Amazing Grace: The Dan Lirette Story
By Danny Lirette
This booklet cannot be reprinted, redistributed and/or re-translated without written permission from the author. You are, however, given permission to use this booklet in personal study as well as group study within a church or Bible study group context.
I want to thank my wife for standing with me in planting house churches. Without her love and support, none of this would have been possible. I also want to thank Pastor Jonathan Steeper, Pastor Mark Hillis, Pastor Daniel Jalbert and Thomas Gibson for their friendship, godly counsel and encouragement to me. Their counsel and wisdom in the Things of God has been a resource to me which I will forever hold dear in my heart. I also want to thank Pastor James Sparling for his friendship, love and willingness to obey the Lord’s calling on his life in shepherding God’s People. Both James and his wife, Helen, are true examples of what it means to take up our cross to follow Jesus. Last but not least, I praise God most of all for my mother; a woman who’s prayed me through many a times! Mom, you’re the greatest example of what it means to know Christ and the power of His resurrection!
For further material dealing with Biblical topics by Dan Lirette, visit http://www.danlirette.ca
In between the words “Christian” and “Christian” are words that describe who I was for so long. Those words paint a picture of the lifestyle I lived even while claiming Christ; hence the word “hypocrite”. They denote what many others …possibly even reading this… lived like at one time or even presently. The “in between” of “Christian” and “Christian” isn’t where I’d like to start though. I want to begin from the beginning…
I grew up in a normal non Christian home; my parents were as “normal” as any non Christian parents. They certainly loved my brother and I… but weren’t always able to express it as best as I know they wanted to.
My mother was the one who “wore the pants” in the home as my father was quite passive. Not weak; just passive. He grew up in a home with two passive parents and a slew of siblings. Authority wasn’t something in his home that was pronounced, so that type of atmosphere was instilled into him. My mother, on the other hand, grew up with a father who was in the Air Force, was born in England and came to Canada. Military life was my mother’s upbringing, so you can imagine the discipline in her home life.
Mom and Dad were two opposites when they met. His first language is French and mom’s is English. She tells stories on how, when they were seeing each other, he’d dress in a way that made her want to “fix him up”. lol. Apparently he’d mix-match everything he wore.
Our early life was spent growing up in Moncton’s East End… not the best place to grow up with it’s poverty and crime and a sense that at any moment you could be the target of a physical beating. Violence wasn’t something that was non-existent; it was a reality in the East End. Even now, the East End hasn’t changed much. It’s laden with crime, drugs, prostitution, etc… perhaps it’s more sunken in darkness than when I was growing up there. Nonetheless, it was where I grew up for much of my young life and I praise God for my mom and dad doing their best and I praise God for the other parents there, past, present and future, seeking to do their best for their children in the environment of the East End. It wasn’t an easy place to live in… but it was home and I’m thankful for it.
While living there, we were at 34 Harris Avenue. One day, while playing outside in the leaves, I heard God audibly call my name twice: “Danny, Danny”.
I can’t explain to you what it sounded like except to say it was … God. It wasn’t an internal thought or feeling or voice. It was audible and distinctly not human or even angelic. It was the Voice of God.
I would learn, many years later, that God had called, by name, people in Scripture. One being the Prophet Samuel:
1 Samuel 3:1-10 “Meanwhile, the boy Samuel served the Lord by assisting Eli. Now in those days messages from the Lord were very rare, and visions were quite uncommon. One night Eli, who was almost blind by now, had gone to bed. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was sleeping in the Tabernacle near the Ark of God. Suddenly the Lord called out, “Samuel!” “Yes?” Samuel replied. “What is it?” He got up and ran to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?” “I didn’t call you,” Eli replied. “Go back to bed.” So he did. Then the Lord called out again, “Samuel!” Again Samuel got up and went to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?” “I didn’t call you, my son,” Eli said. “Go back to bed.” Samuel did not yet know the Lord because he had never had a message from the Lord before. So the Lord called a third time, and once more Samuel got up and went to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?” Then Eli realized it was the Lord who was calling the boy. So he said to Samuel, “Go and lie down again, and if someone calls again, say, ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went back to bed. And the Lord came and called as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel replied, “Speak, your servant is listening.”
Ironically, my middle name is Sam. How neat is that?!
I wasn’t religious growing up… I had no knowledge of the God of Scripture; I had no idea about the supernatural workings of the Holy Spirit and that God called out to people by name. But here I am, about 8 or 9 years old, when the Lord of Heaven and Earth calls my name. Audibly.
I Have never experienced such a thing again… and perhaps may never. But that experience… that event… is forever in my mind.
God. Called. My. Name.
Religion, though, wasn’t high on the list for any of us … though we did attend church; but it wasn’t something we lived. Like many, it was something we “did”.
I remember as a youngster attending the Moncton Wesleyan Church as well as First Baptist Church. I liked the Wesleyan Church better though; at least from what I recall. The Baptists were more “boring” while the Wesleyans offered more in the line of things for kids. But either/or, it was just something we “did”… and not something that dramatically affected us in any real way. In fact, I can’t recall the Gospel being clearly laid out for us in either church. I may be wrong; my memory doesn’t serve me well.
Growing up, I was the “wild child”… always getting into trouble. I was a daring little guy and wasn’t really afraid of anything at all. I mean, if any of you reading this are from Moncton and remember the huge bridge going from Moncton to Riverview, well I’d climb it to get pigeons. lol.
As you can guess, mom and dad weren’t too happy when the police told them I climbed this thing with bags to put my pigeons in! I was fearless as a young boy and had no concept of danger at all. There was pretty much nothing I wouldn’t do if it brought with it a sense of adventure.
Even lighting fires…
I was, by all means, an arsonist.
Lighting fires, in my view, was “fun”. It was “fun” to set fires to garbage cans, grassy fields and even once trying to set a hotel on fire. I was intrigued by the fact that I could burn things down using fire; and I was drawn to that type of activity which brought destruction. It provided me with a sense of “I’m in control”.
Being young, adventurous, fearless and having no godly counsel… I was a disaster waiting to happen. My school life was a complete and total mess.
My favorite part of school life was … recess, lunch and going home. Everything in-between, with the exception of my interest in English, art, music and gym, was hated. I didn’t much like school, so I made a decision … over and over again… to skip. I would actually go so far as to throw my books in Jones Lake, a lake which was on the way to and from school. I didn’t’ want to have to deal with responsibility in learning. I wanted to do what “I” wanted to do.
When a child skips school, he has to be doing something. And something is what I would always do…
whether it was stealing, lying, playing video games, smoking, etc. Being a wild child was so much more exciting than sitting at a school desk and calculating or learning history.
Well… that was about to change.
The governmental system decided, after seeking to help me over and over again, that they had had enough.
I was sent to a place called Kingsclear Youth Reformatory in Fredericton. Here’s what it looks like (it’s now closed):
Kingsclear. That very name brings up memories of horrid psychological abuse and sexual abuse (though I personally was not sexually abused while there). If you’re not familiar with the story behind Kingsclear, you can read about it online here: [+ http://www.google.ca/#hl=en&q=kingsclear+reformatory+]
When I arrived, I cried each night for about 4 months. I was 12 years old.
I was a wild child… but I was also pretty sensitive. Kingsclear didn’t at all “reform” me; it hardened me and caused me to become 10 fold the criminal I already was.
The counselors were not at all counselors; they were hired abusers. Not all… but most. To them, the kids who were incarcerated were products to be punished and not worthy of any love or compassion.
The abuse, both psychological and sexual, was so deep among those who were incarcerated, that words fail me to describe the absolute nightmare of what that place represents to countless now-adults. It was a living Hell and I praise God that it’s doors were closed and the scandals were brought to the light and that many of the victims were compensated for their abuse, though monetary compensation fails miserably to restore one’s childhood innocence.
Being in the reformatory, I became like those around me and conformed to the inside-code of lying, hate, disrespect and rebellion against authority; in short, I became what the reformatory, in theory, promised to “fix”: a hater of all things good.
Granted, before being sent there, I was already steeped in these unwanted traits; however, this place only served to “cement” me… and cement me it did.
My first stay was 4 months. Upon leaving, I would return on a regular basis, only this time it wasn’t for skipping school; I had progressed to break and enters, armed robberies, etc.
When “on the outside”, I would use my new found “freedom” for further criminal activity; I was as far from being “reformed” as was possible.
At the age of 14 while back inside of the Kingsclear Reformatory, I decided I’d concoct a plan to escape as I was doing a 10 month sentence. I was on kitchen duty and my plan was, with another inmate, to take the cook hostage and drive away. That is exactly what we did.
Of course it wasn’t long before we were caught. In fact, it was not long at all; the same day we were caught.
I had already let the cook go and the inmate and I took the car and drove on the highway towards, if I recall correctly, Oromocto, A police check was set up and I got into a high speed chase. I resigned to the fact that we were caught so stopped and we were on the ground in our kitchen clothes in the snow as we were arrested.
Being brought back to the Reformatory, were placed in segregation. That’s when they place you in a cell which is tiny, cold and lonely. You almost feel like you’re going insane when you’re in it. It’s absolutely …abandonment.
From there, they deemed me too dangerous to stay at the Reformatory so sent me to a place called the Madawaska Regional Correctional Center. That was known by us young people as the “bad place”. It had the reputation of being violent and for the “really bad ones”. I was on my way there.
Kingsclear Reformatory and Madawaska were world’s apart in structure.
Kingsclear had plexiglass windows, dorms, etc… it wasn’t exactly the most secure place. While it had relative security, it also had many aspects which could easily be exploited.
Madawaska was much different.
Madawaska was a “real jail”. Like you see on television. And it was housing youths.
Bullet proof glass, electronic doors, uniformed guards, tired cells… you name it, it had all the makings of what you see on television. And the grounds where the youth went outside to enjoy sunshine? It was a caged in area with rolls of razor sharp barbed wire.
There were also blue buttons all over the jail. This was a “Code Blue” button for uniformed guards to press in case of an emergency.
So here I was at Madawaska with an extra 13 months tacked on to the 10 I was already serving. That makes 1 month short of a 2 year sentence.
In this facility, I learned that Kingsclear had really either lied about Madawaska’s reputation for violence or they simply had no idea what they were talking about. Yes, it was much different than the youth reformatory but it was more secure and more controlled. The guards didn’t tolerate much rebellion. They had what we call a “Bubble”. That was their area where they’d watch us; it was a safe place for them to watch us and keep things in order. They weren’t always around though so much of the time we were “on our own”. But all in all, the prisoners had their own set of rules which most followed; if any didn’t, they’d have to suffer the consequences.
So here I am in this prison, on the border of Quebec. It was so far from Moncton, NB… so visits were not an everyday thing.
One of the guards took an interest in me; and he was a Christian. His name is Gilles Goudreau.
Gilles… or “Mr Goudreau” as I called him back then… talked about Jesus and shared Christ with me. I listened to him intently because I felt soooo good whenever he was around me. He was just so…. nice!
I wasn’t used to that. I wasn’t used to someone being so unconditionally loving towards me. It was completely and utterly foreign to my life to have anyone take an interest in me without expecting anything in return.
Gilles is an amazing pool player. One day as we shot a game of pool, I asked him, “God is in you?” to which he replied “Yes”. I then asked if “God was playing pool against me” and he laughed.
I remember another time asking him to “prove God” to which he explained that God had “given him a language that he never learned and doesn’t understand” called “speaking in tongues”.
I asked him to do it right there and then. Hesitant, he obliged.
He bowed his head in reverential prayer and began to pray in an unknown language… just as the Bible said Christians can do.
At that moment, the Fear of God fell on me powerfully and I asked him to stop. I didn’t know what I was feeling; I had no idea what this Presence was that had just overcome me. It frightened me.
That was an encounter with the Living God that I will never in all of my life forget.
Gilles continued to share Jesus Christ with me… and once day I asked him to “speak in that language again”. He said he would but would do so in a private room where phone calls are made instead of out in the open. He would also have another inmate, who was already saved, join us.
When he said yes, the Presence of God fell on me and I looked at the saved inmate and said “I’m going to be saved today!”.
And that is exactly what happened!
We went into the room and Gilles explained to me how we would pray together and he would lead me in prayer. He bowed his head and began to pray in other tongues and when I asked Jesus Christ to come into my life, at that very moment I was what the Bible calls “Born Again”.
I looked up at Gilles and asked, “How do I know if I’m a Christian?” to which he replied “You’ll know.”
When I went out into the common area where the other inmates were watching television, one asked what I was doing, if my memory serves me well. I replied, “I’m a Christian now”.
At that very second the reality of what happened in the room with Gilles and the other inmate, Bernie Evans, flooded over me like the Niagara River. Instantly, the Spirit of God bore witness with me that I was a Child of God, washed clean from all of my sins and transformed into a New Creation in Christ Jesus. I physically felt the cleansing Power of God wash all over me in that prison!
I went up into my cell and just laughed and thanked God…jumping and leaping. The Presence of God had fallen on me so thick that I knew that I knew that I knew that God had saved my soul. There was absolutely no doubt whatsoever. None. I was saved.
I immediately began to pray and study the Word of God. I was so madly in love with this God… with this Jesus!… that I had to spend all of my spare time with Him in prayer and study. I simply couldn’t get enough of His Spirit’s Love washing over me.
Gilles told me to pray to be Baptised in the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5) so that is exactly what I did. I constantly asked God to fill me with His Holy Spirit. I wasn’t quite sure what it all meant except that I needed power to witness “like Gilles” had.
God honored my prayer and filled me with His Spirit one day in my cell as I asked.
I didn’t “feel” anything as I did not long prior when God saved me; however, I took note that I was now speaking ina different language… just as promised in Mark 16:15-20 where we read: “And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages . They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”When the Lord Jesus had finished talking with them, he was taken up into heaven and sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. And the disciples went everywhere and preached, and the Lord worked through them, confirming what they said by many miraculous signs.“Here I am in a maximum security prison in a cell alone, seeking God… when the Spirit of the Lord gives me a new language; a Heavenly language!
The more I would pray in this language the more that the Presence of God would fall on me and bring a stillness to my spirit. The Holy Spirit was moving on me powerfully as I sought God in prayer alone in my cell, calling on the Name of Jesus and praying in tongues. While I was in a physical prison, my spirit was free!
I was so… alive!
As I was still incarcerated, I was limited in my growth in Grace. And due to growing up in an environment where no friendship is unconditional, I entered into the Christian Life with this “baggage”. It would be my downfall.
While I was saved unconditionally by my Heavenly Father, I had the inward view that I had to somehow “maintain” my friendship with God by “being good”. I had a legalistic view of the Love and Grace of God. To me, God was so good that in order to “stay in His good graces” I’d need to have “perfect conduct” or He’d leave me.
And thus, the fall begins…
Whenever a mere temptation would come into my mind, I would run to my cell, fall on my knees and beg God to forgive me. It was horrible. Had I known then what I know now, how different things would have been!
If I sinned, I felt as though I had so let God down that I’d have to beg Him over and over and over and over to continue being with me. Unless I “emotionally felt” that He was with me, I’d feel He wasn’t… even though Jesus promised in Matthew 28:18-20 “Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
I didn’t understand that sin was more than an action; it was an attitude of the heart. I didn’t understand that God loved me…unconditionally….sin or no sin. I was focused on my actions; God is always focused on our hearts. I didn’t realize the concept behind justification and sanctification; I confused the two. As a result, my relationship with the Lord began to suffer as I couldn’t live up to the “sinless perfection” that I tried to maintain.. and became very discouraged and began to lose hope.
Ultimately, I would simply give up; my walk with the Lord had become a mess of “sin/repent/sin/repent” and finally I just blew up and literally …flipped out. I was so angry inside that “God couldn’t help me” and I began to blame Him.
I walked away. For a while.
Thankfully, God didn’t’ walk away from me! No, on the contrary, He was there the whole time.
During my exodus from walking with God, I went back to my old sinful lifestyle and became 7 times worse than what I previously was.
I was released from prison and began a journey of turning “to” God and then “back” into sin. The cycle was ongoing.
During my half hearted “Christian” walk, I attended a local church which was supposed to be Spirit Filled but was clearly dead on the inside. I have no doubt that there were some within the assembly who were passionately in love with an on fire for Jesus but the corporate atmosphere was anything but Spirit Filled. Sure, we had a prophetic word here and there and some ok preaching… but for the most part, the church was a dead mess of lukewarmness.
Youth meetings were… well, I wasn’t impacted. It was business as usual. Fun and games and emotional worship songs. But no real and vibrant moving of the Holy Spirit. Just “church”. Church without the Holy Spirit.
On one occasion, however, I remember going to a youth conference at the church where a man was speaking who was filled with the Presence and Power of God. The place… the meeting… was electric in the thickness of God’s Glory. That was a meeting I will never forget.
Now remember, I was in a state of walking with God, turning from God… walking with God, turning from God. It was a roller coaster ride called “Counterfeit Christianity”.
During my “walking with God” time, I became involved as a volunteer in a ministry which lent out books to Christians, videos, etc. It’s location was a small Kiosk in Champlain Mall in Dieppe, NB. It was pretty mundane until…
One day a youth revival broke out. I had begun to preach and to pray for some young people around my own age and God’s Spirit graciously began to move powerfully to save and deliver these young people. The problem? My own character was not stable and as a result there was a mix of truth and error within the revival that was taking place. And a revival it was.
This youth revival was certainly genuine… it was as real as they get.
Young people would congregate into the Kiosk and outside of it, waiting to hear a message and receive prayer. God was moving mightily.
True and genuine signs and wonders were taking place and I was smack dab in the middle of it, leading it.
While living in sin….repenting….living sin sin….repenting… over and over again. As always.
Full of my own pride and lukewarmness, I was in no position to lead such a powerful move of God…but here I was leading it. I was in no spiritual position to preach a Christ I wasn’t fully committed to or surrendered to.
During my time there, I was invited by a false prophetess named Lynne Leger to a church she was attending which had that “WOW!” factor but which preached doctrines of demons. It was a church which taught the false theological positions of the Word of Faith Movement. We held to such blasphemies as Jesus suffering on the Cross “and” in Hell for our sins (as opposed to the Biblical doctrine of the Cross alone) and other heresies which damn a person.
It wasn’t a large congregation by any means; it was small. The Pastor of this church was pretty new at ministry at that time. The music was exciting and the preaching pointed to man’s ability rather than the Cross.
My theological positions shifted drastically. I now believed and taught that not only was my Salvation paid for by Jesus on the Cross but that He also paid my sin-debt… in Hell. I taught that you had to believe with all of your heart that Jesus took your place on the Cross…. and in Hell.
I further believed and verbally stated that I was “a little god” and could “create reality by the words of my mouth”. This is classic Word of Faith theology. I was in this … and in it deep!…hook, line and sinker. Pride knows no bounds.
I once stated to an individual attending an Evangelical church that if God didn’t heal all people I’d “spit in His face” and then said that that isn’t the god of the Bible. In short, I wouldn’t need to spit in His face because “God always heals”.
How evil and full of darkness I was!
I believed that the Baptists were saved, the Pentecostals were also saved but it was the Word of Faith crowd who had the “full” truth. We within this Movement had the “most” revelation on God’s Will and the WOF Movement was God’s answer for all Christians.
Arrogance at it’s finest.
This Lynne woman, who introduced me to the church, was a person who people considered to be a “Prophetess”. She regularly had prophecies and visions and always had something for everyone… even me! Like all the time!
This woman in fact was and is a Jezebel; she was under a spirit of delusion and prophesied lies and had visions of her own heart. She would see me burning in Hell and in a casket and such things as these. I was in absolute fear so whenever I wanted to hear from God for the next thing on His mind, who would I run to?
The Pastor of this church allowed this woman to have a role of authority in the church. Not officially with a title to my knowledge; but through the allowance of her prophecies, etc. He simply let her wreak havoc in the lives of those she “ministered” to … and they were his sheep.
But the Pastor was young and while he still holds to some Word of Faith doctrine, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he’d never allow such falseness today as he’s grown and matured into a great Man of God; but the damage is done in many lives. Lynne was and is a woman who’s prophecies and visions are not from God.
Lynne become my spiritual mother; literally. She was the one who spoke into my life primarily. This should be a warning to every leader in their assembly to beware of Jezebels in the Flock who lord it over the sheep and use manipulation and control to draw away disciples after themselves (Acts 20:28-31).
At this time, I was also seeing a girl. The relationship was a complete mess… and Lynne told me that “it was time to get married” to which my Pastor at the time confirmed he believed as well. Lynne and my Pastor at the time both claimed a “witness” from the Holy Spirit on their words. They used the Name of the Lord to tell me to “get married”.
So… here I am, with this young lady I was seeing, walking down the isle, performing our vows. On a “word from the Lord”.
But let me backtrack…
My mother had taken me out once news came of our impending marriage.
While not a Christ Follower at that time, mom was wise and she knew this was a mistake. She took me out for a picnic and told me clearly that this was a mistake and that I shouldn’t do this. I didn’t listen. I mean, I had to listen to my spiritual mother, Lynne. After all, she’s a Prophetess of God. I also had to listen to my Pastor as he’s … my Pastor.
You have to understand; when something was spoken in our assembly by our leaders with a “this comes from God” in it, we were not to question it. “Touch not the Lord’s Anointed” was a literal statement you would hear coming from our mouths. We rejected anything that rejected the counsel of our leaders if they spoke “from God”.
It was no different with my mother. I rejected her counsel and received the counsel of my Pastor and Lynne, my spiritual mother.
I was married.
Well… mother, you were right.
My marriage ended in divorce less than 2 years into it. My ex-wife and I had just completely turned from God, moved to another city out west called Edmonton, and our lives were an utter mess.
During my first marriage, both my ex-wife and I lived in an ungodly manner. Of course not initially; I mean, who does? Once the honeymoon stage is over, however, one’s true character comes out.
The time was ripe for a divorce and a divorce was granted. And we have a child together.
That’s the fruit of blindly following false prophets and “Don’t question me!” Pastors… you reap what you sow, and reap I did!
Now don’t get me wrong; I take full responsibility. Had I truly loved Jesus Christ and His Word, rather than people who themselves were blind, these things would not have happened. It was well spoken of my former self in the Scripture:
2 Timothy 4:3-4 “For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.”
I had Itchy Ear Syndrome… and I paid dearly for it.
My “healthy, wealthy and wise” theology didn’t quite work out! So here I am, divorced.
And also full of every vice you can imagine.
Without going into unnecessary details, I lived in such a manner as to bring shame to the Christ I once walked with. My entire existence was to please…myself.
Let’s fast forward a bit…
I’m living a lifestyle of nightclubbing and drinking… and it was all coming to an end.
I was hooked on pills; downers. I couldn’t function properly without popping them before bed… only I wouldn’t go to sleep; I’d sit there and get high on them.
At the point in my life, and previously, I had met a Preacher’s Kid at a local nightclub and we moved in together.
Just as any relationship goes, it all started out well and then the character issues began to surface in me. The pills.
The… it was just very very bad.
To top it off, she was pregnant, and her family wasn’t very pleased. I really couldn’t blame them. I mean, I wasn’t exactly a nice guy.
We ended our relationship when our child was 7 months old; she moved back to her home town outside of the city and I continued to live my wild life of darkness. I regretted losing her but also knew it was the best thing that had happened and that God wasn’t involved in the relationship in any way, shape or form. It was meant to explode… and explode it did.
Once this happened, I was a complete mess; it’s almost as though I can see myself at that point in my life lying in my bed depressed and alone… feeling as though my world had come to an end. I never want to relive that time in my life. It was dark and depressing and no words can come to explain the amount of utter…emptiness I was experiencing. It was such a sick feeling.
I then began to … do nothing but live my same lifestyle of sin. I wouldn’t come to the reality that my life was out of control; at least in theory I may have acknowledged it, but in practical living I was doing what I always did: I was living for myself.
All I wanted to do was get drunk, pop pills and continue being promiscuous. That was what I engage din to ease my conscience… and of course that type of lifestyle doesn’t ease anything and only brings further spiritual darkness.
I became involved in other relationships, short term. I met one female who I took an interest in and we lived together for a short period.
Do you see how I was continuing in the same cycles …over and over again? Sin blinds it’s feaster’s and blind I was and feast I did.
Let’s fast forward again….
I met my now wife… a wonderful Woman of God who loves Jesus and her family so very dearly.
We in fact met in a United Pentecostal Church. While she was not saved UPC and while I did not (and do not) affirm UPC theology, it’s how it all came to be.
She was, as a young and naive Believer, duped into believing that “they” (The UPC’s) had “the truth”. Thus, she was led out of her former assembly and into the UPC flock. She went from being Born Again by faith through Grace alone to now being in a church which is by all standards a cult in it’s theology. While there are genuine Brothers and Sisters within this organization, the organization itself if anti-Christ.She wore the dresses, didn’t cut her hair, wore no make-up or jewelery, etc…. a typical UPC member. Only her heart was not in it. She knew inwardly something was not right.
I’m also in this church… a new person attending, of course… and not at all in line with their theological position.
She and I befriended one another… at my initiation (so glad this happened! God knows exactly what He’s doing!).
We hung out…alot. She was a shy girl and quiet; she’s no longer shy but is still quite quiet and unassuming. She’s everything I would ever want and need… and I have her heart and she has mine.
One day I asked her if she wanted to go skiing; she said yes. But there was only one “small” problem: How could she ski without wearing…pants?!
I instructed her to go home and sneak some on and come back and then we’d head out. lol. She did.
We had a wonderful time.. and I had no idea she could ski so well. I was thinking I’d show off with my “in my own mind professional skiing abilities” but lo and behold; she was zipping down that hill faster than I ever could. Ever. ha. She was a natural. Lots of fun!
So here our relationship is growing and yet my character is still as messed up and dark as it’s always been; not a good thing when interested in such a pure and godly girl. But that was quite an attraction for me. This girl was g.o.d.l.y and I loved that about her.
Let’s keep to our routine and fast forward a bit more…
We get married. It’s a wonderful ceremony.
We move in together into our apartment… and I’m still addicted to pills. But I hid it well. It didn’t seem like a huge issue on the surface and I made excuses for it. And since we didn’t live together before marriage, she didn’t get to see much of my pill addiction.
Marriage changes everything.
My wife, being godly, put aside my character flaws… many of them!… and simply loved me. She loved me unconditionally and without expectation of return. She showed me genuine love.
During this period, I became friends with a worship leader who toured and did small concerts; his name is BJ Mckelvie.
Once, he told me he would be at a church in Moncton and that I was invited. So, I brought along a friend and headed to Highfield Baptist Church.
The wrong church!
When we arrived, it was the evening service so when we took our seats the place was pretty much …old people.
I thought, “Where’s BJ? I’m sure we have the wrong place.”
Fortunately, I felt too awkward to simply get up and leave …so we stayed put.
A man in a Hawaiian shirt came out on the platform and began to speak. But there was something very different about this man. It was in his eyes. Something…or Someone…so possessed this man with love that it was flowing out from him. It was undeniable.
His wife chatted with me as did this man… who would later become my spiritual father. His name is Jonathan Steeper.
Jonathan had the most gentle and loving voice; there was nothing “put on” about this man. He was the genuine article.
I wanted to know more.
My wife, Carolyn, and I began to attend Highfield Baptist Church. It was primarily due to the Pastor…
his life breathed prayer and a vibrant passion for people. He was compassionate, loving, caring and wasn’t about denominational ties; he was all about Jesus.
Now remember as we continue that my character was very cracked and flawed; in fact, I had no life of God in me. I had only a shadow of what I once possessed….and I was by all accounts a vile wretched hypocrite.
As we continued in the church, I became deeply engrossed in my sins even more than I was previously and as a result of pride I had attached myself to ministries which I knew would cause me to be seen in the eyes of men. I wanted and craved the spotlight. It was something that I longed for; to be adored and praised by men.
I eventually began to “open air preach” on the streets…while living a double life. It’s so astounding how sin causes a man to live as a hypocrite! Here I am, full of my own wickedness and screaming at others to “repent” and “turn from their sins”. Amazing!
I was featured on the news a few times and at one point even “protested” a local church.
Now I was known! CTV had me on their cameras and I was portraying myself to those around me as a “Holiness Preacher” while in reality I was vile and unholy.
Can you imagine raising your hands in church to the Lord while knowing within yourself that you’re wicked and evil?
Don’t get me wrong, however; when I was alone I knew I was the enemy of God. I knew my lot was in Hell. There was no doubt. In fact, the Holy Spirit had given me tastes of what was to come if I did not truly surrender to Jesus Christ.
I was terrified. Though in the public realm I didn’t show it. Instead, I showed “boldness” and a “fearlessness” against the moral decay of our city while I myself was decayed from within.
Church was my vehicle for fulfilling my lusts and greeds; it was the visible church that I used to advance my own kingdom.
During this time, in fact previous to it… years of it!… I was also a drug addict. Not what you would consider “hard drugs”, yet what I was taking was affecting my emotional state. I was constantly high in the evenings on sleep aids. They’d allow me to go numb and “not feel”. I was overdosing myself on a regular basis. Not overdosing in the sense of having to be taken to the hospital, but overdosing myself as in taking more than the amount the pill bottle said I could take. I was tolerant to the effects and needed a greater amount to keep the high.
The effects of the pills were horrendous; I was angry and hateful and bitter… and the pills only amplified this mental state. Of course these things were already in me; the effects of the pills only caused these things to come out in a much more direct manner.
Hypocrisy knows no bounds, folks… and I was a hypocrite of the vilest kind!
I praise God for my wife; her perseverance, faithfulness and loyalty to our marriage was the rock solid proof of her love for me. She’s a genuine example of what a Proverbs 31 woman is!
I know that none of this was easy on her… in fact, it was very difficult. My public life was seen as “fearless preacher!” while my private home life was something much different altogether!… and my wife knew it. Yet, she simply prayed. She petitioned God on my behalf and God heard her prayers, as well as the prayers of my mother and others who sought the Lord for my life.
All of the above said, God was still working “behind the scenes”, so to speak. While I was doing “my own thing”, God was doing “His thing”! He was getting ready to deal a death blow to my pride and self-will; He was getting ready to show me a place that I would never forget!
I’m going to fast forward a bit…
One evening I was sound asleep in bed when I awoke to experience what the Bible calls Outer Darkness.
Matthew 25:30 “Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
When the Word of God speaks of “Outer Darkness”, it’s referring to Hell. I experienced, by the mercy of the Lord, this horrible place of torment.
I experienced Hell!
Some claim that this is not possible; however, setting aside all arguments and debates on whether a person can experience the torment of Hell, I will say this: I did.
The fruit of that experience and one that came soon afterwards speaks for itself. The Scriptures, most importantly, tell us about just such a place. And I was given a glimpse into it.
When I was engulfed in this experience of Outer Darkness, I knew immediately that:
There was no escape
There was no further opportunity to repent
God was present in His wrath
Hell was eternal torment
There are many doctrines floating around on Hell; I experienced it and the Scriptures validate my experience. Therefore, when strange teachings on Hell crop up within Christianity, these things do not sway me. God opened my eyes to the reality of this place of horror.
As you can imagine, I was horrified. This experience left me shaken. To my core.
In fact, I believed that the Lord had allowed me to experience Hell to simply say, “This is where you’re going; you’ve crossed the line! I’m tormenting you until you go!”
Now you can also imagine how tormented I was to fall asleep at night; fearing I would die and wake up in the very place that God had allowed me to experience: Hell.
What a living nightmare!
I thought that the Lord was done with me and was showing me that I had blasphemed His Holy Spirit and was headed for Outer Darkness.
How wrong I was!
Sometime afterwards, I was in our spare room (now our young son’s room). While in there, the weight of sin fell heavy on me. It felt as though I was being quite literally crushed by conviction.
The Holy Spirit was stirring my heart to repentance.
I called Pastor Jonathan Steeper and asked if he would come talk to me; I was breaking on the phone. Being the gracious Man of God that he is, he said “Yes”.
When he arrived, I got into his car and said “I’m a hypocrite. I’m not saved. I’m evil.”
He told me to continue and I confessed years of wickedness and hypocrisy, my hands in my face for shame.
He didn’t judge me or condemn me but instead exhorted me to call out to God for mercy and cleansing. We prayed together in his car, talked and then he took me home.
I sat on the steps with my wife and said, “I’ve been a horrible husband and a hypocrite. I’m going to change. Talk is cheap; you’ll see fruit.”
I doubt she believed me… because I wouldn’t have believed me.
I felt so horrible, physically, as well; and went to bed that evening not feeling good at all.
When I woke up… new life had come! God’s cleaning had transformed my heart. His Spirit was in me and I was forgiven, free and had Jesus!
It was that instant? Yes. Like night and day. Completely and totally washed clean.
God had convicted me and cleansed me. Fully… without payment on my part. It was all atoned for by the Blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary 2000 years ago; and here I was, the next day, completely changed!
Now, don’t get me wrong; there was still the human aspect of my sin and it’s far reaching effects that needed to be dealt with.
That was a very difficult time in my life as well as my wife’s and those close to me. I praise God for their love and prayers. They saw fruit; genuine fruit, and they knew God had done a work. Especially my wife.
My wife had seen the Hand of God overtake her husband and she chose to walk through the effects of my sin with me. It was not easy and I’ll never know the pain that I caused her and others around me. I bless the Lord for the Woman of God that I have by my side today. No one compares to Carolyn … and no one can. She walked a path with me some years ago that only few dare to tread; and we came out on the other side by the Grace of God.
Sin is never a “one person” thing. It affects everyone and everything around you. Sin is such a venomous disease of the human heart that it took the sacrifice of Jesus Christ – the God Man – to eradicate it in the lives of those who believe. And one day He’ll eradicate it forever; once and for all!
Upon being touched by the Lord, the Presence of the Holy Spirit filled my life; but I still had some deep issues that needed to be purged. God was doing a work in me and while I was walking with Jesus, there were times in the beginning that I would fall and like anyone who loves Him, felt so horribly bad.
But He remained with me… He remained my closest Friend!
God continued to convict me of areas of my life that I needed to be delivered from; such as an anger issue. I was an angry person at times. Just full of rage. In Galatians 5 we read about the works of the flesh, one being “wrath”.
That was me. And I hated it.
I had wrath – a work of the flesh – because I also had a a part of my flesh that I did not want to let go of. Control. Also, pride.
I wanted to control everything… even people’s emotions. I didn’t like to see people hurt by my past sins – especially my wife – since I had repented of them. I was unwilling to allow anyone to “feel pain”. At least openly without a challenge.
Things I would say like, “I repented of that. This should be over with.”
I had pride issues and wanted everything to “be just right” because God had worked in me to bring me to repentance through His goodness.
God wasn’t happy about those things in me; but He sure did love me through it!
It took – if I recall correctly – a year of purging to get to my wrath and see it defeated.
Of course there were other things… and God saw me through it all. In fact, He continued to pour out His Spirit into my life in thickness. I would sit in the spare room, pray and weep for the joy of being His.
He never left me; He simply worked in me to bring about the changes needed.
Now, I still have issues! We all do… but over the course of time, they have, to use Zac Poonen’s words, become thinner like peeling an onion.
The sanctification process is lifelong, but there’s also that initial work of God within the Believer that is intense in order to being us into a maturity of faith where we’re no longer rebellious children seeking our own.
That process isn’t easy! It’s difficult and comes with tears. I don’t mind saying that I went through that process slower than I should have. In my pride I thought some of my ideas were better than those in authority over me, set there by God to protect me, guard me and bring me into spiritual maturity.
I was a “babe in Christ” and slow in my growth; and I was also rebellious and a “know it all”.
God, however, had His way and showed me the error of my ways; and I had no choice but to humble myself before God and those He had set over me.
And I am glad that I obeyed the Holy Spirit and did so. Otherwise, I would not have this ministry today nor, more importantly, the growth that God has given to me.
During my growth period, Carolyn and I attended Moncton Faith Victory Church. This was due to my being rebellious to Jonathan Steeper at Highfield Baptist Church (he’s now in a USA church). Because “I” knew better, I left Highfield and lived in the wilderness of no fellowship for a season.
What a horrible place that is!
I decided to go to Moncton Faith with my wife; in fact, the Holy Spirit told me I could. He specifically spoke to me about the assembly and Carolyn and I were baptized there by Pastor Stephen McLean:
View our water baptism here: Such a powerful time that was!
God allowed me to be used in the Prophetic Gift at that local assembly and through the gracious spirit of Pastor Steve I was given great freedom to speak in the Spirit of Prophecy.
I will never forget those days! The Holy Spirit moved so powerfully and the atmosphere was thick with the mighty Presence of God! Oh that God’s People would humble themselves, pray, fast and repent! Then we’d see the Presence and Power of God fill our meetings and we’d see hungry souls transformed by the Spirit of Christ!
Pastor Steve is a godly man; a gracious man. His heart is to see people transformed by God’s Spirit. But Moncton Faith was never “home” for us.
Highfield Baptist was.
I wanted to go back; but I had hurt Jonathan with my words. The Lord in fact gave me a dream indicating it was not yet time to return; He was working in Jonathan’s heart. And more importantly, He was working in my own heart to continue to sanctify me!
I will never forget, however, when Carolyn asked me about our previous plans to attend the Christmas Candlelight Service at Highfield. She was in the kitchen and asked me, “Do you still want to go to the service?”
I responded that I did.
So, on December 24th of that year, we went to the service, sitting in the second row if I remember correctly.
Pastor Jonathan preached on the exile of the Jews; how God had scattered the Jews from their homeland and then brought them back to Israel when the time of Judgment was fulfilled. At that, the Spirit of God spoke softly to my heart:
God spoke to me that we were now released to come back to Highfield! Glory to God!
I went home and soon wrote Jonathan and told him what God had spoken to me; he mentioned how he did not plan that message and in fact God had him speak on the Exile.. and now he knew why.
Jonathan welcomed me back.
From there, we grew. Quickly. Powerfully. God taught us so much while back at Highfield.
We learned how to pray, meet with small groups, etc. It was wonderful to connect and seek God with these wonderful Baptist Saints!
Most of all, it was wonderful to have Jonathan back in my life; he became my spiritual father, loving Carolyn and I.
I didn’t know it until afterwards, but my reception back into the church brought Jonathan much trouble with some others. But he stood by me. He stood by God’s working in my life and in my home.
I’m so thankful that he did; I am who I am today because of God’s hand in that man’s life, using him to see me through and more importantly pray me through. Fast forward…..
It came time for Jonathan to leave. No one saw it coming.
The Lord had been dealing with the Steeper family for 9 months; they kept it personal and between themselves. They wanted to be sure that if they left Highfield that it was the Lord calling them. It was.
On a Sunday morning, Jonathan Steeper stepped up to the pulpit and resigned his position as Senior Pastor.
I cannot express to you the emotions I felt that morning; how crushed and devastated I was.
This man was my spiritual father; and now God is taking him away. To the United States of America. I couldn’t believe it.
That afternoon I went into our spare room alone and cried out to God to change His mind. I couldn’t stand seeing Jonathan leave. I was crying before God in prayer, asking Him to change His mind.
Others needed Jonathan more than Dan Lirette or those who attended Highfield; Jonathan is a man who is clearly used by God to come in to assemblies and bring healing where there’s devastation. That was and is his calling. I have no doubt.
He was used by God at Highfield Baptist to bring healing and maturity and growth; now, it was time to leave. God’s mission through Jonathan Steeper was complete. Now, Jonathan would be sent by God to Kalihi Union Church, the church his father Pastored… which he now Pastors.
Carolyn and I already had a House Meeting set up before Jonathan resigned. When he did resign, we went to Highfield where the interim Pastor was speaking.
I have to be honest; I did not want to be there. I whispered into my wife’s ear something to the effect of “I want to go home”.
I was depressed.
Soon afterwards, having Jonathan’s resignation set in, etc, we decided to open our home to the lost, backslidden and spiritually dry. That was in June of 2011.
Now this was not a reaction against “traditional church”. It was also not something we “cooked up”. The Holy Spirit specifically called us to do this… and He had us call for our first meeting even before Jonathan made his resignation public – before we had any knowledge of it.
God knows timing!
What we saw as “a meeting”, the Lord saw as “House Church”.
The Spirit of God called us to open our home full time. He even gave us the name “Revival House Fellowship”. He called me to Pastor sheep and disciple them for a time and then to step down as he called another to take my place; just as He called another to take Jonathan’s place at Highfield Baptist Church. While still a leader at the church, my position is not
Pastoral; it’s prophetic and apostolic. The Lord prepared me for what I am moving in now by first calling me to Pastor His Sheep.
We have been a House Church now for almost 5 years and in that time I have grown tremendously in things I didn’t think possible in the beginning!
God has given to me a spiritual family, prayer meetings, weekly meetings, best friends, discernment when wolves come in, etc… it’s been an experience and a half!
God knew everything in advance!
Isn’t that just like our Great God? He knows the end from the beginning and the beginning from the end; He’s the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last! His name is Jesus!
I’ve had to endure much affliction in the past, brought on by my own sin and rebellious heart; but through all of it, He he saw me through and continues to sanctify my life in Him as He’s faithful to remain the Author and Finisher of my faith.
The working of the Holy Spirit in my life – just as in the lives of all who walk with Christ – is a working that will continue until the Day that the Lord returns or He calls me home.
It was through much testing, tribulation, trial and temptation that my life was purged of much chaff; and there’s much more chaff to be removed!
Some foundational principles which God uses in my life to continue to purge me and lead are:
Prayer is the most essential aspect of the Christian’s life. It’s in prayer that we meet with God, hear His Voice and receive from His Spirit all that we need for life and godliness
Grace is the power to overcome sin; the more Grace we walk in, the more Grace we receive to overcome. Grace is to the Believer what a pardon is to the offender: the key that unlocks the prison doors.
Fellowship is not an option; it’s essential. Apart from Fellowship with the Brethren, we’re in the wilderness and will soon find ourselves mired by worldliness.
The Word of God, quickened by the Holy Spirit, is our weapon against all that seeks to move us away from the Lord.
Trials, tribulations, tests and temptations are not to be rebuked or complained about; they are the vehicles used by God to purge from our lives all chaff and cause us to mature and grow.
Humility is to God what sunshine is to humans. In the summer months people deliberately come out to enjoy the sunshine; so God deliberately “comes down” when we humble ourselves.
My walk with God must never be by my feelings or emotional state; it’s by faith alone, trusting in Him regardless of my feelings or outward circumstances
Dreams, visions, prophetic words and discernment, all in agreement with God’s Word, are an essential tool in God’s leading; I expect Him to speak to me using these means and others which are Scripturally based.
Today, my life stands firm in the Hands of the Father… and no one is able to pluck me out.
I could of course write so much more! But the essential part of this testimony is that you – the reader – come into a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. You can learn about that here:
It’s essential that if you already have come to know the Lord and yet have turned from Him, that you seek His face once again to restore to you the joy of His Salvation. It’s essential that if you’re walking with Jesus in purity but are spiritually dry that you understand that the Presence and Power of God can once again set you on fire and that you fall on your face before God in utter desperation and cry out for a fresh Filling of His Holy Spirit.
May the Grace, Love and Peace of God be with you.
In Him, Dan Lirette
I didn't "feel" anything as I did not long prior when God saved me; however, I took note that I was now speaking ina different language... just as promised in Mark 16:15-20 where we read: "And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages . They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”When the Lord Jesus had finished talking with them, he was taken up into heaven and sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. And the disciples went everywhere and preached, and the Lord worked through them, confirming what they said by many miraculous signs."Here I am in a maximum security prison in a cell alone, seeking God... when the Spirit of the Lord gives me a new language; a Heavenly language!