I've had 2 visitations from the Lord so far this year. In the first one He taught me something He wanted me to study and think on further, which I'll share starting Friday in a new series in this week's Weekly Thoughts, and the 2nd one I asked if He had any update from Him or the Father on world events, or what He was doing in the body. His response was: "You'll see more people starting house churches as the momentum has shifted to the point massive numbers will decide they want to meet at home, some after leaving their churches and some who had stopped going earlier, but this is just the beginning. (He told me some personal instructions about ministry direction concerning these things) and then said: "As far as what the Father or I have told you about the future; it is enough. What is happening now and about to happen this year and next is within what we've said before. And as I've told you before, as for you, you must be about the Father's business."
He shared more about house churches being started all over this nation (and the world) in a huge move that will be similar to the shaking that happened in the 1970’s in the charismatic renewal but much greater – this time the people will be leaving what they consider among themselves to be ‘cutting edge’ charismatic churches. He also said many of those churches the people will be coming out of will follow or already are following the path of the denominations of the 1970’s and '80's, shrinking into worldliness, irrelevance, doctrinal error, and being lukewarm.
I want to make it clear He speaks to me within the context He called me to, and that I don't have anything against the traditional church, but because I'm outside that sphere He talks openly about how that culture affects what I'm called to which is home based gatherings of the saints – He speaks to me within that context, so that’s what I share.
The devil, God trying to teach us, or just circumstance?
Over the past couple of months Barb had said the carpet in her office felt damp around the door to the closet, but since there are no water lines near I, like any clueless husband, passed it off as her imagination or maybe her feet were wet already when walking into her office or some other explanation, so frankly, her observations went in one ear and took the non-stop flight out the other ear.
But this week she stepped into the closet and definitely felt wetness in the carpet and called me in to check it out. I flipped on the light switch for a better look, but the light was out. That's when I reached up to the globe over the light to change bulbs and felt a drop of water on the outside of the globe. Unscrewing the screws holding it on to the fixture I discovered the globe was as full of water as grandma's gravy bowl at holiday time.
How did water leak into the light fixture? There was no water damage to the ceiling so we either had a very localized roof leak which would be unusual as we have a metal roof, or something else was the culprit. The only solution was for me to climb into the attic and crawl around like a raccoon in the dark until I discovered the source.
Reluctantly but with determination I did so, puncturing my back only twice on roofing nails protruding through the roof, and with only minor damage to my knees and shins as I crawled over ductwork and insulation in between roof trusses to the spot above Barb's closet - doing this in a flashlight on and then flashlight off process because I needed both hands to move from rafter to rafter, groping for rafters in the dark like the above raccoon blindly feels in the water for its meal along a stream's edge.
On came my trusty iPhone light, love that flashlight feature, and there was a condensation line from the furnace/air unit that is located in the attic, running directly over Barb's closet where it dripped into the insulation, which is backed with a water proof backing which explain why no ceiling damage, but finding the path of least resistance, continued down into her light fixture.
Within an hour the heat/air company had a man here, who, upon seeing his brethren's work just shook his head and apologized, and quickly completed the connection to the drain line a mere 6 feet (2m) away. Supposedly the heat/air people had talked to the plumber who was there that day months ago working on Chris' bathroom, and the plumber had said she would make the connection for them...likely excuse but either way, it was up to the heat/air people to make sure all work was done before pronouncing the job complete.
So the closet was emptied - most of it in plastic storage boxes so no loss, but I had to pull the carpet up and we have been running 2 fans against the underside of it in an attempt to dry it before mildew sets in.
That was Wednesday, on Thursday...
Thursday morning after adjusting the carpet and fans, I signed on our personal checking account and found a charge for over $200 at a Walmart in a city in Texas - knowing I was firmly sitting at home in Oklahoma, I called the bank. They said my debit card was one of many from their bank that whose numbers had been stolen, and there had been 4 other attempts on my card after the Texas one but a fraud alert had automatically been put in place, so nothing else could be charged. We'll get back that $200 in about a week they said...nice way to start my Thursday, on the phone with the bank for an hour!
Friday I picked up Chris (oldest son, handicapped, lives in part at a nearby group home) and as we headed along the back roads into town I noticed a large tree branch down on the opposite lane, blocking half the lane. I always try to be like Jesus 'who went about doing good' when He had opportunity, so I stopped to move the branch. The road is rural so stopping briefly wasn't a major safety issue though it was a concern, but when I shifted attention to my spirit I still had peace about my idea of stopping, so in a couple of minutes the branch with all its related pieces was safely moved off the road.
It wasn't that I patted myself on the back or anything, but I felt good knowing some driver not paying attention wouldn't run into the branch. Flash forward 2 hours and Chris and I are quickly headed home, on the same road, and within throwing distance from where I moved the branch.
Just as a car was coming towards us, right where my right side tires would travel, a black rubber strap with the metal S on the end was sticking up, and I ran right over it. I couldn't swerve because I'd have caused a head-on collision with the other car...
Immediately the right front tire made a loud THUMP THUMP THUMP sound and I slammed on the brakes and got out. That S on the black rubber strap gouged but did not puncture the tire tread, but as it gouged the tread and held, the rubber strap part went round and round and round, making that sound.
I pulled the S from the tread, held my hand over the area to make sure no air was leaking, thanked the Father for ordering our steps that it did NOT cause a flat as He caused it to just gouge the tread because we were still 2 miles from home (3.2km) on a narrow road.
My mind had raced through the possibilities - drive home on a slow leak, use the portable plug in compressor I keep under the back seat to inflate the tire temporarily, and wondering why I didn't have a can or two of "Fix-a-Flat" to temporarily inflate and seal the tire - I don't mind endangering my life by changing a flat in that location if I have to, but didn't want to endanger Chris' life.
As I got into the truck I noticed it smelled like an Italian kitchen, which is when I discovered Chris' leftover spaghetti from the restaurant I had taken him to for our weekly lunch, had slid off the seat, hit the floor, and the flimsy Styrofoam container had generously opened its contents upon impact with the floor.
A thought came into my head,
"See what good happened for moving that branch? That'll stop you from doing good the next time." If I had been a religious Christian I might have blamed the devil for the rubber strap attaching itself to the tire like the viper that bit and held onto Paul's hand in Acts 28:3-4, and the subsequent 'Spaghetti Disaster of 2015', but I didn't.
Instead I acknowledged to the Father the speed limit there was 35 and I was doing about 40, and had I been doing the speed limit that oncoming car would not have been passing me at the exact moment I needed to swerve away from the rubber strap - in other words, if I'd been obeying the law I would have had room to swerve around the strap, so I had done it to myself. The Father's role was to cause it to gouge the tread only instead of puncturing the tire. That's grace.
It is human nature to blame someone else for something that happens to us - and there are times things happen to us that are outside our control and there are people who do things on purpose to cause us misery - but their evil doesn't mean it is directly the devil, sometimes it is just people being ugly people.
In situations like these it is very often 'according to your faith be it unto you'. If you believe it is all the devil's fault and you hunker down into battle mode, then that's what you will have, and learn little from the experience and gripe loudly how the devil was after you all week.
If you will look for the Father's provision no matter what and thank Him for the grace you find, such as His ordering of your steps in the midst of it all, you will find grace and peace. Look first to how you can become Christ-like in any given situation. Then look and see what part you played in the situation, acknowledge it to the Lord, and then learn from it.
For my part in the water leak, I should have immediately investigated Barb's observation that her carpet felt damp 2 months ago, but I didn't. I learned a lesson on sensitivity as I was the one who had to crawl into the attic and I was the one who moved the plastic tubs and I was the one who pulled up the carpet...because as husband and head of home maintenance, it was up to me to listen to her, thus it was right and just I do the work to make it right. All the Father's ways are just and right, its just that we don't like that sometimes.
The heat/air guys should have done the job right and it wasn't within my sphere to double check their work, it was just carelessness on their part - not the devil, just the human condition.
Trips now and trips planned: I’ll be in Europe for our Dutch and Finnish conferences May 6-19, with the Finnish conference consisting of me traveling to various home meetings rather than people coming to a central conference center. The week of June 4-10 at Lassen Pines Christian Conference Grounds, Shingletown, CA as one of the speakers at an international conference. In August planning a trip to the Pacific NW and Vancouver, BC area, Florida in September, US east coast and New England in the Oct/Nov time frame – stay tuned on those. Other trips as invited in between.
Chris’ handicapped/ADA compliant sink/cabinet should be installed Thursday – yippee! We’ll be done once that is installed with only a few small things to get – rolling shower chair and such. Thank you to all who pray for us and have donated to help with this. This remodel has made rolling him through the house, bathing and such so much easier on me and him –
Thank you and for your giving and faithfulness!
John & Barb