Read Part I HERE , Part II Here
After all the heartbreak, the shuffling and break down in churches we had experienced, I pretty much pulled aside and with much deliberation, mentally reviewed everything I had ever heard or been taught in church. I just began pulling it out “piece by piece” and asking, ”Lord, please show me the truth about this”, then going to scripture to search it out. At the same time, I also entered into on a period of fasting and prayer. It was a little like Jacob wrestling the angel. I needed some answers! I experienced a great personal revival during that time, and the Lord began to really open up the scriptures to me. It was early 2009 and our Nation was hitting the skids big-time; that combined with the issues of the church, drove me to prayer in a way nothing ever had before, though prayer has always been a mainstay for me, especially after becoming a mom.
I love my country, and I love my God. One of the first things I discovered in examining my belief system, was that I had the two of those out of proper order. I had more passion and ardor and was much more outspoken on political issues than the things of the Lord, and nearly equally well-versed in either. So there was some repentance in order. I asked the Lord to instill an insatiable hunger for the Word in me, and He did. He also showed me that you can’t approach scripture expecting to figure it out via the intellect. The Word is spiritually discerned. The searching and prayer and (modified) fasting went on for several weeks, and stretched into months (fasting intermittant). I ended up discarding some stuff I found was not actually supported in scripture, and most importantly, learning what it means to live a life filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit. I also got a not-so-fun-course in what does NOT constitute being filled with the spirit. There is a whole lot of that going around in the church, and we need discernment and knowledge of the Word in order to recognize and steer clear of it.
Coinciding with this season of prayer, was our 7th church. We landed in a non-denominational church, not too far from home, and the whole family became very much involved right from the beginning. People were friendly and there was a relaxed camaraderie there. This church had a praise band, like so many others do these days, but also did the old hymns and our family helped with technical aspects of music, sound and projection. As the early weeks passed, and we gradually met everyone personally, there were two things that did trouble me. One was that I began to feel very disconcerted in my spirit during the praise team portion of the music, and particularly when the leader of the praise team would speak. The other was, there was one individual whom, when he introduced himself to me, just as he reached to shake my hand, I distinctly discerned a warning (? for lack of a better word to express it) in my spirit which startled me a bit. It was this: “Beware of that one, he is an imposter”.
Now, I have to digress just a bit here, and say this. I was raised with a very healthy dose of respect, nay even fear, of dabbling in anything even close to psychic phenomenon or the occult. I never played around with that stuff, though being a kid in the 70′s, knew kids who had. I did enjoy the TV show “Bewitched”, like most kids back then. (That was the devil’s way, via his agent Hollywood, of desensitizing our generation in preparation for introducing Harry Potter to our kids).
When I was about 13, I experienced the first of what would be several instances wherein I would “know” something just before it took place. It wasn’t a daily or constant thing, but happened a significant enough number of times to be considered a fairly “regular” occurence over the years. Here are some examples, and I give them not to glorify this in any way, but want to give enough for you to get a feel for what I experienced.
When I was in the 8th grade, my Grandparents on my Mom’s side, came down from West Virginia to stay with us a couple of days so that my grandfather could go to the Vetaran’s Administration Hospital and have some tests done. I did not even know about the reason that they had come. I just thought it was a visit. When I left for school in the morning, (Jr. High was within walking distance), I remember having the oddest “thought” occur to me. It was just suddenly there, apropos of nothing, “Pawpaw is dead”. It did not scare me, and I did not dwell on it. I didn’t think, “I wonder if it’s true”. It was a very matter-of-fact “knowing” of something that I really had no way of knowing. When the school day was over, the friend I always walked to and from school with, happened to have an older brother that missed school that day. He came up on his bike, and pulled the friend aside to tell her something in low tones in her ear, then left. She didn’t say anything at first, we just continued to walk quietly along toward home, but I guess she started to feel a little guilty about knowing what her brother had told her, so she just blurted it out. “Your grandpa died today. He had a heart attack. Mack heard the ambulance and went over there and saw them take him away”. (Which did happen)
My response was “I know”!
I probably would not have remembered this, except that I kept a journal. I still have it.
There was an incident next, while I was on a mission trip at age 15, but I have shared it on my blog before, so I’ll give a condensed version. A group of us teens were on kitchen duty when one kid lost his grip on an army-sized pot of boiled noodles as he took them off the stove to strain off the water, and scalding water and sticky hot noodles poured all down his body. Uncharacteristically there were none of the 6 leaders around. Apparently by a fluke of miscommunication, they had all left the building at the same time. I, with zero first aid training and not normally assertive, took charge and started delegating. “You and you, find leaders, you two guys take Pete (the injured) into the guys area and help him strip out of his clothes very carefully and wrap up in a towel, you two girls run upstairs to the apartment of the resident missionary and fill his tub with cold water, then you guys help Pete up there to get him submerged. By the time they did so, leaders had been located, Pete went to the E. R. (we were in Scotland), the burns were only minor and the doctor was sort of amazed, stating that it was only because we had gotten him into the cold water to draw out the burn and cut short the reaction. He wondered how I knew what to do. I hadn’t!
The next incident was six years later. This time I was at Grandma’s house in West Virginia, (only this time my grandma on my Dad’s side). My friend June was visiting with me from PA. We went for a long walk out the narrow road from Grandma’splace, to the old church and cemetery. I guess it was a pretty long walk, and we took our time, picking wildflowers by the side of the road and enjoying the views out over the pastures and hills. Before we knew it, the sun was starting towards setting, and my friend, not as long of leg as me and probably growing tired, asked, “are we going to make it back to the house before it gets dark?” Without any conscious thought I said “my mom’s coming to get us”. She gave me a funny look, and just then, we both saw the old Country Squire Station Wagon crest the most distant hill, headed toward us. She turned and said…”how did you know?”. I just shrugged. I didn’t know how I knew.
The next incident was in a car with a friend, we were coming around a blind turn, and I said “watch out, there is a police car right around the corner”. There was, but there was no way for me to have known it, as we came around a 45 degree turn, around a solid brick church building sitting right on the very corner. Once I was at a State Park, entering the women’s rest room, and just as I put my hand on the door to push it open, this thought popped into my mind ”there’s a man in there”. I wasn’t startled that this “thought” that seemed to spontaneously originate from somewhere other than my own mind, was suddenly in there. I simply ”knew it” with such certainty that I was flustered already, when the door suddenly swung inward and a 30-ish man about the same height as me, nearly knocked me down as he exited. His eyes got big as he sort of leapt backward, swung his head toward the door, and recognized he had gone into the wrong bathroom. He turned pink and mumbled, “oh, excuse me” and rushed past me.
I don’t want to glorify this in any way, and will give you my thoughts on why this happens to me, later on. If I had to put a number on how many times in my 48 years that something like this happened, I would “ball-park” a number near a hundred. Though I was never disturbed by these things, (it was as natural as breathing) I didn’t understand them, and I never told anyone until only a few years ago when I told my husband. That was in the midst of the spiritual warfare I got into at Church #7. What happened there was a beginning point for understanding God’s purpose for the phenomenon.
The pastor at Church #7 one day stated that he felt the Lord had laid it on his heart for someone to head up an intercessory ministry. I had been keeping my eyes and ears open for whatspecific role God had for me in the new church, and the pastor’s request resonated immediately. I prayed about it for confirmation, and stepped up the following Sunday to take it on.
The first thing I did was to pray about this intercessory team and ask the Lord to show me from the Word what intercession was all about. Secondly I prayed for Him to assemble together (by calling) those He wanted on this team, and send them to me. Meanwhile I prayed, studied, and wrote down all the Lord was teaching me about intercessory prayer. Week by week, one at time, (separately) the Lord led 7 others to join the endeavor. I made copies of what I had learned about intercession and either mailed or e-mailed that to each one. This was not like the prayer chain concept. This was a group meant to lift up the church itself, the leadership, and of course, also pray for any other needs conveyed to us via the leadership. It just so worked out that no one but myself even knew who was on the team, not even the team-members knew who the others were. Looking back it was strange none of the team even asked me who else was doing it. Well, it was a good system. That way, no gossip! You just went and prayed ”in your prayer closet” and kept it between yourself and God. Well it wasn’t long before the first monkey-wrench came flying into the works! It came in the form of my being confronted and challenged by an elder, who presumed to speak for all of the leadership and demand that I give him the names of who was on the intercessory team, and that the elders also know what we were praying about. My guard went up right away. This had “satanic interference” written all over it. As it turns out, it was the same guy I mentioned earlier (the “imposter”). I did not agree, but since he was in leadership, and made an issue of it, I capitulated, against my own better judgment. It led to exactly the problems I’d hoped to avoid by keeping everyone anonymous. The other leaders couldn’t understand why the change, so I knew then, he’d misrepresented his demand as having come from the whole of leadership. (I later learned this was not the first time he’d spoken out of turn, nor stirred up trouble with a female in the church. It was a power thing). He epitomized the fairly new believer placed in the role of elder prematurely in His Spiritual walk, who grew arrogant and misused the authority of the position. (See I Timothy 3:6) This threatened to drive a wedge between me and the leadership.
As you can imagine, we dealt with serious and sensitive information. And something got back to me that only someone on intercessory team should have known about. Only, it came via someone NOT on the team. That shattered the trust factor within the team, but I’m gettin ahead of myself. That actually hapened near the end of our time there, and was used of God for good in the final analysis. There were a number of “situations” that came to light and sort of “broke open” during this period of prayer-cover. It was a painful time for the body.
To be honest with you, I still have some unanswered questions about what I experienced during those 11 months or so. But it’s not unusual for God to take me through something and still be explaining it to me long beyond the other side of it. Definitely it was spiritual warfare. I got to know 5 of these ladies pretty well; they were sincere, committed to prayer, real “prayer warriors”, as many would call them. Some were more rooted in the Word than others. The more rooted they were, the quieter they were, I noticed. There was one of them, who I had some concerns about, but I still knew God sent her. I prayed one-on-one with 5 out of the 7 at some point during the year, and two of them frequently. I trusted them. One of them I had known for decades, she was and still is, like family to me, as are all the body of that church. One came from a “holiness” background, and practiced what she called a “prayer language”. I’ve been around that in churches before, and pretty much accepted it, even experimented with it myself, but I have since searched that out in scripture and thus far I don’t see it supported there, except by abandoning context, so I don’t practice it. (As for “tongues” and interpretations, that’s a different thing and I’ve posted on it previously).
Being the head of this team, I found myself privy to a whole bunch of “inside information”. There I was again, facing the underbelly. Not only that, but since I was the only one that the congregation knew was on the team, I got calls and requests, and people confided in me from every direction. Not only that, but God had me in this unique position that only He could have orchestrated, wherein if a problem existed in a marriage in the church, I was hearing from both sides, and if a problem existed between two individuals or parties, I was hearing from both sides on that, as well. I’m pretty sure not even the pastor or elders knew some of what I knew. Here I was, a relative outsider compared to the long history of most of the others, without some of the biases and baggage, and God sort of raised me to a place I could see a “big picture” version of things.
Now, I’m a nurse by trade, and we nurses are fixers. It was hard to pray, and not be tempted to try to play reconciler or mediator. Having been the victim of painful church gossip, I was ultra-careful to guard my tongue, and it was a stressful walk on eggshells for a long period.
I prayed, and prayed some more. I prayed for the church body (local and corporate), for our country, for the individuals, for myself, and continued to maintain a schedule of regular fasting days, just to maintain “cover” in this spiritual warfare. There also came to light a history of an incident wherein one of the young adults, had experienced an encounter with a demonic entity in that building when she was about 13. I got bits and pieces of this account from 4 different first-hand sources, including the “girl” who by that time, was 21, her mother (on separate occasion) and the church secretary who was one of the intercessors. The young girl and a few other kids had been upstairs, when adults downstairs heard screams. When one adult got up there and asked what was wrong, the kids told her they had seen this scary man who had appeared and talked to them. The young girl (now 21) told me she had asked “it” “what’s your name” and it gave her a name, which she still remembered and which she told me. I will not name it, but I went home and did a search , and found several instances of the name, always a demonic being, either on fan-fiction pages, dark comic-type things, or sites that had mystic and occult themes. In Wikipedia, I found the name belonging to an obscure demigod in mythological lore.
I later learned that 2 others in the intercessory team had been there years ago one day when another lady had spent several hours in the chapel upstairs, praying with a lady, “casting out a demon”. This ”session” went on for several hours, apparently. The two ladies both said they were not real comfortable about being in on it at the time, but the lady sort of didn’t give them much choice. This happened before the kids saw the “entity”. To top that off, the praise leader told us that when he came in early on practice nights to turn on all the lights, it was not uncommon for him to “see a dark figure running from the stage as the lights came on. He said at first he thought someone was in the building but when he searched, no one was there and that after a while he just got used to it. Several of this church were exiles from previous church splits where the leaders had subscribed to Word-Faith and “New Apostolic” leanings. Unlike a lot of people these days, I don’t believe in going around rebuking Satan. Jesus when he walked this Earth as a human, and the Apostles never engaged Satan directly. Jesus just quoted the Word, and the Archangel Michal said ”The Lord rebuke thee” (Jude 1:9). Some of the apostles when they addressed demons, had the demons say, “Jesus I know, and Paul, but who are you?”. In my opinion you gotta be a fool to tussle with the second most intelligent and powerful being in the Universe, behind God Himself. There are a lot of places I will go, but I’m not going there! The scripture gives us power to trample on snakes and scorpions, but not Dragons!
Well, I could go on and on about the bizarre stuff that was unearthed, but confidentiality prevents me from giving any more detail than that on the off-chance of somehow divulging things that are private, potentially harmful to someone’s reputation and/or just better left unsaid.
Because all this was so heavy, and dark, I didn’t dare let down my guard in prayer. It was constant. (Pray without ceasing). I saw and heard things first hand, that made me know there were some spiritual forces at play that were definitely not the heavenly kind, and practices that, while they may or may not all have been harmful, simply had no basis in the Word. I believe that God called the intercessory team together for a prayer cover that would see that church through some treacherous spiritual “minefields” and a major transition that took place during that time. After being at this for many months, pressing through resistance, diffusing conflicts, and knowing way more than I ever wanted to about duplicity and contradiction in the lives of some professing Christians, I had begun to ask the Lord to release me from the role I was in, but it was a few more weeks before I felt Him lift the burden of it off of me. We really could not remain there under circumstances. I frankly knew too much about too many people there and that was emotionally too much for me. I did not share 99 percent of these things even with my husband while it was going on.
Even before God had released us from the role He had us to play there, I was laying in bed one night and was awoken by the Lord with a sense of urgency and the overshadowing presence of the Holy Spirit that was so obvious that I was just overwhelmed by it. With a real sense of “the fear of the Lord” I dropped prostrate onto the floor by my bed and began to pray. I had a clear impression that some major and all-encompassing ”something”was heading our way. It made the hair on the back of my neck prickle, and I intuitively knew I needed to submit to the Lord in whatever was coming and let Him prepare me. I didn’t know then, if it was something involving just our family, or something much broader, but I do know that my concern for this nation, my concern for the corporate church as a whole, and my kid’s future in this world, were weighing extremely heavily on my heart by this point. This up-close-and-personal encounter with the Holy Spirit told me without a doubt it was serious business. Not to over- dramatize, but what comes to mind is that passage in Revelation at the breaking of the last seal, when there was silence in Heaven “the space of a half an hour”. I was literally rendered mute. My husband was of course awakened by my movement, and knew I was praying. (It wasn’t unusual for him to find me on my knees by the bed in the middle of the night during that period) When I got up, he asked what was wrong, and I couldn’t talk. Even when I could speak again, it was not easy to put it into words. Where I had always paid a lot of attention to politics, and news, the Lord placed in me that night, an insatiable hunger to study prophecy, and to follow world news, particularly in the Middle East and Israel, and understand it “through the prophetic lens” of scripture.
Here, 3 years later from that Holy Spirit encounter, I know that preparation (and all our first-hand eye-witnessing of disintegration in the church) was for “such a time as this” and I am equally convinced that the prolonged exacerbation of symptoms lasting several months the first half of this year, was instrumental in God’s plan for me to start this blog during that period of confinement at home. The first thing I did was to post several pages of stuff I had previously written, and it just progressed from there. Through this blog God has introduced me to other people whom He has called to do the same.
I am not a prophet. (Not the foretelling kind, anyway). Some people at that 7th church tried to cast me in that role. There is this hue and cry today, people wanting signs and wonders. They want to hear some “anointed one” make pronouncements of “prophetic significance” over them, and “give them a word from the Lord”. What I knew, and shared, was straight out of scripture, (that is THE Word from the Lord) but I guess they were not familiar enough with it to recognize it as such. I had applied myself to prayerful study and seeking the Lord over the situation, and He gave me insight and answers. Mostly I was just sharing God’s Biblical Principles. But because they had been exposed to so much “New Apostolic Reformation” and “word-faith” teachings, it was like that was their only paradigm. It didn’t compute. I tried to explain the difference, and encourage them to go to the Word themselves. (By them, I mean the intercessors, but in some cases the pastor, and the elders seemed unfamilir with basic scriptural principles, in resolving conflict, for one example).
To this day I believe that what happened there was God eventually got through to some, he removed others from that church, (including our family because His job for us there was done), and yes there were some who dug their heels in and deflected all reproof. God also exposed my husband and me to what we experienced so that we would recognize subtle error for what it was (the little bit of leaven that has leavened the whole lump). After that there was a brief period without a church home, and that is when God introduced us to Pastor Mike Hoggard and Bethel Church’s online ministry. By that exposure, we learned what to look for when we searched a church’s website and doctrinal statements, and we learned a lot about the role the abundance of Bible “translations” was playing in the confusion. God put Jeremiah 6:16 in front of our faces and in our ears again and again like a neon sign. And that settled it for us. I share all of this because I think there are a lot of people out there who find themselves in similar situations when it comes to trying to find a stable church that is grounded in the Word. They’re growing pretty darn scarce and people feel torn between staying in a church where they recognize something isn’t right, but can’t put their finger on it, or they are getting tired of searching, church-hopping, and losing hope of finding a solid grounded church.
With new understanding, God led us to a Dispensational, Pre-Millennial, Independent Fundamental Baptist church that sticks to the old paths, and has stayed with the King James Bible. I’ve covered the King James ”debate” elsewhere, but in short, I don’t consider myself “King James only” but rather, “King James preferred”. The issue in my opinion being that some versions of the Bible out there that started out okay, have grown more removed from accuracy with each succeeding “edition”, while some “paraphrases” take so much liberty as to omit whole portions and change meanings altogether, and since I have neither the time nor inclination to personally vet the nearly innumerable versions and perversions of the Bible, I stick with my old King James, and it’s the only one I recommend if I’m asked. There are much more scholarly reasons, though, which I have heard and personally find credible, but since I am far from an expert, I will leave that to people much more knowledgeable than myself, to argue or defend.
As for the instances of “premonition” that I experience from time to time, this is what I came to conclude: I believe that God initially created us with much more “ability” than we have now. Corruption equals loss. With original sin, mankind fell subject to decay. We didn’t evolve, but frankly in probably more ways than we know, we have “de-volved”. I think even at the flood, things changed in earth’s environment that may have altered some of our functional abilities and the way we interact with the environment. That’s just speculation on my part, but I think we all probably retain vestiges of those earlier abilities. Some of that “horse-sense” and “instinct” that remains intact and functional in the animal kindom. I also think that some people have– not ESP–but a hyper-sense of awareness, and are ultra-sensitive in ways that cause them to pick up on and take note of details others miss. Sometimes it is just a nudge from God because we are not engaged, and paying attention. And lastly, I believe that at times God does alert us to something that is about to happen, but it is not for the purpose of making us a spokesperson or messenger of God. I think it is often because He plans to use us in a specific way, in a circumstance He knows is going to arise, and because He has a role for us to play. The “heads up” gets us ready, so that then when the thing happens, we are standing by with knowledge or experience that some person is going to need in order to avoid an error, or an accident, or harm; with comfort for someone hurting, because we know what it is like to hurt; or with encouragement because God knows that person can achieve or survive or overcome, and wants them to believe it too. That would also explain why the “knowing” thought occurs just moments before the event.
You might ask why, then, He would alert me my Mom was coming in the car, or that a man was in the woman’s restroom. The answer: Training! So I would learn to recognize and trust the prompting and the “knowing” when the crucial thing happens later, and respond accordingly. God does not pour vast revelation upon people today. His Word is written and complete. But He is the head, and we are the body, so it seems only natural for Him to send a “signal” to alert the hand about what He is getting ready to have the hand do.
Psychic stuff, divining, consulting “familiar spirits” are forbidden in the Bible, and so-called personal “words of knowledge” from the Lord via a third-party, are not necessary. God can speak directly to whom He wills to speak and doesn’t need you or me as a go-between. But where do you think Satan gets his material? He isn’t capable of anything original. Everything he does is an evil counterfeit of something real and good. There is a “speaking in tongues” out there that is demonic. If there is, in this present dispensation a version of it which is ”of God”, I can only say, I have not witnessed it, He didn’t give it to me, and the scripture does indeed say “tongues will cease” and prophecies “will fail” (I Corinthians 13:8). However, this close to the Tribulation, and Daniels seventieth week (the return to God’s dealings with Israel) if it is going to happen again, it will be in relation to, and preparation for that. It’s not for me to worry about, but I will warn people the counterfeit version of it is rampant in the church today and people seeking signs and wonders are falling prey, and getting drawn into demonic manifestations and worse. That is probably what invited the demonic manifestations in Church I believe ther#7 and part of the purpose for the intercessory team and all that prayer was for routing it out, not by confrontation and rebuke: Not by might, nor by power, but by MY Spirit, saith the Lord”.
I was never more relieved to be released from a God-given assignment, even though I knew there were good and sincere people whom I loved that were still mixed up in it. I trust the Lord to lead them out in His time, as long as they remain sincere in seeking Him, He will lead them to truth and understanding.
When I read Ezekiel 1 the other day and started writing about all of this, I continued over to chapter 3, and saw that I had bracketed verse 21 and written a date in the outer margin that was about the time when we left that troubled last church. It says “Nevertheless, if thou warn the righteous that the righteous man sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul. Backing up, verse 20 talks about “when a righteous man turns from his righteousness, and commits iniquity, I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die because thou has not given him warning”. The date in the margin was 2/7//11. Incidentally 2 is a number associated in the Scriptures with division and unity. 7 is the number of completion. And 11 is a number associated with judgment. This is not numerology. I am referring to documented patterns in the King James Bible. The date God directed my attention to this seemed to confirm it had to do with that experience. There was a division in that church. There was a sincere love of the Lord, and desire to be in His will, yet it was contaminated by the presence of some prideful issues, error mixed in with truth, and history of influences that were less than holy. God was trying to call them back. Verse 22 begins telling of a time when the hand of the Lord was upon Ezekiel because He had a warning for Ezekiel to deliver, and him falling on his face before the Lord. Then verse 24 says “Then the spirit entered into me, and set me upon my feet, and spake with me, and said unto me, Go, shut thyself within thy house. And verse 26b is underlined: ”and I will make thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth and thou shalt be dumb and shall not be to them a reprover, for they are a rebellious house. (In other words, though God sent Ezekiel as a reprover, the would not receive the warning) 27: But when I speak with thee, I will open thy mouth, and thou shalt say to them, Thus saith the Lord, He that heareth, let Him hear; and he that forebeareth, let him forebear, for they are a rebellious house” God directed me to this passage right after we had left. I believe God led me to this passage as a sort of “de-briefing” after that experience, to help me see in hindsight, what He didn’t deem needful for me to fully understand while I was in the thick of it. There were issues in that church that needed to be addressed, there were warnings that needed to be given, and even some very serious and grave matters I would not dare mention here, which God in His grace, was bringing out of darkness and into the light so that truth could set some people free of bondage.
Even in Judgment, God remembers mercy!
The number in scripture associated with “A new beginning” is 8. The church with the old paths, Church #8, has been a new beginning for us!