“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” – Isaiah 9:6-7
Written by Eagle Rock Vineyard Pastor Steve McLean
Two weeks ago we hosted an event with several other churches we have been blessed to come into relationship with here in Eastern Idaho, and with a man I consider to be a rare gem in the body of Christ. We are so thankful for the work God’s Spirit is doing within the body of Christ in Eastern Idaho and for these churches who humbly come not to be served, but to serve one another and our communities.
Dan Mohler is truly a rare breed within the body of Christ, which in one respect blesses me and saddens me in another. It was encouraging to see how easily the gospel could be lived out in our daily lives but unfortunate that more Christians are not doing it. Getting the chance to know this man at a more personal level was both a treat and a challenge. You see, Dan is one of those rare gems in the Kingdom of God who both knows the word and, more importantly, lives the word in his daily life. From the very first time I heard him on YouTube, I knew he had a very firm grasp of the word and was a dynamic speaker. But as you get to know him more personally you find out that what we often consider to be “relevant” credentials for “doing” ministry; i.e. honors, certificates, and degrees, etc., you quickly discover that he has absolutely none of these criteria we like to put on people before they are seen as approved by the church to do the work of the gospel.
Dan has no advanced education, no public speaking training, no theological training (in the formal sense) and no pedigree that might predispose him to a life of formal ministry. What he does have is an authentic relationship with Jesus. Despite never having marketed his ministry in any way, the Lord continues to grow it (600 invites this year alone in the US and 150 internationally). Many can build a ministry through clever marketing campaigns, television and radio spots, large conferences and highly refined and skilled musicians playing the latest “sound.” But to grow a ministry solely out of relationship and obedience to the Lord, even when it looks contrary to the world’s idea of what a successful marketing campaign should look like, is striking in how counterintuitive it seems to the natural mind when you see it with your own eyes.
How many ministries have you brought in that would not let you pay for any part of their travel or accommodations but would prefer to stay with you, the pastor and your family, even if it meant sleeping on the couch, for the sake of building a relationship with you? Not to overgeneralize, but in my experience, bringing in a “big” name ministry often comes with a list of conditions which typically includes separate hotel accommodations, green room, minimum attendance requirements, venue size, etc. Dan was clear that he did not expect an offering to be taken, or a cover charge applied for those who wanted to attend, to make sure he at least covered the costs of his visit. He came with one goal, “to pour myself out and leave a deposit” and that is precisely what he did. That is a rather remarkable attitude if you think about it, especially in our culture that revolves around ME getting MINE.
I have been excited to watch people’s lives begin to transform as they learn the gospel is not a gospel of THEM, but the gospel of HIM. We are learning that Jesus was the pattern and if He came to lay his life down for others, how can we do any less than take up our crosses and actually follow Him? The main takeaway I had from that weekend is that when I wake up every morning, I no longer have to wake up to what others owe me or must do for me, but for what I can do for others because of what HE has done in me. As I learn to die to my “SELF” and put on the new nature which is the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, I can live with no expectations of what anyone else “owes” me. I realize that my life was already fulfilled in Him and there is nothing anyone owes me that will “make me more complete” than I already am in Him. I believe if we learn to Love God and Love people as Jesus loved us, that is sacrificially, He will work through us to bring transformation to our city and region one submitted soul at a time. God is not looking for a bunch of “confessing” Christians who are public wonders but private blunders, he is looking for a people who will humble themselves before Him and allow Him to transform them in such a way that our public and private personas are ultimately a reflection of Him. Few things cause more damage than confessing Christians who call Jesus savior but make everything else in their lives “LORD.” The Lord is preparing a bride who is spotless and above reproach, not because of our own good works or our own righteousness, but because we have allowed His righteousness to transform us.
It has been said, God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called provided we respond to his call.
Called to and sent from Idaho Falls: Jim Spencer
(written by Charles Barnes)
Jim Spencer pastored Shiloh Foursquare Church in Idaho Falls (and its predecessors Shiloh Chapel and Shiloh Christian Center) from 1980 to 1989. He left Idaho Falls to devote his full time to the ministry he founded to win Mormons to Christ, “Through the Maze”. Jim passed away last Sunday in Boise.
Jim was born in Basin, Wyoming in 1942. After service in the Navy, he worked for an electronics firm in Southern California, and according to his book, Beyond Mormonism, An Elder’s Story, his life at this time was filled with women, gambling and booze. Yet he knew he was searching for something more in life. That search took him to Alaska, and then back to California. Through the testimony of a close boyhood friend and numerous visits from LDS missionaries, Jim was persuaded to become a Mormon; he was baptized in Santa Ana in 1964. Over the next ten years he served in numerous positions, including stake missionary, youth worker and, for five years, gospel doctrine class teacher. In 1966, he married Margaretta Long in the Idaho Falls Temple. In early 1969, the family moved from California to St. Anthony so that Jim could attend Ricks College for two years, where he majored in journalism. After a year at Arizona State University, the family moved back to Idaho and Jim worked at the Rexburg Standard Journal. Reflecting on this time in his life, he wrote:
“A nagging sense of emptiness haunted the nooks and crannies of my mind. Something within me, in quiet moments, cried out that my life was shallow and unfulfilling. What could be wrong? What was missing? For one thing, I was beginning to feel genuine disappointment in the Church. I was becoming convinced that something basic was missing. I had tried, God knew, to fit into the organization. In fact, I had fit in so successfully that no one knew I was dissatisfied.
So Jim’s personal search continued. He took his family on a trip to Illinois and Missouri to visit historic LDS sites, and on the trip had contact with various Mormon splinter groups who raised more questions in his mind. He began an investigation of LDS Church history. And he probed various people – the Presbyterian pastor in St. Anthony, a childhood friend who had become a Baptist, a man he thought was a Catholic priest – with his questions, and they all pointed him to a relationship with Jesus. These conversations led up to what Jim would later refer to his experience on the “Sugar City Curve”, while commuting between Rexburg and St. Anthony.
I entered the curve a self-centered intellectual failure who, after ten years on a treadmill of religious performance, was about as far from knowing God as I had been when I joined the Mormon Church. I was sick of myself. Sick of religion. Sick of life. “God,” I said, “Where are You? Where am I going? What am I supposed to do?”
Well, Jim, came the response, let’s start at the beginning. The problem is, you are doing things your own way. You say you want to find Me. O.K., here’s how to do it. Turn your life over to Me.
I must be crazy, I thought, I’m having a two-way conversation in my head. But Mike had said I needed to talk to God. Fred said I needed a personal experience with Christ. Maybe this was it. Just in case it was, I wasn’t about to pass up the chance.
O.K. God, I said, You say I’m supposed to what?
Give Me your life.
Yeah, right. But what do You mean?
You don’t seem to be listening.
I am listening. I’m just not understanding. Do you mean do what those radio evangelists tell you – give your heart to Jesus?
But I don’t even know what that means.
It means that you give Me permission to do anything with you that I want.
What do you mean by anything?
Anything means anything.
I had no idea of the full implications of the talk I had with God that day. It would take weeks for me to recognize the deep significance of those sixty seconds when I said yes to Him on the Sugar City Curve. That afternoon I felt an irresistible desire to read the Bible. So after supper I found a copy of a New Testament called Good News for Modern Man (I had no idea where I got it) and went down to the basement by myself. What I read put the finishing touches on the contact begun earlier in the day.
This was 1974. Pockets of revival were springing up in Idaho Falls and other places in the Eastern Idaho. Through these Jim found fellowship and encouragement, and in Christ he found the answer to his deepest need. It took two more years before his wife – who at first was ready to send Jim packing and seek a divorce, but then started seeing the change in his life, experiencing love in Christian churches, reading materials Jim had around the house, and for whom a lot of people were praying – responded to an evangelist’s invitation at the Community Church in St. Anthony.
While pastoring in Idaho Falls, Jim wrote his first book, Beyond Mormonism, An Elder’s Story. He later wrote eight other books, as well as hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles. After leaving Idaho Falls and founding Through the Maze Ministry, he traveled extensively, holding seminars in local churches, and seeing many Mormons come to Christ. In 1996 he and Ed Decker presented a seminar on Mormonism in Idaho Falls that was sponsored by fifteen local churches.
If you have stories of how God used Jim during his years in Idaho Falls, please contact us or post them on the Jesus in Idaho Falls Facebook page.
Jim’s obituary (more than was published in the Post Register), and tributes from people whose lives he touched, can be found at http://www.cremationsociety-idaho.com/obituaries/James-Richardson-Spencer-4632637924/#!/Obituary.
Our city is gearing up for the July 4th celebration on Monday. Parade. Family picnics. Downtown music. Evening fireworks over the Snake River. It’s a pretty cool time. We celebrate our independence.
Freedom is a gift. We thank God above.
Written by Charles Barnes:
In the history of the churches in Idaho Falls, the pastor with the longest record of service, at 50 years, is Rev. Donald Austin. The pastor with the second longest period of service in Idaho Falls is Dr. Joseph Gulick, who served here from 1923 to 1959. Here is a brief account of his story.
Joseph Isaac Gulick was born on a farm near White House, New Jersey in 1890. One of his earliest memories, before he turned three, was seeing his mother frantically trying to revive his father, who had come into their house from farm work and collapsed onto the floor from heart failure. Following his death, the family, with 4 young children, moved to his grandparents’ farm.
Joseph writes that when he was about 12, became tired of school and decided to quit. I could see no use in “wasting time” on such things as grammar, learning to phrase and diagram. So he went to work on neighboring farms and later learned the blacksmith trade. After several years working as a blacksmith he was overcome with the desire to go to college, and prayed to God for months to make it possible.
God answered his prayers when after a church service, the minister pulled him aside and told him, “Joseph, I can’t understand it, but something has been working on me, pushing me, telling me that I ought to talk to you about going to college and preparing for the ministry! Have you ever thought of it?” So Joseph started the long process of finishing grade school, completing high school, and going on to college and finally seminary.
His college years were interrupted by a year of sickness. Joseph came down with a severe case of typhoid fever, and was cared for by his mother and brothers. At one point his heart stopped, and his mother dropped to her knees and prayed desperately for God to give him back to them. Another time when he was sinking low, he sensed he was floating through a tunnel. He writes, “At the end of the tunnel, light was shining. I floated slowly toward a ball of indescribably beautiful colors! Around about were equally beautiful sounds! Instinctively I knew I was drawing near a theophany—a manifestation of God!”
His illness left him weak from a loss of weight and angry with God for getting even farther behind in his education and also because of a broken engagement. He writes, “God was letting me pass through the furnace so I would understand lives of people who later came to me for help.”
He also had an experience one Sunday afternoon when he went out into the woods to “wrestle with God and while there, I had a dramatic conversion experience, not unlike St. Paul’s on the Damascus Highway.” Many years later he wrote of it, “What a powerful evangelist I might have become had that Pressure of God’s Presence remained with me as I felt for some days after that experience of joy and inner illumination in the woods. But though it gradually faded, I had been given both new conviction and a new life direction by it!”
Prior to his final year in Princeton Seminary, he took a summer assignment in Soda Springs, Idaho. Back at Princeton he received many letters from individuals in Soda Springs asking him to return, and Joseph tried to persuade other students at Princeton Seminary to go. Finally he prayed to the Lord for guidance and had an immediate answer, “Go, and I will go with you!”
Borrowing money for the trip West, Joseph arrived in Soda Springs on May 31, 1920. In the nearly three years he spent there, the congregation grew from 36 to 105, and for the first time in their history, became self-supporting. He began raising funds for a new building, but ran into opposition within the congregation and the community, and sensed it was time for him to move on. Soda Springs’ loss was Idaho Falls’ gain. However, just before coming to Idaho Falls, Joseph married a member of the Soda Springs congregation, Winifred Louise Ferebauer, and gained a family, as she had two young sons.
On an earlier visit to Idaho Falls, Joseph had been impressed by the architecture of the newly constructed Presbyterian Church. He writes in his autobiography, “As I left the sanctuary, a sudden prophetic insight swept my soul, ‘This is yours! God will call you to this church to serve it!’”
In 1919, Idaho Falls was in the midst of the post-World War I boom, enjoying a period of prosperity. The town was growing and churches were flourishing. The First Presbyterian Church had been organized in 1891, and that same year they built a small building at Shoup and A Streets. They met there until 1917, when they had grown to about 260 members and were cramped in their building. Temporarily meeting in a building hastily constructed on Eastern Avenue south of the present Museum, they began construction at their current location in 1918 and dedicated the building on April 11, 1920. Then the depression of 1920-1921 hit. Jobs were lost, people were leaving Idaho Falls. The congregation of First Presbyterian, which had grown to 366 by 1920, was reduced to 155 in 1923. Pledges that had been made toward funding the building were not being fulfilled.
According to the history of the First Presbyterian Church, “Dr. Joseph Gulick came to the church in 1923 on a starvation wage, supplementing his income by teaching history at Idaho Falls High School.” Joseph Gulick actually taught three history classes and one English class, and for it received a salary of $150/month. Still there came a time when he needed to withdraw the last cent from his bank account to buy groceries. Many years later he reflected, “This was to be the story of our years of ministry in Idaho Falls—through daily prayer attempting to secure God’s guidance, and in every crisis, going into the sanctuary at night, lifting our eyes to the beautiful dome above and beseeching God for help!” He also wrote that his time teaching at Idaho Falls High School “caused me to be favorable known by both Mormons and Gentiles.”
Rev. Gulick served at the First Presbyterian Church of Idaho Falls for 36 years.
“The first thing that needed to be done,” he wrote, “was to encourage a very discouraged congregation and to make them aware of God’s presence with them.”
One of the first needs he focused on was building a youth group. When he came to the church there was none, and the “Old Guard” had no interest in teens. Within three years, over 70 were coming to the youth group meeting he started.
One of the next needs he saw was to pay off the debt for their building. In January 1925, after his sermon he invited all the men who wanted to be part of a campaign to reduce the debt to come into his study. Nearly every man showed up; many couldn’t get in. Both men and women took up the challenge, and Joseph later reflected, “It was a demonstration of the presence and power of God in the life of His Church.”
In January 1929, Rev. Gulick began broadcasting worship services over KGIO radio (which later became KID). According to his autobiography, it was the first religious broadcast in Idaho.
Two of the goals of the church in 1931 were: (1) a 25% increase in average attendance and (2) a new experience of the Presence of Christ in our lives, and a new loyalty to the church and the Kingdom. The church made that year, which was their 40th anniversary, a year of prayer.
In 1932, Joseph asked for a year of leave, in order to work on his Master’s Degree. He took his family to Washington DC where he and his two sons all studied at George Washington University.
Coming back to Idaho Falls alone, while his sons continued their studies and his wife stayed with them, he threw himself into his ministry. “One thing that contributed to the work pressure upon me was my inability to delegate responsibility to others. It was my custom to pitch into every project and do everything possible that I myself could do.” One Sunday night he discovered a leak in the church roof. As he worked to minimize the damage, he became angry at the church trustees for not repairing the roof, and an elder and his wife who were leisurely visiting with his wife instead of helping him. The following day, as he was walking to Emerson School to give an address to the Parent Teachers Association, he became disoriented. He eventually got to the school but as he began his talk, he felt weak, sat down, felt sharp pains in his cheeks, and then collapsed. It was the beginning of long days of both mental and physical pain and depression.
In his words, “It was a jagged, wounding, storm-covered mountain top experience in my life, but God was in and throughout it all, hammering and tempering His instrument as the blacksmith tempers his metal in the heat and cold.” He gives much credit to his wife for getting him through this period of weakness. He also came to understand that because of it he could better minister to people with mental problems, and it taught him not to try to carry so much responsibility on his shoulders.
In 1947 Joseph completed his Doctor of Divinity Degree through the College of Idaho.
Remembering the years 1947-50, Dr. Gulick writes, “If certain important events were like mountain peaks on the skyline of Idaho Falls Presbyterian Church history, the “New Life Movement” launched by the General Assembly in 1947 was the Mount Everest of them all! It was the period in the Idaho Falls Church’s history when the Holy Spirit’s directing Presence and Power, like that reported in the Book of Acts, was felt more vividly than at any other time.”
Prior to this date, for many years the church had not been adding more than 20 members annually. And over the years Dr. Gulick had become sort of a “Community Pastor,” with an increasing load of funerals, counselling sessions and community demands. [He was also called “The Fishing Preacher,” as he spent one day, and sometimes two days, each week during fishing season on the river.] One focus of the New Live Movement was personal witness. Following a 5-day training session at a Regional Conference and a sermon series focused on an individual’s relationship with Christ, teams were ready. On Monday, November 17, 1947, 18 men went out in pairs to share the gospel. Though 16 of the 18 men had never spoken to anyone about a relationship with Christ before, that day the teams led 21 people in decisions to become followers of Christ. The following Sunday 50 people became new members of the church, and over the next 13 months more than 175 people found Christ. Dr. Gulick writes, “Though I had always relied upon the Holy Spirit, I needed to realize that the Holy Spirit can work through others as well as myself, and it is wisdom to involve others, especially the men, in the work of church visitation.”
After 30 years of ministry in Idaho Falls, Dr. Gullick took a sabbatical in 1953 to study for six months in Israel, Egypt and Europe. After getting home he showed slides of his trip 96 times and gave 21 lectures based on what he saw and learned.
Dr. Gulick’s final Sunday in the pulpit at the Presbyterian Church in Idaho Falls was June 28, 1959, but his ministry was not over. The first year of his “retirement,” Dr. Gulick served as the District Governor of Rotary. During the next seven years he led churches in Swan Valley, Ririe and Rigby. In 1967 he entered into complete retirement in order to devote himself completely to the care of his wife, who was suffering from declining health, and passed away in September, 1969. Joseph Gulick died in Idaho Falls on March 3, 1972.
[Note: My primary source for the above was a copy of the first 118 pages of his autobiography, Joseph I Gulick, God’s Missionary, privately published and undated. I have not been able the find the remaining 152 pages. If you have a copy or know of one, or have memories of Dr. Gulick that would add to this story, please contact me.]
Written by Charles Barnes
Both Isaiah (Is 65:17) and John (Rev 21:1) reveal that God will create a new heaven and a new earth. Jesus Himself, through His resurrection, is the first evidence of this new creation. But Scripture reveals that as God prepared the garden for Adam and Eve, so the new heaven and earth will be prepared for Christ’s bride, and He is at work now forming that bride after the pattern of Jesus, the second Adam. Jesus has been at work throughout the history of Idaho Falls drawing men and women to Himself, giving them new life, forming them into His bride.
That new creation is born of His Spirit and not always clearly evident. But like seeing the effects of the wind, we can observe over time changes in lives and effects of the new birth. We can only guess how many men and women and children in Eagle Rock and Idaho Falls have become living stones in the spiritual house that Jesus is building. And at any moment we choose to observe, we are seeing a work in progress; He is not done shaping and refining those stones He has chosen. In the book that Todd and I are writing, one section will contain stories of Jesus’ work of new creation.
Rob & Vicki Callantine
This following story is—very appropriately—mostly about two lives and a marriage. People can get very messed up, both through situations that they have no control over – like families they’re born into – and through their own decisions, some made as responses to the pain of those hard and hurtful situations. As the Spirit brooded over the “formless and void” earth, Jesus is still creating order from empty and wasted lives. And as Jesus humbled Himself and became obedient to the cross, so He can come to us in our pain, offering and giving us His love, His resurrection life, and the great value of being included in His family.
Rob Callantine was born and raised in Pocatello. When he was only 7 months old, Rob’s 17-year old mother, his maternal grandparents and an uncle all died in a car accident. His father survived the accident, but was in a coma for 5 days and in the hospital for 6 months. Being in the Navy, his father couldn’t take care of Rob. So he was shuffled between relatives for the next 14 years, never feeling like he belonged. Looking back on his childhood, Rob can see that he was unable to form appropriate social relationships or to give and receive love. During his childhood he was both a victim of abuse and an abuser himself. At age 15 he moved in with his dad, who was then a truck driver and rarely at home, and not a good model for Rob because of his drinking and cocaine use.
In his high school years, having little supervision, Rob drank, smoked marijuana, tried meth and dropped out of school. His promiscuity resulted in a son, and he moved in with his girlfriend. But after a couple years, his girlfriend moved out, taking his son. That left Rob depressed and he got heavily into using methamphetamines. About this time his father moved in with him and the two of them began dealing drugs. His depression worsened, but until his money ran out, he was almost always high. Then he became homeless too. When another girlfriend offered to help get Rob into rehab, he realized he didn’t have any better options.
Vicki was born and raised in Ucon. Her family was one of only a few non-LDS in the community, but since both her parents worked, she had LDS babysitters and from them learned many LDS songs. When she was in the 4th grade, her parents got divorced. Following her mother’s remarriage, Vicki was sexually abused by a relative for several years. What little faith in God she had gleaned from her childhood was destroyed, and she considered herself an atheist.
In high school Vicki’s grades went from straight A’s to D’s as she got into smoking pot and drinking. After graduating from high school, a boyfriend proposed “twice” and Vicki refused twice, but then accepted. They were married in August of 1987, and seventeen months later moved to Guam. While there she gave birth to a daughter. However her marriage was not good, as her husband was unfaithful to her and had a drinking problem.
Vicki started attending the University of Guam, and then came back to the States to attend the University of Montana in Missoula. In a few weeks she came down with a severe case of chicken pox and also discovered she was pregnant. Her husband was not happy about the pregnancy and pressured her to abort the baby, which she did. He then left her for another woman.
Vicki had started on a quest to discover who God is while in Guam, but was resistant when some Christians, whom they shared their living quarters with, shared the gospel with her. In Missoula she continued questioning and praying. In 1995 she dropped out of college and moved back to Idaho Falls. Here she had 8 or 9 visits from LDS missionaries, but when she went to an LDS service and saw that men and women were segregated, she wanted nothing more to do with Mormonism. Later when she became sexually involved with a guy who was young in his Christian faith and laid heavy blame on her for their affair, Vicki was turned off to Christianity too.
In 1999, she got a job at a Maverik Store in Idaho Falls. Her supervisor was Rob. After going through rehab and spending a couple months in a halfway house in Tucson, Rob had come back to Blackfoot and was living at his girlfriend’s parents’ house. Rob was serious about this girl and had proposed marriage to her; she was also working at the same Maverik store. But he hadn’t gotten clean; he and his girlfriend were smoking pot together. Nor was he faithful to her, as he had an affair with Vicki, and she became pregnant.
As Christmas of 2001 approached, Vicki took on a second job, working 80 hours per week. Knowing she needed to stay awake for long periods she went to Rob for drugs, and they began using them together. For Vicki, life got weird very fast. Rob’s relationship with his girlfriend ended, he moved in with Vicki, and the following July they got married. Things were cool when they were high together, but in between Rob was violent and abusive.
For days at a time, Rob and Vicki would lock themselves in their bedroom, turning on the television to provide background noise to hide what they were doing from the kids. As they got high, they would often listen to Rick Brown on TV, preaching from the Bible. By New Year’s Day, 2005, they were ready to get off drugs and get their lives together. But for Rob it lasted less than two weeks. Vicki went 55 days without using drugs, but when she heard her ex-husband had committed suicide, she again used the excuse that she needed to stay awake during the drive to his funeral in Denver.
A few months later, Vicki’s mother, who knew about her drug abuse, made Vicki an offer to come live at her house. Vicki thought about it for a couple days, got high one last time, and after verbally pushing Rob to violence, took the girls and left him. After staying a week and a half at her mother’s, she went to the Haven Shelter. While at the Haven, divorce papers were prepared, but Vicki decided to wait to turn them in. Rob went to live with his dad in Pocatello, but that environment was so saturated with using and dealing meth, he didn’t stay long, as he knew that to get his wife and family back, he would need to get off and stay off of drugs.
So in early 2007 Rob came back to Idaho Falls, staying in a motel for a few days and then at the City of Refuge. There he met a man who talked about Jesus as if he knew Him personally, and that impressed Rob. Calvary Chapel was teaching their Pure Word classes at the City of Refuge on Monday nights, and Rob went. The leader of the class took Rob out for coffee two weeks in a row, and the last week Rob was at the City of Refuge, he stayed off drugs.
Using some tax refund money, Rob got an apartment and celebrated by getting high. After the first night in the apartment, he realized he still wasn’t clean, and wouldn’t get his family back. Rob got so low that he decided to buy a cheap gun and end his life, but in despair he cried out to God, “If there’s any way You want anything to do with a piece of trash like me, now’s Your chance. But You better do it now as I have no more hope.”
Jesus took him up on the challenge, with some very clear, specific instructions:
“Stand up!” Rob did.
“Go in the kitchen!” Rod did.
“Throw your drugs in the trash!” For the first time, Rob understood that his drugs were trash.
“Go back into the living room. I have always loved you; you have always been one of my children.” Never had Rob felt such acceptance.
“This pain and destruction you’ve been causing was never My plan for you. I sent My Son to die for you. If you will give Me your life, I will blow your mind.”
To Rob at this point, giving God his life was a no-brainer, and the moment he did, he was overwhelmed by God’s love, and by a sense of being cleansed. He remembers, “I felt like I was underneath a waterfall; I felt crushed and cleansed under the weight of God’s love. I broke down in uncontrollable sobbing.” Rob finally fell asleep, and when he woke up, he relates that life had color and warmth that it hadn’t had before, and that he was filled with hope and confidence that he could do the right thing. Rob was born again.
Calvary Chapel was holding their Easter Service in the Civic Auditorium that year, and Vicki agreed to meet Rob there for the service. Vicki had been attending Calvary Chapel for several months. But as Rob tried to explain to her what had happened to him, she thought, “Rob got high and he’s crazy”, and refused to take him seriously for nine months.
Rob was soaking up all he could find about this new relationship with Christ, asking questions at Pure Word classes, reading books recommended by a Calvary Chapel pastor, and living at Calvary Chapel’s halfway house. He got a job working for one of the leaders of Pure Word that gave him more opportunities to ask questions. At first he found verses in the Bible he just had to share with Vicki, but he learned quickly he needed to patiently give her time. Yet Rob still had a deep sense of loneliness and a longing to be back with his family. Vicki had been going to counseling, but wasn’t showing signs of coming back. So Rob was brought to another place of surrender to God’s will, allowing God to do whatever He wanted with Vicki and their marriage.
A week later she called and told him, “I think I’m ready.”
Rob saved up his money, found a house to rent, moved into the house in March, 2008 and Vicki and the girls joined him the following month. When Calvary Chapel had their annual baptism at the river the following August the whole family got baptized, declaring their faith in Christ and their new life through His death and resurrection.
Both Rob and Vicki now work with the Idaho Falls Rescue Mission. Rob started in May, 2012 at the Ark, and later served as supervisor of FAITH Housing. He is now lead supervisor of the City of Refuge men’s shelter. When Vicki was asked to be a case manager at the Ruth House in April, 2014, she wasn’t sure she was ready for the responsibility, but she was willing. A couple months later she was handed the position of supervisor of the Ruth House, which she’s been doing with the Lord’s help – since.
Jesus takes the dust of the earth—lives that have been hurt, broken, destroyed—and breathes His new life into them. That’s what Rob and Vicki know from experience and what empowers them daily as they work with people at the Ruth House and Ark and City of Refuge. His ways are not always obvious. Was it Jesus who held Vicki back from turning in the papers to divorce Rob, and gave Rob the persistence to pursue his marriage after Vicki walked out on him? How many people did He send to each of them as a witness of His grace and healing love? Jesus not only gives new life, and brings people out of what destroys life, but He also restores relationships—such as Rob and Vicki’s marriage—and invites us to share in His work of inviting people into His family and building the house of living stones in which He Himself dwells.
Written by Charles Barnes
All the names of this community we call home can be an encouragement to us, the body of Christ in Idaho Falls, to remember what Jesus has done and what our mission here is.
The first name for this place was “Flathead Crossing.” This story is well documented in Chapter 27 of Barzilla Clark’s, Bonneville County in the Making, published in 1941. In a nutshell, this is the story of an unreached people group hungry for the gospel, so hungry they would send several delegations, the first two of which lost their lives, on long journeys to learn the gospel from what, at the time, was known as the “White Man’s Book.” And it’s a reminder to us that there is still a harvest; God is at still work drawing hearts of residents of Idaho Falls and elsewhere to Himself.
The name “Idaho Falls” is a reminder of God’s hand in transforming a place that all the early explorers called desolate and inhabitable into the city we have today through water. The pioneers dug the irrigation ditches, but God supplied the water to sustain life, just as he supplies the water of His Spirit to give new life to barren lives.
During 25 years or so prior to 1891, this place was called “Eagle Rock.” Eagle Rock is the place that eagles live. One history of the city reports that 20 eagles were seen at the site of the Eagle Rock Ferry. Recent Idaho Fish and Game studies indicate that there are more nesting eagles along the South Fork than any other place in Idaho. At least 23 businesses and 2 churches in town incorporate “Eagle Rock” into their name.
Of Scripture verses that mention eagles, two in particular are rich in meaning. In Exodus 19, when Moses climbed Mount Sinai to meet with God, the first thing God tells him to tell the people of Israel is “You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I lifted you on eagles wings, and brought you to Myself” (Ex 19:4). Many translations, instead of “lifted” read “bore” or “carried” and the Hebrew word can mean any or all of these. But it’s the same word that used in Ps 24:7, Lift up your heads, O gates, and be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in! The word is used in Isaiah 6:1, I saw the Lord, high and lifted up, and it’s the word used in many Psalms referring to lifting up hands or hearts or eyes to the Lord in worship. Why did God use eagles, rather than camels or horses or oxen, to illustrate how he brought His people out of slavery and to the mountain where He chose to dwell? Because eagles fly; eagles fly high, and God needed to lift His people up to where He was.
Isaiah 40:31 is another verse mentioning eagles – Those who wait upon the Lord will gain new strength, they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired; they will walk and not become weary. God’s people, who would be taken captive to Babylon, would need to get their eyes off of their captivity and onto God, and to “see” that he would deliver them like he did His people from Egypt, that He would give them strength to return to the land, to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. But before they could run and walk and build they needed to ascend like eagles into God’s presence, to grasp the work that He was doing and involving them in – “Get yourselves up on a high mountain, O Zion, bearer of good news, lift up your voice mightily” (Is 40:9), to proclaim the news of His return to the mountains (powers or kingdoms) of the world.
Jesus was lifted up on the cross; He was raised from the dead; He ascended into heaven and seated at God’s right hand, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named. And God raised us up with Him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:6).
As God lifted up the Israelites to the place where He dwelt, so God has raised us up in Christ, has brought us to Himself, so the eyes of our hearts can be enlightened. So we can see farther. So we can see clearer. So we can see in His light and not be blinded by the darkness of the world, the lies of the world, the gods of this world. So we can get a perspective that’s normally hidden from us by the sinful world we live in. So we can receive new strength, strength that transforms us and enables us to be His priests.
So whenever you see the name “Eagle Rock” or see an eagle soaring above the city or the South Fork, remember that God raised Jesus and has raised you up in Christ to where He dwells, to see, understand and be empowered to do His work in this city.