NOTE: Article 2 of this series is a real life event that shows how far the degradation of sin can take a living, breathing person into the abyss of destruction and how God's love can raise that same person to great heights of service to God by inspiring him to become a CHOSEN VESSEL and part of this event is the great wonder God accomplished in the lives of 8 little boys.
I must admit something here; When I finished Part 2 I let one of those boys (men now) read it and he said the number wrong. I had left at least two names off and he gave them to me. I did not give their first names here because some of them have gone far and personal contact was gone. I only used the number of boys. Please take my word for it; if you take the twenty or so minutes it will take you to read Part 2 you will be changed forever. END OF NOTE.
Near the end of this Article #1 is the true story "The Hat"; Veterans please read it. You can have a greater cause.
NOTE #2: There are two covenants; the Old Testament physical covenant and the New Testament spiritual covenant. There is no salvation in the physical covenant but it is still in effect and the proof is that Israel, the nation, is in existence once again as Ezekiel prophesied in (Ezek. 37:1-14 esp. V.11). END OF NOTES.
That event took place in 1948 when (V.11) Israel became a nation! The Jews had been scattered and "dead" without a nation (physical land). The new nation of Israel was "carved out" of the old nation of Israel the Romans had renamed Palestine when they destroyed Israel as a nation in 73AD now called CE (Common Era).
(Matt. 24:1-3) Just think about Satan's hatred: According to Jewish records in 73AD (Anno domini- declared by the church, in Medieval Latin, to be the year of our Lord- when Jesus was born- NOT after death) the Romans destroyed Israel and especially it's capital Jerusalem, they slaughtered about 1.1 million Jews, sold tens of thousands of Jews into slavery, wasted Jerusalem, tore down the temple and hauled off the stones, burned what would burn, then plowed and salted the earth. Then they removed the name Israel from their maps and renamed the country Palestinia.
Now think about God's power: Israel is right there in front of us; a living, breathing entity of a nation that is still a thorn in the side of the world and Israel will not go away. WHY? Because God declared it would be so. Now think about this: God and His Son Jesus Christ are still right here, They are still a thorn in the side of evil men (Rev. 20:11-15) and They won't go away either! NOTE: For a real eye opener check the internet articles concerning the Siege of Jerusalem in 70 and 132 AD.
Here is how the two covenants work together. (Eph. 2:11-22) As far as God and His Holy Bible are concerned there are two “types” of people in the world. They are #1 the Jews which are called the circumcision and all other people which are called #2 the Gentiles and are scripturally called the uncircumcision.
(Acts 7:2-53; Rom. 3:1-2; & Heb. 9:1-28) The Jews were and are a prepared race/nation of people (a chosen vessel nation) to whom was given (Gen. 17:10-13) the physical circumcision covenant made with a bloody knife and man’s bloody hands, the Law of Moses, the Prophets, the Judges, the priesthood, method of worship, the sacrifices and the task of writing the Holy Scriptures.
They were a prepared race from which Jesus the Christ (Messiah), the Saviour of the world, the King of Israel, the Son of the Living God would be born. (Heb. 9:14-15) Jesus came to be the mediator (reconciler) of the New Testament (covenant) (Eph. 7:10) by the grace of God and that is the source of the spiritual grace covenant under which the Church was established and operates.
(Matt. 21:33-46 & Mark 8:27-32) Jesus came to the Jews but they, as a nation, rejected Him; (Rom. 11:1-25 esp. V.17) and by that rejection the Gentiles were graffed in (ingraft, to prick in; think nails and spear) under the (Eph. 2:7-9 & Heb. 9:10-24) spiritual grace covenant made on a cross with bloody nails and a bloody spear by man’s bloody hands in which Jesus was circumcised (cut off) from among the living (Rom. 11:24-28) and Israel (the Jews) will be (Rom. 11:11) provoked to jealousy and through that jealousy Israel the nation of Jews, but not all individual Jews, will be saved.
(Mark 8:36) "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul." IN THIS CHURCH AGE YOU HAVE JESUS OR YOU HAVE NOTHING! Has anyone of you ever seen a hearse pulling a trailer to the cemetery so a person could take their possessions and position with them? (Acts 2:1-41 esp. V.5) From the first preached sermon until now these two types, Jews and Gentiles, are divided into four basic groups when the world’s population is viewed through the words of the Holy Bible. (Gal. 1:13-14) There are #1 racial Jews, unsaved, who adhere to the Jewish Law of Moses (Judaism) or adhere to nothing.
(Rom. 2:28-29 & 8:6-17) There are #2 racial Jews, saved, who are born again Christians who are sometimes called Messianic Jews. (2Cor. 11:26) There are #3 Gentiles, unsaved, who the scripture calls heathen regardless of who or what they worship. (John 3:16, Rom. 2:28-29 & 8:6-17) There are #4 Gentiles, saved, who are born again Christians.
That’s the way God sees all people and that’s the way it is written in His Holy Word. Israel has disappeared from the map, Israel has been dominated, Israel has been disbursed, Israel has been hounded and persecuted, (Rom.9:27-28) but Israel is still right there and a remnant is still faithful to the physical circumcision covenant.
God regards them as the nation of Israel thus the physical circumcision covenant is still in effect. (Ezek. 28:13-17 & Isa. 14:12-14) That is why there will not be, and cannot be, be a lasting peace in the Middle East. All that is discussed in detail in the Jesus Commentary.
(2Cor.11:22) The apostle Paul was a Jew just like the other eleven apostles. (Acts 1:16-20) Judas lost his apostleship (Acts 1:21-26) and Matthias was elected without the guidance of the Holy Spirit. (Phil. 3:1-8) The apostle Paul had a zealot’s personality. He would have been a zealot in whatever he did. (Gal. 1:13) He was a zealot in persecuting the church and (2Cor.11:21-28) he was a zealot in building up the church.
(Acts 9:1-9) God “hit” Paul hard there on the Damascus road but its severity only matched Paul’s “tough” personality. God’s severity when God “hit” you was strong enough to match your personality. Paul did not get a “better chance” to get saved than you did because (Acts10:34) God does not respect persons in the salvation aspect.
(Acts 9:17-18) Paul had to get saved first which was Paul's choice. Nobody else but Paul could be a Paul so (Acts9:11-17 esp. V.15) he was a chosen vessel; (Heb.11:25) Paul could have refused, he made a choice. Paul was willing and it was his choice to perform the task God wanted him to do. (Gal.1:15-16) The Holy Spirit taught Paul so he could write several books of the New Testament.
(2Tim. 4:6-7) Even at the end of his life when he was imprisoned at Rome where he was eventually beheaded (2Tim. 4:13 keywords: books, parchments) Paul still studied the books (Biblion pronounced bib-lee-on: a roll, a scroll; and is the source word for Bible) and the parchments (Latin word: membrana pronounced mem-bran-ah: it is writing that is on a membrane, a sheepskin).
Obviously, Paul was still studying the Old Testament writings. Bible study should be that important in our lives! Paul was facing death but he was still hungry for God’s word! (Acts 10:34) God does not respect persons (Heb. 11:6) but God does respect obedience through faith (2Tim. 2:15) and God said "study to show thyself approved (accepted)". That's a great lesson for modern Christians.
God’s work will get done! None of us are so important, so “chosen”, that God’s work screeches to a halt if we get stupid, stubborn, or lazy.
God, the church and heaven will be just fine without you or me. God seeks willing, knowledgeable, sanctified, prayed up Christians to do His work. Once again: (Acts 1:12-26) Remember Judas: (V. 16-20) “Let his bishoprick (superintendent, overseer) another take.” (Acts 9:3-31) Paul filled Judas' empty position. Think about this: Before the disciples were given the gift of the Holy Spirit they (V.14) with prayer, elected Matthias to take Judas' place. Did they run right off and operate out of God's will just like all of us (especially you and me) are so prone to do?
Sometimes it appears as if God doesn't do things fast enough to fit man's schedule. Think about this concerning Matthias and Paul: (Rev. 4:4-11) There are only twenty-four seats available for the twelve patriarchs and twelve apostles. Do you think man selected Matthias but God selected Paul?
(1Cor. 12:7-8) The Holy Spirit gives you your gifts of wisdom and knowledge to be used in conjunction with God’s Holy Word and it can only be applied through your own unique life experience.
When your life experience; divorce, death of a child or sibling, car wreck, jail time, sports, your job, whatever your life has been; is similar to another person’s life; God, through the Holy Spirit, can and will use you to “spiritually touch” that other person in whatever way is needed when you use your life experience to develop a common ground rapport with either Christian or non-Christian.
The key to making it work is to let your love, compassion, understanding, humility and sympathy be a part of your testimony. Don’t be afraid to put yourself down in some humorous way. Somebody says; “How are you?” “Well (pause to think) I’m old and fat and grey.” OR: “Well (pause) we were looking at family pictures last week and I’m the ugliest one in the family.” OR:
“I was such an awful child Mommy had to tie a pork chop around my neck to get the dog to play with me.” Self-depreciating humor breaks the ice. Humility gets people on your side. (John 4:34-42) You are a seed of Christ sower! Then you smile and say; “I’m glad Jesus takes anybody.”
People are in a hurry. Carry typed salvation tracts; (THE ONE-ARTICLE COMMENTARY; BREATH OF LIFE IS A GOOD ONE; I CARRY NOTEBOOKS FULL OF THEM AND I HAVE SEEN THEM WORK OVER AND OVER AND OVER.) give them one and say; “I understand how it is, we both live in a hurry up world but will you read this when you get home, get relaxed and have a few minutes?” Don’t be afraid to “throw your heart out on the table” when testifying about God and salvation. If somebody smashes your heart by their criticism, ridicule, or rejection of you and your testimony about Jesus, God will fix it because He is a heart fixer.
I also carry copies of the article; BACKSLIDING: THE FAILURE PRINCIPAL located on the Sin in Church commentary. It is a good one for Christians in that it goes all the way into the personal relationship Jesus desires with His Christians and it tells how the High Court of Heaven works. It is a good one for lost people because before salvation the devil or their own pride says; "I won't get saved until I can live perfect." We, you and I, know that will not happen! (Matt. 26:34 & 62-75 esp. V's.70 denied, V.70 with an oath & V.74 curse and swear) Peter sinned, (Rom. 7:19-25) Paul sinned, (1John 1:7 thru 2: and the first 8 words of V.2 keywords we, us our) John sinned.
I also carry copies of Part 2 of CHOSEN VESSELS the article OLD WALTER: A CHOSEN VESSEL on the menu after this article. It is to share a special blessing with Christians but it also 'helps' backsliders and lost people. God is the Author of this website, all handouts have the scriptures given, they are based on the Bible and when people read them the Holy Spirit goes to work. All the credit for any information given on this website goes to God, I am merely the writer. Make a bunch of copies, pray fervently for God's blessing and hand them out, you'll see!
First thing; please read the article Who is the Holy Spirit on this commentary so you will understand who you are serving; it is critical! (Gal. 6:7-10) Of course your work for God must be done through the Holy Spirit and by the Holy Bible but it is your unique life God wants to use. YOU MUST BE WILLING; YOU MUST WANT TO SERVE GOD AND YOU MUST ASK HIM THROUGH PRAYER TO TEACH YOU HOW; THEN YOU MUST BE BOLD ENOUGH TO TRY AND HUMBLE ENOUGH TO GET STARTED. IT SOUNDS COMPLICATED, BUT JUST DO IT; YOU'LL SEE!
Christian growth takes time, we are all, each one of us Christians, are a work in progress. (Matt. 13:8) That progress depends on our individual natural ability, how much we love God, passion, PRAYER, dedication, study, persistence, courage, attitude, willingness to sacrifice self for the cause of Christ, to put away earthly things like hobbies, sports, clubs, and etc. on into the infinity of nausea. WHY DO I WITNESS? ITS SIMPLE, I LOVE JESUS AND I WANT TO SERVE HIM ANY WAY I CAN.
After God saved me, I wanted everyone to feel like me, to experience what had happened to me but I didn't know how. Read the article Part 2, Jesus, My Daddy and Me on this commentary, he was the first person I witnessed to and I also went right on witnessing to other people at the same time. I didn't know much about the Bible but I had a tremendous hunger to know everything about God and I started studying furiously. I gradually came to the knowledge that (Luke 24:50-51) Jesus had taken His body with Him when He ascended into heaven.
(1Cor. 12:27) The church is the body of Christ. (Rom. 8:9 & Eph. 1:13-14) Our preacher preached about the Holy Spirit and I dimly understood from the beginning the Holy Spirit was within me. There is the unused power of God within me. (Eph. 2:22) I am a habitation of God through the Spirit! My body is Christ's body! "Lord, please send me, take me, take my hands and feet, take my mouth and eyes and use all of me to bring honor and glory to your name!" (1Sam. 17:29) I had found my cause. (1Sam. 17:43-47) Bring God into the battle! And I did! I didn't know God was also preparing me to someday be His vehicle for building this website.
"Writer, do you feel special in this work for God?" (Luke 17:8-10) "I am an unprofitable servant I have only tried to do that which is my duty to do." "Writer, do you think God owes you heaven with Him because of what you do?" (Luke 12:48) "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required. " Writer, do you think you will receive a special reward for what you have accomplished when you get to heaven? (John 15:5 keywords: for without me ye can do nothing) "I have accomplished nothing; Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, has accomplished all of it. If I am allowed to, I would like to crawl up on my belly like the dog I am and kiss His nail scarred feet. If not, I will be content to be among the crowd worshipping Him with my eyes, my heart and my mouth singing His praises"
(1Thess. 5:14-27 esp. V.17) This scripture describes every Christian’s daily work and it describes developing the attitude of prayer. Everywhere you look, everything you see, everything you think, there is something you can pray about by either asking for something for yourself or for somebody else, praising God for what He has done in your life, or praising God for the beauty and complexity of the natural world. What about yourself; are you perfect; do you need to pray to God about you? Do you know God as well as you want to?
All of us, especially me, fall so terribly short in our prayer life. (Eph. 6:18) Prayer and supplication must be done through the Holy Spirit but do not mention the Holy Spirit’s name (Eph. 2:18) because the Holy Spirit is our access to God. What is the Holy Spirit telling you? Is there someone you know so well you can witness to them better than anyone else? Maybe the kids down the street need a ride to Sunday school; be sure to ask their Mom and Dad if they can go.
Maybe an old Christian needs some company once in a while. Can you imagine yourself in an old Christian's life; day after day, alone; remembering: remembering when people used to love you; remembering when you were important enough to love; back then when you could do; back then when you had things and time to give. Questioning; were my things and my time the reason they said they loved me? Wondering; am I going to die here alone; all by myself, and nobody to care?
(1Cor. 12:31 keywords: covet earnestly the best gifts then V.10 discerning of spirits) Strike up conversations on some common ground you have with someone you know or with someone the Holy Spirit points out. Just a simple; “excuse me; Are you a Christian.” is the way I start. There are only three kinds of people in the world, Christian, non-Christian (lost) or used to be a Christian (backslid), and you will have information for all of them.
IT IS AMAZING HOW THE HOLY SPIRIT GOES BEFORE US AND WORKS TO CAUSE PEOPLE TO “OPEN UP” TO A KINDLY, INTERESTED, LOVING CHRISTIAN. Visit hospitals, assisted living residences, or nursing homes and witness to patients; let them know somebody cares; tell them you love them.
Ask God to show you how to love, to teach you to understand love and you will need to fast about it. Study the Bible and talk about it to people. Don’t be afraid; you are serving the Living God. (Mark 12:41-44) There are a million “little” jobs to be done and Jesus notices who does every one of them. Getting close to God through the Holy Spirit is the focus of this commentary. That’s how you get close to God. Ask Him to; “equip me, send me, show me, use me, let me go do it.” God will be glad to!
A tip about fasting: (Dan 9:3) When you fast you are showing God you are willing to give up something, to suffer, to get His attention. (Luke 10:38-42) We all get caught up in the busyness of “our day” and don’t think about God very often. During fasting every time you hear that empty rumble, feel the hunger pains, or feel physically weak you are reminded you are involved in a “special time” with God. That situation reminds you to pray no matter where you are.
(Matt. 6:5-6) Secret prayer in your thoughts works just as good as a private, formal, on the knees prayer because God knows you have commitments you have to keep and He does not want you to make a public spectacle of yourself. (Matt. 6:16-18) Do not let anyone know you are fasting (1Cor. 7:4-5) except your wife or husband.
God does not want them to worry because you aren’t eating; and you may even inspire them. (Matt. 6:16-18) Don’t show anyone you are suffering, even a little bit; do not exalt yourself about it; fasting is a time of humility before God.
NOTE: Before you go to part 2, if you decide to do so, let me tell you how the writing of it came about. I knew Walter when I was six or seven years old. I am blessed beyond measure that God permitted me to be a part of it. The part of the event concerning Old Walter was a beautiful, warm, but fading spot in my heart; fading because my advancing age and well, you older folks know how it is. Then I started getting a little, itchy burden to write about it in the winter of 2010/11. But I couldn't grasp the clarity of the event.
Last May, spring 2011, I went out on the porch to enjoy the morning. My wife was gone to town, I was sitting there by myself, enjoying the sun, listening to the birds sing and Old Walter was the furthest thing from my mind. (Matt. 10:29-31) I thought about how God notices a sparrow fall. I apologized again for the great number of them I killed with a BB gun when I was a boy. God has long ago forgiven me for those terrible deeds but I'm sorry I hurt His feelings so many times and every once in a while I tell Him that.
I'm not giving excuses I'm just explaining; I'm from a hunting society. Maybe I was born with a predator streak, maybe my desire and conscience were programmed by the constant bombardment of hunting stories; who knows. The fact is I did it and I'm ashamed. I feed birds all winter and make nesting places for them now but that don't help the ones that fell before my gun.
I don't do it out of guilt, I do it because I love them. Anyway, I remember crying, kicking up a fuss and fighting the best I could to go hunting. Finally Daddy got me a BB rifle when I was five and turned me loose to rampage up and down Lick Fork Creek. Bad news.
You can see how my thoughts were running that morning when I "happened to think" about God noticing a sparrow fall. The Holy Spirit? You decide. "They sure are singing pretty, I'll bet they make God happy, they make me happy." We listened a while. "I wonder if it would make God happy if I whistled "Amazing Grace" just special for Him?
I went in the house and got my song book, came out and whistled "Amazing Grace" with everything in me; just as true, and sweet, and perfect, and loud as I possibly could. I just wanted God to be happy.
I hadn't even had time to put my song book down when I started reliving the Old Walter story right down to the first four words he said in Church, no, it wasn't like watchin' a movie, I could smell the smells, hear the individual voices and sounds, see the tears and clothes, feel the feelings (emotions), I was part of it-my part. You'll understand when you read those four words.
I jumped up, slung myself through the door, threw my song book at a chair and pounded the keys off the keyboard. The Holy Spirit? You decide. I already know. Now you know how the remembrance of it came about. I do know I made God happy that spring morning and He blessed me. I hope He blesses you when you read Part 2. END OF NOTE.
8-4-13: Let me tell you this true story before you go on to Part 2. It's about:
THE HAT (cover for you Marines)
After 9-11 and the World Trade Center destruction that two gun Texan (Pres. Bush, G. W.) came out shooting from the hip with both hands and the Iraq War started. Everybody grabbed a flag to wave, bumper stickers and all that.
In my Vietnam experience the same thing happened, people waved their flags then they threw their flags away and turned on the soldiers; "Baby Killers, War Mongers, Mentally Unstable, Nut Jobs, Crazy, Dope fiends, Druggies, Weirdos, Murderers, Women Killers, Butchers," and a whole lot of worse names than those; their rude, crude finger gestures, thrown fruit, eggs and spit; it gave us the miseries. I guess you've heard or read the stories.
NOTE: I was re-reading this article today, Jan. 20, 2020, and I felt compelled to add this. Sometime near the middle of last year Time Magazine printed a little story written by some woman that she didn't believe all the above happened. I wish she had been there with us when we arrived from Viet Nam in late 1967 to the big Naval Base in San Diego, California so we could find civilian transportation home. We were told not to wear our Marine uniform off base because we might be harassed by civilians. When my bus left base the dear flower children were there chanting and throwing their lovely gifts at the bus we survivors were riding to get to the airport. END OF NOTE.
The Hippies, Flower Children, Peaceniks, Draft Dodgers AND my 'Nam experience led me to expect the same thing for our Iraq War soldiers, SO I had no flag nor bumper stickers; my patriotism is inside. I'd never said much about 'Nam. Most of us just kept our heads down, our mouths shut, went to school or work, got married, raised our families the best we could and tried to forget; yeah, fat chance of that!
Anyway, the Iraq War had started. Somebody came up in my face and asked me; "Where's your flag, aren't you patriotic?" It was like somebody had covered my skin with gunpowder and set it on fire, burned up! (Eph. 4:26) Desire to sin was in my heart but through the Holy Spirit I managed to keep my mouth shut and my fists to myself.
I wondered; "What can I do to show I'm patriotic?" Days went by as I wondered and I finally got an idea, at least I thought it was my idea, but later I would come to wonder whose idea it really was.
I ordered some Marine Corps utility soft covers, they are a little bit like baseball hats but they have the octagonal crown that only Marines wear. Marines call hats "covers". I'm sure the Marines will understand and forgive me for calling a cover a hat so people will know what I'm talking about, at least the Christian Marines will forgive me.
In the flat, upright, front part I had embroidered a gold Marine Corps emblem in the center, with the years of my 'Nam tours on each side in gold, 63-64 on one side and 66-67 on the other, below that, representing two of the medals awarded me, were the authorized military ribbons of the gold, green and red Vietnam Campaign ribbon and the purple and white Purple Heart award ribbon for being wounded in action.
Below that on the band part that fits the hat to your head are the words NUFF SAID in the biggest gold letters that would fit the space. Only a military person would understand the meaning and a civilian would understand it meant something military. Neat, neat, neat! I had gotten a Purple Heart car license plate too. More neat, neat, neat! A couple of weeks after that I took a bad case of the thens.
I need to explain something about the thens before I go on. My thinking is like one of those old percolator coffee pots with the little glass bulb on top. The water gets hot somewhere down below then it bubbles up in the glass bulb, then it trickles back down to the aluminum container part that holds the coffee.
Then it works its way through the dry grounds slowly soaking the coffee out. Then it slowly dribbles out into the actual coffee pot, then you can pour yourself a cup. That slow process takes a lot of time, just like my thinking. I love it when God inspires me and reveals something to me, no thinking there, just do it or write it. When He's willing to do it God has a great cure for the thens.
Then I started wondering about the hat; "This looks a whole lot like I'm braggin'." Then in a few days I started wondering; "What does God think about this?" Then shortly after that; (Prov. 6:16-17) "God hates a proud look, this may be gonna get bad for me." Then defensively; "Well, I'm just defending myself and what I believe."
Then in a few days the thought percolated through; "I could have Jesus' name on my hat instead of this stuff." That hurt; "What kind of Christian am I anyway?" Then a few days later it started dawning on me; "Is this hat some weird type of idolatry?" That thought shocked me and scared me. I was coming to a decision whether to burn the hats or not!
Then two or three days later on Sunday somebody stood up in Church and made a prayer request for a Vietnam Vet who was holed up in an old house by himself in another county; "Ron's lost. I want you folks to pray for him and keep him in your prayers. I'll swear, nobody can talk to him. He won't take anything off of anybody!" God pushed the go witness to him button because of that prayer request, I started praying and forgot about the hat. God had cured my case of thens.
It took a few days to find out approximately where Ron, the Vietnam Vet, lived. Ron was kind of secretive, not even the person who had requested prayer for him knew where he lived. During that time, I asked a male Christian who knew Ron if he wanted to go with me, he didn't know where Ron lived either.
"I wouldn't bother him for anything. He's mean as a blind copperhead in dog days." I thought; "Wow, thanks for the encouragement." I finally found out approximately where Ron lived and the day came when I knew in my heart it was the day to go, I went. Prayed up? "Yes." Dread? "Yes." Fear? "No." Dread that I might be attacked and be forced to defend myself and sin. I trust God but a lot of times I don't trust me.
There were two houses close together that looked alike. They were several decades old wooden houses with one long side of the wooden front porch attached to the front of the house. The two porch ends and the other long side of the porch with the front steps were held up by wooden posts. Their front doors had the big, one piece, clear glass window maybe 24" x 30". I climbed the wooden steps to the porch of the first house and knocked on the door.
That old porch started shaking slightly, kind of like a tremble, and I looked down; "Earthquake?" I looked back up and through the window I saw a humongous, lump of a man lumbering through the house toward the door. He had to be at least 6' 6" and 350+ pounds. He shook the whole house as he stomped toward me!
Sometimes I have vagrant thoughts before I can stop them; "Ungh, man, Lord, this might have been easier if he was my size." I'm glad God is merciful to vagrant thoughts and stupidity. He jerked open the door and blurted out; "What do you want here?"
"If you're Ron Trackette I've come to tell you about Jesus and explain how to get saved." He snorted; "I'm not Ron Trackette. I'm already a Christian. Ron lives in the next house over and you stay away from him!"
"That's the meanest man that ever lived. He'll say anything to you. He'll hurt you if he takes a notion!" "Well, God's put it on my heart, I've prayed about it and I've got it to do." I started to turn away.
"He's liable to shoot you if you push him!" I looked back and I meant what I said; "I hope he shoots straight and kills me dead so I don't have to suffer much, all he can do is send me to heaven." and I went down the steps and started across the yard.
"I'm going to stand right here on the end of my porch and watch!" Thoughts; "Yeah, great!" A real Christian would have gone back in his house and prayed for me; and I forgot about him. A lot of times I don't trust other Christians too.
When I knocked on the door I saw a slim, neat man get up and start toward the door with quick, smooth, steps. He looked a shade taller than me. He opened the main door and unlatched the old fashioned screen door. He spoke in a crisp, hard, yet neutral voice; "What do you want?"
"I'd like to talk to you about Jesus and the salvation He offers." He pushed the screen door open, stepped out on the porch until we were almost toe to toe and looked straight into my eyes. I knew this was a man who handled his own trouble, right up front, as soon as the trouble came!
He had odd, hot, electric blue eyes that seemed to simmer and they bored into mine for several seconds as he took the measure of me. Then that blue, laser gaze shifted up and fastened on my hat. "Is that cover the real thing?" "Yep, Ninth Marines."
He looked back into my eyes, a ghost of warmth washed across his face and was gone, he reached out with his left hand and took a firm grip on my upper right arm where it comes off my shoulder and shook hands with me with his right hand. "Army, 25th Infantry. Come on in, I'm not much of a housekeeper." The branch of service don't matter when you've been in hell, fear and fury. Soldiers who have fought know that.
We didn't know each other yet but all the same we were brothers; brothers born from the womb of horror, anger, fear, blood and rejection; brothers strangely haunted, curiously broken and remade, brothers yet strangers to each other and sometimes strangers to ourselves; that's why Ron said; "Come on in, I'm not much of a housekeeper."
We got acquainted. Over the next few years I regularly visited Ron. We didn't tell very many war stories, just regular conversation. We had a lot in common, the way we were raised on hard times, soup beans, taters 'n cornbread, fishing, working, hunting, farming, not trusting the government and politicians in general, nightmares, sleeplessness, bad thoughts, distrust of people in general; a Vietnam Vet will understand.
Of course we talked about the Bible too, a lot. I had the distinct impression Ron figured God wouldn't have anything to do with a man like him who had done what he'd done. Ron gave the impression he didn't want anything to do with God either. BUT: In some people you just can't see the Holy Spirit war for their soul that's hidden back behind their face in their secret place.
One time Ron did explain the white mark in the iris of his right eye was a scar and the scars on the right side of his face and head were where pieces of human bone were driven into him when his buddy got shot in the head as they lay side by side in a firefight. That's what war is.
Ron had developed colon cancer and he had started that slow, wasting descent into the termination part of it, it was too far advanced. That's what terminal cancer means, termination of life here in this world.
(Heb. 11:6 keyword : seek) It was hard to convince Ron that seeking God at this time in his life wasn't scared religion. (Psa. 111:10) "Ron look in the New Testament. Everybody who came to Jesus was scared and had bad troubles but that didn't stop Jesus. Think about this Buddy; Jesus had to be there for anything to happen."
"That's what this is about, I know Jesus is here in His Holy Spirit form working in you, revealing Himself, calling you to come on to Him where you'll be loved and appreciated and reproving you because of your sins. That's what people around here call being under conviction."
(John 6:44 & 12: 32) "When Jesus is here through the Holy Spirit it's God's time of drawing. It's your chance Ron. God's in charge of time, He knows when everything is right for His calling. That's why He sent me here." By the time that visit was over our tears were streaming, no boo-hoo, just a flow. It was a Holy Spirit chill bump time.
A few months later Ron got saved at home when Jesus and him were alone together. That was about three years after we first met. I wish you could have seen the soft, tenderness in his simmering blue eyes when he said; "Jim, I'm all right with the Lord, everything's fixed up and I'm ready to go." That hard, tough man gave me a loose, half hug with one arm. There was a lot of tough soldier macho left in Ron because he hadn't had time to grow as a Christian. It was the best he could do, it was enough.
I'm about to tear up a little bit now with the beauty of what God accomplished in Ron's hard-lived, no-hope life. (John 6:68) Like Simon Peter said; "Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life."
Ron died a few months later. I wasn't sad, my friend was out of his misery. His body was fixed out real nice in his coffin (2Cor. 5:6 keyword: home) but Ron wasn't at home there anymore, (Rev. 21:23-27 esp. V.25 keywords : there shall be no night there) he'd gone to spend an endless day with the Lord (Micah 4:3 keyword: war) where WAR will not ever be.
Since that time the hat has started many conversations, in stores, quick stop food, gas-n-go while filling my car, in cashier check out lines, on the street, everywhere. Because of the hat many doors to people's hearts have been opened so I could tell them about Jesus. Sometimes in stores and on the street civilians will grin and say "NUFF SAID, I like that". Then I tell them the story about how the hat came into being.
In stores Veterans sometimes grin and start a conversation about the hat. Sometimes people just stare at the hat, I walk over and with great kindness I start the conversation; "I can see you're wondering about the hat, let me tell you about it." And I do, just like I've told you. Strangely enough, in all these years nobody has ever refused to listen.
I like to tell people, both vets and civilians, the whole story about the hat, somehow people, both saved and lost, find the story fascinating. Sowing salvation seed for Jesus? Rejoicing with other Christians about how God works? Holy Spirit anointing? Of course it is! And I always give a website address card or some of the witnessing literature I carry too. I've never considered the hat to be idolatry again, not even one time. Like I said at the beginning; "I've come to wonder whose idea the hat really was."
But, the hat has a special meaning for me too, because, just like it did for Ron, it opens doors to veterans who somehow cannot assimilate back into regular society. They go get the necessities of living but they shut themselves away in wherever they live their lonely, suspicious, withdrawn lives.
When I find them, I knock on their doors and they look at the hat. The hat speaks to something forlorn, secretive and painfully withdrawn in them and it says; "I've been where you've been. I saw what you saw, I've felt what you've felt, I've felt my blood spill too and we're brothers. I understand how it is."
"Is that cover the real thing?" "Yep, Ninth Marines." That ghost of warmth washes across their face and is gone. "I've come to tell you about Jesus and the salvation He offers." "Come on in, I ain't much of a housekeeper."
Sometimes God takes advantage of a situation, sometimes He makes something good come out of something bad and sometimes He plants ideas. My God is something else because there is none other like Him. (Deut. 10:17 & Rev. 17:14) My God is the Lord of all lords, the King of all kings, the God of all gods and, yeah, (Isa. 9:6-7) He's the President of all presidents too (Josh. 34:15, Heb. 11:25 and Matt, Mark, Luke & John key: people always have a choice) AND my God is not a dictator (Matt. 28:18 & Rom 13:1-2) BUT dictators are under His control too.
Sometimes when God blesses me with His glorious, gracious, beautiful, loving, more than royal presence and His astonishing, unlimited intellect I just hump up in the abject poverty of my small, insignificant self and bask in the glory that someday I'll meet Him face to face. I've heard a lot of people say they'll look for this one or that one when they get to heaven but that isn't a priority.
(John 14:8-9) If I'm allowed to, (Matt. 15:22-28 esp. V.26) all I want to do is crawl up on my belly like the dog I am (Rev. 5:6) and kiss His nail scarred feet. If I'm unworthy to do that I'll be happy to stand back in the crowd and love Him and worship Him with my heart and my eyes and praise Him with my voice. GOD BLESS YOU.