KLPTV http://kingdomlife.klptv.org Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life" Fri, 22 Nov 2019 18:26:30 -0500 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3 http://kingdomlife.klptv.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/cropped-cross_3637c-32x32.jpg KLPTV http://kingdomlife.klptv.org 32 32 133349143 The Death of the Vision (1975) http://kingdomlife.klptv.org/the-death-of-the-vision-1975/ Tue, 12 Nov 2019 19:07:22 +0000 http://kingdomlife.klptv.org/?p=2611
Mike Luker and my van in the background

From the early times of the Lord drawing our little band of believers together to reach our city with the Good News three things seemed to repeat in our burdens of prayer. One was the Mustard Seed to be birthed. Also the great need to stir up the other churches in the area by sending out letters to them calling for revival. And finally, another Christian bookstore was needed in Muskegon to be a center to propel the message of revival and spiritual awakening across the land.

The bookstore would take a lot of money that we did not have. Our burden for this came from the Lord so at first we only prayed that someone would start this store. Over time I began to see it was not someone else but it was us. So Barb began to send letters to Christian ministries and book suppliers even before the coffee house opened. But the money did not come then and so we had to wait and wait. And as I already shared, we focused on the Mustard Seed which opened first.

But in the midst of these events God was pressing ahead in my spiritual development. As Paul wrote, “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;” Philippians 1:6 (NKJV)

Looking back today, I can see the Lord stopped babying me sometime before my third spiritual birthday (September 1974) and began to lay His heavy hand of discipline upon me. I had no idea what was going on and I struggled.

It was time I began to learn to walk by faith, not by sight. Originally I lived off “feeling the presence of God” since my spiritual birth in 1971, but being dragged into walking by faith was not pleasant! I was not a very good disciple and 1975 became the year I thought God was abandoning me and experienced a spiritual crisis. I have found many other Christians before me struggled in the same way and coined the phrase “the dark night of the soul.”

I scratched out a little prayer on the back of a Ninth Street Baptist visitor card, “I have no fellowship with you, Father God, Not fellowship with a Book, group, feeling, or anything will satisfy my longing for YOU.” I fought and begged for His presence to come back, I had no desire to simply trust His Word. That was a mistake!

On one side we were greatly blessed, and the other side I “felt” completely cut off from God. The Lord would give strong impressions from His word to reassure me and try to teach me to trust Him. I wrote…

12-18-74 “The Lord gave us a promise as he did the apostles  just before Pentecost – Jer. 5:10-14 “I will make my words in your mouth fire, and the people wood, and it shall consume them.”

12-31-74 “Didn’t keep up my diary. The Lord gave me a wife this year (wedding day coming May 10, 1975). Opened and closed our coffee house ministry. We are in preparation for a Bible Conference Feb. 14,15. We are sending out letters to encourage revival. Still need to be free completely from sin (lust, impatience and slothfulness). Began rising early Dec 29 at 6:00 AM.”

That did not last long…

1-4-75 “Obedience is better than sacrifice… Wed was New Years, stayed up too late, disobeyed couldn’t rise, since then haven’t heard the alarm. I’m lost. I disobeyed and lost God’s grace. I’m a rebel. I give up. I can’t serve God, or pray, or preach, or do anything. I can’t stand my condition. I’m empty, alone, and sinful. I get tempted and sin. My conscience is hard, I don’t feel guilty. Empty words, my experience is shallow. God’s Word is so full, but most is out of my experience. I’m powerless to win souls, to see conviction of sin.”

I never saw how big the prayers were that we were praying, or how big a fight we were fighting, or how big a faith we needed to survive 1975.

Because of my experience in Florida with Peter Lord and the Mini-ministerial Conference in the spring of 1973, we were able to secure him to lead our Bible Conference. And as expected the Lord greatly blessed and encouraged us along with those from the other Baptist churches in our association. Peter is a man of God and his words were flung into my heart and I’m sure many others.

Things seemed great. But not long after this spiritual war broke out.

A high school student I hired to work for me at Zephyr was open to talk a bit about the gospel so I gave him a Chick tract to take home and read. Next time I saw him I asked if he read it and he said no, he lost it. So I gave him another but with the same exact result. If I remember right it even happened again. It was weird!

I prayed harder. Finally, he came to work one day and said it was really weird he was like blind because he could not see those tracts I gave him. Finally they appeared in plain sight in his bedroom and were there all the time. He read them and he wanted to follow Jesus.

But a huge spiritual battle began. I went over to his house to pray with him and demonic forces took control and he was physically oppressed. He was pressed to the floor and I watched him try to get up and as he was pushing with his arms quivering it appeared he had a 500 pound weight on his back. His face turned bright red in his great effort to get up. But he failed. We were shocked and a little scared so we prayed much, and I screamed at the devil to leave him alone. He was delivered by the power of Jesus.

From this time on we found ourselves in these battles for many months. We were under a counterattack from hell because God was saving the lost! And believe me we had no idea what was going on.

Not long after that, Arnold and his girl friend joined us at Ninth Street and she asked us to pray for her because she needed help too. In our ignorance some of us met them on Wednesday night but an hour before our weekly prayer gathering. With my inexperience and no one else having a clue the enemy was about to ambush us we prayed and asked God to help her.

The next thing I know she is raging, cursing, screaming, and throwing things at me. Shocked we sobered instantly and got real in our cries to the Lord. The battle for her soul raged on for more than an hour and we freaked out everyone who came for our normal prayer meeting. My family came and my little sister was scared to death from the experience also. We sent them all to the basement for some real praying while we finished and saw God bring peace and salvation.

Donnie and Connie also started following Jesus about this time and we found out that Connie was working for Gospel Films. They rented 16mm films to churches all over the country and movies left in their warehouse on the weekends were free for the employees to take home. Well that sure sounded like an open door!

We purchased a 16mm projector and began showing Jesus movies every place that would let us. God opened many doors and we ran through them sharing the gospel. We even ended up showing films in a teen detention center!

Also we continued to go and preach the gospel and even got into the jail to share the gospel, we continued passing out tracts everywhere, and gathered back together to fellowship  from house to house, and stir each other up in the faith every week at Ninth Street.

Cheryl and I slowed down a little to focus on our upcoming May 10th wedding. We had a nice outdoor wedding with all our friends and family. Then we hit the road to Florida for our honeymoon adventure we later wished we had a do over! During our vacation my trusty 1965 Chevy van died and we had to spend a bunch to get it repaired. We finally made it to Disney and had fun, but after that we traveled further south to Hobe Sound where my Aunt Grace and Uncle “Coffee” built a vacation home about a mile from the beach. Oh and she gave us the keys before we left Michigan.

But then the real nightmare began. Like in some horror movie the house was completely infested with huge palmetto bugs. Yes, that means giant roaches! We went to bed but heard noises and turned on the lights to see them crawling all over the walls, floor, flying across the bed, and on the bed! How romantic and refreshing!

We jumped out of bed, grabbed our stuff and fled out to our van to sleep in the hot and stuffy mini-motel room with shag carpet in a warm Florida night. Well this getaway was not the honeymoon we dreamed of.

Since our money was mostly gone and we could not afford to stay in a hotel for the rest of our vacation we stayed with relatives. Yeah! With our love tested fully from day one we traveled back to Michigan to get back to our new life of trials and tribulations together for Christ our Lord.

Well in spite of my rocky road of spiritual lessons and interaction with the Lord, we pressed ahead during the summer and went back to Pere Marquette to reach the lost,  but without Dave and his chalk talks. This year we converted my van into a mobile movie projector booth, built a portable and large movie screen, and joyfully showed gospel films in our brand new open air movie theater. The crowds were still large and some people would sneak up in the dark to watch movies and then quickly slip away. Most did not want to talk to us about Jesus but they saw and heard the gospel through the films we got from Connie.

But first I wrote in my diary…

May 30, 1975 “Now married, living in a very comfortable apartment, the Lord is too gracious it seems. I hope I can be kept in his favour, and humbled more.”

“Need power, way more power to see hearts changed, prayer prevailing, and conversions in the power of God and not the wisdom of man.”

“It seems basic training is still coming along.

I. I see my source of life and power for service is in Christ, through the Holy Spirit working in me. I feel weak, weak to pray, weak to do anything. It seems good to know what I am, and what God already knows about me. I want nothing else but His presence, ever conscious presence. His gifts and graces are great, but without His presence, it seems meaningless. I think I can be satisfied without these things if I can know His presence. (Obviously I was not getting the idea of walking by faith and His graces and spiritual gifts were His hand of blessing so I fought against God for a long time.)

II. I see more and more my warfare is with the Satanic forces and I am learning prayer is the only way to victory.

III. It seems now I’m learning more about the “sword”, the message that must be proclaimed. Learning valuable lessons from Finney, Edwards, Thomas Brooks, etc. which wouldn’t have understood before, but are pressing into my understanding now.

  1. False grace compared to true grace
  2. False repentance compared to true repentance
  3. False professors
  4. True saints
  5. False teachers

Oh Lord, how long do we have to wait for revival?”

All through the summer I battled my doubts because I could not let go of God’s merciful presence He gave to sustain me when I was first born again. And we prayed and prayed for God’s divine guidance.

6-26-75 “Jer 14:7 ‘O Lord, though our iniquities testify against us, act for your name’s sake; for our backslidings are many; we have sinned against You.’”

7-13-75 “…This morning laying before the Lord for His will with this bookstore. I asked if it was not His will to stop us from getting the building.”

7-14-75 “Dark days, been there a long time. Read Madame Guyon – she went through it for seven years. Watchman (Nee) says all must pass through if God will ever use you for  His purposes. Jer. 23 – tells how God crushes and spoils pride, by hiding you under a rock, for awhile.”

7-28-75 “…Spiritually destitute, cannot pray… When I try to pray, I fail. It seems I will never learn faith, and come into communion with God. Death!! I helplessly, hopelessly, wait for God’s sovereignty as He first moved in my life. Everything is empty, unsatisfying, and unhelpful without His presence. With His presence I know all things are sweet… Still waiting on answer for bookstore, I get excited talking about the store, but I really seem content to go without, if God wills. Maybe I’ve deceived myself. I will wait and see. The answer will come.”

I finally wrote a desperate prayer to my God…

8-31-75 “Dear Heavenly Father… Forgive me, Forgive me, I don’t want to grumble. I want no limits on you or to question You. Make me silently, humbly, trustfully obedient to all things that come my way. Teach me to praise and trust you in spite of afflictions and trials. Feelings and no feelings should be no value to me, but they are. I’m very weak and sickly without your Presence, please do that which is best for me, though. I don’t want an easy route, I want whatever road you have for me. Please help me mean what I have just said… Yours sincerely and truly, a lonely son, Randy Bell”

Well the Lord really answered that prayer. We were re-routed onto a road I was not expecting!

As fall came I started realizing our denomination had slipped under the influence of “liberal” false teachers. Books were being published warning of the situation. It alarmed me and it was finally making sense why a couple of my Bible professors back in Florida spent so much time trying to explain away the miracles of the Bible with convenient coincidences and natural events.

In my naive mind I thought all my fellow Southern Baptist leaders would also be greatly grieved over this disaster and join us in doing something about it.

Our church was to host a now discontinued yearly event called “M” Night for all our sister churches. So I got up and began to share the bad news which was angrily rejected. They began singing the same verse of a hymn over and over again to silence me. Stunned I dejectedly walked outside to the street brokenhearted while everyone marched out and left. I could not believe they were not concerned at all and now fully hated me.

NOTE: In 1979 a Conservative resurgence took place, the Southern Baptist Convention was taken back, and Adrian Rogers became the first Bible believing conservative again to be the president of the SBC Convention. Our fears and concerns were ignored by the Michigan Southern Baptist but this was a miraculous victory.

The rest of the week I prayed and prayed so saddened at what happened. Finally Sunday morning arrived and I rose early, sought the Lord and was overwhelmingly pressed by the Spirit that I was not to preach that day. Confused and unsure what to do,  I went to the church building met Mike and told him I was sure God was ordering me to go up into the little upper room and stay there and pray for our church. I was relieved that he already felt the Lord leading him to preach so I climbed the steep stairs and closed myself into the upper room.

I was there for a long time on my knees begging God for answers and His will. Finally I heard the whisper of the Lord, “Your ministry here is finished.” Surprised and even more confused I sat silently trying to get a handle on what was going on. It seemed like an eternity that I waited up in my little office.

Finally Mike and a few of our little band let me know everyone was then gone and poured out the story. Strangers from the other churches showed up with our little old widows who called an emergency meeting without my knowledge and took over, voted in a bunch of strangers as members, and voted me out. Wow the death of our vision!

The end of what God was leading us to do was that day. God revealed it to me, but strangers sealed it. I think I was in shock. I did not know what to do. The Lord was working deeply in me all year “to walk by faith, not by sight.” But I never expected this or was prepared for it. I know He was.

The Mustard Seed was closed in 1974. We were driven out of Ninth Street Baptist in 1975. Now what?

The few who still wanted to walk and serve the Lord together began meeting in our houses. Frankly, I really, really, had no idea what to do. Were all our burdens and ministry in vain? The reality that no place to worship or reach others was available anymore left us very confused. Where do we go from here? So we prayed, stumbled and bumbled to carry on in obedience, worship, fellowship, breaking bread together, and just tried to be faithful to our Lord. But…was God done with us?

BACK: This Means War

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This Means War! http://kingdomlife.klptv.org/this-means-war/ Tue, 05 Nov 2019 22:34:09 +0000 http://kingdomlife.klptv.org/?p=2550 Obviously no one knows the future, but I wish I did. I had no idea what God was up to in our city, nor how much the devil and his allies would fight back. We felt powerless and under attack. We prayed and prayed knowing we could only watch what God would do and join Him. All I know is we were driven to share the gospel to the whole city.

Before we opened the Mustard Seed in March my thirst for God’s mercy to fall upon our city was great. I was so hungry I began to read many books at the same time about God’s power, answers to prayer and revival through history.

1-23-74 “…We found the book Shantung Revival got it from brother Ames.”

1-31-74 “…went to Bambi Lake for Baptist Men’s Retreat. The Spirit moved and men confessed (their sin) and openly asked for prayer… I put down Shantung Revival to read Revival Praying by Ravenhill.”

We were witnessing God moving in people’s hearts bringing repentance and obedience in many. Around this time Dennis Jones called me and told me there was something wrong with him because he could not stop reading the Bible. I assured him that it was a normal experience when God was at work, I had the same experience when I was converted and quickly read through the Bible like a baby starving for milk.

2-24-74 “…This morning preached on Mal 3:1 – I had a burden very much. Reading George Whitefield’s testimony. Coffee House still not started, newspaper delayed, posters delayed. Victory still not achieved…”

As I mentioned in the last installment Home Again And Ministry Begins we opened the Mustard Seed March 16, 1974 and pressed forward. Every step to reach our city only happened as God supernaturally opened doors.

Summer nights in 1974 at Pere Marquette beach were full of high school and young adults driving around and around Beach Street and filling up all the parking spots along the beach. The Lord gave us favor and the city allowed us to use the parking lot of the concession stand in the middle of the circle across from the entrance to the light house.

Dave Tueling is a chalk artist and had a van that he converted into an outreach vehicle equipped with a fold out stage, sound system and lights. We setup in the parking lot, cranked out Christian music, and drew a crowd. We all helped, took turns giving testimonies and Dave would finish with a gospel message using his chalk drawings.

The devil sent a local motorcycle gang who did not like us sharing the gospel to hinder us by pulling out our power chords or whatever they felt like doing. One night it was my turn to get on the little stage and share my testimony. Our light was aimed right in my face and I could not see anything. I finished my time and stepped off the stage and Dick grabbed me and told me a story that gave me goose bumps!

As I spoke, a couple of the gang members pushed through the crowd toward me. They said something about messing with me and Dick said he prayed and suddenly the guys appeared to have been slapped by an invisible hand. He saw their heads jerk, stop and look at each other, and turn and quickly exit where they came from. I was stunned and overwhelmed.

What a miracle! We were reaching people and our Lord protected me and intended on getting the GOOD NEWS to our city. We were not organized, did not have anything like follow up cards, nor first hand knowledge of who followed Jesus in our city wide outreach efforts. We preached the gospel, passed out tracts, sent letters to local churches hoping they would reignite their efforts to reach the city for Christ, and invited the youth to come to the Mustard Seed.

On another night I arrived but suddenly I was overwhelmed by a great burden and felt a great need to pray for the outreach. Dick and I left the group and went back to my van. I never had such an overwhelming experience with God. The Holy Spirit flooded my heart to pray. In fact it was so agonizing in my spirit I could only pour out my soul for the lost. It kept building until I could not verbalize my thoughts and found myself flat on my stomach and groaning for God’s help.

After some time it finally passed and I received a great peace inside. What was going on in people’s hearts, or what the enemy was threatening to do I do not know. But our God was battling for the lost around us and allowed me to join Him in intercession. What a privilege!

God was continuing His work! So we continued to gather for Bible study and prayer, we continued to have fellowship, and we continued to share the gospel.

At the end of the summer Cheryl left to attend Calvin College in Grand Rapids for the fall semester and I greatly missed her. My father rehired me to work for him at Zephyr on Apple Avenue and by the spring of 1975 I would become the manager. God was beginning to provide for my soon to be family.

In spite of my personal struggles by October my long standing prayers for God’s supernatural power for preaching were answered. I wrote in my old journal…

11-14-74 “”Received by faith the anointing five weeks ago. Since then more brothers have been convicted of sin and moved than my whole year preaching. I have learned much from the Lord, but I am still a very young spiritual, sinful person. I have read much of D.L. Moody, R.A. Torrey, Charles Spurgeon, A.W. Tozer, Hudson Taylor, George Fox, Jonathan Goforth, Andrew Murray, Oswald J. Smith, and William Orr. We need revival so bad…”

By December Cheryl decided to quit school and come back at the end of the semester. We decided our wedding day to be May 10 and began planning our wedding. In my journal notes I wrote…

Dec 4: “began praying for no. 1, Dec 6 – friend of Cheryl’s mom said on phone – do you know anyone who wants a bedroom outfit really good buy, and good outfit. $100 – saved $300 – pick it up Sat. Dec 7.”

What was number one on my prayer list? Bed – chest of drawers – mirror – drawers and of course God stunned me with His constant care over us by quickly answering our simple prayers, and starting at the very top of my list. Also we were offered and bought #2 a kitchen table and chairs  $10-15 and #3 a sofa for $15 the same day. The significance was the prices were near gifts. God proved He would supply our needs as we continued sacrificing ourselves for His kingdom.

As we entered 1975 we were still growing in faith and  greatly drawn together in love for one another as a fellowship of saints. Our small band of Jesus Freaks had many trials and battles coming. I expected great victories but what we would face instead was a total death of our vision. We found satanic attacks like we never dreamed were possible, a complete collapse of our ministry, and confusion beyond our greatest fears.

NEXT: The Death of the Vision

BACK: Home Again and Ministry Begins

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Command 22: Be Wise As Serpents Part 2 (video) http://kingdomlife.klptv.org/command-22-be-wise-as-serpents-part-2-video/ Mon, 04 Nov 2019 20:26:10 +0000 http://kingdomlife.klptv.org/?p=2542 We must be wise…

The Lord did not send us to be eaten by the wolves – but outsmart them!

Our goal in life should be to reach as many people for Jesus as possible, not just survive the wolves!

Yes He warns there will be wolves to attack us, bur human efforts will be ineffective and frustrating without God’s supernatural power or we will fail to reach them for Christ.

“Therefore be wise as serpents…”
1/ snakes use perception and cleverness to avoid confrontation with enemies and to catch prey
“A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, But the simple pass on and are punished.” Proverbs 22:3 (NKJV)

Wolves leap on unwise words and use them against you.
“All day long they twist my words and trouble my affairs; all their thoughts are against me for evil and my hurt.” Psalms 56:5 (AMP)

2/ The harvest is on God’s mind

  • He warns there will be wolves to attack us
  • Our human efforts will be ineffective and frustrating
  • without God’s supernatural power we will fail

 

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Home Again And Revival Begins (1973-74) http://kingdomlife.klptv.org/1973-74-home-again-and-ministry-begins/ Fri, 01 Nov 2019 14:55:17 +0000 http://kingdomlife.klptv.org/?p=2515
Ninth Street Baptist building 1974

Well I was invited by Ninth Street Baptist to be the youth pastor for the summer of 1973. The pastor was a shirttail relative that I did not know, but he heard of what I was doing. I prayed and felt God allowing me to do this, and I was going home for the summer anyway.

But, before the summer ended, the pastor resigned, and the small congregation asked me to be the interim pastor. Now I had to make a major decision, I planned to go back to Florida. Was I really ready to pastor? I did not think so.

But God did, because the more I prayed the more I was convinced this was God’s way for me.

Many things happened at this time, but in this story I also must share how God gave me the most amazing gift of my life.

First, my friends joined me at the church and we quickly sensed God leading us to start a ministry like the One Way House from West Palm. We began the process of seeking God’s direction, we renewed our Bible study at Mike’s house, and we began to hear God calling us to reach our city for Jesus.

I needed work and Lonnie my cousin offered to take me on as his sidekick in the drywall business. It was hard on him, he was already married and was working hard. There was a learning curve for the job and I really slowed him down but God used this time to give divine guidance to me.

The first hint God was going to give me a big surprise was at a prayer meeting at Mike’s house. We were on our knees praying for God to win our city, show us His will in this, and just surrendering to God’s ways.

But seemingly out of nowhere the Holy Spirit whispered into my heart “You will have a son.” WHAT? I didn’t even have a girlfriend, let alone a wife! Besides because I was afraid of lust, I already swore off girls to be faithful to the Lord. This was unexpected and very weird. Maybe I ate too much pizza before I came for our small group.

Well, that caused me to have some doubt about my future and finally I started secretly asking the Lord if he wanted me to get married? I was not asking Him to get married, I was trying to make sense of what I thought God said to me.

By this time I had only been a Christian for two years, and God kept surprising me with a lot of stuff. Or maybe that was the devil trying to mess with me to stop my vow of singleness and trap me into sin. Stupid thought now, but I needed God to make His will clear to me. Very clear.

Lonnie and I did not get laid off that winter, at least not right away, because our company got the drywall job for Hickory Village apartments off Apple Avenue and the builder got them up before the cold stopped construction.

Now you have to know, I never said a word to anyone about what I was asking God.

One day we were putting up ceilings. This meant we had our benches set up and while Lonnie measured for the next piece he would call down the measurements for me to cut the twelve foot board. Then without warning he blurted out, “Ran, are you praying for a wife?” I was stunned!

“No not really,” and I wasn’t, but that was some strange coincidence. So I asked him why he was asking. And he told me it was because he had a strong feeling God wanted him to me tell me something. And that something was… “You are going to get married soon.”

We are Baptist. Neither one of us went around claiming to have a message from God. But this was a once in a lifetime incredible event for me! I got goosebumps. God heard my prayers!!! He actually listened to me. The words from Lonnie rocked my world!

I recovered my thoughts and responded, “If you know so much, who am I going to marry?” Hey, I went for it, God got my attention and I was hoping I would get the whole thing at once. But no such luck.

Lonnie said this, “I don’t know, but it is somebody you never met.” But man those words were amazing and beyond the natural.

My head started swimming. But there are billions of girls, how does that help me? God always had a way to get me trusting Him, instead of a master plan for every step of the way. Oh and later, I found out just how important those words were.

I really did not know what to do with this new information, but we were busy now anyway. More young adults were drawn to the ministry and helped with the planning, construction, and preparation for the new outreach ministry. The 11th Hour Ministries including the Mustard Seed Coffee House were being born, and God was greatly stirring others to follow Him.

I kept a journal at that time, here is a small piece…

1-13-74 “This is Sunday – Saturday had a Coffee House meeting – today agreed to start the Ministry in the church until we can move, unless God doesn’t want us to – we didn’t pray about it – we just decided. We set up a date for the end of Feb. to open. Our whole need is money – God still hasn’t provided. Prayed quite a bit today…”

1-20-74 “Good thing this morning – voted to start remodeling = drop ceiling, paneling, lights, beams, carpeting, windows, etc Also passed to buy overhead projector, also it is okay to have coffee house in church. Last night at Coffee House Meeting decided to aim for last week February, I ask you Lord to stop us if it isn’t your will…”

During this time I became so hungry for God to miraculously pour out His Spirit that I read many books about the stories of God’s work in the past. I prayed and prayed for God to work in an unexplainable way. I was asking big and finding myself in a wrestling match with the enemy.

In the midst of the ministry preparation, many girls I had KNOWN for awhile began to show interest in dating me. Most were involved in this ministry now and even a mother started making it known that she wanted me to seriously pursue her daughter. I could not understand how so many girls suddenly were interested and stayed away from them.

With these distractions, setbacks, and spiritual battles going on to delay the Word of God, I started to get discouraged. I had strong, strong burdens for God to work, girls chasing me, and conflicts beginning all around me. One of my close friends got upset and quit the ministry.

I wrote…

2-26-74 “…The only thought is for revival – I feel so helpless without revival. I cannot live without revival.

The Evil One doesn’t want me to have victory, he is pressing me but I know that victory is in hand.

I have doubts about the Coffee House – I think this is from the devil.

Had good signs – Lynn wants to play guitar at the Coffee House. Also, Mary called has money to give to the Coffee House – that should supply for the paper.”

The battles raged on for God to release His convicting power and save sinners. We pressed forward to finish the building and begin the outreach. But we missed our opening date.

God was blessing His word and I recorded these thoughts…

3-4-74 “Sunday was pretty good the Holy Ghost was released through my whole sermon some said, I think this is the 1st time. Hallelujah!”

Then the day finally came, we opened the doors to the Mustard Seed on March 16! The problem was I got sick and missed the first night!

3-17-74 “This is Sunday – Coffee House opened last night – about 50 people. Last Sunday everything exploded with Barb – we are callous to her feelings. Monday Dick and I got into a hassle after Lonnie and I almost got into a car accident before we got to work. Wednesday Lonnie and I were fired and rehired and apologized to. Friday I went home sick from work, still in bed today. Maybe I’m Moses kept from the promised land or hindered by the devil – I just don’t know… was getting discouraged about everything.”

The war for the eternity of those around us was on! We fought on our knees and proclaimed the Good News of Jesus. But Saturday, March 23 was going to be a massive turning point in my life. On that night, God gave me a gift that changed everything!

I think Lonnie and I had to work Saturday, because I remember I got home and then rushed to the Mustard Seed for my first night! I was excited but late and when I got into the building it was dark except for the stage. We took the pews down stairs for Saturday nights and in the darkness I could tell there were lots of people sitting on the floor in crooked rows across the whole room.

In fact, I could barely step into the auditorium and had to sit down just inside the double doors because people were packed in. I don’t remember what was going on because from the moment I sat down the strangest thing began to happen.

A couple rows ahead of me there was a girl sitting, I only could tell in the darkness because I could make out her very long hair. She was a stranger that I did not recognize, but could not see her anyway.

But like a magnetic pull from within my spirit, not lust or anything like that, I was drawn to her. I mean pulled to the point I could not concentrate on the ministry or anything else. Nothing I could do stopped this “feeling!” I know I said it again, and it was not emotions.

I thought here it goes again, the devil is trying to ruin me again. I forgot the prayer at Mike’s, the words with Lonnie, and the promise of God. (See Part 4 of My Story) But this was different than any temptation I ever experienced. I could not even see this girl. Why was this happening to me?

Every effort I made to resist this was futile. The magnetic pull just grew stronger and stronger and stronger.

Finally I did the crab walk in the middle of what was going on, squeezed through a couple people, and sat next to this girl and said “hi” to her. And the Lord, my God, whispered to me, “This is your wife.” Before I even knew her name, I met my wife.

I gazed into her eyes for the first time astonished. The God of heaven knows the future. He knew her and her faith. He knew everything about her. And with all my flaws and weaknesses He picked Cheryl Stratton to be my life partner and even dragged me over in the middle of our outreach to introduce her to me. What a gift!

She was a beautiful young woman. I did not know what to do or say. But I could not deny this supernatural attraction to her. I had no idea what she thought of my crazy stunt, or if she would respond kindly to me. I only said hi, but trusted God.

Now I can’t speak for her, but she did conveniently ditch her ride right after the meeting so that she needed me to give her a ride home.

Picture taken in 1974

Love did grow, but in September she went to live on campus and attend Calvin College in Grand Rapids. That killed me, not sure if it did her, but she quit only after one semester and we planned our wedding for May 10th, 1975.

Well I tell you all this lengthy story to give you the right perspective, because perspective is everything. We must see the heavenly influence, the awesome hand of God in our lives. The Bible speaks of Eve. “Now the Lord God said, It is not good (sufficient, satisfactory) that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper (suitable, adapted, complementary) for him.” Genesis 2:18 (AMP)

The riches of God’s mercy and love makes our time together so precious. I want to give Him the credit, and the praise for our marriage. And again I share this because I want you to also give your life to Jesus Christ and become a true follower of Him.

Because Cheryl was given to me by God Himself, I see her as my “helper (suitable, adapted, complementary) for” me. Because of this I can reflect on her love, her strength, her compassion, her servant heart, her mature wisdom, and her endless labor for our family and the Lord because God is in her and she reflects His holiness.

By no means did this miracle change my mission, or the raging spiritual war ahead for all of us!

NEXT: This Means War!

BACK: More Than School (1972-73)

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Command 22: Be Wise As Serpents Part 1 (video) http://kingdomlife.klptv.org/command-22-be-wise-as-serpents-part-1/ Thu, 31 Oct 2019 22:23:06 +0000 http://kingdomlife.klptv.org/?p=2507 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues.” Matthew 10:16-17 (NKJV)

Did you know sheep have no chance of survival when they are in the middle of a wolf pack?
– Sheep cannot run fast
– They do not have sharp teeth, claws or a powerful jaw
– They cannot scare an enemy with a loud roar or howl

Sheep have only one hope to defeat the wolves and that is by staying close to their shepherd and crying for help when in need. And without the supernatural protection of the Good Shepherd Jesus and His power to defeat the wolves sent to destroy Christians they cannot survive or see their communities changed.

Here is the fact, our weakness is our greatest strength!
“My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

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More Than School (1972-73) http://kingdomlife.klptv.org/more-than-school/ Thu, 31 Oct 2019 13:59:02 +0000 http://kingdomlife.klptv.org/?p=2491 Well, I jumped in my 1965 Chevy van, said goodbye to my family and drove to Juno Beach, FL to live with my grandma Bell while I attended PBA. She graciously gave me a free place to live, my uncle helped me get a job at his friend’s gas station in Lake Worth, and God provided a poor college student everything he needed to follow Him.

I quickly found more than school. In the summer of 1971 God had poured out His Spirit in West Palm and hundreds of high school and college kids were mightily saved and on fire for the Lord Jesus. God was still at work. I found so many people excited and serving Jesus that I was greatly encouraged! And I quickly joined them.

I had no idea what was going on in the country at this time, only that I heard of the Jesus movement in the news. However, I did get a little taste of what was happening before I moved to Florida through the 1972 spring break trip our MCC college campus ministry group experienced in Daytona Beach. There we found tons of students in Christian coffee houses [no coffee, just a name for informal gatherings] of youth sitting on the floors, packed together singing new songs of praise, and giving testimonies of their new found faith.

From California to Florida God was showering His grace upon the young lost souls of my generation. But later I found it was even bigger than that. In October 1971 God also moved at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Saskatoon, SK where the town was rocked and thousands came to Christ in a few weeks. This mighty movement of God swept into Michigan and other places and I would again be connected to God’s wonderful blessing when I returned home.

I got busy with school, work and the One Way House Ministry. I was not on campus much except to attend classes, so I did not get any time to build any real friendships. In fact, I did not have friends until the second semester because I was so isolated from the campus life. This was the first time I was away from home and not use to solo living. I got very lonely.

I fought and prayed much to be faithful to the Lord. When I could I drifted to the Chapel by the Sea to be alone and seek God when I was on campus. I fell back into my old habit and saw a very attractive girl in class, and tried to get to know her. I finally kissed her but from that moment she quickly backed off and stayed away from me. I was again driven by selfish loneliness not love. I was glad God allowed this reminder and I repented of my selfishness and renewed my vow to stay away from the girls.

1973 brought on the second semester and I finally had a few friends and started visiting high schools in the mornings with George Baldwin. We got there before the students arrived to witness and share Jesus, plus invite them to the Saturday night meetings of the One Way House. But something bigger was on the horizon.

God allowed Satan to oppress me, and all I knew at the time was it seemed heaven was closed, I lost my hunger for the Word, and temptations were killing me. I prayed and prayed. I begged God for help. But He was silent.

Spring break was coming and I talked my friend Phil into going with me to Daytona Beach like I did last year. But at the last minute my van broke down and needed major repairs. But Richard Lord invited us to what his dad, Peter Lord, called the Mini-ministerial Students Conference. Which just meant Richard and his buddies from college.

The staff planned to spend the week teaching us ministry and God’s word. About 10 of us went and as soon as we arrived we gathered and a staff member privately told me I could be set free. Not sure what he was talking about, except I had been begging God secretly for the last weeks for victory and freedom from my spiritual struggles and sin. But I had not even said anything, that was spooky.

The last day we had a meeting about spiritual warfare and they offered to privately pray for anyone interested. I had no clue if God wanted me to respond so in my mind I asked the Lord if He did, to have my friend Phil ask me to go up with him. A minute later Phil nudged me and asked if I would. Spooky again, but I went.

We went into a private room from the group, Phil told him he wanted to be free and asked for prayer. The counselor asked me to quietly pray for Phil too. We prayed, he started groaning and struggling like a battle was going on inside him, and after some time he seemed to be free and started really rejoicing and thanking the Lord. Really, really spooky!

Then the counselor turned and said he would pray for me and told me to ask God for help. I was not sure what was going on, and really did not pray much until…

My hands tightened and my fingers contorted in a strange way. I could not move my hands. I looked at them and freaked out, my fingers were bent in an abnormal way. I finally got it, I was being physically oppressed by the enemy and I was afraid.

So I prayed like a man with a mission for God’s protection. That day, God gave me a lesson in the reality of Satan and his servants of wickedness. Never again did I underestimate their power or deception. Within minutes my hands were freed and the palms of my hands tingled for some time.

The man of prayer told me God had more to teach me but no worries just trust God and He would take care of me and sent us home.

I was freaking out for a week. What did that guy mean. Now that the devil was real to me I was alarmed and praying for God to protect me with the blood of Jesus.

It all came to a head the next Saturday. I worked at the gas station and drove back north to Jupiter, to my grandma’s new house on Second Street. I rushed home to shower and change because it was time to go to the One Way House. But then it happened.

When I went to enter the house, the spookiest thing of all happened, the house seemed to be full of all the demons of hell. NO JOKE! I had never experienced such a weird and strange phenomenon before. I was filled with fear. Great fear! In fact, I became overwhelmed with fear.

I quickly finished and ran out of the house and jumped in my van. Then I remembered God’s Word. The disciples always ordered the enemy spirits to depart from people. They were not afraid. I got angry and decided this was nothing but a very real attack from the spirits of darkness.

If I was going to serve the living God and preach His word I must not be afraid of God’s enemies. Great promises are given to all Christians, and our victory was already won at the cross 2000 years ago.

I began driving and screaming for the enemy to depart from me in the name of Jesus. I pressed on and felt the boldness of God inside me instead of fear. And then it felt like a cork popped inside. I know I keep saying “feel” or “felt like”, I do not know how to describe these spiritual experiences. All I know is great JOY, unexplained floods of JOY burst from inside me like a volcanic eruption.

I sang praises to God at the top of my lungs for many minutes until I literally sang myself hoarse. When I got to the One Way House, now where the WPB airport is, I could not talk. I had to wait and tell my friends what happened later.

But, God showed me His mighty power. I no longer only had head knowledge of the reality of my God. I experienced His loving protection and I never need to be afraid. He would even protect me from the invisible enemies that I didn’t even know were around just a couple months before.

The result. Spiritual victory was my daily experience. For the time being, God’s peace was reigning inside me. I was able to trust God, and serve Him with gladness. Which was a good thing because God had a surprise for me.

Shortly after this great experience, I received a letter from Ninth Street Baptist Church in Muskegon Heights, MI. I never heard of the church, but that letter came from home. My next adventure was about to begin!

NEXT: 1973-74 Home Again And Ministry Begins

BACK: Why I Am A Preacher

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Why I Am A Preacher http://kingdomlife.klptv.org/why-i-am-a-preacher/ Tue, 29 Oct 2019 16:16:16 +0000 http://kingdomlife.klptv.org/?p=2480
Picture from around 1974

From the very day in September 1971 that I was born again, my life was flipped upside down and changing at a furious pace. I sought out other Christians at Muskegon Community College and found a campus ministry. Through students in this group I found out about YFC. That is how I immediately volunteered for Youth For Christ/Campus Life and became an assistant at some local high school groups.

At my church I began meeting with my former youth pastor, and dragging some friends into the path of seeking God. At the gas station, where I worked for my dad, I told everyone who would listen about Jesus.

Chuck Aycock led Youth For Christ and had training meetings/Bible studies that greatly helped me understand the Bible. Also, Mike Luker, my former youth pastor, opened his home for Bible studies to my new band of Jesus Freaks. We talked and talked keeping Mike and Deedee up late every time. We all went in rounds and rounds of discussions and friendly arguments trying to understand God’s Word. Friendships quickly grew.

My hunger for the Bible never ceased. And joy flooded my soul.

One day I was on a bus trip for YFC with kids from Reese Puffer and Mona Shores High Schools and one girl shared her story and how she was struggling.  But then she suddenly stopped and stared at me. She said, “You don’t even care.” Stunned I responded that I did but she asked, “Then why do you keep smiling?” I did not realize how much supernatural joy had flooded my soul. I didn’t even know I was smiling.

By then I had read Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV) “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, JOY, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” I was experiencing the overwhelming presence of God inside of me, but my brain could not keep up with God’s amazing grace. My emotions and spirit were on overdrive but it took me a long time to understand any of those words.

But my joy was short lived because another thing that happened from my salvation day was my conscience came alive. I did not understand that at the time either. All I knew was I quickly found myself struggling with temptation and it seemed I sinned like never before. Some of the Christian college girls were aggressive and I found myself getting in trouble again. All I knew was that it seemed that all I did was sin more than I ever did before I followed Jesus.

I became frustrated and defeated.  A spiritual war broke out in me that I could not handle and I found myself on my knees begging God to forgive me and change me, over and over again. My conscience screamed at me for every evil action, every evil word, and every evil thought that I did. God was purifying me but I did not understand that then.

Also I felt an overwhelming nudge from the Holy Spirit to throw away all my music albums. So I gathered Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath, and all the rest that I loved, filled two large paper grocery bags and tossed them. All that music of drugs, sex, and satanic stuff was filling my mind with lies and it needed to stop because God wanted to renew my mind with His loving truth. Didn’t understand that yet either, I just obeyed.

Since I was less than six months old in the faith and consumed in all the inner battles and supernatural changes it dawned on me I never stopped and thanked God for what He was doing in my life. I realized how ungrateful I was that I did not even thank him for giving me eternal life. Maybe it was from the story of the ungrateful lepers whom Jesus healed and never said thanks that this idea was planted in my heart.

Because I wrestled and struggled with God every step of the way it still was no excuse to not stop to thank Him. I only prayed secretly asking the Lord how to be grateful and told no one about this prayer.  All I remember was that words were not enough and it became an overwhelming concern. I needed to know how I could show Him I was grateful.

This was at the beginning of 1972, and I guess I thought He would tell me to give a financial gift to the church, or at least something like that. But He had bigger plans.

I began to pray this prayer daily until I got an answer, and something strange began to happen immediately. Everywhere I turned people would stop in the middle of our conversations and say, “Wow are you going to be a preacher?” Or “… are you a preacher?” I thought that was odd and always told them no with confidence. It began flooding in from people at work, Campus Life, and in fact, everywhere people were saying the same thing until it was echoing in my head. It was weird, nobody says this!

Finally in February, and not smart enough to see it was God’s answer, I rushed to Mike’s house on the next Bible study night and poured out this crazy story with the words, “I think God is trying to tell me something…” Mike let me go on for a little bit, and calmly looked me in the eyes and said, “I know, I have felt that God is calling you be a preacher since January (1972).

Goosebumps! It freaked me out and I laughed in unbelief. I still did not understand that God leads and guides His people. But now I know, if any Christian takes the time to ask, God will give divine guidance.

All I could think of was, NO WAY! That is impossible. No one in my family was a preacher. I never in a million years would have thought about being a preacher! I did not have any desire to be a preacher!!! I laughed at how crazy that sounded. I was in shock.

Over the next few days I tried to pray and gather my thoughts. Finally I could only pray, “Lord, if this is your will, I surrender to you.” It scared me. I was never good at anything, just average. How could I possibly do this for Him? But Mike was right, and from the day I surrendered to the will of God, no one again ever spoke the words “Are you going to be a preacher?”

So now what? If God wants me to preach, and I don’t have a clue what to do, I thought I better change course and go to a Bible school. Where are they? I was still going to MCC, but I needed a new direction.

This was before the Internet, Google, and computers. You just did not have access to information, so I had to dig, ask questions, and write letters. I got information from a few colleges, but they were expensive and I did not have any money. I used up my scholarship money and now I was stuck. So I gave up looking and prayed for God to direct me in what to do.

I prayed all spring and summer and waited for God to respond. I continued doing what I knew to do in serving God. But I still fought sin, still failed, still repented a lot, still cried over my failings. I never cried until God broke me and saved me, tears seemed to come all the time. Even with such grief and failure I also noticed some victories and I was getting tougher.

Determination replaced my defeatist attitude.

In my great wisdom I decided I was going to be like a Catholic priest and have no relationships with girls. It was the only logical solution to all my temptations. I did find in the Bible, “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” 2 Timothy 2:22 (KJV)

Since resisting temptation wasn’t working anyway, running in the opposite direction made sense now. So I doubled down and determined I was running with the Christians who chased after “righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” So, I ran away from dating the young ladies!

But it was now the end of August and God still did not answer my prayers until one afternoon.

I was pumping gas at Zephyr on Apple Avenue, my dad’s station, and I got talking to a college student that came in for gas. I quickly turned the chat to Jesus, and she shared that she was a Christian visiting her relatives in Muskegon. So I told her I was looking to go to school and one of my dead end stories. I mentioned my grandmother lived in Florida, told me about a Christian College, but did not know the name or where in West Palm Beach it was. So then the amazing happened.

She stopped me and said she would be right back. In minutes she brought a complete packet of information from Palm Beach Atlantic College, West Palm Beach, FL. By special delivery God handed me the very information my grandma could not give me. And this girl encouraged me to call them. I knew my Lord just gave me His next step for my life.

The next day, I signed up with PBA by phone, they offered scholarships for preachers, and told me I did not need any money, just come right away! My next adventure with my Lord God began!

BACK: How God Invaded My Life

NEXT: More Than School

 

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If My People… God Calls Us To Holiness! (full video) http://kingdomlife.klptv.org/if-my-people-god-calls-us-to-holiness-video/ Wed, 23 Oct 2019 06:50:36 +0000 http://kingdomlife.klptv.org/?p=2472 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV)
if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

UPDATE: Watch the full message, God does call us to turn from our ways and receive His supernatural blessings! 

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God Can Change Your Story! (video) http://kingdomlife.klptv.org/god-can-change-your-story-video/ Tue, 08 Oct 2019 15:43:48 +0000 http://kingdomlife.klptv.org/?p=2465 Is your story not very pretty? Do you wish you could change your story. You have come to the right place, God Almighty loves you and is an expert in changing people and their stories. You can have a future!

As an author, Jesus has the power to rewrite your story, HE DID MINE!

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV)
1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

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Command 9: Go the second mile and turn the other cheek (video) http://kingdomlife.klptv.org/command-9-go-the-second-mile-and-turn-the-other-cheek-video/ Mon, 07 Oct 2019 19:25:20 +0000 http://kingdomlife.klptv.org/?p=2462 Jesus teaches his followers, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.” Matthew 5:38-42 (NKJV)

With a new directive He commands all disciples to focus on demonstrating God’s love to those who offend them, “But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” Matthew 5:39

Are people your treasure or are your respect, your justice, your rights, and your things your treasures? “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be” Matthew 6:21

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