The Exploring Heavenly Places series thus far has spoken of experiences occurring through discernment in dimensions existing beyond our normal everyday perception in seemingly far-away places. However, both the dimensional heavenly places and the Power of God are also very close at hand.
We frequently consider the Lord’s Prayer, but how often do we stop and consider the magnitude of the fact that His kingdom is already here and dwells within us? It’s so easy to simply assume that “on earth as it is in heaven” is future tense; for we know it will become evident in the millennial kingdom when Jesus literally returns to rule and reign from His throne in Jerusalem. We must change our focus so that we do not miss the current reality of The Power of God, on Earth as it is in Heaven.
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Exploring Heavenly Places Volume 5 -The Power of God On Earth As It Is In Heaven
The Greatest Power
If you are reading this my wife, Donna, has agreed to the use of this chapter to finalize our book about the Power of God on earth as it is in heaven. This is easily the most difficult chapter I have ever written. Yes, I use the word ‘easily’ and ‘difficult’ in the same sentence.
I was so frustrated! Doing all I knew to do, and agreeing to all I thought I could agree to, I felt as if I could do no more but from my perspective it was not enough. What more could I do? My only solution was to take my nightly dip in our Jacuzzi and go to bed. I eased into the hot water and issued my complaint, “Lord, I understand Donna is in a lot of pain and she is relating to me through the lens of pain medication, but I do not know what to do. Everything I do or say seems to be wrong; I am having difficulty communicating with Donna; I say something and it seems to be misinterpreted; there seems to be no solution…” I was numb, convinced that there was no answer, convinced that nothing would ever change, but I was not prepared for how the Lord would respond.
In my despair, I heard Him clearly ask, “Do you understand how much Donna has suffered because of what you do?” I was immediately taken back by the Lord’s words, and our lives together as a married couple of forty-plus years raced through my memory. I finally understood.
Donna and I were married at the First Baptist Church of Downey, California in 1968, where after returning from our honeymoon we began serving as Junior High sponsors. At the same time, I was teaching eighth grade at Baldwin Park Unified School District in Southern California. In 1971, I resigned from the teaching position and began working full time at the church. For almost 7 years we enjoyed a wonderful time of ministry with the youth during what later was to be called the Jesus Movement. Our pastor, Harold Adams, protected the staff of this 2,000-member church from the political drama of church life. We literally were unaware of the tensions that often accompany the organizational life of a large church. These years were filled with joy as our children were born and we experienced the satisfying delight of church life with many friends. We also enjoyed many wonderful holidays with our parents, who not only were also members of our church but who had also become friends. Looking back, we now realize it was idyllic life that we enjoyed.
The pull to become a senior pastor became stronger and stronger, until finally Donna and I agreed that this was where the Lord was leading. Though I can honestly say I did not want to leave Downey First Baptist, we accepted the call to pastor a Baptist church in Idaho in 1977. The heartaches began.
Moving far away from family and friends, we were still excited to begin pastoring the church. Before long, Donna received an invitation from a woman in the church to come to her house. I was so excited, but my elation was very short lived when she came home almost destroyed. The visit turned out to be a time for complaints and of criticisms against the new pastor’s wife, who was informed that her clothes were not appropriate and that she should stand at the back door with me after the morning worship service to shake hands with the parishioners. Her loneliness and isolation became intense. We loved the people of the church and they loved us, but the realities of pastoring and the unreasonable expectation of church members on Donna were real and unfair. It was in Idaho that she began having physical issues tied to the stress of being a pastor’s wife.
In 1980, we moved to Montclair, CA and accepted the position of senior pastor of a 450-member church. Because our salary was not sufficient, Donna found it necessary to work outside the home. We had wonderful years of ministry there, experiencing the normality of life, raising three children, and serving the church in cooperation with the larger American Baptist family. This all changed in 1989, after our first prayer session for deliverance. The church divided into two camps, those excited about what the Lord was doing and those who resisted the demonstration of the Power of God. It was much easier for me than Donna because as the tension increased it was difficult for her to hear the words that were spoken against me. Finally in 1991, the church had a series of meetings where accusations were brought, and after one meeting Donna was in so much agony that she refused to get in the car and insisted on walking home. She could not be consoled. A week later, after another difficult meeting, I made the decision to resign. Donna’s grief could not be measured.
The leadership of the American Baptist Churches of the Pacific Southwest was very kind to us, and a position as an interim pastor was offered. As I traveled to San Diego on Sunday mornings and returned Wednesday night, we also began a church in Chino, California. A man who had been a junior higher during our time at Downey First Baptist became excited about what the Lord was doing and decided to join us in the new church plant. He, his wife, and two children moved in with us. It would be impossible to describe how dreadful the time was for Donna. With me gone from Sunday through Wednesday, she was left to manage the house, this family, and her mother who was suffering with renal failure. The family seemed delighted to have someone to take care of them, and it was a constant struggle to get them to help around the house.
In 1992, we met another pastor and eventually were invited to join his church where I became a co-pastor. For two years we enjoyed wonderful ministry again, but that would all change in 1994. Sin issues were exposed in my co-pastor’s life, and the elders and I were confronted the difficult decision to remove him from his position. The church went into turmoil, and Donna again suffered as she endured allegations coming against me. After all was said and done, the church voted not to retain me as pastor but failed to remove me as co-pastor so I felt released to resign, and we were again unemployed. Donna had lost another church family and many friends.
After pursuing the Lord’s direction, we became convinced we were to move to the high desert of Sothern California to pastor a church in Apple Valley. Because the church could not fully support us, I returned to teaching as a substitute and Donna began working again. The church eventually was able to pay me a fulltime salary, but that was short lived. Understanding that I needed to find another job and realizing I could not pastor and work at the same time, I resigned from the church.
Throughout these years, the Lord continued to train me in deliverance and discernment, but now we wondered if my ministry would continue. Both Donna and I became depressed, thinking that, perhaps, ministry was over for us. Finances were tight, we were unable to fulfill the lease option on our home in Apple Valley, and we also found it necessary to do a short sale on our house in Montclair. Unable to find a place to rent, we moved in with a college student who had a large house. Donna, who had raised our kids in our own home, now found herself without a place of her own. More pain.
After a short time we moved into a rental, and the Lord opened the door to join a ministry in Idyllwild, California. Because of the small living space we sold or gave away almost everything we had collected during our lifetime of raising our children—more loss for Donna.
We had only been in Idyllwild a few months when Donna told me, “This is not going to work here.” I could not believe her! We had just moved, but she was right and before one year was finished the Lord opened another door. In 1999, we moved to Hesperia, CA and Aslan’s Place began. Although we had moved into another new and great adventure, Donna again experienced the loss of more relationships.
Ministry exploded and we traveled extensively. Then in 2001, everything changed again. During a ministry trip to Minneapolis, Donna was suddenly overcome with pain in her side, which increased during the following years until she required massive doses of pain medication. Our HMO refused to act swiftly to determine the source of the pain, and it was a very long time before it was diagnosed as sludge in the biliary duct. She was healed for a while but then the pain soon returned. Constant trips to the doctor became the norm for years, and several procedures were performed to relieve her pain. In one attack alone, she had seven ERCP’s.[i]
During these difficult years, several different manipulative women came in our lives, becoming very close to Donna. Seeming to be friends, they pulled on her and her gift of mercy, attempting to gain attention for themselves. One of our true friends saw that these women were carving pieces out of Donna for their own benefit, using the phrase ‘melon balling’ to describe her insight.
Ministry constantly increased during the years of Donna’s pain. I remember once I complained to the Lord that I could not take care of my wife and still minister, but the Lord clearly spoke to me, “You are not to say that again!” I understood, and realized that I could love my wife; take care of her and still minister by making some changes and ministering from home via Skype and the phone.
Three times after moving to the high desert, Donna developed chest pain in the area of her heart. We would call 911, and ambulances would come and take her to the hospital for treatment and testing, but no heart issues could be found. In retrospect, we have realized that Donna was reacting physically to spiritual advancements that were taking place in the ministry.
Then the worse crisis in my life with Donna happened. Hospitalized once again for constant pain and a supposed heart condition, she had received massive doses of medication and had become delusional. In her confusion, she was convinced I had put her in a psychiatric ward. She insisted that she no longer wanted me as her pastor, and I was fired. I was stunned! I remember going home, totally disheartened. I had loved Donna with all my heart. Many times in the midst of her suffering I had told her I would give up ministry and find a regular job, and I meant it. I would prefer her over ministry. I would love her unconditionally. Now, despite my deep love of her and my loving actions toward her, I found myself realizing that this kind of love was not enough. I prayed quietly, “Lord, if this love is not enough, then who can truly love? Is it at all possible?” That night, during troubled sleep, I wondered what would happen to our lives. Fortunately, Donna called the first thing in the morning to apologize. It really was the fog of medication, but it been a night of soul-searching agony for me as I questioned the Lord about the issue of love, as the memories cascaded through my mind that night in the Jacuzzi. Donna had suffered tremendously because of the call on my life, and it wasn’t over.
There were still more years of side pain ahead, but we finally reached a point when it seemed to have been healed. Feeling good, Donna attended a conference we were conducting, where she fell, shattering her shoulder and resulting in more years of pain before a shoulder replacement finally resolved the issue.
Much to our dismay, once the shoulder was healed, the side pain returned again. In April 2014, the doctor told Donna he would not be able to increase the pain medication so this is what life would look like now—constant pain. All I could do was declare in faith, “God was good and His love endures forever.” I would need to adjust my life again so I could take care of Donna, but then God intervened.
While at Aslan’s Place on May 10, 2014, the Lord revealed a trinity of evil over the high desert. At His direction, we prayed and discerned a huge deliverance coming off of the land. I went home to find that Donna was pain free. The Lord had healed her too! Some months later, the pain returned briefly, but again the Lord revealed some territorial issues and when He freed that land, the pain in Donna’s side gradually disappeared.
What have I learned though all of this? There is one command that the Lord gives to husbands. We are called to love our wives as Christ loves the church. No, not just called; we are commanded to love our wives. Look at Ephesian 5:25:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her…
The word ‘love’ is in the imperative. It is a command. Notice we are not commanded to minister, but loving your wife is a command. I learned that Donna is to be first after my love of the Lord. Ministry is secondary to the unconditional love I am to have for my wife.
Since 1989, I have experienced the wonder of the Power of God. I have often found myself glued to the floor by His Power. I have felt His Power on my body, but all this demonstration of His Power is not His greatest Power. His greatest Power is His love for us, and the greatest power we can demonstrate is our love for one another.
In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.[ii]
The reality is that we cannot love like this. It is Christ in us, His powerful love coming through us to others. He is the Greatest Power of Love.
For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.[iii]
[i] Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography
[ii] 1 John 4:9-11
[iii] Ephesians 3:14-19