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Scrawly
06-26-2015, 07:33 PM
OK, so we're all familiar with the language of "cultivate a personal relationship with Jesus" and "I had an experience with God" type-talk. My question is, how far does this really go in reality? I understand it, and can find biblical support for it to an extent, but I think it's being played up to the point of being totally unrealistic and almost a bit nauseating. I think on an objective basis, comparatively speaking, if we were to compare the effects of coffee vs. the effects of these God experiences, coffee would win. Now I'm being rather facetious, but I think the point is clear.

What do you think?

PS: Thank God for coffee. :wink:

Cow Poke
06-26-2015, 08:40 PM
"Experiencing God (http://www.lifeway.com/n/product-family/experiencing-god?CMPID=Adwords-experiencing%20god&002=2138335&004=6100910157&005=22240353&006=51663121557&007=Search&008=&025=c&026=&s_kwcid=AL!4443!3!51663121557!e!!g!!experiencing%2 0god&gclid=CIr1o_f5rsYCFUQvgQodUYwDXA&ef_id=VQDrKAAAAbigZGuE:20150627034041:s)" is the name of a study by Henry Blackaby - I like a lot of what Blackaby says in that study.

:shrug:

Scrawly
06-26-2015, 08:42 PM
"Experiencing God (http://www.lifeway.com/n/product-family/experiencing-god?CMPID=Adwords-experiencing%20god&002=2138335&004=6100910157&005=22240353&006=51663121557&007=Search&008=&025=c&026=&s_kwcid=AL!4443!3!51663121557!e!!g!!experiencing%2 0god&gclid=CIr1o_f5rsYCFUQvgQodUYwDXA&ef_id=VQDrKAAAAbigZGuE:20150627034041:s)" is the name of a study by Henry Blackaby - I like a lot of what Blackaby says in that study.

:shrug:

Well do tell what your experience of God consists of. I could answer this, so I am not mocking the reality of experiencing God, but I think there are problems with the popular characterization and/or how it's perceived by the laypeople.

Cow Poke
06-26-2015, 08:53 PM
Well do tell what your experience of God consists of.

My "experience of God"? :huh:


I could answer this, so I am not mocking the reality of experiencing God, but I think there are problems with the popular characterization and/or how it's perceived by the laypeople.

I'm really not understanding where you're going with this.

Jedidiah
06-26-2015, 09:36 PM
My experience of God is simply my relationship with Christ.

My relationship with Christ is one of submission.

Does this answer your question?

Cow Poke
06-27-2015, 05:50 AM
My experience of God is simply my relationship with Christ.

And, then there are those remarkable "experiences" beyond the overall journey. Some of my most treasured "experiences of God" came as I had opportunity to pray with somebody who was asking Jesus to forgive their sins and become their Savior.

John Reece
06-27-2015, 09:03 AM
OK, so we're all familiar with the language of "cultivate a personal relationship with Jesus" and "I had an experience with God" type-talk. My question is, how far does this really go in reality? I understand it, and can find biblical support for it to an extent, but I think it's being played up to the point of being totally unrealistic and almost a bit nauseating. I think on an objective basis, comparatively speaking, if we were to compare the effects of coffee vs. the effects of these God experiences, coffee would win. Now I'm being rather facetious, but I think the point is clear.

What do you think?

PS: Thank God for coffee. :wink:

I do not drink coffee or any other caffeinated beverage; however, I imbibed various such ― sometimes a lot ― during earlier of my 8 plus decades in this world. If any were as great as you imply, I would not have forsaken them all, because of adverse physical consequences.

However, with regard to "experience with God' I could write a book.

When I was a student at a Baptist Junior College, sitting beside my student-job boss (the basketball coach) I heard a young military veteran give a simple unremarkable testimony with regard to the fact that God has "saved" him while he was in the Navy. I was not impressed. He ended his talk with this challenge: "If anyone feels called into full-time Christian service, please raise your hand." I had never thought of any such thing ― I had come to the college to acquire the minimum college credit required for enrollment in Naval Aviation cadet training.

But then the Navy vet said (IIRC): 'If you wish to dedicate your life to God, raise your hand". That struck a cord in me, so I raised my hand. And then he said, "All who has raised their hands please come forward." To which my immediate response was a negative sense of self-consciousness ― I did not wish to get up in front of all those people; but within a split-second of that sense of self-consciousness, my entire being was flooded with a quite different sense that replaced the initial sense of negative self-consciousness. I was filled with what I did not have words in my vocabulary at the time to describe (but when I later read the New Testament, I found such words in the Bible, such as "Holy Spirit"). An unforgettable part of what happened in me that night was that, when I went forward to the front of the room ― devoid of any negative sense of self-consciousness ― and shook hands with faculty members and others who happened to be standing in a line to shake hands with people who had "come forward", there were at least two with regard to whom when I shook their hands, I was keenly aware of a sense that what I was experiencing within myself was not in them (one such was the college dean, who had been a pilot in the Navy), whereas in the case of others, I had a sense that what was within me was flowing freely through me and them. One other thing: in the case of those whose hands seemed like dead fish as I held them, when I looked into their eyes, I saw fear.

A long-term consequence of this first conscious experience with God is that ever since I have been acutely aware of a certain providential presence and leading ― I have never since been alone, no matter how alone I have often been with regard to people.

I'd like to tell another story of experience with God, but the physical problems that are exacerbated when I work at the computer require that I stop writing for now; perhaps I may share one of more other stories of personal experience with God later in this thread, if anyone may be interested.

By the way, none of said experiences have been matters of emotion or mere "experience" in and of themselves, like the effects of drinking caffeinated beverages ― they have all precipitated radical life-changing consequences.

Catholicity
06-27-2015, 02:28 PM
I think God has been simply a part of my everyday experience since I was a little girl. I don't really find it remarkable, its just there. I talk about God, as if He were an actual person in the same room. I even struggle with understanding a lot. I certainly have respect for Him. I've certainly had some issues and some more remarkable encounters.

Cow Poke
06-27-2015, 08:45 PM
So, I just had another neat "experience of God" experience! :smile:

The guy in our Church who is awaiting a liver transplant had to go to the emergency room today - his kidneys were failing, and he was in tremendous pain.

His wife texted me, asking me to pray, and saying they were in ICU at Methodist Hospital in Houston.

Her text kinda "read funny" - it just seemed to be a different tone or something than her previous texts about him. She was saying something about toxins in his brain, and he was completely out of his head and yelling at people and being uncooperative --- not like him at all.

I did pray, but then I ate dinner with my family, but kept thinking I need to go to the hospital, so I went. 48 miles one way, and for some reason, Houston traffic was really heavy for a Saturday evening, but, got there safely.

The nurse at the ICU desk explained that visiting hours were over, but she saw that I was a pastor, and told me to go on down to his room, but asked me to be brief.

I could hear Jim yelling as I walked toward his room, and I could hear the nurses (three of them) trying to calm him, explaining they need to administer his pain and "queasy" meds.

As I rounded the corner, Jim looked out in the hall, and saw me - for a split second he looked confused - then instantly called out "PASTOR!!!!"

I walked over to him, took his hand, and said, "Jim, let's cooperate and let these nurses do their jobs". He immediately calmed down, relaxed, seemed to be in his right mind, and allowed them to administer the meds. I stayed with him about 10 minutes when his wife showed up (she had been in the ICU waiting area) and she was stunned that he was so calm and cooperative.

So, if you're wanting "Experiencing God" experiences, I guess I'd consider that a recent (couple hours ago) example. :smile:

Cow Poke
06-27-2015, 09:30 PM
I'd like to tell another story of experience with God, but the physical problems that are exacerbated when I work at the computer require that I stop writing for now; perhaps I may share one of more other stories of personal experience with God later in this thread, if anyone may be interested.

So sorry about that, JR, but looking forward to reading another of your stories!


By the way, none of said experiences have been matters of emotion or mere "experience" in and of themselves, like the effects of drinking caffeinated beverages ― they have all precipitated radical life-changing consequences.

Yeah, that!

Cow Poke
06-27-2015, 09:40 PM
OK, so another, while JR is in the bullpen getting ready to come out and pitch! :smile:

The guy who was one of my troublemakers at a previous Church (the change them or move them prayer)... He's the guy who stopped by my office one day and told me I was free to do whatever I wanted, and he would no longer be fighting me. Long story short, he found out he had cancer, and had less than 6 months to live.

Anyway, one day I got a phone call from his daughter telling me "Daddy's been in bed the last few days, and I wonder if, maybe in a day or two, you might stop and visit him". I was at a computer client (I was a bivocational pastor, running my own computer consulting business) in the middle of helping the business owner with a problem. I had excused myself to take the call, then came back to talk to him. Suddenly, I got that "feeling" (can't explain it) that I needed to go see Hubert RIGHT AWAY. It was pretty clear that something was up.

I apologized to the business owner, and promised I'd come back the next day to finish up. I drove the 60 or so miles to Hubert's house, and his daughter met me at the door. She said, "he's in the back bedroom". I walked in, and he was lying in bed, looking pretty frail. I sat down on the bed next to him, and he reached up to take my hand. We spoke small talk for a few minutes - he mentioned he'd rather be fishing than lying there..... he had lost his wife only 3 months earlier to a massive heart attack. He looked at me and said, "I want you do my funeral - just like you did Momma's" (he always called his wife "Momma")

I was mildly surprised, but her funeral, indeed, went well, and the family had expressed that they wanted me to "bury daddy" too.

I told him "Sure, Hubert - when the time comes".

He smiled, then knda laughed/coughed, then looked me in the eye and said, "you're a fine fella".

Then he closed his eyes and died.

I am so glad I didn't wait "a day or two" like his daughter had allowed, because I would have missed this "Experience of God".

John Reece
06-28-2015, 04:56 AM
I think God has been simply a part of my everyday experience since I was a little girl. I don't really find it remarkable, its just there. I talk about God, as if He were an actual person in the same room. I even struggle with understanding a lot. I certainly have respect for Him. I've certainly had some issues and some more remarkable encounters.


:thumb:

John Reece
06-28-2015, 04:59 AM
So, I just had another neat "experience of God" experience! :smile:

The guy in our Church who is awaiting a liver transplant had to go to the emergency room today - his kidneys were failing, and he was in tremendous pain.

His wife texted me, asking me to pray, and saying they were in ICU at Methodist Hospital in Houston.

Her text kinda "read funny" - it just seemed to be a different tone or something than her previous texts about him. She was saying something about toxins in his brain, and he was completely out of his head and yelling at people and being uncooperative --- not like him at all.

I did pray, but then I ate dinner with my family, but kept thinking I need to go to the hospital, so I went. 48 miles one way, and for some reason, Houston traffic was really heavy for a Saturday evening, but, got there safely.

The nurse at the ICU desk explained that visiting hours were over, but she saw that I was a pastor, and told me to go on down to his room, but asked me to be brief.

I could hear Jim yelling as I walked toward his room, and I could hear the nurses (three of them) trying to calm him, explaining they need to administer his pain and "queasy" meds.

As I rounded the corner, Jim looked out in the hall, and saw me - for a split second he looked confused - then instantly called out "PASTOR!!!!"

I walked over to him, took his hand, and said, "Jim, let's cooperate and let these nurses do their jobs". He immediately calmed down, relaxed, seemed to be in his right mind, and allowed them to administer the meds. I stayed with him about 10 minutes when his wife showed up (she had been in the ICU waiting area) and she was stunned that he was so calm and cooperative.

So, if you're wanting "Experiencing God" experiences, I guess I'd consider that a recent (couple hours ago) example. :smile:

:thumb:

John Reece
06-28-2015, 05:25 AM
Before I share another experience with God that is out of the ordinary, I should thank Him publicly in this forum for the daily relief I currently have been experiencing from the pain I had been suffering almost all the time as of the last time I had an exchange of communication with robrecht ― which was a number of months ago; since then, I have been pain free almost all the time. Every night when my wife tucks me in with a kiss, after she medicates the "worst case I have ever seen" (to quote my dermatologist) of stasis dermatitis (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000834.htm), I thank her and utter a hearty oral "than You, God!" for the blessing of another tolerable relatively pain free day ― which is an improvement over my former expression to robrecht of a wish for a shorter rather than longer lifespan. Thanks to you too, robrecht, for your prayers!

Thoughtful Monk
06-28-2015, 08:07 AM
OK, so we're all familiar with the language of "cultivate a personal relationship with Jesus" and "I had an experience with God" type-talk. My question is, how far does this really go in reality? I understand it, and can find biblical support for it to an extent, but I think it's being played up to the point of being totally unrealistic and almost a bit nauseating. I think on an objective basis, comparatively speaking, if we were to compare the effects of coffee vs. the effects of these God experiences, coffee would win. Now I'm being rather facetious, but I think the point is clear.

What do you think?

PS: Thank God for coffee. :wink:

I agree that the experience with God is overplayed. It is also very personal as the posts on the thread. I know people who have experience with God who are credible as their life shows the fruits of it. I know people who claim an experience with God and its seems more to score points with the audience than a real experience.

As for me, my experience with God tends to be few and far between and vaguely distant. I know He's there yet it doesn't have that in the room sense. To be fully honest, right now He's gone - I got nothing. If I was to use experience as a sign of salvation status, I guess its time to get ready to fry.

John Reece
06-28-2015, 08:33 AM
I agree that the experience with God is overplayed. It is also very personal as the posts on the thread. I know people who have experience with God who are credible as their life shows the fruits of it. I know people who claim an experience with God and its seems more to score points with the audience than a real experience.

As for me, my experience with God tends to be few and far between and vaguely distant. I know He's there yet it doesn't have that in the room sense. To be fully honest, right now He's gone - I got nothing. If I was to use experience as a sign of salvation status, I guess its time to get ready to fry.

I do not think I am going to be able to post today what I have in mind to share next (in terms of experience with God). But the last sentence of your latter paragraph is a good segue to it. Because that is similar to how, in my own story, an episode in my life began, after I had lost my first wife to "chronic paranoid schizophrenia, severe" = the diagnosis in her mental hospital record.

Thoughtful Monk
06-28-2015, 09:06 AM
after I had lost my first wife to "chronic paranoid schizophrenia, severe"

My sincerest condolences. :sad:

John Reece
06-28-2015, 09:34 AM
My sincerest condolences. :sad:

Thanks.

Paula
06-28-2015, 09:49 AM
How do you know God is the source of the insights or confidence? For unless it is a direct miracle isn't there a danger in reading something into an experience that isn't actually there?

To illustrate, let me give an example. When I heard about the Charleston murders and how the families of the victims forgave the killer I felt quite confident that it was the work of the Holy Spirit. The compassion and forgiveness greatly moved me and it seemed like a miracle.

However, how do I know my confidence is in fact correct--that the Holy Spirit was genuinely at work? Practically speaking, how does a Christian employ proper discernment regarding possible religious experiences (in this case, it is of others although the fact that I had the rather strong thought regarding it myself could suggest that my confidence wasn't solely my own)?

Now please note I am not in any way, shape, or form doubting anyone's testimony, everything I have heard here sounds genuine and I feel those who had such experiences are blessed. That is part of the reason I am asking here because it sounds like everyone has experience with it and might be able to give me some insight into the matter.

Thoughtful Monk--I can relate as my own personal experiences with God are few and far between (if there at all) too. For me it is always a desert but I do take comfort in knowing that God is always faithful regardless of how I feel. My faith doesn't depend on experiences but on Jesus Himself.

Cow Poke
06-28-2015, 02:39 PM
How do you know God is the source of the insights or confidence? For unless it is a direct miracle isn't there a danger in reading something into an experience that isn't actually there?

To illustrate, let me give an example. When I heard about the Charleston murders and how the families of the victims forgave the killer I felt quite confident that it was the work of the Holy Spirit. The compassion and forgiveness greatly moved me and it seemed like a miracle.

However, how do I know my confidence is in fact correct--that the Holy Spirit was genuinely at work? Practically speaking, how does a Christian employ proper discernment regarding possible religious experiences (in this case, it is of others although the fact that I had the rather strong thought regarding it myself could suggest that my confidence wasn't solely my own)?

Now please note I am not in any way, shape, or form doubting anyone's testimony, everything I have heard here sounds genuine and I feel those who had such experiences are blessed. That is part of the reason I am asking here because it sounds like everyone has experience with it and might be able to give me some insight into the matter.

Thoughtful Monk--I can relate as my own personal experiences with God are few and far between (if there at all) too. For me it is always a desert but I do take comfort in knowing that God is always faithful regardless of how I feel. My faith doesn't depend on experiences but on Jesus Himself.

Well said, Paula, because I've heard too many people claim that God told them to do something - and I had a pretty good notion that God didn't actually tell them what they thought they heard.

Example - a new Church member told me with great joy that God had given them a car. He went on to explain the great deal he got, and finally got into the payments - which were wonderful, in his experience, and the interest was only (whatever percent, I forget).

Now, if God "gives" a car, it has no payments or interest. :smile:

But it gets worse - the car needed a transmission, but God had arranged for them to get the transmission for free, and all they had to do was drive to Corpus Christi to get it. Long story short, they spent a bunch of money on gas for the trip down there, meals on the way there and back, a hotel for an overnight, and when they got home, the transmission was the wrong one.

I'm confident God would not give me a free car with payments and interest, and then give me a free WRONG transmission that cost a lot of money to obtain.

That's a rather "out there" example, but it's true.

Fact is, when God is speaking to us, it's in harmony with his written Word, and His principles.



Now, when I was a young youth minister, my wife and I had only one car, and couldn't afford another. We had kids starting school, and were trying to figure out how to make that work. A man in the church was a mechanic, and called me and asked me to stop by his shop. When I got there - he asked if I had thought about getting my wife a car, and I told him I was working on it.

He pointed to a fairly late model Ford station wagon on his lot, and said, "would you like to have that one?". I was surprised, and asked "how much"? He (playfully) slapped me with his shop rag, and yelled (again, playfully) "I didn't ask you if you wanted to BUY it, I asked if you would like to HAVE it". It was, in fact, a totally FREE car - he even paid license/registration and taxes!

Anyway, Glad you're on Tweb!

Scrawly
06-29-2015, 12:16 PM
Wonderful responses friends. This thread is generating the type of discussion I was hoping for. I would love to join in and provide some insights and responses myself, however, I have become quite busy at the moment. I also don't have the internet at home, which makes this all the more difficult.

Laters.

Paula
06-29-2015, 06:12 PM
Well said, Paula, because I've heard too many people claim that God told them to do something - and I had a pretty good notion that God didn't actually tell them what they thought they heard.

Example - a new Church member told me with great joy that God had given them a car. He went on to explain the great deal he got, and finally got into the payments - which were wonderful, in his experience, and the interest was only (whatever percent, I forget).

Now, if God "gives" a car, it has no payments or interest. :smile:

But it gets worse - the car needed a transmission, but God had arranged for them to get the transmission for free, and all they had to do was drive to Corpus Christi to get it. Long story short, they spent a bunch of money on gas for the trip down there, meals on the way there and back, a hotel for an overnight, and when they got home, the transmission was the wrong one.

I'm confident God would not give me a free car with payments and interest, and then give me a free WRONG transmission that cost a lot of money to obtain.

That's a rather "out there" example, but it's true.

Fact is, when God is speaking to us, it's in harmony with his written Word, and His principles.



Now, when I was a young youth minister, my wife and I had only one car, and couldn't afford another. We had kids starting school, and were trying to figure out how to make that work. A man in the church was a mechanic, and called me and asked me to stop by his shop. When I got there - he asked if I had thought about getting my wife a car, and I told him I was working on it.

He pointed to a fairly late model Ford station wagon on his lot, and said, "would you like to have that one?". I was surprised, and asked "how much"? He (playfully) slapped me with his shop rag, and yelled (again, playfully) "I didn't ask you if you wanted to BUY it, I asked if you would like to HAVE it". It was, in fact, a totally FREE car - he even paid license/registration and taxes!
Very true--God will never act against His character as revealed in scripture. And yeah, I seriously doubt too that God would require payment for a gift. He didn't make us pay for the greatest gift of all so it would be hard to imagine He'd require payment for something of transitory value. Plus that kinda defeats the purpose of a "gift".

And this is one of the reasons why it is so important to read and study the Bible--one's instincts and "common sense" aren't necessarily aligned with God's. Reading His revelation is, aside from direct miraculous revelation, the only way of determining God's will. It isn't enough to simply say "well, that feels right to me" because oftentimes feelings can be misleading or erroneous. Having a standard to judge something against is vital.


Anyway, Glad you're on Tweb!

Thanks! I'm glad to be here--I always enjoy these sorts of discussions.

John Reece
06-30-2015, 09:20 AM
The grief of losing my wife to years of confinement in a mental institution, combined with the psychological effects of being employed in a mental health center, where the ideal philosophy of a healthy mental life was thought to be self-fulfillment, resulted in my adopting the latter more as a sort of process of osmosis rather than a conscious choice. I drifted into a way of living that I had formerly abhorred and avoided.

I came to the end of such while sitting alone at home one evening in 1978. It dawned on me after years of trying, that I was not competent to manage my own life, that all my efforts to find satisfaction in personal relationships ― that is with women ― was not working and more importantly was never going to work. I had come to the end of the self-centeredness of seeking self-fulfilment. All of a sudden my will did a "180" ― from seeking my own fulfillment to an unreserved commitment to do God's will. I said, "God, if you will speak to me, I will do anything you say." I had no idea how He might speak or what He might say. However, what I had said, I meant with all my heart.

It's easy for Christians to say, "Just read the Bible and practice what God says in His Word". In effect, I had said such things to others myself while judging them (in my heart) rather severely and self-righteously. The middle-aged black pastor of a Black church in Richmond, who was a fellow student at the Presbyterian School of Christian Education, had confided in me, that he was secretly having an affair with a 21 year old woman in his church. I could not empathize with him; quite the contrary, my attitude was that I had been faithful to my wife for 14 years despite her being confined all that time to a mental institution. I thought, if I could be faithful in that way, he, whose wife was a competent teacher of French in a local school, should be able to do likewise. In my case, I had had my wife transferred from the mental hospital in Roanoke to the one in Williamsburg, so that I could faithfully visit her every week while I attended school at both PSCE and Union Theological Seminary in Richmond.

However, my judgmentalism turned out to be my downfall. It was as though God withdrew His grace by which alone I had lived a pure life until then, and let me go through a trial that I was not able on my own to withstand. I became a target of the wiles of a female fellow student who tempted me beyond my ability to resist ― though I tried to do so as long as I could. I would drive to northern Virginia to visit my young daughters who were staying with their maternal grandmother, weeping as I drove and praying (in vain) "God, please do not let me sin" ― or words to that effect. But that was a prayer God was not going to answer: It was up to me to avid sin, and I did not have it in me to do so without God's grace, which I had forfeited by judging my brother, the black Baptist pastor ("Do not judge, or you too will be judged." Matt 7:1 TNIV).

I have spent two days trying to figure how to abbreviate this story, but I can't...

Back to my saying to God, as I abandoned my self-will in that moment in 1978, "God, If you will speak to me, I will do anything you say". Oddly enough, in the condition I was in at the time, it never occurred to me to read the Bible, because ― believe it or not ― I was constitutionally unable to do so, just as I was unable to attend church services; because such were activities that were inextricably associated in my psyche with years of praying in vain for my wife to be healed; I just could not do such things anymore. When I said "God, if you will speak to me, I will do anything you say", it was the closest thing to a prayer that I had uttered for a very long time. God and I had not been on speaking terms ― and still weren't except for those few words uttered in desperation.

Well, it happens that God took me at my word in ways that restored my life. First of all, a fellow staff member at the mental health center, a nurse by the name of Martha, took it upon herself to be a match-maker for me ―not that I asked her to do so, or even wanted her to do so; I had never said a word to her about my status as a man living alone; it was 100% her own idea. She set me up with a blind date for dinner at her home with her husband and her husband's cousin. I arrived at her home before the cousin did, and when the cousin walked in, lo and behold: a rather loud-mouthed domineering woman just like I had recently been in an ill-fated relationship with. I never said a word to her or she to me. All the conversation at dinner was between the family members. After supper we adjourned to the living room, where shortly Martha said something like "Bobby, lets us go upstairs so John and [whatever-her-name-was] can be alone". Whereupon I instantly popped onto my feet and said something like "I must be going" and left the house posthaste; no way was I going to left alone that woman!

Martha and I never said anything to each other about that episode thereafter. Sometime later she tried again, telling me about a nice divorcee she wanted me to meet. I said, "No way, Martha". But she prevailed upon me saying, I know I made a mistake the last time, but this is different. So she arranged for me and a blind-date to take a trip with her and her husband and the husband's brother and the latter's wife, from North Carolina to South Carolina to see a UNC vs. USC football game. But it turned out that Martha and her husband had to go to a Kiwanis convention where he was a district governor. When George and Becky (the brother and his wife), along with my blind-date, picked me up, I got into the back seat of the vehicle behind George, took one look at the blind date, said "hello" or some such greeting, heard her say something likewise, and on the spot knew she was not for me; so, I simply resigned myself to enjoy the trip. All the way down to the football game, most of the conversation was between me and Becky, who, though I did not know it at the time, was an angel of God sent to me in response to my saying, "God, if you will speak to me, I will do anything you say".

George and Becky had made arrangements to meet after the game at a restaurant with a group of about dozen friends with whom they had been fellow church members when George had been personnel director for a large corporation in Columbia. In the event, there was a manifestation of Christian love among that group that was never verbalized as such, it was just in the air they breathed, so to speak. It profoundly impressed me, because it was the same Love that I had shared with a group of fellow 30-year-olds in a group that God had used me and friend to form in a Methodist church many years before in the Arlington suburb of Washington DC. On the way home Becky noticed the tears falling down my face, and inquired about the reason, which was the memory of time during which I shared the same Love that flowed among that group in Northern Virginia, among whom God "poured out his Spirit" in many wonderful ways. She told me about the pastor of a Baptist church in Buies Creek that was almost within walking distance of the mental health center where I worked, and suggested that I attend the church and meet the pastor thereof. I said that I would, but a bit later I said, "You say that I should go to that church and meet that pastor; I say that I will, but I know that I won't." That's when Becky got on my case and began talking to me and kept doing so the rest of the way home with no interruption by me or either of the other two passenger. I do not remember a word she said, but when George made a turn in the center of Lillington to take me to my house, I remember Becky was still talking to me as I listened silently. When I got out of the car and went into the house, I closed the door behind me, saluted, and said, "Yes, Sir!" I had heard God speaking to me through Becky in no uncertain terms, though all I could remember was that I should go the First Baptist Church in Buies Creek.

The pastor, John Rogers, decided to introduce me to a woman whom he described and characterized in glowing superlatives, telling me how gifted and talented and well-educated she was, etc. I asked, "How old is she"; when he told me (six years younger than me) I said "She's too old for me". Then I asked, Where does she live? "With her saintly mother here in Buies Creek." "With her saintly mother?!" "Yes, she really is a saint." When I met and got to know her mother, the widow of a Baptist pastor, I found the pastor's words to have been under-statement. The pastor told me that the woman to whom he was referring (who became my wife within a matter of just few weeks!) was the one whom he had enlisted to give a children's sermon at a recent morning service. I said "She looks depressed". He said "You would be too". He told me about how she was a well-trained and experienced hospital chaplain who had come to stay temporarily with her mother while she was to become (she mistakenly expected) a full-time chaplain employed by Cape Fear Valley hospital in nearby Fayetteville. When that job did not happen as she had expected, she found herself stuck in Buies Creek working for minimum wage in the library of Campbell University, the college town that is the location of both the church and the mental health center about which I am writing.

Because of our background and training, the pastor asked the two of us (me and the woman mentioned above) to co-teach a Sunday School class on the subject of "death and dying". So I invited the lady to my home for supper so we could plan the course we were to teach. I was not romantically attracted to her, nor did I "fall in love" her. But, one day when I happened to be walking along a pathway on my property, I heard a distinct voice within my spirit say in a commanding tone, "marry her!" So, I asked her to marry me and she agreed. Then I went to her mother and asked permission to marry her daughter. The mother said, "Why don't you do it this weekend while the daughter is in Virginia" (so we could have a honeymoon alone). Then I went to the pastor and asked him to marry us ASAP. The pastor's mouth fell open, his eyes widened in shock, and I could almost read his mind: "My God!, what have I done to Ann?!. But he agreed to marry us provided we attend his usual three-day pre-marital counseling course. We said we wanted to be married that weekend and did not have time for a three-day counseling course; besides, we were both counselor's ourselves and did not think we needed such counseling. So, he agreed to a single session of counseling one evening at the parsonage, during which, in the course of his counseling, he described how he saw Ann, using the same sort of superlatives he had used before introducing me to her. Then he looked at me, paused for a while, and said, "And John ... John needs a lot of love", and had nothing more to say to me or about me. Perhaps he remembered a trip on which he had taken me to an interdenominational meeting of pastors in Fayetteville. During the travel time on the way, he asked me questions about my former wife: questions that I could not answer without periods of prolonged weeping during which I could not talk.

Enough (too much?) said, for now.

John Reece
07-03-2015, 07:39 AM
My wife tells me that I have mis-remembered what I wrote above was "a few weeks" interval between our being introduced and our being married; she corrects me saying that it was actually eight weeks or two months ― from February 16th to April 14, Easter weekend of 1979.

Also, much to my chagrin, after pondering anew and at length what actually happened, my saying 'I heard a distinct voice within my spirit say in a commanding tone, "marry her!"' was not exactly accurate. I certainly understood the words "marry her" to be a command; however, as best I can tell now in retrospect (after 36 years), there was no "voice" and no "saying", and thus no "tone". What it actually was was a discernment of distinct words in my spirit. They were not "spoken" to me, but I could have spoken them as I discerned them. Anyhow, the effect was the same as if I had actually "heard" a "voice" saying the words: "Marry her".

More later, maybe; there is a thunderstorm here, so I must disconnect my DSL line.

Cow Poke
07-03-2015, 07:43 AM
My wife tells me that I have mis-remembered what I wrote...

Don't ya hate it when a great story is ruined by an eye witness? :smile: After a sermon, my wife will occasionally say something like, "by the way, good sermon, but the [whatever] incident actually happened when we were in Tyler, not Longview." :smile: But the essential FACTS are correct!

Cow Poke
07-03-2015, 07:48 AM
The grief of losing my wife to years of confinement in a mental institution, combined with the psychological effects of being employed in a mental health center, where the ideal philosophy of a healthy mental life was thought to be self-fulfillment, resulted in my adopting the latter more as a sort of process of osmosis rather than a conscious choice. I drifted into a way of living that I had formerly abhorred and avoided.

I came to the end of such while sitting alone at home one evening in 1978. It dawned on me after years of trying, that I was not competent to manage my own life, that all my efforts to find satisfaction in personal relationships ― that is with women ― was not working and more importantly was never going to work. I had come to the end of the self-centeredness of seeking self-fulfilment. All of a sudden my will did a "180" ― from seeking my own fulfillment to an unreserved commitment to do God's will. I said, "God, if you will speak to me, I will do anything you say." I had no idea how He might speak or what He might say. However, what I had said, I meant with all my heart.

It's easy for Christians to say, "Just read the Bible and practice what God says in His Word". In effect, I had said such things to others myself while judging them (in my heart) rather severely and self-righteously. The middle-aged black pastor of a Black church in Richmond, who was a fellow student at the Presbyterian School of Christian Education, had confided in me, that he was secretly having an affair with a 21 year old woman in his church. I could not empathize with him; quite the contrary, my attitude was that I had been faithful to my wife for 14 years despite her being confined all that time to a mental institution. I thought, if I could be faithful in that way, he, whose wife was a competent teacher of French in a local school, should be able to do likewise. In my case, I had had my wife transferred from the mental hospital in Roanoke to the one in Williamsburg, so that I could faithfully visit her every week while I attended school at both PSCE and Union Theological Seminary in Richmond.

However, my judgmentalism turned out to be my downfall. It was as though God withdrew His grace by which alone I had lived a pure life until then, and let me go through a trial that I was not able on my own to withstand. I became a target of the wiles of a female fellow student who tempted me beyond my ability to resist ― though I tried to do so as long as I could. I would drive to northern Virginia to visit my young daughters who were staying with their maternal grandmother, weeping as I drove and praying (in vain) "God, please do not let me sin" ― or words to that effect. But that was a prayer God was not going to answer: It was up to me to avid sin, and I did not have it in me to do so without God's grace, which I had forfeited by judging my brother, the black Baptist pastor ("Do not judge, or you too will be judged." Matt 7:1 TNIV).

I have spent two days trying to figure how to abbreviate this story, but I can't...

Back to my saying to God, as I abandoned my self-will in that moment in 1978, "God, If you will speak to me, I will do anything you say". Oddly enough, in the condition I was in at the time, it never occurred to me to read the Bible, because ― believe it or not ― I was constitutionally unable to do so, just as I was unable to attend church services; because such were activities that were inextricably associated in my psyche with years of praying in vain for my wife to be healed; I just could not do such things anymore. When I said "God, if you will speak to me, I will do anything you say", it was the closest thing to a prayer that I had uttered for a very long time. God and I had not been on speaking terms ― and still weren't except for those few words uttered in desperation.

Well, it happens that God took me at my word in ways that restored my life. First of all, a fellow staff member at the mental health center, a nurse by the name of Martha, took it upon herself to be a match-maker for me ―not that I asked her to do so, or even wanted her to do so; I had never said a word to her about my status as a man living alone; it was 100% her own idea. She set me up with a blind date for dinner at her home with her husband and her husband's cousin. I arrived at her home before the cousin did, and when the cousin walked in, lo and behold: a rather loud-mouthed domineering woman just like I had recently been in an ill-fated relationship with. I never said a word to her or she to me. All the conversation at dinner was between the family members. After supper we adjourned to the living room, where shortly Martha said something like "Bobby, lets us go upstairs so John and [whatever-her-name-was] can be alone". Whereupon I instantly popped onto my feet and said something like "I must be going" and left the house posthaste; no way was I going to left alone that woman!

Martha and I never said anything to each other about that episode thereafter. Sometime later she tried again, telling me about a nice divorcee she wanted me to meet. I said, "No way, Martha". But she prevailed upon me saying, I know I made a mistake the last time, but this is different. So she arranged for me and a blind-date to take a trip with her and her husband and the husband's brother and the latter's wife, from North Carolina to South Carolina to see a UNC vs. USC football game. But it turned out that Martha and her husband had to go to a Kiwanis convention where he was a district governor. When George and Becky (the brother and his wife), along with my blind-date, picked me up, I got into the back seat of the vehicle behind George, took one look at the blind date, said "hello" or some such greeting, heard her say something likewise, and on the spot knew she was not for me; so, I simply resigned myself to enjoy the trip. All the way down to the football game, most of the conversation was between me and Becky, who, though I did not know it at the time, was an angel of God sent to me in response to my saying, "God, if you will speak to me, I will do anything you say".

George and Becky had made arrangements to meet after the game at a restaurant with a group of about dozen friends with whom they had been fellow church members when George had been personnel director for a large corporation in Columbia. In the event, there was a manifestation of Christian love among that group that was never verbalized as such, it was just in the air they breathed, so to speak. It profoundly impressed me, because it was the same Love that I had shared with a group of fellow 30-year-olds in a group that God had used me and friend to form in a Methodist church many years before in the Arlington suburb of Washington DC. On the way home Becky noticed the tears falling down my face, and inquired about the reason, which was the memory of time during which I shared the same Love that flowed among that group in Northern Virginia, among whom God "poured out his Spirit" in many wonderful ways. She told me about the pastor of a Baptist church in Buies Creek that was almost within walking distance of the mental health center where I worked, and suggested that I attend the church and meet the pastor thereof. I said that I would, but a bit later I said, "You say that I should go to that church and meet that pastor; I say that I will, but I know that I won't." That's when Becky got on my case and began talking to me and kept doing so the rest of the way home with no interruption by me or either of the other two passenger. I do not remember a word she said, but when George made a turn in the center of Lillington to take me to my house, I remember Becky was still talking to me as I listened silently. When I got out of the car and went into the house, I closed the door behind me, saluted, and said, "Yes, Sir!" I had heard God speaking to me through Becky in no uncertain terms, though all I could remember was that I should go the First Baptist Church in Buies Creek.

The pastor, John Rogers, decided to introduce me to a woman whom he described and characterized in glowing superlatives, telling me how gifted and talented and well-educated she was, etc. I asked, "How old is she"; when he told me (six years younger than me) I said "She's too old for me". Then I asked, Where does she live? "With her saintly mother here in Buies Creek." "With her saintly mother?!" "Yes, she really is a saint." When I met and got to know her mother, the widow of a Baptist pastor, I found the pastor's words to have been under-statement. The pastor told me that the woman to whom he was referring (who became my wife within a matter of just few weeks!) was the one whom he had enlisted to give a children's sermon at a recent morning service. I said "She looks depressed". He said "You would be too". He told me about how she was a well-trained and experienced hospital chaplain who had come to stay temporarily with her mother while she was to become (she mistakenly expected) a full-time chaplain employed by Cape Fear Valley hospital in nearby Fayetteville. When that job did not happen as she had expected, she found herself stuck in Buies Creek working for minimum wage in the library of Campbell University, the college town that is the location of both the church and the mental health center about which I am writing.

Because of our background and training, the pastor asked the two of us (me and the woman mentioned above) to co-teach a Sunday School class on the subject of "death and dying". So I invited the lady to my home for supper so we could plan the course we were to teach. I was not romantically attracted to her, nor did I "fall in love" her. But, one day when I happened to be walking along a pathway on my property, I heard a distinct voice within my spirit say in a commanding tone, "marry her!" So, I asked her to marry me and she agreed. Then I went to her mother and asked permission to marry her daughter. The mother said, "Why don't you do it this weekend while the daughter is in Virginia" (so we could have a honeymoon alone). Then I went to the pastor and asked him to marry us ASAP. The pastor's mouth fell open, his eyes widened in shock, and I could almost read his mind: "My God!, what have I done to Ann?!. But he agreed to marry us provided we attend his usual three-day pre-marital counseling course. We said we wanted to be married that weekend and did not have time for a three-day counseling course; besides, we were both counselor's ourselves and did not think we needed such counseling. So, he agreed to a single session of counseling one evening at the parsonage, during which, in the course of his counseling, he described how he saw Ann, using the same sort of superlatives he had used before introducing me to her. Then he looked at me, paused for a while, and said, "And John ... John needs a lot of love", and had nothing more to say to me or about me. Perhaps he remembered a trip on which he had taken me to an interdenominational meeting of pastors in Fayetteville. During the travel time on the way, he asked me questions about my former wife: questions that I could not answer without periods of prolonged weeping during which I could not talk.

Enough (too much?) said, for now.

Thanks for sharing that, John.

On a side note... my Mom and Dad asked me to "marry them" for their 50th Anniversary. I felt quite honored, as I had an older brother who was ALSO a pastor.

During the ceremony, as my Mom and Dad were standing facing one another, me behind them looking at the audience comprised of our extended family and lots of friends, I explained that I ALWAYS have pre-marital counseling sessions before I do a wedding. I explained, "so, last night, I met with the couple (Mom and Dad) and we went through our topics of counseling --- and BOY did I learn a lot!!!!"

I think that was one of my better lines. :smug: