COME UP HIGHER
We’ve been talking about the concept of holiness, but let’s get into the Hebrew text to look at this word a bit better and see if we can grasp the simplicity of holiness.
Holiness is not complicated. There’s nothing mysterious or mystical about it. This word comes from the Hebrew, qadash, which means to be clean, to be consecrated, to wholly separate yourself to the Lord and the things of God. Anyone who knew my father would quickly tell you that this word defined him, his character, and his complete commitment to the Lord. If the Lord said something to him and instructed him to go some place or do something, you could take it to the bank! Neither hell nor high water were going to dissuade him.
It was in the spring of 1944 that Dad went to the Northwest District Council of the Assemblies of God to say to them, “Brethren, you know that God has called me to Alaska. The time has come for me to do that. Will you help us?”
Their immediate response was, “Brother Capener, Alaska is just too expensive. We can send you to China or Africa for a fraction of the cost.”
He returned, “Brethren, God didn’t call me to China or Africa. He called me to Alaska.”
Once again, they responded, “We cannot send you to Alaska. We refuse to allow you to go there.”
And Dad’s final answer to them was, “God called me! You didn’t, and I’m going!”
“Then you’ll go without us, and without our backing. We cannot be a part of such a venture.”
And so the great adventure began. Dad went home and told Mom where things stood. Because he had grown up in North Dakota and Minnesota helping his father on the family farms, farming was all he really knew anything about. We were as a family, living in Ilwaco, Washington where Dad had built and pioneered a church.
Ilwaco, for those unfamiliar with the place, is on the mouth of the Columbia River, across the river from Astoria, Oregon. Ilwaco was, and still is, a fishing community. Dad knew nothing about commercial fishing, but determined to try his hand at it. He said to Mom, “I’m going to do whatever I have in front of me and believe God to produce the needed results.”
THAT, family, is what you do when nothing but the voice of God makes the difference! That is what happens when, as Abraham said to me on my first visit to Heaven, “Once you have heard the voice of God, there is no other voice!” That’s such a true statement that I cannot over emphasize it! What goes along with that statement is the fact that the more often you hear and become familiar with it, the more you live by it! There is no authority higher than His voice speaking to you. His presence accompanies it.
Thus, when you hear the voice of the Lord speaking to you, giving you directions to do, or say, or go somewhere, you obey that without compromise and without question. It matters not now logical or illogical those instructions might be when it comes to human reasoning, that’s what you do! The concrete results follow to back it up.
Thus, for Dad to launch out into commercial fishing into some of the roughest ocean conditions imaginable in spite of the fact that he’d only been a farmer in the past and knew nothing whatever about the ways of the sea was a challenge of the highest order!
He had a friend who owned a cannery in Raymond, Washington who he went to see about loaning him a boat that he could use for the seven-week fishing season. “Reverend, I do have one, but it really isn’t much of a boat. It’s 28 feet long, but doesn’t have a cabin and no communication gear.”
Dad’s response was, “I’ll take it.”
The fishing season opened and Dad set out to sea. The commercial fishermen laughed at him — especially those with the 80-foot boats and the finest of gear. He ignored the taunts and asked the Lord where to go to get the most fish. The newspapers followed his adventure, really out of curiosity. You can imagine their shock when he came in with the largest catch of fish to open the season, and they paraded his story up and down the west coast.
The owner of the cannery said, “Capener, if you’re going to fish like that, we’ve got to do better by you for a boat!” He traded boat number 1 for a 50-footer with a cabin and some electronic gear, although no two-way radio communications.
Dad had a covenant with the Lord that he would only fish six days a week and be back in his pulpit on Sundays. That baffled the fishermen in port. You’re going to lose seven days out of the fishing season so you can preach on Sundays?
Week two began and he set out as usual, following the quickening of Holy Spirit as to where to fish. When he came back into port on Saturday he still had more fish than any of the professional fishermen. To say the least, that frustrated them. They decided to pay him a visit.
“Capener, where are you going? What are you doing that’s so different?”
Those were loaded questions. The fishermen guarded their fishing grounds like a national secret! Dad, on the other hand, really didn’t care. He went where Holy Spirit directed, and if the other fishermen wanted to wait until Monday to follow him out, fine! They all agreed to meet back in port on Saturday to compare their respective catches.
Again, things were no different. The Lord had given him a larger catch of fish than those professionals with their 80-foot boats and the finest of fishing gear. They all shook their heads in wonderment.
Let’s skip over the weeks to Week #7. Everyone headed out to sea as usual. A breeze came up that began blowing Dad’s boat farther out to sea. At one point, he calculated that he was more than 200 miles away from port.
A storm was brewing. Dad, being unfamiliar with the signs in the skies, stayed with his tasks. The seasoned fishermen knew what was coming and began working their way back to port. With no radio communication, he had no way of being warned by the others who frantically tried to reach him. The storm hit and he found himself in the midst of waves that threatened to destroy his boat.
The waves increased in size so that he couldn’t avoid being inundated by them. They would crash over the boat, submerging it momentarily before bobbing back to the surface. It didn’t take a whole lot of this for Dad to realize that his boat was cracking under the continuous assault. He only had one course of action.
Waiting for one of the waves to pass, he dashed out onto the deck of the boat, stretched his hand out over the water and did what he knew Jesus did, “Peace, be still!” Then he ran back into the cabin, shut the door and waited.
Within 20 minutes, the storm had quieted down, and there was scarcely a ripple on the face of the water. A gentle breeze came up to blow him back into port. He didn’t begin to have enough fuel to make it back otherwise. And the fish began to bite!
(Now you see where the confidence came for Dad to speak that one simple command when he walked into the situation with Simeon threatening to kill Susan with the axe!)
I need to explain something here. Dad didn’t have any of the professional fishing gear that the professionals had. He simply strung lines out over the edge of the boat with some bait on them. Every fish he caught, he caught by hand!
The week was passing and no one had seen any sign of Alvin Capener. Some of the fishermen came over to console Mom. “Mrs. Capener, we’re really sorry about the loss of your husband at sea. If you like, we’d be glad to begin funeral preparations.”
Mom looked at them and said, “Thank you, but no thank you. God hasn’t led us this far to let Alvin drown at sea.” They all shook their heads, turned around and walked away. This lady is living in fantasy land. No one could have survived that storm — much less a landlubber from Minnesota!
Saturday came, and still no sign of Dad. The fishermen paid their respects again. “Mrs. Capener, really! You need to face the reality that your husband isn’t coming home! Let us begin making funeral preparations.”
Mom shook her head again and said, “No, we’re going to wait. You’ll see!
Around 5:00 in the afternoon, someone spotted a dot on the horizon. The community gathered on the docks waiting to see what this was. Sure enough, it was Dad. What they saw, they couldn’t believe. Had their been any kind of wave, he would have capsized. The decks were full of fish. The cabin was full of fish. There were fish over, above and around his bunk. He was standing almost knee-deep in fish. You can imagine the astonishment on everyone’s faces!
On Monday, he went to meet with the owner of the cannery who had been keeping score on the number of fish being brought in. The owner of the cannery (whose name I have forgotten) said, “Rev. Capener, you have brought in a total of 39,000 pounds of Albacore Tuna. That is worth to you, $6,300.
The newspapers went wild. One of the newspaper headlines read, Landlubber, Fisherman, Preacher sets all-time record catch of fish.
It was, too! For the size of boat and the length of time, Dad set an all-time record for the amount of fish he caught during those seven weeks. It is a record that stands unbeaten today, more than 78 years later.
But there’s another record here that we haven’t talked about yet. When Dad started this adventure, his hope was that if he had a really good season, he might bring in roughly a thousand dollars. Before his first day of fishing, he had said to Mom, “Lorraine, we are going to need $5,000 for building supplies to build a church in Nome, and $1,000 to pay off the debt on the church here in Ilwaco. How that get’s accomplished, I do not know, but I’ll do my part and the Lord will make up the difference. What Dad didn’t know was that Mom had put in a request for $300 additionally to purchase some furniture.
And there it was! $5,000 for building supplies, $1,000 to pay off the debt on the church in Ilwaco, and Mom’s request for $300 for furniture. No one could have possibly foreseen that the Lord was going to take the simple obedience and act of faith in going commercial fishing in order to do his part. Commercial fishing just wasn’t a part of Dad’s experience, or understanding or previous planning. Funny thing! God doesn’t call those who are equipped and trained; He calls those who are totally obedient in the face of the unknown, and He equips them.
That has been the lifelong example that was set in front of me, and why I have been so ready to do whatever the Lord said to do, no matter how logical or reasonable it was.
The resume that God has given me is living proof. The things I’ve done in life had no training or background preparation, and yet I went to work for NASA at age 19 and spent 3 1/2 years doing research and development. I have 50 years in radio and television working both sides of the camera or microphone, doing broadcast engineering for which I had no prior training, and having to depend on the Lord for supernatural revelation in numerous circumstances. On and on it goes. It is both the preparation and blessing of the Lord, and in each case, it has taken complete obedience to the prompting of the Lord and the quickening of Holy Spirit. It’s nothing to brag about! None of this would have happened if the Lord hadn’t empowered me.
But, you see, I had a pattern set before me with my father. During the course of 44 years, he buildt seven churches in the arctic and on Saint Paul Island (I got to help on a number of these projects) and his simple preaching and ministry wound up leading thousands of thousands of Eskimo, Indian and Aleut people to the Lord, all the way from Saint Paul Island in the Pribilofs across northern Canada to Greenland.
Dad was a pioneer whose pioneering was nothing more than simple obedience to the word of the Lord, and refusing to be deterred by opposition and obstacles. His life and example defined Holiness for me and our family. He defined trotal commitment to the Word of the Lord, no matter what the cost and even when it went against the religious and denominational leaders whose argument was that it couldn’t be done, or that it just cost too much. Dad’s return to their arguments was, “What God orders, He pays for!”
Della and I have learned that lesson again and again and again! Our existence in Temple, Texas is all the proof we need!
The call to “Come Up Higher” is a command to live in the presence of the Lord. It is a command to live a life of Holiness. It is a command to be ready for adventures in a dimension that we’ve never known in the past, but it is a command to walk with the Lord in absolute confidence, knowing that He doesn’t call us to come to a place He hasn’t prepared in advance for us.
The adventures that Della and I have walked and lived are very different from those that Dad and Mom lived and walked, and yet the principle remains the same. Had my parents not walked and lived the Word of the Lord, I would never have had the pattern set before me that has characterized my life.
When Dad was on his deathbed in Providence Hospital in Anchorage, he said to me, “Son, I’m so sorry that I don’t have a real inheritance to pass on to you.”
My response was, “Dad, what are you talking about? The spiritual heritage you have left for me and in me is worth more than any possible financial gains or inheritance. You have left me an inheritance in God for which there is no price!”
Each of us has that call to “Come Up Higher.”
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 10:30AM Pacific. That conference number is (712) 770-4160, and the access code is 308640#. We are now making these gatherings available on video usingZOOM. If you wish to participate by video on ZOOM, our login ID is 835-926-513. If you miss the live voice-onlycall, you can dial (712) 770-4169, enter the same access code and listen in later. The video call, of course, is not recorded – not yet, anyway.
Blessings on you!
Regner A. Capener
RIVER WORSHIP CENTER
Temple, Texas 76502
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