Beyond the Shadow of a Doubt 2!
(A continuation from True Life 5: Beyond the Shadow of a Doubt)
Fifth link: On Monday while Preacher John and I were driving to Sierra Vista, Arizona we also discussed a Music Minister by the name of Mike Atkins who had recently visited John’s church in Marana, Arizona. Marana is approximately a two hour drive from Sierra Vista. I was intrigued by the idea of a person traveling all the way from Kansas to Marana, Arizona to deliver a message to 100 or less people. I thought, “There can’t be much money in it for him?” So, I asked John if he could get a copy of the meeting so I could see what this guy was all about. John said his wife, Ruth, would bring in the VHS recording on Friday when we returned, and so she did. I promised I’d watch the video promptly, and so I did.
Friday night after getting home from Sierra Vista, Arizona I shared the strange week with Pam, my wife, and laughed about how I considered the two women, Debbie and Vera, silly for attempting to deceive me with their obvious collusion over the “supposed” prophecy. “What a joke,” I said. What would make these people (their church) believe I would fall for such an obvious deception? Really, I said, “The idea of two different people giving me the same or verbatim prophecy over the course of two consecutive nights is really absurd!” Pam and I laughed over the unlikely possibility and then went to watch the video of Mike Atkins and ministry.
Just twenty minutes later our laughter turned to shock and awe. Here we were in Tucson, Arizona watching a video tape recorded four months earlier in a city two hours north from Sierra Vista recording a church and congregation independent and separate from the church in Marana. On the video we watched as Mike Atkins delivered his testimony.
Mr. Atkins began, “The first time I realized God was calling me into ministry I was in…!” Mr. Atkins then relayed three distinct encounters with ministries and or individuals where God called him to serve the Body of Christ. In each of these encounters someone relayed the following prophecy, “Thus saith the Lord, I will open doors for you that no man can close and eyes that many may see and ears that many may hear. And I will exult your name beyond your wildest dreams as long as you exult My name, for I love you My son.” Imagine that, the same prophecy, five times over the course of one week I received or heard the exact same, verbatim prophecy. Wow! What were the chances of that? Three different people in two different cities and one on a video tape recorded four months earlier. Pretty unlikely, totally amazing!
Pam told me Mr. Atkins’ renditions of the prophecy did not contain the section which said, “And I will exult your name beyond your wildest dreams as long as you exult My name, for I love you My son.” However, I distinctly heard that part of the prophecy even if Pam did not. We have debated this potentially missing element several times over the years. We cannot seem to agree. Oh well, only God knows?
Well, Pam and I knew God was doing something even if we did not know exactly what He was doing at the time. I was utterly confident this was an answer to my prayer in Italy. We decided to check out the church in Sierra Vista and see if the Lord was possibly leading us their church. And so He eventually did…
Sixth link: Within a month, September of 1984, I sat in my front room reading from the eleventh chapter of Romans. About halfway through the chapter I stumbled across the exact prophecy Debbie, Vera and Mike Atkins had quoted sometime earlier. I placed my thumb in the spot where I found the quote and carried my Bible into the next room. I said to Pam, “Look, honey, this must be the place they got the prophecy from. You know, the ‘I shall open doors for you…’ prophecy. It even has that missing part.” However, as I opened the Bible with my thumb still marking the spot the prophecy was gone. The scriptures written there on the page had changed. I searched the Bible in case somehow my thumb had slipped, though I knew this was not the case, and eventually found one location in Revelation which sounded vaguely similar, but not a perfect match. I know what I saw and read, but could not prove it even if I tried.
Seventh link: Several months later, late March of 1985, one of my brothers lived with Pam and I in Sierra Vista, Arizona for a couple of months. Without getting into the details, my brother betrayed our trust and then fled the state of Arizona to continue his self-destruction elsewhere. In the long and short of the situation, I was pretty angry and filled with angst. I committed myself to forgiving my brother; however, accomplishing this task was far removed from my heart and reality at that time. Several days after my brother fled, I was sitting in on a prayer gathering when my Pastor arrived unexpectedly. After our initial greetings, he looked at me and said, “Steve, the Lord spoke to me and said you must develop compassion for your brother and others or He will not use you in ministry.”
I was pretty upset because I deeply wanted to be used by the Lord. I had grown up in some of the toughest neighborhoods in south Phoenix (Arizona) making me unaccustomed to feeling much for other people, and frankly I liked it that way. No muss no fuss. For God to require compassion of me for other people was comparable to asking me to become feminine or sissified. I thought, “Not happening!” But then, as I thought it through I realized I wanted to be used by God no matter what. So, I started fasting and praying for the next two weeks and asking God to teach me compassion. I did not tell anyone except Pam and preferred to keep this part of my life private. Two weeks later I still did not feel any more compassionate for others. In fact I was very frustrated. It felt like God was asking me to perform the impossible for who I had become. God does that with us quite often.
Eighth link: After two weeks of prayer and fasting I was invited to a Full-Gospel Business-Men’s Fellowship International meeting. The Police-Chief from Douglas, Arizona, Johnny Jones, was the guest-speaker scheduled to present his testimony and the evening’s message. By the way, Douglas is hours away from Sierra Vista and Marana, Arizona by car. The Pastor and people of my church were not significantly connected with Johnny Jones or his church.
As the evening festivities began, Johnny Jones, Douglas’ Police-Chief entered the room. He was a large man standing nearly 6’6″ and presented a commanding presence . He strolled to the platform and began his presentation. He began, “I wasn’t going to come here tonight until the Lord told me He wanted to deliver a Word for two specific people. I’ll begin with these two individuals and see what the Lord wants to do after that.”
Mr. Jones then called up a woman named Debbie who recently began to attend our church (not the same Debbie who prophesied earlier). Johnny pegged issues directly related to her life and then prayed for God to move on her family’s behalf. I do not know what followed in her life; however, if her encounter with God was anything like mine, I’m sure God responded magnificently.
Johnny then called me up. As I stood next to this big man of God he reached over and placed his hand gently on my forehead, POW! Lightning shunted through my body as Johnny spoke, “My son, I have told you before! I shall open doors for you that no man shall close, and eyes that many may see and ears that many may hears…” Then John paused? He quickly continued by saying, “For some having compassion, making a difference (Jude 1:23). My son, because you have sought me diligently for compassion, I will give you that compassion!” [Then, once again – POW!] Tears exploded from my eyes. I literally saw tears squirt from my eyes as compassion rolled through me like thunder. It was as if I could feel all the pains and sorrows and needs of the 120 or more people in attendance. When Johnny was finished praying over me I returned to my seat unable to stop weeping or feeling the needs of the others for more than twenty minutes. Without getting into too much detail, the process continues even today as God prepares me for the coming ministry and Storm of all storms which will soon follow.
Some time later, I asked Johnny Jones why he stopped the prophecy where he did. He simply said he presented everything he heard and nothing more. We will continue next time with the most dramatic presentation of the prophecy, God Himself utters the last of eight verbatim prophecies! Until next time…
Don’t turn that dial! 🙂 We are in control of the horizontal and the vertical… Cue THE music.
Thanks for sending your comments or thoughts:
May God’s blessings guide you to His love!