ANOTHER COFFEE BREAK: 40 YEARS BELOW ZERO, Part 24
May 13, 2016
During the past couple of months, we have moved all of our websites to new servers, all of which are being managed and updated weekly by Rich Hoffman. This man is a blessing to us beyond compare. The weekly publishing of the Coffee Breaks used to take many hours because of the large subscription database (and one that keeps growing). Now, all I have to do is the writing and send the Coffee Breaks to Rich and he does the rest!
I've said that to say this: when we moved our sites -- including the older one which was AnotherCoffeeBreak.com -- the links at the bottom for those who want to unsubscribe, and those who want to subscribe were suddenly non-working. I realized that something must be amiss when the subscribe and unsubscribe notices stopped coming. That problem has been resolved. If you are among those who've tried to either subscribe or unsubscribe and haven't seen any change, please submit your requests again and they will be responded to.
One more thing. On our regular site (RegnersMorningCoffee.com), you will notice some ongoing changes, including some YouTube links to some recent teachings at a conference in Edmonton, Alberta. More will be added in the days and weeks to come.
We left off last week talking about John Merculief's attempts to share his increasing relationship with Jesus Christ with the Aleut people in the Pribilof Islands (and anywhere else he had the opportunity to travel), the majority of whom were steeped in Russian Orthodoxy. His message of faith and personal, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ was treated as heresy by many, and in the same way that Paul Patkotak experienced in the arctic, John Merculief was treated as an heretic and shunned.
Faith, as we all well know, is not a religion, it is not a dogma, it is not a church or denomination, it is not a set of beliefs or a philosophy of living. The apostle Paul wrote to the Romans (see Chapter 10:17) and said, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
You can't hear a denomination. You can't hear a philosophy. A philosophy is a manner of reasoning, and faith is the exact opposite of reasoning. Faith takes place in one's spirit -- NOT their head! In his epistle to the Galatians, he wrote, "For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love." (Galatians5:6)
Faith, therefore, is a tangible substance which produces tangible results -- changes in the lives of those who hear the Word of the Lord, and evidentiary proof of the power and authority of God working in the life of the believer. Because faith works by the agape love of God, it has no fear, it doesn't work in the presence of fear, and intimidation has no effect.
Allow me a minute to run down a bit of a rabbit trail. I've said it before and I'll say it again: True Christianity is not a religion. In fact it is anything but. So-called Denominations have many of the aspects of Christianity mingled with religious boxes that trap people with man-made additions and traditions. Russian Orthodoxy is a religion. It is a denomination.
While I'm on this rabbit trail, let me add that Islam is not in any way a religion. Islam is a political, world-dominating philosophy with religious overtones. There are many Muslims who try to treat what they have as a religion, but they are in a tiny minority, and even at that, their religion does not bring them faith, and it does not bring them peace.
OK, sorry about that. Let's get back on track.
John Merculief was not in the least intimidated by the religious opposition, and he decided to simply attend the Orthodox services, stand in back (people stand up the whole time in Orthodox services, anyway) and simply pray in the Spirit over the people, over the community and over the priest. Week after week, month after month, and year after year, John Merculief prayed and interceded in the Spirit for the folks at Saint Paul Island and Saint George Island.
Dad and Mom's arrival at Saint Paul to preach the Gospel was a direct answer to John's prayers, and no one was happier than he to see them come. He had prayed and interceded over the Aleut people for some 20 years. He became a regular participant in the services for the first years Dad preached until his health began to fail him. Though he would be in the Sunday services at the Assembly of God church, he would also be in the Orthodox services as often as possible.
In later years, John became a good friend to Della and me. We enjoyed our fellowship with him, and our conversations rarely dealt with anything other than the Word of God. I asked him one day about his continued participation in the Orthodox services and he answered very simply, "I pray all the more for their salvation. Now that you folks are here, and the Gospel is being preached on this island, I pray that the Holy Spirit will give them hearts to hear the truth."
Twenty two or twenty-three years after Dad and Mom first came to Saint Paul Island, John went home to be with the Lord, praying over the islands even on his death bed. His death was a spiritual loss to Saint Paul Island, but his life was seed for the future in a way he could never imagine.
If you happen to have read some of the earlier Coffee Breaks that go back several years, you may recall my sharing about a series of events that happened while I was ministering in Barrow, Alaska where my family took the brunt of the persecution and opposition targeted against me. Actually the opposition was against the Lord, but because I was His representative, the focus was on me. The opponents and haters of the Gospel figured the easiest way to get at me was to get my children.
In one sense, they were correct. You touch my children -- any of them -- and you and I will be at war! What these persecutors didn't reckon on, however, was that they weren't going to move me, and their opposition would have nothing whatever to do with my responses to the Lord, or my actions where the Gospel was concerned. I learned well, you understand, from watching my father and mother in the face of opposition and persecution targeted towards them.
In this particular episode, folks calling themselves "Christians" had taken up arms against me because of the ministry of deliverance. Fact is, they had become pawns of the Enemy in this battle. I was receiving anonymous and muffled phone calls with death threats, I'd been shot at twice, I was receiving hate mail, and the Barrow City Manager thought to terminate our lease on the community's civic center -- which our church had only just finished refurbishing -- because he saw the potential to make money for the city coffers having Bingo games and dances on Sundays and Wednesday nights when we normally had our services.
All of this was stretching out over a period of weeks and months, and it was seemingly never-ending. Then Chris and Melodie began to be the target of these attacks. Chris was 11 or 12 years old at the time, and Melodie was a year and a half younger.
We were in the midst of our "dark cycle" -- that 66-consecutive-day period in the winter when the sun doesn't rise above the horizon. That meant that the kids went to school when it was dark, and it was dark when they came home. Pitch dark!
Waiting for them in the darkness next to the school building one afternoon were some young men on assignment from Hell. They picked Chris and Melodie out and followed them until they had come to a place where there were few if any onlookers. They then seized both of them, beat them, picked them up bodily and threw them against the side of a building, and then ran.
Chris and Melodie arrived home bruised and bloody. Although I had an idea who the perpetrators were, I couldn't prove it, and because of that, the police refused to do anything.
When it happened a second, then a third, and even a fourth time, I was in the face of the local police chief demanding some action, whether that action was posting a couple of guards on the way from the school, or whether it was doing some follow-up on the individuals I suspected -- and with good reason!
Any investigation -- if there really was one -- proved fruitless. I wasn't going to stand by any longer and watch these children get beaten up day after day after day, so I called Dad and Mom at Saint Paul Island to talk to them about alternatives. As far as they were concerned, there was only one alternative: send Chris and Melodie to Saint Paul Island.
Dad was right. First, it took the kids out of the mix where they were the targets, and secondly it put them in a place where they would have much more personal attention. Grandpa and Grandma, you know. Grandparents always seem to have, or develop, an affinity with their grandchildren that is quite different from the parents.
My folks had not had the opportunity to spend more than a few days at a time with Chris and Melodie up to this point, so this was a new experience for everyone. The children spent almost two years -- Chris later returned and spent another couple of years after he graduated from high school -- on the island.
Although Melodie certainly had some wonderful experiences -- and it proved to be a profitable time for her -- it was Chris who really bonded with his grandfather. They became best friends, and Dad taught Chris to be a first-rate small-engine mechanic. Working on the mini-bikes, motorcycles, the three- and four-wheelers gave Chris an appetite for speed!
In the photo below, you see Chris (at 17 years of age) with his pride and joy -- a custom-designed and built Yamaha competition three-wheeler. (The photo was taken in the driveway of our home in Anchorage.) Yamaha Corporation got in the act and underwrote some major expenses when they discovered what a skilled competitor Chris had become, and what a fine mechanic he -- under his grandfather's tutelage -- he had turned out to be.
The three-wheeler in the photo would turn 110 MPH at the drop of a hat, and Chris had it running that fast more times than I can count. The first time Della watched Chris roar away in a cloud of dust on Saint Paul Island, and do somersaults with his three-wheeler, she about fainted. He wanted to show us his favorite trick one day and took us out to a particular spot on the island where the wind had created some rather spectacular sand dunes -- one in particular with a 90-foot vertical climb. He sailed up the dune at full throttle, and when he reached the top, he was suspended in mid-air for a few seconds before leaning over the front and dropping the nose of the cycle over the top of the dune, and continuing on.
All fun and daredevil feats aside, the things Chris learned under Dad's guidance and teaching have stood him in good stead. One of the most important things Dad taught him was to take the word "impossible" out of his vocabulary. The press to do better and to improve on everything became a driving force in his life; and although racing and motorcycles have faded from his life (but not his three sons who've taken after him!) the engineering he learned has been applied in other ways.
In the years that followed Chris became part of a select group of engineers who operate some of the largest cranes in the world, and part of an even-smaller group who operate a specially-designed crane that lays pipeline on the ocean floor (Arctic Ocean) for British Petroleum.
There is no doubt that Dad's investment -- sowing seed, really -- in Chris has paid dividends. Apart from the skills and abilities Chris picked up from Dad and Mom while he was on the island, the Word of God was sown in his heart.
Let me pause at this juncture to ask you to pray for Chris. We've lost track of him. The Enemy trapped him during his years in the arctic with drugs and alcohol, and it played havoc with his life, and that of his family. We have God's promise for him, however, and we are asking you stand with us in agreement for his deliverance and healing.
More next week.
I remind those of you in need of ministry that our Healing Prayer Call takes place on the first Monday of each month at 7:00 PM Eastern (4:00 PM Pacific). Our call-in number is (712) 775-7035. The Access Code is: 323859#. For Canadians who have difficulty getting in to this number, you can call (559) 546-1400. If someone answers and asks what your original call-in number was, you can give them the 712 number and access code.
At the same time, in case you are missing out on real fellowship in an environment of Ekklesia, our Sunday worship gatherings are available by conference call – usually at about 10:45AM Pacific. That conference number is (605) 562-3140, and the access code is 308640#. We hope to make these gatherings available by Skype or Talk Fusion before long. If you miss the live call, you can dial (605) 562-3149, enter the same access code and listen in later.
Blessings on you!
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