Funny, And Not So Funny, Stuff
These pages are also designed to inform the Body of Christ of how God moves and encourage the unknowing or / and hesitant not to limit in their mind and life the providential and often mysterious acts of God in their lives.
So, that is a nice intro to explain this first image in this post – a new church building under construction. I forget in what year, but brother William Ferguson who had come to surrender to Christ felt the tug of God on him to enter the ministry. He did not think he was cut out to be a minister of the Gospel, but God insisted and brother Ferguson agreed.
He then felt impressed to start an Assembly of God (AOG) church in Grantsville, Maryland. There had been a spiritual hunger of the Christians in that area for a deeper walk with God. They realized their need to be filled to over flowing with Holy Spirit as the disciples were on The Day Of Pentecost. Eventually brother Ferguson established a church on MD 669 in Grantsville and had a pretty hefty congregation. There is much more detail about the establishment of Maranatha AOG in an article in the Pentecostal Evangel entitled
Miracle In The Mountains. If you currently run a search on that you will come across a book about something that happened in Georgia. That is not Maranatha AOG in Grantsville, Maryland.
As the congregation grew, land was purchased across the street and a larger building was constructed, which the lead image in this post shows. Construction was completed in the spring of 1974, and I think it was a day in April or May that the congregation met in the old building one last time and then crossed the road as a group to the new building as they sang
The Move Is On.
The new building had been completed just in time for Dorcas' and I wedding. Well, someone else beat us to having the first wedding in the new building, but ours would be next. We had selected Friday, June 7, as the day. We planned to be in church Sunday morning.
In image one below you will see part of the crowd that came out that Friday evening. That is a mighty large crowd! Perhaps part of the reason for such a crowd was that a goodly number, of which you see were mostly Mennonite, wanted to see the inside of the new Maranatha AOG building. Probably about 99 percent of the people there were from the Grantsville area. The only ones from my home state of New Jersey (NJ) were my Dad, Aunt Olga (his twin sister), and Robert Wittik. My sister opted not to come (it was over 300 miles / 483km away) and my Mom was in a mental hospital somewhere in NJ.
The wedding party is seen in image two. From left to right are bride's maid Ellen Probst (cousin to sister Dorcas), maid of honor Leona Maust, Dorcas, me, best man Robert Wittik, and groomsman Arnold Probst. I had to have Wittik for best man. He had put great effort, endurance and time in witnessing the Gospel of Christ to me (please see at least the first set of pages in this series).
|Image One||Image Two|
Part of the wedding included a sermon (message) by brother Ferguson. At first I thought it was odd that Dorcas wanted to have a sermon, but she explained that was somewhat standard among Mennonites and many would expect one. Henceforth I thought that was a good idea too. Anyhow, this is why you will see a folding chair resting on a front pew in image 3 below that shows us saying our vows. Dorcas and I were seated as brother Ferguson delivered a message on when Isaac married Rebekah as recorded in Genesis 24. By the way, we wrote our own vows. Jokingly, Dorcas said I should include in the vows that I promise to
dump the slop bucket. Her family, who had a farm, had a bucket under their sink where they would place all sorts of unused food material and would then go feed the pigs with it.
Brother Ferguson also served to us the Lord's Supper and toward the end of the ceremony prayed for us as sister Leona laid hands on Dorcas and brother Bob laid hands on me (image four). Later, when we greeted everyone in the back of the church Dorcas' oldest brother, Paul, shook my hand, gave me a manly peck on the neck and said,
Welcome to family. The reception was held at the Grantsville Firehall.
|Image Three||Image Four|
|In the final image (now to your left) left to right are Dorcas' parents Crist and Rhoda Yoder, Dorcas, me, my Dad, and edited into the image is my aunt Olga. As a side note, my Dad and his sister were the first to be born in the United States in my ancestry. Their parents, Paul and Anna Macinta, came to live in the United States in 1912.|
A few weeks after the wedding Dorcas and I would move to Bentleyville Pennsylvania so I could begin to serve as an assistant pastor in the AOG church there. It would be at Bentleyville that we would meet and work with a warlock (a male witch) and I would later receive a very special notice in the mail.
As a sad side-note, I recall that when I first came to Bentleyville I stopped into a store somewhere. Inside was a lady and about three or four men. It seemed like the lady was enjoying their company, especially the attention of one man. It turned out NOT to be her husband because as we began to serve in the church we met her husband. He had been on vacation at the time when his wife was enjoying the special attention of another man. Even before I came to Christ I was not trained that way. And even when my parents were not saved and were bitterly hollering at each other never once did I know either one of them to socialize with someone else that would give anyone the impression they were anything like that. By the way, at that time, the lady would tell you she was a Christian.
In regard to me being the assistant pastor, the other part of the deal was I would be permitted to preach at least once a month (the Assemblies of God required most of their ministers to preach a certain number of times a year). I think we both taught Sunday School and I was made head of the church's bus ministry. I had never driven a bus before and was naturally apprehensive, especially since Bentleyville was in a mountainous area of Pennsylvania. In fact the church building was on a mountain or steep hill (see image to the right). The main entrance was on Main Street, but one had to go three levels down to where the bus was parked. I think the parsonage was on the second level. I also had to do some visitation.
I also had to update the church's secondary phone number. I think they might have called it dial-a-prayer. I had to record a short devotional message, pray, and mention the service days and times on the recording. It was to be updated once a month.
We eventually got an apartment, and I, as required by law, notified my hometown draft board about my new address. I never heard from them again. For our apartment, at least one lady in the area gave us a piece of furniture which we still have today, where we have some games and other items stored.
Sister Dorcas also was able to get a job as a waitress at the Bentleyville American Truck Stop Number 1. By the way, any time we apply for jobs we let the possible employer know that we will not work on Sunday and the night of the church's midweek service. Since I had experience working in the produce department of a grocery store I decided to apply for an opening at a grocery store in another town that was part of a well known chain on the East Coast. Unknown to me, satan would be badgering me in a few weeks.
But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
No problem, thought I, having had experience in grounds keeping and as a clerk in produce department. Though the aroma of rotten potatoes is not the most pleasant, I sought work in the produce department of a store in a city a few miles away which was part of a big chain on the East Coast. Because of what I am about to write, I would like to tell you it was NOT an IGA store. I will keep it nameless. Besides, perhaps they have changed their ways by now.
My application was accepted and I had let them know, either vocally or in writing, that I would not work on Sundays. Now, I do not recall if it was on my first or second day that I ran into a problem with packaging some of the produce. That store was using styrofoam packaging trays. I was used to the cardboard trays that were used at Shop Rite of Kearny, New Jersey. So, as I started to wrap the styrofoam trays, the corners of the trays would often crack for me. I had to slow down. The department manager did not like that.
One day, the department manager said to me,
Soon, you will be cheating the customer.
No, I won't, was my reply. When I went to the breakroom a day or so later there was no one present. There was usually one or two people in there. Not this time. And as I sat on the bench I noticed there was a booklet, a copy of the union agreement opened but face down. So I picked it up as it was and guess what section it was left opened to: Something to the effect that all employees must work on Sundays when required.
No, I won't, I thought. This was the second time that, to me, a union was a problem. The first time was before I came to Christ. I had just started working at Shop Rite in Kearny when a week or so later the union, which was part of the Teamsters, went on strike. To this day I just do not like unions.
Getting back to my job at the Pennsylvania den of thieves, the next day after looking at their union contract the department manager said they were letting go because I was too slow. Yeah, right.
Back at our apartment when I checked the local paper I saw that there was a job opening at a ham processing plant. I applied, was hired, and went in the next day. I was introduced to my new job which was to infuse hams with water. Was that legal? I guess it was because when one buys a ham today
water added is seen on many of the labels. Back then I had not read many labels so I still had to wonder if it was right to do.
They showed me how to find the proper vain, insert the needle, and infuse the fluid. I tried and tried. One time I hit the wrong spot and the ham was deformed. I cannot remember if I had any success, but I think I quit early that day telling my employer that I was just unable to find the veins.
I felt horrible as I drove home. I did not blame myself for the grocery store dismissal, but I was feeling really terrible for flubbing this other job. What type of a husband was I?
When someone surrenders to Christ they begin to walk in His life which is a new life to the disciple. It is a learning process, and one that never ends until we leave this world.
In my case I had a great propensity for depression, which is something more and heavier than sadness. Low godly self-esteem was another factor. I had to learn not to listen to society. And, regarding passages like 1 Timothy 5:8 I had to learn that God is sovereign and the prime provider.
A correct step I did take was to pray that I would locate employment. I think it was sister Dorcas that suggested I apply for work where she was employed as a waitress, American Truck Stop Number 1. I forget what I applied for, but I was hired to become a cashier. I never did that before, but I figured I ought to give it a try.
So, how would this servant of satan treat me once he heard I was a born again Christian and an assistant pastor? Find out in the next post!
work the islandsfirst before assuming the cashier role. That is, I had to learn what the people that would be under me would have to do, and it was more than just pumping gasoline or diesel. I had to learn how to write the fuel tickets, record the hubnometer reading on trucks, check truck tires with what looked like a night stick with metal at the end, check oil and clean windshields on trucks, and a few other things. MOST important was 1.) if a truck driver said only put in a certain amount, then that is what you do and, 2.) put the correct fuel into the truck's tank. Some took diesel, but others took gasoline (the wrong fuel would have to be pumped out and discarded). I also had to learn that both the truck platforms and fuel islands could get mighty slick.
Then God said to me,
See?, and brought out a number of points. First, the Son of God veiled Himself with flesh so we would know that He actually does know about life in a body like ours and I feel that the things that He did not experienced in the decades before His death were imputed (actually given to Him) while on the cross just as our sins, sicknesses and sorrows were. Another point underscored the rule in the New Testament that one must not become a pastor very soon after their conversion, but have a need to gain experience. And, for my ministry, that it is good that those in a church I pastor learn to do many tasks, not just one or two, to not only be more usable by God but also to have an understanding what their fellow brothers and sisters need to do.
While learning to work the islands, I had to work with another young man, a Roman Catholic. He would be the only one that would give me any static about my being a born again Christian and not being Catholic. Back in those years there had been some fuss about birth control within the Roman Catholic Church (RCC), but the pope at that time, to the best of my recollection, held the RCC line. When this Catholic chap heard I was
Protestant and married, he began to pick on me about the issue. One day we were using push brooms to sweep the island areas when he got a little too personal in his comments. As he was pushing forward with his broom I stepped on it, looked him in the eyes, and said
That's enough! While it is true a Christian ought to be meek, it is also true that we do not have to be doormats. He quit pestering me after that.
After a time, Neil, the lead cashier, began to train me to become a cashier. At some point, he let me know he was a warlock and possessed certain powers. Perhaps he was checking to see my reaction, which was not much. After all, anyone could say they are a warlock or witch and have powers, but it all could be just a hunk of bologna. He knew I was a Christian and minister of the Gospel, but that did not seem to faze him.
There were at least two types of cashiers at American Truck Stop Number 1, one for the restaurant side and the other for the trucker side. For the trucker side, the cashier's office had another smaller office within it which was Mr. Cooper Sr.'s office. Neil said no cashier was allowed in that office. He also told me that Mr. Cooper might test me by handing me a wad of money saying it was a certain amount and to just put it in the register. Neil said to count it in front of him, and if he starts to fuss about it, keep counting. And, that actually happened, although Mr. Cooper did not fuss when I was counting the money.
Soon after that, I was made a trucker cashier which had a number of duties. One was to assign upstairs lodging for truckers who wanted a room and a shower. When the truckers were checking out they would bring to me the towels and washcloths they had used and I would put them into a bin that had a metal lid at the top. I do not know why they did not have something like this on the second floor. Nevertheless, I had to take the items and send them into the bin. I do not know what the problem was one day, but I was terribly irritated about something, took a towel and washcloth, and hastily and angrily slammed it into the bin – and that metal lid came speedily back up, caught a finger on my left hand, and made a very deep gash in it. It would heal over time, but would leave a nasty scar on that finger. Please remember that for a post that I will publish just over a month from now.
Now, back to Mr. Neil who said he was a warlock and had certain powers. There came a time when he offered to demonstrate those powers on sister Dorcas! God willing, that will be in the next post.
in the eyes of God.There are many times when a Christian has to disobey their employer (see post 3). However, that was not the case for us at American Truckstop Number 1 in Bentleyville, PA.
I forget how often I would say anything to anyone when working at the Bentleyville location. I do remember an encounter with their truck and car mechanic. I forget why I, as a cashier, would have to see the mechanic from time to time, but I do recall one time I was in his work area. I had been around him before and this older man had the bad habit of saying,
Well, I'll be damned. I truly doubt he knew how bad being damned is. The flames of Hell are one thing, but being forever banned from receiving God's mercy is a most horrendous thought. After hearing him say that phrase a number of times, there came the day I was back in his work area. He was at his workbench bewildered at something and said,
I'll be damned. This time, thinking of all the ramifications of damnation we can know about I said,
Don't say that. He looked at me a bit surprised and said no more.
The sad news is that everyone born is predestined for damnation. However, according to John 1:9 everyone gets at least one glimpse of the light of God and, if they receive Christ as King and Savior, they are then taken off of the road to Hell and placed on the Way of Eternal life (John 1:12).
Our first child was on their way to being physically born. Sister Dorcas and I felt the child was going to be a girl. We settled on the name of Rhoda Christine, naming her after Dorcas' parents, Rhoda and Crist. If it were twin girls, the second one would be Mary Pauline after my parents. Around that time the Lundstroms (see my second Throwback Thursday series) had an album out where their daughter, Londa, sung
Jesus Put Me At The Top Of The World, a parody of
Your Love Put Me At The Top Of The World. Every time I heard that song I had to think of the possibility we would be having a girl, or two.
And though pregnant, sister Dorcas kept working as a waitress on the restaurant side of the truck stop. Everything was fine until one day the handle of a pot (the type used in electric coffee makers) broke and she was scalded on her side. Naturally, she had to take a little time off to tend to that. It was then that Neil called on the phone to speak to her.
As previously mentioned, Neil was a warlock (male witch). He said he had powers to heal. In fact, one female employee of the truckstop said that he healed her. He reminded sister Dorcas about his power and offered to heal her. You very well know that sister Dorcas said no. That is the stand a Christian ought to take. And, after a couple of more days she was just fine by the power of Christ.
While it is true that God still heals today through Christ, and that SOMETIMES there are some of His disciples that are blessed with the gift of healings (1 Corinthians 12:9*), the Word of God shows it is equally true miracles and the other gifts of the Holy Spirit can be counterfeited by satan (see 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10). Another aspect comes out as a principle in the Word of God that God will honor His Word and respond to the faith of one in need despite the fact that the messenger of healing and miracles might speak misleadingly in other areas. In other words, just because a probable man or woman of God is being used by God in true miracles and healing we must not take this to mean that God condones everything they say (such as unity of ALL churches or religions, or that God permits divorce or / and divorce and remarriage). Read 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10 again – we are to love truth, not miracles, signs, prophecies, and so on.
Also, Neil acted very
good towards humanity. Once or twice a customer with a family would drive up to the pumps and Neil would pay for their gas. Perhaps Neil thought this good deed would get him to heaven. More so it is a ploy of satan to validate the idea of
good people, no matter how far they otherwise indicate they are not a true child of God. Just a few months ago from the date of this post a well-known lesbian that has her own program gave a way thousands of dollars either in cash or material benefit to someone in need. And, of course, that was broadcasted. Some would think,
Surely, she is a good person. Chances are that when she dies people will post RIP on social media about her.
But, in regard to healing, there are various reasons why we are or are not healed by God. In the next post I need to bring us to the state of New Jersey along that line. Word came to me from home.
* = If you would like more information on the gifts of the Holy Spirit as listed in 1 Corinthians 12, I have digitalized and posted notes from Brother Hobart Grazier who was our professor in the Greek language at Northeast Bible Institute (now Valley Forge University of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania). You may find that gem at http://sapphirestreams.com/bec/HG1Co12GOHS.html . It may be read in a number of languages by selecting the option needed courtesy of Google Translate.
no.While satan's kingdom does have a level of power, a real Christian will look to God through Christ for healing.
Yet, as we read the Holy Bible we will see that there are various reasons why people are or are not healed by God. And this brings me to the moment I received word from home that my mom was not doing well at all.
If you have read the second in this TBT series,
What A First Year In Christ!, you will recall that my parents surrendered their lives to Christ around eleven months after I did. Both were changed by Christ and some years later I would learn they were active in witnessing the Gospel. In one case, they tried to encourage a depressed neighbor who had attempted suicide to give her life to Christ.
While this was great, it must be remembered every Christian must learn to, as the Holy Bible puts it, walk in the Lord. That walk got a little difficult for my Mom who had been a young girl during the Great Depression which began around 1929 (close to the time her Dad died of throat cancer) and went through much of the 1930s. I had heard stories of her and her siblings finding meals to eat in trashcans, and about a fright my Mom had one night. She was sleeping in bed when she felt something on her chest. Thinking it was a cat she started to pet the critter. However, when she happened upon its tail she felt it was not furry and it was thin.
And, as you would imagine, her mother married another man who turned out to be one of the worst possible selections she could have made. His nickname was
Boo Boo which, evidently, fit him well. Of course, my Mom and her siblings lived under his roof until they got older. My late sister told me my mother heard her mother at times cry and I think scream when she was alone with her new husband. Boo Boo and my maternal grandmother died before I was born.
Nevertheless, you can see what only some of what my Mom had gone through. After I came into the world and before my parents and I came to Christ there were many times I saw that my Mom looked very sad. I did not want to be around her during those times. She was that way much of the time. That is why I was surprised when one day the song
Hot Diggity! (Dog Ziggity Boom) started playing on the radio and she grabbed my hands and had me dance with her.
As stated, both parents were marvelously changed after committing to Christ. Mom even quit her heavy smoking until one day a relative stupidly suggested she start to smoke again (please see https://oasisofhope.neocities.org/TBT/03TBT.html#p31). Around that time she ran into menopause. She started to think strange things and sometime during my days at Northeast Bible Institute she was sent to a mental institution.
She had been at a mental institution for a number of months when she had developed pneumonia and was transferred to a hospital. The x-ray of her lungs showed a growth which was soon determined to be cancer. They operated on her, but the cancer started to spread. The doctor said my mom had a year to live, but it would turn out to be less than a year. My mind then went back to the late 1960s when my Mom would complain about a stabbing pain in her back and at times would load her plate with food only to throw most of it away. I had to think of cancer then, and I wrote that word down on a scrap of paper.
I am sure people prayed, and God does heal. However, salvation unto Eternal Life is far more important than receiving a physical healing from Him (and the Holy Scriptures do point to the fact that such healing comes from Christ's atoning work). I had to think at the time that if she is not healed then God would be receiving her from this world lest, if permitted to live, she would for some reason forsake her faith in Christ. I had to think what might have laid ahead for me as I went further in the ministry. Would any trials she might hear that I go through cause her to despair to the point whereby she would leave Christ?
However, another possibility came to my mind as I was starting to write these Throwback Thursday accounts. As mentioned, she caved in to going back to smoking after an unsaved family member suggested she should. What might have happened in later years? Would her Roman Catholic relatives coax her away from salvation by grace and back to salvation by works and the numerous other errors of the Catholic Church?
I think I essentially simply prayed that God's will be done, healed here or healed on the other side.
Now, back to the truckstop to when I encountered an angry trucker or two.
Well, OK – I guess. However, at that truck stop the fuel side and restaurant side were combined which meant my cashier's office would include items for sale that included tobacco products. I cringed at the thought of selling that junk, but I did not want to quit and try to find another job. I did not, and still do not, feel it was right for me as a Christian to participate in any commercial activity that would destroy another person's body.
Though I was on the midnight shift, it might have been something like 10 or 11 PM to 6 or 7 AM, because the restaurant was open for part of the shift and I had to take care of those who paid for their meals. I cannot recall any problem with that except for the one time a trucker was not happy about their meal. He was raising a real big fuss so I decided to call Mr. Cooper Sr. (one of the owners). As I told him about the irrational problem he said for me to walk to the back of the office out of earshot from the trucker. The phone had a long wire (no wireless back then). When I got to the back he asked me to describe the man, and then to ask him to come to the fuel side window and I was to aim the closed circuit TV monitor at the trucker. He then said for me to hand the phone through the window opening to the trucker. The trucker's eyes widened and a slight bit of fear came across his face. He then left without saying a word. Apparently, the owner made him think he could see him at the other end, gave him a few words and, perhaps, a warning.
Then, there was a time a trucker asked me the name of the town the truck stop was in so he could record it in his logbook. I said,
Eighty Four, Pennsylvania. He said I was joking and I told him I was not -
this is Eighty Four, Pennsylvania.
Quit @!#*^& me!!!, he hollered. I told him again. I think he walked out after that.
I am even leaving one situation out that was nasty. As you see, I was getting an education I did not get so far, lol! Those who do not know Christ come in different varieties. Sadly, they are spiritually dead and most do not realize it.
One of my short-termed fuel attendants was a Mormon. He was sure to let me know he did not drink caffeinated beverages. For some reason, though, he did not stay long. Perhaps he might have sensed I would tell him the real Gospel.
Then there was another fuel attendant who, I guess, could not stand the cold during the winter months. My cashier's office had heat and he wanted to come in for a while. However, one of the strict orders I had from my bosses was not to let ANY fuel attendant in the cashier's office, no matter what. He begged and begged but I would not let him in. I ought to obey my employer in this case. Besides, there was at least one camera recording. There could very well be another camera that I did not know about. Eventually, one night this attendant disappeared from the truck stop while on duty. I paged and paged, but no response. So I called his house and asked if he was there. His mom said no. I said,
Well, when he gets home, tell him he is fired.
I almost fired another one. I was notified by the secretaries and the boss at Truck Stop #1 that there were gasoline shortages showing up. They could tell by the register reading compared with the master pump readings total. I had to take master pump readings NEAR the end of my shift. The gallons lost ALWAYS matched my register totals. However, the readings had to be taken before my shift completely ended. That meant to me that the theft was happening AFTER I took the readings and before I and my attendants punched out. Also, the thefts occurred probably whenever my view was blocked by a vehicle. So I started taking an extra set of readings (which I called shadow readings) and compared them with an additional read out from the register. I just about had nailed now which attendant was doing it. I think all I needed was one more time with this guy on my shift – but, he quit!
I guess all of that gave me some illustrations for future messages (sermons). As I said, the deal at Bentleyville was that I would preach at least once a month. Good old brother Cecil Price gave me a pointer on that.
By the way, keep in mind the scar on my finger (see post 4). I wrote
left finger but it was a finger on my right hand. Keep it in mind for the first post in May 2022.
Again, I am writing this to show that there are ministerial credential and
ministerial credentials (the type a partly trained chimpanzee could get after paying a few dollars and promising to be good). A main requirement by the Eastern District at that time was that one would have to read the entire Holy Bible consecutively (no book hopping) in the King James Version (KJV). As you might know, some of the words are either archaic or their definitions have changed over the course of the centuries. I also had to state my position on certain points such as, but not limited to, divine healing and eternal security – after answering numerous questions. Again, I had to agree to the final statement that I would
be faithful to the sacred trust of the ministry by diligence, by uprightness in business matters, by ministerial ethics and courtesy, by self-sacrifice, by purity, by avoiding the very appearance of evil, by cherishing the anointing of the Holy Spirit, even unto death.
At that time, to keep any level of ministerial credentials with the AOG one had to preach a certain number of times per year. Being the assistant pastor at Bentleyville AOG Tabernacle enabled me to meet the preaching requirements since the deal was I was to preach at least once a month (along with other duties). So after I found a passage from the Holy Bible I thought to speak on, I began to work on the outline and would do the final outline by typewriter. Remember, this is the mid 1970s and I did not have a computer or word processor. So it was somewhat
hunt and peck with a typewriter.
Back then, most of my notes were at least two or three typewritten pages. Rarely only one. But there was a time at Bentleyville I cranked out a four page set of notes and, when it came time to preach it, I let the congregation know I had four pages of notes.
After the message, Pastor Cecil Price told me,
Never tell a congregation how many pages of notes you have. They will be counting how many pages are left as you go through your sermon. Since then, I have taken his advice, although over the years I found myself reducing the number of notations for any message.
I also said something to that church that was a bit surprising to some. I was getting tired of the current hype about too much fat in peoples' diets and even chicken skin was considered the culprit. Chicken skin! To me, chicken skin - when crispy and salted - was the best part of the chicken. So, in the course of talking about the current hype of the world I said,
If you do not want the chicken skin, wrapped it up and give it to me. 😄 😂 🤣 However, no one ever blessed me like that. 🍗 🍗 🍗 🍗 🍗
In the midst of staying busy one day – almost forty-seven years to the date of this post – the phone rang. It was my brother-in-law. In a somber tone he said . . .
Pete, you have to come and see your mother. She is dying.
To be continued, God willing, in the next post which is slated for May 5, 2022, the Thursday before Mothers Day. Remember the scar on my finger.
Pete, you have to come and see your mother. She is dying,my brother-in-law somberly said. After hanging up the phone I told sister Dorcas and made arrangements to fly out to New Jersey. (There had been a question in preparation of this post as to whether I drove or took a jet at that time. However, because of the urgency of the call and not knowing when death would occur it is evident to me that this was the time I flew by jet. After all, most funerals are announced about three days in advance, and then you know the person is dead and there is no reason to fly if you can make the trip by car in less than a day.) I assumed that my brother-in-law called and not my Dad because Dad would be beset with emotion.
Pictured in this post are my parents standing in their backyard in Kearny taken probably two or three years before my Mom succumbed to lung cancer.
Bentleyville is not far from Pittsburgh, and I booked a flight with, I believe, U.S. Air to Newark, NJ. Newark is across the Passaic River from Kearny, my hometown where my mother was hospitalized. Years of smoking had taken its toll on her lungs. She quit smoking after coming to Christ but after she noticed the occasional stench from the pig meat processing plant a relative stupidly suggested she start to smoke again (see previous TBT series). She gave in to that suggestion. Next to our own selves, sometimes members of our family are our worse spiritual enemy. Her lung cancer had been noticed while she was in a mental hospital due to complications from menopause. When they began to operate they saw that the cancer had spread and stopped the operation. The doctor said she had a year to live, but she never got there.
Our first child was due in August so my wife felt it would be best she would not come along. It was my first time (and so far only – lol) trip in a jet and I thought it was pretty good. And, back then, things were pretty safe – no bombs, no unruly passengers, and no drunken or impaired or distracted pilots (I realize that nowadays in most cases what I just wrote about pilots is a rarity, but it does occur). Now, I do not know if it was then, on the way back, or sometime later I did think it would be easy to cause a problem on a flight. For example, certain liquids could be hidden somewhere in one's clothing that when combined could bring about grave problems, even an explosion.
Compared to most jets today the jet was small. I usually get sick in heights however not in this case since I was surrounded by solid stable stuff (the floor, the seats, the body of the jet). If I can hang on to something stable I am fine. As we neared the end of the flight I looked through the window and saw we were apparently approaching the airport from south to north along New Jersey's east coast because I saw the tops of oil storage tanks a few minutes away from landing.
I do not recall who picked me up at the airport, and after some time I was driven to West Hudson Hospital, Bergan Avenue in Kearny. Nor to this day do I recall most of the conversation I had with my Mom. But, I do recall the following. I was standing near the foot of her bed. She was having some trouble breathing (she was breathing a level of oxygen at the time). Within a short amount of time she asked,
She was struggling to breathe and dying, and it was a surprise to me that she noted I had sustained an injury. By this time there were no clots, just a few scars that I felt were beginning to be unnoticeable from even a short distance. I explained to her what happened at the truck stop.
But think of it. Her physical life was waning away, but she still noticed and cared.
When it came time for me to leave I am sure I prayed with her and kissed her. I cannot recall too well. But I sure do recall her noticing my scars.
After a time I took a flight back to Pittsburgh and returned to Bentleyville.
After two or three weeks our phone rang again. Mom had graduated to the eternal Kingdom of God, not because she was
a good person, but because she had made Christ her King and had remained in Him.
It was back to Kearny for me and among other things I went with a mission. To my knowledge the only one else that was born again in my family and relatives was my Dad. Most likely Uncle Number One would be there. For those who do not know who he was, please read back to the first of these pages in this TBT series, the page titled Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me - And Beyond!
I hope he offers something in his sermon about salvation,was the thought that was often in mind as I drove to Kearny New Jersey for my mother's funeral. After they surrendered their lives to Christ my parents became members of Kearny Assembly of God (AOG) and became active in church. My Dad became a deacon and my mom was used in the gift of tongues. We had a great pastor but, sometime in 1973 (I believe) he resigned and moved to the state of New York to pastor.
Eventually Kearny AOG voted in a new pastor and after a few weeks I heard some concerns about him. What I was told was the church's emphasis on evangelism weakened. The Gospel tracks rack was removed from the vestibule. There were some other things too that I am now a bit fuzzy on.
I did have at least one opportunity to visit the church in my senior year of Holy Bible institute and that was the first time I heard a congregation
sing in the Spirit. What happens is that at some point the Holy Spirit moves upon those who listen to Him to start singing praises to God in harmony in various tongues and /or the native tongue. I would later learn that Holy Scripture supports that phenomenon and I would give more detail here but that is not the purpose of this post. However, at the time I wondered if it was scriptural. It was beautiful, but beautiful does not mean something is right.
I will throw this one in, too, since I might go ahead and write about something I had to battle with a few years after my mom's death. The chorus
Sing Hallelujah To The Lord was circulating through Pentecostal and Charismatic fellowships at the time. It was written in a minor key and sounded creepy to me. Yes, I realize a lot of godly music is written in minor keys and, of course, the Jews have it in an abundance. But during those visits back home I knew Mom was struggling with menopause and then lung cancer, so the circumstances just made a nice worship chorus like that seem very creepy to me.
Nevertheless, a major concern to me was the pastor was seemingly cold to evangelism and he is the one that was going to preach my Mom's funeral and internment. Of all of my relatives I only knew of one that was born again and ready to meet Jesus, and that was my Dad. My relatives were mostly Roman Catholic, Russian Orthodox, and who knows what.
But my Dad was firm in the Lord! By the grace of God he held up pretty well through the viewings and everything else. I remembered that at just before the first viewing, before anyone else showed up, he asked me to check to see if any crucifixes were planted with my Mom's body in the coffin. I was really glad he asked that because it was a sign to me he was staying firm in Christ. I checked and found none.
Sometimes I have to wonder if my Dad, who had been Russian Orthodox and my Mom was Roman Catholic, was not secretly very pleased when I came to Christ and started going to Kearny AOG. And I am sure he was very pleased when my Mom surrendered her life to Christ when he did, and they both started to attend Kearny AOG. And there are times that I wonder with joyful and grateful tears what all transpired when they privately forgave each other over whatever problems they had. I can imagine them weeping and sincerely hugging each other. And I was overjoyed to see their separate beds pushed together when I came home from school for the summer of 1971.
With the host of unsaved relatives to show up for the funeral I was very concerned that the new pastor would not even mention the salvation offered by God through Christ. So sometime before he spoke I asked him to please offer salvation to the bunch. I think he did, but I am sure pastor Bricker would have done better at it.
The interment was held at Arlington Cemetery in Kearny. I am not too sure how my Roman Catholic relatives felt about that. The Roman Catholic cemetery, Holy Cross Cemetery, was just up the road by two or three miles. My maternal grandmother and perhaps maternal grandfather are buried there, but not together because research indicates my grandmother was divorced from her first marriage and my maternal grandfather is of the second marriage. Anyhow, I think a lot of my Roman Catholic relatives were not too pleased over my Mom's conversion.
Among my relatives at the funeral and interment was
Uncle Number One, and I designate him as such not because he was some sort of wonderful uncle, but he is the first one I mentioned as I started these Throwback Thursdays accounts. He was the one who influenced me so much with mystical things like yoga, ouija boards, prophets, prophecies, unexplained accounts, and more that I eventually wandered off into satanism1.
As some of my relatives started leaving the gravesite I felt like I had to strike up a conversation with Uncle Number One about salvation. I forget how it started but at some point he tried to minimize my conversion experience and said the reason I became so-called born again was because my back was against the wall. For those in other countries who might not know what that means, he was saying I got saved because I had no way out. He probably knew my juvenile arrest record and my failure to enter college. My reply to him was, and I feel I was led by God to say this,
But my back is no longer against the wall. In other words, now that the pressure was off, why am I still adhering to what the Holy Bible says about being born again, becoming a new creation in Christ?
I think he just walked away at that point. However, he would show up at least one more time, with a present, which I have to wonder if it was not a spiritual Trojan horse of some sort. That will be in the next series, the somewhat final series of these accounts which will probably begin in 2023, God willing.
By the way, etched near the bottom of my parents' gravestone is the word,
Maranatha, from 1 Corinthians 16:22, which is Greek essentially meaning
Come Lord. And, He will. But you or I do not know if we might pass from this life before then. Either way, it is good to be ready. And, it is great to get things corrected before we go.
Except for the beginning and the ending of my night shifts, things were generally slow at American Truck Stop #2 at Eighty Four, Pennsylvania. However, one who is wise tends to stay on the alert because night shifts are an opportune time for robberies to occur.
At the end of each shift, after I packaged the proceeds, cash register tape, and other records I would send the package down into a chute that went into a safe. Someone, usually one of the owners, would later get the package and bring it to American Truck Stop #1 in Bentleyville where one of two or three secretaries had a mutual office. One of them would go through the package, do the necessary bookkeeping, and prepare deposits for the bank.
So after closing a shift one morning I went home to get some sleep. Well, I got SOME sleep. Sometime around 10 AM the phone rings. It was one of the secretaries.
$400.00 is missing from your shift!
What? That was not what I figured. I was
right on the money. But then it dawned on me. Mr Cooper Sr., one of the owners, told me that part way through my night shifts that I should remove some of the proceeds from the register, put the money in a paper bag, staple it shut, and mark the bag the with date of my shift. He told me where to hide it and that is what I would do. Evidently I forgot to send THAT bag down the chute.
So I told the secretary it was in a paper bag and told her the location. She then wanted to know why I put the money in the bag and hid it.
That's what Mr. Cooper told me to do, I said. Evidently they then had someone get the bag and bring it to them. My shift then balanced out very nicely.
Then, there was the time I was sleeping quite well until someone knocked on our door to let us know our car was hit. We would park our car on the street that went along the north side of the building which sloped downward from west to east. I cannot recall if this happened in winter with snow on the ground. Nevertheless, it got hit.
When I called the insurance company I told them our car was hit while it was parked. Regardless, they still asked questions like how fast was I going and if the accident occurred at an intersection. It was about two or three times I had to repeat to them,
the car was parked. Chances were they were cheated a number of times so they were trying to see if I would change my story. Eventually the police record would suffice them.
One can work up an appetite with all of this going on. There was a hoagie shop across the street from us which we would resort to from time to time. Sister Dorcas thought she would surprise me by taking a sneak picture of me one day checking on our food (the photograph with this post). I see I was dressed pretty well, but I doubt the picture was taken on a Sunday because even back then I would have some level of displeasure doing unnecessary commerce on a Sunday. And after ruining some good clothing I stopped be dressed that slick every day of the week.
I did not always sleep in the mornings. On certain days when I did not have to work a night shift I would sleep during regular sleeping hours. However, there was one night my sleep was interrupted for a very good and very important reason. I even broke a law that night!
Wake up. It is time to go.
To the hospital.
! ! ! ! !
Our first child was about to be born and for some reason I did not have to work the graveyard shift that night at the truck stop. So, I was able to go to bed at
It seems to me it was between 3 and 4 AM when we headed toward the hospital. The roads were pretty clear at that time of the night (or early morning) and using Interstate 70 made for more a more speedy journey. Getting off at the proper exit we began to travel the streets that led to the hospital. Everything was going smoothly until a . . .
Ah! Now what to do? I never went through a red light before. I stopped and waited a little. There were no other vehicles around. And, there were two things I did not know, viz., how long would the light stay red and how to deliver a baby (that would change a decade later). After looking both ways I decided to ignore the light and start rolling again. I figured if a police vehicle was around that the officer might just escort us to the hospital anyway.
Upon our arrival sister Dorcas was admitted and I was directed to the waiting room. Most, if not all, hospitals at that time did not permit husbands to be in the delivery room. Well, at least not this hospital – it would be different for our second child who would be born at another hospital around two years later.
I had to wonder about that rule. Why was the husband that helped to create the child not allowed to see the child be born?
If I recall correctly, no one gave me any updates. Was everything OK? Was the child born and they forgot to tell me? Would it be a girl as we were thinking it might be (see post 5)?
After about six hours a nurse came to the window to let me know I was now the father of a boy. Back then there was no one so insane as to think that the parents should wait until the child picked their gender, or that the child ought to pick their gender at all. What an oddball world we now live in!
Me (after expecting a girl):
Are you sure?
They then brought him to the window. I did not say anything about his little head being a bit out of shape and I do not recall being concerned about that but, nonetheless, the nurse told me that was usual just after birth and that the shape of his head would be normal after a time.
Well, so much for naming our first child Rhoda Christine. No, we were not stuck for a name if it was a boy. Our plan was also to name any son with a first name from the Holy Bible. The second name would be from a current minister of the Gospel who had a good reputation, who was on fire for the Lord, and had a heart for evangelism.
honoring God, was our selection for our first son. And, of course, a Timothy is mentioned in the New Testament as a bishop (pastor, we could say) and fellow worker with the Apostle Paul. William would be his second name, named after brother William Ferguson who, by the grace of God, established Grantsville Maryland's Maranatha Assembly of God.
Naturally, we contacted our respective families and pretty soon Timothy got a visit from his aunts on sister Dorcas' side. My set of relatives were about 300 miles / 483 km away in New Jersey. I remember calling my sister and at first saying
Hello aunt Pat! Of course, we told my recently widowed Dad. Hopefully any sadness or grief he had with my mom's recent death after succumbing to lung cancer would be a bit lightened by hearing about his new grandson. After a time, Dad made a visit to us in Bentleyville.
Heads Up! In a soon upcoming post:
God Does A Most Major Flip In My Life!
Things were going fine and they stayed spiritually fine, especially for Dad. He remained firm in the faith despite Moms plummet into mental depression and in her dying with lung cancer. Mom died about two-and-a-half months before our first son, Tim, was born.
I kept praying that Dad would not lose heart, abandon Christ. and shipwreck his faith, that he would choose the Body Of Christ (Church) and not a bar, or even six-packs of beer.
We asked him to visit us just after Tim was born. I was hoping the birth of our first son would lighten in someway any heaviness he might have had in regard to Mom's death. And, he did make the 300 mile / 483 km or more trip.
I cannot remember how many days he stayed, but it seems to me, because of his work schedule it was only two or part of a night more.
Dad was somewhat of an introvert. He would not speak much. And while I thought he might, on his own, pick up Tim and hold him, he did not. Perhaps he had done that elsewhere and was reprimanded. I do not know. Anyhow, as the day marched on I encouraged him to hold Tim. He did, and I was able to get the picture, a copy of which is with this post. Hopefully that was somewhat healing for him.
Like I said, Dad stayed only a day or two and then he had to return to work in New Jersey. Work is good therapy too. All of this is far better than medications and alcohol. And I encourage all who read this to stay away from the drugs and money a government like the United States Of America might offer you when you are in mental turmoil. It is far better to work than to be on Social Security Disability for mental depression or anything else.
Years later I would come across a photograph or two that showed Dad made a trip down south sometime after my Mom died. The former Merchant Marine had at least one boat trip, and I get the impression from the other image that is attached that it might have been Florida. As far as I know, he would not have enough money for places like Bermuda or the Virgin Islands. At any rate, this is the photograph I used for the background of Brother Pete's Oasis Of Hope, which was originally placed on Geocities.com back in the 1990s. Geocities was destroyed not too many years after Yahoo! bought it. I had to move it a couple of more times after that, and I thank God that Neocities.com came along and now my Oasis is a Neocities.
But note what my Dad did. In the attempt of easing his mind he chose to take a cruise or other kind of boat trip, where he would be on the ocean (or a gulf) that God created. Evidently he enjoyed the sight of the palm trees. He had placed himself where he chose to follow Philippians 4:8 (ASV), Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Certain things are kept secret by God because when a true child of God goes through a very difficult time God's inner working within them is between them and God alone. I often have to wonder what Jacob's son Joseph grappled with while he was forgotten about in prison for around two years. Was he fighting off hatred toward his brothers who sold him into Egypt? Or, perhaps any hatred was crystallized so it would be crushed by the Holy Spirit when he saw the hand of God in his life and that it was actually God who had sent him there to preserve many people alive. And, how often did he have to fight off the temptation to give up on God as satan (never capitalized if I can get away with it) recounted all the bad things God had let happen to him, the worst of which was to be forgotten in prison?
I would say such times and circumstances are when pearls are formed in true Christians life. Do not cast your pearls before swine or give that which is holy to the dogs. (Please listen or view the message
Guard Your Pearls, and the links that point you to those recordings in audio or video may be found at http://www.sapphirestreams.com/life/audioM.html#M2 .
In a few weeks it would be our turn to visit, both the saved and unsaved
Religion will not get anyone off the course to Hell: only a relationship with the One True God through Christ will do it. Jesus was clear about that as noted in John 14:6. I was hoping my Roman Catholic (RC) sister would be more open to salvation in Christ after Mom's death. So we tried to be directed by the Holy Spirit in what to say and do.
Nonetheless, religion seemed to be somewhat engraved in my sister, Pat. I say somewhat because though she was RC she attended church only on special occasions. However, my brother-in-law George was far more devout.
Back then, many devout RCs would have at least one statue (usually plastic) in their car. I remember we were going somewhere in their car with George and me in front and sister Dorcas and Pat in back. I was looking at one of the non-critical gauges but a statue was stuck in the view-port. I started to move it out for a moment when my sister said,
Don't move my Jesus.
We had to feel sorry for them. And, I do not remember if it was then or some years later that when we were at my sister's apartment she asked if I wanted the statue of the
Infant of Prague that had been mine. I believe I have written about that statue in a previous TBT. Little clothes actually came with that thing so you could dress the statue from time to time according to some type of tradition. Come to think of it, are there not religions that RCs would call pagan that dress statues from time to time? Anyhow, I told her I did not want the statue. So, my sister kept it.
I have a book that deals with certain events since the time of the first advent of Christ specifically in part in regard to the Roman church and if my memory serves me correctly it stated that one reason for the rise of Islam was the disgust that some had for the statues and images of the Roman church. Sadly, to this day many Muslims picture Christians as people with crosses around their necks and statues in various places.
No. Real Christians do not need any of that, and real born again Christians are believers and worshipers, not just on Sundays, but constantly.
It might have been on the way back that we stopped at our Holy Bible School in Green Lane, Pennsylvania to show Tim to those who might have been around. It was probably by this time that the State Of Pennsylvania permitted the school to offer degrees and it was now called Northeast Bible College (NBC).
Thankfully, NBC President Obie Harrup, pictured with this post, was around. As you can see, he was delighted to see us and Tim. I cannot remember who else we saw at NBC but we soon had to go back to Bentleyville where, in a few weeks I would be very delighted.
Can we say,
Why would this be a major flip? Those that have read the first set of posts titled, Throwback Thursday Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me, would know. But for those who have not, here is a brief summary:
But over thirty days later I surrendered my life to God through Jesus Christ. Exactly a month later I sensed God calling me to the Gospel ministry. I applied to NBI in May 1970 and was accepted the following month. By the grace of God I was at the school that fall.
So, here was this letter in the mail. I was eligible for a degree. I needed only three more credits. Great!
However, an element of displeasure rose up because the course I would be required to take would be Contemporary Theology. Theology! Why could it not be something focused on the Holy Bible itself? I would have been delighted had the course been about the transmission of the Biblical text down through the years.
Nonetheless, I agreed and sent the requested payment in. A few weeks later the textbook came along with a schedule of various requirements. The textbook, the title page of which is pictured with this post, was Modern Christian Thought by James C. Livingston. I was not even going to post a picture, but when I located the book for this post I saw what I had written on the title page, and a number of other things I had written in the book.
As you can see from the first picture, I had a great disdain for the material. Yes, I now know I incorrectly placed the apostrophe in the word wouldn't. For those needing to use aural software, here is what I wrote on the title page:
I wouldn't call some of this Christian. I also wrote down below,
This was my textbook to get my degree.
I am glad I looked at the book in preparation for this post. If you count the illustrations it is over 500 pages and I see I evidently had read the entire thing. I underlined numerous times. I also see when I probably had to go to the NBC campus for a week of class.
Last week I could not remember when, probably because I hated the course so much that I forgot what all I had to do (except for the term paper). Evidently I had to send something, maybe a summary, to NBC at least three times before the class session in January 1976. I had written
must be at NBC in the list of chapters for the due dates, December 9 and 19 1975. The final deadline was January 9, 1976, but at the very end of the book at the epilogue (which I see I had actually read) I wrote
complete for January 2, 1976.
I guess I got it done early because I wanted to get it over. There were a host of contemporary theological thinkers and schools of thought throughout the book. Some of the scores (if not over a hundred) thinkers I had to read about were Soren Kierkegaard, Charles Darwin, Descartes, and Friedrich Nietzsche.
I could not wait to get the whole book completely read. At one point I began to number the pages
countdown style to the final agonizing page. I had a little fun though, as you can see with the second picture in this post that shows the first page of the final chapter, featuring an illustration of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. At the top of the page I wrote
The last mile! At the bottom of the illustration of Bonhoeffer I wrote
Cutey, and off to the one side of him I wrote
It looks like for our term paper we were given five possible topics we could write about, viz., 1. The Demythological Principle; 2. Neo-Thomism; 3. Evolution; 4.Vatican II, and 5. The Ecumenical Movement. Well, because I had really wanted to study about the Holy Bible and not theological thought I chose the first one and wrote the paper on the topic of Rudolph Bultmann's advancement of the demythological principle of the Holy Scriptures.
Back then all I had was a typewriter, white-out, and carbon paper. There were no word processors at the time, or if they did exist I sure could not afford one. The reading, the studying, typing was all done while I was an assistant pastor, worked as a cashier at a truck stop, and helped to take care of our first son.
Yes folks. I know how to burp a baby, play with one, feed one (except for lactation), and put one to sleep. And, believe it or not, I have changed many a diaper – and washed some out for reuse. Yes, they were cloth diapers.
So sometime in January 1976 I rode out to NBC in Green Lane, Pennsylvania for a week of classes. That is all I remember. I had so much disdain for the course I do not remember who the instructor was, which classroom we used, where I stayed, or even if I attended the school's chapel services (which would have been the main treat).
Sister Dorcas and Tim stayed at her parents' home on Grassy Cabin Farm in Grantsville, Maryland. Pictured in the final photograph are her parents, Crist and Rhoda Yoder and, of course, Tim.
A few months later during the summer a large envelope from NBC had arrived. It was my degree: Bachelors Of Science in Bible. I thought we would have to travel back out to the school for some type of ceremony, but they simply sent the document. Well, fine with me.
I first went to NBI in 1970 with never thinking it would become a college. I went there figuring I will never be a scientist, but found out in hermeneutics class God would make me one of His scientist after the professor on the first day of class said,
Hermeneutics is a science. I would graduate from NBI with only a diploma, but would possess a college degree two years later.
So there – another flip for my life from God, and a major one at that! God, through Christ, is able to flip any life for His honor and glory. Through the finished work of Christ He has taken the lives of murderers, thieves, child abusers, drug addicts, drug dealers and a whole lot more and has, in His tender mercies, changed their lives to give them real life and Eternal Life. He will do it for you if you let Him.
As it is written in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NASB:
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
If I recall correctly, brother Price required that prospective brides and grooms would have to receive premarital counseling from him before he would perform their wedding. One day he seemed to be concerned about something he had heard. I think it was either a couple he knew had gotten a divorce or were considering a divorce. Nonetheless, he told me he felt like making any prospective bride and groom whose wedding he would officiate sign agreements that they would EACH pay him $100.00 if they ever got a divorce.
Does that sound nasty? Consider well that God HATES divorce, Malachi 2:16 (NASB / PPM),
For I hate divorce, says YHVH, the God of Israel. Jesus, YHVH in the flesh, never condoned it and, despite what a host of denominations and preachers say, He never gave permission for remarriage after a divorce (Luke 16:18). For more Holy Bible facts on this matter please see https://oasisofhope.neocities.org/ma00.html .
Along with his teaching and preaching ministry, brother Price would often team up with sister Price to sing duets in a church service. They were excellent singers and the congregation was blessed by their music ministry.
And, as in many other churches, outside groups would come to minister in song from time to time. One group that came to the AOG in Bentleyville were The Blakely Singers of Canada. They billed themselves as
The Finest In Gospel Music. And, they did do pretty well.
Oftentimes traveling ministries like that would have vinyl records of their music for sale. We were still in the years that CDs had not been developed. However, there were
8-tracks. You would pop them into a player and listen. We have an 8-track of The Blakely Singers.
There was one song they sang that had one phrase in it that I did not care to hear, viz.,
How much farther can we go? The song expressed the current spiritual condition of the world at that time, and part of the chorus would ask,
How much farther can we go?
I, like many others, felt like the world was in pretty bad spiritual shape at that time. I really hated to think about the possibility that Christ would not come back very soon, the decades would march on, and things would get worse.
But, that HAS happened. Back in the 1970s the vast majority of society would never think it was a great idea to switch their gender, that one should never use measured physical discipline on their children, that it was great idea for guys to dress like women and read stories to children in public libraries, and the like. There is far more drug abuse today, more murders, more shootings, and I can keep on going. Back then, if I would give blood I would never expect anyone to ask if I was pregnant. The Bloodbank Of Delmarva does that today.
Insane! And I would say the entire world is going insane!
How much farther can we go from this point is somewhat of a fright to me, not because I am afraid of what might happen to me. I am afraid of what will happen to society. Read the last half of Romans 1 — it is not pretty. Perhaps there will be a real God-sent revival. That would be good, but the sad fact is that after the revival the sin nature of many would drag them away from God as people would love themselves more than God.
In a few months, I felt I had to resign as assistant pastor. More about that in the next post, God willing.
There was nothing morally or spiritually wrong about his plan, which he told the church about. Nevertheless, as head of the church's bus ministry I could see some problems, mainly during the winter months in that mountainous area.
So, I had deep disagreement within me about the move. I do not remember if I told him my concerns or not. Knowing how I was back then, I probably did not tell him.
I also knew that whenever any pastor has an idea for a project, most likely not everyone in the church is going to agree. Now, that would place me on the side of those who would disagree, if there had been any.
Add to this the fact that I was still a new person in the Assembly of God (AOG) ministerial system. Seeming like I was part of a faction at Bentleyville might hinder any progress I could make in the future.
While there are times one must openly take an opposing stand against something going on in a church (especially if there is something doctrinally or morally wrong), something like this is usually not the case. I decided to resign as assistant pastor.
But, what next? I figured I was still a little new to try for my own pastorate and, naturally, I did not think we should just stay in Bentleyville. We would have to find a place to live and work. The quickest and easiest thing was . . . , to be announced in the next post. However, rest assured the remaining years until I would get my very own pulpit would definitely include direct teaching by the Holy Spirit.
God enabled us to get a place near the center of town, Frailinger's or Falinger's not too far from the Grantsville Post Office. It was just over a mile (1.6 km) from her parents and less than half a mile (just under 1km) from Maranatha Assembly of God, the miracle church we were married in. Brother William K. Ferguson was still the pastor at the church. A good chunk of my continued training by God would stem from our attending that church.
My training would also be augmented by dealing with cults because the Jehovah's Witnesses were very active in the Grantsville area. At one point while at Holy Bible College I had aspired to be
the next Walter Martin, who wrote The Kingdom Of The Cults, which was our textbook for our course in cults. I had started a big binder of a notebook to keep information on all of the cults I would come across. I remember that Bob Wittik had told me of one developing in New Jersey called
Theta, but it was difficult to get any information on that group.
Add to that the fact that some cults change their teachings over the course of time, and many do not want to give out information about themselves, and new ones spring up from time to time, the task of becoming the next Walter Martin seemed very daunting to me. And then I felt God say to me to just know His Word – absolutely true! Knowing the passages that teach the fundamentals of true Christianity will set at naught all the erroneous teachings of the cults.
In fact, Walter Martin called the cults
the unpaid bills of the Church because the fundamental doctrines are not taught (according to his viewpoint) in the Church. However, I would say while this is true for some denominations and fellowships, it was not true for all. Additionally, it is up to each individual Christian to know, study, and put into practice the Word of God, and to attend their church's services.
God willing, in a few weeks from now I will tell you a story about the Holy Spirit, me, and the Jehovah's Witnesses. And there would be a number of more lessons for me to learn before I got my first pastorate. Until then, I had to have employment and I actually became an . . .
I had to laugh when I first heard that title – orderly! If you had seen my handwriting at the time you would not think it was orderly. Nonetheless, I found work at Goodwill Mennonite Home For The Aged on Dorsey Hotel Road. If you look at it from Google Maps you will see it is quite immense. However, when I started working there it was only a two or three story brick house with a newer extension jutting toward the south.
I would be trained by another orderly, Marvin Yoder, and put to a test by the Director Of Nursing, Mrs. Hilt!
Of all things, I became, what was called back then, an orderly which I thought was a very amusing title for myself. The GMH handbook for employees stated that
... each person was made in the image of God, …, a Biblical truth that underscored the fact that a disciple of Christ ought to consider working at the facility a ministry.
It was made clear to me that from time to time I would have to work weekends, which included Sundays. I saw no problems with working on Sundays for a job like that. The Holy Scriptures indicate such work was permissible (Luke 13:15, and 14:5). This would hold true for a number of other jobs such as, but not limited to, nurses, doctors, employees needed in hospitals and similar facilities, police, and military. Orderlies were also on call all of the time, especially for the midnight shifts. Orderlies would be called upon from time to time to help female nurse's aides (orderlies were eventually re-titled nurse's aides) with the lady residents they were taking care of.
I was trained by the main orderly, Marvin Yoder. As you can imagine, there were scores if not hundreds of things to learn. If I had to assist a resident to stand up I was to put one of my feet in front of theirs to prevent them slipping. One has to be very careful in assisting the elderly: some have fragile bones and skin. When moving a resident from or to a wheel chair, put the chair's brakes on and stick your foot by a front wheel for stability. And, we had one male resident everyone had to watch out for! More on him in a later post!
Naturally we had to learn to make beds. They had to be done a certain way. After practicing a few times I was put to the test by the then Director Of Nursing, Mrs. Hilt. I was called into a vacant room with an unmade bed and was told by her to make a bed. I did, making sure it was up to GMH specifications. After I finished she stared at it for about five seconds then said,
That is pretty good. She then tore the whole thing apart.
Do it again, she said, and walked away!
? ! 😕 ! ?
For the next three and some years, GMH would be a place where I would learn a number of helpful things for my future ministry, as well as some sermon (message) illustrations, both good and bad.
But for the next couple of posts I want to stick with GMH, and for the next post I want to tell you about some positive examples some of these senior citizens displayed.
Male Certified Nurses Aides (aka
CNAs, which I will now begin to use instead of
orderly) would also help the female CNAs in their work when needed. When we were around we would be asked to help transport the female residents when the steps had to be used. Goodwill Mennonite Home (GMH) did not have an elevator for the two-story building when I began working there (and in the future there will be a post on some excitement on that stairway).
I remember there were a number of times that I went upstairs to assist a fellow worker and I heard the GMH songbird, resident
A, singing Blessed Assurance over and over again. It was not necessarily all of the time, but it was quite often. I remember walking by her room at the beginning of bedtime hours and hearing
♫ Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine, ♬ oh what a foretaste of glory divine ♫ a few times in a row. It made me hope that if God permitted me to live on earth long enough that all the worldly song that would run through head would disappear by the time I became a senior citizen.
On the male side there was resident
B. This gent had suffered a stroke, could hardly speak at all, and was confined to a wheelchair. I was instructed that he was the first one to get out of bed, dressed, and rolling. He rolled alright, over to the activity room that had a number of large windows facing east and he positioned himself toward the east. I would then get a rolling tray table for him and place a large print Holy Bible on it for him to read. His habit was to read the Holy Bible before breakfast and it seems to me he would read through it in a year's time. It is a good idea for every true Christian to spend focused time with the Lord the first thing in the morning.
Then there was resident
C, an Amish Mennonite senior who was afflicted with Parkinson's Disease. He could only walk in short steps with heels up and had to be assisted when walking. Additionally, he spoke quietly. An enduring memory I have of him is when he would receive the Lord's Supper (Holy Communion). Like many other residents at GMH he could not attend a church. However, there was a Mennonite church across the way from the nursing home which had a wired audio connection with the home. Their Sunday morning service could then be heard each week, which was a blessing for any Christian employee that had to work a Sunday.
I cannot remember how often that Mennonite church would observe the Lord's Supper, but in all probability at least one time was Resurrection Sunday or the Sunday before. Resident C was also a diabetic, but would not eat breakfast until he partook of the emblems of the Lord's Supper on the day it was observed.
These three residents have left a positive impression on me and from time to time I use the examples they showed forth in my messages as directed by the Holy Spirit. And then, I will not forget a contrast I saw between two charge nurses, which I use as directed by the Holy Spirit as a very important illustration. The lesson of it even touches upon current events that set the stage for the ending times of the current world system. God willing, that will be in the next post.
Somewhere I had heard that LPN (Licensed Practicing Nurse) could be construed as
little pudgy nurse so, just for fun, one day I mentioned that to a couple of nurses. They then asked me,
So what does RN stand for?
Rough and nutty, was my reply, and I think an RN was there when I said that 😂. However, after orderlies were retitled as nurses aides all I could think of that NA meant at the end of my name was
Peter Macinta, Nothing At All. 😄
And when you are at the bottom of the medical ladder all you can do is look up. On a serious note, though, in actuality LPNs and RNs have a lot more knowledge, experience and responsibility. Whether they know it or not, they are models for those below them. A nurse's aide only knows so much. And God soon showed me lessons in regard to being in a position of authority and leadership.
One time when I was working one of the female residents had a medical emergency, perhaps a stroke. When someone reported it to the charge nurse on that shift the nurse appeared to be a bit nervous. She grabbed a manual and hastily flipped through it to find the protocol for that medical emergency. That made ME nervous!
A few weeks later I was working when a different nurse was in charge. At that time her name was Rachel Tice. I happened to be in the area of the nurse's station when another medical emergency occurred with another female resident. Upon hearing of it, nurse Tice was calm, consulted no book, and immediately went to the location. As I continued to observe her I saw that her composure spoke of sureness and she was able to readily help the resident.
See? She knew the book,God said to me.
I was still in the early ages of the walk in Christ and had to learn to be concerned but not worry, and be calm and not nervous. Unknown to me, many wild and even weird situations were ahead of me in the ministry and when I would become a pastor.
But the lessons taught by the decorum of sister Tice, a fellow Christian, are applicable to every disciple of Christ. You know the Savior, but also know the written Word of God (in a good translation, that aims to be truly literal-- not some of the loads of trash that currently plague us).
A few years back I was reading some posts in a Facebook group I belong to, those who were exposed to the same good (or maybe better) ministerial education I was, when I was taken aback by post from an individual apparently shocked and bewildered by society's steep downward trends in recent years.
He asked what was going on in the world. I thought,
You do not know? Why are you bewildered? Why ask that question? Have you not read the Holy Bible and, if you have, why were you surprised?
At the time of writing this post, the world was edging toward the time of Great Tribulation. We have had lots of trouble since the fall of Adam, but the worst is yet to come.
Oh, I know some have been saying that for centuries, but two events in the 1940s are harbingers of Armageddon to come, viz., the establishment of the United Nations and the state of Israel. Consider well Joel 3:2
I will also gather all nations, And bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; And I will enter into judgment with them there On account of My people, My heritage Israel, Whom they have scattered among the nations; They have also divided up My land.
Since 1948, events have occurred that lay the groundwork for the prophetic passages regarding the end of the Gentile Age and The Time Of Jacob's trouble to occur. Occurrence of such events are increasing in frequency. A real powerful one was the establishment of the Abraham accords. Also in recent years (per the date of this post) were the various governments around the world on most if not all levels responding to the Covid-19 pandemic which, whether they know it or not, trained them on how to control their citizens for when The Beast (aka Antichrist) arises. Such preparatory events are increasing not only in frequency, but also in intensity. With that, keep in mind that the
birth pains passages of the Holy Bible in regard to the end of this present age.
While it is shocking, if we are Christ's and know The Book we ought not wonder why there is same-sex marriage, why some people care to mutilate themselves to be the other gender, and why there is spiritual child abuse in that realm.
There are many more topics I can point to, but I need to bring up a very current situation: prophets! We are now loaded with so-called prophets of God, teachers, and apostles. If you have been swayed by recent false prophecies, particularly in the realm of politics, I would say you are in grave spiritual peril. YOU, yes YOU, might just find yourself believing
a lie (a major one) as recorded in 2 Thessalonians 2. Some of your number embrace unity within
Christendom (note the quotation marks) no matter what sin or false teaching is tolerated.
Going back to the topic of prophets, while there are true prophets of God, we are overwhelmed with false ones as well as teachers and apostles. Consider well Revelation 16:13 to 16 : And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. 14 For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. 15
Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame. 16 And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon.
Consider very well verse 15. It will do well for some who name the Name of Christ to get their mind and heart out of the prophets and politics and get into His presence along with His written Word. If you really know the Lord then really know His Book.
For those that will, please listen to my message on Revelation 16:15 at https://archive.org/details/revelation1615theapocalypticblessingwithgravewarning .
Enough! Let me get jolly in the next post!
God willing, in the next post I want to mention something in regard to the realm of satan that was affecting me, but to lead up to it I want to post a few things on a much lighter note, the final one being the segue for next week's post.
Man Wants Lawyer After Bath:
I will begin with a man who was easily agitated. That would make me a tad nervous from time to time, but God was beginning to train me to be less nervous. This man had gone through a lot in his employment during the social unrest of the 1960s. I will not give details, but I will say if you did something to him that you had to do, and he did not like it, you became his enemy for the rest of the shift. Try to take care of him and he would fuss and try to hit you.
I was giving him a bath one evening. He had to be strapped into a chair lift and then placed in the tub. Though I told him what was going on, he still made a fuss. However, he really made a fuss when I washed his hair. With a little difficulty I finished bathing him, dried him off, clothed him, and placed him back in his wheel chair. Still raising a fuss, he soon rolled up to the nurse's station, fussed at me, said he wanted to get a lawyer, and demanded I do something about it. I imagined how ridiculous it would be if he did talk to a lawyer since I was simply doing my job. Nonetheless, I went behind the nurse's station and handed him a phone book. I went about taking care of the other residents under my charge while he searched in the phonebook. About fifteen minutes later he was still holding the phonebook but had become very sleepy and was slumping forward (he was strapped in his chair so he was safe). A nurse saw it and told me to put him to bed, so I did. He fussed a little, but was soon out like a light.
I Almost Become A Victim:
One man under my care had two main problems. He was crippled by polio when a young boy and suffered mental retardation. Though crippled in his legs, he had tremendous strength in his arms from crawling. During the right times we would permit him to crawl around. However, every now and then we would have to get him out of someone's room, and there were a couple of times he frightened a few lady residents by accidentally crawling into their rooms.
Because of his mental condition he had to be placed in a posey vest when having to use the bathroom, when placed in his geriatric chair, and when placed in bed. The vest was constructed in such a way that he could still move his arms though the vest was tied behind him. When I was trained to put him to bed, Mr. Yoder told me to keep watching him while I tied the straps. He said one night a lady nurse's aide was putting him to bed and while she was tying a strapped he reached over, grabbed her by the hair, and would not let go! She hollered for help and was eventually rescued by other workers.
I almost became his victim too! I put him in bed one night. His habit was that he would sit up and mumble. He mumbled most of the time. Well, I started to tie one strap under the bed while he was mumbling away. I was having a little trouble and started to focus on getting that strap tied. But then, I remembered what I was told and quickly looked up. While he kept mumbling, I saw his big hand was slowly heading for my head! And the moment he notice that I caught him he laughed,
heh, heh, heh!
Yeah! Heh, heh, heh, I said, and carefully finished tying the straps!
And there came a time I had to wonder if he was not a descendant of Houdini. I had him strapped in somewhere while I went about to work with other residents and when I returned this guy had one arm loose and had made a nasty mess of himself and the room. I had to bathe him and clean the room.
“Where Did He Go?”:
An outstanding rule for all nurse's aides was,
Know where your people are at! When I was being trained I was told a story about one lady resident who ventured out of the building and was eventually found walking along Dorsey Hotel Road. Remember, this was back in the 1970s when there was less electronic gadgetry to protect wandering residents.
The two or three ambulatory men under my care were never a problem, nor were the few others in wheelchairs. And, of course, those who would be in geriatric chairs would not be a problem.
I had noticed that sometimes a resident in a geriatric chair would shake it in such a way that it would move an inch or two at a time. In about ten minutes they could move about three or four feet. However, it would take a lot of time before they could get through an exit door, if at all, in a geriatric chair. They would have to shake that chair a good bit to get all four wheels over a threshold. Those in geriatric chairs would not be a problem. But, apparently a part of my mind would not accept that.
There was one man that always had to be in a geriatric chair if he was not in bed. He was bald on top and had a somewhat a pointed nose. I code-named him as
Bald Eagle and would use that term with sister Dorcas when talking about work.
I was sleeping pretty well one night when I was having a dream about work. In my dream, most of the residents were up and out of bed. The man I just mentioned was in a geriatric chair in the hallway between rooms. I went about doing my work but when I returned to the hallway he was gone.
In great alarm I asked,
Where is he? Where did he go?
I asked a few more time's until I heard my wife ask,
Where did who go?
Bald Eagle!, I said.
You mean (and said his actual name)?
Opening my eyes I saw I was sitting up in bed and sheepishly replied, . . .
We got a good a laugh from that one, but I soon started having dreams that did not make me laugh at all. However, they might have been needful for me so I would begin to learn more about the spirit realm and, in later years, spiritual warfare.
Before he was beheaded, the Apostle Paul by the Holy Spirit wrote some final instructions and encouragement to a young pastor (bishop) named Timothy, who could very well eventually suffer the same fate. Early in the last epistle (letter) to Timothy that is known to exist he wrote,
. . . God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)
I was fearful of many things before I came to Christ. If you read back to my first TBT you will see I was raised Roman Catholic, and while there are some who enjoy various elements of it, to me there were a few spooky things. This was especially so in funeral masses. I remember reciting with the others the phrase,
May perpetual light shine upon them (the departed person). In my young mind I pictured them lying dead in their casket with a light forever beaming on them. And when the Ave Maria was sung in Latin, (of which I had no idea of what the words meant), there was a phrase in there that made me think of a giant insect with a stinger injecting the dead person with something and sometimes making them squirm. Shows like the Twilight Zone and Outer Limits sort of helped to shape my mind to consider the possibility of the very weird and very scary.
A goodly chunk of fears was banished from my mind when I surrendered to Christ but, like all other disciples, I had to learn to bring my mind under the control of the Holy Spirit. This has been ongoing training for me. Satan enjoys presenting us with fear, and the nightmares I am about to mention turned into an early training session for me to be less fearful, and that there IS demonic activity that disciples must stand against.
The focus of nightmares was my Mom. My parents did not surrender to Christ until a year after I did. Now, with no offense meant to my Mom, for seventeen years, though she was a loving parent, she was overbearing and domineering at times in our immediate family. Relatives, friends, and acquaintances outside our immediate family would definitely describe her as kind, sweet, caring and many other positive terms. Add to this the fact that she would often seem to be sad and depressed.
My parents made “a hundred and eighty degree turn” when they surrendered to Christ, but they also had to grow in Christ. Sadly, Mom was pestered with menopause just after I went off to Holy Bible Institute. She eventually went to a psychiatric hospital and, after a time, she developed pneumonia. An x-ray showed another problem: a tumor on her lungs that was later determined to be lung cancer. She went to be with the Lord in May 1975.
I was relieved to see that she had remained in Christ despite her battles and departed from this world still clinging to Christ (and not Mary). And for over five years, my mind felt relief -- until the nightmares occurred.
I started dreaming of my mother in a casket. Thankfully, I can no longer remember the details, but after a short time she started moving. After a couple of these dreams, she then started talking, and elements of my mind thought,
Oh, no! She is being overbearing again! Of course, none of this made me feel good.
During my awake hours, considering what the entirety of the Holy Bible says about such things, I figured this could NOT be my mother. For example, disciples who depart from this world are present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). And, though Hebrews 12:1 states we are surrounded by
a cloud of witnesses, it refers back to Hebrews 11 where the brief accounts of the spiritually victorious ones of the Old Testament are recorded, and these accounts witness for or against us in our Christian walk (if we are truly saved).
A few weeks went by and another nightmare occurred, but now she was talking and about getting out of her casket. In my dream I yelled something like . . .
You are dead!
From that time, I have not been bothered by such nightmares.
I was not rude and disrespectful to my mother (after all, it was not her), but I was angry at the demonic spirit that was stirring up the negative elements in my mind. I meant what I said:
Looking back, for me that was a primer for effectual prayer and, eventually, spiritual warfare. I was
not into spiritual warfare at that time and thought it was something not necessary for New Testament Christians. I would find out differently in less than ten years, especially when a demonic force would attack one of our sons.
OK, back to fun in the next post when I was
attackedby nature and a law of physics.
Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.This same tribute could (and maybe should), adorn the buildings of thousands of other groups that just have to be there all of the time, including, but not limited to, national security personnel (all levels), police (in most localities in the U.S.A.), hospitals, and -- of course -- nursing homes.
Prior to getting any church to pastor I was a nurse's aide at Goodwill Mennonite Home in Grantsville, MD. That is Grantsville MD, -- not Palm Beach FL or Austin TX. There are many times when Grantsville gets snow, then more snow, and more to where it has enough to share with two, three, or more towns.
For our first winter together in Grantsville a snow storm added more snow to the existing layers of snow to where the roads were impassible, even for four-wheel drives. We were living on Main Street at the time, around 1 mile (1.6 km) from the nursing home. I was do in for work but there was no way to get there -- until the phone rang. I was told that one of the maintenance workers would use his snowmobile to bring me and a few others to work.
Sure enough, the man shows up and away we go down Main Street, turning left onto Dorsey Hotel Road. We zipped past a farm building on our left and kept on zipping until we came to a sharp curve. At that point I was no longer mobile, but most definitely airborne and landed in some deep snow. Thankfully, this was noticed and the fellow employee returned and put me back on board. I thank God for his protection, since I could have hit a wire fence or something hard. Nevertheless, I made it to work.
A few months later, we were able to move into one of Goodwill's trailers that was near the facility. Now I would no longer get stuck in the snow. However, that did not prevent me from being stuck elsewhere, and then
rescued by a maintenance worker.
The trailers were nearby Goodwill. All I had to do was take a short walk and I was at work! If the roads were ever covered with snow again a snowmobile would most likely be unnecessary for me to get there. No chance of me being catapulted from the vehicle and getting stuck in snow. However, I would soon be stuck elsewhere.
I do not remember why I wanted to do it, but I think there had been some type of problem on the roof that encouraged me to get a ladder and check things out.
I always sort of liked heights, but then there is the other side to the coin. I cannot prove it, and some (not all) theologians would say no, but I have had a sneaking suspicion that my mama, even before she came to Christ, prayed really hard to God that I would avoid climbing. There are some that say God does not honor the prayers of the unsaved, but I think, based upon Holy Scripture and observation, that He does honor certain prayers of those who are not redeemed in Christ.
I have a feeling that my mama, who had been
the nervous type, became really concerned when I, as a young child, took great interest in mountain climbers I saw on TV. I thought it was pretty cool they could take breaks on short ledges and just be in various odd places on a mountain.
Around that time there had been some sort of small quarry or an outcropping of rock in Jersey City and I think it was located near Baldwin Ave. I know it was a short drive from cousins that used to live across from the old Margaret Hague Hospital. If I recall correctly, it seems my Dad had stopped there so I could do some rock collecting and I got the idea I would like to climb that short hunk of rock which might have been around 18 to 20 feet (5.4 to 6.0 meters) at that time. Mom was along. After that, I do not remember going by there again unless it was only one time. I think mama prayed really hard that her baby boy would not venture into rock or mountain climbing -- and told my Dad not to have me even see that hunk of rock again.
I think that because even though I thought I would have no problem getting on top of our trailer in Grantsville, I did encounter a problem. The roof was slightly arched and once I was on it I had an oozy, queasy feeling. I was too afraid to find the ladder to get off. And, to add to my misery, there was some type of bees nest nearby. I hollered for sister Dorcas for help and she contacted Goodwill which contacted one of their maintenance workers. Well, either it took some time to get him or he was busy or both, but I was stuck on that roof for over an hour.
When he finally came, he gave vocal instructions for me of where to back over to the ladder. When I had enough guts to start hanging a foot down to locate a rung he took a hold of my foot to guide it -- but I froze up again. Nevertheless, he soon guided me down.
Once inside the trailer I thought of how being sick of the height was one thing, and then on top of that I was pestered by bees. Not too many of us enjoy being pestered, but pestering comes to us in many ways. And, during those years in Grantsville there was a specific group of religious pests I would frequently encounter. However, by His grace God trained me to keep recognizing His voice by the Holy Spirit.
nicerthan those one would encounter back in the 1970s.
Back then, most of the time they were very critical of some of those whom they would talk with in their conversion efforts, and especially critical of those who would let them know they are a cult.
They were very active in Grantsville and the surrounding area when we moved there in the 1970s. They were also very critical regarding what you might do. There was one encounter with them that I had while I was in our car and they were in their car. Theirs was parked and off, but I kept our car idling as we briefly chatted. They were critical of the fact I did not turn off the engine and had a superficial righteous disapproval because I was wasting gasoline and not helping the environment. However, I had the engine running because I did not think the conversation would last long and I had heard (back then) that one wastes more gasoline by shutting off the engine and turning it back on again (depending on the thought that one would turn the engine on soon).
While some might still be as critical today, they just do not readily show their
righteous disapproval. Nevertheless, what is really concerning about them are their teachings as well as some of their statements.
For example, they will tell you - and even try to tell me - that I believe in three Gods since I am a trinitarian. However, even before I surrendered to God through Christ, when I was somewhat agnostic I felt there could be only one Supreme Being. There would be no way you could convince there are three Gods -- and you still cannot convince me. JWs are not the only cult that does this. There are many that will try to tell a real Christian that they believe something they do not believe. Any group that says trinitarians believe in three Gods is bearing false witness against us.
After I came to Christ and went to a Holy Bible Institute never did I read any statement from any trinitarian theologian that said there are three Gods. Simply put, they always presented a statement that there is only one God Who subsists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is like that there is only one you, but you subsist as body, soul, and spirit. That point can be found throughout the Holy Bible.
Actually, JWs believe in two Gods, God Jehovah and an
a god named Jesus. They also claim that the archangel Michael is Jesus. However, Jehovah (YHVH) Himself is very emphatic in the Holy Scriptures, especially Isaiah, in stating that He is the only God. One of the many verses in Isaiah is Isaiah 44:6, Thus says YHVH, the King of Israel, And his Redeemer, YHVH of hosts:
I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God. Also, if you have read at least the first chapter of The Revelation Of Jesus Christ you will remember that Jesus said He Himself was the First and the Last -- one of scores of passages that identify Jesus Christ as YHVH.
Just one more thing about the JWs. They definitely fail the test of
pure religion and undefiled as stated in James 1:27,
Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. They have no orphanages and they identify with the world because they really do not believe the entire Holy Bible. Much more could be said about that group, but that is not within the scope and purposes of my Throwback Thursdays. Coming up soon, I will tell you what I heard from the Holy Spirit one afternoon.
When we first arrived in Grantsville the JWs would meet for their services somewhere near Cumberland, perhaps Frostburg. But, sadly, that would soon change while we lived in Grantsville. They would eventually do something that prompted Pastor Ferguson of Maranatha Assembly Of God to take action.
This man had been attending a Mennonite or Amish Mennonite church. If I remember correctly, he had desired an ongoing Bible study from that church but for some reason they were unable or unwilling to provide him with one. Lo and behold, there eventually came a knock on his door and, sure enough, they were JWs. When they found out he wanted a Bible study they were very glad to oblige. He was too soon convinced of some of their teachings.
I forget who asked me, but I was asked to go and speak with him. I forget what I said to him, but I did ask him to read what Walter Martin had written about the Watchtower Society in his book titled The Kingdom Of The Cults. In that book, brother Martin points out the history and doctrines of the major cults of the 20th century. Charles Taze Russell of the 1800s played a religious role that eventually led to the forming of the Watchtower Bible And Tract Society. He was taken to court over some issues over the sale of what was called Miracle Wheat. In regard to being a pastor he was asked if he knew Greek and he claimed he did. However, he failed in identifying certain Greek letters when asked to do so in court.
When asked about Russell, some of today's JWs will distance themselves from him, but I recently saw in a relatively current Watchtower Society handbook that they still give a lot of credit to Russell.
Anyhow, I was hoping that what brother Martin had presented about the JWs would convince our friend to stop meeting with them. However, when I came to retrieve my book I saw that our friend had written a long response on the inside cover of it and included Ecclesiastes 12:12,
of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh. That was hypocritical for him to quote that verse because he already had some JW books and magazines in his possession.
On that point, in recent years as I have attempted to witness to some JWs on the Internet I asked them to lay aside their JW books and other literature and just read the Holy Bible. I do not know if any of them ever accepted the challenge, but I did hear that some JWs had done that and within two or three years they were convince that the Watchtower Society was wrong.
Now, getting back to the 1970s in Grantsville, I do not know for sure if it was our friend or not, but a JW convert who owned land across from Maranatha Assembly of God donated their land to the Watchtower Society. Soon, there was a Kingdom Hall across the way from Maranatha.
Brother Ferguson was not pleased with that, nor were some members and attendees of Maranatha. He soon had a sign erected in the church field, facing it toward the new Kingdom Hall. On the sign were the words
I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it from Matthew 16:18.
Though it seemed our friend was hopelessly entrapped in the Watchtower Society, we kept praying for him. I am pleased to report that, after a number of decades, the man left the Watchtower Society and surrendered his life to God through Jesus Christ. He has since graduated from this life and has entered the Kingdom of God! Are you a Christian that has an unsaved relative or friend? Keep praying for them and continue to witness to them as directed by the Holy Spirit. Never give up.
Being directed by the Holy Spirit is extremely important. For many of us it takes time to learn to know when the Holy Spirit is speaking to us, especially in a specific way -- directing us to take action. It is very important to learn this, especially if you are called to the Gospel ministry. And, one day after work I received an alert from Him.
We now lived close by the nursing home and I was home within minutes. After lovingly greeting sister Dorcas (I do not remember if our son Tim was awake), I removed my outer layer of clothing and put it in the hamper. I wanted to do that so I could just rest on the bed for a while. However, a far safer practice, which many in nursing do, would be to not physically greet anyone, put all clothing in a hamper, wash, dress and then interact with people -- or go take a rest.
I was soon on the bed, but after five or so minutes, all of a sudden I sensed God saying to me, . . .
The Jehovah's Witnesses are coming.
I got up. I got dressed, and within a few minutes the Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs) knocked on our door.
I forget what we were discussing, but a heavy set chap was trying to make some sort of a point when he reached over to some books we had and grabbed what he thought was a Bible. I do not know why he did not have one but he decided to grab something we had and what he thought was a Bible. It looked like a Bible, but it was not a Bible.
A few moments after opening the book and turning the pages he found out it was not a Bible and he could not defend whatever he was saying. After they left I hoped and prayed that this guy would take it as a sign from God he was on the wrong team.
My hearing an alert from God is something all disciples of Christ should experience ever now and then. In fact, as we carefully read the Holy Bible, every true Christian is to be at some level in constant communication with the Holy Spirit. This is praying (communicating with God) without ceasing. To be clear, we ought to have focused times of prayer, but apart from that we have to be in some type of communication with God. We ought to make sure
the channel stays open and we are always listening.
And, of course, there are other things besides alerts. There is guidance, admonishment, encouragement, instruction, and much more. And, before I ever got my very own pulpit, the nursing home where I worked at was a good place to receive instruction.
The Golden Yearsare not all that golden for some seniors. Along with aches and pains there are problems with mental health.
I still can remember one senior lady at the nursing home where I worked who was coming out of her room but then paused in the doorway. She had a bewildered look upon her face. When I looked at her, immediately I had to think of the old King James Version (KJV) term,
confusion of face. It only occurs in two places in the KJV, viz., Ezra 9:7 and Daniel 9:8. In my early days ministering I would use what I had seen at the nursing home whenever I referred to either passage. However, years later I found out that the Hebrew ought to be correctly translated as
shame of face.
The lady was not ashamed, though, and only confused. A female nurse's aide soon came by to assist her. The senior lady would seem fine once she had her medication.
Most, if not all, of the residents of Goodwill Mennonite Nursing Home were on medication. If you have read the first in my Throwback Thursdays series you would have seen that as a very young tyke I aspired to be a scientist. Because of a scientific breakthrough I was one of millions of children who was vaccinated against polio. I also had the three doses of the vaccine in sugar cube form. That is somewhat more favorable than the needle. 😁
It seems like many more medications were developed in the 1960s. A common one used at the nursing home I worked at was Thorazine. At least two of the men under my charge were given that medication. The one man was the polio victim I mentioned earlier in this current series. He had some powerful arms and you would not want to be around him when he was agitated.
The other was the man who wanted a lawyer after I washed his head. At one point a nurse in charge gave me the information to read on Thorazine, especially the side effects. Since an aide worked more closely with the residents in their care it was good for the aide to know the drug facts. I was a bit surprised at the side effects and quipped,
Are we trying to help this guy or hurt him?
Sadly, this is true of many medications, and once I got to my very own set of pulpits I would see more sorry things about medications. Not all medication is bad or
iffy, but I would later choose a slightly different path for my own healthcare. In 2011 I would deliver a message to one of my congregations regarding Biblical Insights Into Medicine. If you would like, you may listen to it by clicking the link at http://www.sapphirestreams.com/life/audioM.html#M123 .
And there came a day when I might have needed some medical attention at the nursing home. God willing, I will write about that in the next post.
1. Ideally, two people should be involved to accomplish this feat. Personally, I think I can do it by myself for just a few steps, provided if the conditions are right, but it is best to have an assistant.
2. Bring the person in the wheelchair with their back toward the steps, placing the wheels at the edge of the first step.
3. Tell the person you are about to tilt the chair back to a degree. Tilt it slowly back to about forty-five degrees. At this point, your assistant should take hold of the ends of the footrests. All they have to do throughout the process, provided that all things go well, is to just help steady the chair. They do not push the chair. However, they should be prepared to stop the chair if it heads back down for some reason.
4. As you hold on to the handles you pull up the chair with your arms (not your back). You pause for a little on the first step and then you continue the process until you enter the building you need to get into.
5. Follow the same procedure to bring someone down steps, except that 1.) they face the steps and 2.) you tilt the chair back before you get to the first step.
To the right is an image, courtesy of Goodwill Retirement Community of Grantsville Maryland, of the oldest section of the nursing home where nurse's aides used to bring residents in wheelchairs down and up a flight of steps before the late 1970s. For the first year or so of my employment, the nursing home I worked at did not have any elevators, so the male nurse's aides were quite needful in bringing the second floor residents down and up the steps when need required. If I recall correctly, that need just about always occurred on the first and second shifts since some of the upstairs residents would eat downstairs. The need was also quite heavy when activities were held in the downstairs activity room.
Even though a few were a bit plump, it was usually no problem to bring residents back up to the second floor ─ usually. It had been a hot summer day in Grantsville (yes, it does get hot in Grantsville maybe two or three times a year) when it was time to bring some ladies back up to the second floor. I forget how many were in wheelchairs, but there was one resident, who was new to me, that was very plump and confined to a wheel chair.
Everything was fine at first as we started up the stairs, but it was quite warm in the stairwell and I had just brought up one or two others. I was getting some
good cardio with this one. Then, just after the halfway mark I ran into a problem. It was so warm in that stairwell and the heat, along with the resident's weight, began to loosen the rubber handles on the chair.
Wait, I said to the aide stabilizing the chair.
The handles are coming off! Then the Lord quickly put into my mind to reach down below each hand in order to grab the where it was free from glue.
We eventually made it to the top, but I was huffing and puffing very much.
Let me check your pulse, said one of the aides. She did and discovered it was tachycardia , and I think she said it was around 120 beats per minute.
A seat was nearby at the top of the steps and she said
Sit down and rest. I think I said I would be fine, but she insisted I sit down and rest. Well, I did. After fifteen minutes I went back down to my work area.
Construction had been ongoing at the nursing home and about a year or so later and elevator was put in. That, indeed, was a blessing.
Other blessings were in store for us in the meantime, one of which would involve my widower Dad.
too scientific mindedto consider the Holy Bible passages on that point as not figurative or not symbolic.
So, another child was on the way for sister Dorcas and I. We already had a son, so would this be a daughter? I do not think ultrasound was developed to the point at that time where you could see your child's gender, and God knew we would be fine with whatever He chose. However, naturally we were hoping for a healthy child.
And, from what I gather, my Dad was remaining spiritually healthy, making the correct choices in regard to getting married again. As you read 1 Corinthians 7 you will see that since my Mom had passed on into the Kingdom my Dad was free to marry again. However, I caution every Christian in that position to carefully consider 1 Corinthians 7:26, 29-31 in the light of our current times, especially in regard to the return of Christ.
After my Mom died I had to wonder if Dad would consider getting married again and, if so, if he would go about the process the correct way. It sure looks like he did, because I have a picture of him with another lady he did not marry. In the picture it looks like he was escorting her somewhere and as I look at her image there is something about her that signals to me she might not have been right with the Lord. And, Dad is looking at her in a way that appears to me that he preferred not to be with her.
Dad kept going to church. At some point, somewhere, he met Phyllis, a Christian widow. They eventually married. For some reason we did not attend their wedding. It might have happened after the birth of our second child or when we were in the process of moving. Anyhow, when we eventually met her she seemed to be somewhat spiritually sharp.
To the left is a picture of my Dad and Phyllis. As you see there is an ashtray on the table. Neither of them smoked (Dad quit smoking after coming to Christ) but, if I recall correctly, some of Phyllis' relatives smoked. And, my sister was still smoking at that time.
I have jumped a few years with this gap filler but I felt I should write about it now. Also, I ought to note that some events in this series might be out of sequence.
For the next post let us go to Maranatha Assembly Of God where we would attend church, and I would get additional training, until I got my first very own pulpit.
It was probably only two or three months after we moved to Grantsville that sister Dorcas and I became official members of Maranatha Assembly of God. As I mentioned in the second Throwback Thursdays series, the moment someone becomes truly born again in Christ they become part of the true universal Church, the true Body of Christ. However, it is good for a disciple to attend a local church when possible and, if so led by the Holy Spirit, join the church's official membership if they have one.
Every now and then Pastor Ferguson would encourage members to be part of the visitation effort of the church that was geared to encouraging people to attend on a regular basis. Go three or four weeks without showing up for a church service and someone from the visitation team would soon be calling on you. New contacts and those needing prayer would also be on the list to visit.
Saturday mornings was the usual time members would show up to be part of the visitation effort. Since I intended to be a pastor it was a good idea that I would show up on a Saturday when I was not working.
Brother Ferguson prepared a number of lists based upon the geography of the area. I always liked geography and being a young adult in my 20s I thought it was interesting and fun to drive to different areas. For some reason I felt it was pretty neat to cross a state border. Not far to the north of Grantsville, Maryland was the state of Pennsylvania.
North List might include stops in Springs and Salisbury Pennsylvania. There might be a second list for the north, but would be more westerly with possible stops in Addison, Listonburg, Confluence, and other hamlets. One time pastor Ferguson himself went as far north as near the Pennsylvania Turnpike to visit someone. This pastor meant business for the Lord's business.
And, with fondness, I remember places like Finzel, Maryland eastward from Grantsville, points north and south along MD 219, and MD 495 south which will take you to Bittinger, Accident, and more in Maryland.
Naturally, visitation efforts had different effects upon those that were visited who tended to stray, ranging from coming back to church to a phone call from someone telling pastor Ferguson to
call off the dogs. He agreed for that case.
Brother Ferguson had a heart for souls and, as directed by the Holy Spirit, would do anything to reach them. One time he even ventured, with haste, into a bar to speak to someone whom he was concerned about their need to come to the Lord. The person found out Pastor Ferguson was heading his way and he exited from a back door to avoid speaking with the pastor.
All of this and more was imprinted on my mind about Pastor Ferguson and would shape what I would do when I got my very own set of pulpits.
Until then, as a licensed minister with the Assemblies of God I had certain obligations to perform in order to keep my license. More on that in the next post, God willing.
ministerial credentialsregardless of their spiritual condition, intent, and lack of a calling from Christ-- provided they promise to be
a good person.On the other hand, real ministerial credentials are usually based upon whether or not a person believes in a religious organization's teaching and an agrees to abide by the rules of the group. Even then, many who hold credentials never had, or have forsaken, a loving commitment to God through Christ nor do they have an actual calling from God.
This was not so with the Assemblies of God (AOG) in the 1970s. I wrote about that in a previous post in this series.
In the 1970s I was a licensed minister of the Gospel with the (AOG). If I recall correctly, at that time they required their licensed ministers to preach at least twelve times a year. That requirement was easily fulfilled when I was an assistant pastor at Bentleyviille, Pennsylvania. But now we were in Grantsville, Maryland and attending at the church we were married in, and I was not an assistant there. I sensed that preaching opportunities would be very rare at the church because they frequently had outside guest speakers.
So, what could be done about this? Yes, one could stand on street corners and preach, but there are not a goodly number of corners in Grantsville and, after all, this introvert was shy. I have since learned one must be directed by the Holy Spirit and when that occurs God overcomes the shyness. I had herd, I mean heard that at least one preacher had preached to cows and there certainly was cows in Grantsville, but I did not care for any of the locals to
drop a net on me.
What sister Dorcas and I did was to be one of the groups that would go to the nursing home to do
a program for any residents that would attend. Our program consisted of doing
a sermon in song. Let God pick the topic and have those that attended sing an appropriate hymn after each point or, perhaps, we would sing a duet. It was also a way to keep my piano playing from getting any rustier. I had trouble reading music, but if I knew the song I could usually pick out the chords and
play by ear.
At Maranatha, sister Dorcas and I were asked to be Sunday School teachers. I was assigned, I think, to the middlers boy's group. I forget what ages that was for, but I really enjoyed teaching that class— until I was removed as a teacher. Why? God willing that will be in the next post.
I knew they were right, but I really hated the fact that I would not be the regular teacher for the boy's middler (whatever age range that was) class. I really enjoyed teaching them, but the brothers had a valid point. On my part, in order to garner pastoral experience I had to do the fill-in ministry. However, the brothers did make me a substitute teacher for Sunday School, and at some point I was also helping in Junior Church.
Sister Dorcas was also a Sunday School teacher. In the picture with this post she appears sixth from your left in the middle row. The teachers are flanked by Sunday School Superintendent Bill Bittinger on your left and Pastor Ferguson on your right. The picture was taken after I had been removed as a regular teacher and was made a substitute.
The first time I filled-in at the Methodist church I was told that all I had to do was preach. Some of the congregants would take care of the other matters. That was fine with me. I found it interesting they used candles at a few places on the platform.
Filling-in at the Methodist church and our sermon-in-song programs at the nursing home really helped me to meet the Assemblies of God requirements for me to keep my license.
It was also a good idea for a credentialed minister to attend their sectional meetings. And, most times I would travel to those with Pastor Ferguson. Like I previously mentioned, brother Ferguson meant business for the Lord's business, but he was known to have a little fun while doing it. And, something would happen to me in regard to a sectional council.
ordainedenough to realize it has a spelling error or two.
The Assemblies Of God (AOG), and a host of other fellowships, did not play games like that. And even though you might be ordained by God for the ministry of the Gospel of Christ, the AOG and many others did not grant you an awesome mountable piece of paper emblazoned with the word
ordained until it was evident to them you were ordained by God.
In the mid-1970s I held a license with the Potomac District Of The AOG. That district consists mainly of Maryland with goodly chunks of Virginia and West Virginia, along with a smattering of some AOG churches in Pennsylvania. Each district is divided into sections.
The section I was in had a sectional meeting usually on one Monday each month. I think it started with a late afternoon service. Then there was a dinner which was followed by a sectional youth rally, aka a Christ's Ambassador's (CA) rally. If you had read the second TBT series you will recall a CA rally was the second church meeting I attended after coming to Christ.
While it was not required that a minister attend any of these meetings, it was still a blessing to attend one. It was also good so the presbyter of your section, and other ministers, could get to know you.
Soon after we had moved to Grantsville Pastor Ferguson invited me to travel with him to these meetings which would be held at any of the churches of the section. Cumberland, Maryland had two or three AOG churches and there was another one to the north near Hyndman, Pennsylvania called Bedford Valley AOG. Not far from Cumberland and to the west there was Frostburg and Lonaconing.
While it was not like the metropolitan area I grew up in, there was still plenty of traffic in these areas-- perhaps just enough to tamper with the patience of some preachers, including Pastor Ferguson. We were heading to a sectional meeting either going through Frostburg, LaVale, or Cumberland when we had to pause for a red light. When it turned green we could not go ahead because the driver in the vehicle in front us did not promptly respond. At that point brother Ferguson quipped,
Come on fellow! It's only going to change to one shade of green.
The picture in my mind of a driver waiting at a green light for another shade of green hit me as hilarious and I burst out with laughter. That, in turn, amused Pastor Ferguson. Anyhow, the chap ahead of us, who did not hear brother Ferguson, finally realized it was green and moved on. However, every now and then, when I can use a good chuckle, I will say that to myself when someone does not move on a green light.
Another funny thing that Pastor Ferguson did one time was to keep a Grantsville snowball in his refrigerator freezer. Being higher in elevation than LaVale, Cumberland or Ridgely (West Virginia), Grantsville usually had more snow than most of the locations we would go to for sectional meetings. As a result, at the beginning of spring a couple of ministers would joke with brother Ferguson about Grantsville having snow. So, one year, he brought a snowball when we went to a sectional meeting in March or April. The moment someone would ask,
Hey Bill, got any snow up there?, he would let them know with a little toss. However, no one said a thing about snow so he discretely tossed it somewhere in the parking lot.
Though these meetings occurred almost every month, there was one meeting a year called the sectional council where the officers for the section would be elected for the coming year. Little did I know that my little ministry would be added to.
I forget what year it was and where it was held, but brother Ferguson and I were among the voters for a sectional council. I also forget how many ministers and church delegates were there for that session. Nonetheless, in probably less than a half hour we elected the
top tier that I just mentioned.
Then came the other offices, and I can only remember two, viz., missions secretary and sectional youth leader. Any credential minister could be the missions secretary, but the office of sectional youth leader could only be held by any minister below the age of thirty-five.
Except for me, all the ministers present were over thirty-five. However, a minister did not need to be present to be elected. When it came time for this vote they asked which ministers met the age requirement. I indicated I was under thirty-five and it was mentioned that there was another minister in the section under thirty-five. Uh, oh my! I knew what was about to happen.
The ballots were cast and when they were counted it was announced that brother Peter Macinta was the new sectional youth leader.
And I realized that because of His mercy and purposes, and not because of anything on my part, God granted me that fleeting desire of my heart over five years before when as a new born again youth I attended the AOG youth rallies and thought,
I would like to be a sectional youth leader some day.
God did it again. It might not sound like a big deal, but to me it is because I cannot, and will not, forget how, by His grace, I went from declaring myself a perpetual failure (after two suicide attempts) to entering, only by His grace, into real life with real godly growth and hope. And, there was more to come.
I held the office of sectional youth leader for two years and will write more about it later. However, as I started writing this post I realized it was a bit out of sequence. Though I did say at the start of this series that things might be out of sequence, I think I need to mention something important that occurred before I became a youth leader. And it happened during, of all things, a snow storm.
One year while we lived in Grantsville the meteorologists were expecting a snow storm mid-winter --and we were expecting our second child. Lo and behold! Both came to pass!
If I remember correctly, sister Dorcas somewhat felt the need to go to the hospital before the brunt of the storm came by. I say
somewhat because there was no great urgent need at the time to head to the hospital —just subtle signs now and then. But then, there was that common knowledge that, in most cases, things happen more quickly after the first child is born. So, on that evening we thought it might be a very good idea to start heading to the hospital.
Though the hospital was less than a half hour away, the roads to get there were loaded with ups and downs and plenty of curves —and the snow was beginning to fall. So, it was a very good idea to head to the hospital even though our second child might not be born for hours later.
That is what it seemed like once we got there late that night, so the doctor said he would go home until the nursing staff called. There was no problem with that because he did not live too far away and most people that live in that mountainous region know how to drive in the snow. They also keep their vehicles snow storm ready.
The staff had a pleasant surprise for me. Unlike the other hospital that kept me away from sister Dorcas, gave me no updates, and made me wait over six hours to find out we had a son, this hospital said I could be with her. I just had to stand on the other side of the delivery room and wear a mask when the baby was born.
As I recall, an hour passed by with nothing much happening. But somewhere near the two-hour mark things began to happen fast. The staff rushed her to the delivery room. Within a few minutes a nurse picked up the phone and told the doctor
the crown is showing.
He was on the way, but our second child beat him to it. In the hustle and bustle of the moment I had forgotten to put on my mask —or I was waiting for someone to tell me to put it on. So I asked if I should put it on and I was told it was not necessary now.
It was another boy, and we named him Samuel Robert. According Gesenius, the name Samuel can mean
heard of God, although it may also be understood as
His (God's) name is El.
If you have read the first TBT series,
Countdown To The Week Christ Saved Me, you will know very, very, very well why we chose Robert for the second name. It was in honor of Robert (Bob) Wittik who was led by the Holy Spirit to keep witnessing about Christ to me, and who remained active to win many more to Christ.
Like me, Bob Wittik was born in the early 1950s, not even an entire decade after the United Nations was formed and only a handful of years after Israel was placed back on the map after being scattered throughout the world for well over 1,800 years. Now you literally have the two factors needed to fulfill the Holy Bible prophecies related to Armageddon. Sometime in the 1950s or 1960s Bob surrendered his life to Christ, studied the Word of God, and developed a desire to win others to Christ.
Much has happened since the 1940s to set the stage for the return of Christ at Armageddon. Some things are quite subtle, and a few are immense. However, unless you personally know Christ (have surrendered to Him) and have read the Holy Bible, such things might mean nothing to you. That was how I was in 1967 without Christ and having only a slight interest in the Holy Bible. But, a big event occurred in June 1967 when Israel captured The Temple Mount, but permitted the two mosques to remain and let Muslims worship there. That meant nothing to me, but it ensured the conditions for Revelation 11, and I am sure that real Christians in 1967 were bristling with excitement and a fervor to bring others to Christ. So, about two years later God used Bob Wittik as a main way among many ways to reach me.
In less than a half decade before this post at least two big things have occurred, viz., The Abraham Accords (which Israel has agreed to) and the worldwide COVID-19 crisis. I bristled when I heard about the Abraham Accords. Even the name of that agreement, in the light of numerous Holy Bible prophecies, ought to perk up any true Christian.
In regard to the COVID-19 crisis, with much of the world gripped by fear almost every government experimented on how to control their citizens. This, in turn, messed up the economies of many nations, and many nations are trying to economically fix things while at the same time fighting off ever-emerging strains of the coronavirus (more fear). Financial pits have developed in the effort to fix economies. Now consider the words of Isaiah 24:17-18, part of what is called
Isaiah's Little Apocalypse:
Fear, and the pit, and the snare, are on you, O inhabitant of the earth. 18 And it shall come to pass, that he who flees from the noise of the fear shall fall into the pit; and he that comes up out of the middle of the pit shall be taken in the snare: for the windows from on high are open, and the foundations of the earth do shake. Keep in mind that Jesus Christ also said a snare is coming (Luke 21:35).
I am not saying that the mentioned sequence involving COVID-19 is the beginning of the fulfillment of Isaiah 24:17-18 but, if it is not, it sure has trained the world to follow that downward path. I have a message on Isaiah 24:17-18 and the links for you to hear or view that message are at http://www.sapphirestreams.com/life/audioM.html#M175 .
Hey, COVID-19 and The Abraham Accords were two big things, but you know other things are happening too: Russia and Ukraine, United States and China, North Korea showing its muscles. I can go on, but that is not a main point of these posts.
Just keep in mind that the world is in a lot of birth pains. Now, with the Abraham Accords in mind and in regard to Israel, consider well 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3,
But of the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I write unto you. 2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction comes upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
Indeed, the world is very stormy. Nevertheless, there is blessing available to anyone, absolutely anyone, if they turn their back to sin and self and truly make Jesus Christ, The Son Of The Living God, the King of their life.
I stood to my feet as a barrage of thoughts rushed through my mind.
The United States was under attack!
Is it THAT bad that it affected Garrett County Maryland?
Or, is it a nuclear saturation attack?
That was how my mind was geared being raised in the turbulent 1960s in the main part of Kearny, New Jersey which is only about 7 miles (12km) straight line from New York City (NYC). NYC was reckoned as one of Russia's prime nuclear targets during the Cuban Missile Crisis, so for some years siren drills and EBS tests were common and taken seriously. The EBS tests were always preceded by a statement like this:
The following is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. This is only a test.
There was no such statement that evening and I could only think of being under nuclear attack. But after the tone stopped, it was announced that a snowstorm was imminent. I was unaware that the EBS could be used on various levels and it was not until a few years later I would find out it was OK to do so. But at that moment I felt the national defense was being weekend by using the EBS for snowstorms. I thought it should be used only for an attack.
The alert tone back then was unmistakable. It was like two tones, one at a medium frequency and the other a little higher, gently clashing together. It was replaced decades later by an intermittent lower-pitched buzzer-type sound. In my opinion that was far less noticeable, especially as society was becoming less alert and more lackadaisical. Why the change? Who made that decision? Sometimes a person does have to wonder if there are not some elements in the U.S. government that want to see the Nation collapse. It could be the element of stupidity (an intermittent low-pitched sound gets less attention than sustained clashing tones). Maybe it was a bit of both: stupidity and collapse. And, if I recall correctly, the intermittent buzzing began sometime AFTER Nine Eleven!
However, it looks like things have changed, at least in my region. The old tone is back followed by the intermittent buzzing. I still think they ought to drop the buzzing.
Some other buzzing that needs to be dropped, or really turn a deaf ear to, is the myriads of
apostles, and tantalizing
teachers that would not know sound Biblical doctrine if it bumped into their noses. Many will try to get us into the whirlpools (and cesspools) of politics and financial prosperity (try, just try reading 1 Timothy 6:3-11, Revelation 2:9, and Matthew 6:19-21). If you are a disciple of Christ focus on evangelism and, within the Body of Christ, mutual edification based on the eternal pure Word of God and not some fleeting
prophet. Some think that a prophetic utterance is equal to the written Word of God. The Holy Bible is very clear that prophetic utterances are NOT equal to the written Word and, God willing, I hope to write an article on that soon.
If you are not a born again Christian, please hear God's two-toned alert: 1. Any of us can die at any moment and, 2.) the end of this present age is at hand (please see the previous post).
Up next will be a little something God showed to me one time while, of all things, flying a kite. What was given to me is Biblically based, pertains to stress, and can help anyone!
It happened in a field of my in-law's Garrett County dairy farm when my sons and I wanted to have a bit of fun after getting some kites. With no trees or utility lines, the field was an ideal place for kite flying - except for what we called the
There was ample wind that day and our kites were up in no time, rising high. As usual during that time of my life I had many problems on my mind, but spending time with the boys was fun and relaxing.
As the kite I had soared high, for an experiment I decided to let go of the string for a short time. I noticed the kite went a bit higher at first, then plummeted toward the ground. When I grabbed the string, it soared back up.
Then God said,
As long as there was tension the kite flew.
I want you to soar too.
From then on I have had a different outlook on stress. God wants us to use it as a tool. Perhaps we brought on the stress because of our actions (or our non-action). In this case the primary things we must do are to ask God to forgive us and determine that by His grace we will do His will, not ours.
When stress is the result of a situation we did not create and / or had little or no control over it can be a tool to point us toward trusting God more and developing the meekness of Christ within. And, I could add a few more things.
In later years, when I would get my very own pulpits, there would be times I would teach about stress by mentioning the objects -- any objects that we can see around us. Everything that we sense and use has come about by some type of stress. After all, the computer, tablet, phone, or any other device on which you are reading this post simply did not come out of thin air. Just think of all of the metal in your device. It had to be mined, purified, shaped and so on. The plastics and glass came about, in part, by heat and molding.
We came by stress. Just ask any mom!
But I usually phrase it this way: Any useful object we have or see came about by stress. God desires to make us useful for His purposes.
If we do not have Christ as Savior and King, most times stress will make us sick, and it might even kill us. And, if you live in the United States, the government or / and medical system will be very glad to medicate you— which actually comes with hidden price tags like dependence and bondage.
But, if we are really in Christ we can soar. Fast forwarding to the most recent decades, I worked for a newspaper in the early 2000s. I will tell you right now, and this is probably true of all media work, you do not have just one deadline each day. You have numerous ones. And by God's grace He had shaped me to the point where I thought it was a challenge to beat the deadlines.
After loosing that job I applied the tools of deadlines to my own ministry. So, by the direction of the Holy Spirit I have a number of self-imposed deadlines (as directed by God) each day and throughout the week. I find it helps to keep the mind sharp.
Getting back to the 1970s, that kite flying lesson from Jesus was something I really needed. I would say all pastors of the Gospel of Christ get hit with stress quite often. Sometimes they ask for it and sometimes they do not. Anyway, in the next post I want to write about something that God would use in part to open my eyes more to the supernatural workings around us. However, my eye opening would occur when I got my first and, especially, second pulpit which, God willing, will be covered in the fifth and final Throwback Thursdays series.
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