6/15/2012

LESSONS I LEARNED FROM MY FATHER

Obedience Brings Blessing * It Pays to Persevere in Prayer * The Value of Self-Discipline

Lesson #1
Obedience Brings Blessing
The bottom line of advice that my Dad would always give was, “You obey God.” This was not a glib cliché on his part for, like Jesus, he had learned obedience through the things that he suffered (Heb. 5:8). For example, when I was 3 weeks old my family lived on a large farm in west Texas where “Daddy” worked as a farmhand. One day while plowing in the field he noticed a tractor with plows attached to it, that he had parked in our yard, moving around the yard in a circle. Knowing that something was not right, he turned his tractor toward home and arrived to find my mother, sitting on the porch, holding my 7 year old brother, Pete, in her lap and sobbing. Pete and my 4 year old brother, Belve, had been playing like they were farming and, somehow, had started the tractor and it had run over Pete.
Daddy said that when he looked at Pete, he looked flat as a pancake. He was still breathing, but blood and water were bubbling out of his mouth, nose, eyes, and ears. He carefully picked Pete up and laid him in the back seat of the car. While Mother remained behind with me, Belve, and my 9 year old brother, Harvey, he rushed Pete to the nearest hospital.
At the hospital, 3 doctors looked at Pete and told my Dad that he would not live for more than 10 minutes. They explained that, even without xrays, they knew that he had, at least, a broken rib that had punctured a lung. This was the reason, they said, for the blood and water coming out his passages as he breathed.
The only thing on my Dad’s mind at that moment was that he had not been obedient to God. For 5 years he had had this unmistakable and growing sense inside that God was calling him to full time ministry. But having no Bible school training and only a 4th grad education, this seemed like an impossible assignment, and he had shared it with no one. But after hearing the doctors’ prognosis, he stepped into a restroom, raised his right hand, and said, “Lord, I’m ready.” At that moment, he became obedient to the heavenly call.
Suddenly, a supernatural faith dropped into his heart. As he described it, “I didn’t know how I knew, but I suddenly knew that Pete was going to be alright.” He went back to the hospital lobby and had to wait for an hour; but all that time he had an unshakeable assurance in his heart that everything was OK. Finally, one of the doctors walked into the room and said, “Mr. Hyatt, there has been a higher power here tonight.” He went on to explain that they knew that Pete had a broken rib that had punctured a lung; “But,” he said, “We have completed xrays, the bleeding has stopped, and there is not a broken bone in his body.”
Pete came home in a couple of days and is well and healthy today, serving Jesus. Hallelujah! Daddy learned in a very dramatic way that there is blessing in obedience. Yes, I believe in God’s grace and mercy, and where would any of us be without it. But never attempt to use God’s grace as a justification for disobedience. As the old hymn says,
Trust and obey, for there is not other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey
Lesson 2
It Pays to Persevere in Prayer
When I was 11 years old my family was living on another farm near Tipton, Oklahoma where Daddy was still working as a farmhand. When God had miraculously healed Pete 11 years before, he had brought his call from God out into the open; but ministry had eluded him and he had only preached on the very rare occasion. Our family attended the Assembly of God church in Tipton, and we were there every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night.
Dissatisfied with his situation on the farm, Daddy began making plans to move to Dallas, Texas and work as a bricklayer. But as he made his plans to move, he heard the Holy Spirit speak in his heart, “What about pastoring this church?” This again, seemed like an impossible call. The people in this “nice” church did not see him as a pastor. To them, he was just an uneducated farmhand. He said to the Lord, “If this is you speaking to me, let this pastor resign before the first of the month.” He was shocked when he went to church on Sunday and the pastor got up and announced his resignation.
Knowing that God had spoken, my Dad went to the church secretary and said, “I would like to submit my name to be the pastor of this church.” The church had a process in place for finding a pastor and it consisted of allowing anyone who was interested to preach in a service and then afterwards the members of the church would vote. If the preacher got more than 50% of the votes, he could become the pastor. The secretary replied, “You are the first one to inquire so your name is at the top of the list.”
About three days later, an older gentleman, who was the chairman of the board of deacons/elders, visited my Dad and informed him that he had talked to all the members of the church. “We are all in agreement,” he said, “That you are not qualified to be the pastor of this church.” He then asked Daddy to withdraw his name for consideration because, he said, “No one will vote for you.” Well, what do you do now? He was  between the proverbial “rock and a hard place.” God had clearly spoken for him to pastor this congregation, but now they are all in agreement that they did not want him as their pastor.
Not being a politician with a plan to sway votes, Daddy went to prayer. He prayed all night, but heard nothing. What now? Do you throw in the towel and move on? Something inside would not let him quit, so he prayed all night the second night; but there was no voice, no guidance, and no direction. Virtually everyone advised him to withdraw his name and forget about pastoring that church. One of his relatives poked fun, saying, “The Lord told Clarence to go plow, and he thought He said to go preach.” But I remember him saying that my oldest brother, Harvey, said to him, "Daddy, if God told you to do this, you need to obey God." He had already learned the importance of obedience, so he prayed on, all night for the third night in a row.
Again, there was nothing from heaven—until dawn began to break. As the first rays of the morning sun were coming over the horizon, Daddy turned to look out a window. Suddenly, something unexplainable happened. He said that as the first rays of the morning sun hit him in the face, “I felt like I was turned into another man.” All of sudden, he did not care what anybody thought of him. Human opinions no longer mattered. The only thing that mattered was that he obey God.
He went out and found the secretary of the church and the chairman of the board of deacons/elders. He said to them, “Brethren, whatever you do is between you and God, but I have to go through with this.” They said OK, and arranged for him to preach the following Sunday night.
I still remember the message that Sunday night, and there seemed to be special anointing from the Holy Spirit as he preached from Haggai 1:5, “Consider Your Ways.” After finishing his sermon, our family retreated to our home, now about a half block from the church, while the church members had their business meeting and voted.
About one-half hour later, someone came from the church and told us he had been voted in as pastor with 100% of the vote. WOW!! They then proceeded to explain that, after we left, Brother Cook, the chairman of the board, had gotten up before the congregation weeping and said, “Folks, I have been wrong about this man; he is supposed to be our pastor.” Everything suddenly changed. Hearts were melted across the congregation. And whereas everyone there had come prepared to vote against him every single member voted for him.
From that time forth, except for brief intervals between pastorates, my Dad was in full time pastoral ministry for the rest of his life. The last church he pastored was the Assembly of God in Chicota, Texas, which he pastored for 27 years. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if he had given up after the first night of prayer or the second night of prayer. He learned—and I learned from being there—that it pays to persevere in prayer. He persevered in prayer and changed his destiny and mine.
Lesson 3
The Value of Self-Discipline
My Dad was from the “old school” and would agree with the adage, “Spare the rod and spoil the child.” We had lots of freedom growing up, but there was a discipline or certain behavior that was expected of my brothers and I; and the possibility of physical punishment was further motivation to adhere by those rules and expectations. It was through this outward discipline that I learned to exercise a self-discipline, or what the New Testament calls “self control” (Gal. 5:23).
An example of this occurred when I was about 3 years old and we lived in Dallas, Texas and attended the Gospel Lighthouse pastored by J. C. Hibbard. I do not remember this incident but I heard my Dad laughingly tell it on more than one occasion. In one particular church service I would not be quiet so he took me outside and gave me—what we called in Texas-- a “whuppin.” We did not “spankings” or “whippings;” we got “whuppins.”
Anyway, Daddy said he got me quieted down and then returned inside to take his seat. As he walked through the church foyer he asked, “Are you going to be quiet now?” He said I replied, “Nope!” He immediately turned around and started out the door again. I obviously knew what that meant—another “whuppin.” He said I began to cry out, “I won’t do it any more! I won’t do it any more!” In other words, I began to exercise some self-discipline. My Dad laughed as he took me back inside where I was very good and quiet until the service was over. I exercised self-discipline, i.e., self-control for the rest of that church meeting. 
Now I know that there is a problem with child abuse in our society, which, to some degree, is actually a result of parents who never experienced any loving discipline themselves; and so never learned to exercise any self-discipline, or self-restraint. Child abuse is inexcusable but should never be associated with corporeal punishment that is administered in wisdom and love. In other words, the “whuppin” my Dad gave me was not given to vent his anger towards me (that’s abuse), but to direct a certain desired behavior and self-discipline in me.
The more disciplined we are from within, the less discipline we will require from without. As I point out in my book, America’s Revival Heritage, people who are self-governed from within according to Christian principles, will require less outward governance and regulations. This is why John Adams, the 2nd president and one of the Founding Fathers, said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for any other.” In other words, the American Constitution was designed for a self-disciplined people. May God give us more fathers and mothers who will have the wisdom and courage to inculcate and nurture a self-discipline in their children.


My Dad passed away in 1994 at the age of 82. He was home recovering from hip surgery but was not sick. My mother said that one day he called her from the bedroom. She asked, "What do you want?" He said, "I'm going home." She thought maybe she misunderstood him and so went to the room and said, "What did you say?" He replied, "Bye bye, I'm going home." And in a few hours, that very same day, he was gone. But the lessons from his life remain.