The 16th paragraph below this one begins the true story of a violent, angry, trouble hunting man who came to physically fight my congregation but he had a head on collision with the Holy Spirit and a small group of Christian children.
The following is paraphrased from various scriptures to illustrate how God "talks" to us through His Holy Word: "Remember; it’s an enduring way and if you endure to the end you will be saved. Sure, it might get tough once in a while and you will sin, act stupid and make mistakes. Sometimes Christians will judge you or neglect you when you really need them the most and that will desperately hurt you. Your own family and friends will grievously wound you and sometimes turn against you. You will hate the sin, but not the sinners, in the world.
The results of sin will disgust you to the point of gagging. Sometimes you’ll give your love and your testimony but sinners and backslid Christians will sling it back in your face and that will break your heart. But I and My Son will never forsake you, We will always be watching, if it gets too tough We’ll step into the fight and you will win. Talk to Me and read in My Book to the Ephesians (6:10-18). I’m not promising you the FABLED easy street that liar Satan offers.
DON’T YOU KNOW WHAT YOU OBTAIN TOO EASILY YOU WILL VALUE TOO LITTLE? THAT’S WHY YOU MEAN SO MUCH TO ME; YOU COST MY SON JESUS A HORRIBLE TORTURE AND HUMILIATION AND FINALLY HIS DEATH ON THAT BLOODY CROSS OF CRUEL TORMENT!
(Eph. 6:10-18) I’ll give you a set of spiritual armor. I’ll make you one of My soldiers. You’ll fight and it will make you strong. You’ll have battles. See with your spiritual eye. You’ll be in the arena that is the world. You’ll be tired, bloody and wounded. You’ll feel like all of hell is against you. Spiritually you will look through the visor of your battle dented, bent and battered helmet of salvation and there will be that horde of the sneering, shrieking, snarling devils gathered for the final onslaught that will overrun you and destroy you.
Your strong arm will be weak from exhaustion and your slashed and banged up shield of faith will slowly start lowering. Your breastplate of righteousness will be stinking and scarred from the fiery darts where the wicked have tried to pierce your pure heart that I purified. The rest of your armor is in ragged tatters where Satan’s evil has torn at you.
You’ll try to hold the Word of God high, that sword of the Spirit, but it’s just too heavy. It is chipped and nicked where you fought so well. Slowly, reluctantly, bitterly; in spite of you; it will drag your quivering arm down until the point of your sword will rest in the torn and ripped dirt where you have fought your lonely, desperate, magnificent, spiritual battle.
You’ll blink your eyes as the sacred sweat burns them. I am God; My heart is bursting with love for you My child. Through tears and parched, trembling lips you’ll whisper; “My Lord and my God, please help me; I’m about to go down!” That’s what I was waiting for; that released Me! I am God; I will fly to your aid faster than light. You’ll blink one more time and there they’ll be with faces like lightening and drawn swords, My angels, holding the devils at bay. There is a dead silence while the devils cringe and slither away.
I will come to you, I will hold you, I will bless you, I will give you a drink from My own cup of blessing, I will make the pain go away, I will fix your sin wounded and broken heart, I will show you how much I love you. I will make it better and I will comfort you. I am God, you are Mine and no man nor can all the devils there are take you away from Me. Through Me, and only Me, you are victorious." WRITER'S NOTE: I know this happens because I have lived it at least once when my eternity was in the balance. END OF NOTE.
(1Tim. 3:16) “God was manifest (show self) in the flesh (the human body with its human nature).” It was Jesus and He had the same passions, frailties, hormones, glands, nerves, muscle, skin, bone, and everything else we have.
UNDERSTAND THIS: (James 1:13) "God cannot be tempted with evil" (Matt. 1:18-25, Luke 1:26-37, 2Cor. 5:21 & 1John 3:5) Jesus was born without the fallen, carnal nature that came to all of mankind from the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden SO: Jesus did not need the regeneration of the born again salvation event. (Matt. 3:13-17) (V.15) Jesus was baptized by John to fulfill the righteousness of the Jewish (law of Moses) law because a priest had to be washed (baptized) to start his duties. (V.16-17) God Himself anointed Jesus to show Israel Jesus was a special Man with a special mission.
Jesus could be tempted just like man because He had a man's body. (Luke 4:1-13) Jesus was born sinless but it was up to Him to remain sinless in His lifetime! (read Heb. 4:14-16) That's why Jesus is our great High Priest! HE KNOWS HOW IT IS WITH US! HE UNDERSTANDS OUR WEAKNESSES! Jesus did not sin but He knows and He sits on the throne of grace "where we can come boldly that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."
Jesus had to have the same “standard issue” human body and nature just like us OR (Heb. 4:15) He could not have been tempted in all points (Hebrew word along with) like as we are, yet He didn't sin. Jesus was without sin! Jesus did it! Jesus made it! Jesus beat sin! JESUS IS STILL SINLESS! HE IS WORTHY! JESUS’ BLOOD IS PURE ENOUGH, PRECIOUS ENOUGH AND PERFECT ENOUGH TO CLEANSE US OF OUR SINS AND WE CAN BE SAVED FROM BEING LOST!
Jesus does understand how hard it is to resist sin because He fought sin Himself and He was the only one to ever win. Jesus knows exactly how hard it is to fight sin. Some misguided people want to defend Jesus against statements like these but Jesus does not need us to defend Him. We are the ones in need! We need Jesus to defend us! He knows how hard it is for us; (1John 2:1) that’s why Jesus is our advocate with the Father. Jesus knows! He knows! He understands! ALL THE TIME IS HOLY SPIRIT TIME!
(Heb. 4:16) That’s why Jesus flies to us quicker than lightening to cleanse us of our sins with His blood when we ask. (John 15:5) He knows we can’t win without Him! That is why (2Tim. 4:8) Jesus is a righteous judge (Heb. 4:15-16) who sits on the throne of GRACE. He knows! (Heb. 2:17-18) That is why He is a merciful and faithful High Priest. He knows!
(1John 1:7-10) Get under the spout where the glory comes out. STAY IN that cleansing flow of blood, the precious blood, from Calvary, from Jesus’ veins. The blood! The blood (Luke 1:78) the Dayspring from on high shed; (Acts 1:3) the blood the Son of the living God shed during His passion, the measure of His love for us, the blood He shed when He died for His Bride; YOU!
I won't mention the Holy Spirit's work in the following story because you can plainly see His work in the activities of the people involved. You'll see how God "took care of" our little congregation of Christians through the Holy Spirit when we didn't even know about the violence in a man's heart toward us. The violent man didn't know he was on a collision course with God either.
*****Please, just spiritually read the aspect of God's unseen hand as the events unfold. This is not an attack on the Catholic Church. I believe there are people who are saved through the Holy Spirit according to God's word and also unsaved in both the Protestant Church and the Catholic church. All I can say is, this is simply the way things happened.
This is an amazing, true story about how the Holy Spirit works even in the arena of human anger. I was there through the whole thing and I know. I'd heard an acquaintance was dying from cancer. Bill was an older man who, a few years before, had been my section boss in an underground coal mine but we had no social relationship. He was a fair man. He didn't expect any more out of us than he was willing to give.
Yes, he gave a lot and he expected a lot but we were willing because when the chips were down he was right there in the coal dust mud with us pulling his share of the load. He was quiet, well-mannered and I never saw him angry. One time one of the men said Bill and his wife were Christians. I wasn't, and I didn't pay much attention because being a Christian didn't matter to me. I was aware he was one of the fairest bosses I'd ever had. I did wonder if being a Christian had anything to do with it.
My Daddy knew him and he said Bill was a good man. BUT: He was simply someone I used to know. We'd say our "howdy, how are ye, I'm fine" if we met in a store or on the street and that was about it. I'm sure you have the same kind of zero relationships, no social contact, nothing in common, different friends, you know how it is.
He lived probably 10-12 miles away from where I lived. He had three grown daughters, two of them lived in other states with their husbands and one lived someplace in far western KY. Bill had the slow type of cancer and it took that parasite more than two years to kill its host.
Cancer is a stupid parasite; a smart parasite keeps its host alive so it will also live. I know that for a fact, I have cancer and if that's what kills me I will have the great satisfaction of knowing I have also killed that cancer, my parasite, (1Cor. 15:52-55 esp. V.55) AND after I kill my cancer I get to go on to heaven, to my immortality, while that cancer gets to rot in my grave with my mortality.
Bill and his family wanted him to die at home, so, when he got bad enough their Mother couldn't give him proper care the daughters started coming home one at a time for one week at a time to help with the lifting, turning, washing; well, you know how that is too. That way they each had two weeks to be with their immediate families and one week to help their Mom with their Dad. Of course, by the time Bill's cancer came along I'd gotten saved and had been a Christian several years.
One of the members of our congregation persuaded the daughter from Virginia, Debbie, to come to our Church when it was her turn to be in KY. She was a very quiet, unassuming woman who sat with her friend. Debbie quickly became acquainted with several women in the Church, made friends with those loving, friendly, kindly, God people ladies and she was there for our meetings every third week.
Our Holy Spirit led congregation was always kind, friendly and encouraging to visitors; if they kept coming, lost or saved, we welcomed them like they were a part of our Church family because we loved them. God would tend to the rest of it.
Saved or lost didn't matter, if they were lost they were welcome and we expected them to get saved, we didn't push it because that's between them and God. We simply worshipped God, praised God and poured out our souls in throbbing songs about God's tender mercy, love and grace. Pastor was a God Love preaching man. I've never seen another preacher like him, when he got in his God Groove, God Love poured right out of the pulpit and all over us.
If you've read "About the Writer" he's the one who took me, in his preaching, to see the price Jesus paid for my sorry, useless hide in his God Love sermon the day of the night I got saved. We were free to stand up and testify about what God meant to us and what He'd done in our lives. God blessed and anointed us, and walked among us in His Holy Spirit form, and He lived in our hearts.
God loved us and we loved Him and it showed, oh my how it did. We knew our small hillbilly Church congregation was as important to God as some great cathedral in some large city because God let us know it every time we met. It was a Holy Spirit led Pastor and congregation.
God had set us free, beautifully free, wonderfully free to participate, and by that God was also set free to use us as He saw fit. Yes, I realize that may sound strange to you if you go to one of those dry Churches where the service is cut and dried by rote and no participation from the congregation. No, I'm not putting your salvation and your Church down. (Phil. 2:12-13) You and yours have to; "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."
Like I said, God had set us free, we had a Pastor who understood that and, through love, we had set God free to do of His good pleasure. Everything was done according to scripture and in decency and order BUT if somebody wanted to testify or sing a song or shout for joy, they did it with our whole hearted-approval.
If you've never experienced that kind of unity and communion with God you probably won't understand and I feel sorry you've missed so much in your relationship with God. Only God (Jesus) can give me laughter, tears, sweat and chill bumps all at the same time when His nail scarred hands tenderly, graciously, lovingly hold my heart and He gives me a drink of blessing from His own cup of beautiful, beautiful love.
When the Holy Spirit tells someone to praise God, testify, sing, shout, hug somebody, whatever it is; the Holy Spirit also tells the others it's God's will so sit back and enjoy it because you know it's the right thing. (Mark 16:9-20 esp. V.18) No, we didn't handle snakes, drink poison and all that stuff either. There are congregations who do things different than us and if that's their Holy Spirit anointing God bless them and more power to them.
(John 4:23-24) Jesus said; "But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and truth." That's all that will ever count.
We worshipped God as matter of obedience to God through the Holy Spirit, you can find everything said in this, the next two and the four preceding paragraphs, in the Bible if you care to look in the Book of Psalms. King David wrote the Psalms after he'd killed Goliath.
Did you ever wonder why God told David to bring Goliath down with a stone? (Lev. 24:16) The punishment for blasphemy was death by stoning. (1Sam. 17:43) Goliath blasphemed God and God told David to stone him because of it. (1Sam. 17:40) Did you ever wonder why God had David choose five stones with which to fight? Check the scripture, Goliath had four tough relatives and if they wanted a dose of what God could give them God had David ready to stone them too.
There's a lot for the Church in (1Sam. 17:1-58) such as (V.4) Goliath, the anti-anointed, (V.10) the armies of Israel, the un-anointed, (V.34) Saul, the ex-anointed AND (V.45) David, the anointed. (V.38) is where Saul visibly quit because his heart wasn't right with God because there was "I'll do it my way" in his service to God and there will always be the same visible manifestation of that quitting, "I'll do it my way" when a Christian has quit serving God.
(V.39) Saul's armour wouldn't work for David. A quitter's reasons won't work for you either, reasons like blaming someone else for your problems with Church, disobedience due to backbiting, gossip, rumor mongering, trouble making, rebellion, anger, pride, greed, tale bearing and etc. ALSO: I can't be you and you can't be me. Your way won't fit me and my way won't fit you because to successfully witness for God each Christian must witness from his life lived experience and his relationship with God with all of it based on scripture.
(V.1-58) Is full of examples for the Church; "Send me God because with Your anointing I can be a winner." "Please heavenly Father, the devil has kicked me around like a sack of moldy potatoes and I'm tired of it, I'M TIRED OF IT! Give me the weapons, I want to get a little, no, A LOT, I want A LOT of my own back!" (V.45) "I've got lost family and friends I love, they're going to hell Lord! Give me the Holy Spirit Christ Fire of righteous indignation so I can tell that Goliath, the devil, "I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.
(Psa. 22:20) "The Darling of heaven, The Prince of life, the Son of the Living God (Tim. 2:6) paid the Ransom of His life for me and my loved ones. Oh God I'll do anything, I'll fast, I'll pray, I'll study, I'll be obedient. (Eph. 6:10-18) Oh Great God of Glory its late but I'm finally right here, give me the full armour of God, let me oh God be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. Give me the Holy Spirit anointing of power so, if it's called for, I can fight and die if I need to right at the gates of hell fighting for the souls of my loved ones!" (V.--) well, you know what I mean, don't you?
SO: Sometimes the Holy Spirit would ignite a Christ Fire Blessing in our souls and the whole service would turn into a singing, testifying love fest for God as people wept with happiness, laughed with joy, praised God with love, sung songs of praise, the Pastor would speak a comment now and then that just exactly fit and sometimes the whole congregation was up on its feet, hugging and loving each other with Godly love while the choir and the piano and guitar players poured out the Praise God love songs. That's the kind of service it was when Debbie went to the altar and God saved her.
Some months went by and every time Debbie came in for her week of helping her Mom she came to Church, Sunday school, Wednesday night Bible study, every service we had that week. One Wednesday night our Bible study service had started, we'd prayed, and the youth group was singing a couple of songs before we split up for our Bible classes. I wish you could have seen those beautiful, sweet, innocent, little faces looking upward and passionately singing their hearts out for God.
Passion, that's the key word for that night! God has blessed me to remember in pictures and emotions. It is His anointing and revelation of scripture that guides me to write about what I know, how I live my life and the spiritual things I see and feel. It's staggering that God has blessed weak, sorry, useless, unprofitable me to tend His website for Him. Passion! There was the Spirit of loving passion in the Church that was more intense than normal.
While they were singing the door shoved open, a man entered and the door was violently slammed shut. That man was something to see. He was probably 6' 2" or so tall and he had to go 230-240 lbs. I could tell from the way he was built and the athletic way he moved he was all muscle.
His face was livid with a glowering, frowning anger and his eyes were like fire blue lasers burning back and forth across us as he stomped down the aisle then he suddenly turned left and abruptly sat down by himself in the third pew from the back. The youth group never missed a beat, they were so spiritually into it I doubt if they even realized he had stomped into the Church house.
I turned and took another look at this huge, unidentified, angry man who had slammed himself among us. Large, thick neck, I'm sure you've seen the kind, even his frowning forehead had lumps of muscle on it, his jaw muscles bulged and worked as he gritted his teeth, cannon ball shoulders. He'd leaned back with his big arms spread and resting on the back of his pew, bull chested, coal black hair; his eyes burned into mine while I had my look. I didn't even think to pray. God was with us and that's all that mattered.
It seemed like a darkness was hovering in the corners at the back of the Church, not a darkness you can see, but a very real, threatening darkness that was somehow straining to be set free. I was aware the piano had stepped it up a notch and was now a low thunder of offering and the children's voices had somehow risen.
I had the feeling the angels were standing open mouthed as God's babies gave their offering and an angel with a golden censer was throwing that offering on God's great golden altar and the incense of the sanctity of the Son of God accompanied it and it was pleasing to God.
It was odd, really odd, like the children didn't know they were engaged but were winning some kind of battle against the darkness. The moment was broken when the children stopped and Pastor said it was time to go to our classes. Bible study through the week is attended only by the most dedicated Christians, maybe 10 to 15 percent and Sunday school attendance is between 10 to 20 percent of the congregation in most cases.
Pastor taught the older children in the pews just in front of the pulpit. A lady taught the small children in the pews in the back of the church. Toby, just starting to preach under Pastor's tutelage, taught the adult class in the 20 foot wide room that ran the length of the Church. That room did triple duty as semi-kitchen, dining room and Bible study room.
There were portable cooking devices, counter top crock pots, ovens, broilers, warmers and etc. on the counter top with its sinks and storage cabinets at the west end of the room. The east end of the room was partitioned off even with the foyer of the Church to make a place for the restrooms that were entered from the foyer.
The rest of the room was filled with a double row of tables and chairs. It was just a small, wooden Church; lovingly built, remodeled and added to over the years by callused hands, lined faced, sacrificing, tender hearted, poor folk, hillbilly Christians. There were probably 12 adults and maybe 25 total counting the children that night at that Bible study.
When we adults went through the door that led from the sanctuary to the Bible study room the big stranger went with us. He didn't look so angry and he walked softer. He had never said a word to anyone and by his demeanor, "don't bother me, stay away" none of us had spoken to him, not one.
The ladies, Debbie with them, sat along the row of tables on one side and the men sat along the other row of tables on the opposite side and that left the two rows of us facing each other, it was the same thing as it would have been had we been sitting at one table. Toby taught from the west end, my left, sitting, facing the two rows of us.
The silent stranger looked at the floor as he shouldered his way on down to the end of the men's side. I was next to him with 2 or 3 empty chairs between us and that put him on my right. It was customary that we would all jockey our chairs around so we could face Toby and that move put the stranger directly behind me and far enough in back of us that nobody could see him unless they turned completely around.
It sounds a little complicated but it was a warm, cozy, family setting. Our brotherhood, kindness, loving warmth and fellowship made it that way. If you haven't experienced that its hard to understand. I was seated closest to our visitor.
It was Toby's custom to read a few verses scripture, give his opinion on it and if nobody said anything, he'd read a few more verses. Each of us was free to discuss or give an opinion about what was read at any time. Toby picked up where we left off last week; "I'll read (2 Cor. 5:17-21) and stop there 'cause the chapter ends."
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation, Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."
This next part is really hard to explain if you've never experienced it. If you have experienced it you'll instantly recognize what I'm saying. Yes, I've seen it happen to Christians that didn't understand what was happening and there were two or three of them there that night. I absolutely mean no insult to you and your understanding of God in the next two sentences, I simply seek your understanding of the startling events that unfolded that night.
SO: At this time: If you don't understand exactly what being filled with the Holy Spirit means go to the article The Holy Spirit is Given scroll down to the end of the article then scroll back up seven paragraphs and you can read the true meaning of (Acts 2:1-4). If you are not sure of God's exact identity go to the article Who is the Holy Spirit and read the first six paragraphs.
(Rom. 8:9) All Christians have the Holy Spirit living within them or they are not Christians. (Acts 2:4) The Holy Spirit filling is an added measure of Holy Spirit power to empower Christians to do a particular and sometimes difficult job for God. No we didn't speak in tongues, we didn't need too, all of us spoke English.
Toby read that scripture, the Holy Spirit power fell upon us with that spiritual "snap" and we were instantly in a different plane of Holy Spirit revelation and calling. If you've experienced it you'll understand; intense spiritual energy is a palpable, tangible, easily perceived force, voices deepen and yet are more penetrating, the words are said with passionate power that have the hammer on metal ring of undeniable truth, eyes change and get brighter with passion and expressions change into the loving endurance of absolute certainty.
The Holy Spirit of anointing, of loving, of calling and I could have no more held my words than I could have stopped breathing; "That word creature means (new creation) 'n that's shown by the way it's used. When you truly get saved you're born again spiritually, in God's eyes you ain't got no sin against you, you belong to God's family, it's a fresh start."
Sue, over on the other side, gentle Sue that never had much to say, looked startled and like one person doing all the talking without a break, she picked up right where I left off; "It's Jesus' blood that washes them sins away, nothin' else'll ever do it." And that's the way it went:
Toby; "God loved us enough to give his Son as a sacrifice so we can get saved. Jesus was resurrected 'n the proof of that is what we feel right now." Bryan; "Yeah, 'cause Jesus promised He'd come back in His Holy Spirit person to live in us after he was lifted up into heaven 'n that's what He did in the second chapter of Acts."
The stranger gave a low, rude, grunting snort of disbelief that never interrupted a thing, except me, and it was a fleeting thought "Man, he sure is rude".
We were in our God Groove of worship, praise and thanksgiving and he didn't matter. Dexter: "It's a reconciliation, I think it's over in Colossians where it says we was made by God for God. Sin 'n disbelief separates us from God." Me; "Yeah, Jesus said He come to seek "n save the lost. We get saved from bein' lost." Clifford; "Yeah, it's God's drawin' 'n when that happens we realize we've got a decision time comin' to make the decision of whether we're gonna get saved 'er not."
The stranger uttered a softer, long, grunting sigh.
Gerri; "Yeah, sin's in the way of gettin' saved. Jesus suffered our sins, perfect, sinless Jesus actually became our sins on the cross 'n that's how they get washed away by His blood so we can get saved from bein' lost."
The stranger gave a long, audible sigh with a louder ahhh at the end of it.
Russell; "I was an awful feller. I didn't believe in nothin' but gettin' what I could outta life 'n other people, I was lost 'n Jesus shore took alla that away when He saved me." Della; "That time of decision shore is tough. I was a good person but I just knowed I was a goin to hell 'cause I was lost. Me! Me, I was goin' to hell if I didn't get saved 'n that scared me to death but Him a lovin' me so much is what broke my heart."
The stranger gave out a long ahhhhh of a sigh with a couple of strange little grunts at the end of it.
Toby; "The scripture says fear is the beginning of wisdom, God gives us the knowledge we're gonna die 'n go to hell. Dana; I was raised in Church 'n Jesus a lovin' me so much was about as hard on me as the bein' afraid part. I hadn't done no big sins a growin' up 'n I thought a whole lotta myself for being a good person. But, no matter how good you are, you're still lost 'til you get saved. It almost killed me that He loved me with His kinda love."
Bryan; "When you get saved you'll know it 'cause the Holy Spirit will move right in with your soul 'n He'll tell you that everything's all right between you 'n God."
The stranger came out with the oddest broken sigh; "Ahhh-ahhh-ahhh-ahhh" and there was a little "catch" at the end of each one of them.
I happened to be looking right at silent Debbie when the stranger made that noise, her face was more pink than usual, she had a beautiful expression of love and satisfaction and tears were pouring down her face in streams. I figured it was because she was a new Christian. Jeremy; "I can relate to that. I didn't know what love was 'til I found out how much Jesus loved me and it like ta killed me."
Me; "Lordy, I was 31 years old the first time I went to Church. You fellers know I'd been a Marine 'n went to 'Nam twice, meaner 'n a snake, it broke my heart when I found out I killed Jesus. Shore 'nuff it was my sins that done it but I was the man that done 'em, so it was me that killed Jesus. My sins nailed Jesus to the cross. He loved me enough, well, the Innocent traded His life for the guilty 'n I was the guilty one." A chorus of "Amen." and "Me too." went around the table.
The stranger sounded like he was struggling to catch his breath 'n was making low, wet gurgling sounds.
I was closer and could hear him the best so I turned around to see if I could help. Tears were pouring, absolutely pouring, and there were wet spots on his shirt! At that moment I loved that sore troubled stranger with all my heart; "Sir, is there some way I can help you?"
He gurgled a few seconds, started crying like a hurt child, looked at me with wide open, deathly wounded eyes and strangled out; "I want what you people have got!"
I was already on fire and that statement made the Christ Fire hotter. I jumped up and started toward him saying over my shoulder; "One of you fellers tell Pastor to stop the classes, we've got a man here that wants to get saved." By the time I got to him he was standing up, humped up, sagging and broken.
I took him by the hand, put my arm around him and we headed to the door that led back into the sanctuary (the Church proper, the altar, the holiest of holies). He was trembling like a leaf in a wind storm, all sagged down, but we were walkin' fast. I'd never seen a bunch of Christians move so fast either. By the time we got to the altar Pastor was waiting and the tiny congregation was gathered around.
The stranger and Pastor knelt together at the altar and Pastor had his arm around him, the rest of us, children included, also knelt to help all we could with our prayers. That huge, sobbing, shivering, humble stranger was awash in a sea of God Love people and the Holy Spirit of love. As I knelt I noticed a motion back to my right and when I turned and looked Debbie was sitting on the front pew, humped over and sobbing into her hands.
I had to tend to the important business of praying for this stranger but the thought flitted through my mind; "Debbie's a new Christian and this situation must have overcome her." God made a short work of saving that wonderfully broken man and he came up rejoicing with that same boundless energy he had exhibited before but it was "good energy" now. He almost hugged all of us to death while he was laughin' and cryin' for pure joy.
Then we got started laughin' and cryin' and huggin' each other. I know in my heart that God was rejoicing in front of His angels and Jesus was right there in His Holy Spirit form laughin' and huggin' with us. After a while things started cooling down a bit and Pastor said; "Brother, come up here with me and tell all these nice folks what God has done for you." And he did, my goodness, how he did.
"Baby come up here and stand with me while I tell this." Debbie got up off the pew, walked up there, they put their arms around each other and Pastor's mouth fell open big enough for a bluebird to fly into it. It would have taken a lot of bluebirds because everybody's mouth was hanging open too. The once angry man, now humble and tender, well, his tears were still pouring and he was grinning from ear to ear but, despite all that, even though he was trembling and his deep voice was quivering, he could still talk real plain.
Then he started and he was a well-spoken man with beautiful, proper, sort of stilted English; "God has saved me and just like you folks said I would, I know it!" He stopped a few seconds to compose himself again and started again. "I'm Debbie's husband. When she came home one time about a year ago and told me she had started going to Church up here I was delighted. She wouldn't go to Church with me at home so I was glad.
I've been a Catholic all my life and when she said she'd started going to Church up here I presumed it was Catholic, because that is all I know. Then a few months ago she came home and said she had gotten "saved" and I did not know what she was talking about." He stopped, wiped some tears, composed himself again and continued.
"I wanted to know all about it, she tried to explain and we disagreed. I told her it was in her best interest that she stay away from those Protestants. She kept coming for her weekly visits and every time she came home she had something else to say about your method of worship and all this Holy Spirit business. An anger started building in me and every time she came home it got worse. After she left Monday morning to come up here for her turn this week I was thinking very deeply about our predicament.
Then it dawned on me; "She's in the clutches of a cult. She's in terrible danger. I've got to rescue her." and I immediately took off work and started this way. Luckily, I remembered the name of this Church and its general location. The longer I drove the more furious I became. I love my wife and would do anything to protect her. She is the love of my life. By the time I stopped to get directions and wandered around a bit I knew your services had already started.
I was enraged and I would have fought all of you to rescue her. I even thought there might be some sort of orgy or something when I got here. When I saw this Church, it looked like some of the small, Protestant, country Churches that are located in my area but by that time my fury had overcome my reason."
He paused, wiped some more tears and shook his head ruefully; "All I could think about was charging in here, grabbing her by the arm and dragging her out to the car. If anybody tried to stop me I would destroy them with my fists.
Like a fool I charged in here and was storming down the aisle when I saw those children's faces and I had to sit down. I have never heard any singing like that, it was so free and beautiful. I followed her into your Bible study and a strange emotion had started somehow tugging at me. It was a beautiful emotion but somehow there was also fear in it.
When I heard you folks start talking with that strange power I knew I was hearing the truth. Something happened within me, I knew God was calling out to me, He somehow revealed to me that I was a lost soul and the immensity of His love caused me to feel crushed, small, useless and helpless." That man was talking our language, some of the ladies had tears and the rest of us were swallowing hard. His wife had a death grip on him and was sobbing.
He was talking faster 'n faster and louder 'n louder; "It was a strange emotion, almost an envy, that I couldn't be like you. At first I was ashamed of my tears, then I didn't care, then I forgot them. I didn't know what to do and then that man right over there asked me if he could help me and I just broke.
I don't remember what happened until I found myself at your altar surrounded by you folks and I've never felt so loved in all my life. It was so natural to be there with you on my knees begging God to save me. I know, I definitely know, I was at God's feet, God was right there and I was alone before Him. I have never felt anything like that."
He was crying harder, it was difficult for him to talk, lots of us were nodding, crying and quiet "Amen's." were murmured because he sure was telling it just like it happened to us. "I was so filled with desperation, I wanted what you had so very bad and I cried out that I'd do anything if He would just save me! It was all I could do, I was so ashamed and it seemed endless but then He saved me and I knew it, I feel different, I am different."
And he burst into loud sobs of joy and we had us another God loving hug fest. That's when I noticed the darkness in the back of the church was gone!
It was then that I realized Debbie's witness to her husband there in Virginia, in spite of his mounting ire, had planted the Holy Spirit blessed Christ seed in his soul. The Holy Spirit germinated, sprouted and tended that tiny plant of the desire for salvation and we were permitted to be there and be a part of the harvest when God saved our huge, happy, gentle, brand new blood Brother (Jesus' blood) who was no longer a threatening stranger.
Debbie came back in to help her Mom twice more and she sure showed her happiness at our Church. She was somehow like a new bride. That makes sense now that I think about it; they were two new people, so, why not?
Bill died before it was Debbie's turn to come again. I didn't know about it until the funeral was over. Her Mom went to live with one of her daughters and I've never seen any of them again. I hope those two are still on Holy Spirit time because all the time is Holy Spirit time.
It would be nice if, wherever they are, they somehow found this article and read it. I'll bet they haven't forgotten what happened here and they'll be glad at least one of us remembered. Debbie, if you and your husband ever read this I want you to know your salvation experiences at my Church were a bright, beautiful and shining time that has made my life a little better and I love you both. Jim.
GOD BLESS YOU.