I woke up still wrestling with the issue of where God wanted me to be. The undercurrent from church leadership was growing. We just finished a summer of great Holy Spirit encounters, but it wasn’t meeting church approval. The questions loomed. “If You are leading us to freedom, Father, I sure don’t see it happening in the church, not if we are to honor our leadership.” I could return to my old church, but after tasting of life, to do so was not appealing.
I sat alone on my bed. “Father, I need to know where You want me to be. I want Your will and not my own. Please give me something today to let me know Your direction.”
I went on to the office and never told anyone about the prayer. The pastor didn’t know I was wrestling with any of these questions. As the morning went on the he came in and said we had a lunch date with another woman who was planning an upcoming event.
While we sat in the restaurant, he excused himself to go to the restroom. When he came back I could tell something was going on. I could see the Spirit resting on him as he took his seat across from us.
“Mary Ellen, I have a word for you from the Lord.” Everything in me tensed. What was He going to tell me? I clutched the napkin in my lap. Was He going to answer my question from this morning? I was hoping God wasn’t angry because I pressed Him for an immediate answer.
The pastor went on, “I am calling you out of the church to do My work. Not only am I calling you out, I am anointing you with the same anointing that I gave Marilyn Hickey to do My work.” The pastor then asked, “What kind of ministry does Marilyn Hickey have?” He didn’t know who she was.
When I said, “She has a powerful teaching ministry,” the Spirit rested on him again with confirmation.
I went home knowing God heard and answered my prayer, but now what? It was still a mystery.
Several days later, the pastor came into the office. “I’d like you to go with me to an appointment this afternoon. Yesterday I met a prophet, named Bob Jones. I am quite impressed with him. He knows how to read your mail,” he said setting down his briefcase. “He talks in riddles sometimes when he prophesies. I really could use your help to take notes. Can you go?”
“Sure.” I was excited and intrigued. While people often prophesied in our prayer services and the president of the church received prophecies for the church as a whole, I’d never met a prophet in person.
After lunch, we drove through one of the older residential neighborhoods and parked outside a little white clapboard home. The house was surrounded with vegetable and flower gardens. When we knocked on the door a pleasant woman in her sixties or seventies opened the door.
“Hi, I’m Violet,” she said. Come on in. You can go on into the living-room. Bob’s in there on the couch.”
We walked through her tiny kitchen and into the living-room. Bob sat on the couch wearing overalls. He was drinking some water and asked if we wanted any.
This prophet was not what I was expecting. He looked like my grandpa.
“I just came in from the garden,” he said. “The tomatoes are about done for the season. Tomatoes are Papa’s fruit of kindness you know.”
My interest heightened. This was going to be interesting.
My pastor took a seat across from Bob and I sat on the other end of the couch so I could see both of them and take notes.
After listening and writing for a half hour or more, Bob turned to me and said, “Your ministry is intercession and teaching. God has been preparing you. You have had many struggles, but out of those struggles you’ve come to know the heart of God. Your motives are pure. You have a heart for souls. Love is the key to all power.”
Then he turned to include the pastor in what he was about to say. “Your hearts are being purified as gold for your mission. Men have laid nets over you with hooks in them that have fastened themselves to you. You cannot remove these hooks, but your Savior Jesus will. You’ve been plagued by a demon who attacks your faith. He is trying to convince you that you are crazy and that you aren’t really hearing from God. He jumps on your backs and whispers in your ears. But you know what to do to get rid of him—intercession and praise and the name of Jesus.”
Turning to me again he said, “Your pastor ministers as an evangelist and a prophet. He produces or bears truth to people much like an oak tree drops acorns. You are as a mama who picks up the nuts and breaks them open for the children to eat. You make it digestible and clear so that they may eat it and be filled. You’ve been harassed by a spirit that tells you that there are better ways to spend your time and intellect. His mission has been to pull you away from the Lord’s work.”
Bob glanced at the pastor and continued. “Soon you will both see your purpose with clear vision. Once that is born in you, there will be no turning back.
There has been a veil blinding you from your purpose. That will be torn away by October 6th. There will be the beginning of what is to be revealed. By October 6th you will know the Lord’s purpose. You are dying to self and are shaking inside and out. Soon the birth will take place.”
Then he abruptly turned to me and smiled. “There has been a spirit that has tried to divide you and your husband and to destroy your marriage. There is tremendous joy ahead if you will not faint. You have been persecuted and will continue to be persecuted as you walk the road God has called you to walk. God will bring you forth as purified gold. Because of this walk, God will enable you to teach others in such a way that they will not have to suffer the same pain. You will be able to help them see the pitfalls and guide them with the truth so they will not fall into them. You will also be able to rescue some from the pit and they will quickly gain victory because of your walk.”
I shifted in my seat, writing as fast as I could. I tried to capture all that he was speaking. How can he know all of this? I was amazed.
Bob then went on to tell us about what was ahead for the Body of Christ. One thing he said, “I see at least forty more years before Jesus comes back. God is raising up the generation that will usher in the Bridegroom, your children.”
Bob paused and looked toward me again. “You are being torn apart within,” he said. I lay my pen down as tears started to pool in my eyes. He looked me straight in the eye and said, “You have struggled for the past six months thinking you were wrestling with the enemy, when all along you’ve been fighting with the Lion of Judah. He is calling you out of the church.”
Then his eyes twinkled and a smile crossed his face. “No reason to fear. You’ll know more after October 6th.”
We returned to the office dumbfounded by all he spoke to us. Neither of us had ever heard someone prophecy dates. We looked at the large desktop calendar and circled October 6 in red. “I guess we’ll see if he is the real deal or not,” my pastor said. “I can’t imagine what could happen to change anything that quickly.” October 6th was three weeks away.
That next week I got a call in the morning from church headquarters. I forwarded it on to the pastor and prayed. The door was closed, so I couldn’t hear the conversation.
He came out of the office shaking his head. “What’s the matter?” I asked.
“Well, church leadership wants to meet with the Vision board on October 5th.”
(With the need for more leaders to share the responsibilities, we had formed a four person board and incorporated a not for profit ministry called Vision.)
“Headquarters wants all of us to come to their office on October 5th to discuss the future plans for C.C.C.”
“Wow, this could be the thing Bob was telling us about.”
“Yes, it could. We need to contact the guys and make sure they can go with us. Let’s plan to get together beforehand and pray. Not sure what direction this is going to take.”
On October 5th I got up early and prayed. “Lord, this is the day that You have made and I do rejoice in it. I’ve seen You go before us and prepare the way for Your will to be accomplished many times. I trust You’ve put all the pieces into place. Help us to continue to be sensitive to Your will and Spirit as we go to the office today.”
Peace flooded my soul as He said, “My will, will be accomplished. You have nothing to fear. All is in My hand.”
The four of us rode together to headquarters. The meeting didn’t take long, but when we walked out the door, we knew God was giving clear direction.
We’d been presented with an eighteen-point list of things headquarters was having issue. Among them they didn’t want us to share testimonies of healing, because it may discourage those who weren’t being healed. Also, we were not to minister deliverance, because people’s difficulties were not caused by demons but by themselves. The church leadership didn’t believe the devil had anything to do with the disturbances people had. They also felt we all needed to be re-indoctrinated concerning our church beliefs. In their minds we weren’t supporting church doctrine in our ministry.
The bottom line was this: “If you will all come in and attend classes on church doctrine and agree to follow our guidelines, you may continue with the ministry. If not, we will appoint others to take over the headship of Contemporary Christian Center and you will turn all of your records over to us. If you choose to hand over the ministry, you are not to speak about this to anyone. If you start another ministry outside of the church, you are not to encourage others to join you.”
We left the office in shock. It was clear. What Bob had prophesied was true. In order to follow God and the truth of His word, we would have to turn over the ministry. How could we not follow Holy Spirit?
When I got home I sat down and wrote a letter to God. I wasn’t ready to talk to anyone, but I had to pour out to Him.
“God, how can I write what I’m really feeling? The ache inside won’t stop? It hurts so bad and I don’t fully understand why.
The men I faced today were just men. They hurt like I hurt, love, work and breathe as I do. Yet, I hurt for them. They don’t see You as I do. Not that I have all the answers or have it all together. But from what they are saying to us, they don’t see You as consistent and seem to look upon Your dealings with humans as too simplistic and unbelievable. How can they represent You and yet not believe the basic fundamentals of how the Holy Spirit operates? How can they not see that the sin and evil in the world is man’s response to satanic influence?
I believe with all I understand of You, that You are calling us out of the church. I don’t understand the whys or the why nots. I just believe that You are and I must respond. Before You’ve always said to be patient, but I’m not hearing You say that now.
Along with bringing more chaos in our home, there was pain from not being able to tell all my family in C.C.C. I’ve wept and prayed and worked beside them. We’ve shared each others victories and defeats. Many of them will wonder what on earth happened. But if we honor leadership, we will not tell them the details. Father, bless them and bless us. Help us all to stay in love and follow You.
Lord, if there is more I need to see or know, I am open. Show me Your truth and lead me in Your path. Thank You for Your love and care.”
Thus, within a week we started pulling all the files and resources together and closed the Vision office. For us the party was over.
~~ How About You? ~~
There are several times in my life when I questioned whether I was where God wanted me to be. Yet, He’d never been bolder in telling me His will. Still it was painful. He was calling me into unknown territory.
Is God calling you out of something you you’ve known all your life? Are you faced with leaving family, friends, or beliefs behind to follow Him? Are you sure it is Him, but don’t know the ‘why’ details?
David’s prayer was:
Psalm 143:8 “Cause me to hear Your loving kindness in the morning, for in You do I trust;
Cause me to know the way in which I should walk, for I lift up my soul to You.”
This is a dangerous prayer because you never know what He may tell you.
Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23
In Psalm 32:8, He makes this promise, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.”
In Deuteronomy 5:32 Moses counsels the people, “Therefore, you shall be careful to do as the Lord your God has commanded you; you shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.”
To this day, I believe I ran ahead of God’s timing, but my heart to follow Him didn’t allow for lag time. Within the month I turned in my life long church membership, severing doctrinal ties with my husband and all of our extended family on both sides. I was the first one out of the boat and I wasn’t walking on water.
Are you willing to lay your reasoning aside and do His will? We are moving into times that demand that we follow His instruction, if we are to be His. Are you living to please Him or others? He is calling you. How will you answer?