Thursday, March 12, 2009

Living in the Kingdom

This is where the rubber hits the road.  Now that we'd made a decision it was up to us to live it out with the Holy Spirit's help.  We had been partiers--Saturday night meant we were usually gone dancing and partying.  The first Saturday night after we gave our life to the Lord the telephone rang and the people said "Let's go to one of the nightclubs in Salina".  So we went. When we got home we looked at each other and both said it was the most miserable night we had spent.  After that the phone would ring every week and I would lie saying that we had company or were sick or had something else we had to do.  I didn't have enough guts to tell them that we were Christians now and the Lord had taken away any desire to party that way.  I didn't want to offend them.  This went on for abut 6 months and then the Holy Spirit convicted me that I should tell the truth.  So I did and it freed me to live my new life openly.  

              "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;                      the old has gone, the new life has come!   II Cor. 5:17 NIV

We were Catholic and the words 'saved' and 'born again' were not in our vocabulary.  We attended a Bible study with our Protestnt friends and they showed us in scripture what the words meant and helped us understand what had happened in our lives.  We wanted to see what our church had to offer so we questioned our priest.  He told us "I don't know what you are talking about but there are some meetings going on out in Hays next weekend that you might be interested in".  This was Pentecost weekend and the meetings, conducted by a Father Rohr, were excellent.  In the evening they had a prayer meeting and we had never been to anything like it. It was awesome!  The power of the Holy Spirit was there and healed and delivered people. When we got home we started going to a prayer meeting in the Catholic rectory in Concordia. Everyone would be praying aloud as the spirit led them, then a silence would fall on the group and someone would give a prophecy or a word of knowledge or word of wisdom.  There was a little boy, 6 years old, who would often prophesy at length.  It was always beautiful and right on. Later, we and another couple started a prayer meeting and Bible study in our own church.

We started sharing with our family and friends but were not able to communicate what had happened  to us in a way that they could understand.  We were at my sister's house for dinner and she asked our daughter to say the blessing.  She didn't say the traditional blessing so then my sister told her children "now you say the real one".  She didn't understand where we were coming from but later she became a very strong Christian and prayed for people's healing and salvation and openly shared her new faith in Jesus whenever she could.

We were Godparents to one of my nieces.  I felt the Lord was telling me to write her and her husband and tell them what we had experienced in our life.  We were taught that it was the responsibility of the Godparents to help form their spiritual life.  It took 4 pages and their response was that they really didn't understand why we were sharing this with them. They are a very strong family today,  dedicated and living their lives for the Lord.  So our responsibility is to share what the Lord has done for us and then let the Holy Spirit do His work.

After a couple of years we realized there was a different emphasis between the Protestant Bible study and the Catholic prayer meetings we were attending.  The emphasis at the prayer meetings was on the power of the Holy Spirit Who lives within us and is our present day enabler. 

"But when He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth, He will not speak on his own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come."    John 16:13   NIV 

So we spent more time at the prayer meetings and at charismatic Masses.  We also went to Full Gospel Businessmen International meetings and Catholic charismatic conferences where we observed and experienced many miracles, healings and deliverances.  More about that later.

As we live in the Kingdom it is our reponsibility to share the 'good news" (Gospel) with the people around us and whoever we meet wherever the Lord takes us.  In John chapter 3 Jesus tells us that we must be born again to see, enter and hear the Kingdom of God.  In verse 13 He says "I have spoken to  you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?"    NIV  This tells me that we can all live in  the Kingdom of God right now.  You must be born again!! 


Friday, March 6, 2009

Getting Saved

In the early '60's I was serving on the school board of the rural school our boys attended.  A neighbor who was also on the board rode to one meeting with me and when we got back to his house afterward he didn't get out of the car.  We just sat there and chatted for a while then he started sharing with me about Jesus.  I thought he was crazy and my wife thought we must be out partying because I didn't get home until 3 am.  The next day when I went to work I told some people: "This guy told me he knows he is going to heaven."  I thought this was a big joke because no one could know that they were going to heaven.  Could they?

We continued our lifestyle for the next 7 years but God was working.  He brought a whole new set of friends into our life and they were all talking about Jesus.  We would sit up all night (almost) discussing scripture and what it meant to us.

One couple in particular kind of took us under their wing.  They would take us to hear speakers.  One night they took us and another couple to Concordia to hear a preacher.  There was a nun there who had come because one of her piano students was providing special music that night.  When the preacher gave the invitation to come to the front to accept Jesus we were amazed to see her go down the aisle.  On the way home I said:  "That preacher was looking straight at me all night".  The other couple husband who was with us said:  "Oh, no!  He was looking at me".  We were both under conviction about our lifestyle but we were tough, we resisted.

Shortly after that a professional football player by the name of Bill Glass was scheduled to speak in our town.  (He was an all-American at Baylor University and later played for the Cleveland Browns)  I was asked to be a counsellor as a representative of the Catholic church.  On May 30, 1971 we went to the meeting in the grade school gym.This time the conviction got the best of us and when he gave the invitation we and our three sons and a niece went forward.  It was a great moment---and what a relief!!  All of our burdens were lifted and immediately we experienced a new freedom.

Meanwhile---back at the ranch---.  During the meeting there was a bad storm.  We had trouble getting home because there was water over the road.  My sister, who was at our house, with our little  daughter and her 2 small children, was running bathwater for the kids when the storm hit. She gathered up the 3 kids and took them to the old root cellar in the back yard.  That took real courage because it hadn't been used for so long that there were snakes and spiders etc. down there.  When we finally got home we found that the barn had blown down, the back screen door was ripped off, and the bathtub had overflowed.  

I think the devil was really mad because he had lost 6 of his own that night!!!

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life."   John 3:16  NIV

"He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.  I write these things to you who believe in the Name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life."   I John 5:12-13  NIV     

Monday, March 2, 2009


                                                           Donny               Me
                                     June 16,1940--First Communion

I was raised in a Catholic family.  As long as I can remember we always went to church.  We lived 10 miles from three Catholic churches.  Minnespolis, Delp0hos, and Meredith which was a small country church.  We kids liked to go to Meredith because it was small and there were a lot of other farm kids there.  The church would hold about 50 or 60 people.  I think the pews were homemade.  They were made out of 1X12 boards about 10 feet long.  4 or 5 people could sit in them easy.  I remember you had to watch it when you sat down because the pews were not fastened to the floor.  The floor was slick and the pews were light.  When you sat down  they would scoot out from under you if you weren't careful.  The kneelers were the same way so if you didn't watch it when you knelt down they would scoot away or turn over.  So you can see, we kids would have fun watching things happen and we would laugh when they happened to us.  
We went to Minneapolis for catechism.  They only had it two times for country kids that I can remember--once before 1st communion and once before confirmation.  They were two weeks each.  

I remember we would go to confession on Saturday night and that meant you could not eat anything after midnight.  We thought we were going to die!!  Saturday night was a big thing during the summer because you didn't go to town during the week and if the folks went to Salina we didn't get to town for two weeks.  On Saturday nights farm families would gather in town to shop and visit with each other.  They would visit until after midnight so on the way home we would want something to eat but that was a no-no because if you broke your fast you couldn't take communion Sunday morning.

When Lent came around it was time to get out the rosary.  Ash Wednesday was the start.  This was the only time I can remember going to church during the week except for mid-night mass on Christmas eve.  We would go to the Ash Wednesday service and get the ashes put on our forehead and NO washing them off the rest of the day.  The ashes were from Palm Sunday palms that had been burned and they symbolized repentance and sorrow for sin.

Every night at bedtime we would kneel by our beds and say the rosary.  Mom would lead us until we got older.  When my sister Donna got older she would lead us.  We all got our turn leading the rosary.  I remember we would be saying the rosary and fall asleep and someone would poke us to wake us up.  I thought we did it for hours but it was only 15 minutes or so.  We got pretty good, we could mumble the responses in our sleep.  It was a serious thing to our mom. We didn't understand that until later years.  

Lent is the time for reconciliation with the Father and His Son Jesus so fasting was a big part of Lent.  I remember we would give something up for Lent.  Mom would ask us "What are you going to give up for Lent this year?"  We would answer with some smart aleck answer like watermelon, washing dishes or going to school.  Mom would say "That won't work!"  We would give up something like candy, ice cream or one of the meals each day.  We would do this to show Jesus that we loved Him.  In later years we realized He was more interested in our heart (our inside rather that our outside).  I knew ABOUT God but I didn't KNOW HIM.

Joel 2:12-13----"Even now, " declares the Lord, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning."  Rend your hearts and not your garments.  Return to the Lord your God , for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and He relents from sending calamity.  NIV