Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Disappointment, and an Illinois Miracle

The next day, June 26th, was similarly eventful. My wife had planned to get together with our friend Barbara Barnes. Barbara called in the morning to say that she was at a gas station and her car would not crank. She asked if we could meet her there and see if we could help her. Tony and I hurriedly got in our car to go help her, and, to our amazement, our car would not crank either. I did not think that this was merely coincidence for the Spirit had spoken to me that Barbara’s husband Randy and I would one day be working together in ministry. A few years back we were both picking muscadines and scuppernongs (a type of large grape) in a local vineyard. The name of the vineyard just happened to be JC’s Vineyard, JC being the preferred name of the owner. The Spirit spoke to me at the time and told me that Randy and I would indeed be working together in JC’s (Jesus Christ’s) vineyard in the future. Again, first the natural, then the spiritual.

As I was standing outside looking at my car that would not crank, and contemplating this strange parallel between our two cars, the phone rang and it was one of the ministers from the church we were fellowshipping with. He said he had heard we were having to move, and he expressed his sympathy over this, and then he asked if I would be able to meet with him and the other minister from the body that night. I told him I would be delighted to do so. We arranged to meet at 7:30 P.M..

I was able to get my car fixed before the meeting as God sent a Christian brother over to our house who paid for the part and installed it for me. It turned out that both our car and the Barnes’ car had the starter go out on them at the same time. We later found out that both cars were repaired and driven back home at nearly the same moment, around 5:30 P.M..

I went to the meeting that night, not having a clue as to what the ministers wanted to speak to me about, though many guesses flew around my mind, all of which were wrong. These men had been considering whether God had sent me to be a minister with them to the body of Christ, and one of them had asked me a few weeks previously if I considered myself Calvinistic in my beliefs. One of the five main points of Calvinism is ‘limited atonement’, and it asserts that Christ died only for a remnant of the creation, and that the majority of the creation will suffer unending torment in the lake of fire never to be reconciled to God. It turned out that the ministers wanted to speak to me about my belief that when God’s plan of the ages is complete all things whether in heaven or in earth would be reconciled to God through the cross of Christ (Colossians 1:20).

This minister had been surprised to hear me state that I found fault with this point of Calvinism, and I gave him a copy of the book I had written on the topic called God’s Plan of the Ages. Both ministers had looked over the book, one very briefly, and they had both concluded that the teaching of universal reconciliation was heresy. The meeting both began and ended with them affirming their belief that it was heresy. We spent over three hours discussing the matter, but were unable to come to agreement. I asked them what effect this would have on my fellowship with them and I was told that I would not be allowed to hold any teaching position in the church, nor would I be allowed to partake of the sacrament of communion with them. I reaffirmed my love for both men before leaving, and I hugged both of their necks.

In the span of two days, I found that I would have to move suddenly, and I would have no opportunity to minister among this body of believers. A decision was set before me, and I knew it was a test. I could shake the dust off of my feet and move out of the community the Father had led us to, or I could forgive my brothers and choose to remain, as I looked to God to fulfill the things He had spoken to me about raising up a people for His praise and glory. I searched the mind of the Spirit and I could not find any witness that He desired me to leave. He had already spoken to me about being willing to bear reproach, and here I was being reproached as a heretic and I was being given the opportunity to bear it with contentment.

Our family prayed about the matter, and we were all inclined to stay and to continue to fellowship with this people, even though I would be viewed as a heretic and numbered among the transgressors. As saints we are being conformed to the image of Christ, and the pattern of Yahshua’s life was to go to a people whom the Father had sent Him to, to be rejected and reproached by these people, and yet He did not shake the dust off His sandals and call down fire on them. Rather, He laid down His life for them that they might be reconciled to the Father. Yahshua is our pattern Man, and how blessed we are when the Father gives us an opportunity to share in the work and the suffering of His firstborn Son! The Spirit bore witness that He was offering such an opportunity to me, yet how easy it would be to simply walk away from this people since I was having to move at this time anyway.

As I considered it I realized that if I walked away pride would be the primary motivator in a decision to do so. Yet if I stayed and bore the reproach with contentment, God would work in me the humility that He desires in His sons and daughters. The decision was not a difficult one, and as a family we confessed to the Father that we were desirous of staying among these people that we loved, and which we knew He loved, and we asked that He would provide us a new place to live.

It was only a day or two after we had committed to stay, and had asked for God’s provision, that a check arrived in the mail. I was the only one home, and normally we did not see the mail arrive for the mailbox was quite a distance from the house. I “just happened” to look out the front window when I saw the mail being delivered. I felt the Spirit urging me to go and check the mail, and I had an expectancy that had been lacking during our long drought. There was a letter in the mail from a brother in Canada. I opened the letter and I found that it contained a postal money order, and what looked like a carbon copy.

The amount on the money order was $729.20. I had to look at the amount several times to believe I was seeing it correctly, for this was a significant amount, yet the note attached to it described it as being a small amount which the brother hoped would be helpful to allow me to continue in the ministry that the Father had called me to. Sure enough, it was over seven hundred dollars. As I walked back to the house I felt the Spirit urging me to look closer at the carbon copy. It looked identical, and had the very same amount inscribed on it. The thought occurred that I should check the serial number. The serial number on the copy was different than the original. In awe, I then understood that this Christian brother had sent me $1,458.40. He had actually sent $2,000 dollars Canadian, and this was the amount it translated to when converted to U.S. currency. What a blessing this was, and with this money the Father had provided the necessary money to pay our bills and rent our next home.

I took this gift to be a confirmation from the Father that He was pleased to allow us to remain in the area, and I had a growing anticipation that He would soon reveal His perfect provision for a home for us. I shared with my family that I believed the Father would do similarly as He had done the last time we had moved and we would not have to seek a place, but He would bring it to us. We did go out and check out a few possibilities one day, asking the Father to close all doors that were not of Him, and all the doors were closed, so I determined not to look further.

On the first of July I received a surprising phone call. A man from Illinois whom I had only received a couple of short e-mail correspondences from, was on the phone and he told me that he was in Montezuma, Georgia. This was unanticipated, and I invited he and his wife to come on over to our house. Our family had chosen this day to pack up all that could be boxed, so that we would be ready when the Father opened a door for us. This couple arrived to find our house filled with boxes.

Gary and Karri Sargeant were the names of our unexpected visitors. They shared with me that the Spirit had spoken to Gary and told him to go to Georgia to see me, and he really did not know all that the Father intended, but that he knew he was to be there. He wasn’t sure if the Father wanted him to move to Georgia, or just come for a visit, though Karri said that the Spirit had told her they would only be in Georgia seven days. Not certain of the Father’s will in this, Gary still heard the Spirit speak to him when he arrived in Montezuma, and direct him to rent a house. The Spirit said, “I will make it real simple. There will be only one house for rent in the local newspaper, and that is the one I want you to rent.” Sure enough, there was only one house for rent in the paper, and Gary put down a deposit on it, with a commitment to pay the rent by July 8th.

As Gary and Karri looked at the house they had placed a deposit on, they questioned whether the Lord really intended it for them. The house was too big for the two of them, being a three bedroom triple-wide manufactured home. When Gary entered our home with boxes everywhere, and heard that we were preparing to move, but had no idea where we were to move to, he said, “I think I may have just rented your house for you.”

Over the next few days, Gary prayed and asked the Lord that if the house were intended for he and his wife that the Father would provide the money for them to rent it by the end of the week, for they had rented a hotel room in town for one week and they had told the owners that they would pay them the rent in one week. He said that if the Lord did not provide them the money then he would know that the house was intended for us, and not them. Before the week was over, however, both Gary and Karri had heard from the Lord that they were to return to Illinois.

The Father sent this couple to Georgia for much more than simply to secure a house for us. The Father had many things which he wanted me to minister to this couple, and we spent much time together. The Spirit did some profound things during this week, and He manifested many prophetic signs that confirmed the things He was speaking. Before the week was over both Gary and Karri knew that they were to return to Illinois, and many spiritual things had been imparted between us all. My daughter formed a special bond with Karri, and it was a very precious time.

At the end of their week in Georgia, we went with the couple to meet the landlords of what was to be our new home, and to see the house. The house was everything we had desired. My daughter had especially wanted to remain in the country (as opposed to living in the city), and the home was on a farm with a pecan orchard behind it with cows pastured under the trees. There were horses in a nearby field, and my wife had been saying for months how she had wanted some chickens so she could have fresh eggs, though I did not want the responsibility of having to care for them. There were chickens that ranged freely throughout the yards, and the owners’ son said that we were welcome to have all the eggs we wanted for he did not like eggs. In this way, both my wife’s desire and my own were satisfied.

One thing I knew would be an important point to deal with up front was to disclose that we had inside dogs, and to ascertain that this was not a problem for the owners. Before we even arrived at the house the couple from Illinois told us that the landlords allowed indoor dogs, but not outside dogs, for they said the outside dogs always ended up becoming theirs. What a perfect provision this was, and I had never heard of any landlord who allowed only indoor dogs, which was exactly what we needed. They confirmed this when we spoke to them.

The landlords told us that the house had been advertised in the paper for about a week before this couple from Illinois came to rent it, and they had absolutely no response on the ad, which was amazing since decent rental property is very scarce in this rural area. Yet in the next days after this couple put down a deposit a waiting list of eight families who wanted to rent the home had been compiled. Since this couple had already put down the deposit, the owners were willing to transfer the deposit to us and allow us to rent it, which we did.

What a miraculous thing this was, for the Father sent a couple all the way from Illinois to secure a house for us, not even knowing we were having to move, and it was equally incredible that the home would be a perfect match for us in every way! Once more we had the house brought to us, and we did not need to search for it. In this little community, such things were truly amazing. My wife had recently spoken to another lady from this same community who was once in a similar situation of having to move in two weeks. She testified that she and her husband had to move out of the community for there were no suitable properties for rent.

After my great disappointment with the ministers of the local fellowship we were attending, I was much encouraged by the truly marvelous ways in which God continued to provide for us.


This excerpt is from the book Evidence of Things Unseen.

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