My Present Journey

I began this present journey in 2005 and in a state of lethargy and disillusionment with “church” as I was encountering it. I had been involved with the ministry of Art Katz and his view of today’s “Christianity”. I was a part of the attempt at community life in 1975, known first as “Dominion (Farms)”, then later as “Ben Israel Fellowship”. As a brother in a responsible position of leadership I was faced with both conflict and blessing. This lifestyle lasted for ten years of my life. When I and my family were forced, or “invited”, to vacate the premises, I returned to living like most of today’s church lives ─ with secular employment and the routine of neighborhood living.

About five years ago I was in a state of nearly being “blinded”, spiritually. I had been reasonably successful at the employment the Lord had provided, and recently “downsized” from my job. I wasn’t consciously calling out to God, but somehow he arranged circumstances to get my attention. A small booklet arrived in the postal mail addressed to my wife, Mary. I don’t know if she read it at that time, but I saw its cover as I walked by the table where it had been placed. It was titled Christ and the Powers, by Hendrik Berkhof. It was small, and I was bored, so this should at least relieve some of my boredom. Little did I realize this little book would start me on a journey that is exciting to this day!

This book from a friend had exposed me to an area of Jesus’ life and ministry that either I had not been aware of, or I had ignored it if or when I might have seen it earlier.

As I recall, I can’t remember it ever having been taught or referred to. It raised a question within me: “If Jesus had such a struggle with invisible powers and overcame them, why haven’t I learned to do the same?” Perhaps they don’t exist today or, having been ‘‘vanquished’ by Jesus, they are forever removed from our arena of life.

“No wonder I and others encounter so much ‘trouble’ every day of our lives!

The problem is, Berkhof didn’t agree with that view. I had a decision to make ─ remain ignorant or explore the subject further. My personality will not allow me to remain static for very long. The more I read and reread this little book, the more my understanding came alive. It is not a book or teaching that will be conquered at the first reading. Each time I opened it I would find a nuance that I had not previously seen. I discovered the scriptures teach that there is an invisible government beyond our human eyesight that is constantly arrayed against all mankind, like a huge army under the command of a personality out to destroy and take over what has been meant for our enjoyment. No wonder I and others encounter so much “trouble” every day of our lives!

If such a large segment of my understanding of scripture is missing, then I needed to play “catch-up”, and very soon, because time was running out for me. I had already passed my 75th birthday.

The short verse in the Bible at Ephesians 6.12 begged for understanding. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places”.

“We wrestle…”? I soon found this verse was not an isolated occasion where the apostle Paul and other New Testament writers referred to the “unseen” world of forces opposing us, as well as an array of good forces assigned to help us. It is packed with valuable information to which few, to my knowledge, pay attention.

Yes, I had seen those verses before, but since they were seldom taken seriously I supposed them to be just “filler” in the saga of Biblical explanation of man’s journey. Not so!

“The ‘powers’ …do not care what brand you wear, so long as you do not live up to it!

As I devoted some time to studying this little explored theme, I became aware of how much I had personally suffered because of my ignorance. I also observed that others, especially my now grown children and other family members, were being devastated and defeated over the same ignorance. It is not a matter of being a “Christian”, or “believer”, it is a matter of awareness and equipping to do something about it ─ to “fight back”.

The next year would be one of decision-making. The news that Art Katz had died brought a need to make arrangements to meet former friends, and relatives, who would gather for his funeral at the Ben Israel property to pay their respects. Another year would pass before I was faced with a new challenge and decision.

Today I find myself back at “Ben Israel Fellowship” with its disarray and shrunken form, only a mere shadow of what it once was. Mary and I had been “invited” to return, to help out with “peace-keeping” and administration, since Art’s passing had left a void which a number of persons were trying to fill.

At first I wanted no part of it, having remembered my former experiences at BI. Yet, the appeal came not because of what was needed, but on the basis that most of those involved “respected” my input, or “voice of experience”. I was acquainted with the people and the problems, from a distance. But I soon discovered upon my return, that the “respect” aspect was greatly exaggerated. It would take more than “reputation” to overcome such deep-seated differences that existed. I would assume a low profile for the next few months, as circumstances allowed feelings to surface.

It was during this period that I became acutely aware of the devastation being caused by the “unseen” forces which Berkhof was addressing. Here was an opportunity to see firsthand if there could be a solution to this disarray.

I discovered that human beings are held captive by these forces, and the forces do not go willingly or quickly. Yes, these were “Christian” people operating as a “Christian fellowship”. But the “powers” (the Greek word for them is stoichiea) do not care what brand you wear, so long as you do not live up to it!

The idea of a “War College” seemed to be a proper fit

A year after our return here, the brother that had sent the booklet to us joined us on the property. That began a time of exchange of thoughts and ideas, reading of related materials, amid the day-to-day chores and maintenance tasks. Our conversations invariably returned to the “principalities and powers” in Ephesians 6 because they were everywhere evident in common life, national politics, economy, religion. No area was exempt.

This past year we started to realize that if we were so ill-informed and ignorant, perhaps there were others who could benefit from what we have discovered. “Bible schools,” conferences, prophetic schools, etc., have all been tried but the benefits have been dubious. Somehow the idea of a session of coming together under the idea of a “War College” seemed to be a proper fit. That idea prompted a new enthusiasm not experienced around here in quite some time.

So, here we are…

– Art Beebe

When Kings Go Forth to Battle

“In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books…” (Daniel 9.2)

So, there was a “time” when rulers in Palestine found optimum advantage to carry on warfare with enemy nations. Supposedly, these most opportune times occurred in the spring or fall seasons when men, horses and equipment did not suffer in blazing desert heat and blowing sand ─ the dreaded khamsin ─ nor bog down in torrential rainstorms.

The better the weather, the better prospect for victory. (See II Samuel 11.1)

By the time this is read, our first “war college” ─ with nearly thirty participants from across the region ─ has probably been held, and the consensus is that we have crossed a threshold and was not a vain exertion.

We are encouraged and now focusing on the two remaining “colleges” to be held during the Labor Day weekend, and September 26-28.

Several have asked how we reached the decision to take this rather unexpected direction. It might be worth some recollection. Certainly it was not due to any snap decision by any individual ─ but, of course, the idea began from a note sent to Inger Katz from friends in Israel two or three years ago. It mentioned some encouraging out-of-the-ordinary teachings related to the monstrous epidemic of cancer in our time. She passed the information to the rest of us who were, admittedly, lukewarm if not skeptical and wanting to be protective in the months of her worsening condition. It can be said that there is an impression about her last hours when she had attempted to make a valiant last effort to get out of her bed in faith, though exhausted and understandably disoriented. What was it? Inspired to take a “step in faith”? Her brave heart and a courageous …will to live yet another day? Another week? A month? Or year?

She was a faith-FULL fighter… And, tenacious. Right up until that final…afternoon.

Today, her yard, though usually filled with clusters of brightly colored blooms and other sprawling greenery ─ someone had counted more than a hundred-sixty different varieties the previous summer ─ has only a few perennials, including one vigorous rose bush that has exploded with clusters of pink blossoms in the wake of heavy, early-summer rains.

The entire memory served to underline a radical stirring with regard to an eagerness and growing awareness about the subject of Spiritual Warfare.

Indifference, opposition, backlash, controversy? Or “mythologizing the Powers too much.”

It seemed a series of books and many internet sources followed in a deluge of materials by known and relatively unknown writers, scholars, and authorities on the supernatural, Bible historians and expositors ─ and so far countless others with vast expertise and credentials. As mentioned already, Hendrikus Berkhof’s Christ & the Powers, a small book but packing explosive content, became the original mainstay text for us at the beginning, finding its way into innumerable discussions and conversations among all of us together, at times in pairs, and individually. At only eighty pages, this short work by a Dutch scholar and theologian had grown out of lecture given by Berkhof in “about 1950” at a conference in Germany.

Post-World War II disillusionment and devastation still haunted Europe and especially German theologians and scholars who lapsed into Cold War inertia. The subject of Principalities and Powers, as posited by Berkhof, appalled Westerners who would not see the realities for demonic infestation in their own societies and churches.

Berkhof cited the “capricious history” of his book which was at first ignored in Germany and elsewhere, its message considered insignificant to those wanting “typical answers”. Famed German theologian Karl Barth had apologized for not promoting its publication initially, considering it as “mythologizing the Powers too much” at a time when German theologians were introspectively deflecting post-war critics and frenzied apologists who could not face demonic realities as facts behind the war ─ and constricting menace of communism.

“…War-torn populations clearly glimpsed the dark infamy…

Meanwhile, Dutch and German editions were printed tenuously, then it was published in Japan and Indonesia ─ all war-torn populations that clearly glimpsed the dark infamy beyond the horrifying body-counts and devilishly massive destruction.

The book was eventually published in English by Herald Press in 1962 ─ though even today it is virtually unknown to contemporary generations of Americana, especially, among the waning traditions of “full gospel/evangelical/charismatic/neo-pentecostal” …religion. The last of Berkhof’s nineteen endnotes in his 1977 reprint lists a short bibliography of only nine authors, including only five with published works in English: 

  • G.B. Caird, Principalities and Powers, 1956.
  • G.H.C. MacGregor, Principalities and Powers: The Cosmic Background of Paul’s Thought, 1954-55.
  • H. Schlier, Principalities and Powers in the New Testament, 1961.
  • E. Gordon Rupp, Principalities and Powers: Studies in the Christian Conflict in History, 1952.
  • A. J. Bandstra, The Law and the Elements of the World: An Exegetical Study in Aspects of Paul’s Teaching, 1964.

A list of other helpful texts include:

  • C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, 1942; Mere Christianity, 1952, and numerous related publications.
  • Frank D. Hammond, Pigs in the Parlor: A Practical Guide to Deliverance, 1973; The Saints At War, 1986.
  • Clinton D. Morrison, The Powers That Be, 1960.
  • Oscar Cullman , Christ and Time, 1951.
  • Albert H. van den Huevel, These Rebellious Powers, 1966.
  • Kurt Koch, The Devil’s Alphabet, 1971; Occult ABC, 1978.
  • Walter Wink’s epic trilogy, Naming the Powers: The Language of Power in the New Testament, 1984; Unmasking the Powers: The Invisible Forces That Determine Human Existence, 1986; Engaging the Powers: Discernment and Resistance in a World of Domination, 1992; and The Powers That Be: Theology For A New Millennium, 1998.
  • Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, 1991.
  • Frank Paretti’s fictional (but well within Biblical parameters): This Present Darkness, 1986; Piercing the Darkness, 1989.
  • Derek Prince, They Shall Expel Demons, 1998; War in Heaven, 2003; Rules of Engagement, 2006; Pulling Down Strongholds, 2013.

Prince wrote and spoke widely about deliverance as well as the Principalities and Powers.  He also talked about the opposition and backlash from traditional evangelical as well as Pentecostal, and charismatics for his high-profile advocacy of teaching and preparing Christians on spiritual warfare.

“I think they perceived that I had crossed the boundary into the theological lunatic fringe.
Some wanted to accuse me of heresy…

The subject of Spiritual Warfare recently became prominent enough for there to be published a landmark book comparing “four views” held by a sampling of scholars, theologians and others: Understanding Spiritual Warfare: Four Views, edited by James K. Beilby and Paul Rhodes (Baker Academic – Grand Rapids MI, 2012) ─ and understandable by lay persons willing to put forth some effort.

Included was the position taken by C. Peter Wagner, a former professor for three decades at Fuller Theological Seminary and author of numerous books (including Spiritual Warfare Strategy, 2011; Warfare Prayer, 1992; Territorial Spirits, 1991; Wrestling With Dark Angels, 1991). Wagner described how he was summoned to a faculty senate meeting where “a good number of irate theologians entered into a heated, two-hour cross-examination of my thinking on the subject of strategic-level spiritual warfare.” He stated: “Fears arose that this nonsense might even alienate some financial supporters. …I think they perceived that I had crossed the boundary into the theological lunatic fringe. Some wanted to accuse me of heresy because they knew that if I were guilty my tenure would be jeopardized.” But, despite nervousness by the Fuller hierarchy, the “situation in Fuller eventually died down.”

Interestingly, the volume with “four views” has an Introduction with 349 footnotes.

By comparison, another significant book tracing the “pagan” origins of “modern church practices” contained 1,199 footnotes practices of “pagan ritual influences” behind traditional communion services along with “Christians Wearing Their ‘Sunday Best’ for Church,” “The Clergy Costume” and origins of the “Clerical (Backwards) Collar,” uses of candles and incense at “communion tables,” “coming to church” facial expressions and demeanor, boys choirs, and so on. But, no mention of doctrines, Biblical teachings nor anything about Principalities and Powers, demonic influences, or “spiritual warfare!”

Katz, it should be noted, devotes a full chapter on the subject in his newly published The Final Mystery: Israel & the Church

So He Rose and Did According to the Word of the Lord

How is it even possible that eleven years…ELEVEN YEARS have gone since my Papa was called home to Heaven?

Today is the date that was his last on this earth. 6/28/2007…the last day his anguished body fought for each breath, and then no more. In a mere moment he went from being on his deathbed to being whole and restored with the Lord.

So many of you knew him, but many did not have the blessing of knowing him when he was alive, and have only come to know of him after he passed. He so believed he would die a martyrs death in Israel. He was in disbelief that this disease would take his body! I still recall every conversation about what was ahead as if it were only yesterday. But he was able to make that choice. The Lord would either raise him up or take him home…those were his words when I sat down with him to talk about “things” a mere week before he died.

And there we sat a week later, the living room filled with close family and friends, watching and waiting, taking turns sitting by the bed that had been set up in the den.I clearly recall Dina Herrera looking up at me when he began his journey. She knew. I could tell by the look in her eyes that there had been a swift change. I literally jumped from my seat, calling for my mother to come.

My dad lived and loved this song…“I see a man coming down from the mountain, I see him clearer each day. I see a man coming down from the mountain and he says, prepare ye the way. Prepare ye the way. Prepare ye the way. Prepare ye the way of the Lord.” He had done so and now he was ready. His hands moments prior had lifted off the bed in praise to Jesus as He was calling to him to come home. He had been in a unresponsive coma for three days, so to see this was really a sight to behold, and a moment of memory frozen in my mind. And shortly after that knowing and loving look from Dina, his body breathed his last rugged breath, and he was gone. That moment forever stopped in time…

Oh that there could have been more time with this amazing man who was able to impact more lives than any of us will ever know! Dad wasn’t a “Jesus Freak” or a cult leader, or anything else beyond a man who loved the Lord first, with his whole heart. He devoured the word as if it were air itself and it was the life he lived and breathed.  The choices he had to make…obedience to God and the calling on his life first and foremost, literally willing to leave everything he had to follow what the Lord wanted from him, not something I understood, appreciated or remotely respected as a child and teen but only came to honor, respect and understand in my adult years. There are “what if’s” that will only get answered on the other side of heaven.

And eleven years later, I’m still trying to learn, hear and understand the way he did. It is highly probable that I never will as there has not been and likely will not be another like him. Dad’s ways are not my ways, yet His way is to somehow keep the journey my beloved Papa started on…alive through the journey. He alone has placed my family and I on. Somehow…

Life…death…a moment, a journey, a legacy, never forgotten, a daughters heart still aching for her father.

In loving memory of my Dad,
Sissie

Fall 2017 Update

A blessed morning to all!

As I look out over the deck of what used to be my beloved father’s office, I am looking out as the early morning fog rolls in and it almost blocks my view of the former garden. It moves with a delicate ease in to the family cemetery, the place where my loved ones are now resting until He returns. The beauty is so peaceful and surreal. It reminds me so greatly of the love our Heavenly Father has for us, not pretentious or full of expectations, just full of grace that we all need to walk in, His peace and His never ending love. Someday, a book will come that tells of His grace for me. It’s inspiring but sad in so many ways, to sit in the chair where my dad once did!

Unfortunately, the flashing lights of the the computer draw me away from this tranquility and I am abruptly aware as the clock ticks away, its knowing gnawing tap reminding me that I must get book orders done, leave a huge pile of miscellaneous paper work, receipts and filing for our sweet bookkeeper Jessica, and hurry out the door to my “other” work place. Even in the scurry and pace of life, His love will remain steadily with me!

To give you all a belated update…our beloved “Uncle” Arthur Beebe was called to his heavenly home on June 28th, 2017 in Joplin, Missouri. His death was ten years to the date from when my father was called home. A coincidence? Many of us think not. His services were in July in Springfield and in Joplin. Keith and I were able to attend, along with my two brothers (David and Ariel) and so many others back from the days of a more active Ben Israel including Shelly Volk, Roy and Julie Allen, Dina Herrera and some of their family, along with all the Beebe children and grandchildren. It truly was a blessing to be there! The military service moved all of us and it was so sweet to listen to Uncle Shelly share again, just like in the days past. Please continue to hold Mary and the rest of the family closely in your prayers.

Art had been one of our Board Members. He was replaced several months back when he became ill by Pastor Rick Weinert, who is serving with his wife, BillieJean. The Weinert’s live here on the farm with us. Recently, Joann Brock stepped off the board after graciously staying on until we could find the right person to step in to her shoes, not fill them or replace her, but continue with the same heart. Jeannie Klink and her husband will part of our Board of Directors. We are hoping to have our first meeting in person this Fall. Thank goodness for internet, as that as been a primary source of staying in touch!

Keith and I continue to oversee the farm. The project list does not get any smaller, but several things are in the works! The garage is nearly done being resided. It has a new roof and new doors in place. There were leaks and holes that would have made the damage already present worse in the Winter months ahead, if not repaired. Keith is close to being done with the gutting and remodeling of the bathroom in the cabin after finding out that what we thought was a mold issue, was actually rotted wood and flooring that had destroyed the under-flooring. Our nephew Cody (who currently lives here on the farm with with his wife, our niece Jessica), helped “Uncle B.” and we were also deeply blessed by a young man, Chance Storey ,who gave us two weeks of his vacation time to drive up from Texas and help with the repairs. We would not have been able to accomplish what was done without him. Evenings were spent with food, laughter, games and building a strong friendship. We pray he will come back soon, just because we love him like family!

What needs to be done next? We have students with families and a staff member with his wife who are part of Mokahum Native American Bible College in Cass Lake, but were in need of housing. The staff member and his wife, Bill and Cindy, will be moving in to a larger home but this home had some damage left to it, needs to be painted, have flooring redone and a major cleaning! We had hoped to accomplish this task in July, as we had a dear sister from Florida offer to come up and help us, but our July was here and gone before we knew it!

Does this mean that we have become part of Mokahum? Not, but this means ministry to us. We do not charge much for housing and this opens the door for them to learn about the Lord, teach about Him and be able to do what otherwise might not have been possible. It blesses all of us here to be a part of this vital ministry. This is an opportunity to serve, while we continue to seek His will and plan for the farm, and it provides a source of income to help meet the growing expenses on the farm.

Dad’s books continue to sell for which we are so grateful as that does pay for the significant tax bill every year. Books are being printed in so many languages…Hungarian, Bulgarian, Portuguese, French, German, Romania just this year alone…it’s amazing! Thank you all for supporting this ministry!

The lodge is in desperate need of work and to be used properly, but it’s going to take a miracle. There are significant signs of damage from season after season of rough weather and lack of use. There is the risk of losing the building which would be a heart ache, but we trust that He will give us wisdom on this building!

For those of you that know our Mama Pearl Rose, she remains in the nursing home in Walker, MN. She is currently bed bound with her kidneys failing but, she has a strong spirit and her smile is ever present. Whenever I can be with her, I open up my Facebook app and we go”live”. She giggles and gets such joy from this and she loves to share, sing and pray over everyone. If we are friends on Facebook, take a peek a the previous videos. You will be blessed!

Life here doesn’t stop for anyone, anything, or any season…it just keeps moving, whether or not we want it to. The fog rolls in, the fog rolls out, the shadows of the day rise and fall, we get up and we start again…gently, gently as the leaves fall.

Thank you everyone for your love, prayer, and encouragement as we continue on in Him, taking care of this land and believing that “for such a time as this”, we are called.

In Him.

Sissie (Keith and Sarah) Pennel
Ben Israel Fellowship
Art Katz Ministries

January 2017 Update

Happy New Year everyone from the white and snow covered land of Northern Minnesota!! Dad called the folks who lived on the farm the “frozen chosen” and this time of year, it really fits!

It’s hard to believe that Summer and Fall went so quickly, and before we knew it, Thanksgiving and Christmas were here, and now the New Year.

What is that latest? If you read the entry from August, you saw that we had a massive ” to do” list. Much of it was accomplished, but there is much still to get done. Keith, along with help from a family that came from Florida and our nephew Cody, was able to get the plumbing done in the former home for Mama Pearl Rose and the main farm house. He also did electrical work on several of the homes as well as replacing heaters, softeners and other appliances. Added to that, was a new roof to one of the mobile homes.

This might not seem much to some, but you need to understand that Keith is not trained in any of this…he is a Pastor! So, getting these tasks done were “miraculous” in many ways, as the Lord guided him and directed him, and provided him with people around him who could answer questions. It’s amazing what you can Google or look up on YouTube!

I started a new position in September, as the Interim Executive Director at Northwoods Pregnancy Care Care Center in Bemidji. Added to that, I do all the shipping of book orders, office work and one of my favorites, is mowing acre after acre of grass (really, I do love it!) on our mower and I have the joy of watching the baby boy of one our church leaders when his Mama does her shifts at the ICU. Our days were long, busy and went very fast.
With Winter here, we are hoping to catch our breath and catch up on what needs to get done. My father’s office and library are in need of many, many, many hours of labor to organize and sort the boxes and files that have sat here since he passed. I have a dear friend who agreed to help, so hopefully we can start digging away at this project before Spring gets here!

We appreciate those of you that pray for us on a consistent basis! Your prayers mean so much to us. I do try to answer every email and the support given to us is greatly appreciated! We continue to oversee and steward the property, believing that God will keep us on track and focused on what He wants us to accomplish.

We are blessed to be able to provide housing to two students and their families from Mokahum Bible College in Cass Lake. Also living here, is Pastor Rick Weinert and his wife, Billie Jean. Billie Jean has taken over most of the Winter hospitality duties. She makes sure the farm house is clean and ready for any Winter visitors. Its a huge help and blessing! Rick has agreed to be a member of our Board of Directors. He has a heart for ministry and really is able to see a future for what the Lord has in store for us here. Right now…it’s getting the property physically back up and running! Completing our family on the farm is our nephew and niece, Cody and Jessica. Cody is “Uncle B’s” right hand and he keeps every motor literally running…. the shop has become a “man cave” and he is at work on something that needs to be fixed!

With that being said, we are sending out a request for physical help if the Lord should lead your heart to do so. There are so many things that need to get done, and quite honestly, we do no have the man power and resources to accomplish. On the list from August, was getting the lodge prepped for use by churches and fellowships this upcoming Spring and Summer. Without help, it won’t get done and the building won’t get used. We need volunteers with carpentry and building maintenance skills. We also need a couple (if and when the lodge is able to be used again), to live at the lodge, oversee the building, help coordinate the calendar of events, and be there on site for when assistance is needed. We have groups that want to use it! There are doors to replace, windows, carpeting and hundreds of ceiling tiles on the lower level that need to be replaced…the list goes on.

On the farm? The barn, garage and house all need to be painted. The garage needs a new roof. There is work inside the main house and on the property…so willing and skilled hands are always a blessing. Please pray if you could come as a team or as an individual with this skill mix to help! If you knew my Mama, you knew she could cook and she passed that on to me! We will make sure you have a roof over your heads and full stomachs! Send an email if you are able to help with these projects! We would need teams or individual from early Spring and on in to the Summer months.

As stated before, we appreciate your support and encouragement and know that many of you think of this place from years gone by with fond memories and love. We also know that there are many that remember the vision Dad and others had for this property and have been standing in prayer alongside us, waiting for God’s time and revelation as we seek Him. We know we are not alone in this and are truly grateful for the years of friendship that have been established.

May the Lord bless you and keep you in 2017…

In Him,

Keith and Sissie(Katz) Pennel
Ben Israel Fellowship
Art Katz Ministries