THE KEY TO VICTORY
By and about Steve Van Nattan
This article comes hard. Some of you know the bashing our family has taken from jack boots. We have, rather naively, tried to enter fellowship several times in recent year-- eager to serve and be a blessing to the saints however we were needed.
Result: We think too much. We use the Word of God literally. We have experiences from Africa to the Mojave Desert to the Mexican border to the north woods, and through this journal, to the whole world. We are dangerous people. We did not realize this, though we know that former missionaries and former pastors can frighten some preachers. We tried to walk softly. That is dangerous in Fundamental Bible believing churches I think.
But, the most dangerous thing about the Van Nattan family is that they do not respond well to the "traditions of men," as rejected by Jesus Christ and later by Paul. We have personal experience at deprogramming ourselves from man's traditions in the Church as we have applied the Word to four local churches where Steve has pastored. Steve grew up in a home where his Dad resisted traditions which originated from outside the Word of God.
What has been the result? Simply and quietly decline to become a church member on paper, and you get bashed regularly in sermons. Decline to participate in national elections for conscience sake, and you are a traitor to America and God. Again, bashings from the pulpit. Quietly absent yourself when the Roman Whore's Christmas is being exalted, and you are a spoiler. Decline to run the aisle to the altar regularly, and you are backslidden and maybe not even born again. Certainly, anyone who does not hit the altar and weep once in a while is in some nasty secret sin, right?
Then there is attendance, street preaching, and visitation. These are not just means to win souls-- they are the "tradition" way to determine who is really dedicated. Miss roll call, and you are marginalized by and by. What hurts a lot is that this ministry of the journal you are reading, maybe in Australia or Singapore, is considered a silly hobby or no count. Ask for prayer for some reader in Birmingham who is troubled, and they stare at you as if you are mad.
In all of this, I have vigorously defended every one of these preachers who attacked my family. One in particular is being double teamed by what I believe are demon possessed men, one may be a Freemason plant biding his time to attack and destroy.
And, I looked for some fellowship with these preachers. One promised to come to our home. It never happened. They all do not give a damn for the men in the church except when those men come out to repair things or go on visitation. I do not have ONE godly man on earth who will drink coffee with me other than my two sons. I now have some company with publicans and sinners whom I am talking to about my Savior. But, to sit and talk about the Lord and past days of service, of the battle, or the good vanity of this life...... someone in Christ..... no one!
Then there have been treacherous attacks after we have quietly slipped away from these men. Wrath and revenge has them bound up, I gather, with devils. No other explanation can be found for the hate and thrashing our family has received from the rear.... short rounds. 90 caliber..... almost killed my wife with heart issues. Drove me to tachecardia attacks in the night. Filled my mind with bitterness.
Well, I have reached the end of the line folks. I have come to understand what these men thrive on. They WANT me to hate them. They WANT me to stay bitter, for they know the power of bitterness-- the defeat. I have come to realize that thousands of Fundamental preachers in America "church" and bash up sheep and toss them out the door so that those sheep will become totally crippled by pain and bitterness in their souls. It works. I get email almost daily from people who are under the bondage of bitterness. And, their former pastors stalk around town telling other preachers how wicked they are so that no one wants them.
I NO LONGER GIVE A DAMN.
Why do I say that? Too harsh? Not really, for, you see, damnation and condemnation is the urge I feel toward these men. Yet, Jesus died for them too, just as he died for me. What if their rage and hate for me is because I am right with God, and they are lost and on their way to hell? What if they are deep into some filthy sin? How are they helped by my damning them? This is all too common in our conversation in the Lord's Church today. When a dirty saint turns up, we are all too eager to speculate that they are lost. So, if these preachers are candidates for damnation, I should weep, not rejoice.
So, I have had to face the only way God provides me release:
6:14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive
Matthew 18:35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.
That is pretty serious stuff, folks.
Mark 11:25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
I need more power in my prayer, and I intend to get it, God permitting. One thing is certain-- I cannot have that power if I harbor bitterness against my brother, right?
1 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.
If I do not forgive, am I not unfaithful and unjust to God and man? I really have no choice in this if I am to be like my Lord.
Will these men make sacrifice before me as Job's friends did? I doubt it. Pride is too powerful. If they did, I must pray for them as Job did.
I dare not wait to forgive these men until they ask for forgiveness. One of these men teaches that we do not have to forgive until the offender asks for forgiveness. I gather he is also dabbling in sinless perfection. I may never hear from him. That changes nothing.
What if Jesus had waited until I asked him to die for me before he died on Calvary? That thought is terrifying, for I would likely never ask him to. He knew that he had to go before me and clear the way between me and my Father in heaven.
None of these wicked men have yet pulled out my beard, nor have they spit in my face. They have not yet crucified me. It could be worse. My Lord said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Those who killed Jesus had no idea who they were killing.
These preachers have no idea who they attacked when they thrashed Steve Van Nattan and his family. They attacked a man whose first memories are of living on a river bottom in Oklahoma, of riding up solid stone roads into the Ozarks where his Daddy pastored three tiny hick churches or real people. They attacked a man who grew up in Kenya behind barbed wire and bungie sticks with a brigade of the King's African Rifles protecting him from Mau Mau rebels who planned to kill him as a child. They attacked a missionary who survived a military coup in Ethiopia, a headmaster of a Bible Institute, a desert rat who ran the desert roads to Bible studies in an old Vega, a pastor who battled with devils and Satan worshippers in California, one man who participated in human sacrifices. They attacked a man who can survive in the forests of Kenya, who survived alone on a mission station in the Ethiopian bush, who ran a bush clinic, who battled Freemasonry head on in Michigan, who wrestled with Mormons in Arizona, who has traveled all of America meeting every kind of people you can imagine.
Worst of all, when they attacked me, they attacked a son of God. I dare not dwell on that, for THE Son of God forgave all men, especially me, when he had done nothing to deserve it.
But, I am now the offscouring, the filth of the local church. I and my family have no idea where to go to church for fellowship. We dare not talk about who we are or where we have been. We must keep our knowledge of life and Christian service and the Word of God a complete secret.
Sadly, but also somewhat a comfort, we have learned that thousands of saints clear around the world have the same experience we have. All of them, with few exceptions, sit at home alone, whipped, wondering where to turn for fellowship. People like you.
Heaven sounds real good these days. A man should not weep to easily I suppose, but I have a hard time with that. When I cannot sleep in the middle of the night, I go out on the porch and sit in the dark and think and talk to God..... when I am not feeling sorry for myself, that is. :-)
How did we get here? How can saints spend a lifetime being filled with choice experiences, choice victories, and sorry defeats and failures, and there is not a soul who cares? Did we come all this way to this point to be a pariah to the Lord's Church?
I am so glad I have this journal and the Internet. I can talk to you, and some of you send mail. It is good. Friend, when you visit the Quiet Place, please understand this..... I go there myself often and get a rest for my soul. You may think I am weird to read my own journal for comfort. Not so weird I think. My journal is the product of Jesus and me. I see Jesus' work in this journal. I see the flesh too sometimes, and I quick edit that out. But, even writing this article is really helping a lot. No one is here with me, and the tears are coming, but Jesus Christ is good. He wept with the hurting. He understands me when I don't even understand myself. How good and how gentle he is.
So, to you dear preachers, whether you are saved or damned to hell, I forgive you. I promise you I am trying very hard to neglect the things you did to hurt my family and me. I place you in the hands of my dear Savior. He may hug you, or he may chasten you. I must say that if he does not chasten you soon, I fear for your destiny in eternity. I know from experience that a real saint does not wander too far from the Father's perfect will before he catches the rod.
6:24 The LORD bless thee, and keep thee:
You preachers know who you are. A couple church leaders are included. If you want to confess sin to me, that sure would be good for your soul. If not, you are on your own. You owe me nothing.
Corinthians 2:10 To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave
any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of
Perhaps God will forgive you for my sake. That is OK too. I think in saying this I may have a very tiny sense of what my Lord Jesus meant when he forgave his adversaries on the cross. My old nature is screaming, "You are crazy..... those guys don't deserve any mercy from you." My spirit though delights to know that both you and I have been released of these offenses.
This is what the Catholic priest tries to do in his depravity. Only a true saint in Christ can do this, and it sure feels good. Those of you who care, please pray for me and our family for a few weeks. We need to walk on and get on with our lives without looking back.
If you too are battling bitterness, please consider forgiving your adversaries, especially if they be in the household of faith. Let go of the offenses-- Let God have them.