You guessed it! I actually had to live there. Rather than intriguing I'd rather call it enchanting but that word seems to suggest the wrong source. The setting: Charleston, South Carolina, 1984.
Due to grave sickness in my wife's family she flew from Charleston back to Los Angeles. We decided I'd move off the ship to save money. …….. 3 months later (due to a problem getting our chosen housing)…….I was eating at the ship's mess hall and had a vision. A fellow sailor had just asked me if I did not miss my wife and daughter and I just started crying!! I could see my 1 year (at that time) daughter running circles around me the way she did and laughing, laughing laughing. But I saw through the eyes of God as HE SEES His children as He seemed to be saying to me that His own children were also not at home with Him in His house but were instead at a man made orphanage of today's religion!!! In some measure I tasted Christ's sufferings. Well the poor shipmate across the table from me did not know this! Here I was crying on the mess decks in front of everybody!! So what does he do? He calls his landlady (an old old woman) the next day and tries to get me a place to live! (Isn't that like the Americanized quickie religious setup!! wam, bam, whoooops! The bride ran out the door!) We had put in for low cost housing and were on a waiting list, but this guy tells me the old woman has a deal for me now so don't wait. It was a quaint little cottage. It reminded me of a honeymoon love nest.
I had seen a movie I was reminded of about an inn that was enchanted. All the people who stopped there for the night to get out of the rain even if they were about to get a divorce or were cold business associates not at all interested in each other but had to stop because of a storm etc. fell madly in love if they took a room there.
Well this cottage seemed to draw me. It had an quaint old musty odor and it seemed an inward peace drew me from within. (Mistake or no mistake, my decision was based on the inward leading of the Holy Spirit from within) Little did I know I was about to be taken closer to my beloved Bridegroom than ever in my life. For $185.00 a month I took it.
I visited the cottage, which was in North Charleston on Bexeley St. near to what was the Navy Base (which has now been closed and sold), next day with Richard (you've met him already) who decided to meet me there. The power was not yet on. Whoops, I blew it. There was only one bedroom. Oh well, the kid was only 1 year's old and I'd move in a year. After all I was desperate.
There were no lights there that afternoon and the sun was going down as Richard and I sat on the couch (it was furnished) in the strange peaceful presence of God that just seemed to settle upon this abode. The Lord's presence there was so unusual that both of us had to speak of it. Richard told me " there is something about this cottage, many times, I have driven by here and noticed a strange drawing of God to slow down and look at this place." Now, that's strange, because Richard did not even live near there # 1. # 2. the cottage is way way down a driveway about 100 feet off the street and there is another place in the forefront so it's not that noticeable. Normally a person would never even see it or be able to find it unless he knew exactly where to slow down. And here he would slow down and look at the place and experience the presence of the Lord without even knowing what the real significance of the place was. Eventually the strange peace settled upon us to such an extent that we both sat there upon the sofa in utter silence as the sun was setting. Then he said "I got to go." As he went and the sun descended the peace of God within just increased and increased till I seemed to be caught up into the Lord.
Then at His urging I got up to take a tour (a guided tour!) of the cottage as it was almost utterly dark. By this time I could hardly see. I walked into the kitchen…. Opened the cupboards and……..YIKES!!! I saw movement there. I had never before noticed but cockroaches were in there just scurrying around. Then I turned around to see something jump onto the kitchen table, then back on the wall. I could not make it out till I got closer. It was a chameleon lizard as it changed colors as it changed locations. Suddenly with horror I realized "my wife is not gonna like this too good!" Well, duh!! I sat back down and wondered how I could get out of a year's lease. Then!! As I sat there the whole place began to rock and shake like an earthquake!!! A train shook the place as it went by out back so I opened the back door and……and…….train tracks were 10 feet away from the back door (not good for little toddlers) ! Oooooops! (of course the meaning of that one was that it was too close to the traffic of this world and as a result, dangerous for the young ones) Man, did I blow it! As I walked around I began to realize that maybe the musty odor was because of dust and that because of a huge oak tree out just to right of the front door with a diameter of about 2 1/2 feet covering the whole abode with its ominous shadow so no light could get through the windows during the day in order to view it for sweeping. I settled down back into the sense of the Lord's presence as it seemed to increase even more. Then a warmth of His love so surrounded me that it seemed to be the only time that such hot tears flowed from my eyes as to almost scald them as they flowed like rivers.
Then it seemed Someone was sitting there. It seemed He had been sitting there waiting for me for 200 years!! He seemed to say " I've been waiting for you" (Of course, the last weekend before I wrote this, I was at a conference with Gene Edwards and he said He's timeless so waiting means for Him: who knows what!) "I had the blueprint for this place made for you long long ago." As I sat back down I really started crying as the Lord's love just poured over me in revelation. I suddenly realized that the sign of light never getting to this cottage through the windows was representative of the big tree our Lord spoke of in Matthew 13 when Jesus with such foresight said "the kingdom of God is like…" He knew what would happen to His kingdom. Now that doesn't mean it's a good thing. Here I must quote Witness Lee's note from the Recovery Version footnote from Matt. 13:32 (1):
The church, which is the embodiment of the kingdom, should be like an herb that produces food. However, its nature and function were changed, so that it became a tree, a lodging place for birds. (This is against the law of God`s creation, that is, that every plant must be after its kind--Gen. 1:11-12.) This change happened in the first part of the fourth century, when Constantine the Great mixed the church with the world. He brought thousands of false believers into Christianity, making it Christendom, no longer the church. Hence, this third parable corresponds with the third of the seven churches in Rev. 2 and 3, the church in Pergamos (Rev. 2:12-17--see note 12(1) there). The mustard is an annual herb, whereas the tree is a perennial plant. The church, according to its heavenly and spiritual nature, should be like the mustard, sojourning on the earth. But with its nature changed, the church became deeply rooted and settled as a tree in the earth, flourishing with its enterprises as the branches in which many evil persons and things are lodged. This resulted in the formation of the outward organization of the outward appearance of the kingdom of the heavens.
The quaint musty odor of the cottage was from dust in that cottage so what had attracted me as "country" or "quaint" was suddenly a horror to me. I realized that the place was dusty because it was hard to sweep during the day because the dust could not even be seen. Why? Because of the tree!! It shuts out the light and the dirt is not seen. There's something else not seen as Jesus said "the birds of the air lodged in its branches." Today's Christianity has many hidden persons matters and demons that are hidden because of the darkness of those branches or as Witness put it "the enterprises" which are almost all works of the flesh for the most part. Of course you know the tree is the hierarchical system of today's Christendom. This authoritarian chain of command system we inherited from the Romans adds to the darkness shutting out the light of God. These enterprises or "programs" are for the most part fleshly things of Hagar (the hand maid of Abraham by whom he tried by his wife's request and his own flesh to fulfill God's promise of offspring and in so doing didn't hear from God for the next 13 years!!!) and because of the lack of light you can't see the chameleons, dust or fleas or even know that they are there.
The dust (which is what Adam was made of) made for a quaint "country" attractive musty atmosphere which seems attractive to flesh at first but not at all healthy for living. Also the dirt of the old man is not healthy for the breathing of Spirit by the new man. Another factor of the mustiness I suddenly realized at that time was OLDNESS !! The dirtiness and oldness was there (all because of that tree). Then I in horror walked out the front door to view the tree and saw the car I recently built which was a 1975 old yellow station wagon which was breaking down and realized my life was being consumed in oldness and death!
Next day I called the landlady. I asked her to spray for cock roaches. She obliged and got somebody over It was then I found out about the poisonous snakes in the woods beyond the tracks and the undesirable elements she said that multiplied in the tree above. Lately I've realized how that she was an old woman. And why did I get hooked up with a quick fix with this woman? Well because my friend had pity on me. Whom does she represent? The woman in the adjacent parable to the MT. 13 parable of the great tree. The parable of the three measures of meal. What is the three measures of meal? Christ is the meal offering according to the revelation of the scriptures. The leaven is always negative in EVERY other passage of scripture so here also. As Witness said in the above note the Lord in these 2 parables is explaining the outward "appearance" of the kingdom of the heavens and how it shapes because of leaven. What is leaven? Something added to Christ to make Him more palatable or acceptable to the world. The woman represents religious Babylon as she tries to add something of religion to Christ (three measures of meal being the Triune God as our nourishment and life supply for the growth and development of the kingdom of God within. The real kingdom of God is the DNA of God from the seed of God which if Christ had not been incarnated would have never got planted into mankind. What more do we need beyond this wonderful Christ!
One more day after that ….. my two girl friends flew in from L. A. When my wife saw the place, she got mad!! She proclaimed before the whole universe, "I am NOT going to live here!!" And I couldn't blame her.
That day the Lord opened two doors for us: #1 The old woman let us out of the lease; only she kept the $185 down payment. #2 We went to the low-income housing office where we had our name on the list and they said, "your name just came to the top of the list yesterday!" P
raise the Lord!
However we could not move in till the 3rd day. We had to endure 3 days of torture!
The first day after some cleanup all the sudden (just like the movie) we were kindof magically attracted to one another , BUT though my bride might have felt strongly attracted to me there she sure didn't want to stay that long! So the bride of Christ may be found in that little building but it is not what the house of God is supposed to be. Isaiah said, "My people are become like a cottage in the wilderness."
The landlady sprayed for the cockroaches for me but when I talked to her about it she said there were also poisonous snakes out in the forest behind the train tracks and there were certain kinds of vermin of other kinds breeding up in the Oak tree above us! Go figure! The second morning (my fourth day there) my daughter Monique had pink little bumps aaaalllllll over her legs from flea bites. I guess the floors were not just dusty they were flea- ridden but you couldn't see them because not much light ever came through the windows. Not much fresh air either. Later that morning my wife opened the back door a huge flying cockroach flew right square into her chest and she started screaming and screaming!!
So …………………………….. What was all that? Point is it happened LONG AGO and I thought I knew what it was and God was trying to get through to me but I could see it only partially for years and years. The cottage was NOT the tree! The bride could go there but not LIVE there. What was the riddle? Well, I had read brother Gene's books (some of them by that time) but had not figured it out and so I have somewhat wasted much of my life which I regret BUT what was the meaning of that attractive cottage? It, unlike the great tree was a building, and it was communicated to me that it was rare to find building! So what is one of the only things really built with God's life on this earth today BUT still somewhat (although maybe not as much as that cottage because much light poured in to them) under the shadow of the tree? ……………………………………………….. The local church !!!!!!!
I had read Gene Edward's epilogue to "Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ" by Jeanne Guyon but when he had mentioned a group doing a type of pray-reading and you'll find it a awesome experience but God never meant for you to stay in these shallows God tried to nudge me and get to me but sorry I was so dense. (Now here is another fact about Gene Edwards: There are some hurts that modern day people have found through practical ministry errors. My DISCLAIMER concerning him can be found on my article NOTHouseChurch.html.) I somehow knew what group he was referring to but not till the eating and drinking of Christ there wasn't enough for me did I realize there is MORE. More than even the local churches had. So. Please excuse these lame revelations but even though I received them under a veil there is something of value and I knew you would appreciate knowing a little bit more about the history of the little flock movement and some of the hidden things which I later discovered in talking to leadership in Hong Kong etc. It's hard to find anything on this earth that is NOT that tree or at least under the shadow of that tree. Gene Edward's work seems to me to be one of the rare exceptions to that rule: at least he is trying to get as far away as possible. THAT, is hard, and that is where I admire his success.
The shadow this great tree casts over all the earth at this present time is ominous. Thank God places like Russia and Eastern Europe were temporarily closed to and cleared away from it temporarily with great cleansing effect. Red China seems to be the place that is freest from its influence and that's probably because of the intercession of Watchman Nee for his his homeland while in solitary confinement. His reward will be great in the next age. There is fruit of approximately 100 million souls born again not to mention a high level of assembly-life experience due to his influence.God as light shines all the time but the branches of the enterprises of Hagar are a big factor in blocking out the light so that you would even care to clean up or even see to do it. As a result there are many hidden fleas, chameleons and all kinds of undesirable worldly fleshly things of the old creation in the "church" of today and they are not even perceived at all. Yes I know God does a cleansing work but if you don't understand His ways most of that kind of work is in the advanced stages of Christian life and most Christians in this shallow age will never experience such things as long as they live because they do not even know the first thing about the depths of the wonderful unsearchable riches of our Lord Jesus Christ! Most of my readers don't even have the foggiest idea of what I'm talking about.
Two years ago I read one of Witness Lee's messages from Taiwan spoken in 1986 or so during the implementation of the "system change" from one man speaking the rest listening to all sharing more home meeting etc. and I started to weep and weep as I saw the greatness of this man and the humility inherent: he said that "we are still somewhat under the shadow of the great tree as spoken of in Matt 13 and we have with us still the lukewarmness of Laidocea and the deadness of Sardis." The message is entitled: "The Building up of the Church Being a Service of Warfare." He said "Sixty years ago, in its beginning, we saw the light through brother Nee that the most important matter in the Lord's recovery is that we would be free from any organized religion. during the past sixty years we have paid much attention to this matter. Still, we admit that although we emphasize this so much, we have never rid ourselves fully of is influence. This is a battle. Because of the entanglement of the power of darkness and the sluggish disposition within us." (!!!!!) Would to God that the majority of the house church leaders today would have the light and humility enough to admit the same thing! He knew that these things were still there despite the awesome blessing of the Lord at that time and he was humble enough to admit it. I could also see he was really struggling with it during that time as most of the message was about prayer warfare as they were really fighting through. I could see he was trying to find a way out of these things and couldn't find the way out. Although he thought he knew what the answer was they STILL haven't found the way out. What a humble brother! If only he had known! He is still the only man who has so successfully changed the system form the old wineskin to the new for a group of Christians and survived! So maybe he didn't have ALL the answers but he did mention the thought, at least, of moving ALL the meetings out of the meeting halls (which some locales actually did) and firing all the elders!! Would to God he had taken that route.
No doubt he accomplished MUCH in this present day and time. One of the most recent books he wrote before he passed away was called "The Divine and Mystical Realm" about how to know this age. In it he says that the light concerning the compound, consummated, life-giving seven-fold Spirit is not realized by today's Christianity. He spoke of the darkness only as far as Christianity is concerned but if you think of it this big tree is the worst enemy of God on all fronts as it clogs up the channel through which He wants to flow and bless the world but because we have more evangelism than ever before we don't see how God-dishonoring we have become as far as testimony and being the salt of the world.
Lately St. John of the Cross (Yes, I am wary of any platonic influence he may have been under) has been of help to me to say that revelation can be completely misinterpreted because of our mindset, background or lack of understanding of God's true intent. Surely this has been my case. Still if something has been tested to be of God it's of God.
You'll probably want to know what happened to the assembly we started in Charleston. Well since I was not a real church planter (I've been called but its doubtful if ever I'll get there I've wasted so much time, who knows) there was much to be desired but I read Gene Edward's book on letting the fire fall so when I left I left with a prayer to that extent and boy did the fire fall. Those poor people lost their jobs, homes and then all the stops broke loose on them. There was a strong meeting there for years but mostly the result of migration not my work but in 1995 I moved back to that city for 5 months and learned the rest of the history from those there and learned a lot about what was gold, silver and what was stubble and wood etc. It was not purely Christ that I built with so learned the hard way by what came out. At least some people went on with the Lord and the Body got built to a small extent.
It was Gene Edward's ministry and Frank Viola's email correspondence (and his book on the wineskins) that helped me see that the local church still has two classes of Christians and authority structure (though it may be 5% as opposed to Organized Christianity's 95%) and that is a division of two classes (the elders and the other brothers) in their midst making their "claim" of unity void!!! As long as they even think that elders have any authority "over" their brothers there is a division of two classes there. Besides they are not the only group who takes the same stand of "one church one locality" etc. All I've experienced is that because the heart is right in that regard by some of the attendees they experience blessing.
Surely the age is so dark. But …………. Just maybe …….. you can back off from the tree!!!
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