September 26, 2014
The Fear of Man is one of the biggest “biggies” that infect and affect human behavior. It’s a topic that I can’t even begin to cover adequately in a few coffee break sessions like these, but it deserves more than a simple once-over.
Despite the fact that I had seen the Holy Spirit moving
miraculously in my life from childhood, hearing and listening to a lifetime of
criticisms and accusations from others about my supposedly being “super
spiritual” created within me a need for acceptance.
So I’m odd. OK?
No argument. It’s taken years for me to accept
that and be joyful in the fact that the Lord has done things with me, and taken
me places very few folks ever get to experience. That joy hasn’t always been
there, however. Being gifted by the Lord can be a real pain if you listen to
the lies that come out of the Fear of Man. And I have been gifted by the Lord –
from my youth on.
Being gifted musically has sometimes made me the target of others
who are jealous over the fact that I can play dozens of instruments. When I was
in public school, my teachers decided I was gifted academically. I skipped half
of third grade and half of fourth grade and did both years in one year. Then my
seventh-grade teacher decided it was a waste of time for me to be in that class
and advanced me mid-year into the eighth grade.
When I was finishing eighth grade (that same school year), my
teacher decided they needed to use me as part of an experiment the state of
Alaska was conducting. My folks thought it was a great idea. (The state of
Alaska has since discontinued this experiment, but it lasted for something like
six to ten years.) Instead of going on to high school, they put me directly
into college courses with the University of Nebraska. I was getting college
credit at the same time I should have been in high school. By the time I was
eighteen years old, I already had four years of college – three with the
University of Nebraska, and one with Southwestern Bible College in Waxahachie,
Texas. The result was that I never got my high school diploma, but I was
accepted at Bethany Bible College and later at Fuller Theological Seminary
without that diploma.
In the years that followed, whenever I applied for some top-level
job I knew I could do in my sleep, employers always asked for my college
diploma. It was nothing but a miracle of the Lord that put me working for NASA
with America’s top scientists and engineers at Lockheed when I didn’t even have
a high school diploma, much less a college degree in engineering.
It was weird. I never had a problem with employment in those early
years, but people always asked me for my certificates and diplomas. I really
began to want those things. They became really important to me. The fact that
the Lord always opened the doors for me seemed to escape my spiritual
awareness. Not having the academic recognition and the “piece of paper” always
ate at me.
The fact was, it was the Fear of Man.
In 1971, when I was “ordained” at Full Gospel Assembly in Salt
Lake City, I had my first “piece of paper.” Man! That was gold! Ironically,
when the ordination was taking place, among other things, Bill Christopulos – the big Greek senior pastor – said, “We
can’t ordain you. The Lord has already done that. All we can do is to say that
we recognize His anointing and His ordination.”
It took a long time for those words to sink into me. Years, in
fact! Brother Bill was saying, “This piece of paper isn’t really worth anything
as far as the real facts go. This is just our way of saying, ‘we know what the
real facts are.’” I put a great deal of importance on the piece of paper for
many years before I realized how shallow it was. Man’s recognition was worth
squat! It was God’s recognition that really counted!
Unfortunately, I got cheated out of understanding that recognition
for many years by the Fear of Man.
I still have my ordination paper. But it isn’t hanging on the wall
of my office. It’s in a folder somewhere – where it deserves to be. My gifts,
my callings, my skills and talents all come from the Lord. It is He that opens
the doors for me. It is He that creates opportunities. It is He that flows
through me. Anything that gets accomplished accrues to His credit – not mine.
If I get credit for anything out of all of this, it is simply for being obedient
to His Word and His Will.
If folks get impressed by what they see and hear, fine. But they need to recognize that it is the Lord doing His Will, His Word and His Work through me. Then they can be impressed by the Lord and give Him the true glory and praise for what He has done.
Sure took me a long time to learn that, though.
Over the years, I’ve had my share of experiences where I realized
there were absolute barriers I could not cross – even though my ego would
certainly have benefited had I done so. Go figure. At the same time, there were
times when I was able to recognize the need to refuse The Fear of Man's
In the summer of 1959, returning from Waxahachie, Texas where I
had attended Southwestern Bible Institute, I stopped off in Portland where my
mother was waiting to attend a summer camp meeting in Brooks, Oregon. The
speaker for the week was J. Robert Ashcroft, John Ashcroft’s (our former U.S.
Attorney General) father. As it happened, John Ashcroft – who was something
like 17 years of age at the time – was at the same camp meeting. He and I
joined our musical talents together to provide an atmosphere of praise and
worship music. I played guitar, and John played bass. An Indian fellow from
Aberdeen, Washington joined us with a second guitar, and we had a threesome for
Being musicians, our talk occasionally turned to the kinds of
instruments we were interested in. On my way back to Alaska from Southwestern,
of course, I didn’t have my own guitar with me. The guitar I was playing was a Gretsch exactly like Chet Atkins often used, and I was
having a blast. The instrument was on loan to me from a young fellow who
normally played it for the camp meeting services. His dad worked at the L.D.
Heater Music Company in Portland and he suggested I should go there after the
camp meeting to look at a bunch of new guitars that had just come in.
You need to understand where I was musically at the time. It was
in 1948, as I recall, that I heard Chet Atkins play his first appearance on the
Grand Ole Opry. Don’t forget. I was already playing
the piano then – at age six – because my folks wanted me to be a pianist. Piano
lessons were not my favorite thing in life at that age. Hearing Chet Atkins do
the stuff he was doing on the guitar absolutely sold me. I made up my mind if
he could do all that, so could I, and I eventually talked my dad into letting
me take up the guitar – so long, of course, as my piano lessons continued.
I had poured myself into learning the guitar. It was hilarious.
I’d wake up in the morning and go into the church so I wouldn’t wake up the
family and practice until it was time to go to school. Lots of times when I got
home at night, my Parki never came off before I
grabbed the guitar and started practicing.
By 1959, I had become a reasonably credible musician and honed
those God-given talents to a fare-thee-well – never mind the fact that I was
only seventeen years of age. Following the Brooks Camp Meeting, I talked my
mother into taking me to the L.D. Heater Music Company in Portland so I could
“try out” some guitars.
One guitar really grabbed my attention so I picked it up, plugged
it in, sat down and started playing. Like lots of musicians I know, I closed my
eyes and was gone – oblivious to my surroundings, just lost in the music. (In
those days, I hadn't yet come to recognize that my "getting lost" was
just part of the spontaneous praise and worship that had become so much a part
of me.) After some period, I opened my eyes and was surprised to find a
gentleman standing there. He had been walking down the street, heard me
playing, and come into the store to listen.
He nodded his approval when I caught his eye, and I kept on
playing. After some 30 minutes or so – it was hard to believe he was still
there – he introduced himself. (Sorry, I’ve forgotten his name.) He told me
that he owned some clubs in Los Angeles, Los Vegas and Reno. “Come and play for
me,” he said. “I’ll sign you to a contract for as long as you want. We’ll start
you at $400 a night.”
Couldn’t be. It was a joke. 400 bucks a night? At seventeen years of age? I
shook my head and turned back to the guitar.
This guy was persistent, though. “I’m serious, son! You’re
unbelievably good on the guitar. You sound just like Chet Atkins. Come and play
for me and I’ll hook you up with him. You guys can play together.”
Ouch! He sure knew how to hurt a guy! It still wasn’t real to me,
though. I felt like this was all some kind of fantasy so I said to him, “No. I
can’t do that. Besides, the only music I play is gospel music. I don’t play any
He wasn’t about to let go. “Hey, I don’t care what kind of music
you play. Play anything you like. Play your religious music. Just come and play
for me.” Now he upped the ante. “Tell you what. You sign a contract with me and
I’ll see that your folks get a new home. We’ll get you any kind of car you want
to drive. Your family will be taken care of in style.”
This guy’s insistence was really beginning to get through to me.
Maybe he was for real. No matter. “I’m sorry. The gifts and abilities I have
come from the Lord. I promised Him a long time ago that I would use them to
honor Him.” Now his frustration was beginning to show. Exasperated, he said,
“Look! You name the ticket. Whatever you want, we’ll get you. Just come and
sign a contract with me.”
All of a sudden, it was like I was seeing Jesus on top of the
mountain being offered the kingdoms of this world by the devil. There wasn’t
any way I could accept the offer. This guy might as well have been the devil
for all I knew. He was trying to pull the same thing on me Jesus went through.
He was offering power, prestige, material wealth – everything that folks need
when they have to impress others.
“Sir, I really appreciate your offer. You need to understand that
everything I have belongs to the Lord. I belong to Him. No matter what kind of
offer you want to present, I just don’t see how my playing in one of your clubs
so you can sell booze will be glorifying to the Lord.”
The words just came out. They weren’t planned. He scratched his
head, muttered something unintelligible, turned and walked out the door,
shaking his head in unbelief.
It was my first major victory over the Fear of Man. I just didn’t
realize it at the time. There were lots of occasions in the years to come when
the Enemy would remind me of my decision and point at my less-than-prosperous
condition at the time and say, “See. Look what you missed out on!”
Fast forward to 1982. Having moved the CBN ministry to Fairbanks
from Barrow had produced unexpected results. A new fellowship sprang up around
the CBN operation. Many of the folks who had become counselors and people who
responded to telephone calls from people in need wanted a separate fellowship.
The churches they were a part of weren’t meeting their needs and they saw the
potential for something new.
I wasn’t interested in competing with the local churches, so I set
our meeting time for Sunday afternoon instead of the morning. I had rented a
ten-bedroom home from another ministry to use as our interim headquarters. It
had a pretty decent-sized living room, and folks began to congregate there on
Sunday afternoons. In no time at all – a few weeks, if that – we had an average
of 40 to 70 people gathering on Sunday afternoons.
Without the income from Arctic Slope Audio or North Slope
Communications to fund us, I asked CBN in Virginia Beach for funds to help us
get into a new operating center. It was the first time in nearly six years I’d
ever asked them for anything. They responded, and we contracted with a builder
to remodel a warehouse and turn it into offices and broadcast studios.
Before the place was even finished, we started moving our Sunday
fellowship meetings into the main studio so we would have enough room for our
gatherings. The growth of CBN’s operation and the sudden departure of a lot of
folks from some of the local churches to participate or become part of our
local House of Praise fellowship became an instant threat to some pastors.
It didn’t take too long for a letter-writing campaign to get under
way from local church leaders as they launched attacks on me. One of the
accusations was that our local ministry wasn’t answerable to anyone. It was a
spurious charge, of course. We were answerable to CBN.
At an Area Directors’ conference in Virginia Beach, I asked some
of the other directors how they would deal with the commotion. “Do you have a
board of directors with your local ministry?” they asked. “Are you showing
yourself as responsible and cooperative with the local ministerial community?”
I didn’t want to appear as irresponsible and “out of submission” – never mind
the fact that I had always felt that boards of directors were unscriptural. In
order to please my detractors, therefore, I picked a group of people to serve
as CBN-Alaska’s board.
Are you getting the picture? “In order to please my
Sitting in a board meeting one November Friday night with our
newly formed board, I suddenly had a chill down my spine and the very real sense
that I had just slammed the door on an otherwise-prospering ministry by trying
to appear like everyone else. Listening to some of the new board members argue
over their respective titles and positions was both disgusting and
Funny part of it was, though, I was in the middle of teaching on
the Fear of Man. The following Sunday, in the midst of teaching, I suddenly
realized that I had succumbed once again to that spirit of fear in order to
“please the people.” My prayer might surely have been different that day, had I
realized the consequences of saying to the Lord, “tear it down, Lord! Tear it
down! Don’t let this ministry simply become another clone or copy of all the
other ministries that go through the motions and fail to become your voice and
authority in the earth.”
Better know what you’re praying and what’s going to happen when you mean it!
Just six months later, CBN-Alaska closed its doors. The letter-writing campaign
against us didn’t cease with the changes: they only increased. By March of
1983, things were unbelievably intense. I flew to Virginia Beach and offered to
resign in order to defuse the opposition. No deal! They didn’t want my
Nevertheless, a corporate decision was made just weeks later to
disband all affiliates around the country such as ours and re-centralize all
CBN’s operations in Virginia Beach. Did the attacks on CBN-Alaska play a part?
Perhaps. Other centers were getting some of the same opposition, though.
The decision to shut down came just as we were in the midst of
dedicating CBN-Alaska’s new headquarters. From a personal standpoint, the
timing couldn’t have been worse. From God’s standpoint, however, it was His
mercy. He had clearly and unequivocally answered my prayer.
I have never established a board of directors for any ministry
since, and have encouraged others to follow suit. There’s a big difference
between having an advisory council and having a board of directors who can
legislate decisions God has not directed the local shepherd or primary leader
to follow. Titles are meaningless with God. They don’t impress Him one bit. The
Fear of Man promotes decision-making that simply de-thrones God’s authority. It
promotes titles, offices and positions that only puff up one’s ego. I’ve never
regretted my prayer in spite of the consequences that followed.
Again, if you are in need of healing -- especially if you have
some terminal disease or prognosis of a very short time to live from the
doctors -- please join our prayer conference calls on either Monday or
Wednesday of each week at 7:00 PM Eastern. Once again, the number to call is
(805) 399-1000. Then enter the access code: 124763#. To get into the queue for
prayer, when Randy opens the call up for everyone, hit *6-1 on your keypad. Let
us minister to your need for healing!
Blessings on you!
Sunnyside, Washington 98944
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