Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Follow Your Dreams
Once Yahweh begins to lead us into the land of our inheritance, the road leads ever onward. We must go from faith to faith, ever trusting the Lord for a further victory until all the enemies are driven out and we are dwelling securely in the land of promise. Though God may give us a time of respite, He will not allow us to sit upon our lees for long. He declares “Woe to those who are at ease in Zion.” God did not allow us to become too comfortable in the land we had already taken possession of, the land of Yahweh Rophe, before He began calling us to go in and possess the next portion of our inheritance. The next area in which God wanted to prove Himself to us was the area of financial provision.
I had been working at the Houston Healthcare Complex in Warner Robins, Georgia for fourteen years. I had worked my way into a very good position, which was a dream job for me. I had been fascinated by computers since the early 1980's, and I had for some time wanted a job working with PC’s. God provided this job for me by having a position created where none had existed before. I had been hesitant to take the job, for as much as I desired to work with PC’s, I was intimidated by the demands and responsibilities of such a position. The Spirit led me to take the job, however, and after I had been in it for some time the Spirit spoke to me.
I had arrived early at work this day and was sitting at my desk. I heard the voice of the Spirit ask me, “You really wanted to work with PC’s, didn’t you?” I replied, “Yes Lord, I did.” The Spirit continued, “Although you were worried about your ability to handle this job, I have made you adequate in every situation, haven’t I?” I answered “Yes,” for this was certainly true. On numerous occasions when some PC problem had stumped me, I would be led of the Spirit to do a certain thing and the problem would be corrected. This made me look very good and competent in the eyes of others, but it was actually God solving the problem, and not me.
The Spirit then asked me, “As much as you wanted to work with PC’s, this really has not been your greatest desire, has it?” I paused for a moment and thought, then I answered, “No Lord. From my youth on up I have wanted to be a minister, but I have felt even more inadequate for that calling than for the job I am doing now.” The Spirit then said, “This job has merely been preparation for a higher calling. I wanted to show you that when I call you to do something, I will be your adequacy, giving you what you need to stand in every situation.” The Spirit ended the conversation by speaking to me two things that were not found in Scripture, but coming from the Spirit they became truth in my heart. The first thing was a slogan that was popular at the time which states, “Do not let your fears keep you from your dreams.” The second was an ancient oriental proverb, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.”
The conversation then ended, and I was left to my thoughts. I had already been ordained as a minister, and was serving the body of Christ on a part-time basis. I was still going out to the church building and praying regularly, and I was preaching and teaching when I was given opportunities. Yet I had never given myself to ministry full-time, and this is what I understood the Spirit to be speaking about.
Over the next weeks I began to experience a restlessness within me regarding my current job. What had been a dream job was beginning to seem less appealing to me. At the same time I began to experience a greater yearning to enter into ministry to the body of Christ in a fuller way than I had known. God was once more leading me by changing my desires. He was working within me “both to will and to do, His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).
As I was making the rounds of my job in the weeks that followed, I found the Lord ordering my steps to bring me into conversations with people about the topic of pursuing our dreams. I was reminded of a saying by Henry David Thoreau that I had heard years earlier while still in my pre-High School days. Thoreau said, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”
I believe I was only in the seventh or eighth grade when I heard this quotation, but I understood the heart of it immediately. Many men have a dream in their heart. Perhaps one man dreams of being an artist, another man a writer. Another man may dream of being a great architect, or an explorer. Yet these same men look at the risks, and the chance of failing to attain to their dream, so they choose another course that seems less risky, but which is also lacking the fulfillment they could have known. A man may take a factory job, or a bank position, or something similar, yet day by day there is inside of them a quiet desperation caused by their dream lying dormant and unfulfilled.
It is true that many men’s dreams are selfish, but God also places dreams in the hearts of His children. We see David being anointed by the prophet Samuel when he was still a youth, and being told that he would be king one day. We see Joseph being given dreams of ruling and reigning when he was also a youth. Both of these men were to know many long years of trials, rejection, and suffering before they were to see the dreams realized. Yet after a very long journey that began with a single step, they both saw their dreams come true.
Each time I had this conversation with a person at work the desire within me to pursue the dream of my heart grew stronger. I realized that I did not want to spend my life working on computers. I wanted to be a minister of God. Despite my feelings of inadequacy, and in spite of my fears, I wanted to pursue this calling that God had set before me.
I began to sense that God would soon call me out from working at the Houston Healthcare Complex, and this would be the beginning of a new phase in my life. In my naivete I thought God would have my calling recognized by man, and that some wonderful opportunity to minister among the body of Christ would soon open up to me. I did not understand that I was only at the beginning of the journey, and that the goal lay many years ahead of me.
God did call me out from my job, and the training for ministry began in earnest. At the same time God was calling me to enter into the land of Yahweh Yireh - Yahweh my provider. He called me out from wage earning that I should trust Him for all of our provision. He confirmed this to me in ways that were remarkable.
As I was considering leaving my employer and stepping out in faith, I walked through the kitchen in our home and I glanced over at the little flip calendar located near the sink. The Scripture for the day was Exodus 14:14, and it said, “The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent."
I was at first struck by the double occurrence of the number fourteen. I had been at my employer for fourteen years, and I was reminded of Joseph interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams. Joseph said that Pharaoh’s dreams were repeated to indicate that what was being revealed was settled before God, and it would quickly come to pass. Later I was made aware of the significance of the book this Scripture was found in. Exodus means “going out, or forth,” and God was calling me to journey out from my present job and to begin a new experience.
I shared with my wife what the Lord was speaking to me, but she was filled with terror. Although we had already been called to steps of faith and had seen God’s faithfulness, each new leading from God was calling us to deeper and deeper waters. At this time it had been nine months since we had canceled our health insurance, and God had proven Himself by healing me from diabetes and keeping us all in good health. It had also been about fifteen months since we had canceled SSI benefits on Josiah, and he had not broken another bone. I had been able to persuade Tony to willingly follow in these past steps of faith, but I could not move her on this matter of trusting God for our finances.
I knew there would be great difficulty if I followed God down this path, so I asked Him for further confirmation of His will. The Holy Spirit spoke to me again while I was at home and told me to look up the first occurrence of the word “fourteen” in Scripture. I sat down at my Bible program and did a search on this word. My Bible program lists each occurrence in order and gives a snippet from each verse where the word is found. The very first Scripture in which fourteen is found is Genesis 31:41, and this is what I saw, “I have worked for you fourteen years.”
I was shouting when I got up from my chair, for I knew the Lord was telling me that I was to leave my employer, and I was excited about pursuing the greater dream the Lord had placed in my heart. I decided to check the first occurrence of this number in the New Testament as well, and I found it in the very first chapter of Matthew.
So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations.
I saw in this that the number fourteen is used by God to denote transition, for each of these occurrences marked a definite transition point in God’s dealings with His chosen people. A transition was coming in my life as well, and God had been preparing my heart for it ever since the morning He spoke to me at work. I was convinced in my heart that this was what I was to do, and I expressed this to Tony, but she was not moved. She became very emotional, and then threatening, and indicated that she would not go along with me in this step of faith.
God had been preparing the hearts of the ministers at Living Faith to follow Him wherever He would lead, and had been speaking much about trusting Him for health and provision. One of the elders had met Charles and Nancy Newbold from Tennessee, and had invited them to the church. The Newbolds told this elder about a couple they knew who lived near them. This couple is Bob and Peggy Hughey. The Hugheys had been living a life of complete trust in God for all of their provision for a couple decades, and God had taken them all around the world to minister. They had a biographical book out about their experiences titled A Lifestyle of Light.
The Newbolds invited this elder they had first met, and Richard, to come up and visit with them, and while they were in Tennessee they introduced them to the Hugheys. Richard came back excited about what he had heard concerning the experiences of the Hughey’s, and he brought each one of the ministers at Living Faith a copy of their book. I was tremendously encouraged and challenged in reading about their lives, and I was equally excited that the other ministers were beginning to talk about trusting God for real practical things in their own lives.
One day Richard shared with me about a time a few years earlier when he had been led by God to take his wife and two sons to Colorado. God said He would take care of them, and they went without any money on hand, needing to see God come through for them immediately. They stayed in Colorado for four months, and God would not allow Richard to work. Richard was a bundle of fears, yet God had taken care of them faithfully and at the end of four months he brought them back to Georgia. Richard and I talked about the great challenges of such a walk of faith, but also the rich benefits of a greater fellowship and intimacy with God as the desperation of the circumstances would drive the individual to press into the presence of God daily.
With all of this preparation God had been doing in our midst, I had hoped that the other ministers would be supportive when I shared with them what God was leading me to do. They had been witnesses of Josiah’s healing, and they had seen God take care of our family’s health, even healing me of diabetes, when I had been led to cancel our health insurance. What God was requiring now was just one more step in this process of leading us forward into greater realms of faith. The church was even named Living Faith, so I had hopes that the ministers would understand what God was doing.
I should have realized that one man’s faith does not translate over to another man unless they also have a desire and a willingness to walk in faith. During one of our ministers’ meetings, I shared how God had confirmed His leading to me, and I informed them that I was going to leave my employment in the computer field and trust God for our provision. As a minister there was much precedence for this, and Paul even devoted the majority of I Corinthians chapter 9 to this topic.
I asked my wife before we went to the meeting what she was going to share, and she told me that the Lord had spoken to her, telling her she was not to say anything. After I shared, the elders and their wives asked Tony what she thought about the matter. Tony changed her mind about being silent. She became very emotional and expressed all of her fears and said she did not agree with this thing I was doing. The elders and their wives, moved by Tony’s emotions and fears, then expressed their opinion to me that I should not do this thing since my wife did not agree with me. They told me that I was prohibited by God from taking such a step if my wife was not in agreement.
It is not my desire to get into a discussion of headship, and the governmental order of God, in this book, for I have already addressed these topics at length in other writings. If any should have a desire to read further on this topic I would refer them to the book Sarah’s Children, which can be read, or downloaded freely, from the Heart4God website. It is necessary, however, to mention the struggle that was present in our home that further things which will be shared should be understood.
Tony truly had not heard God speak that her husband was in error, nor had the Spirit told her that she was to resist my leadership and advocate that we go another way. In fact, God had spoken something to her that was quite the opposite. A few months prior to these events a couple from another town attended a Sunday morning gathering of saints at Living Faith, and it was known that the woman was a prophetess. Toward the end of the meeting Richard asked this woman, whose name is Judith, if she had a word for the body. She responded affirmatively, but added that the word was for the leadership and she would like to share with the ministers after the service ended.
When the ministers had gathered together, and a couple of their wives, Judith said that the Lord had given her a message for the ministers, and then added that it was specifically for one of us. She pointed straight at me, and said “God says promotion is coming to you.” I was stunned to have been so singled out among the ministers, and I wondered what the word might mean. I did not know Judith, having only seen her once or twice before, and never having fellowshipped with her or her husband.
My wife was not present when Judith spoke this word, but after a few minutes I noticed that Judith had found my wife and it was apparent she wanted to speak something to us. Tony and I stood shoulder to shoulder facing Judith, and Judith then spoke to Tony saying, “God says you are to get behind your husband.” Judith then began praying for Tony and she prayed against a spirit of divorce.
Tony and I had struggled some over our previous steps of faith, and on the last one, when it was known that I was diabetic and God was pressing me to cast myself over into His hands to trust Him for healing, Tony had threatened to divorce me if I went through with canceling our insurance, but it did not seem to me that she was very serious about her threat. I appreciated the prophetic word spoken to Tony, and the prayer, very much, and later when things were to get very difficult in our home I was much consoled that God had already sent His messenger and declared His will.
Fear is a terrible taskmaster, and I had endured much torment from fear during my life, and I would experience more. I could empathize with others who were also being terrorized by this demonic spirit. The Scriptures command men to live with their wives in an understanding way, knowing that they are weaker vessels (I Peter 3:7), and one of the ways in which they are weaker is in their susceptibility to fear. The verse preceding the one just mentioned speaks the following:
I Peter 3:6
Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.
Fear was the real issue that Tony was dealing with. She had not received a word from God saying that I was to continue working as a PC manager, nor had she heard His voice saying I was not to pursue full-time ministry. She was merely being terrorized by her fears, and this fear was evident every time she spoke. God instructed me to be patient and gentle with my wife, but at the same time He would not allow me to bow to the pressure she was using to try to manipulate my actions. In my obedience to God I was led to be as hard as adamant, yet in my conduct with my wife I was instructed to manifest much patience, mercy and forgiveness. The journey had begun, and I was not to allow my fears, or the fears of others, to keep me from the dreams God had set before me.
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