Mid-Winter 1979…by that point we thought of ourselves as dedicated Christians. Besides our church attendance, we were spending one evening each week with a group of friends studying the Bible, singing, praying and sharing about what God was doing in our lives. Sometimes our mid-week meetings got quite intense.
One night, after becoming comfortable with this group, D asked for special prayer. “I’ve been told that in order to serve God effectively one must have a “prayer language.” I’ve never been given one even though I’ve asked.” The spiritual gifts he HAD been given are another story entirely, but at that moment having a ‘prayer language’ seemed the most important gift. So…
Our more mature Christian friends responded, “Maybe there is something we can do to help. Sometimes there are things from your past that can block spiritual gifts. We’ll do a spiritual house cleaning; anoint every door and every room with oil; dedicate your entire house and everything in it including the two of you to the Lord.”
Now please don’t misunderstand me here…we were very new and very trusting when it came to this particular couple. She was my spiritual mentor. They had taken us to their church to hear their Pastor teach on the Abrahamic Covenant. What a revelation that was! We went with them to hear their favorite charismatic evangelist, too. We were growing in the Lord and they were largely responsible. We believed, without checking it out in the Word, that a “spiritual house cleaning” was the very thing we needed, because they said so.
The following weekend they came to our house with their Bibles and a little bottle of oil and the house cleaning began. We were asked if we had any books that contained occult material.
“I don’t know…maybe?”
Our library was inventoried. Yes, there were some books with questionable subject matter.
“We’ll burn them.”
When it was all said and done, our house was deemed clean. Our library was lightened by a couple dozen volumes. And they went home, assuring us D would be able to receive a prayer language now because there was nothing left to hinder it.
At the time I didn’t know exactly what had happened but something we did must have been pleasing to God because He gave us a tiny personal miracle to let us know we were on the right track.
We love orchids. After we bought our first home, D built a sun-porch/greenhouse off the back of the dining room to house our collection of cattleya. Several of these were in bloom displaying large delicate flowers, the type once considered a preferable corsage for proms or weddings. One of the plants had started to form flowers, dropped the buds, and was only green leaves with dried out paper-like, brown sheaths when our “house cleaning” was finished.
Three days later there were three perfect purple orchids, each one bigger than my hand, in the center of the dead sheaths. In Hebrew numerology three is the number of DIVINE PERFECTION.
The Trinity consists of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There are three qualities of the universe: Time, Space, and Matter. To exist (except for God), all three are required. Each quality consists of three elements. Therefore, we live in a trinity of trinities.
And, D received his prayer language…a few Hebrew words that the Holy Spirit later confirmed with these three words. “It is finished.”
Fast forward to the mid-eighties. We’re living in Central California, attending an Assemblies of God Church and, in the privacy of our own home, listening to preachers like Kenneth E. Hagin and Kenneth Copeland. Our religious philosophy falls somewhere between old-time Pentecostal and vintage Word of Faith teachings. We’ve learned quite a bit through the various teachers, most of which isn’t meshing too well with the earliest teachings we received on “the Abrahamic Covenant and our place in grace as God’s beloved children.”
The old-time Pentecostal people were teaching us that the “once in grace always in grace / name, claim it and frame it” philosophy of the Word of Faith movement was heresy. They taught that we could lose our salvation, but regain it if we were faithful to confess, repent and answer every alter call. Apparently our salvation was held by God on a yo-yo string and could be extended or snapped back on a whim. We got the impression that God was sometimes pleased with us and sometimes angry with us, depending upon our works and actions. We were told if we were sick or involved in an accident, “there must be sin in our life.” And on the other hand, if we were not as perfect as we should be God would send an illness or an accident to teach us a lesson.
The Word of Faith teachings led us to believe that everything in the Christian walk came by exercising our faith. If we wanted a stick of gum, a new pair of socks or anything at all it could be made manifest if only our faith was strong enough. This eventually brought about “faith in our own faith.”
However, throughout those years we continued the “spiritual housecleaning” practice…offering to do for others what they had done for us a decade before. We always waited to be invited to “clean house” and we explained the actions by our experience rather than from God’s Word. But IT WORKED! Time and time again, after anointing a home with oil and prayer, there would be an increase in peace, a more positive atmosphere, a small personal miracle to justify the dedication; some sign that God was accepting our offering.
In 1996 our path took a major turn. My mother went to be with Jesus and we inherited Contentment Cottage. We moved from a huge four bedroom house to a tiny one bedroom cottage. Every facet of life changed and I had a melt-down. God was not holding up His end of our deal! This was so not what I had signed on for.
I’ll spare you the details from the dozen or so year hiatus from the things of God. The story does nothing to bring honor to Jesus. It only goes to prove what false doctrine and religious teaching can do to derail trust. Suffice it to say, during that season we continued to “oil” the cottage and everything around it, every vehicle, and every new item in dedication to the Lord. As a result our home was blessed, our travel was blessed, our peace remained and even in the middle of hiding from God the atmosphere of our life was abundantly blessed. That’s grace.
So now fast-forward again…to mid-summer 2009.
Spiritually, things are much different in this season. Left behind are the old religious doctrines and self-effort ideologies. We have, with the help of sound teaching, moved back into God’s love and God’s grace. D has retired from public school teaching and we are actively seeking a permanent position teaching others Paul’s Grace message.
In January we started attending a small local church; a church that was in turmoil. Our first Sunday there the pastor was on sabbatical. Their population had gone from more than a thousand to less than a hundred within a couple of years and the spiritual atmosphere was dark, at best.
When their pastor returned to the pulpit in February he spoke on unity and told his dwindling congregation, “I can’t do this all by myself.”
We offered to stay and help.
After the first monthly prayer session we attended in the pastor’s living room an elder’s wife reported someone commenting, “She prays in tongues!” Not profanity mind you…tongues. Profanity would, apparently, have been preferable. And then, after several months of sharing meals, meetings, prayers. triumphs and tears—just before the whole church imploded, another monthly prayer meeting where the pastor recounted a conversation with a couple currently leaving the church. He was told, “We don’t WANT to spend time in the Word! We don’t have time to spend time studying during the week. Bringing the Word is your job.” My response, “that is a spiritual problem, and we (the prayer group gathered at the pastor’s house for…prayer) should pray to break that spirit’s hold over them.” Instantly the atmosphere in the room felt as if I’d been plunged into ice water. I was aware of committing an enormous social and spiritual faux pas.
A couple of weeks after that morning we were asked to help “clean” the church building. It had been built and originally occupied by a denomination traditionally considered a cult in Christian circles. Even taking into consideration our questionable prayer methods, we were asked to pray spiritual blessings and anoint the whole building with oil. However, by that time the building had been sold to an Assemblies of God church start-up and our group were renters only, holding services on Sunday evenings, with no more privileges of ownership.
D said, “We have no authority in this situation. Doing a spiritual housecleaning under these circumstances is useless.”
You see by now we knew what we were doing…consecrating people, places and things to the Lord God Almighty.
Then Moses took the anointing oil and anointed The Dwelling and everything that was in it, consecrating them. He sprinkled some of the oil on the Altar seven times, anointing the Altar and all its utensils, the Washbasin and its stand, consecrating them. He poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron’s head, anointing him and thus consecrating him. Leviticus 8:10-12 (MSG)
From modern TV, currently glorifying the occult and the paranormal, we learn certain items can retain spiritual residue. Ever see “The Haunted Collector”?
From the Bible we verify this fact.
“…Purify every piece of clothing and every utensil—everything made of leather, goat hair, or wood.” Numbers 31:20 (MSG)
And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds. Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed. Acts 19:18-20 New King James Version (NKJV)
The building was left as we found it. By August, the pastor was fired, the board members divided and the congregation disbanded and moved on to other fields.
Finally, in the summer of 2012, I recall the house we visited in July…
Before our trip began the Holy Spirit told me, “take the oil and anoint that house before you unpack anything.”
Thank God for his guidance and protection and grace.
The first night was awful! I laid awake, staring at the ceiling, listening to nothing in particular and sensing…”Something HORRIBLE happened in this house.” It was not a new house. We were only given a brief history of the various occupants. There was no reason for us to learn what the horrible event may have been. I only sensed that it was old and ugly and painful. BUT, we were protected. We stayed in that house for nearly a week. While we were there we were at peace. The atmosphere was favorable. God blessed us throughout our trip.
Interestingly, during July and August we were asked to “clean house” for a few other people, too. Some were very close to home, some farther away. Some blessings we may be allowed to see, in time. Others we probably will never know about.
Over the years we have been rejected and reviled for our adherence to God’s Word when it comes to our little bottle of anointing oil and prayer. We have been called crazy. But we know what we know. We can justify our actions using God’s Word now—no more experiential witness needed. We’ve been blessed and we have seen others blessed as a result of a good many spiritual house cleaning incidents and we have no plans to change what we believe.
So…I guess it is safe to say we are QUITE INTENSE! But thanks to those early lessons in grace, we have always remained quite safe, too.
Follower of Christ, writer & artist.