“Money and love are mutually exclusive. Where mammon rules, the possessive will is stronger than the will to community…It is the spirit of lying, impurity, and murder, the spirit of weakness and death…Jesus, the prince of life, declared war on this spirit, and we must declare war on it too. When our inmost eye has been opened to his light…we can no longer accumulate property. We will turn our backs on everything present and live instead for freedom, unity, and peace.” A quote from Eberhard Arnold, The Fight Against Mammon
Jordan Hogan read the quote for the third time, swallowing hard, wondering to himself if it was just him who felt butterflies in his stomach over this article. I’m certain, he mused, that this is the work of the Holy Spirit. I’m dying to know what Kristie is feeling.
Kristie, his wife, was really the instigator of this most holy work of God. She had been reading a series of Christian articles entitled “The Fight Against Mammon” that were given to her by a disgruntled fellow saint in her home group that actually despised these writings. The articles proclaimed that the love of money was so widespread in the assemblies of Jesus in the west that this demonic influence must be broken for ordinary people to truly love Jesus and inherit His kingdom.
Kristie had been gripped in her heart of hearts because the articles described both her and Jordan, her husband of 15 years. And she was the one who broached the subject with her husband, and had left the articles in conspicuous places around their lavish home in hope he would read them. Her prayer was answered. But now, it became more than she bargained for with her heavenly Father.
Jordan was even under more conviction than Kristie, it appeared. They were having very spirited discussions on what to do with all their stuff, their investments, their newer vehicles, even their fancy home that they had fooled themselves into believing they’d use it for real “ministry” to the poor. Their talks were often turning into arguments as Jordan was now ready for action, a bold action he declared to his wife.
They both were troubled over the last few years of their faith walk that the fruit in their lives was minuscule. There was an emptiness and lack of joy in their hearts that they had valiantly tried to fill with many, many things. Home school activities for their children Seth, age 12, and Ashley, age 9, didn’t cut it.
Their recent entrance into small group home ministry in the last two years soon proved to be Christianity “light” with almost all participants talking about themselves, their “ministries,” and even sensing a void of fellowship around how to serve the crippled, lame, poor, blind, widows, orphans, and prisoners. Jordan even picked up an acrostic to help him remember all the categories of the “least of these.” It was called the “CLPB – WOP,” pronounced Clipped Whop.
Kristie tried the local church ladies group, taking Ashley with her. But, alas and alak. Ashley had befriended a couple of people as only the younger children can do. Her salvation in the last year was real to all around her, and even her parents now knew that there was something more to the Way than just a Sunday meeting, a Wednesday night home group, and a ladies group once a month.
Ashley was asking to spend time with Quisha, a young black girl she had met at a hotel pool a few miles away while her cousins were in town. Not only that, but Quisha introduced the family to her dirt-poor Grandma, Stephanie, who was raising her, and to another black single mom in their rundown apartment complex, Lisa, who was recently abandoned and then saved, doggedly trying to raise four kids under 8 years of age on $18,000 a year.
Ashley and Quisha were now talking by phone frequently, and the details of her economically hopeless life were being related at the dinner table and in the car to her folks. Jordan and Kristie would turn and look at each other, their hearts hurting for these souls, wondering what they might do practically.
More than once, Kristie had cried herself to sleep softly with this burden not wanting to disturb Jordan in the other side of their king size bed.
It was Jordan who first felt the direct leading on the Holy Spirit to sacrificial action, or so he thought. As he approached Kristie, she knew that look. The last time he had displayed that look to her was when he was describing the greed and avarice of the owners of the company he worked for as they ignored the desperate economic plight of many of his female co-workers.
She thought she was ready for him now. But she had no idea.
He took her hand and began praying to Jesus. His voice became a bit more loud than normal, then it began cracking with emotion as he pleaded with the Spirit to give them courage to enter into the battle for peoples souls. He pleaded with God the Father for grace to stand strong. Kristie had never heard him pray like that before. Never.
The prayer went on for some time, a lot longer than Kristie anticipated. Even when he was done and peered back into her face, the look was still there. The kids were silently in the next room listening to every word.
Things need to change big time, he declared. They were trapped in the American gospel of affluence and had been seduced, he went on. The kids were becoming yuppies, and the desire for more and more was subtly out of control. Jordan proclaimed that they couldn’t compare themselves by their fellow church goers for almost all were rich by the worlds standards.
Kristie asked what they should do, her heart racing now.
Jordan gushed over with a number of ideas. John the Baptist said give your extra clothes away. Paul said be content with what you have which means daily bread and basic housing. So we have to deal with our investments, this fancy house, and these vehicles.
How can we, he said, store up these treasures on earth when Quisha, Stephanie, and Lisa are all very close to being evicted from their apartments since rent had gone up 30% in the last year due to the “gambling” in the housing market. To top it all off, he lamented, the girl’s teeth are rotting out of their heads from poor nutrition.
Our clothes, $150,000 in investments, $300,000 in home equity and excess furniture, and no time for outside ministry due to too much time at work were all things that needed to fall under the obedience of Jesus, he said.
Kristie was speechless. Was he going to do something stupid? Do I need to call my dad, the long time elder in the AOG mega church, to talk some sense into Jordan? What about the kids education? Their vacations? The list in her head multiplied as she added up what they would lose.
She went to bed wondering what the next day would bring. Oh, more grace dear Lord. She felt like her whole world might just spin right out of control. She wondered silently and yet shamefully why she ever married Jordan in the first place. Why did she have to read that article about the fight against mammon in the first place? I can see now why my friend despised the article, she mused.
And a voice through the ages echoed faintly through her heart that very moment, “And what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul?”
Jordan, Kristie’s husband, awoke the next morning very, very early – much earlier than the usual 6:30 alarm. He felt the Holy Spirit had been responsible for this unusual wake up call, but in his grogginess wasn’t sure why. He turned over on his back, staring at the ceiling for a minute or two, then said good morning silently to the Lord as was his custom.
As he slipped his feet over the edge of the bed, he turned toward Kristie’s side of the bed, noticing she wasn’t there. This piqued his curiosity, for she was normally a heavy sleeper.
As Jordan wandered down the hall of their spacious 4 bedroom, 4 bath ranch home, he noticed a light on in their daughter Ashley’s room. Slipping his head inside to check on her, he was surprised to see she too was not in her bed, or even in the room. Listening with his ear to son Seth’s room a bit further down the hall, he could hear him snoring loudly. No problem there, he thought. His pace picked up as he entered the main foyer leading to the family room, all the time wondering where his women were.
As he entered, he saw a most intimate scene. Kristie was on the floor prostrated, praying. Not only that, but little 9 year old Ashley was on the floor too next to her Mom, also praying together at the same time. They had no idea that Jordan had entered the room, for it seemed to him they were in the very throne room of the Almighty Himself, lost to the physical realm. He began to listen in.
Although they were praying at the same time, he could make out that his wife was weeping softly all the while asking Jesus and the Father for more grace to be courageous, to do “the right thing” she kept repeating. Little Ashley’s hand was on her Mom’s shoulder, as if to help with that extra dose of faith.
Ashley herself seemed to be begging and beseeching the Ancient of Days to raise the money needed for her lost black friend Quisha, her Grandmother Stephanie, and single mom Lisa and the 4 kids to keep them from being evicted in 30 days.
The scene was quite something to behold in the natural, and certainly joyful to God in the supernatural. It continued on for some time as Jordan was now fully awake, silently communing with the Savior about what might be on the horizon.
After a while, it was silent in the family room, the only sound being the ticking of the wall clock as it made its rounds. But the women now knew someone else was in the room with them, and they one by one looked up to see a smiling father close by on the overstuffed sofa.
Ashley was the first to make a break and slowly slip up to her Dad, slowly climbing into his lap. He softly kissed her on her forehead, asking her what the Holy Spirit was saying to her. She replied that the Spirit had asked her to sell her prized doll collection, which she had done, but had failed in the Spirit’s instructions to ask them first before raising $50 from a neighbor’s daughter.
She asked forgiveness of her Dad too since she hadn’t asked permission of either parent. But, she explained, I just had to do something for Quisha and her grandma and Ms. Lisa. I was afraid Mom would say “No” and I can’t stand the thought of my friend and family being homeless.
She went on to say she wanted to ask them if they could have a garage sale that weekend so she could sell all her extra clothes and toys she had in her room. And, she added, we can sell all the junk and the 2 jet skis in the garage. Besides, Ashley pleaded, what would Jesus do?
Jordan turned and looked at Kristie. She looked so convicted, so joyful, so fearful, almost all at the same time. Jordan asked her what she was feeling. With a new wave of tears in her eyes, she related that she was unable at this time to give sacrificially like Ashley had done. But we should help in some small way, she confessed.
Yeah, right. Some small way. Kristie still doesn’t get it, thought Jordan. But quickly, he repented silently of his harsh toughs toward her on this. I love my wife, but I wonder why she’d so attached to this stuff. Here our own daughter has given what amounts to her most precious possession, her own “widow’s mite.”
While Kristie was talking, Ashley had quietly gone to her room and returned with the $50 from her doll sale, a few crumpled $10 and $5 bills she was now handing over to her Mom. “So Mom,” she quizzed, “what else are we going to do for Quisha? Dad says we could sell our cars for cheaper ones, and that we have a lot of money in the bank,” she continued.
Kristie was less sympatric now, counting the cost about giving up her brand new Toyota Van with 5,000 miles, not even considering any of the investments. “Honey,” she replied, “my car is important for church activities, and I need to keep it.”
“Why, Mom?” Ashley countered, “because Ms. Lisa’s old van is almost broke for good. Maybe we can get 2 vans instead and give one to her. What church activities do we use the van for, Mom, ‘cause I’ve never seen us use the van for anything like that,” she asked with deep, childlike inquisitiveness.
Flustered, Kristie stared Jordan down, saying it was easy for them to ask her to sell HER van. She then said if HE was really serious about helping Quisha and her clan that he should FIRST sell his famous gun collection worth thousands, his vintage ’66 Mustang convertible, his own brand new Toyota Sequoia SUV paid for with cash, and even his golf clubs since it takes so much time away from the family.
She then parroted the famous American Christian line we’ve all heard a million times: “Anyways, Jordan, in my heart or hearts I’ve given up my van to Jesus.”
He was having trouble listening to this conversation. On one hand, he knew the struggle. “I struggle even now, Father. But there’s real people with real needs,” he prayed. The Spirit brought back to his mind the verse in 1st John 3: if you see a brother in need and refuse to help, how does the love of God abide in your heart?
After all, Kristie was the silver spoon daughter of a “successful” AOG businessman, who gave away a lot of money over the years. But it always seemed to be out of his abundance, and primarily to tangible real estate projects like the new church building, or the fellowship hall, things that got his name engraved on several gold plaques. Wasn’t this in lieu of real desperate people needs, the kind Jesus rebuked the Pharisees about, he wondered?
He waited for a long minute as silence fell over the family room. Finally, he felt the Holy Spirit speak through him, as if the words were coming out automatically and all he was doing was moving his lips in response to the leading.
“You’re right, sweetie,” he said. “I’ll sell those things. All of them. As a matter of fact, I’ve been checking out much older used cars, and have my eye on one. It’s an old ’94 Ford Expedition with 200,000 miles on it, with a so-so paint job, but runs great and was a single owner.”
God, Kristie thought, I think he’s serious. Ok, this is too much too soon, Jesus, she prayed.
Jordan continued now, his voice even more enthused. “But we can raise over $25,000 for use to the poor with this trade off. My Mustang would bring thousands more too, and my Ping Executive golf clubs would fetch a pretty penny at the pro shop.”
Blank stares from Kristie. “Also,” he conceded, “I’m going to quit the club and save another $3,000 per year so we can support 10 Christian AIDS orphans in Pakistan.”
Jordan was smiling broadly now. “Oh, and the gun collection,” he surmised, “might bring $3-4,000 to buy a decent van and some ongoing mechanic service for recently divorced Ms. Lisa and her 4 kids.”
Young Ashley broke through. “Dad, that’s great,” she smiled her voice rising, “and when can we tell Quisha, her Grandma, and Ms. Lisa? Can we call right now? Can we, Dad, can we?”
Kristie was stunned. No more club meant no more lunch buffets with her Christian girl friends from church, no more swimming pool and cabana times Sunday after the late service, no more luxury rides to the club in Jordan’s shiny white Sequoia with the GPS and dual DVD players.
Who cares about the Mustang and golf clubs anyway, she pondered angrily. She was embarrassed at her fleshly reaction, but stifled the urge to repent and ask for forgiveness.
Jordan put his hand up toward Ashley to wait for his reply. He stood up and faced his wife of 15 years and asked with all his heart: “Do we really love Jesus, Kristie? He said our love was proved by obeying his commandments.” He inquired if she really believed that. Or not.
“And that comment about just giving up your van in your heart is wrong,” he said.
“Let’s say there’s an alcoholic and he just keeps drinking but says hell give up alcohol in his heart.” Kristie had never thought of it like that before. And furthermore, her pastor always said that same thing about giving up mammon in his heart upon accepting an ever increasing salary each year that now topped off at over $200,000 per year.
She was really silent now, with her face drooping toward the floor. Jordan had learned how to recognize that look over the years. He knew the Holy Spirit was prompting him to nourish and cherish her at that very moment.
As he knelt along with daughter Ashley to join Kristie on the floor, he put his hand under her chin lifting up her face, smiling deeply, and giving her a tender kiss. That very second the rising summer sun broke through their sliding door window and across their screened pool brightly illuminating the expensive golden cross they kept affixed on the fireplace mantle.
The Father seemed to be saying the same message to all three, the message of His Son. “If anyone wishes to follow me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me.”
Jordan for one knew what he must do, for there was no turning back now. The marvelous grace of his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ would see all of them through the tough but joyful days ahead.
He must once and for all join the army of Jesus that had declared war on the spirit of mammon. Again, his mind drifted back to that mesmerizing quote from brother Eberhard Arnold, who was now with the Lord, as he described the fight:
“Money and love are mutually exclusive. Where mammon rules, the possessive will is stronger than the will to community…It is the spirit of lying, impurity, and murder, the spirit of weakness and death…Jesus, the prince of life, declared war on this spirit, and we must declare war on it too. When our inmost eye has been opened to his light…we can no longer accumulate property. We will turn our backs on everything present and live instead for freedom, unity, and peace.”
Seth, their son, was very surprised at the news when Ashley told him right after rising, and brushing his teeth on this early Saturday morning. She was chomping at the bit to tell him. Kristie was not amused at her daughter’s zeal.
Kristie Hogan was trying valiantly to explain again to Seth, her 12 year old unsaved son, just why her husband, Jordan, had a For Sale sign in the front window of his almost new Toyota Sequoia SUV.
She and Seth were returning from Saturday soccer practice in her van and had just passed her husband Jordan’s newly waxed vehicle which was parked conspicuously just outside the entry guardhouse of their gated community.
As her kids spoke to the neighbor kids about Jordan’s decisions, she knew her rich neighbors, many of them professing Christians from numerous denominations, were wondering just what in the world was going on inside the Hogan family house.
She could tell Seth was not only embarrassed but also curious about his Dad’s recent actions concerning his faith. Seth was a strong willed adolescent who was beginning to dabble in the offerings of the world.
Unbeknownst to both Kristie and Jordan, Seth had been experimenting physically with a similar age girl in the youth group, slipping away into one of the back rooms of the church building during the meetings. Why not, he thought, since his whole family watches such movies and TV shows that openly promote sexual activity.
Also, there were forays into internet porn, and demonic gaming all fueled by the basic unrestricted use of the cable TV in his room, and with his peers in the youth group. In all this, he was thrilled by the adventure of secret sin, even as he was becoming more bold by the day by his rising testosterone.
But he still wasn’t satisfied deep down. This Jesus stuff wasn’t real to him. Too plastic for his liking.
Meanwhile, Kristie’s frustration with the whole situation at home came through loud and clear in her voice. She said that “Dad was probably going through a phase and would get over it in a while.”
Seth asked when they were going to visit his sister Ashley’s new black friend, Quisha, in the apartment project on the wrong side of the tracks. Kristie replied that Dad had already been there with Ashley but she had been “too busy” to go with. Basically, she avoided answering her son. Maybe we can just pay their rent, avoid the eviction, and get this whole thing over and back to normal, she secretly hoped.
But even in young Seth’s embarrassment about his Dad’s bizarre behavior recently, he was curious why Jordan would talk zealously about selling is prized possessions to help, of all things, POOR BLACK PEOPLE. He was drawn to the new fire in his Dad’s heart that gushed out of Jordan when he vividly described the “normal Christian life” and acting “just like Jesus.”
The words his Dad was using were stirring to Seth, a young man looking for something to die for: words like war, conquering, battles, victories, overcoming, subduing the earth, and suffering for those in real need.
The traditional Christianity he saw at church, Sunday School, youth group, and his parent’s home group left him bewildered and angry. He actually hated many so-called Christians for their spiritual laziness. And his parents to date had been boring.
He was hungry for more. Much more. He had heard a few times messages on his mp3 player secretly downloaded from the internet at least a year earlier from radical believers exhorting the youth to dive in head first into the war Jesus had declared on Satan’s world. But when he looked for evidence in his world, he saw none of what the messages described.
But these messages he had heard now lined up with what his Dad was saying. Even sister Ashley’s new conversion had made a huge difference in the home, and with Seth himself. Yet…Pastor Wood had preached that “the poor we have with us always,” and “Jesus was just really saying things for that time.” It’s not commanded, he proclaimed, to give your possessions away. That was just for the rich, young ruler. Or was it? Seth was deeply troubled by all the religious spirit he saw around him.
Kristie parked her van in the drive way, as both she and Seth exited and began to walk toward the house. Seth took a glance at the 2 jet skis in the garage. He thought he’d miss them if his Dad ever followed through on his idea to sell them to raise money for orphans in Pakistan, or something like that.
Just at that moment behind them, they heard a vehicle drive up. It was Jordan. Kristie’s mouth dropped open as he turned the very used Ford Expedition he said he’d buy into the driveway just outside their 3 car garage. It needed a paint job and it was everything his new SUV wasn’t.
Jordan jumped out, smiling, and proceeded to tell both her and Seth that it was going in on Monday for a cheap MAACO paint job. “We got a really good deal for only $600,” he beamed.
Kristie just turned and walked away toward the house. Seth stayed behind with his Dad. He wanted to see what was next. A slight smile crossed his lips, and he attempted to remain “cool.”
Just then, her cell phone rang before she reached the front door. It was Pastor Wood. He asked if she and Jordan would come in for a conference early next week. He was “concerned” about what he was hearing from his flock about Jordan and Ashley’s plans. She said she’d talk with Jordan and get back to him. “Oh, brother, now the church knows,” she stammered half aloud walking in the front door and slamming it behind her.
What next, she mused.
Kristie was emotionally tired. She wondered why Jordan was so vibrant and energetic. Why is Seth drawn to all this stuff, she questioned under her breath. What was she missing? Is this what Jesus really had in mind when he said to NOT store up treasures on earth? She began to doubt if Jesus loved her at all with all that was going on to shake up her life here in domesticated suburbia.
The Holy Spirit asked her to meet Him in the family room to pray and praise the Father for this new fruit of His. She thought better of it, went inside and poured a glass of iced tea, put on a praise CD, and sat down under the pool lanai watching the beautiful fountain in the corner of the screened deck.
She decided maybe she’d just close her eyes and sleep for a while. But, images of Quisha the poor black girl and the Pakistan orphans flooded her mind as she tried to sleep.
Meanwhile back in the driveway, Jordan went on to say to Seth he had made a deal with his boss’s partner, Kevin, to sell the jet skis. The $5,000 would be given to pay off both the back rent for Quisha and her grandmother Stephanie, as well as Ms. Lisa and her 4 kids who lived near Quisha. Another homeless tragedy was averted!
Jordan had also prepaid another 2 months’ rent for both families. Seth was really intrigued with all this, and his Dad’s new passion. It was contagious.
Kristie was unaware at this point of other sacrificial service Jordan was doing for people. He was afraid to tell her for she had driven him underground with her “communication.” She had sent the signal to her husband that it was really her way or the highway.
But Jordan felt the Spirit’s call. He must obey God rather than man. He had placed an ad in the Vintage Car News to sell his prized ’66 Mustang convertible. No sale yet, but a lot on interest. His Ping Exec golf clubs sold quickly.
He was really worried about the contention he’d face when Kristie found out he had canceled the club membership beginning in a mere 45 days. But that $3,000 extra he had already sent to a mercy ministry in faith to buy back a couple of Pakistan boys that has been stolen from their parents by radical Islam terrorists.
He was also convicted to give anther large sum for other boys still waiting for ransom. The Holy Spirit told him the amount should be at least $10,000. He began to weep when he remembered the video reunion he and the family watched over the web. If it was Ashley or Seth in that circumstance, what would he and Kristie do to get them back?
He also had talked and visited 2 different dentists to deal with the huge work needed for both these black families that now were in their life. The total bill might be about $7-8,000. What if they were his kids, he thought? Wouldn’t he want other rich Christians to help Ashley and Seth and his wife? Of course, he would.
And two of Ms. Lisa’s kids had buck teeth so bad they couldn’t close their mouths. When he peered over at Seth with his perfect alignment delivered by a local orthodontist, how could he bear the site of these poor young kids going through life with such a handicap that his own kids didn’t even have to consider. That was another $10,000 or so.
And furthermore, he was praying about all the extraneous furniture and multitudes of stuff they had accumulated. What about the big house? Wouldn’t it be better to sell it, and buy 3 smaller houses? One for Quisha and Stephanie, one for Ms. Lisa and her kids, and one for them? Each one would be a $200,000 investment. But we could do it for cash if we liquidated the home equity and just a bit of our retirement investments. But oh, he’d have to pray, along with Ashley, before he began to discuss this with Kristie.
His heart was full of love for all as he remembered the Master’s words “It’s better to give than receive.” He recalled the Savior’s command that if you loved Him, you’d obey His commands. It was a conditional love, certainly. Grace from His Lord was flowing at unprecedented rates these days to be even more obedient. He who has ears to hear, let him hear. Be a doer of the Word.
God loves a hilarious giver. He had an exhilaration in his soul he hadn’t felt in years, if ever.
Unable to sleep, Kristie had craned her neck around the side of the pool screen to watch the continuing drama in her driveway. She was deeply worried what the new week would bring. Jordan was off to the side excitedly talking with Seth and the curious unsaved next door neighbor, Adam, that happened to wander up to take a look at his “new” SUV.
Not a minute later, she heard another vehicle pull up in the driveway. As she gingerly peered around the side of the pool, she saw it was little Quisha and Ashley bounding out of the car and running to Jordan to give him a hug and kiss. Slowly out of the driver’s side came Stephanie, Quisha’s grandmother who was raising her alone. She needed the assistance of a old wooden cane, for she was crippled with arthritis. But oh, what a smile was on her face!
The vehicle in the driveway, though, was not the old beater Jordan had described. It was a late model mini-van, maybe a 2004 model. Stephanie, who was at least 65 years old, shuffled up to Jordan and gave him a big hug. Laughing all around, Kristie heard Jordan tell his unsaved neighbor, Adam, that these were his new brethren in Christ. Adam was repelled by these poor black faces in is neighborhood, and it showed as he treated them like they had last stage AIDS.
From the pool, Kristie could hear Stephanie praise God very loudly, as black brethren uninhibitedly do, for the new van that she had just been given. It cost the Jordan family $20,000. Both Adam and Kristie where speechless. Young Ashley praised her Dad for his sacrifice as Jordan thanked Ashley for her $50 contribution from her doll collection sale.
Kristie looked at Jordan, her stomach queasy. She felt like she might throw up.
Jordan’s boss, Russ, had run into Kristie at the country club this past week. They all attended church together. He told her he thought Jordan was spending a little too much time on the phone on personal matters and gone from the office on “strange” outings.
In their latest proposal to their largest customer, Jordan had done a good job, but when the customer’s Senior VP had called to ask a question, Jordan was gone. Of course, Jordan got back with him quickly and the deal closed. But still, said Russ.
He marked it up to Jordan’s new ideas, but his voice indicated perhaps, just perhaps, Jordan’s job might be in jeopardy if he didn’t stop all this foolishness and return to acting “like the rest of us.”
She felt like screaming. And why didn’t Jordan consider her wishes more fully before he moved out with their money? That wasn’t love, she knew.
She reminded herself that they had agreed years ago to be united on all major decisions before stepping out to execute them. In her mind flashed an unwelcome thought: how might she be contributing to this problem in ways she couldn’t see? Should she make it safer for him to tell her everything on his heart?
“How much longer is this charade going to go on, Lord,” she pleaded. She thought of calling her Dad, the wealthy businessman who was head of the AOG mega church elder board. Maybe she’d just go and visit them for a while at their oceanfront estate in Florida and get away from all this.
Instantly, the Holy Spirit spoke to her heart in deep, abiding love, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and not do what I say?”
Five Years Later
It was now five years later in the life of the Hogan family. What had happened since?
Jordan Hogan had just slipped away for a few days alone to a secluded ministry retreat in the western mountains of North Carolina. His good brother-in-the-Lord Brian had blessed him with a love offering to visit this haven of rest and renewal. He reminded Jordan of Christ’s words to His disciples in Mark 6:33 to come away to a quiet place and get some rest. Lord knows, he needed it.
As he deeply reflected on the last five years since that providential day he had said “Yes, Lord” to taking up his own cross daily, his heart was experiencing a swarm of emotions, memories, blessings, and lamentations.
His heart still physically ached, even after all these years, for Kristie, the wife of his youth.
Upon Jordan’s final decision to sell their luxurious home and fancy furniture, plus rid themselves of their $200,000 in retirement funds, he ran into a buzz saw.
All he felt he was doing was obeying the clear word of God as written in Matthew 5-7. So, the most natural and normal thing of all was to free up stored up treasures on earth in order to give his alms to the poor, hungry, sick, widows, orphans, and prisoners throughout the world, beginning in his own Jerusalem.
Oh, Jesus, his children were watching his every move in the Spirit. Then they were certainly in the better position to trust the Father for their daily bread. The Lord had called this act of obedient love storing up treasures where He resided on His throne – in heaven. It seemed so obvious to Jordan. It also did to his saved daughter Ashley. She was with him all the way.
But why all the venom over these years from the religious establishment, he wondered. Don’t they love God too? He remembered the Lord’s sober warning in Matthew 6 that where your treasures are stored there is your heart. And almost all hearts he discerned that called themselves by His Name were in the demonic world on this side of the sod.
He had already sold his expensive vehicles, jet skis, gun collection, extra personal clothes, and had begun with the miscellaneous accumulations over the married years. At least whatever Kristie didn’t hold dear.
The country club membership was one of the first things to go, and one of the first things to both frustrate and anger Kristie, the mother of his two children.
But upon the impending crescendo of real live action on Jordan’s part to follow Jesus at His word with his house and investments, the persecution really began in earnest.
The initial meeting with Pastor Wood, Jordan, and Kristie regarding Jordan’s “bizarre behavior,” as their fellow church members called it, did not go well at all.
Essentially, he was put on notice softly that he was legalistically in sin. As time went on, he was ostracized by more and more of the brethren in the church. Even his boss Russ was beginning to avoid him both at church and work. Jordan was warned by the Spirit of Jesus to draw close and get prayed up for the coming storm.
Kristie began to avoid him too, and the marital bed grew very cold over a short period of time. He remembered the old song from his pagan days, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling.” He was still entrapped in his flesh and he was really physically lonely.
But the Spirit filled the void as only He could do, as extra grace was dispensed to this dear saint and fellow suffer of Jesus Christ. Jordan remembered those stunning words from the road to Damascus, “Why do you persecute Me?” as the Savior of the world enters into our own daily trouble. Oh, now he knew the fellowship of His sufferings.
As he continued under the strength and power of the Holy Spirit, Jordan’s tears of rejection turned slowly to joy as he begged the Father for more grace to hold up under the strain. God was faithful. Both He Himself and daughter Ashley were sources of enCOURAGEment in his walk with the Lord Jesus Christ.
There were many days of both lamentation and praise. But still it was hard. Very hard.
But the house and investments, $800,000 in all, were the straw that broke the camel’s back for Kristie. Never mind the plight of poor single moms and their kids, or buying back the stolen boys used for unspeakable things in the Eastern part of this sinful world, or the orphanages waiting to be built for her fellow brethren in foreign lands so starving orphans could sleep on a mat on a dirt floor and eat rice all for $20 a month.
It all happened in a matter of 30 days.
First, Kristie lost it, screaming at Jordan frantically, and then calling the board of elders at the church to perform the last rites of church discipline on her husband. They were all too eager to oblige.
Russ, Jordan’s boss, helped grease the skids as he vividly recounted the events in the office leading up to Jordan’s “foolishness.” Within a week, Jordan was “put out of the synagogue.”
Kristie then packed a bag and moved across town into the home of a sympathetic church family. “Poor girl, what a terrible ordeal you have to endure putting up with Jordan’s legalism,” they said.
Ashley was shaken to the core, and uncharacteristically called Pastor Wood, but his secretary blew her off on the phone. She began to cry herself to sleep at night.
Seth, the unsaved son, was livid at both the church and his mom. That very week, he dropped the youth group, wrote Pastor Wood a nasty email, and began to spend more time with his dad. He could barely make himself come to the phone to speak with Kristie. He began to spend more time with Jordan’s friend Brian as they began to explore the sufferings of Christ and the role they played in a true believer’s daily life.
The very next week Russ fired Jordan from his $150,000 a year job. No final warning. Just clean out your desk today and get out after 15 loyal years. Jordan felt numb. He cried out to the Father, in the name of Jesus.
The next weekend while praying in the home office for both guidance, peace, his wife and family, there came a ringing at the front door. The kids were at Brian’s home for the day. At the door was a man. He asked for Jordan, and handed him a document.
It was the divorce papers.
He was sick, and rushed to the bathroom to throw up.
The next 3 months were a blur.
Looking back a year later, the Lord had showed Himself forever faithful. Jordan made it. He was 20 pounds lighter and a lot grayer.
Ashley was shaken but was forced to press in to the Lord, and also draw closer to her dad, Quisha her black friend, and Stephanie her grandmother.
Seth surrendered to the King of Kings that very year, and he was baptized by Brian in the river down by the park in a public celebration. Kristie refused to attend because it wasn’t a real baptism in a real church.
Jordan’s portion of the divorce settlement returned enough money to buy two side by side duplex units in a working class neighborhood for cash. Quisha and Stephanie moved into one, and Ms. Lisa and her kids into another. Jordan and the kids moved into the other. The fourth unit was rented for a real low rate to a couple of single guys from Jordan’s new home church being discipled to eventually serve with a church planter serving in both India and Pakistan.
The rest of the money was used for buying the very modest orphanages in Pakistan that Jordan had prayed for some time, and a trip for he, Seth, and Brian to personally visit and minister to the saints there.
The judge awarded joint custody, but both Ashley and Seth found it virtually impossible to really warm up to Kristie now. Many of the body of Jordan’s new church group consistently prayed that his kids would have peace in their hearts and that Kristie would repent and find the real Lord Jesus.
Jordan found a job that afforded a modest living, and gave him much more time for the kids, and his new interest in serving the Lord’s “least of these.” He also prayed that first year diligently that Kristie would come to her senses and be reunited with him and the kids.
But now five years later at the mountain retreat, Jordan mused of how she had hardened her heart. She remarried within a year and a half, and had started dating almost immediately after the divorce was final.
Jordan’s pleas to her fell on deaf ears. Pastor Wood married Kristie and her new husband, who was a “successful” businessman and a friend of Russ, Jordan’s old boss and former fellow churchgoer.
Both Ashley and Seth asked to move in full time with their dad. Despite Kristie’s powerful attorney and unlimited bank account, the Ancient of Days worked it out in record time.
Stephanie, Quisha’s grandmother, suddenly died on a heart attack a year later and went home to be with her Savior. It was a huge celebration at the funeral. Oh, how the black people can sing and praise Jesus.
Quisha then asked to come live with the Jordan’s and after several harrowing moments over the next several months, Jesus came through again! Jordan got zoning approval through a very sympathetic appeals board who were draw to these deeds in Jesus.
He then knocked out the wall between the adjoining duplex unit, and there was now one bigger happy family in God.
On a sad note, Ms. Lisa caved in to the advances of a single man and began to fornicate with him. When lovingly admonished by some men and Jordan, she demanded to know what right they had to interfere with her and her happiness. When the Bible was invoked as a standard, she conveniently dismissed it.
She turned tail and ran, causing many tears for the Jordan’s and Quisha. It was the same well spring that Pastor Wood had used when Jordan attempted to bring the sacred writings into the divorce debate a few years earlier. No way.
The Holy Spirit was trying to save Kristie in many ways, despite her wayward actions. All the Christian books and tapes and TV didn’t seem to assuage her growing loneliness. Her new husband was hooked on internet porn, she wasn’t feeling well, and the latest trip to her doctor for a mammogram produced a serious sized lump on her left breast.
She felt a bit uneasy as she had inadvertently tuned into an internet Christian radio station that “just happened” to be airing a message by the late prophet Leonard Ravenhill on The Judgment Seat of Christ. “Many of you will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord’ and I will say depart from Me you evil workers.” She quickly closed the browser, and began to weep.
A cool breeze was wafting through the rhododendron bushes close to Jordan’s rented North Carolina cabin as the afternoon sun began to set over the lower maintain range. His tummy growled a bit in response to his fast that day. But a call soon to Brian and the kids would bring him face to face with his future: praying with both of his saved children and giving all credit to God the Father. And a home cooked meal from the retreat Director’s wife and fellowship with her husband awaited him shortly thereafter on their earlier invite.
His heart paradoxically was at the same time heavy for Kristie but light under the yoke of Jesus. His cross was his and his alone. And he knew he was one day closer to Home and Him!
The Holy Spirit spoke clearly, distinctly, and faithfully to him of his welcome if he persevered to the end: “Well done, good and faithful slave, you have been faithful in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things, enter into the joy of Your Master!”
Your friend and brother in fighting the good fight,
Saints, we’re one day closer to Home, and Him! Love Him wholeheartedly!
You may view our Archives here: MONDAY MANNA – ARCHIVES; Complete Archives; feel free to write and proclaim your leadings in the Spirit in an honorable fashion. May our Father richly bless you with His grace, through Jesus Christ our Lord, in order to walk worthy of His name.
Please comment on this post right below. Feel free to write and proclaim your leadings in the Spirit in an honorable fashion.