Going Home.

Going. Home.

going-home-ian-barber

This post is about that.

For many years (13+) I have wanted that.

To possess my own home.

 

The last time I remember

the true feeling of “home” was at age 11.

We were living in an modest house

on a beautiful place complete with rolling hills and a running creek.

I loved it for sledding and for the forest at the edge of the property. I felt like a greatexplorer!

Loved the finished basement with pool table, shuffleboard and the T.V. where I watched Apollo 13 land on the moon.

Loved how we as a family would go on payday to  Stewart’s Drive In

and get what is STILL the best Root Beer made anywhere in the world. stewarts root beer

Loved the snow forts my Dad helped build, and the shed he cleared for the neighbor kids to use      for a sleepover. Well, ok, sorta  sleepovers ’cause we always got scared and ended up moving to the basement for the rest of the night!   Loved the church where I sang and did Bible crafts.

A sense of family. A sense of   belonging.

 

Then. we. moved.

Some children needed care, and Mom and Dad’s hearts were pulled to the neighboring state to fill that need. I reluctantly tagged along. But I was leaving “home”.

We moved once more after that. These moves were to give others that same sense of family that I cherished; a place to belong in a Children’s Christian Home. With these experiences I became more flexible, more fluid with the River.  At least I thought so.

When my own family  left the mission field in Honduras to allow our daughter to complete her studies in the States, a part of me stayed behind. I was not prepared for this move. I thought we would be living there for many, many years. I was not expecting to move so soon.

I didn’t yet comprehend the path that Abba had for us. I presumed that I knew and tried to walk that out.

But my steps were ordered by Him, flamy symbol  so they always led me  to a place unexpected.   It can be uncomfortable, confusing, and awkward at first, until you begin to recognize the shift and discern the times. Like breaking in a new pair of shoes. It is a process.

The process is not meant to please , but to develop one’s potential!

Until we learned that our “shape” had changed,  we were unsettled. And with its change came a different function.

 We are shaped to be fluid. My husband and I are  to bend and move as the River flows. Sometimes that means being wide open with a mighty current, other times it is nearly still and seems like nothing is happening at all.  But still water runs deep! A friend of ours recently made a statement about us that is simply profound. She said “…but you live in tents”.  Yes, we do. That is our shape.  Others may be skyscrapers, or homes built of stone. But us- we are fluid.

The River has boundaries, it has a course carved out by its flowing.

We have been in an advanced course of learning how to respond to the movement of the River.

As the River  flows, anything in its path is changed.

As I reflect back upon the last several years– nearly 9 of them, I ask what the lessons learned are?

The lawsuit brought a settlement of great gain. Yet we have not held a penny of it in our hands to this date. That has tested us.  We heard someone say “Money costs too much”.  And fin the first few years of this “season” I began to understand this.  The price seemed unfair, yet the appeal of wealth would cause us to dream. And dreaming is good. Abba wants us to dream. But the dreams must be founded upon Him and nothing else. The Lord had to do a work in us so that nothing glittered and not one shimmer remained when we thought of the settlement.

The appeal had to die.  It was either it or us, and Abba is not willing that any should perish.  Water changes the shape of anything in its path.  We needed some smoothing, some shaping and some polishing.    So He sat us under a great and powerful waterfall. 

It was overwhelming at first.

At first we wanted to shake our fists and leap out from under the torrent! By His gentle but firm grace, we stayed.  We had to teach our ears to listen. We heard so many things. Thundering threats, taunts,and condemnation from the enemy through other Believers; news of what was happening that most would not believe; all these had to be sifted and weighed. Be-StillOur hearing has become keen. Instead of being deafened by the roar, we learned to hear the mightiest still Voice.

And He said “Peace, be still” to each and every one of our complaints, questions and despairing cries.

What more have we learned?  That God is for us, God is with us, regardless of how it looks to others or how it feels to us!

This matter is settled in us.  Engraved-in-stone-like-a covenant settled! 

We are convinced of God’s choosing, His favor and His presence.   He is not only with us, but He is MIGHTILY with us. He is not only “greatest within us” but He is the GREATEST. No one compares to Him. He is the Great I Am.  No weapon formed against us has prospered. Many were formed in the fires of hell, but not one has prospered!   But our souls, they have prospered and that process had nothing to do with any jingle in our pockets!  NO AMOUNT of money can buy that assurance. We would not trade that assurance for one cent of the settlement nor one inch of any property. What began as a home grant based upon ministry experience has ended with a gift so much more valuable, so rare and so very priceless!

You see, when you are in the waterfall’s torrent, you are also engulfed in the promise!

great-rainbow-waterfall-kaogxxxer

I have an amazing husband. Truly. For many months my cries to “go home” reached his ears several times daily. He never became angry. He never showed anything but love and compassion, and the deep desire to make that happen if he could. And I know that if he could have, he WOULD HAVE!  In any normal situation, that would be an option and a goal. But we surrendered ALL options to the Lord in a sovereign commission 9 years ago.  He asked us to “come up higher” and exhorted us that we could not change our minds once we agreed.  We said YES.   And Yes means yes. Not maybe, not part way, not all but this.  YES. Sure, certainly, absolutely, indeed, right, affirmative.  Carved-in-stone-like-a-covenant- “yes”.

That yes was not swayed by the legal battles  that after our response quickly ensued nor the atypical challenges we face.  It was a covenant between us and God. We took the limits off of Him. Like Job, we have not understood much of what has transpired.  Unlike Job, we have seen God sovereignly keep two amazing properties  under contact for over 4 years! Every attempt to rob us of this has failed. They are part of His plan and we have but a glimpse of it.  Sometimes I wish I had never seen them. Other times I am awestruck at even being considered for part of this divine plan.  If we never, ever step foot on either one,  we shall yet praise Him.  home-is-where-the-heart-isWe abide.

We wait. We wait for the River’s rise and velocity to shift. When it does, we will not be overcome, but we will move with it, allowing it to carry us to the Father’s appointed destination.  And we know that anywhere He carries us is Home.

 

 

In all your “Letting Go”, HOLD ON!

Let it go.

We are hearing that a lot lately. It is all over Pinterest. It is in conversations on T.V.

and of course a stanza from the popular Frozen movie song.

Letting go is good.

I did an in depth study of Psalm 46:10 many years ago.

The discovery of the meaning found there was a pivotal prompt in my walk with God.

  Be.

THAT is the doing. Be, just “be”.

Not go, not declare, shout , sing, or say, not create, not fight;  BE.

It actually means “cease to strive” as in a tug of war.

tug-o-war1

The only way you can cease a tug of war is to let go of the rope!

That’s hard enough for most of us, isn’t it? But then He continues: “Be still”–  Oh, You want me to exercise even more discipline and BE +  still?  (Wow. You have more confidence in me than I do! )

Jerusalem was surrounded, threatened. God spoke not only to His people, but to the proud and bloated adversaries:

CUS137BeStillScripture

You who know Me, be still. Remember Who I Am.

You who seek to exalt yourselves, know that I, I alone, am GOD.

Are you tired?  Are you feeling like a dream or a promise is absolutely elusive?

Feeling overwhelmed or disillusioned?  Are you carrying something  in your heart that you feel is never going to manifest?

Let go of your worry. Let go of your striving; trying- to -work -it -out -make- it -happen- bring -success- to -your -side.

DROP THE ROPE!

Let the consequences be out of your hand. SO, yeah, let it go.

If you have been tugging on a particular “rope” in your life for an extended time, your hands may have difficulty obeying that command.

gty_tug_of_war_el_monte_high_lpl_130205_wblog

Your grip  might be very familiar and your fingers temporarily frozen to that shape.

Letting go does not mean giving up.

It is not waving a flag of surrender to the enemy and his tactics. Yielding to the awesomeness of the Great I Am is not giving up. It is acknowledging your own limitations. That even your greatest expenditure of faith and dedication is not enough. Never was, never will be!

GODfactpr

Rest assured that  if He is telling you to “let go; be still”, then He is about to act on your behalf.

So don’t be dismayed. HOLD ON to your belief,  the vision,  the promise.

But let go of the desire to control the timing or the outcome.

You are about to be amazed.  Awesome is a word that I reserve for God alone.

I love those moments when He shows up and shows off, don’t you?

Loosen your grip- open your hand.

Let go of the pebbles you’ve clutched so that He can fill your hands to overflowing.

LettingGo copy

“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But as it is written: What eye did not see and ear did not hear, and what never entered the human mind– God prepared this for those who love Him.”

I Cor. 2:9

TEL TELESTI: No Exchange, No Return.

 

Tel  Telesti.

The work of the  cross cannot be undone!

In all the enemy’s  attempts to wreak havoc in the world and threaten Believers,

it’s the ONE thing that cannot be touched, moved, rearranged or undone.

It is utterly, unequivocally impossible! He has only a short time to try to discourage us.

A limited time.  And God, our Lion of Judah,  laughs. (Psalm 2:4)

1271492959-rqbtx4d

So the next time you come against an attack, instead of automatically going into

Bible- Man-Rambo-tie-it all up- cast- it- all -out mode;

                                     stop and remember: Tel Telesti.      Remember that it is finished.

                                       Accomplished.

shalom       ; nothing missing, nothing broken.  All things accounted for.

                                                              ALL.

tel telesti

Trust in Him. Count on it.

Allow the wave of  His joy to wash over you ’til it grows into a laugh.

worship

God laughs at the enemy’s plans.           Join with me in the laughter, join  Him!

jesus laughingThe cross is your invitation to peace, to joy.

9a07d783d6f128daae40f1e7e0ee8227

His ways are perfect. His days are infinite.

selah

Prince & Pauper: A twist on Soul Prosperity and the “Orphan Spirit”

 Jesus is Saviour when He is available

and provides for all that you need in life.

When He is ALL you need,

then He is your

LORD.

There is much talk about the “orphan spirit” in the Body of Christ these days. Having grown up with 20+ foster children as a part of our family- several of them truly orphans; and living/ministering at Casa Hogar Benito Juarez , Tamaulipas, Mexico  I have had a good deal of interaction and learned much from children and adults who deal with feelings of loss, abandonment and lack of true identity.

I am glad that this teaching regarding the orphan spirit ( not knowing your true identity as it is rooted in Christ) is available.

I wholeheartedly support the circulation of it and pray for the truth to be the foundation in the lives of Believers.

But, yes, there often is a “but”, isn’t there?  Well, this post is no exception…

  I have seen a bit of error creep into this popular thought.

Let me “rabbit trail” here for a moment to illustrate my point…

    At age 11, my parents accepted a call to be full time “houseparents” at Ladoga Christian Children’s Home.  They had already had two years as emergency foster parents and wanted extended interraction with children in their care. When the call came, they accepted and we moved to another state, new schools, new home and NEW family! Instantly our number went from my parents and 2 sisters to 14!  We traveled together, ate at a  very looooooooooooooong Amish built table together, worshipped, washed dishes and fought together.

Now, if I were to line up  all of us kids in front of you, would you be able to tell anyone which of us were orphans?

NO! You couldn”t!  Because you cannot discern that by appearance.  In fact, here is one photo of us just so you can try!

So, why do we do that in the Body of Christ???   Some are stopping just short of the full glory and wonder of this teaching regarding our identities by giving the impression or just outright teaching that if you are truly free from the orphan spirit, or of feeling ” less than”, that you will

have all your needs met. That success as the world measures it { position, promotion, house, job, car(s), strong cash flow}

are indicators of your degree of freedom.

Well, I wonder. I wonder about Jesus if that is true.  The very Son of God, the Anointed One, the King of Kings had NO PLACE to lay His head when He walked the earth as an adult!  He had no castle, no caravan, no 401K, yet HE was NOT poor in spirit.

His identity did not rest in His title or what He received as the Son.

It rested in

WHO He knew.

Yes, there are many blessings, including financial prosperity that are inherited from sonship.  And we should appropriate them in our lives!  But we cannot, must not make them the identifiers of true son-ship, if you will pardon the pun. 🙂   Often the Lord is doing a deep work in one who is intimately acquainted with Him through trial, suffering and “want”, and that person is so very much richer than the one who believes and lives comfortably in his plenty.

Let’s look a few current examples.    Pastor Saheed Abendini:

This man is being held prisoner in Iran because of his faithfulness. He was arrested because of his ministry as a Christian.  He has been held captive for nearly two years.  Some American “word” teachers would claim he is lacking in his faith, or that he just doesn’t comprehend his inheritance so he remains in an unchanged circumstance.  REALLY?!!!   Then I guess he is in good company because Paul and other apostles were also held against their will.  To face adverse circumstances, opposition or material lack does not mean you do not understand the Father’s love for you.

My husband and I have been in a long season of testing, opposition and preparation. Previous to this season we had plenty and we learned to rejoice during want. We were stewards of hundreds, then thousands, and then tens of thousands of dollars for Kingdom purposes. The last eight years of our “standing in the waiting room” have been to hone us, to reshape us to steward millions.  How do I know this? Because one evening  we prayed together regarding the Kingdom  mandate we’ve been  given; asking for the millions needed to accomplish it , and shortly thereafter this season began.

What God has shown us is that storms cause roots to run deep.

Son-ship is about roots. You can’t see roots. You know a tree is healthy if it gives life, produces fruit.

The fruit of son-ship is spiritual and eternal , not physical and temporal.

    Storms  also cause love to be purified and teach you that hope often grows best in the dark.  During these dark years, we’ve had several “brothers & sisters” accuse us of lack of faith, lack of identity, lack of whatever!  In response, we respectfully say that if you are not absolutely certain of who you are in Christ, and who He is, then you could not endure eight months of hardship let alone eight years.  Pastor Saheed could not endure beatings, great hunger and separation of family if he was not convinced of who He is.  Jesus personified son-ship as he willingly entrusted His life to the Father through His arrest, crucifixion and burial.

For us, it has become more of a matter of inconvenience. None of the things that we “lack” or are waiting on really affect our relationship with our Abba.   We know HIM so much better, in such a deeper dimension than we did before this season began,than even after years of ministry and mission work,  know His character as we do now.

Isn’t that what sonship is about?  Truly?  That you not only know who you are, but that you know HIM?

See, once you know Him, circumstances are irrelevant.  Because only He and His love are eternal.  Callings, giftings, ministry, possessions, wealth, accomplishments will all melt away in times of persecution.  But to be utterly convicted that He is with you regardless of where you go or whom you face until the end of time is what will sustain you. This is soul prosperity!

7But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith ina Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

To know Him in the power of His resurrection and His sufferings-

is to truly identify with Him as a son of God.

I would rather know that He and I are inseparable than to have the millions and the silly list of things I think that I need.   And He has been working that in me and my husband for this long season.  He loves us enough to not want wealth to be a corrosive factor between the three of us.

THAT is a Father’s love: to withhold the very thing that you desire to give your child until they are fully prepared to manage it.

To submit to that parental wisdom is true sonship;   “If you are trusting in Jesus Christ this morning, the roots of your life were planted in the eternal counsels of God, and the branches of your life are growing into an absolutely sure and glorious future with God. There are no unimportant days in your life. You don’t ever have to go to bed at night feeling that your life is going nowhere. You don’t ever have to give in to the lie that you are not connected to an awesome purpose.”  -Desiring God by John Piper.

 

How  is Abba working son-ship  in you right now?

Stink, Sink or Float?

DISCLAIMER:   If you are a cautious Believer, deeply “religious” or
easily offended by frankness, you might want to reconsider the decision
to read this post!  Please don’t say I didn’t warn you. . .  😀

It’s inspiring to sing about oceans deep; but what about when He takes
you at your word and leads you out away from shore, piers, and without “floaties” or a
life-jacket?  What “floaties” are you wearing? 

What is keeping you above the waters?

     Last night I was cataloging the events of the past weeks making a sort of Life Catalog…

Most of us have things that we hope for, pray for, believe for, and trust the Lord to affect.  We ( my husband and I) do!

It can be a struggle to continue to encourage yourself in the Lord- you know, to order your words so that they are not contradictory to the very things you say you believe? 

The Holy Spirit once gave me a very firm command of “Govern yourself”; to this day I recall it when tempted to give in to the enemy’s taunts.

The  curmudgeon of  disappointment and discouragement who squats upon our doorstep, wanting to share his ill will with us does NOT get invited inside our home!

 
 

We have learned to not give him the time of day, nor let him steal our sight. Once he enters, everything takes on a film of despair.

And then it is difficult to rid oneself of his filthy, sulphuric rotten stench!  UGH!

Not even Febreeze is up to that challenge, lol!

    Were  I designing this “life catalog”, if you will, the pages would be much
different! Flourishes of great announcements of miracles,  a photo
collage of our many trips to the nations we hold in our hearts along
with flashy testimonies of breakthroughs, mountain moving faith and
dozens of new schools and Ministry training centers would tantalize the reader.

Those are
the things the Lord has spoken about to us. We have been prepared for these things.

And they are only part of what we carry, waiting to birth!

We are not new to this kind of lifestyle- we are former missionaries/pastors/educators/active military /risk takers.

We believe these things will  come to pass.

But in HIS TIME.

 Riptides come to every life, especially to Believers who are devoted to walking out the Lord’s plan for their lives. These contrary currents come and attempt to sink us.

They pull on us, they threaten us, it seems.

Our first instinct is to fight, to thrash, to direct our energy toward escape. That is THE LAST thing to do if we want to remain afloat and safely arrive to our destiny!

Living in Myrtle Beach for 9+ years, we were taught to swim with the riptide, parallel to the shore.  This is a great analogy of trust in the Lord. Once you dive in  to the commitment to obey and follow Him, you cannot swim back to your comfort zone. He promises to bring you to the other side of the situation…

“Your grace abounds in deepest waters

Your sovereign hand

Will be my guide

Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me

You’ve never failed and you won’t start now…”

Suddenly, an epiphany:

The lyrics to Christ be All Around Me– lit up like a lamp inside of me:
only when we are out in the deep, or walking through the dark blindly do
we know “***ABOVE   and  BELOW   me***: this means deep waters!
before and behind me, Christ be all
around me.”

Swimming out
in the deep teaches us absolute trust and dependence upon Him;  

stripping us of any subtleties of pride in our abilities to “stabilize”
ourselves.

“My soul will rest in Your embrace; I am Yours and You are mine”

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders  Let me walk upon the waters

Wherever You would call me  Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander

And my faith will be made stronger  In the presence of my Savior…”

It is humbling; but you don’t get His vastness, His sovereignty,
unless you are acutely, sincerely aware of your desperate need of it!

 “So I will call upon Your name

And keep my eyes above the waves

When oceans rise

My soul will rest in your embrace

For I am Yours and You are mine

I will call upon Your Name

Keep my eyes above the waves…”

We  will continue to prepare, listen, believe, move with His strategies,
and wear this mantle for as long as He desires; while exploring the
depths of His love and following the light of I AM. ♥

Deep Presence: Where Feet Fail and Faith Floats

This post is raw. This post is real. This is where I am right now.

Deep Waters  & Deep Presence

The past few weeks have been very different for Dan and me. So much is seemingly suspended in mid air!

I feel like a bar graph.

Yes, I said a bar graph!

A very FULL bar graph! Waiting, waiting, sensing the acceleration of His plan like massive jet engines, yet still  gathering speed. Kinda like a kid in a candy shop window- seeing all the goodies but the store owner  just “aint” turned the key yet!

There are so many areas of our lives right now that are in process, you know, unfinished. Not unstable;  just not completed. Never in our life together have my husband and I been on the verge of so many major life moves. Add to them family concerns like wishing, wanting and trying to figure out how to spend more time with those not living nearby. Add to that several major life decisions that we are  still discerning the best choices and God’s leading. If I try to “manage” them, it is a daunting and discouraging task. We are definitely out in deeper waters and the dog-paddling of years past is NOT working!  We are learning to float. To lean. To let our feet fail.

Each time one of those issues pops into my mind, I have to take a few minutes to “be still” for it to get in alignment. Then another pops up–> “Breathe, thank the Lord, breathe deeply, Be Still.”

Just about the time they all are at the same level of stillness, one rebels! LOL! It tries to sneak up- to get the upper hand on my heart’s graph and rise to the top! My hand is not big enough, not strong  enough to balance each of these at the same time!

Practicing the Presence is a discipline. It is NOT easy. But after a while, it becomes more natural. Oh how I wish it would become automatic, but the Lord did not design us to be that way. He created a void, a need, a desire for time with Him; to be “mind-full” of Him, His willingness, His ability, His love for us. He has hands big enough to handle all of our graphs!

This week I have renewed awe of Him; of His meticulous, magnificent and practical wisdom!  I have also become more aware that He is moving me, us (as a couple) out into the deepest places in Him that we have ever been, and I will be honest, it is VERY unfamiliar and unnerving territory!

I remember my family vacations to Myrtle Beach as a child. I loved the view. 😉 I could sit and sketch the landscape, the people all day! But… my Mom is a bonafide -freakin’ fish!!!  She LOVES the waves!  She taught us girls how to use a boogie board. She body surfed those crashers and laughed about it!  (Still was doing that in her early 70’s!)  I did ok. I felt so triumphant when I actually caught a wave and rode all the way to shore! But she would urge me to go out deeper.

She knew that the bigger waves, the greater victories come from being out in the deep, and knowing the perfect timing to ride the crest of each wave. 

Oh how I wanted to be just like her in that! But like the main character in Hind’s Feet on High Places, I was VeryMuchAfraid.   [: /

So I stayed where my feet could still touch bottom most of the time and caught  fewer waves and had less celebrations. I didn’t like losing control to a wave and being tumbled under the water. I complained about the taste of salt water, the sand in my pants. I made excuses not to go out deeper.

My Dad is a “landlubber” you know, steak and potatoes kinda guy. He likes his feet on the ground. He maps his course, scales out the distances, calculates the process and plots a path. He stands firm in what he knows to be truth. He is our family’s rock. And he doesn’t like ocean waves either! Ha ha!

Now I know that time is short and life is unpredictable. Life must be lived!  In my 50 years of  humanness, I have enough regrets, wishes for “do-overs”. I have a list of things to DO-to  BE.  Instead of putting them in a bucket, I am casting them out onto the water- out into the deep. This is gonna cost me. It is going to scare me. It will challenge the foundation of who I think I am. It will definitely sort out the precious from the worthless. I lay the list bare here, because you can’t ride the waves wearing a  bunch of layers!

* I want to overcome my trauma from a mountain’s edge car accident. I want to travel through high places again without fear.

*I want to go out to the places where others won’t go- to the uttermost parts of the earth.

*I want to live with abandon pursuing my King.

*I want my kids to know that it is OK to make mistakes and take a tumble now and then.

*I want to fulfill every last detail of God’s plan for my life with a pure heart.

*I want to paint what is on the Father’s heart in a much more profound way than in years past

*I want torun with the horses with Dan at 70 and govern like Kings at 80.

*I want a deep relationship with my daughter-in-law and grandson.

*I want to see more layers removed so less of me is seen and God’s glory is revealed.

*I want my feet to fail.

This song has been playing in my soul for the past few weeks:

It is o.k. that I am cautious like my Dad. I am adventurous like Mom too. But finding the balance of the two is my quest for the next 40 years.

I want to take those strengths and follow the Father and ride the waves of His Spirit!

I want every victory He has in store for me, no matter the cost. I have weighed the cost and find that it is too expensive to stay in shallow waters. So I am paddling out into the deep. Learning to float- to rest in Him as He navigates the course.

* * * * * * * * *  * * * * * * * * *  * * * * * * * * *  * * * * * * * * *  * * * * * * * * *

I created this poem back in  2003. I finally have decided to fully live it now.

Chapter One River Dance by Amanda Kuykendall

            

 This post is different.
My husband is the storyteller in our family.
We found out three years ago that he
probably was created for that, and were we living in a Cherokee village
he would be fulfilling that destiny given through his birth family.
Nevertheless, I am here writing today. And I have a story to tell. It
will probably be more like chapters, as there is much to share.Here is   “Chapter One” of River Dance…
A young couple who met at Bible College in the Appalachian
mountains stepped out into the stream of marriage and shortly thereafter
followed a call into ministry. Ordination followed and soon they sat in
the living room of their mentor minister’s home. Internship was
exciting and difficult. Growling stomachs and saving pennies for gas to
travel each weekend were part of the preparation. They saw first hand the
poverty and despair that comes from living in a land without The River.
Two “churches” situated opposite each other who were once one congregation;
the placement of the coal pile being the  reason for the split.
  Children sexually abused and neglected,
swarming with lice and fear in a dry and weary land were a weekly experience.
Being young in years and full of zeal, the call to a full time
pastorate in the Allegheny mountains was welcomed. Lush and breathtaking
views greeted the couple every morning in this historic, artistic
quaint mountain town. A few warm-hearted people contrasted the chilly
winters and bone cold growth level of the congregation.  They were
frozen in The River, damming its flow altogether.
After leading the group of people as far as they cared to go ( which
wasn’t far- the Church’s Historian’s records showed no change in 10
years in attendance, missions nor financial incrementation) the two –
who – were- now-three packed up
and entered into The City of the Fountain.
There they received an education of both sides of the spectrum; the
glorious possibility of the presence of God and darkness’  eerie
attempts to prevail.
A previous minister had a son who fancied having a
coffin in the garage and an ouija board in his bedroom. He eventually
killed his own child.  Many times a strange presence was felt in the
parsonage. Discord seemed to come instantly between The Two.  The Jewel
placed a book in the woman’s hands that was entitled This Present
Darkness. Eyes began to open and deeper understanding
poured out upon  The Two.
   A teaching regarding the Holy Spirit made them angry at first.
Determined to prove
the error, months were spent scouring The Book of the River in efforts
to document the findings.
Document them they did, and also found the truth.
This truth led The Two to challenge The Lord of The River.

 “If this is true, and if this is real, and I somehow have missed it all
this time, please show me. Baptize me, Fill me with Your Holy Spirit for
I do not want any other.”

The challenge did not go unnoticed nor unanswered. Light burst forth
and understanding fell upon them both, individually, separately and
alone. No man nor flesh did this. God and God alone.  The Two had been
introduced to The River. They needed a trail guide.
The Lord of The  River promptly provided that guide.
She was a Jewel amongst the congregation, shining brightly
amongst diamonds in the rough who led them to others
who knew of The River.
  One of the first things The River does is to cleanse.
Questions that had plagued them for
a long time were suddenly answered and a fresh softening of their
hearts began to restore any damage caused by the resident evil.
Another testing of the teaching took place.
Despite not knowing of The
Gifts found in The Book of The River, The Two still sensed something not
right in the house.
After hearing about a person who had resolved a
similar issue, they decided to apply  it to the house. Praying through
each room, and anointing each door and window with oil, the house became
electrified. An overpowering odor emanated from the upstairs.
A bedroom door opened on its own.
The door to the upper level also opened on its
own accord, with the sounds of footsteps heard following it. Upon
praying through a room and anointing it, a peace was felt until the next
room was entered. The peace was restored through the prayer, praise and
anointing. Between the chimney for the fireplace downstairs and the
wall they found the source of the smell. Praying through they removed
the ouija board that had been tucked into the space. Taking it outside
and burning it, a deep, thick black smoke rose into the sky.  The house
cleansed, The Two were now free to live there in peace and the journey on The River resumed.

Once you have tasted of this water, you are never satisfied with the
beverage of religion.

There is too much life, joy, peace that splashes
over your thirsty soul to turn back.  The Two found themselves searching
after the river, hiking trails, looking for signs that would lead them
to its banks. It’s melodious, rhythmic rapids called out to them and
stirred something deep within that they did not recognize.

The Landlubbers were none to happy to see the young minister and his
wife tasting a different brew. Their palates were too accustomed to the
fermented flavor of old wine; their skins had grown hard and resisted
expansion of any sort. It wasn’t long before their left feet began to
get restless. The River was calling and several others heard the sound.
They too wanted more. After several months of banter back and forth
about The River, the right hands of the leaders pulled away from The Two
and the  elected leadership inserted their left feet where the sun
doesn’t shine, sending The Two hurtling out to the curb. It was a
painful time of great shock, disillusionment and  a test of the call.

As they wandered and wondered why the Lord of The River seemed to
have abandoned them, they did not know they had actually embarked upon
the path that would lead them straight into the rushing current itself.

The Jewel had invited them to  a service nearby.  Reluctantly they
agreed to go.  For the woman, the thought of entering one of “those”
churches was intimidating. The many stories of bizarre activities caused
her to tremble as they walked in the door. But no pews were rocking, no
one was jumping around and each of the 3 chandeliers seemed to be just
fine in their proper places, hanging still. They were definitely not
prepared for what they heard and saw next!