Dear Family and Friends, Christmas '08
I thought it might be appropriate to actually send the annual letter before Christmas this year as opposed to what happened last year. I've already encountered one difficulty thinking it would be better to use SJ's computer and print as I go until I got to page two the first go round and ended up losing everything. I began to think about what I'd say this year a few weeks ago, and finally asked the Lord what HE would have me write about. HE said, "Tell them about ME."
I had to go online where I also post my Christmas letters to see where I left off last year, and discovered the Lord had said exactly the same thing to me for the Christmas letter of '07. With the help of the Holy Spirit, I pray HE will tell me what to write, bringing back to my memory events which impacted my life this past year and leave you thinking, "that was God."
I ended last year's letter with a car in my possession. To refresh, or fill in the details I failed to mention in last year's letter, a couple from the same church I attend told me the Lord had told them to give me a car. Speechless (I know, it is rare), I said okay. After which, I did some serious praying. I said, "Lord, I don't want a car, I want a..... What should I do?" And the Spirit of the Lord said, "Tell them, 'In the Name of Jesus I accept your gift,' and say thank you." So that is what I did. We finalized the sale in mid October, and I drove it home and parked it.
Now as you may or may not remember, it was my intention to fix the car (it needed the back passenger window replaced and a new battery) and sell it. I was going to give $1000 to the Kingdom of God, pay my taxes on the money the Lord blessed me with from work on my days off, and do some needed repairs to my truck. But that is not quite how it worked out.
In late October of '07, SJ had a car wreck which put our car out of commission for awhile. Then in November, my truck began giving me problems. Now I'm wondering was this car meant for us knowing the Lord knows what is coming in a person's life before it is realized, or is this some sort of monumental test of my faith to do what I had purposed in my heart to do? So I prayed, and prayed, and prayed some more. And the Lord said, "Fix the car." I thought, "Well, okay, I'll fix the car after I fix my truck," you know, bargaining. So I contacted someone I knew who was "qualified" and needed the money, and I had him "fix" my truck. It ran great.....for two weeks, and though I could start it, it didn't have the power to get up the hill past our driveway. And it was if the Lord was saying to me, "You can do it MY way, or you can do it your way. Guess which way is better?"
I said, "Okay Lord, I'll fix the Buick." By the end of December, I had the back passenger glass replaced. Sometime in February, if I remember correctly, a dear brother of like precious faith lost his vehicle via a blown motor. I felt really bad for him, and I was concerned the lack of transportation could put a strain on his faith given his problems in the past and set his life back to a place of desperation and despair. It also didn't help that he lived three miles from his place of employment. So I had the brilliant idea of letting my dear brother use the car, and at the same time I would have a "For Sale" sign in the window. I spoke to him about it, and he agreed. All I needed to do was get a new battery and insure the car for about three months. Unfortunately, I had to lay out the premium for six months because the insurance company wouldn't insure the car for only three months. Well, that is okay because I was sure the car would sell quickly. By the way, I didn't want to use the car for our own use because I didn't want to get used to it and be tempted to keep it. Also, SJ was able to use her mother's car which her mother couldn't drive anyway because she has macular degeneration.
The best laid plans...... My dear brother would drive the car to his workplace, but he would back the car into a parking space thereby obscuring the "For Sale" sign from view. So I prayed some more, "Lord, he is not being faithful to the spirit of our agreement. What should I do?" And the Lord said, "Sell him the car." SAY WHAT!!! "Lord, he can't afford to buy the car for $1500. What about the seed I have purposed in my heart to give, what about the money for the taxes, WHAT ABOUT FIXING MY TRUCK!?" No answer.
So the next time I saw my Brother in Christ I told him I would be willing to let him keep the car for $500 if he was interested. He kind of got this blank look on his face so I asked him if he had heard what I had said. And he said, "Yes, that would be fine." I told him I needed the money before April 15th. He said it would be no problem. But I had a problem. I really, really, really wanted to give the Lord $1000, but now I could see no way for me to do so. And the Spirit of the Lord impressed me to read Matthew, chapter 12. I had to read it three or four times before I was finally able to see what the Lord had wanted me to see. Matthew 12:7 "But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless." There it was, the peace I needed to know it was God's Will for both me and my brother of like precious faith.
It was God all along, but I couldn't see it until I realized the Lord had positioned me to receive a car HE knew was going to be needed by another who did not attend the same church as I. If I had just listened to the Lord to begin with, I may not have had to walk for THREE MONTHS! before I was able to fix my truck which didn't come about the way I had planned either. But I did receive the money I needed to pay the taxes which was almost to the penny what I had put into the car in repairs and insurance. And our car is fixed to the point of being useable, albeit with some body damage on the front end. It doesn't look pretty, but then, we don't notice it when we're behind the wheel.
Another incident which happened to me was less involved, but one which I will not soon forget, I hope. During the time the brother was driving the car but had yet to pay me for it, I had to walk everywhere while SJ had her mom's car at her work place. Every Wednesday, up until about two months ago, I would go to church to pray alone. I've felt the presence of the Holy Spirit many times when I've been in the sanctuary alone praying. There is nothing on earth which I have experienced which even remotely compares to being blessed by the presence of the Spirit of God. A few days before going on that Wednesday, another Brother in Christ contacted me about selling him some firewood. On a cold, February, Tuesday afternoon, Mike (who works at the same place SJ does) came by the house to get the wood. We loaded his vehicle to the gills with about half a rick of wood, and then he drove me to church on that Tuesday.
Before I departed, he asked me how much the wood was and I told him $20. He handed me the money, said thank you, and I replied the same also thanking him for the ride. Since it was so cold outside, and I had no truck to work from or with, I went ahead and went to church to be alone with God. Later, before returning home, I stopped at the bank and picked up two money orders. About two years ago, I dedicated all my firewood sales to the Lord. I did it with the intention of giving God something which I really enjoyed doing, cutting and selling firewood. When I asked the Lord what HE wanted me to do with the proceeds from the sales, HE told me to give the money to three different ministries, two of which are out of state. Hence the need for the money orders.
The next day, Wednesday, I went again to church to pray as was my habit to do. And while I'm at the prayer alter, I distinctly heard the Lord say, "You cheated ME." I don't mind telling you hearing those words come from God blew the wind out of my sails that day. I've learned many things by the Voice of the Lord, but a rebuke from the Lord is not soon forgotten. After recovering myself enough to speak, I said, "Lord, how have I cheated you?" No answer. It pretty much halted my prayer time that day, but all day long I wondered how in the world I cheated God. If there was a penny I hadn't tithed on in the last four years, excluding gifts of money, it was unbeknown to me.
Then I remembered the sale of the wood to Mike. Mike was a brother in need because he heats his home with wood only, and he was down to his last few sticks of firewood. He was also laid off from work so money was probably tight. And I had charged him for something the Lord has given me plenty of for my own needs as well as being able to sell. I thought at the time I was doing the right thing. After all, I wasn't keeping the money, but was doing what the Lord had instructed me to do two years before. But that was the only thing I could think of which would have garnered such strong words from the Lord toward me. So I purposed in my heart to give Mike back the money which he had given me for the wood.
The next payday, while I was standing at the bank teller window and had received the money from my paycheck, I remember saying quietly to the Lord, "It sure doesn't look like there is much left over." You see, after the checking account and savings was deposited, and my tithe was held out, I knew I also had to give Mike $20. As I turned from the window and was beginning to walk towards the door, I heard the Lord say, "I've got a surprise for you." As I walked on to work that Friday afternoon, I wondered what kind of surprise God would have for me. All day long I was expecting something wonderful to happen to me. That night, I laid down thinking maybe I had just imagined the Lord saying what I was sure HE had spoken to me.
The next morning, around 9 a.m., a knock at the door stirred me out my sleep. I don't get up real early on most days especially when I know I'm going to be working at the store that day. It was one of the tree trimmers who had been at our house the week before clearing branches away from the power lines. I answered the door, and he asked me if I would like to have a tree they had cut up at another property. It was a red oak, one of the best kinds of trees for firewood. Praise The Lord! What a surprise! About a week later, they brought over a large pile of wood and threw it in a pile close to the place where I cut up wood. We've already started to use it this year in our fireplace.
After the Stimulus package was announced by congress, and it was clear I was going to get $600 right along with about everyone else in my earnings class around the end of June, I began to wonder what I was going to do with the money. I certainly needed some new jeans and boots, and my truck could use some minor repairs. But I also wanted to do something else with part of the money which would glorify the Lord. So I prayed about it and asked God what HE wanted me to do with the money. The Lord said, "Give it to me." "Lord," I replied, "you're not making this easy." It was at that point God began to speak to me about what HE wanted me to do in relation to serving HIM.
As I prayed over the course of three to four weeks about the money I expected to receive from the government, God began to impress upon me to sow the money into HIS Kingdom. A wonderful brother and spiritual counselor told me he was taking a group to Mexico on a missions trip. He invited me along, and though I considered it, I knew I couldn't go. I told God I would give HIM the bulk of the money, but asked if I could keep $100 to buy some new jeans and boots. I believe this was acceptable to HIM and this is why I believe it is so. One day while in prayer, the Lord said to me, "The money is yours to keep, but give it to ME and let ME show you what I can do with it." So I purposed in my heart to give God five hundred dollars and keep one hundred. "Lord, what do you want me to do with the money." HE spoke one word, a name. It was the brother going to Mexico.
Two days before the trip, I received the check and cashed it. The next day I took the brother to lunch. On the way, I handed him the envelope and said to him, "The Lord told me to give you this." As it so happened, my brother and fellow servant of the Lord Jesus Christ told me he had enough money to make the trip and return, but didn't have anything to speak of to give to the people of the church where they were going. After returning home, I told the Lord I was thankful that HE had used me to bless my brother in HIS Name. And the Lord replied, "It is a covenant seed." Now I admit, I have no idea what the Lord meant by what HE told me, but I do know I would have to really screw up to screw "it" up. About a week ago, shortly before waking, I heard in a dream, "Psalm 50, not 55."
The very next day, after giving the money, I got sick with the virus that was going around which had symptoms similar to those of someone who had been bitten by a tick. I ended up spending on medical visits, antibiotics, and tests almost exactly what I had sown into the Kingdom of God. What nobody knew but me was the Word of the Lord came to me one day earlier this year and said, "No weapon formed against you will prosper." You know, until that July day, I didn't get sick one time all winter or spring when the flu virus was running rampant in our community. Every time I even remotely felt a symptom of sickness, I spoke the very words out loud the Lord had spoken to me. After I had recovered, missing only a half a day of work, a voice would constantly prod me with the words, "Are you sorry you gave the money?" And every time I would reply, "No." No devil is going to keep me from receiving all that salvation is by the precious blood of Jesus.
I wondered recently why I had gotten sick. I remembered talking to several people about the virus and telling them to be careful about spending any amount of time outside without using a good tick repellant. The Lord showed me that I had been responsible for sowing it into my own life by speaking about it frequently. The other day the Lord said, "The devil can't give you what you don't give him first." I'm sorry I don't have time to explain this as this letter is already lengthy.
I wanted to tell you about another incident, but it would take another page and a half. However, there was something which I feel the Lord has impressed upon me to speak of which HE showed me in a prayer vision a few weeks ago. I saw myself walking in heaven and was struck by something which I didn't expect to see. When I saw Jesus walking towards me, I said to HIM, "Lord, where are all the people?" And HE replied, "You didn't tell them about ME." Heaven is not a place meant only for a few.
This year, I've decided to give this letter to those of you who have hired me to do yard work for you. I've wanted to tell you for quite some time about Jesus, but I could never figure out how to bring up the subject. Jesus wants me to tell you HE loves you. I have often heard HIM speak these same words to me when I have wondered about situations or circumstances in my own life. When I go to HIM, HE always works everything out for me. I have yet to see HIM do so in a way I would expect. I sincerely hope, if you also know Jesus, this letter will affirm and uplift your own relationship with the Lord. And if you do not know Jesus, I hope this letter will plant a desire in your life to want to know HIM.
Not one incident I have written about is false or half true. These things really did happen to me this year. As a matter of fact, these kinds of things have been happening in my life since May 9th, 2004 when God supernaturally revealed HIMSELF to me in such a way as to completely and totally convince me HE is the same God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) spoken of in the Bible, the Holy Word of God. I'm reluctant to discuss the intimate details of how I came to the point where God poured out HIS amazing love on me, but I'm sure I wouldn't have gone to be with the Lord had I died prior to that wonderful day. The person you know me to be or think me to be, is not the person I used to be. Jesus literally saved my life because I had come to a place in my own life where I desired death more than living.
Acts 2:21 "And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
The events I've written of in this letter are only a few things which have happened to me this past year. I could write another six or seven pages, and it would all be about Jesus. Nor do I know how this letter will be received. I know you're probably wondering if God really speaks to me as much as I have written, and the answer is "yes". Think of it this way: do you have any relationships where the only way you relate to the person is by leading them around as if they're blind, deaf, and mute? The way the Lord will speak to a person is in the manner they're most receptive to hearing. As you've probably noticed, I'm not as good at listening as I would want to be. But God is so wonderful. HE will always be with those who always want to be with HIM, and HE desires to be with those who have yet to want to.
For me, it is not about the work, or the provision, or whatever else one might believe is invaluable. For me, it is about what HE tells me to do and hope I have the faith to trust HIM especially when I can't see where it will lead me or ever know what the outcome might be. Christmas is every day with Jesus.
In the Name of Jesus, I pray you’ll be blessed with the powerful presence of HIS everlasting love in your life this day and every tomorrow.