Supreme Ambition Ministries

To Know Christ and to Make Him Known – Philippians 3:10

MY JOURNEY 12

THREE ANGELS AND A LESSON IN FAITH

house-church.jpgI mentioned previously that the Lord led us to begin again with a Church in our home, and we made the glorious discovery that we were… home.  I suppose not everyone is cut out for an expression of Church as a living-room full of people.  But, it seemed to work especially well for us.  It sort of felt like coming home after a hard day at the office with a lot of stress, and being able to slip into those favorite pajamas.  You know the ones.  They are just a little too big, but they feel ohhhh sooo good!  Yeah…well…anyway, you know what I mean.  Through the many years of ministry up to this point, it was as though I was searching for a more pure form of expression for the Church, the Bride of Christ.  Somehow, sitting in a building, lined up in rows, and staring at the back of people’s heads had never been my idea of Church, and I’m not sure it is what Jesus had in mind either.  Come on!  Do you really think Jesus got all excited and virtually salivated at Caesarea Philippi, during Peter’s great confession, because his Church would be housed in multi-million dollar edifices, and be promoting live-streaming conferences on ‘how to be happier in five easy lessons’?  As I have reviewed the most sacred moments of my walk with Christ in the last forty years, the times, when I have sensed the Presence most have been those, where the programming has been kept to the minimum, and people have been allowed to express their passion for God.  Now that is not to say that a spiritual free-for-all is the answer either.  I’ve been in those kinds of meetings as well..and…trust me…they ain’t fun neither.  In fact, I have had the most spiritually, meaningful experiences of my life in, what some might think, polar opposite venues, a mountain-top in Haiti and an Episcopal Church.  The key was then, and always will be the Presence of God in the midst.  But…I digress.

Once Kathi and I determined we were going to start all over and try to get to know our Lord we needed a frame of reference.  While barn.jpgliving in Sarasota, and during the last year there, we were privileged to attend a gathering of believers outside of the city.  They had taken the name, THE CHURCH AT THE BARN.  They now actually meet in a ‘barn’…well…it’s a pretty sophisticated barn, but a barn nonetheless.  However, prior to the building of the barn, they met in the living-room of our friend, Steve Coder.  It was while attending a number of these services that I was arrested by the beauty, and power in simplicity.  I recall one time specifically, sitting in that living-room with about 30-40 brothers and sisters in Christ.  We sat around the wall in a circle with the younger children sitting ‘crisscross-applesauce’.  Get the picture?  Suddenly, Steve called on a twelve-year-old boy to sing.  He stood and sang acapella a song I had never heard about how much he loved Jesus.  The tears streamed down his cheeks as he sang.  That was great, but then I looked around the room and saw a little four-year old girl looking intently at this young man singing with tears running down her cheeks.  Once the song was complete Steve said he felt someone needed to respond to this song in prayer.  The same four-year-old girl began to pray in a most powerful way.  I had never heard most adults pray with as much conviction and knowledge of Christ.  At that point I remember thinking that Steve was sitting on a gold mine of true spirituality.  I recalled the words of Dr. Francis Schaffer, when he defined ‘True Spirituality as being perfectly content at any given moment and always thanking God…’ 

We carried this dream in our hearts as we began to meet in our home.  This period of our lives was to last nearly 3 ½ years. but the residual effects continue to influence us today.  It remains to this day the most rewarding type of ministry we have ever done.  It also was to be one of the greatest times of testing and lessons on faith we have ever had.  You see, our congregation consisted of our three children and their families (thanks kids, so much, for your love and support), and a small handful of other seeking, saints.  Unfortunately, there was not enough finance coming in to support us.  During this transition time Steve Coder had asked me to be on the Board of Hand to the Plow Ministries, which is a para-church, missions work, specifically started to minister to the needs of the suffering people of Haiti.  Now, Hand to the Plow is ministering in numerous places throughout the world.  Additionally, Steve asked, if I would be a Regional Representative for the ministry, which I did.  I was excited to be a part of this ministry, and it has been some of the most personally rewarding ministry I have done.  Because of this mission work, I sent out letters to friends, family, and churches asking for financial support.  Although for those 3 ½ years,  we did not have a regular salary, the Lord marvelously provided for us, and we were never late with one bill, and even paid our rent in advance most of the time. 

three-angels.jpgThere were times, however, when, we would come right down to the ‘wire’, so to speak, and God would make us trust him for his provision.  On one such occasion, I was very concerned about having adequate finance for our needs.  I was praying one morning about it, and the Lord spoke to me through my daily journaling and said, ‘I know you are worried about the money to pay your bills.  Don’t!   I have sent three angels, and that will be enough.’  I closed my journal and tried to rest in the security of his promise.  Later that same day a single mother stopped by our house, unexpectedly, and handed us several dollars.  She said the Lord told her to give us the money.  In the afternoon a friend came to help Kathi wallpaper the bathroom and said that she and her husband felt led to give us some money.  That same evening I received an email from Steve Coder, and at the end he said, ‘Oh, by the way, we took up an offering for you and Kathi Sunday and we’re sending you a check for 342.00.”  The Lord said we were not to worry.  He had sent three angels and that would be enough.  It was enough.  All bills were paid and our faith was filled to the brim.  He doesn’t always answer so miraculously, but he did that time, and that experience, along with the promises in his word, have become the foundation for a deeper faith in a loving, caring, providing God.

STAY TUNED…

September 18th, 2008 Posted by | Biographical | 3 comments

MY JOURNEY 11

A SEARCH FOR HOME!
search.jpgI really never thought we were homeless at the time and I guess in some sense we weren’t, but the reality was for a few months we did not have a place to call ‘home’.  We, however, were so deeply intrenched in the adventure of getting to know our Lord that we did not think much about ‘home’ for a while.  Hiding under the surface of every mile we travelled, though,  was a longing for home.  Home is that place where one feels secure, safe, and a place from which one launches out to discover new ‘lands’ and ‘vistas’.   It is also a place to where one can retreat, if the winds and the waves of life’s sea become too boisterous to walk upon. home2.jpg
I guess, ‘home’ is a little hard to define, but whatever it is, I don’t think we had one.   Somehow I think we knew deep within our hearts that to follow Jesus with abandon would eventually lead us to home, but we surely did not know how we would ever get there.
So, off we went from our ‘Oasis in Ormond’ to Saint Louis, MO.  We spent two wonderful weeks there.  The pastor and his wife had left us well taken care of with meals brought in everyday and guided tours of the city.  Once again we were blessed with people, who were hungry to know Christ, and who fed from our times together in worship.  For example, on our first Sunday at the Church, I felt the Lord impressing me to have our son, Nathan, sing a solo.  He and I prayed together about which song he should sing.  The Lord very definitely directed for him to sing one that is sort of like a ballad.  The lyrics speak of a young woman, who finds herself pregnant and rejected and asks the question, “Who will be ‘Jesus’ to her’?  As Nathan sang, the Presence of the Lord came into the sanctuary in a most unique way.  (By the way, Nathan has a marvelous voice).  But what happened that day was more than just a good voice.  People began to weep, some came to the altar to pray.  You see we were unaware that there was a young woman in the Church that morning for whom the song was like an autobiography.  She had come hoping to find ‘home’.  She found it!  All praise be to God!
don-and-gerri.jpgAfter our two weeks in Saint Louis we went to Millerstown, Kentucky, population 32 (and that’s everybody plus some pets).  There’s not much there except a Christian radio station (WJCR), and Don and Gerri Powell.  From that hilltop in southcentral Kentucky they literally broadcast the gospel all over the world.  Don is the brother of Gary Powell from Ormond Beach, FL.  He had asked me to come preach an Indoor Campmeeting for him.  We had a glorious time together.  Don has since gone on to be with the Lord, but his son, Donnie, Jr. is carrying on the work his father started.
From there we went back to Scott Depot, WV where we had spent so many years.  We stayed with my Aunt Christine for a while and then we stayed with Duane and Sally Bell, dear friends from our former Church.  While there, I received calls from three pastors asking me to preach Revival Services for them.  The Churches were in Pearisburg, VA, Traverler’s Rest, SC, and Hickory, NC.  God worked in each of those meetings saving the lost, and calling believers to draw closer to Christ.  In Pearisburg, Va ,a year or two later ,I had an unusual experience.  The meeting I held was from Sunday to Wednesday.  On the last night I was preaching with all my heart, when suddenly I spoke some words that frightened me a little.   I was under a precious anointing from our Lord when I said, “…someone, who is present in this meeting tonight, has heard the gospel for the last time…”  It was one of those times, you think, “What did I just say?”  The next day Kathi and I went back to WV.  Early on Sunday morning, the pastor of the Pearisburg Church called me to tell me that one of the men in his parish had passed away.  He had been in the meeting the last night I spoke.  He had attended the Church for quite sometime, but, sadly, his wife and children confessed they had never in their entire lives heard the man pray.  How tragic!  We have so little time to influence people around us and especially our loved ones and friends.  Oh God, help us to redeem the time.
It was this pastor, Dr. J. Carl Rouintree, who was used by God to give additional spiritual direction to Kathi and me.  By this time we had been living the life of an itinerant, and, although God had helped us wonderfully, we needed to find a place to nest.   I presentd him with some possibilites, one of which was to start a House Church.  His response was, “I think I have thought hundreds of times what I would do, if I were younger and could start all over.  I think I would start with a group of people in my living room and disciple them.”  The next statement he was about to make would be one which would be so revolutionary few could grasp it.  He said, ‘If at the end of your ministry, you have effectively discipled a half-dozen Believers, your ministry will have been a success…’  Interestingly, his words resonated with my spirit.  In my quest to truly know Christ, I had come to the conclusion that the pathway upon which Christ had been traversing would probably not end in a mega-church.  There are those who are called to such ministries.  I, however, was called to find those Christians, whose desire  was to know Christ so intimately that they would be willing to put on their carbide-lamp, helmets; take their pick-axe and delve into the depths to mine the riches, which are in Christ Jesus.  Because of Dr. Rouintree’s word, Kathi and I went back to WV, rented a house, by faith, and started Church.  In starting Church in our house we made a discovery…WE WERE HOME!  HALLELUJAH!

September 8th, 2008 Posted by | Biographical | 3 comments

MY JOURNEY 10

oasislogohomepage.jpgOASIS IN THE DESERT!
It was a beautiful but cool day in central Georgia that November morning, when the three of us left Warner Robbins to take our trek south to Ormond Beach.  Even in Georgia the smell of Fall was in the air, and as strange as it may sound that smell brought hope to my heart.  Little did we know what awaited us in the next months and how much our faith was to be put to the test.  On the other hand ,illuding our imagination or fondest  thoughts, was the treasure which was immediately ahead of us at a little spiritual, watering hole called Oasis Christ Fellowship.  Arising out of the desert of their own lives, Pastor Gary and Beverly Powell had birthed a body of people with a vision to help wounded Christians from all walks of life.  Their burden was then and remains today simply to give a ‘cup of cold water in Christ’s name’.  Rolling into Central Florida that day were three (3) parched and dry pilgrims in desperate need of an oasis.  We had come to help them for a few weeks.  However, in the precious plan of an omniscient God, we were the ones to be the primary beneficiaries of something called, HELP.  gary-powell.gif
The plan was for me to basically take over the ministry for about eight (8) weeks so Gary, Beverly and their three (3) wonderful boys could get away from the stresses and pressures  of ministry and also the effects of trying to build a new sactuary debt-free.  Anyone who knows Pastor Gary would tell you he may literally be at death’s door but he would set aside his own life, health and plans to help another, who he thought was in great need.  It has been said there are two types of people in the world: givers or takers.  Gary and Beverly Powell are of the former type.  Incidentally, if you are greatly concerned about your weight, I do not recommend Beverly’s kitchen.  The lady can definitely put the food on the table…and she loves doing it.
The Powells quickly made a place for our son, Nathan, giving him his own room with a king-sized bed.  In return I think the Powell family is still entertained over the memory of some of the comedic sayings and facial expressions of Nathan, during his visit.  The provisions for Kathi and me were equally as wonderful.  The first three weeks we were there we stayed in a couple of different places owned by people in the Church which they offered rent-free.  Finally, another family generously offered us a ‘motherinlaw cottage’ next to their home and we spent the remainder of our time there in this very comfortable place.
As I said, the plan was for me to minister so Gary and family could go away to rest.  However, Gary’s nervous system was in such a bad state that going away would not have done him any good.  He needed a touch from our Lord in the deepest part of his psyche before he could even think of going away.  Gary and several of his men have met for many years early in the morning for prayer.  Hungry to know the Lord, I joined them for those sacred times of communion.  On one such morning Pastor Gary was lying on the steps which lead to the stage in the sancturay.  He was exhausted!  He was trembling and barely able to hold himself together.  I felt it would be good, if the men could gather around him and ask for a miracle of healing for his nervous system.  As we prayed God did a glorious thing.  Folks, more quickly than I can tell you and in a more perfect way than could ever be described, the Spirit of God reached down from heaven and laid His healing hand upon Pastor Gary.  Looking at his face, he appeared to be a different man.  He looked younger.  The trembling had ceased.  He was ready…for…VACATION!  In a few days he and his family took off for the south Carribean.  When they returned the stress and pressure was gone…at least for a while.
heart-love.jpgSeldom in our lives have we been loved and appreciated as we were those eight (8) weeks at Oasis Christ Fellowship.  We made friends to whom we are still close today. Names such as  Luke, Hill, Davis, O’Connor are only a few among many, whose memory we hold dear in our hearts.
While at Oasis, I was able to preach to some of the most spiritually hungry people found anywhere.  The more deeply I would delve into ‘knowing Christ and making him known’,  they seemed to want more.  I felt like an old hound dog on the trail of the biggest coon in the world and it seemed as though I nearly had him treed.  (It’s a coon-hunter thing!  You may not understand.).
Gary and I did a lot of minstry while I was there, but coaching a YMCA basketall team was one of the most rewarding.  Gary’s two oldest boys were middle-school age at the time. They were on our team and there was another boy, George, from the Church who was also on the team.  The rest of our players were ‘castoffs’; players nobody else wanted.  We had one or two boys, who, at first, could not even catch the ball.  Gary and I took this team on as a project, teaching them a few basic plays and practicing some simple offensive and defensive maneuvers.  Although our talent was not the best, I want you to know, to the glory of God,  our team was the champion of our age-group.  I’ve done a lot of coaching in my day but that experience was one of the best for me; maybe because I got to do it with one of the dearest and most faithful men I’ve ever known.
beverly-hillbillies.jpgWell, all too quickly, our time at Oasis was completed.  The salary stopped.  Oasis kept us on for two additional weeks, but once again…we had no place to go.  Gary wanted us to stay at Oasis, though they had no salary to offer us.  I could have gotten a job teaching and we could have made a good home there, but the call upon me to ‘know him’ and preach his unsearchable riches  was strong, and seemed to urge me onward.  Finally, we got a call from a pastor in St. Louis, MO., who was going on vacation for two weeks and asked, if I would come and stay in his home and tend his flock, while he was away. Since we had no where else to go and the door seemed to be open, we loaded our car to the brim and started for St. Louis. I think we surely must have looked a little like the Clampets.  Not really, I suppose, but it sure seemed like it.  The difference was the Clampets had a home to go to. I guess…well…we were now officially ‘homeless’…  We will never forget our Oasis in the Desert!
The adventure continues…

September 4th, 2008 Posted by | Biographical | 4 comments