Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Endurance - Part 2

Joseph Herrin (10-29-08)

I want to share with you a second message the Father is bringing forth through the book Endurance, and through the experiences He has been bringing me through of late. The story of Sir Ernest Shackleton and his voyage with 27 other men to the South Pole is clearly a parable of this last hour and the wilderness journey that the church must go through. In my second reading of the story I have paid much more attention to the details of the story, and they are clearly infused with divine symbolism.

The ship Endurance was 144 feet in length from bow to stern. This is a number pertaining to the overcomers in Christ. Shackleton was 40 years old when he began this trek, and forty is a number relating to trials and testing, being the same number of years that Moses led the people of God through the wilderness, and the number of days the Lord spent fasting in the wilderness (a symbol of putting the flesh underneath the spirit) and being tempted of Satan.

In the previous post I mentioned that it was 522 days from the time Shackleton left South Georgia Island until he returned. This indicates grace (5) and flesh cutting (22). When Shackleton left South Georgia Island, he did so in a ship 144 feet in length. When he arrived back he did so in a much smaller open boat which was 22 feet in length, and six feet across. This again points to flesh (6) and flesh cutting (22). Not only this, but there were six men in the boat that made this perilous crossing, while 22 men of the crew were left behind on Elephant Island to await Shackleton bringing back a ship to rescue them.

After Shackleton arrived on South Georgia Island with six men, he left 3 of them on one side of the island, while he and 2 others attempted the perilous overland crossing of the island, a feat that had never been accomplished before, and has been done only one time since. Amazingly they made the trek successfully, and it is one more heroic account of endurance in this epic story.

Upon arriving at the whaling village on the island, Shackleton arranged for a ship to be sent around to pick up the 3 men left on the far side of South Georgia Island. Appropriately, the name of the ship sent after the three men was the Samson. The Samson arrived back with the 3 men on May 22nd, which once more brings forth the testimony found in the numbers 5-22. Only God could have orchestrated all of these details with such perfection.

I would like to look at another great challenge that confronted Sir Ernest Shackleton throughout this incredible expedition. This is something that the Spirit is bearing witness to, which will play a tremendous role in coming days. This is the challenges that arose from the personalities of the men who were all participants in this struggle for survival.

In reading the book Endurance, it becomes evident that dealing with the men on the voyage was a very major concern and weight upon the shoulders of Shackleton. For the most part, the men maintained very good attitudes, but there were a few trouble spots that had to be guarded constantly. Two men in particular, the ship’s carpenter, a 56 year old Scottish man named McNeish, and a man with the last name of Orde-Lees, who was the most physically powerful man among the crew, but also the laziest, caused Shackleton to have to remain ever vigilant against rebellion and insubordination.

Throughout the book one discerns that McNeish was an exceptionally skilled ship’s carpenter. His services were widely needed, and everything he did was done well. Yet at the same time, being the oldest member of the crew, and having served on ships a long time, he considered himself something of a sailor’s lawyer. He had the worst attitude of any crew member when it came to murmuring and complaining. The thought of this murmuring spirit influencing the other members of the crew, so alarmed Shackleton, that he had McNeish share a tent with himself and two other trouble makers. Although Shackleton had no fondness for these troublesome men, he wanted to keep them away from the others, and therefore accepted their presence in his own tent.

This was perhaps one of Ernest Shackleton’s greatest weaknesses. In choosing his crew mates, we are told that he had over 5,000 applications for the 27 positions on his crew. The beginning of the book speaks of his approach to choosing crew members, and it seems to have been very capricious. We are told that there is no evidence that he spent more than five minutes in interviewing any of the crew members. This seems to have been a glaring deficiency, especially knowing that they were to face perilous conditions, and even risk their lives. With so much at stake it would have been prudent to be very cautious in the selection of crew members.

Some of Shackleton’s choices came back to bite him. He very much rued the selection of certain individuals whose character became known when the trek became difficult. After one particularly grueling experience where McNeish became very insubordinate and intransigent in his behavior, Shackleton wrote in his journal that he would never forget this man and the trouble he caused him. I am reminded of Paul’s words to Timothy concerning Alexander the coppermsith.

II Timothy 4:14-15
Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Be on guard against him yourself, for he vigorously opposed our teaching.

I have entreated the Lord to reveal to me that which He wants me to discern concerning these things. The Spirit bears witness that He wants me to consider deeply this matter of the trouble that lies ahead which will be caused by difficult people when they are cast into times of trouble. God has reminded me of Moses as he led the people of God through the wilderness.

Back in April the Lord spoke to me about Moses being a symbol and pattern of those who will lead His people through a wilderness experience in days ahead. God had led me through two forty day periods of camping in the wilderness under extreme conditions some four years earlier. He showed me that this was a pattern of those who would be called to lead His people through the wilderness in the approaching days. Like Moses, the first experience was for their own humbling, and emptying of all reliance upon the power of the flesh. The second wilderness experience would contain its own trials, albeit somewhat different for those who were entering upon a second experience.

If you are familiar with Moses’ experience of leading the people of God, you will certainly recognize that his greatest trial was not with the physical elements, but with the difficult, complaining, murmuring, fearful, and often rebellious spirit of the people he was guiding. The Spirit is testifying that this is also that which His appointed leaders will have to contend with in coming days.

Consider the following. There has perhaps been no day in which the church has grown more sensual, soft, lazy, and selfish than in this present hour. It will be members from this church who are cast into the wilderness experience ahead. Any who are appointed to shepherd and guide such ones will find the experience fraught with many vexations. A people whose faith is weak, and whose fear is pronounced, will be cast into a time of great trial. A people who are materialistic, and who know almost nothing about “suffering hardship as a good soldier of Yahshua Christ” will be called upon to endure hardship. A people who have been undisciplined and self-directed will enter into a time when to fail to discern and obey the leading of the Spirit will prove very costly.

Those who must lead such people through the wilderness will need not only the mind of Christ, but His character as well. Christ at times expressed exasperation at the slowness of His own disciples, and He picked them out by hand. Christ was well aware that Judas would betray Him, but it was clearly the Father's will that Judas be chosen as one of Christ's companions. There is a message in this. Even when we are led of the Spirit in our associations, we will not be spared from those relationships that are difficult, nor from encounters with people we have broken bread with us only to turn and seek to cause us injury.

Moses did not get to choose his companions in the wilderness, and I do not believe those who are called to be leaders in these approaching days will get to choose their companions either. We are to be led of the Spirit in all things, and we should not expect that the Spirit will direct us to relationships with people who are faithful, spiritually mature, and who seek our welfare at all times. There will be unfaithful companions in the wilderness, and we will have to endure them though they plague us like a broken tooth.

The companions the Father chooses for us, both good and bad, faithful and unfaithful, are chosen for our own perfecting as saints. Christ learned obedience by the things He suffered, and a significant part of this suffering was having a close companion betray him, even with a kiss. Moses also was matured and perfected through the trials he encountered in his second forty year experience in the wilderness.

I cannot refuse to accept as traveling companions those whom God has appointed for me to walk with. The selection must be left in God’s hands. He is indicating that He will not put us together only with those who are easy to get along with. He will yoke us to some who will make our way difficult, even as Moses’ way was made difficult.

Moses had to deal with the rebellion of Korah, Dathan, Abiram and On. Moses had to deal with the criticisms of his own brother and sister concerning his Midianite wife. Moses had to contend constantly with murmuring and complaint over living conditions and food and water. Moses had to contend with people who lusted after the things of Egypt that they had left behind. Moses had to contend with a people who were fearful and often churlish and unjust in their accusations against him. And so must the leaders God has appointed for this coming hour.

People of God, especially those called to be leaders in the coming days, are you prepared for the trials of coming days that will be the result of men’s own poor behavior? The Father spoke to me through something as simple as a prize in a bag of Cracker Jacks. Inside my bag was a small picture of Abraham Lincoln. You could fold it one way and see Lincoln as a small boy. When folding it another way you could see him as a man with a beard and stove pipe hat.

Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, and he served during what was arguably the most difficult period of the nation’s history. Brother was set against brother, and more were killed and wounded in that great conflict than all of the other wars of the nation combined. Yet one thing that stood out to me concerning the legacy of Abraham Lincoln is that he refused to vilify the one whom he fought against.

Lincoln was urged on numerous occasions to demonize the people of the South, but he refused to do so, knowing that one day they must all be united again as brothers in one nation. After the war was won, many urged him strongly to punish the South by making them pay reparations, and even denying them the right to vote. Again, Lincoln would hear nothing of the sort. He said that they needed to treat the citizens of the Southern States on an equal footing, and to move quickly past the hurts and wounds of the war in order to foster a United States of America where the citizens truly felt as if they were all members of one nation.

Tragically, Lincoln was assassinated, and those who replaced him were not so generous or forgiving. The South was plundered by Northern carpetbaggers, and her citizens were demonized in the press and by various politicians. When I received this picture of Lincoln, his attitude towards those he had a long struggle with was what came to mind. I believe the same attitude must be adopted by the children of God in this hour. Although we will certainly have conflicts, and in some cases will be called upon to manifest great resolve to see things through to an appropriate end, we must be careful to not demonize those against whom we struggle.

Certainly Moses manifested this same spirit. Although he was often the recipient of the people’s poor behavior and unjust charges, when God spoke of destroying them and beginning anew, Moses interceded for the people. He went so far as to entreat the Lord to destroy him as well, of he were to destroy the rest of Israel. We must remember that the principle of Christ is to love even our enemies. Even while being crucified the Son of God proclaimed, “Father, have mercy on them, for they do not know what they do.”

If our prayer is for vengeance upon our enemies, rather than for mercy, then we have not yet discerned the Spirit of Christ. We are like James and John when they asked the Lord if they should call down fire out of heaven to destroy the cities that had rejected Yahshua.

Luke 9:55-56
"You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them."

I would recommend the book Endurance to any who have not yet read it. The Spirit is testifying that it contains many messages for the coming hour. The copy I have is written by Alfred Lansing and has a Foreword by James Dobson.

May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.

Heart4God Website:
Parables Blog:

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Endurance - Part 1

Joseph Herrin (10-27-08)

I believe that if we wait patiently upon the Father that we can expect Him to speak to us and make things clear. This has certainly been one of the lessons the Spirit of Christ is teaching at this time. When we act hastily we often fail to discern the mind of the Father. He would have us to slow down, to wait upon Him, and to have an expectation as we do so that He will truly speak to us. The Father has been faithful to guide and direct me as I have waited upon Him during this season on Jekyll Island.

I want to share with you a very profound witness I have received from the Spirit in the past several days. A couple days ago I set out to ride my bicycle around the island, and I really felt a need for the Father to put all things in context that I might know what He is seeking to communicate to me. Sometimes we need a reference point, or a certain framework to understand the events we are experiencing. As I began my ride I confessed to the Lord that I knew He was quite able to speak to me, and I truly wanted to hear His voice. I told Him that as I rode around the island that I was listening, and I invited Him to speak. Before I asked, He had already sent the answer.

Isaiah 65:24
And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.

The previous night the Lord spoke to me clearly and told me to read again the book Endurance - Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage. I had noted a few things in the book that I had not seen before, but I had not yet discerned why the Father directed me to read this again. Upon finishing my bike ride I received an e-mail, and while answering a sister’s question the Father brought understanding. The Father showed me that this book provides the framework needed to know what He is speaking in this season.

For those of you unfamiliar with this book, I will provide a little background. Just before I left the employment of the Rescue Mission last February I was putting some donated books on the shelf at the Mission’s thrift store when this book caught my eye. The Spirit spoke to me and indicated I was to purchase this book and read it.

I found the book profoundly moving as it chronicles the expedition led by Sir Ernest Shackleton to cross the South Polar Continent in 1914. A group of 28 men set sail from South Georgia Island to begin their trek. Their ship, Endurance, never made it to the continent. It became locked in ice in the Weddell Sea, one of the most forbidding places on earth. Before long the mission changed to one of survival, and all plans to cross the continent, or even reach it, were abandoned.

Shackleton’s goal became that of getting his men back home alive, and the storms and severe cold and desperate conditions they endured are simply incredible to read about. For nearly two years these men survived in this frozen wasteland, and when all was said and done, Shackleton got all of the men back to safety without the loss of a single life. That the men were transformed by the experience was quite evident.

When I read this book about 9 months ago the Father was indicating that He was calling me out from the Mission to begin preparation for the ministry that lay ahead. This would be a ministry to the church in the wilderness. It would be a call to shepherd the people of God through very difficult days, and the Spirit indicated that endurance would be needed to make it through. This was the main lesson I derived from the book at that time.

As I have re-read the book the Spirit has been revealing some much more specific things. We are on the verge of great judgment falling upon the nations. A time of calamity is at hand. People’s lives are about to become very difficult, and it will require much fortitude, courage, faith and endurance to get through these days. Yet the Father does have a provision for His people, and though they will be tried, those who trust in Him will not suffer any real harm. All who pass through this trial will be transformed in profound ways.

The Spirit spoke to me as I read the book, and a particular detail leapt out at me. The arduous trek of these men both began and ended on South Georgia Island.

The Lord then asked me to consider where it was that He had brought me to at this season. I am on a South Georgia Island. Jekyll Island is located on the southern coast of the state of Georgia. The Spirit spoke to me and said, “This book provides the framework for you to understand the things you are experiencing. What happened the next day confirmed this very clearly.

It began to rain that night and the rain continued for 36 hours. I had set-up a new tent to sleep in, and before I left Fort Wayne I had bought several cans of water repellant to spray on the tent. From previous camping experience I knew this would help out considerably. Before the rain began I sprayed down the tent with water repellent, and I took all normal precautions to keep the water out, closing all the windows on the tent.

The following day the rain continued, and it was heavy at times. In the afternoon I thought to look inside the tent to see how it was holding up. I had been sleeping in it, since it is much more roomy than my van, and quite comfortable. I considered that I had taken what normal precautions I could, so I did not look inside the tent. At bedtime I went to get in the tent and I found that the rain fly had sagged slightly in the center and was making contact with the tent fabric. Where they touched water was seeping through and it was dripping directly onto the bed, wetting the sleeping bag, and my pillows. Since they were soaked, I decided to sleep in the van, which has a bed in the back.

I had also taken normal precautions in the van. I closed the windows on either side of the bed, and where there was a water leak from the roof AC unit I kept a bucket underneath it and emptied it periodically throughout the day. When I went to get in the bed in the rear of the van I saw that it too was soaked. Water had built up in the window track and had run down the wall where the thick comforter I used had wicked up the moisture. The comforter and the foam mattress below it were both wet, as was my pillow.

I began to get frustrated and was about to complain to the Lord when He stopped me. I understood that He had caused this to happen for a reason, and He wanted me to see something in it. I resigned myself to sleeping in the captain’s chair at the front of the van, which was really not too bad, and the next day I dried everything out as the rain had stopped.

The next night I was back in the tent and I was reading further in the book Endurance when I came across a section that described the conditions the men met with on a daily basis. The ship was lost after having been crushed in the ice, so they set up camp on an ice floe.

Storms would blow through regularly, pushing snow inside the tents, and the ground inside the tents would warm up causing the ice to melt, soaking their sleeping bags. For most of the time the men were stranded in this region they slept in damp, or even wet, sleeping bags. Yet the men adjusted to every new discomfort, and were remarkably optimistic about their experiences.

One thing that is noted throughout the recounting of this epic adventure, is how truly adaptable man is to difficult circumstances, and how great a role attitude plays in survival. Shackleton is hailed as an extraordinary leader of men, and perhaps the greatest thing he did was to foster a positive outlook among his men.

When the Lord led me back here to this South Georgia Island less than a week ago, one thing I noticed was that the state had erected a new road sign on the causeway leading to the island. The road had always been referred to as “The Jekyll Island Causeway.” This was all I had known it by from as far back as 1977 when I first lived on the island. The new sign identified the road as Georgia 520.

When I saw the sign I immediately noted it, and wondered what the Father might be speaking through it. I had called and made reservations at the campground, telling them I anticipated being there for a month. The monthly rate during the off-season is much lower than paying daily, or weekly. I was told by the manager of the campground that he could give me a much better campsite if I was willing to move partway through my stay. I told him that was quite alright with me.

When I arrived they put me in a very spacious site at the back of the campground. It really is a very nice spot. They told me it was available for 20 days, and they would only charge me for the time I was in that site, and when I moved they would charge me again for any remaining time I stayed with them. This allowed me to get the monthly rate while paying for only 20 days. The person doing the registration told me the rate would come out to $15 a day, where as it is $25 per day when paid daily. 15 is 5+5+5, signifying a fulness of grace.

When I heard that the site would be available for 20 days, the Spirit reminded me of the road sign. He said that God was allowing me 20 days of grace on this South Georgia Island before I must leave and begin this ministry which would require much endurance.

I do not believe these things will occur until sometime after I leave Jekyll Island, for the difficulties Shackleton and his men encountered came after they departed South Georgia Island. These things are coming quickly, however.

The Spirit has comforted me with the thought that He has been preparing vessels for the day which is at hand, and they will stand in the time of trouble for He has not been stinting in qualifying them for the days ahead. He has reminded me of all of the trials He has brought me through, and though I have been brought to the breaking point, and considered giving up on occasions, He has held me to the course and not allowed me to shrink back.

Back in the 1990s, when the Lord brought me to encounter the very first prophetic word I had ever received, He spoke the following, “I have put steel in your backbone.” He has brought this back to mind of late, and it has led me to confess that truly the only reason I have stayed the course thus far is that God has held me to it. Like Joseph of old I confessed, “It is not in me.” God alone is able to make us to stand, but He has promised to do just that.

Jude 24-25
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

It is a time to place all confidence in our God, and none in the flesh. The arm of man will not save or deliver the people of God in days ahead. But those who manifest faith in God will do exploits.

Tomorrow, Lord willing, I will post a further writing to share some of the insights the Father has been bringing forth at this season.

May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.

Heart4God Website:
Parables Blog:

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Learning to Deal with Conflict

Joseph Herrin (10-26-08)

II Timothy 4:2
Reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.

I would like those who read this blog to be patient in considering what I share here. I know the last two blogs that spoke of a difficult situation with a brother in Christ have disturbed some. I have received a great number of e-mails on the matter, probably 40-50 in all. Most have written to express appreciation for some point that was made, such as the need to slow down and be patient, to avoid hasty actions and words, to test all things carefully, to not throw doctrine out in a pursuit of some false sense of peace and love, and the need to clearly differentiate those who have become partakers of the life of Christ from those who have merely had a religious experience.

There have been a small, but not insignificant, number of people who have written to express that they were disturbed by the difficult topic being addressed. There have even been three people who asked to be taken off the mailing list after suggesting I was manifesting a religious spirit. (Please note, I do not have a mailing list. If you receive this blog it is because you subscribed to it, and there is an unsubscribe link at the bottom of each post sent out. I am not involved in managing the list of subscribers. It is all automatic.)

I do consider carefully the criticisms that come my way, asking God to reveal His mind and thoughts, and to correct me if I am in error. In this particular situation I have invited God to make known His mind, and if I am manifesting some religious spirit, to reveal its presence that I might come to a greater conformity to the image of Christ. As I have continued to wait upon the Lord, He has not been silent, and what I have discerned Him saying is that the body of Christ does not like dealing with conflict, and the avoidance of it has hurt the body significantly.

Let me ask you to consider when the last time was that you observed the body of Christ exercising discipline toward one of its members? I know from my own experience, and the testimonies I receive from others, that the church fails to exercise discipline as it once did. Some older saints have shared with me how the church used to admonish the unruly, and even publicly rebuke those who were indifferent about their sin. These things are no longer done out of fear of offending the transgressor, or of making the members of the body feel uncomfortable. There is much Scriptural precedence for discipline among the body of Christ.

I Timothy 5:20
Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also may be fearful of sinning.

I Thessalonians 5:14
We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

Titus 1:12-13
"Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons..." For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith...

Titus 2:15
These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

Ephesians 5:11
Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them...

These are but a handful of the many Scriptures that relate to the call of a minister to reprove, rebuke, exhort, admonish, and expose sin among the body of Christ. Today Christianity has adopted a philosophy of providing “seeker friendly churches.” Seeker friendly churches rarely speak about specific sins in society, and they never mention sin among their own members. This would create an “unfriendly” environment and scare visitors and members away.

Most Christians today do not want to be held accountable by their ministers. This is evidenced by the tens of thousands who flock to churches pastored by such men as Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, and Robert Schueler. Christians do not see or hear of ministers reproving members for sin, or refuting the error that has been embraced by individual members. They therefore have no pattern or example of true Scriptural discipline.

When I was a young minister in my thirties, the Spirit of Christ led me to speak to a number of church members about error or sin they had embraced. I always tried to be diplomatic about the things I said, but I took my call before the Lord seriously, fearing Him more than I feared man. My experiences in this regard were not very positive. I was met with great anger by certain members of the body. After this happened several times, the Lord spoke to me, and I wrote the article titled “The Issue of Judging.” I will quote from it here:

[The issue of judging] has long been a troubling issue for me because as a minister with a prophetic gifting, God often has spoken words of correction, instruction and warning through me. On many occasions these words have not only been rejected, but they have elicited a very vitriolic response from brothers or sisters. Often my character and motives have been attacked because a member of the body did not want to hear truth or allow the Spirit of God to delve into areas of their life that they had walled off from His inspection.

Because I grew up under the influence of the strong men of guilt, condemnation, and shame I have been quick to believe that I must have been in error when the words God had me share with others were rejected. I would look for the tiniest indication that the message of God was influenced and corrupted as it passed through the vessel of my flesh. Did I err in not speaking in love? Did I not have the person's welfare in mind when I spoke to them? Did I let my own feelings of rejection add a harshness to the delivery of the word because I anticipated the message and messenger being rejected and criticized?

I am certain that at times there was some substance to these questions that arose in my mind. However, I am fully convinced that the rejection of correction and warning is most often due to the fact that in the Western world the mass of Christian believers simply do not receive these things well. There is little true discipleship in churches. Members are courted and catered to. Offending a brother is looked upon as the most grievous of offenses. There are too many competing churches to risk offending a brother or sister. It is too easy for them to pack up and go somewhere else where no one will interfere with the way they choose to live their life.

In many ways, the mass of church goers are like spoiled children. They are given everything they want with little required of them in return. As a spoiled child pitches a fit or throws a temper tantrum when told they cannot do something, or when they are corrected, so do many of the saints of God. It is largely because such an atmosphere of tolerance and appeasement has been adopted in the church that the issue of judging has come to be out of vogue and is looked down upon as unkind and uncharitable.

In my confusion, due to the harsh rejection and actual fits that some have thrown when I have spoken correction, instruction, or warning to them, I have often gone back to brothers and sisters and apologized to them for offending them. I felt that certainly I must have been in error in some way, though I could not put a finger on my error even when I sought the Lord diligently to reveal it to me. Over time, as I have seen this pattern repeated, I have come to discern that it was not due to some error on my part that caused the bitter rejection of the words I spoke, rather it was due to immaturity and an ingrained fleshliness that is rampant among the body of Christ.

As a minister, I am charged to offer correction to others with whom the Lord brings me in contact. I do not rush into this, nor do I consider it my business to speak correction to all people. I understand that every minister is given a particular sphere of responsibility. Most of the refuting, reproving, admonishing, exhorting, and correcting that I do is through e-mail correspondence as I interact with people who have contacted me. In most cases this communication is expressed by offering some instruction to believers, and inviting them to consider what is shared. Sometimes people are offended simply by having me share Scriptures with them. The truth truly does offend.

Throughout the years since the Lord led me to begin a ministry of writing, He has directed my attention to numerous topics He wanted me to address. One prevailing topic has been that of divine government and spiritual authority. These are topics that are steered clear of by the mass of ministers, for they tend to upset a lot of carnal believers who do not want to die to self and take up the cross. Men do not want to take Christ as their head in all things, and women do not want to have man as their head. Yet the second and third books the Father led me to write are focused upon the authority men are under, and the authority women are under.
Sarah’s Children:
I can tell you that these teachings have not been universally received. Indeed, it has been a remnant that have been able to accept them and seek to walk in the truth. One purpose of government and authority is to bring men and women to a cross. Most Christians in this hour of carnality recoil violently when someone reveals that there is a cross appointed to them.

Many, many men and women have written to me with great objections to these teachings. These objections continue to this day. Even recently I have been admonished by some to not teach on these topics. Those suggesting these things often accuse me of some wrong motive, but the Spirit testifies that it is not the teacher offending them, but the teaching. This is evidenced by their failure to accept whatever spiritual authority God has ordained for them, whether it be Christ or man.

There have been others who have embraced the truths of God’s word, and have been willing to take up the cross, and these have often written with very thankful hearts that there was a minister willing to speak the truth when so many are silent. I have been amazed at the widely divergent reactions of various people to the same teaching. Some would demonize me, and others would lionize me. In both cases the Spirit testifies that I am to keep my eyes on Him, and not fear man.

Over the course of the years I have learned that conflict is unavoidable. Paul describes the hearts of Christians in the last days. He says,

II Timothy 4:3-4
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

Anyone who is teaching “sound doctrine” must anticipate that the majority of professing Christians will not “endure” them. They will despise both the message and the messenger. I encounter this rejection very frequently. It is a part of what the Father has called me unto. When I encounter believers who despise the truths the Father has called me to proclaim, even when they are unkind, insulting, and very carnal in their words, I have learned to reply as the apostle Paul exhorted Timothy.

II Timothy 2:24-26
The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

There are times when a stern rebuke is called for, but as God is my witness I can attest to you that it has been a very rare thing for me to speak sternly to anyone. Paul told Titus to sternly rebuke the Cretans, and he told Timothy to rebuke some who continued in their sin in the presence of all. I have done this very rarely, but I have done it, both as a pastor at a church and in the present ministry entrusted to me. I have no sense of the Spirit’s censure in having done so.

I do understand that if most Christians today were to witness true church discipline, initiated and animated by the Holy Spirit, they would judge it as demonic. This is what some have done at times in suggesting I am manifesting a religious spirit (i.e., an unclean spirit) by bringing a rebuke or correction, privately or publicly, to a brother or sister.

As a case in point, I wrote a number of article early on during the Lakeland, Florida event concerning the evident transgressions there. I was roundly vilified by a great number who described my warnings as an attack inspired by Satan. I am sure many readers here have read condemnations of those who were warning the saints about the impure things going on at Lakeland. It seems many in the church considered it a greater evil to expose sin than to actually be the one committing it. Such is the mindset of a people who have been led to live by emotion and to revere universal acceptance and tolerance, while casting out sound doctrine and a message of accountability unto God.

I know that it is uncomfortable to be a witness to the correction or discipline of another. But listen again to Paul’s words:

I Timothy 5:20
Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also may be fearful of sinning.

Does not a public rebuke, when justified, have a beneficial effect? Consider the case of Ananias and Sapphira. When Peter rebuked them publicly they fell down dead, and great fear came upon the body of Christ in Jerusalem. The people were much more careful about their walk for a season. The fear of God had entered their hearts.

What happens when parents fail to discipline their children? Do they not often turn out as hellions? What happens when the church casts away correction and fails to discipline its members? People will begin to live careless lives. They will have no fear of God.

What happens when churches no longer correct, refute and reprove wrong doctrine? They will find that the members of the body of Christ are embracing many errors. Doctrinal correctness will give way to sloppy thinking, and little by little the church will arrive at the very place we see it today. The message of suffering and the cross is despised, as well as all doctrines that lead to a personal cross, and all manner of soft doctrines of a loving and merciful God who really cares little about sin or truth will become the standard of the day.

What will the church think of the rare individual who does take his call as a minister and guardian of the flock seriously? Suppose you had a hundred households where the parents all let their children do whatever they desired. The children could eat whatever they pleased. The children could occupy themselves in any way they desired. They could stay up as late as they wanted, and they could live totally selfish, spoiled lives.

Then consider there was one family where the parents exercised discipline over their children. They gave them food to eat that was healthy, not just pleasurable. They gave the children chores and responsibilities and required studious attention to their schooling. The parents required the children to be in bed at a certain hour, and they even disciplined the children when they acted unruly.

What do you suppose the hundred undisciplined households would think of the one where there was discipline? Would they not accuse the parents of being controlling, of lacking love? Perhaps they would try to pressure this one family to no longer exercise discipline over their children. They would most likely not want to have anything to do with those parents. They would vilify the parents, seeking to portray them as monsters.

The Spirit is testifying that God is sending great judgment to the nations and in particular to the church. Judgment must begin at the house of God. Is it not largely due to the fact that the church has not judged itself, even vilifying those who dare to speak publicly of transgression and the need of repentance, that God is now forced to judge His people? Let us put off this avoidance of all that is difficult and uncomfortable and begin to judge with righteous judgment.

May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.

Heart4God Website:
Parables Blog:

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

Friday, October 24, 2008

We Wrestle Not Against Flesh and Blood

Joseph Herrin (10-24-08)

Ephesians 6:12
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Although I have written some concerning my recent experience traveling with David Weber, and I have shared some things that are a grief to me, I want to spend a moment making something clear, lest there be any misunderstanding. David Weber is not my enemy. In truth, I consider him a brother in Christ. Any honest saint will admit that relationships among brothers and sisters in the body of Christ are very often marked with conflicts. This is bound to be the case because none of us are yet perfected in Christ.

Conflict itself is not sin. There need be no failure of love when we have a conflict. Conflict only becomes sin when there is a failure of love. A conflict may reveal that one or more believers have embraced some error, but as long as the error is addressed in a spirit of love, then there need be no transgression present. Let me cite a Biblical example of this.

In the New Testament we read of certain apostles and believers embracing the erroneous teaching that in addition to faith in Christ, believers must also observe the Law of Moses. Peter and Barnabas got caught up in this error, and it necessitated that a correction be spoken to them by the apostle Paul.

Galatians 2:11-14
When Cephas (Peter) came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, "If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

Note that Paul described the behavior of these men as hypocrisy. Some might think this was uncharitable of Paul, or that he was too forceful in his presentation, but I do not believe he transgressed in this matter. The Greek word for hypocrite may not have held the same degree of harshness that we associate with it today. The word actually was a theatrical term that spoke of one who played a part in a play. It means “play-actor.”

Paul asserted that Peter was living one way when the Jews were not around, but when Jewish believers came from Jerusalem, Peter began to act in a way that was very different. Before, he did not have any qualms about eating with Gentile believers, but when the Jews came he held himself apart from the Gentiles. He was acting like a good, Torah observant Jew. This was hypocrisy.

It was necessary to address this error publicly because other Jewish believers were getting caught up in it, including Barnabas, which evidently surprised Paul. Many believers stood to suffer in varying degrees if the error was not corrected. The Gentile believers were made to feel like second class citizens of the kingdom of God. Some felt compelled to embrace the Law in order to be fully accepted, and this was great error. So Paul stepped in and confronted the situation boldly, naming names, and calling people to account, and repentance came forth.

There were no lasting hard feelings among the brethren, for this conflict was necessary to lead men to repentance, and no personal injury resulted. We read later of Peter mentioning Paul in one of his epistles, and there is no hint of any offense or bitterness.

II Peter 3:15-16
And regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.

Note that even after he had been publicly rebuked by Paul, Peter calls Paul “our beloved brother.” The Scripture is true, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” Paul meant no injury to Peter. He sought to see all the people of God walking in truth. This was also the desire and hope of the other apostles.

III John 4
I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.

There was no one more renowned for love than the apostle John, but we also find him naming names and making public rebukes to the saints who were walking in error.

III John 9-10
I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church.

It is never appropriate to revile a brother or sister in Christ. When we enter into conflicts we must be careful to not be carried away with emotion. We must resist the urge to adopt a defensive posture that will not consider the words of another, or to begin attacking another as if they were our enemy. Flesh and blood are not that which we war against, but our warfare is against lies and the lying spirits that spread the lies.

II Corinthians 10:3-5
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ...

The Father often teaches me deep truths by bringing me into conflict with others. He also uses these conflicts to direct my attention to some area that is a danger to the body which He would have me to speak on. In this post I will speak of such a matter. Although I will relate to you more of my recent experience with David Weber, I want you to know that David is my brother in Christ. The Spirit bears witness of this. I seek his welfare. If you read this post and are not led to conclude that I view David as my brother, then you have not properly discerned the spirit in which it is written.

I fear acting in an uncharitable manner toward another, knowing that “by the judgment you judge others you will be judged.” A day may come when the Lord brings a brother to address some error I am walking in and I would hope the correction might come attended with mercy and grace.

Galatians 6:1-2
Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.

David and I met up in Cleveland, Ohio and rode together in my van for a thousand miles. During this time we had much time for conversing. As brothers do who have not met personally before, we both shared significant portions of our testimonies with one another. David shared many experiences from his days spent on the streets of Toronto, Rochester, San Francisco and other places. There were many things that David shared that moved me deeply, as I sensed the Spirit working in and through his life in the many experiences he has encountered. We share many experiences in common, and I recognize that the same Father has been guiding both of us.

There was one part of David’s testimony that appeared repeatedly that was uncharacteristic of my own experiences, and I pondered this greatly. David spoke of encountering a myriad of people with whom he had great success in sharing the gospel with them. He spoke of seeing many lives transformed by simply loving on people and showering them with the love of Christ.

David said he avoided doctrine when he encountered people, and rarely even mentioned the obvious areas of sin in a person’s life, whether the person was a homosexual, a drug addict, prostitute, etc.. He said he preferred to just lead them to the love of Christ and let God convict the person of their sin in His time.

In example after example David shared with me how he had made a friend and shared Jesus with people, and how multitudes have been impacted in this way. David shared with me about having met a Hindu woman and the wonderful fellowship he had with her. He spoke of speaking with Muslims and Catholics and sensing more spiritual life in them than he had in many Christians.

David shared with me his belief that many people are connected to God while not knowing the actual identity of God. He said the person might be a Hindu and be a lover of God while not knowing who that God actually is. I have heard similar statements of belief before, even from Christians as renowned as C.S. Lewis, but I had never been able to embrace these conclusions. Can a person be praying to Allah, while actually conversing with Yahweh? C.S. Lewis even incorporates this message into one of his children’s books in the series The Chronicles of Narnia.

I see in such a concept the seeds of a one world religion where it is taught that there are many paths to God. The Rosicrucian belief teaches that all religions are simply different petals on the same flower. I am not suggesting that David Weber is teaching this at all. He would probably be appalled to hear me making a connection between these beliefs. Sometimes we need extrapolate things out to a far distance to see where a belief might be leading us. We can drift into error by small degrees, and before long we will find ourselves far off course.

Can a Christian truly have fellowship with a Hindu who has not yet been born again of the Spirit of Christ? Is there spiritual life present in a Muslim?

II Corinthians 6:14-16
Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God...

I certainly believe we can have a friendly conversation with another person who has not yet been born again of the Spirit of Christ. But we should not assume there is spiritual life present if the person has not yet come to know the Son of God, and have been regenerated by the work of the Holy Spirit. Oftentimes emotional interest can be perceived as spiritual life, but true life in Christ will be attended by a knowledge of Christ, and an acceptance of the doctrines relating to Christ.

When David and I arrived in Macon I took him by the Rescue Mission and I introduced him to a couple of people. One was a young man named Stephen who used to be heavily involved in Satan worship. Stephen has had some type of religious experience in the past year and speaks of God a lot. While I was still at the Mission the Lord directed me to press in with Stephen to ascertain what he really believed. It seemed that something had happened in Stephen’s life, and I felt led to identify it. Stephen was speaking about God a lot, but I did not notice him speaking of Jesus. I wanted to know if he was truly grounded in Christ.

Stephen and I got together and I began asking him pointed questions about the Son of God. Stephen told me that he was not convinced that Jesus was actually the son of God, or born of a virgin, or other things the Bible speaks of Christ. He said that when he was a satanist that they were taught to look for inconsistencies in the Bible, and they used them to bring confusion to the minds of immature Christians and to lead them away from Christianity into satanism. He said he was quite successful in doing this, especially with Baptists.

Stephen said he was ashamed of what he had done formerly, but he still was troubled by many of the inconsistencies in Scriptures, and did not consider the Bible to be the authoritative word of God. What I came to see was that Stephen had some type of religious experience, but he had not been born again of the Spirit of Christ. Stephen made up his mind that he wanted to be a good, religious person, and he was trying to modify his behavior. He was even emotionally excited about his new focus, but he was a foreigner to the life of Christ. There are many people in this world who seem "spiritual," but we must test all things carefully to see who is truly in the faith.

I love Stephen very much. I speak to him every time I visit the Mission, but I have discerned that he is not a partaker of the Spirit of Christ. I would not have known this if I had not slowed down, heeded the voice of the Spirit, and began asking Stephen some very pointed questions about Christ.

Stephen was disturbed that I had pressed him on the topic of his beliefs concerning Jesus Christ. He later told Randy that he did not know why I had picked him out to press him on this topic, and he has declined to seek to know anything further about Christ.

I introduced David Weber to Stephen, and Stephen stood up and gave David a hug and spoke to him for a brief moment. David later told me that he sensed spiritual life in Stephen. I know the Lord orchestrated this entire event to reveal something very profound to me. Stephen would fool a lot of Christians today. They would hear him speak about what God has done for him, and how much he loves God, and they would think this man has experienced a wonderful conversion. Unless they slow down and examine things closely, they would not discern that Stephen does not believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior. To know the truth requires patient discussion, and a willingness to speak about “Doctrine,” which is something David avoids and finds to be divisive.

People of God, it is true that doctrine is divisive. The truths of the kingdom of God will separate the sheep from the goats. Doctrine is not a dirty word. I have people charge me with error for focusing upon doctrine very frequently. The reason is that the truth offends. True doctrine also leads people to a cross, and the cross is despised in these days.

I Timothy 6:3-4
If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing...

The true doctrine of the kingdom of God is always spoken of in the highest way. It is never despised. Those who avoid doctrine will be led astray into error, and they will falsely suppose they are making great advances for the kingdom of God when they are accomplishing very little.

I shared with David that in my three years at the Macon Rescue Mission that I could probably name no more than five or six men whom I knew to have have experienced a real transformation. David seemed very surprised at this, saying that the men just needed someone to love them.

People of God, if we go around telling everyone that Jesus loves them, but we avoid speaking to them of the need to repent of their sin, and we avoid doctrines of the Christ that appear to be divisive, we will certainly find that many people warmly embrace both us and our message. This was never the pattern of Christ, however. When crowds began to gather He would speak a word of truth to separate out those who were truly willing to pay the cost of being a disciple from those who were merely hanging around hoping for some blessing.

John 6:59-66
These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum. Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, "This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?" But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, "Does this cause you to stumble?..." For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. And He was saying, "For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.” As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.

What divided the people here? It was doctrine. Yahshua could have just loved on the people and they would have all stayed, but He was not focused upon drawing a big crowd or winning a lot of converts. He was interested in gathering those to Himself who would walk in truth.

Many saints today would condemn Christ for doing what He did. How do I know this? Because they will not allow themselves to even consider that God might have them speak a truth that will turn people away. I am frequently lambasted by people who take issue with the fact that I teach the saints to walk in truth. These truths bear a cost. How can a man take Christ as his head in all things without first embracing the cross and dying to his own desires? How can a woman take man as her head unless she embraces the cross? Christ will lead all of His disciples to sorrow and suffering in this life, and I am frequently decried as being divisive for proclaiming doctrines that are unpopular.

People of God, do not be deceived. There is a very high cost to following Christ. If we fail to tell people to count the cost when we are telling them how much Christ loves them, then we are deceiving them. Christ told all who would be His disciples to count the cost BEFORE they committed themselves to following Him.

It sounds wonderful to speak of going around telling people how much Jesus loves them, while leaving it up to God to convict them of their sins in His time. How can we lead anyone to Christ without speaking of sin, repentance, and salvation? People need a Savior because they are in bondage to sin. If we avoid speaking of sin we will surely make a lot of friends, but we will not lead people to victory in Christ.

David mentioned to me when God was first indicating that we were to get together that he has just read The Shack. A little bell went off in my spirit when I heard this, but it didn’t raise any great alarms, so I tucked the thought away in the back of my mind. It has come back to me recently. I mentioned in a couple of posts written in Fort Wayne that on the last day of my speaking to the discipleship group there that one of the young women present had this same book with her. Another member asked her what she thought of it. She said it was one of the best books she had read, saying, “It shows that God is such a happy God. He is happy all the time.”

Upon hearing this I shared with the young woman that her saying this troubled me. I told her that the Spirit of Christ has been testifying that great judgment is about to fall upon the church and the nations because He is indignant toward their sin and idolatry. God is not happy all the time. These young people were involved with the local International House of Prayer ministry, and Christ is portrayed there as one who is all love and mercy and tenderness. The more difficult and uncomfortable aspects of God’s nature are glossed over. This has produced a lot of doe-eyed young believers who lack a reverential fear of God.

I believe this is one of the spirits that we must wage war against. I also see that this spirit has influenced David. He wants to focus upon love all the time, and avoids the uncomfortable doctrines of Scriptures, declaring them to be divisive. This is a very dangerous attitude, and it will lead to an acceptance of many false brethren and false teachings. In an hour when we are warned that many lying spirits will be present, and they will be given great authority so that if possible even the elect might be deceived, we need to guard against anything that will lead us to assume that doctrine is unimportant.

When we speak to people we encounter with an aim of leading them to Christ, we need to tell them and show them that God loves them. We are not to stop there, however. We are told to “speak the truth in love.” It is not love to simply speak compassionate things to people while neglecting to tell them of the judgment to come, and their need of repentance and forgiveness. We must also tell those who express interest in Christ of the high cost of being a disciple.

I spoke to hundreds of men in my three years at the Macon Rescue Mission. I told them there was hope in Christ to be delivered from their sins. He came to set them free. I also told them that there was a high cost to following Christ. There is a cross to be borne. A man must hate his own life in order to be a disciple of Christ. I know a few men who have entered into a transformed life in Christ as a result, but most were not looking to make such a radical commitment. They just wanted their life to be made better. They wanted the blessings and benefits of Christ, but they did not want to obey Him in all things. They despised the message of the cross.

I have weighed these things carefully in my spirit since David and I spent time together. I am not sensing that the Spirit would have me cease proclaiming these divisive doctrines. We cannot merely proclaim the favorable parts of the gospel, while leaving the difficult parts for the Spirit to perform. Listen to the example of the apostles.

Acts 3:19-20
"Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you...”

Note that repentance from sin PRECEDES the Lord being sent to the people. How can we lead people to Christ apart from proclaiming the need to repent of sin? Many preachers are going around telling people that God loves them. They are leading people to ask Christ to come into their hearts. There is no such pattern ever found in Scripture for such an approach to evangelism. Godly sorrow over sin precedes salvation in Christ.

Our preaching should be such that men are made aware of the peril of their falling under the wrath of God. They should cry out, “What then must we do to be saved from the wrath of God?” Then they will be willing to repent of their sins and commit to following Christ. Peter preached true doctrine on the day of Pentecost under the inspiration of the Spirit of Christ. The people were moved with the knowledge of their peril, and cried out.

Acts 2:37-38
Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?" Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Repentance and forgiveness of sins precedes the giving of the Holy Spirit. If we are not leading men and women to perceive their sins, we are not leading them to Christ. We are giving them a false comfort and false hope. Oh, you will avoid being viewed as divisive if you do not speak of sin and the need to repent, but you will not be proclaiming the whole counsel of God.

Acts 17:30-31
"Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness...”

Acts 26:19-20
"So, King Agrippa, I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision, but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance.”

John the Baptist was the precursor to Christ. He was sent to prepare the way. He proclaimed the people’s sin and their need to repent and receive the forgiveness that is found only in Christ.

Matthew 3:7-10
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance... The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

I don’t believe John received a lot of hugs and touchy-feely support, but he did prepare men and women for an encounter with Christ. Preaching a message of sin and repentance is not popular today. It will not make you the friend of every man and woman on the street, but we dare not avoid it to avert appearing divisive. If men and women are not coming to Christ to be forgiven and loosed from their sins, then they are not yet ready to come to Christ.

People of God, one of the deep messages God has been proclaiming through my recent encounter with David Weber is that we must slow down and examine closely our message and our preaching. We must not be fooled by emotional responses from people who have been told that Jesus loves them. Unless these people have discerned their sinful state, the judgment that awaits them, and God’s provision through Christ Yahshua for them to walk free of sin, they are merely manifesting a soulish excitement and not true spiritual life. We must tell people that God has a wonderful plan for their life, and that plan involves suffering and a cross.

David has manifested anger at me because I will not lay aside doctrine in favor of simply loving people. I cannot do as he desires. I have no witness from the Spirit that I am to depart from an emphasis on sound doctrine. I believe instead that the Father is seeking to lead him to slow down and consider his ministry and the encroachment of a false philosophy that declares that all we need is love.

I found it very difficult to proclaim a message of suffering and the cross to the group of young people in Fort Wayne. The week before I arrived they had a woman who was asked to speak to them. She proclaimed a message of God being all about love. She stated that God had never disciplined her, for a loving God does not seek to inflict suffering on His children. The writer of Hebrews tells us that if we have not experienced the discipline of God then we are illegitimate children and not sons.

The Spirit of Christ spoke to me back in April about the call of a Joseph Company in these last days. They will be called to prepare the body for burial that they might attain to resurrection life.

I have no doubt that many will react negatively to this ministry. Preparing the body for burial means that the body of Christ must be brought to embrace the cross. I have at times been accused of being harsh in my teaching. This is a common reaction from those who hear the message of suffering and the cross presented to them. Many do not want to hear difficult words, and as a result they attribute negative motives to the one speaking. I proclaim the message of the cross because apart from it no one will ever be brought to conformity to the image of Christ.

This can be a thankless ministry, but I am not complaining. Enduring such things is a part of my own cross, and it is intended for my good. If I can be reviled and not revile in return, then I am coming closer to the image of Christ.

I received the following words today from Andrew Eberly, the brother in Christ who opened his home to me in Fort Wayne.

A year or so ago, (a brother) had been talking to a troubled youth who became very excited about Jesus and started attending the fellowship. (This brother) believed that he had won a convert, but I discerned in my spirit that much of what this young believer was espousing was emotion and not rooted and grounded in the foundation of Christ. It wasn't until I began asking him pointed questions about his professed faith and conversion that it became apparent to both me and (this brother) that this young man had not truly been born again of the Spirit of Christ.
I was just listening to a message from Art Katz and he said something that I believe will become more and more prevalent in days ahead. He said that, "We're going to see formed the very elements that make up the church that is persecuted and a church that is its persecutor. We need to know now that we're moving toward one or the other. There will not be a neutral ground. The logic of true faith is persecution." Although it will be difficult, I can tell you right now that I want to be in the church that is being persecuted and not the church being the persecutor. All who will live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
I agree with Andrew’s thoughts here. It is better to be treated poorly at the hands of professing believers than to be the one treating them poorly. There is much grace given to us when we suffer for the sake of Christ. There is truly a fellowship in His sufferings. A sister in Christ, Kathy Furman from Arizona, writes:

Now to the things that are happening with us that seem to reflect on your experiences. Last week Randy cracked a tooth. The transmission in our van has been slipping. It seems to be related to the overdrive. I have been painting on river rocks... The second picture shows what is written on the back of the blue rock. The next one was going to have the words "slow down" on the back.

We agree that Yahweh is saying "slow down." We need to be patient and listen carefully to what He is directing us to do during these crucial times.

This couple from Arizona very frequently find that the Spirit is dealing with us on similar themes and topics. That Randy has chipped a tooth and finds the transmission on his van slipping in overdrive is an amazing parallel. On top of this to find that Kathy is painting turtles, a symbol of a “slow and steady” spirit, and was about to paint the message “slow down” on her next rock is amazing.

There are so many things we need to slow down and examine. We will be spared much that is costly in coming days if we will be still and listen to the voice of the Spirit of God. None of us want to find that we have been laboring in vain, but staying on course with the Lord requires that we do not act hastily. We must not flee away when He brings us to an uncomfortable correction.

People of God, I do not share these experiences with any judgment in my heart. I know how much my own soul recoils when I am faced with a cross, or some suffering. I need God to daily give me courage. What God is speaking applies to all of His children, and I know very well that it applies to me. It was my tooth that broke, my van that would not go into high gear, my watch that slowed down, etc..

It is an hour to examine all things carefully. We must not be hasty in our words or actions. Let us be very thoughtful about all that we do. Do not allow the desires of our soul to lead us away from the will of God. Do not judge people, ministries, or things by appearances. Let the Spirit of Christ guide you that you might judge things rightly.

May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.

Heart4God Website:
Parables Blog:

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

Thursday, October 16, 2008

News Updates

Joseph Herrin (10-16-08)

There is much happening in the news, and at times it is too much to keep up with it all. However, there were a couple of things in the news that have bearing upon past posts and I thought I would pass them along for your consideration.

Many will remember the post where I spoke of the prophetic significance of the horses that competed in the Kentucky Derby. Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were present for the race, being in the thick of their own race for their parties nomination. Hillary Clinton was seen near the only filly that ran in the race (Eight Belles), and she picked this filly to win. Barack Obama chose to root for another horse named Big Brown.

In a remarkable parallel to their political race, Big Brown came in first and Eight Belles came in second. Eight Belles after the race, during a cool down lap, shattered both of her front ankles and had to be euthanized on the track. All of these things seemed highly prophetic, as Hillary was taken out of the race altogether after Obama won the nomination. When many had believed she would be chosen as Obama’s running mate, she was passed over instead. You can find the earlier blog that contained this story here:

A brother in Christ brought it to my attention that Big Brown was in the news again recently. I will include a portion of an article by the Associated Press.

Big Brown's racing career over after injury
By WILL GRAVES, Ap Sports Writer Mon Oct 13, 7:15 pm ET

Big Brown's racing career ended Monday when the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner injured his right front foot during a workout at Aqueduct Race Course in New York. Michael Iavarone of IEAH Stables, co-owners of Big Brown, said the 3-year-old colt tore a three-inch piece of flesh off the foot after it collided with his right rear foot while working over Aqueduct's turf course with stablemate Kip Deville.
"This was a complete fluke," Iavarone said. "He hadn't had issues with his feet for awhile and to have him come up just like this was a shock to all of us."
Iavarone said the injury would take around two months to heal, making it impossible for Big Brown to run in The Breeders' Cup Classic on Oct. 25 at Santa Anita. With the strapping bay due at Three Chimneys Farm in Midway, Ky. by the end of the year to begin his stud career, Iavarone said there simply isn't enough time to get Big Brown back on the track one last time.
"We don't have a choice but to retire him," Iavarone said. "It's gut-wrenching..."
Big Brown will spend several weeks in New York while he recovers before being shipped to Three Chimneys. The injury caps a brilliant but somewhat controversial career for Big Brown, who won seven times in eight starts, including dominant runs in the Derby and the Preakness, and earned $3.6 million.
His bid to become the first Triple Crown champion since 1978 ended during a bizarre Belmont Stakes in which he was eased by jockey Kent Desormeaux at the turn and he trotted across the finish line far behind the rest of the field...
Big Brown bounced back from the Belmont with wins in the Haskell Invitational and the Monmouth Stakes and was poised for a shot at Curlin, horse racing's all-time leading money winner. Not anymore, a fact that "saddened" Curlin's majority owner Jess Jackson.
"I am equally disappointed that Big Brown and Curlin will never compete against each other," Jackson said in a release. "It was a dream of mine and thousands of other fans of the sport."
Instead, Big Brown will head to a potentially lucrative stud career. Case Clay, president of Three Chimneys, said he's unsure when his newest star would arrive at the farm in central Kentucky.

One of the first things that stood out to me is that Big Brown’s injury was self-inflicted. He literally kicked himself, and thereby took himself out of his final race. I do not know if this portends anything for the political race, but it is something to keep in mind.

More recently I wrote of the financial meltdown in Iceland. I mentioned that what is happening in Iceland gives a look ahead for what is coming to America. Iceland has continued to be in the news as things are merely getting worse there. You can find the earlier post on Iceland here:

Following are a couple of news items.

Icelandic stock market crashes on reopening
By James Thompson
Wednesday, 15 October 2008

The beleaguered Icelandic stock exchange plummeted by 77 per cent yesterday, following a three-day suspension of trading.
The OMX Iceland 15 Index fell by 2,326.2 to 678.4 - the lowest since April 1996. The fall in shares contrasted sharply with a strong performance by European and Asian shares for the second consecutive day. The Icelandic index has lost 89 per cent of its value this year, making it the worst performing stock exchange globally.

Shares in six financial companies, including the now-government controlled Kaupthing, Landsbanki and Glitnir, remained suspended, as Iceland has been hit hard by the global financial crisis. Iceland has been forced to ask for help from Russia and the IMF to save its beleaguered economy. Trading in Icelandic shares was suspended on 9 October after the OMX Iceland lost 30 per cent of their value in nine days.

Icelanders feel chill of banking meltdown

Until recently, 25-year-old Audur Elin Sigurdardottir was living a modest Icelandic dream -- renting an apartment and two cars with her boyfriend on their one full-time and one part-time salary.

Audur Elin Sigurdardottir, right, has been forced to take three jobs to pay her bills.

"Now I live at home with my Mom, I work three jobs and it's still not enough to pay my debts," said Sigurdardottir as she digested the island's daily onslaught of bad news over a calming glass of wine with a friend.
Iceland's financial meltdown isn't just a banking calamity -- it is also destroying dreams and turning lives upside down across this once affluent nation.
Just last year, Iceland won the U.N.'s "best country to live in" poll, with its residents rated the most contented in the world. The stock market was booming, cash-rich companies helmed by youthful CEOs were on an acquisition spree across Europe, and Icelanders enjoyed one of the globe's highest per capita incomes.
No more. The global financial crisis has washed up hard on the shores of this volcanic island of 320,000 people, its decision to swap cod fishing for a complex debt laden economy exacting a heavy toll.
For ordinary Icelanders, the biggest problem is that they were encouraged to upgrade to a more luxurious lifestyle by buying houses and cars that were financed by 100 percent loans based on a spread of foreign currencies.
The loans, called "MyntkÊorfulÄan" or "breadbasket" loans, were immensely popular because of their low interest rates compared to loans based on the then strong krona. But thousands of people are now defaulting as the Icelandic currency plummets.
Classified advertisements are mushrooming in the local newspapers with car owners offering cash of up to 770,000 krona ($6,300) to anyone willing to take their car off their hands and assume responsibility for their "bread basket" loan.
Kolbeinn Blandon, who owns the Hofdahollin car dealership on the outskirts of the capital, says foreign loans "are killing us."
Blandon usually sells up to 150 cars a month. This month he's sold just eight so far and his staff chat idly as they take a long smoking break without a customer in sight.
"People are buying much cheaper cars, the expensive lot is just standing collecting dust, it is not selling at all," he says.
Blandon is now planning to export the cars back to Europe, where the price he can get from the strong euro will hopefully outweigh transportation costs...
"I am really afraid of what's going to happen," said Alexandra Sif Herleifsdottir, a 19-year-old bar worker. "We are afraid we might lose our jobs."
Her friend Sigurdardottir said she has cut back spending, with a drink after work one of her last remaining luxuries.
Icelanders are also increasingly angry, looking for somewhere to point blame for the country's spectacular fall.
Olafur Sigurdsson, 21, a school worker, is furious at both the banking executives who have retreated behind closed doors and the government, which has been making daily -- but incoherent -- TV appearances to explain the crisis.
"These people are going on TV and we can see in their faces that they are powerless," he said glumly.

In a jibe at the government, Elisabet Jokulsdottir carried a sign at a protest rally outside the central bank offices in Reykjavik: "Stay calm while we rob you..."
In the past week, the government has used emergency powers to take control of the country's three major banks, trading on the stock exchange has been suspended and attempts to put a floor under the free-falling krona have failed dismally.
Supplies of foreign currencies have dried up and, as Britain invoked anti-terrorism laws to freeze assets of Icelandic banks, the nation has never felt more isolated.
"There's a feeling in the air I've never felt before," said 21-year-old Olaf Helgason. "It's almost like 9/11 again. It feels like we are going through something that only happens once in a lifetime."

The Stock Market

The stock market has been all over the place recently. It has been setting records in both directions, but is steadily trending downward. These wild gyrations do not bode well. They are a sign of a market out of control. If we were looking at the vital statistics of a patient in a hospital we would definitely be calling in a minister at this time.

Heart4God Website:
Parables Blog:

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Bridegroom Cometh

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I came across the following true testimony a couple years back, and found it profoundly moving. I wanted to share it with you that you might increase your expectation for the return of the Bridegroom.

Written by Jonathan Lindvall
This article is tentatively planned as the concluding chapter of a book on the topic of God's design for Youthful Romance. Thus it is assumed that the reader is already acquainted with the foundational scriptural arguments against current dating and courtship practices and for the Betrothal Model being described and proposed. It is recommended that you read, in this order, Youthful Romance: Scriptural Patterns, The Dangers of Dating: Scriptural Romance--Part 1, and Dating? Courtship? Betrothal? Scriptural Romance--Part 2, articles available on-line, before reading this one.

Matthew & Maranatha Chapman were married in 1988. They consciously purposed to offer their lives and wedding as a demonstration of their understanding of the relationship of the Lord Jesus and His bride. For them, being made ready themselves for the Lord as members of His bride, and helping other Christians in doing the same, is what they believe their calling in life and ministry to the body of Christ to be, and they wanted this expressed and demonstrated in the way they approached their marriage.
Although their unique story illustrates many of the betrothal principles discussed in this book, until more recently neither of them had ever heard of such a thing as "courtship" and certainly while they were still single they were largely unaware of the dangers and fallacies of dating. By the grace of God, however, and with Maranatha's father's help, they purposed to pattern their marriage as a testimony and symbol of God's design. Thus they were blessed to lay a scriptural foundation for their relationship from the very beginning.
According to his own confession, Matthew was anything but a model youth a father would want to marry his daughter. But the Lord gloriously saved Matthew when he was 19 years old. He soon determined to devote the rest of His life to the Lord's work. He soon enrolled in a ministerial program at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. During those years, he preached at numerous churches and revival meetings, and was active in street evangelism. Upon graduating, he began a one-year staff position as a ministerial intern at Highland Baptist Church, a large congregation in Waco.
The Lord used Matthew's time at Highland to reveal and deal with various of his most significant weaknesses. The Lord had already regenerated him, but his selfish motivations still needed to be dealt with. Matthew grew disturbed, lacking understanding of God's design for pruning and chastening those He loves. As his confusion and discouragement with the Holy Spirit's purging and breaking process became increasingly apparent, others began to be worried about him as well. His fellow intern and roommate suggested that he ought to seek counsel from Stan Owen, a godly man at Highland known for his unusual wisdom. After initial resistance, Matthew conceded his need for guidance and went to see Stan.
What began as an initial appointment turned into a long-term discipleship relationship that was extremely fruitful for Matthew. Stan gradually became a spiritual father to Matthew. With his help Matthew was able to recognize and cooperate with the painful refining process the Lord was using to correct many flaws that would have undermined later fruitfulness for the Lord. During this time Matthew also began to pursue and develop his trade as a finish carpenter.
Over the next few years the Lord steadily continued to work deeply in Matthew's life as he was living in this discipleship father-son relationship with Stan. Meantime the Lord was opening doors for his speaking ministry, and often the two of them would minister together. Matthew was intent on pursuing God without allowing any distraction. He had particularly struggled with the distraction of Romance and had purposed to give this whole matter to the Lord.
At one point as Stan was spending time with the Lord in prayer he felt impressed that his daughter Maranatha was to one day become Matthew's wife. Because there was a significant age difference between them, he doubted this idea was from the Lord, but as he prayed about this, he became increasingly certain that God was making His will known. Eventually, as he prayed over this matter, in his own heart Stan gave Maranatha to the Lord and to Matthew. He wisely said nothing to either of them, though, waiting to see how the Lord would bring this about.
One evening, not long after this, as Matthew and Stan were traveling to a speaking engagement, Matthew confided a distraction that was troubling him. "I have a confession to make," he told Stan. "Something is wrong with me. No matter how hard I try to avoid thinking about it, I find your daughter, Maranatha, very attractive. I don't know what to do about it."
Matthew was certain this attraction could not be right since Maranatha was so much younger than he. Thus he was shocked when Stan responded, "Have you ever considered that this may be a good thing? How do you know this isn't from the Lord?" As he pondered this Matthew's hopes began to rise. But Mr. Owen quickly began putting on the brakes. While he acknowledged the possibility of the Lord's direction in this, he sternly warned Matthew not to touch Maranatha, nor speak with her about the matter without his consent. He specifically cautioned Matthew to be careful to avoid doing anything to draw Maranatha's heart to himself. She wasn't ready for marriage and romance, and her father had purposed to specially guide and protect her.
At the time of Maranatha's birth, Stan Owen felt the Lord revealed to him that her life would be a particularly significant demonstration of Christ's love for His church. He gave her the name "Maranatha," meaning O Lord, Come. He was certain she had a special purpose to fulfill in demonstrating God's heart and ways.
Matthew purposed to be very careful in how he related to Maranatha. Following her father's instructions, as well as his own growing fear of the Lord and the innate recognition that she must be protected, he guarded his mouth and even his eyes from displaying any particular interest in her.
Meanwhile, unbeknown to Matthew, Maranatha had also begun confiding to her father an interest in Matthew. She was completely unaware of his attraction toward her at the time. Mr. Owen purposed to avoid encouraging her interest, but wondered if it might be of the Lord. He challenged Maranatha to keep her heart pure and focused on the Lord. As time went on, however, Maranatha found her attraction for Matthew increasingly distracting. She even began having trouble sleeping at night. She regularly confided her struggles with her father.
Mr. Owen knew Maranatha was not ready for marriage and as he observed her struggle he eventually realized he must step in and relieve her. Knowing that if this relationship was of the Lord, He would resurrect it at the proper time (and such time was not soon), he instructed her that she needed to give this whole matter up to the Lord and truly die to it. He gently directed her to completely give up any hope of ever having Matthew. She was to wholly give herself to the Lord without any lingering desire for Matthew. After a struggle with her own emotions she chose to trust and submit to her father and came to the place of surrender. God gave her the grace to completely give up all interest in Matthew. She entered into rest and, for the first time in quite a while, was able to sleep peacefully.
Still mindful of this principle of necessary death and resurrection, Mr. Owen now encouraged Matthew that he needed to completely give up his interest in Maranatha to the Lord, because she was not ready and he would only be tormenting himself to hold onto any hope. If she was the one God had for him, there was no hurry. If not, dying to this hope would spare him further unnecessary distraction. This was quite a struggle, but, in time, Matthew also saw the wisdom in laying it all down, and he came to the peace of surrender and entered into rest. Shortly thereafter, he was able to focus his attention so completely on the Lord that he rather successfully put Maranatha out of his mind.
One day, about one year later, in the early fall of 1987, as Matthew was driving and communing with the Lord, he was surprised to find his mind focusing on Maranatha. He was somewhat dismayed and immediately began trying to put these thoughts away. As he struggled to put his mind back on the Lord, he suddenly felt that the Lord gave him a specific and surprising word. (He vividly remembers the very time and spot as he was driving over a bridge crossing the Brazos River in Waco, Texas.) He felt the Lord tell him "I am giving you the desire of your heart. Don't be afraid of it." Matthew immediately sensed the Lord was referring to Maranatha. He was excited, but wanted to be certain his own imagination wasn't deceiving him.
At the next opportunity Matthew shared with Stan what he felt the Lord had shown him. Stan took this in thoughtfully and confirmed that it might well be the Lord. As they continued discussing this Matthew proceeded to ask for permission to propose marriage to Maranatha. Mr. Owen promised that he would pray about it and get back to him when he had an answer. He again reminded Matthew to say nothing to Maranatha of the matter, and to be careful that he did nothing to draw her heart unless and until he was authorized to do so. He encouraged Matthew to keep focusing his full attention on the Lord.
During the next several months, Matthew periodically asked Stan if he had heard anything, to which Stan would reply, "Nothing I am ready to share." Though these conversations were disappointing, Matthew resigned himself to waiting, and respected Stan's determination to wait for the Lord's time and design.
Throughout the previous year or so the Lord had been revealing much to both Stan and Matthew concerning the mystery of Christ's relationship with the church. In light of this, they had spent hours discussing and seeking the Lord about God's eternal purpose of preparing a bride for His Son. A by-product of these discussions focused on how an earthly marriage might be different from the typical Western experience if it were consciously patterned after the design revealed in scripture--the picture of Christ, the heavenly bridegroom, coming to take his bride, the church.
On Christmas Eve, 1987, Stan gave Matthew a Christmas card that he had made himself. On the front it said, "This year for Christmas, I am going to give you the greatest gift I could ever give you." When Matthew opened the card, there was a beautiful photograph of Maranatha. Included on the card were some instructions: "On January 1st, you may ask Maranatha to marry you." As Matthew looked up, Stan said, "On the evening of this coming New Year's Day, you may propose to Maranatha."
Mr. Owen went on to articulate further expectations to Matthew. "Don't you dare kiss her or do anything physically intimate with her, or the whole thing is off!" In addition, Stan informed Matthew that, even though he was allowing him to take this step toward marriage with Maranatha, she was still not completely ready, and he would not give her to him until he was confident she had reached such readiness, which "could be months or even years."
On New Years Eve, Matthew was visiting with the Owen family and, in her father's presence, asked Maranatha, rather casually, if she would like to go have some Chinese food with him the next evening. She was surprised and delighted, but puzzled. She immediately glanced at her father questioningly and, receiving his smiling nod of approval, agreed to join Matthew the following evening. She began wondering if perhaps God was, after all, resurrecting the romantic hopes she had put to death. She did not ponder this for too long, however, purposing to keep her heart from getting ahead of her.
That next evening of New Year's Day 1988, as Maranatha was getting ready to go out to dinner with Matthew, her father asked her to plan on going out for breakfast with him the next morning. This struck her as both unusual and interesting, because she knew her father to be one who seldom initiated going to breakfast unless there was something specific he wanted to talk about.
At the restaurant that evening Maranatha and Matthew chatted about various things of mutual interest. All the while, Maranatha was growing increasingly impatient to find out what was going on. Finally, she told Matthew about her unusual appointment to go out for breakfast the next day with her father. Then she asked, "Do you have any idea what he wants to talk to me about?"
Matthew smiled and answered, "I think I do."
"Please tell me," Maranatha pled.
Matthew looked into Maranatha's eyes and evenly began to explain his attraction to her, his sense of God's direction, and his desire to marry her.
Maranatha's countenance lit up with both excitement and astonishment, but she then responded cautiously, "Does my father know you are saying this?" Matthew gently assured her that Mr. Owen had given his blessing on his proposal and that the decision was now up to her. She immediately relaxed in the delight that God was indicating His blessing on this through her father's protective authorization.
Matthew made it clear that he could not offer her an easy, secure life. He explained God's claim and call on His life, and that this might include privation and other forms of suffering. He wanted Maranatha to consider seriously the potential cost to her of marrying him. He particularly noted that because of their relatively large age difference, she would likely someday be widowed, with a number of years still left to live on this earth. Finally, he asked her to not give him an answer at least until she had talked with her father about all these considerations.
The next day Stan Owen took his daughter out to breakfast. He assured her of his blessing and they discussed all the benefits and risks of her marrying Matthew. Ultimately all that mattered, though, was an assurance that this was God's will, which they both believed it was. Later that day Maranatha delightedly communicated her acceptance of Matthew's proposal.
Matthew and Maranatha agreed with her father that they should save physical affection for one another until they were married. But when would that be?
In the following days the young couple enjoyed discussing and praying about the actual wedding plans with her father. Mr. Owen made known his wishes that he wanted to give Maranatha to Matthew in a fashion that would glorify God and demonstrate the relationship of Christ and His church. Matthew was already prepared for this and wholeheartedly agreed, recognizing, however, that he didn't know what all that might mean practically. Mr. Owen began sharing more of his vision for a wedding that would reflect the various pictures given in the scriptures of Christ and His bride.
Matthew and Maranatha joined Mr. Owen in committing to having their wedding be a demonstration of Christ's coming for His bride. For example, in the Bible times apparently neither the bride nor groom knew exactly when the wedding was to happen. The parable of the Ten Virgins (Matt 25:1-13) reflects this commonly accepted practice. Jesus seemed to also allude to this in Mark 13:32 when he said, "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."
Matthew and Maranatha agreed to allow her father (and his spiritual father) to set the day and hour for their wedding without telling them. When the time approached he would warn them to be ready and give a sense of the nearness of the event so they might focus on final preparations. He promised to give them both, but especially Maranatha, a window of time in which the wedding would occur, so that she could see to it that she was constantly ready for his coming for her during that period of time.
They all recognized that marriage engagements in our day are not considered sacred promises. Even for most Christians the engagement period still offers a final opportunity to consider the seriousness of this life-long commitment to marriage before making the decision final. Thus it is not unheard of for Christian couples to call off an engagement after having publicly announced their intention to marry.
In the Bible, however, this was not true. Prior to a marriage the couple would enter into a betrothal. The betrothal involved a virtually irrevocable covenant. The only way to revoke a betrothal was through a legally recognized divorce! And scripturally, divorce was only allowed because of moral impurity.
Recognizing this reality, Matthew and Maranatha desired to enter into a betrothal and do something that, for American culture, was more than engagement and yet less than full marriage. To accomplish this, on February 22, 1988, Stan took Matthew and Maranatha to a Justice of the Peace and they became legally bound in matrimony. Yet before God and with those whom they had close fellowship, it was understood that the consummation of their marriage, or any intimate physical affection, was not authorized until the actual wedding, which was to take place later. This was their way of implementing the pattern of the irrevocable betrothal as it was practiced in the Bible.
During the betrothal period it was Matthew's task to prepare a place to take Maranatha to live together after their marriage. This was recognized as symbolic of Christ's words (John 14:2-3), "In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also."
One of Maranatha's tasks during this betrothal period was to make for herself a white linen wedding gown. This was a conscious effort to model Revelation 19:7-8, "Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints."
Stan Owen's task was to plan and organize the entire wedding, as portrayed in Matthew 22. Since Matthew and Maranatha did not know "the day or the hour," it was not incumbent upon them to "carry the ball" for planning and pulling off the wedding, though Stan did periodically ask for their input concerning certain things.
The primary focus of the betrothal time for all concerned, however, was to encourage the knitting together of Matthew's & Maranatha's hearts as husband and wife. Their betrothal was recognized as an authorization to communicate the depths of their feelings with one another and to release their emotions to one another, adding to the cautious friendship relationship they already had walked in as brother and sister in the Lord for more than four years.
Mr. Owen still faithfully directed both Matthew and Maranatha to avoid physical affection until their wedding. He particularly cautioned them to guard against impatience. Especially since Maranatha was rather young, their wedding might be quite a long way off yet. Though they hoped that the time would be soon, they nevertheless resigned themselves to the real possibility that the wedding could be a matter of years down the road, much like Jacob's seven year betrothal to Rachel (Gen. 29:18-20). Yet they were both naturally quite motivated and energetically prepared in every way they could, as quickly as they could, just in case the wedding should suddenly be announced.
One evening the following summer Matthew was having dinner with Maranatha's family. After dinner Mr. Owen abruptly and unexpectedly announced that they would play a game. Matthew had already been coached on what was to transpire. Mr. Owen quickly had Matthew sit on one side of the room and Maranatha on the other, with himself in the middle. First he turned to Matthew and asked, "Do you have anything you want to say to Maranatha?"
Matthew immediately responded, "I love you, Maranatha."
Then Mr. Owen turned and pointed to Maranatha and asked, "Do you have anything you would like to say in response to Matthew?"
She was puzzled and the only thing she could think of to say was, "I love you too, Matthew."
Mr. Owen smiled in satisfaction and pointed back to Matthew, saying, "Do you have anything else to say to Maranatha?"
Matthew repeated, "I love you Maranatha." Then he added, "Be ready for me when I come!"
Now Maranatha was getting excited. Mr. Owen then pointed back to her and asked, "Do you have anything else to say to Matthew?"
Maranatha quizzed impatiently, "Does this mean our wedding will be soon?!?" It had only been a little over six months since they had become committed to marrying. During their betrothal they had repeatedly reminded each other of their willingness to wait years. Could their wedding be just around the corner?
Matthew grinned and repeated, "Be ready for me when I come!"
Immediately the other members of her family surrounded Maranatha and quickly led her away out of the house. From that moment until the actual time Matthew went to get her for their wedding, they did not see or talk to one another. Maranatha was taken to stay at the home of a Christian family where she was to wait until Matthew came to claim her as his bride. She was only told that the wedding would be some time within the next three weeks.
Her father did make it somewhat easier for her by assuring her that Matthew would come to take her sometime between 3:00 p.m. and midnight on the appointed wedding day. But Maranatha wasn't told what day that would be. She was instructed to keep her bags packed, her hair fixed, and her wedding dress on every afternoon and evening until midnight, until Matthew came for her. Day after day passed and Maranatha yearned for her bridegroom. Now that she knew the wedding would be soon it was becoming very difficult to wait peacefully. As she purposed to focus on the Lord in prayer, new insights were opened to her as she found herself longing for the Lord's return as well.
Matthew was also instructed to be ready to go and pick up his bride the moment her father gave him the word. He looked forward to the day when he would be authorized to claim her fully as his wife. As he waited, he found himself identifying strongly with Christ's yearning for His bride, the church. Spiritual treasures were opened to him that he had never understood before.
One evening as Maranatha was waiting expectantly for Matthew, her father appeared and told her he wanted to take her to dinner. He assured her this was not the night Matthew would come for her. He wanted to have one last opportunity to prepare her for her imminent marriage. Mr. Owen took her to a very nice restaurant and over dinner began expressing his delight in Maranatha's servant-hearted trust toward him up until this point. He explained that she would soon be required to transfer her whole-hearted allegiance to Matthew. This might conceivably even require her to follow his leadership in opposition to that of her father's at some point. Still, he wanted her to fully entrust herself to her husband as her new leader.
This memorable conversation continues to be a cherished memory for both Stan and Maranatha. And Matthew is so grateful for the wise preparation this was for the transition of Maranatha's loyalty to him. Stan was fully releasing his daughter a heart-wrenching experience. But in so doing he laid the foundation for a much more fulfilling parental relationship with her. Furthermore, rather than losing a daughter, his wise handling of this relationship ensured his acquisition of a loyal, unthreatened son-in-law.
Finally the day came when Stan Owen notified Matthew that everything was ready and it was time for the wedding feast. He also explained that from the time Matthew claimed Maranatha they would be married. He was giving his daughter to his spiritual son/disciple.
Matthew was ready. A "friend of the bridegroom" drove Matthew to the home where Maranatha and her attendant were waiting. Upon arriving, he bounded out of the car and up to the front door. Without knocking he entered the house with a SHOUT (as he had been instructed based on Matthew 25:6 & 1 Thes. 4:16), "Maranatha!! Maranatha!!"
When she heard his voice, Maranatha jumped up from where she was sitting with shock and joy. Matthew once again cried out, "Maranatha!" She hurriedly grabbed her packed suitcase and she and her attendant joined Matthew and "the friend of the bridegroom" in the waiting car. Neither of the newlyweds knew where they were being taken, but that was not their greatest interest at this moment.
The car pulled up to a rented banquet hall in the middle of a park in central Waco. There were approximately 150 friends and family members there waiting for them. As Matthew and Maranatha got out of the car, the guests, who were lining both sides of the walkway leading to the banquet hall, began loudly and joyfully singing a majestic song Stan had written just for this moment:
The bridegroom cometh,
The bridegroom cometh,
To catch his bride away!
The bridegroom cometh!
The bridegroom cometh!
No longer shall he delay!
The bride has made herself ready
Her name, Maranatha, "Lord come!"
The feast is now set before you,
So enter your joy and be one!
The bridegroom cometh!
The bridegroom cometh!
Matthew and Maranatha savored the moments strolling slowly and joyfully to the wedding hall between the assembled witnesses as they sang through this song several times. They were ushered into the beautifully decorated candle-lit hall and seated at an opulently embellished table set for just the two of them. At this point, the wedding feast began! Matthew and Maranatha were served all of their favorite dishes, which were prepared by a sister-in-Christ who is a gourmet cook, and whose husband served as their butler during the meal. All the guests enjoyed a pot-luck dinner and sat at tables which surrounded Matthew and Maranatha's. As the newlyweds dined they were treated to the delightful music of a harpist playing praises to the Lord, interspersed by other musical presentations by various ones. Then the guests began bringing their gifts to be opened and received one at a time, so that Matthew and Maranatha could share that moment with each individual or family who was giving to them. Matthew and Maranatha felt like a king and queen.
Earlier that day, Matthew had felt the Lord wanted him to pray for a specific amount of money needed for their honeymoon, but he didn't know how much to pray for. He asked for wisdom and began calculating. He figured $1500 would easily cover the expenses for a nice time alone for a week, as well as for things they would need in the few days immediately following their return. So he prayed for the Lord to confirm His pleasure by supplying $1500 for their honeymoon. At that time, he only had enough to pay for their first night's hotel stay, but not enough for the rest of the honeymoon trip he had planned. No one else knew about this prayer request which he felt the Lord had initiated. He was a little anxious, but trusted the Lord, not having any idea how the Lord might provide this sum. But at the wedding feast, during the time when people brought their gifts to the newlyweds, in addition to the presents that some gave, cards and envelopes containing money literally began to pile up on the table. Later that night at their hotel room, Matthew and Maranatha counted the monetary gifts. All together they totalled just over $1500.
The ceremonial celebration continued after all the gifts had been presented by the guests, in admittedly untypical, but Biblically instructed order. Everyone began to dance Jewish folk dances around the couple, and in time, Matthew and Maranatha joined in as well. Many there had never done anything like this before, but the dancing turned out beautifully appropriate to everyone's delight. As they danced they began praising and worshipping the Lord.
Opportunities were provided for various ones, including both Stan and Matthew to share what was on their hearts. Among other things, they explained to all those present the reasons for this betrothal and marriage being conducted in such an unusual manner. They spoke of the Lord Jesus and the bride He has been patiently waiting for, and how Matthew and Maranatha wanted their lives spent to that end. They noted that they desired this wedding to be a picture of, and an intercession for, the Lord accomplishing His purpose and being joined to His bride.
There was a time for those attending to pray for Matthew and Maranatha's marriage union and the family to come. Another ceremonial highlight was a time of all sharing communion.
Before Matthew and Maranatha publicly articulated their previously prepared vows to one another, she sang the following song, which she and another sister-in-Christ had written together:
You've captured me, O Lord.
I'm Your bride Your prize
You've called me, and wooed me.
I'm the joy of Your heart!
I wonder that you only ask
That I respond
and unfold My heart with its treasure
To the call of Your love.
My own heart rejoices
And dances before You,
As I watch with amazement
That my love should please you so.
For You sought me. You wanted this.
You pursued me with Your ardent love!
You changed me from a girl into
The bride that You sing of!
After this, Matthew and Maranatha spoke forth their vows to one another, and then everyone began worshipping the Lord together for some time. This wedding had continued on for over four hours, and would have continued on for longer, because the presence of the Lord was so sweet. In fact, it only ended when the hall custodians began flipping the lights on and off to remind them that the celebration had gone longer than the rental agreement called for.
As everyone departed, Matthew and Maranatha went to a nice hotel and began their married lives together kneeling by the bed and committing their marriage to the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Heart4God Website:
Parables Blog:

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063