in that it might be posted to encourage others and to lift up God on high for His great mercy and love.
A Brother Proclaims God’s Goodness
Thank you for your persistence! I wasn't going to take the time to respond, but to recount the faithfulness of Yahweh is a fruitful exercise for all His children to undergo. King David gives us an example of this in Psalm 77:11-14, which reads, "I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds. Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is so great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples."
As I began to recount the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living in my own life, the thing that stood out to me time and time again is the Lord's faithfulness to lead and shepherd His children. Yahshua himself states in John 10:14-15, "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me - just as the Father knows me and I know the Father - and I lay down my life for the sheep." As a good shepherd, the Lord's rod and staff have not only offered me discipline which is necessary for all His children, but His gentleness in directing my steps always astonishes me. While it is often difficult to see the Lord's invisible hand at work while still in the midst of a given situation or trial, it has always been easy for me to recognize His leading after the fact.
The Lord saved me dramatically about 10 years ago while I was still a junior in college. Looking back on that event, I can still recount how the good shepherd was orchestrating events in my life to bring me to Himself. I had no desire to know God and yet, as a good shepherd will often leave the 99 of the flock to find that 1 that is lost, the Lord came and found me. Leading up to my conversion, I recall how the Lord would send people across my path to tell me the Good News. I would immediately brush them off, but there was a tug on my heart that I could not ignore. When I still would not respond to His open invitation, Yahweh had to use more drastic measures so that I would come to the end of myself and eventually cry out to Him.
He caused the girl that I was seeing at the time to suddenly break up with me even though our relationship seemed to be going in the right direction (from a worldly point of view). This broke me and it was the push that I needed to seek the Lord. The scriptures say that a broken and contrite heart He will not despise. I immediately called a friend who I had met at college two years prior and I knew he was a believer and asked him if I could go to church with him. The very fact that the Lord established this friendship two years prior was used in the Lord's plan to ransom my life from sin and death. I went to the church service with my friend and I heard the gospel and was gloriously saved.
From that time forward, I can recount miracle after miracle of how the Lord has been my good shepherd. Many ways that I see the Lord leading in my life may not be considered miracles to some, or merely coincidences to others, but I believe the Lord's promises which say that the steps of the righteous are ordered by the Lord, and He who began a good work in you is faithful to complete it. Also, His promise from Romans 8:28, which states that Yahweh causes all things to work for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose (remembering that His good for us is our holiness and being conformed to the image of His Son)!
Here is a short list of how the Lord has led me and blessed my family over the past 10 years as He continues to refine me and conform me to the image of His Son. He has led me to sound preachers and teachers (ie. Leonard Ravenhill, Joseph Herrin and a multitude of others) to keep the fire burning in my heart and to teach me truth and free me from deceptions that are common in this hour. He has gotten me out of institutionalized religion and led me to fellowship with like-minded believers and moves me on to other groups when his purposes have been accomplished. He led me to downsize and got me out of debt (including my mortgage) by the age of 30. He continues to lead me to not store up treasures on earth (scrapping 401k and retirement) and giving my possessions to the poor. He leads me to the places where we are supposed to live and to the jobs that he would have me do for certain seasons.
There is no greater peace and rest than knowing Yahweh-Raah (the Lord my Shepherd). I sometimes wrestle with whether I am where I'm supposed to be and in the Lord's will, but then I remember that God is big enough to put me exactly where He wants me. Romans 8:14 states, "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." To be led by the good Shepherd brings me great joy knowing that He considers me His son.
Thank you Joseph for your continual encouragement and for your teaching that edifies the body...until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Eph 4:13)
Grace and peace be yours in Yahshua,
A Second Witness of God’s Love
Dear Brother Herrin,
I continue to be blessed by the testimonies that show up here. What should be evident to all, is Gods faithfulness, even in the smallest things, like the lost cookies. We have so much to be thankful and offer praise for, and it is a great thing to be able to share these wonderful experiences. This is a good thing you have been lead to do, as we will all feel the need for Gods love in the coming days, and there are things we need to be reminded of to bolster the knowledge of the extent of His love for us.
In fact, I was reminded of an incident as I read your introduction to this blog. In it you stated that you have heard many stories of Gods love from before we had relationship with Him, and that we should think about those. I would take you back to 1968, to a place in Southeast Asia, called Hill 10, a small firebase near the border of Cambodia.. This was nothing more than a small hill in the middle of a large plain. Its borders were lines of razor wire strung with empty C ration cans, interrupted only by the odd post used to keep it in place. As a boy of 18, I was ignorant of the potential danger, but soon came to understand fully by my third day there. I will spare you the details, as I am still not comfortable with my contribution there, but suffice it to say that all the suffering of the years that followed (and they are many) pale by comparison.
What strikes me about this, is the realization that I spent close to two years in those conditions, with more close calls than I care to remember, and yet, returned home with no serious physical injuries to speak of, and this by a set of miraculous circumstances each time. At the time this was going on, I was not in any real relationship with Jesus, but was experiencing something, which I would describe as the nudging of the Holy Spirit. In hindsight, which we all know is an exact science, I can see the Hand of god upon me even then, well before I even considered a relationship with Him. So I say to you that it is a good thing that you mentioned this, and we would all do well to think on how the Father chooses us well before we choose Him, even if we are too blind to see. While remembering these incidents affords me no comfort, the Love of the Father does. Thank you.
A Very Present Help in a Time of Need
Testing in the Wilderness
(2) "You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.
(3) "He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.
The gas story reminded me of an experience my wife had when the Lord had just begun to teach her to trust Him. She normally was anxious to fill the tank anytime she had less than half a tank, but since money was tight she had let it drop down close to empty. She had even passed up several opportunities to refuel after the yellow warning light had come on.
The next day she left a doctor's office (located right next to a gas station) and headed down a back road intending to refuel at Costco where the gas was a few pennies cheaper. As she drove down this back road the engine suddenly surged as it does when it runs dry. She had run out of gas a couple times before in a previous model and she knew from experience that once it surged that was it. It was empty.
But, as it surged she began to pray that the Lord would get her to Costco, as now Costco was the closest station but was still about five miles away. Praying continually, she actually drove right past my office and even had to stop at a red light out front. (Those of you who have run on empty probably know how you also pray for green lights.) Anyway, just as she finally turned into Costco the engine quit and she coasted up ten feet from the pump. She got out and asked a man if he would push her to the pump. He laughed and said, "Cut it kind of close, didn't you."
Those of you who have walked through testing will probably recognize our Father's ways in some of the details above. My wife at this time was very fearful for provision, since we were being greatly tested, and she was filled with doubts so she was always asking the Lord for confirmations. She saw His hand in this one, and it was much needed.
Some years back, when I was relatively new in being trained in obedience and was being sorely tested in my business, I received a call from a customer. In previous calls, he had revealed himself to be a Christian and we had talked about the Lord. A couple weeks later he had called to tell that he was trying to purchase a different house which he planned to tear down and rebuild and that he had submitted an offer which basically was encouraging the seller to commit tax fraud. He was offering a lower price on the house, but combining it with a grossly inflated price for the furnishings with the intent of disguising the sellers capital gains. As he casually told me this, it was like being punched in the gut.
So I was not completely surprised when he called to state that he wanted to cancel our contract for architectural plans because he had come in contact with my draftsman and intended to use him instead. I had told the Lord my business was in His hands so without hesitation I released the man from his contract. Nevertheless, once again I felt like I had been punched because the contract was for $25,000 and the company needed that money.
Just as I hung up and was still grieving, one of my staff came in to remind me that the postage machine was still jammed and she needed it. She was checking with me, because it seemed that many times machines would begin to work when I laid hands on them, so they always came to me before calling a repair man. Especially for this machine, because it cost a minimum of $250 just for a service call.
I tried the things I normally did to unjamb it to no avail, then removed the cover and tried with all my might to turn the heavy cast iron flywheel, but it was frozen tight. It would not budge. Just then Katie came in to see how it was going. I really felt beat down. Here I had just lost $25,000 and now I was going to have to spend another $250. As I told her to go ahead and call the repair man because the machine was frozen, I gestured by gently putting my hand on the flywheel and as I did the wheel turned easily and the machine clicked. It was fixed.
I just stood there with my mouth open marveling at the Lord as I just knew He was giving me encouragement. And it worked. The amazing thing was I no longer cared about losing the $25,000. It didn't matter. The Lord was present and I just knew that if He was present in the small things He would not forsake me in the big things.
Big things were soon to come. I had come to see that my business had been an idol to me and I had placed it on the altar. I told the Lord that I was weary of striving and that if He wanted me out of the business to just kill it. But, deep down I was hoping that, like Isaac, the Lord would give it back to me. However, He did not. Instead, He closed it for me in a miraculous and merciful way, in which every obligation was met and the employees were taken care of. Meanwhile, He had brought me home first to spend a year mostly in quiet time seeking Him, then a year of severe testing as I was called to become the caregiver for my father-in-law who was an Alzheimer's patient in diapers. This was an extremely difficult time, but priceless in what I learned of myself and the heart of God.
All this leads to the testimony I wish to share. My greatest answer to the greatest prayer I could ever pray. On Christmas eve, 2002, I got a call from one of my parent's neighbors in Florida. My mother, who was my dad's caregiver, had just had emergency surgery and was diagnosed with inoperable esophageal cancer. They had put in a feeding tube because the tumor had completely closed her esophagus so that nothing could pass through it. I flew from California the next day.
When I met with the doctors they said that my mother had six months to live and they recommended chemotherapy and radiation. My mother would not consider chemo having seen my father's experience with that, so I was trying to get a straight answer from the doctor as to the realistic prospects for radiation. Could it shrink the tumor so as to open the esophagus? Probably not. Then, what is the purpose? His answer -- "It may give her more time." Upon hearing this, my mother matter of factly asked, "What makes you think I want any more time?"
So it was settled. Mom would be on Hospice and I would remain in Florida as the caregiver for both of my parents. This put the burden of my father-in-law on my wife, but that is another story for another time.
I should explain that both my parents were devout Baptists for which the things of the world never had any attraction. My mother had only attended two churches (Baptist) in 88 years, and although she had read the bible thoroughly and continually for those years, she understood nothing more than the basic, generic Baptist salvation message. Meanwhile, I (the one who had been unfaithful and gone my own way for 30 years) had been awakened and had many mysteries of the Kingdom of God revealed to me and I was concerned for my mother. Not that she was not born again - there was no doubt of that - but was she ready to attain to the first resurrection.
One night I prayed with a great burden and many tears. "Lord, my mother is not asking for healing. She believes she is ready. But, if there is any hindrance that would prevent her from experiencing anything but joy when she sees You for the first time, I just ask that You will deal with it in this life."
The first thing that happened was nothing. Yeah, nothing. My mother was given six months, but despite rejecting treatment she had no change in symptoms. She was not bedridden. Soon she began doing all the things she loved to do. Baked cookies for my dad and the Hospice delivery man. Raked leaves in the yard. But, I also saw something of some testing. It looked to me like she was experiencing Romans 7. If you have experienced Romans 7 yourself you will understand. Until you do, you won't, but living Romans 7 is a humbling thing to a Baptist of 88 years.
Finally, after over a year and a half, my dad died. Mom was there and provided him with love and comfort in his final days that I never could have. She knew it too. She had wondered why the Lord had kept her alive so long, and figured now that it was to be there for Dad, but now her work was done and she wondered what next.
Soon after Dad died in July, 2004, Florida was hit by three successive hurricanes. The first one was headed directly toward Pinellas County. People were boarding up and evacuating. We did nothing. About four hours before the storm was to hit it suddenly took a ninety degree right turn into Ft. Myers Bay. We got no wind and barely a drop of rain.
Mom was doing well physically and emotionally and wanted me to go back to California for a visit, but the hurricanes kept coming one after another. Finally, the weather looked clear and I went home for Thanksgving. A few days after Thanksgiving the Florida neighbor called. "Your mother is in bed. You'd better get down here." I told her I already had a ticket for the following week. She said, no, that I had better get down there as soon as possible. Amazingly, I was able to get a highly discounted fare for a flight leaving at 6:30 the next morning.
I arrived at the house at 7:30 PM. Mom was conscious, but very, very weak. She had been sleeping all day. She recognized me and told me to remember to plug in the freezer in the garage because she had defrosted it and the neighbor needed to put their fish in it. Then, she went to sleep again. She, who the doctors had given six months to live, had not only been spared the torture of chemo and radiation, but had had no change in symptoms for over 22 months
I sent the neighbor home as she had stayed up with Mom the night before and so I laid down on the other bed in her room. I got no sleep since she was coughing and I had to clear her throat every half hour. As morning came I was thinking I was going to have to call Hospice and ask for 24 hr nursing care, because I was going to be useless without sleep and I had been awake for over 24 hours.
But, before I called, I decided to pray. I didn't know what I was going to pray, but I needed to pray. Mom was still asleep and her right hand was sticking out from under the covers of her hospital bed. Her fingers were curled and I just cupped both hands and cradled hers.
I prayed, "Father, You know how long my dad struggled. It was hard to watch, but he was my dad. But, Father, I cannot bear to watch my mother struggle like that. So I am asking if it's time, and if she is ready to receive a rich welcome into the Kingdom of God, I just ask that You take her now."
I opened my eyes and she breathed her last. I kept waiting for her to breathe again, like my dad did so many times, but then I knew she had departed. As soon as I prayed He answered. I started to weep and then I remembered my earlier prayer and the following scripture.
II Peter 1: 1-11
1 Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours: 2 Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. 10 Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
And my grief turned to joy.
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