Mile Markers: Peaks, Valleys, and Hey, It’s Not Yet Final!
”You are my strength. Strength like no other, reaches to me. You are my hope. Hope like no other, reaches to me. In the fullness of Your grace, in the power of Your name, you lift me up. Unfailing love, stronger than mountains; deeper than oceans, reaches to me. Your love O Lord reaches to the heavens, reaches to the skies.” – Hillsong, You Are My Strength
God truly use each of us in many ways, in many situations of life. To God, there is no life too futile that He cannot use; no impossible past He cannot change and no excruciating pain He cannot take away. May you be blessed as I’m honored to share to you God’s amazing power on the life of Pastor Duke. Let his story begin…
This TGP is written by Pastor Duke Taber| Taber’s Truths.
I met and was introduced to the real Jesus on November 18, 1979. I was at that time currently living in Gresham Oregon and attending Sam Barlow high school. I was your typical rebellious teenager and heavily involved in drugs in the stoner lifestyle. I was a bass player and involved in a band that played all over the local area. And wouldn’t you know what I got interested in a Christian girl. Thankfully she broke all the rules and told me that she would go out with me if I would go to church with her. And of course I thought that was no problem. I’d been the church before and the church’s I had attended or nothing more than religious ceremonies. When they prayed it didn’t sound like they were praying to a God that listened but instead they sounded like they were praying to one another trying to impress one another how religious they were. When the minister would speak it was high and lofty and above everybody’s head. So I figured that attending a few church services with this girl would be easy. Boring but easy.
Her church was different. When they prayed they actually prayed as if somebody was listening on the other end. They talked about real and practical things. And they talked about a Jesus who was alive and real. This really bothered me. In fact to bother me so much that it kept me up that night. I tossed and turned and tossed and turned until finely at about 3:00 AM I finally got down on my knees and set a very unconventional sinners prayer. My exact words were this ” God if you’re real do something with me”. Allow God was faithful to do just that and this is my story.
I knew that night in November that I had been instantly changed. I was set free from addictions to drugs and alcohol, my personality was changed from a one of negativity to one of being positive. This radical transformation caused people to be drawn not only to me but to Jesus. I was called the miracle of Barlow high school. I was involved in the formation of a morning prayer group that had close to 40 students attending every morning before classes. Needless to say, revival broke out in our school. We had over 100 students attending Christian concerts and events on a regular basis.
Spiritual journeys are filled with peaks and valleys. I’m gonna call my peaks and valleys, mile markers. I’ve spent 23 years of my life driving truck so using the term mile markers is appropriate. Along the highway of life we do not spend all our time on the mountaintops. We have a balance of good experiences and some not so good experiences. I will do my best to give you a balance of both. It is not only what God does when we’re on the mountaintops that matters but the deep inner works that he does in our valleys as well.
The first mile marker I had in my spiritual journey happened approximately two weeks after I got saved. I immediately had a hunger for anything to do with Christianity. My parents have on their bookshelf a book by Hal Lindsey
called ‘Satan is alive and well on planet earth
’. In this book he talked about what was called the tongues movement. I was so ignorant about anything to do with Christianity that I didn’t know what he was talking about. So I asked a friend that I knew was Christian what was tongues? He shared with me that tongues was a prayer language that God gives you when you ask for it. So I went home and went to my bedroom sense that was where I said my first prayer and asked for it. And just like God answered my first prayer, he answered my second prayer. I was ecstatic that God had given me such a gift. I immediately went out and started telling people what had happened. I told the youth pastor of the church I had just started attending about my experience. At that time, I didn’t realize that many churches did not believe that speaking in tongues was for today. He looked at me as if I had swallowed a devil. Needless to say I was not well accepted any more by that church. However God is faithful. I asked my friend who had first told me about tongues where he attended church. I started going to church there. The church name was East Hill Foursquare church and a guy by the name of Jerry Cook was the pastor. You may have heard of Pastor Jerry, he has written many books including the best-selling book called Love, Acceptance and Forgiveness. He has spoken at many church conferences and conventions. The next mile marker in my life was the death of my father. As far as I know, he was not a believer in Jesus. Earlier in my father’s life he received a gunshot wound to his leg injuring the nerves in his leg. While he was in the hospital he became addicted to morphine. This addiction changed him and even after he was released from the hospital he continued to find ways to feed his addiction. This addiction changed my dad from being a hard but good man, to a man who was a womanizer, drug dealer, and involved with some pretty dark criminal elements. In my senior year of high school my father was killed it in a car crash. Most of my family including myself believes that was probably suicide. A father who was a truck driver by trade ended up running head on with a semi. In the 1980s, the AIDS epidemic had just broken out. Looking back on pictures of my father today, he looks like an AIDS sufferer. I was given the opportunity on more than one occasion to witness to him about Jesus. I’d gone to his place cleaned it and tried to be a servant to him to share with him the love of Jesus. Unfortunately he was not very receptive and our last conversation ended in some pretty strong words. Because of this I dealt with guilt for a very long time. The enemy would come and whisper in my ear things like “if you had only loved better he would have gotten saved” or “if you hadn’t gotten angry with him he would have gotten saved”. This guilt had some very negative consequences on my spiritual life. It was the beginning of operating under a performance mentality. During this time I took my talent for music and started using it for the Lord. I was involved with a couple of different Christian rock bands that traveled around Oregon and Washington playing for minimum security prisons and opening up for such talents as Larry Norman, Resurrection Band, Servant, and Darrel Mansfield. I thought for sure I was on my way to being the next Christian rock star. O the follies of youth! However people kept on coming up to me and telling me they felt that God was calling me to leadership. They recommended that I get some formal training in the bible. So I decided to go to a bible college in Portland Oregon called a Multnomah school of the bible. I lasted one semester! It was so dry and religious, that I just could not relate. Suits and ties and King James English was as foreign to me as if I’d went to China. So the following year I made a trip to Los Angeles and checked out Life bible college. This is the bible college that is part of the Foursquare denomination. It was here that I started to sense that God was calling me to pastoral ministry. The next mile marker in my life was when I met the mother of my kids. I was interning at the church where my uncle was the pastor and in walked a cute redheaded girl who immediately made a beeline for me. I was in my sophomore year of bible college and I made a sophomoric mistake. The word sophomore comes from two Greek words meaning wise and moron. Sophomores are wise morons! They have just enough knowledge to get them in trouble. I did not realize that just because people claim to be Christians and call on the name of Jesus, does not mean that they are healthy individuals and have dealt with the issues in their life. Unfortunately this girl and her family were highly dysfunctional and had major issues that they were covering up. I continued on with bible college until my son James was born. At that time I had to make a decision between continuing my education or supporting my family. Obviously God’s word is pretty specific about supporting your family and I do not regret my decision. I have some awesome kids who I love dearly. The next mile marker in my life came of age 28. I’d been serving faithfully in my local church doing what I could to be a blessing however the call of God in my life to be a leader and to serve as a pastor was bugging me. I would talk to different leaders and they would keep telling me I was too young. So finally in exasperation, I stopped listening to them and listened to God and went out and rented a warehouse, passed out fliers, contacted my family and friends, called the newspapers, and started a new church. We had about 45 people that first Sunday. I thought I had arrived! A couple months later I called the district offices for Foursquare and asked them if they wanted another church. I guess they realized that I wasn’t too young and they accepted. As I look back today I realize that I was motivated by a mixture of holy ambition and being wholly ambitious, but God uses us where we are. There was some awesome fruit that happened because of this church the most memorable being, the privilege of leading my mother back to Jesus. After three years fruitful ministry at this church, God began dealing with my heart to serve where others did not want to serve. It was out of that leading that God sent us to Northern Nevada. We served in Pioche Nevada and later in Ely Nevada. I was asked to be the Secretary Treasurer of the White Pine County ministerial association. I was privileged to be the keynote speaker for the high school baccalaureate. We bought a building that would seat 100 and had a very fruitful seasonal ministry. Unfortunately the pressures and sacrifices during this time took their toll on my wife. She had always struggled with depression and the unresolved issues stemming from her childhood. These issues along with my own mistakes of placing ministry above my family caused her go off the deep end. Because of this and the knowledge that our marriage was heading for divorce, I resigned my pastorate in 1998. Our marriage ended in divorce in the year 2000. It was after this that my performance mentality almost killed me. How could a man of God and the pastor get divorced? God hates divorce! Pastors are supposed to be examples! My life is ruined! Nobody will want a divorced pastor! All these things were pounding in my head. I spent a year and ½ angry at God. He was supposed to cover my back. I felt like He had let me down. At the same time, I felt like I let Him down. I had failed in my performance. I felt like I might as well just end my life. It was at this time the time at the southern Baptist pastor who helped me understand God’s grace. Who says God does not have a sense of humor? Only He would send a southern Baptist pastor to rescue a Pentecostal preacher! This pastor ministered grace to me. He showed me unconditional love. He led me down the path of restoration. It was during this time that I had one of those God moments. I was driving my truck and the Lord spoke to my heart and said “Duke, how much do I love you?” and I said, “You love me unconditionally Lord”. Then he said “then why do you hate what I love?”. He then asked me a second question. He asked “how much do I accept you?” and I responded “I’m accepted in the beloved Lord”. He then asked “then why do you reject what I accept?”. Those questions hit me like a ton of bricks. It was like I had an epiphany! I was released from my performance mentality. I knew that our salvation was not based upon our performance but upon His promises. I knew that His favor and His pleasure was not based on how good I was but was based on faith.
The last mile marker up to this point in my life came in 2010. For eight years I had worked on restoring my life, raising my kids as a single parent, and tried to be faithful in the little things. I had sent out hundreds of resumes to churches which is looking for a pastor. In fact, I had 185 rejection letters that I had received since 2005. However God was faithful! In May of 2010, I was asked to be the pastor of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Pine Haven Wyoming where I am serving to this day. The things that I’ve been through and the mistakes that I have made in my life did not disqualify me to serve, but qualified me in very unique ways to serve the community I now serve. He who began a good work in us, will be faithful to complete it! Jesus truly has done exceedingly abundantly above all that I could ever ask for or think.
Blessings to you all!
Pastor Duke Taber is the pastor of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Pine Haven Wyoming. He accepted the call to pastor that church in July of 2010. Previously he has been the pastor of Grace Foursquare Church in Ely Nevada, Pioche Foursquare Church in Pioche Nevada, and Hosanna Foursquare Church in Gresham Oregon. He has had over 20 years of practical ministry experience both in the church and in the real world. He has ministered in Baptist Churches, Pentecostal Churches and Mainline Churches. He was the Secretary/Treasurer of the White Pine County Ministerial Association. Read more about Pastor Duke! Click here →
Let him know what you think! Drop your comments to Pastor Duke’s website! Click here for the link (http://www.taberstruths.com/) and hit the ”subscribe’‘ button for updates from him.
Follow his tweets on Twitter: @taberstruths
See him on Facebook: ”Like” Taber’s Truth Facebook Page
Check out some of Pastor Duke’s TOP POSTS!
Single and Content
What does God say about divorce?
God give me strength| 5 things I have learned to be strong in the Lord
Inspired by Pastor Duke’s testimony? Share yours today!