Text Box: Chapter One
This is a testimony of how God had His hand on me from my childhood and throughout all of my life. He had a purpose for my life even before I ever considered Him or His desires. I would listen to my mother read from the Bible about the last days and all the horrors of beasts, dragons, etc. About things of which I didnít understand. It all seemed very scary to me as a child but still there seemed to be something that kept drawing me closer. 
Even though I didnít know much about the Lord, at that time, my Heavenly Father looked down on me with mercy. You see I was born with a club foot. Even though my family knew the Lord, we knew nothing of the Holy Spirit or the gifts of the Spirit. These thing were not even discussed in my family. However God overlooked that and sent a faith healer. Who wrapped my foot in brown paper, then poured something on it and prayed for God to heal me. Praise the Lord He did. 
It was during "The Great Depression" that I grew up and we didnít have much. But, there again in our area, no one did. Once in a while if they were having a special church meeting of some kind we would all load in the wagon and go. I enjoyed the services but that was all. I never felt anything really special in them.
At the age of 18 I graduated from high school in May of 1942 and moved to Dallas, Texas where I took a job. I stayed with that until January of 1943 when I joined the Navy. The Navy sent me for my basic training to the naval base at Great Lakes, Illinois. After basic training I was sent to gunnery school for a few weeks in Rhode Island. Upon my completion of this training I was assigned to the battleship U.S.S. New Jersey BB62. After She was commissioned on May 23, 1943 we were sent into the Atlantic ocean for our shakedown cruse.. We did all of our training, cold water tests, warm water tests and gunnery drills there in preparation for service in the Pacific theater. We went through the Panama Canal in January of 1944 into the Pacific ocean where we entered into World War II. When we arrived in there we joined a fast carrier task force and became the flag ship for this fleet, carrying the Admiral in command. We served from the Marshall Islands to Tokyo Bay. The flag ship is the command ship for about 200 ships. Being onboard a battleship in a fast carrier task force could at times get pretty rough. I am telling you all of this so that you can see how Godís protecting hand was with me even though I didnít know Him for my self. I didnít realize just how much He had His hand on my life until the fall of 1947 when I returned home on leave. I t was then that I accepted Jesus as Lord of my life. Then in March of 1958 the Lord called me into the ministry. Thatís when I realized that all through my tour of duty in world war II that God had His hand protecting me from harm. You see I believe that I couldnít have been killed even if I had tried to. Now this may sound a little strange but, not nearly as strange as it did to me. You see my Mother told me that she and God had an agreement that I would be in the ministry.
It was after my discharge from the Navy in May of 1958 that I entered into studies for the ministry at Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas. I continued to enroll in classes straight through all the semesters; winter, summer and fall until the summer of 1960 that I graduated from Seminary. After graduation I began seeking for a pastorate where I could serve near where we had our home in Irving, Texas. Back in 1960, Irving, Texas was just a small town and everyone who knew us knew I had a call to be in the ministry. So from church to church I went (Baptist that is) seeking where I might serve. I would receive calls to teach Sunday School classes or to serve as a Sunday School Superintendent but nothing as a pastor. Because I couldnít find a pastorate in which I could serve I took a job with the J. C. Penney company as a department manager. I had a nice home, a good job, a happy family (everyone except me that is) but the longer I went trying to find a pastorate, with no success, the more miserable I got. I was so upset by this time that I was ready to throw in the towel and quit the ministry even before I started.
The pressure was so great on me that to get away from everything we took a vacation to Arkansas. On our return home from this trip we drove from Eureka Springs, Arkansas and up through a small part of southern Missouri. God made that country look so beautiful to me that I told my wife, Martha, that we were going to return to Irving Texas and sell our home. I said weíre going to move to Missouri. and buy a dairy farm. I announced that I was quitting the ministry and we were going to get away from anyone who ever knew that I was supposed to be in the ministry. I want you to know that this was the act of a desperate man. You see, when I grew up we lived on a farm and we had a milk cow, well I never liked the cow or the farm. So now here I am moving to Missouri and buying a dairy farm. If you ask me that sounds like either I had lost my mind or something or some One was behind that move. Not even Martha, my wife, was for the move, but I was driven and she went along with it. 
Looking back on it all now it was like a Jonah experience but in reverse. I ran from the calling of God on my life, so I thought, to a place that He had purposed for me to be all along. I told my family that I was never going to minister again, and I even instructed them to never mention to anyone that I had ever been a minister. 
We waited until after school was out for the summer in 1965 and moved to West Plains, Missouri where we had purchased a small farm of 190 acres. All during this move God and I were at odds, to say the least He was calling and I was running. So, after getting the household in order from the move I settled into starting a dairy farm. Here is where God did something very interesting. I had planned to start by raising a young herd of milk cows, but God saw to it that I only got little bull calves. HA!! You sure canít produce a milk herd out of bull calves. You see, He never intended for me to succeed.
Then right after moving to the farm our water well broke down. It was a drilled well of about 120 feet deep with a submerged pump. I called one of our new friends and asked if he could come and take a look at fixing our well. When he arrived he got right to work and pulled that old pump out so that he could replace it with a new one. But, then when he tried to put in the new pump it would only go in to a depth of about 50 feet and stop. After several hours of trying he finally gave up and quit. There was an old cistern on the farm that we could use for water storage if we had it hauled in. The Lord was not going to make it easy on me to succeed in any thing but that which He had called me to do. 
I was running from God so hard that for the most part I wouldnít even go to church. Then in the fall/winter of 1966-67 revival broke out when the Holy Spirit fell at the First Baptist Church of West Plains, MO. My oldest son, Jim Jr., had been attending services at this church during this time period. He invited his Mother and I to come to the revival services with him one evening. I really didnít want to go but because it was him asking we went. Well, that is just what the Lord wanted. During those services Martha and I were both filled with the Holy Spirit and now I found myself no longer running from, but towards God. 
After I was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave my life fully to the Lord things began to change. I went into Sears one day and a salesman wanted to sell me a new pump for that water well we couldnít use. I told him I would buy it only if he would have it installed. He agreed and sent a service man out to inspect our well set up. After checking it all out the service man assured me that he could do it. I told him we had a deal, but only after it was installed and working. He set up his equipment and went to work. He put the pump motor into the well and promptly slid it down to the 100 foot mark, hooked it up and turned it on. To my surprise it went to pumping a stream of water stronger than ever. The pump not only worked but that well was producing far better than it ever had. You see when I got my life straightened out with the Lord, He began to straightened out every area of my life, even my well. 
Before we made the moved from Texas to Missouri I had sever aching in just about every joint in my body. Because I was a Navy veteran, I was able to go to the Veteranís Hospital in Dallas for a check up. They put me through a battery of tests and the primary doctor checked the results. When he was through examining the test reports he called me in for the results. He said, "Mr. Coney, you have developed arthritis in every joint of your body". I asked him what we should do about it and he said that there was nothing that could be done for me and that I would have to learn to live with the effects. Well donít you know after we had been living on the farm in West Plains for a while I hurt my back. A few days later I went to see a chiropractor in town for an adjustment to relieve the pain. Before he did the adjustment on me he took a set of x-rays to make sure that everything was going to be all right. Well, as I was leaving after my treatment was finished I stopped at the door and asked if there was any sign that the arthritis in my joints was worsening. He looked at me for a minute with a kind of puzzled look and said " You donít have arthritis, your joints are perfectly clean." Praise the Lord No sign of arthritis. God had healed me completely. Again, how marvelous it is to see the Lord move in our lives as we draw closer to Him. 
Although the Lord was drawing me closer and closer to Him I was still not ready to surrender to the complete call of God upon my life. There was no way that I was going to take the position as pastor of a church. Therefore since I wasnít going to surrender completely the Lord wasnít going to let my dairy be too productive either. So, I took a job at Southwest Truck Body company where I ended up being assigned the work of a journeyman running a brake press. Here was another miracle, since I had never had any experience in operating this kind of equipment. 
I guess I might need to stop here and explain to you why I am including all of these testimonies of Godís mighty workings in my life. I want you to see just how the Lord works all things in our life for His good pleasure. Just as it says in Romans 8: 28 "All things work together for the good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose." I would like for you to think about these miracles as we progress through this testimony and see how they were all directed by His sovereign hard. He will do the same for anyone who is willing to give their life as a living sacrifice to Him. (Romans 12:1)
One afternoon Martha and I were to join a group of friends for a fellowship. I was tied up so Martha went on ahead of me to the home where we were to have the fellowship. When I arrived everyone was just standing around visiting . Well just as I was entering into the room where everyone had gathered Martha heard one of the men there jokingly say "We better watch what we say, here comes the preacher." Marthaís response was "How did you know that Jim is a preacher". Isnít it funny how the Lord will sometimes pull a little trick on us to get us to do or say something that will release others to do His will. So now it was out. Through this simple joke my secret was out and I could no longer hide from His calling. 
Shortly after this incident a friend of ours, Brother Jeff Floyd, who had heard Marthaís exclamation gave my name to a church that needed a pastor. Their pulpit committee came over to visit with me. It was late in the afternoon, near dark and it was very cold and damp outside. Well I met them at the gate and we stood there nearly freezing because I wouldnít invite them into the house. You see, I still wasnít going to surrender to this call on my life to pastor easily. They were giving all the reasons why I should be their next pastor and I was giving them all the reasons I could think of for them not wanting me as their pastor. Finally they said "well maybe we can help you anyway." Now I thought that this was strange I had never heard of a pulpit committee wanting to help a preacher that didnít want to preach. They kept telling me that they would like for me to come before the church and minister in view of them calling me to be their pastor. They told me that they were going to pray about it and asked me to do the same. One Sunday a few weeks later, after we had come home from church I received a phone call wanting to know if I knew that I was supposed to have preached for them that very morning. I told them no, no one had talked to me about it before this. So, they asked me if I could come that night and minister and I accepted. Guess what?!!! I became the pastor of a church, even though I was trying not to be. Isnít it fantastic to see how the Lordís hand was working things out perfectly according to His will. I served as pastor of that Church for just a little over a year and during that time we saw several people get saved and give their lives wholly to the Lord. We even had some that fell so deeply in love with the Lord that they were filled with His Holy Spirit. The Lord was moving in our midst in spite of this reluctant preacher that He had called to serve Him.
Then the Lord moved me, by His Spirit, to take the pastorate of a First Baptist Church in a small town near by. When we arrived there we found a church that was being run by some deacons and trustees. The former pastor was a school teacher and his wife would write his sermons for him. She would write them all out for him during the week and then he would read them to the congregation on Sunday morning. The head deacon would tell the pastor how to run everything else in the church. There were some people in the congregation who really had a genuine love for the Lord and were hungry for spiritual Truth. Once again, during our time there, we saw many saved and filled with the Holy Spirit.
One Friday, during the time we served as pastor here, a realtor in West Plains, where our farm was, got in touch with me to let me know that the FHA was planning to foreclose on our farm there that following Monday because we or someone from our family wasnít living there. I couldnít leave where God had called me to be to live on the farm. Nor could I ask my oldest son, Jim Jr. who was married by this time to take his wife and move back there because he had a place of his own. So we sought the Lord in prayer, because there was nothing else we could do. All we had was Him and Him alone we were desperate. We were concerned about the possibility of losing all we had invested in that farm. But as we went to bed that Friday night I was able, by the grace of God to give it to the Lord but Martha wrestled with it all night. Saturday morning we both knelt at our bedside and she too gave it to the Lord. That morning I went to the Post Office to pick up our mail. After returning home with it I sat down with a cup of coffee to sort through the mail when the telephone rang. It was the realtor who had called me that previous Friday to inform me of the pending foreclosure. He said that a man from St. Louis had came by his office that morning and that they had driven out and looked at our farm. He went on to say that when he and this man had returned to the office the man from St. Louis had written out a $10,000 deposit for the property. All of this happened in less than two hours after we had surrendered it to the Lord. 
The selling of our farm in West Plains freed me up to continue serving this Church as pastor for the next two years. The Lord blessed us in so many ways during our time there. We saw many fall deeply in love with the Lord, young, old, singles and couples, those of all ages were being drawn into a more intimate walk with the Lord by His Spirit. However, the old deacons and trustees were not thrilled with the way things were going. They didnít like the fact that they were losing control of the church. There was a new deacon that had been installed that was Spirit filled and he was excited about all that the Lord was doing there. What was great about this move of the Spirit was that I didnít pray over anyone to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. People would come by the parsonage and ask me what I thought about the gifts of the Spirit and I would take them to the Bible and show them what the scripture says about them and then tell them to go home and talk to the Lord about it. Theyíd get so excited as they were filled with His Spirit that they began to share with others in the Church what God was doing. 
Things there really appeared to going very well at the Church. We even had two spirit filled men that we were planning on setting aside for deacon training on one Wednesday night. That same evening as I was finishing up driving a school bus route I had to earn some extra money, the Lord spoke a Word of warning to me. I had been driving down this beautiful stretch of forested road. When all of a sudden I felt goose bumps all over me and the Lord said "donít bow down to mammon whether it is in the form of man or money." I responded by telling Him that He knew I wouldnít. All the way home from my bus route I pondered what this all meant.
Even as I was getting ready for church that night I couldnít help wondering about what the Lord had spoken to me that afternoon. Once I had finished changing my cloths I told Martha that I would go on and go over to the Church even though it was still a little early for services to start. It wasnít more than just a few feet from the back door of the parsonage to the back door of the church so it took no time at all for me to get there. Well when I went through the back door of the Church five men met me and asked if they could have a word with me in the fellowship hall. After we got in the fellowship hall the leader of the five men told me that they wanted me to resign the pastorate and if I didnít they would have me voted out. It was obvious to me that they could accomplish this unless the Lord intervened. I told them that God had called me to this pastorate and had used the church congregation to confirm it. Then I went on to say that if God wanted to let this happen He would once again use the church to confirm it. As we started out of the fellowship hall the leader of this group put his arm on my shoulder and said that it would look much better on my record if I would just resign. My response was that I only had one record to be concerned about and God was keeping it. 
When we arrived in the sanctuary there were a lot of people I had never seen before. I was told later on after this was all over that they had paid some of the non-active members of the church to come and vote against me that night. I took Martha aside when she arrived and filled her in on what was about to happen. She couldnít believe it either. It was an absolute shock to us that there could be a possibility of our being put out of this Church were God was in the midst of pouring out His Spirit so mightily. We began the service just like you would if your were to be conducting a Wednesday night business meeting in any other Baptist Church around. We started the meeting, with a call for any old business, but there was none to discuss so we moved on to new business. One man spoke up and said "I make a motion to vacate the pulpit." I asked if there was a second to this motion, and there was. It was recommended that the Chairman of the Deacons ( a spirit filled man) take the place as moderator and conduct the rest of the meeting. He was speechless! He had no idea what was about to happen. Someone from the floor asked what the charges were against me. In answer to this one of the five men that had met with me in the fellowship hall spoke out and said "we donít need any charges." There was some more discussion on the floor trying to find out why this was all happening. Finally, another man said "well letís get on with the business at hand." This was the same man who had previously suffered from a tumor in his brain that was about the size of a grapefruit. I had prayed with him in the hospital that God would guide the doctors hands and that he would be healed. Well, by the grace of God he was touched and completely healed, all except for his sense of smell. The long and short of it all was that they went on and voted us out of the pastorate that night. 
Since I was no longer serving as pastor of the Church I would not be eligible to receive any more income .from that Church and here it was the first of December 1969, we had three children still at home, no big savings, an Christmas was just around the corner. But, through it all God provided. Without any means other than God our pay continued just as it had each week. He never ceases to provide for His own!!! In the middle of all of this I was in the process of getting dentures made. In fact everything was set for me to get my impressions made. One half of the charges were due at the time of the impressions and balance when the dentures were ready. Just before I needed to go in and have the impressions made a sister in the Lord came by our house one day and said that God had told her and her husband to pay the first half of the cost for my dentures. Then when the time came for my teeth to be ready, another Sister in the Lord came and said that God had told her and her husband to pay the other half. See how God provides!!!
After everything that we went through in being removed from the pastorate of the Church we couldnít get released, by the Lord, from living in the parsonage. Every time we got a chance to move, the deacon who led the charge against us at the Church would get the person that would be willing to rent to us to change their minds or it would come a snow storm and prevent us from moving. All we could do is just sit there and love those people as though nothing had happened. We were held there in that parsonage from December of "69 through February of "70". It was during this time of waiting to leave that we decided to go to Marthaís motherís house in Grand Prairie, Texas for Christmas just to get away for a while. One night while we were there Martha couldnít sleep at all. She said that there was a Scripture that kept going through her head. The next morning she asked me where it was in the Bible. It was Proverbs 3:5-6 which says,"Lean not on your own understanding. He watches over His own. Trust in the Lord with all of your heart." 
Finally in February of 1970 a friend who was the pastor of the First Baptist Church in a small town near where we lived asked me what I was going to do. He was a spirit filled man and God was moving in his church just as He had been moving here where we were. I said that we were just waiting on God to tell us where to go and what to do. He asked if I had to stay where I was or if I would be free to move. I told him that we could move if we had a place to move to. God not only used him to help us find a place to move into, but he also provided a brand new 2 Ton Chevy truck to use for the move. The Lord even sent men to help us move that wouldnít accept gas money from us when we offered it. God provides!!! 
After we moved into this new location we along with some other men in their church started meeting for prayer in this friendís office at the church where he was the pastor. We began to share with one another how the Lord was moving in and through us. We had lived there for about three weeks and I had been ministering in a small rural church, but having had just moved to this community and with the needs of a family I was in need of more income, so I began looking for a job. One morning as we men met to pray I began to thank God for the job that He had given to me just the day before. Well one of the leading business men from the area was there in the prayer meeting with us and when we had finished our praying he gave me this puzzled look and asked, "Did I hear you right? You have found a job?" I replied, that yes I did have one and he said "A friend of mine has looked for a job here for over three weeks now and he couldnít find anything available anywhere even near this area. He continued to say to me, "You have only been here for three weeks now, Right? and you already have a job, right?" I reconfirmed it to him and then went on to explain how the Lord had provided in my time of need. I began to share with those men there how I had gotten a job driving a tractor trailer unit hauling milk into St. Louis and also over on into Illinois. I told them how it was diffidently the hand of God in my getting this job, because I didnít have any real experience with driving tractor trailer rigs. I had told the man who hired me I had driven a 2 ton truck over the road, a little, and I had also driven a 48 passenger school bus for a short time. I had also had some experience driving a pickup truck pulling a trailer on the farm that we had and that several years ago while I was in the Navy at NAS Dallas Base I had driven a small semi truck around the base, but then I would only get it up into third gear every now and then. The man that interviewed me asked me if I thought I could drive these big diesel rigs and I said "sure, I donít know why not." He proceeded to give me a test drive in one of the smaller rigs up to St. Louis and back. With that experience alone and the Lordís favor I got the job. 
Well when we arrived back off that trial run the boss said that there was another rig loaded with 73,280 lbs. of milk ready for another trip to St. Louis. He asked, "Can you take it?" I said "Sure" , but when I crawled into the cab of the truck I realized that this one was completely different than the one I test drove in. So before I could take off in it I had to ask him how to get it started and if there was anything else that I needed to know. Well he showed me how to get it running and then said, " Just remember to keep it wound up to around 1850-2150 rpm and youíll do fine.". That didnít sound to hard to me, so with those instructions off I went on my first solo trip in a big rig truck. I know that God had His hand on me through all of this, because this was the month of February and there was packed snow and ice on the roads until April of that year. I can tell you for sure that I prayed that truck up there and back many times that winter and spring. In addition to helping me with the roads the Lord would also have to guide me as I backed into some spots that were just barely big enough to get the truck in and out of. What an awesome God we serve. He truly taught me the meaning of the Scripture that says, "I can do all things through Christ which streghenth me." Philippians 4:13. 
It was during this time that we went back to the same community where we had been put out of the church to visit with some friends we had in that town. Sometime during the night Martha had a dream and in this dream she saw a gothic column coming down from the sky. There was blood running all down the outside of the column, and instead of this column touching the ground it was suspended in midair. After we woke up the next morning Martha and I spent a considerable amount of time trying to figure that dream out. Martha knew it was from God but the longer we spent trying to get the understanding of it the worse it got. So, we decided to shelve the interpretation until the Lord would reveal it to us. Well it wouldnít be too much longer before we had our answer. When I came home from a milk run a few days later Martha met me at the door with a look of horror on her face. She said "Jim, you wonít believe what has happened." She said that an acquaintance of ours had come by that afternoon and told her that what had happened to us at the church where we were when they put us out had been vindicated. She then handed me the newspaper article that he had brought. There it was in black and white how this man who had led the attack on us in that church had stayed home from service that previous Wednesday night and sharpened a large butcher knife. When his wife had come home from church that evening he killed her by cutting her head off with that knife. Afterwards he apparently went out back of the house in his pajamas and sat at .the picnic table with his shot gun and blew his brains out. The interpretation of Marthaís dream of the bloody column became clear to us. This man was the pillar of that church but he had no foundation. Later on we were told by some of those who lived there that this man would go all around town after we were gone telling everyone that would listen "I didnít have anything to do with running Bro. Jim off." It was obvious that the demons had taken over his mind. The Bible says in 1 Chronicles 16: 22 "do not touch my anointed one..." then it is also repeated in Psalms 105:15 "Do not touch my anointed ones...." Finally Romans 12: 19 says "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." 
When I get to this part in my testimony it always causes me to pause and meditate. Proverbs 6: 23 says, "For the commandment is a lamp; and is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:" (italics are mine for emphases). I firmly believe if we will look back over the experiences of our lives we will see the hand of God working and moving in and through us for His purposes. If we take the time to be attentive to the lessons of life that the Lord is teaching us we will be able to have a greater peace in the midst of the trials. It has not always been that way for Martha and I as you have probably already deduced from reading my testimony so far. I do believe that I must also take this opportunity to say that even though tragic things do happen in our lives and in the lives of those living around us we can be assured that just as the Lord was working in the life of Job during his trials He IS also working in ours. We must always remember that Romans 8: 28 says "...ALL things work together for good to them that love God,....". Iíll return now to sharing the rest of my testimony, which is the ground work that the Lord has laid leading up to the Word that He has given me for the Body of Christ. 
So, for a little over a year we served as pastors of this small rural church and the Lord was continuing to bless those who had a hunger for more of Him. Then one morning the Lord spoke that it was time for us to leave this church and community and move to Houston, Missouri where He was wanting us to begin a new work. He spoke to us that He wanted a church there where He could be free to move as He willed. Well needless to say we immediately began praying for the Lordís timing. I told God that if He would just tell me where, when and how He wanted it done there in Houston we would do it. We prayed for about a year and a half until the Lord said, NOW. So with just Martha, myself and the two of children who still lived at home with us we started Calvary Baptist Church of Houston, Missouri. We began to share with the people of the community what we were doing and pretty soon God started sending those who had a hunger for more of Him. People with hunger for a deeper spiritual walk with the Lord came from all over wanting more of Him in their lives. It was at this time that the Lord first put in my heart the desire to build up the body of Christ and to seek to bring unity to the Body at large. We never tried to bring people from other churches to ours. All we wanted to do was to share the True Living Life of Christ with them and let them take that back to their churches. 
As we began to seek more of His presence we soon began to see people being delivered and set free as the Lord moved among us through His gifts. All of this happened as we surrendered to Him. Itís like we just stepped back and let Him be free to do as He willed in our lives. With God moving so mightily in our midst it came as no surprise to us when the enemy of our souls began to attack. It came in the form of rumors. It was being spread all over the area that we were worshiping demons. About as far from the truth as you could get, but whenever the Lord is moving by His Spirit we can surely expect an attack from the enemies camp. 
It was in the midst of all this that God brought across our path two young evangelists from England who were spirit filled men that had hearts that longed to worship God. This was our first introduction to praise and worship. The Bible says in the book of John chapter 4 and verse 23 "But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him." Knowing that God the Father was seeking true worshipers made us all the more hungry to learn more about this move of praise and worship. We began to attended worship symposiums all over the country seeking to find new ways of expressing our ever increasing love for Him and we werenít disappointed. The more we gave of ourselves in praise and worship the more He revealed of Himself to us. 
As the fledgling Calvary Baptist Church began to grow we sought to align our selves with the Texas County, Missouri, Southern Baptist association. This seemed like a natural step to take seeing that I was an ordained Southern Baptist pastor, but they thought it would be better if we found another organization to join. So, with the doors closing for us to receive membership in a main line denomination we filed papers to become a Full Gospel Independent Church. The Lord had us change the name to Covenant Life Fellowship. As the newly named Covenant Life Fellowship began to grow the Lord put it on our hearts to start a Christian school. Covenant Life Christian Academy remained open for the next17 years touching lives for Christ.
In 1997 after 25 Years of ministry at Covenant Life Fellowship the Lord began to make it plain to me that it was time to shut down the Church. It was one of the hardest things I have ever been asked to do by the Lord. It seemed that my whole life was wrapped up in serving Him as pastor of this local Church, but He had other plans. It was just like the Lord had turned off the desire in my heart to pastor just like you would turn off a water faucet and stop the flow. When it became clear to me that closing the Church was what He wanted I began seeking what He would have me do next. I knew that the Lord wasnít through with me yet. You see He had called me to serve Him and serve Him I would. The longer I prayed the stronger I felt the Spirit calling me to a ministry of reconciliation. II Cor. 5: 18-20 says, "And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christís stead, be ye reconciled to God." The Lord has placed in me a burning desire to see the Bride of Christ, His Church, brought back into an intimate relationship with Christ Jesus our Lord. I long to see the Body of Christ become alive, filled with His Holy Spirit and anointed to do the things that Jesus said we should do in the Scriptures. John 14: 12 "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.".
In recent years I have visited various places where God has chosen to pour out of His Spirit upon His People. Places like The Airport Christian Church in Toronto, Canada and the Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Florida. And again in the Calvary Baptist Church of Marshfield Missouri. I long for the day when we will see the revival fires spreading throughout this country and the world not just hot spots of His Spirit. I know in my spirit that we are on the verge of seeing the Lord pour out of His Spirit with such an anointing upon His people that revival fires will burn deep in the hearts of those who love Him and call Him Lord. We will soon see all of the dry, dead word that had been shared over the years, come alive as the Holy Spirit breathes life into it for the end time harvest.
I firmly believe that everything that we experience in this life is to prepare us for the next step in our lives. This is especially true for us as Christians. The Lord has a purpose for each of us. Something that He desires for us to do for Him. We are not born equipped to fulfill this calling. No more than when we were born we were able to walk, read, talk, etc. There is a growing and maturing that has to take place in our lives before we are equipped to live and function in this world or in the Kingdom of God. 
In the chapters ahead we will take a look at the church, His Bride, as she has progressed through history. How she grew and matured at first only to begin to allow her self to become soiled by sin that caused her to be separated from her Lord. It is not unlike the lives of Adam and Eve. They were in the presence of God from the very moment of their creation just as the church was, but because of sin (the partaking of the forbidden) we see them separated from God. Once the church, like Adam and Eve distanced themselves from God because of their sin they had to begin the long struggle of being restored in relationship to Him.
Ephesians 5: 25-27 says, "....even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." The heart of the Lord is to see His bride restored unto Him. All through the centuries the Lord has called His bride like "deep calls unto deep" and she has responded but as the time draws near for His return we can hear Him calling ever so more urgently. Seven times in chapters 2 and 3 of the book of Revelation the Lord says, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches;..." My prayer is that as you read the chapters ahead you will hear the voice of the Lord as He calls His Bride unto Himself. 
                                                                     Click here to move to chapter two                                                                                                                                                                                                      
Text Box: Jim Coney was our Mentor, Pastor, Spiritual Father and Friend.  He was used by God greatly when Sheila and I received the call to be Missionaries.    Jim was translated into the presence of God 2001.  Jim wrote "Moved By The Hand of God" in the months just proceeding his death.  As you read this you will feel God's heart for us as the Body of Christ.   Jim, we miss you and we will see you soon.
                                                                                                     Tom & Sheila Shidler
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  Chapter Two