March 27, 1995. Today I read a portion of the rough draft of my "Awakened by the Spirit" book to Sylvia. She was working in the kitchen. While I read aloud, she ran water in the sink, got food out of the refrigerator, did something at the stove, took tops off jars, tore plastic bags, measured out food, etc. I'm sure she was listening (out of one ear), but I was reading a short piece which I felt should have had her undivided attention. The other stuff she was doing was distracting to me, if not to her. Finally, I just stopped reading and said, "Never mind."
I went to my office/studio and back to work. As I was thinking about what had happened, God told me that I do the same thing to Him that Sylvia was doing to me. When He talks to me, He doesn't get my undivided attention either.
One morning I woke up at 3 a.m. and could not go back to sleep. I kept thinking about something that had happened a day or two before. Sylvia had told me that she had offered our home to a couple that might need a place to live because their home was in such bad repair. She also offered our home to them for guests that they might have from time to time, so they would not have to pay for a motel. She told them that she was sure that Bob would not mind.
Of course I went along with the idea. How could I object? Especially after she had already offered it to the couple. And after all, it was a good work, wasn't it?
But the Lord was reminding me that Sylvia was still having difficulty with submission. She had gotten this idea, made the decision, acted upon it, and then broke the news to me after the fact. Sylvia had assumed my role of authority in our family for so long that she is unaware when she continues to do so.
I talked with Sylvia about this and we both determined to come into alignment with God and His will for us.
Faster than Aspirin
April 12,1995. Sylvia and I drove over to Georgia for a weekend at the home of Art and Alice Ann Thompson.
The next morning as Art and I were leaving to run some errands, Art said he had a headache and asked Alice Ann for some aspirin. I walked over and put my hand on Art's head and in Jesus' name commanded the headache to come out.
By the time I had finished saying that, Alice Ann had moved from the other side of the room and was standing beside Art with her chin down and the top of her head toward me. "I'm next," she said.
"Do you have a headache, too?" I asked.
"Yes," she answered.
I put my hand on her head and said the same thing. When I finished, Art turned to Alice Ann and said, "It's neat, isn't it!"
I asked if his headache was gone, and he said, "Yes."
Alice Ann said she believed hers was going away, too.
Dan and Cheryl Clark arrived at the Thompsons' home later in the day. Cheryl told us her story of what happened in Alabama during a recent gathering of disciples there. The Lord used her in the miraculous healing of a young lady who was present. Then Bill (not his real name), whom she said was able to discern what spirits are around a person, told her that the power of the Holy Spirit was present and very strong. He told her to ask for her heart's desire. She asked for the gift of tongues. A few minutes later she was speaking in her new gift.
Bill, his wife Mary (not her real name either), and their three daughters came from Florida to be with us for the rest of the weekend. They arrived just as Cheryl finished telling her story.
That evening as we all sat in the great room, Sylvia mentioned that her left elbow was in a lot of pain. Her left shoulder was also hurting. I asked Cheryl if she would speak to it. I told her that I had done so with some success. It would let up some but get worse again.
Cheryl walked over to where Sylvia was seated and laid her hand on Sylvia's elbow and prayed to God. Then she spoke to the shoulder and commanded healing in Jesus' name. Sylvia said that the pain left immediately.
I knew very little about Bill and his family. Even so, later that morning while talking with Mary, I found myself openly telling her about my relationship with our children, especially the girls.
I told her that I was unable to tell anyone that I loved them until after our children were grown. Now we tell our children at every opportunity that we love them. At that time two of our children were able to tell us that they love us too, but I didn't remember our daughter ever saying those words. And I didn't recall her ever hugging me even when I hugged her.
I shared that I was unable to relate to my daughters, about my fear of women, and about my father's inability to provide unconditional love and a role for my development to manhood, about my mother's dominance in the home, and how all of that affected my relationship with Sylvia and our children.
As I told Mary my story, she began to cry. She said that now she could understand her father better, and why her brother was having problems. I told her about a book I had recently read, "Father & Son" by Gordon Dalbey, and suggested that she get a copy.
An Evil Spirit Called Pride
Today we encountered evil spirits. I had never seen it manifested so clearly in a situation like this.
Art was telling his theory about a verse in the Old Testament that mentions the sons of god marrying the daughters of men (Genesis 6:4), and relating that to answering the questions of evolutionists on the length of time the earth has been in existence. I couldn't see from the scripture he was using that he had either a strong argument for his conclusion or that an evolutionist would be convinced any more than I was.
I found the whole discussion disturbing. I said so, and added, "This discussion has not been spiritually uplifting to me."
Then Art and Alice Ann seemed to react very strongly toward me. I felt the presence of an evil spirit, and it seemed to me that it had been involved in Art's discussion and was now generating anger in them toward me.
Alice Ann came over and took my hand and prayed for the Lord to remove the evil spirit. It seemed to me that the spirit she was talking about had affected her, not me. Yet, I got the impression that she thought she was okay and that I was the one affected by the evil spirit. I did not pray with her. I was trying to figure out what was happening. It all seemed so strange.
After Art and Alice Ann left the room, Bill asked me what I believed about the days of creation; were they 24-hour periods or longer periods of time? I told him what I thought and why. He said, "Can't you see that you're doing the same thing Art is?"
I thought for a moment, and then said, "Yes, I guess so."
Sylvia had been waiting to speak to me. I could tell that she was uneasy. She was waiting to see if Bill was going to say what she felt needed to be said. Bill had said what God wanted him to say. Then Sylvia said what God wanted her to say.
She described to me how I had sounded to her. She said she heard anger, even hatred, coming from me. I said that I did not feel that way, but that describes exactly what seemed to me to be coming from Art and Alice Ann.
"It's pride!" Bill added.
My neck and shoulders had been tightening up and now they were beginning to be very painful. As Sylvia and Bill talked on the other side of the room, I silently asked God to forgive me for what had happened, and in a whispered voice I rebuked Satan and commanded all evil spirits to leave. Immediately I felt the tension and pain in my neck and shoulders fade away.
I told Sylvia and Bill what I had done, and then I went to look for Alice Ann. When I found her, I told her that Sylvia had described to me how I sounded to her, which is no doubt the way I sounded to them, and is also the way they sounded to me. I asked for and received her forgiveness.
(Art had left on an errand. I did the same with him when he returned.)
Alice Ann and I returned to the room where Bill and Sylvia were. We were both laughing about something. The tension was gone. And we both thanked Sylvia for letting the Lord use her.
Bill smiled at me and said, "I am seeing in you more of Jesus and less of you."
Later Art mentioned Sylvia's gift of encouragement -- selecting just the right card, writing just the right note in it, and mailing it so that it arrives just as the person she sends it to needs it. This, of course, was an encouragement to Sylvia.
Several years earlier Art and Alice Ann became very knowledgeable about the Passover during their research and study of the Lord's Supper. They have wanted to participate in a Passover meal, but never had the opportunity. The thought occurred to them a couple of weeks ago that this might be a good time to do it, while we and Bill's family were visiting. It would have to be on a Friday or Saturday. They asked the local caterer if they could do it either of those nights. The caterer said they could do it on Saturday, so preparations began. Later Alice Ann was looking at the calendar and discovered that Saturday evening was actually Passover that year.
The Thompsons did a superb job with the reenactment of Jesus' last Passover and the first Lord's Supper. Around 70 people from various religious backgrounds participated. The event lasted over three hours. The food was delicious.
We all saw the Lord's hand in this. As capable as Art and Alice Ann are, they could not have pulled this off as smoothly as it went if God had not been involved. It was a special and meaningful experience.
A Spirit of Confusion
It was close to midnight by the time we finished putting everything back in order at the community building we had used for the Passover and returned to the Thompsons' home. We all gathered in the great room to wait on the Spirit.
I left the room for a few minutes and when I returned I saw that everyone had gathered in a circle, some in chairs, some on their knees, all holding hands, with a spot left for me between Art and Alice Ann. I took my place, dropped to my knees, and took their hands.
First one, then another, and then someone else offered spontaneous prayers from their hearts. Then I felt moved to mention that I felt there was a spirit of confusion that was keeping me from clearly hearing the Lord. There were times when I thought I was hearing Him and knew what He wanted me to do, but I wasn't sure.
Art put his hand on me and rebuked that spirit and commanded it to leave. Others immediately gathered around me, placing their hands on me as well. I could not hold back the tears, and began sobbing. I don't know why, unless it was just feeling my own unworthiness and receiving this expression of love from brothers and sisters in Christ, and from God Himself.
I recall Cheryl also speaking aloud to the evil spirit, and then praying to God. She thanked God for the spiritual growth she had seen in Sylvia and me, and made reference to something God had told her, which really caught my attention. She said that she did not know why God has Sylvia and me over in North Carolina so far away from others who are strong in the Spirit, but that He had told her in effect that it was none of her business, and that she realizes that she does not need to know.
When Cheryl finished praying, I said, "I think I know. God is training me to be a man, and to trust in Him. If we were around other strong Christians, I would be tempted to trust in them more than God."
I mentioned the fear I felt a few years ago when she gave me a tract with a prayer for a spiritual warrior. She had said at that time that she had picked it up for Dan, but it might be for me instead. I said that I wanted to be a mighty warrior for God, but it was frightening.
I asked Cheryl what she was referring to concerning what God had told her about Sylvia and me. She said she had asked Sylvia why God is keeping us isolated over in Brevard. Why didn't He move us so that we would be near them?
Sylvia had told her to ask God if she wanted to know. She did ask God, but didn't get an answer immediately. The next day, while driving from her home to the Thompsons, she heard the words, "I'm not ready for them to leave."
She said that she asked, "What?"
"I'm not ready for them to leave," she heard again. And she knew that this was God's answer to her question about Sylvia and me the day before.
A few minutes later, Bill said to me, "You're right on track with your walk with God. You're right where you should be. You're hearing from God very well. The word 'confusion' came to me. I asked God if He wanted me to say anything. He said, 'No.' With the next words out of your mouth, you mentioned the spirit of confusion. Later the word 'training' came to mind. The next thing you said was about training. You're hearing the same Spirit I am."
What an encouragement!
April 16, 1995. Last night after I went to bed, I realized that I had hugged and thanked everyone for praying for me except Art, Alice Ann, and Mary.
This morning as I woke up, the Lord gave me a clearer explanation relating to what He had told Cheryl when she asked why He kept Sylvia and me in Brevard. He said that He was training me to lean on Jesus, and training Sylvia to lean on me. If we lived near the Clarks and Thompsons, we both would be distracted from that. For now He wants us alone with each other and with Him.
I remembered that I should hug Mary and thank her for her part in praying for me. For some reason I felt I should ask her permission to do this. Then the Lord said, "Your hug is from her father."
I asked, "Is it from her earthly father or her heavenly Father?"
My daughter came to mind and God said, "This is for you, too."
I began to weep.
More Hugs from God
After I dressed, I went into the great room. There I found Art, Alice Ann, and Mary. Alice Ann was on the phone. I asked Mary if I could speak to her away from the phone.
We both walked to the hall just beyond the doorway. I told Mary that I had thought about asking her permission to give her a hug and thank her for her part in praying for me last night, and that the Lord had said that this hug is from her father. When I asked if He meant her earthly father or her heavenly Father, my daughter's name came to mind, and He said, "This is for you, too."
Then I asked, "May I hug you?"
And she said, "Yes, 'Dad'!"
We hugged each other for a minute or two. It was one of the warmest hugs I have ever received.
Art had observed and heard everything from his seat in the great room. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see his hand raised as he praised God for what he was witnessing.
Mary told me on the way back to join the others that her dad had never hugged her, and she thanked me. And I thanked her.
When we told Alice Ann what had happened, she asked Mary who the hug was from, her earthly father or her heavenly Father?
"Both!" Mary responded. She explained that she had been going though some struggles lately, and had not felt the nearness of God.
Later when I told Bill about this, he did not seem surprised. He said that God told him yesterday that I was going to minister to his wife.
Later Bill told me that he had never been around people so into Jesus as we are. But we didn't know that we were. He said, "Maybe I was suppose to come this weekend and tell you that."
Yes, I needed to hear that.
I asked Bill to ask God if the book I'm working on is what he wants me doing. He was silent for a few minutes, and then he said, "This is not just your story. It is a story for everyone. Many, many people will be helped by reading this book. Yes, write your book. This is what the Lord wants."
As we were leaving to come home, Cheryl said she hoped God would hurry and move us over there. I said, "He may never want us to leave. I am content with where I am and with what I am doing. I have no desire to move to Georgia."
She said, "That is of the Lord."
On the way home Sylvia and I talked about the wonderful four days we had just experienced. Everyone was touched by God in some way by one of the others who were there. But we were not surprised. God does something special each time we are together.
As I recalled what took place during the past few days, the Lord let me see that Sylvia and I are not unique in our weaknesses. I was able to see that our very special friends have relationship problems similar to ours. We saw them as God must see both them and us -- imperfect creatures -- the only kind God has to work through. And we love them just as they are, just as God loves all of us.
April 17, 1995. This morning I was thinking about the hug Mary and I gave each other on behalf of her Dad and my daughter. Then I remembered the hug that God gave me on November 4, 1991. (See "A 'Bear Hug' from God" in Chapter 3.)
I had told God how wonderful that hug was, and that I wanted it to last, but I was going to be late for work. I had "pushed Him away." I apologized and asked Him to do it again. He never did.
This morning God told me that Mary's hug was from Him, too, and He added, "You didn't push Me away this time."
What an awesome God of compassion our God is!
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