Friday, November 6, 2015
The Testimony - Introduction
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In October of 1999, at the age of 38, my heavenly Father called me to lay aside my occupation as a computer manager at a hospital and enter into full-time ministry as a writer and teacher. Yahweh became the guarantor for all of my needs, my sole source of supply. I wrote my first book in 1999/2000. That book is titled The Remnant Bride.
The years which were to follow would be exceedingly difficult ones, filled with great trials of faith. Like the apostle Paul, I can confess that I was “afflicted on every side: conflicts without, fears within” (II Corinthians 7:5). The experiences of the ensuing years brought many difficulties, significant loss, numerous sorrows, and physical and emotional suffering. I learned the reality of what it means to suffer for Christ’s sake.
For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.
My heavenly Father appointed to me an afflicted path. He called me to walk that path obediently, not turning aside to the left or to the right. It was my fear of God that held me to the course; a sober understanding that the consequences of shrinking back from the path He chose for me would result in great spiritual and physical loss.
For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. “For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay. But My righteous one shall live by faith; And if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.
Yahweh began by stripping me of all of the accumulated material possessions of years of self-directed living. I lost my house, my custom van, furnishings, entertainment items, practically everything I possessed, as the Lord wanted me to have a clean break with the compromised Christian living of former days. He determined that I should have a fresh start in a true walk of discipleship.
“So therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.”
When a man or woman surrenders the reins of their life to Christ, agreeing to go wherever He commands and to do whatever He directs, they will find that those close to them who have not similarly accepted the cost of being Yahshua’s disciple, will struggle mightily. Family members may interpret the actions of the disciple of Christ as acts of hatred toward them. They may reason, “He would not ask me to share these experiences with him if he truly loved me.” Christ warned those who aspired to walk with Him as His disciple that the cost would be great. He forewarned all that following Him would result in division within their families.
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.”
“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.”
My wife struggled greatly as the Spirit of Christ led our family down an afflicted path. The experiences God chose for us were not the experiences we chose for ourselves in former days. No longer did we live as other Christians whom we had associated with. We did not have a large comfortable home, an abundance of material goods, and a life of ease and comfort. Yahweh was teaching us to be content with whatever life experiences He chose for us. The alteration of our life was no less radical than it was for the Israelites who left their homes in Egypt in the days of Moses to be led of the Spirit of God through wilderness places. Like those Israelites, only a remnant of Christians will follow Yahweh with trusting hearts and contentment. Most who are led into such experiences will give themselves to murmuring and complaint. Many will speak of appointing themselves new leaders and returning to the comparative prosperity of Egypt.
Tragically, in 2004, five years into our journey of faith, my wife turned back. She left me, and she took our fourteen year old son with her. Our sixteen year old daughter wanted to continue to follow God, and Yahweh opened a door for her to live with some devoted Christians in a Mennonite community. He then led me through an even more rigorous and challenging section of the afflicted path appointed for my perfecting as a son of God. I was directed by the Spirit to lay aside the ministry of writing for a season. It would be more than three years before I returned to it. For the next five months I lived out of my car. I spent two forty day periods camping in a small tent in a National Forest in my home state of Georgia. It was winter, and I did not have any winter clothes. I had little food, and even my access to potable water was limited. The last seven days of the first forty day season in the woods I fasted, having only water to drink. The second forty day season began two days later, and the last seventeen days of that period I had no food, but only water.
During my time in the woods the Father began speaking to me of homeless people. When my last day was completed in the forest, He led me to go to a homeless shelter in a nearby city. I would spend the next three years and three months there as I served in various capacities. While there I would work as a manager overseeing men in an alcohol and drug recovery program. One year after my wife had left me, while I was at the Rescue Mission, on Good Friday 2005, the day that the church commemorates the suffering of the Savior, I was served with divorce papers from my wife. We had been married nineteen years. She no longer wanted to be a partaker of my life experiences for she deemed them to be too difficult, too bitter. Even as Christ’s companions fled from His presence during the time of His suffering, so too it is appointed for many of His disciples to experience the same.
Other members of my extended family; my parents, sisters, and brother viewed my life experiences with contempt. Being familiar only with American Christianity which has divorced itself from the rigors of discipleship and the requirement of surrendering the direction of one’s life to the leading of the Holy Spirit, they concluded that I was deluded, a heretic. The reproaches were frequent and at times intense. My path became a lonely one, yet at the same time fellowship with man was being withdrawn from me, fellowship with God was increasing. I was both speaking to my heavenly Father, and hearing Him speak to me, daily. Spiritual revelation was increasing. As it did I became aware to a greater degree of the apostasy of the Christian religious system in America and throughout much of the world. The divide between my life and experiences and that of mainstream Christianity was growing wider. I had a deep sense of what it means to be an alien and a stranger in this world.
Toward the end of my time at the rescue mission the Father disciplined me for a failure to rule over the flesh. He had told me years before that He wanted me to rule over my appetite for food and maintain a weight below 165 lbs.. I had been disobedient, choosing to indulge my fleshly appetites and I was seventy pounds overweight. I experienced a heart attack, with the symptoms presenting themselves in a very pronounced way two nights in a row. I sat up in a chair with pains in my left arm, a slight nausea, and a sensation of great pressure around my heart. There was a large hospital with an advanced cardiac care unit just a mile away, but the Father would not permit me to seek medical attention. I knew that I was in His hands for better or worse. I acknowledged my disobedience and asked for His mercy, while being ready to accept whatever judgment He decided.
Yahweh was merciful. I survived the crisis with my health, and was gripped by a new level of reverent fear for my heavenly Father. I became much more careful about my eating and the weight began to come off. Through this experience I came to understand that our heavenly Father wants His sons and daughters to walk “perfectly” before Him. He is not content for any area of our lives to fall short of conformity to His will. Yahweh disciplines every son whom He receives that we might share His holiness.
In February of 2008 the Spirit of Christ directed me to leave the rescue mission and return to a ministry of writing and teaching. I wrote more books and returned to posting my writings on the internet. The number of people subscribed to receive my teachings quickly doubled from the level it was at when I laid down the ministry three years earlier. Then the number quadrupled. The trials and tests did not end, however. In 2009 and 2010 I was twice cast in jail for my obedience to God. I spent a total of 134 days locked up, sharing space with drug dealers, rapists, thieves, murderers, and child abusers. Mirroring the experiences of the son of Jacob whose name I share, the cause of my imprisonment was the anger of a woman who requested something from me that I could not give her. Even as Christ was numbered among the transgressors, it became my lot in life to share in this humiliation as a partaker of Christ’s sufferings.
“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
In 2011 I was to experience injury. While returning home after visiting an elderly brother in Christ, a 91 year old woman illegally changed lanes and ran into me as I was on my motorcycle. Her car’s bumper struck my left leg just above the ankle shattering the fibula and causing a compound fracture. Two titanium plates and nearly thirty screws were required to patch everything back together. I was operated on three times, and spent months in recovery. Amazingly, before going to visit the elderly brother that day, I had posted a writing titled, Why Does God Require Christians to Suffer?
Why are these experiences relevant to the body of Christ, and particularly to a remnant of believers who are committed to walking in obedience and truth? Back in 1999, before the Father called me to leave my former employment, I was serving among a group of ministers at a local church. One Sunday a young woman stood up and gave a word of prophecy. She said, “God told me that some people here are about to go through some very difficult experiences. God says that these experiences are necessary for their preparation, because the days which follow these experiences will be even more difficult.” I had a definite sense when she spoke these words that I was one of the people God was speaking to.
In 2008, shortly after Yahweh returned me to the ministry full-time, I sought a time alone to hear His voice. I wanted to understand the character of the ministry He was calling me into. I wanted to receive a vision from Him that I might be guided by it. While camping on one of the barrier islands off the Georgia coast, the Father spoke to me. He gave me understanding of my calling. This led me to write the very first articles that I posted to the Parables Blog. The articles are titled, Explorers and Pioneers to Serve as Guides - Parts 1 and 2.
While I was at the rescue mission, the Father had provided for me a custom camper/van in a very remarkable manner. Indeed, it was supernatural. The Father revealed to me that vehicles often represent a person’s ministry. The van He provided for me was an Xplorer Van. It had a Pioneer sound system in it. My heavenly Father informed me that I had been called to follow a difficult path of trials, suffering, and sorrow ahead of my brothers and sisters in Christ. I was chosen to be a spiritual explorer and pioneer for my generation. He revealed to me that it was His purpose that I serve as a guide to a much larger group of Christ’s disciples who must walk a similar path.
Because I voluntarily embraced the afflicted path Yahweh had chosen for me, and had done so in a time when it seemed that no other Christians were going through similar experiences, Yahweh gave me great grace and His consolation was abundant. I came to know Him as “the God of all comfort.”
Yahweh chose for me to taste of all of the forms of suffering that Christ forewarned His disciples about. It was my portion to experience the loss of all earthly possessions. It was appointed to me to endure the pain of my wife and son departing from me, and my entire extended family rejecting me as a heretic and one who was greatly deceived. It was given to me to be brought before the courts and condemned as a transgressor and cast into jail on two occasions. I have been rejected by fellow Christians and other ministers as the doors of the churches have been shut tightly before me. I have known sickness and physical injury. I have endured threats of physical violence, and walked through many fearful experiences. All of these things were appointed to me that I might bear witness of them to those who must endure similar things in days which are now near at hand. They were chosen for me that I might serve as a guide, informing others that this is truly the manner in which Yahweh perfects His sons and daughters. Yahweh determined that I should both forewarn, and encourage His people as they must also pass through many fiery trials.
The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.
As the young woman prophesied back in 1999, the days to follow will be more difficult than the experiences I have thus far endured. Even as my second forty day period camping in a Georgia forest was more severe in every way than my first forty day period, so too are the experiences to come upon God’s people going to exceed everything I experienced as I walked this afflicted path alone.
During the course of my many experiences, Yahweh spoke to me in many ways. One manner of communication was through the significance of numbers. The most profound number He has used to speak to me during these years of trials and testing has been the number 22. This number signifies the cutting of the flesh, the removal of all wickedness. It is a number associated with the working of the cross in the lives of the people of God.
For weeks I have been seeking to know what the Father would have me to focus on next. Did He want me to write another book? Did He have something else for me to attend to? If He wanted me to write or teach, what subject did He want me to focus on? He revealed His answer a couple days ago. This book which is declaring the judgment to fall upon the church, and the experiences of suffering that His people must pass through, is the outworking of the direction He gave to me. Significantly, this is the 22nd book the Father has directed me to write since He called me to the ministry of teaching in 1999.
The church at large has been avoiding the disciple’s cross. They have embraced a false gospel message which is devoid of suffering and of the surrender of their will to God the Father. This has led to great apostasy in the church, a divorcement from the truth. It has resulted in great sin and sensuality among the people of God. Christ will return for a bride without spot or blemish, yet at this hour no such people exists. Garments soiled with sin and selfish pursuit must be replaced with robes of righteousness. The prophet Daniel foresaw the days we are entering into.
“Go your way, Daniel, for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end time. Many will be purged, purified and refined; but the wicked will act wickedly, and none of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand.”
Now is the hour for a remnant portion of the body of Christ to be “purged, purified, and refined.” The majority of those who profess to be Christians will reject the necessary experiences of suffering that are appointed for their perfecting and maturation as sons of God. They will be like the seed that fell upon the rocky soil.
“And the one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word, and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.”
Christ prophesied that before He returned a great crisis would occur among the people of God and “many will fall away.”
“And at that time many will fall away and will deliver up one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many. And because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved.”
The Father has spoken to us through His word indicating that a time of trouble will occur at the end of the age that exceeds anything the earth has experienced before. That His elect and chosen people, the saints in Christ, will be present during these troublous days is revealed in the following Scripture.
“For those days will be a time of tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the creation which God created, until now, and never shall. And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no life would have been saved: but for the sake of the elect whom He chose, He shortened the days. And then if anyone says to you, 'Behold, here is the Christ'; or, 'Behold, He is there'; do not believe him; for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order, if possible, to lead the elect astray. But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance.”
Examine this testimony of Yahshua carefully. He says the days of tribulation He is describing will be shortened “for the sake of the elect whom He chose.” This statement would be nonsensical if His elect were not to be present during these experiences. He then states, “If anyone says to YOU, ‘Behold, here is the Christ...” The “YOU” He is referring to is His disciples. He declares that part of these troublous days will include the appearance of many false Christs (anointed ones) and false prophets who would, if possible, “lead the elect astray.” If the elect of God were not present during these days of tribulation the words of Yahshua would be false.
There are an abundance of witnesses in the Scriptures that testify of the character of the last days, and the experiences of the body of Christ. Before the mature sons of God can be revealed in glory, power, and holiness to a groaning creation, the earth and all its inhabitants must first pass through a time of birth pangs. The woman to give birth is the entire body of Christ. The man child she will give birth to are the overcomers in Christ. Both mother and child must endure the traumatic period of birthing. Though their experiences are in some ways different, both know the distress and struggle of the birthing process.
Yahweh has revealed to me that the experiences I have passed through since 1999 foreshadow that which the church must experience in days which are very near at hand. Many Christians will lose all of their earthly possessions. They will experience division within their homes and among their loved ones. They will endure reproaches, false accusations, and will be branded as those who are deluded and deceived. Their obedience to Christ will be characterized as “hate” toward others. Many will experience imprisonment, the loss of all liberty. Yahweh will deal with all of His elect as sons. He will scourge them to turn them away from sin and fleshliness. Some will forfeit their lives.
If anyone is destined for captivity, to captivity he must go; if anyone takes up the sword, with the sword he must be killed. Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints.
John is describing the days just ahead for the church. It will be a time when Satan seems to triumph over the people of God on every hand. Just before recording the words above, John wrote the following.
And [the beast] opened his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, that is, those who dwell in heaven. And it was given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them; and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him.
The victory of the people of God is NOT in avoiding persecution and suffering. It is in enduring it. It is in persevering without shrinking back.
“And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even to death.”
Yahweh chose me, one of the weakest, most fearful, doubting, and insecure of His creatures, to demonstrate His ability to cause any of His people to stand and persevere. His grace has been abundant, and it will continue to be given abundantly to all who will surrender their will and follow Him down the path He has appointed for their perfecting. This is my testimony. It is a testimony of Yahweh’s divine plan, His strange work, that He will accomplish now at the end of days. This testimony is presented that you might have understanding of His ways, and that you might not think it “strange” when fiery trials become your portion.
I Peter 4:12-13
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation.
My testimony is set forth before you in order to encourage you to stand firm in the faith. What is coming will have the stench of death to many, but it will have the savor of life to the elect and chosen of God.
II Corinthians 2:15-16
For we are a sweet savor of Christ unto God, in them that are saved, and in them that perish; to the one a savor from death unto death; to the other a savor from life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?
May you be blessed with peace and understanding as you read the words of this testimony.
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Parables Blog: www.parablesblog.blogspot.com
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