Jack Deere is a former Professor of Dallas Seminary turned leader in the Charismatic church. I had heard that he had spent time pastoring in the American version of my denomination (the Presbyterian Church of Canada), but I didn’t know how it turned out. Now I do.
Believing in the Holy Spirit didn’t just make worship services better, but in my life, God stopped being a principle and started being a person again. I started feeling the affection of God. I know God loves me vs I feel God loves me. During my friendship with John Wimber, I re-met this God who is really personal and that was a great stage in my life and development. It lasted until I was 42. We moved to Whitefish MT in PCUSA. I led one of three churches in the presbytery that believed in Scripture. I was on the ministry commission and we were planning the ordination for a guy that didn’t believe that Jesus died on the cross. I asked if we should ordain him. No one in the room had any doubts but me. Then I asked for clarification in what we do believe. I was told we believe in the Book of Order. You can’t baptize twice or you’ll get kicked out of the ministy. That’s what they believed.
My church did well and I was invited in 1996 to be the primary speaker at the General Assembly. They asked the one guy that believes in the Holy Spirit to be the main speaker. This was after worship of Sofia was banned by PCUSA. Walking through exhibition hall, I walked past 20 people chanting to Sophia. No one in the leadership/hierarchy cared. I realized it was a church that no longer had a theology, just a government.
What did my church have for certain? We had a form of government and a property deed. Declining membership fits with the message that man is good because no one believes it. They don’t realize that it takes the power of Jesus Christ and his blood to change a human heart. Did 2 yrs in PCUSA in Montana and then was booted out.
Yeesh. This doesn’t bode well for the Presbyterian Church in Canada if this is the trajectory of our American counterpart.
Jack Deere goes on to share something else that I didn’t know about him. In a horrific tragedy, his middle son committed suicide in 2001. And yet, in the midst of despair, God ministered to the Deere’s in a tangible way.
But, doubt encroaches. For years, I began every day praying that God would shelter and protect us. Father, protect us? Now? Maybe all prayer is obsolete. All of our friends were useless. If you haven’t lost a child the way we lost a child, you can’t understand. We tried counseling. The day we buried Scott, a person said that we had received severe mercy. What is the mercy?
Two weeks after we buried Scott, my mercy arrived. I was trying to save my life from this abyss of insanity. His death was all I could think of. Then the bill for the funeral arrived. It was $10,064.69 and they wanted payment immediately. That same day, a sack full of mail arrived. Sympathy cards. 38 cards and those 38 cards had 22 checks in them. One check for each year of Scott’s life. I opened the cards and added up the checks. They totaled $10,064.
The Voice said, “ I paid for his death. I paid for his life and I will pay for everything you need the rest of your life.”
That’s what my father’s love feels like. Most of my life, I tried to be significant. Now, I was feeling significant apart from my performance. Maybe all Jesus ever wanted was a friend.
Wish I could say that the sun started shining in my life again. God did not remove my pain. The death of my son was the darkest, hardest 10 years of my life. We retreated from the world. We lived in a cave. My son’s death was the door to that cave. We crept in further and further trying to escape the pain, the insanity of it all.
The death of my son was also the door to a deeper walk with God. Two years ago, I found Jesus in the cave with me. He was just sitting there, but I knew that I was not alone in my pain. Joy came back into my life. John lived in a cave on Patmos at the end of his life. Even if we retreat to a cave, Jesus will come and find us, get us and take us out of that cave to a party that will never end.