Crossing The River Jordan: My First 5 Chapters

On Saturday I opened to Isaiah 58 where God is talking about the Sabbath and the need to stop and set a day apart for reflection and I began a study of Joshua.

I heard that “crossing the river Jordan is a process” and that when three is mentioned it signifies death and resurrection

What a process….

I’ve heard it said that before the foundation of the world, God knew everything I would do and made allowances for me to go through a process to have the choices in front of me to cross from spiritual death into life. 3 years ago I found a fact about my life that I could hardly process and it showed me in the most literal of terms that the statement is absolutely true and I wanted to share that here today.

 

Crossing The River Of My Understanding

sherman_laura_couple005My Grandfather Sherman Maust was a Mennonite carpenter. In a step of faith he moved his family from Michigan in 1948 and built a church with his own two hands at 717 East 7th Street in Upland California, developing a community to serve others here in the wild west. While keeping to the Mennonite traditions the church grew and thrived.

I was born on January 20th, 1961 in Upland and was cared for by my loving family and taught the simple message of the gospel. At age seven I told my grandmother one day that i knew what i wanted to be when I grew up. I wanted to be a pastor and she cried tears of joy. I began asking questions and my life shows that when I want to know something I will get an answer. The pivotal question of my life was asked around 1968 :

“If a little boy my age who lived in China, who had never heard of Jesus died, would he go to hell?”…..The answer: “Yes”

I knew they must not have heard the question, so I continued to ask and ask and ask…

It did not go well,  people were pretty caught up in the drama of trying so hard to be righteous, and didn’t have time for some silly kid bugging them. I was told in no uncertain terms finally to be quiet as I was bringing shame on to our family.

This continued until age 10 when I developed such a rage against this concept that I stood on a rickety stool in our barn, put a noose around my neck and prepared to join that little boy in hell. I audibly said “I would rather burn in hell with that boy than serve a God like you”

sherman_laura_marianne_loved1There was allot going of strife and anger going on in our home and there was much more to this than a simple question in Sunday school, we were facing literal and spiritual bankruptcy at that time all while putting on a good face at church. We were “big in the Church” and the pressure on my parents must have been enormous as there was such a regulating of the Holy Spirit and wrath from leadership when absolute adherence to the outside dress and “humility” was not being shown. It was suffocating but my parents did an awesome job, always keeping their faith alive. This church was a group of people managing the work of the Holy Spirit and that can never end good, as it is written:

“for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” James 1:20 (NASB)

My grandfather died when I was about 12 and the church was turned over to another pastor, soon after they decided to leave the property at 7th street, share a church with another fellowship and plan a big church, we began a building fund. We sold the property and moved to a temporary building north on Campus avenue where we shared the church with another congregation. Things went from bad to worse and I endured countless business meetings where I witnessed the adults fighting over the look of the church, the color of it’s carpet or if we needed an organ or not, with leaders fighting in front of children and losing the spiritual church in the process. Not long after the church splintered like Humpty Dumpty in a great fall, would never be put back together again and my Grandfathers vision for this fellowship died in this church battle and I spiritually died in the midst of it.

This was truly a literal “Stained Glass Masquerade”

Now understanding all this, the pressure put on my Grandfather, Father and all my family was suffocating and I have such compassion for them now. Still the culture was broken and the kids of my generation from this fellowship all had serious problems. I can’t think of one that did not go on to have serious problems in one way or another.

But together with my “sin” on that stool at age 10 and what I observed in my life, I shut down and lived in a spiritual desert for about the next 40 years until my near death experience in 2008. My family was in the midst of the desert and the evidence of that were in our strained relationships and the chaos in our businesses. As far as me, I wont go into detail about what I got myself into, but you can get an idea of what happened to me as a result of not trusting God and trying to develop a life on my terms in the post about the Burning Man….. Life got real dark.

In 2008 I had my profound near death experience which was where I truly accepted Jesus and began the process of trusting him to lead my life. Fast forward to 2010 when my son asked a simple question on Facebook that I could not answer. I knew answer would have to come with my life, it would have to be lived out. On June 10th, 2010, with a deep desire not to “offend” my son with the gospel I stumbled into a vedic temple in Montclair California just a few miles from where I was born and a few miles from where my grandfather built the church on 7th street.  I knew when I found this place that it would bring me to a knowledge of the truth in some way. The people I met were so nice and so welcoming that it filled the place of rejection and wishing to connect on a spiritual level that had held me captive for so many years. 

I cannot understand with my natural mind how God works. Misty Edwards is a prophet and she can say what I am feeling, that Jesus is singing a new song and he has shaken everything in me that can be shaken and he is doing it now as I face my human side. She can sing it better than I can say it.

People Get Ready

The correct answer to my question at age seven is something like this:

12 hours to liveSteve, your kind of misunderstanding who God is. His son Jesus loves all the little boys in China and everywhere else in the world, and God does not send anyone to hell, people send themselves there by rejecting God. Now what important is your relationship with Jesus and maybe you know some friends who might be a little bit sad who we might invite to church. Can you think of any?”

In my times of doubt while being sick and facing the storms of life, I revert back to the simple message of the gospel and trust that God knows everything i will ever do and makes a way for me to make the right choice. I can’t wait to learn more about the promise land, I do know that I see the kingdom of God right here in front of me and it is with fear and trembling that we work out our salvation.

The funny thing is that in this picture of me I was holding the Bible which contained all the answers I ever need to navigate life as nothing could ever replace the life I find there.

The kingdom of God is an upside down kingdom. My life story while very dramatic is also very sad. Save yourself from pain and complexity by joining a local church, where you might not like the music or something else but surrender to Jesus in whatever place you are now in and watch him give you a life beyond your wildest imagination and peace that passes all your understanding.

He has removed all this confusion and given me a place where just like when I was a child, I can learn about the bible and have some punch and cookies with my friends, and that for me truly is the promise land…

 

Awesome video courtesy of CammyLaShon