.. on a road called 'Emmaus' ...

Emmaus

... the man referred to as 'your father' or just by my last name 'Foster' (..as if my birth name was a cuss word..), was not much of a 'church going man' for the first 8 yrs of my life. during that period he was more of an 'i'm gonna' get a belt and beat you if i wake up and find you went to church 'kinda' guy. fortunate for us, he was usually good and passed out until after noon on most Sunday mornings.

... our neighbors went to the big church in the center of town - and when i say 'center' i mean that the church was in a circle in the center of the town like a wagon wheel on a grid. every road in town easily 'got you to church'. mom would often send us with them on a Sunday morning, if only so that we little ones didn't have to see what would happen in the house while we were gone.

... and after all, i was growing up in a town called 'Zion' on a street called 'Emmaus'. how could i not possibly hear about God, Jesus, the Bible and 'stuff'. and so we would go to church 'on-and-off' until 'that man' finally forced my mother into divorcing him. all i know is that the yelling stopped - only to be replaced by crying.. but then, after a few drinks of something called 'harvey wallbanger' there would be laughter... mixed with crying ...   smh

Zion

... anyways, we would go to Sunday School enough to get the idea that 'God the Father' shared 'Jesus the Son' with us and we should share with each other.  and if we did, then He would take care of us.

... we had our children's bible stories and our very own 'Children's Living Bible (Paraphrased)'..  of course we had to listen to the adults debate the legitimacy of a 'paraphrased' translation - whatever that meant, but we could read.  it all seemed pretty simple.  God gives us everything to share, and treat others the way you want to be treated - not necessarily the way you are treated.

.. i was sent to a YMCA Summer Camp called 'Camp Jorn'  during one of their 'poor divorced kids get to come real cheap' weeks.  at that time they could still talk about God but they never did it in a 'pushy - you gotta' be like me' kind of way.  i was given the 'i am third' award.  it was a slab of the trunk of a white paper birch tree with a little piece of leather attached to one side.  on the piece of leather was written :

"God is first, the other man second, I am third."

... it was during this period in my life that i learned a scripture.  it was : “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105, AV)   and we learned it in the original 'god given' language of the Authorized Version of the King James Bible®.

... to me, at a young age, i believed that the 'Bible' - in the 66 book form that it was presented to me, was the truth.  i didn't have to understand it all, but it was the truth.

... at nine my mother remarried.  my new dad had been brought up a Roman Catholic.  when they were first married, we would all dress up and go to a Catholic Mass, preferably in Latin (where available).  during our time at the Catholic church there was allot of talk about 'repentance' and 'sin'.  there was a box in the corner of the main sanctuary where you could come in and tell the priest about your sins, although at my young age, i was never permitted to see what the inside of the box looked like. 

... i learned that the Roman Catholic Church believes in the 'literal' Word of God which is written in the Bible.  i also learned that their bible had more books than the bible i learned of as a child.  with names like 'Sirach', 'Esdras', 'Baruch', and 'Maccabees'.  none of these books were in the book that i called 'my bible'.  and there were others too.  these books would be quoted in the weekly fliers. 

... things like:

Whether he be rich, noble, or poor, their glory is the fear of the Lord.” (Sirach 10:22, KJV)

and:

Wherefore the Lord watched over us for evil, and the Lord hath brought it upon us: for the Lord is righteous in all his works which he hath commanded us. Yet we have not hearkened unto his voice, to walk in the commandments of the Lord, that he hath set before us.” (Baruch 2:9–10, KJV)

... and these quotes were from the Authorized Version of the King James Bible©®.  that was the 'same' one that i had, but this one had more books.  although it was the 'same' it had two other words on the 'title page'.  those words 'with Apocrypha'.  i was curious what else might be written in 'that section'. 'that section' that i was missing but i was just a kid and we didn't have any classes or anything for us.  we just sat in the main sanctuary with the adults, watching the weekly 'pageantry' filled with allot of foreign 'holy' language.

... this curiosity did not last too long as both my parents were divorced and remarried and were therefore 'ex-communicated' and could not actually be a part of the Roman Catholic Church and or any of it's functions, rituals, et al.  in other words - we couldn't take communion, so we went to a Missouri Synod Lutheran Church, because it was kinda' like 'Roman Catholic - Lite' ; allot of the same ritual but accepted remarried people.

... in the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod (that Synod part is very important for reasons i still do not fully understand.) they believed in baptism by sprinkling, and as i and my sister had never been baptized, this was one of the first things we 'had to get done'.  as i was 10 already and if i died before i was baptized, no one could dare to think of what might happen, i must of been a bad kid.  so, when i was 10 yrs old, i was 'baptized by sprinkling' into the Lutheran Church and the 'family of god'.  and 'what is that baptism?' you might ask.  according to the Luther's Small Catechism:

LCMS: The Small Catechism

The Sacrament of Holy Baptism As the head of the family should teach it in a simple way to his household.

First What is Baptism?

Baptism is not just plain water, but it is the water included in God's command and combined with God's word.

Which is that word of God?

Christ our Lord says in the last chapter of Matthew: "Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19).

Second What benefits does Baptism give?

It works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare. Which are these words and promises of God? Christ our Lord says in the last chapter of Mark: "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:16).

... and then the next thing is to get ready for 'Confirmation'.  this is the time in the Lutheran Church where you make a public confirmation of your faith based on the teachings of the bible as explained in the Luther's Small Catechism.  as part of the Confirmation classes that we took, we also were required to participate in the Acolyte program.  this was our service where we  lit and extinguished the candles at the beginning and ending of services while being dressed in angelic robes.

... it was during these confirmation classes where i learned to appreciate the bible and all of it's many lessons.  we were taught the confessions and sacraments of the Lutheran Church. in fact, i learned the 'proper procedure' for baptizing - which i practiced on my dog (i didn't want him to go to hell) and anything else that would let me.

... when i was in Jr. High, the circle continued, and i started teaching the kindergarten Sunday School Class.  i taught the children the stories of the bible and the lessons of a homeless man named Jesus and how He taught people to share and take care of each other.  my favorite verse was:

But Jesus said,

“Let the little children come to me, and don’t prevent them.

For of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.”

(Matthew 19:14, The Living Bible)

Luther Bible

 ... as i was responsible for teaching the smaller children what the bible said, i would spend allot of time reading myself. the stories were fascinating and i felt that there is a God Who loves me and wanted me to 'be a good young man' and He communicated that love through the words of a book called the bible.  so i read allot. 

... i also read my Catechism, and as part of my confirmation classes i learned about Martin Luther, the 'father of our church' and about the 95 Thesis or list of disagreements with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. the authorities that ran the Roman Catholic Church would not listen to Luther, so he nailed the disagreements on the door of the Catholic Church to challenge the church to a public debate about what the Word of the LORD - the Bible - actually said.

... a big part of the split from the Catholic Church was about the importance of 'the Word'.  one of the biggest problems 'the church' had with Martin Luther was that he translated the Bible into the common language of the people so that they could read that 'Word' for themselves.  the 'Luther Bible' , as it is known, changed the beliefs of many people as they were allowed to read the bible in their own language.  this early translation by Martin Luther included the books that are considered Apocrypha with the note "books not equal to the Holy Scriptures, yet good and useful to read." 

... in 7th grade i was up late at night on a bowling night.  that was the night of the week when our parents would be out late with their friends, bowling.  i was flipping channels and paused on a religious program where they were telling people to call in so that they could pray for them.  having spent so much time reading about what Martin Luther did, i felt obligated to call the number to let them know that i can pray for myself. part of the 95 Thesis stated that you did not have to go to a priest to confess your sins, but that you could go to the LORD directly your self. you could pray for yourself.

... the lady who answered my call said that she was glad that i believed in the bible, but wondered if i had ever read about something called the 'baptism of the spirit'.  i told her that i had not heard of it, but if it was in the bible, then i must believe in it, whether or not i had read it, and then i wanted it.  she gave me a list of verses to read.  they included : Acts 2: 1-4; Acts 8:14–17; Acts 10:44–48; Acts 19:5–7 and 1 Corinthians 12:7–11, among others.  i know that i had read these verses before, but i never believed it was actually for me.

... and they shall speak with new tongues...

... after i hung up with the lady, i pulled out my bible and read the verses that she had recommended.  i read all of the verses before and after to make sure that i understood what they said.  it all seemed very clear, although i had never been taught to actually believe that it applied to me.  i prayed that night, that if this stuff was true, and it was for me, that i wanted it.  something 'strange' happened to me that night. 

... it was like i was 'changed' but i was 'still the same'.  it was a feeling more than anything else, but a feeling that changed my mind about everything.  i now know that when people say the word 'repentance' that is what they are really saying. the word 'repent' means - 'to change your mind'.  i can't even begin to tell you how much i fell in love- with everyone, and everything.  i saw good in everything, even when it was treating me badly.  i didn't understand what had happened, but i felt different, and i could make noises that seemed like words and sentences, but they were not sounds that made any kind of word that i recognized. 

... after a few weeks, the feelings didn't change.  i was just full of love.  this was a little concerning to my parents, so they set up a meeting with the pastor of our church, so that he could 'set me straight'.

... it was ok to say that you cared for others, but to actually care for others was a sign that something had gone wrong. who do you think you are to start acting like Jesus anyway. 

 

agchurchzion

... i had my meeting with the pastor and he told me that what i experienced was not real, and, if by some chance it was real, it was not from the god of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod®.  but, because i was so interested in the bible, maybe i had a call on my life for the ministry.  there was a wonderful boarding school for High School and Jr. College students who were interested in pursuing their calling into the ministry.  i began looking into St. Paul's College High, in Concordia Missouri. 

... tuition was very expensive, but being my birth father had not paid any child support, my mother made an arraignment where he would pay for my 4 years of schooling at the boarding school and she would not sue him.  and so i found myself at a boarding school filled with 'people who wanted to enter the ministry'.  the school was a 4 year high school and a two year college all on one campus.  i quickly found out that many of the high school students were there because their parents wanted to 'get rid of them'.  many were there because they had money, and this was a very good Lutheran boarding school.  but on the other side of campus were the college students who were serious about God.  one other high school student and i hung with a college group that did a lot bible study outside of school time. they would meet a few times a week in the center of campus, at the St. Paul statue and sing songs and 'speak in tongues'.

... and so my classes consisted of German (so i could read the writings of Martin Luther, in the original language), Old Testament studies, New Testament studies, math, science, and gym. i played football and trombone for extracurricular activity.  a good portion of my day was spent in reading the bible and learning what it meant.  i believed what it taught, and i wanted to do what it said. 

... the college group was planning to go to a conference in Chicago where they were going to teach the 'Evangelism Explosion' curriculum and then do some door to door evangelism and some witnessing at O'Hare Airport.  we would be breaking into small groups and staying in the homes of people who attended the host church in Chicago. i was one of the two high school students that was allowed to go with the college group.  i was housed with 3 of the male leadership.

... i had never been to any kind of a conference before, and it was exciting to see so many people excited about the teachings of the bible.  this time, the new book was 'Evangelism Explosion'.  it taught us how to 'get people saved' going door to door with a questionnaire.  the questionnaire was originally contrived by Dr. D. James Kennedy in 1962 and has remained largely unchanged to this day. 

... we studied the questions, and studied on how to respond to various responses.  there were about 20 key bible verses that we should remember, and then we were off into a neighborhood to go 'door to door' -  like the Jehovah Witnesses - but for good (because we were taught that they were wrong. i didn't know why they were wrong, but they were and we were right).  the questions were : 

  1. Have you come to the place in your spiritual life where you can say you know for certain that if you were to die today you would go to heaven?
  2. Suppose that you were to die today and stand before God and he were to say to you, "Why should I let you into my heaven?" what would you say?

... the entire curriculum and answers were all based on the 66 book scriptures according to the Western Tradition of biblical cannon.  if you learned the key bible verses, then you could save a person from an eternity in hell by getting them to answer the questions correctly.

... i heard a few different conversations around the controversies surrounding Dr. Kennedy, but i honestly didn't pay any attention.  they used the bible to support their claims and their arguments seemed sound.  we went door to door and eventually went to O'Hare Airport and witnessed in the main terminal of what was then, the busiest airport in the world.  because of our diligence, we secured a pretty good list to turn in to leadership by the end of the conference, of all the people whose lives were 'torn from the grip of hell and set on a path for heaven', due to our efforts.

zionAG

... negotiations with my father broke down over the summer before my sophomore year so i was forced to go to the public High School for the rest of my high school career.  i joined a bible study group and the acting department.  my parents allowed me to go to a local Assembly of God®™© church on Sunday nights and Wednesday nights as long as i went to their church on Sunday mornings.  i would go to church and 'dance and shout and shake and roll' and come home to welcomes of 'did you have fun with those devil worshipers?' from the parents.

... eventually acting won out, and i stayed out of church for a good number of years.  i got less hassle from 'church people' for not going to church at all than for going to the wrong church and believing the wrong things.  in my mid 20's i found myself in jail, headed for prison for growing pot.  i had never been a violent person in my life, and now i found myself in a jail cell with 7 other people, 2 for murder, 4 gun charges and 1 for violence during a drug transaction.  i was alone and scared. 

... i asked my sister to send in my Tarot cards - yes, i did that too.  she sent in my bible.  it was well worn, but had not been opened in quite a while.  stuck in my cell, with nothing else to do, i opened my bible and i read:

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28, AV 1873)

... my fear left.  i read more.

And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” (Hebrews 12:5–7, AV 1873)

oldbible

... i was sentenced to 18 mths in the Federal Penitentiary.  during my 'stay' i spent at least one night in the following prisons and jails :  Denver City Jail, CO; FCI Englewood, CO; FCI El Reno, OK; Buncombe County Detention Center, NC; DC City Jail, Washington D.C.; US Penitentiary, Atlanta, GA; FCI Springfield, IL; and FCI Ashland, KY.  during my stay, there was a period where i was in solitary confinement for a month when they lost my records.  all i had with me during that month was my bible.  i read allot, and remembered.  i remembered the simplicity of the message of 'the scriptures'.  and i read :

But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!” (2 Corinthians 11:3–4, NKJV)

... "the simplicity that is in Christ."

... Thy Word is a lamp ...

... i got out of prison and started my 'new life of freedom'.  over the next 5 years i spent time in-and-out of church, but i now had a business.  i was a general contractor before i went to prison, and so after quite a period of time, was back in business.  that business led me to move to another state, which i did, and led me to a 'word faith' church in Richmond, VA.

... i had believed in the importance of 'the Word' for a long time, but this was the first time i had been involved in a group that always talked about 'the Word'.  they taught me how to 'stand on the Word', how to 'pray the Word', how to 'have faith in the Word'.  they had a big church with visions of a much bigger church.  many of the famous TV preachers would come and preach there.  our new building was being built like a studio for 'worldwide broadcast' of what we were doing for the 'kingdom of god'.

... i met and married my wife there.  after a year we left there and went to a messianic synagogue where we started worshiping on Saturdays, according to the scriptures, and learned about Rabbinic Judaism from a Messiah believing perspective.  we started celebrating the festivals of the bible as the Rabbinic Jews celebrated them, with the understanding that Jesus, who we now called Yeshua, was the fulfillment of those very festivals.  we felt led to follow the kosher or kashrut laws, and i started wearing tzitzit and  peyos - according to the scriptures.  

... for a period of five years we lived a 'biblically kosher' lifestyle. we kashered all our meats and worshiped on Saturdays, and lit the candles on Friday nights to start the Shabbat. we were in that congregation for five years, during which i taught the Shabbat kindergarten class, in my tzit-tzit, peyos, and kippot.

... it was at this congregation that i learned of the Jewish 'roots' of my faith. the stated mission of the congregation was to be a bridge between the 'church world' and the 'Messianic Jewish world'.  throughout history, the 'church' has been at odds with the Jewish culture, denying the Jewish faith from which the Christ, or Messiah, had come.  “And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.” Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.” (Romans 11:17–23, NKJV)

... and there was a emphasis on the Hebrew Text of the TaNaCH or Old Covenant Scriptures, but especially the Torah or First Five Books of the Old Testament referred to as The Law of Moses. having come out of the 'western church' i was familiar with Moses, but in the Synagogue everything seemed to revolve around him.

... at the end of a five year period, we felt that the LORD had moved us out from there.  the teaching had switched to a Zionist worldview that stated that 'gentiles' - meaning anyone without a Jewish mother or father, were here to serve 'Jews' - anyone with a Jewish mother or father.  while i agree that i am here to serve everyone, i do not agree that any one race is superior to any other, as they all come from the three sons of Noah anyways...

“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:26–29, NKJV)

... we went back to the mega-'Word Faith church' and learned about 'using our faith'. the 'key' verse of the 'faith' movement was “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6, NKJV) the 'goal' of the faith church was to build faith to get your needs met.

... i know that many are against the 'faith church' teachings, and for good reason, but the formula works for those who put it into practice.   the basic teaching is that you can find a verse in scripture that supports what you want.  then you build your faith around the verse and get what you want.  your words become the important thing - what you say about everything shapes the world that you live in.   as a proof text they would use : “For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” (Mark 11:23–24, NKJV)   in practice, what this amounted to was that you could lie yourself out of a bad situation.  for instance, if you were sick you could not say 'i am sick' - but instead you would say 'i am not sick, i am just experiencing symptoms' - or  'the devil is attacking me'. 

...  there is the believe that the LORD always does the good - and that the devil always does the bad.  when you get sick - it is the devil.  when a storm destroys things - it is the devil.  while i generally believe this to be true, the questions arise when we look at the phrase 'does good'.   what is good?  according to the 'word faith' church - good is money, health, and prosperity - while bad is anything unpleasant or difficult.  your faith in your faith will get you through all difficult situations in your life.  when you apply that lesson to child raising, you learn that it quickly falls apart.  when a child reaches for a hot stove, a 'good parent' will swat that hand to prevent burns.  discipline is contrary to the teaching of 'faith'.  while not pleasant for the child, the parent that swats the hand and causes pain is not acting on behalf of the devil, but is in fact doing a good thing.  “And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, “My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”” (Hebrews 12:5–6, NLT)

 

 

 

 

 

... during this period of our lives we established our own construction company and we started to 'prosper' in the financial realm of our lives.  the mega-church we were attending made a call for those who wanted to work on their orphanages in India to go on a mission trip.  we were living paycheck to paycheck and the idea of coming up with the $2,000 or so to go to India was not 'realistic' - but i had faith.  i spent 10 days in Chennai, India in November of 2005 working on orphanages.  coming from our elaborate church into the slums of Chennai, India can open your eyes to many things.  We went to one orphanage with the purpose of pouring a concrete floor.  the orphans sleep under a grass roof on a dirt floor.  prior to our arrival, the orphanage had build a 2 foot wall around the perimeter of the building and we poured a concrete floor between the walls.  we later learned that the reason that they built the little wall was to keep the cobras out.

... our 'church' had a membership of over 8,000 people at the time.  our 'church' owned it's own $1,000,000 airplane (for the pastors use) and many of our members owned Hummers, Lexus', Mercedes, and Cadillacs, but when our leadership learned that the orphanage needed a new roof - the cost of $1,500 was too much to handle, so we told the orphanage leadership that we would 'pray for them'. 

... i quickly developed a love for the Indian people.  everywhere we went we saw poverty, the likes i had never seen before.  throughout the city there were these 'tent cities' where thousands upon thousands of people lived in these makeshift houses made from scrap plastic sheeting and tarps and anything else that could be used to create a barrier.  our contact in India was a delightful man, his wife and young child.  i learned that he had a great desire to feed people.  he had a feeding project that was sponsored by Joyce Meyer Ministries©™, but his desire was to feed 1,000 children daily.  when i was younger, my father had opened an import company and i after seeing the cost of items in India, i decided to seriously look into setting up an import company to help this man see his desire fulfilled.

... i was working for a construction company at the time.  i was originally hired as a commercial estimator/project manager for a company that had historically been a masonry contractor, but the wealthy owner had recently received his general contractor license and was looking at expanding into general contractor work.  when i went to work for this company they did not even have a logo or anything.  they had a name and a license and that was it.  i quickly set about creating logos and stationary - fax coversheets, etc. as well as getting us into the proper bidding rooms and bid lists.  the LORD prospered my work and by this time, two years later, i had brought in over $6Million in contracts and had been promoted to Vice President of the Corporation.

... when i returned to my job that first day back, i was met at the door with a cardboard box with my stuff in it.  as i had used all available money, including my wife's Christmas bonus, to go to India, this was a devastating situation.  i spent the next three weeks on the couch - depressed and tired and mad.  i had to remind God of how much i had done for Him, and how unfair this all was.

... after realizing that we would soon lose our house, we decided to refinance.   we got our bills caught up and my wife and i took our first trip to India in March of 2006.  we had determined to spend two weeks in India seeking products to import for the purpose of raising funds to feed the starving children in India.  during our 2 weeks, our contact in India had arraigned for me to preach at different locations, while shopping for import samples.  i was no preacher, but i had the opportunity to preach over a dozen times on that trip.  i was hooked.

 

 

... knowing that it would take time to get an import company up and running, i used some of the money from the refinance to start a Class "A" General Contractor business.  what that meant was that i was licensed to build your doghouse or high rise building - literally unlimited on what i was licensed to build.  the business took off and before long we were able to sponsor 4 feeding project which fed 240 kids- 6 days a week, including tutors for their education as well.  things went extremely well for about 2 years.  i had two crews that kept busy and i was negotiating with a church about a Million dollar remodel and another business about renovating a very large warehouse into a commercial space that would include a private school, around 3 Million dollars.  then the 'economy' tanked and my clients could not get financed.  things started to fall apart.

... once again i had to remind the LORD of all the good that i do, and why He owes me.  i showed Him the word which said : “If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord— and he will repay you!” (Proverbs 19:17, NLT)   i neglected to read the very next verse which says :  “Discipline your children while there is hope. Otherwise you will ruin their lives.” (Proverbs 19:18, NLT)

 

Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.
I have sworn and confirmed
That I will keep Your righteous judgments.
I am afflicted very much;
Revive me, O Lord, according to Your word.
(Psalm 119:105–107, NKJV)

 

... i spent alot of money traveling the country to see if any of the 'prophets' had a word to help my failing business.  in the midst of all this, i ended up with bright blue hair and a dozen piercings.  at the mega-church i attended i was quite the spectacle.  the kids loved me.  i understood them.  i was one of the backup singers in the choir, and i would stand up front, with my mic in hand, with my blue hair and multiple facial piercings for all the world to see.  but the world i had created was crumbling around me.  it didn't take too long till the threats of losing everything loomed heavily over us.  after i had maxed out all credit cards, and could no longer travel to 'seek the LORD', i had to seek the LORD, by myself, just me - the Bible - and the Holy Spirit.

... after reminding the LORD of how much good i do, the Holy Spirit said to me, 'why don't you pour a cup of coffee out of your $1,500 coffee maker, and let Me show you what the Word actually says.'  i stopped attending 'church' and just let the LORD guide me through His Word.  it took quite a while to silence the other voices.  i had spent so much time in 'church' and heard and studied the teachings of many, many 'prophets, teachers, and preachers' and had, over my 30 yrs of 'believing', heard at least one sermon on just about every single verse in the Bible.  when i would sit down to read the Bible i would remember a sermon about whatever i was reading.  these 'teachings' completely clouded my ability to actually just read the Word for what it was.  after a couple of years of reading, the 'voices' stopped.   i could actually read the Word for what it was, without the tincture of years of false teaching clouding my interpretation.

Accept correction,
lest at any time the Lord be angry, and ye should perish from the righteous way: whensoever his wrath shall be suddenly kindled, blessed are all they that trust in him.

(Psalm 2:12, Brenton LXX En)

... one of the first verses i was given was : “But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.” (1 John 2:27, NLT)   and again : “But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.” (John 14:26, NLT)

... slowly, the LORD showed me so many things about what was wrong with my 'interpretation' of the scriptures.  He showed me : “knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:20–21, ESV)  and again : “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!” (2 Corinthians 11:3–4, NKJV)

... i poured through the scriptures and set up a plan to read through the Bible every 6 mths - in different translations.  each and every translation gave me new insight into what the LORD wanted of me, who i was to become.  i studied the 613 Commandments of the Torah (yes there are more than 10 -613 to be more precise), and i started to understand the heart of the LORD.  keeping in mind 'the simplicity that is in Christ'.  i started reading what the early church fathers wrote.  Clement of Alexandria, the Pastor of Hermes, Titian, Tertillian, Justin Martyr, etc., and realized that the 'christianity' that i had grown up with, was nothing like the early church fathers wrote.  one thing that all the early church fathers had in common, was a love for the Scriptures.  in fact, when you look over 'church history' and look at any 'reformation' or 'move of the Spirit' it was always led by people with a love for the Word.

... well, in the midst of all of this, my business crashed - my dually Corporate pick-up was repossessed, and we were waiting for everything else to be taken away.  but in the midst of all the chaos we had peace.  i had peace.  the fear was gone.  in our hearts and minds we had let everything go.  we fully expected to end up in my in-laws basement after the 'dust had settled', but, the LORD worked it all out and we are still in our house, with the majority of our 'stuff' still in place.  we learned what trust in the LORD was truly all about.  now, for the first time since i met the LORD when i was 12, i could say with Job : “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. ....” (Job 13:15a, NKJV)

... what we have learned since that time is that the LORD is constantly testing us.  we were erroneously taught that 'bad things' are caused by the devil.  Daniel the prophet wrote : “Many must be tested, and thoroughly whitened, and tried with fire, and sanctified; but the transgressors shall transgress: and none of the transgressors shall understand; but the wise shall understand.” (Daniel 12:10, Brenton LXX En)

... we learned that true faith in the LORD recognized that it is the LORD Who is in control of the weather.  “For, behold, I am he that strengthens the thunder, and creates the wind, and proclaims to men his Christ, forming the morning and the darkness, and mounting on the high places of the earth, The Lord God Almighty is his name.” (Amos 4:13, Brenton LXX En)  Amos is quite clear that it is the LORD Who causes drought, floods, blight and pestilence for the purpose of causing people to repent.  ““Many times I struck your gardens and vineyards, destroying them with blight and mildew. Locusts devoured your fig and olive trees, yet you have not returned to me,” declares the Lord.” (Amos 4:9, NIV)

... why did i bother to write all of this?  well, after 35+ years of walking on-and-off with the LORD, i have come back to where i started, believing in a Jesus Who taught us to love each other.   how did i get back there?  the Word.

... i have seen a horrible trend in 'the church' of today.  more and more people are claiming to be 'christians' who do not trust the Bible - who do not read their Bibles - who believe that the Bible is somehow outdated or full of contradictions.  this is a terrible precedent to set.  it is the Bible which says :  “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16–17, NIV)

... it is the Word which says : “These things happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age. If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:11–12, NLT)

... i love the Word.  it is the LORD's promises to His people.   “The Lord’s promises are pure, like silver refined in a furnace, purified seven times over. Therefore, Lord, we know you will protect the oppressed, preserving them forever from this lying generation,” (Psalm 12:6–7, NLT)

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