“I’ve Got A Secret”

“I’ve Got A Secret”

Each week, as I edit and prepare the prayer list, I’m amazed at the Christians with the same problems who say, I’ve got a secret, but please don’t show this request on the air. Their secrets usually fall into five categories, homosexuality – adultery – alcoholism, drug addiction or pornography.

I’ve got a secret prayer requests are usually just signed Anonymous and submitted under the heading Deliverance. It’s as if they were all from the same person although they are from all over the world. They all have a secret, a secret sin that is destroying them and their relationship with God.

Some people may think it’s the new baby Christians who haven’t been in the church long enough to overcome their worldly habits and may just need more teaching to put aside these secret things. Not so, it’s all ages, ranks and files. We receive requests from the pulpit to the pew because Satan is no respecter of persons and he knows secrets will destroy you.

Several years ago, a well-known televangelist had a secret that was eventually exposed before the entire world. When he was asked why he didn’t seek help and tell someone, his answer was, as famous as I am, who was I going to tell? I urge you to tell your secret to your spouse or tell your secret to a trusted friend, but tell somebody so it will no longer be a secret and you will become accountable. The most powerful weapon the enemy has against you and your secret are the lies that have to accompany it.

All of these requests have one thing in common; they are asking for the prayer of deliverance from this secret. While one person may plead to be delivered after all their attempts have failed, another may admit they have a secret but their request is to have the 3ABN Prayer Warriors do something about it.

One particular request was worded like this; I love to drink beer, especially on the weekends. Usually I’m hung-over on Sabbath mornings and unable to go to church. So please have the prayer warriors pray that I would quit. He didn’t say he was addicted; he said that he loved beer. He didn’t say he needed deliverance; he asked for prayer for him to quit. The Bible tells us to crucify the flesh and cast out demons–it does not tell us to cast out the flesh and crucify demons. There are times when it’s not a matter of deliverance but a matter of fessing-up and putting the deeds of the flesh to death.

In 1952 a new TV game show debuted called “I’ve Got a Secret.” Four celebrity panelists tried to guess an unknown-to-them secret, which the contestant whispered in the host’s ear; the secret was always shown to the television and studio audiences. Panelists had one 30-second period to ask questions that would help them try to guess the secret. If the panelists were unable to guess the secret, the contestant won a cash prize and then had to tell the panel their secret. What if our churches had an “I’ve Got a Secret” panel where we are sitting there with our secret and it’s about to be exposed? We have to tell the truth, so even if the panel doesn’t guess it; we still have to admit it openly.

Hello, we do have such a panel. It’s the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, but they aren’t asking questions or guessing, they already know what our secret is and are waiting for us to confess it before them. They want to hear it and also hear you ask forgiveness. One John 1:9 says, “ If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Don’t be fearful of telling the Father what He already knows, because when God asks you a question, He is not looking for information.

Matthew 10:26: “For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.”

12/12/2012

“See You in January!”

“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.” 1 Timothy 4:1

Many of 3ABN’s viewers are new to our in-depth teachings on prophecy and end­­–time events, so it was understandable when the 3ABN pastoral ministries department started receiving calls and prayer requests about the Mayan calendar and the prediction that the world would end on December 21, 2012. They’d been watching videos about all the ways the earth was going to be destroyed, and were actually very fearful.

Fear vs. Faith

The first thing they needed to hear was that fear activates Satan, the same way faith activates God. Next, they needed to hear that neither the Mayans, nor their calendar, held a clue as to how or when the world as we know it would end.

The related videos and latest books on the subject caused me to take a closer look at the Scripture, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God.” 1 Corinthians 3:19. I was amazed by what I was reading and hearing—amazed that people could come up with such absurd theories as the shifting of the earth’s magnetic poles or a galactic alignment of stars pulling the earth out of orbit. Some research theorists even believe it will usher in the return of Bolon Yokte—a ancient and mysterious extraterrestrial astronaut god!

I actually laughed at some of these. However, the Holy Spirit humbled me as I read the seriousness of the prayer requests. These people were looking for answers and they were looking for hope.

Another Prediction

My mind went back to 1987, before Mollie and I were Seventh-day Adventists. Our church had begun to grow almost overnight, and they just kept coming! I soon found out the reason: a little booklet entitled, 88 Reasons The Rapture Will Happen In 1988. They were attending because of fear—using Jesus as a fire escape!

The author, Edgar C. Whisenant, was a former NASA engineer, and he sold 4.5 million copies because people didn’t want to miss the Secret Rapture. He didn’t make it much of a secret, though, because he predicted the day it was to occur.

His predictions were taken seriously in many parts of the evangelical Christian community. As the date approached, a major Christian television network interrupted regular programming to provide special instructions on how to prepare for the Rapture. When it didn’t occur, Whisenant wrote books predicting other dates in 1989, 1993, and 1994. They all flopped.

Trying to correct this error, I started a series on 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Could Not Happen in 1988. My foundational texts were Amos 3:7, “Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets,” and Acts 3:19-21, “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.”

I shared how Heaven must retain (keep) Jesus until prophecy is fulfilled, and through God’s Word, some saw the rapture wasn’t going to happen but stayed in church, while others saw no need, and left.

The Sum Total

Let’s add it all up. The sum total of the Mayan 2012 calendar, 88 Reasons for the Rapture, or any Nostradamus nonsense, is a big fat zero! They all add up to nothing, because they don’t line up with God’s Word! Remember, anything contrary to God’s Word is a lie.

So, I’ll see you in January!

By Hal Steenson

 

 

“The Check Up From The Neck Up”

As I looked at some old vacation photographs, I was reminded of how hot it was that week, even for the Great Smoky Mountains. I had on shorts in the picture, and with my skinny legs, that was a rare occurrence!

In the photo, some of us were sitting on a concrete bench, trying to catch our breath on our way up to Clingmans’ Dome, the highest point in the Smokies. There’s a 16-mile drive through the forest from Gatlinburg, Tennessee, to Newfound Gap, then another seven miles to the Dome. The temperature from the Gap to the Dome usually drops about 20 to 30 degrees, but on that blistering July day, the heat seemed to actually rise. And not until we reached the Dome parking area were we made aware of the quarter-mile uphill walk to the observation tower—at a 45-degree angle!

The Check Up

It was then that God decided to give me a check up from the neck up, a real-time life lesson. We were about halfway up the trail, and boy, was I complaining! “This is a National Park; surely they have the money to install some easier way to get up this hill!” I griped. “I don’t understand why they don’t have a tram to shuttle people up and down this mountain. At the very least they might offer golf carts for fat people like me. I’d be happy to pay for a ride to the top!”

Then God stepped in.

It came from behind us. Someone was laughing. No, two people were laughing, and they were laughing hysterically!

What in the name of pinecones could be so funny on this mountain? I wondered. Nothing about this was funny to me. And not only were they laughing, they were making all kinds of strange noises! Squeaking sounds, like wheels turning; and stomping sounds, like a soldier marching in combat boots.

Loving Every Minute

I turned around just in time to see a tall, lanky country boy taking long strides and almost running up the path in a pair of cowboy boots! He was pushing a wheelchair and laughing at his wife, who was having the ride of her life as they headed for the Dome.

“Excuse me sir, excuse me Ma’am,” I heard him say politely, “We’re coming through.” Then she laughed even harder.

I might add that she was no frail little thing, either, so his work was cut out for him—and he was loving every minute of it! She laughed, and he laughed, as they headed for the top of the world.

Looking for a Hole

At first, everyone on the path stood there, shocked; then they began to laugh and rejoice with the couple. I laughed a little, too—then looked for a hole to climb into and hide!

How many people around us heard me griping and complaining? I wondered. And what do I really have to nitpick over? My wife is healthy and walking by my side.

Why wasn’t he complaining? Maybe because they were too busy enjoying life to concern themselves with unimportant things. Maybe they were too much in love with each other that day to be thinking about anything else.

Perhaps that the man got up every day, looked at her, and said, “Thank God you’re alive!”

Perhaps she answered, “Thank God that I have you!” and they both laughed.

~~~

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” Philippians 4:8.

 

Pastor Hal Steenson

“Holy–And Happy”

Years ago, while in seminary, we visited what was then called a psychiatric institution. I had the opportunity to sit in on several group therapy sessions, and the one that impressed me the most was the group with the older teens and young adults who came from different race, social, and religions backgrounds.

At the start of every session the group leader would go around the circle and ask the same two questions to each one capable of participating. The questions were: Where are you on a scale from 1 to 10 today, and what are your goals for today?

Not surprisingly, the answers were the same almost every day. They all answered, “I am a 10,” (then usually repeated it), “I am a 10 today.” Their goal for the day was always the same, as well. “My goal is to take my meds and to go home.”

I knew they weren’t a 10, and I knew they weren’t going home, but some of them were so medicated they couldn’t possibly know who they were, or even where they were. They just sat there like zombies.

However, the one exception was a young man of about 17. His answers were different. He would say, “I’m about a 6 or 7 today, and my goal for today is to have fun.” The instructor would always if he had any other goals, but he would reply, “No, just to have fun.”

After each session, we had the chance to pair off with one of the patients and spend a little time with them, so I choose him. He didn’t have much to say until I pushed his magic button—sports! He loved sports and had probably forgotten more than I will ever know about it. When I asked him what sport he played, his eyes began to water as he told me he used to play football.

“What happened,” I asked. “Did you get hurt?”

“No” he said, “I made a B.”

I wasn’t sure what he meant, so I asked, “Why don’t you tell me what happened?”

He told me he’d always wanted to play sports, but his parents wouldn’t allow him to do so because they said it would interfere with his academics. All he ever did was study and go to school—but no outside activities other than church. Then, during the past football season, he went out for the team and made it with outstanding results.

His parents were furious and told him that if his grades dropped, he would be off the team. He had made As all his life, but, for the first time, he made a B—in trigonometry. They demanded he quit the football team, but he refused and left home. When they found him, his parents had him committed. He had made a B.

Then he told me something very profound, but very sad. “Living in the institution is easier than living at home with my parents trying to live their lives through me,” he said.

He knew I was a Seminary student, so I wasn’t surprised when he asked me a question about God. However, the question did surprise me.

“I know God wants us to be holy, but don’t you think He also wants us to be happy?”

Personally, I believe He does. So now, my goal for most days is to have fun.

“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” Proverbs 17:22

 Pastor Hal Steenson

“Come Before Winter”

As I drove up that gusty August afternoon, Hal had just finished hanging the squirrel feeder in the backyard and restoring the dilapidated bird feeder.  I asked what he was doing and he said, “Getting ready for winter.”  Honey, it’s a long way from winter.  “Tell that to the squirrels and birds when the snow starts to fly” was his reply.  The squirrels must store up for winter and the birds need a reliable source of food when snow and ice are covering the ground.

This response reminded me of the words written by the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 4:21 “Do thy diligence to come before winter.”  Paul was in a jail cell in Rome ministering to the saints in Caesars’ household when he ask a young disciple named Timothy to bring him three things.  He asked for his cloke, and he asked for his books and his parchments.  Undoubtedly, these things were of great importance to Paul for several reasons.  First, he asked for his cloke, which is preparation for his health as winter approached.  Next, he asked for his books.  Most likely, they were books of scripture, such as the commandments of God, which would help prepare him for holiness.  Last, Paul asked for the parchments.  These may have been words that the Apostle had personally penned about his Lord and Savior.  Could these parchments have been Paul’s way of preparing for his happiness in spite of being in the winter of his life?

I can’t help but wonder what may have happened if Timothy had been too busy to hang a spiritual bird feeder for Paul, even though winter was approaching.  The Bible is silent on the details concerning the outcome in this matter.  But what if Timothy had arrived in Rome one day too late?  What if he had been attending a leadership conference or working on a special program at church?  What if he didn’t go because he just thought it wasn’t that important and Rome was a long way off?  I would like to believe that Timothy dropped everything he was doing and took these items to his Mentor. Our Lord has many children who are going through cold seasons of their lives such as sickness, depression, divorce or maybe the loss of a dear loved one.  They may need someone willing to come before winter and provide feeders of health, holiness, and happiness. The snow is going to fly, and winter will come, the question is, are you making preparations for yourself and others also?

  Mollie Steenson 3ABN Vice President

“I’m A Card Keeper”

When you are number nine of ten children you learn to accept a lot of things as fact. One fact is that you will only be able to find one or two of your baby pictures. And, if you’re lucky, when your aunts die, your cousins may mail some of your family photos back to you—usually the pictures your mother sent, but now they haven’t a clue who’s who in them (and could actually care less)! The only thing they recognize in the picture is the old Buick Century your daddy drove, because back then, everybody took pictures standing in front of the family car. It was just an unwritten “Kodak Moment” rule: People, car, stand by car, take picture, mail it to distant relatives.

Another fact I learned early that has stuck with me through the years is that since I was the ninth child, birthday parties were not big blowouts. As I recall, they eventually evolved into blowing out one candle atop a cupcake lit with daddy’s Zippo lighter, and a couple of bucks to spend on candy. That is, until my first fancy birthday card—a store-bought birthday card with Superman on the front! My sister Betty Faye had started to work for Woolworth’s Five and Dime, and had bought me that birthday card and some comic books. The comics were great, but the card was awesome. I read it over and over, then read it again and again, and then hid it in my cigar treasure box.

Card Keeper, Card Reader

However, I was addicted. I not only became a card keeper, but also a card reader. In my younger years, I’d find myself in front of the Lloyd’s Drugstore card rack, reading and thinking how a few wonderful words could make my heart spring to life, when only moments before it may have been flatlined with failure and disappointment.

A real “keeper card” doesn’t have to be bodacious, and should be worded in such a way that the person reading it doesn’t need you to underline a single word, because it would distract from the others. I’ve watched in bewilderment as men approach the special occasion card rack displaying hundreds of beautiful cards, then halfheartedly pick, pay for, and intend to present a card to someone they love, when they’re not even sure what it says!

I’m a card keeper. I still have the cards Mollie gave me when we were first married. I have cards my baby sister sent me years ago for my birthday. I have a mountainous collection of refrigerator “I Love You Papa” cards from my children and grandchildren—because I know they meant it. I’m a card keeper.

Today’s e-cards are nice, but there’s just something special about waking up on Valentine morning in the same house as the one you love, and there on the kitchen counter is a card—a “keeper card” that you can pick up in your hands and allow those written words to filter through your fingers into your heart.

It’s a lot like opening up an old Bible that has become so much a part of you, and reading John 3:16 aloud to yourself: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Now there’s a Valentine “I Love You” line! And it’s a keeper because I know our Heavenly Father means it.

Why don’t you send Him an “I Love You Prayer Card?”

I’m sure He’ll keep it!  

  Pastor Hal Steenson

“Press G9 For Prayer”

Mollie and I were on vacation in the Great Smokey Mountains and we had just eaten a wonderful lunch that included a lot of onions and garlic. I needed some breath mints so I headed for the third floor of our hotel and located the snack machine. There on the bottom row was just what I needed, peppermint Lifesavers, eighty cents. The snack machine had a dollar bill changer so I pulled out a buck and carefully noted the correct number to push—I have been known to push the wrong buttons and end up with a little box of ,  or lip-balm. There was the number I needed right next to the price, G9.

Now you have to understand how my mind works, I store things that I really don’t want or need to store but I do it automatically and systematically. For me, the G stood for God and the 9 represented the 9 gifts of the Holy Spirit. So, no problem. I put in the dollar, I heard the change clink in the tray and I pushed G9 and nothing happened. I pushed G9 again and pressed the coin return several times without any results. So, what did I do? I did what anyone else would have done; I put in another dollar. However, this time the malfunctioning mint machine (by now it had sound effects and was talking and laughing at me) not only denied me of my mints; it also kept my twenty cents change. I was mad at the machine so (After being shaken a little by this irate guest,) I was about to head for the lobby.

That’s when I noticed the little sign on the snack machine stating that the hotel management was not liable or at fault for any monies lost in the vending machines and that I would have to report it to  “Joe from Kokomo!” Phooey! As I slowly walked back to my room in an garlic cloud, I pondered with a much higher intelligence than the menacing machine that the G must not have stood for God and the 9 had nothing to do with the Holy Spirit. (I Think)

It was during that short walk however, that I learned a goodly and godly life lesson. That life lesson was that sometimes we treat God like I treated that vending machine.

1. We locate what we want from God by looking through the window of   His Word.

2. We find a Scripture number verse to back us up (G9).

3. Then we put our prayer into the little prayer slot and press G9.

4. Next, we are unable to accept or explain the reasons why nothing happens and our G9 prayers aren’t answered.

5. We are mad at the management because our prayers weren’t answered but we failed to read the little sign, “Management is not responsible for unanswered prayer, and the problem is never with God.”

God is not a prayer “Vending” machine and there are no G9 prayers. God is Love and He is patiently waiting to answer our prayers, but not because of any buttons we push but because … The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16

  Pastor Hal Steenson

“Compassion In Competition”

Mollie and I had not been to a little league baseball game in years and were therefore unfamiliar with the updated rules–such as the coach being the pitcher and the players throwing the ball to the pitcher to stop any player from running to the next base. 

Nonetheless, there were still the age-old standards that popped up at our Grandson’s game. Like one young man sitting in our stands that had the delusion that he was the coach for both teams and was yelling out orders to every kid. It didn’t matter what the base coaches said, this man in the stands thought he was in charge. Never mind what they decided on a close call, he verbalized his own opinion and did it loudly. It was disgusting. I wondered what his son must have thought about him. I thought to myself, things haven’t changed that much since I played!

The pitcher for our six-year-old Grandson’s team was a young man, but the pitcher for the opposing team was a lady name Michelle that worked at a local convenience store and gas-mart in our town. She was always cheerful and had a great personality, but I learned something deeper and richer about her that day at the ballpark. Her team was at bat and as the next batter stepped to the plate someone behind me whispered, This is the first time he’s ever played in a real baseball game and I think it’s the first time he’s ever been at bat–let’s see how he does. He was a little chubby and as awkward goes, that too, but he positioned himself in the batter’s box and waited. First throw, a swing and a miss–the second throw didn’t quite make it there, she was being fair but gentle. Third pitch and bang off the bat and straight to the shortstop. The chubby kid ran as best he could but he was thrown out at first, but remember; he had never played in a real game before so all he heard was Jenny yelling “Run Forrest Run,” so he kept running for first base. He made it to first base and just stood there with a big smile of achievement on his face. The make-believe coach in our stands was mouthing off and saying, “Is that kid stupid, he was out–he needs to get off the base so we can get on with the game.” His wife told him to shut-up and for his sake, I’m glad he did!

What was Michelle going to do? This was a real competition. This was a real catch-22. However, that day it was competition with compassion, as Michelle walked slowly over to him and put her arm around his shoulder, I overheard her say something like, “Wow, you got a hit your very first time at bat–that’s great, not many players can do that. Now we’ll need to go to the dugout and get some water and wait for your next time at bat. Man that was awesome, you really smacked that ball.” The kids in the dugout clapped for him. He was a happy camper and never knew anything was wrong. 

Had it not been for that simple act of compassion, that boy could have been humiliated, shamed and ended up a wounded, brokenhearted outsider. He could have been condemned or mentally scarred for life during a little league baseball game because he didn’t know the rules. Thank God for compassionate people like Michelle.

Then she modestly walked back to the pitcher’s mound and everyone was happy in Little League Heaven. She probably didn’t even realize that she had just saved that chubby little boy’s hopes and dreams. It may be, as a result of her compassion, he will probably grow up to be a godly father or maybe a guidance counselor helping chubby little kids change their Lives. Who knows, he may be a little league coach that puts his arm around your Grandchild and says, “Wow, did you see what you just did? That was great!”

I Peter 3: 8-9 Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous;not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.

  Pastor Hal Steenson

“Help Lord” Ps 12:1

The Texas morning was heavy with July heat, but I didn’t care. Hopping out of bed, I rushed through my chores of milking the cow and releasing the sheep from their pens. I was seven years old and excited. Today I was going fishing!

Gathering my cane pole, hooks, and stringer in one hand, and grabbing my glass jar of grasshoppers with the other, I dashed out the door.  I had visions of returning with a mess of perch to feed my family of five, with a few extra to treat Lassie—my constant companion and best friend. Considering the joy of my potential catch, the thought of cleaning the fish was of little concern.

I ran the quarter mile to the largest of our three tanks on the home place. A “tank” in Texas is a big man-made pond, and this one had the windmill on it. Hearing that familiar squeak of the plunger pipe moving up and down made my heart race with anticipation.
Reaching the water’s edge, I placed my gear on a large rock and baited my hook. Grasshoppers—ugh! It was too dry to find any worms, so these would have to do. I cast my line into the water. No sooner had it settled than the red and white cork disappeared beneath the surface.

With a rush of adrenaline, I yanked hard on my pole, retracting it quickly. My “catch” on the line’s end slammed into my body. To my horror, I had hooked a cottonmouth water moccasin! I slung my pole and franticly ran circles—with the snake in hot pursuit and gaining ground.

Fear gripping my heart, I cried out, “Help, Lord!” A child’s cry for help—the shortest of prayers, but the most powerful. It goes directly to the ears of our Heavenly Father, seated on His throne of grace.

God immediately sent Lassie to my rescue. Barking and charging down the steep edge of the tank, she created enough commotion to scare off the water moccasin. Hugging Lassie close and thanking Jesus, a memory verse came to mind—“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you…” (Isaiah 41:10 NKJV).

Once my heart stopped racing, I decided it was safe to fish again. The day’s catch turned out larger than anticipated, so Lassie had an extra special treat that night.

  J.D. Quinn

“Salty Christians”

Jesus told parables or stories to illustrate important truths, and since I’ve always loved stories, here’s one I would like to share:

A baby camel asked his mother why he had two wide, funny-looking toes and she responded that they were given by God to help him walk through the desert sand without sinking. He then asked her why he had such long bushy eyebrows, and she told him God gave them to him to keep the desert wind from blowing the harsh sand into his eyes and blinding him.

“Well then, what are these funny-looking humps on our backs for?” he asked.

“Those are our food supply, so we can travel for days and miles across the barren desert without dying of hunger,” she replied.

“But Mom, may I ask you one more question?”

“Sure son, what is it?”

“What are we doing in the zoo?”

Believers Are Salt and Light

The Bible says, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” Matthew 5:13

When Jesus shared this illustration, it was obvious to His disciples what He was referring to by mentioning salt. They knew salt was a preservative and that without it, much of humanity would not have survived. As fishermen, several of His disciples had used salt to preserve their catch, keeping the fish from spoiling before they got them to market. They would take the salt, hand rub it onto the fish, then cover the entire catch with salt as much as possible.

However, Jesus goes on to say that if salt loses its preserving power, it is good for nothing, and will be thrown out and trampled under the foot of men. I believe it’s safe to say that Jesus was telling them, “It is you and all the true, future, salty Christians that will help preserve the earth. All of you will be rubbed into and poured upon this world as salt and light, and you will become known as those who are willing to take a stand against evil. Without you—the preserving salt of the earth—the world will become corrupt and decay.”

Then He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15.

The Zoo?

Sadly, salty Christians can lose their savor if they turn the public-social gospel into a self-centered gospel, and use the church like a zoo! They gather in holy huddles and ask the pastor to salt them down so they can make it through the week—inaccessible to the world. At that point, the gospel that should be shared with the world becomes isolated, the salt loses its savor, the light in them no longer shines, and the world will no longer be drawn to Jesus. The Great Commission becomes the great omission!

It’s okay to love the zoo, enjoy the zoo, attend the zoo, and fellowship in the huddle. However, Jesus didn’t call us to live there. And come to think of it, He never commissioned the world to go to the zoo, but commissioned the zoo to go to the world, instead!

So, can I ask a question? What are so many Christians doing huddling at the zoo?

  Pastor Hal Steenson

“The Ultimate Door To Door Salesman”

I was old enough to read but I didn’t know what the word “Solicitor” meant. It was a daring sign on a neighbor’s front door and it said, “No Solicitors.” I asked my mother what it stood for and she told me they didn’t want any door-to-door salesmen bothering them. So I stayed away from that house on several occasions during my youth when school, Scouts or paper route promotions called for a knock on their door. I didn’t want to be thought of as a solicitor and certainly not a door-to-door salesman.

I have to admit that it must have been that little sign that put a bad taste in my mouth for door-to-door salesmen and I was glad to see them go the way of the dinosaur. It had been years since one had actually knocked on my door and attempted to make a pitch for their product—that is until the early morning of November 8, 1976 at 6am when I heard one knocking. It was early for a salesman, but I had been waiting for this particular one for almost 20 years and this time I was ready to listen. So I asked, “What do you want sir?” I heard Him say through the door, “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:18-20

He had knocked at my door once before at the tender age of eight, knocking patiently–calling my name and asking me to open the door. I had called out, “Come in,” but He just stood outside the door knocking and telling me what He had to offer. I grew tired of listening and turned away from Him refusing to open the door. It wasn’t until several years later that I saw Warner Sallman’s picture of Christ standing at the cottage door knocking, wanting to come in and even many more years before I realize there wasn’t a door handle on the outside of the door in that picture. The door could only be opened from the inside. My door could only be opened by me.

On that chilly November morning in 1976, I opened the door and the ultimate door-to-door salesman walked into my life and  began to clothe me with His glorious wares. He anointed me with gold representing the pure nature of the Father. He covered me with His white raiment of righteousness that my sins might be forever forgotten and he anointed my eyes with the Holy Spirit that I might see and understand that His Word is for both instruction and correction. I repented, He forgave; we supped.

Today Christ still stands at the door of men’s hearts and knocks. It must break His heart to know He has accomplished all in His power to provide love, mercy and eternal life for every individual behind every door and yet He has no power to open that door on His own. It will take you, body, soul and spirit totally surrendered to Him to turn that handle. I urge you to take down your “No Solicitors” sign and open your heart’s door to Christ and invite the Ultimate Savior in to sup with you.

  Pastor Hal Steenson

“A Time–Share God”

Mollie and I were in Branson, Missouri on a weekend getaway. We had taken this little excursion on the condition that we would tour a time-share condo–while the condo was beautiful, the price was not. We would be able to use the condo two weeks out of the year, but with our schedule, God only knew exactly when those two weeks would be. To me, it seemed like buying a new car, making the payments on it, and paying for yearly maintenance—only to have someone else drive it for 50 weeks out of the year!

While we were there, we met up with some old friends from Florida and started catching up. They were excited about the big revival they had just attended in Brownsville, Florida. All they could talk about was what God was doing there. The services were lasting until after midnight, and people were staying and praying around the clock. People were coming from all over the world and being impacted by the Holy Spirit in a mighty way. Miracles and healings were everyday occurrences and it was glorious!

However, I couldn’t help but ask them, “What about Toronto? The last time we saw you, the big revival was going on in Toronto, Canada, wasn’t it?”

“Yes,” they said, “but it fizzled out.”

“God fizzled out?” I asked.

Their answer was that it was time for God to move on. The time for revival there was over, and now it was Florida’s turn for God’s presence and the moving of the Holy Spirit.

Their Turn

It almost took my breath as I sat there, puzzled in my heart. Wow, is God like this time-share condo—one part of the country gets Him for a while and then another part gets their turn? Down through ages, history records the accounts of the mighty outpourings of God—of countries, cities, and hamlets that shut everything down for the cause of Christ. However, there’s not one mention of God ever fizzling out! The bit in the mouth of every revival came from the bridle of man.

The world needs God, but we need a full-time God! God will stop being a time-share God when His people awaken to their need for continuous revival and stop expecting a twice-a-year touch from Him.

I Noticed It

After returning to work, I was updating my new 2012 desk calendar and adding carry over appointments from 2011–this was when I noticed it. There were two weeks blocked out, one in May and one in September with the words, Campmeeting! Although I didn’t buy into the time-share condo, I had unwittingly settled for a time-share God in 2011. What I had considered appalling was staring blatantly up at me from my desk calendar. I wondered which other people, churches and other ministries were enjoying the presence of my precious Lord the other 50 weeks when my time-share was over.

A New Commitment  

This was where I made a new commitment to myself and to my Lord–I will set up a permanent residence with Him just as He has done with me. I must stop settling for a time-share God a couple of weeks out of the year and start hungering for the time when His presence is overflowing and everlasting. I will pray as never before for a worldwide revival and believe that because Christ died for the sins of the world, He can have a worldwide revival for the repentance of those sins. I will pray that no matter how many miles may separate communities or countries, whether it’s in Australia or America, our God can be in both places changing lives. Isaiah 2:2 says, “Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it.”

At the bottom of my 2012 desk calendar I drew a line blocking out the entire year and penned, Lord help me not to Fizzle Out! Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” You may want to check your 2012 calendar to see if you have your two weeks scheduled for your share of God.

   Pastor Hal Steenson

“Go See What Is Available”

Mark 6: 34-38 And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things. And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed: Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat. He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat? He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes.

Jesus already knew what He had to work with—five little barley loaves and two small fish. However, what he was verifying was the “Who” He had to work with. His disciples were concerned about the people and their hunger, while Jesus was more interested in proving the disciples’ willingness to present what was available to their Lord. It turned out that Phillip did not even consider the little lunch they found available to be worthwhile, but Andrew anticipated the thought of Jesus doing a lot with just a little.

The boy was from a poor family because the loaves were made of paltry barley and the fish were probably the size and variety of smoked sardines. Nonetheless, Andrew approached him about his meager lunch, the small amount that would feed over five thousand people. Andrew didn’t search through the multitude to find the biggest bounty; Jesus had said, “Go see what is Available,” and what he found was that scanty amount.

The Scripture is silent on how Andrew may have asked for the meal, but I do not believe the boy hesitated when he was approached. I believe he was overjoyed with the prospect of Jesus needing his food. I believe that not only did the child make his lunch available; he also made his life available. He may have said, “Yes sir, the Master may have my food, in fact, the Master may have all of me to use any way He desires.” Jesus saw fit to take, pray and break that humble offering and feed the entire mass of men, women and children.

Wouldn’t it be great to think that the twelve baskets of leftovers gathered by the disciples actually became a processional that followed the child though the streets of his village? What if they stopped in front of his house with the baskets filled with fish and bread and watched him as he invited everyone in his neighborhood to come and dine on the “All you can eat Free Buffet,” compliments of Jesus.

Jesus is still telling His disciples to “Go and see what is Available.” So, if you’re approached and asked to give what you have for the cause of Christ, you may just be the next little child of God that witnesses yet another miracle for the multitudes because you made what you had available.

  Pastor Hal Steenson

“Ivory Tower Living”

I have an old Amplified Bible that I have studied from for about twenty-five years. You know the kind of Bible – the front cover is gone, it is dog-eared, dirty, marked up with ink and highlighters – and is one of your greatest treasures. My grungy Amplified Bible chronicles years of promises I have received from God’s Word. As a rule, when a Scripture has a special impact, I highlight it then put the date and what was spoken to my heart in the margin.

For instance, Proverbs 24:10 tells us “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.” It is circled in orange and in the margin I have written “I will never faint when adversity arises – 4/26/86.” In 1986 I had been a Christian for about nine years, my husband was the pastor of a rapidly growing church, finances were plentiful, we were young with two beautiful children, God was blessing and life was abundantly good. At that time in my Christian life, there had been no adversity to speak of. So, with great assurance I made the bold statement “I will never faint when adversity arises.” But the truth was I didn’t know whether I would or not because I hadn’t been through adversity to find out. I call that “Ivory Tower Living.”

“Ivory Tower Living” is a place where the adversities of life haven’t yet affected us and we have formed a mind-set based on theory not experience. Let me give you a few examples of “Ivory Tower” statements: A wife will say “If my husband ever does ‘that’ I will walk right out!” or a husband will say “If my wife ever does ‘that’, I’m out of here!” Until we have walked through these adversities, we don’t know what we will do. It’s easy to make bold statements when we are walking through a pleasant meadow. It is another thing to make the same bold statement when we are walking through the harsh realities of life. Have any of you parents ever said “my child will never do ‘that’” and later have to “eat” those words? “Ivory Towers” always topple and only then do we find out who we really are.

Genesis 1:27 tells us “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” You see, in the Garden of Eden a male and a female were created in the very image of God – but something happened. There was a defacing of that image. But, praise God, He sent Jesus Christ so that His image could be restored to mankind. Romans 8:29 says, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son,…” Each one of us has been predestined to be conformed to the image of God’s Son. The word “conformed” indicates a changing from one form to another. In this case, a changing from what we currently are to the very image of Christ. How can such a drastic change take place you may ask?

Isaiah 48:10 says “Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” I can hear you saying, “Oh NO Mollie, please don’t start talking about furnaces and affliction!” But look closely at that scripture. Where does God chose you? It is in those furnaces of affliction you are walking through. There are no “Ivory Towers” in furnaces of affliction.

In 1986, when I was making my bold statement about something I had never walked through, it was only theory to me. Today, after my “Ivory Tower” has been knocked over and I have been in furnaces of affliction, I know from experience whether I will faint or not. It is what goes on in the furnace and what comes out of the other side of the furnace that defines who we are.

Where are you today? Are you in a trial? Are the fires in your furnace of affliction growing hotter each day? Then please know for a fact that God is right there with you. He is forming His image in you and the result will fit you for your destiny of an eternity in His presence.

  Mollie Steenson 3ABN Vice President, General Manager

“The Signal”

Once again, we were anxiously waiting for the signal. With our piles of blankets pulled up close to our noses, we listened to see if we could hear that signal. Normally, we were none too ready to get up on those cold Ohio mornings. The only heat source in the house was the coal stove in the living room. Our bedrooms were freezing cold, so we’d wait as long as possible under our warm blankets before getting out of bed on a wintry morning. This morning was different though, because it was Christmas.

All eight of us kids could hear the sounds that were signs that Mom was up. There was her early morning cough, the shuffle of her  feet on the linoleum floor in the kitchen, the opening of the door to let out the dog, the scrapping of the grate to remove the ashes, and the coal being added to renew the fire. Yet we still waited for the annual signal to get out of bed.

Being the youngest, I remember asking why we had to wait to get up. After all it was Christmas morning! Weren’t the rest of them anxious to see what they got as presents? We’d get the usual socks and underwear. Mom would knit mittens, hats, and scarves. There’d be the candy canes and mixed nuts. Maybe this year we’d get that special gift, if Mom and Dad had enough money.

One year Mom told me not to tell my sister, Elsie, that she was getting the typewriter she wanted. I promised not to say a word. So, when Elsie asked if I knew what she was getting, I didn’t say a word. No, not me! I just made a typing motion with my hands and tapped the side of her face. Elsie smiled!

Oh, there is another sound. Is it the signal? No, it’s just Mom letting the dog back in. Oh, when would it come? When would we hear that signal? When could we see what we got under that huge Christmas tree? Well, it seemed huge to me! It was usually about three feet tall, but looked bigger sitting up on top of the old record cabinet. Up there it was at least six feet tall!

Wait, I think I finally hear it! The signal that we can get up! Mom is ringing the Christmas bell to let us know that she lovingly warmed up the living room so it is toasty warm. It was her annual first gift of Christmas morning.

They are gone now; Mom, Dad, and that tiny old house. Mom, Dad, and our oldest brother are awaiting the return of Jesus. The old house had to be torn down. It was worn out and caving in. Elsie said that the only thing holding it together was the love that was still there.

Remembering the days long past reminds me that there are other signs we should be paying attention to today. They are signs that another signal is about to take place. Oh, it is not the sound of a tiny Christmas bell telling us that we can get out of bed. No, this signal is the sound of a trumpet telling us that Jesus is returning.

He is lovingly preparing a warm house for us. It is almost time for those who are sleeping in their graves to get up. Are you anxious for that day? Will you be ready for the signal and that great getting up morning? Please meet me there!

  Phyllis Andrew 3ABN Accounting

“Conditional Love”

As many of you know, my wife, Mollie, is 5’8” and weighs 138 lbs. She was beautiful when I married her forty-two years ago and she’s still as beautiful today. For years, I’ve had a little saying that I can jokingly use because she looks as good as she does. I tell her, Mollie, I’d love you even if you were big, fat, and ugly, but not near as much.

Well, guess what God did one morning after I said it again? Yea, He gave me a check-up from the neck-up. The Lord challenged me about that statement and asked me if I really meant it. However, before I could answer, I heard Him say, “If what you said is true, then your love is conditional.” Is your love based solely on how your wife looks? Is your love based on her weight, her hair color or whether there are any lines around her eyes? If it is, then your love is conditional and I assure you that as appearances change, then so will the depth of your love.

I was crushed as I began to think—what if the Lord made such a statement to me. What if He said, Hal, I don’t love you as much as I used to because you’ve grown fat on the flimsiness of life and your face is showing wrinkles of weariness. Son, have you noticed there are little battle scars all over you—not like when you first fell in love with me. You don’t communicate with me as clearly as you once did and you’re not always honest with me. Let Me ask you a question Hal, is your love for Me conditional or is your love for Me unconditional? Do you love Me because of what I do for you, or do you love Me for who I am? I could only imagine what I would do if He said, “You’ve changed Hal, so I don’t love you near as much as I once did. Oh. I still love you even though you’re fat and ugly, but not near as much.”

I scrambled to set things right and struggled to regain my senses. I said, “My love for Mollie is not conditional; I love her with every fiber of my being. I’ve never loved anyone but her and I will always love her. She could never grow anything but more lovely each day. In my eyes, she will always be the beautiful 19-year-old girl that I married. My love for her is like the love You have for humanity. Your love is an unconditional, sacrificial, and never-ending love. Father, she knows that I didn’t really mean what I said and I know You are aware that it’s just a joke.”

I believe I heard Him speak these words to my heart, “Yes I know you didn’t mean it, but stop saying it and start telling her what I tell you, My love for you is unconditional.”

It has been five years now and I haven’t said it since!

  Pastor Hal Steenson

“A Swiss Army Knife Life”

Psalm 119:130 KJV The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.

I remember the first time I ever saw one; it was a sight to behold. My brother Johnnie brought it home from his Air Force basic training in 1955. I knew it must be one of a kind and my big brother was the owner of this fine mechanical marvel. It was red with chrome trim and some sort of funny emblem on the handle. I had never seen a knife as wide as this one and I soon found out the reason—this knife had more blades than Carter had little liver pills. The utterly amazing thing was that none of the blades were the same—every one had a different look and function. The first one that caught my eye was a little pair of scissors, a little pair of scissors in a knife, how stupendous. There were screwdrivers, can openers, bottle openers and even a pair of pliers. There was a file, a saw, an eyelet hook, corkscrew and two different size blades. I was overwhelmed by the next feature from the red menagerie—Johnnie slid a strange shaped little object from the end of the handle. What was it, what did it do, tell me, tell me, tell me, please—a toothpick, why in the world would anyone ever need that? That’s stupid!

My big brother handed me the knife and said, “Hal’ this is a special Swiss Army knife, I brought it home for you buddy, it’s yours. I know it will come in handy, and as the years go by you’ll have the opportunity to use every blade and tool in it.” Wow, what a weapon; fearfully I imagined the horror of America fighting the Swiss Army as long as they had military technology such as this.

From that day on, I stood ready, just in case someone asked, “does anyone have a corkscrew handy?” I could come to the rescue by ripping out my Swiss Army knife with confidence, knowing that it could accomplish every challenge. It turned out that very few people actually needed a saw blade or eyelet hook from a Swiss Army knife. However, I did finally wear out the large blade by always cutting stuff, as little boys are prone to do.

There came a time in my life when I put the knife away, nevertheless, the life-lessons learned from that gadget stayed with me. Sometimes our lives are very much like Swiss Army Knives. We educate ourselves and obtain all the Swiss Army bells and whistles to raise our self-esteem or to impress someone else. However, many of the blades of our lives are nothing more than paper degrees hanging on our walls or trivial trophies gathering dust in a corner case. There are numerous tools and blades of our life that we esteem very highly, but in reality are almost useless. Should our driver’s license ever be more important than our marriage license?

Should our Doctorate in whatever, ever be elevated above our love for whomever?

The important tools in our real-life knives are the ones we are called upon to use on a daily basis. They are the uncomplicated blades such as saying, “please and thank you or yes sir and yes ma’am.” We should wear out the vital blades of grace, mercy and love each day and pray that God will continually replace them. We should earnestly seek to use our Swiss Army knife Bible openers to open our hearts and feast on God’s Word. In addition, we must take our spiritual scissors and cut away any action that is not compelled by compassion.

If we would just use the simple, God given, common sense tools of our lives and stop waiting for complicated tasks to demonstrate our Swiss Army knife life abilities; we just might get more accomplished for God’s kingdom.

By the way, I used that stupid toothpick more than anything else in that red handled case.

  Pastor Hal Steenson

“To God Be The Glory” Part 14

You’ve been reading excerpts and hearing about a few of the miracles God performed as He carried out His dream for Danny Shelton, and the vision for 3ABN. The miracles have not stopped. The dream is still alive, and the vision continues. However, many of our new viewers are anxious to hear more of the 3ABN story at a faster pace—and justifiably so; they have 24 years of catching up to do!

In these past articles I endeavored to highlight a few of the wondrous details and miracles that Danny so vividly painted on the  canvas of my heart, starting with the early years of 3ABN. However, what I remember most is that he never took credit for one single miracle or provision granted to 3ABN. He always gave all the glory to God.

I’ve never heard him say, “Brother Hal, guess what I did?” or “Can you believe how much money I raised?” or “Look what I’ve accomplished.” There was never a King Me, or Big I in his vocabulary. He’s always been quick to say, “I’m amazed at what God has done,” or, “If I had not seen it with my own eyes, it would be hard to believe—to God be the glory!”

The Danny Shelton that Mollie and I met when we moved here in 1981 is not the same man he is today. Back then he had faith, but now he lives by faith. He was compassionate then, but he is compelled by compassion now. He listened to the Spirit then, but he is led by the Spirit now. Danny kept the Sabbath then, but he embraces the Sabbath now.

God developed Danny’s character from the inside out in His refiner’s fire. The Gethsemanes of leading a worldwide ministry have caused his heart to tremble for the presence of the Lord in everything he does. I see it in his eyes as he talks about what God is doing through 3ABN. I hear it in his voice as he speaks of the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14.

His outer man has changed, too. He sports a few battle scars from fighting the good fight of faith for the last 24 years. Sometimes he appears a little weary from running the race and resisting those who have thought 3ABN would be better off in the hands of a committee, rather than in the hands of God. He has survived the wrath of false witnesses; those who had never even met him, and yet tried to be his judge, jury, and executioner. Through it all, Danny still declares, “To God be the glory.”

I know from personal experience that Danny Shelton has stood in the face of adversity and demonstrated Christian character. I’ve seen times when he was ridiculed and did not retaliate. I remember when he started building the first 3ABN building, and a local pastor called and told me I needed to have a talk with him. He said, “Danny has gone crazy and is building a Noah’s Ark out in a field in Thompsonville!”

After all this, Danny is still not only singing 3ABN’s theme song, “Mending Broken People,” he is a man that lives the words of that song every day. The chorus goes, “I want to spend my life, mending broken people. I want to spend my whole life removing pain. Lord, let my words heal a heart that hurts. I want to spend my life mending broken people.”

It has been a long time since I’ve heard anyone make fun of Danny Shelton or 3ABN. However, I have the feeling that if someone did, and Danny heard about it, all he would say would be, “Well, to God be the glory!”

 For information about the complete book and video “Mending Broken People” or “3ABN the Early Days” go to our website store at   3abn.org.

  Pastor Hal Steenson

“Can You Say Shibboleth?”

Learning “Christianese” isn’t always so easy. I learned the Southern Baptist vernacular, and then I became skilled at speaking the Assemblies of God dialect. After learning to speak both of these languages, I felt confident that any Charismatic communications would be easy enough, but found that it was a little harder because of the twisting of the tongue required to pronounce some strange words. I did learn to speak it, however.

But that was not the end. There was to be one more new Christianese assignment, and it would prove to be the most complicated one of them all—the inflexible enunciation of the Seventh-day Adventists denomination. 

The Baptists expected me to use street language, because that’s where I’d been most of my life. The Assemblies of God crowd was tolerant, because they figured I’d never been this deep into the “Spirit Realm.” The Charismatics didn’t really care, because there were so many denominations represented, that the Christianese spoken there sounded like the Tower of Babel.             

However, it was a different story with the Seventh-day Adventists (SDAs); I had to learn what not to say to an Adventist member. I was afraid to open my mouth for fear that everyone would realize I couldn’t speak their language, or that the language I used was of a foreign denominational descent. I still had the flavor of my previous associations with non-Seventh-day Adventist Christianity on my tongue. Alas, what to do? There was no Rosetta Stone CD on how to learn to speak “SDA!”

This may sound ridiculous to a second or third generation Adventist, but it’s not so funny when you’re outside the denominational language barrier. Even though someone has made Jesus Christ Lord of their life and served Him to the best of their ability and knowledge, they often feel their fellow members think that if they can’t say it right, then they must not have it right.

Although it really shouldn’t matter if you say you were “Born-Again, Saved or baptized into the Church,” for some reason it does matter to some people, and if we’re not careful, we can do great harm to those who fervently seek the truth our denomination has to offer.  We must be aware that they’re in a learning process. I’ve been a Seventh-day Adventist for close to twelve years now, and I still hear new terminology periodically. 

There’s a story in the Bible that speaks directly to this issue—a story of how words can wound, discourage, and even destroy lives.

“The Gileadites seized the fords of the Jordan before the Ephraimites arrived. And when any Ephraimite who escaped said, ‘Let me cross over,’ the men of Gilead would say to him, ‘Are you an Ephraimite?’ If he said, ‘No,’ then they would say to him, ‘Then say, “Shibboleth!”’ And he would say, ‘Sibboleth,’ for he could not pronounce it right. Then they would take him and kill him at the fords of the Jordan. There fell at that time forty-two thousand Ephraimites.” Judges 12:5-6.

How very careful we must be with those who are trying their best to walk our walk, but are still unable to talk our talk. They may come through our doors wearing wedding bands and dripping in diamonds and pearls, but we must be conscious of a simple but beautiful truth—at least they came through our doors! They’re looking for truth, not a lecture—they’re looking for Christ, not criticism. We must allow them the opportunity to come in just as they are, and permit the Holy Spirit time to change them. I’ve caught a lot of fish through the years, but I’ve never caught a filet. Jesus said, “I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19), but He is the only one that can “clean” them—never us! If we’ll just catch them, and allow God to clean them, it will make it a lot easier on everyone involved—especially for those who can’t say “Shibboleth.”

  Pastor Hal Steenson

“Can You Hear Me Now?” Part 13

The shell of 3ABN’s first building was up, but not complete, when Scientific Atlanta called Danny. They told him the satellite dish was ready to be delivered, and that the final payment was due. Danny was praising God because the money had just arrived to finalize the nearly $400,000 deal to put 3ABN’s signal on the air. However, there was nowhere to house the equipment!

By the world’s way of thinking, the proper way of building a worldwide television network like 3ABN would take perhaps six to eight years. The last thing they would purchase would be the satellite uplink dish equipment, after everything else had been completed. Normally the buildings would be built and wired, and money would be secured for several years of satellite transponder time—and then the network would go on the air. But this was not Danny Shelton’s goal. His most urgent goal was to reach the world with the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14. God had furnished the equipment and the money for it, and Danny knew it was time to begin broadcasting.

When he called the satellite company, he found out that the transponder time would cost $50,000 a month, and they wanted him to sign a three-year contract! Even though he didn’t have any money, Danny knew God would supply. And sure enough, He did!

May Chung called and offered to put up a plot of land she owned as collateral for 3ABN’s monthly payments. (May still owns her property. 3ABN never missed a payment—thanks to faithful financial supporters like you!)

Okay, Father, Danny thought. You’ve given us the land, cleared all the interferences, built the building, and provided $400,000 worth of network equipment—and three years of satellite transponder time! I’m going to take that as a green light!

Immediately his modest crew started work on the transmitter shack—a 12- by 16-foot building about the size of an average bedroom. It was just large enough to hold the transmitting equipment.

Then 3ABN’s volunteer engineer, Clarence Larson, installed the equipment which hummed and buzzed—in fact it made so much noise one could barely hear the phone ring!

It was 8:00 p.m. on November 23, 1986. Clarence took one of the tapes Danny had borrowed from It is Written and slid it into the tape deck—which sat on cardboard boxes. As he threw the switch to begin broadcasting, everyone cheered. However, when the noise died down, Danny had a question.

“How will we know if anyone is watching us?”

“That’s easy,” Clarence replied. “I’ve inserted our phone number across the screen periodically, saying, ‘Call for our free offer.’ ”

Just then, the phone rang.

“3ABN, may I help you?”

“Yes, I would like to order a copy of your free offer. Let me give you my name and address.”

Danny was shocked and elated, all at the same time. They’d been on the air for only a minute or two and someone had already called! Now he faced a new problem. There was so much noise inside that transmitter room that he had trouble hearing the caller. He was pretty sure the caller was having trouble, too, so he grabbed a pen and stepped outside into the cold air.

“Can you hear me now?”

That first broadcast lasted two hours, and so did those first phone calls. God had confirmed His promise, His dream, and His vision: from those humble, two-hour broadcasts to one satellite from a tiny shack in southern Illinois, to a network that now broadcasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week, covering 99% of the inhabited world with internet, 11 satellites, 131 TV stations around the world, and many hundreds of cable companies. I wonder if God is asking, “Can you hear Me now?”

  Pastor Hal Steenson

“The GPS of God”

Romans 8:14 “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”

Although she had been asking him for years, he had just now given in and for the first time attended his mother’s church. He couldn’t believe he was actually there, to him this Christianity thing was an archaic expression of times, fables and myths. Religion had no place in his modern society when weighed against all the latest technology and achievements in science. The technology present in his cell phone alone allowed him to advance into the future with no need of digging up the past. His phone alone could connect him to almost anywhere in the world. Even the Global Positioning System in his car had more power than this church service or his mother’s worn-out Bible or diligent prayers. He proved that this morning when he didn’t know the location of her church. So he programmed the address into the Global Positioning System and followed directions. His GPS asked him if he wanted the shortest route or the scenic one. He choose the shortest one, hoping to get there, make his mother happy and get out.

As the church service progressed, he nervously glanced at his watch in anticipation of the close of the service. However, this edginess slowed down as something unexpected began to happen. As the minister shared the love of Christ and God’s plan of salvation, a peace started to surround him. As the appeal song proclaimed the words of “I Surrender All,” he felt as if someone had put their hand on his shoulder—he figured his mother must have known that something was happening inside him and was comforting him. However, as he turned, he saw his mother on her knees praying and there was no one else close to him. He still felt the hand and now sensed a presence there with him.

He heard soundless words turn over in his mind saying, “God, I don’t know what’s happening to me and I don’t have a clue what direction you’re taking me—why don’t you have a heavenly GPS so I can get my bearings?” That’s when he heard a still small voice saying, “Oh but I do have one, however; there are no shortest routes and sometimes the road gets rough and rocky. Here are my spiritual GPS directions for you.”

  • First, start your trip by kneeling at the foot of the cross.
  • Next, surrender your life at the crossroads of the shed blood of Christ and conversion.
  • Then, you must stop at the first sign of sin, admit that you’ve sinned and ask for forgiveness.
  • Now, make the right turn at the corner of Spirit and truth.
  • As you proceed, Truth will begin to merge into commitment.
  • Once on commitment, prepare to go over bridges of adversity by trusting in God’s GPS (God’s Plan of Salvation)
  • Next, make the right turn onto the highway of Holiness, which will lead you to eternal life in Christ.
  • This highway of Holiness will take you through the valley of decision where you must take a leap of faith, hold on to your anchor of hope and spread His unconditional love.
  • If you’ve followed God’s GPS (God’s Plan of Salvation) and gone the right direction, then you will arrive at your destinations, first salvation and finally the portals of heaven and the eternal presence of God.

When you arrive you comprehend that Jesus didn’t say “I’ll show you the way, I’ll tell you the truth or I’ll teach you about life.” He said, “I am the way the truth and the life. He didn’t tell Mary and Martha, “I’m here to resurrect Lazarus.” “He said I am the resurrection.”

You can’t use a Tom Tom GPS to get to heaven, however you can use God’s GPS (God’s Plan of Salvation) by allowing Him to lead, guide and direct you every step of the way.

  Pastor Hal Steenson

“Aren’t You The One?”

Matthew 10:32 NKJV [Confess Christ before Men] “Therefore whoever confesses me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.

She had been eagerly preparing for the yearly celebration of Passover. She was overjoyed with thoughts of the peace and serenity involved in every phase of the upcoming feast. She was awed with the huge crowds from all over the country coming together with one common purpose. She, as a doorkeeper of the temple would see people of great importance pass as they were ushered into the temple.

Many tumultuous things had been happening in town for the last couple of days. She had even seen some of the so-called rebels near the temple with large crowds following them. There was one man in particular that had been causing most of the problems. However, this was about to stop because he and another man had just been ushered through her door and into the courtyard. He was to be tried this night before the leaders and it didn’t look too good for him.

There was another man, a big burley man that didn’t go in with them, he just stood outside the door and waited. Then the man accompanying the one that was to be tried came back and asked if the big man could also come in—she allowed him to enter. That was when she recognized him. He was one of the men that had been with the man they called Jesus, the one causing all the problems. She asked him, Wasn’t it you that I saw earlier with this Jesus?” “Aren’t you the one? He dropped his head and said, “No, I am not,” but she knew it really was him. Why would he lie?

The credit card machine was on the blink and only worked about half the time, but everyone in line was being patient with her. That is, with the exception of one man. He was very irritated and it was obvious, he twisted, turned and mumbled under his breath. She hurried as fast as she could because he was making the other customers uncomfortable with his bad actions and attitude. Finally, he was next in line and he was boiling. She humbley apologized for the inconvenience but that was not enough for him. He had to make a statement; he had to prove a point for all to hear. He said, “Lady, you have no idea the trouble you’ve caused me; I’m going to be late for a very important meeting.” Once again, she said, “I’m so sorry sir,” but all she heard was a, “yea, I bet you are.”

She told him that she would be praying that he would make it to his meeting on time. He gave her a strange and shameful look. She asked him, “Aren’t you the one, the minister that shared at the high school graduation services last May?” I was there with my daughter. I remember because you talked about love and how it would never fail, never misbehave or get aggravated. Aren’t you the one? He dropped his head and said, “No, it wasn’t me.” Nevertheless, she knew it was him. Why would he lie?

Luke 12:8 NKJV [ Confess Christ Before Men ] “Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God.

  Pastor Hal Steenson

“Moving From Prayer To Praise”

Mark 11: 23 King James Version reads, “For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.”

There comes a time in every believer’s prayer life when we must move from “prayer to praise.” This will only happen when we understand that prayer is a two-sided coin. It is not the will of God or in the Word of God that we continually pray the same prayer repeatedly. Matthew 6:7 states “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.” Some may say, what about the woman that continued to beseech the judge—please remember he was an unjust judge. Our God and judge is a just God and hears us the first time we pray.

The two-sided coin of prayer and praise is like someone going into a supermarket and saying, “I believe there is enough food in this store to feed me and my family for twenty years.” However if they only believe, they will sit there and starve to death. Believing is prayer—faith is praise.

You may believe (prayer) that there is enough food for you, but it is only when you move into faith (praise) that you can open a can of peaches or eat some fruit. It is faith-praise that is the fruit of believing-prayer. So many people pray the problem over and over and never get they’re prayers answered. Mark 11:23 does not tell us to pray the problem; it tells us to pray the solution—mountain be moved. This text goes on to tell us to not doubt in our heart, which amounts to faith and praise. The next step is to believe that the prayer we said is a done deal when it lines up with God’s will. We should pray the prayer, thank God for hearing it and then praise God with our lips (whatsoever we say) for answering it. Hebrews 13:15 “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.”

Mark 11:24 (AMP) “For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you, and you will [get it].” This text plainly tells us that when we pray we must believe and receive what is granted to us by faith (praise.) Why is it that we can ask someone to do us a favor and before it’s even done; we thank them for doing it? We may ask them to get us a drink of water and thank them for doing it before they even leave the room. Yet, when we pray to our Father, we don’t thank him until we see it done. Moving from prayer to praise is when we understand that in God’s kingdom it is not that seeing is believing; it is believing is seeing. Pray and believe it, praise and receive it.

  Pastor Hal Steenson

“Read The Rules”

In the winter, Mollie and I always stay at a hotel when visiting our kids in Missouri. It has an indoor pool, hot tub, beds the grandkids can bounce on for hours on end and a nice complimentary breakfast. However, four years ago, on this particular Sunday morning, our “sleep-over grandkids” wanted Burger King© French toast for breakfast or at least my ten-year-old granddaughter, Savannah did. Max, my four-year-old grandson was in total agreement only because of their wonderful play land.

We entered the restaurant and those two immediately hit on their Papa Hal for the action toys and the “Burger King Crown” which Max pushed down around his ears. The French toast was picked at and the play land lasted longer than Papa Hal really wanted to stay—finally off we go to our daughter’s house to deliver the kids and spend the rest of the day being lazy. On the way, in the rear view mirror, I noticed Savanna reading something to Max. It was something written on the inside of the crown, but I didn’t catch what was being said.

We walked into the house, sat down all the kid’s junk, then watched Max as he approached his dad and pull the remote control from his hand. He then changed the channel from a fishing show (my son-in-law is the reason all those boring fishing shows are on television) to his favorite program. He proceeded to sit down in the floor and watch Sponge Bob Square Pants. My son-in-law, Roger, told him to give the remote back and without hesitation, Max told him “NO.” When my daughter, Dee Dee told Max to give it back–again, he declared very emphatically, “NO, I’m watching cartoons.” This attitude of course called for a visit to the bathroom (better known as the “woodshed”) for an adamant little boy name Max. He needed an attitude adjustment.

Realizing he was in trouble, Max began to tear up. When Dee Dee asked him why he was acting so disrespectfully to his dad, he pointed to the crown on his head and said, “Read the rules Mom.” “Read what,” She asked him.” Again, he pointed to the “Burger King Crown” and with tears in his eyes cried, “Read the rules Mom.” She removed the crown from his head and in shock, slowly read the message on the inside of the crown.

It read:

  • There can only be one king.
  • The King always gets his way.
  • The king makes all the important decisions governing the selection of TV channels, movies, radio stations, as well as popular activities like snowboarding, pool hopping and cow tipping.
  • The king determines who gets the remote, who rides shotgun and of course who has to pay for everything.

My daughter came out of the woodshed/bathroom in tears, trying not to laugh, knowing that she could not spank her son or even harshly correct him when his little four-year-old heart had simply been following the rules.

Isaiah 59:19 says, “…When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.” I believe the standard that is raised is the Word of God and God’s Words are the “rules of life.”

This caused me to ponder how much better off we would be if we didn’t argue with Satan, but just told him to read the rules. Let’s read together, some of the rules on the crown of our King.

Matthew 4:1-11 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

But he answered and said, (Read the rules Satan) It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,

And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

Jesus said unto him, (Read the rules Satan) It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;

And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

Then saith Jesus unto him, (I’m telling you for the last time Satan, read the rules) Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.

Although Max was acting according to the rules, I still think I may write Burger King a nice little letter about their RULES!

  Pastor Hal Steenson

“3ABN’s Trauma Center”

Many of today’s modern hospitals have what are known as trauma centers. These units are staffed with professionals trained to handle emergency room patients that are facing life and death situations. These teams are ready at a moments notice to provide life saving techniques saving countless lives because of their commitment and dedication to each patient’s survival. Through the years, the pastoral staff at 3ABN has encountered many similar circumstances from our callers. In addition, 3ABN’s Pastoral Staff not only ministers through prayer for the caller’s physical requests, but also their spiritual and emotional traumas as well. Here are but a few we have received lately. Please keep our callers and pastoral staff in your prayers.

“Oh God, oh thank God, you answered, thank God you answered. No, I’m not all right! No, my husband is having chest pains; I think he’s having a heart attack. Yes, I’ve called 911. Yes, they’re on their way, but I need help–I need help right now, please pray for my husband, his name is Ray, please pray,: I need help now, right now, please pray—I need all of you to pray, now, pray now, right now. Ray, oh God Ray. Pastor pray, please pray—he’s my life. Ray, Ray!”

“I have a gun to my head; my wife has been unfaithful and I don’t want to live anymore. No, I don’t want prayer, I just want someone to know why I’m gonna blow my brains out. That’s why I called. When she gets home, she’ll be sorry, she’ll be sorry she did this when she finds me dead. Why did she do this? I love her with all my heart; I can’t believe she could do this to me. I love her. I really love her—with all my heart–I don’t want to die but I don’t want to live without her. Why in God’s name did she do this? Yes, you can pray, but it won’t do any good because I’m a dead man—no don’t pray, I don’t want you to pray–I’m outta here, I’m a dead man. Why, why should I wait—why should I listen to you? There’s nothing you can say to stop me. I don’t know why I called you anyway; you’re all a bunch of Jesus freak idiots—why did I call? I called because your 800 number is on the television, that’s why; I don’t know why–I don’t want to die but I can’t stand to live. Yeah pray, okay, okay pray, but it won’t do any good.”

“This is Donna, I need prayer. 3ABN is my home church. You’re my only pastors. You are the only ones I know to call when the pain gets unbearable. It’s bad today, I’m sorry, but I hurt so badly. Will you pray that God will put me to sleep—now, right now, please, the pain from this cancer is so bad? How did Jesus do it, how did He stand the pain? How can He expect me to do it? I can’t do it. Okay, pray –okay, but hurry, hurry and pray—please pastor, don’t forget to pray for my husband; I don’t know what he’ll do without me. There won’t be anyone to take care of him when I’m gone. What will he do? Please pray for him too pastor.”

“Please pray for my sister and her husband pastor; they’re out of their minds trying to figure out what happened. I told them, it wasn’t their fault–sometimes these things just happen. They didn’t believe that, so they’re still searching for answers. They have her baby pictures and her high school pictures scattered all over the kitchen table. I don’t think that’s going to do them any good, but what can I say. Kelley was my sister’s only child, so she was like my own daughter. They can’t stop crying. I want to cry too, but I need to be strong for my sister. Please pray for me too pastor, I didn’t know who else to call. I know you get call after call from people that are wounded and bleeding. I don’t know how you do it—I don’t know how any of you do it day after day. Thank God for 3ABN—thank God for all of you. Please don’t put their names on the screen or Kelley’s name either. Just pray, please pray for them Pastor. Pastor, do you think Kelly will be in heaven? We don’t know why she did it. We just don’t know why—why she did it. Maybe, I failed her too. Please pray pastor.”

“I know that I call too much, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry; I promise I won’t keep you long. You’re the only contact I have with my Christian family. I know you tell me, “its okay to call Annie,” and you all love me no matter how many times I call. But I won’t keep you long–I called you pastor, because I was making a little pot of green beans and potatoes in my pressure cooker—I use the pressure cooker because my mama taught me to just pressure cook the vegetables for a little while and they will be better for me. It was all I had to eat—my son comes by once a week in his new truck and goes to the grocery store for me. All I had left for groceries this week was $12.00, but he got me some bread, potatoes, milk and a few other little things; it was more than twelve dollars—but he let me sign an IOU for the other $2.60 extra that he spent. I’ll be able to pay him next month when my check comes in. Please, please pastor, pray for my arm. I went to move the pressure cooker off the stove—it’s just a little one and the lid blew off. It burned my hand and arm and I’m afraid to call my son because he’ll think I done it on purpose just to get attention. It hurts so bad. It’s swollen and really red—I hope he doesn’t come over. I’ll tell him that I did it while I was pulling weeds. I don’t have a good lawn mower so I have to pull some of the weeds around the trees in the yard. I’ll tell him I scraped it on a tree. I’m sorry; I’ve kept you too long pastor, but please pray for me. I don’t have anyone else to call. I picked the green beans and potatoes up off the floor and put them in the frigerator. They weren’t ruined and they’re all I have to eat. I’m sorry pastor, I’ve kept you too long—I’m sorry pastor.”
Pray for me Pastor, I’m sorry to bother you; I didn’t know who else to call–I’m sorry Pastor, pray, please pray for me!

All names have been changed to protect the individual’s privacy

3ABN’s Pastoral Staff

“Things Don’t Change As Much As We Do”

I parked my car, got out and started up the sidewalk toward the front porch of my childhood home. I wondered if I had made a wrong turn and ended up at the wrong address. Nope, the address was on the mailbox, 1226 North Street. This was a not mistake. This was the old home place where I had grown up. Although I hadn’t seen the old house for years, my childhood feelings and visions overtook my adult practicality and I was captured by the phantoms of my little boy memories.

Drifting off in thought to the long, slick concrete front porch, painted green, I recalled how we flooded it with millions of gallons of water from our make-believe firehouse hose. We would then back up to Mr. Marshall’s fence and run for the polished porch, hit it on our knees and slide at speeds in excess of one hundred miles per hour. As we slid we prayed that our slide path would line up with the kid catcher, so he could stop us from falling into the bottomless pit at the end of the porch. You see, if you fell off the porch’s end, there were thousands of poisonous snakes waiting to put their juice in you. But if you did go over the edge, you would be dead until you counted backwards from one-hundred to one. So we slid as much as we wanted to until Daddy came home from work and turned off the little green garden hose.

Next, my time machine imagination landed at the base of our gigantic oak tree in the front yard. The one that held our tree house, at least a thousand discarded tire swings, and multiple hand sawn swing boards–those evil swings that had deliberately broken several fragile little bones. Wow, what a tree it was! It was higher than the power poles, the television antennas and the Empire State Building. Our entire gang was not able to hold hands and circle that monster oak. We’d even watched bald eagles perching in the top branches of that majestic tree.

However, my most colorful thoughts were of the roof of that old house from which I used to fly. That’s right, fly. When I was a little boy, I could fly. All it took was one of mother’s big bath towels tied around my neck and instantly I became Superman. I would shimmy up the vent pipe on the side of the house and up onto the roof. Then from the side of the house, I would make my way to the launching pad at the front of the house. From there I would kick off into the clear blue sky, wind in my face, flying faster than a speeding bullet, cape blowing in the wind and outrunning every locomotive. I would sail for hours on end before finally floating to the ground. Landing in fine form with my cape still attached, I was always met by Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen waiting to interview their hero.

All of a sudden, I hit the hard ground of reality. I opened my eyes to discover a quaint little house that could surely not be the citadel of my childhood. I felt like Gulliver staring in awe at the Lilliputians. The house had shrunk; the huge oak tree had shriveled into a less than majestic maple. As I stepped up to my Superman launching pad roofline, I realized I could reach it standing flatfooted. Well at least the super slide front porch still seemed as large as ever, but what about the drop off at the porch’s end—the bottomless pit with all the snakes? It, too, had disappeared and was now only about a foot and a half from the top of the porch to the ground.

I now had to confront the truth. None of these things had changed, only me; I was the one that had changed. I had outgrown the imaginations of my Metropolis. Nevertheless, I dare say that all those things were as real to me in my childhood as are my dreams, goals, desires and my commitment to Christ today. Although I had changed, I knew in my heart there would never be an occasion where I would be disillusioned by a God that never changes. Malachi 3:6 “For I am the LORD, I change not;”

I encourage you to be a dreamer for God and to be a visionary for the cause of Christ. Your dreams of today may be your accomplishments for the Kingdom of God tomorrow. My childhood recollections appeared to have decreased in size because I had increased in stature; however, it happens the opposite way for those committed to Christ. The smaller we become, the bigger the Lord lives in us.

John 3:30 “He must increase, but I must decrease

  Pastor Hal Steenson

“Lighten The Ship”

The shipwreck in the twenty-seventh chapter of Acts is the most detailed account of an ancient shipwreck in recorded history. However, this is not why Luke was led by the Holy Spirit to pen this record. This Scripture is an obvious example of a mature walk with God. It reveals our willingness or our refusal to give up all our excess baggage by lightening our ships to live a life of faith. As we continue toward the safe haven of the Lord, we will experience a continuous “lightening of our ship.”

Many Christians set sail on their newly born-again ocean of life with fair winds at their backs. They are mostly unaware of the storms they’ll encounter along this journey and perceive they have obtained life’s ultimate purpose. Be assured the storms will come and Christians will be required to lighten their ships. Acts 27: 14-16 “But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon. And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we  let her drive. And running under a certain island which is called Clauda, we had much work to come by the boat:”

The progression of lightening the ship is simple; the first thing we try is to “come about the boat.” The lifeboat was not carried on the ship, but was pulled behind the ship with a rope. Our first response when the storms hit are to find a way out of the ship. It is only by staying in this world and living an overcoming life that we will be victorious.

The wrong step is to seek ungodly resolutions and unprofitable helps, not realizing that our ship of life will sink if we refuse to lighten the vessel. It will take our letting go of every worldly thing that is holding us back. Many material things and prideful attitudes must be exposed and expelled from our lives. Acts 27:19 “And the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship.”

Though the wealth of this world is considered a blessing, the time may come when it will be a burden; it will not only be too heavy for someone to carry to safety, but heavy enough to sink the one that has it. The children of this world can be wasteful of their wealth to make their own lives luxurious, yet are sparing of it in supporting the cause of Christ.

Every Christian should be willing to cast away all of his or her worldly possessions rather than their lives; but many would rather make shipwreck of their faith and a good conscience, than of their material goods. The tactics the sailors used did not work; it was only when they had given up all hope of saving themselves, they were open to God’s Word, and trust in His mercy through Jesus Christ.

They had tried the futile help of man, but that didn’t work—they had personally thrown the tacklings of their lives overboard, but it did not benefit their dilemma. It was only after they threw their life-sustaining provisions overboard that they could walk totally by faith. Acts 27:38 “When they had eaten as much as they wanted, they lightened the ship by throwing the grain into the sea.”

Once again, it is only the self-sacrificing children of God willing to lighten their ships of life that will make it to God’s safe haven. Acts 27:44 “And the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land.”

We must be willing to stay in this world’s ship, ride out each storm in our lives and rid ourselves of every unnecessary baggage that we do not need for our final destination. I encourage you to examine yourselves—you may find yourselves throwing stuff overboard.

  Pastor Hal Steenson

“A Cloud by Day” Part 11

Danny looked out the ski lodge windows in Big Sky, Montana, as the clouds rolled in and the rain cascaded down the mountainside. The weather had been beautiful all week, but God had a special plan for that particular Friday afternoon, and a good ol’ soaking rainstorm was part of it. Danny was about to experience another miracle for the ministry.

He thought back to a few days earlier when Dale McBride had called and invited him to this ASI convention in Big Sky. Dale felt an urgency that the 3ABN story needed to be told there.

“I don’t even know what ASI is,” Danny had admitted.

“ASI stands for Adventist-laymen’s Services and Industries,” Dale answered. “It’s a group of lay Adventist businessmen and organizations, and we meet to discuss ways to help various Christian projects.”

“It sounds interesting,” Danny said, “but I don’t have the money to fly there, and I sure can’t afford a room in a resort.”

Dale then told him he felt so strongly about this, he would sponsor him.

When Danny arrived, he already had a self-appointed public relations agent representing 3ABN. Rosella McColpin was telling everyone who would listen about the miracles she had personally witnessed, and the 3ABN miracle stories began to buzz like bees through the Montana trees.

One of the ASI officials heard the humming, and decided to put an end to it before people got stung, like they had the previous year. He told Danny that everything was planned a year in advance, and that it was ASI’s policy not to make any last minute changes. He also told him one of the reasons for this policy was because they had allowed someone to speak the previous year without checking him out thoroughly. They had even taken an offering of several thousand dollars—and no one had seen him since!

“So,” the official said, “there will be no chance of you speaking this year.”

Nonetheless, God works in mysterious ways. He didn’t need a pillar of fire, but He did need a cloud by day. Next, He mixed in  some strong winds, and poured out the rain, fashioning the perfect weather for an afternoon speaking opportunity for Danny Shelton. What else was ASI going to do with four hundred people, now that all their outdoor activities were cancelled?

At the close of the morning meetings, a nervous and humble ASI representative motioned Danny aside.

“We’re in a real dilemma here,” he said. “We have to plan something for the people, since there’s nothing they can do outside. Could you possibly tell your miracle story about 3ABN?”

That was Danny’s introduction to ASI, an organization that has since been hugely supportive of 3ABN’s ministry. He told his story, and God’s people caught the vision. Many hearts were touched as he shared God’s dream for a television station that would reach the world with the undiluted three angels’ messages of Revelation 14—one that would counteract the counterfeit.

A little 3ABN sign was hastily made, and a small table was set up for Danny’s gospel tapes, along with fliers for his ministry. Bill and Betty Bowers bought two tapes and wrote him a check, and later, when he looked at it, he thought to himself, I’ve either been selling our cassettes too cheap, or somebody made a mistake! Their check was for ten thousand dollars!

Danny thanked them for their generosity, even as his mind raced back to that hot August day, when standing in a half-finished shell of a building, he thanked God for the fifty thousand dollars the McColpins had given. Then he had wondered where the money would come from to finish the floor—since concrete was not cheap.

How about that, God, he thought. The cost of the concrete is the same amount as this check—to the penny. Thank You, Lord.

  Pastor Hal Steenson

“Missing You”

Jeremiah 29:13 NKJV “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”

I sent Dee Dee, my daughter an e-card, saying how much I loved her and missed her—she responded: “me too.”

She moved away 20 years ago, the day after her wedding, now we only see our kids and grandkids occasionally. Before their marriage, her husband Roger was stationed at Loring A.F.B. in Caribou, Maine. They were married on June 15, 1991, while he was home on leave. The next day, They moved to Maine and seemingly fell from the face of the earth.

I believe the Lord had been preparing me for her departure for a couple of years by allowing my daughter to become “the girl that lived in the room at the end of the hall.” I would only see her when she went into her room and periodically as she exited. Anyway, puff; she was gone. She did call and tell us that Caribou wasn’t the end of the world, but she could definitely see it from there. I didn’t understand the significance of that statement until we decided to embark on a “Go see our Baby” adventure. At first, it seemed simple enough; we would fly from St. Louis to Boston, Massachusetts, take a two-man dogsled to Bangor, Maine and then ride a moose the last 250 miles to Caribou. However, it was not so easy.

We arrived in Boston and I sent Mollie to pick up the rental car while I fought the baggage carousel crowd. As I approached Mollie, I found out my luggage warfare was simplistic compared to what she was going through. She was standing at the rental car counter with her hands on her hips, starring at the clerk, as he stood fixed in the same position glaring back at her. “Honey, what’s wrong,” I asked, “did they get our reservation mixed up?” She responded, “I don’t know, I can’t understand a word he’s saying.” I then asked the clerk if there was a problem and he said, “The only problem was that I didn’t understand a word she said.” They were both speaking English, but Alabamian and Bostonian are not compatible and therefore needed a translator. So, I interpreted; we got the car and got on the road. We were making good time until we noticed the “Moose Crossing” signs, so we slowed down.

After eighteen grueling hours of hard travel time and too many “Griswall Family Vacation” horrors to mention—we finally arrived at our daughter and son-in-law’s front door, living room, bedroom and the good night sleep tights. It was great to both see and be with our kids. The hardships of the journey vanished. We reveled in the presence of our loved ones, not even considering the difficulty of the trip. We were happy campers.

Recently, during a trying time at work, I said, “Father where are You?” In my heart, I heard Him reply, “Find Me. What? You know the number of hairs on my head, how many stars there are in the sky, my every thought and I’m supposed to find You.” Then I heard, “Remember Caribou, why did you go?” I heard myself saying aloud, “Because I love my daughter and I wanted to be with her—I missed her.” There was silence—then more silence, until I recalled the verse about seeking and finding Him when I do it with all my heart. I asked myself if I had to play hide and seek just to be with the Father until I thought it through. God does not hide from us; nonetheless, He does dwell in a secret place, awaiting our presence. It is in His presence that we will find love and joy unspeakable.

I turned off the lights in my office, eased the door shut and started my journey into His secret chamber. It didn’t take long until I heard myself saying, “Hello Father, thank You for being here when I needed You. Thank You for never leaving me. Thank You Father for letting me find You. Please help me to remember that you are always right here in front of me, if I will just close my eyes and open my heart and seek You.” Thank You Lord that this isn’t Caribou, Maine.

  Pastor Hal Steenson

“Face-to-Face with Big Foot”

 J.D Quinn is the department manager for the 3ABN pastoral staff and a great writer. I know you’ll enjoy his devotional. Keep the Faith,Hal
The harvest moon spilled its bright glow through the trees and onto the lot, where my Academy friends and I were carrying out our important assignment. The four of us—fourteen years old and ready to take on the world—were to build a bonfire for our school’s event scheduled later that night.

As we worked to pile wood in the center of the tree-lined lot, we heard it coming toward us—the rumble of dual Glaspak mufflers!  We exchanged glances and held our breath, in hopes he would drive on by. Then we saw it—that infamous shiny black coupe. Everyone in the country knew that 1948 Ford meant trouble.

“Oh, no! It’s Big Foot Roberts!” My mind was racing, but I could not will my feet to move. In a booming voice, he hollered from his window, “What do you punks think you are doing? You aren’t supposed to be way out here. This is my territory! You’d better get out of here right now or I’m going to hurt you bad!” To punctuate his threat, he gassed his engine and those Glaspak mufflers roared.

Big Foot had a reputation for being the biggest bully in the county. A hulk of a man, he preferred to pick on young kids. The moon cast shadows across his scraggly beard and contorted face. Too tall to fit comfortably in his car, his 6’7” frame was hunched over the steering wheel, making him appear that much more ominous.

Standing only twenty feet away from him, we exchanged anxious glances. We were wide-eyed with fear and wondering about our fate. Suddenly, he slung open the car door, spewing curse words I had never heard before. I was the tallest of the four, and he fixed his angry gaze on me.

“Oh, God,” I secretly prayed, “please don’t let him hurt us!”

As always, God’s timing was perfect. Big Foot lunged from his shiny black coupe, falling face down to the ground with one leg dangling out and one leg stuck in the car. You see, he hadn’t received the nickname “Big Foot” frivolously. It was reported that he wore a size 23 shoe, and—I believe—God was the one who caused that over sized foot to hang up between the clutch and the brake pedal.

Sprawled on the ground, he spit dirt as he lifted his face slightly. The light of the moon wasn’t sufficient to tell for certain, but I feel sure his face was flushed with shame. Cursing, he scrambled to get his foot loose, heaved himself back into the car, and peeled out leaving a cloud of dust behind him. I will never forget the echo of those Glaspaks as he headed south.

Thinking back on this incident reminds me of another young man and his “big foot” experience. When David met Goliath, I wonder if—like me—he got a lump in his throat as he surveyed his larger-than-life opponent. Or, was David so certain of the victory that God would give him that his mouth never went dry as the giant of a man spewed his murderous threats toward David?

I know it was with confidence in God’s almighty power that David ran toward the army to meet the Philistine and shouted, “This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand…then all this assembly shall know that the LORD does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD s, and He will give you into our hands,”(1 Samuel 17:46-47). As David slung the smooth stone, God caused it to hit Goliath in his one vulnerable spot—on the forehead, between his eyes—just as God caused Big Foot Roberts to be vulnerable before us, trapping his foot between a clutch and a brake pedal. With God’s help, both “big foot” enemies were eliminated!

What “big foot” experience is haunting you just now? Don’t try to face it in your own strength—turn it over to God! Stand firm in faith. Remember, the battle is the Lords.’ When you’re in His army, He gives you the victory!

Elder J.D. Quinn

“Styrofoam Cups”

2 Corinthians 4: 1&7 says, “Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;… But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”

Have you ever watched what someone does with a Styrofoam cup after they finish whatever was in it? They bite it around the edges and stick pencils through it and tear it to pieces before finally disposing of it. Why do they do that—because a Styrofoam cup is almost worthless? This cup is only good for what it contains. This is what Paul is trying to communicate by using the term “earthen vessel.” This was a common clay pot that was used by the wealthy as well as the poor. These earthen pots were so common that if one should break, it would be thrown away and not repaired. We can relate to this Scripture if we read it as “we have this treasure in Styrofoam cups.” However, it will take a true child of God to exhibit what’s in the vessel and not the vessel itself.

Every born-again believer has been given a ministry to fill their Styrofoam cups. It is the ministry of Glory, but most Christians don’t realize what this ministry is or how to use it. I have a saying, “whenever you see a ‘therefore,’ look and see what it’s there for.” The key to seeing what it’s there for is to read the Scriptures preceding the therefore. The third chapter of 2 Corinthians explains what this ministry is. Two Corinthians 17- 18 says, “now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” Moses’ glory faded after he came down for Sinai; however, the glory that is in our vessel will never fade because it progresses as we go from glory to glory by going from Matthew to Mark, Luke to John, Acts and Romans and Corinthians and so forth. By doing this; we are changed into the same image as our Lord and become a reflection of Jesus Christ. Colossians 1:27 (Amplified Bible) “To whom God was pleased to make known how great for the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ within and among you, the Hope of [realizing the] glory.”

Another key factor to keeping our Styrofoam cups full is the proper understanding of verse 17—it actually reads, “Where the Spirit is Lord, there is liberty.” The Holy Spirit must be Lord in your life. Ask the Lord to fill your Styrofoam cup to overflowing every day—then let it overflow and flood all that come into contact with you.

Philippians 1:20 (Amplified Bible) “This is in keeping with my own eager desire and persistent expectation and hope, that I shall not disgrace myself nor be put to shame in anything; but that with the utmost freedom of speech and unfailing courage, now as always heretofore, Christ (the Messiah) will be magnified and get glory and praise in this body of mine and be boldly exalted in my person, whether through (by) life or through (by) death.”

  Pastor Hal Steenson

“A Miracle That Birthed A Mircle” Part 10

A retired couple from Apison, Tennessee, looked over the simple little newsletter that a friend had passed on to them which told about what God was doing in southern Illinois. It wasn’t a worldwide mailing; Danny had typed it himself on a Commodore 64 and sent it to a meager two hundred people. However, it had so impressed Marvin and Rosella McColpin, that they sent in a small donation.

Now they had decided to call, and when Danny answered, they told him they were headed to Newfoundland to see about helping a ministry there, and wanted to know if they could stop by and talk to him about the 3ABN vision.

“Of course you can,” Danny said. “We would love to have you visit us.”

Marvin and Rosella were planning to spend only one day with the Sheltons, but they got so excited about the project they canceled their trip to Newfoundland.

What were they so excited about? The Holy Spirit got them excited over trenches. That’s right—trenches dug to pour the concrete footings. Isn’t that exciting? It was to them, because they caught the vision.

When Marvin asked Danny how much money was set aside to put up the building, he almost choked when Danny replied, “We  have about $200 in the bank, and that will go for renting the construction equipment.”

“You mean you don’t have enough money to pour the footings?” he asked, amazed that Danny had even started to build. “What if you get the footings dug and it rains before you get money for the cement?”

“Well,” Danny laughed, “maybe the Lord wants three-foot deep ditches! Besides,” he explained, “how can we expect the Lord to give us more money if we haven’t used what He’s already given us?”

“How much do you think it will cost to put up the shell of the building?” he inquired.

“Maybe fifty thousand dollars,” Danny answered, as truthfully as he could.

The McColpins were kind people, and interested in God’s work, but Danny could tell they didn’t have much to give, by the simple way they lived. Nonetheless, the Holy Spirit had already started prompting their hearts to donate when Danny’s phone rang that night. It was Clarence Larson calling to tell Danny they needed a miracle.

What no one knew, of course, was that God had decided to demonstrate His power to Marvin and Rosella, and birth one miracle from another miracle.

God wanted Marvin in the back seat of that van as Danny and Clarence drove down the gravel roads of Thompsonville, looking for a three-phase power miracle. God wanted him there to see this miracle, not just hear about it.

Then, after witnessing this miracle firsthand, the McColpins presented the Sheltons with a check for $25,000!

Danny was shocked that night, but overwhelmed the next morning, when they handed him another check for the same amount!

Undoubtedly, he thought, they must have this money in savings. However, he found out later that this was not the case when the McColpins asked him not to cash the checks until they returned home and made some arrangements.

You see, they were so impressed that 3ABN was God’s work, they went home and mortgaged their house for $50,000, making it possible for 3ABN’s first studio to be built before winter!

“In the next six months, our business of reselling land made more money than we had ever made before,” Marvin told Danny later. “In fact, we made enough money to pay off that mortgage, and still had as much money left over as we did before we gave the $50,000 to 3ABN!” 

  Pastor Hal Steenson

“The Truth About Temptation”

Temptation is not sin; however, it is the decision to do right or wrong and the action that follows. If it’s not dealt with, it will breed sin. Jesus was tempted in all manners just like we are, but without sin, so to be tempted must have a purpose. So what is this purpose?

To answer this question, we must look closely at the origin of temptation. James tells us emphatically the when, where, why and how it occurs. In chapter 1:12-16 James Amplified says, “Blessed (happy, to be envied) is the man who is patient under trial and stands up under temptation, for when he has stood the test and been approved, he will receive [the victor’s] crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted from God; for God is incapable of being tempted by [what is] evil and He Himself tempts no one. But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions). Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death. Do not be misled, my beloved brethren.”

To fully understand the purpose of temptation, we must admit that it does not come from God; it comes from Satan and is embraced by us. Temptation is birthed out of our own lusts and desires to go against God’s will. In the Garden of Eden, Eve displayed the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. In the wilderness, Satan tempted Jesus with the same three things. He hasn’t changed his mode of operation.

Satan can only tempt us with something that we desire. I hate beets, they taste like dirt—I wouldn’t eat a beet for a hundred dollars (well maybe.) Nonetheless, Satan cannot tempt me with beets and will never even try. J.D. Quinn doesn’t eat turnip greens (I love them), therefore JD will never be tempted with turnip greens. He won’t even taste Mollie Sue’s turnip greens and they’re great. Maybe they taste like beets to him.

So what is the purpose of temptation? It is to build our character, so the Lord may rejoice because we overcame that temptation. If we are to overcome temptation we must discern it correctly–then we must examine ourselves for cracks in our character. It is these cracks that allows Satan to see our weaknesses. Whenever we are tempted, we should rejoice in the Lord and ask Him to help us overcome this temptation. I have overheard people pray for God to remove the temptation; however, that will never happen. A pastor friend of mine fell into sin because he prayed for God to remove the temptations—he prayed wrong. He should have said, “Thank you Father, for revealing this flaw in my character, now that I recognize it and admit it, I ask You to please help me overcome this temptation before it becomes sin.”

Are you fighting temptations? Then you have cracks in your character and Satan will pry them open causing them to become sin. Don’t let him do it—ask our loving Father for strength.

“Let us have more confidence in our Redeemer. Turn not from the waters of Lebanon to seek refreshment at broken cisterns, which can hold no water. Have faith in God. Trustful dependence on Jesus makes victory not only possible but certain. Though multitudes are pressing on in the wrong way, though the outlook be ever so discouraging, yet we may have full assurance in our Leader; for “I am God,” He declares, “and there is none else” (Isa. 45:22). He is infinite in power, and able to save all who come to Him. There is no other in whom we can safely trust.” (In Heavenly Places, page 17)

  Pastor Hal Steenson

“The Hourglass of Life”

James 4:14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.There was a time in my life when all my priorities were out of order. However, I was very unaware of those shortcomings until I started seeing my life swirling around as if it were in a whirlpool. I spiritually swam myself to safety and began to reevaluate my fate. When I asked myself how this had happened, I remembered something I had heard as a novice Christian. That statement instilled a warped mental impression of what the ministry really is. I remembered listening to a boastful young pastor declaring that he was so committed to the ministry that he had accepted a speaking engagement on his honeymoon night. At that time, I thought he must be a dedicated man of God. I now realize that he was missing God by a country mile, because his priorities were out of order.For years, I esteemed my pastoral ministry and church above everything else in my life, sometimes even God. I had unknowingly established a doomed lifestyle. I had placed the ministry above the mission and I now know that will never work or produce fruit for God’s Kingdom. I had put the “I’ve got to’s” above the “God’s want to’s” in my life. I positioned the local church and the ministry above God, above my wife, my children and above my personal time with the Lord. I’ve since learned that when your value system is out of order, everything and everyone associated with you suffers. As I began to peel away the layers of my mixed-up life, I saw that it was me that was out of sync rather than everyone else. Before the scales of deception fell from my eyes, all I saw were people that appeared uncommitted to God by not being committed to the church. I was unable to distinguish that the cause of Christ and commitment to the local church were two different facets of ministry.The sand was sifting through the opening of my life’s hourglass rapidly and I had to do something fast—I prayed. I prayed for the Lord to help me put things in proper order. First, God had to become number one in my life if anything else were to fit into my life’s purpose. I had to humble myself and ask Him to allow me the chance to change before all the sand was drained from the top to the bottom of my life’s hourglass. I was ashamed as the Father began to reveal all the wasted days and wasted ways that led to nowhere. He gave me the opportunity to change.It wasn’t easy to let go of my self-motivated, performance-oriented lifestyles, nonetheless, when I surrendered to Him, the Holy Spirit started directing my every move. God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit became my pivotal point and everything else had to revolve around them. Next, after God, came my wife; I must never elevate or esteem anyone or anything above her–not our children, not our grandchildren, and certainly not my job. If I were going to accomplish what God purposed for my life, then my wife, Mollie, had to be by my side standing with me as one. Then after my wife, came my children and my grandchildren. Bringing up the rear was my job, which for most of my adult life, I had held in first place.

Since getting my priorities in order, my purpose has now become focused. First, I am to be a loving, caring and committed husband; one that leads his wife as the Lord directs. I am to be a godly example and father figure to my family. Last, I am to be a caretaker of all the Father has so graciously entrusted with me and be a good provider for my family. I am still watching as the sand sifts through the hourglass of my life, but that has become one of the least of my concerns. I am now living and loving life to its fullest and very aware that when, “My hourglass of this life runs out of sand, I will not be able to turn it over again.” I think I’ll go tell Mollie how much I love her and then I’ll call the kids tonight.

Father, I thank you for the opportunity to serve You in the 3ABN Pastoral Department and for all the necessary priority adjustments.

  Pastor Hal Steenson

“Home Free”

John 14:2 (Amplified Bible) “In My Father’s house there are many dwelling places (homes). If it were not so, I would have told you; for I am going away to prepare a place for you.”

The telephone pole under the streetlight was our Hide and Seek home base, Burt Coley was “It” and I was hiding behind Daddy’s 1956 Buick Century. I knew he would eventually have to move away from home base and start searching for all of us hiding in the shadows of that moonlit summer’s night.

Burt was fast, but I knew that I was faster—all I needed was for him to venture a little farther away from the pole and I would run like the wind. I would streak from the darkness and run toward the light. Even if he caught me, he still had to hold onto me, count to 10 and say, “You’re It.” However, he didn’t stand a chance; I was too fast and in a few seconds, I’d be “Home Free” and rejoicing in the light.

Like a speeding bullet, I shot out from behind the big Buick and headed for home base. Unfortunately my friend, Porky had the same idea and clobbered me from the left side. We both  screamed in pain as Burt headed toward us—one of us was going to be “It” and I didn’t want it to be me. However, I only weighted about 75 pounds and Porky topped out at over 150 pounds, so guess who was left sprawled on the ground? I was an easy mark for Burt and Porky made it home free along with the rest of our gang.

That was 55 years ago and I’m still heading for home base; however, it’s not the home base of the light pole. I now press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. I’m no longer concerned about the “Porky’s” of life that try to blind-side me, leaving me stunned, discouraged or defeated. I just continue towards the light, and that light is my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I’m no longer fearful of the “Burts of life” trying to hold me back and making me the “It” of my own insecurities–because Jesus has given me all power over the enemy.

I now have a big brother, His name is Jesus, and He’s already run interference for me and He’s standing there encouraging me to run to the light. He has my home base prepared and He’s there waiting for me to come out of the darkness of this world, touch Him and shout “Home Free.”

1 Thessalonians 4: 16-18 “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”

  Pastor Hal Steenson

“Is It Too Late to Stop?” Part 9

The voice on the other end on the phone was almost frantic. Danny thought it was his engineer friend, Clarence Larson, but it was hard to tell with all the panic in his voice.

“Is it too late to stop the building?” Clarence asked.

“Yes, it’s it too late. Why?”

“We may have made a terrible mistake—a horrible mistake,” Clarence continued, “and I’m feeling responsible because I’m the one who should have seen it!”

“Slow down, Clarence. What’s wrong?”

“I just realized we’re going to need three-phase power for the satellite uplink, and I don’t think there are any of those power lines anywhere near the property! What earthly reason would anyone have to put three-phase power in the middle of nowhere? You’re going to have to pay half the cost to get industrial power to your site—a mile and a quarter off the highway! Do you realize what four large cables, plus power poles, and all the construction will cost you? This will bankrupt you!”

“Well Clarence,” Danny replied, “I’m not going to worry about it. Either God has already figured out who’s going to give us the money we need, or the three-phase power is already out there, and we don’t know it.”

Clarence was still skeptical. “I don’t think there’s three-phase power way out in the middle of a cow pasture in Thompsonville, Illinois, Danny. I can’t believe I didn’t think of this sooner! I’m not going to rest until I know where the closest three-phase power is.”

“Well, then let’s go right now and see for ourselves.”

It was nine o’clock. As they drove down the road together, Clarence beamed his powerful flashlight on every pole. No three-phase power. The farther they got from the highway, the more discouraged he became.

“I knew it wouldn’t be out here. There are only a few trailers and a farm house on this road, and they don’t need all that power.”

Coming to a sharp righthand turn in the road, just a few hundred feet from the new 3ABN turnoff, Clarence’s flashlight beamed up the next pole.

“That’s it! That’s it! There’s the three-phase power—right here! This is impossible!” he exclaimed. “There’s nothing out here that requires it!”

The next morning they went back out to make sure they hadn’t made a mistake. To their great amazement, they found that the three-phase power lines cut through a field off the highway right to their driveway, and then made a sharp turn, heading off in a different direction. There seemed to be no rational explanation for this, either.

Clarence explained that two electrical companies supplied power to this area, “and the way things are going for you, Danny, it’s probably the cheaper one,” he added. “Call them and find out why there’s three-phase power running through the middle of nowhere and see if we can hook up to it.”

Sure enough, the power lines belonged to the less expensive company, and 3ABN was able to connect for less than two thousand dollars.

“Why is there three-phase power out in the middle of a field?” Danny asked the power company representative.

“I have no idea,” he said. “Thirty or forty years ago our company ran three-phase lines in order to provide power for our own systems. That may be the reason, but all I can say is you’re a lucky man.”

“I think it was more than luck,” Danny replied. “I believe God had His hand in your plans years ago.” Then he began to tell the man about the 3ABN project, and some of the miracles God had provided.

Actually, before the three-phase power lines were ever laid through Thompsonville, Illinois, they were already laid as a part of the 3ABN vision by the Three-Phase Power Company of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

  Pastor Hal Steenson

The Real Thanksgiving

While contemplating the real meaning of Thanksgiving Day, the Lord quicken to my heart a passage found in Luke 17:11-19. It’s the account of the ten lepers who were healed by Jesus. According to God’s Word, there were ten lepers healed that day, however, only one returned to give thanks to the miracle Man called Jesus. All ten of the lepers had to have been thankful for their restoration, but I questioned in what sense were they actually thankful and how was their thanks expressed. This caused me to examine what real Thanksgiving entails and what truly defines it.

I came to the awareness that there are two different types of thanks-givers in this world and they are diametrically opposed. First, there are the selfish, self-centered, it’s all about me group. They are like the nine lepers that didn’t return to thank Jesus, but continued on their way for priestly approval. In the second group are those who are true thanks-givers, such as the one leper who returned in humility and adoration.

I pondered the difference between the two groups and about each one’s grand finale. The only difference that I could see was the direction of their appreciation and the motive of their thankfulness.

The nine that did not return with accolades for the Healer had praise for no one but themselves. They were self-absorbed and praised themselves for their underserved blessing. They had finalized their “give me that and give me this, on their never ending shopping list.” It’s true, they were cleansed and healed, but healing was all they received. The one returning leper got more than just a physical healing. He received a spiritual healing of eternal proportions.

God’s Word says, “he saw (realized) the gift, turned back (from his own selfish way), glorified God, and fell down at Christ’s feet, giving Him thanks… thy faith hath made thee whole.” Although the one leper was healed of his leprosy, he was not whole until he experienced the salvation of the Savior. Now I know what real Thanksgiving is all about and whom it’s all about—it’s about the salvation from our Savior.

The question I pose to you today is what kind of ‘thanks-giver’ will you be during this Thanksgiving season?

  Pastor Richard Pinero

Critical Mass

Webster’s Dictionary defines “Critical Mass” as the minimum amount of atomic material that can sustain a nuclear chain reaction under a given set of conditions or the minimum amount or number required for something to happen or begin. So it won’t work to tell God that you’re only one person and unable do much for His Kingdom because God has placed His inherent power within you. If you are born-again, you are a “Critical Mass” for God.

So what are you waiting for to accomplish the great commission? Jesus said in Matthew 28:18-20 “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” He didn’t say I have some power or I have a little power; He said all power is given to me. He then said “therefore”—whenever you see a therefore, look and see what it’s there for. It was there for the disciples to receive the power that Jesus was bestowing upon them.

I know there are times when we feel we’re not accomplishing anything for the Kingdom of God. However, it’s not because we aren’t a “Critical Mass” for Christ. We have the power to overcome any and every obstacle Satan may put in our paths. Another thing Jesus said was, “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” (Luke 10:19) This Scripture is misunderstood because many people don’t realize the words power in this text are two different words. The power Christians have is Exousia, which means the power of authority (influence) and of right (privilege.) The power that is designated to the enemy is Dunamis and it means strength, power or ability.

Now let’s look at this from your point of view, together with Christ, you are a “Critical Mass.” Let us suppose that Satan is a 100,000 watt light that is shining on our dire circumstances as he tries to manipulate us with his power—however you, as a “Critical Mass” are the switch that has the authority to turn that light off. One little flip of your switch of authority will turn off all the wiles of the enemy. This is where you must come to the knowledge of your Critical Mass authority. This is where you must start flipping the switch on Satan.

God has seen fit to give us all power and authority and requires us to acknowledge that it is His power working in and through us. 2 Corinthians 4:7 “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”

So why are you still sitting there doing nothing? Put your finger on the switch, turn Satan off and go out and win the lost. I challenge you to not be fearful of serpents or scorpions or any of the power of the enemy, because with Jesus, you are much more than just a “Critical Mass.”

  Pastor Hal Steenson

God’s Building Plans – Part 8

As Danny Shelton began to see God work miracle after miracle at just the right time, and with just the right amount of money, his faith soared. On Friday nights and Sabbath afternoons, the little group of family and church members gathered at the 3ABN building site to pray and sing, “We Are Standing on Holy Ground.” Those were hopeful days. They had so little—and needed so much. Nevertheless, like explorers, their sights were on their goal, instead of the tremendous hurdles that lay before them. And they kept moving forward.

The group had no idea how large a building to construct, so Danny started out with plans to build a small, 40 by 70 foot building. But this was where he learned that faith and common sense were not the same thing, and so he enlarged his plans to 50 by 90 feet.

Finally, as he and his brother Kenny walked out on to the land to stake out the building, God laid out His plans in Danny’s heart—at least as much of it as his finite faith could handle at that time.

Danny put a stake in one corner of God’s holy ground, and as Kenny held the tape measure, he started walking in the opposite direction—going well past the ninety feet he intended!

“Do you think this is big enough?” he called back.

“It looks fine to me,” Kenny answered.

But God was saying, “Go a little farther son; go on, use your faith, and not your common sense.”

Danny kept walking—almost to the end of the tape! Finally he stopped at 150 feet. “What do you think about making it this big?” he called back.

“Okay,” Kenny hollered.

As Danny pounded the stake, I believe God smiled.

They did the same thing to determine the width of the building, ending up with a 60 by 150 foot building. If they built most of it in two stories, there would be a total of about 16,000  square feet. It looked really big to Danny as he looked at those stakes in the middle of an empty field. In fact, he’d never built anything that big—especially without a penny to do it!

In those days, I was sure that none of them had any inkling of the magnitude of the work they were starting. When I looked at the building stakes for the first time, my only comment was, “It’s not nearly big enough! Why are you building such a little building?”

Within a few years, my prediction came true. By 1994, 3ABN began building a new office and production facility that would be three times larger than the original, and when it was completed in 1996 it became 3ABN’s major Production Center and the network’s world headquarters.

The original Uplink Building, with one production studio, was used only as the Master Control facility, but later it housed the offices and production equipment for 3ABN Radio Network.

3ABN now has a state-of-the art Sound Center, as well as a large Call Center. In 2003 Master Control was moved to 3ABN’s headquarters, the Production Center, as well. Then, a new 1,500-seat Worship Center was built across from the new Thompsonville Christian School and gymnasium. And, oh yes, let’s not forget the new production studio for 3ABN’s Kids’ Time programs, or the SonBeam, Proclaim, International, Russian and Dare To Dream channels. As you can see, the construction hasn’t stopped as 3ABN continues to grow, following God’s building plans. When we follow God’s building plans, we can never build big enough, because God has a world vision.

Danny may have only had a tape measure in his hand when he walked across that first plot of land, but he had God’s vision in his heart. 

  Pastor Hal Steenson 

The Eyes of Your Heart

Ephesians 1:17-19 (Amplified Bible) “[For I always pray to] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation [of insight into mysteries and secrets] in the [deep and intimate] knowledge of Him, By having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (His set-apart ones).”

Years ago, when I was in school studying for the ministry, I was privileged to teach a short course on street evangelism and home visitation. One of the five key principles of this teaching was, “If you’ve been where they are, tell them that you’ve been there and have experienced the same thing.” In our effort to reach people with the truth of God’s Word, we must not hesitate to tell them the truth of our lives as well. I’ve heard it said that every saint has a past; however, every sinner has a future. Too often we forget that God hates sin, but loves the sinner and we seldom admit that we had the same problem as the person to whom we’re witnessing. We need to be open and honest, especially if we’ve been set free from the bondage that person is experiencing.

Many of us have a fear of rejection, especially to admit to the drug addict that we were also once in bondage to drugs. This is the point where unjust judgment is birthed and we attack what they’re doing instead of relating to them with a compassionate heart. I thank God that He saw fit early in my Christian infancy to allow me to experience a life-lesson about seeing past someone’s sin and seeing God’s love for that sinner.

I had been born-again about 3 months when I started attending a friend’s church. My friend didn’t shared with me that the pastor was physically blind loosing his sight from a fall when he was 6-years-old. Pursuing his education, he attended a noted school for the blind and excelled in almost everything he endeavored, especially people’s hearts. Because of his commitment and compassion, he was asked to visit one of the Elder’s brother and sister-in-law, who were alcoholics and needed Jesus in their lives before it was too late.

I hope I will never forget that night of visitation when I drove Pastor Ray Speakman to the couple’s home—down an old muddy road, stopping in front of a dilapidated shack where mounds of trash was thrown from the house and laying next to the front door. There were at least 5 or 6 junk cars in the yard and several old dogs barking loudly. The real shocker came after we knocked on the door and it was open by our elder’s brother. He was standing there or rather staggering there with a bottle of Vodka in his hand wearing the filthiest clothes I’d ever seen. Ray told him that his brother had asked us to come by for a short visit. The man asked us in and I had to lead Ray around the piles of beers cans and empty liquor bottles on the floor. We sat down at the kitchen table and I watched as the man poured his wife a glass of Vodka while he kept drinking out of the bottle.

I’d been where he was, so I was going to straighten him out about the evils of alcohol–all I could see was the sin and I hated it. I failed to see the sinner that God loved and Jesus had died for. However, it was a divine appointment time for 3 people that night—that husband, his wife and me. Pastor Ray began to share Jesus with them and the anointing was so strong that I began to weep along with those pitiful looking alcoholics as tears rolled down their cheeks. The next thing I knew, we were all on our knees, praying and asking for God’s mercy and forgiveness. When we got to our feet, the man walked to the sink and poured his alcohol down the drain; he thanked us for coming, for praying and for introducing them to Jesus. He assured us they would be in church the very next service.

As we drove away from their home, Pastor Ray asked me if it was just him or had I smelled alcohol in their house. That was when I realized I was really the one that had been blind that night, blind because I only saw with my natural eyes, while Pastor Ray saw with “the eyes of his heart.” I didn’t want to lie to him, so I told him the only thing that matters is that they are new creatures in Christ.
It’s been years ago, but the last I heard about that couple was that he was a deacon and his wife was teaching children’s church, because a blind preacher saw that couple through the eyes of God.

  Pastor Hal Steenson

Your Attitude Will Determine Your Altitude

It was fifty one years ago—I was twelve years old, about to turn thirteen. I believe it was Mark Twain that said, “When a child turns thirteen, put him or her in a barrel, nail the lid shut and feed them through the knothole until they turn sixteen—then plug up the knothole until they turn twenty one.”

Here’s why I should have been in that barrel. At that time, several of my friends had an inexpensive yet popular motorcycle called a Moped. You would pedal it to get it started and if you needed extra power climbing hills, you could also pedal while the motor was running. I wanted one, no I demanded one. I was one of ten children, however, I only saw myself through my selfish tunnel vision attitude.

I remember in detail everything that transpired that hot August morning like it had happened yesterday. The radio was on in the kitchen as mother was cleaning up after breakfast. The radio was always on in the kitchen between seven and nine o’clock in the morning on weekdays to listen to the “Bonus Merchant Program” with D.J., Tommy Allen. There were about twenty local merchants that received free commercial advertisement during this program. Each day Tommy would announce the name of the “bonus merchant” and then later in the program randomly call someone in our town. If the person he called knew who the bonus merchant was for that day, they won the money that had accumulated daily if nobody had won. The radio station, WAJF-1400 AM would start out with a fifty dollar initial pool and add fifteen dollars every day if there was not a winner. If someone answered correctly, the merchant named would have to pay the jackpot.

Now, back to the Moped morning with mother in the kitchen trying to listen for the bonus merchant for that day, particularly because the jackpot was the largest it had ever been; it was $798.00. Now picture me standing in that kitchen throwing a hissie fit—crying and mad about being socially abused. That was when mother said, “Hal if I win that money today I will buy you the Moped. However, you’ve been carrying on so loudly; I don’t know if they’ve said who the bonus merchant is for today.”

The phone rang and I answered it. To my shock and horror, I heard, good morning, this is Tommy Allen from WAJF’s bonus merchant program, if you can tell me the name of today’s bonus merchant you will win the largest jackpot we’ve ever given away. I didn’t know who it was—mother didn’t know; we didn’t win. Nonetheless, at first, with my pitiful attitude, all I could think about was me—no moped for this boy. Then it dawned on me that I had cheated my family out of over $500.00 and that my attitude had directly affected the altitude that I could have soared to. I just stood there next to the phone for a minute before breaking out in tears and saying, “Mama, I’m so sorry, will you forgive me? She came over to me, wrapped her arms around me and said, “Mama loves you baby and everything will be okay. I’ve never forgotten the bonus merchant for that day—it was Bowling Radio and T.V. Repair and I had to pass it every day on my way back and forth to school. Sometimes life-lessons come hard and we fail to learn that our attitude will always affect our altitude.

Proverbs 15:33 “The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.”

Pastor Hal Steenson

Miracle Whip

Whenever I start getting into self-righteous works and getting away from God; I must ask myself some hard questions. In addition, whenever I realize that I’m promoting or soft-selling myself, I have no other choice but to examine myself. The apostle Paul states in 1 Corinthians 11:28 “But let a man examine himself…” Personally, I believe this Scripture pertains to every aspect of our lives, not just our outward signs of a relationship with Jesus. We are to put to death anything we endorse as being beneficial to the body of Christ, if it is not.

It’s a humbling thought to read in John 2:13-16 the account of Jesus entering the temple in Jerusalem and seeing the money changers taking advantage of God’s children, pretending it was for the benefit of His Kingdom. It’s only when we are totally willing to become servants of God that we can count ourselves nothing other than a child of obedience to Him. As obedient children, we must be willing to bow before Him, desiring to do only His will, not ours.

What if we had been there, standing in the outer court of the temple, promoting the carnal aspects of our lives, pretending we were in the perfect will of the Father? What if we saw Jesus sitting there, looking at our hypocrisies as we wondered what He was doing—not knowing He was about to demonstrate our desperate need to stop making profit by buying and selling our worldly wares and calling it righteousness? We would have had no idea what we were about to experience. All we would have cared about was our money in hand and the profit being made off the children of God. So many of the worshipers had come great distances and could not bring their sacrifices with them. The only way they could offer a sacrifice was to buy one from our table.

Jesus was just sitting there with a handful of small cords, weaving them together, and undoubtedly  making some sort of whip. What was He going to do with this whip? Then He stands to His feet with whip in hand and heads toward us. The closer He gets the clearer the ungodly selling of oxen, sheep and doves for profit is revealed. All of a sudden everyone’s animals begin to scatter. He overturns every one of the money changer’s tables—scattering their CD’s everywhere, destroying their sets of DVD’s, and spilling their entire rack of books to the ground.

Would we fall on our face before Him in godly humility realizing His ways are higher than our ways, or run from Him as did the animals? If we had humbled ourselves in this mental picture, we might have opened our eyes and saw something hanging down near His leg; it would have been a “Miracle Whip.” A Miracle Whip in the hands of Christ could drive out every self-serving sacrifice of our lives that is devoid of God’s purpose. Though physically untouched by that miracle whip, it could open the eyes of our heart to see the necessity of our leaving the outer court of works and entering into a place of total commitment to Christ.

The opening to the outer court is wide, anyone may enter in, but the opening into the Holy place of service is narrow. There is no room for anyone worldly to enter in, only those who desire to be like Him and are willing to die to self. The apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:10, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.” Jesus will never stop drawing us into His presence as long as we continue to allow Him to cleanse our temples with the “Miracle Whip” of His Word and His love.

Dear Lord, at Your next advent, please don’t let us still be found in the outer court as were some at Your Passover, but challenge us to get past what many churches and Christians say You are and let us know who You are. Lord help us understand that You are not huge buildings, silver communion services, padded pews, or harmonious choirs. Please let us see who You really are; You are the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings. Please Lord, turn over all the self-made tables of our lives and lead us into a place of serving You without any selfish motives.

Galatians 2:20
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Pastor Hal Steenson

Fanning the Flames of Faith Part 7

The Lord had miraculously provided Danny Shelton with television equipment, with an engineer, and with two acres of land to build a television station. However, there was a slight problem: There was no road to get to the building site.

It had taken only a few sparks to get the 3ABN fire going, but from now on it would take the fan of faith in the hand of a man who didn’t have the word “quit” in his vocabulary to fuel the flames.

The original 3ABN Uplink Center was being built about a quarter mile off the main street, so the Shelton brothers rented a road grader and began to work. But the diesel fuel for that beast could only be purchased five gallons at a time. There was no shortage of fuel, but there was a shortage of money! In 1983, those five-gallon cans of diesel fuel cost almost $8 each!

The road was about 1,400 feet long and 25 feet wide, and as they finished grading it, they needed gravel immediately. The weather forecast wasn’t looking good, so Danny called the rock company and arranged to have the gravel delivered.

He was informed that the only delivery day available was a week from that Tuesday, and the company superintendent made it clear that he would be expecting nothing less than a check for $6,000 at the time of delivery! If God can supply $8 at a time for a lot of diesel fuel, surely He can supply $6,000 for a modest bit of gravel, Danny thought to himself.

They’d determined to take God at His Word—to do whatever He impressed them to do. And that meant they’d have to think and act with Holy Ghost boldness, rather than in the more cautious ways they might consider appropriate in their personal affairs. Caution would limit God. The only way to move was forward. Besides, they’d already seen miracle after miracle, and barrier after barrier fall. Why would God stop now? Why should they even consider stopping now? Danny ordered the rock.

Every day for the next week he checked the post office box, but there were few donations. He was away for the weekend, and when he returned he rushed to the post office expecting numerous letters with the needed funds—but there were only two.

Danny’s heart sank, until he opened the first letter. It was from a lady in Chicago who had seen a short article about him in the Lake Union Herald, a church paper. In the envelope was a check for $2,000!

Until this time, donations of $10 or $25 had trickled in. Occasionally, there would be a check for $50 or $100. Danny wasn’t used to getting such a major donation—especially from a stranger who had never been there to see the project.

With a renewed fan of faith in his hand, he slowly opened the second letter. He could hardly believe what he saw: a check for $4,000! Two letters, two checks—and $6,000!

The second check was from a couple in California where he and his daughter had ministered in song when God first gave him the dream to build 3ABN. It was the same church service where the pastor had tried to keep him silent by giving him a definite cut-off signal when he began sharing about his dream of reaching the world through Christian television.

But not before a couple sitting in that service saw God’s fan of faith in Danny’s hand.

  Pastor Hal Steenson 

Wasted Tears, Wasted Years

She was the bride of the century, with her Prince Charming on her arm. Her 26-foot wedding train seemed to stretch endlessly behind her as she exited her royal coach drawn by beautiful horses. The splendor of this sight was breathtaking as over 700 million people around the world stood spellbound at the magnitude of this event. Surely, it must have cost millions of dollars and she undeniably deserved all of this pomp and splendor. She had risen from obscurity and was marrying the future King of England, how marvelous.

Her love for people worldwide and a heart for those afflicted with debilitating diseases was her life’s passion. She traveled the world touching lives as if she were a saint sent from heaven. Everywhere she went, the red carpet was rolled out before her and she soon became the icon of royal compassion. She did so much good for all those she encountered. There is no doubt she impressed the world with her open arms and sincere heart.

The world celebrated the news of her pregnancy and waited with anticipation for the arrival of her firstborn son, William. What a fitting name for a royal Brit who may himself someday ascend to the throne. Elated was an understatement as the news of a second childbirth pierced the airwaves. William and Harry were the beautiful children of the beautiful princess bride. What could possibly go wrong-what could she possibly want or desire that she didn’t already have or could not obtain?

We all know the rest of the story, the broken vows, the shattered hearts and the wrecked marriage held so precious by the world, was no more. She went her way and he went his. He had found someone else and she would too. The world grieved for this magnificent Lady. The Prince stayed close to his mother, but the Princess put herself in motion to make up for the wasted years. She started living life in the fast lane, maybe not considering the possible cost of that lifestyle.

Did you hear the news? Did you hear that Princess Diana was killed in a devastating car crash last night? She was with Dodi al-Fayed when their car hit a massive concrete pillar in the Pont d’Alma tunnel. I answered, “Yes, I heard she lost her life in a horrible accident, sad isn’t it.” He asked if I thought the funeral would be as elaborate as the wedding. I said, “I’m not sure, but I don’t think it will be.” “Have you seen the thousands of people placing flowers and lighting candles in front of the palace-standing there for hours, just crying, crying and praying for her, he asked?” I said, “I’ve seen it; those tears were for the years that everyone loved her, even when they knew many of the things she was doing wasn’t fitting for a princess. She was, and will always be loved by many.”

“What do you think of all this, someone asked?” My response was heartrending for me. I said, “It may have been wasted years, but I know for a certainty its now wasted tears.” He looked at me as if I had lost my mind and asked what was I talking about-wasted years and wasted tears. I asked him, “Do you ever recall her talking about Jesus or leading someone in a prayer of salvation as he or she lay dying from aids or cholera?” What would it prosper her to be esteemed in the world’s eyes, but having never made a commitment to Christ? I don’t know where Diana stood as a Christian and I refuse to judge her; however, if she had allowed Jesus to be Lord of her life, He may have led her in a different direction and she may be alive today.

It would be sad to see someone so young go out into eternity and see all the good she accomplished, all the wonderful things she did for humanity become wasted years for her, because she may have never accepted Jesus.

Those who were standing crying and praying for Diana need to understand that no amount of tears they shed will alter the state of the dead. Once someone goes past life and into death, there are not enough prayers on earth to change his or her destination. The people cried, they cried for days and weeks, some are still crying, but for someone without Christ in their life, it’s only wasted tears. I can’t help but wonder how many of them prayed for Diana before she died-did you? I question how many of us have people we esteem highly and yet fail them by not praying for their assurance of salvation.

I can only hope that someday we’ll see Princess Diana in heaven, kneeling before Jesus Christ, the true Prince.

Mark 8:36 “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

  Pastor Hal Steenson

The Motarboards Of Life

From Kindergarten to the Memorial Gardens, graduations are forever. Mortarboards fly from skinned up knees to tree house trees because commencement services never cease. As you go from building blocks to Tonka trucks, Tonka Trucks to life’s mountaintops, you have one graduation and commencement service after another. You graduate from the mumps to the measles, to the misunderstandings where you find yourself mostly misinformed about life’s true purpose. This is when you start to ask, why am I here. What is God requiring of me? Why does life have to be so hard? Life was so easy when the ground was flat, now every step you take is uphill and full of pitfalls and avalanches.

You find yourself graduating from happiness to hard rows to hoe and you can’t understand why it isn’t the same as it used to be, when you were only three.

Once upon a time, your mortarboards soared high into the air and flew as effortlessly as an Albatross, sailing on the winds of endless graduations. Now your mortarboards of life seem stuck to your head, permanently fixed by your confused future.

Jeremiah challenges our graduations in his twelfth chapter and the fifth verse, “If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?”

You must invite your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, to be the keynote speaker at every one of life’s graduations. It is only then that you can reach for your cap and prepare to remove that gown, eager to accomplish God’s goals for His Kingdom.

When Jesus reigns in your life, you will be able to run with the footmen and contend with the horses. However, without Him, you’ll never throw your mortarboard from the mountaintops, because it will always be on exhibit in the corner of life’s complacency. It’s only when you invite Jesus to every graduation that you can hand Him your final mortarboard of life and say, “Here Lord, you throw this last one in the air, if it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t have made it to my final graduation.”

 

  Pastor Hal Steenson

The Old Oak Pew

I was eight years old, standing between the first and second pew at Hartselle, Alabama First Baptist Church. Pastor Jack Childers had just finished preaching a powerful salvation sermon and the congregation was singing “Just as I Am.” Just as I am without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me. Just as I am and waiting not, to rid my soul of one dark blot.

They were singing about me—that song was directed at me. Everyone there must have known that there was something happening inside of me. Something wanted to pull me out of that pew and make me go down front and cry. I dug my fingers into the old oak pew in front of me for dear life. I wasn’t going to Africa—no way. I knew if I got saved, God would send me to the mission field and I would never see my mother again. Hold on Hal, hold on for dear life. I held on.

I ordered the flower seeds and the vegetable seeds and went through the neighborhood selling them every spring. I put the money in one of my daddy’s old cigar boxes and hid it behind a piece of loose paneling in my bedroom. Next, I ordered four live African quail from the Ordering House and used just a small portion of the seed money to pay for them. For the next three years, the quail business went well because southerners can’t resist the taste of white quail meat. All the money went in the cigar box and wasn’t touched until Missionary Sunday at Fairview Baptist Church where I had been attending for the last six years. After I had taken all the change to Sam’s Superette and traded it for dollar bills, I put all of it in the offering. I was not going to Africa as a missionary; however, I would send the Missionaries money to support them. Surely God was smiling on me from somewhere up there.

Twenty years, twenty years I ran from God. Twenty years of wasted time ever since I had dug my fingers into that old oak pew. I had just turned twenty eight and was still holding onto that old oak pew. I knew it would be more that just walking down that aisle, praying a prayer and being baptized. I knew that God had more in store for me than being a pew warmer. I would listen intently to every sermon I heard and practice what had been preached in the cotton patches when no one was listening. I remember on one occasion when my mother overheard me and called out from the house, “Hal are you okay, why are you yelling?” That’s what I remember my Baptist pastor doing, but I don’t know if others yelled or not.

November the eighth, 1976 God called me again. On that cold November morning God told me that it was okay to let go of the pew. He assured me that He would be with me everywhere I went from that day forth. He didn’t lie. He went to Europe, to the South Pacific, to India, to Russia, Ukraine and all over America, and He took me with Him. You see, this is where I missed it, I thought He would send me, but in actuality He let me go with Him. He was there through the oil and the dry; He was there in the laughter and there when all I could do was cry. God doesn’t lie. I can’t wait until we to go to Africa.

I spent twenty years running from God when I could have been running with God. Let me ask you a question, are you holding on to an old oak pew?” If you are, let go and trust God.

Hebrews 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

 

  Pastor Hal Steenson

The Crossroads Of Dreams Part 6

Before God gave His dream to Danny Shelton for 3ABN, He gave a dream to a little lady who attended the First Christian Church in Thompsonville, Illinois—and it was a dream about cows!

Her name was Fonda Summers, and she had accepted an invitation to attend a prayer meeting at a Seventh-day Adventist church in West Frankfort, not realizing she was there to hear about another dream that would come to a divine crossroad with her own.

At prayer meeting that Wednesday night, Danny knew he had to step out in faith and share the dream God had given him. The burden to find land was heavy on his heart that night because he knew he needed the right property for this project. He had already contacted someone that owned land near Thompsonville about selling it; however, the landowner had been reluctant to do so. (Thank God!)

As he stood up in front of a handful of people in that little church that night, he took a deep breath and said, “I’m asking you to pray about something with me. We have a very special need.” Danny didn’t ask them to pray for the money needed to get this station off the ground; he asked them to pray for the land to build it on. God had chosen the right man for the job—one who was a builder, and who also knew the proper way to build something; the land must come before the building.

That night they prayed for God’s will, which is always the best way to pray. Fonda Summers was sitting in that Wednesday night meeting with a dream of her own.

Two days later, Goldie Shelton called her son.

“Danny, doesn’t God work in marvelous ways?”

“Yes, He does,” Danny replied.

“Do you remember Fonda Summers, a lady in her mid-70s from Thompsonville?”    

“Yes,” Danny answered, “I know her.”

“Well, last Wednesday night, she was at our service when you shared your dream about the satellite station. She went home and prayed until God impressed her to give you some of her land to build on. She just called me, and wants you to call her, if you’re interested.”

Danny called Mrs. Summers and discovered the land was in the vicinity of where Clarence said it needed to be. Surely, the Holy Spirit was in control of this thing. Then she said she had told the Lord she wanted to help, but didn’t have anything to give. That was when God asked her the same question He asked Moses: “What is this in your hand?”

“Lord,” she said, “all I have is eight acres of land.”

Then it dawned on her. Land! That’s what Danny needed! So she decided to give him two acres on the back of her property.

Later Mrs. Summers told this story: “Forty years ago, my husband and I were going to sell off some of our land, but before we did, I had a dream. In it I saw a fence encircling our property. The south gate was opened and the most beautiful fatted cattle came in from every direction until the back of the property was filled with them. It seemed to me the Lord was going to use this property for something special, and through the years I’ve had this dream on two other occasions. Then, last night the dream came back, only this time the Lord showed me the cattle represented people coming from all over the world—won to Christ by the spirit of truth coming from the back part of my property. This land is yours to build God’s television station.”

Wow, God, thought Danny, this is way too good to be true, and it’s all so easy!

However, the easy part was over, and the “living by faith,” the “trusting God daily,” and the “lots of hard work” part was about to begin—five gallons of diesel fuel at a time. But that’s another story.

Pastor Hal Steenson

The Matter Of The Gray Matter

When someone says “gray matter,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? It’s the brain of course, that jelly-like, wrinkled-up glob that fits snugly in our cranium. It’s our head computer that bosses around all our muscles, all our extremities and controls all our bodily functions.

However, if something goes wrong with our “gray matter,” the signals sent from our brain to our body may become distorted or confused. This is when someone wants to speak or move in a certain direction but his or her body doesn’t respond as it should. What’s worse is that sometimes your “gray matter” will fire neuron signals correctly and at other times, it will only fire blanks. Our brains can be a complex blessing and at other times a confused curse.

Have you ever thought about how your “gray matter” doesn’t only affect you in the physical realm; but it also has the potential of destroying your spiritual destiny and swinging wide the gates of hell. Now if you think that I’m referring to the unregenerate man, the one that has never made Jesus Lord, I’m not. I’m discussing the person that attends church, pays his or her tithes and has a relationship with the Lord.

You’re probably wondering where is this going. Well, it’s headed toward discussing “The Matter of the Gray Matter.” However, the “gray matter” in this scenario is not our carnal minded brain. It is the black sin that we committ and then convolute by mixing black and white together to produce a gray sin. The Word of God is never gray; it is always either black or white and our prayers must also be either black or white—no gray prayers allowed. The “gray matter” sin evolved from black to gray because of a sin that was not confessed before the Father quickly and for what it was, it was black. It is only when we confess our sins in their blatant blackness that we will receive full forgiveness for that sin.

Nevertheless, some will play the “gray matter” game and begin to chase that sin in the merry-go-round circles of their “physical gray matter” mind. They convince themselves that if someone else hadn’t done what they did, then you would have never said or done what you did. The next move in the “gray matter” game is to rationalize our motives, which gives birth to the righteous indignation that we believe we deserve.

This is when we water down our Black sin prayer with little White lies and end up only asking God for Gray forgiveness. What should have been an “Oh God, please forgive me because I have sinned prayer,” has now become a watered down ‘powdered milk prayer’ that has no power to release you from that original sin.

God can only forgive us of what we ask Him to forgive us for—if we repent to some extent, then we will be set free to some degree. We must reconsider the “matter of the gray matter” and humble ourselves before our Lord and ask Him as King David asked, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24

It is only when we sincerely pray and ask for forgiveness according to the truth of our sin, that we will be forgiven according to fullness of God’s grace.

So, let me ask you once again, “What about the Matter of the Gray Matter?

One John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Pastor Hal Steenson

The Hitchhiker

The last half of the three hour drive from Memphis to home would be picturesque as I skirted the Ozark National Forest. The pines, the oaks and a dotting of birch here and there as I passed 60 foot cliffs just feet away from the highway. I had just one more town to pass through before I would cross the bridge of the Buffalo River. I had visited the river before and I felt the anticipation of this visit because in the flow of the river I felt a peace that brought me closer to God.

I began picking up speed as I moved pass the third and last stop light in town. Ahead of me and on the right side of the road was a young man carrying a paper grocery bag with his right thumb out as he walked backwards hoping for a ride. “This is great”, I thought. I would have a captive audience as I witnessed for Christ. I pulled over to the side of the road, just in front of the young man, and stopped. I could see in the rear view mirror a smile as he trotted toward my car. He opened the door of the front passenger side and I could see a small bag of charcoal briquettes peeking over the top of the grocery bag.

We started with the usual small talk and I mentioned I was returning home after visiting some Christian friends in Memphis. I wanted to open the door to talk about the Lord but not be brash about it. I had some Christian tracks and booklets in the back seat that could do most of the witnessing for me after we parted ways. He told me he was living on the Buffalo River under a bridge since he was without work at present. I knew where this conversation was going and sure enough just before we reached the Buffalo he said, “Mitch, I hate to do this, but could you spare some money so I can buy some food tomorrow.” I had already steeled my heart because I knew the question was coming. “No, I can’t right now” I said, feeling that this guy was just lazy and didn’t want to work. We continued on with the small talk for only a couple of minutes before we arrived at the bridge that crossed the Buffalo.

The young man exited the car after I stopped just before the bridge. My heartbeat sped up as I knew this was my opportunity to witness for the Lord. I reached in the back seat and picked up a small book called Steps to Christ handing it to him and saying I would like to share this book. “No”, he said, “what I need is food for the belly, not food for thought”.

Conviction pierced my heart so deeply I could only shake my head affirming he was correct. He closed the door and walked down the embankment to the river. I had money I could have given but I made the assumption he was lazy. His words, “What I need is food for the belly, not food for thought” continued to ring in my ears as I drove over the bridge.

I learned a valuable life-lesson that day. I drew closer to the Lord while next to that beautiful river; however, it was not from the physical flow of the Buffalo. The lesson I learned was from the flow of divinely appointed spiritual words, spoken to me by a nameless hitchhiker. Those words, “What I need is food for the belly, not food for thought”, challenged my heart to strive from that day forth, to minister to the whole man. In addition, somewhere in that life-lesson the Father taught me that I must always walk by faith and never by sight. Who knows, I may have been entertaining an angel unaware.

Happy (blessed, fortunate, enviable) is the man who finds skillful and godly Wisdom, and the man who gets understanding drawing it forth from God’s Word and life’s experiences.” Proverbs 3:13 Amplified Bible

  Mitch Owen – 3ABN

Hey Houston, We’ve Got A Problem Here

The church Jesus established when He dropped His head in the locks of His shoulders and died, is on a mission—a mission from God. The mission is to go into the entire world and preach the good news to every nation. If you are a child of God, then it becomes your mission, not just a mission. The mission began with the great commission, which sadly for the unsaved world, is now becoming the great omission. We are tumbling through eternity with little direction or purpose.

As the Apollo 13 spacecraft rocketed toward the moon, the astronauts had high hopes and great expectations for their lunar landing. Everything had been checked and rechecked and NASA had given them the green-light. It seemed that nothing could stop them now and they would return with the mission accomplished.

“Hey Houston, we’ve got a problem here,” got everyone’s attention at Mission Control as Jim Lovell tried to describe that problem. Now it was up to home base to define and correct that problem if this undertaking was to continue. NASA experts at home were awakened out of their sleep with a loud cry for help. They now realized it was not just a matter of completing a project, but now a matter of saving the very lives of those involved in the mission. The space capsule was leaking oxygen–leaking it badly. Could they somehow get a crippled vehicle back to its origin? If they couldn’t, would the blood of those lost astronauts be on their hands because they had used faulty parts from Apollo 10?

“Father, we’ve got a problem here.” The mission we’re on is in big trouble unless those who are sleeping awake from their slumber and start doing all they can to bring Your church under control. She’s leaking power badly and things don’t look too good for Her. Lord, will You sound a loud cry and call in all the evangelists, pastors and laity back to Mission Control? Sir, will you allow your Holy Spirit to get everyone’s heads and hearts together and bring this church back to the standard that You established on the original launching pad of Calvary? Will you call all your children out of their lethargic darkness and into Your fields white with harvest? Father, help us to get past our programs and projects and turn to the true cause of Christ. There are lives that depend on us as never before, lives that will go tumbling out of Your divine orbit if we don’t do something. Father, unless we do something quick, their blood may be on our hands because we’ve lost sight of the great commission. “Help us Father, we’ve got a problem here.”

Revelation 14:18
“And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.”

  Pastor Hal Steenson