A Call To The Remnant

Scottish Warriors for Christ- http://www.facebook.com/acalltotheremnant

The Long way Home-My Testimony

Posted by appolus on March 29, 2015

Long_Road_Home_by_Broken_Starr_ChildI would like to take the readers of this book on a spiritual journey. It is my wish and earnest desire and prayer, that this story will glorify the Lord Jesus and bring comfort and hope to all who read it. Through poetry and stories I hope to touch the hearts of many, and bring comfort to all those who hurt, whether physically or spiritually. I have found through experience that our Lord Jesus will certainly lift up the head that hangs down, will bring hope to a hopeless situation. I come from a small working class shipbuilding town in Scotland. It is situated on the River Clyde and the area is extraordinarily beautiful. When the sun did shine, and I admit that was not too often, it would bask our valley in magnificent warmth and splendor. The hills rise dramatically on either side and are shadowed by the mountains behind. Most often the mountains would be shrouded in mist and one could see very little of anything. It gave a very claustrophobic feeling and I always remember feeling trapped.

The river ran through the center of everything. It dominated our whole lives. Almost from every Government house, one had a magnificent view of the Firth of Clyde. It is almost three miles wide, but to a young Greenock boy, it might have well been the Atlantic. How mysterious was “the other side.” The town of Greenock stood in stark contrast to the surrounding beauty. It was a dirty little industrial town from the Victorian era. Mostly red or gray sandstone buildings, blackened by generations of smoke that would billow from a thousand chimney pots. The slate covered roofs would glisten in the rain , and the light from the moon , when it appeared from behind its almost constant cover, would illuminate these roofs. Many slums still existed and most people lived in “Tenements,” high-rise sandstone buildings. In a typical tenement there would be maybe fifteen families up one “close.” There was five of us in a one bed room apartment. The three children slept in the bedroom while my mom and dad slept in the living room which was also the living room and the kitchen.

My mom and dad had a bed that fit into a recess in the wall and after they got up in the morning they would simply pull a curtain over the space. Since it rained so much in Scotland, we would dry our clothes by hanging them from a line attached to two pulleys or small wheels in the ceiling. The vast majority of men worked in the shipyards and faced very harsh working conditions. The class system was firmly entrenched and there was a very small middle class community. At least 90% of the community would be working class. My father had come from a working class family. His father was an alcoholic. He worked at a local distillery making whiskey. My grandfather would steal this whiskey and it would be hidden around his apartment. When it was found, it would be poured down the sink by my grandmother who was a staunch Catholic. I never knew my grandfather, he died at the age of 58, my father was 19. He had left school at 14 and entered the shipyards. This was a very tough working environment where drinking was the measure of a man, that and violence. My father followed his father in the path of alcoholism.

My mother came from a working class family also. Her father worked in the shipyards as well. My grandmother had given birth to ten children and collapsed and died at the age of 60, my mother was 16. My mother was advised not to marry my father, and like so many others before her, she would ignore this advice and perhaps find comfort in him. My father “wore the pants” in our house. Like most Scottish working class women, my mother did what she was told. As long as she did, there were little problems, apart from the usual struggle to survive and pay bills. Frequently men’s wages would be drunk before they returned home on a Friday night. Often one could see anxious women waiting outside the “yards” to catch their husbands and at least get some money for food before it was lost to the bars or the Bookmakers. My mother, like many women in the sixties and seventies in Scotland, lived on the edge of her nerves, trying to put food in their children’s mouths and avoid the debtors. Silence had to be observed many times when the familiar knock on the door would come on a Friday night.

The “Provvy,” woman had come to collect her money. A lot of working class and welfare families clothed their children with “Provident,” checks. Provident was a company that supplied credit to poor families. It was not cash, it was a voucher and it could only be used in stores that had the Provident sign in their windows. This carried a stigma, but hey, we lived in a world of stigmas. The “agents,” would come around every Friday night to collect a payment. If you had no money to give, you kept quiet, often times with your hand over the younger children’s mouths who had no clue what was going on, they just thought we were trying to suffocate them for no particular reason, much like when you’re trying to give a dog a pill and force its mouth shut, the poor dog thinks it’s being killed, and wonders what it has done to deserve such a cruel end. Valium was a tremendous friend to a great number of women, my mother being one of them.

My story really starts when I was seven. My mother came home and announced she had found Jesus. She went out that morning because my father, in a drunken fit, was screaming at something that was not there and said that “The devil wanted him.” My mum, as if speaking prophetically and not even saved said “he will not have you Frank.” She went out and found herself in a Salvation Army hall and she responded to an altar call.
As a Catholic boy, I knew who Jesus was, He was the Son of God. He had died on the cross, everybody knew that. One day, probably after ten thousand years in purgatory, most of us would get to see Him. In fact Purgatory was the place to “shoot for.” No-one was good enough to say they were going to heaven, avoiding Hell was my main concern. I once heard a Priest describe Hell. He said that we were to imagine a giant metal ball, the size of the earth. Every thousand years, a dove would come by and brush its wings against the ball. When that ball was totally rubbed away by the dove’s wings, we would still be in Hell.

My mother was completely different. The smoking was gone, the valium too. My father went crazy when he heard the news. Although he did not really know what being “born-again” meant, he knew they were all whackos and fanatics. And although he was a non-practicing Catholic, he firmly believed that everything outside of Catholicism was ungodly. And yet, in the back of his mind, he knew that he was no longer in control of this woman, and that he was no longer the center of her universe.

In my mothers’ new found faith there was no situation that was not turned to the glory of God. Many times our electricity was cut off. One time it was of for three months. And every night for three months there was a brilliant star that seem to light up our living room. I would sit and stare at “my,” star. My Mom told me that the Lord had sent a star to light up the darkness of our room, I believed it. When there was no food on the table, she told us that we had to believe and that the Lord would provide, and then we would hear a letter dropping. We would rush to the door and there would be an envelope with money in it. This happened several times. We found out years later that a wonderful woman in Christ would often be led by Jesus to put her tithe in an envelope and drop it through our door. No name, just obedience to the Holy Spirit’s leading.

As a child, I would walk down the road, and my mother would stop and talk to the “bum’s,” the down and outs, rejected by society, foul smelling men, foul talking men, but never in front of my mother. She would tell them about Jesus and how He loved them and died for them. One night one of these men responded to my mothers’ invitation to come to church, a small Assemblies of God church. He was dressed very badly and smelled worse. As they took their seat somewhere near the back, some people moved. The man realized why they had moved and began to weep, telling my mother that he was not dressed “properly.” My Mom told him “don’t you worry about how you’re dressed, Jesus doesn’t care how you’re dressed.” Just then the men of the church came back and led this man to the front of the church and sat him down in the front aisle.

This is the Jesus that I encountered as a small boy of seven. This Jesus who looked at the worse of sinners, the rejected of “moral,” society and embraced them. He reached out across the divide of decent society and said “Oh how I love you.” The light of Jesus shined into the darkest corners of hell with a glorious love that cannot be comprehended by an enemy whose only design is to divide and destroy. He embraces the “untouchables,” with a love that cannot be comprehended by an enemy who knows only division and strife, fear, hatred and suspicion. After my mother came to know Jesus, our family was plunged into a world of violence and intense hatred. My mother suffered many beatings for simply loving Jesus and going to church.

My father would constantly call me an idiot. I never heard my name on his lips. Often he would put a knife in my hand in drunkenness and try have me stab him, of course I would not. He would slap me on the side of the head and tell me that I “did not have it in me.” Oh how I longed to be loved by this man but he had my heart in his hand and was slowly squeezing the life out of it. Little did I know that Satan had planted his flag of ownership at the very core of my heart, and that this would shape me and enslave me for years to come.

THE PROCESS

My heart is shredded, it lies in pieces, think, I must think
Here comes the hammer, it cannot miss, the blow, and now I shrink
The shrinking ends, I am no more, one chance to survive, I take it and now I am no more
Only one choice, I thought, and I took it and walked on through the door

The blows are coming now but I feel a little less
Surely my heart grows stronger ah, but no caress
I now reside in this world of mine and the blows keep raining down
Stronger, even stronger now No more thinking, the sun has gone down

My heart, my heart, it is no more It is completely encased in steel
My God, My God, Oh help me Lord My God I cannot feel.
I look down in horror no heart, no flesh, just bone
I look around in horror My God, I’m all alone

Where is this place I thought I knew It’s dark, it’s dimly lit
My God, My God, I’m almost at the bottom of the bottomless pit.
And in that moment, right where I was My God He came to me
My son, my son, my son He cried I have come to set you free.

Oh my God, Oh my Lord Is it true, can I be free
Oh please dear Jesus, please dear God Please don’t look on me
My son, my son, you are my son and I will put you on the Rock
Be quiet now, be quiet son Shh, do not talk

I have a Son, My only Son He died upon a tree
He is My Son, He is your Lord He’s the Rock that will set you free.
And so it was, and so it is My Father took me in His Hand
Onward, ever upward Out of the pit, into the Promised land

He set me on the Rock and I looked down No longer a heart of steel
I could see and I could touch I had flesh and I could feel
So come to the Rock, come to Christ and He will set you free
If you will just open your eyes He will let you see.

———————————-

This next poem is much the same, I would like to include it anyway as it gives a different angle of the same process.

SHADOWS IN THE DARKLAND

Into the shadows of the dark land
Where the roaring lion roams free
Never to return to the world of innocence
This cynical dimension has forever trapped me

For years I wandered in the twilight
Voices of the world echo unclear
This is a place of abandoned desolation
Forever ruled by shame and fear

How is it that these worlds CO-exist in time
A child in one, a slave to the other
Surviving daily in a colorless jungle
Yet sentenced forever to continually suffer

A childless child in a demanding world
Longing to return to a different time
To a place of warmth and sweet embrace
Oh to laugh again, how sublime

There were times when I thought I had found the way
I could almost feel the sun on my face
But just at that time, the lion did pounce
And I ran screaming back into that place

And so I walked on, chains pulling me down
Seemingly going nowhere
Yet I was being pulled towards an enormous pit
And I did not have the strength to care

And before I knew it I was falling
Having finally gone over the edge
I was grasping and scraping and calling out
Before I came to a stop on a ledge

I looked down and I could see the bottom
It was the bottom of the bottomless pit
I looked at myself, I was covered in slime
And I said to myself, this is it

I looked up and I could see no light
And I cried out, oh God help me
And in an instant, His Hand came down
And before I knew it I was free

I was out of the pit and standing on the Rock
I could feel the sun on my face
Never again to walk in the shadows of the Dark land
But to live forever in a continual embrace.

In these last few poems in part one I have tried to describe the downward journey of a heart. A retreat into a place where one cannot be hurt. A flag had been planted at the very center of my heart, the very core. The flag was planted by the enemy to denote that this was now his territory. It has been said, “show me the boy when he is seven and I will show you the man.” I am not sure if seven is the age, but I know that the true essence of who I was, who the Lord wanted me to be, was lost. The core of my heart was covered, it would not be truly uncovered until years after coming to Jesus. Every one of us has a core, a pool of water at the very center of the garden of our heart, the secret place.

This water should flow in the rivers of life that flows from the throne of God, but inevitably it gets cut off, isolated, through sin in its many forms, whether abuse, neglect, rebellion and so on. Many times children will isolate their pool, not consciously, but in a mode of survival. Yet, inevitably, this pool will grow stagnant until it is uncovered by the light of Christ and rejoined in the rivers of life that flows from the holy throne. Have you uncovered who you truly are? Is there a secret pain that has shaped you? How does it manifest itself? Are you overweight, depressed, lacking in joy, peace and contentment. Do you have to medicate yourself? These are all the signs of a pool hidden behind a secret curtain of pain.

My first ever encounter with the living Christ was when I was twelve. This would eventually, as an adult, be the saving of me although I could never have guessed it at the time. There was a particularly violent episode in my house one evening. Now, I had witnessed a thousand acts of violence by a man who was losing his battle against God. One time my father even nailed our front door shut from the inside with six-inch nails to stop my mother from going to church, my sister and I lowered her out the window, quite a drop for a woman who was a quarter-inch shy of five feet.

What my dad did not realize, and would not until he came to Christ himself, was that my mother had discovered the power of the universe. This is the power that men had searched for down through the centuries, the answer to life itself and nothing nor anyone would every persuade her to let go of Jesus. This night was different, I believe the enemy planned to kill my mother this night. My father had her by the back of the head and was punching her. She kept crying out that Jesus loved him but this only seemed to incense him all the more. One minute he was laughing hysterically, the next he was crying. My sister was in the corner of the room screaming and I stood, frozen with fear, behind him.

The atmosphere in the room was almost tangible, it was like the air had substance, not that you could see, but that you could slice through. At that moment, I felt something come into me, from the very top of my head. It slowly passed down through my whole body and as it did, the fear left me until it reached my toes and there was no fear left at all. I reached up and put my hand on my father’s shoulder. His head swung round, he still had my mother by the hair, and I found myself looking into the blackest eyes I had ever saw. In an instant, as I stared into these eyes, I saw past them and into his soul, and there was my real father, the man whom God had designed him to be, bound, chained and gagged, lying on his side. I heard myself say this “Dad, I love you.” In a second I was back looking at his eyes again and I heard this voice from his mouth “I cannot argue with that.” The atmosphere was gone, my father released my mother, and sat down in his chair looking shell-shocked. Now, the violence returned days later, but this encounter with the living God would help save me later in my life, for this reality could not be denied.

Of course there are stages and turning points and defining moments in everyone’s’ lives. A central defining moment in my own life was meeting Angie. She was extremely pretty and walked into my life when we were both 15. I loved her the moment I saw her. She was petite with coal-black hair, very slim and really different from other Greenock girls. Her mother had married an American sailor who was based on the “other side” of the water. Many local women had married Americans, although there was a stigma to this. Most of these girls were considered to be “sluts.’ This of course was not true in most cases. What a lot of these girls had in common was that they came from the working classes.

Growing up in Scotland, America was a dream and was out of reach for most Scottish people. You could actually make something of yourself in America. Apparently it did not matter how you spoke or with what accent you spoke it with. Angie’s mother had dared to dream and followed her sweetheart, after marrying him, back to America and small town Kansas. She was considered by her husbands’ family, who were wealthy, to be a gold digger and beneath him. It seems that America had a class system too, just not so defined or rigid. Angie and her two brothers were born and lived in Suburbia, a life only dreamt of by my fellow townsfolk.

It was the late sixties and Angie was seven. Her father decided that he had to go to California and find himself, and indeed the family would hamper the search. So they were duly divorced and sent back to Scotland. Mom believed, even as she waited for the plane at the airport, that her husband would come and get them, but to no avail. She was a broken woman and lived in the worst of the projects on her return to Scotland. Even now it is hard for me to imagine the cultural shock for the American kids. They were bullied and beaten constantly for being different, and mum chose one boyfriend after another who would treat her the way she felt. After one beating too many, Angies’ mom suffered an aneurysm. She could not walk or talk or leave the bed apart form a wheelchair. Somehow, in this state, the man who had been living with her got her pregnant. Amidst the screams of the mother, and the helplessness of the children, the baby was born premature and in the breach position in the apartment. The baby died, and mom died shortly afterwards. In order for my wife and her brothers to avoid the orphanage, they chose to stay with the last tormentor their mother had lived with, their father never came and got them.

Children of the night

As the Lord looked down on a cold winter’ night
Two children he beheld in his merciful sight
They each cried tears of pain and distress
Please help me oh God from this horrible mess

Each cried for their mother
Please release them, they said
One lay broken on the floor
The other lay dying in her bed

And the tears they cried
Were caught in His Hand
Now forever united
Before God they would stand

The world wrote them off
Before they began
Yet the Lord had seen their pain
They were now in His Hand.

——————–

ENDLESS RAIN

The wind it blew
And the rain it fell
Even when the sun shines brightly
It’s still raining in hell

The days were too short
The nights, too long
Please let the morning come
Let the birds sing their song

I looked out my window
Sweet virginal snow
Let me lie beneath the blanket
May it never go

The snow soon melts
And once again
The wind starts to howl
And it begins to rain

———————

At 16, we found out that Angie was pregnant. We were not as upset as we might have been. As long as we were together, everything would be OK. We both wanted desperately to escape our home lives. We would be great parents. We would love this child. This was our chance. We were married just after our 17th Birthdays. We had no home, so we went to the Salvation Army’s shelter for battered women. They told us that we were their first ever “Honeymoon couple.” After a couple of months in there, we were given a government apartment in a tough project or housing scheme called the Strone. I was drinking heavily by now, which was of course normal. This was my right of passage. Oh how I admired those men who could drink endlessly and not fall over, perhaps only stopping to throw up, then returning to their business. I wanted to be just like them, and it would impress my dad of course. Now I had made a profession of faith at the age of eight. It was undoubtedly real. I had experienced the Holy Spirit at the age of twelve. I had loved the things of the Lord. I even ran out of the house one violent night and in my childishness, so angry and upset at the damage being done in our home, challenged him to come out and fight face to face.

You see my mum had always encouraged me to love my dad. No matter what he said or what he did, we were to love him because this was a battle for his soul. Now I did that for about six years, which is a very long time to a fourteen year old. Yet I was wilting under an almost constant barrage of hatred and name calling. My heart was being hardened by the battle. I had run away from home. I had thought about suicide, seriously thought about it. Then I started drinking and smoking. I found that when drunk, I could blot out my constant dark cloud that travelled everywhere with me. I became addicted to oblivion whether it was sex or the drink. These were my painkillers. It not only blocked out my thoughts, it helped to quieten the voice of the Lord who called on me so often, so often, yet I was off and running hard in the very opposite direction. By any means I would survive this world.

The baby was born 3 months premature. The chord had been around his neck and we were told he had went possibly 6 minutes without oxygen before he could be delivered by emergency C-section. He was now on a life support machine and it was the finest opinion of the staff, that it would be better to turn of the machine, but, it was our decision. Two children stared at each other, no words were spoken, then stared at this tiny 2 pound , perfectly formed child, “Whatever you think is best……….OK.” Plugs were pulled right away. “Would you like to hold the baby,” I heard in the mist. Another defining moment had arrived in my life. I looked at this helpless child, behind his glass cage, my heart lay there with a ridiculously large diaper on. I would not touch this child, I would not hold him, no-one would ever touch this child again, no-one would touch my heart again. Not holding my child, leaving him untouched behind his glass cage would haunt me for the next 20 years. I just wanted out of there, to not look back. Stephen died two days later. Because he lived for two days, there had to be a funeral. My wife was still sick in hospital. It was only myself and my father and my best friend who attended this wee funeral. This little white coffin was handed to me as I sat in the back seat of the hearse. It was so tiny. It sat on my lap. Yet it was just a box to me sitting on my lap until the driver turned the corner a little too fast and I could feel his little body move inside. I was so horrified to think that my little son was in this box. In my mind I cursed that driver. He was lowered into a cold unmarked hole in a cold cemetary and I left that place with my cold heart. It would be many years before my heart would ever really feel anything other than pain again.

JERICHO IS BURNING

Why do the tears that belong to you
Fall down from upon my face
Why does your heart, so cold and blue
Refuse to move from that solitary place

It is safe but cold behind that wall
And you will never know what it is to love
To run, to leap, to stumble to fall
To soar with the eagles high above

The walls are high and thick and strong
They are built with tears and pain
I will shout and listen to the trumpet’s song
They will tumble and fall and never be again

Your heart is touched by the burning flame
It is touched by the one from above
Your heart it fades, and will never be the same
It is engulfed and consumed in the furnace of love

————————–

Christopher was born a year and a half later. A stunningly beautiful child, peaceful and full of joy. When no-one was looking, I raised him high and dedicated him to God, even although I did not follow Him. My mother had told me that the Holy Spirit said I had “Gone into the world.” I had and I was going to survive, whatever it took. I was strong and I would not be brought down. Christopher touched at something deep within though ………..perhaps?

All through this period of time I was drinking heavily. I had also discovered cannabis and between that and the drink and sex, I was pretty used to oblivion and I liked it. Yet, often times I would end up at my mothers drunk. I had always felt extremely guilty for having left her in her violent situation. It plagued me. I would visit her when my father was not there. She never scolded me about being drunk or having walked away from the Lord. If she had, I probably would not have went to visit her. She would always talk about Jesus and I believe this is what kept drawing me back. There was a barely burning ember embedded somewhere deep within my heart that would glow slightly when she spoke of Jesus. With a new son who was precious and this slight glow, perhaps there was some hope for me? Maybe there was a way back from the darkness?

Angie and I walked into our apartment one Friday night and heard the most horrific screams. They were Christopher’s screams. Granddad was watching him while we had gone for the groceries (and a few drinks) Seconds before, a full kettle of boiling water had fallen and had engulfed him. When we walked in Christopher was peeling what seemed like Swiss cheese from his chest. I will never forget the look of total horror on my child’s face. Someone in the background was screaming to get him into the bathtub while we waited on the ambulance. I tried to pick him up without hurting him but he was burned everywhere. I took him and put him in the bath tub and poured water over him over and over again until finally the ambulance arrived. They took him and covered him and I went in the back of the ambulance with him. I was screaming in the back of that ambulance. It turned out that he was burned over 60% of his body with third degree burns. The next few days would tell if he would live or die. We were told that if he got an infection then he would surely die. Every day they would put him in salt baths. This required him to be forced into the bath and held down. He was only two, but he screamed obscenities. As I held him down his eyes burned into mine as he screamed, I could see what he was thinking “why are you doing this to me?” Through the process my hair began to fall out. Not only was there no way back from the darkness, the darkness had completely engulfed me.

THE HUMAN SPIRIT
Oh brightest of the brightest stars
You shine out greatly in the darkest night
And all around the darkness falls
Yet you do not, you stand and fight

Time and again, wave after wave
The darkness assaults your soul
Threatening to smash to a thousand pieces
Yet you still stand tall and whole

Relentlessly the scorching fire rains down
And you are battered from every side
Weaker now, to your knees you fall
Desperately seeking for a place to hide

For one who once stood tall and strong
Now forsaken and lost and no more fight
Surrounded by darkness on every side
You now must flee into the darkest night

——————————

A dark night had undoubtedly engulfed me. Reality was my full-time enemy. Only when I was drinking or taking drugs would I find any relief. Looking back, Christopher being burned propelled me towards Jesus. On the outside one would have thought the opposite. Each time I got stoned or drunk or both, I was losing myself, piece by piece. Any goodness that may have been in me was surely and steadily disappearing. I was being eaten alive from the inside out. I had no idea where my life was going. After Christopher’s recovery and skin graft surgeries I oved my family to London. It was a desperately dark and lonely time where I fully indulged in every imaginable sin and plummeted to new depths of darkness. Strangely enough, at the very beginning of the move to London I had cried out to God. God had heard my cries and this would be the worse year of my life. When God is after a man, the devil rides hard. He never wants to lose one he has spent a lot of time on. To make matters all the worse, the people next door were born-again Christians.

One would have to know the state of Christianity in Britain to realize just what a miracle that was. It is reckoned that only about 3% of British people attend church on a regular basis. What was the odds of moving to a house in London, with its ten million people, and moving next door to born-again Christians? We serve a big God. Often they would talk to me about the Lord. The only way I could drown out the calling of the Lord was to drink more and remain high. Every day of the year we spent in London, I got high. Yet, though the haze God had begun to speak to me. I was being stripped of everything. Yet I had this one virtue left. I had never lusted after a Christian woman. That was it , that was my one virtue in life. Before I realized that the couple next door were Christians, I had been out in the back yard one day and the lady was in a bikini. I was stoned and I lusted after that woman. When I later found out she was a Christian, I was devastated. My one virtue was gone. Well, maybe not. What about the fact that when I was in the pub with my drinking buddies I would talk about Jesus and Him being the only way? Sure I was drunk and so were they, but I can’t be all that bad, even although they would always end up with the same question. They would always say to me “If what you are saying is true, how come you’re not a Christian?” I had no answer for that. One night God spoke to me, right into my heart. I remember it clear as day. God said to me “imagine a dying man in the desert, he has went days without water and he is very close to death. Suddenly the dying man spots a canteen of water in the distance. He falls and stumbles towards it. When he finally gets there, he falls down and he grabs the canteen. To his horror, the canteen is empty. He curses the canteen and throws it away. I would curse the canteen as well, you are the canteen.” Now I have to tell you that God told me that and there was nothing but love in the telling of that story as hard as that is to believe. It filled me with a deep fear and an utter despondency that the last possible virtue I had had been exposed. I was nothing but a waterless cloud.

I continued to ignore the voice of the Lord calling me home. I simply drank more and got stoned more yet now I was finding it harder and harder to get drunk and stoned. It seemed that the end of every session I was all but sober. The oblivion that had served me well for so long was having its power removed. Well, we had decided to move to America. This was a coming home for Angie and something she had always longed for. We had now been married almost ten years. Perhaps this move would fulfill this aching and longing in my heart. Surely there I could find peace and contentment and rest for a soul that could not be satisfied. Within two weeks of arriving in America, I realized that I could not out run my problems. Life was very different, but my soul was just the same. I was devastated. Old thoughts of suicide returned.

There was a huge part of me that longed to love my wife and son. The problem was, I could not give them what I did not have. I watched other dads play with their sons, hug them, tell them they loved them and they were proud of them. So simple to so many people, yet so beyond what I was capable of. One day, completely out of the blue, the Lord opened my eyes. For the first time in my life, I could see clearly that I was treating my son, exactly the same way I had been treated by my own father. He was only seven, yet was already saying how useless he was. No matter what he did of course, he could not please his dad and had given up trying. I was horrified to see my father in myself. The deepest horror though was the realization that I had no power over this. The problem had been identified, but how can a man love if he is incapable of it? Can one truly get blood from a stone? Of course not and that was my problem. The hopelessness of the situation led me to think about suicide, but since I believed in God, it was not an option for me. Then I thought about a violent night so long ago in my childhood. The Holy Spirit had come into me and this perfect love had cast out all fear if only for a moment. I longed for this kind of peace. I longed to be cleansed of the filth of my sin. I longed to love and be loved. I was so desperate that I looked up the yellow pages and found the address of the first church I saw. Antioch Christian fellowship. It began with an A. I drove there and sat in the parking lot. Not sure what I expected. I went there the following Sunday and God spoke through that Pastor. Everything in me desired to go forward and give my life to Jesus. I did not. There was a raging battle in my mind. My wife found out I had went to church and told me that if I became a Christian she would leave me. I went back the next Sunday and went forward and, such as it was, gave my heart and mind and soul to Jesus. It was all or nothing and I chose to give it all away. The old Frank died that day.

INSPIRATION

You are the inspiration of my life. When I laugh, it is because you have placed a joy deep within my soul. When I cry tears of joy and sadness it is because you have created rivers in the desert. When I am thirsty in the place of testing I fall upon the Rock and am engulfed In the sweet flowing waters of life.

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I had a new heart indeed. I was alive and I could not believe how it felt. I could take my son in my arms and tell him how much I loved him. For the first time in my life I genuinely cared for my wife and son.

VICTORY

Jesus Christ, you gave me victory
Before you came, all was lost, my battle was done
Yet in the depths of my despair, your light shone as if from nowhere
And now the darkness is light and your battles won

So I lift up your name and I lift it on high
I no longer scream and I no longer cry
The battle is done, the victory’s ours
We shall stand firm, until the final hour

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JESUS

Your love is the fire in my heart
Your love is the consuming furnace of my soul
Forever my heart shall burn and glow in your majestic presence
I shall never forsake you, and from you I shall never part

You are the air that I breathe, every step that I take
Every thought, every act, every deed
You are the reason that I live, and shall forever more
There is simply nothing more that I need.

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My new life was now completely different. It took me three days to realize that I did not curse any more. The drink and drugs were gone , overnight. The real miracle was being able to take my son in my arms and tell him I loved him. To look at my wife, and see a person with feelings and needs. This was all new to me. Now I walked away from arguments with Angie, and she did not like it. Before, we would go toe to toe and see who could be the nastiest, of course I would always “win,” because the one who cares least, wins. Now I was happy to walk away because the Lord had taken the hatred out of my heart and I could see the futility of it.
A couple of years passed and Angie fell pregnant at 29. I had persuaded her to come of the pill. I am not sure if it was because I wanted another child or because I thought it was wrong. One week before my youngest, who has down syndrome, was born (we had no idea there was anything wrong) I came home from church and was so full of the Lord, I sat down and wrote this letter to my mum and dad. I had no idea why I was writing this or what the content would be but the Holy Spirit urged me to write.

“Dear mum and dad A blessing to you in the name of Jesus , Jesus is the mighty king ,He is the Lion of Judah . There are many voices in this world who would say that He is weak or dead and that we are alone, that is a lie from hell itself. We serve a mighty God who has authority over kings and presidents , over nations and empires. Satan and the mighty demons tremble in the presence of Jesus. There is not a hair on your head that He does not know. The Lord Himself, in the garden of Gethsemane was tried to His very core, even His closest friends had fallen asleep on Him. And in His agony, in His despair, He cried out to His Father , “Father, take this cup from me”, at that very second we see the Lords humanity, He is so able to understand our situations. Sometimes we would question ,”why Lord”, but there is always a reason.

The lord cried from the cross “ my God ,my God, why has thou forsaken me”, at that very point He touched man’s lowest ebb, despair, hell itself. I do not know, but I imagine that this was the hardest moment for our Father as He watched His Son hang from that cross and withdraw His presence. The Father in His infinite wisdom and mercy and love for us ,sacrificed His Son , Oh the agony the Father felt, but now the perfect wisdom of our Father is shown. There is nothing now His Son does not know, His dying and rising, formed in perfection, is now the hope of mankind. Our Jesus is alive and He knows us inside out. He will never abandon us.

And when our time comes to come into the very presence of the living God, when we kneel before the precious lamb of God , when we become one with our Lord, then we will know all that the Lord has done for us. It is an honor and a privilege to serve the Christ. I tremble at the very thought of coming into the very presence of Almighty God. We simply can’t imagine, our minds are totally inadequate to realize the Glory of our Lord. May the Lord strengthen you and fill you with His glory . The victory is already won, let us wait upon the Lord.”

Well, two weeks after Daniel was born, this letter arrived back at my house. My mother informed me that this letter was not for her, but was for me. I sat down and read the letter and wept and sobbed to realize that the Almighty God of the universe had not only “sent me a letter”, but that He was sharing His pain as a Father with me. Not only was He healing me at this point, but my mind snapped back to the time my older son had been very badly burned, 60% of his body, third degree burns, and I had to, as part of the treatment in hospital, hold him down in salt baths every day. He was only two years old at that time and would scream and look at me. His eye’s were saying “why are you doing this to me’, your supposed to be protecting me”. I would have given my very life at this point to spare him from the pain and suffering. It was so traumatic, my hair started falling out. Now all these years later I was finally realizing , as much as any human being can ,the full extent of our heavenly Fathers sacrifice.

Our mind cannot comprehend the pain our Father suffered. And at any point He could have stopped it, but He loved us so much He let it happen. To reject this sacrifice is what separates the saved from the un-saved. This is what we will be judged upon. Not how good we are, or how Holy we are, but have we accepted Jesus as God’s Holy and only way to heaven. To be born-again means that the old Frank has given his whole life to Jesus. The old person is dead and behold, all things are new. We have become new creatures in Christ and we ever live to serve our God. Jesus says “ all who seek to gain their life shall lose it, all who lose their life for my sake shall gain everlasting life.” He also says we shall know them by their fruit, those who do the will of my Father are my disciples, and you shall know them by their love for their brothers and sisters in Christ. We must love, above all else.

Six weeks after Daniel was born, I went to the DR to check out some problems I had been having. After many tests and a lung biopsy the Doctor told me that I had a disease called Pulmonary Fibrosis (Sarcoidosis)and that it was chronic and in its third stage . They did not know where it comes from and there was no cure, but with treatment I could perhaps avoid a lung transplant. If I did not take the medicine my lungs would shrivel up and I would die. These were the major bombshells that marked the first two years of my Christianity. Looking back I thank the Lord with all of my heart that these refining fires had come into my life and established a life of dependency upon the Living God for life and for hope.

When the enemy came in like a flood, the Lord Jesus had raised up a standard and what the enemy had designed for our destruction, the Lord Jesus used this as a foundation that would not be shaken. After just a few weeks of taking the steroids, that small still, beautiful, precious voice spoke into my spirit. “Frank, come away with me, I am your life, I am your stillness, I am your peace when all around you is falling apart, trust in me….trust in me.” I stopped taking the pills. The world rose up against this simple act of obedience and there were many voices, so many voices but the small still voice said…………….”Trust in me…….trust in me.”

Several weeks passed, and the many voices seemed to be right. My ability to breathe declined. It is imperative to notice that the small still voice made me no promises, my only command was to “trust.” A well-known man of God from the last century said this “Lord, may I be an ox on the alter or an ox in the field.” None of is really know our purpose here in life, what we do know is that we have been called to bring honor to the name of Jesus, regardless of our situation. There will be a time, or times, in every Christians life, when He will “Make you lie down in green pastures.” You may think to yourself, what is so “Green Pastures,” about a diagnosis of incurability or possible death.

Let me tell you something brothers and sisters in Christ, when we have complete dependence upon God, even although we did not choose it(He makes you lie down) you will be in a place that is almost beyond description. The windows of heaven will open, you will hear heavenly choirs of angels, you will feel the sun on your face and it will feel so good, you will mount up with wings as eagles and soar high above the things of earth. From down through the centuries the martyr’s will call out to you and the same Spirit that comforted them in their greatest trials and allowed them to sing psalms of glory, even as the flames began to consume their temporal bodies, that same Spirit will burn like a mighty furnace in your chest, and if men could look into your situation, they would say “there is one like the son of man with Him,” and they would be right.

Ten weeks after coming of the pills, I heard the phone ring at 5.30 on a Monday morning. How many of us know that when the phone rings at late hours or the “wee small hours of the morning,” that it is usually significant, much like a loud knock on the door in the middle of the night. This phone call would be perhaps the most significant phone call of my life. It was my mother calling from five thousand miles away. She apologized for calling so early, but she had been compelled by the Holy Spirit. She very simply stated “The Lord told me that He was going to heal you.” “The Lord has instructed me to attend a certain prayer meeting this week and to pray for you and He is going to heal you.” I find it significant that my mom was instructed to call and tell me beforehand. This was an act of faith, trust, obedience, this was a “stepping out,” As she spoke, I was overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit, I fell to my knees and in my spirit I knew that I was to healed, I had no doubt whatsoever. I went for an x-ray two days later. The Doctor called me into his office, he seemed subdued. I had shared with him all those weeks before that I was putting my life in the hands of the Lord. He flicked the light of the x-ray board on and pointed to my lungs, they were completely clear. Apparently the Lord does not know the meaning of the word ,”irreversible.” That was ten years ago, and, as many of my friend could testify, my lungs are in good shape.

The Lord is so good, no matter what your situation is today, if you will trust Him, not even so much for healing, just trust Him, then you will fly where the eagles fly and you will venture into the realm of the miraculous, into the land of the dynamic, for trust is the gateway to the kingdom of God. This kingdom is here and it is now, since we have to walk through this life, let us walk together in the kingdom that was, and is, and is to come and the night will shine like the day.

His Rest

I have been to a glorious land
That is far beyond what I had planned
Beyond this world and all it’s dreams
That lies in the shadow of His Holy wings

I followed Him and we took flight
And He carried me on beyond the night
Through a Vail of darkness , pain and fear
My sweet Jesus was oh so near

Majesty , glory, praise to our King
There are no words that I can sing
That would fully express what He is to me
As He carried me across a majestic sea

Mountainous waves rose up to fight
Yet in His hand I was held so tight
Farther, farther, farther along
In an ocean of praise , and on the wings of a song

He took me to the promised land
And I lay down in the palm of His Hand
At the top of the mountain, at the bottom of the sea
In the darkest dungeon, no matter, for I am free

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In our Christian lives we will face many struggles. Some will be harder than others. One of the key elements in our Christian walk is obedience and trust in the Lord . Circumstances will come and test our faith. Some will seem insurmountable, but of course ‘We can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” In the book of Genesis, Joseph is an excellent example of how we should act in the midst of calamity and injustice. Even in the darkest moments we have to hold on to the fact that we are His, there is a purpose for things that we suffer and go through. It is in the darkest moments when the light of Christ is so sweet.

Storm

Can I walk upon this water
In the midst of this mighty sea
Surely I will stumble, surely I will drown
Oh Lord how can this be

The waves are high and the wind it howls
And the rain it lashes down
Yet you are there, I see you Lord
Now I know I shall not drown

Then the thunder roars and the lightning flashes
High above in the angry skies
Dark clouds rising, set on fire
To them do I lift my eyes

Heavier now the rain is falling
The noise so loud I cannot think
The lightening fractures the sky above
And my legs, they begin to sink

I look around , eyes wide with terror
As all this madness does unfold
I look once more, there , it’s Jesus
In the midst of the storm , standing bold

I am your peace when all hell breaks loose
Devils and demons flee
In the storm, in the night, when all breaks down
Remember , keep your eyes upon me.

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Shelter

Give me shelter from the storm
I’m so cold please keep me warm
Let me cry, cry upon
Cry upon your shoulder

Wipe these tears from upon my face
In your arms a warm embrace
Take me to that Holy place
To cry upon your shoulder

Give me strength when I am down
When there’s no-one else around
In your arms I shall be found
My head upon your shoulder

Oh sweet Jesus comfort me
For your love shall always be
I was bound but now I’m free
To cry upon your shoulder.

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This poem also belongs in this section, although I did think of this as I flew into Glasgow Airport in Scotland . My family and I returned there in 1995 for a year, to share the good news of Jesus. We took a step of faith and the Lord was so good and I was privileged to see souls won for Christ. My thinking was as we were just about to descend, hey, even although there is mostly clouds in the sky over Scotland, here I was above the clouds in a place that was perpetually blue. And just because you could not see it, did not mean that it was not there. When darkness covers our lives, it is a comforting thought to know that the Lord is always there, and that these clouds will pass.

Ever Present

Beyond every cloud I know it’s true
The sun shines bright and the sky is blue
If we only had eyes that could truly see
That despite human chains, we are surely free

So do not stand still, frozen to the ground
Let your spirit fly, in the air to be found
And when the dark clouds threaten to consume
Always remember that there’s an empty tomb

And that Jesus our Lord, reigns on high
An eternal Son, an eternal blue sky

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A Table Before Me

When all seems lost and darkness covers your land
The man that praises God, He’s the man that will stand
I lift up my eyes Where does my help come from
I look out my door And still there’s a raging storm

My help comes from the Lord Maker of Heaven and earth
No matter how fierce the storm My Lord I will always serve
So praise God in the day praise God also in the night
And you will find the strength my child To go on in the fight

Day by day and week by week
The Lord has watched you toil
I have planted you right where you are
I have planted you in Holy soil.

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These are some poems that describe a time when I could not hear from the Lord . It was a very confusing time , yet also a learning time . My wife bought me a flying lesson for Christmas and the pilot was very informative , telling me what was required to become a fully licensed pilot. One of the most important tests was the instruments test . This was done at night when the pilot had absolutely no visual aids to help him reach his final destination . He had to rely completely on the CO-ordinates that were given to him . There are times in out life when we will not “feel’ the Lords presence . And yet we have the scriptures which will be a lamp unto our feet and a reminder of God’s promises , regardless of how or what we “feel”. I have personally found these times the hardest times in my walk with the Lord. When a great trial comes upon us, often times we are compelled to fall into the Lord’s arms and that is a great place to be. Yet it is the times when our lives are going smoothly, just everyday living, that can be the most challenging. That is why it is so important to keep our relationship with the Lord as our number one priority. We must remember that there are many reason for not hearing the Lord, too often in the last few years people have begun to seek the Lord in all the wrong places because of a desperate dryness and lack of communication. Many times the problem can be found by looking in the mirror, but just as many times the Lord is teaching us faith.

Trying to figure out which of these it is can almost drive you mad and I have tried to capture some of my own struggles in this area. Let me assure all who read this and know the Lord, you will not wander in the desert forever. There are many “Golden calves” out there who would be worshiped, do not be fooled, your party will not be in the desert, your party will come when by obedience and patience and long-suffering, you enter into the promised land. Take heart and know that David himself at times thought the Lord had fallen asleep on him. Perhaps some of your , “deserts,” have lasted for years, perhaps every so often you find an oasis and think the desert is over, and then only to discover you are back again. God is looking for faithful servants who will seek the giver and not the gift.

Lift up your eyes and know that our Lord has seen the afflictions of His people and has not forgotten any of us. Long-suffering and despair is not something you hear much about today, but it will come against the “Body,” and we will overcome. St. John of the Cross wrote hundreds of years ago about “The dark night of the soul.” If you are going through this right now, be encouraged , there is a light at the end of your tunnel and many others are with you in this “darkness.”

Drought

Through the window of my soul
I see that the drought continues
I am walking through a dry and dusty land
And my bones are indeed growing old

I am in the midst of the hottest summer
And the humidity has sapped my soul
I look out upon the horizon of my Spirit
There is not a cloud in sight

I shall stand upon the Holy mountain
And shout out to the Lord my God
I shall dash my idols on the Rock
And declare the wondrous works of the almighty

And from beyond the mountain , a cloud appears
Thick and heavy with the rain
I am totally dependent on the Lord
And I am drenched with His life once again

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Silence In The Darkness

Only silence in the darkness
I lift my voice and cry
Has thou oh Lord forgotten me
If so, then I must die

Everyday I come before thee
And shout out to thee so loud
I offer sacrifice, my very life
And still I’m covered by a cloud

Lord how long will this continue
There is no-where left that I can go
I walk through the valley of dry bones
Where is the Spirit, in the river I must flow

Oh land of milk and honey
It seems that I have lost my way
Shall I forever wander in this desert
Let it not be oh Lord I pray

I shall come to the Rock of testing
And discover the meaning of grace
I cannot attain my own righteousness
Only the waters that flow from this place

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Fog

I cannot see the road ahead
And yet I know it’s there
I cannot always feel your presence
Yet I continue in my prayer

You will never leave me Lord
This I know is true
The storm has come and done it’s worse
Now the sky above is blue

The sun is shining , the birds are singing
The tree’s sway gently in the breeze
And once again I found out that
I’ll find you on my knee’s

Thank you Lord for your presence
It is so sweet to me
I marvel at your love and Mercy
I’m so glad that your grace is free

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Call Upon His Name

Oh precious Lord I call on you
Call upon your Holy name
Oh precious Lord send your Spirit now
Come and light your Holy flame

Oh precious Lord in times of need
When there’s no-one else around
Oh precious Lord it seems like your not there
And there’s no help to be found

Oh precious Lord , will I never learn
Whether hills or depths of seas
That I will always find you Lord
When I get upon my knees

Oh precious Lord, I call on you
And exalt your Holy name
I praise you Lord and I worship you
And I praise your Holy flame

Oh precious Lord, I call on you
Call upon your Holy name
Yesterday , today , and forever Lord
You will always be the same

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Just as surely as you entered that dark place, with faith and trust, you will endure and come out the other side. And when your faith has been tried and tested, you will walk in quiet confidence. You will have learned what is truly important. No matter what trial that would beset you, because of Him you can endure all things. The very purpose in your sufferings is the hope that carries you through. To be able to see the world for what it truly is , to see the bigger picture, to look at life through the eyes of Jesus , this is our strength. His presence , His beauty , His Will, His Love , His plans, these are the things that the Royal Priest concerns himself with. The world will be amazed when you have contentment, despite the circumstances. In order to achieve contentment, we must check our attitude and our perspective. Once we realize why we are here and for what a short time we are here for, it will help us focus on the end result.

If we can focus on Jesus and His sufferings and what He did for us, then we can overcome, just as He overcame, with contentment . If we focus on what we have and who we are in Christ Jesus, then the old Hymn is correct in saying “ Cast you eyes upon Jesus, look full into his wonderful face, and the things of this world will grow strangely dim, in the light of His Glory and Grace.”

Jesus

He is the Alpha and Omega
The beginning and the end
He is my Master and my Savior
He is the Christ and he’s my friend

When I’ve lost my way , and darkness falls
And the way ahead’s not clear
He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords
His love casteth out all fear

When I have no strength to carry on
And I call into the night
The Anointed one, The Prince of peace
Gives me grace to carry on the fight

So call Him now, He is the Lord
He’s the God that healeth thee
He loved you so, He died for you
His blood flowed from Calvary

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Lord

Love without ceasing
It has no end
Your my Lord and my Savior
My Master, my friend

I could travel to a distant planet
And I would find you there
I could sail the seven sea’s
And know that you are everywhere

The deepest depths, the Highest heights
No matter where I go
You are there in all your glory
And in your Spirit I must flow.

You are the Morning star, The rising sun
You set my heart ablaze
I can do nothing more but stand in awe
And sing of your glory and Grace

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The Candle

Oh hallelujah, who lit the candle
Oh hallelujah my Savior it be
Oh hallelujah may this candle forever
Burn gloriously and brightly deep within me

For I was a sinner, so cold and rejected
No light in my tunnel that I could see
Then the candle was lit and the darkness was vanquished
And now and forever in His arms I will be

The things of this world no longer enthrall
I’m walking and talking and living with He
The one from above, my Savior , my Jesus
He died in my place that I may be free

Though the wind is still blowing, often times howling
And the storm clouds gather to come against me
I’ll stand on the Rock, my eyes towards heaven
And the candle , yes the candle’s still burning in me

So we praise you for the candle, most Holy Father
Glorious Jesus , forever you’ll be
Higher than the heavens , enthroned in your glory
For you are the candle that burns brightly in me

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When we do come through many trials and the Lord has lifted us up, many times there is a tendency to take some of that glory that belongs to the Lord. Spiritual pride is deadly. Nothing will stop us more in our tracks than this. Satan knows all about this one and he uses it to great effect. The outcome is self-righteousness and alienation. Not only will we be alienated from the world around us, we will also burn bridges . It is no wonder that the scriptures tell us to humble ourselves in His sight and He will exalt us. It also tells us that God resists the proud. Pride is a master of deception and also a master of disguise. Often times the remedy will be very painful as the Lord humbles us and enables us to come back into His presence.

The main problem for Christians seems to be that there is no apparent neutral ground in scripture. We are either walking in humility or we are walking in its opposite, pride. This is why the Bible attaches so much importance to humility, for if in the secular world one is proud, it may not have any significant consequences for one’s life. However, Christians who fall into the trap of pride separate themselves from God. 1st Pet 5:5 “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.” So we see that if we want to draw close to God, it must be in humility. In James 4:7,8 it says, “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” We have already seen that we must approach God in humility, so therefore James teaches that we must resist the temptation of pride if we are to remain humble.

Paul says in Romans 12:3 “For I say, through the grace of God given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think. But to think soberly as God has dealt each one a measure of Faith.”

I remember watching a documentary called “The Killing Room.” It was secretly filmed in a Chinese State orphanage. Most of the children were girls or mentally handicapped. This was due in part to cultural attitudes but more specifically the “One child policy.” The killing room is where they would leave a baby to die. Periodically, a four or five year old would go in and check the “progress” of the dying child. The eyes of the little baby girl was so distressing. It reminded me of my son’s eyes when he was treated for his burns, fear confusion and so much pain. She died and I wept with relief that her suffering was over. The older child would inform the adult when the child was dead.

This was horrifying to me and raised such contempt and anger in my Spirit. The treatment of the mentally handicapped was very rough and uncaring, they were often tied to “Potty chairs” for ten or twelve hours at a time. They had taken to rocking back and forward in a kind of madness. I have a down syndrome child and so my contempt for these state workers was great, perhaps even verging on hatred. As well as having Down Syndrome, my son also has what is called “Hirschbrungs disease” which is a disease of the bowel. Consequently, at the age of almost seven he is still not potty trained. This can be very tiring, especially when he would decide to be artistic with the contents of his diaper. One morning he was covered from head to toe in excrement. I pulled him roughly from his bedroom and pushed him into the toilet. As I angrily tried to clean him, shouting something about “I don’t know why you do this” and feeling very sorry for myself, I caught a glimpse of his scared face.

In that instant, the Lord reminded me of the feelings I had felt towards those state workers. Just as I was thinking of this, Daniel reached forward and kissed me and put his arms around me and patted my back. Prideful haughty thoughts were painfully ripped from my spirit as I cried tears of humility and sorrow. There is no one incident in my battles against pride. My striving for humility through sanctification is a lifelong concern. The more I focus on Jesus and who He is and compare myself to Him, then the easier this task is. This is a discipline and not a natural inclination. As human beings it is so tempting to compare ourselves to others, but this never produces humility. And so, as it seems to be with everything we do, we must keep our eyes firmly fixed on Jesus. This is not only the way to overcome pride and walk in humility, it is the way to overcome, period.

Humble Thyself

Hey, this is my world of pride
Don’t you know that I am dying here inside
This is a world where I am never wrong
The silence has overwhelmed me and the night has lost it’s song

I am an Island in an ocean of people
Strong and unmovable , like an old church steeple
There was a time when there were many bridges here
That time is gone, never to return I fear

And the air is filled with the smell of burning embers
One by one the bridges fall and no-one cares or even remembers
The days I walked and laughed with Him
There was a beauty, a peace that came from deep within.

And I cared for people and they cared for me
And all because of Him that hung upon that tree
Now I care no more and there’s one bridge left to burn
And I hold the match because there’s nowhere else to turn

And Satan says, burn it now
And Jesus says, listen here to me
The time has come to give this up
To come across the bridge on bended knee

And I will show you how to live
And soar with the eagles high above
The beam is gone and now I see
That His banner over me is love.

It is important never to judge yourself according to other men, this is a tactic of a self-righteous heart and draws us away from the Lord in pride and self-righteousness, we must keep our eyes upon Jesus and see how we measure up to His standard and His word, this will surely keep us humble. There is not a book big enough to tell of all the things that the Lord has done in my life. The Lord has taken me from the slums of Scotland, to live in one of the wealthiest counties in America. Most importantly He has transformed my heart.

He has sustained me through the deserts of life, humbled me when I got too big for my boots, withdrew His presence from me for various reasons. I have been a Christian for fourteen years now and can safely say that the Lord has never left me nor forsaken me. I have found out the hard way that the most important aspect of my life is my relationship with the Lord. As Christians, we can go through anything this life can throw at us when we are walking with the Lord. If we neglect our relationship, or put other things before the Lord, if we have our priorities mixed up, then we can be in a world of trouble. When trouble strikes and we have drifted from the Lord, then there can be no greater fear. It is the lone sheep that gets picked of by the wolf. It is vital that we stay close to the shepherd. He is our guide, He protects us and keeps us from harm. He leads us to rich pastures even if it is many miles away. Often times we have to negotiate low valley’s and high mountain passes to get to where we need to go, but the shepherd knows the road, for He has walked it before. When we join the Lord’s flock, listen to Him. At all costs follow His direction, even when it makes no sense.

If He says go, then you must go. The Holy Spirit will lead us and guide us into all truth, it is so important that you listen when He calls, for the consequences of doing things our own way can be severe. Jesus is our flowing river of love. I would like to finish this book by looking at exactly who Jesus is. Of course He is known by many name and untold stories have been written about our Lord. From life and from the scriptures, this is who I have discovered Jesus to be. There is no doubt that Jesus is God eternal. The Gospel of John, right at the start states “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) This is a clear statement of the pre-existence of Christ who is the Divine Word.

Throughout His life and ministry, the question would be asked over and over again, who is this man? Was He simply a “good teacher,” as the rich young ruler referred to Him? Jesus refutes that (Mk15:2). He certainly was a good teacher but He was so much more. Jesus’ life and ministry would gradually reveal who He was. Although it should have been clear from the outset of His ministry who He was, His life and ministry and His resurrection would confirm His identity.His authority over the Temple was revealed (Mk11:15-19). His power over demons(Mk1:27, 32-34), His power over sickness and disease(Mk4:35-41), His power over the Sabbath(Mk2:23-28), and even over death itself (Mk5:21-43) was made known. All of these actions point to the fact that God had come down and was walking with men. The disciples would finally understand exactly who Jesus was, but it took some time. Near the beginning of His ministry, Jesus, on the Sabbath day, read from the Prophet Isaiah: “ The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted.

To proclaim liberty to the captives. And recovery of sight to the blind. To set at liberty those who are oppressed. To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” (ISA 61:12) He closed the book and told them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

He was pronouncing Himself the Savior, sent from God. And yet this was rejected by the people saying, “Is this not Joseph’s son” (LK4:22) There would be many times Jesus’ words and actions clearly revealed who He was, whether he was answering a question from John the Baptist, or teaching the crowd as in John 6. His person, who He was, always affirmed. Peter says, “You have the Words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that you are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”(Jn6:68-69) Jesus was who He said He was. His disciples and followers would all come to recognize this fact. Even though Jesus would authenticate Himself through His Words and actions, His characteristics would be plainly seen as He went about the work His father had set before Him. One of Jesus’ main traits, which we as believers must develop, was His dependency on God The Father. Jesus’ life was a remarkable example of one who was not dependent on His own resources, but completely dependent on His Father in Heaven (JN5:19,20).

If we are to be like Him, we must follow His example. Every work that we do, if we want to succeed, must be a work of God through us. Everything else is vanity and will not produce eternal fruit. After Jesus had fasted for forty days in the desert, it is clear that He had the power to turn the stones into loaves of bread (MT4:4). What would be the sin in that? Jesus certainly had the power and the resources to feed Himself. First of all, He would not be led by Satan in anything. Secondly and most importantly, He would rely on God the Father to feed Him. His dependency would be on His Father for all things, including His daily bread (MT4:11). This dependency would continue all the way to the cross.

Another characteristic we see in Jesus, and perhaps the most important, is obedience and submission to the Will of God. The very fact that out Lord came to earth was an act of submission and obedience. Only when we are truly submitted can we see genuine obedience like Jesus. People can be obedient for all sorts of reasons and can comply with a grudging heart and a whole range of different motives.

Jesus’ motivation for obedience was His love and honor of His Father. The culmination of His submission and obedience was seen clearly at Gethsemane and ultimately the cross. For it was clearly the Will of God the Father that the Son shall come (JN3:16,17). In the garden of Gethsemane Jesus cries, “Oh My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me, nevertheless, not as I will but as you will” (MT 26:39). This is the clearest example in scripture of the obedience and submission of Jesus to His Father. This should be the cry of all Jesus’ followers. By following in Jesus footsteps we should always seek God’s will, not our own. Jesus was also full of compassion. In His life He suffered much abuse, hatred, torture, rejection and so on. He is well acquainted with all of our human sufferings and many times displayed His compassion. When Jesus saw the multitudes, He had compassion for them because they were wondering in sin like lost sheep and had no shepherd who would teach them the truth (Mt9:36).

And so we see that Jesus was not coldly or robotically carrying out set tasks. His combination of obedience, submission, dependency, and compassion would lead Him all the way to the cross. Our Savior is not a dispassionate God, merely proving Himself worthy, although He did certainly do that. He is a God that knows His people intimately and hurts when they hurt. We see this clearly when His friend Lazarus dies. “Jesus wept” (Jn 11:35). How comforting to know that Jesus can mourn with us in our times of loss, when we lose a loved one. Yes we know that our saved loved ones will be in Heaven, and I am sure Jesus knew where His friend would go when He died, yet he wept with compassion for the suffering of those who were left behind.

Jesus taught in “The Sermon on the Mount,” that those who mourn would be blessed and comforted. Little did the people who mourned for Lazarus realize just how, in this particular incident, Jesus planned to comfort them. It clearly says that Jesus “groaned in His Spirit and was troubled.” Again, it is comforting to know that Jesus knows every facet of human suffering and that our “High Priest,” is well able to intercede intimately on our behalf. And Lazarus was raised to the Glory of God. Jesus was also full of passion. When He saw the state of the Temple, His Father’s house, He was filled with righteous indignation and anger. Here was the temple of the Living God, considered one of the wonders of the ancient world, transformed into a “Den of thieves.” Livestock everywhere, undoubtedly messing where they stood, creating a horrendous smell, and all for the sake of making money, money the changers could undoubtedly help you with as they ripped off unsuspecting pilgrims.

This must have resembled a bizarre rather than the house of God. One can only imagine the confusion and the scene as an angry Jesus began to drive these defiler’s out of the temple, overturning the tables and crying out, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations but you have made it a den of thieves” (MT 11:17). This part of Jesus’ character is really only seen in this passage. When we consider the characteristics of God, it would be foolish to ignore certain ones and focus on the ones we are comfortable with. Our God is a God of justice and His anger can be aroused, although slowly. When we consider all the things that Jesus had to listen to and witness, it is remarkable, and a testimony to His meekness and patience and obedience, that we do not see more displays of anger.

It surely surprised His followers to see Him so upset. And yet Jesus’ character had always been uncompromising. No one would ever accuse Jesus of sugar-coating anything. No matter who the person was or how important they were, Jesus spoke without fear of man. When the Pharisees plotted against Him and sent the Herodians out to test Him , He says to then plainly, “Why do you test me you Hypocrites” (Mt22:18). In Matthew 23 Jesus confront the scribes and Pharisees and exposes them as nothing more than hypocrites. These were all-powerful men, leaders of the community. Jesus spoke the truth, regardless of the consequences. Jesus was so full of love and compassion. While He healed as part of His authentication, Jesus also healed because He cared deeply about people. This care can be seen in His dealings with the lepers. They were the untouchables of Jesus’ day. Their fate was a horrifying one. Not only would they suffer horrendously and ultimately die, they were completely shunned by society. They were not allowed to enter towns and had to shout, “unclean” if they came near anyone.

Often townsfolk would throw rocks at them and jeer. Perhaps one of the most touching moments in the ministry of Jesus was when a Leper shouted to Him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean” (Mt8:5). Jesus then did the unthinkable. He touched this man (how men today still desperately need a touch from Jesus). Now Jesus could have easily healed this man without touching him. All He had to do was speak the word and it would be done, for as we know the Lord has all authority, including over diseases. “Jesus put out His hand and touched him saying, I am willing, be cleansed” (Mt8:3). Jesus touched the untouchable with compassion and love and healing. Jesus has been doing that every day since then. His compassion reached into the gutters of life. He is no respecter of persons. He will accept anyone who comes to Him just as they are. Man-made god’s have always been out of the reach of common men. A line from a famous hymn says, “If salvation was a thing that money could buy, then the rich would live and the poor would die.” Every man-made deity that has came forth from man’s imagination had no time for the poor and the afflicted and the downtrodden. The true and living God is intimately involved with people from every walk of life. Our God came and walked amongst us.

He laughed and cried, wept, He hungered and labored hard for food. He did not live in a palace, but lived amongst ordinary men. He was not robed in purple and gold. He was not carried aloft on men’s shoulders and did not ride a magnificent stallion. Our Jesus walked and suffered the heat of the day. He knew hunger and He knew thirst. He knew what it was to work very hard and undoubtedly had callused hands. His hands would not be soft and gentle like the hands of the gentile kings and men of great wealth. His did not live in an ivory castle. In fact the Son of Man had no-where to lay His head. Our God walked this earth and the words that He spoke would not be the word’s of a philosopher or men who spent their time on Mars Hill. He did not sit around all day and dazzle men with His brilliance. In every way he lived life as a man. Yes He was the Son of God and performed mighty miracles, but He would be spared nothing, under God the Father. He lived as other men lived and knew the sufferings of the ordinary man. He had a path before Him and it was His to walk.

This path had been formed before the foundations of the earth was laid. Before the stars in the heavens above were placed, Jesus’ destiny was known. He would walk this earth and be a man acquainted with grief. His life would culminate in betrayal, mockery, abandonment and torture. The very flesh would be ripped from His back and His beard pulled out. Little men would spit in the face of the Almighty. They would beat a crown of thorns in His head and drag Him to a hill and hang Him from a cross amongst thieves. And all that would be the easy part. He would then drink fully the cup that had been prepared for Him. All the sins of the world would be laid upon Him. And in the darkest moment of history, one that cannot be imagined, the Father turned His head and looked away.

The full horror of hell , now visited upon The one who was one with the Father ,and He would suffer our punishment in our place. And in the most agonizing cry ever uttered, Jesus cried out, “My God , My God, why has thou forsaken me.” Only when one comes before God for judgment, and then cast away from His presence, will that one even begin to imagine the horror Jesus suffered for each and every one of us. The Character of Jesus is higher than the highest heavens. His love and compassion and mercy and obedience are beyond what our feeble minds can comprehend. And since we can only compare with what we know, we can say with full assurance, and still fall pitifully short, that our Savior’s love would render the deepest ocean to but a single tear from the Masters eye. The sun that blazes brilliantly in the sky, but a spark compared to our Lord’s burning passion.

The universe and all others combined, smaller than the smallest chambers of His heart. This is the God we serve; this is the Jesus of the Gospels; this is Jesus, God amongst us: The Bread of Life, The True vine, the Good shepherd, the Light of the World, The way, the Truth and the Life, The Gate for the sheep, Yahweh, Victorious Champion, Master, Lord, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Resurrection and the Life, Lamb of God, Worthy to be praised, Hope of mankind, Every breath that I take, Mighty councilor, Almighty, The Christ, My Savior, The Anointed One, The Prince of Peace, The Alpha and the Omega, The Beginning and the End, The Author and the Finisher of our faith, Messiah, The Potter, The Comforter, The Conqueror, Creator, Ancient of Days, The Living Water, Majestic, Omnipotent, The King Eternal, The Everlasting Father, The Exalted One, Faithful and True, A Father to the fatherless, the Fire that burns within, My Rock and my Fortress, The Foundation of the world, The Fountain of Life, The God that Healeth thee, Higher than the heavens, Incorruptible, Infallible, My Keeper, The Lion of Judah, My Righteousness, My Strength, Merciful, The mighty One of Israel. He is Perfect…………….He is the Lord my God and He is one God. I shall love the Lord my God with all of heart. I shall praise the Lord my God with all of my soul………….Let Jesus be praised! He is all these things and so much more. But most importantly, He is alive! ……..In the Beauty of Holiness

4 Responses to “The Long way Home-My Testimony”

  1. Bro. Frank, I read this all the way through (actually listened to it with a TTS app) and was very encouraged and edified by it. Thanks for honestly sharing your story. There is power in “the word of our testimony” (Rev.12:11)! All blessings, brother!

    • appolus said

      Power indeed brother. To go on in Christ and display His workmanship to the world is to testify of His power to turn the world, one person at a time, upside down…..bro Frank

    • appolus said

      Hi David, I was pleased that you were encouraged and edified. The work of the Lord in the saint is the testimony to the power of God. We are certainly His workmanship and we have been prepared for these works. It is for His will and His good pleasure that He takes broken people and glorifies Himself in them…………….bro Frank

  2. rustyspad said

    Reblogged this on Myblog's Blog.

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