a hoot!… what I saw in my parents' bedroom. … about a surprise from God in hermeneutics class: another reversal from life without Christ. … a death threat while on assignment. … how my wife-to-be miraculously made it to Bible Institute. … and a lot more in The Boot Camp Of King Jesus!
A Very Good Month!
So in January 1971 I was in my second semester at NBI and, like the rest of the students, had only class since the school was on a 4-1-4 system. And, because it was a class on the Holy Bible itself, particularly an introduction to the Old Testament, I really enjoyed it. If you read the next to the last post in the previous series you would see that I saw what Abraham had basically seen regarding the Milky Way.
When my first birthday in Christ came, I looked back at all the blessings I had been through to that point, the foundational one being that He, in His mercy, permitted me to know Him, really know Him through Jesus Christ. Though I had been rejected by three colleges, I was now in Holy Bible institute receiving teaching in God's Word as well as ministry. I had a completely new life in Him. The realization of His presence and blessing later caused me to write in a King James Bible that I have that it was a “very good month.”
As that semester ended and time rolled in to February, NBI students would expect a bill in their campus mailboxes. If you read back to the other series you will see I had saved enough money for the first two semesters. I had also acquired an on-campus job cleaning the school's kitchen. However, that would not give me enough to pay for the next semester. I had heard that in previous years some students had to leave because of finances.
The day came I received my bill. When I opened it, I saw that … the next semester had been paid in full by my parents! I am sure I greatly rejoiced over that! Now the money I was earning could be used to purchase things at the campus bookstore, particularly what was called
Beuttler Notes on various topics and books of the Holy Bible. God willing you will hear more about brothe Beuttler later in this series.
Yes indeed, January 1971 was a very good month! However, I was about to encounter a little
bump just as the third semester started.
Not THAT Subject Again!
Churchhistory) for 2 credits, Theology I for two credits, Freshman English II for 3 credits, Fundamentals Of Public Speaking for 3 credits, Introduction To Music for 2 credits, and, of course, Physical Education which blessed us with half of a credit.
Everything looked appealing except for one class: Freshman English II. If you have read the last series you might recall that I had English, Grammar, or whatever you want to call it ever since first grade and was sick of it by now. I had to take in my first semester at NBI and now I had to take it again! Sadly, I was quite angry over this.
However, I consoled myself over the fact I had two Holy Bible courses and one theology course. Naturally I figured the public speaking class was needful as was Introduction To Music. Looking back, I have a suspicion that the Introduction To Music class was also used for evaluation for a certain school purpose. God willing I will share that in a future post, as well as a “hoot” in regard to another public speaking class I would take in my second year.
Books and classes were just part of the training. There was also “in the field training” otherwise known as Christian Service Assignments. Just after the third semester started I would soon receive a notice in my campus mailbox for an assignment that I am sure God wanted me to have.
Heavenly Homework Teaches That Every Person Needs Jesus
homework from heaven.That sounds nice, right? Well, in the post after this I will be mentioning a certain assignment that came with “a holler from hell.”
Christian Service Assignments came in varying forms. Time-wise they ranged from part of a day to a full day and also to a full weekend. An assignment might be repetitive (long term) for a semester. A student would be asked to any number of things, like pass out Gospel tracts, street witness, teach, sing, play an instrument, preach and more.
Looking back at my records, aside from the short term assignments, I had at least two if not three long term ones during my four years at Northeast Bible Institute (NBI): Hilltop Sunday School, Indian Creek Sunday School, and Allentown Junior Church.
Hilltop might have been for just a few weeks because from what I see from the old
Thank You Note from the Christian Service Department of NBI I ended the spring semester of 1971 while serving at Indian Creek.
But I think it was Hilltop that I remember the best. Regardless, it was actually a
special education situation and one that was operated by Mennonites. I, and I imagine others, were assigned to work with what most people would say today would be
the mentally challenged. Back then I would say – and without being degrading or disrespectful – some of the youth were mentally retarded, which was a bona fide medical term back then. Nonetheless, aside from avoiding stigma,
mentally challenged in some respects might be a better term since it would cover other afflictions that would not be mental retardation.
I sure do not remember doing any teaching on that assignment. I do remember being asked to play a game of checkers with one young man whom I will call Eddy. Perhaps some others were like me in sensing a touch of innocence when work with people like that, but in playing checkers with Eddy the Lord would reinforce a Holy Bible truth in my mind: each one of us is born with a sinful nature. Eddy made a move not allowed in checkers, perhaps thinking I would overlook it since he a mental issue. Instead, I told him he actually knew better and he should play the game the right way, which he then did.
I think it was the following Sunday that we were there when apparently he did something he should not have done and some of the regulars had to control him. I can still hear him say
Eddy [will] be good! Eddy [will] be good!
But the Biblical fact is that even if we have all our mental capabilities functioning, even if we have the highest IQ, outside of Christ we are NOT good and cannot be good the way God wants us to be. We need the salvation of God which can only come by Christ Jesus.
Sure, these were
nice assignments. But some students also got assignments that were not so nice, possibly dangerous. God willing that will be in the next post.
The Holler From Hell
Northeastin Northeast Bible Institute (NBI) meant precisely that. The Assembly of God (AOG) school located in Green Lane PA served what the AOG USA designated as their northeast region at that time ranging from parts of Virginia and West Virginia to, and including, the state of Maine. Any Christian Service Assignment would mean traveling to anywhere in the region.
Aside from the long term assignments previously mentioned, at the moment I can recall only four other locations, viz., Chalfont, Reading, and Quakertown PA, and the Jewish missions in Brooklyn NY. I mentioned Quakertown in the previous series. My memory of Chalfont is vague except that I think it seemed to have a number of people there with Eastern Europe ancestry. Reading was a home missions outreach and the pastor held services in what I recall as a small courtroom.
The Jewish mission was a home in Brooklyn New York. I was usually a weekend assignment and I, with others, was sent there more than once. On a Saturday we might do some street evangelism or invite people out to the services (Saturday nights and Sunday mornings).
There was bit more resistance from the unsaved in this ministry. I had heard that part of an NBI team that went over to the Flatbush area were spat upon by some Orthodox Jews. And then there was that Sunday morning that after we awakened we were told by our host that the Jewish Defense League had called and said they would bomb the house that day.
Regardless, our team ministered that morning. I wondered how they would bomb the place, if they actually were going to do it. Looking at a window on the other side of the living room I had to wonder if that would be the window. What ought I to do if I heard a window break? However, nothing happened, but as I was still a relatively new convert some of the numerous Holy Scriptures about persecution became even more real in my mind. If God permitted me to live some decades what might I come across? Where will He send me? How will I behave under persecution?
After that assignment we returned to NBI and back to our studies. However, there would be a few more visits there, and at least two special spiritual lessons, one of which would not hit home until we pastored our second church.
Holy Spirit Lessons At Jewish Missions, Brooklyn
I recall going on visitation one time to an apartment and it was the first time I saw a mezuzah attached to a door post (see Deuteronomy 6:9). I probably gave my salvation testimony in one of the services held in mission's living room and I think I was actually allowed (heh, heh) to preach one time.
That was all well and good. However, at least two incidents occurred that made a mark in my mind. The first occurred when we were having dinner with the host family. Before I came to Christ there was a part of me that was
Pete the introvert. After coming to Christ God was faithful to start changing that.
I knew that was something I had to work on by the grace of God. So, while enjoying a meal with the host family I noticed a model boat sitting on top of a shelf or piece of furniture. I liked the ocean and was interested in boating. I decided to ask about the boat.
The brother leader of the mission began to tell some story about it and the person that built it. He concluded the story by saying that the person who built the model and donated it to the mission asked that prayer would be made for him anytime when someone asked about the boat. So, we stop and prayed for that person. And I thought,
Wow! I was used by God! And, do not get the idea that was typed with pride. Every Christian ought to yearn to be used by God in service for Him.
Well, that was a
nice lesson. But then there was one night during an evening service thoughts ran through my mind that should not have ran through my mind. The mission was showing a film in the basement of the house. I mean a film – the type you needed a film projector for. Something happened and the projector would not work. Some of the mission workers laid hands on the machine and prayed that it would work.
At that time I was still too scientific minded. What went through my mind was
Oh, just get a screwdriver.
God knows our thoughts and manner of thinking. And, in about ten years, something would happened that would bring me into the realm of spiritual warfare. That story will probably be in my final TBT series (have to stop sometime).
Yes, God was (and still is) working on me. I was heading toward the Gospel ministry. I had to start shaping up. And in the next post I want to share something that happened in NBI chapel.
Chapel was held most times from Monday through Friday starting at 8:30 AM. I think we were allowed to miss ten services per semester but if your soul was doing well with God you did not want to miss! Then, there were times, at least for me, that one would go but you might somewhat not be in good spiritual shape.
During one chapel service we were being encouraged to worship and praise God. Based upon Holy Scripture that be done in many ways and in a combination of ways. Well a number of people spontaneously respond, but it seemed to be just about half of us. And I, for one, was not doing much.
I cannot remember if I was even saying “praise God” or “hallelujah” or the like, but it seemed like I was being nudged by God to raise my had in worship For some reason I did not want to. The best that I can recall is that I was self-conscious and not God-focused.
The nudge was there but I fought it. But then I thought something like “God is worthy anyhow,” so up went my hand. At that moment there was greater move of the Holy Spirit throughout the congregation with a lot more worship and praise.
What I think happened was that there were other students having a similar struggle. God was working on them too. They also responded in the way God wanted them to respond and, as result, the Holy Spirit moved in a refreshing and mighty way in that chapel service.
We are spiritual creatures and the One True God desires to work in you and I in a spiritual way. If you are not born again in Christ, having Christ as King of your life, I encourage you to surrender to God through Christ. If you are a true Christian, remember that Jesus said (John 4:24), “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” Hopefully you personally know the wonderful blessing of the Holy Spirit in your life. If not, endeavor to walk more closely with God and worship and praise Him everyday.
Well, I have mentioned some serious things (but they were also joyous) in the past few posts. God willing, I think I will post “a hoot” next time. God bless!
There were no main classes on Saturdays at Northeast Bible Institute (NBI) and every now and then NBI had Open House Day where prospective students and their families would visit the campus.
I resided at the lower dormitory. It was a Saturday forenoon or just after noon when I decided to take a shower. Armed with a towel and wash cloth, and clad only in a bathrobe I went to the dormitory bathroom to use the shower there. It was also an Open House Day (however, no one would come into any dormitory without first announcing themselves).
After drying off and donning my bathrobe I opened the bathroom door and headed to my room – only to be accosted by two or three horse-playing guys that pushed me backwards. I tried to move ahead but these chaps were too much for me.
They kept pushing and pushing until they shoved me into a vacant room. If I recall, the window was already open. They started pushing me toward the window! This men's dormitory was on the second floor of a square building. The cafeteria and kitchen were on the first floor.
I did my best to have them stop pushing, but they prevailed until they pushed me out the window onto a small roof that was over a small back extension of the kitchen.
They locked the window and left! I knocked on the window and yelled,
Immediately I laid flat facedown on the roof, hoping and praying that I would be seen no more by brother Emery and his tour group. I made sure that my back end was well covered by my robe, and I surely prayed, lol! What would I say to brother Emery if he found me out? What an embarrassment it would be! I was surely praying they would not see me, because the road coming by the building came close enough to the building that it would be hard to spot me. I was also hoping and praying that if they did spot me that all they would see would be something like a bunch of cloth someone might have laid on the roof to dry or air out.
I waited a few moments. I heard them pass by and go around the corner. I waited a few more moments. When I thought it was safe I got up.
Now, how am I going to get down? Also, all I had on was a bathrobe, so if I found some way to climb down I would have to do it quickly before someone would come by on foot or in a car. What could I do?
I tried the window again. Now it was unlocked. I went back in, closed the window, retrieved my towel, washcloth, and soap, and went straight to the safety of my room.
I forget for sure which room I had at the time though, whether it was the first room I had (which I shared with another student) or a corner room that I longed for, but when I got it it also came with a surprise after a time. God willing I will tell you about that next time. In fact, I will try to post a picture of the general area of my room because the picture will include the small roof I just mentioned in this post.
Also coming later in this series: proof that my parents made a true commitment to Christ; saved from danger at King of Prussia; God does a complete reversal of a dismal part of my life before I came to Him; and more!
Also, I had a roommate the first year. He was from New Hampshire. I was from New Jersey, and my parents always kept our home pretty warm during winter. My roommate seemed to enjoy the cold so every now and then he had the window open. That is not for me, and made the idea of a private corner room even more appealing to me.
When I told my parents I had secured my own private room Dad somehow got a hold of some multicolored carpet squares and we affixed them to the floor of the room when he brought me back to NBI. I now had my NBI dream room!
A real great thing about this particular room was that it was near one of the three stairways of the lower dorm. This stairway was on the outside of the building and its ground end was near a back door of the kitchen. To help earn my keep I cleaned the kitchen after hours so all I had to do was head down the stairs sometime after 7:30 PM to go to work.
By the way, in reference to the previous post, in the picture is shown the roof I got trapped on – with only my bathrobe on. That stairway was an added bonus that came with my corner room (the window, for which, is not included in the photograph). However, something else was added later on: hornets!
Yep. One day when I went out the exit to head down the steps I discovered a hornet's nest along that path. I retreated and went another way, but I did inform the maintenance department. The nest was gone in few days.
Nevertheless, that room was a pretty good room which I was able to keep for my remainder of education and training at NBI. A wonderful blessing it was.
However, before I ever got that room, as time went on at NBI I was wondering about my parents. They had made a commitment to Christ at the end of 1970. Were they still committed to Him? Were they letting Christ change them? God willing, I will tell you something about that in my next post.
Naturally, in my first year at NBI I would not be at home until summer. If I were home I would be able to observe any fruit of salvation in their lives. For example, the cursing and yelling would stop or, in the least, subside. My parents would be more loving toward each other. The drinking would stop or subside. Were they attending a Holy Bible believing church? For weeks I had no clue until I noticed something in the mail one day.
Like most other parents would do for their children, I would receive letters and packages from home. One of my favorite packages was the time they sent some pepperoni. No, that is not a sign of salvation, but it was pretty good. I think I shared some with a brother or two at NBI. The clue came in a letter, even before I opened it.
Before they came to Christ Mom and Dad smoked. Dad smoked pipes and cigars, and Mom was hooked on cigarettes. Many people that smoke do not realize that most times not only does their breath and body reek with smoke, but just about everything they own has a smoke stench. Even if they come into your home or office but do not smoke there, sadly, there is a lingering stench that might take hours or even a day or so to vanish.
For a time, everything from home had the stench of smoke on it. Letters from home were always written by Mom. By the way, she had perfect handwriting. One day when I checked my mail there was a letter from home, and this one was different. It did not have a stench to it! I think after opening it, instead of immediately reading it I sniffed it. I could not detect any smoke! I considered that a sign that she was permitting God to work in her life through Christ.
Dad was a bit more difficult to figure out while I was at NBI. After all, he did not write the letters and pack the packages, and my last direct observation of him was when he brought me back to NBI for my second semester in my first year.
But, coming probably at the end of May or beginning of June 2021, God willing, I want to post the proof-positive that they both really had made Jesus king in their lives! While this current series is not based upon the sub-theme of “fifty years ago,” I do want to note that wonderful proof around its fiftieth anniversary (I am getting tears about that now).
In the next few posts I want to get rid of some negative accounts about myself so I can keep an “upbeat” tone for a time. I want to post those to remind others that until a true Christian dies (or is raptured) they are growing in the Lord. Also, hopefully it will be an encouragement to some who struggle with a few things. Yet, I caution those who would say, “yes, we are only human.” God became human (according to our concept of time) so that we might take on His moral qualities. We have no excuse, but if we are truly saved we have enablement from Christ by the power and direction of His Holy Spirit.
I think the first one I want to report occurred during the first year-and-a-half at Northeast Bible Institute (NBI). I do not recall how I was acting but I am sure I could have been behaving better. I think I permitted myself to be influenced by some who also should have been behaving better. Indeed, there were some students there that I considered to be super-Christians, but I was not too sure how they became that way and what would I have to go through to be that way. So, being immature, I would tap into the “fun” way every now and then.
Over the course of a time, and in separate incidents, I was rebuked by various students. Some improperly did it, and I am sure there were some that were led by God both in word and manner. However, I did not respond well to any of it – especially to the ones that questioned my salvation. I do not remember if I said this to myself or to a friend who I let join me in the cafeteria after I got my work done, but I sat on a counter (something we should not do) and said, “What the h___ (or maybe heck) do they want from me?”
Yes, talking that way was wrong too. In the previous series, “What A First Year In Christ!” (seek week 8), I wrote about how my good friend Bob Wittik admonished me about my language one day when walking home from high school. Because I thought it was “normal” to curse I continued to do so, but after Bob admonished me I started to work on that flaw and, as you can see, I needed to make more headway.
I think it was soon after that point of despair that I started questioning my salvation, and I am sure the questioning was inspired by satan. Anyhow, I got a sheet of paper and began to write down areas I had improved in since the night I surrendered to Christ. If I recall correctly it was more than a half dozen if not dozen and a bit more. One was the fact that I still had a level of peace that I did not have before I came to Christ, including the elimination of being overly fearful of death. Another was that I had a tremendous love for the Word of God that I never had before.
If we are born again it is important we address any flaws in our lives, seek the forgiveness of God, and ask Him to help us to apply the grace of Christ in lives much better than what we had been doing. It is also good for us to note the ways we have grown in Him.
Sometimes it takes more than our peers to admonish us, like the time I was summoned to the office of the dean of students! God willing I will post that next week.
If you read back on the previous TBT series, “What A First Year In Christ!”, you will see that Kearny Assembly of God (AOG) would have numerous evangelistic outreaches. In this series you see more were naturally added while attending at Northeast Bible Institute (NBI). For the first year or so I usually participated with anticipation in such activities but after a time the anticipation turned to a level of reservation. So there was one summer when I yielded to my introversive tendencies. However, no one hounded me to do more.
It also happened at NBI in regard to attending Sunday church services. Unless we were on a Christian Service Assignment we had to attend church on Sunday. I had been doing that, but what I think happened was that pastor habitually preached on, or at least heavily referenced, the future second coming of Christ. Some students got tired of that and started to attend Green Lane AOG, but I decided to just stay on campus.
However, NBI kept an eye on our behavior, and every now and then a student would find a questionnaire in their mailbox about church attendance. Sure enough, I got one after a few stays on campus, and I knew that Christians were not to lie one to another. And, when you think about it, that would be worse because if you lie about your church attendance then you have violated not one, but two commands in the Word of God. Naturally, I indicated I had been skipping church.
Naturally, I was summoned to the office of Rev. Reuben Hartwick, NBI Dean of Students. Attached to this post is a picture of him.
“Why aren't you attending church brother Macinta?” brother Hartwick asked.
I told him about the situation at the church I had been attending. I forget if he said anything about that, but he then suggested I start attending Green Lane AOG. I replied I had no ride and I really was too embarrassed to ask anyone.
Bro. Hartwick: “What about shanks' mare?”
Me: “Is he a student here?”
I was not acting dumb. I WAS a bit dumb.
“I mean, you could walk to church,” he said.
Well, that was the final word, but I sort of dreaded walking because Route 29 did not have much room for safe walking as it went down the hill into Green Lane. The bit of “daredevil” I had when I was younger was no longer there.
So, I walked. And I believe that it was after only one or two times that other students noticed and I was offered a ride each Sunday to attend. Looking back I could see God had used that situation so I would be less self-centered. And there was more to come.
I forget which students gave me rides to church for the remainder of my stay at NBI, but I am very grateful for their ministry which spared me from possible danger along Route 29. However, there was an incident at another location that – for sure – I was spared from danger. God willing I will post that next time.
However, King Of Prussia was only about 20 miles (32 km) from campus and the King of Prussia Shopping turned out to be a nifty place to visit. So, one day a group of guys wanted to visit the mall and asked if I wanted to go along. I sure did! Shopping malls were still kind of a “new thing” back in the early 1970s.
To this day I forget who invited me and who drove us there, but one of the guys in the group was Daniel Savilla, a fellow sophomore. Dan was something like 6ft. 4in. (almost 1.9 meters) tall.
The King Of Prussia Shopping Mall was immense! To me it was like a commercial block of New York City enclosed in walls. There was a lot to see and all of us wanted to see as much as we could see before we had to head back to the school.
While rambling through the mall with guys I developed a problem. I needed a restroom, and, pretty bad. I saw no signs indicating a men's room anywhere and I started to wander from the group in search of one.
Soon, a young man with a tie and casual jacket was heading my way. I thought he might have been employed at the mall so I asked him. He told me to follow him and I did as the group I was with continued on. That was a bad move on my part.
This guy led me on a little lengthy walk to the back part of the mall! But I needed a restroom. Maybe he will point out the location then walk away. We went around a corner and it looked like a restroom area. But this guy did not say much and he kept walking with me. What am I going to do? I needed a restroom, but this area was pretty remote. If I get in there, and this guy does something to me, if I scream will anyone hear me? Then, all of a sudden I hear . . .
It was Dan! He had followed us around the corner! And the guy in the casual jacket and tie took one look at towering Dan and took off in another direction!
Smiling, I replied,
What might have happened if Dan did not show up? Would I be robbed, sexually assaulted, become a victim of human trafficking, or all three? Was the guy in the casual jacket and tie a killer?
I thanked Dan for showing up, and I most certainly thanked God. Recently I was trying to see on the Internet if Dan was still around so I could thank him again. I have not located him yet.
Thank God I avoided that trap! However, aside from what I mentioned earlier about being trapped on roof, I would be trapped again! God willing I will post that next time.
Nonetheless, I have always found it is good at times just to be in a secluded area and sometimes in the dark. Being disconnected from disruptions is good, and being disconnected from any sense of time is like having a tiny taste of eternity – at least for me. Also, there is that added benefit of privacy where you can cry (God willing you will read about something in a future post), shout, and so on. We Pentecostals at times find it as opportunity to yield to God and pray in tongues (as we read the Holy Bible we find that speaking in tongues as the Holy Spirit gives utterance may be done in private or publicly).
So I, and others too, would seek out spots on the campus of Northeast Bible Institute (NBI) just like that. One brother in Christ, Stephen Roser, went out in the dark one night with a flashlight and a towel to kneel on. When he came back an hour or two later he said that he started to praise and thank God for everything he could think of, even the towel he had been kneeling on. Cool!
There was one evening I felt the hankering to find a “closet.” And that is precisely what I found in one of the classrooms in the main two-level complex (which housed the campus mailboxes) that ran along the county reservoir. The reservoir was fenced off, of course, but I liked the idea of water being nearby. I selected one of the classrooms there on the lower level of the classroom complex that I knew had a storage closet. I went into the closet, turned on the light, shut the door, and turned off the light.
I started worshiping God and communing with Him, all alone – but not for long! About fifteen or twenty minutes into my time of prayer I heard students come into the classroom! A few moments later I heard the voice of brother Hobart Grazier, our Koine Greek instructor! What!? I did not know there were any evening sessions going on!
How long were they going to be in there, an hour? I did not think I could wait an hour and, if I could not, what should I do? I would be completely embarrassed to open the closet door while class was in session. I am sure I would be asked some questions but, then again, if it is a Holy Bible school you would hope that some would figure I was praying in there.
However, just as suddenly they came in they left after about a half hour. I waited to hear if they were coming back. After a few moments I eased the door open, saw no one was around, and headed back to my room.
Want to pray in a closet? Choose one very carefully!
I hope you found that to be somewhat of a “hoot.” For next time I feel led to tell you of a major flip God had done in my life and, when I heard was said by one professor, as the saying goes, “I just about fell out of my chair” in class, floored by the awesomeness of God in the ways He can take a messed up life and do a complete reversal!
But I held on with a little hope that I would go to college and become a chemist – until that day in my sophomore year in high school when I began taking a chemistry class. I did not understand hardly anything of what the teacher said as well as the textbook we had. Then it hit me: I was an absolute failure! I felt that I surely would not ever be a chemist, or any type of a scientist. Thoughts of suicide entered my mind.
There were a few other issues in my life that nudged me toward suicide. However, I still held on to the possibility I could go to college, until the fall of 1969 when all the colleges I applied for rejected me. That was it. I was a failure and I wanted to kill myself. If you read back you will see I tried to kill myself twice in one night. Instead, completely devastated I slowly returned home with the thought that I am a failure and will always be a failure. I would never be a chemist, or any type of scientist for that matter.
But, hallelujah, if you have read the series before this one you would know I surrendered my life to Christ near the end of January 1970, and exactly a month later I felt the call of God for me to become a fulltime minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I applied to one, only one, Holy Bible school associated with the Assemblies of God, Northeast Bible Institute (NBI) of Green Lane PA. Despite my horrible high school grades the school accepted me.
As the months at NBI turned into one school year the thought of becoming a scientist was something completely out of my mind. I still liked science and was still interested in some aspects of it, but I was totally satisfied that by the grace of God I would be in the Gospel ministry.
Forging into my second year at NBI, my sophomore year, I was greeted with a number of classes I looked forward to, such Major Prophets, Systematic Theology II, and Advanced Public Speaking. The delight continued into the spring semester with my favorites being Systematic Theology III (a little tough), English Literature (which was an eye-opener about the roots of our English language), I & II Corinthians (taught by brother Hobart Grazier), Minor Prophets (taught by brother Walter Beuttler), and Hermeneutics (taught by brother Roberson, aka “Brother Rob”).
Another term that could be used for hermeneutics is “Holy Bible Interpretation.” While hermeneutics might sound like a big humongous technical term, there is really nothing humongous or overwhelming about it. I consider it just plain godly common sense when approaching the God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16) Holy Scriptures which are in a variety of genres (history, poetry, prophecy, letters, and more) brought together by the Holy Spirit Himself into one Work. Up front, some of the most logical steps one needs to take is to have a relationship with God through Christ, use a reliable translation, keep the immediate and general context in mind of any verse (do not let chapter and verse numbers throw you off), recognize figures of speech when they occur, and the like. A favorite of mine that I have found very helpful is “Scripture interprets Scripture” (which would spare some people from snake bites and poisoning).
But without getting too much further, one thing I encourage all Christians to do is to check what the original language says about the words. We do not have to know Hebrew, Aramaic, and Koine Greek to do this because we are blessed with some good Holy Bible study apps and web sites like blueletterbible.org where we can find out the meanings in a click!
When I came to Christ God by His grace gave me a great love for the Holy Bible, so when my spring semester started in my sophomore year I greatly looked forward to hermeneutics class.
With glee I entered the classroom for the first session, not knowing God had a surprise for me. Once the bell rung class began with prayer, brother Roberson then welcomed us and began to give us an overview of the class. Naturally I listened, but I raised my head and really perked up when he said, . . .
What!? WHAT!? God flipped a part of my life! I was going to be a scientist after all! Oh WOW! In my sophomore year in high school I concluded that would never be a scientist, but in my sophomore year at NBI I learned that God said the opposite!
Godly Holy Bible interpretation is something every true Christian ought to do. If you would like more information on that, please start here: http://www.sapphirestreams.com/bec/bec18UHB1.html .
I feel like giving you another chuckle in the next post so, God willing, next time I will write about something in another class.
I am sure you would know it included aspects like posture, hand and body motion, eye contact, choice of words, speed of speaking, diction, getting the attention of the audience and the like. And, of course, from time to time each student had to speak in front of the class. It was also good for those that might have been overly shy since they would be speaking in front of their peers.
Probably in both courses we anonymously critiqued each other, using forms presented to us by our instructor. A student would speak and later receive the forms from their peers. Before I tell you about one funny criticism I received I want to tell you about two memorable instances.
As mentioned, one of the many things to keep in mind was to get the attention of the audience. So as we were in class the time came to give our sample speeches. The instructor tells one of our brothers to get up and speak. As we were all staring at our notes and the critique forms in front of us the brother gets to the podium and says . . .
Boom! In an instant all of our eyes went from our desks to the brother at the podium, who then said,
“Now that I have your attention, . . .”
Well, alright – we give him high points on that aspect of public speaking. He went on to speak, but his topic had absolutely nothing to do with sex.
The other instance was not like that at all. A brother got up and delivered a small message from the epistle of Jude. It is one of a few books in the Holy Bible that is very small, so it has no chapters. Jude is a very hard-hitting book, yet it points out to every disciple we must endeavor to remain in the true Gospel of Christ.
For the short amount of time we were allotted to speak this brother did very well in bringing out some of the epistles warnings and its strong admonition for the Lord's disciples to remain in the love of God. Upon that point, the brother warned any who did not remain in Christ will face dire trouble. And, with that, he turned the text of Jude in the Holy Bible toward us so we could see it, pointed out that the next book was The Revelation Of Jesus Christ (aka, Revelation) and stated that if a Christian does not remain in Christ they will face the judgments contained in Revelation.
Bravo! I thought that was an excellent conclusion, and have used it at least once or twice in my over fifty years of ministry.
Yes, one day my turn came. I was born and raised in northeast New Jersey and had a pretty heavy New Jersey accent. You know how that is. Instead of saying “coffee” we might say “cawfee.” Instead of “water” we might say “wadder.”
When it came time to do a short sermon I chose Mark 7:18-30 and developed a message I called “The Three I's In The Sight Of Christ.” Naturally, the title will pique the curiosity of the hearers since in most minds it would seem like I was saying “The Three Eyes In The Sight Of Christ” (from Mark 7:18-30 : I. His Intent, v.18; II. His Insight, v.27; III. His Invite v.29). The title itself would be an “attention getter.” During my brief discourse I said the word “idea” at least two or three times and, of course, with my New Jersey accent.
I later got the critique papers. There were a number of positive comments and most certainly a number of negative ones. One was, “keep your glasses on your nose.”
However, the most memorable one was when someone wrote, “What is an eyedeer?” Next to that comment they drew a deer that was composed mainly of an eye! I smiled and laughed, but I got the message. And thanks to that anonymous student, over the course of time I was cured of saying “idear.” I have kept that critique and have remembered it down through the years. It has helped me to say other words correctly over the course of time. I was looking for that critique so I could scan it and put its image with this post but I could not find it in time.
Anyhow, while I expected to learn from my public speaking courses about standing up and speaking, I did not expect something else from another class, and was quite surprised to get an initial notice from the school staff after completing the course. God willing, I will write about that next time.
For me that meant education and training, and a goodly chunk of it came from my four years at Northeast Bible Institute in Green Lane, Pennsylvania. Because worship of God through Christ is a major element in Christianity, students took courses in music. Slated for the second half of my freshman year was Introduction To Music.
I had four years of piano lessons before my life fell apart when younger, and I did not touch the piano much after that. Along with the one in chapel, there as a piano in the school cafeteria, but I never tried to to do anything with it. Nonetheless, since I did have some musical training I earned a C+ in Introduction To Music. It could have been, and should have been, higher, even an A. I do not know why I did not excel more in many of my courses. Perhaps I was too immature. It would not be until my junior year that a young lady “in the know” (she worked in one of the school offices and had access to IQ tests performed on students) told me I could do better. THAT has had me wondering on and off during the decades if I am doing my optimum.
Satan and the world wears people down, and he especially goes after Christians. But if we persevere in God through Christ we can improve. Each Christian in the Body of Christ should see it this way. We should look for hope and possibilities in our brothers and sisters in Christ.
And, evidently some on the faculty and staff saw possibilities in me. I returned at the end of summer 1971 and in just a couple of weeks I received a notice in my campus mailbox: I was selected as one of a number of students to lead the worship in the chapel services from time to time.
If I recall correctly, the procedure would be that the students involved (song leader, pianist, and organist) would leave their first class early (if they had one) to meet with the speaker and the overseer (often the president of the school) for prayer and planning.
Notices to lead worship in chapel would come quite often for me for the remainder of stay at NBI My friend, if you feel you are a failure remember there is always hope in God through Christ, especially if we commit to Him through Christ.
Do not let the forces of darkness tell you that you are good for nothing. We all have purpose, especially if we are truly in Jesus Christ. Worship, prayer, and intercessory prayer is something we all can do, no matter what shape we are in. It is great to be moved upon by the Holy Spirit. It is also great to see Him move around us. Next time, God willing, I want write about such a move on campus.
However, after I surrendered my life to Christ I, like many others, discovered that none of this was needed. After being made alive by the Holy Spirit those that endeavor to walk close to the Lord will tell us that His Spirit can move anytime according to His will. We can be doing the laundry, checking our email, and anything else and the presence of God might be felt in a stronger way, prompting us to respond as directed.
Many times the expected response would be to worship Him, intercede in prayer, just meditate upon His Word, inspect ourselves, and numerous other possibilities – and sometimes more than one type of response may be required. Also, if other Christians are around they may be prompted to respond in different ways.
It seems to me it was one spring evening in my sophomore year that while I was in my room I started to sense something. I also noticed that the campus was more quiet than usual and it was way past “quiet time” (7 to 7:30PM). I felt like I had to leave my room and seek another place to pray.
The sensation of awe was even greater when I was outside and you could sense others were set to praying too. Some were even heard, mostly crying before the Lord. As I recall, I heard a sister around the main classroom complex by the reservoir, a favorite area of mine to commune with God, but I think I went to the other end and tried not to be too loud.
What was going on? I was not sure. To this day I forgot what I prayed or how I prayed, but looking back that would be the last school year the school president, brother Paul Emory, would be there. Was all this about him and the pending transition to a new president? Perhaps it was partly so. The daily chapel services were also affected by this move of the Holy Spirit.
Once again I was reminded that when I came to Christ I was transferred from religion to a relationship with God through Christ. The moving of the Holy Spirit is to be expected anytime, not just on certain days and certain places.
And then, there are times God moves and we might misunderstand the move. He is “in the background” preparing something else. God willing I will tell you more next time. And, after that post, what I saw in my parents' room when I came home for the summer in 1971!
Suffice it for now for me to say that eventually she and one of her cousins got “the hankering” for more Biblical training and eventually chose Northeast Bible Institute (NBI). It was an absolute miracle she was able to get to NBI – and I am NOT exaggerating! That account will also be saved for later. You will read about the mighty hand of God's providence. However, she would not show up at NBI until my junior year.
In the meantime, I got "the hankering” to find a girl-friend. I do not recall asking God about that “hankering” because I just assumed it would be normal for me to consider dating, eventually going steady with someone, and then get married. Later I would learn a Christian ought not to assume things.
My sights eventually focused upon a young lady from New Hampshire. Months later, when I thought I might wind up marrying her, I kind of laughed at the fact she was from New Hampshire. My roommate in my freshman year was from Keene New Hampshire and he preferred to have our room colder than I would prefer.
This young lady wore no make up. For some reason I liked that. She dressed modestly, which I considered a plus. She was of good godly character. She had perfect pitch. She was an accomplished pianist, so she was often called upon to play for chapel services. She also played for the school's Evangelaire Concert Choir, and appears on at least one album produced by the choir.
Naturally, once I started steadily dating her some of the staff and professors thought this was “a perfect match.” Instead of developing any talent within, when looking for a pastor to fill their pulpit many churches checked to see if the wife of the potential pastor could play the piano or organ. That should not be.
Anyhow, despite what some staff and professors had thought, God had other plans. However, I was socially “occupied” with this young lady for over a year, and perhaps that was God's way to avoid picking a disaster.
Even if there is disaster God can intervene, if we permit Him. And I saw mighty strong evidence of that around fifty years ago on the date of the next post. While this current TBT is not based upon “fifty years ago,” God willing I will post in my next post what I saw in my parents' bedroom around fifty years ago. I have waited to write about that so I could post it near its fiftieth anniversary. God did a MAJOR FLIP for my parents – a miracle greater than physical healing!
Please read back at the previous Throwback Thursdays. There were many vehement arguments punctuated with extreme vulgarity. A very specific time I remember was when we were returning from Jersey City going through a long underpass (a highway was over our travel lanes). I was crying and shaking in the back seat because of their arguing back and forth while Dad was driving. You would think they were ready to kill each other. I wrote “help” on steamy window near me.
There was one time Mom thought Dad WAS going to kill her, so while he was at work she took my sister and I to relatives in Jersey City. I do not know where my sister went, but I stayed at my aunt Anna's and uncle Mickey's apartment across from the Margaret Hague hospital – and that is where my mom went to be treated for a nervous breakdown. She was there for about two weeks. Somehow I got my school work from my school. As a side note, it was during my stay at aunt Anna's that one of my cousins got irritated with me and twisted my head to the right, which is why my head leans to the right to this day.
They had separate beds in their bedroom well enough apart from each other. Until a certain age, my bed was in their bedroom. I remember the time that both my dad and I were in bed. I was in bed because I was still quite young, but Dad was in bed because he was sick with a very nasty cold. Mom came in and started to fuss at him. I was awake but neither of them knew it. She said that when he got better he was to repair certain things and after that, “... I'm going to divorce you.”
Divorce! That word, “divorce,” shot through me. For months and a few years after that I wondered if I would come home from school sometime to find out Dad was no longer home. And, I definitely guarantee you, that if they would have gotten a divorce God would have had a lot more to straighten out in my life, or perhaps that might not come about since I probably would have followed through with suicide in 1969 (or even sooner). There was time when I was a teenager Dad and Mom took me and went to an office somewhere beyond Newark. I was told to stay in the car. Mom was pretty somber when they came back. To this day I have no idea if they went to see a lawyer and, if they did, was it to find out about getting a divorce, write up a will, or something else.
Things seemed to simmer down after a time, and after I came to Christ I tried to witness the Gospel of Christ to them from time to time (see the previous TBT series). And then, about eleven months after I surrendered to Christ they did too! But, did they mean it? While I was in my first year at Holy Bible institute I saw small indicators they did, but it was not until I came home for summer vacation that I saw a MAJOR indicator that they meant business with God.
About fifty years ago as of the date of this post Dad came to the school and brought me home for the summer. After “hanging out” with my parents for a time, I headed up the steps to my bedroom. As I turned at the top steps to go to my room I decided to peek into my parents' bedroom. I then saw a sign that they had permitted God to do a MAJOR FLIP in their lives:
Think of it. Whatever tallies they had against each other were gone. Gone! In receiving forgiveness from God for themselves they were enabled to forgive each other. The bloodcurdling arguments were gone. The threat of divorce was gone. And just in time for Mom because her time on earth was running out.
Sadly, many who Name the Name of Christ are having great marital difficulties. It ought not to be. Christ can fix things if you let Him, – IF YOU LET HIM. And whether you are Christian or not, God has helped me to produce some pages on marriage that may help you, or the marriage of someone else. You may find those pages at https://oasisofhope.neocities.org/ma00.html .
It is a lie from hell, even if you hear it from your own church or pastor, that a marriage cannot be fixed by God. The Word of God says it can and ought to be done! The Word of God tells the truth. And during the summer of 1971 it showed me someone else did not tell me the truth.
Well, I got another eyeopener in the summer of 1971. I was home from Holy Bible institute and I was again in our backyard reading the Holy Bible. In my first year at Holy Bible institute I had taken the course “Introduction To The New Testament” during which time Mark was the main Gospel of study in relation to the other Gospels. However, I had not read every bit of Gospels before coming home for summer break in 1971.
So, I was in the backyard, probably finishing the Gospel of John when this question came to my mind: “Where is Veronica?” I even checked whatever concordances I had and I still could not find Veronica.
No, I do not mean the Veronica of Archie Comics. I mean the Veronica I had heard about from the Catholic church. We probably first learned about her when we were introduced to the twelve “Stations Of The Cross.” Commemoration of Veronica was on of the stations. The story about her really impressed me as a young boy. In a nutshell, she was a very kind lady who either used her veil or a cloth to wipe the bloody face of Jesus as He went to the cross. One variation states she gave Him the cloth or veil to wipe His face. Either way, the story says when she got the veil or cloth back the imprint of Jesus' face was on it. There are more details to this, but what was really on my mind was that I really liked what she did and had hoped to meet a young lady like her some day.
In my first formative year in Christ I learned that there were all sorts of stories and legends outside of the Holy Bible and the only thing we could really trust as truth was the Holy Bible. So, on that summer day I began to realize that the story of Veronica might not be true. The Stations Of The Cross also commemorate the supposedly three times Jesus stumble on the way to Mount Calvary but, again, the Holy Bible does not record Him as stumbling at all.
In regard to Veronica, the historical evidence is very lacking and based mainly on word of mouth. It is claimed that the Vatican has the cloth which is displayed at least once a year and only for a brief moment. Those who have seen it say it lacks detail. All of this seems very dubious to me. But, what was I to expect from a church system that denies the Biblical truth of Christ's all sufficient atonement (consider Purgatory), has a history of persecuting and killing real Christians, and tried with all of its might to prevent the common man to have a copy of the Holy Bible in their native tongue?
Thank God for the sure Word of God. Its prophecies come to pass, its truths are very demonstrable, and it changes lives to the glory of God when coupled with the Holy Spirit. Those that really know God through Christ have glorious truths to tell to the nations, the most important of which is any one can find salvation in Christ. That was something that my home church, Kearny Assembly of God would do. And, while it is wonderful to spread the Gospel, one has to be on guard as they do so, even in Kearny (in the more gentle 1970s). God willing, we will get to that story next time.
It was back in the 1960s that illegal drugs began to really spread. A few years before I came to Christ there was a “drug bust” right on my block in Kearny, NJ. Some young adult, whose parents were deaf, was arrested for selling drugs. I watched from a distance across the street as detectives entered the house. Then, all of a sudden, I heard the mother mournfully yell but in a way she was only able to because she was deaf. Without her framing any words I could tell she was deeply saddened, hurt, and angry at her son as they led him out of the house. I imagine they either told her in Sign Language or in writing why they were arresting him.
I was not a Christian at that time so that was very scary to me that drugs were just a few doors away from my house. Though that level of fear left once I came to Christ, naturally I was still on guard. Faith in God does not mean we have to live stupidly.
If you read back you will see that the idea of being on guard was underscored on various “homework from heaven” assignments from the Christian Service Department of Northeast Bible Institute (NBI). So, such vigilance was continued during the summer witnessing outreaches by young members of Kearny Assembly of God. As you might remember one of our favorite spots to reach the unsaved was the Town Hall Park next to, of course, the Kearny Town Hall.
Though the image provided in this post shows a renovated park, you can get a general idea of the layout. The street on your left is Kearny Avenue and the one on the right is Chestnut Street. Given the fact the police station was not far away it was a somewhat safe place to share the Gospel of Christ with people.
We were doing exactly that one summer evening. I was on a bench with someone else as we were telling someone about salvation in Christ. We had a nice conversation going, but then I spied a group of three or four young adults on the other side of Kearny Avenue. They started crossing the street. Were they heading in my direction?
Yes, they entered the park on the avenue side. They were something like the hippies of that era, and were heading down the paved path that would go right by the bench I was on. With my Holy Bible open I just kept talking to the person I was trying to win to Christ. Would this mini hippy group try to disrupt our conversation?
When they got to where we were sitting, one of them offered to me a can of soda – the can was already opened. To this day I have to wonder if my looks gave them the impression I was stupid.
I thanked them, took the can, set it down between my feet and kept talking to the person I was witnessing to. They kept on walking and exited the park on the Chestnut Street side.
I took the can because I figured there was something in it. Had I said, “No thanks,” they might have given it to someone else. I kept talking with our prospective convert. After a few minutes, knowing they had left the park I then moved a foot toward the can and knocked it over.
While all of that would be a logical course of action to take I still give God the credit. Some people lack that logic partly because they screen God out of their life, so in some cases they become prey or cause someone else to become prey.
I do have to wonder was in the can? An opiate? An acid or strong base? LSD? Were they waiting around somewhere to hear an ambulance siren? Only God knows, but I do give Him credit.
To this day if I train someone for evangelism I instruct them to be on the alert, listen to the Holy Spirit, and do whatever the Holy Spirit says.
Well, that was a slightly dangerous encounter in Kearny. God willing, next time I want to relate two safe encounters during my summers away from NBI that would have an affect on me after they cut me loose from NBI. After that, God willing, get ready for what I will describe as “a hoot and a half” for the post slated for 06/24/21!
First, something I despised. It was probably the summer between my junior and senior year at Holy Bible institute that, while I was home in Kearny, I met an independent Pentecostal minister. Seems to me his name was brother Herb Bergeren of Rutland Avenue. He told me I should go independent. I forget what I replied, but I certainly had no desire at that time to go independent.
I despised that thought at that time because I was of the opinion that independent ministers were independent to avoid accountability. I felt you could not trust someone independent. Just who did they answer to? I felt it was a good thing to have brothers and sisters over you. At that time the Assemblies of God (of which I was a member) was, for the most part, Biblically solid.
I would change my mind in about three decades. By the year 2000 I saw both denominational affiliation and independence could be either good or bad. Due to sad circumstances, I felt led to become independent by the end of August 2003. More about that at a later date in a future series, God willing, but hopefully I will post early inroads to that decision in this current TBT series.
The other safe encounter was really a series of meetings, the monthly New Jersey Assemblies of God sectional youth rallies. They were always great! Most often they were headed by our sectional youth leader. At that time the leader was Jesse Owens. No, not the athlete.
Like many other Assemblies of God ministers at that time brother Jesse enjoyed godly humor. I think one time I had the privilege to be in the same car with him when he showed us how to get godly kicks. We pulled up to pay a toll on a highway (lots of toll roads in NJ) and he told us to “watch this.” He paid his toll and also the toll for the car behind us. They were quite happy when they found out! There were other godly kicks that he did, but I forgot what they were.
The youth rallies were always rousing and inspiring. They were held in various locations of New Jersey. Sometimes, when there was time before a rally started, we would go outside and invite other young people. There was one time we encountered a shirtless young man but he would not come in without a shirt. I think one of us offered our own shirt, but he still refused.
Back then the rallies always started with the chorus “We Are Christ's Ambassadors”:
We are Christ's ambassador's, and our colors we must unfurl.
We must wear a spotless robe, clean and righteous before the world.
We must show we're cleansed from sin, and that Jesus dwells within:
Proving duly, that we're truly, Christ's ambassadors.
When singing the final line and we got to “... Christ's ambassadors” the sectional youth leader would raise his right hand, like he was giving a pledge, and we would do likewise. And when they repeated the phrase, to underscore “proving duly” the left hand would go up, and we would do likewise.
Sadly, such words of dedication went out of style by the 1980s and the theme song was dropped. You know, it was, uh, a bit corny. Actually, I am of the opinion it was too convicting.
However, at that time it was still a good thing to do and none of us were embarrassed about it. And, I thought to myself that I would like to be a sectional youth leader some day. And God knew that thought too.
Well, I was not credentialed by the Assemblies of God (AOG) at that time and I was still in Holy Bible Institute. However, Pastor Bricker of Kearny Assembly of God would have me speak from time to time when I was home. That was fine, I was with people that knew me and I knew them.
I can remember on one Wednesday night I did sermon on Habakkuk, where the prophets starts off by complaining to God about sin among His people and complains more when he finds out how God was going to deal with it. The prophet eventually winds up by trusting God and praising Him. I thought the message went well and I was clear, but one man in the church must have misunderstood because he thought I was saying we should complain about how God deals with situations at times.
Anyhow, for the most part preaching and teaching at Kearny Assembly was fairly comfortable. However, at one point Pastor Bricker had me preach to another crowd. It would be my first public sermon outside of Kearny AOG, and what happened was a hoot and a half! I will tell you about that in the next post, God willing.
It was either the summer of 1971 or 1972 that in June or July I went along with Pastor and sister Bricker to Goodwill. I remember how they would pray for the service and then map out a plan for the meeting there. Yes, sometimes some Pentecostals do make plans, lol! Some sort of plan had to be done because, if I recall correctly, we only had a half hour for the service. I forget if I had read Scripture, led the worship, gave a testimony, or anything else during that meeting, but sometime after the service Pastor Bricker asked me to preach at the next month's service.
That would be the first time I would give a message to a group outside of our church or my fellow classmates at Northeast Bible Institute (NBI). Also, I had not yet been assigned by the NBI Christian Service Department to be the speaker for any Christian service assignment, so this would be my first sermon to strangers.
According to the their web site (https://www.grmnewark.org), Goodwill Rescue Mission (the image, of which, appears in this post) was founded in 1896, and “has served those experiencing homelessness, hunger and poverty in Newark and northern New Jersey. Men and women find food and other critical care and are restored to a life of dignity and hope.” And, of course, the only sure and lasting way for godly dignity and hope was to surrender one's life to God through Jesus Christ, which we were glad to proclaim.
Naturally then, my message would center on the salvation that God offers through Christ alone. I felt led to speak on David slaying Goliath (see 1 Samuel 17) – how anyone can get the victory over satan (that should be capitalized but, as a former peon satanist, I do not want to capitalize it).
The evening came when I was to deliver my message at Goodwill. As usual, before the start of the service we gathered in a smaller room for prayer and planning. Given the time constraints I probably only had 15 minutes or so to speak. When the time came, we entered the meeting room where the men were at. I think back then they pretty well kept the men separate from the women and I can only recall men being in the meetings we serviced.
We began the worship session and did anything else that was scheduled. Then the time came for me to speak. Things were quite normal for about the first five or eight minutes, but then all of a sudden I heard someone yell, in an inebriated way, . . .
He did not say anything, so I continued on. I was calm, thanks to the Holy Spirit, but also thanks to my mentor, Pastor Bricker who showed by example that a pastor can be calm in various situations. As you might recall from another Throwback Thursdays series, my first impression of him included the thought that he was “laid back.”
However, about five minutes later I heard the same man yell . . .
Again I said (a bit concerned the time was getting near for us to stop),
First thought that came to my mind was this might be a trick question in the hopes I would say “the Jews.” However, the fact remains that just as all (both Jew and Gentile) have sinned, both Jews and Gentiles had crucified Christ. Jewish leaders demanded His death and it was carried out by Roman soldiers.
My reply to the man was “We all did.” By that time an usher made his way down to the man and told him to remain quiet.
It was quite an interesting experience and, in my opinion, quite funny too. Think of it. A rookie preacher does his first sermon before a group of total strangers and gets interrupted twice by some poor fellow who apparently had a tad too much happy juice.
That was a fun bit of training for the ministry. But then, there was a time that I was sort of put on the spot in another church service, and my then “steady girlfriend” was with me. God willing, I will get to that next time.
It just so happened that the visit occurred when one of my cousins was going to get married. So, my steady and I went to the wedding. Because my cousin was Roman Catholic the ceremony would be at a Catholic church. I figured it is just a wedding and there would be no problem. I was wrong.
When we got to the church, somehow and in some way we wound up sitting close to the front. That was really no big deal until a few minutes into the service. It was then that I realized my cousin's wedding ceremony included a mass.
Some might ask me “What is the problem with being at a mass?” The eucharist (not capitalized on purpose) was an integral part of the mass (at least back then). The Catholic church taught that upon consecration by the officiating priest, the bread wafer (or whatever they might use) becomes the actual body and blood of Christ! At that point the priest elevates the wafer (aka “the host”) and then those present are to kneel down and say three times, “Lord I am not worthy that you should enter my roof. Speak but the word and your servant shall be healed.” The priest then lowers the host and breaks it in half and, according to Catholic doctrine, Christ is being sacrificed again! This is NOT figurative to them, it is an actuality to them.
Hopefully if you are a real born again Christian you will see numerous things in this process and mode of thinking that are totally against the Word of God and deny the absolute efficacious work of Christ upon the cross. Let us start with the end of that paragraph.
Christ victoriously lived, died, and rose once and for all time, and His this mercifully work of His is all that is needed for salvation. With Hebrews 9:24-28 consider Hebrews 10:12-14 (NKJ): “But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God,13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.”
What about the wafer becoming the actual body of Christ? Most people do know that Christ most certainly did refer to the bread as His body and the wine as His blood. However, this was initiated at a Passover meal. Bitter herbs were part of that meal which represented the bitterness of slavery that the Jews endured while in Egypt. Other components of the meal represented other aspects of Jewish history. The components of the meal were representations of truth, not the truth itself. Therefore, when Christ said of the bread “this is my body...” He meant that the bread ought to remind the recipients of His death upon the cross which permits the righteous transfer of His victorious life to those that fully trust in Him. Likewise the wine reminds the recipients that forgiveness of sins is available only because Christ shed His blood for us. There are numerous other aspects to both elements, but the point I am making is that the elements are only representations of absolute truth.
For my steady and I to kneel down at that part of the mass would mean to cause spiritual damage to the minds and hearts that needed Christ. It would confirm in their mind Catholic doctrines that deny the truth that the work of Christ was completely sufficient and set their people on course of righteousness by works for salvation. It would also condone the act of idolatry to kneel before a creation (bread in this case).
Also, for my steady and I to kneel down at that part of the mass would be a slap in the face to all our brothers and sisters in Christ before us that chose to suffer and even die instead of agreeing that the “consecrated” bread was the body of Christ.
While my girlfriend was sound in the basic elements of true Christian belief (otherwise I would not have been dating her), she might not have been unaware of what this part of mass pointed to. So, just before the wafer was elevated I whispered to her, “Do not kneel down.”
Thankfully, she obeyed. And there we sat while everyone else was kneeling. In few short seconds an usher came to the side of our pew and indicated we should kneel. We would not.
Think that was unloving? It was very loving toward God and toward the unsaved.
However, it hurts to know that there are Christians* that do not know the Word of God as they ought, assume that almost everyone that calls themselves a Christian is one, confuse peace with unbiblical compromise, and are unknowledgeable of the severe persecution that the true Church suffered from the Catholic church (which also wanted to keep the Holy Bible out of the hands of the average person – imagine what might have happened if some of their adherents would have read the above passages from the book of Hebrews). * = It even hurts more when some of my ministerial colleagues are guilty of the same.
I thank God that by His grace my steady and I did not cave in. Of course there would be more such occurrences in the future. If you are a true Christian keep in mind such things happen to all of us until we pass from this world.
The end of that summer would send me back to Northeast Bible Institute (NBI) – but not my steady. She ran out of funds and had to stay home and work. There would be changes at NBI, starting with the president of the school. Other things would be set in motion whereby God would eventually make a MAJOR flip in my life after graduation.
There would be other flips, too, before then. In fact, God had something brewing in Western Maryland with two young ladies. Unknown to me, Dorcas Yoder, my future wife would be arriving that fall at NBI – but not without a miracle! God willing, I will write about that next time.
The end of summer 1972 meant back to Northeast Bible Institute (NBI) for me to start my junior year. And one more year after that I planned to graduate and marry my steady girlfriend from Northern New England. But that is not what God planned.
At the end of summer 1972 two young ladies in western Maryland, Dorcas Yoder and Ellen Probst, had a car jammed packed with their belongings all set to go to NBI – and were supposed to be there that evening. They knew they were going. They felt that God had said so. There was just one tiny problem.
Sister Dorcas did not have her GED in hand – a requirement in lieu of a high school diploma for entrance into NBI. She had some schooling at Yoder School, but never finished the high school level.
So before they left, Dorcas went and took a GED test
She let her pastor, brother William Ferguson, pastor of Maranatha Assembly of God, Grantsville, MD, know. He made a phone call and found out that she could retake the part of the test she failed by going to Romney, West Virginia, which was not far from the Maryland border and not far from the main path of travel to NBI!
So, in the loaded car off they went down into Cumberland, Maryland to cross over to Romney. Dorcas took the part of the test she failed – and passed! She got her needed GED and off they went to Green Lane Pennsylvania. By faith they had that car loaded and by faith they persevered.
After they arrived and registered, they attended the banquet for newcomers. They made it to NBI and were all set to start classes. Years later I would be told that some “back home” said they were going to Bible school to find a husband, but both did not have that on their minds at all. They were there to study and that was that. “Husband” was not on their minds. And, God would change that too.
I do not recall if I was there the night they arrived or not. If I was I was probably upstairs in my room as the banquet for newcomers was proceeding in the cafeteria below.
My junior year would be a busy one for me because in addition to my studies I decided to join the NBI Evangelaire Concert Choir and my fellow classmates voted me into the Student Judiciary Council. God willing I will write more about both groups later on.
But for that entire semester I was oblivious to the fact that my future wife had arrived, except for one thing: As the weeks went on I sensed a strong uneasiness in my soul and spirit regarding MY plans to marry my steady girlfriend. God was about to teach me an indelible lesson about how to seek Him concerning aspects of life and how to better discern His will. And, after all of these years, as I was writing this post God showed me another possible aspect of what would happen between my steady and I at the end of 1972.
Brother Obie Harrup was what happened, from the Potomac District of the Assemblies of God. It was immediately detected by some students that this brother was a little more easy going.
Nevertheless, for the remainder of my stay at NBI there was a push to get the school to become a college. If I observed, and recall, correctly, there was strong hesitation from the State Of Pennsylvania to permit a school to grant Bachelors Of Science Degrees in Bible. But it was either brother Harrup or someone else that indicated to the state that if Pennsylvania could permit schools to offer degrees for dog grooming, then the state should permit degrees for a Holy Bible education.
Soon afterwards the state started to send in teams to evaluate NBI. The teams also met with the Board of Directors and / or Board of Regents. There was at least one day that state representatives were all over the campus, even dining with us in the cafeteria. Then there came the day that the school had to prepare a large document in about a dozen or more copies for the state. The school asked some students to collate the pages for all copies. I was one that participated.
We would be placed in order and assigned certain numbered pages. We would pick up the stack we were assigned to and follow the other person with their stack as we went around in a circle to place a page on a receiving stack. Seems like I went through that circle four or five times at least. And, what I was doing WOULD IMPACT ME by a MAJOR FLIP BY GOD a few years later.
There were a few new instructors that year too. Some instructors had resigned, but not before one had placed some things in my mind that would direct my path and enrich my Christian walk years later. In one way I had considered him an answer to prayer, but in another way I thought he was a bit nutty. More on him next time, God willing.
Brother Walter Beuttler was one of those instructors for my first two years. In some respects I considered him a bit odd but I also knew he was somewhat of a blessing, and I now realize he was more of a blessing than what I first perceived him to be.
After a few weeks in a class he taught I realized he was an additional answer to my prayer in 1970 when I asked God to make me like the Old Testament OT. Like I said in the previous series, I put some feet on those prayers by going to a Christian book store and buying “A Glimpse At The Old Testament” by Henrietta Mears. One of the courses brother Beuttler taught was “Minor Prophets” (“Minor” referring to the size of twelve OT prophetic books). His notes helped to train my mind to better understand the Word of God by showing the meaning of phrases like “a cake not turned” (see Hosea 7:8), the meanings of certain Hebrew names, and the symbolic import of some things in the OT (For an example of that, please see http://pastorpete.tripod.com/HAO.html ). He presented the best explanation of Ezekiel 1 that I have ever seen.
He emphasized the need for an experiential walk with God. On this, he told a number of personal stories with only a few that I might question based upon the Word of God. One story that I remember, which I did find based upon the written Word of God, was when he felt led of God to get on a plane and go to a certain country to minister. However, he did not have the money. He went to the airport anyway and waited on God in a lower level of the airport that was open. There were other levels. After a time something floated down in front of him. It was a blank check, enough to pay for his ticket and a few other things. He then quoted to us Luke 6:38.
Christians are to have an experiential walk in Christ based upon the written Word of God. NBI's motto at the time was “To know Him by the Spirit, by the Spirit to make Him known.”
Christians are to participate in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It was the opinion of our Greek professor that brother Beuttler had the gift of wisdom. For that account go to http://sapphirestreams.com/bec/HG1Co12GOHS.html#wisdom and scroll down a few paragraphs.
Before he left NBI, brother Beuttler gave us a number of thoughts, two of which definitely directly affected me to where I became eventually independent from denominational affiliation. One was that a Christian called of God to preach does not need credentials to preach. The second was his observation church cycles down through the years. He said God sends a revival, then churches form. In some cases, from that point denominations form and as the decades roll by, sadly, in many cases these groups take on features of the world and drift away from the Word of God, falling into spiritual decline.
However, if you are a true Christian stay dedicated to the Christ and uphold the written Word as supreme.
God willing, next time I will write about the amazing brother Reardon who was actually “blind as a bat,” but not blind to the ability that God can give to us.
I was in my coveted corner room in the men's lower dorm writing a letter when I heard non-rhythmic clapping outside my window that faced the administration building. Looking out my window I saw brother Reardon somewhat jogging up the curving sidewalk that led to the administration building and absolutely caneless. And, he hardly slowed down when he got to the building's steps, bounding up them with no problem at all! I forget who I asked why he would clap when he went up the sidewalk, but I was told, maybe by him, that he was listening to the reflection of sound off of the trees.
A number of students were capable of impersonating various instructors and school staff. Our Greek professor, Hobart Grazier was a favorite one for some to choose. At the end of each school year, before graduation, there was what was called “Class Night” where seniors performed their impersonations in a good-natured comical way. Staff and faculty, along with many students, would be in audience roaring with laughter. For some reason I found it easy to impersonate brother Reardon. I could pretty well do his voice and many of his mannerisms was able easily mimic, perhaps, in part, to being nearsighted. Do not get me wrong – my eyes are not real bad, and I thank God for that.
Brother Reardon, who is still around at the time of this post, has a fantastic memory. Later that year when I joined the Evangelaire Concert Choir I noticed he knew everything about the music in his vast collection: the key each selection was written in, time signature, every note, the author, publisher, and a lot more. Although he no longer teaches at the school, he still knows much of it, if not all of it, to this day. Over a year ago I asked about a certain selection the choir had sung during one semester. Prior to calling him, I ran a search for the author of that selection and could not find it. Brother Reardon gave me the answer without any problem.
I think that brother Reardon is a shining example that God gives ability to those with a disability if they accept His ability.
There were a number of posts about him in an NBI Facebook group about a year or more ago. One sister in Christ related a funny incident about him. She said she was taking voice lessons from him on a day when the yellow-jackets were quite prevalent on the campus. During a lesson one flew up her skirt. She exclaimed with fright that it went up her skirt and she let brother Reardon know she had to stop and get the critter out of her skirt. He also expressed concern – and covered his eyes, though he was “blind as a bat.”
Speaking about bats, not only were there pesty hornets on campus, but their were bats and there was one incident that involved a bat, some young ladies, and me! God willing, more on that next time!
It was probably a Saturday and I was probably outside when I was approached by two female students that had a dilemma. There was a bat in their dormitory and they asked me to get it out. It was godly and wise that two came, not just one, otherwise it might have been seen as suspicious by me or anyone else. I probably got a used “clean” container and a decent piece of cardboard to accomplish the mission, and followed the young ladies to their dorm.
Upon entering I dutifully began calling out “Man in the hall.” For those that know the Old Testament you might recognize that procedure as being similar to the directive that lepers had to cry “Unclean! Unclean!” when they got near others. So, I see a little humor in the thought that I had say “Man in the hall” every now and then. Surely, something unclean was in the women's dorm.
I followed them down a hallway and, sure enough, a bat had secured itself to a wall and, thankfully, there was a window nearby. Hoping and praying I would do things the right way and that the critter would not bite me, I placed the container over the bat, put the cardboard flat against the wall, and carefully slid the container onto the cardboard. It was a success and I let the bat out outside the window. Oh, and, yes, I promptly left the building calling out “Unclean,” I mean, “Man in the hall” all the way.
True, all of that is “no big deal,” except for the fact that I was an introvert and, before I came to Christ, I often felt like a social reject. However, when I came to Christ I found there was a lot more social acceptance in the true Body of Christ. And because I would be in some type of future ministry, whether it was evangelist or pastor, the introvert in me had to be greatly reduced. So God saw to it I got a little more social acceptance. At the start of my junior year, my classmates voted to . . . – God willing we will get to that next time.
At the start of each school year there would be class elections for class president, vice-president and so on. I was not elected to anything in my freshman and sophomore years, which I fully expected. However, in my junior year I was elected by my class to be on the Student Judiciary Council. “Huh? Me?,” was what came to my mind when I heard the results. I was also struck with the seriousness of the position.
Yes, judiciary. Despite what some who read this series have heard about “not judging,” a true Christian has a responsibility and duty to judge in various ways according to the written Word of God and directed by the Holy Spirit. Yes, Jesus did say, “Do not judge,” but you have to read the context in which He said that. There are a number of places in the New Testament that uphold Holy Spirit directed judging. By the Holy Spirit Paul upbraided the Corinthian church for NOT judging and disciplining one of their number who had fallen from grace.
Most times the Dean of Men or Dean of Women would discipline those students that erred. However, from time to time they would send certain cases to the Student Judiciary Council (I know the yearbook caption says “committee” and not “council,” but the message from its chairman below the image has “council” and that is how I remember the group). It was good for both the council and the one that was sent to them. Even if some on the council would never be pastors they might be deacons or deaconesses some day. And, even if that were not so, it was good training for any level in the Body of Christ.
Brother Larry Parker, chair for the 73-74 Council wrote below the yearbook picture presented with this post, "When a student comes before the Council we are there not to punish him, but to correct him in order that he may become a better servant of God. We assure him that the decision we make comes from diligent seeking of God and true 'AGAPE' love." - Vision 74 (yearbook) p47.
As an added surprise and blessing, I was returned to the Student Judiciary Council in my senior year, and the council elected me to be their, get this, chaplain! Again, “Huh? Me?”
How about you? There might be a few reading this that feel they have been nothing but a failure all of their life. Jesus can give you a new life, but you have to completely surrender to Him. We must fully trust and obey Him. But we cannot do this unless we ask God to forgive us for being a sinner and ask Christ to live in us as King – and mean that every day.
And, for those that do make a commitment to God through Christ, or for anyone else interested, you can find some lessons on basic Christianity at www.sapphirestreams.com/bec/ .
So, my junior year began in a very nice way. But there were a number of “bumps in the road” ahead. My steady girlfriend could not make it for that year. A “gnawing” to my soul would kick in now and then. And, there would be some problems at home.
However, I think it was sometime in my junior year at Northeast Bible Institute that there came the day that when I got my mail out of my campus mailbox I smelled that stench again. And, it was coming from a letter that Mom had sent. Naturally I prayed about that situation. A few years later I found out the story behind it.
Since about the mid 1950s my family lived on Chestnut Street in Kearny, NJ. Chestnut Street was on the east side of ridge that ran from south to north through Kearny, North Arlington, and further north. The east side of that ridge faced Jersey City and New York City. In between was what we often referred to as “the swamp,” but, probably for marketing purposes (consider the “Meadow Lands Sports Complex – which did not exist at that time) it was sometimes called the meadow, or meadow land.
Travel from Kearny to Jersey City was either by NJ 7 or by the Newark – Jersey City Turnpike. As a side note, the two roads met about a mile or so before Jersey City and I remember a gas station used to be at that location. Google maps now show it is gone. Industrial business could be found along either road wherever they could find some solid ground to build. As you might recall from my first TBT, three radio station transmitter sites, viz., WMCA, WOR or ABC, and WNEW graced NJ.
Along the Newark - Jersey City Turnpike there had been a battery factory that I think my Dad had worked at for a short time, but not far from that was a pork meat processing plant, where pigs were kept and later slaughtered. The “aroma” of the plant would “bless” Kearny at times when the wind was just right.
Mom had quit smoking for numerous months, but one day my parents were visiting a close relative in Kearny. When it came time to leave and they stepped outside, sure enough the breeze was just right and the “aroma” of the meat processing plant was strongly in the air.
Mom said something about being able to smell the plant again and a relative stupidly responded that maybe she should start smoking again so she would not smell the stink. And, soon she did. After a time things started going physically and mentally downward for her. Menopause was just a few months away from her – and that will be another “bump” for this current series.
But before that bump there would be a major bump for me, and it had to do with that gnawing on my mind and soul.
In my case, just a few months after the first anniversary of my dedication to God through Christ, it was something like, “Oh wow, after being in Bible school for almost a year God has given me a girlfriend, and no doubt my future wife.” Things seemed very pleasant to me. Much of my steady's family seemed to accept me - although I have to wonder what her Dad and Mom really thought. Oddly, one time when I was over their house, for some reason I turned my head to look at what I felt was my future mother-in-law and, get this, a lens in my glasses suddenly cracked! I write this with no offense meant to my steady's Mom, who is probably now with the Lord.
Anyhow, it was probably toward the end of my sophomore year when we began talking about marriage upon my graduation. By the way, that stage in courting (old term, no?) was call pre-engagement – a step too few ever even think about now. Things remained pleasant for a time, but sometime later a gnawing came to my soul: “This will not be.” Huh? Surely that is not God saying (by impression and not by audible words) that! What is wrong? We are both Christians and desire to serve the Lord. It must be the devil.
Sometimes the gnawing was sudden and tense. I am not sure where we were at except that it was on hayride somewhere. My steady's sister was along. My steady and I were having a great time. Her sister noticed and started making nice comments, but I was jolted when she said, “It would be a shame if you guys broke up.”
Uh! Why, oh why, did she say that? The gnawing pierced my mind and soul. It was not pleasant, but I can now tell you it was good. I was being trained by God to get alerts from the Holy Spirit. In John 16:13 Jesus told His disciples that the Holy Spirit would tell them things to come. After a few more years I would learn by experience that what He said in John 16:13 pertained not only to prophetic developments, but to things that would personally affect a disciple or personally involve them.
Due to finances my steady could not be at Holy Bible school at the start of my junior year. As time went on I was bothered more by the gnawings, and oblivious to the fact that though my steady could not be there, my future wife had miraculously made it to Northeast Bible Institute (NBI) (please see post number 25 in this series).
A great thing about NBI was that many of its faculty and staff made themselves available for counseling for any student in need, and even for any of their peers in need. Being pestered with the gnawings and perhaps other things I decided to knock on the office door of one my instructors. When I did, I learned a lesson I did not expect to learn, but I now keep that lesson in mind when someone comes to me.
It was probably this and maybe a few other things that caused me to seek counsel. A goodly number of staff and faculty were credentialed ministers with the Assemblies of God and made themselves available for counseling, even if it was one of their peers. I decided I would go see brother Robert Ott, our professor in various aspects of history, among other subjects.
I mentioned him in the previous series, “What A First Year In Christ!” As a freshman I took a course on Ancient History under him. One day when it was time to start class he opened the session in prayer, saying something like, “Oh Father, you know there are some here that do not like ancient history.” I liked that because it encouraged many of us to tell the truth to God. Yes, He knows it already – He wants us to say it. Albeit, for me, I could understand why a course in Ancient History was needful for ministerial students since a main component of the text of the Holy Bible is what we call ancient history. And, God shapes all events of history, as well as current events.
I figured a man that honestly talks to God would honestly talk to me. His office was in the lower portion of the classroom complex close to the reservoir. So one afternoon when I knew he would be in I went down and knocked on his door.
Upon entering I saw he had been busy researching something (this was back in the old days, when we did not have computers). Nonetheless, after I told him I would like to talk with him about some things that were bothering me, he invited me to have a seat.
I did, and I unloaded some things from my mind. It was probably about the gnawings I had been feeling. Though he had been busy, brother Ott, listened, and listened, and listened. I finally shut up after about twenty or twenty-five minutes. Just after I stopped, I felt a whole lot better. Brother Ott had hardly said anything all of that time, but I felt better, and I told him.
I do not recall if he gave me any advice that led me either way except that perhaps he told me to keep seeking God. And, of course, he prayed with me before I returned to my room.
When I got to my room I thought about it. He hardly said a word, but he listened, and I felt better. Surely he had other things to do, but he listened. I then realized that was a lesson God wanted me to learn. To this day, when someone has an honest need to talk to me I try to remember that lesson.
And let me throw this one in now, especially for those who work with, are related to, or are friends with the mentally ill. There are times we must make ourselves available to those that want to talk, or be spoken to. Fast-forwarding to the 1990s, in the early years when God assigned us to Cambridge, MD, we were in the habit, when there was more freedom in this Nation, to visit various people in various hospitals. For some reason, from time to time, we were going to the mental hospital where the Hyatt Regency is now located.
On one occasion, there was a young man there, a teen, and according to the nurses he was making too much of a fuss. I believe they “hinted” to him he would have to be medicated. I think Dorcas and I struck up a conversation with him and he eventually simmered down. I left with the thought that sometimes the wrong people are on the wrong side of the wall. Maybe it was the nurse or nurses that had to simmer down and find some way to have a non-threatening talk time with him.
Fast forward to 2021. He seems to be doing fine now and has a job. Somewhere along the line he claims that he has made Christ his Lord.
Anyhow, when I visited brother Ott that was a good lesson for me to learn. The gnawings were still around though from time to time. But God was about to impress a little something on my mind that would condition it to eventually help me consider the young lady that did come to NBI that fall and remained for the rest of that school year.
A Gospel concert was held in the area during the fall semester of my junior year at Northeast Bible Institute (NBI). I was asked by someone if I wanted to attend the event with others in his group and I agreed.
When we arrived some seats were still available, but more so to the back of the small auditorium. We found a place there and the concert soon began.
There were a number of young ladies in some of the rows ahead of us. To my right were some ladies I recognized from NBI. To my left there were a few ladies with white coverings on their heads. They were Mennonites.
I do not know why, but at some point during the concert the girls from NBI on my right began talking and giggling. What? Why no respect? Then I noted the Mennonite girls. They were not talking and were very respectful. I thought, “This is something. Those on one side who were to be Spirit led and Spirit filled were somewhat disrespectful, while the ones on the left that might not be in the Pentecostal realm are quiet and respectful.”
Hence, a positive mark was made in my mind about Mennonites. It was not the first time I met Mennonites. One of the places I was given a Christian Service assignment for was a ministry ran by Mennonites to help the mentally retarded. Those people displayed a hefty level of patience. And now the Mennonite ladies at the concert had made a positive impression on my mind, which would be a factor in my social life a few months later. My future wife would be a former Amish Mennonite.
If you read back you will see I was pestered from time to time with the very strong impression that my steady girlfriend and I would breakup. My steady could not make it back to NBI at the start of my junior year and the impressions got worse. However, they probably got worse, in part, because the one I was to marry was at NBI that semester as a freshman.
Dorcas was raised Amish Mennonite and had received Christ as her Savior at an early age. However, as a young adult, she and others in the Grantsville, Maryland area were yearning to have more of God. Eventually many were attracted to an independent Pentecostal work not far away in Pennsylvania. Dorcas received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
While I think he was not supposed to be doing this, her Dad, using a record player and I would suspect a radio at times, would enjoy Gospel music from various singers and groups. I am sure Dorcas did too.
The Assemblies of God had a new church, Maranatha Assembly of God, in Grantsville pioneered by brother William Ferguson. At some point, an evangelistic team called “The Lundstroms” comprised of two families held some services at Maranatha.
Dorcas attended some of those sessions and was impressed with the fact that, unlike most other Gospel singing groups, the whole family was there. Many other Gospel groups just consisted of men who traveled throughout the nation – leaving their wives and children at home. Not the Lundstroms. Everyone who could be up singing or playing an instrument was on the platform. Eventually Dorcas became a member of Maranatha, and eventually came to NBI, which in itself was a miracle (please see post 25).
So, Dorcas was positively influenced by the Assemblies of God, and I was positively influenced by Mennonites. God was setting things up.
After the concert I returned to my studies and the various chapel services – and the gnawings to my soul. However, I got a mighty big distraction at one chapel service where something occurred that I would not have had expected to occur in a truly Protestant service.
However, all disciples, even the ones that have been in Christ a long time, are always in a growing process. True Christian meetings are not always near perfect. Sometimes, among other things, people permit their latent iniquity to cause problems, let worries crowd their mind, or sometimes lack needed knowledge in certain areas. That last category a problem in an NBI chapel service one time.
It was a day in December during my junior year when many of my fellow students and I headed to that morning's chapel service. Naturally, after we got into our assigned seats the service soon began. I and others began worshiping the Lord during the worship service. It was a joyful time – until a special in song was offered by one of the female students.
The title of the selection was unannounced, but as the introduction began to play I could hardly believe what I was hearing. My dread was confirmed as the vocalist began to sing, in Latin, the Ave Maria.
What?! What?!! W h a t !?!!
Now, you might just ask me, “Brother Pete, what was wrong with that?”
That song is based upon a Catholic prayer to Mary, the mother of Jesus. The Word of God is very clear that we are to only to God through Christ. Nowhere in the Holy Bible are we instructed to pray to Mary, Joseph, Christopher or anyone else.
To this day I wonder if the vocalist, who sang the song in Latin, knew what the translation was in English. If she did, why did she sing it?
In both the song and the prayer, Mary is referred to as the “mother of God.” Yes, Christ is God but God had no mother. Christ always existed. God used Mary as a vessel to veil the Christ in sinless flesh in our earth-time so there would be a multitude of witness as to how God prepared His merciful Way of salvation (Luke 2:30-31).
Mary is implored to “pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.” This clause is not only completely against the written Word of God, but it denies the sufficiency of the sacrifice of Christ and ignores the power of God's grace.
On the first point, the Word of God tells us that there is one and only one mediator between God and man, and that mediator is Christ (1 Timothy 2:5). On the second point, it tells us that the work of Christ was completely sufficient to provided salvation for everyone and anyone if they surrender their life to God through Christ (1 John 2:1-2, et al.). On the third point, if we read 1 John we ought to realize that when we come to Christ we stop practicing sin and are no longer sinners. 1 John does point out a Christian will sin at times, but upon sincere confession to God He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all sin (see 1 John 1:5-9). However, we stop (for most people like me it would be a gradual stop) continually sinning.
I was raised Roman Catholic, but at the age of 17 I surrendered my life to God through Christ. I know what the “Ave Maria” is about. I heard it many times as a child. In fact, I developed a sense of creepiness about it because that particular song was often sung, in Latin, at funerals. Because it was in Latin, and not knowing any Latin when was younger, all sorts of weird and scary thoughts were in my mind as I sat in a Catholic mass for deceased relative.
As the song was sung in chapel I was too mortified to notice if anyone walked out. Thoughts ran through my mind. We are supposed to be Protestants, free from the Catholic Church, believing only the Holy Bible and trusting only Jesus Christ for our salvation. How could the professors and staff permit this song during a chapel service.
I probably had little trouble concentrating in my classes that day. After my classes were over I thought about it more and more. However, I was still very shy back then. I was afraid to say anything. However, I could not get it out of my mind so I decided to say something.
I went to the faculty member that was chiefly in charge of the chapel services. He listened as I told him about the song, that I was raised Roman Catholic, and it deeply bothered me that the Ave Maria was sung chapel. He listened. After I was finished he said he now knew, especially after thirty or so other students had come to his office to tell him basically the same thing.
That was sort of a relief. I was not alone. Other students knew, and spoke up. Good for them, and may God bless them for that.
Even in this day I find it very, very sad that some of my peers have little knowledge of Catholic belief and teaching. Around three years ago I was sad to see a Christian bookstore in Salisbury, Maryland was selling rosary beads. I mentioned that at a ministers meeting in Cambridge and most of the brothers had no idea as to what the problem was with rosary beads. So I explained it to them and brought out a main point: It denies the sufficiency of Christ's atonement.
Well, school let out for the Christmas season and I headed home. It was great to be with my newly born-again parents and my Church family, Kearny Assembly of God. I was having a pretty blessed time. But later that week, the phone rang. It was for me.
My steady girlfriend called me. . . .
After exchanging greetings, she wasted no time and immediately said that God told her we have to breakup.
What was I hearing? Something that I had sensed for months but thought it had to be of the devil. My logic was we were both true Christians. I detected no conflict from her family concerning me.
I asked her at least twice if she was sure, and each time she said “yes” it was confirmed to me it was of God.
After we hung up, I told my parents what she said. Then it started to bother me. Why? What did I do wrong in my communication with God? Naturally I was weighed down by sadness, and it seemed I just could not spend the night at home. I called pastor and sister Bricker. They said I could spend the night there.
Sadly, that meant their daughter had to sleep somewhere else in the parsonage. Because of that, I regret going there. I should have stayed home in my room that night.
Nonetheless, before I headed to bed that night sister Bricker said to me,
Before I continue, let me explain that sentence. First, she was not saying that my steady girlfriend had been a bad person or anything like that. The last clause needs to be understood as “ . . . unless He gives you something better for you.”
The other main thing about the entire sentence is the verb “gives.” God works in various ways. God will give according to His own schedule. So the “giving” might not happen immediately. It might be years. Nevertheless, He has a plan.
Another thing is, we should receive whatever HE gives. For example, since this happened on a Christmas vacation – in fact, now that I think about it, it seems like it was New Years Eve – if someone would say to me at that point, “Hey Pete, I have a New Years gift for you,” and try to give me a bottle a whiskey I ought to realize that it is not of God.
I went to bed that night but did not sleep, and saw the sun rise over New York City. Looking back I now wish I would have gone to sleep! However, when one is bewildered then they are bewildered.
It was during that night I probably accepted the fact that IT WAS the precious Holy Spirit telling me my relationship with my steady would not stand. And that was major training for me to know when the Holy Spirit is sending an alert.
Most of us disciples must learn by trial and error certain things in the Christian walk. We must be trained to know when He speaks, and we must be trained to obey.
Alright, so it was the Holy Spirit. Now what? Who was I supposed to marry?
Ah! Did you catch that? I was asking the wrong question, and I realized I was asking the wrong question when I returned for the January semester at NBI. And, not only did I return to NBI, I would find out my former steady accrued enough finances to return to NBI.
Now, what question do you think I should have been asking God? God willing, I will get to that next week.
We returned items to one another that we had. There was a small book holder that one of her brothers had made for me and I was going to return that, but she refused saying that her brother wanted me to keep it. I still have it and it is put to use.Thanks Drew!
Another odd thing was that both my steady and I were assigned office phone duty. It was not at the same times, but oddly there were times that someone on the staff had set it up so that either I replaced her or she replaced me a couple of times. I have to wonder it that was done on purpose. God willing you will see why in an upcoming post.
United States history was my class for that semester but along with that I had some serious soul searching to do. I had ignored very clear and very strong indicators from the Holy Spirit that my steady and I would break up. That is serious. I was called and being trained for the ministry and because Jesus did so much for me I needed to be as best as I could be. By this time at NBI my mind had shifted from the thought of being an evangelist to the possibility of being a pastor. As a pastor, I would have a degree of grave responsibility regarding my ministry and the people God would have me to serve.
And since I have been writing this series, it recently dawned on me why my former steady did not have enough finances for a time to remain at school. Perhaps she needed to hear from God. Sometimes some of us have a little difficulty hearing from God when around others, especially family and friends that we love.
As I pondered “where did I go wrong?” the Lord showed me that instead of asking whom I should I marry, I should have asked Him SHOULD I be married? This is a mistake many make in Christianity. When some parents raise their children they use terms like “when you get married,” “when you find your spouse,” and so on. Actually, based upon the written Word of God, no one should make such assumptions. This applies to all matters, not just marriage.
So I began to ask the Lord about that. After some self-evaluation and additional asking I sensed from Him it was permissible for me to marry. And, unknown to me at that moment, I would soon meet my future wife for the first time that January.
But I would also be summoned to the office of one of the instructors. The conversation I had with him would later affect my chapel message as a senior (which turned out to be a major hoot!).
Anyhow, after a few days I got a notification in my campus mailbox.
And, even though it was only a few days into the January semester, I am sure that the news that my former steady and I had broken up had spread through some of the student body. I am sure I had told some guys.
On the morning of the service I went to meet with the chapel service team. By the grace of God, and only by His grace, it did not bother me if my former steady would be the pianist. By His grace I had learned a level of knowing how to go about my life as a disciple of Christ (although I am sure the lesson had to be reinforced multiple times). And, I had learned the hard way. Especially valuable to me was learning when the Holy Spirit was speaking and not brush it off for something else.
I had selected two or three hymns / songs for worship, the first one being In The Service Of The King by Alfred and Bentley Ackley. The first line is as follows: “I am happy in the service of the King. I am happy, oh, so happy; I have peace and joy that nothing else can bring, In the service of the King.” The remaining lines repeat most of the words. They change in the first part of the second half.
Line two has “... Through the sunshine and the shadow I can sing, ...”.
Line three is “... to His guiding hand forever I will cling, ...”.
Line four is “...All that I possess to Him I gladly bring, ...”.
The chorus is “In the service of the King, every talent I will bring; I have peace and joy and blessing in the service of the King.”
And, by His grace I did have peace and figured God will work it all out. He had His reasons to break my steady and I up. I did not need to ask specifically why. I needed to specifically trust Him.
Well, to the best of my recollection my former steady was not the pianist for that service. As I sat on the platform waiting for the invocation to be given I sensed there were a few in the congregation wondering how I would behave, or what songs did I select in light of the breakup. I guess to their relief I behaved OK and I had selected an upbeat song.
Then, it was back to studying United States History and doing my campus job. I was blessed to be hired to clean the kitchen area for all four years.
And it was one cold January I was working in the kitchen when I heard a knock on the cafeteria door. It was young lady student with a problem: Her car door was frozen and she could not get it open. She asked for a bucket of warm water. I brought one to her and after getting her door open she brought the bucket back, thanked me, and went on her way.
I had no idea it was by a miracle (I am NOT exaggerating: read post 25) that she was even able to be at Northeast Bible Institute. And I had no idea she was my future wife.
All I knew was that I felt I was on the right track after Jesus straightened me out. However, I was concerned because for months I had disregarded what the Holy Spirit was telling me. This set a serious tone in my mind. If I was to be married to the right person I must do my best to listen to the Holy Spirit. And, in the ensuing weeks, the test was on, though it was something naturally to be expected. And, there was one incident that was very perturbing to me and, like I wrote last time, would affect my senior sermon in the following year.
I was called to an instructor's office.
Why was this so serious?
1. Marriage, an institution ordained by God, was not to be taken lightly. God's will must be sought in order to avoid great trouble in future years. This is not to say that one will not have any problems in the future if they pick the right one.
2. If I could not agree to the fact that it was the Holy Spirit speaking to me then how would I be able to discern the will of God as an evangelist or pastor? The position of a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ must not be taken lightly.
So, I was riveted on not making such mistakes again. It was God's will, and I just had to walk in it. So, my mind was settled.
But the mind of one instructor was not so settled, and I write this not to belittle anyone but to point out the enduring fact that all humans are fallible, and that included staff and faculty. And, shortly, someone told me that a certain instructor wanted to see me. It was NOT brother Ott (remember, I went to him for counseling and he would not suggest what this other instructor would suggest). Let's just call him brother Z.
So, when my time was free I went to see him, probably in the afternoon when I figured he would not be teaching.
Now, first a little background. In the minds of some people an ideal couple to pastor a church would mean that the preacher's wife could play a piano. Undoubtedly my former steady was an expert piano player and had been, and would be, the piano player for Northeast Bible Institute's Evangelaire Concert Choir.
If you have read the first series, Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me, you would know that I had four years of piano lessons, but after my first arrest my whole world went downhill toward the valley of suicide. But, thank God, I came to Christ and He took me. However, my piano playing skills were very rusty. I figured I lost them forever (but God would flip that one too decades later).
So I went to see brother Z. He asked what had happened to my steady and I. I told him God broke us up. She called me over Christmas vacation and said God wanted to break us up. I knew it was true.
Then, as if I had not said anything that mattered, he suggested I offer to take her out to dinner. I could not believe what I was hearing!
“But, brother Z, God broke us up,” I said. I knew that was truth and I would not try to go against it.
Brother Z, though a credentialed minister with the Assemblies of God, somehow did not absorb the phrase “God broke us up,” and that my former steady felt this was true and I had to admit that the Holy Spirit was saying that to me for months.
Point: People are people. Get your spiritual mail directly from God (but what you get has to agree with the written Word of God).
That was the second instructor that made me realize that though we might respect those above us, they are all fallible. The first instructor was the one that authorized the Ave Maria to be sung in chapel service (see post 35).
I left his office being very disappointed in him.
And, in the days that followed, because the word of the breakup was out on campus, some young ladies started to show interest in me. Well, let us remember that when God created a helpmeet for Adam He created Eve and brought Eve to Adam.
Again, during this process I was reminded all of this carried a level of seriousness to it. Make a choice outside of the will of God and you are in trouble.
One of the worse ones was a young lady that wanted me to hangout with her during quiet time. Quiet time was between 7 and 7:30 PM each evening, and we were supposed to be in one of three places, viz., the chapel, the library, or our room – and if we were not going to have prayer or devotionals during that time that was fine, but we just had to be quiet. This girl tried to have me hangout with her a few times but I refused. She would act a little mad, give me a slap in the face, and go away. I forget what I did, but after a few times she just went away for good.
At the other end of the spectrum was a very nice young lady, a fine Christian. Very happy at all times, very playful. But no one had dated her. I thought, “why not?” So I went on two dates with her. One was going to the grocery store. Yep, that was a date venue back then for some of us. The other was the Green Lane Hoagie shop. She was over – overjoyed. She was doing silly stuff. However my brain was in hard serious mode. So, the second date was the last. However, this fine Christian lady did find a husband and they are happily married.
There were other young ladies too, but none worked out. But then, a fellow male student, Arnold Probst, came to me and suggested . . . . That's the next post, except that I will tell you I already wrote about Ellen Probst. I should have used her maiden name when I wrote that post. Her maiden name was Schrock. She is a cousin to . . .
Arnold was going steady with a young lady named Ellen Schrock. She came to NBI for the 1972-73 school year with her cousin, Dorcas Yoder. If you have not done so, please read post 25. I would call it a providential miracle as to how sister Dorcas got to NBI.
I think Arnold was living in what were called “the lodges” which were near one of the two entrances to NBI. He came to see me and suggested I date Dorcas Yoder. Sure, why not?
As you might recall, NBI had a number of rules for such social activity. We would have to select a public place to go to, we had to go with another couple, and all of this and other information (when are you going, when are you coming back, etc.) had to be filled in on a form and submitted to our respective deans for approval. We did that, and the requested outing was approved.
Dorcas and I went with Ellen and Arnold to the famed “hoagie shop” in Green Lane, Pennsylvania. I do not recall if it was then or near that time I asked how old she was and it turned out to be five and a half years older than me. As you might recall, I was in a “super serious mode” and I considered the age differential to be a plus. It was an additional plus when I learned she was of Amish Mennonite background (see post 34) though fully Pentecostal when I met her.
But to me it did not mean I had found “the right one” when I came across those pluses. Apparently I had made mistakes in sensing the Holy Spirit, so I thought I might investigate a few more sisters in Christ and come back to sister Dorcas if that seemed good. However, I got an indicator that I might not want to do that.
The spring banquet, a school social function, was coming up so I decided to ask her to it. As you can see from the attached picture, like everyone else we got “all decked out” for it. The picture was taken inside the main entrance to the administration building.
So now I was going steady again. However I refused to jump to the idea this was my future wife. I shoved “likes” and emotions aside. This is what needs to be done if we want to hear from God and make sure it is Him.
And because marriage is an institution ordained by God we had to ask more questions of each other as well as make a full disclosure of certain aspects of our lives.
So there had to come a time that sister Dorcas and I would have to have an open discussion with each other. We had been asking some questions during our dates and campus meet ups, but I felt, and still feel, every couple needs to have a “tell all” session before emotions are permitted to increase. In fact, “I love you” ought not be said and if the feeling is there it needs to squelched until “all is on the table.”
So it was sometime in April or early May we had a discussion on one of the outdoor benches. If we previously had not asked about how and when we became born again, we asked about it at that time – as well as being Baptized with the Holy Spirit with evidence of speaking in tongues. Being a future pastor I had some theology questions to ask. If you think that is stupid, think very well again and consider passages like 1 Timothy 4:16, “Take heed to yourself, and to the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this you shall both save yourself, and them that hear you.”
In the light of the ability of Christ to take care of these matters, also discussed were our physical problems, any mental problems, and – yes – “if we were to get married, how many children do you think we should have?” All prior sexual activity was disclosed – yes – there ought to be no surprises ahead. And, on my part, she heard about my arrests and juvenile record (She did not have any. People raised Amish-Mennonite never get in trouble — I am just joking). Additionally, we talked about marriage itself and agreed, as the Holy Scriptures say, that divorce is wrong.
We were both satisfied with the results of the discussion and we continued to meet each other, date, and walk “the lane” of the campus. But, I had to play safe and push emotion aside. I had to make sure.
However, once again we went somewhere with another couple. It might have been to church. I do not remember, but do remember we held hands and then I sensed: “THIS is your wife.”
I felt that was God saying that, but my friends, feelings can be wrong. So I kept my mouth shut and thought I should give this time.
In order to know, quite often we just need to keep on doing what we had been doing in God's Kingdom (if we are in it).
By the way, for those have not read the related previous post in this current series, our choir director, Edward Reardon was blind. For more information on brother Reardon, please see post 28 in this series. At least one other faculty member would go on the tours with us.
Pictured below is the Evangelaire Concert Choir for the 1973 spring semester. To find me, look at the back row. I am the guy with his head leaning to the right and needing my hair combed (third from your right). Next to me and right in the middle in the back was William Wittik, brother of Robert Wittik, the young man who made it a point to keep telling me about salvation in Christ.
That semester our tour took us to points in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan. At one point when we were in Ohio, the bus driver brought us into Kentucky just to be there for a little. Along with singing certain selections we young men had to help unloading and reloading the choir platform.
Here are some of the some of the songs for that tour:
Heaven Came Down written by John W. Peterson.
This Same Jesus written by Haldor Lillenas arranged by Cyril McLellan.
I Should Have Been Crucified written by Gorden Jensen, which probably topped the Christian Music charts back at that time. Fellow choir members Donna Frey and Ray Schoeneman sang a duet as the choir sang.
Robert Noble sang a soul rousing solo the with choir for the song The Unveiled Christ, written by Herrell and arranged by Mickelson.
Brother Reardon sang two solos while he played the organ with the choir singing as pre-directed. The first one was Wonder Of Wonders by written by Chuck McIntosh. While I had a number of favorites, I have sung this one a number of times in my ministry. He sang another solo in the second half of the concert, Have You Had A Gethsemane written by Bill Gaither. Being still very prone to depression – and still relatively young in Christ, I could have done without that selection. “Do I want a Gethsemane?,” was what would run through my mind.
The next to the last selection dealt with the eventual physical return of Christ to earth: Behold He Cometh, written by Jerry Kirk.
Room At The Cross written by Ira Stanphill (whom I would me a decade or so later) was the closing song. People were encouraged to receive Christ as Lord and there would be a time of prayer for those in need.
This was part of the wonderful training that God in His mercy blessed me with – me, who at one time was a satanist and God-hater, who almost took his life on December night in 1969. The following can be found on the program that was given to those that attended the concerts:
Being in the choir was a wonderful spiritual blessing. For the next post, let us venture into the physical realm with physical blessings.
It seems like every student praised brother Bill Lindsey's cooking. Quite often one would hope there would be a call for seconds. However, every now and then things would get a little messed up, like when too much chlorination (perhaps a double blessing) was placed in the school's water supply. It is a little difficult to eat corn when it seems like it is baptized in bleach.
Speaking of blessing, there was one day I went to breakfast after fasting (it is fine to mentioned that in this manner since most people know Christ expects His followers to fast when able). I selected hard boiled eggs which I usually blessed with butter while they were warm. I sat down with my tray, closed my eyes to pray and when I opened them there was an extra egg in my bowl! I quickly looked around to see who did that but they were either too quick for me or hid themselves pretty well. But then, and it is certainly possible, maybe God just put another one there for me.
Sometimes at lunch or supper someone would announce it was a certain person's birthday. After we all sang Happy Birthday God Bless You, some would raise the melodious chant, “Stand up, stand up! Stand up! Stand up, or we won't shut up.” And, most times they would not shut up until the person with the birthday stood up. However, I remember there were two or three times that the student with the birthday was able to stay seated until the chant faded. But there were some that stood up right away to get the chant over with. The cafeteria broke out with applause when the birthday student stood up.
It is good to have clean fun, but I had to learn to not do it at the expense of others. As the one whose job it was to clean the kitchen, I had access to the portable menu. Silly stuff would roll through my mind (and it still does). One night I thought it would be fun to put a certain Holy Bible verse on the board in relation to food. It was what the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha as recorded in 2 Kings 4:40! Go ahead and look that one up!
Well, there was mixed reaction to that bit of foolishness and I am so glad brother Lindsey did not fire me over that! Though my now Christian parents had picked up the tab for my education, I still felt I had to contribute something to my account.
Along that line, there was one year that a nearby school (it might have been a local high school in Perkiomen or the Perkiomen Valley) was having a big banquet and needed workers. They contacted NBI and I and some others took them up on their offer.
Well, one might have some money, but every now and then it is hard to buy what you need, like during the 1973 gasoline shortage.
All true Christians expect Christ to return at anytime, especially since Israel was re-established as a political nation in 1948. Does that seem like nothing? Israel was wiped off the map as a political entity in 70 AD and most Jews were scattered throughout the world. I consider it a miracle and a fulfillment of Holy Bible prophecy (Isaiah 66:8) that Israel “came back on the map” in 1948. Many other nations and quite often the main group of people that comprised such a nation have completely disappeared. It must be the hand of God that Israel is back on the map.
Though I was unsaved at the time, an event occurred in the Holy Land in 1967 that I had no idea it might pave the way for a condition we can see in Revelation 11. Israel gained territorial control of The Temple Mount, but permitted Islam to use it as a religious site.
After coming to Christ and beginning ministerial training in 1970 I sort of lost touch with current events since I was involved with studies and training for service.
So, I was minding my own business (lol!) when things flared up in the Middle East with the Yom Kippur War on October 6, 1973. The United States came to the aid of Israel (as we ought to) which did not please the Arab nations that attacked Israel. In retaliation, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries stopped delivering crude oil to the U.S.A. That soon meant a gasoline shortage for us. Travel by car became very difficult with long wait lines at gasoline stations with many stations soon running out of gasoline.
As the Thanksgiving break approached, the faculty and staff of Northeast Bible Institute (NBI) had concerns for any students that would leave the campus for the holiday and attempt to return the following week, and many prayed for us. I do not know if this affected him or not but, if I recall correctly, on the day we were to leave campus the usually unemotional Dean of Students, Reuben Hartwick, led us in prayer in chapel, praying, “Father, we thank you for your many, many blessings . . . . .” and suddenly broke into crying. Well, that surprised almost all of us, if not all of us, and a goodly number of students began to emotionally worship.
I cannot remember if that was the time when my Dad was unable to get me or not but, if it was, I am some other students were notified that we could use a car that the school's business manager had available. Regardless, I soon learned I had to do what some others were doing: get gasoline very often, even if you had to pay only a dollar or so.
Like I said, this post is a little out of sequence, but I felt like I had to do it now, and it seem fitting since this is what many of us were encountering 48 years ago from this post.
And, 48 years ago from this date not only had I made it to my senior year at NBI, but I was also – well, let us go back to the end of my junior year at NBI, when I had to make a trip or two to western Maryland and made a major decision.
When school ended for that school year we went to our separate homes, Grantsville, Maryland for her, and Kearny, New Jersey for me. The thought, “THIS is your wife” seemed to carry the same level of impression as when God kept telling me “this shall not be” when I was with my previous steady. I felt I had to visit her in Grantsville.
I do not remember my Dad ever telling me that he loved me, but he sure showed it. He did an abundance of things for me, even before he or I became Christian. It was probably around the start of summer he permitted me to have the car for a few days to make more than a 300 mile (483 km) trip to Grantsville.
When I got to Maryland I took what is now old US 40 and any remains of it to head toward Grantsville. That was something else, especially heading into the Allegany mountains. There were numerous little hamlets and towns along the way. One little town I passed through was Flintstone. After that came Cumberland. Soon there was Frostburg and, minutes after that, I crossed the Eastern Continental Divide.
Sister Dorcas had either told me by phone or in a letter to turn right at the bottom of a hill before crossing a bridge where the road would take a person into Grantsville. However, when I saw the bridge I guess I was thinking that it was not much of a bridge to be a bridge so I kept going. I wound up in Grantsville but kept on going thinking maybe I misunderstood. So over Negro Mountain (OH MY! Did they call it THAT? Yes, that was the official name until recently when society got over-sensitive about certain things). I kept on going through Keysers Ridge. After that, I saw a sign that said “Welcome to Pennsylvania..” Uh, I guess I went too far.
Turning the vehicle around I went back and found where I was supposed to turn and turned. There was one more turn after that which put me on their private lane. “Karrump! karrump!” was what I heard as the vehicle crossed the cattle guard. That was a new one for me.
Dorcas's parents owned a chunk (to me) of land for their dairy farm rising up from the Cassleman River to a distance eastward. Their private lane, which ran east-northeast, was about a half mile (.8 km) long. At that time there were a few other animals on the farm, but this city boy now knew he was definitely out in the country.
I soon met Dorcas's family which included eight siblings. In addition to their given names, each one had a nickname, sometimes more than one nickname! While it seemed like a daunting task to memorize all of this, I was impressed with the fact each one's given name was from the Holy Bible. Dorcas's siblings were Lois, Paul, David, Mark, Ruth, Naomi, Anna, and Rachel. Her parents, Crist and Rhoda Yoder, were Amish-Mennonite.
I would assume that during my few days' stay that some of her siblings were sort of “checking out this city guy.” That was okay, because I was there to check some things out for myself, especially since the impression “THIS is your wife” had been upon me. If that impression was correct, then I would eventually be marrying into that family. And I believe it was during this visit that Dorcas' dad had a question for me – a very important question.
Everyone had chores to do. The big one, of course, was to milk the over 40 cows owned by the Yoders. Some years before I ever got to Grantsville the milking was done without machinery, but things went more modern when they built the new barn and milk house (see image).
The food was delightful to this city dude. Home fries, fresh butter, and apple butter (quite often, if not always, Beachy's Apple Butter) were a treat. Sometimes after dinner Dorcas' Dad, whom they all called “Pappy,” would get up and say that he had to go check the heifers. I had to find out what on earth a heifer was.
He also had to check this city dude. As previously mentioned, the Yoders were Amish Mennonite. Sadly, most people that name the Name of Christ have very little knowledge of Church history. Permit me to cram about 1,500 years into a few sentences. After the deaths of the original Apostles, sin infiltrated the Church more than ever before that time. Eventually there was the true Church and the nominal Church. The former adhered closely to the Word of God while the latter ignored the Word and followed the fallible thinking of man and falling into a system of salvation by works.
Among many other corruptions, somewhere along the time line some figured, “Hey, our babies need to be baptized.” Check the Word of God. The only people who got baptized as a Christian were people that were saved by Christ first and knew what they were doing. No one was baptized passively. True Christians knew this and would not baptize infants. Eventually the term “Anabaptist” (something like “not baptizing”--but without clarifying why) was attached to them.
Centuries later, just after the Protestant Reformation started, there was a group of true believers who followed the teachings of Menno Simons, a former Roman Catholic priest who, by 1528, eventually surrendered to the Word of God, agreeing, along with other Biblical truths, that babies should not be baptized. This was the start of the Mennonites. The Mennonites and other Anabaptists suffered greatly from the Roman Catholic Church.
Pappy had some basic facts on me. He heard that I was once Roman Catholic, but I was now a Christian. Naturally and correctly he assumed that I had been baptized as an infant, but was I baptized again since I came to Christ. If not, why not? Would I be trusting in a work instead of trusting in Christ?
So, he asked, and I gladly told him I was baptized in water about eight months after receiving Christ as my Savior.
After a time I had to return to Kearny. However, I returned to Grantsville at the end of that summer. I desired to move from just going steady with sister Dorcas to being pre-engaged (another rarity in our time). I forget where we were at but before we went back to her house I backed my Dad's car into a small dead end (which is now a private lane for a relative) next to their lane and we talked about pre-engagement. After discussing it I saw that perhaps that her family might not understand that so I said . . .
Well, I never did this before, . . .
After that it was back to Northeast Bible Institute for my senior year. And there would be more spiritual honing from the Lord as well as a situation from my Mom.
Despite my poor academic performance in middle school and high school, after I dedicated my life to Christ God enabled me to do better at NBI. In addition to secular and Holy Bible courses, by my senior year I had three courses in theology. The first was very basic based on a textbook by William Evans. The next was intermediate by Henry Thiesen, and the third was a brain buster by Oliver Buswell. The last two authors were Calvanistic, and I write that to encourage Calvanistic friends to read Buswell's statement on the “perseverance of the saints” (aka, “once saved always saved,” abbreviated to OSAS). In my opinion, if you are going to believe in OSAS then believed it in the way described by Buswell. I also mention those textbooks because to me these are real theology books, not like some of those that I some my colleagues in other fellowships have had.
My grades had improve by the grace of God and I was blessed one day that I was one of those that could respond to the call to help clean up a light oil spill on the reservoir next to the campus. It had been announced in chapel that whoever had a B average in their next class could skip that class session to go help. Looking at the unofficial transcript that I have that was either my course in the Gospel of John or the one on Ephesians to Thessalonians. I write this not to brag, but to encourage anyone who thinks they are a failure to trust God through Christ, completely committing their life to Him, and let Him work through you.
General Epistles, Principles Of Sociology, Introduction To Philosophy, and Voice Lessons, were my other classes. I did not like the one on philosophy at first but soon found out it would help. There was one philosopher that wrote about true understanding and said something like to really understand a cow you would have to be a cow. While that sounds stupidly obvious, it “rang a bell” with the message I heard from Billy Graham the night I surrendered to Christ. One of the thoughts I had as an unsaved person was, “God? What would God know about being human? What right does He have – if He existed at all – to judge anyone?” That bump on the road disappeared when I heard Billy Graham say that Jesus Christ was all God and all man, which makes Him the perfect judge – and it also makes Him the perfect Savior.
That is an important message to present to the world and I heard about some ways that God sees to it that that message gets out to the entire world during a number of conventions we had to attend.
Above is a picture from one of the evenings of the missionary convention that occurred in my senior year. The picture, which is in my yearbook, was apparently taken a number of minutes before the start of the service. Most times the chapel was lined on either side with flags from various nations.
As this following picture shows, the 1974 convention featured an unused room in the administration building which was rearranged and furnished with certain items to show how some Christians meet secretly in certain nations. The frame on the left features a small table set for a communion service with just a pitcher and two small cups. Today there are numerous secret churches in many locations around the world and I am sure even in certain Islamic areas that think their locality is completely Islamic.
Sadly, the recent pandemic has shown that numerous churches in the United States have no idea as to how to create work-around solutions when things are tough. On the other hand, I am please to see some churches take a stand when they think their back is against the wall.
Also pictured is brother Dobson. I forget his first name, but if I recall correctly he was one of the speakers for a missionary service that was able to enter a tough country to get into because he was a teacher. As you see, he was well trained in martial arts and was able to use that as a tool to enter a certain country as a teacher. I am not too sure, but I think he gave us a little martial arts demonstration at one point. Seems like he flipped a student or two.
Though I probably had been reluctant for a time to attend these services, it is a good thing they were required. Before they leave, Assemblies of God missionaries must raise enough financial support to go to another country. I also learned about the various hardships they often face. Probably the most difficult one is that there were cases where a missionary couple had children but could not bring their children to the country God called them to go to! The children would have to be left with relatives or other Christians, sometimes in a country nearby during the four year service term. After four years missionaries were allowed to return home, but then much of their time back in the states was consumed with raising support for another four years.
So, despite my reluctance God was molding my mind in such a way that missions and missionaries would be incorporated later in my ministry.
Hey! I did not mention the second thing that caused me to be reluctant. What it was is that essentially there was a bit of a coward in me. Even before I came to Christ I heard some things as to what might happen overseas, especially in Africa. Back when I was young there were occasional cartoon pictures of someone tied up in a big pot of water that had been set on a fire. I did not want that.
So, I just went to the required chapel services which included missionary conventions – until I started getting tapped on my shoulder by Jesus!
My grades were slightly better at Holy Bible Institute. They could have been even better, but I had carried over two bad habits I developed beginning in sixth grade, viz., trying to stay in bed as late as possible and slouching or lying down while studying.
So, at some point at Northeast Bible Institute I get “a tap on my shoulder from Jesus” to get out of my room and go up to the school library to study. I did. No laying down or slouching there! It was well lighted and the seats encouraged good posture. I felt a whole lot better about things too.
But, that was academics. I was preparing for ministry. Originally I thought God might want me to be an evangelist, going from church to church, group to group. Somewhere that changed to the thought of being a pastor. That word is based on the idea of a shepherd. Being a shepherd is an important occupation. And I and some others would tell you that being a spiritual shepherd means accountability to the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ, whether you serve in a denomination or not.
In the previous post I mentioned that on top of our studies, the required Christian Service Assignments, and church attendance, we had to attend the missionary conventions whenever the school had them.
Now, that should be enough, right? Jesus said “no.” At some point, He taps me on a shoulder again:
“You intend to be a pastor. When you pastor a church, the church you pastor will be sending support to missionaries, and missionaries will be asking to speak at your church. You need to be an example.
JOIN A PRAYER BAND!”
World prayer bands were voluntary, and I think they met once a week. If I recall correctly they would meet at . . . 6:30 AM! UH! That was a rough time for me if my schedule ever indicated I did not have 7:30 AM class. UH! I would have to get up early (to me).
But, there is more. As I said in the previous post I was a chicken. I did not want God to call me to Africa or anything else outside of the U.S.A. There were various prayer bands one could join, like Latin America, Asia, Pacific (that one sort of sounded inviting). I did not hear God say what prayer band to join so, being the chicken that I was, I joined the North American Prayer Band.
Laugh with me! I thought North America would be a safe choice. The dark reality is that evil is very dark and danger lurks in every land, especially in the twenty-first century. I write this within two hours travel of Baltimore and Washington DC, cities with problems of violence, murder, and more. I have dubbed Interstate 95 as “The Devil's Corridor” with drug and human trafficking and plenty of other problems. Where I live is definitely not “Mr. Roger's Neighborhood” and is called “Little Baltimore” by some.
Regardless, God used that time I spent in the North American Prayer Band to prepare my mind for what the Assemblies of God calls home missions. It also prepared me to later serve a specific ministry once I started to pastor. There will be more on that, God willing, in my “final” TBT series (have to stop writing all of this at some point).
So now I had even more “on my plate.” But, there would be more – touching upon a frenzied phone call from home.
Though I was in my final year at Northeast Bible Institute (NBI) I might have been considered a “baby Christian.” My parents were even younger Christians than myself because they surrendered to Christ about a year after I did. And, for a little more understanding in regard to what I am about to write, by the age of twenty-two I had not been a Christian for just over sixteen years of my life, while my parents had not been saved for decades before they came to Christ. The point is that each disciple must learn from their Lord to break old sinful ways of thinking, of reacting to problems, and must learn to take on the challenges of life by Christ within and directed by the Holy Spirit.
As I recall, I was in my senior year at NBI, theoretically the most difficult year. I was engaged to Dorcas Yoder. Graduation from NBI loomed ahead. So, I had plenty to be occupied with.
Apparently, things were not much of a picnic back home for my parents who, like myself, were very young in the Lord. If you read back, Mom had slipped back into smoking, thanks in part to comments made by a relative that should not have been made. What I did not know was that menopause had come upon her. Sometime later I would learn of her strange behavior, including her seeing things that were not there. I think one hallucination was seeing turtles climb up and down the walls of my parents' house. Another was thinking that the children on the front porch next to ours were talking about her and making plans to somehow hurt her.
So, one afternoon or evening I was in my dorm room studying. Someone who had been in the foyer on the first floor came up the steps to let me know I had a phone call. This was in those ancient days when cell phones were a rarity – if they existed at all.
I went down to the pay phone in the foyer and picked up the handset that was waiting for me. It was my Mom.
“Pete! Call the police! Your Dad is trying to kill me!”
Immediately I thought that this could not be true and that she was not in her right mind. For one thing, my Dad had been miraculously changed by Christ. He was much less apt to “fly off the handle” anymore. I did not recall him even cussing since he came to Christ. Secondly, it would be highly irrational for me to call the Kearny New Jersey Police Department from Green Lane Pennsylvania about something my mother herself could have called about. If she could call me, then certainly she could have called the police herself.
I had to think her beleaguered mind was wrapped up in a flashback to when my Dad jokingly or possibly jokingly picked up a sickle, put it near his throat, and indicated he might slice hers. If you do not know about that one, please read about it at my first Throwback Thursdays Series titled “Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me — And Beyond!” So, I replied to my Mom . . .
“No Mom. That was years ago.”
I forget what else I said, but I am pretty sure I prayed with her over the phone before we hung up. I went back to my room and cried, and prayed. As I recall, my nerves were “a little rattled.” That incident, along with others in the past, would develop into something I had to deal with before I ever got my own church to pastor. In a future month she would find herself at a mental institution at Trenton, New Jersey.
But before then, and I do not remember when, I had an opportunity to be at home. I think someone told me I ought to talk to her about her condition, but I just could not do it. I think I would describe it as a psychological matter that I call “an echo effect.” When two people share the same problem then sometimes one cannot really help the other, and one might even desire to distance themselves from the other person. At least that was my case.
I still had to remove from my mind how harsh and crude my Mom was at times before she came to Christ. I knew she had to grow in Christ after salvation, but I was lacking in the fruit of longsuffering in my early years in Christ. Sadly, I just did not want to bother with her in that condition. I asked my friend Bob Wittik to talk to her and he did.
Well, how about something just a little bit funny next time? God willing, we will do it.
While serving the United States in either World War II or the Korean war, brother Grazier sustained an injury which limited his use of his left arm. I am not sure if it was pain that would cause him to do it or not, but usually if he had to stand still for a period of time he would hold up that arm close to the bottom of his chest. From time to time he would sing a solo in Chapel holding that arm much of the time.
His voice, mannerisms, his “laugh of surprise,” along with frequently used terms and sayings (
I dunno) made him a favorite among many male students to lovingly mimic and was usually portrayed by one of the students during Class Night, a good-spirited comedy event held by the graduating senior class near the end of the school year.
I had a portable cassette tape recorder at school and was able to record some of his classes. If you go to https://sapphirestreams.com/life/audioG.html#Grazier you will find links to his teaching on the proof of the deity of Christ based upon the Greek grammar of the New Testament, as well as three lessons from Romans 8. And, if you are curious about the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit as recorded in 1 Corinthians 12 you can see part of his notes on that topic at http://sapphirestreams.com/bec/HG1Co12GOHS.html .
Along with this post is another picture of brother Grazier at the blackboard where he drew a picture of a flying saucer. Nah, I am just joking. Looks like a man in a boat. This might have been when he was teaching on 1 Corinthians 13:7 where the Scripture states love bears all things. He told us the Greek word for bear in that verse was, using transliteration, stego (pronounced “stay-goh”) and was used in Greek literature to describe when the ancient Greeks would waterproof their boats with a covering of tar and pitch (if I recall correctly) inside and outside a vessel. The word for love (charity) in 1 Corinthians 13 is agapao (ah-gah-pay-o). As a disciple develops God's love within them, they will eventually learn to bear all things for His sake. This discipline is what is needed in church fellowships and in marriage. Regarding marriage and need for the stego of God's agapao in it please visit https://oasisofhope.neocities.org/lv1.html#bears .
Our instructors were often led by the Holy Spirit to bring Holy Bible teachings to us in a most soul-touching manner. The point of the need to make a complete surrender to Christ who willfully sacrificed Himself for us was made clear to each of us one day by brother Grazier. He said he used to really love books and added he probably loved them more than God. They were a priority in his life. Over the course of time he built a great personal library and immensely enjoyed his collection – until a fire occurred in his home and completely destroyed his library.
God spoke to his heart about his love for books. He asked God to forgive him and repented determining in his heart to love God through Christ above all other things. As he followed through with that determination, God eventually saw to it he got a new library.
Some reading this might think that it is selfish of God to be that way. On the contrary, it is His merciful love because we can readily be spiritually ruined now and for all eternity if God is not our first love.
In my senior year brother Grazier was the instructor for my class on
Ephesians to Thessalonians. One day we were studying Colossians and we came to Colossians 1:17 where the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul has,
And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
If you read back you would know I had a great interest in science. Upon reading
by him all things consist I had to think of my wondering about atoms. Most have a nucleus of neutrons and protons with electrons circling (I guess, or whatever they do) around the nucleus. Electrons are considered to be negatively charged while protons carry a positive charge. Opposite charges attract each other. Logically (to me) an atom ought to collapse, obliterate itself. However, that does not happen and in my mind Colossians 1:17 would come into play here.
So I raised my hand, explained what I was thinking and asked brother Grazier if that would apply to atoms. He paused, thought, and leaned back in his chair which made him smack the back of his head into the blackboard. And, in classic Grazier style he said,
Personally, I think that Scripture applies to atoms along with the rest of the universe. Also, consider Hebrews 1:3,
Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. Yes, I know science may now have what they feel is the answer to atoms, but that does not negate the truth that God sustains such things by His will.
Anyhow, it was brother Grazier and some other instructors that impressed upon our hearts and minds that when God inspired* (the Greek actually means something greater than general inspiration) holy men of God to write their respective portions of the Holy Bible, that inspiration* involved even the grammar used by those men. * = For a little more information on this one please see http://sapphirestreams.com/bec/bec18EYHB.html#NandP .
And, I have found in over fifty years of ministry if one follows the actual words and grammar used in the ancient texts then the actual Word of God puts to rest confusion, errors, and heresy. That was really driven home to my mind in the 1990s after
hobnobbing with some cultists.
But, I would not have to wait for the 1990s to hobnob with cult members. We had a great opportunity in our senior year. Find out whom we hobnobbed with in the next post.
And, I just remembered another interesting account about Grazier but, God willing, I can easily put that into the next post. It is about his encounter with a snake in a church!
Here is the newest post!
In the previous post I said I would recount an incident that occurred to brother Hobart Grazier, who was an instructor at Northeast Bible Institute (NBI) when I attended there. He said that one time he was invited to a church in the Appalachian Mountains. During the service he was participating in worship with his eyes closed, hands raised and praising the Lord when he felt something bump into the side of his foot. Immediately it came to his mind that it was most likely a snake and realized at that point he was attending a church service where the congregants believed in Mark 16:17-18 in such a way as to test their faith by handling poisonous snakes! Apparently in that church they treated snake handling like passing the offering plate or a Holy Communion tray. So he bent down and passed the serpent to the person next to him.
Sadly, sometimes people just do not understand that the Holy Bible by the Holy Spirit will gladly clarify things for us if we simply just read, study and pray. The snake (and I would include the poisonous drink) situation of Mark 16:17-18 is explained in Acts 28:1-5 where the Apostle Paul picked up a bundle of sticks to place on a fire and was bitten by a poisonous snake. The Word of God says he shook the creature off into the fire and suffered no harm. So, we may understand that Mark 16:18 means to pick up serpents accidentally.
With the broad set of definitions for the word cult, one might say that church was a cult. In his book, Kingdom of the Cults, Walter Martin narrowed the scope of definition to focus upon religious groups outside of Christian orthodoxy like Jehovah's Witnesses (The Watchtower Society), Mormons (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints), Christian Science, Seventh Day Adventists, and Swedenborgianism (aka, The Church of New Jerusalem or The New Church). The Kingdom of the Cults was our textbook for our class on The Cults in my senior year.
In my previous post I said we had opportunity to hobnob with Jehovah Witnesses (JWs from this point on) in my senior year, but I see from what I had written elsewhere it occurred in my sophomore year, the same year I had Hermeneutics (Biblical Interpretation) where it was shown to me that the original writings of the Holy Bible were God-breathed, right down to the words and grammar used.
In the spring semester of my second year at NBI the members of the Pennsburg, PA, Kingdom Hall (JWs) invited some of the faculty and students of NBI to visit their Kingdom Hall for the purpose of asking questions on their doctrines. I went with that group.
Thinking of the many New Testament passages that explicitly show the deity of Christ and the Trinity (expressed in many Holy Bibles as
the Godhead, the question I asked was,
Don't you consider the grammar of the Greek as an important factor in interpretation? Their reply was,
When the grammar adulterates the truth, we must reject the grammar and accept the truth. So, you see, they claim they know what the truth is apart from the given Word of God. Anytime that is done, it leaves truth
up for grabs. In the case of the Watch Tower Society, there have been a number of times that they repeatedly changed their minds on certain points. One point was whether or not the people of Sodom would be raised from the dead (see Matthew 10:15 and Mark 6:11).
Blunders big and small occur, and many Christians fail to develop a life truly victorious over sin, and much of the Church today seems hypocritical and confusing, partly because of not looking at the words and grammar of the ancient texts along with considering too many things as figurative or an ideal that we are to aim for but never attain. Add to this the host of translations and versions that do not render passages in a literal manner or / and have erroneous footnotes. I have written about using a reliable translation at http://sapphirestreams.com/bec/bec18UHB1.html#reliable and I mention a few you might want to use (although, sadly I have discovered that some of the works of brother Jay Greene do not render the Biblical poetry as literal as it ought to). To the left I mention some translations and versions we need to avoid.
By the way, if you go to that link you will be in my FREE (yes, free) online course in Basic Elements Of Christianity. You do not have to log in. Visit http://sapphirestreams.com/bec/index.html to view what lessons I currently have online.
Well, back to my senior year for my next post. A few more and you will see if I actually graduated or not!
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