I’m told the best way to spot a counterfeit dollar bill is to study the real one. If anything else doesn’t add up you will readily spot it. That’s a true test of the false.
I knew things about the spirit realm even as a young person of at least eleven years old. By thirteen I knew I was called by the Spirit of God to a ministry of some sort. It took three more years of bending the back of a pew to walk forward to give a public admission of faith. By seventeen until twenty seven, I walked in my own steps.
I saw things in church that didn’t match up with what I believed. Men who eventually made confessions of their sins and suffered from them. Mostly because they got caught in it. I developed a sense of piety in not doing the crazy stuff I saw, but eventually God let me suffer circumstances that destroyed my piety and humbled me totally to not condemn anyone else. I was to look into my own heart and see where I stood before picking up any stones to throw.
In my mid-twenties I suffered some degree of depression, although at the time I didn’t know what it was. I chronicled it all in spiral bound notebooks. I have no idea where they are now. I don’t know as they would be of any positive influence now. But through that God got my attention and in prayer one day I told God I wanted to make my life totally aimed at pursuing Him in faith, but I didn’t really want to do it in a church setting that wasn’t moving with Him. He took me up on it, but He didn’t tell me He would not change those circumstances I would encounter. However, He would be there to direct me through them. That made the difference over all those years.
In 1978, at the age of 27 in March, I asked God to show me something and if it was indeed real, I wanted it. Being a Baptist all my life was putting me on the edge of a whole new realm of spiritual awareness. My then wife, was from a Pentecostal background. Therefore, if I was going to dive in I wanted to know about this experience.
Mind you, a lot of denominations use this as a badge of honor to show the world who they are, but I feel better not making an issue of it other than an experience in my Christian growth. Pentecost was and is a real event. And I found that in spite of the folks that say it isn’t for today, that it is still for today. On the early morning of March 13th 1978 as I knelt down before my couch I looked up and started to pray, but the words came out in a language that wasn’t my native tongue. It energized me from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. I’ve never been the same. There is a lot of back-story to this event in my life, but not to speak of at this time.
I could even go out and look at the clouds in the sky and they seemed to move through the air differently. Everything seemed different. I could read or pray about something and God would speak to me. Then on Sunday the minister would preach on that very subject. It’s been that way for years. This small writing can’t contain all the feelings I have for this writing, so just bear with me.
The one story I want to convey here is dealing with my questions to God about how to study. He specifically directed me to read and study Ephesians and Galatians first. Through a minister on TV He spoke to me about getting a Thompson Chain Reference Bible and a Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. So I set my eye towards getting them. But I didn’t expect how I would get the Bible. In August I was in the mid-week service at Faith Assembly of God in Wilmington when as the end as the benediction was being prayed I felt a tap on my shoulder. When the amen was said I turned to look at a friend of mine by the name of Chuck Spooner. He leaned forward and handed me a Bible. He said God spoke to him to give it to me. I looked at it and saw that it was a Thompson Chain Reference IV edition. Chuck didn’t know this was what God had told me I should have. There it was. Handed to me. I hugged Chuck, thanked him for it and took that treasure I’d been given home with me and devoured it over the coming years. There are notes everywhere in it as you see in the picture of it now.
A short back-story to that is I was awakened one day from sleep when I was working graveyard shift by my phone ringing. It was Chuck. There was so much excitement in his voice as he began to tell me that in God telling him to give me his Bible it opened up a blessing on him by someone giving him a new Thompson Chain Reference large print red-lettered edition, which he really needed since he had very bad vision. We rejoiced in this and he went on about his business and I went back to sleep knowing all was well.
As time went on I shared things I found in the Bible and got some weird looks. People would ask me where I found this or that and I would point it out to them. I took a different approach in study. I learned how to dig out the original words of scripture and came up with really interesting views. I thought I was crazy. Then I came across this man named Kelley Varner.
Believe me when I say he made me mad, I’m talking angry. His teachings were absolutely mind boggling to me. For literally months I’d take things I heard him say and tried my best to prove him wrong. Eventually the more I studied on my own the more the Word convinced me with the leading of the Spirit that I needed to take a different course in understanding. This understanding got me into trouble with main-stream Christians, because once I’m convinced of something I’m going to share it. I was accused of being in a cult. Even to the point some questioned me if my church was handling snakes and stuff. Never in my life did I see such things in my thirty years there as we were accused of.
The thing that tied me to this paradigm shift in thinking was that before I found the teachings of Kelley Varner, I found books in the Christian book store that fringed on the same doctrines that made me equally upset. Kelley Varner wasn’t the only person out there teaching something that was wholly scriptural, yet different from what I grew up with.
That dollar bill was not fake. I studied the real scriptures through the eyes that the Holy Spirit gave me and time and time again, I had to rearrange my thinking. Growing can be painful even if it is rewarding in the end. Recognizing and adhering to new revelation of scripture can present itself to be a slow process. But then again, you have to know a slow rain absorbs better than a sudden downpour.
My forty one year old Bible still serves me well. Just add water (Spirit).