"That Which Cannot Be Moved"
"At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, 'Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.' The words 'once more' indicate the removing of what can be shaken, that is, created things , so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire." (Heb. 12:26-29, NIV). These verses have become very significant for me because in fact, they describe what has happened in our lives in the past few years. The graphic above depicts just about all that remains of our "earth," the physical, though it's harder to find artwork which portrays the tremendous results in our "heaven," our spiritual walk with God. The King James version speaks of a kingdom "which cannot be moved," and I smiled when I thought about the 5th wheel trailer we now live in, for it can be moved. It's on wheels. Of course, the Hebrew writer was referring here to created things when he talks of those things that can be shaken, and those are the things which have been reduced to rubble in our lives. Some of you dear friends have been reading my journals for years now and already know what I'm talking about.
For those of you who just "tuned in," let me give a brief synopsis of our lives in recent months. We were successful real estate brokers in Southern California for many years. When His time was fully come for us, God changed the program and began the shaking of our "earth" by cutting off the income in our business. As usually happens in this scenario, we lost our house to foreclosure, and of course, our credit along with it. This was not just an ordinary house, though the loss of any house is traumatic as we can attest, having helped many folks in similar situations to deal with their losses throughout the years. This was our dream house. It was not large, nor fancy, but it sat on a mountain top in scenic Carlisle Canyon in Southern California, just outside Westlake Village. It had breath taking views of the Santa Monica Mountains from every window. We enjoyed a pool and spa, and guests enjoyed the lovely guest room with the panoramic view looking east. Here, in this mountain top retreat from the "fast lane," we dreamed of retiring, the perfect place, we felt, to write and provide rest and recreation for any of God's children who might want to visit us and mutually share the Lord's many blessings. We treasure the memories of sitting around our old Oak table, fellowshipping with brothers and sisters in Christ over a meal of hearty soup and home made bread. Our plans for the future sounded great, and we worked day and night to try to preserve our vision. It was not God's vision for us, however, and without His vision, the people, (and plans, and undertakings) perish. (Prov. 29:18).
We moved from there to a guest house next door to Lenny's brother and wife, which was the only door open to us at the time. This was on top of another mountain, about a mile further into the same canyon. We were there from July 4, 1997 until the end of this month, by which time we have to be out. We're being evicted, as it were.
Meanwhile, almost 4 years ago now, while we were still in our own home, we visited the family farm here in Neosho, Missouri, and attended a Baptist Church with our cousins. From that time until this, the Lord has laid that church on Lenny's heart and he has been in daily intercession for them. He told me many times that he felt we would be coming here so he could share God's love and light with them. I thought this was mighty strange since we are not now, nor have we ever been Baptists, and in fact, had not been involved with any church for the past 18 years. Most of my immediate family here is Church of Christ, and they certainly were not excessively thrilled at the thought of our fraternizing with the Baptists, whom they consider to be doctrinally in error, you see.
Last year, the Lord turned on the income stream again and we made enough money the first part of the year to come here in May, 1998, and purchase our little 5th wheel trailer, which we have parked down in front of the barn on the family farm. (Picture to follow). This has provided comfortable, affordable housing, and except for the trauma of having to get out of the guest house in absentia, it has been a wonderful time for us. Since God did not release us to return to California, as we had hoped, our daughter and son-in-law have done the dirty work of getting us packed up and moved out. My daughter Kristi and I have had our moments of emotional anguish, because the metal container where the bulk of our possessions have been stored, and into which the guest house furniture will go, is infested with bugs and mice. Jesus said, "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal." (Matt. 6:20). I now know, up close and personal, why He said that, except He left out the part about mice chewing holes in your stuff and desecrating it with pee and poop.
What I came to after a few hard weeks, and several in-depth counseling sessions with the Father, is that He will preserve our things for us against the day when we need them again, if ever, or He will not. If He does not, then like the victims of the tornadoes which plagued Arkansas last week, or the victims of earthquakes and hurricanes the world over, (2,000 estimated dead in Columbia from an earthquake last night), we will see whatever is left of our possessions shaken down to their basic components. I'm a "people" person, not a "things" person, so it isn't especially hard for me to give up my things, even less so for Lenny, I imagine. Our needs are simple. We long ago learned to distinguish between want and need. God has truly supplied all our need "according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:19). It is amazing to contemplate that much of the world goes to bed hungry every night, if they even have a bed at all. In third world countries like India and Pakistan, and in fact, in the inner cities of America, the greatest and wealthiest nation on earth, people live on the streets, and eke out the barest existence. Yet, in this country, mini-storage is big business. Americans are so enamored of their things that they have to rent more and more storage units to store them in. It kind of reminds me of Jesus' story about the rich fool in Luke 12. The story goes like this:
"Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.' "Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.
And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." ' "But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?' "This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God."
"Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith!" (Luke 12:15-28).
During that stressful time when we were riding the foreclosure sled down the mountain toward total loss, I truly believed that God would come in like the marines in full regalia, and save our bacon in just the nick of time. What a witness that would be to His power and might to the unbelievers, wouldn't you agree? Yet even as that hope gripped my heart, the next thought which came to me is that the only way to experience the faithfulness of God, is by experiencing the need for His deliverance. Jesus taught His disciples to pray, "give us this DAY our daily bread." (Matt. 6:11). The prayer today is more likely to be, "Let my IRA's prosper; let my 401K increase; let old Dow Jones do exceedingly well; let my property appreciate and may Microsoft be a gainer, not a loser today." (Microsoft stock split two to one this week. So, that prayer was answered for someone.) When you have money in the bank, isn't it a big temptation to be like the rich fool and think, "I have everything I need. I'll just relax now and enjoy it?" Isn't this why Americans are panicking about the Y2K bug? This huge, hairy projected computer glitch may separate them from their bank account for a moment. What a horrible thought. What if those social security checks fail to materialize in the mailbox? Why, that's un-American. We might actually have to trust God instead of the old savings account and/or the government. God forbid! The Y2K represents something over which we have no control and not much knowledge about, and the fear is that it may prove a definite threat to my daily bread supply. The TV show "60 Minutes" recently interviewed a guy who had bought a piece of land with a house on it in the California desert. He had put an 8 foot chain link fence all around it, bought a generator, dug a well, and was laying in provisions, including rifles and other weapons with which to keep his neighbors out. The guy is unclear on the concept of God supplying our need, and he must have flunked kindergarten as well, or at least, he failed the part about learning to share. More about this later, when the Lord releases me to write about "That Beastly Bug." (Link at end.)
Suffice it to say, that we only learn to trust God for provision by going through deprivation. It's about the only way we can learn it. If my savings account is loaded, why would I feel compelled to pray, "Give me this day my daily bread?" It's the same deal as learning patience through tribulation. (James 1:2-3). Don't pray for patience or trust or faith, is my advice. You won't enjoy the process by which God works it into your life, I predict, though you'll rejoice when you get to the other side of the cactus patch. This, by the way, is my definition of the elect - those whom God has dragged through the cactus patch first, that we may be thoroughly tested and perfected in order to help the rest of creation when it is their turn to make the trip. In the middle of the night, I found a great definition of this cactus patch, which the book of Deuteronomy refers to as "that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint." And the purpose of this journey? "that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end; And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. But thou shalt remember the Lord the God; for it is He that giveth thee power to get wealth, that He may establish his covenant which he swore unto thy fathers, as it is this day." (Deut. 8:15,16-18). All God's children will make this trip, each in his own order. "For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him." (1 Cor. 15:22-23). All belong to Him, and all things will be restored to Him, Peter declared on the Day of Pentecost. (Acts 3:20-21).
The bottom line for me in this whole episode with our housing and our move to Missouri is seeing the sovereignty of God on an ever deeper level. That's all there is to know. God is in charge! He's the boss! He calls the shots! He does what He knows will bring us out of whatever darkness we're walking in, and in the process, translates us into the kingdom of His dear son. (Col. 1:13). God is all and in all. (Eph. 4:6). He created all things.(Eph. 3:9; Rev. 4:11). He works all things after the counsel of His own will. (Eph. 1:11). Nothing escapes His notice, or His attention, not the death of a sparrow, (Matt. 10:29) nor the death of any of his creation. "Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world." (Acts. 15:18). "All things are of God." (II Cor. 5:18). This means good things and bad things. I heard a Church of Christ minister preaching on the book of Hosea not long ago, and I kept waiting for him to read the best verse in the whole book, but he didn't. Probably couldn't work it into his sermon about how we should not sin and how we should return to God in repentance. He totally missed the point that Hosea and his harlot wife were living their lives according to God's direction, God's plan, God's ordination, because God was giving His wayward people a living picture of His mercy and loving kindness sculpted in flesh and blood. The verse I wanted him to read is Chapter 6:1: "Come, and let us return unto the Lord; for He hath torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up." So many Christians choke or spit up rather than acknowledge that God not only uses good, but also evil to accomplish His own purposes in our lives, but like Job, Lenny and I have learned to say, "What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?" (Job. 2:10). How can we feel that way surrounded by the loss of our possessions and our lifestyle? Because, as Job also said, "Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth; therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty; For he maketh sore, and bindeth up; he woundeth, and his hands make whole. He shall deliver thee in six troubles; yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee." (5:17-19). Now, mind you, this was spoken by a man covered in boils from the top of his head to the tip of his toes. He had lost everything he owned, including all his sons. (You know, it doesn't say his daughters were killed, but in that day and age, they didn't count for much anyway. Too bad).
Yes, Job was a broken man, a man reduced to rubble on the ash heap of his own life. So how could he possibly say, "there shall no evil touch thee?" The answer has become very simple to me. The real evil that corrupts the world and impoverishes the church today; the sin that threatens to capsize the ship of state for saint and sinner alike; that powerful evil is not "sex, drugs, and rock and roll," as one of my old "prodigal son" pals puts it. No, the evil which threatens us all is much more insidious, more sinister than that because it hides from the light in the guise of truth. It creeps into your house when you are not looking, robbing you of your peace. It slips in beside you when you are driving in your car, making you afraid or angry. It sidles up to your desk at work, and stands there looking into your heart, fanning the flames of your secret fears and insecurities. It even slithers in and crawls up next to you as you sit in the pew, hands folded in prayer, right there in church. Am I talking about the beast? the antichrist? Not really. This is even worse! I am talking about the sin of unbelief, the truly evil thought that maybe God is not in charge after all. Maybe He toddled off for a nap and since He fell asleep at the switch, this train is about to derail and plunge engine first into a bottomless gorge. Maybe Isaiah was talking about then in "Bible times," and not now when he wrote, "Is my hand shortened at all, that it cannot redeem? or have I no power to deliver? Behold, at my rebuke, I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a wilderness; their fish stinketh, because there is no water, and dieth for thirst." (Is. 50:2). Do we still serve the same God about whom Isaiah said, "That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the Lord, and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil; I the Lord do all these things." (Is. 45:6-7).
My family was pretty upset that we were evicted from the guest house, and wanted to blame the folks who issued the orders, but God was in charge of that for His own purposes, and in fact, said to me, "Why would you be angry? She is just doing my bidding." No one sits on the throne of our lives but God, and as Isaiah expressed it, "I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please." (Isa. 46:10). Therefore, it is only God with whom we have to do, not man. When the time is fully come that the sons of God are manifested to a lost and dying world, when we go forth to speak peace to the heathen; (Zech. 9:10) when we, as ambassadors of Christ are sent tell the world that God was in Christ, not imputing their trespasses unto them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation, (II Cor. 5: 18-19) we need to have experienced that God's arm is not shortened. We must know first hand that He can still deliver. It is imperative that we personally taste and see that the Lord is good, (Ps. 34:8) and that the word that goes forth out of His mouth shall not return unto him void, "but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." (Is. 55:11). How can we experience God's ability to deliver in six troubles or even seven, and how can we know that no evil can touch us if our lives are always running smoothly at home and at work; if our children are always on the honor roll; if our incomes are in the 6 digits; if our homes are so beautiful and well managed that Martha Stewart wants to ask us for advice, and if our emotions are always untroubled, peaceful, generous, loving, and caring? I don't like to be squeezed by God anymore than anyone else, but how else do you get "New Wine," if you are not pressed?
This is why it came to me to write this little journal, certainly a light weight offering in the arena of weighty spiritual tomes, but it is offered from my heart as encouragement to anyone else who might be feeling the gripping embrace of God's relentless wine press as it crushes and squeezes out the fruits of the Spirit in your life. "Hang in there," I cry to you. It will all come out for your good, and His glory! How do I know? It's in the book, my dear. It's in the book! "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." (Rom. 8:28). And as long as we are on the subject, if you'll keep on reading, you'll see what it's all for: "For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestine to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." (Vs. 29). When God is through with us, we will be transformed into the image and likeness of Christ. What glory, what honor, what a manifestation of God's mighty power unto the children of men. "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." (I Jn. 3:2). Now, if you ask me, this alone is worth the price of the ticket to ride on this kingdom highway I call, "The Glory Road." The Apostle Paul says that "I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." (Rom. 8:18). Where Paul? In us! Are you sure Paul? I mean, this is too important to miss. Could you say it again? To Timothy, he writes, "Therefore, I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory....If we suffer, we shall also reign with him; if we deny Him, He will also deny us." (II Tim. 2:10,12).
This evil of unbelief is not limited to pagans, heathens, and other despicable types. It is rampant in the churches! Yes, this is true. I notice it every time I attend one of these fundamentalist church services. How else could they possibly believe in a God who is all powerful, all loving, but so inept at setting down His instructions for man to follow that probably 97% of His children, billions of people will get lost in the fog and as a result, will burn in an everlasting hell? If God is all powerful, why can't He make the rules plain enough so that no one will be lost? The answer is so simple a child can get it. We can't get there by following rules. We can only get there by His grace! (Eph. 2:8). And if His grace is not sufficient for all of us, then it is sufficient for none of us. The Bible says that it is not God's will that any should perish, (II Pet. 3:9) but these Bible thumping Pharisees who claim to believe every word written in the Bible, water this down to include only those who abide by their particular church dogma. In other words, according to them, mortal man, puny little insignificant man, not one of whom "by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature," (Matt. 6:27) can nevertheless thwart the eternal purpose of almighty God. It never ceases to amaze me, how much power these church folks give to man, and how much stock they place in the works of his hands, all the while watering down the incredible work of God's hands, which is the reconciliation of us all by Jesus Christ. (II Cor. 5:18). The organizational church forgets the reason for its own existence, and that is to deliver the Good News of reconciliation to the creation. What is being delivered from the pulpits across this land is far, far from being good news. In fact, it is the worst news I've ever heard, because it blasphemes and makes null and void the might and power of our omnipotent God. These unbelievers who have tasted the good word of God by which they were saved, have truly crucified "to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame." (Heb. 6:5-6). May God have mercy upon their souls, and bring them to repentance, which I know He will, or else I could not ever stand to go to church and witness such denigration of Spiritual truth.
I'll get down off my soapbox now and observe that since God transplanted us from sunny California to the frozen wastes of the hinterlands of Missouri, we have seen His care and provision for us up close and personal. There's a reason people don't camp out in winter, and even though this old 5th wheel trailer is very luxurious, nevertheless it is classed as an RV - a recreational vehicle, not designed as permanent housing. Thus, when the temperatures plummeted toward zero, the hose, which brings water to us from the well, froze. The condenser on the refrigerator froze as well, which meant that though we were surrounded by ice, we could make no ice in the freezer. Why would you want to? Well, I like ice in my water, which I carry around everywhere with me, just one of my little quirks. On another occasion, the pipes which carry gray water (from shower and sink) and the septic effluent out to the septic tank, froze as well. So, even though we had water coming into the trailer by this time, we couldn't use it because the exit pipe was blocked by ice and couldn't be emptied. Lenny had the idea to build a box under the trailer where the pipes were, enclosing it from metal to ground, and then, he piped the furnace output of hot air back into that enclosed space underneath the trailer. The temperature was balmy under there and the pipes no longer froze. We had water coming in and water flowing out as needed. With each annoyance, God gave Lenny the idea of what to do to fix it. To keep the hose from the well from freezing, he wrapped it with an electric wire made for the purpose of keeping it warm, put insulation on top of that, and covered the whole thing with plastic wrap, and this worked until the temperature dropped down to 18 degrees. Then, the part of the well which sticks out of the ground froze. Lenny covered it with thick insulation and wrapped it in plastic. (This is the funny shaped object in the foreground of the picture I added at the end of this journal). With each new anxiety, came the solution to the problem.
So, this is why I say, only fools or Sons of the Most High camp out in Missouri in winter. No matter what the neighbors or the church or the relatives may think, we take our stand as Sons of the Most High, and rejoice in what we are learning, what we are seeing in the Spirit, and the joy we feel in walking with God. For us, the day of the Lord has come! We don't have to wait for judgment day, rapture day, or any other day to enjoy the presence, the appearing of the Lord in our lives. Today, is the Day of the Lord! The seventh angel has sounded, and today, the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ is manifested on the earth and in that kingdom, our king shall reign for ever and ever! (Rev. 11:15).
If what we've experienced in losing everything, except life, health, and loved ones, is God's judgment, then I say, "Hallelujah, Praise God," for Isaiah reported, "My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you. When your judgments come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness." (Isa. 26:9). So far as our own valiant, though futile efforts to save ourselves from loss are concerned, we view them as just the works of our own hands, the "hay wood and stubble" which were burned up, (I Cor. 3: 11-13) and all that is left is like gold tried with fire, which Peter says "may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." (I Peter 1:7). Yes, our flesh may grieve the loss for a season, but in the Spirit, we know the truth of what Paul wrote the Corinthian brethren: "Every man's work shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is...If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire." (I Cor. 3:13-15). Our old heaven and earth (the old covenant based on man's works, our carnal nature) were burned up, dissolved with a fervent heat, and as Peter prophesied, we are even now experiencing "the new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." (II Pet. 3:10-13).
The churches are quite concerned about righteousness, and from the things they say, one might conclude that you can obtain it by praying, reading the Bible, doing good works (especially attending church, rather self-serving wouldn't you say?) and other activities they recommend. While it all sounds grand, nevertheless, Job asked the question we all asked before God revealed the answer to us, "How then can a man be righteous before God? How can one born of woman be pure?" (Job 25:4). The Scriptures and the indwelling Spirit of God affirm that the only way we can be righteous is by the life of Christ, God's own righteousness dwelling within us. (Gal. 2:20).
About this righteous One who makes His abode within us, Paul wrote, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (I Cor. 3:16). As heirs to the promise of God to Abraham, (Gal. 3:29) we take our stand on that glorious foundation by faith. (Gal. 3:14, 16, 26). In Him, we are righteous. We are holy. (Lev. 20:26; I Cor. 1:2; Eph. 1:4; I Pet. 1:16). We are sons of the Most High. (Gal. 3:26). We were born, "not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:13). We are the new Jerusalem, (Rev. 21:2) the holy city, (Ps. 46:4) about which John wrote, "And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God." (Rev. 21:3). No matter what it looks like on the outside, God is helping us to "see through" this "light affliction, which is but for a moment," and which works for us "a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory," into the spiritual reality of what is really happening in our lives. "While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." (II Cor. 4:17-18). It may look like we live in a trailer, but that is not actually where we live. We are seated with Christ in heavenly places. (Eph. 2:6). I can't improve on John's description of our real dwelling: "And I saw no temple therein; for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it; for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it; and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day; for there shall be no night there." (Rev. 21:22-25). And that's how it really is in Missouri these days. And best of all, this is "that which cannot be moved" in our lives.
Jan Austin Antonsson
(The well is in the foreground, to the left of the pole
on which the martin bird house sits).
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)
The Glory Road
That Beastly Bug
We would enjoy hearing from you!
This page was uploaded to the web on 11/22/98
by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister,
and last edited on 11/07/08.