Tuesday, October 5, 2010

on Leave a Comment

God In My Life

Throughout my younger years, although I didn’t know to whom I was speaking, I was able to converse with a greater entity than myself. There were many instances when I had conversations with this personage and felt that I had received guidance. This was not an audible experience, but rather more of an in my head thing. At those times, I didn’t realize that it was the Lord as I didn’t know who He was.

Several years before I was married I had a recurring vision of living in a white house with a lightly sloping back yard, and my wife and three children were in that yard with me. This vision came to be true in every aspect in 1977.

In 1967, when I was in the army, stationed in Germany, I had begun attending church with my wife. Pastor Bob Ferguson a Baptist missionary from Texas, conducted services in another town and then flew to our town for our services. I really didn’t relate to what was going on. I had not spent much time in church to that point in my life. My mother’s attitude was that when I reached eighteen I could go to church and make up my own mind. I stopped going and my wife was beside herself. She talked to the pastor about it and he told her that I was a good man and to stop confronting me and turn over her concerns to the Lord. Long story short, there was a visiting preacher that had come to do a revival for the church. Since I had never been to one, I wanted to go and see what it was like. I honestly don’t know what he was preaching about; however, during his sermon I came to the realization of who Jesus was. The sky didn’t open up and there were no shouting angels. I simply and quietly came to the realization of whom I had been conversing with all those years. Either that or He filled me with this realization by His sweet gentle Spirit. I didn’t say or do anything but a quiet, gentle, peaceful feeling came over me. As we were leaving I asked Pastor Bob if I could talk to him some time. That was all that I said and his reaction was that they would come to our apartment in twenty minutes. Both he and the evangelist showed up and, as I related what had happened, they did what they called leading me to the Lord. I guess it was just that I needed to say the right words in front of witnesses. That is what I later came to know as being born again. Shortly thereafter I was baptized. This baptism took place in a German Baptist church baptismal in Neu Ulm, Germany in 1967. At this point I think I should point out that my great, great, grandfather, Johann Rahn, a German Evangelical Reformed minister, brought the family here from Germany, in 1870, to keep the boys from being drafted into the Franco-Prussian war. Apparently I had to go back to within fifty miles of where they came from to find the Lord.

My wife, Ginger and I settled into raising a family and fairly consistently attended services at Baptist churches. We began hearing rumors about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Ginger went, with friends, to a meeting at Saint Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Baltimore. Before the teaching started, a message in tongues was given. Father Phil Zampino refused to continue the service until the interpretation was revealed. An African couple in the front row stood up and explained that the message was in Swahili and was instructing them to stay in the United States rather than return to Africa. Gin came home and related the story to me. Perhaps this stuff is real but how would we know? We decided that with our limited knowledge of the gifts, we would continue attending the Baptist church until the Lord led us otherwise. We also decided a sure sign that we should leave that church and look elsewhere would be if the pastor would ever preach against the gifts of the spirit. You’ll never guess what he preached on the very next Sunday. Yep, the power petered out when Peter petered out. The gifts of the Spirit were for the early church only and not for today. That is except for the ones he liked such as the gifts of preaching, service and teaching. We thanked the Lord and started our search.

We heard of a good Bible teacher at the local Presbyterian Church who held a service on Friday nights. The Reverend Jim Mulholland and his wife Jean, who was a high school teacher, ministered there. Needless to say, we went. The fellowship and the music were great; however, when the music stopped the entire crowd stood up speaking in tongues. I looked for the exit, never intending to darken their door again. One problem, we were seated in the middle. We were trapped. The Lord does work in mysterious ways because if I could have left, I would have. Jean taught on the different forms of tongues and that one of the forms was worship. That’s what they had been doing, but it sure shook me up at the time.

We started attending the Presbyterian Church regularly and grew in our knowledge of the Lord and His Word. The church family was wonderful; however, we then got sucked into church service. Since Ginger and I both sang we were used in the different services in that capacity. Keep in mind that Ginger was a true coloratura soprano and could really sing. I, on the other hand, was just s story teller with a guitar. Then, after the fun parts, came the dreaded work part. I was elected superintendent of the Sunday school department. Several of the men there were members of the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship International. We attended a couple of meetings, and I joined the chapter in Woodlawn, Maryland. I served as a member, vice president and then president. This was a wonderful time in our lives. In addition to the above, we each ministered in music different places under the name of “The Spirits Nest Ministries”, I was co founder of the “Son’s of Thunder Ministries” along with my friend Harvey Cohen, who was a born again orthodox Jewish rabbi. I ran a cassette tape function for our groups. Now let’s see – Sunday school duties, attending church classes, church, Full Gospel meetings, music ministries, Son’s of Thunder, Spirits Nest, cassette ministry, various Christian educational classes when available and believe it or not, I was even the temporary pastor of a church for a few months (details later). OK, time for a reality check. Our kids came to us one day with the complaint that we never had time for them. They were right and since your first duty is to take care of the family God gives you we had to change. We had to temper our enthusiasm with what the Bible describes as moderation in all things.

Ever hear the voice of the Lord? I mean a real voice, not just a voice in your head? I was a traveling salesman and was just told that we would no longer be using our own cars but would be getting company cars. While driving through the mountains of North Carolina between sales calls, I was wondering (half asking the Lord) what I should do with my present car. A voice came from the back seat saying, “Give it to Heidi” (My cousin). I said, I rebuke you in the name of Jesus. The voice said again “give it to Heidi”. I said OK, I’ll go home and tell Little Miss Tightwad (Ginger) what you said; and if she says alright, I’ll know it’s really you and I’ll do it. Gin said OK, and we called Heidi.

My first encounter with divine healing came about when I slipped a disc in my lower back. After explaining the condition of my back, the doctor told me to go home and lay flat on my back on the floor. A couple of the Full Gospel men came to the house with Pastor Mulholland. Jim laid hands on me while they all prayed. Against their advice, I stood right up after the prayers because the pain was instantly and completely gone. The second encounter came when I was visiting family and my cousin said she had been having back trouble for some time, probably connected with her horse activities. Since she was a fairly new Christian (recently saved at a Billy Graham crusade), I was some what hesitant. I suggested that we ask the Lord for healing and she agreed. We went to another room and I had her lay down on her stomach. With expectant anticipation, I laid hands on her back and prayed that the Lord would heal her. She said that it worked and that the pain was gone. Although her father was dubious and wanted to know what else I did to her, the healing was complete. I have not had many encounters of this type, but it is truly amazing when it happens.

As I said previously, I was for a time the temporary pastor of a church from which the pastor walked out, due to church politics. Because of my position in the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship, I was asked to supply people to conduct Sunday services and also to do so myself. After my second sermon, I was asked to fulfill the duties of pastor. I agreed to as long as they actively sought their permanent replacement. I had to be ordained by the church I was attending so that I would be able to perform legal functions if they occurred. This was a very special time with the Lord. As I was still a full time on the road medical equipment salesman, I only had limited time to prepare for the Sunday service. I had to carry a recorder on the seat next to me as the Lord would give me my sermons as I traveled. This was a wonderful time in my life as it was like the Lord and I were really working partners. It seemed as if He was in the car with me (and the motel rooms and at home). I never have felt more in his will than during those months. Even as wonderful as it was, the Lord and I knew that I was called to the pastorate only for a season. When the church once again got a full time pastor, I was able to go back to my regular life. Never again though, have I felt that closely involved with the Lord. It was like He was with me every minute.

The older I get, the more I realize how much I don’t know, therefore, I have to rely on what I know to be true. The Bible and the founding documents of our country are what I have found to be the most trustworthy. I don’t care what religion you are involved in or not involved in; the difference between a relationship with Christ and any religion is as different as night and day. As a Presbyterian minister’s wife once told me, “a denomination is simply a monument to a dead saint”. Jean Mulholland was her name and she was a great Bible teacher. She described the steps in building a church congregation as the following: First you build up attendance until you have a decent sized congregation. Then you tell them that they must be born again. Subsequently you loose half of them and you must rebuild. Then you tell them that they must be baptized and you rebuild again. Next you introduce them to the Holy Spirit and you rebuild again. Then you teach about demons and I’m not sure if she knew the final outcome. The ability to turn over your concerns to the Lord is a wonderful advantage in life.

Just to show you how close some people are to being open to the Lords Word, I will relate this short story. After selling a medical laser to a doctor in Winber, Pennsylvania, I was required to make repeat visits for instruction (I hold a certificate for completing a course in Gynecological Laser Surgery by The Gynecological Laser Society) and checking function on the laser. I became friendly with the doctor and nurses who were Christians. One of the nurses asked me to talk to a nurse friend of hers about salvation as she and the doctor had been unsuccessful in their attempts. I had her set up a lunch date for herself, the other nurse and myself. After brief conversation I noticed some uneasiness on her part. It turned out that she was Catholic and knew all about the Lord. This caused a wall between us and her. During lunch I asked her who Jesus was. She said he was God. I asked if he was alive or dead. She said he was alive. I asked why he had died. She said so that we could be forgiven. I said do you know him and she said she loved him. I showed her Romans 10:9. I explained that she had just qualified as a Born Again Christian since she had told us the answers that she did. She responded that she simply didn’t understand what they had been talking about for so long. All she had needed was a simple explanation that all she had to do was confess before others what she really already believed.

There are many more things that I could tell you about my walk with the Lord, but I didn’t want to make this so long that people wouldn’t read it. It is my prayer that this might encourage someone to investigate what the Lord has available for them. All I know at this point is that I don’t know how my life would have been different without the Lord in it, and I really don’t care. Keep in mind that if I am right and I die, I go to my reward. If I’m wrong, it won’t matter. I can truthfully say that I have felt no loss, but only gain, from this relationship with God.

I have written this, not to pass judgment in any way or on any one, but rather as an invitation to those of family and friendly acquaintance to join me in the Kingdom of God. A personal relationship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit has proved, in my lifetime, to be an abundant source of both inspiration and solace. It is my hope that I will be judged not as having run a perfect race, but rather that I did the best that I was able. I can’t think of a better way to state it than as my great grandfather, the Reverend Frederick Rahn, put it as when the end of this life is near, “He gladly did what he was able to do and he unreservedly submits to the Masters call”.

Rick Rahn


Post a Comment