The Word of
"The Word of God is living and
active and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing as far as the division of
soul and spirit, to both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and
intentions of the heart"
You’ve heard of the “Little Engine
That Could,” haven’t you? Well, I was the “Little Engine that Couldn’t” or
“Wouldn’t” – I never was sure which it was. Five years of school passed me
by, while I stayed in hospital beds and wheelchairs. I missed kindergarten to
fifth grade, parts of speech, fractions and decimals, and never seemed to have
the study habits necessary to succeed. I was far behind my classmates and didn’t
catch up. I decided that I was the dumbest kid in school, and felt ashamed.
I was called by the Lord to the
ministry in 1953, when I was a teenager, not long after receiving Christ at a
youth retreat in California. Two denominations were after me to go to their
college, their seminary (the Baptists in Springfield, Missouri and the
Methodists in Point Loma, San Diego), but instead I ran away and joined the Air
Force. The Pastors who sought me didn’t know that I was flunking out of high
school. Perhaps it was those years in wheelchairs and the missed five years of
school, but for whatever reason, I just couldn’t make it in school. What I
didn’t understand was that the Lord can work through people who CAN’T. He takes
the weak and makes them strong – in Him.
After the Air Force, I married,
started a family and worked hard at my job, but was still running from the Lord.
I was in college at night and found I could make "C’s"; then amazingly a "B";
then more "B’s" and finally an "A". I attempted to be an atheist during those
years, with an interest in philosophy; then announced I was an agnostic; and
finally I tried "Eastern" religions. Incredibly, it was during a week-long stay
at a "Hindu" monastery that the Lord spoke to my heart and pointed me to Christ.
I double-parked in front of a bookstore on the way home, raced-in, bought a
Bible and started to read.
After two years of marriage, my wife
had her first severe mental breakdown, and her condition eventually became the
end of college for the both of us. Our marriage lasted seven more years, and
after she left for good, we divorced. I continued reading the Bible I bought;
the "New English" translation, which had been on the best seller list at the
time. In those years I also read the “Koran,” the “Bhagavad Gita” (a portion of
the “Vedas,” or "Hindu" literature), the “Book of Mormon,” and the Aquarian
"Gospel". I was searching.
During the time of my first
cover-to-cover reading of the Bible, I was raising our daughter alone and it
took a year or two to read from Genesis to Revelation. I continued studying
God’s Word, but was shocked by it. My response was that the Bible contained
murders, wars, adultery, lies and liars; the very things I was trying to get
away from in life. I was grief-stricken, for the Bible was my last hope. If it
wasn’t real, if it didn’t contain the timeless, simple truths I needed, I felt
there was – nothing!
After completing the Bible, two things
happened in 1970, and each of them are a surprise to this day: 1) I prayed,
which was pretty much a first in my life, and 2) He answered that prayer. I
remember clearly that He suddenly started flooding my mind with understanding of
what I had been reading for the past year. In retrospect, it was like the
download of a new program into a computer. Scriptures filled my mind as I
literally ran from my chair, fell over the end of the bed, got up and grabbed
the Bible. I had trouble finding the verses, for my Bible had no concordance,
but I did find them; most of them, and with the finding came understanding. I
understood the meaning of what I read, and am astonished to this day at the
wonder of the Bible, as revealed by the Holy Spirit of God.
For years, I read practically NOTHING
but the Bible. Several Bibles, actually, because I kept wearing them out! The
covers would eventually come right off. I took what was for me a different
approach. I didn’t read the Bible to accumulate ideas that would become part of
my philosophy of life (as I had previously done). I recognized that I knew
nothing and simply read to learn. I prayed, I cried, I laughed out loud; and got
to know the Lord.
There was a second marriage during
those years of reading, and two sons, one of whom was adopted. In the early
1970’s, the Lord prompted me to leave a 14-year civil service career and attend
school. My major was "Religion with Emphasis in Bible", and I graduated summa
cum laude with a 3.8 grade point average in 1976. I could study and I could
learn! God can take weak people and make them strong. I taught off-and-on Bible
studies for many years, but the door to full-time ministry seemed permanently
closed, though I wanted to serve Him with all my heart. I decided I had simply
made too many mistakes to be used by Him (the second marriage ended in divorce).
In the 1990’s, I attended a Bible
study in a factory, at 6:00 AM on Friday mornings. They called it the “Friday
Study.” I am slow to speak up in someone else’s study, but the teacher was stuck
in Romans 9, where it says, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” I had written a
term paper on that verse in college, and offered my opinion. After the session
was over, the teacher asked me to take over the study, and I taught it for the
next five years. A few years into that study, some of the men asked me to start
a church, and after prayer, told them I would start an “internet church.” That
was in 1997.
We began Friday Study Ministries,
Inc., “The First Church on the Net” for those who cannot or will not attend a
traditional church, and I was amazingly ordained as a pastor. In preparing
sermons and studies with the disabled in mind, I often remember the isolation I
felt during those five years in a wheelchair. Anyone who has difficulty
attending church and has access to a computer can be a part of Friday Study
Ministries. We are an outreach to the disabled, the homebound, travelers,
military personnel and offer ourselves as a resource for those in the mission
field. I am told the site now contains 10,000 pages of material, including text
and audio. An average of 58,000 visitors per month come to us from fifty
countries. We can be seen at
www.fridaystudy.org. God is good.
Something more: Not only was the
ministry closed to me for many years, but I reasonably concluded that, as a
divorced man, I would never be married again. The Lord dramatically changed
that, too, for a few years ago, I was married to my lovely wife, Genevieve, the
widow of my best friend, Bob. When she lost Bob, I lost him, too. I often
remember Scripture verses the Lord made personal to me over the decades,
including, “I will restore to you the years that the locust has eaten” (Joel
2:25). He certainly has done that and more.
The Bible (the Lord through the Bible)
has changed my life. It fundamentally altered me – inside and out. The process
continues and it is life-long. This Book, God’s Word, is ALIVE with the life of
God. For anyone who doesn’t have one, I always suggest they get one. I have
found that I must pray when I read, for the Lord ANSWERS when I call, and gives
me, in His time, in His way, the desires of my heart.
By Ron Beckham
Contact us through
Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries
P.O. Box 92131
Long Beach, CA 90809-2131