Joseph Herrin (08-08-2011)
Walking in the Fear of God
II Corinthians 7:1
Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
The Father has been speaking many things in the past couple months, and I have anticipated the opportunity to declare them to the body of Christ. I want to share some experiences that both Randy Simmons and I have had that have been revelatory.
Randy and I both spent a number of years at the Macon Rescue Mission. Our time there overlapped for the most part, and we came to know many of the same men. One man we both are familiar with is Sam. I would guess that Sam is in his 50s. He is a tall, lanky individual, who has always struck me as being an unpolished country boy. Sam worked for me when I was managing the Mission’s thrift store. I used him to repair appliances and small engines, as well as to clean up donated items. He had some talent and initiative in these areas, and I sought to use men according to their abilities.
Sam was a good natured man, but he seemed to be perpetually chained to drinking and living on the streets. He was put out of the Mission on numerous occasions for drinking, but after a time the manager’s would let him back in. He was in and out most of the three years I was there.
I left the Mission at the Father’s direction in February of 2008. Shortly before I left, I bumped into Sam. He was no longer in the Mission, having been put out again. I needed some work done on my van at the time and asked him if he would consider doing it, and I would pay him. Sam agreed. Sam had formerly done some good work, but I came to notice that his workmanship was flagging. He replaced a coupling going to the van’s transmission, and left a number of bolts out. This was discovered when I took it in to have the oil changed. Performing a tune-up, he crossed some of the spark plug wires resulting in the van backfiring badly.
The last day I asked him to work on my van I knew I would be gone until late. Sam told me the work would not take too long, so I paid him before I left, and asked him to leave the keys at the Mission when he was finished. I returned that evening. Sam had never even started on the work. He also had walked off with my keys, and no one knew where he was. Fortunately, I kept a spare key and was able to access my van and drive it. I was not angry, but I was disappointed for Sam’s sake.
I didn’t see Sam for a long time after that, but Randy would run into him occasionally on the streets of Macon. Sam expressed shame at what he had done in taking the money I gave him, and going and getting drunk. Randy assured Sam that I was not offended with him, but that I desired his welfare.
Earlier this year Randy saw Sam on the streets, and had a number of conversations with him. Sam said that things were getting hard. He had been run out of the vacant house he used to sleep in. A company that used to give him odd jobs, and let him hang out, said they didn’t want him around anymore. Randy told Sam that God was seeking to bring Sam to make some changes in his life. It was time to get off the streets and begin walking with the Lord. Sam listened politely, but he was not ready to put forth the effort to change. Randy told Sam that things would get worse for him if he resisted what God was doing.
The next time Randy saw Sam, Sam had been beaten up. He looked rough. His face was swollen and bruised. Things were getting worse indeed. Much worse. It wasn’t much longer and Sam was ready to cooperate with God and make changes to his life. Randy’s grandfather invited Sam to come and stay with he and Randy at his home. God had revealed this to be His will in an unusual way. A stray dog had come up in Randy’s grandfather’s yard. He had a homemade tag around his neck that read, “I am Sam.” The dog took up immediately at the home.
After just a couple days at Randy’s grandfather’s home, Sam had sensed the leading of God to return to a town in North Georgia from which he had come. He was apprehensive about returning, but Randy encouraged him. Randy took Sam around town to see if one of the ministries there would supply him with a bus ticket to get home. The Mission agreed to do so without hesitation. Sam has kept in contact with Randy, and he is doing well. He has been working construction jobs in the area, and has been attending church and praying.
More recently Randy has been running into other men on the streets, some of which he has known from the Mission, and some from the streets. Repeatedly, it has been evident that God is moving in these men’s lives, putting them in circumstances and situations designed to make their sinful lives difficult, to prod them to seek change. Randy has spoken to a number of men about the Lord. Most have not been willing to change, and Randy has told them things will soon get worse if they don’t.
Randy had spoken with one man named Skip, whom we both knew from the Mission. Skip gets a monthly check from the government. He purchases liquor and then disappears down by the river for days with some of his buddies. Randy was riding his bike near the river one day recently and saw Skip coming up from the woods. Skip collapsed to the ground right in front of him. Skip told Randy that he didn’t think he was going to make it this time, that he was going to die. He asked Randy to call an ambulance for him. Randy did so, and Skip was put in the ICU. Due to alcohol induced circulation problems, Skip came very near to losing his legs, and still finds some difficulty in getting around. He is not yet at the end of his stubborn ways, but he is much more humble and contrite. He is listening and considering more carefully the things Randy speaks to him about the Lord.
Randy spoke to another man who goes around in an electric wheelchair, often too drunk to stand up. Randy told him that he couldn’t continue on like that. The man told Randy that if he needed someone to counsel him he would ask. A couple days later the man was drunk, and someone tried to go through his pants pockets to steal his money. They ended up dumping him on the ground where he broke his hip.
Another man got a monthly check from the government. Randy had been speaking with him. This man also was stubbornly resisting the wooing of the Holy Spirit. Randy shared with him on a number of occasions. The man got a hotel room, but then let a woman from the streets move in with him. Randy told him he should not do so. The next time Randy saw the man he reported that the woman had stolen $700 dollars from him. He could not pay for the hotel room, and had nowhere to go. He would not get another check until the next month.
While I was in jail, my cell mate was a young black man. I will call him D. D is 22 years old. He had previously spent 13 months in jail facing a murder charge, but the D.A. was unable to prove the case. They had not dropped the charges, but were no longer pursuing the case. After getting released, D got into more trouble. He was trafficking in drugs and also had received stolen merchandise. He had been in the jail about 4 months when I arrived. He was my cell mate the entire time I was there.
D showed honor to me as an older man and as a minister. Whenever his friends would stop by the cell he would ask them to not curse because I was a minister. Yet D had no real interest in spiritual things. I spoke to him once or twice soon after I arrived, but it was quickly evident that he was not interested. I gave him some newsletters that contained the book “Overcoming Addiction by the Spirit of Christ,” but after a week he had only read a few pages. I asked for them back so I could share with others who had expressed interest in reading them.
D wanted me to pray with him every night before we went to sleep. He wanted me to pray that he would get out soon, and that he would be shown leniency in his sentence. D had four children from a couple different women, none of whom he was married to. He missed seeing his children, and wanted to see his family. He had no maturity about him at all, however. He had been raised in a society where mothers and grandmothers pampered the children, and nothing had ever been expected of him. He did not finish school, but played video games, hung out with friends, and partied.
I spoke to D a number of times about honoring God with his life. He had some Christian influence in his life, but he did not want to give up his fun. He spoke as if dealing drugs was not a serious offense. He said that he never robbed anyone, or assaulted anyone. He only sold people drugs at their request, and to him that was not a bad thing to do.
How easy it was for D to gloss over the ruined lives that resulted from his trade. Girls were prostituting themselves to get money for drugs. Children were being aborted due to drug driven immoral conduct. Children would go to bed hungry, or uncared for, because their parents or care-givers had spent their money on drugs. Some of his “clients” were regularly shoplifting items from Walmart, and other stores. They would seek to pay for the drugs in merchandise, but when the drug dealer required cash they would take the items back to the stores and get customer service to refund them money they had never paid. Others were burglarizing automobiles to get money for drugs. D also told me of two of his friends in the drug business, one 19 years old, and another 23 years old, who had both been murdered in the past year. It was far from a victimless crime.
D told me about his desire to get a new lawyer so that he could get a bond and be released. I prayed for D in this regard, and soon afterwards he was able to get a lawyer. I noticed, however, that D’s confidence was in the lawyer, not in God. I continued to tell him that he must make changes in his life if he expected God to show him mercy and favor. I prayed with D, asking God to grant him mercy as he went before the courts the first time with his new lawyer for a motion hearing. God granted him mercy. Two of his charges were thrown out. When D returned he was ecstatic, but he did not honor God. Instead he went all over the jail boasting about how he had told his lawyer what to do and how his lawyer had made fools of the D.A.. The rest of the day he was insufferable to be around. He was loud, and raucous. His conversation was more profane than I had observed it. The prison guards had to shout at him over and over because he was being so loud (and this is in a very loud place) that he was obnoxious to everyone.
The Spirit spoke to me. “You see that leniency does not lead men to repentance. I showed D mercy and he is mocking me with his response.” The rest of the day and the next I thought about things I needed to share with D. I waited for the right time to do so. Tuesday evening we were in the cell when he brought up the topic of his court appearance. I told him plainly that I was disappointed with him, that he had asked God for mercy and then spit in His face. All day he had gone around singing obscene rap songs, hanging out with the most intransigent offenders in the jail. He was not doing anything that gave evidence that he intended to change. I asked him why God would desire to let him out if he was not going to put forth any effort to try to honor Him?
D remained respectful of me, but I could sense his annoyance at my words. He told me that his grandfather had told him similar things, but he told me that he needed to live his own life, and make his own mistakes. He said his grandfather had a saying, “Hard heads lead to sore butts.” I was appalled at his cavalier attitude. He was telling me plainly that he was committed to his stubborn ways, and would not change until situations became so intolerable that he was willing to put forth some effort.
I told D that I could no longer pray for the Lord to show mercy and leniency to him. I told him that my prayer for all men was that their lives might honor God, and since D had no desire to do so, I could not ask for Yahweh’s mercy.
The next day D had another court date. He did not anticipate that there would be anything to it, but he came back in a very dark mood. Gone was all the rowdy, boastful, foolish talk. His lawyer had told him previously that he could get him a bond within a week. A probation officer had told him that day, however, that they would recommend that he be denied bond because he was at risk of re-offending. He also learned that two serious felony charges would be pressed against him in court.
D’s lawyer had told him that Thursday he would get him on the court schedule for a bond hearing, and that he thought there was a very good chance that he would be able to get out at once. Thursday morning came, and D was not on the court schedule. He heard nothing from his lawyer. How quickly a situation can change!
D had been boasting earlier in the week about getting out on Thursday. He had been telling various inmates what things he was going to leave them. He was speaking as if all had already been accomplished. He thought his new lawyer was going to perform all he desired. His confidence in the arm of the flesh was such that he had put away all fear of God. I told D that this was not wise. I counseled him to not count his chickens before they hatched. He looked at me when I said that and told me that his grandmother had told him the same thing just a little while earlier. D had been talking about getting out before I was released. Friday morning the guard opened our cell door. D looked at him with anticipation. The guard then looked at me and said that I was released, and I could go home.
An odd thing happened the evening before my release. I would at times play cards with D. Being locked in a cell together 20 hours a day, I knew it was difficult for him to not have some social interaction, some diversion to spend his time. I taught D how to play Crazy 8s, a card game I had learned as a child. He liked the game, and every few days he would ask me if I wanted to play. We always played until one of us won five games.
The first three times we played, D won five games to four. Five denotes grace. Four denotes humility. It was during this time that I was praying for God to be gracious and merciful to D, and God was indeed doing so. After I spoke to D about his mocking God, and he spurned my counsel, we played cards only one more time. I won that night five games to zero. I received grace, and he received nothing.
Yahweh has been testifying solemnly through many examples that he cannot continue to show mercy, leniency, and grace to a stubborn and rebellious people whose hearts are given over to sin. To do so will not lead them to repentance. We live in an hour when hard heads will incur a loss of grace. Judgment will fall. Stripes will be borne. Yet even in this, many will not repent, but will harden themselves against God.
I anticipate in these days to see God moving quickly to judge those who do not respond to His hand of correction. An intransigent spirit will result in severe judgment.
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.
May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.
Immediately after posting this blog I noted the news headline about the stock markets dropping today. Note the precise percentage of change to the Dow Jones Stock Index today. Three fives together denote a fulness of grace. What then does it denote when this figure is negative? It signifies a removal of grace. Such is the hour we live in.
The article also stated:
U.S. stocks have fallen 15% during the past two weeks.
15% is 5+5+5. The grace of God is being removed for Yahweh’s leniency has not led to repentance. The article further reported:
The VIX — Wall Street’s so-called “fear” index — jumped 44% to 45.98, the highest level since early 2009.
44 is 22+22, indicating a double portion of flesh cutting. I wrote about this number just yesterday.
Quotations from: http://money.cnn.com/2011/08/08/markets/markets_newyork/
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