Tuesday, April 14, 2015

More Grace - old friend David Jeremiah

Of all the radio Pastors I have heard over the years, David has the best voice of all and it's hard to find fault with his theology, although I have met a few of his critics.  I recall buying his book, Captured by Grace, and it looks like I have never opened it.  I loved his sub-title, No One is Beyond the Reach of a Loving God.  Just that thought deserves a loud, Amen!

But, I was rather disappointed by its content.  I had to turn to his "Finale" to make certain he was talking about the same Grace, God's Grace, that I hold dear in my heart.  He makes four points to summarize the Bible's interpretation of Grace.  First, it must be acknowledged - Romans 3:10.   Next, it must be affirmed - Romans 5:8.  Third, you must ask for your salvation - Romans 10:9, and fourth, you must always serve Christ, as Lord and Master, every day - Romans 10:9.

Up until May 13, 1975, I had studied all of these verses, I thought I knew what it meant to be a Christian, but somehow I needed confirmation from a Pastor or some authority in the church.  I was not learning what I needed to be learning until that glorious night when I asked God what He meant by the word, repent.  I was in route to meet an acknowledged teacher on faith, hoping that he might make the right connections for me.  I would never have to follow through with that meeting I had hoped to keep.  God answered my question, by recalling to my mind, the attitudes I had carried for almost 45 years - every since I had felt abandoned by my natural parents.

I was born in 1929, the first child of a marriage where my father had longed to have a daughter.  I know that because of the conversations I overheard growing up.  Three years later, my sister came along and since I had the measles at that time, I was sent to live with my grandparents and spent my teen aged years with them, mainly because my father died along the way.  I had a good home, we went to church regularly, enough that when I left home to join the Air Force, I kept up the practice.  I never really knew what it was, not to be in church on Sundays and often, on Wednesday evenings as well.  I knew what it was, I thought, to be saved and went to the altar a number of times, only to leave the church, wondering what had happened.

Now, it was 1975 and my mind had gone back to those early years and I was being reminded of all of the reasons I had to repent.  With tears flowing from my eyes, I asked God to take over my life.  And something happened.  It was as though He actually answered my plea.

I believed He had and as the sun came up the next morning, I made a decision to follow Him, no matter where it might take me, no matter the circumstances in which I might find myself.  That was almost forty years ago.  I have never turned back.  And I began to learn of the truths to be found in the scriptures, especially the one I discovered in the book store at ORU, Oral Roberts University.  It was Acts 1:8 - ..,"and you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you shall be My witness, wherever your feet might carry you."  It was as though, I was baptized by the Holy Spirit on that spot.

It was only a few days after I had made my commitment and I was eager to get to church, to tell others of my experience, but for some reason, I did not.  I had yet to discover what it really meant to have been touched by God and - by chance, I was asked to go to the bedside of a well known "person of faith" who would never get out of that bed.  I shared my experience with her and she reached out to take my hands and draw me to her side.  "You have been gifted, son.  You are right in not sharing it with strangers.  God will tell you where and when to divulge it."  And I left, confused.

What was confusing me was the fact that many talked about salvation and those who did seemed eager to talk about the "gifts" of the Holy Spirit, but none claimed to have experienced them.  I had found a new job, in fact, a few, in this city I knew so little about.  I began to have experiences that I had not anticipated and then there was a "call" to move on.  I moved to Dallas, TX, to work as a "servant" to a man I had come to know and nothing - as in not anything, happened.  We soon parted company.  With that, another man, working in the same building approached me and asked me to join one of his enterprises.  I would become a sort of religious "guru" to him and he would assign me to tasks I had no real idea about what I would be doing, until I was doing it.

The strange thing that was happening was that I could not share what I was doing with others and that set most of them against me.  I was used to having friends.  I was losing all that I had found.

Then, my "job" was over.  I had no idea as to what I should be doing, so I asked God in prayer, what was I supposed to do.  "Go, be with My people" was his specific answer and although I had questions, I assumed it meant to go with the people I had longed to know when I had managed "Labor Pools" years earlier.  I decided that was it and after giving my baggage away, a car, books, furniture, etc., I literally walked out of town, somehow believing He would be leading me.  And He did.

For the next two and a half years, He was my sole companion.  I would meet people I would have never met, I would be offered opportunities to support myself without ever asking for help, i would always find a place to sleep without searching for one.  It was like a fantasy world in a sense as there was no way I could explain it to others.  I suppose many looked on me as a vagrant, but it never occurred to me.  I was doing what I firmly believed I was called to do.  Until one day, I stopped in a city where there was an active "mission" and as I had done many times, I stopped to spend time with them.  In the course of events, I would meet a lady who shocked me by saying, "I want to marry you."  And we got married.

She was like many of the people I had met along the way, she had been abused by a husband she had been married to earlier and there were two sons, taken from her because their father had the power to almost destroy her life.  He almost did!  But God joined us together and although there were problems along the way, I loved her for the rest of her life.

I am going to pause now.  There is a reason I went off on a tangent, but I will return to Brother Jeremiah, tomorrow, probably.  What he was saying in most of his book is precisely what I am saying to you now.  The only difference is that he is David Jeremiah and I am Sherwood MacRae, two men who probably we never meet up with, this side of heaven, but our stories are much the same.

Until tomorrow....

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