The Late Arrival And Apprehension
It was already dark by the time I arrived. But they were already there. It had been a long week by the time Friday night arrived. And I was running a bit late due to my consulting schedule…and a ministry issue that needed immediate attention.
Larry had asked us to come for a simple dinner and a night of prayer and fellowship. In January, the sun sets early in Florida, and by the time I arrived at 6:30 or so, it had been dark for at least an hour.
Brother Larry’s house was in the woods in the country, as was mine at the time. There was no way one could see a neighbor at either of our places. And his wife and multiple children were out of town for the weekend.
So…it was just the men. Besides Larry and me, there was Mike, Paul, and Jose. Larry knew them from his previous church, and I had never met any of them.
Mike was a policeman, and a simple thinker, Larry remarked. “And another thing, Marc.”
“Yes?,” as I awaited his response.
“He’s a Marine.”
“Oh, no. But you remember, once a Marine, always a Marine!” It would prove to be a harbinger of things to come later that night at the dinner table.
As I stepped out of the cab and down from my GMC conversion van to the ground I smelled the pleasant and familiar aroma of a fire that one of his neighbors was burning. It reminded me that the dinner would be welcome to my stomach.
And the big, old dog would give off a half-baked bark at my arrival all the while wagging his tail and accompanying me to the entry door of the rustic home in the woods here.
“Hi there, doggie,” I said softly as I kept a watchful eye to be sure he still was on my side.
Larry was well acquainted with our stand at Walk Worthy on loving your enemy, and turning the other cheek. He was, to say, the least, extremely interested in that obvious doctrine of Jesus Christ. And, unfortunately, had never met another American Christian in his lifetime thus far who preached…and lived…that truth.
How sad. He had been particularly fascinated with the story of Dirk Willems from the 1500’s, how he came back to rescue his enemy who had fallen through the winter ice, and how it eventually cost him his life by being burned at the stake.
Home Church And 24-7 Worship Life
The home church was another of his interests with us, as we had been meeting that way for over 10 years at the time. He was, like many, a part of a home group. But those were always tied back to the “mother” church and the head buffalo pastor. I had admonished Larry to obey Paul’s proclamation of following the traditions that he had handed down, and not the man-made system of buildings, hierarchy, and pew sitters.
“The home church is what is in the Bible, Marc,” he mused. “But my home group is good.”
“What tradition are you following and discipling to your children?” as I pressed him.
Silence was his only reply.
Alas, he even refused to embrace my exhortation to read brother Frank Viola’s Pagan Christianity that so lucidly illustrated how the western Christian body of Christ arrived in the mess we currently found ourselves.
Going down the list of remaining men, he then explained Paul was a “worship leader” at his church, trained in several instruments. Paul was close friends with Mike.
Larry also knew about our view of 24-7 worship, not just for a few minutes once or maybe twice a week. He wistfully longed for what the apostle Paul left us in Romans 12 where our whole body was to be a “living sacrifice” which was much different kind of service to God than a Sunday morning.
And Jose was the fifth-wheel in the group, Larry explained. He had gargantuan martial problems, was separated from his wife of over 10 years, and the kids were a mess and in constant trouble in school and at home.
“Maybe we could help “counsel” Jose,” was his thought. ”We’ve been working with him for a long time. He loves the Lord.”
Switching gears and somewhat gleefully, Larry did say with a smile in his voice over the phone at the end of his invitation that they all might have “questions” for me.
Oh great, I thought then. Just what I need after a tough week…defending the real kingdom gospel against a group of devotees on the walk with the American Way. Amway. Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised. Maybe even Larry will actively jump in and help defend the honor of our Lord.
But maybe I was being set up by Larry again.
Holiness, Legalism, & Persecution
There were times in the past where I was seemingly baited by him to meet him with others after he had virtually agreed with our ministry and personal doctrines one on one. Both during and afterwards in these meetings, I remember being abandoned by him in the heat of debate when in the company of American gospel Christians as I anxiously tried to enlist his engagement of support for what he had told me privately. It rarely, if ever, happened.
The Holy Spirit reminded me in comfort that this was similar to some of the Pharisees that were secret disciples for fear of the Jews. Here it must have been fear of the other folks, either saved or tares amongst the wheat.
“You just need to love the brethren where they are, and be more positive,” Larry would often respond.
“And what does that mean? To allow them to keep sinning when Jesus said go and sin no more so that nothing worse will happen to you?” I retorted reminding him of Jesus’ warning to the man He healed in John 5.
Perhaps brother Larry was only test driving my ideas in front of others to see how “popular” they might be to them. Would he then embrace them with zeal? He had never openly answered that question.
Whatever. Let’s move on, I bemoaned, and find those seekers who have decided to follow Jesus wholeheartedly. And in declaring this aloud and often, we then became the targets of the false accusation based on misdefined legalism.
Holiness is never legalism, taught John Wesley.
Years later, I would hear the Spirit codify this to me, “Marc, the more popular, the less Truth.”
Jesus’ teaching is never popular with American or any other affluent self-professed Christians. Never, ever.
And I did love Larry and his wife deeply in Christ. But I was terribly fearful that his kids would wash up on shore with abandoned faith like so many others whose parents straddled the fence or outright blended in to the world around them.
The Meeting And Background Checks Begin
“Ah, Marc. Welcome, brother,” he said greeting me at the front door with that wide smile. He proceeded to give me a huge bear hug. I was over 6 feet, but he was another 2 inches taller and 20 pounds heavier. And he worked out faithfully. I was glad I never had to arm wrestle him!
“Meet the other brothers,” as we moved into the house.
He then introduced me to the other three men, for they had gathered in the family room on a sofa and stuffed chairs. There were handshakes all around as they arose one by one, but no hugs since these guys were not in the mood to do so with a “stranger” it appeared. They were cordial, but restrained.
I wondered silently if perhaps Larry had prepped them on my doctrines and lifestyle. Never mind, I mused, you’re borrowing trouble again, Marc…always think the best, right?
He was an interesting brother, and in his mid-40’s at the time. He was passionate, but subdued mostly. Which was strange for a man of his size and beliefs. But he and his beautiful wife, God finally showed me, had fallen prey to the New Age Religion of Niceness and would only “share” Jesus…never proclaim or solemnly testify the gospel of the kingdom.
For a few minutes, there was the opportunity to ask each man, except Jose who appeared aloof and depressed, about his walk with the Lord. And a small bit about their personal ministry. I had learned to keep mostly silent about our ministry activities unless asked directly during like gatherings.
“Oh yeah,” Paul began. “Mike and I go back to our other church. We go to different places now.”
Paul was fairly tall, maybe late 30’s, and had flowing hair reminiscent of my college days in the 60’s. He recounted the fact of how he had been ‘asked to leave’ as head of the music ministry when he had questioned certain activities. Or lack thereof. In particular, the fact that the leaders there would not get behind several outreaches and service projects Paul and others desired. And they stonewalled him as he began to protest.
“He loves it. But I can’t tell you much about his job…or how many enemies of ours he’s taken care of!”
“That’s it!” Mike beamed with pride since he too was a water warrior, being a Marine and all that.
The few. The proud. The disobedient.
Paul on the surface, other than the Navy Seal reference, persuaded me initially he was a deeper thinker and not content with the status quo of American Christianity. He seemed to long for much more, but I sensed that he may have given up since it takes so much to swim upstream in the existing body of Christ. Sweet Jesus, I quickly prayed, can we relate to that. I proactively gave him my card and ask to meet.
“Man, I love sports,” gushed Mike, “and the Magic. The guys at the church are really into that. We’re very competitive, and we play in a basketball league in the winter.”
Magic. The Orlando Magic basketball team began by a wealthy group of professing believers and other wealthy investors who also snapped up the best of the season tickets. The Holy Spirit brought to mind the passage in Acts where the newly converted Ephesian believers burned all their magic belongings.
Now we name sports teams after the occultic Disney a-muse-ment park seduction that controls the central Florida area that I had called home for over twenty years at that point.
Mike was short, being a good six inches lower than my frame. But he made up for it in girth. His arms seemed to be as big as my thighs. And his barrel chest had now slipped a bit as he displayed the middle age spread of a man in his mid 40’s.
Jose was almost silent, speaking only in whispered tones in a heavy Hispanic accent. I was told he was from Puerto Rico, and had a large extended family in Florida.
Dinner Time And The Fateful Debate
“I think dinner is ready, men. It’s help-yourself style in the kitchen. Tacos and all the trimmings.” Larry was in the doorway of the kitchen smiling and pointing to the grub. It did indeed smell good.
Mike was the first one out of his chair. “I’m really hungry!” as he motored toward the kitchen just past the family room.
I recalled Larry would spend a lot of time in the preceding years with me always peppering our conversation with his ideas, his questions, and venturing out to the true truth with me. But, alas. As mentioned earlier, when he authored meetings at his house and elsewhere, he always seemed to revert back to niceness.
Everybody liked him. Oh no.
And that was a dangerous place to remain I exhorted him often. If Jesus had practiced the kind of love we advocate nowadays, as I quoted Dan Allender, He would have lived to a ripe old age.
As we moved through the line, I kept silent and listened to the conversation. It basically centered around small talk about family, and big talk about church ills, sports, and a few world events corrupting the body of Christ.
It was, as I recall, very pedestrian…and very American. Pretty boring actually.
Jose passed on eating and was somewhere in the other room. So, there were the four of us at the table. Mike was directly to my left. Paul was across from me, while Larry our host was seated diagonally.
I had been told by the Spirit to be silent and just listen. Larry chimed in a small bit now and then. The food did taste good. And I was doing a good job of cleaning my plate as the other two talked.
And then it began…slow at first.
Well, Mike sensed the rising pitch of hyper patriotism, and climbed on board. Their voices grew a bit louder now as they prompted each other as one feeds and stokes a fire. It was obvious they had this type of conversation in the past, and were well familiar with it.
My stomach began to feel nauseous, and it tightened a smidgeon. Immediately, I lost my remaining appetite.
I began to pray silently in the Spirit.
They began to laugh and scorn their enemies. The talk from Paul began to describe what the Seals commit in the act of killing.
I looked up and across the table at Paul, then to my left and to Mike, and finally to Larry. He glanced quickly up from his plate and looked away as soon as my eyes met his.
He knew it was time. He sensed it from the Spirit. The kingdom gospel was about to be defended and explained to errant children of the Most High.
God’s True Identify And Honor Is At Stake
I felt myself putting my plastic fork down on the paper plate.
Instinctively, I looked up and across at Paul. There was a break in their conversation as they each took a bite of food.
“Gentlemen, are we supposed to love our enemy…or kill him?”
The next few statements were a blur, frankly. But my words were flowing. Words of the Jesus gospel. I felt sick to my stomach but taking courage in Him.
In a minute or less, I was through with the Lord’s admonition.
Larry looked very nervous. After I caught his eye, I looked left and at Mike.
What I saw actually frightened me at the time.
Remember he was built like a fireplug. He was a Marine, and a policeman.
The veins in his face and neck were bulging. His face was beet red. His hands were moving to open and close.
He began to yell at me. It was the well-known defense of the American way. But the voracity was out of control. It was pure, unadulterated anger. It was vicious.
Spittle came from his mouth, along with a few remaining bites of food. I remember backing up a bit in my seat.
I braced my legs to move right if he struck out physically. My heart was beating as fast as I can ever remember. My breath was short and breathing halted.
He slowly rose from his seat, as he continued yelling. In that position and proximity, he for a moment looked like a raving lunatic of giant proportions. I remember thinking for a spilt second about my wife, kids, and heaven. I was too petrified to pray.
As he stood up and over me, his voice was at a fever pitch. Even Larry was appalled at the lack of self-control. Paul appeared equally shocked and dismayed. They both looked pale in the face if I recall correctly.
Mike had held on to his plate as he stood up. All of a sudden, in his patriotic rage, he dropped his plate on the floor scattering the contents in all directions. I looked down quickly and then up just as quick keeping an eye on him. I now had another opportunity to love another enemy.
He too then looked down, back at me…and unexpectedly began moving toward the kitchen. I was relieved I must admit. His voice trailed off…
He got down on his knees…not to seek and/or pray for forgiveness…but to begin cleaning up the food he dropped. It was a much welcome break in the action. He then disappeared into the other room.
Larry, Paul, and I all slumped a bit, and stole glances at each other. There was no talk. We could hear a few noises of clanking from the kitchen.
My heart was slowing. I breathed several deep breaths. Larry and Paul had both just returned to silently eating.
A noise of shuffling feet to my left interrupted me. It was Mike returning.
With a full plate of food.
Ok, So I’m Not Going To Die…For Now
His face was almost back to normal. No smiles or joking as before with the Navy Seal talk, but the rage had dissipated. He sat down without comment or looking at anyone.
For a second, I thought he looked embarrassed.
“Alright, Marc, Jesus did say we should love our enemy. You know, if we had done what you preach with Hitler, we’d all be speaking German now.”
It was an apologetic I’d heard many times previously. But Paul seemed to be self-satisfied that this statement of his was the final answer to my initial question of them just a few minutes earlier to either love or kill.
This time I did pray to the Father for His wisdom and answer. The Father did indeed answer. The Spirit spoke through me once again.
“So, Paul, what would be wrong with that?”
His mouth almost dropped open as he scoffed with dripping sarcasm, “Are you crazy?”
“No, I’m not. Please answer my question.”
“Well, well” he stammered, “our way of life would cease to exist. All the good we do around the world.”
“What good, brother?” I replied. “You mean rule the world with over 700 military bases with our false Christian way of life that embraces neo-fascism, the marriage of business and government?”
I could feel myself gathering steam…
American Christians Might Try To Obey Jesus For Once
“Our American gospel proclaims to kill our enemy, store up all our money here on earth, and depose any leader that argues with our will.”
I then quoted some passages from Romans 12-13. “The apostle Paul teaches in Chapter 12 we can love our enemy and pour heaping coals on his head. After an unfortunate chapter break at 13, he goes on to declare God Himself sovereignly places all leaders to keep basic order until He returns.
“That includes Hitler, Saddam Hussein, and even King George over the American colonies. We’re therefore free to obey the law of the land, and not rebel for independence. Nor act as the world’s bully terrorist and all that nonsense.”
I added, “That’s the reason we’re hated by many across the world, and drive away the radical zealots and terrorists like Bin Laden who might otherwise become saved and our brothers in God’s kingdom. And become great evangelists like the former terrorist Saul!”
Mike was still silent. Larry was as quiet as a house church mouse.
Paul was now earnestly pleading for his tone had changed. “Marc, what would happen if Hitler did rule America? What would we have then?”
“The biggest revival in the world?” I felt the Spirit have me answer.
“Look at China now, brothers. When Mao came to power, and expelled and killed all the cross cultural missionaries, God’s church exploded.
“Our Lord sovereignly grows His Chinese body at the rate of 25-30,000 a day…over a million a month. All without any real “good” from Americans who arrogantly think they’re God’s gift to the world. Even Jonathan Edwards missed it when he too bought into the lie that we were the new Israel. Rubbish.”
“A million a month?” inquired Paul sheepishly.
“At least. Does it make any difference if we live under Hitler, or Saddam, or even Bin Laden when God’s kingdom is populated, matured, and completed? No. That’s just carnal, worldly thinking and the same that fueled the American Rebellion, July 4th and all that from the pulpits in the colonies. Pure disobedience to the clear kingdom gospel.
“This is our Father’s world. We exist for His pleasure as His saints, not sinners. I’m a little Christ, a Christian, who just happens to live in America.
“Can you imagine our Lord Jesus picking up an M-16, pointing it at your head, and just before He pulls the trigger, says to you, ‘I love you and died for you?’
“How could I kill another brother in the Lord who felt zealously patriotic to his own country of Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Germany, or Japan?”
The End Of The Debate Comes Not A Moment Too Soon
You could hear a pin drop in the dining room. I looked carefully across at Paul, then to Larry, and finally to Mike. They all looked like the work of the Holy Spirit had met its mark of deep conviction.
Other details of the evening are now foggy to me. I think we prayed for all of 20-30 minutes only. Jose never got going, and left early.
Certainly, I’d like to be able to tell you God triumphed in all this as we brothers all linked arms like the early Anabaptists, and even the early church to storm the gates of hell. And we wouldn’t be like Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli, called “reformers,” who along with the Roman Pope’s armies chased and killed those Anabaptist brethren by the thousands.
To this date years and years later, I never heard again from Mike. Paul never called me as he said he would.
And Larry stopped calling. He and his wife went deeper and deeper into the bowels of the American Jesus system of religion. I never heard if their kids kept the faith as they now are either on their own or close to it. As my own son told me years after he left home, that the time had to come when his faith was his own.
There’s never been a republic in the history of the world that has survived over 300 years. The kingdom of God is not of this world. America was never a “Christian nation” for it is militant, self-seeking, and in love with mammon.
It’s life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…if…you happen to be a wealthy, white European businessman or statesman. Mention that phrase to the native American and their genocide by the white immigrants like us…or the thousands of Africans who were betrayed and sold by their own leaders for mammon, and mercilessly oppressed for decades.
Whether it’s an ordinary day, or July 4th, or Memorial Day, our God says through Jesus His Son that if we’re His friends, we’ll obey His commands.
And one of His vital themes over and over is to love our enemies, even lending to them expecting nothing in return (Luke 6).
Years after the meeting at Larry’s country home that fateful Friday night, the Spirit later quickened me in remembrance that the prevailing leadership of His theocracy when Jesus lived were the ones who murdered Him.
In the 80’s, I heard Chuck Colson declare on a cassette tape that if our Lord and Savior appeared today to His church here in America, they would kill Him again.
Indeed. God help us all.
At a prophesy conference of about 150 saints in the Midwest in 2004, the organizer asked how many in attendance had heard from the Spirit that they would be martyred in America before it was all over.
I was shocked as I had heard that earlier in the year from the Spirit of Jesus Christ regarding my own life. As my hand went up in the air, I looked around and saw what amounted to at least a third of the room respond in kind.
That Friday night at Larry’s so long ago now showed me a bit of the real possibility of that soon-to-be desperate time of Great Tribulation and that I probably heard correctly from the Spirit.
Just maybe you find yourself with the same loving, gracious Word from God…
Keep the oil in your lamps, saints. Be on the alert, He warns and warns, for no one knows the time.
Not even Jesus.
More posts of loving your enemy here.
Please comment on this post right below. Feel free to write and proclaim your leadings in the Spirit in an honorable fashion.
Your friend and brother in fighting the good fight,
Saints, we’re one day closer to Home, and Him! Love Him wholeheartedly!
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Please comment on this post right below. Feel free to write and proclaim your leadings in the Spirit in an honorable fashion.
Marc White, Director, Walk Worthy Ministries, www.WalkWorthy.org