Saturday, August 27, 2011

Days of Grace

Joseph Herrin (08-27-2011)

Psalms 18:30-35
As for God, His way is blameless..., He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him. For who is God, but Yahweh? And who is a rock, except our God, the God who girds me with strength, and makes my way blameless? He makes my feet like hinds' feet, and sets me upon my high places. He trains my hands for battle, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, and Your right hand upholds me; and Your gentleness makes me great.

These past couple of weeks have been a manifestation of the amazing grace of Yahweh. They have been extremely busy and productive days, and the hand of Yahweh has been very evident. Although those things I would share here are focused upon events in my life, I believe there is encouragement and lessons in this account that will benefit a number of Christ’s sons and daughters.

Let me begin by sharing something regarding the graphic at the top of this post. I believe it was in 2003 that God deposited in my hands the little book titled Hinds’ Feet on High Places. I have shared in other posts how powerfully Yahweh used this book to encourage me in the very difficult path that I was being led to walk. It came to me at the perfect time. It was a timely word, full of grace and truth.

The main character in the book bears the name “Much Afraid.” Much Afraid loves the Shepherd, and serves Him after a manner down in the village of Much Trembling. Much Afraid is hindered from having a truly fruitful ministry by certain defects in her life. She is described as having a twisted mouth and crippled feet that make her walk very clumsy.

At the time God brought this book to me I was suffering from Bell’s Palsy. This condition is caused by temporary damage to the seventh cranial nerve and results in a partial paralysis of the facial muscles. The right side of my face was paralyzed, resulting in a lack of function on the right side of my mouth, and I could not blink my right eye. When I read the description of Much Afraid, I knew that Yahweh was speaking to me. My mouth, like hers, was twisted.

I will not go into much detail regarding the book here, for I have much to share. I will, however, share an important part of the book that the Father is testifying is being fulfilled at this hour in my life. The book focuses on the Shepherd inviting little, trembling Much Afraid to follow Him on a long journey to the High Places in the Kingdom of Love. She is not told what awaits her on the journey, and she is plagued by certain enemies that dog her steps, seeking always to turn her back. Some of these enemies are Craven Fear, Self-Pity and Pride.

Many trials come to Much Afraid on the journey. Many a time when she thinks she is nearly at her destination, the path will take a turn, sometimes seemingly leading quite away from the goal, and she experiences one crisis after another as she must lay her soul on the altar that she might choose to continue to follow where the Shepherd leads. Many of you who read these posts can relate to the many delays, and seeming setbacks, that occur in the lives of those who surrender to go wherever the Spirit of Christ will lead them. God has given His sons and daughters specific promises, relevant to each of them, yet it seems that after many weary months and years of journeying, the end is not yet in sight.

In the Bible we see numerous examples of men and women who experienced similar things as Yahweh sought to prepare them to enter into some call, or promise, He had spoken to them. Joseph was given dreams, but then was sold as a slave into Egypt. Later he was put in prison where he remained for years as the promises of God tarried and the Word of God tried him. David also was given promises as a young man, of ruling God’s people one day, but the path to fulfillment was a long and weary one. At times it appeared that all was lost, and the promises could not possibly be fulfilled, but these men strengthened themselves in the Lord, counting Him faithful who had promised, and they were finally able to enter into the promises of God.

Much Afraid was given the promise that her crippled feet that so hindered her in the work of the Shepherd would be transformed into hinds’ feet, able to overcome mountains of difficulty with ease, once she arrived at the High Places. She was also given other promises. Yet, she had to embrace the journey before her, committing herself to follow the Shepherd, even when her feet were crippled. Stumbling, and enduring injury and pain along the way, made the journey a difficult one, but the Shepherd gave her two companions to assist her along the way. These companions were Sorrow and Suffering. Neither Much Afraid, nor you or I, would choose these companions for a difficult journey, but the wisdom of God knows best.

At the end of the book we find that Much Afraid has made it to her destination. She has attained to the High Places, and there the Shepherd works a miraculous transformation in her life. In truth, the journey which had been so long and difficult had been working this change in her all along. Yet, like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon in which it has for a long season been undergoing the miracle of metamorphosis, the time came for the new creation to be revealed. Much Afraid was transformed. Her crippled feet were transformed into hinds’ feet. Those obstacles that had formerly caused her such difficulty, now seemed as nothing. Her entire appearance was transformed, and the flower of divine love was blooming in her heart.

Having attained to the High Places, one might think that Much Afraid would have wanted to remain there forever in the company of the Shepherd. Indeed, she did spend a wonderful season there with the Shepherd. Yet one day the Shepherd found her wistfully looking back down to the valley from which she had come. She confessed to Him that her heart was moved by the plight of those who remained in the valley, ruled by fear, pride, and many other sinful impulses. She yearned to return to them and tell them how they too might journey to the High Places and be transformed.

As I look back over the years past, I see how my heavenly Father has been guiding me through a similar experience. I was invited to follow the Shepherd of my soul on a journey that would lead to promises being fulfilled. The way has been difficult. There have been many fears that had to be confronted. Self-pity and pride often sought to turn me back, yet the thought of turning away from the Shepherd was more terrible than any opposing passion or desire within.

There have been many delays, many turnings of the road that I did not anticipate. There were times when I had to lay even the promises God had given me on the altar (as Abraham did with Isaac), trusting that if the promises died, that Yahweh would yet remain faithful and accomplish the good He had testified for my life.

I have openly shared the struggles and heartaches I have faced with my readers. I have experienced the loss of family members as they have chosen not to journey with me through a difficult course. I have known homelessness, much loneliness, the loss of all material possessions, and have even been jailed twice, being numbered among the transgressors. I have often walked in a halting, stumbling manner, one weary step placed in front of another, but the Shepherd has not let me turn back. Some of you reading these words have known very similar experiences.

Lately, the Father has been testifying to me some marvelous things that I at times find difficult to accept. He is testifying that it is time for promises to be fulfilled. Even as Joseph was released from prison and entered into a season of fruitful ministry, so too is the Father declaring that such a time is at hand in my life. I know He is speaking to others similar things.

During my recent time in jail the Spirit of Christ began speaking to me about ministering in a much greater capacity to men and women in prison. At the same time, He was speaking to Randy Simmons about an expanded ministry to the homeless, to alcoholics and drug addicts such as those he was daily encountering on the streets of Macon, Georgia. Christ has always had a heart for such ones. It is not that Christ does not care for the wise, the wealthy, the noble, the famous and the strong. Rather, He has invited these ones, but they have spurned His invitation. As a result, He has turned to those who lack esteem, and are thought nothing of, for He must fill His house.

Luke 14:16-23
But He said to him, "A certain man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many; and at the dinner hour he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited,' Come; for everything is ready now.' But they all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, 'I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it; please consider me excused.' And another one said, 'I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused.' And another one said, 'I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come.' And the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the head of the household became angry and said to his slave, 'Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame.' And the slave said, 'Master, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.' And the master said to the slave, 'Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.”

In this hour I sense the burden of the Lord to have His house filled. He is commissioning servants to go out to the highways and byways and to bring in the poor, crippled, blind and lame. He is calling the addicts, the alcoholics, the prostitutes, the prisoners, and similar ones. The burden of the Lord is arising in the hearts of His ministers who are attending to His voice.

In this hour, the Father has been speaking to Randy, myself, and others, of a work He will perform in this hour. I am observing Him directing my focus, and bringing many things into readiness in order that I might go forth to accomplish Yahweh’s will and pleasure.

When Joseph was brought out of the prison, one of the first things that occurred was that Pharaoh gave him transportation that he might carry forth his ministry.

Genesis 41:41-43
And Pharaoh said to Joseph, "See I have set you over all the land of Egypt." Then Pharaoh took off his signet ring from his hand, and put it on Joseph's hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen, and put the gold necklace around his neck. And he had him ride in his second chariot.

I have often shared that vehicles symbolize ministry. Joseph’s vehicle for ministry was a two-wheeled conveyance. Immediately after I was released from jail I was led to get my bicycle in order. Randy Simmons has also been riding his bike around the streets of Macon for some months now, ministering to men and women there. I know there is something symbolic in this. In an hour when many ministers travel in fancy cars and private jets, God has been preparing certain servants to be content with more humble means of transport.

In a real sense, these humble bicycles represent humble ministries. We have not had grand church buildings to conduct ministry in, or large ministry centers. Our congregants have not been the prosperous and upstanding citizens, but rather those who are little esteemed.

Matthew 9:11-13
And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, "Why is your Teacher eating with the tax-gatherers and sinners?"But when He heard this, He said, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means, 'I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

I remember years ago when it first entered into my mind that God had a call upon my life to be a minister, the only pattern I had in my mind was that of a pastor of a local church. This is what I envisioned for myself one day. Yet, the years have transformed my understanding of ministry. Years spent living in an inner city rescue mission, and days spent in jail, have disclosed to me that there are others whom Yahweh’s heart desires to reach out to. The harvest is great, and the laborers are few. Who will surrender to go and work in these fields? Does your heart reply, “Here I am Lord. Send me”?

I believe that the Father is preparing numerous sons and daughters for release into this end times work. A great banquet is soon to be given. The tables are being set, yet the guests who were first invited have made excuses. The Master will now send forth servants to bring in all that can be gathered, even the crippled and blind. The highways and byways will be searched that the house might be filled.

To accomplish this work, Yahweh has been preparing sons and daughters who have been following the Shepherd down long, often weary paths. There have been many delays, and at times the promises of God seemed to pass from sight altogether. Yet, at this time, Yahweh is renewing the promises. He is bringing His sons and daughters out of the prison houses, and He is transitioning them, getting all in readiness for this new, abundantly fruitful ministry.

The Father accomplished something remarkable for me in recent days. It is remarkable both for its significance, as well as its providential manifestation. God has given me a motorcycle to use as He sends me forth.

Joseph’s Chariot (click on picture for larger image)

Note the graphic of the leaping deer on the side panel. Following is a close-up.

Hinds’ Feet Ministry

Back in April I was led to sell the van that had been my sole transportation for the past six years. Having converted a school bus to a motorhome, I could not take both vehicles to the places Yahweh would send me. The van was too big to tow, and the Father had provided me with a small utility trailer the previous year, so towing a car was not going to be possible.

I have been for some time considering getting a motor scooter to take with me. I have my bicycle for short trips, but I needed something capable of going somewhat further. I considered that I could carry a scooter on the bus with the use of a motorcycle carrier.

When I was about twenty years old I purchased my first motorcycle. The job I had at the time required me to ride motorcycles. I worked at an RV park, and we had to guide the campers back to their sites. We used small dirt bikes to do so. The owners of the RV park also owned the local motorcycle dealership, and after I had worked for them a couple years, I purchased a brand new street bike.

A short time later I lost my job and ended up having to sell the motorcycle. I did not purchase another one until I was about 30 years old, and I only kept it for about 6 months.

My Father around that time expressed to me that he thought motorcycles were unsafe to drive, and I understood that it was not his desire that I own one. The desire to ride a motorcycle remained, but I told Yahweh that if my father did not wish me to have one that in order to honor his wishes, I would not get one.

May 7th of this year marked my 5oth birthday. My father stopped by to see me that day. As we talked, I mentioned to him that I had sold my van and I was using my bicycle to get around town. My father commented, “Why don’t you get yourself a motorcycle?” I was amazed to hear him say this. In hindsight I consider it to be a gift from my heavenly Father on my 50th birthday. Desiring to honor both my earthly and heavenly Father’s more than I desired to possess what my soul desired, I had laid this desire on the altar. Yahweh, in the course of time, gave it back to me.

I want to share with you briefly some of the remarkable testimonies the Father has given to me in this gift. Ever since my release from jail, I have been planning a trip to a certain prison to do some ministry. I discovered that the nearest campground was 16 miles from the prison. This was too far to ride my bicycle, and I could not leave my bus in the prison parking lot, for it needs to stay plugged into electricity. I knew I would need some form of small motorized transport I could carry outside the bus.

I had been looking at scooters, as they are light and could possibly do the job. I had not seriously considered a motorcycle, for I thought price would be an obstacle, and I still had doubts as to whether I should purchase one. Various people close to me began to mention that I might be better off with a motorcycle than a scooter, and I began to consider it.

About two weeks ago, a sister in Christ sent me an e-mail notifying me of a financial gift of $500 she had sent me. (5 is grace) The thought came into my mind at that moment that I should check on Craigslist to see if there were any motorcycles or scooters in a price range I could afford. Just the day before a man in a nearby town had posted a 1985 Honda Magna V30 (500cc) motorcycle. He was asking only $800 for it. This was nearly half the cost of anything comparable that I had been seeing. Most motorcycles in this size range and in good mechanical condition were selling closer to $2500.

I had no way to go check out the motorcycle, but as the owner lived only about 15 miles away I asked if he could drive it down so I could see it. He was quite willing to do so, and within about 90 minutes I was the owner of a motorcycle.

It is not coincidental that the van Yahweh marvelously provided for me six years earlier also cost $800 when I purchased it. Eight is a number signifying new beginnings. The bike appears to be in excellent mechanical shape. I have already driven it nearly 300 miles, and it handles and runs very well.

I told the Father that night that I would need saddlebags on the bike to carry my laptop and teaching material to the prisons. I also mentioned that I would like to have a sissy bar on the back to strap things to, or to support a rider on those rare occasions I might have one. I looked online that night and found that saddlebags and a sissy bar could cost me several hundred dollars.

The very next morning a worker at the campground I am staying at asked me about the motorcycle I had just bought. I told him about it, and mentioned that I needed to get some saddlebags for it. He responded by telling me he had some in a storage building that he intended to take to a flea market to sell. He asked if I wanted to look at them. I responded affirmatively. We went to the shed and he pulled out the saddlebags, and in his other hand he had a sissy bar. I had not even mentioned my desire for a sissy bar to him. He told me he would sell them both to me for $30.

The saddlebags just needed cleaning. They are leather, and in very solid shape. The sissy bar was made for a Kawasaki and would not match up to the mounts on the Honda, so I took it to the man who welded my trailer hitch to my bus, and he modified it for me. He had to cut off the mounting brackets, and then drill holes through the solid steel frame piece and bolt it to the Honda rear mount.

I expected him to charge me far more than the $20 he asked for his services, but he said that since I had to wait on him for a couple hours while he tended to other customers, he wanted to give me a discount. Yahweh was only getting started.

The day after I received the saddlebags and sissy bar Joe Boes drove down from Atlanta to visit me. I asked him if he would drive me to a nearby town to purchase a motorcycle helmet. I had hoped to get one for around $50 as a couple had sent me that exact amount the evening prior. Just as I was about to go out the door of my bus with Joe to drive to the motorcycle shop, my daughter Kristin called. She said, “I just wanted to ask you if you saw the ad on Craigslist for a motorcycle helmet?” She said it was listed in the very town I was staying in, and they were only asking $50.

I told Kristin that I didn’t know for sure if it was what I was looking for, as the ad did not state all the details. I told her I wanted a 3/4 helmet with a full face shield and air vents in the top that opened and closed. I told Kristin that my head is also hard to fit, and although the helmet was listed as an XL, sometimes I needed an XXL to fit my large cranium. I considered the timing of Kristin calling me at that very moment, and thought I should certainly call and look into it.

The people affirmed that the helmet met all the criteria I had specified, so Joe drove me to their house. When I tried it on, it fit perfectly.

Helmet(s) of Salvation, and Belt of Truth

The helmet on the right is for when I ride my bicycle. The belt in the middle is for back support when I am riding the motorcycle. It really helps out a lot.

When Joe Boes arrived, he had another surprise for me. He said he had something he wanted me to try on. A family member had given them a special coat for motorcycle riders. It was an expensive jacket, having body armor built into the arms, elbows, and shoulders. It also had a removable inner liner and vents that opened in front and back to provide air ventilation in warm weather. These jackets easily cost $200 or more.

The jacket was too small for him, and too large for his wife. They had listed it on Craigslist for $50, but a year later had not received a single call on it. Joe said he told his wife he had a feeling it was going to fit me perfectly. It fits me like a glove, and Joe and his wife gave it to me as a gift.

As I considered all of these details, I had a sense that Yahweh was symbolically outfitting me with the armor of God that I might go forth into this new ministry He has prepared for me.

The next day I planned on driving up to Macon to apply for a tag on the motorcycle. A man at the RV park had asked me if I was going to decorate the bike like I had the motorhome. The side panels which previously had decals on them had been stripped and painted flat black. I knew these panels would be an ideal place to put some type of graphic.

I thought of putting an image of a monarch butterfly on either side, as the colors would be a close match to the Honda flying wing emblem on the tank. I began to search online, but I had a sense that the image of a butterfly was not what God wanted me to place there. I was reminded of the image of a leaping deer from the book Hinds’ Feet on High Places. When I did a search on the Internet, I found an image that strongly reminded me of the cover of this book.

I was able to purchase the image at a very low cost and then alter the colors to match the Honda emblem on the tank. I carried the image with me when I went to Macon to purchase my tag as I wanted to show it to Randy and his grandfather. After purchasing the tag I stopped by Randy’s grandfather’s house. Randy was not home, and his grandfather, who is 86 years old, was still sleeping. I took the opportunity to walk around the small lake on his property. As I was walking across the dam, I looked off to the left down a wooded slope, and there was a white tail deer no more than 50 feet away. When she saw me she bounded off gracefully. I sensed the Father speaking through this sign, as I have only rarely seen deer on the property.

After visiting with Randy’s grandfather, I returned home, taking a route that I was not certain of, but knowing it headed in the general direction I needed to go. Going down this unfamiliar route I passed three deer crossing signs, and at each one I sensed a witness of the Spirit.

 I stopped by the business of an old friend that I had not seen in nearly 20 years. This man owns a sign shop, and I asked him if he could use the image I had found on the Internet and make some decals for the motorcycle. I also asked if he could take the removable side panels and paint them gloss black. Today, I picked them up, and this brother in Christ refused to charge me for them. He said he wanted to give them to me as a gift.

There has been such grace in Yahweh bringing all of this together. In praying about getting a motorcycle or a scooter I had specifically mentioned that I did not want to carry anything more than about 450 pounds on the bus. I also did not want an engine much larger than 500cc. The motorcycle Yahweh provided weights 440 pounds, and has a 500 cc engine. It also has the Honda V4 engine, which is very highly regarded as a powerful and durable motor.

I found an old ad for the 1985 Honda Magna V30. The copy stated that this was the most powerful mid size cruiser built by any motorcycle manufacturer that year, because it used the V4 motor. It went on to state that hills would present no problem for this bike, as the rider would not even be able to tell he was going up a hill. When I read these words, I was mindful of the symbolism of receiving hinds’ feet. Hinds’ feet symbolize being able to surmount mountains of difficulty as if they were a level plain.

Yahweh does all things well.

Heart4God Website:    

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Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063


Roni said...

I glorify the name of the Lord! Hallelujah to His name! Surely their is none like Him in all the earth! How BLESSED I am by this testimony. As tears stream down my face, I thank Him for His loving kindness and tender mercies for all He has done for you and all that He is going to do.

Thank you so much for sharing this and for all that you have shared regarding your walk with the Lord.

MikeB said...

Does 86 mean anything?