ABOUT AUTHOR

Tom McManus is passionate in calling the Body of Christ to be ready for the Lord’s coming. Today many would desire to hear words of comfort and prosperity rather than a call to holiness through repentance. Tom has delved into the scriptures to unlock what will happen to believers that are carnal and unprepared. When we understand His judgments we can stand with confidence and full assurance and be ready for His coming.
Tom is part of Asheville Collider- a community of believers that are pressing to bring the kingdom of heaven to the earth and apprehending our inheritance to rule and reign in the earth.
Tom was born and raised in Boston MA and although he has been in North Carolina for over 20 years, folks still ask him where he’s really from. Parents of three and grandparents of eight, Tom and his wife, Janie, live in the hills of Saluda North Carolina.

Let me share how this journey in understanding of the kingdom began:

 

A Story of Jonah


     Once upon a time, there was a man that lived in a beautiful stone house on a quaint windy street in a trendy, affluent neighborhood. The stone house had wonderful arches and a thick wooden front door that fit into one of those arches, like a hobbit door. The man added a second floor to the property which added much value to his house. The new addition had a big master bedroom and master bathroom with atrium doors that swung out to a covered deck with columns on the side. There was even enough room for an office and a sitting area. The addition had five different dormers, great roof lines, stain glass, ceiling fans and more.
The man decided to use the equity in his house to buy other houses that he could buy inexpensively from foreclosures, short sales or other distressed situations, rehab them, and then sell them for a good profit

This worked well, and he decided to be at ease, eat, drink (but not too much), and be merry, along with going to church and having a bible study at his beautiful stone house.
When he first came to the Lord he was on fire and lived humbly, but he became the most luke warmest as one could be, although he surely wasn’t cold.

Soon things started to get harder, his properties didn’t sell, he dropped the prices, but they still didn’t sell. He decided to rent some of them, and the people who rented them didn’t pay the rent. It was very frustrating to this man because he heard so many different stories from his tenants as to why the rent could not be paid and the houses still would not sell. The man worked very hard and took more “get rich quick” real estate seminars not so much to be a millionaire, but to just pay the note on the beautiful stone house he was living in. One solution was to refinance with a very low monthly payment which, took the pressure off for a while or at least until the adjustable rate started readjusting. And still the houses wouldn’t sell, and the different stories from the renters became more and more elaborate. The man had a hard time looking at the books, and although he seemed to be working harder, he was just getting deeper and deeper in debt. He even charged some more seminars in the hope of finding the answers he needed, but the answers didn’t come. Even his prayers didn’t get answered.

He had people pray for him; he needed a miracle. A prophet spoke to him and said the Lord gave me two words for you, “Reluctant Prophet,” “I don’t know what that means that’s just what I got”. The man then realized he had Hepatitis C which required him to take medication and this made him feel even more depressed and more tired, and everything seemed to be caving in. He took medication for his depression and pills to get sleep, but they became less and less effective.
He realized he needed to sell his house, this very nice stone house, on a quaint windy street in a trendy, affluent neighborhood.

He thought to himself, Oh no! There must be another way; the Lord will make a way. Lord? Lord? Oh no! What will people think? Where will I go? What will I do?  He walked away saddened for he seemed a man of great wealth. He began packing the boxes and put his nice stone house up for sale. He thought that somehow God would intervene, see his plight and deliver him. He paced back and forth throughout the night, with anxious thoughts filling his mind. The medication wouldn’t quench the fears, and he could find no rest. He cried to the Lord, read scripture, sang, listened to worship music again and again and again. It gave him only momentary relief and then he would be overcome with fear, depression, anxiety, hopelessness, self-pity, and shame.
He paced back and forth and did not sleep for three days and three nights until at 3a.m, he balled up in his bed like a baby and fell into a pit.

Now as you might have guessed, this is not just a story about any man, this is about me. I cannot fully explain the frightening depths of darkness I experienced at that point. When I have been in dark places before, my eyes would be drawn to any semblance of light as my eyes adjusted to the dark, to a crack of light, to the light at the end of the tunnel, to where a window might be etc. This was different because it was pitch black and was getting blacker and blacker and blacker, not only that but it was expanding all around me, getting deeper and wider and higher. It felt like I was leaning over the edge of a cliff and about to fall into a bottomless pit, except I didn’t know whether I was standing or lying down and this pit was all around me, up, down, sideways. I had nothing to hold onto, like being sucked into a black hole. I was so disoriented; I thought I could be falling and could hit bottom at any moment, I stiffened for impact. I was so afraid I could not speak. I remembered David’s plea “take not your holy spirit from me” God was not here; it was devoid of God.

I’ve never been in a place like this. I was on my own, I wanted to escape, but there was nowhere to go. A thought flashed of killing myself to get away from this fear, but I thought I could end up here. Is this hell? What is going on? How could I be in a place like this? Had my religion been a fake, a sham? I tried to plead to God, but my thoughts were nothing but shallow canned prayers that were disgustingly selfish and lifeless and mocked God, I can’t say that, I can’t say anything. I was being choked with fear. A scripture flashed across my mind like a bolt of lightning “Depart from me, I never knew you.” I had nothing worth saying. I am lost, I deserve this, this could be it, I don’t know how to get out…I am drowning and being swallowed up in darkness. I tried to yell for help but it was like yelling underwater, my words were muffled and incomprehensible. I was overwhelmed. My sin flooded me like huge waves of darkness. It became frightfully obvious I was not getting out, there was no light to move to, no grey just pitch black. I couldn’t even confess because my mouth was vile. Where do I begin? Haven’t I been doing exactly what I wanted? My sins pressed into me like water moving into the lungs of a drowning man. I’ve got to do something; I need to get out. GOD HELP ME!

Then a scene came vividly to my mind, from earlier that day, like I was there. I was packing boxes feeling depressed, lifeless and confused as to what to keep and what to throw away. I remembered what I was thinking. We didn’t know where we were going, or how much storage we’d have. Should I sell this? Give it away? Throw it away? I can’t believe I am in this mess, why? Why? What am I doing? What am I going to do? Then I could hear my wife Janie saying, “Tom, I don’t know about taking all those real estate books, I don’t think we should have them” It was a crystal clear rewind of what she said. I remembered thinking when she said that, that she was not only unimpressed with the various “get rich quick” real estate books, tapes, and manuals, but understood that there was a deeper root of greed, lust, and mammon that was at work in them. When I heard her say that I thought, “Hey, I chew the meat and spit out the bones, I’m just gaining some valuable insights and techniques, besides I really don’t care for big boats, cars or flashy clothes, besides I’ll tithe and be able to contribute to the kingdom, besides this is what I do and I’ve spent a ton of money on this stuff.” Being in the depressed mood I was in at the time I decided to put that decision off along with every other decision for another day.
Wait, what is happening here? I am enveloped in darkness, lost and overtaken by my sins, and a 10-second conversation came to my mind. Does Janie have a point here? My justification seemed obviously pathetic. Are these tapes worldly, full of lust and greed? Are they bad to have around? The more I thought about it, the more the darkness thickened; they were not only bad they were evil, corrupting and vile. Lord help me! If you think these things are evil and you want me to get rid of them, then I will. Do you want me to get rid of them? I heard in my mind,
NOW!
     I jumped out of bed, ran over to the bookshelf threw on the light and started at the top of the bookshelf. I started pulling every book that had anything to do with “get rich quick.” I went left to right, top to bottom, filled up my arms and ran down three flights of stairs and threw them into a city trash container and ran back upstairs. When I got to the top of the stairs, Janie was sitting up in bed and said, Tommy, what are you doing at this hour? I was so afraid I couldn’t even speak, and I filled my arms up again and again and again. I went over every bookshelf, drawer and cabinet again to make sure I got everything. The last load filled that trash barrel, and I swung the hinged lid shut.

Exactly when that happened, the fear broke, and I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. I can’t tell you how that feels, how do you go from fear to no fear, from despair to peace in a moment, it was not something I expected, it just happened to me. When I got to the top of the stairs, Janie was sitting up in bed. She felt I had lost my mind; that the stress and the lack of sleep had pushed me over the edge. When I stood at the top of the stairs, she looked at me in amazement and said, what happened to you? Within the time it took me to run down, and up the stairs, I was transformed from someone who was running from death to someone who was at total peace. I knew that I was going to be okay. Janie said what happened? I kept saying “Wow, oh wow” God just showed up. We started praising God and thanking Him and weeping and rejoicing in His goodness. I got a pen and paper because I had more instruction to get from Him and I wanted to remember what He was telling me.

He specifically brought to mind two women that were renting a house from me who had not been paying me rent. They had been lying and stealing from me but, the Lord showed me I was to not only forgive them but give particular things to them. The pressure to pay my bills to keep my sinking ship afloat made me embittered towards them. I am sad to say that one of the girls just had had a baby and what went through my mind was Oh no, if she couldn’t pay the rent without a baby how is she going to do it now? He showed me His heart for that scared young mother and her beautiful son. I was taken aback by the condition of my heart. I repented and was careful to write down exactly what I was supposed to do for them, which included buying her a car seat and crib.

Unforgiveness and judgments were being exposed, it was like the foreskin of my heart was being peeled back. People and situations were coming forth in my minds’ eye, things said and done to me and by me that were wrong. It was not a time to justify myself, to accuse others or ignore what was being revealed. Then a scripture comes to mind.

Matthew 6:15 NKJV – But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Although I had memorized this scripture, I didn’t have a clue of what it meant for a believer, not to have his sins forgiven. Weren’t all my sins under the blood? What I did understand was that I needed to confess my sins. The fear of the Lord was directing me with a clear precision. I began to forgive those who had done things against me as they were brought to my mind and I quickly realized how I needed to repent for holding unforgiveness against them. As an avalanche of situations came to remembrance, it was clear I was the offender and to far less of a degree the offended. I was quick to forgive like someone shooting down enemy planes in a video game. I stopped only when the air was clear.

On the outside I was more religious than most, I knew the scriptures, had bible studies at my house, prayed, went on missions’ trips and yet I had become so entangled with the world that I didn’t see how far I had fallen. I was being driven by greed, entangled with debt and bitter towards those who weren’t paying me. I was more interested in getting rich quick instead of being rich toward God. This crisis brought me painfully aware of how consumed I was with my needs, my wants and my desires. I could see that my very religious prayers to God were lacking thanksgiving and gratefulness and were demanding from God what I thought I deserved. I was resentful for His holding back. I had become the center of the universe and God had become a planet.

I was confident that I was born again in that I was pressing into repentance, yet I was oblivious to my condition, aghast at my blindness.

Matthew 6:24 NKJV – 24No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

God was making it plain that I could not serve God and mammon. I agreed
He was clearly warning me as to the consequences of my sins if I did not repent, yet I was experiencing His warm embrace like never before as I earnestly submitted my heart to Him.  After tears, prayers and praise, I fell into a deep, restful sleep.

When I awoke in the morning, my first thoughts were, what was that? What happened last night, Lord? What was that with the outer darkness? How does this fit with my doctrine? I thought nothing could separate me from you.

As I settled into prayer with that question in mind, Janie felt the Lord was directing us to the book of Jonah.  I wanted to hear everything the Lord had for me so I read the short description that begins every book in the NIV Study Bible. It said and still says; Jonah was a reluctant prophet. Wow!  I had heard that before, the prophet gave me that word. As I read the book, there were some striking similarities. Jonah was also a religious man, who knew God (Jonah 4:2) and was running from what God had called him to do. Jonah was in the belly of the whale for three days, and three nights, I was up for that long without sleep.

     Then Chapter 2 leapt out at me. Had I missed this before, Jonah is praying from inside the fish.

Jonah 2:1-10 NKJV – 1 Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the fish’s belly. 2 And he said: “I cried out to the LORD because of my affliction, And He answered me.” Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, [And] You heard my voice. 3 For You cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas, And the floods surrounded me; All Your billows and Your waves passed over me. 4 Then I said, ‘I have been cast out of Your sight; Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’ 5 The waters surrounded me, [even] to my soul; The deep closed around me; Weeds were wrapped around my head. 6 I went down to the moorings of the mountains; The earth with its bars [closed] behind me forever; Yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O LORD, my God. 7 “When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the LORD; And my prayer went [up] to You, Into Your holy temple. 8 Those who regard worthless idols Forsake their own Mercy. 9 But I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation [is] of the LORD. 10 So the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry [land].

      I understood the darkness he must have been covered with, the pressure of the depths, the not knowing whether he was up or down, floating and swept back and forth like seaweed on a rock. I know what it meant when he said his soul fainted and his prayer went up to the Lord.

     Jonah didn’t want to preach to Nineveh because he didn’t want God to have mercy on the ruthless enemies of his people. He was convinced that was Gods’ heart and desire (Jonah 4:2) and he would have no part of it. Jonah was not going to Nineveh and was ready to take a boat in the opposite direction and would rather be tossed off a boat into a fierce storm than go. Jonah would rather die than have the Ninevites live. Do you think Jonah had some hatred and unforgiveness he was dealing with? He was so strong willed he was able to sleep at the bottom of the ship and disregard Gods’ judgment for his rebellion. The Lord sent the storm, and he sent the fish, He was steadfast in teaching his servant some things. Jonah says that he cried out from the ‘Out of the belly of Sheol‘. Sheol can mean the abode of the dead, the grave or hell. In this frightening place Jonah says, ‘I have been cast out of Your sight’ and he experienced a place without God.

     Jonah comes to an understanding. “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” He realized that his vain ideas were nothing but worthless idols, compared to Gods’ perfect plans. Idols are man-made and so was Jonah’s reasoning. If he went his way, he was forfeiting the grace of God, leaving it behind. He needed grace in his situation.

     But I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation [is] of the LORD. 10 So the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry [land].
Jonah had usurped God and made himself judge of the Ninevites, he knew what they deserved and God didn’t. God judges harshly those who judge harshly. Judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Jonah realized his ways were not God’s ways and he commits to do what he was told to do. He declares ‘Salvation is from the Lord’, affirming that it does not come from Jonah. As a matter of fact it was Jonah that needed the Lord to save him from the torment he was in.

     It took three days for Jonah to relent and repent. It is exactly when he repents that Jonah gets vomited up onto dry land.

     You can imagine my amazement when I read this. This had just happened to me!
Three days and nights of anguish and no sleep, I experience a place of darkness associated with Gods’ judgment, an idol is revealed, I awaken, I repent, get rid of the idol and pop; I am vomited onto dry land. I go from darkness to light, from fear to peace, immediately!

     I carried this around with me and pondered what God was trying to teach me from this. I knew that the experience of outer darkness was a clear warning to repent or suffer the consequences, yet could a believer go to outer darkness or hell?

     I was reminded of the words of Jesus to the Laodecian Church where he states their lukewarm condition and then says to them “I will spit you out of my mouth”. He elaborates on their luke-warm condition and then says, “as many as I love I rebuke and chasten, therefore be zealous and repent”. The implication was clear; if I judged you today I would spit you out of my mouth and that’s what will happen if you don’t repent. Any questions?

    We might ask, where does a believer land if they are spit out of His mouth?
To answer that question we’ll look at the Kingdom of Heaven, the fear of the Lord, the parables, and the Judgment Seat of Christ. I would love the opportunity to share with you what I have learned.

    I trust this will shake your theology as much as it did mine. It is my prayer that you would grow in intimacy with the Lord and be found confident in His appearing.