This book was written in 2004, and the two addendums were written in 2010 and 2011. Although this book has a little age on it, it is as relevant today as it was the moment it was written. Yahweh’s presence in the daily lives of His children has not altered, nor has it diminished.
“And it shall come to pass in the last days,” says God, “That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy. I will show wonders in heaven above and signs in the earth beneath…”
I strongly encourage you to read the words printed here, and take them to heart. The hour is late.
I first encountered Joseph Herrin in the fall of 2000. I had read something that he had written that someone had posted on a prophecy oriented website. The writing witnessed to my spirit so I looked up the Heart4God website (http://www.heart4god.ws). There I encountered the article entitled “The Lion, the Bear and Goliath.” We began correspondence concerning faith in the Lord’s provision, the difficulty this places on our families, etc.. I was well into this walk, but did not understand it at the time. Joseph wrote back to me with some greater details of his trials. I remember reading it out loud to my wife. One minute we were weeping, the next we were laughing as we recognized ourselves in some of the Lord’s dealings with Joseph and his family.
I called Joseph on the telephone. The fact that he had just gone through some of what I was entering into, and was still walking ahead of me in it, was an enormous encouragement. Afterward my wife said, “How do we know they are not wackos?” I replied, “They ARE wackos ….so are we!” Soon thereafter I put my 20 year old business (which was every bit as much a son to me as Isaac was to Abraham, for I had no other children) on the altar, and released it to God to send fire down to consume it if He desired. He did so, but in a very merciful way, and He consumed my oxen with the wood from my plough.
I had read the accounts of George Muller at that time and had been blessed by a mature Christian mentor, who had and was leading a life of faith, but I still had trouble identifying with them. As many of you know, the enemy is always trying to cast doubt that this life of faith is all our vain imagination. “Who are you that God should speak to you… provide for you… care for you?” So I found Joseph’s testimony to be enormously helpful, as I know it will be to many of you who will read it.
I think perhaps the greatest value of Joseph’s testimony is that it is ongoing, with fear and trembling. All who enter into this life do so with fear and trembling, Moses included. Yet, when I read many of the books written about the saints, the authors tend to portray them as fearless and heroic, different than ourselves. I think this reveals more of the perspective of the biographer than the saint. Only the saint knows the inner struggle, and few have written of it.
One reason so little has been written of the inner struggle of those who embark upon a life of faith, is that after a time the remembrance of the struggle diminishes to the point it does not seem so frightening. The child has been born and the labor of childbirth is forgotten because of the joy for the fruit that is seen from it. For this reason, I find Joseph’s testimony to be of great value. It is written in real time. The experiences are fresh. They are vivid, and they describe the experiences many others of us are also living in one form or another.
I should not leave this without saying “Do not be put off by some of Joseph’s teaching which you may not agree with.” I do not agree with all of Joseph’s teaching. In some of it I think he may be in error.Others, I think he might be right, but I don’t know. Much of it I do agree with, but all of these things are matters which have been disputed for centuries. There is much that I used to accept as truth that I have since learned was false. So I have learned to give these questionable matters up to the Lord. What is not disputable is that Joseph and his family love the Lord and are struggling to follow His lead into their inheritance. These other matters I consider secondary, and I trust that our Father, Who alone is our Teacher, will correct our understanding in His time.
Finally, I offer a word of caution that I have copied from the editor’s preface to “The Inner Life” by Francois Fenelon. I think it is highly appropriate to this work: And now, beloved reader, one word in conclusion, from the love of God to you. God has led you, in his Providence, to open this book that He may do you good. If through His infinite mercy you have had a personal experience of the matters herein written, your heart will be filled with thanksgiving and praise as you read. What hath God wrought! If not, you will find many things strange, and it would not be surprising if you should be ready to pronounce some untrue. But ah! beware of being wise in your own conceit! The Spirit of God that searcheth the deep things of God, alone can decide.
Do not distrust the reports of these spies whom God has sent before you into the promised land. It is a land flowing with milk and honey; true, the children of Anak are there, in whose sight we are but as grasshoppers, but they are bread for us. The Lord God, He it is that shall fight for us, and He will surely bring us into that exceeding good land. The natural man receiveth not the things of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. If, then, you have not experienced the things that follow, think it not strange that they should seem foolish and false; in God’s own time they shall be perceived, if you follow on to know. If you will be advised by one who knows nothing, and who is least in the household of faith, you will deny nothing–reject nothing–despise nothing, lest haply you be found fighting against God: you will receive nothing but what is accompanied by the Amen of the Spirit of God in your heart; all else shall be as the idle wind.
Amen to that.
A Christian brother has suggested that the many testimonies of God’s miraculous intervention in my life, and that of my family, are perhaps one of the most valuable things I have shared, or could share, with the saints. Many others have written to relate to me how very encouraged they were in reading about some miracle of provision, or healing God has done on our behalf, for there seem to be few contemporary examples of those who have cast themselves wholly over into the care of God that they might consequently see Him do things which have no natural explanation.
As God is calling more and more saints into a walk of faith in various areas of their lives, such testimonies of God’s faithfulness have great value in encouraging others along their own pilgrim way. Our own journey is far from over. In truth, I am confident that we are at the very beginning of those mighty and miraculous things we will see God do. Yet already we have such a legacy of His faithfulness to us that I could fill a book with these accounts. This is exactly what I intend to do here.
This is not an account of our own faithfulness, nor is it intended to lift me, or my family up in the eyes of others. On the contrary, I desire to show how God has chosen the weakest, most fearful and despised of His children, and by His great grace and unceasing love He has led us with the gentleness of a Father who has the deepest of compassion for His children who are all beset with many weaknesses and infirmities. This writer intends to magnify Yahweh God who alone is the source of faithfulness, as the prophet Isaiah wrote:
I shall make mention of the lovingkindness of Yahweh, the praises of Yahweh, according to all that Yahweh has granted us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which He has granted them according to His compassion and according to the abundance of His lovingkindness… So He became their Savior. In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the angel of His presence saved them; In His love and in His mercy He redeemed them, and He lifted them and carried them all the days of old.
The Psalmist also testified:
I will sing of the mercies of Yahweh forever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.
This is the happy intent of this author, to make known to all generations that God is faithful, and that even in this late hour He shows forth His mercy and His love in a myriad of ways to those who will put their trust in Him. May your faith be strengthened as you read, and may your hope in the God of all comfort be renewed by these testimonies.
Beginnings of Faith
I do not think it is possible to begin a walk of faith until we come into a relationship with the Lord that to us is personal and intimate. It is one thing to confess Christ and believe the things the Scriptures testify of Him, but it is quite another thing to enjoy a measure of fellowship with Him. I had my first experiences in Christianity as a child growing up in Portland, Oregon. My parents both became Christians when I was a small child, and we began attending church where the man pastored who had witnessed to them of Christ.
The church I grew up in was a member of the Conservative Baptist denomination. Its teachings were considered fundamental and evangelical, and I learned many things about God and about His Christ while attending Sunday School, children’s church and the other meetings held there. At the age of ten I was baptized, having confessed faith in Jesus Christ as my Savior.
I have never doubted my conversion at this early age, and although I certainly had no breadth of understanding of Christ, I did understand and believe in certain specific things. I knew I was a sinner, and I knew that my sins had caused a separation between myself and God. I also understood that Christ was the Son of God, that He had led a sinless life and had died to pay the penalty of my sin. I believed that by trusting in His work of redemption that I could be saved and go to heaven one day when I died.
This is about the extent of what I understood at the age of ten, and from that time forward I learned other facts about Christ, about the Old Testament patriarchs, the children of Israel, God’s law, and the lives of the disciples. What I did not learn about was a walk of intimacy with the Lord where He would speak to me personally and where I could commune with Him. I did not understand life in the Spirit at this time, but instead I was raised to try to walk out in my own power a modified Christian version of the Old Testament Law. This I found I could not do, and in my many defeats I was met with tremendous feelings of guilt and failure.
When I was fifteen my family moved to the coast of Georgia, and a couple years later we settled in Central Georgia. In my senior year in High School we began attending a Southern Baptist church of about 150 members. The pastor’s name was Mac Goddard, and it was under his preaching that I first began hearing a message of salvation of faith by grace, rather than by works. Of course, I understood all along that Christ had died and risen again that I might be saved, and that it was my faith in His finished work that provided my initial salvation. But I had picked up the concept through the teachings I had been raised in that I had to do something to remain saved. I was led to think that I had to keep the church’s version of the Law, and that failure to do so could result in my being sent to hell for eternity.
Mac Goddard, through his consistent teaching of a message of grace, refuted these ideas and for the first time I was able to come to a place of rest where I did not worry about whether I was at that moment a child of God, or not. The message that God chose me, and that He did so on the basis of His own mercy, not on works which I had done, allowed me to attain to a measure of rest in my relationship with God that set the stage for future fellowship with Him.
It took me considerable time to make the transition from a Law mentality to a grace mentality, for a message of keeping the Law had been deeply ingrained in my mind, and many of the things I did as a young Christian I did because I had been taught that it was the Christian thing to do. I prayed because Christians were supposed to pray. I read the Bible because I was supposed to do so. I served in the church and supported its programs because I had been raised to believe that a true believer should do these things. In all of this I had little comprehension of what it meant to be Spirit led. I was merely being led by the external set of rules that had been delivered to me, which all good saints had to abide by.
I do not mean to indicate that all of my Christian service was a drudgery to me, for I was very zealous to do things for God and for the church. I was at church every time the doors were opened, and no one had to prod me to be there. I was active in some type of service almost all the time, even being made Sunday School superintendent of a church I was attending when I was only in my mid twenties. Because of my zeal I was advancing beyond many of my contemporaries, yet there were glaring deficiencies in my life.
Probably the greatest deficiency in my life was in my prayers. I hated prayer time. I prayed because I knew Christians were supposed to pray. I would intend to pray for an hour, and I was barely able to endure fifteen minutes. I would dispassionately go through my prayer list, and it would be exhausted, and so would I, after only five or ten minutes. I have often recounted to others that my prayer times were as dry as sawdust and that I had no sense of my words rising above the ceiling of whatever room I was in.
I cannot remember the exact time, but I believe I was about 23 years old, when I had an encounter that was to change my life. At the Southern Baptist church I was attending there was an elder by the name of Bill Martin. Bill is about twenty years my senior. It was at Bill’s house that the young people of the church would congregate, for he and his wife June had a sincere love for others and they were very hospitable. Bill, in particular, really enjoyed engaging young men and women in conversations about spiritual matters, and provoking them to think about things that they may not have considered before.
Bill was not your typical church elder, being considered by the more traditional members of the church to be a bit of a wild man. Yet there was no doubting that he was serious about his relationship with God and that he was passionate about encouraging others to greater depths of spirituality. I found myself hanging out at his house a lot, and when I was around 23 years of age I even lived with he and his wife and daughter for a month.
One day Bill and I went for a walk around a peach orchard that was located behind his house, and as we walked Bill shared some things with me that I really needed to hear. Bill began telling me about his prayer life, and I was both greatly challenged and encouraged by what I heard. I had been accustomed to formal, spiritual sounding prayers all my life, so I was amazed by what Bill shared with me.
Bill told me that he would pray to God often as he took walks, or during various times of day, and he began to relate to me the substance of his prayers. He said there was no sense in attempting to sound spiritual in God’s presence, nor to present ourselves to God as better, or more noble, than we actually were, for God already knew what was in our hearts. He saw every aspect of our lives, and was able to judge the thoughts and intentions of our hearts.
Bill went on to share with me how he would talk to God. He would tell God things like, “Lord you know when I saw that good looking woman today that I had lustful thoughts in my mind, and I don’t want to be a lustful man, so I ask You to forgive me and to deliver me from these thoughts.” Or he might say, “God you know that man at work provoked me today and I felt like punching him in the nose. I wanted to really hurt him Lord, but I know these thoughts are fleshly and not from You. I ask you to forgive me and deliver me.”
The frankness with which this elder brother in the Lord prayed, the lack of posturing and absence of pretense, was both refreshing and revolutionary to me. I knew his method of praying was right, for we cannot hide anything from God, nor can we deceive Him. He knows our thoughts from afar, and as I considered what I was hearing a thought began to grow in my mind. I had been attempting to hide from God the fact that I hated my times of prayer. I had never thought of confessing the fact to Him that I found prayer to be dry and lifeless, but as I considered it I understood that He already knew these things.
Some time later when I was by myself I prayed to God and I told Him very frankly how I felt concerning prayer. I confessed that I was only praying because I felt it was required of me, but that I found my times of prayer to be one of the least enjoyable events in my life, that I had no confidence my prayers were being heard, and that I did not want my times of prayer with the Father to remain this way. I asked God to change my heart and to place within me a desire to pray.
I cannot say that I had any great expectation that God would answer my prayer, for up until this time I had very little experience of praying with expectancy in my heart. I think perhaps that God did not require a great faith to attend my request at this time, for I was yet a babe in the area of faith, and all I knew to do was simply to make my request known and to leave the results in God’s hands.
God did answer my prayer, and He did so beyond my greatest expectations. It was not long after this that I began to find a hunger for prayer arising within me. I was given a key to the church building, which was located in a quiet spot out in the country, and I would go out on Friday or Saturday evenings when the church was empty and I would walk around the sanctuary and pray. I found God placing people upon my heart, attended by a yearning to intercede for them, and I found a great emotion welling up within me as I did so. No longer did I struggle to utter a sentence or two on behalf of a person, but an intense groaning would come forth at times and I often would weep and have tears streaming down my face as I prayed.
I suppose this type of praying went on for about ten years, and it became the highpoint of my week as I looked forward to my time alone with the Lord where I could pour my heart out before Him. Most of the other men I knew from work or church were spending their free time hunting, or fishing, or going out on the town, or pursuing some hobby. Yet I had no desire for these things. I wanted only to get alone with the Lord and enjoy His presence. Oftentimes I would look at my watch thinking I had been at the church about fifteen minutes, only to find that several hours had gone by.
How I delighted in these times. I would often walk among the rows of chairs and I would anoint each one and pray for the people whom I knew sat in the chairs week after week. Sometimes I would be filled with some message from God for the people and I would go to the front of the sanctuary where the pulpit was and I would preach to the empty chairs. Oftentimes the Spirit would fill my heart with a longing for a people to be raised up who would be a praise unto Him, and I would cry out fervently, often with shouting, that this people would come forth, as I prayed for the specific characteristics that the Spirit laid upon my heart for this people. At times I would simply sing words of praise and worship unto God.
How did my prayers change from a dry, lifeless time to something that became the greatest joy and longing of my heart? It was due to nothing I did. It cannot be attributed to my taking a course on effectual praying, or to my studying the prayers of Scripture, or any other such thing. It can only be attributed to a sovereign work of God as He answered the petition I had brought before Him, even when I had little expectation of an answer.
I have often heard of God taking away from a person some destructive appetite that they had long been enslaved to. I have heard testimonies given where a person, upon being born again, would have no more taste for alcohol, or drugs, or some other thing that had formerly enslaved them. It is little thought of, but God is sovereign even over our desires, and He is able to change them at will. Thus we read of God hardening some men’s hearts so that they will not repent, and others He brings to repentance. The apostle Paul gives us an interesting insight into this matter.
[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.
This was really the beginning of faith in my life, for I had asked God to change my heart regarding prayer, and I saw Him do a work that I could not account for in any natural sense. I often looked back and marveled at what God had done, for as miserable as my times of prayer were formerly, He made them all the more a delight. What had seemed a barren wilderness, He transformed into a fruitful garden.
Part of the transformation that God wrought at this time was the birthing of communion and intimacy with Him. I had a real sense that God was with me, attending to my words, and searching my heart during my times of prayer. I no longer felt that my prayers were stopping at the ceiling, but I envisioned God with bended ear leaning over to hear what I was speaking to Him. I also began to hear things from Him in return. He would place some burden upon my heart and teach me how to pray for people. I began to experience prayer as a real two-way communication between myself and God.
This was a critical development because, in order for me to enter into the walk of faith that God would bring me into, I had to be able to discern His voice. A walk of faith is not a walk based upon principle, or upon systematic theology, or upon proper Scriptural exegesis. It is a walk of obedience where we hear God’s voice and we obey.
Romans 10:17So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. Isaiah 30:21Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left.
Hearing always precedes obedience. The verse above from Romans is literally rendered “So faith is out of hearing….” Faith arises out of hearing. If there is no hearing, there is no foundation for faith. Therefore, any man, woman, or child who would walk by faith must first have their ears attuned to the voice of God’s Spirit. What a wonderful gift is the ability to hear God’s voice to those who are willing to obey. Yet it is a curse to those who are not willing, but who are instead filled with disobedience and unbelief.
If you would also walk by faith, then you too must discern God’s voice. If you have not been able to discern it, if your times of prayer and communication with God have also been dry and lifeless as my own once were, then why not confess it to God. He already knows anyway.
Perhaps you have struggled to transform this area of your life yourself, but to no avail. Simply cast all over into God’s hands and ask Him to do that which you have failed to accomplish. Oftentimes we have not, because we have not asked. Ask that your joy may be made full.