Bruce Yocum was a prolific teacher and writer of God’s Word in Scripture and Christian wisdom for 50 years in the charismatic renewal movement and the Sword of the Spirit.. Below are a few quotes from articles published in Living Bulwark. –ed.
God does not accept excuses – he gives grace
The man I was counseling a few weeks ago said, “Surely God must understand that I cannot change this!” And he was right. God does understand that. But God gives grace to change what we cannot change – if we are willing to ask, if we are willing to maintain the ongoing battle against sin, despite all the humiliating defeats. Ten or 15 or 30 years of continuous, unsuccessful struggle against sin may seem to us to be a record of failure – the complete opposite of a life of holiness. But if we resist the temptation to abandon the struggle, if we refuse to make excuses for our sin and, instead, repent each time and ask God for grace, then God in his mercy will make us holy.
The holiness we seek does not consist of human perfection or strength of will. It is a gift of God, a share of his own nature, a union with him that only he can produce. It is as far above and beyond our best efforts to obey and live righteously as the heavens are above the earth. Nothing that we can do and no effort that we can make is sufficient to produce true holiness. Only God can do that.
We have been put in a crucible, every one of us, a purifying test by fire which God uses to do what we cannot do. For in the circumstances of our daily lives, again and again we must choose to believe in and obey God’s word, and to confront the humiliating reality of our own sinfulness, which is revealed in our failures. We can escape this struggle if we wish. We can avoid the humiliation of repentance by making our excuses. But if we do that, we will find in the end that we have surrendered ourselves to a far more humiliating slavery to sin.
“Surely God must know that I cannot change this!” Yes, God knows it, and he knows that in this you are no different than every other man, woman, and child, yet he has called us nonetheless to holiness. We do not have to offer God excuses for not being holy We need simply to continually turn to him in humble and trustful repentance, and let him, through his grace, clothe us in his own holiness.
From True Holiness, first published in New Covenant Magazine, February 1989.
A Large Pearl Collection?
Many years ago a young minister, David Wilkerson, felt God calling him to take the time he spent watching television and simply give it to God in prayer. God began to move in his life. Later Wilkerson wrote a book about what God had done for him — The Cross and the Switchblade. Years after that, some young Catholics read that book, and in part because of that, were baptized in the Holy Spirit. These Catholics were instrumental in the beginnings of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, a movement which has now brought new spiritual life to tens of millions.
Why did God do this? Why did he act in David Wilkerson’s life? Why did he send the charismatic renewal? For what reason have you and I experienced an outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit?
Is it so that we can experience a more comfortable Christian life?
George Martin, author of Reading Scripture as the Word of God: Practical Approaches and Attitudes, once told me one of his “rewritten parables”: “And the man went and found the pearl of great price. So he bought that pearl and took it home and put it in his pearl collection.”
George’s rewritten parable points out our great temptation to take the gifts of God and add them to our own personal collection of comfortable advantages and treasures.
Why has God poured out his Spirit? Not just to make our Christian life more pleasant, but to give us the power to live as disciples of Christ. Through his Holy Spirit God gave that young man in Nicaragua the power to live for God — joyfully and radically. Has not God sent the Holy Spirit to us for the same reason?
From A Large Pearl Collection? First published in New Covenant Magazine, February 1989.
What does the future hold? I don’t know much – certainly days of trial, days of darkness. But also as that same prophetic word said, a time of glory for the Church
A time of darkness is coming on the world, but a time of glory is coming for my church, a time of glory is coming for my people. I will pour out on you all the gifts of my Spirit. I will prepare you for spiritual combat; I will prepare you for a time of evangelism that the world has never seen.
In what form will that take place, and what will be our role?
God will continue to pour out His Spirit
In 2013 the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services (ICCRS) sponsored a “prophetic consultation” in the Holy Land, and on one of those days we prayed together in what some believe to be the “upper room” in Jerusalem where the disciples were gathered on the day of Pentecost. We had an excellent time of prayer, and during that prayer time we received a prophetic word, a promise from the Lord that He was not finished pouring out the Holy Spirit in this renewal. It was very much like a prophetic word we received many years ago:
The Lord says, “when I poured out my Holy Spirit upon you how did I pour it upon you? Did I pour it upon you in small measure? No, I poured it upon you as the beginning of a river which I intend to widen and to deepen and to grow in its strength, its current, its volume. I am zealous for my people’s sake. I am zealous to save them and to change them, to restore them. And I will pour out my Holy Spirit upon you more and more until it is accomplished.”
Three simple points
1. Throughout the history of the Church, from the very beginning, God has used renewal communities as a source of strength and fresh vision. If you ask, “Why has God suddenly raised up so many new communities in the Church?” the answer surely is that He is about a work of renewal. Not in spite of the fact that in the West the church is dwindling, but perhaps because in the West the church is dwindling, God is at work to bring renewal.
2. Stay clear on and be faithful to your call. God always takes the initiative to bring renewal and new life. He gives the call – but we must respond to the call. We must heed it and answer it.
Why so many new forms of community, so many distinct callings?
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 1 Corinthians 12:4-7
The body of Christ has many members. But not all are the eyes or the hands or the feet. One could say that all of these various new movements are manifestations of the Spirit for the common good.
3. Live your call charismatically, with expectant faith, looking for God’s word, God’s intervention, God’s miraculous power.
God has given us the great privilege of seeing His powerful action in our individual lives, in our communities, and in the Church. Church leaders have encouraged and supported us in a remarkable way. Let us give thanks for these blessings, remember them, and look with great expectation to the future.
From a presentation which Bruce Yocum gave in Rome on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, June 4, 2017, see full article in July 2020 Issue of Living Bulwark
Top image © Servants of the Word.
Bruce Yocum (1948 – 2022) was involved in leadership and teaching for many years in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal and the Covenant Communities Movement which began in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and in the Sword of the Spirit. He travelled widely throughout the Sword of the Spirit communities to equip and train community leaders in North America, Europe and the Middle East, Latin America and the South Pacific. Bruce Yocum was a life-long member of the Servants of the Word, an international ecumenical brotherhood of men living single for the Lord. He served as Presiding Elder of the Servants of the Word for thirteen years (1989-2003).