Gary Carpenter Ministries
The Bible says it is VERY hard to discern when we are operating by our spirit and when we are operating by our soul. In fact, the very Word of God itself is often the only tool we have available to let us know which one we are listening to and obeying.
Heb 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
In the early days of Sue and I launching out into full time ministry, the finances were very uncertain. I often phrase the first few years of ministry like this: "Those were the days when money was staying away in great abundance." We were both doing our best to hear and obey God, not only from the standpoint of His written Word, but also those things He would speak to us in our times of prayer. After all, Jesus did say,
Luk 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
Doing what He says includes what He taught in the gospels such as "love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, bless them that curse you," and so forth. It also includes the instructions He gives each of us individually. We are three part beings … spirit, soul, and body. The part of us that is "born of God" is our spirit. It is in our spirit where we "hear" the Lord speak His instructions to us. Oftentimes, however, our soul (mind, will, emotions) will fight us intensely concerning what He says.
Let me give you an example from those early days. My soul was constantly worried about money. I would read in the bible the words of Jesus to "take no thought for what we would eat, what we would drink, etc." But my soul seemed to worry just naturally and I would have to remind it again and again that Jesus said to "seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things would be added to us." But I have to say … the facts … the circumstances we were experiencing at the time … sure seemed to agree with the worry of my soul instead of the words Jesus spoke.
One of the early instructions we received from the Lord was to send all of our cassette tapes for free, postage paid, and to not even put in a return envelope. Oh let me tell you … the war was on between my soul and my spirit. My soul kept saying things like, "Are you crazy? No ministry does that! We need money. Sell the cassette tapes so money will come in to pay the bills. And of course you should put in a return envelope because that is the way every other ministry does it." On and on my soul would "preach" to me telling me why us why we should disobey the instructions we heard in our spirit. Long story short … we obeyed God and sent the cassette tapes by the thousands around the world free and postage paid.
Let me jump forward quite a few years. I was in South Africa and I met a man who lived in a squatter camp. Those squatter camps have deplorable living conditions. Dirt floors, no electricity, no running water. Usually each hovel is made of whatever the people could scavenge for free such as cardboard, plastic sheeting, or a piece of sheet metal. People live in those squatter camps by the millions. Because of the influence of the man who invited me to Africa, I had the privilege of ministering in one of those squatter camps. I will never forget the horrible living conditions as long as I live.
Later that same day my host took me to a coffee shop in town. A man who works as a parking attendant at the shopping center had heard that I was coming to Africa and he had asked to make sure he got to meet me when I came. Sure enough, there he was in the parking lot as we got out of the car. He was a good looking young man in his twenties. He had a long, African name that I cannot begin to pronounce, and he began to excitedly tell me how he had been receiving the free cassette tapes from us for years. He went on and on telling how the teachings of the Word had blessed and changed him, his family, and his friends. He was so thankful that I began to blush a little bit at his gratitude.
I asked him where he lived and to my surprise he told me that he lived in the same squatter camp I had visited earlier in the day. I asked him how he was able to listen to cassette tapes since I saw there was no electricity available in the squatter camp. I will never forget his answer. He said, "I have a friend who lives in a home instead of the squatter camp. He has electricity. Whenever I receive a new set of cassette tapes from you, I tell my friends and twenty or twenty five of us go to my friend's house. We all sit on the floor and listen as he plays the cassettes. We listen to all of the tapes you send at once. If you send six cassette tapes, we listen to all six before returning home."
Tears well up in my eyes as I remember that day because I know … only the Lord and I know … how close I came to not obeying His instructions to send everything for free. Without doubt that man and his friends would never have been able to obtain the lessons if we had charged anything for them at all. My soul nearly won and convinced me to reject the instructions of Jesus to send the cassettes free and postage paid. Oh how I thank GOD that my spirit rose up and took dominion over my soul. And let me add how thankful Sue and I are for your prayers and financial support to be able to do it the Lord's way all of these years. I wonder how many times your soul tried to convince you not to give because you "needed" the money that month.
Sue and I love you and appreciate you. We thank God for your generous and giving heart. God bless you!
Your friend and co-laborer,