Vinnie's Minnesota story
Sep 15, 2011
At the time of this writing, I, Vinnie Imperial, am simply in awe at the goodness, grace, and sovereignty of Almighty God. Please allow me to explain as you read this testimony of God's limitless grace.
I just got home yesterday [Tuesday, Sept. 13] from an amazing trip to Dr. Jones' "stomping grounds" in Minnesota. I was privileged and blessed to minister under the power of God at various meetings that Dr. Jones had set up. God was extremely faithful to bring many people into encounters with HIS presence and glory. It was a time of divine deliverance, guiding, and refreshing. As God always does, it's a win/win when you go HIS way.
Enter this testimony.
With a pentecostal, arminian background, I have been on a quest to "wrap my mind" around and to get revelation on God's sovereignty and what Dr. Jones and many others teach--The Restoration of All Things. This has been a ten-plus year quest of digging into the Word and inquiring of the Lord. I do NOT have it yet, but I got another piece yesterday.
On the trip I was able to spend a good amount of time with quite a "trippy" guy--Ron Oja. God has given him the ability to interpret signs--movies, numbers, current events, history, ball games. You name it. It is simply uncanny to listen as he shares how God speaks through everything. Either this man is crazy, or God is in more control, is more sovereign, and much more loving than we have ever known. He/he is making me a believer.
Yesterday, Ron, Steve, and I spent some time having coffee and talking about these very ideas about God, free will, the concept of grace being irresistible, and specifically the journey of my son in the faith, Demetre. I had met Demetre some eight-plus years ago after he had had a radical encounter with God's glory that he never asked for nor wanted. Let me share his encounter and then get back to my conversation with Ron and Steve.
My wife and I were leaders in a move of God among some teenagers in LA about 13 years ago. Kids were having radical encounters with God's presence and glory. Come to think of it, many "got hit" without even asking for it! A young man that I was mentoring during this time was Philip. He backslid terribly after we moved back to Florida. That is when he met Demetre.
At the time Philip met him in his backslidden state, Demetre was a flat out heathen who could care less about God. Philip was then led far away from God. One fateful night they went out to party. They always took turns getting drunk in order to have a designated driver. This night, Philip was drunk and Demetre was sober as they parked in front of the night club.
Philip reached out and touched Demetre, saying to him, "There was a time that I could touch people and the Glory of God would fill them." Just as he touched Demetre, the Glory of God filled the car and completely arrested Demetre. He became very hot. It was a cold December night, so this was supernatural. Demetre took off his jacket and got out of the car. Philip followed him out of the car. Demetre then began to prophesy at length over Philip--his drunken friend--with accurate details of his life, actually telling him to repent! It was crazy!
This true story blew my pentecostal mind about repentance, approaching God, us choosing God, etc. There is so much more to say, but for now, let's just say Demetre has been on a crazy up-and-down ride with God. He was totally backslidden when I met him. He got gloriously delivered, then backslid again, came back, ad nauseum.
Enter my question with Ron over Demetre, and specifically if God's grace is truly irresistible. Having explained Demetre's journey in the Lord, I had always known that God's hand was upon him. Still, the old questions remained. Doesn't he have to yield, repent, submit, etc.? After all, even Demetre did not seem to really grab hold fully of the grace that had been thrust upon him when God intervened in his life. Did this indicate that man had to play some causative role in this? Or was even this response itself the result of God's grace, revelation, and strength?
Ron went on to explain that God does everything perfectly in HIS time, and that God will draw Demetre back with HIS love and irresistible grace. In my heart, I believed, but it wasn't lining up with my theology. Somehow we Christians love to take credit for what only God can do--save our souls. "It's my decision," we say, "my choice." And while I freely admit our need to submit, yield, believe, confess, obey, have faith--who is really behind it all?
Where was Demetre's "free will" and choice when he encountered God's glory without asking for it--and then prophesying under God's anointing?? He didn't respond to an altar call. He had made no decision for Christ. He had attended no classes on how to prophesy. It was just a sovereign download! Amazing Grace!
Okay, now for the punch line. I had not talked to Demetre in approximately six months or more. He has always been in my heart, and when we have talked on various occasions, I reassured him of God's love and his need to yield and to repent. He has just not been ready.
Ron then said, "Let's just pray that God will touch Demetre in His perfect time and in His own way and cause him to turn fully." With that simple prayer, we left the coffee shop and got into Steve's car. I proceeded to check my voice mail, since I had left my cell phone in the car to recharge it. The very first call was from Demetre!
As I said, I had not talked to him in a very long time, and right after this conversation and prayer, he called! He was humble and loving on the voice mail. I can already tell that God had been working on him. I truly believe this was a prophetic sign and a confirmation to the truth that Ron and Steve have been sharing for years. God is in control! These are the kinds of crazy signs that I have been witnessing for the last few years. Yes, we yield, believe, confess, obey--BUT, Phil. 2:13 says,
"For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure."