October 10, 2014
Going back and reviewing what I'd written thus far in this series, I realized that I'd left a pretty big gap in my narrative of personal deliverance from the Fear of Man. Sorry to bounce around between the Fear of Man, the Fear of Evil and the Fear of Death in this sharing, but it seemed appropriate to go back and revisit the Fear of Man once more. In order to show you more of its family and just how far that fear can reach into your life and contaminate your relationship, let me revisit some events that unfolded in my business life -- as well as ministry -- for the sake of illustration. I've shared chunks of the following in various Coffee Breaks throughout the years, so if I seem to be repeating myself, you'll understand.
In previous Coffee Breaks, I’ve talked about heading up CBN’s activities in Alaska, my fox-trapping adventures that started the whole thing rolling, and opening up a couple of businesses to fund CBN-Alaska’s growth throughout villages and remote communities throughout the state. Today, I’d like to take you on a personal tour of how I came to grips with the fact that I was infected with the Fear of Man, and what I had to do to overcome it.
As I've said before, the Fear of Man is a liar. Believe his lies, and you’re in trouble…..big trouble!
1978. That was some year! Back in Barrow, working to establish headquarters for CBN-Alaska, Inc. and get the ministry of the 700 Club and Christian television programming distributed throughout the bush communities, I took on a whole lot of things all at once.
First, I was approached by Tommy Brower (more about him in a sec) and a couple other elders in the Ukpeagvik Presbyterian Church. They had just lost their pastor and the Presbyterian Missions board in Anchorage was trying to find a replacement. Tommy and friends asked me if I would serve in an interim capacity as their pastor. That was a little more than astonishing to me inasmuch as the Presbyterian pastor who had served in Barrow when Dad came to build the Assembly of God church back in the 1950’s had become a fierce competitor of Dad’s.
When the incredible outpouring of Holy Spirit took place in the community in the later ‘50’s, the Presbyterian Church lost several hundred of its members. The then-pastor stood before the congregation and publicly swore that “the baptism of the Holy Spirit will never be preached from this pulpit.”
The invitation coming from Tommy Brower was no small thing, therefore. Tommy was sort of THE defacto leader of Barrow at the time despite the fact that the community had replaced its village elders with a city council and mayor. His father was the famous whaler and trader, Charles Brower, who had literally put Barrow on the map in the late 1800’s. The Brower family was kind of like Barrow’s royal family, if you could put it that way. Their business acumen – and Tommy’s particularly – was highly regarded, and for a time, Tom Brower was the President and CEO of Colonial Life Insurance Company. (I think I have that right. It’s possible I have the name of the insurance company incorrect.)
Tom also owned 165 acres of downtown San Diego. You get the picture. Tom was one of those contradictions in appearance. Despite his wealth and influence nationally, he ran around in his parki (Tuniks (white folks) call them parkas [grin].) and mukluks like everyone else.
Funny thing, though. It was Tommy Brower who provided Dad with the help he needed to acquire and prepare the land to build the Assembly of God church. He sent some of his employees, along with an old modified Dodge 4X4 Weapons Carrier (it had tires from a WWII DC-3 airplane to provide floatation and buoyancy on the tundra) to haul dirt and sand to provide landfill.
Although I accepted the offer from Tom and friends to fill in at the Presbyterian church, I made it clear to them that my intention was to eventually establish an independent fellowship in the community, apart from the Assembly of God church, and the Presbyterian church. That was no problem to them and for about three or four months (I forget how long it was) I served as their pastor.
It was nothing less than incredible to me to find myself preaching from a pulpit on the ministry of the Holy Spirit where a previous pastor had vowed it would never happen. I knew the Lord was having the final say in the matter….especially when folks began to receive the baptism of Holy Spirit spontaneously when I was preaching and teaching.
During those same months, Arctic Slope Audio and North Slope Communications began to take shape. The Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (one of 13 regional native corporations established by Congress under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act) had hired me to run ASA Communications and develop a service facility for the rapidly-growing need to maintain all the televisions, stereo equipment and other electronic equipment now populating the area.
After a short run, ASRC’s leaders decided this was too far out of their area of business (their principal field of endeavor was oilfield exploration, development, and industrial construction) and chose to sell ASA Communications to me. I shortly thereafter broke it into two separate operations. Arctic Slope Audio (using the ASA moniker) became a retail outlet for televisions, high-end stereo equipment, and a service facility for consumer electronics. North Slope Communications took over the business communications that had been the original lifeline for ASA Communications.
Both businesses took off quickly and began to prosper. I took a salary for myself from the two operations of about $36,000 and used the company profits to expand CBN’s growth into the villages and remote communities. We provided commercial broadcast equipment and video-taped programs to the communities and saw it grow over a span of some seven years to serve 42 Alaskan towns, villages and hamlets. I built several tiny TV stations in some of the communities across the arctic slope and gave the stations outright to the communities with the caveat that they would air Christian television programming for at least part of their broadcast day.
1979 saw explosive growth and incredible profits. From a community with a population base of maybe 4,000 – 5,000 people, we did something like $1.2 Million in sales. (That picture is somewhat distorted, however, because the largest percentage of my customers were working on the building and maintenance of the Alaska Pipeline.) By far the greatest percentage of those profits were plunged into growing CBN’s ministry.
There was a problem, however. My business success became a sensation in the retail electronics trade. Sony Corporation honored me for becoming their number one outlet for Sony Audio Lab (VERY expensive sound and entertainment systems) equipment in the United States. The President of Sony Corporation in Japan came to the U.S. They flew me to Chicago to meet with him at the annual CES show. I was wined and dined in ways I’d never known before. Reporters met with me from various trade magazines, as well as TIME, and I got attention the like of which I had never had.
I guess there’s nothing wrong with being honored and receiving awards for your successes, but when you let those honors and awards alter your behavior, and your responses to the Lord, you’ve just given place to the Fear of Man.
And I did!
1980 wasn’t quite the year I had in 1979 (only [?] $800,000 in sales), but it was enough for the honors and national write-ups to continue. And I loved it. Every moment of it. $2 Million in two years in sales at the virtual “top of the world” was an achievement, and I was glorying in it – falsely.
The Fear of Man has a couple of sons. Their names are Pride and Arrogance. And, brother, they became part of my family. That’s what happens when you believe your own press. Know what happens when Pride enters? Yup. You’re getting ready for a fall. The greater the pride, the bigger the fall!
See? It’s this way! The remarkable success in business wasn’t because of my brilliance or great acumen; it was the blessing and prosperity of the Lord in making provision to grow the ministry and to reach the normally-unreachable with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When you transfer the blessing of the Lord to yourself and take to yourself accolades that belong to Him, you’re asking for it.
Of course I did the perfunctory, “All the credit for my success belongs to the Lord,” but in my heart I was reveling in my own capabilities, and seeking to extend my public acclaim and recognition. That’s the Fear of Man, folks! Pure and simple.
It came to a head in late October of 1980 or early November. Standing in my store one afternoon when things were quiet, I heard Holy Spirit speak to me, “Close the business. Shut the doors. Sell off your remaining merchandise and don’t reorder.”
Yikes! That just couldn’t be the Lord! After all, look what we were doing with the profits! Look how the ministry is growing! And I just rationalized the whole thing away. See what the Fear of Man does to a person?
In myself I said, “OK. We’ll do the Christmas Season. It’s the best time of year for sales, and I can finish this thing up with a bang. After the Christmas Season, I’ll announce a ‘Going-out-of-Business’ sale, and THEN we’ll close the doors.”
Huhh Uhh! Nope! That’s not what the Lord said. Think God needs your successes to fund His operations? Balderdash! See what the Fear of Man does to a person?
Brother, I wanted 1980 to finish out even better than 1979, and I was determined to make it happen. We’d already done close to $800,000, and we had even hit the holidays! I figured we were on tract to easily beat the $1.2 Million of 1979, and I wanted the honors I knew would come from it.
Take it from me. No, you don’t! Not when the Lord is saying something else!
So I placed my orders for televisions and stereo equipment: the biggest orders I’d placed to date. Added to my existing inventory, that ought to bring me close to $1.5 Million for the year.
Well, folks, when you rationalize things and listen to the lies that come from the Fear of Man, you open doors to disaster. Before the first of those new orders had arrived in Barrow, my store was broken into – twice – and cleaned to the four walls. The thieves really had no use for all that equipment. Maybe they hoped to get some money for drugs or alcohol – I don’t know – but what little they sold sure didn’t bring them much. The police recovered most of it from snow banks and sewage from under a house. It was not practically usable or re-saleable.
So much for my profit goal for the year.
The new merchandise arrived, and I started my Christmas promotions, did my standup TV commercials – the whole thing! I was the Cal Worthington of television and retail electronics. (You folks who live in California, the northwest and Alaska know exactly what I’m talking about.) Cal Worthington just passed away, incidentally.
Before Christmas even arrived, my store was broken into again and vandalized. With what was left undamaged, I was going to do well just to pay the bills for the equipment I’d ordered, let alone make any kind of profit. Think I was listening to the Lord about now?
Think Balaam. Think stupid. Think the Fear of Man! My great reputation was at stake. My credibility was at stake. And my ears were not open to hear the Lord. Now I was scrambling with one last-ditch effort to salvage what was left of the holiday season.
Of course I was pastoring Inupiat Christian Center by now – had been for quite awhile – and I couldn’t possibly let them see my failure. Brother, how Pride gets in the way when you are at war with the Fear of Man!
Arrogance keeps you from admitting your failures to “your public.” You stiffen up and pretend everyone is going along just fine, thank you very much. Why of course we will recover from this. God is bigger than this, anyway! He has helped us this far, and He will continue to help us. Arrogance can really get religious when it needs to.
You spout all the right things, quote all the right scriptures, and smile your plastic smile while Holy Spirit is tapping you on the skull and saying, “You said WHAT? What was it I said to you in the first place?”
January of 1981 brought the new CES show in Chicago and another invitation from Sony Corporation, along with all the public acclaim and baloney that goes with it. Of course I went. Of course! I needed to salve my own bruised ego. What a farce!
I returned home to face still a fourth robbery. A week or ten days after getting back to Barrow, the store was cleaned again to the four walls. And I was in trouble financially. The merchandise I had ordered to sell during the Christmas and holiday selling period was gone – and not paid for.
Reality really hurts when you’ve ignored it. Especially when that reality is the word of the Lord. Now I decided to listen to that word I’d heard in late October or early November. Think late is better than never? Think again. I still hadn’t come to grips with the fact that I was fighting with a tangible enemy, the Fear of Man.
The notoriety from the four back-to-back robberies had just about killed Arctic Slope Audio. Efforts to sell off the remaining merchandise turned into a fire sale trying to recover enough money to at least pay off the unpaid bills. So much for all the accolades for my business acumen! They were pretty hollow by now.
You’ve heard me previously discuss the persecution my family and I endured. It had been going on throughout all of this – and actually, well before. In an effort to separate the ministry of Inupiat Christian Center from the failures associated with Arctic Slope Audio, I resigned and turned the ministry over to Dave Dobbs, a brother in the Lord who had worked with me as my associate pastor, and who had been part of the pastoral staff at Long Beach Christian Center years before.
We started the process of moving CBN’s operations to Fairbanks. In the meantime a longtime friend and tax attorney in Fairbanks who had been the source of business and tax counseling advised me to file for bankruptcy on Arctic Slope Audio. While he was counseling me, I learned that the two men I had hired to manage North Slope Communications had fled with $140,000 in checks from NSC’s operations I could have used to pay off the remaining debts on Arctic Slope Audio. They were able to cash the checks and disappear with the money.
And I filed for bankruptcy. See what the Fear of Man does to a person?
There was nothing left to do but move my family to Fairbanks and at least continue the CBN ministry. I knew I wouldn’t have the monies from the retail business to continue our expansion, but at least we could maintain the ongoing support to those communities already being served. It took one more event for me to see the extent to which I had been infected with the Fear of Man. That was the event I shared in #6 in this series with CBN-Alaska, Inc.
By now, you’ve been shown a whole fistful of areas in which this fear attacks and torments us. As you can see, we are vulnerable to it – especially when we don’t listen to the Lord and immediately obey His instructions. Deliverance from the Fear of Man is really just a matter of humbling oneself before the Lord, taking the authority He gives us and kicking that spirit out, and then obeying and paying attention ONLY to what the Lord says to us from that point forward.
True humility and the Fear of Man are sworn enemies of each other. True humility leads one into the presence of the Lord. It causes you to acknowledge His leading, His provision, His blessings and any acclaim you might receive as being due Him. The Fear of Man, on the other hand, takes you away from the Lord. It causes you to become disobedient to the word of the Lord. It causes you to take unto yourself accolades more properly belonging to the Lord. It causes you to vest your authority in your own knowledge and understanding – especially when that knowledge is contradictory to what the Lord is speaking.
See you again next week.
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