I am about to recount to you an incredible story that is absolutely mind-boggling (to me) and demonstrates quite a few things about God’s character and His love for people, as well as His oversight. There are many things in this testimony, and I don’t know how long (in terms of words) that it will be,* but this testimony, essentially, covers and entire day’s work, in terms of my own life. But don’t worry, I won’t be telling you, in detail, what happened during every single second of that particular day. I will, however, be pulling out some salient events that occurred throughout the day, that are really mind-boggling, and demonstrate the work of a spirit. The question is, which spirit are we talking about here? And the answer, I hope will be, the Holy Spirit. For there are many spirits in the world, and they should be tested. Do not forget to test the spirits. Do not assume that everything that happens, on a supernatural level, is necessary of God. It certainly is not! I am mentioning this on account of error I have seen in the church, and error I have seen in my own life. In some church circles, there is an emphasis on either wholly embracing supernatural works, or wholly rejecting them. I have a new “in-between” state that I think we should all strive for, and that is, discerning which is of God, and which is not.
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” (1 John 4:1-6)
OK. That’s a long way of saying, “Be careful.” I mention this because I have seen an increase in false supernatural signs and works being embraced by Christians. It’s really sad to see this. Let us move on with the testimony. I have many such testimonies. This particular one has never been shared before. I think it’s time to share it. I was in prayer just now, and I really felt the Lord leading me to share it. I’m sorry that it’s so long. It’s going to be hard to explain this in a short writeup. Please bear with me. I think you will find it’s worth the read.
Everything that I am about to share with you occurred on a particular day. The day is really not important. It’s what happened that is important. OK. The mind-boggling stuff starts now.
In a dream, in the morning, I saw danger at my wife’s workplace. At that time, my wife worked at a particular retirement residence that she no longer works at today. In fact, that retirement residence is closed down. I’m not sure if the fact that it is currently closed down plays into this story or not. Perhaps it does, or will, a bit later on, but it’s not my motivation for sharing this testimony today. It will, perhaps, be an interesting “tidbit” to reflect upon, when you hear the testimony.
In the dream, I clearly saw danger at my wife’s workplace. I still remember seeing this “tunnel” thing, and it’s kind of weird how it was presented to me, but essentially what I saw was “real and absolute danger” at my wife’s workplace which could lead to death. Who knows, really, how God shows these things. All I remember is there was a tunnel thingee of sorts, as though someone was (or some people were) riding in that tunnel, and things were NOT SAFE in that tunnel. Things were precarious and very dangerous. Perhaps that tunnel was leading somewhere — to death, for example. I think when people have given testimonies in the past, they have mentioned either tunnels leading to light and life, as well as tunnels leading to death and darkness. OK. Sounds a little gloomy. Let’s get off that track and just say I saw a tunnel. It was “not a good tunnel” and it was a “danger sign” in big glaring lights.
Then, I remember seeing a scene in which I was standing in front of the “executive director” as he was called (and I remember that very clearly from the dream that that was his title), and I was pretty much radically confronting him (like it was pretty intense). I was telling him, something like, “This place is dangerous! If the government came to inspect it, they would close it down in a second!”
Thus, I rebuked the fellow. It was fairly intense. And it was also pretty vivid. I mean, it was vivid.
Does vividness “prove” that a dream is from God? Hum …
I’m going to have to say a big “NO” on this one.
Your vivid dream does not “prove” that it comes from God. I think many people have been deceived by vivid dreams. Satan also knows how to paint a picture.
I know this testimony is not about how Satan can paint a vivid picture, but it is what is on my heart as I type it, and I think, perhaps, this is one good reason why the Lord had me wait so long before recounting this important testimony. We need to talk about deception, and what Satan can or cannot do. Did you know that Satan can paint pictures and give dreams? I most assuredly tell you he can and he does. These pictures can look phenomenal. They can be very impressive. Something like David Bowie music, or Black Sabbath music, or Fleetwood Mac music, which can be very impressive. (OK. You may not think these are impressive, and I’m not trying to make you think they are, but the point remains that this music can come across as impressive, even though all of that is absolutely demonically inspired.) You see, Satan is a great musician and his musical abilities were never revoked by God, for the giftings are irrevocable, and even demons with great gifts still have them, but they corrupt them and use them for bad purposes. I will not get into too much of that here, except to say that demons also have the ability to paint pictures on the backdrop, or screen, of your mind for they are able to put suggestions into it, and can even use dreams, even as God can (see 2 Corinthians 10:4-5). So all I’m trying to say is discern what is being presented to you. And be careful. 1 John 4:1-6 quoted above is correct, but many people will not tell you about this and will get you to merely embrace all your dreams, as though they had to be from God. Not true. Nevertheless, back to our story.
In the dream, I said, “This place is dangerous! If the government came to inspect it, they would close it down in a second!”
Then, I woke up.
It was so vivid, indeed. And that can be a sign that the dream is from God, but the dream does need to be tested, as well.
My wife, who actually worked at that retirement residence, was actually lying down in bed beside me when I had that dream. I cannot remember when she came to bed, because in those days, she regularly worked an overnight shift, as well. So she might have only been in bed less than one hour. I just can’t remember. But what I do remember was her response when I shared with her the dream. She said, “Yes, I rebuked the executive director yesterday and got mad at him, because the place is very dangerous.”
In other words, what the Lord was communicating to me (apparently) is what my wife had already done the night before. For she had strongly rebuked the man. My wife is like that. Get out of her way, or you are going to pay the cost. Anyway, my wife loved the people at this retirement residence, and had their best interests in mind. She knew things were not safe. After all, she worked there all the time. She knew exactly what was going on. She knew about the laziness of some people, how they were not doing their job, and how things were out of order. Thus, she rebuked the executive director.
So when my wife told me about this, I kind of figured, “OK. The Lord showed this to me in a dream. My wife already did this last night. I guess that means I need to pray.” So I prayed.
I thought, that was all I needed to do.
I was actually quite wrong in that assessment. I mean, I must tell you, we humans think with our brain and try to rationalize things out. However, God has, sometimes, a sometimes completely different thought on the matter, and He’s not thinking about what we are thinking about at all.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.” (Isaiah 55:8)
After saying a rather short, weak, and flimsy prayer for the place where my wife worked, and thinking that “all was done” and I could go on my merry way and do my regular work (which involved software design), I simply did just that. I went to work.
The dream was “done” and I could proceed as normal and forget about it. Right?
Later, that would become known to me. But for now, I did go to work. Thus it was that I worked hard, and I always worked hard. Here I was working, and working, and working, hardly making a day’s wages, because I was working in the basement on an extended software project that sometimes my wife scratched her head over, as if to say, “Is that thing ever going to produce anything at all of value?” And, true enough, it took a long time. It was an extended project indeed, and if the truth were told, I think I spent about 12 years working on it (on and off). In some cases, it was not entirely full time, but for the most part, it was. That’s an awfully long time to be working on a software project. I am not here to defend, or not defend, that software project. But what I’m here to tell you is that this is something I worked on for a very long time. The Lord was with me in the building of that software project, even as the Lord was with Noah in the building of the ark, which took an even longer period of time. I suppose they might have said about Noah, “crazy man.” Yes, until they all died. Then, they were begging to get in. But it was too late.
In any event, my software project is another story. But suffice to say that, on that day, I went to work as usual, and work, at that point in time, was in the basement (where I had a private office). That private office did get torn down one day, and moved to the upstairs, but at that time, it was downstairs. And it was a really nice private office, too. But later, after many years, I got sick and tired of being in a private office with virtually no windows in it. In reality, I simply had another dream about moving out of that office, and when I did, I tore the office down (in about a day), and moved it to one of the empty bedrooms upstairs, where I could be with my family, upstairs. Plus, it freed up the basement for the family to use, without my telling them to be quiet all the time in that “other” section of the basement, because I wanted to work in the “office” section (this caused quite a bit of stress in the family).
At about 4:30 p.m. that afternoon, something rather strange happened. I suddenly felt that I needed to go swimming. How did this arise? Well, when I’m out of shape, I get a certain feeling. And if I’m out of shape for many days, the feeling increases. And if I go on for a week or two like that, without exercising, I feel pretty miserable, indeed. And yes, I have done that, I must be honest. It is not a good scenario to be in, and one can certainly start to feel quite miserable indeed, after not exercising for a prolonged period of time. Plus, plain and simple: it’s bad for you. Do you know how many times I’ve had hemorrhoids? It seems like they are a thing of the past (I hope). But when I have not exercised properly, then I have gotten hemorrhoids (my exercise is swimming, which essentially cures hemorrhoids, if you will do it regularly). Now for a little course on hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are really evil. In my experience, they are caused almost entirely by a lack of exercise. What happens is that your body becomes weak, and the sphincter muscle which controls your anus simply cannot work properly anymore, and it inflates and cannot properly function. Hence, you get hemorrhoids. But if you will exercise regularly, which causes oxygen to be taken to all your cells in your body, you will find that the sphincter muscle strengthens up considerably, and then shrinks, and goes back to its original size, and your hemorrhoids disappear. This is the cure for hemorrhoids: regular exercise. If you will swim and do this three times a week, you will not have any more hemorrhoids. Life is simple sometimes. But we humans mess it up by stretching our bodies beyond the limits.
By the way, the human body has over 50 kinds of sphincters and so your lack of exercise is affecting those as well. A lack of exercise can cause embolisms of the arteries, and basically that’s what a hemorrhoid is, an embolism in just one of your sphincters. The net effect of a lack of exercise is very serious, and a great many medical procedures could be eliminated, and quality of life radically increased, if people would just exercise regularly. Swimming is one of the best forms.
At about 4:30 p.m., suddenly I felt rather strange and I felt like my body was at its breaking point in terms of needing exercise. It was as though I had not exercised in at least a week, and I felt basically a sudden urgency to go to the swimming pool. I had that strange very needy feeling come upon me, that if I did not exercise at that point in time, “I was about to burst.” Thus, for the sheer need of gaining back my health, I folded up operations in the basement, temporarily, and went out to the pool.
I still remember checking to see if there was a swim at that time, and there was. Good. I could swim until 5:30 p.m.. I went to the pool and swam
… and almost four lengths of the pool
… and then I was suddenly stopped.
I was stopped with a sudden need, or urgency, as it were, to pray. What was going on? I did not know. Did I really hear the Lord say to me that was enough swimming? Yes. The Lord told me that was enough swimming. That was strange.
Very strange indeed.
I thought I was in need of swimming. If so, four lengths of a pool is hardly what I would call “reasonable exercise.” Four lengths of the pool, four or even five times a week, is not a cure for hemorrhoids, incidentally. You would need, perhaps, around 16-20 lengths, three times a week, minimum, to really stay free and have a chance at regaining your health. So that would be, essentially the “basic minimum” (I sometimes still miss the “basic minimum” but I also do a lot of walking these days).
In any event, when I pulled up to the side of the pool to pray, someone spoke to me, and said, “There is one man in the sauna right now. Go over to him and speak to him.” By this, I do not mean the voice was external, but I heard it in the spirit. The words were very clear, but the question is, “Who said that?” Once again, you need to test the spirits. Could it be God spoke to me about this? I suppose. I said to myself, “If I go over there and one man is in that sauna, then I will know God spoke to me. But if not, it was not God.”
Well, that is not actually an acid test, is it? But it’s not too bad for starters. If there were two women, or two men, or one woman and one man, then at least I would know it was not God speaking to me.
I walked over to the sauna.
There was one man in it. It was my friend Graham.
I went into the sauna, and spoke to Graham. Graham and I had a conversation, and later, in the change room, we were still talking. We lingered a bit and kept talking. Eventually, before leaving, I gave him a small gospel tract. That tract was, I think, “Steps to peace with God,” or something of that nature, which explained the gospel message in a rather easy format. Graham was very happy that I gave him that tract, and thanked me.
Well, I think I had done what the Lord was leading me to do.
I certainly did not get much swimming in, I can certainly tell you that! Four lengths is actually just two laps, and I did not go back into the pool after that. So, apparently, the entire reason the Lord had me leave my home office at 4:30 p.m. was to speak with Graham. That was interesting. It was a (loving, carefully constructed) “ploy” in other words, on the Lord’s part. Yes, the Lord can do that. Once, I had such a strong desire for cheesecake, I was willing to travel 10 miles, if need be, to get it. I travelled down that road and along the way, the Lord said to me, “Remember that guy you spoke with last week about Jesus? And you said you would return this week.” I suddenly remembered, and I was right there along the road, right near that guy’s place, when the Lord said that, so I stopped my car, and went inside to his store, and we spoke for about 1 hour. I lost my desire for cheesecake after that. I never did get it. It had been a (loving, godly) “ploy” on the Lord’s part, to get me to actually “do the right thing.”
I said goodbye to Graham, and I headed out to my car, which was parked in the parking lot. I got in my car, and then drove about 30 feet. I was at a crossroads. Would I turn left to get onto Baseline road, or right to turn onto Iris street? Suddenly, there was some sort of real “confusion” presented to my mind, and I could not decide what to do. What was going on? The Bible says God is not the author of confusion. However, this was not “confusion,” in that sense. This was merely confusion in the sense of Father God saying, “Whoooooooah. Just wait a second.”
Father was intervening (again).
So, apparently, this day was not over. It never is, you know. The day belongs to the Lord. Every hour belongs to the Lord. Every second belongs to Him. Perhaps one of my greatest failures in life is that I have failed to recognize that every second belongs to God. I think it works this way with me. I think, “I have my time, and God has His. I can pray, and that is God’s time. Then, it’s my time, and I can eat ice cream or do whatever I want.”
That’s flesh speaking. Your whole day is God’s, if you really are a servant of the Lord. Do you know how I know this? I know this because whenever I “slip up” (and that is often), it seems like Satan just walks in the door and says, “Hello? How are you today?” And then I say, “Hey, what are you doing here, you bad guy?” Of course, I am using some poetic license in saying this, but the fact is, it pretty much works that way. Satan just walks in the door, because at the time when I should have been praying, I was eating ice cream. Hey, I’m not against ice cream. I’m against not praying when God says to pray. I’m against the flesh. Did you know that the flesh wages war against God? That flesh is in you. I hate to say it, but that flesh is, in fact, you. It is not your spirit part of you, it is the soul/body part of you. If you are a genuine believer in Christ, the Holy Spirit lives in your spirit. He does not reside in your flesh. The flesh wages war against the Spirit. Please read Galatians 5:17.
I was in that parking lot, all right. The Lord was speaking to me in a radical way. It felt like sudden confusion, because it was kind of like a “rat tat tat” and what I mean by that, well, it was a sudden interference in my spirit — and, you know, the Lord really does live in your spirit, if you are a child of God. So these things should not be entirely unexpected. Some Christians act as though God is not even there. They think it strange if God actually does something. We are talking about the Creator of the Universe, here. It should not seem utterly strange if He actually decides to do something in you, after taking residence in you. I mean, friends, we have lost this in the church. I wonder how many people actually have the Holy Spirit in the church, sometimes. By the words of some preachers, they do not even know God. They think it strange that God is actually doing things like this.
In any event, I had an interference presented to me, and it halted me, because whereas I wanted to turn left onto Baseline road, because the grocery store was in that direction, and it would be easy to go there at this time, it just wasn’t the Lord’s plans at this point in time. Now I’m not saying this type of thing happens to me every day. In fact, this happened to me once in my life (like this), but it did happen. Thus it was that I took notice (I could not help but take notice!). The whole episode was designed (by God) such that I could not help but take notice!
Whereas in the pool, the Lord seemed to easily tell me that I had done enough swimming, and the voice was fairly easy to recognize that there was a man in the sauna, and to go there and speak with him, well, this time, it was not so easy. I wish it was easy, all the time, to simply hear God, and do what He says. Really, I wish it were easy. It is not always that way. Perhaps I simply don’t pray enough. Perhaps it would be much easier if I simply prayed more. In any event, I had this sudden interference presented to me, and it was as though the Lord was saying, in rapid succession, you might say, about five times over again, “Stop, stop, stop, stop, stop!” So I just stopped.
OK. It looked as though I wasn’t going to turn left after all.
OK. I’ve got it.
I’m going to do “the right thing” (what choice do I have, anyway?). You’ve just got to do “the right thing.” I really like doing “the right thing.” OK. Sometimes, I don’t like doing it. You think this is thrilling? Haha. It’s not so thrilling, sometimes, I have to tell you. No matter what you are doing with God, you are never really in your comfort zone. There really is no “comfort zone” for the believer. Faith is always required. Sometimes it’s easy to exercise that faith, and sometimes it’s not so easy. Sometimes it might be a little difficult. And sometimes, heaven forbid, faith spills over into foolishness. That’s the part that I don’t like. And yes, I’ve been a little bit foolish at times. I mean, if you are going to live on the edge, you are going to fall over sometimes. What I think happens in some churches (and with some pastors), is that they are so afraid of going over the edge (of the cliff, as it were), that they stay far, far, far away from that edge! Thus, to avoid any possibility at all of having a “disaster” on their hands, they ban the Holy Spirit from operating in their midst. So there are no tongues, no miracles, no healing gifts, no supernatural words of knowledge or words of wisdom, no prophecy, no interpretation of tongues, no gifts of faith, and no discerning of spirits. To exercise any of these gifts is to sometimes get close to the edge. People don’t like getting close to the edge, so they just ban the gifts all together. I think essentially, this is the way it works in many churches.
I turned right. Yes, I did the right thing. I hardly had a choice. I could have disobeyed God, but what good would it have done?
Apparently, the Lord wanted me to turn right, so I did.
I was heading back home, but as I headed back home, I remembered that I needed a set of filing cabinets (they cost about 40 dollars) at Walmart, and so I proceeded to go to Walmart. By this time, it was probably around 6:45 p.m.. Thus it was that I swung basically past my house, on Pinecrest, and kept going all the way until I reached Walmart, on my left. Now as I went there, I happened to go right past my wife’s workplace — you know, that retirement residence. It was right there, on the right-hand side.
I kept going and reached Walmart. I purchased the filing cabinet and put it in my car. I then headed out. By this time, it was probably around 8 p.m.. I then headed back home. I thought I was just going to go home, but something different happened. As I headed back home, I once again passed in front of my wife’s workplace and then the Lord spoke to me. You know, that’s the Lord who lives inside of me, because I happen to be a Christian, and according to the Bible, the Holy Spirit, who is God, actually lives inside of believers. You can find that in Romans 8:9, Ephesians 1:13-14, and 2 Corinthians 13:5. As I was approaching her workplace, then the Lord spoke to me, and said, “Go inside there and speak to the executive director.”
I really didn’t want to do that.
I don’t like causing a stir.
Lord, why did You even choose me?
I don’t want to.
(This is beginning to sound a lot like Moses, who argued with God when God told him to speak to Pharaoh. God corrected him at that point in time by saying, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?” See Exodus 4:11)
Thus it was that I really had no choice at that point in time, for I was “cornered,” you might say. I was “caught.” Once again, the Lord devised a very clever way to “get me” to “do the right thing.” Why did I need such tactics!? Flesh and bones! I was a mere human! God could use me, yes. But sometimes I needed to be coerced a little. Thus it was that God did not tell me what was going on back at the pool. He merely had me turn right. He did not give me the full story, and part of that might have been because I was not willing to “do the right thing” until I was presented with that choice “at close range.” I am not saying I was not willing. I certainly was willing to do whatever God told me to do. After all, I did it in the end. But, God does know our weaknesses, and He knows that sometimes, we will get the job done better, and faster, and more efficiently, if He but leads us along the way, rather than telling us the entire story, right off the bat. Thus it was that the Lord chose this particular method to get me situated right in front of my wife’s workplace at exactly the right time. Why did He not simply have me stay home and then at about 8 p.m., from the house, tell me, “Now go to your wife’s workplace and do such and such”? The reason for that would be, partly, that if He had done it that way, I would not have gotten to speak with Graham about Jesus. Now Graham was important. God loves Graham. And, besides, it’s a lot more exciting to do it this way. God is pretty creative, don’t you think?
Thus it was that, by this time, I was now situated in front of my wife’s workplace, and I heard the voice as clearly as anything. Go there. Go inside. Speak to the executive director.
OK, Lord. I’m going.
So I parked the car and went inside.
It was around Christmas at that point in time. They were having a Christmas party for the seniors. Would the executive director even be there at this point in time? Actually, he was. He was leading the events. So, normally, you would expect an executive director to leave well before 8 p.m., but because this was the annual Christmas party, he was expected to be there, and he was. He was the “MC” (master of ceremonies). He had the microphone, in other words. The seniors seemed to be enjoying themselves.
What a time to barge in.
Was this really wise?
“… the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:25).
Thus it was that I was there by divine decree. This was God’s time. And it was “not wise” (by men’s standards).
Who then barges in at 8 p.m. to speak to the executive director, right in the middle of the annual Christmas party? Now I can tell you what’s wise by the world’s standards: call up the executive director and find out when he is free. Or write him a letter. Or something of that nature. Nope. It was not going to happen that way. God had another plan. OK. Well, I just had to ride with it. Who knows, this thing just might work … (of course it would work, God was in it, and it required someone with just a little bit of foolishness to carry out this unwise plan).
I got up and went to the reception. There was a woman there. I was within about 3 feet of the party (literally) when I was speaking with the receptionist. The party was “right there.” So everyone could see me. All the seniors could see me, and there were probably about 75 of them. I said to the receptionist, “Is the executive director here?”
She said, “Yes. He’s right there. Do you need to speak to him?”
“Well, yes,” I said.
She said, “OK. I will get him for you.” She then went to get him (and he was in full view of all of the seniors, as he was the master of ceremonies). So I apologized for taking his time during this busy time, and he said, “No problem. How can I help you?”
Now this man did not even know who I was. He did not (at first) know that I was married to one of his employees. We stepped into his office. We remained standing, for he was not about to give me a long period of time. But we had enough time so that I could share with him what I needed to share.
I was curious that I was not angry with him. I was not dying to “press him” with a message of rebuke (like my wife had done the night before). I’m not saying my wife was wrong. Far from it. That was her style at that point in time. And that was the need she felt was presented to her, so she voiced her opinion. However, in my case, there was simply no rebuke of that nature coming forth from my lips. In fact, I was exceedingly calm, and almost apologetic. I did not come with a pretence that he had done anything wrong. All I did was share with him the dream that I had. I said to him the following (remember, we were standing, and I had never met the man before. He was not a Christian, and all this needed to be unfolded in about 2 minutes or less). I said to him, “You know, I know this sounds maybe a bit crazy, but sometimes I have had dreams in the past, and they have come true.” The man was listening. He said, “OK.” And he urged me to continue. I said, “Well, I had a dream this morning, and in the dream, I saw that there was some danger at this place that could lead to someone dying” (for that is what I saw, the danger was clearly presented to me as a danger associated with people dying). The man was listening. He kept urging me to go forward, so I kept going. I said, “Well, I don’t know what the problem is, whether the floors are too slippery, or whether some nurses are not being careful with the residents, or the medications, but I thought I would tell you, so that you can avoid any problems, just in case that dream had merit, and God is speaking through it. I really advise you to look carefully at what’s going on, to make sure that it’s safe in this place.”
Now does the Lord care about life? Of course, He does. He cares very much about life. In fact, He created life and is the “author” of life itself. So, of course, He cares very much about life. He is so very much interested in the health and well-being of those whom He has created, so it makes sense that He would be interested in the health and well-being and the safety of the residents at this retirement residence.
Well, the man heard my words, and that was all I could do. There was really nothing more to do, except thank him for hiring my wife. And I did thank him for that. Thus, he knew that my wife was one of his employees. And he knew which one it was, too. He must have surely remembered the rebuke she gave him the night before.
Thus it was that I left.
And the man was without excuse from that point on. Why? For two reasons:
1. My wife had already rebuked him.
2. I had now approached him in the name of God and said I had a dream concerning the safety of that place.
So at this point what do you think God is going to do, if indeed the dream was from God?
Here’s how it works.
When something needs correcting, if you fail to rebuke the person, then God might not be able to do what He wanted to do in that person’s life. God will urge you to speak with someone, and He may even give someone a dream, like He did in my case, in order to ensure that a special communication is delivered to a person who needs to hear it. I’m not saying it always works this way. What I am saying is that this is what happened in my case (and my wife’s case, and the executive director’s case, as the case was). But as a general principle, we do need to speak up and rebuke others if we see something that is not right. This principle, in part, comes from Ecclesiastes 8, which says, “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil.” (Ecclesiastes 8:11) Obviously a “sentence against an evil deed” is not the same as rebuking someone, but in a sense, it is, because when you rebuke someone with honest yet loving words (they are loving because they are honest and need to be spoken), you are delivering a “sentence,” in a sense. You are saying, “this is wrong.” That is a verdict. The other person may disagree with that verdict, all right, but that is not the point. If your words are true, then heaven hears it. And heaven will respond. For example, at Sodom and Gomorrah:
And the Lord said, “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave. I will go down now, and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry, which has come to Me; and if not, I will know.” (Genesis 18:20-21)
So in this case, heaven responded to the outcry. And heaven will also respond to your outcry. But sometimes that means you need to approach your brother, sister, friend, or enemy, in love. That love may be difficult love. That love may not appear to be loving. And it may be labelled in other people’s eyes as “unloving,” but let’s be honest. It’s not unloving to correct sin. It’s actually very loving. Why so, and how so? Well, let’s think about those 75 residents at that retirement residence for a second. They needed the best of care. They want the best of care. And they are certainly paying for the best of care. But if that executive director does not really care about them, and cares only for his automobile, or his salary, then it is not unloving at all to rebuke the man “in love” — and sometimes, that could even be “tough love,” and I know that my wife, when she gives a rebuke, is not that easy to deal with. She is tough. Get out of her way. That’s all I can say. So she delivered the word, all right, and then I went in there on her heels, as it were, about 24 hours later, and delivered yet another word, which was really, a lot more gracious. But who cares? At this point in time, it’s not about grace. Would you talk graciously with Hitler and ask him to put down his guns? So there is a place for grace, and there is a place for toughness. My wife was the Bulldog, and I was the little Chihuahua. The Bulldog barked, and then the Chihuahua barked.
And then, step out of the way, because there is a bigger dog, still. This dog is not to be messed with.
“Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 11:28-29)
The “consuming fire” is the part you really need to watch out for. I mean, you really have to be careful here. I can handle a Bulldog, and I can handle a Chihuahua, but I cannot handle a consuming fire. Can you?
That is the same God who responded to the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah with fire. For we read, “Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven, and He overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.” (Genesis 19:24-25)
Now back to our story. What do you think, pray tell, God would do to an executive director who had been there 5 years but was not doing his job? Well, in two weeks, that man’s job was terminated. It was terminated because he would not listen. He failed to respond to the Bulldog, and he failed to listen to the Chihuahua. So along came the consuming fire which destroyed his job.
And that’s just about the way it works, dear friends. And by this, I’m not meaning to say God is a bad God, or wants to take away your job. Absolutely not. You might not have a job right now, and it might not be associated with any ill doing on your part. So please do not misunderstand me. God is gracious and compassionate in the midst of all our lives, but there does come a time, if we fail to listen (repeatedly), that heaven will respond, even as heaven responded to Sodom and Gomorrah, because the outcry was very great. Well, I suppose that some of those residents of that retirement home were possibly crying out to God, as well. You know, it is the orphans and the widows that are often overlooked in our societies (no matter where you go, I think this unfortunate circumstance tends to apply). Many of these seniors, and possibly even most of them, are widows. Some of them have very few people to defend them. Their voice may not be respected by some of the workers at these retirement residences. To some, unfortunately, working at these places, or anywhere at all, is just a “job” and their heart is not in it. God loves these people, and will not tolerate an environment that is not safe. Thus, He will put it into the hearts of people to correct those who need correcting. He certainly did put it into the heart of my wife. Then, He put it into my own heart, in a different way (through a dream). Then, He led me directly to that retirement residence, so I could speak with the man. Then, when he failed to listen, his job was terminated. It was that simple. And it really can be that simple, sometimes. Someone better than he was was put in place, two weeks later. We actually read about these types of things happening in the book of Daniel, for example, for in the case of Nebuchadnezzar’s son Belshazzar, he was rebuked and found wanting. He was executed, and his kingdom given over to the Medes and Persians. It happened the very night Daniel gave the word.
Thus, we learn about responsibility, here, and if we are not responsible, then our authority can be (quite easily) stripped. Now there are those who are indeed not too responsible (in our eyes) but God has a plan for them, to use them in a certain way. Thus, they seem to rather “outlive” their time in office, as it were. Why does God allow this? We may not know, all the time. In some cases, perhaps there is simply too much corruption, and no one is really ready to rebuke the person in charge. And so heaven does not act (I would think). Or, there may be other reasons. I don’t think it is an easy thing to figure out. However, we do know this from Scripture: God hears the outcry of people. We also know that when a sentence is not carried out speedily, then injustice can prevail a long time. This denotes personal responsibility. I’m glad to say, my wife is that type of person who considers the welfare of those seniors above her own, and certainly above her pay, for she is paid very little for what she does. She puts her heart and soul into her job, and so when she speaks directly to an executive director, I would listen with ears wide open, because heaven is listening, too. There have actually been a few people that have “come and gone” under my wife’s watch — and do you think God put her there for a reason? I do. She works awfully hard. And I kind of wish she’d take a break. On the other hand, those residents are really happy to see her there.
Let me tell you what happened after that. The entire place closed down. Now it didn’t close down because of the executive director. It closed because of a business decision, and perhaps reasons I do not even know about. My wife decided at that point in time that she was going to find other work, and that she didn’t want to pursue that line of work anymore. After all, she had done it for many years. Perhaps God could open new doors somewhere else. So she said goodbye to the residents, and gave away about 60 Bibles. Yes, that’s true. She was not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes (see Romans 1:16). Also, because my wife “knew” she was not coming back, what did she have to lose? No one was going to fire her at that point in time. It was the ideal time to give away Bibles. She had many friends in that place, for she had ministered to them all with her love and her care. And so that’s what makes a person love you. When you serve them. Well, my wife did serve very well. So the Bibles were received (thanks to the Gideons who also provided them). But there were a few people who didn’t want those Bibles. But just a few. These were the unfortunate lot, who did not realize that this was their only source of help in life, for life would soon be over, and many people died in that place. In fact, almost everyone died in places like these, for these types of places were the final homes of most of those people who actually lived there. And so to turn down a Bible at a point like this, because you chose to remain an unbeliever, was very perilous. Yet that was their decision. But without this hope, there is no life, indeed. For the author of life wrote that book, and He is the One who sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross for us. Pity that some people will not receive Him. For it was the love of God that put Him there on that cross, so that He would pay our sins on that cross, so that we would not have to pay for them ourselves. Why did people reject things like this? It boggles the mind. Thinking that there might possibly be some other way, they turn down the only way. For Jesus Christ said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one come to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). This puts a heavy onus on us to actually believe. I do not mean to use the word “heavy” to mean that it is difficult, but that, rather, we have a solemn responsibility to actually believe. For if we simply neglect to believe in such a great sacrifice, what sacrifice for sins remains? The Bible tells us that in that case, there is only the expectation of judgment. That is a terrifying thing to think about.
Think of the love of Christ. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son (Jesus), that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life (see John 3:16). For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved (see John 3:17). He who believes is not condemned, but He who does not believes is condemned already, for He has not believed in God’s only begotten Son (see John 3:18). The emphasis here is on God’s love for you and for the whole world. And He really does love us. But the truth does remain that there is only one sacrifice for sins (Jesus), and if we reject it, we reject the only thing that can save us. I hope you will investigate this further, if you are not yet persuaded. God really is good.
Now the story is not finished, because after my wife gave away all those Bibles, and after she left the company, she got a call one day from the new retirement residence, where most of those 60 people went to (and there were others, as well). The person said, “Mary, they want you back here. Would you please come? They are calling for you.” Yes, that’s what happened. My wife so ministered to these people, and so cared for them, that they wanted her back. In fact, they were demanding for her back, for she had served well at the former place (owned by the same people as this new place).
Thus, the end of the story is that my wife kept her job, even though she quit. But the executive director, on the other hand, lost his job, while not quitting, because of his unfaithfulness. For as it turns out, he simply did not care about the people. God saw that, and heaven acted on behalf of those residents. So the moral of the story is what? God cares. That’s really the bottom line. And if you want people to care about you, and to respect you, then you had better serve them from your heart. My wife, in her service to others, and to her family, and to her husband, is a really good example of that. I’m very proud of her. God bless all the “Marys” of the world, who do likewise.
You can be one of them, but it starts with a commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ, as your personal Lord and Savior. For you can be a good “servant,” but if you have not come to put your trust in the author of life Himself, what good is that in the end? Thus, today, above all, I am encouraging you to put your faith in Christ, for in Him you will not be disappointed.
“I love you all,” the Lord wants to say to you. “Will you trust me?”
That really is the abridged version of what the Bible has to say about Jesus and His great love for us.
* As it turns out, about 8,600 words.