11th Hour Laborer


“I’m an 11th hour laborer.” I felt the blood drain from my face as the realization struck me.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I had been in Pentecost since early 1977. I had started teaching Sunday school by around, 1984 or earlier. I worked every meal, I cleaned the church, I sang solos and was in the choir. I headed up the Ladies Ministries for a period of time. I did fund-raisers, I was submissive to my Pastor and loved the Saints. The trouble was… I was not a soul winner. I wasn’t even a soul-inviter or a soul-Bible-study-teacher. Oh, I was faithful. I tithed and gave as generously as I possibly could. I became a core member of the church and was a part of the leadership group. I was proud to be called a “Mother of Zion” by my Pastor and loved Saturday night prayer…but I was not a soul winner. I raised my children in this Holiness Way and got them to every camp and youth event. I made sure they dressed modestly and stayed out of trouble…but I was not a soul winner. I made sure to greet every visitor and shook their hands, I might have even gone so far as to sit next to one or two upon occasion, but I never cherished them or took them to me as a mother would her children or brought them into my home and made them a part of my inner circle of friends. I was content to be friendly at church but I did not Love that Soul. I was not a soul winner.

While the Faithful Ones labored in the field of harvest, day after day, week after week, month after year after decade…I lived the same minutes and hours and months and years and was like a sleep-walker, a dreamer. I dreamed I was working for God, but when I awoke, it was but a vapor and a night vision. There was nothing of substance to offer the Master. Martha’s house was kept running like a well oiled machine, but there was no fruit on the vine. My hand was not in the harvest.

Then, in God’s Mercy, He woke me up. I shook myself and looked around me. I was stricken when I realized that my service in my church had been like a white-washed tomb, a cloud without rain, a bird feeder with no seed. I wondered where I had been and what I had been doing all of these years. I looked at Matthew 20 more carefully.

Matthew 20:1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.”

Where were those laborers when the householder went out early in the morning? My guess is that they just couldn’t be stirred. They were sleeping. The “do not disturb” sign was on the door.

3-4  “And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard,”

The 11th hour laborers missed this opportunity also! Why?? My guess is they may have actually stirred themselves after their leisurely morning and maybe even went so far as to check out the marketplace to look for work. They maybe even saw the other workers way out there in the field, but some thought they had missed their opportunity to be laborers and so, sadly went back home. Others saw how far they would have to walk and the time and effort they would have to invest to join them and so they thought, “Next time. I will join them later.”

5 “Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.”

Hmm. Let me see. If I understand the Jewish clock a little bit, the first hour is about 6 am and the twelfth hour is about 6 pm . That would make the third hour about 9 am. The sixth hour would be around noon and the ninth hour would be around 3 pm. (please have patience with me…I am but a Sunday school teacher) so what was that laborer doing from noon to 3 pm? The way I see it, (because I’m talking about me) is, that laborer was belly up to the church buffet, crying, ” feed ME, feed ME, feed ME!” Then, sadly, as I’ve seen too often through the years, laborer after laborer decided it was time to, “take a break”.

6-7 “And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us.”

That wasn’t exactly true was it? There were plenty of opportunities to do the work of God, to bear fruit, to care for and love souls. It’s just that, there had to be a “want to” and there was precious little “want to” to get the work done.

Folks, it’s the eleventh hour. It’s the eleventh hour of the church for sure and for some, the eleventh hour of their life. You don’t have to be old to be in the eleventh hour of your life. That little 16-year-old I read about, didn’t know she was finishing her hours here on earth when she hit that truck. And as I wiped the tear that slid down that lady’s cheek as she realized that the stroke she had suffered was going to take her, I wondered at what she must be thinking, knowing she was finishing her hours here on earth.

As I have been writing about since early 2012, God graciously, mercifully woke me up and stirred me. I am an 11th hour laborer, but I am going to be the best 11th hour laborer I can be.

Jesus! Let me strengthen the arms of your servants that have labored these many years, turning neither to the left nor to the right in serving you. And Lord! Let me refresh your servants that have labored through the heat of the day, unfailingly faithful, no matter the field, whether the rain fell or it did not, whether the soil was soft or fallow, they worked for you. Lord! Send Me! Send Me! Send Me!

Matthew 20:7 He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.

Proverbs 6:9. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?
10. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:
11. So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.

Nancy

I would say, “Take care” but; I think we’ve done enough of that. Instead, I will say, “Throw caution to the wind! Jump in! Do something! Catch this wave!”

As Rev Lee Stoneking says, “This is That which was spoken by the prophet Joel! Another That is not coming!”

Crazy Consecration


I was watching a scene, in my mind’s eye of a Christmas many, many years ago. I saw myself watching my family as they bent low toward the floor and a lighted box. Their faces were intent and blank at the same time. Their eyes were fixed on the box, yet there was no engagement with it. I became more and more concerned and finally, I had acknowledged to myself that the Christmas gift to my son of a PlayStation had been a huge mistake. I was deeply disturbed and prayed, asking Jesus what could be done now that it was in the home and the family was completely taken up with playing it. I had cried out to God in my heart and asked for forgiveness for my foolishness and asked for a way of escape. Then, the way God does…I felt that peaceful answer settle down over me. I knew what to do and I didn’t have to wait long for my opportunity. In those days, we often had to run up and down the road for one thing or another, so it wasn’t long before I had my son in the car with me. I asked the question, “If you hadn’t gotten the PlayStation for Christmas, what would you have wanted?” My son answered quickly, without hesitation. “A snowboard.” I responded, “Would you still want one if we could take the PlayStation back?” Again, he did not hesitate, “Sure.” And that was it. The PlayStation got packed up and returned that very day and a snowboard was bought. My son and my daughter became avid snowboarders and didn’t seem to miss the PlayStation.

I was reminded of the PlayStation Christmas one evening after a time of consecrating prayer. It had occurred to me that entertainments take time and prayer of any consequence takes time. It takes time to force your thoughts into submission and focus your spirit on God. It takes time to create an atmosphere of worship. It takes time to come into the presence of God and once in the presence of God, it takes time to communicate and worship as He deserves. Often these sacred times of prayer become a time of consecration and receiving my marching orders from God. I have thought so often since I determined in my heart a while back to make time every day for deep prayer of how different it would have been if God had not gotten a hold of me early in 2012 and convicted me about my different entertainments. I disconnected from cable, got the TV out and now give Facebook only a few minutes at a time compared to the hour or more it used to get.

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Making the Dry Tree Flourish


“Oh great. Ezekiel.”

Now, some of you are going to want to reach through the computer and slap me real hard for what I’m about to own up to…but; here goes. The reason I was disappointed about turning to Ezekiel in my Bible was because I had done what no mature Christian normally does. I NEEDED to be encouraged. I NEEDED to be encouraged so badly that I had asked my Jesus to please speak to me through His Word by me randomly opening my Bible. I knew better, but closed my eyes and opened my bedside Bible. It fell open to…Ezekiel. I was disappointed. You have to understand…I just don’t do this. I normally would just read from where I had left off and look for nuggets of peace and solace there. The reason, I didn’t do that was I had been reading Isaiah and I just wasn’t up to reading what was coming in the next chapter when I had such a need of comforting. When I saw that I had turned to Ezekiel, I’m afraid I sighed. I went ahead and started reading with part of my brain saying, “You knew better.” So, I read…

Ezekiel 17

“1. And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 2. Son of man, put forth a riddle, and speak a parable unto the house of Israel; 3. And say, Thus saith the Lord God; A great eagle with great wings, longwinged, full of feathers, which had divers colours, came unto Lebanon, and took the highest branch of the cedar: 4. He cropped off the top of his young twigs, and carried it into a land of traffick; he set it in a city of merchants. 5. He took also of the seed of the land, and planted it in a fruitful field; he placed it by great waters, and set it as a willow tree. 6. And it grew, and became a spreading vine of low stature, whose branches turned toward him, and the roots thereof were under him: so it became a vine, and brought forth branches, and shot forth sprigs….”

I was reading but not absorbing. I was tempted to skim, but my conscience wouldn’t allow me. I continued.

“7. There was also another great eagle with great wings and many feathers: and, behold, this vine did bend her roots toward him, and shot forth her branches toward him, that he might water it by the furrows of her plantation .8. It was planted in a good soil by great waters, that it might bring forth branches, and that it might bear fruit, that it might be a goodly vine. 9. Say thou, Thus saith the Lord God; Shall it prosper? shall he not pull up the roots thereof, and cut off the fruit thereof, that it wither? it shall wither in all the leaves of her spring, even without great power or many people to pluck it up by the roots thereof. 10. Yea, behold, being planted, shall it prosper? shall it not utterly wither, when the east wind toucheth it? it shall wither in the furrows where it grew.”

Now, I REALLY didn’t want to continue. I was just so beaten down already, I didn’t think I could bear to read something that made me feel any worse… but; my conscience would not allow me to not take the bitter with the sweet, so…I continued.

“11. Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 12. Say now to the rebellious house, Know ye not what these things mean? tell them, Behold, the king of Babylon is come to Jerusalem, and hath taken the king thereof, and the princes thereof, and led them with him to Babylon; 13. And hath taken of the king’s seed, and made a covenant with him, and hath taken an oath of him: he hath also taken the mighty of the land: 14. That the kingdom might be base, that it might not lift itself up, but that by keeping of his covenant it might stand. 15. But he rebelled against him in sending his ambassadors into Egypt, that they might give him horses and much people. Shall he prosper? shall he escape that doeth such things? or shall he break the covenant, and be delivered? 16. As I live, saith the Lord God, surely in the place where the king dwelleth that made him king, whose oath he despised, and whose covenant he brake, even with him in the midst of Babylon he shall die. 17. Neither shall Pharaoh with his mighty army and great company make for him in the war, by casting up mounts, and building forts, to cut off many persons: 18. Seeing he despised the oath by breaking the covenant, when, lo, he had given his hand, and hath done all these things, he shall not escape. 19. Therefore thus saith the Lord God; As I live, surely mine oath that he hath despised, and my covenant that he hath broken, even it will I recompense upon his own head. 20. And I will spread my net upon him, and he shall be taken in my snare, and I will bring him to Babylon, and will plead with him there for his trespass that he hath trespassed against me. 21. And all his fugitives with all his bands shall fall by the sword, and they that remain shall be scattered toward all winds: and ye shall know that I the Lord have spoken it.”

Now, not only was I beaten down and very sad…I was starting to wonder if I had displeased God. I caught myself skipping words in order to rush ahead and past this disturbing scene…but; my conscience wouldn’t let me. I made myself back up and read it again before I continued.

“22.  Thus saith the Lord God; I will also take of the highest branch of the high cedar, and will set it; I will crop off from the top of his young twigs a tender one, and will plant it upon an high mountain and eminent:”

I had to read this a couple of times. It was puzzling to me. Then I read…

“23.  In the mountain of the height of Israel will I plant it: and it shall bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a goodly cedar: and under it shall dwell all fowl of every wing; in the shadow of the branches thereof shall they dwell.”

My heart started to lift…Oh to bear fruit! To be a goodly cedar!

“24. And all the trees of the field shall know that I the Lord have brought down the high tree, have exalted the low tree, have dried up the green tree, and have made the dry tree to flourish: I the Lord have spoken and have done it.”

He will make “the dry tree to flourish:” I had to read it again and again. “…made the dry tree to flourish:” Oh what Beautiful Words!  “I can do this!”,  I thought. “Everything is going to be alright, no matter what the end is, it’s going to be alright!”

For months I had been working on the “force the desert to blossom as the rose” plan, as I call it to my kids and family. I had been privileged to hear Rev Lee Stoneking speak at my daughter’s graduation from Bible college, and the thing that he said that impacted me the most was what he preached from Isaiah 35:1 “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.” He spoke of “forcing” the desert to blossom as the rose. (I wrote extensively about this in my post, “Rise Up Oh Army of God”.)  God had really gotten a hold of me after this and had been changing me in ways I never would have done on my own. Just the other night, I had been praying about how I felt like I had so far to go and I felt like progress had slowed and I absolutely did not want to chance a stall. I talked to Jesus and said that my program of forcing the desert to blossom was not going to cut it. His ways are so much better that I asked God if HE would “FORCE my desert to blossom”. He is so awesome and His ways are awesome and He would do it RIGHT!  HIS plan would be perfect and the end would be lovely, no matter what it was. Now, here I was, sitting on my bed reading Ezekiel 17 over and over to make sure I got it right. Yes, I’ve been in a dry and thirsty land, but THIS DESERT is GOING to BLOSSOM!

What a GOOD life we have when it’s lived in God!

Nancy

My Husband


“Oh, my Husband, my Mighty God! Where would you have me go? What would you have me do? How would you have me speak?”

I was standing by my seat deep in prayer, when I felt a tap on my arm. I opened my eyes to see a stranger before me. He said, “I wonder if you would mind sharing with me what you are interceding so deeply for?”  I tried to think of a way I could explain to this man of God what I had been praying about. How could I put this thing into words…how could I tell him something so deep…so personal.

It was the first evening of our organization’s General Conference. I was attending it with my daughter, though she had stepped away and was praying for others. I hadn’t really thought we would be able to attend the conference since an unexpected home repair had pretty much wiped out my financial buffer. God kept laying on my heart that we should go until, with less than a week til the conference, during prayer, I thought of how we could manage it. If you have read my previous posts, you have something of an idea of what God has been doing with me these past months and the changes leading up to this evening, that found me standing before God, in deep submission, praying.

I should probably take you back prior to this evening, to a time of consecrating prayer, a time of relinquishing of my will to Jesus, a time of brokenness before God. I had put myself under His protection as my Husband and placed my future and entire trust in His hands. I made a purposeful decision that evening to give God my first love, as my spiritual husband. As I prayed, I thought of how a woman in love speaks to her betrothed. I thought of the Song of Solomon. 1:3. “Because of the savour of thy good ointments thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee. 4. Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee…2:3. As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. 4. He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love…16. My beloved is mine, and I am his: he feedeth among the lilies. 17. Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be thou like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether.”

I spoke to Jesus during this prayer of consecration as the Shulamite woman to King Solomon…I told Him how much I loved Him, how much I desired to please Him, to serve Him, to lavish my love on Him.  As I worshiped, I told Him I wanted my life to please Him, my clothing to please Him, my hair to please Him. I told Him I desired to please Him in Holiness and in submission of my will to His.  In this deep place of prayer, I spoke to God as my Husband, asking Him for protection, provision, comfort and direction.

I looked at the man standing before me and struggled to find the words. I had been praying to God as my Husband, pouring my heart out to Him. I had let myself get distracted with life and with my own desires and had let my first love for Him slip. What use was I to God if I was not sold out to Him? All of the changes that had happened over the past months, all of the promise I was feeling were worth nothing if I wasn’t sold out to God! I knew I needed to place God once again in that honored place in my heart reserved for my spiritual Husband. Finally, I spoke, telling the man of God that I was of no use to God if I wasn’t sold out to Him. Then, after asking me if I had repented about this, he said, “This is what I’m going to do. I’m going to pray with you and God is going to change you and it has already begun. You will see changes over the next few days and as the days pass.” Then he prayed for me and the power of God came down…and God, my spiritual Husband took His rightful first place in my heart once again…and I danced the dance of The Bride.

Isaiah 62

1. For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.
2. And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name.
3. Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God.
4. Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.
5. For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.
6. I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence,
7. And give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth.
8. The Lord hath sworn by his right hand, and by the arm of his strength, Surely I will no more give thy corn to be meat for thine enemies; and the sons of the stranger shall not drink thy wine, for the which thou hast laboured:
9. But they that have gathered it shall eat it, and praise the Lord; and they that have brought it together shall drink it in the courts of my holiness.
10. Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people.
11. Behold, the Lord hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.
12. And they shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of the Lord: and thou shalt be called, Sought out, A city not forsaken.

Nancy

Deep calleth unto Deep


Some of you are going to shake your heads at me. I go without writing anything for a long stretch, and then write something very personal. I am struggling a bit with allowing others to see into my spirit: I feel compelled to and yet am hesitant because it’s so private. I think those that know me better than most, will agree that I don’t open up much or often but; there is something about this change that is happening to me that pushes to get told. It reminds me a bit of Jeremiah 20:9 “But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.”

I’m not sure if I can pinpoint the start of this metamorphosis, but I know I was forced to make some changes a year or so ago when I reluctantly left my church that I had called home for over 30 years. My son-in-law had felt called of God to start another Apostolic work in our city and I felt not only did I need to support them, but also;  I wanted to be in on the birthing of a new church.  Both my old pastor and my new pastor felt it would be better if I made a clean break from my old church for myself and for my dear church family I was leaving behind, so I suddenly found myself in a tiny congregation feeling very lonely and isolated. The loneliness and isolation persisted until I started looking outward at the city and community around me. I started to see people in a different way. I started to see lonely, unhappy people. I also saw hungry hearts. A turning point in my feeling of isolation came the weekend our pastor asked our tiny congregation to drive around the city and pray for it. We could have all fit into one large van, but I drove myself and another lady who was unable to navigate the big step up into the van. We followed the van and drove around the city and the surrounding community praying as we went. A burden for the city slowly settled upon me as we drove and prayed. That burden became urgent as we drove above a suburb of red roofs. I was praying out loud and couldn’t help but pause and wave my arm over the expanse of red roofs and say “Look at all of those red roofs. Think of the families and children that do not have salvation.” As we drove and prayed, I started to notice something. I could feel different spirits emanating from different areas. Some of the areas had a deep loneliness, others deep evil, some areas were cold and empty and a couple of rural areas had the sweet presence of Jesus resting over them. We finished the drive, but the burden for the city continued with me. Because of this burden, my prayer for the city changed. It became more personal and urgent. I felt more and more desperate to do something to reach the lost and hurting of the city.  I can’t pinpoint when, but suddenly I KNEW there was a door opening, not just over a family or a person or even over a city, but everywhere, not like a door to a house opens, but like the light comes up over the horizon. I knew that anything I thought of doing to reach souls, I should just go ahead and do, because “the door is open”. My mantra became, “the door is open”. No matter how impossible something seemed, it didn’t really phase me because, “the door is open”, even the things that before, would have seemed a waste of time I now had faith in because, “the door is open”.  My pastor was asked to preach at a state event being held in the city and I knew it was because God had opened a door that no man could shut. Then the family of my very dear back-slid friend came to church and prayed through and I knew it was because, “the door is open”.  It wasn’t long after this that my friend gave in to my persistent overtures and joined me at a Ladies retreat. It took no persuading from me, for my friend to respond to the gentle voice of our Saviour. She prayed until she was broken before the Lord and turned back again to her Merciful God.

It was during this time of my growing burden that I started watching video clips of Lee Stoneking preach. Before this, I had gotten myself in the habit of watching a video or tv show in the evenings (Sherlock Holmes or something of the sort) or reading a book. I also spent a great deal of time on Facebook, but, as I got drawn into Lee Stoneking’s preaching I cared less and less for my various forms of entertainment. The preaching was doing something to me. I was getting hungry for a deeper walk with God. I was responding to the message as though I was right there in the congregation. I consecrated and re-consecrated my life. I poured out my heart to God. I repented of my stubborn sins and gave myself over to God to cleanse me. I became determined to grow in God and put what I was hearing into practice.  I couldn’t get enough of  Stoneking, Nona Freeman, Billy Cole and other men and women of God. (including my Pastor). I was changing.

I was also trying to increase my private devotions and was making more time for them and trying very hard to be faithful in them. Then, one night I seemed to step over into another realm. As I prayed, I suddenly seemed to enter into someone elses prayers. I seemed to step into a powerful spirit of prayer. It was like stepping into a violent, rushing river and my feeble prayers were being swept along like a small boat in white water. I was so shocked, I would have stopped praying immediately except I had just heard Lee Stoneking talk about the strength in even a dying woman’s feeble prayers, so I tried to continue to pray. I felt completely out of my depth. I felt like a non-swimmer being tossed about in a swift, strong current. I felt like I had entered into a place of prayer that I didn’t belong, so I distanced myself and went back to praying the way I had before this event. After some days of my usual prayer, I couldn’t help but seek out this place of prayer again. Almost immediately I once again found myself bobbing about in this powerful river of prayer. This time I was able to continue in prayer for some time. I still felt like I was way out of my depth, but I couldn’t help but desire to experience the excitement and strength of this powerful river of prayer .

I don’t know how or why God allowed me access to this wonderful place of the Holy Ghost, but I think often now of Psalms 42:7-8 “Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me. Yet the Lord will command his loving kindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.”

Yes, Deep calleth unto deep. It’s time to read my Bible and pray.

Nancy

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