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.
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