Repentance and Hope
With thanks to Jay D. Bonwell for granting me permission to post this.
<The following vision and testimony is from a minister that I know. It is in no way directed in particular to any person or persons that I know. If any feel that some or all of these words are directed at them, then it is by the Holy Spirit that is calling to them not myself.
Sincerely in Christ’s love,
Jay D. Bonwell>
Many years ago I found a light. That light was the Lord Jesus Christ. I held that light up for all to see and many came to know life through it. I spoke boldly concerning God’s truths and His way. I did not walk as the world walked, but rather walked daily with my Lord Jesus Christ. I spent long hours alone with Him in His Holy Word and in prayer. He shared great revelations with me and I grew strong in Him. He was my desire and my joy.
Then after a few years while meditating on His word I noticed that my desires had slowly changed. Whenever I neglected the Lord, my time became more precious to me in seeking pleasure and ease. I became more interested in knowing about God than spending time with Him to know Him. I became selfish in all things. Soon, even knowing about Him took a back seat to entertainment.
How I loved sports events. My wife took my lead and indulged in soap operas. I renewed my mind with the ways of the world from books, television and movies. At first it started as if innocent. I would only watch certain movies and TV shows because I was a child of God and shouldn’t watch the real sinful shows. Then slowly different books, and shows would come along that I would justify watching to educate myself. After all, I didn’t want to be legalistic. I became short to anger. My faith grew weak. I felt threatened easily by undesirable circumstances. Then I noticed that I had come to a place where I was spending more time seeking entertainment than I was seeking God. I had to cut back some on pleasure, but not so much as to be legalistic. I instead devoted myself to doing good. Surely work and chores would be a good pursuit.
I put behind me most of my pleasures and committed myself to work. I went to church services regularly and even would help out on many different church projects. My prayers were said in the morning and my prayers were said at night and at appropriate times. I disciplined myself to read the bible daily and to work, work, work.
I didn’t use tobacco, cuss, get drunk, cheat on my wife or watch dirty movies. I spoke well of and to others. Shared my money, time and bread with others. Many of my strong convictions concerning God and His ways I now was careful to examine. I was hesitant to speak out on things that troubled me. I didn’t want to be judgmental and speak against what God was doing. After all the bible says “mercy triumphs over judgment”. It became better to pray about issues, people and such rather than speak up. God would work it out.
My position grew. My house got bigger. My cars got nicer. My dining finer. Surely the Lord was blessing me. I was sure that I was being rewarded by God for being thoughtful and understanding to others giving them a little when they were in need. My wife and I contemplated on a bigger house in a nicer neighborhood. We bought expensive go-carts for our children to show them that we and God loved them and that He is a God of plenty. We wanted to work harder to be able to help the poor on a larger scale. We gave more than the STANDARD 10% to the Lord and His work. Still our possessions grew. Our church had started many projects to do good to the lost, homeless, poor and the church. We jumped in up to our necks. We had many church gatherings all centered around food. I fed and grew large.
A couple we knew needed a working car, help with their rent, food, utilities and a job. We and the church gave them some food, helped get their car running, gave them some organization’s names that would help them with their utilities and said we will pray with you to get a job. WE WERE SERVING GOD!
After a few weeks the couple we had helped stopped coming to church. We grew concerned and made a visit to their apartment. We left discouraged saying to ourselves that they have to start taking responsibility for themselves. We can’t and shouldn’t do it all for them. That would harm them. May God mold them in His way. Sometimes love has to be tough.
That evening I took a long walk down our country road. It had been a long time since I had found the time to do such a thing. I came to my favorite spot under a tree on a hill over looking the valley in which I lived. I sat down to view what God had created and thought I would use this time to pray to God. I praised God for the goodness of His creation. It was so beautiful. I prayed to Him to make me more like Him and to use me for His glory.
I felt as if I were talking to myself.
After a few minutes of very dry prayer, my flesh began to shake and quiver. The sun, though it was setting, became very bright and began racing towards me, blinding me. I tried to look up, but was overcome by the brightness of the light. I fell on my face before its presence. I heard a voice like rushing waters speaking in tears to me saying “My most loved son, I can not do what you ask.”
I replied “Lord, is it really You, Jesus? I am undone.” Which in retrospect was a dumb question, but I was overcome.
Jesus replied, “Look up. It is I.”
As I looked up at Him the brightness of his glory permeated through me. My bones were on fire before Him.
I pleaded, “Lord I don’t understand.”
As I looked upon His beautiful face, I saw tears streaming down it. He spoke softly “I cry for you. You have asked Me to make you more like Me and to use you for My glory, but I can’t.”
I cried in despair, “Oh my Lord and my God, why can’t You do this thing? Surely nothing is too hard for you. You promised me that You would never leave me nor forsake me. I know this to be true. I don’t understand.”
He wiped the tears from His own eyes and said, “There is hope, but it depends on you. I promised that I would never leave you or forsake you and I am true to My promise. I am here, but you have left Me. I am the Vine and you are a branch. You can do nothing apart from Me. For all of your deeds become as dirty rags unless it is I who works through you. You have run from Me to church work and activity. You hold on to your love of the world refusing My best in excuse of avoiding legalism and to justify your own comfort. You won’t surrender. You have fallen from a great height. You used to spend hours a day with Me. In that time you died to yourself so that I could live through you. I gave you clear vision as you grew more like Me in every way. In that time you gave your best to the poor out of love for Me and them and kept what was left for yourself. Now you give to Me your leftovers or what you don’t want and keep the best parts for yourself. It has blinded you. You and your church did this with the couple you visited today in judgment. Though you helped them, you did so only for your own conscience sake. You helped pay their rent, but how did you expect the husband to get a decent job in his rags? Then how was he supposed to pay his bills and eat until he was paid for his new job, which does not even provide enough to meet their needs? You offered a bandaid for a severed limb. If you had spent time with Me, abiding in Me, you would have seen this. Now they are discouraged, hurt and confused. You have dishonored Me before them because you came in My name. Their hope will not be quenched because they have believed in My name, but it is hard for them. I do hold My children to be responsible, but My mercy is in the whole truth.
If you desire to know Me and My ways, you must abide in Me and forsake the trappings of this world. Wisdom and zeal for My kingdom and My truths are not legalism. I love you more than you now know. I have bought you at an expensive price. You are not your own. I will never leave you or forsake you, but neither will I force you to follow Me. You are no longer a young child that needs to be told which is your direction. You know the way, but have forgotten it. If you desire to be My disciple you must pick up your cross and follow Me daily. I greatly desire you and plead to you to return to Me, that both your and My joy will be made full. I can’t make you like Me and use you for the things I promised until you come back to Me and abide in Me. My blood is a new covenant. It seals our relationship, but a covenant takes two parties.”
“Oh my Lord and God, my Savior, forgive me” I cried. “I see it so clearly now. How could I have been so foolish? Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me. Help me to die to myself.”
Jesus lifted me up and held me in His strong but gentle arms and said, “You die to yourself when you spend time with Me in My word and in prayer. Then as you go in obedience to My word I manifest My power in you by My Holy Spirit. As you humble yourself before Me, I lift you up and I produce the fruit in you and the work you go forward in. I love the good works that you do, but I did not create you to be only a plow horse to Me. Do not make the mistake of Martha, rather choose as Mary; the better and that which those like Martha choose to do will be done also, but in My power and My strength. It is commonly said now ‘Don’t be so heavenly minded that you are of no earthly good.’ This is a false saying. Those who are heavenly minded do the most earthly good. It is only those who are falsely spiritual that are only hearers of My word that are of no earthly good. Let Me do the work through your obedience.”
“Go now and share this through your life and My words, for there are many of your brothers and sisters in your country that have fallen the same way. They are as the Laodicean church, but also have forsaken their first love as did the Ephesian church. I wait to bless those that repent and return to Me,” he told me. He set me straight on my feet and as the light had come it receded away. I don’t think that I could have stayed in His presence much longer, for if I did I believe that my mortal body would have exploded in fire. My flesh still shook for the rest of the evening.
As I walked back home, I truly knew that He was with me. I could hear His soft still voice so clearly now as I continued to pray. I heard Him with clarity that I had never heard before. He showed me that we truly can take every thought captive and turn it to obedience to Him. We can live holy lives by the power of the Holy Spirit. We have bought Satan’s lie that we will always fall short of God’s glory. Satan has taken scripture and twisted it. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, but we as Christians have been redeemed and are being made into perfection. Be holy as He is holy. We can only do this when we abide in Him, however.
Please my brothers and sisters in Christ, hear what the Holy Spirit says. Forsake the trappings of the world and fall in love with our beloved Master. Husbands and wives, remember when you fell in love with your significant other, how all of your thoughts, time, money and effort went into the other. How much more should it be for the lover of our souls.
Repent of gluttony. Not just quantity, but if food keeps you from fasting, it is an idol. Eat with joy unto the Lord, but do not allow it to take the place of pursuing God. We as the church have too many potlucks and not enough corporate prayer and fasting.
Repent of a cold heart towards others in need. Jesus said that the world would know we are Christians by our love for one another. Too often the cults and the world take care of their own better than the church does. He also said that we couldn’t claim to love Him if we had material possessions and saw our brothers and sisters in need, but didn’t sell them to help our loved ones in need. Jesus has shown me that it is not just as we do "unto the least of these my brethren you do unto Me," but also to the same measure. Are you giving the Lord your old clothes and a peanut butter sandwich while you keep the fine clothes, steak and lobster for yourself? You may say, "I give 25% to God," but are you giving out of your wealth? King David stated that he would not give the Lord something that cost him nothing. If you can’t see your brothers or sisters in need you are just not looking. Too many of us have too much, while too many of us have too little. I do not say that we should not hold our brothers accountable to work, but how much do we love them in their struggles when we choose our wants over their needs? We should give with a glad heart.
Repent of your love of entertainment. Do you get more excited when Michael Jordan makes the winning basket than you do when someone receives Christ as their Savior? How loud do you yell at your kids ball game? Do you sing unto the Lord as you do with the radio’s popular songs? Do you feed your mind with Hollywood’s values even if the characters aren’t cussing, using God’s name in vain, glorifying violence or arousing lustful desires? Disney is now fully PROMOTING homosexuality. Do you care enough to speak up and oppose these things? Don’t be partakers at Satan’s table. There is no such thing as good or innocent magic as is shown in many children’s cartoon films and shows. Are we feeding our children to destruction and hell? I go too far, you say. Can we just tear parts of the Holy Bible out that we don’t feel comfortable with? We can not make up our own truths, but rather we need to follow God and His truths.
Repent ministers of the Holy Gospel. For you have taken the cross and repentance out of the good news. Unless a seed dies and falls to the ground it can not become born anew. There is no new life with out death. IT IS A FALSE HOPE AND THE BLOOD OF MANY WILL BE UPON YOUR HEADS. God is a God of grace, hope, faith and love. He is a patient God, but His holiness and sacrifice on the cross will not be mocked. Quick decisions for Christ without counting the cost or confessing publicly result in few true salvations. Having everyone bow their heads to make it less embarrassing for the one to make a decision and raise their hand as a confession unto salvation is not a death process. Some may truly die unto new life, but it is few. How can one surrender unto death if he or she does not take stock in what they are surrendering? Too often, they later realize that they never intend to surrender many areas of their lives, but will just accept that as their shortcomings and dwell in a false security of a false salvation. They are in danger and do not know it, because they were never asked to count the cost.
“Pastors, your flocks are hurting. They seek intimacy with Me and the rest of your congregation, but instead are given formulas, programs and work which they are not suited for. They are taught to be slaves not bond servants out of love. They are being used for the building of your projects rather than being trained to work in My kingdom. Their gifts are stifled and remain undeveloped, so that you can place them where you desire for them to serve. Too many of you hold on tightly to your ministries instead of trusting Me to raise others in mine.” The Lord says, “Feed my sheep, feed my sheep, feed my sheep. The new born and hurting desire and need relationships past and beyond scheduled meeting times. An unscheduled stop by for a cold or hot drink and conversation has more purpose than you know. The hurting are in need of a family, not a lodge club membership. Your inside circles and clicks have left many of My children feeling as outsiders. I will not tolerate this much longer. Repent and love those with action that I have given under your care. Train them in My ways and in their gifts so that they can do much of the work that you are now doing. Trust Me to handle their mistakes as they step out to serve in their gifts.” This applies to all of God’s children. Finally and most importantly, ministers of the Holy Gospel, put down your projects and seek the face of the One who can save. No revival that has ever existed has come from a project, only from God’s people falling on their faces before Him. God will use outreaches to meet the needs of His people, but they will never replace the power of His presence in bringing the lost to Christ. The Lord says, “I desire to be the ONLY BAIT used to catch men for my glory and purposes. Any other bait used will produce false conversions and bad fruit.” This does not mean that we can not celebrate or have events and festivals or even reach out to the lost in new ways, but our purpose for these have become contaminated. We have become overeducated and over reliant on marketing techniques and methodism and have become impoverished in the school of seeking God in prayer, bible and obedience waiting for power from on high. Lift Jesus up and men will be drawn unto Him. If we, as ministers, will be honest in evaluating those that are truly converted to Christ with a lasting, growing relationship, we have to admit that few come through marketed techniques and events. Sure some may come through our church doors for a while, but they usually fall away or STAY high maintenance. Babies always take a lot of care, but when a teenager is still wearing diapers we should suspect something is wrong. God is bringing true revival in the world, but it is happening where much prayer and fasting has preceded it and where the cross and repentance are stressed. Jesus did not stay on the cross or in the grave. HE ROSE, but to rise, He had to die first. How can we hope to preach anything different? YES, the Lord blesses us with material things and gifts of the Spirit. He loves to wrap us up in His arms and give us peace beyond understanding, but that peace will never come to those who seek the gifts and manifestations of God more than they do God Himself. God’s blessings can even become as an idol if we are not careful.
The apostles of the bible turned the world upside down without television, radio, T-shirts, youth rallies, barbecues or church softball leagues. These in themselves are not wrong, but when used in place of the power of the Holy Spirit to reach the lost they become works and tools that are as filthy rags. We can only reach a lost and dying world unto salvation through the power of the Holy Spirit. We only receive that power by spending time in His word and in prayer and fasting. Not that we earn it, but it is there that we die to ourselves that He might live and work through us. Then the lost will know that our boldness comes from the One we have spent time with. We can impart grace and power unto salvation because we have dwelt in and attained it ourselves at the feet of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. My fellow workers in Christ, don’t wear yourselves out in the flesh in all of your running about. Yes we must work, but let us be as Mary and allow it to be in the power of the Lord. We have a great victory in the Lord, but only if it is in the Lord.
This testimony and letter has been copyrighted July 1998.
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