My Painting Business: Customers, Part 2

This is Mrs. Collins house. Sadly, just before I painted the house for the third time, the big tree in back had to be cut down.

I wish I would have kept records of my earliest customers—from 1981 to 1990. So many of them are long forgotten. Back then I never thought I would ever need those records. Those first customers were the most fought for, and, of course, they were all new. Mrs. Collins, for example, told me that her first impression of me wasn’t that good, because I came to do the estimate in shorts and a t-shirt. But after a while I guess she got to like me and the way I explained how I would do the work—and also, the page of references I gave her. She liked my work so much that I was called back three different times, every 7 years or so. The last time I painted the house it was up for sale. She was moving. So sad to see her go. But she did give me a lead on another house—her parents’ house. Of course, I got that job. I always get referrals.

This is Mrs. Hartill’s house. My crew is busy preping it for painting.

Another early customer was Mrs. Hartill. I can’t remember how exactly I got that job, either from an ad in a local paper, or she heard of me from a friend. Well anyway, Mrs. Hartill just happened to be the widow of my favorite professor at Northwestern College, J. Edwin Hartill. I was so surprised to find out who she was. The first job she had for me was the entire outside of the house. At that time, I had a crew of 3 or 4 of us—so we got it done pretty fast.

In the next few years, she also called me for some inside work, and those times it was just me. I will never forget her kindness and hospitality. At lunch break she always insisted that I eat with her. And she always had quite a spread—so many things to eat. But food wasn’t the only thing she offered me. Being the wife of Dr. Hartill, she of course was full of bible knowledge and good stories. I always came away from lunch not only with my stomach full but spiritually filled as well.

I think sometime in the mid 1980’s I met Jill Wilson. She had (has) a beautiful house on a lake. At the time, she was recently divorced and had three young kids and a pot belly pig that walked around inside the house like a dog. So funny. I think I painted that house about three times: in the 1980’s, and then about in 1995, and again about 2000.

I sort of lost track of her for a few years, but then her friend surprisingly knew me and spoke of me. I had painted for her too. So, Jill got a hold of me again. It was so good to see her again and paint for her again. Her kids now are all grown up, and one of her girls, now married, has also given me some work. She is also very friendly just like her mom.

I think I met Dick and Kate in the early 90’s just when I was going through my divorce. I think I have painted their entire house three times. I also did some inside painting and wallpapering, and even some painting at their cabin. Oh, I also have done quite a bit of painting of their many offices that they own. So, they have really kept me busy.

They are a little hard to deal with at times, and Dick for some reason likes to help out—he slows me down. On the plus side, they are so hospitable and always insist that I join them for lunch every day when I am working. Kate will talk my ear off with her stories, but I have grown to just love her—and Dick too.

Silvia Belmont is a real gem. She is in her 90’s, but still gets around and plays her grand piano every day.  She has a very heavy Norwegian accent, and I love to hear her talk. I’ve painted the outside of her house four or five times. I never get tired of working for her. Recently, she took a fall and had some brain damage. I hope she recovers, but I know God will take her soon.

I have done work for so many wonderful people over the years. Many of them have moved away or passed on. I wish I could remember them all, especially those early ones; I foolishly destroyed their files. I counted about 20 clients that I presently have that I have done work for, for over 30 years. It’s so good to have kept them for customers this long.

Since I am retired now (have been retired for five years), I think my business will soon be ending. But some of my memories of customers will always remain, and I thank God for them. At first my business was all about work, work, work—to make money. But as the years past, I have learned not to work so hard and not to be so focused on making money. It is better to concentrate on doing a good job, whatever it takes. A good reputation and happy customers are far better than earning a little extra money. And who knows what influence as a Christian worker I will have made on a customer—both for the good work I do and also for my conversation with them.

A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold (Proverbs 22:1).

Northwestern Bible College: My Teachers and Classes

This is Nazareth Hall. This building, along with Riley Hall,l were the only buildings standing when I was there.

Getting started at Northwestern was a little chaotic, but it was also exciting. I had decided on what classes I would take earlier when I met with a counselor, so, on the first day of college, it was just a matter of buying the books I needed and finding out where the classes were and what time. I could tell that some of the students already knew each other, but I didn’t know anyone. So, I just smiled and waved as I went from class to class. The main thing I was focused on was getting to know my teachers—or professors, as you were supposed to call them. Most of them had “Dr.” in front of his name, but there were a few that were just “Mr.” Anyway, I liked most of my professors, and they were all different.

Dr. Hartill was a favorite of a lot of students—but, as I found out later, he may have been a little conservative in his views for some. He may have been the oldest teacher at the college. In fact, my mom knew him right away when I mentioned his name. He was one of her teachers. As far as I remember, I had him for three different classes: Bible Survey, which lasted for three quarters; Hermeneutics, and we used a text book that Hartill wrote; and Revelation. And in that class, we definitely got the most conservative view: the pre-trib and pre-millennium view.

It was always fun to be in any of Hartill’s classes. You could tell that he really knew the material. He had everything memorized and he was a fast talker. Of course, he had taught the same classes for over 30 years, and probably used most of the same material. But he knew how to break up the monotony if he thought anyone was getting bored or if they were nodding off. He always had plenty of jokes and he on occasion surprised the class by going over to the piano and played a little jazz. I wondered why that piano was setting in the class room! It was for him.

Dr. Dunnett taught Doctrine and also bible classes. I had him for Genesis and maybe Joshua and Judges. He was a good teacher, but he was a little odd and a little liberal. Most of the students really liked him. I remember that for Doctrine class he graded us partly on how much outside reading we would do. He expected us to do an unbelievable amount of reading—and that kind of reading is usually deep! I remember trying to read at least 200-300 pages a day. And I am a slow reader.

I had Mr. Jack Smith for many of my Bible classes: for 1 Corinthians, Hebrews, and others which I can’t remember. But I remember that he always told stories as he taught, and he tended to preach to get his points across. I liked him. Oh yes, he also taught Sociology, and he had a way of making that subject interesting. I know that many other teachers on that subject would have bored me to death.

Another favorite teacher of mine was Stephen Farra. I had him for all of my Psychology classes: Into to Psychology, Psychology of Counseling, Developmental Psychology, and Abnormal Psychology. One thing about Farra is that he never really let on to how he believed—or maybe he didn’t know. His thing was just to present all the ideas. But I liked how he would compare the different ideas with what the bible said. And he was never one to preach. He just laid it out for us, and told us that it was up to us to decide how to believe.

Well, those are my favorite teachers and most of my classes, but there were a few other classes I took. Philosophy, logic and Christian thought were all classes that were generally boring to me, and the teacher didn’t help much. I also took a couple history classes that weren’t much better—boring. A class called Bible Customs and Geography was a little interesting; and an Anthropology class was also interesting—but not great.

Oh yes, I almost forgot; I took three quarters of Greek. You had to take Greek to get the degree I got, but it was kind of a waste of my time and money—because I just didn’t have the aptitude for it, or for languages in general. The only way it is a benefit to me now is when I will do a Greek word study. For instance, having studied Greek I understand most of the language used in Greek grammar books or in any Greek Lexicon.

How I became Interested in Bible Prophecy

Let’s see, my interest in Bible prophecy began when I was about 8 or 9 years old, when I began hearing people talk about the Rapture. I can’t remember who it was, whether it was a preacher or maybe my mother. Anyway, they would be trying to describe how quickly Jesus would come and take us away. They would say it that will be as fast as the twinkling of your eye. And then they would try to explain how fast that would be. And I remember someone saying that it won’t be the blinking of the eye but the twinkling of the eye.

Well that was the start of it. And that thought continued to intrigue me for many more years. Gradually my knowledge of the bible increased as I read more and more of it, especially after I was saved at age 12. Oh yes, and one of the things that excited me and turned me toward salvation is the knowledge that heaven would be a real place. I remember talking to my camp counselor about it. I had the idea that heaven would be like a dream, but he told me that it would be just as real as our life now, and even better.

So that’s the early background I had in bible prophecy. Not a lot, but those few pleasant thoughts of the Rapture and heaven really took hold. I remember, along the way, that I read some books on the subject. One was by Hal Lindsey. I read parts of it, and it seemed interesting, but I think it overwhelmed me a bit. So, I chose not to strain my brain on the subject. For the most part, I just held to the belief that someday Jesus would come to take me away. That’s all I really needed to know.

Well, years went by and God kept opening the door to more and more prophecy teaching. In 1977 I began attending Northwestern Bible College in Minnesota.  I liked all my professors; and one in particular, Dr. Edwin Hartill was a good prophecy teacher. The classes from him were all excellent: Hermeneutics, Bible Survey, and Revelation. He definitely believed in the pre-tribulation rapture, and he wasn’t afraid to teach it.

During the same time my church put on a week-long seminar by J. Dwight Pentecost (a professor from Dallas Theological Seminary). He was teaching from his new book, Things to Come. What a treat! What a great book! I remember him saying something like, when it comes to the Pre-tribulation Rapture, I am not only dogmatic about it, I am doubly dogmatic! His book lays it out quite well. I have the book, and whenever I want to know anything about bible prophecy, I can usually find it there.

A few years went by, and I think it was about 1993 when I began going to these bible prophecy conferences once a year. They helped me tremendously in my faith and kept me looking up. One particular speaker that everyone liked was Dr. David Larson. He was the pastor at First Covenant Church in Minneapolis.

It’s been a few years since I’ve been to a prophecy conference, but I do listen to Jan Markell’s weekly radio broadcast, where she hosts excellent speakers from all over the country. They are so good. I have also been doing some writing. This I think has helped me the most, because it has forced me to read and study the subject. So far, I have been able to write two books on bible prophecy: Biblical Evidence of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture, and The Coming Millennial Kingdom. Both of these are self-published under my name, and printed by Lulu.com. I also have a another book coming out soon, called, After the Rapture: What Happens on Earth and in Heaven after the Rapture.

So there you have it: how I became interested in bible prophecy. And my interest remains strong. At the same time, I feel sad that so many have little interest in the subject and so many preachers purposely ignore the subject. I don’t know for sure, but I have been told that most of the Seminaries are teaching against the Pre—tribulation Rapture and are instructing their students that the subject of prophecy should be regarded as nothing more than a distraction.

I think I can see how this wrong teaching fits today—that is, how it is a sign of His soon coming. For we are told in 2 Peter 3:3 that in the last days there will be “mockers,” saying, “Where is the promise of His coming?” And we also see in these days that people are not enduring sound doctrine, but are listening only to those who tell them what they want to hear (2 Tim. 4:3).

But I am determined to seek the whole truth, which includes bible prophecy. We must open our ears to all of the word of God. It is all inspired by God and we must pay attention to it. The truth is, Jesus is coming very soon. He said in His word, “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done” (Rev. 22:12).