Monday, January 30, 2017

Everybody can ride a bike - Part 3

My apologies to everyone who follows this blog. I let a whole year pass without a single post. This is the concluding part of 'Everybody can ride a Bike' - a very important part of my personal testimony. I hope it blesses you.

My Personal Experience

The church I attended as a child taught that without the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues, we would miss the Rapture - the second coming of Christ. There were weekly meetings for people to receive the baptism and children were not exempt. My parents were committed members and I couldn't avoid these meetings. I asked and asked the Lord, yet I did not receive the gift. Many times, during these meetings we were urged to weep and cry out loudly for this gift. This was not hard to do since we were instilled with the fear of what would happen if one got left behind at the Rapture. Church workers often described in detail the horrible tortures, killings by the coming Anti-Christ. I had no wish to be one of them. Some of these meetings continued late into the night. It was physically tiring and emotionally draining when all the prayers and tears amounted to nothing. Each meeting left me more disillusioned and discouraged than before. I used to envy those who would put up their hands when asked who had been baptized. I couldn't understand why God would grant the Holy Spirit to some but withhold it from me. I began to suspect that perhaps God had favourites and I was not one of them.

From the many teachings I heard on the subject, I understood the Holy Spirit was necessary in order to enter the Kingdom of God. The Holy Spirit would only fill a holy vessel; he would never associate with uncleanness. We were encouraged to be loud and vocal with our request for Him to fill us. People testified that an invisible power took control of their tongues before they started speaking a strange language. I also witnessed some strange behaviour - excessive clapping and vigorous movements among those who claimed they were under its influence. I thought these people must be very holy and spiritual for God to bestow His Holy Spirit on them and secretly envied them  because it was obvious they would be allowed to enter the kingdom of God while I was going to be left behind.

As time went by, I resigned myself to the fact that I must be ineligible for God's gift. But the church didn't let up on their teaching of 'keep seeking, keep crying and don't stop begging' for it. To my eight old mind, the only way I could escape their constant harassment was to fake it. And so fake it, I did. Little did I know that that spur of the moment decision would spawn the beginning of a decade of deception. You see, once you 'had' it, you had to 'practise' it. I was doomed!

The guilt of what I'd done began to eat into me. Fear became my constant companion: the fear of being found out; the fear of the God I'd offended; the fear of satan who knew what I'd done. I read  Matthew 12:31-32 and was convinced that I'd committed the unpardonable sin which meant I could not repent.

So much teaching and scripture quoted on the subject of the  Holy Spirit and so little understanding of the Person of the Holy Spirit.

God was merciful. He didn't strike me with lightning. I continued my life still deceiving and being deceived but all that was about to change. Nine years had passed.

I was finishing high school. My sister had left to further her studies abroad. We had shared a room and now I had the room all to myself. Thoughts started to flood my head. What do I want to do with my life? Am I ready for adulthood? Could I deal with challenges life would bring my way? Maybe I would die young. Was I ready to meet my Maker? These thoughts were random but weighty and it brought a deep depression over me.My parents always taught us that God was loving and we could always run to him in our despair but my unpardonable sin was a constant reminder that I had blown it. For eternity.

I was filled with guilt and condemnation and whenever I tried to pray I could only hear the accusations of the evil one. Irrational fears controlled me. I wanted to ask God to forgive me but if it was unpardonable why would He listen to my plea? I couldn't confide in anyone. I had been very convincing in my deception.

I began to feel sorry for myself. How unfair to send someone to hell for something they did when they were eight?  I studied those who had the real gift of the Holy Spirit. I saw their flaws and compared myself with them. I was better than them so why did I have to go to hell? It didn't make any sense.

In fact a lot of other things didn't make sense either. All the dos and don'ts in the Bible. The church rules - no short hair (women), no long hair (men), no wearing makeup, no watching television, no going to movies, no dating etc. Rules which I was taught God expected us to follow if we wanted to avoid going to hell. It seemed that being human was a crime worthy of  eternal damnation! The injustice filled me with bitterness. I became angry and felt justified in my hatred of Christians and yes, of God. Wasn't God responsible for putting me in this position?

One day I had enough. With everything within me, I gave God a piece of my mind. I said," You gave me life but I didn't ask to be born. Now that I exist, I'm told I have to be holy in order to earn my place in heaven. No matter how hard I try, I will never match up to your holiness. So I must be forever damned to a godless eternity.' I was livid with rage. 'You dare call yourself a God of love? No, I refuse to acknowledge you as God. Who died and put you in charge anyway? I will never EVER call on you for the rest of my life!!'

I continued to attend church just biding my time until I was old enough to go against my parents' wishes. I secretly mocked those who sincerely worshiped God. I deliberately hardened my heart. I wasn't going to back down from my resolve. I had rejected God for good.

Not long after that, I was at a meeting in the annual church convention. It was at the close of the final sermon. The pastor was saying,"Let's thank /God for all His goodness to us!' I remember folding my arms and thinking, 'Yeah, right! Give me a break!' That was all I remember. Because I don't know what happened next. Was it a vision I had or was I teleported somewhere else? To this day, it remains a mystery. But I knew I was in the presence of God Himself.

No words were spoken. Yet we understood each other perfectly. He showed me my true self. I saw who I really was for the first time in years. I saw all my self-righteousness, hypocrisy and self-pity. I felt so sinful and unworthy. I saw Jesus on the Cross. And I knew it was on account of MY sin. The hopelessness of my situation weighed heavily on me and I began to weep bitterly. Then I noticed something strange but wonderful. I was floating in a vast ocean. Now I was actually afraid of water. But I realized that I wasn't afraid of THIS body of water. The waves were lapping against me and the ocean was deep very deep but it didn't feel ominous or threatening. It felt rather gentle and soothing and curiously I felt no fear. I had to know so I asked, 'What is that?' God, as if amused by my question, answered, 'Why, that's my love for you!' Love? I had hated and rejected Him but He was offering me His love?  In a most unexpected way, God disarmed me of my anger and bitterness. He won me over with His Love. I was weeping but this time tears of gladness and joy!

Then I 'woke' and found myself back in church but instead of folded arms, they were raised in praise to God! Surprisingly the crowd was gone. There were only a handful of people putting away the chairs and mats. I was amazed that no one missed me. It was as if I was completely invisible.

I discovered what it was like to be forgiven. The sins of the past no longer haunted me. I awoke everyday feeling fresh, feeling clean,  feeling free! I was truly born again. I started reading my Bible and the verses simply leaped out at me. 'As far as the East is from the West, so far has He removed my transgressions.' I had a new relationship with God. He spoke to me often through the Bible. It was a joy to know God at a very personal level.

Since I had been forgiven, I wanted to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Not the imitation. But the genuine article promised to me in  His Word. I told the Lord that I would do anything for Him only please just baptize me. God was silent and then He asked me to do the one thing I was hoping He would never ask - Confess what I had done. I couldn't believe it. The cost was too high. I couldn't do it. I argued, I begged, I tried to negotiate with Him but every time I went to church, they always sang this song Trust and Obey. Every single time!

I started to hate that song but I knew I had to obey. I did it but not without a long and hard struggle for a long time. I was learning what it was to follow Christ. I calculated what was at stake and I realized that even if I could live with the lie, I couldn't live without His peace. God was faithful and gave me someone who was discerning and understanding to receive my confession. That step of obedience did something eternal in me. The enemy's power over me was broken once and for all. And it gave me a love for the truth and an aversion for hypocrisy and falsehoods.

But still I hadn't received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I wanted it badly but it eluded me still. About this time, a young pastor who had a ministry with the youth visited from France. He had a message to share with the young people in our church and my parents were keen that we go. I made up an excuse that I was too tired because I didn't want to be disappointed yet again but just as I said that, I heard a voice, 'If you go today, you will see something wonderful!' I knew I had to be there at any cost.

Can you guess what Pastor George wanted to talk about? That's right, the baptism of the Holy Spirit! Truth be told, I learnt more about the person of the Holy Spirit that day than all the sermons I had ever heard on the subject of the Holy Spirit. But I want to share just 2 things he said that spoke directly to me.

Pst George quoted Jesus - If any man thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He explained that the invitation was for all. If we wanted it, we had to go to Jesus. Receiving the baptism was as easy as opening our mouths and drinking. There was no need to beg or ask special permission or discern His will in this matter. Jesus wants us to have this gift! We just had to take it. Pst George then asked us a very pertinent question.

Pst George: When someone speaks in tongues, is it the person or the Holy Spirit speaking?
Without hesitation, all the youths including me answered confidently - The Holy Spirit.

Pst George : Are you sure? When someone speaks in tongues, whose voice do you hear?
This time there was a small confusion. Some still stuck to their original answer but others said - the person's voice.

Pst George: Correct! It is we who are speaking but the Holy Spirit gives utterance.
I was intrigued. I had always believed that the Holy Spirit supernaturally took over our voice box but Pst George was saying it is we who activate our own voices. He made it sound so.. so natural!

Then he said if we were ready to receive the Holy Spirit, we had to at some point stop speaking in English and start speaking in another language. Like any of God's gifts, we could only receive the Holy Spirit by faith. It was our responsibility to speak and trust the Holy Spirit to give us the words. Trust and obey! I recognized the truth of those words.

I knew my moment had come! This was the day I was going to receive the gift that Jesus promised his disciples 2000 years before! I admit I was a little fearful because of what I'd done in the past but I knew God had brought me to this place.

There was no emotion. No hype. Just a matter of taking God at His Word with the trust of a little child. I prayed and then I stopped speaking in English and spoke. The first word that came out of my lips sounded like TELAH (tay-la). I said it once and I didn't get any other words so I said it again. My hand felt a little light so I let it 'float' up. I raised my head and my shoulders because they were feeling the lightness too. The shame of the past was evaporating. As I felt the lightness spread, I started smiling and couldn't stop. Was this the Holy Spirit baptism?  I just kept repeating the word.

At this point, Pst George had his guitar out and he was singing the chorus to the song -There's a Sweet Sweet Spirit

There's a sweet sweet spirit in this place
And I know that it's the spirit of the Lord
There are sweet expressions on each face
And I know that it's the presence of the Lord 

It seemed so normal, so natural yet the sweetness of the Lord's presence was undeniable! There was no doubt in my mind that I had received the Holy Spirit baptism and spoken in an unknown tongue.

3 days later, I was running a fever but I wanted to attend the prayer meeting to exercise my gift. I opened my mouth to speak that one word and found a torrent of words roll off my tongue. I was surprised but I let it flow and found that I was expressing something quite articulately but in a different language which I had not learnt. The gift was developing in me. It was my voice speaking but it was not me but the Holy Spirit praying through me. In that half hour, my fever left me and I was completely healed. Praise God!

That was only the beginning of my 'biking' adventures with the Holy Spirit. I've seen the timely manifestations of that gift in different places and circumstances with different people. The adventure never ends!

I am so glad God didn't leave me in my deception but gloriously delivered me and established His truth in its place. This was my experience. The details of my experience may differ with yours but the truth remains - the gift of the Holy Spirit is for everyone and it is for now.The Spirit of God is ONE. The manifestations of that gift are many, and absolutely necessary for building up our faith individually and collectively.

I found out the Holy Spirit is not for holy people but to make ordinary people like you and me holy like Him. We receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit by faith in Christ Jesus. There is no place for pride or falsehood. The Holy Spirit is the spirit of Truth. May He lead you to Truth and may Truth set you free. 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Can Everyone Ride a Bike? - Part 2

Continued from previous post

3.  Having love is infinitely more valuable than tongue speaking.
This statement sounds so sensible at first glance. But let's look further.

Riding a bike not only keeps you fit but gives you the feeling of freedom and mobility outdoors as well. If you're a non cyclist like me, you could attempt to get the outdoorsy experience by taking a walk or going for a drive. But biking enthusiasts will tell you that nothing beats watching the world go by while cycling down the open road, feeling the sun on your face and the wind in your hair! 

To say we'll take the love minus the tongues is like trying to achieve the outdoorsy experience without getting on a bike. Is it possible? Yes. Is it the same? A definite NO.

Love is the trademark of the Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit, God's love is poured into our hearts (Rom 5:5). Who is the Holy Spirit? He is the Spirit of Jesus. The fruit of His Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance,kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Love is the natural outcome when the Spirit of Jesus fills us up on the inside. How can we say love is all we need and then reject His Spirit who brings it? Isn't that like 'killing the goose that lays the golden eggs'?

Many people accept the Holy Spirit but recoil at the tongue speaking bit. 'Why tongues?' you may ask. It's a valid question. There seems to be so much controversy and confusion when it comes to tongues. Can't we simply discard it?

When the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, their experience included speaking in an unknown tongue. When the Gentiles received the Holy Spirit, they also spoke in unknown tongues, which convinced their Jewish brethren that God had called the Gentiles too. All the apostles spoke in tongues. Peter spoke in tongues. Saul, who later became Paul, spoke in tongues. Since then, Christians too have been speaking in tongues. It is unthinkable to separate tongues from the Holy Spirit baptism. We can't discard it; it's part of the package.

Various people have tried to explain but either tend to oversimplify it (The devil can't understand what you are saying in an unknown tongue - it's kind of a secret code to communicate with God) or offer some complicated reasoning (Since the tongue is the smallest but most dangerous member of our body, the Holy Spirit has to take control over our tongue through tongue-speaking). 

Do you know something? Nicodemus couldn't comprehend the new birth. He thought one had to go back into the womb and be reborn. The disciples didn't get the kingdom of God. They believed they had to overthrow the Roman government and make Jesus the  king. The Pharisees didn't understand why Jesus challenged them to tear down the temple which He would rebuild in 3 days. They assumed He was referring to the Jerusalem temple. How could they know He was talking about His body?! So if at first you don't understand the significance of tongues, you're not alone - you're in good company!
Paul teaches that he who speaks in an unknown tongue is speaking to God, not to man (1 Cor 14:2) It is the spirit that's praying. It's a mystery because the mind can't comprehend what the spirit is saying. It's like you arrive in a foreign country and you hear the people speaking in their native tongue. You hear the words but you don't understand the meaning. Are they speaking rubbish? Of course not! It sounds like gobbledygook and that's because it's completely alien to you. Paul says the natural man can't know or receive the things of the Spirit. He tries to understand using his human wisdom but fails because only the Spirit of God can unravel spiritual mysteries (I Cor 2:10-12) .The mind and the spirit operate on different levels.

Do you know how one acquires a language? First, you have to learn up some vocabulary, then study the syntax and rules of grammar. Generally, that's how adults approach language learning.  You understand what you speak before you speak it. But when you are baptized with the Holy Spirit, it's the reverse. You speak FIRST, and then the understanding follows. Interestingly, that's how a child learns his first language or mother tongue! He often mimics/repeats the sounds he hears but does not understand it until much later. (In applied linguistics, it's called first language acquisition.)

I saw a mother lead her toddler to walk on a stretch of cement blocks. For each step, her mother counted out aloud and her little one would repeat after her. Mother would go, "One!" and the wee one would go, "One!" She went up to twenty something and I marvelled because the little girl had absolutely no clue what she was saying but mimicked her mother perfectly. She was repeating what she was hearing but the understanding of numbers would only follow later in life.

How amazing is that? Our relationship with God begins with a new birth, followed by acquisition of a new language. The Holy Spirit becomes our tutor to develop our spiritual understanding of what God has in store for us.

4. Leave tongues out of communal prayer unless someone can interpret.
The writer says, "I believe the primary place for the exercise of this gift is private personal prayer and Paul allows its use in community only if there is an interpreter." I think many people share the writer's view - that Paul was against tongues if there was no ready interpretation. But did Paul really mean that?

Read I Cor 14 carefully to understand the context behind his exhortation. It's very important that we don't miss what Paul is saying. Paul was writing to the believers in Corinth about the haphazard way they were exercising their spiritual gifts and how this was making their meeting together as a body of believers both disruptive and distracting.

Context of I Corinthians 14 (Read it here)
  • Those speaking in tongues were doing so without consideration for other believers present. Many were beginning to feel left out because they could not understand or follow, so they wanted to ban tongue speaking altogether.
  •  Many were prophesying in a rather disorderly fashion. They would either all speak at once or interrupt one another before they even finished. Their excuse was that they were being controlled by the Spirit and could not resist Him.
  • Some women had taken to asking questions that could be answered at home by their own husbands. It was inappropriate for them to do so in such meetings and adding to the lack of decorum.

Paul's response was practical and to the point. His exhortation was meant for those who were contributing to the problem.  

Seek and Develop Your Gift   
  1. Speaking in tongues is elementary. The understanding MUST follow. Without it, the message in tongues (be it revelation, knowledge, prophecy or word of instruction) will forever remain a mystery. If your spiritual gift is not being shared in a meaningful way to those present , what good is it? How will the people receive or respond to what the Spirit of God is saying? Quit thinking like children and start thinking like responsible adults. 
  2. Pray to interpret what you are speaking. Desire and develop your gift. The best gifts are the ones that edify the body of believers. Come with a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation with the purpose of building up the believers. Let tongues be interpreted, if not, then do it quietly and let it be just between you and God.
Be Orderly
If some of you are going to prophesy, don't all do it at the same time. Take turns so that everyone can listen without distraction.The Holy Spirit does not control you which means you can start or stop what you are doing. Limit the number of people prophesying. Let 2 or 3 prophets speak and allow the others to pay close attention and consider carefully what was prophesied.

 Maintain Decorum
We need to curb unnecessary questions that some women are raising in church. Culturally, it's more appropriate that these women reserve their questions for their husbands in the privacy of their homes. 

Paul did not set HARD and FAST rules for where and when we should speak in tongues. He was merely correcting the wrong perceptions the Corinthian church had concerning spiritual gifts and in this case it was tongues and prophecy. It makes no sense for Paul to discount tongues when in the 1st two chapters of 1 Cor. he so carefully explains the inferiority of man's wisdom vs God's wisdom, and how only the Holy Spirit can give us understanding of heaven's secrets. He NEVER implied that there are other gifts (gift of prophecy) more important and relevant than tongues. If he thought that way then he wouldn't have said, "I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you'. Paul obviously believed in tongues and practiced it more than the others. But if the tongues we speak are interpreted, then others can understand and agree with us and everyone present will be edified and blessed.

Let's put it another way. Suppose there are many diseased and dying people in the congregation. Paul's exhortation would mean we ought to seek the gifts of faith and healing that would definitely edify the people rather than parade our prophetic gift before them. We can be so caught up in prophesying that we neglect asking God for gifts that will best help them. Will the non-believer who walks in be more convinced by a string of prophecies than one miracle or healing? That's why Paul exhorts us to desire earnestly the best gifts.

I've noticed that the very people (teachers/pastors/theologians) who teach that Paul wants us to stop praying publicly in tongues almost NEVER encourage prophesying in the church. When they suppress tongues, they inevitably suppress the prophetic gift too. Every spiritual gift proceeds from the Spirit of God. He is the same spirit that raised Jesus from the DEAD and that Spirit is residing in YOU. Tongues is the key that RELEASES the reservoir of living water stored up in your inner being. During Paul's time people were so proud of their tongue speaking that they failed to receive the other spiritual gifts. Today, we are so proud of NOT speaking in tongues that we fail to receive the other spiritual gifts too.

If the Spirit of God chooses to manifest a message in tongues in one person, He is fully capable of manifesting the interpretation in the same person or another individual.  So, don't dismiss any message in tongues but ask the Holy Spirit to give the interpretation so that the whole body of believers may be blessed. Be willing to be used of the Lord. Every gift of God is good and necessary for our lives.

Too many churches wouldn't recognize the Holy Spirit even if He showed up in their Sunday Service. Some put Him on a leash and then wonder why He doesn't move in their churches. Others invoke His name in order to appear more spiritual. Many a times, the Holy Spirit has been quenched and grieved by so called learned leaders of the church. The Holy Spirit is an infinitely great gift. He is not just for the individual but also for larger gatherings. He desires to come and minister through you to the larger Body of Christ. Activate that gift in you and don't hold back when He leads you to speak, prophesy or heal the sick. It's high time to invite the Holy Spirit back in our churches ON HIS TERMS, not ours.

(to be continued..)

Monday, October 26, 2015

Can Everyone Ride a Bike? Part 1

Happy Biker
I was following a Facebook discussion where some friends were discussing an article Why can't I speak in tongues? where the writer opined that not everyone receives the gift of tongues. A number of people concurred with him adding that some had been forced to fake it, or made to feel inadequately small that they didn't speak in tongues and how glad they were that they had been set free from the expectation. From both the article and comments, I surmised several points that were raised and agreed upon:
1. Not everyone can speak in tongues because well, they just can't.
2. If you are not inspired to speak in tongues then you are just babbling.
3. Having love is infinitely more valuable than speaking in tongues.
4. Leave tongues out of communal prayer unless someone can interpret.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a subject close to my heart. Let me give my opinion here before I share my personal experience with you. 

1.  Not everyone can speak in tongues.
The writer had no issues with the gift of tongues - he said it is still available and a good gift but his stand was not everyone is given this gift. I disagree on a number of points.

In his letter to the Corinthian church, Paul says, whatever God has promised us is a firm YES in Christ Jesus. (2 Cor. 1:19,20) It's not sometimes yes and sometimes no as some are inclined to teach. They say, "YES - the Holy Spirit is a gift from God but NO - it has already ceased." "YES - you're speaking to God when you speak in tongues but NO - you're babbling if no one else understands it." "YES - it's available today, but NO - not everyone can receive it". I think attaching disclaimers to God's word actually insults God. This 'The Lord will but He won't. God can but not all the time' kind of teaching only confuses the hearers.

The Holy Spirit is for everyone. Peter said, “The promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call”? (Acts 2: 38-39). The Bible says in John 7 that Jesus stood in the market place and cried out in a loud voice saying, If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive.

Let's break it down, shall we?  Jesus said,

If anyone thirsts (that includes everybody - regardless of gender, age, status)
Let him (allow him, don't force him, stop him, hinder him)
Come to Me (come to Jesus - He is the baptizer, not man)
And drink. (not ask, plead, beg for it, but rather help himself to it, put it to his lips and swallow)

Jesus said, "If you want the Holy Spirit - come to Me - and take it."

The Holy Spirit is one but His manifestations are many. Nine are listed in 1 Corinthian 12: 7 -11. These gifts/manifestations are given to edify the individual as well as the body of believers. Through these gifts, we experience the reality of God in our earthly existence. Jesus performed many of them while He was on this earth. Before Jesus returned to the Father, He promised to send the Holy Spirit to empower his followers so that they too could be witnesses unto Him. This promise was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). Since that day, followers of Jesus continue to experience both personal infilling and outpouring of the Holy Spirit on corporate gatherings of people. In the Bible, there was one manifestation that was consistently reported when different people were baptized in the Holy Spirit at different times - speaking in an unknown tongue. 

Can everyone ride a bike? I must confess I can't. I tried when I was about 10 but failed. I just couldn't balance myself and kept falling. However, my brother picked it up pretty fast but not before suffering some minor scrapes and bruises. I concluded then that bike riding was not for everyone. But is that really true? I am sure that cyclists will  readily disagree with this statement. They will argue that anyone can ride a bike; it's so easy that even a child (or monkey!) can learn. In fact, I read this somewhere -'If you can walk, you can ride a  bike!' Sure you may fall a couple of times and there are the obligatory bumps and bruises but once you get the hang of it you would kick yourself for not having learnt it earlier!

I can safely vouch that tongue speaking, like bike riding, is not for a select group of people but for everyone. If you can speak in English, Chinese, Hindi or any known language, then you CAN speak in the language of the Spirit. Jesus made it so easy. Let's stop making it so complicated!

Conclusion: Everyone CAN speak in tongues.

[By the way, I've watched a couple of 'how to ride a bike' YouTube videos and realize it's really not that difficult at all. I only wish I had known how to earlier. I've missed out simply because I thought bike riding just wasn't for me. Now it's only fear of embarrassing myself in public that's keeping me from learning it. It's silly, I know.]

Why aren't more of us receiving this gift then? I'm convinced that the 3 main obstacles keeping us from receiving this gift are unbelief, fear and pride.

I heard a preacher say we must be holy in order to qualify for the Holy Spirit. That is false as is the doctrine of cessation which says the gifts of the Holy Spirit have ceased. The Holy Spirit is a gift from God. You cannot earn it. It is the Grace of God to give us something we do not deserve. Believe and it is yours. If you don't believe, you can't receive. Without faith, we can't expect to receive anything from God.  Faith is the key to pleasing Him. Hebrews 11:6

A friend once told me that it's risky to pray for the Holy Spirit because you might get an evil spirit instead. But Jesus assures us that God will not give us a stone when we ask Him for bread. He won't give us a snake when we ask Him for fish. Luke 11:11. God is a good father and He gives us only good gifts. God has not given us a spirit of fear (timidity) but of power, of love and a sound mind (self-control).

We reject the gift of the Holy Spirit because we don't want to appear foolish in front of others. We pray, 'Lord give me the Holy Spirit but minus the tongues.' The wisdom of this world cannot fathom the mind of God. To the wise men of Paul's day, Jesus' crucifixion made no sense at all but to those who believed it had the power to save them (I Cor 1:21). Some people are so proud of their Baptist background, they refuse to speak in tongues. Their denomination and doctrine is more important than the gift of God. The Bible says, God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.

2. If you are not inspired to speak in tongues then you are just babbling.
How do we know tongues are genuine and that we are not babbling some nonsense? Some people believe tongues must be a supernatural phenomena, flowing spontaneously from the lips, and accompanied by euphoric sensations. In their mind, anyone who is not under the 'influence' of the Holy Spirit is making it up.  They believe that tongues must be spontaneous, involuntary and completely free from human involvement.

But is speaking in tongues a completely mystical experience? The writer makes a distinction between a thinker and a mystic. Perhaps to an outsider, a tongue speaker seems to have 'lost their marbles' babbling ecstatically in a language not known to them. But tongue speakers are not mystics who have given up their brains and stopped thinking. 

Let's pause here for a minute and go back to my cycling analogy, shall we? When you're cycling, you're either pushing the pedals or gliding with the pedals as a footrest. Sometimes your feet are engaged and sometimes they are not. But without question, it is you who's riding the bike. At any time you may stop by braking or simply touching the ground with your feet. YOU are the one in control of the bike. The bike is NOT controlling you.

Just like bike riding, sometimes you initiate the speaking (pedalling) and sometimes you feel the inspiration to speak (gliding). But either way, YOU are making the utterance (riding the bike!) If you are not sure, ask yourself whose voice do you hear. The Holy Spirit gives you the language but you are SPEAKING it. It is His words but it is YOUR voice.  Paul says the spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet (I Cor 14:32) He meant the person prophesying is in control of their spirit and can stop to allow someone else to take their turn. Think about it. If you can stop, doesn't that imply you can start? The Holy Spirit is a gentle dove; He doesn't control you or force Himself on you, so you may start or stop speaking at any time.

The person who speaks in tongues or prophesies has learned to be sensitive and obedient to the Spirit's leading. He has submitted his mind to be led by the Holy Spirit. He is not a mystic 'possessed' by the Holy Spirit and speaking involuntarily against his will. He is very much in possession of His mental faculties.

The Holy Spirit is a spiritual gift for a practical purpose. We are called to pray unceasingly and the Holy Spirit helps us make intercession when we don't know what or how to pray. He is our helper and our comforter. He leads us into all truth. When we pray in the language of  the Spirit, we allow the Spirit of God to take the lead. He alone can discern the mind of  God which He then reveals to us. We cannot understand unless it is revealed to us by God's Spirit. The gift of God is workable in any situation; to be a blessing whether we pray in private or in public, whether we pray aloud or under our breath. I love that I can still pray even when my mind is engaged with work, preparing dinner or doing the laundry.

Many times I have felt the urgency to pray especially when overwhelmed with a need or a problem but not knowing how to begin. So I would start to speak in tongues trusting the Lord to lead me. In a short while I would feel the stirring of the Spirit within me and the utterance becomes effortless, articulate and purposeful even though I don't understand the words. When the burden has lifted, God gives me insight which I had no way of figuring out myself. Other times, after praying in tongues, I pray in English and the words come out unaided, sometimes a scripture which I wasn't thinking about but fits the situation perfectly.
(to be continued..)

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Sowing and Reaping

Do you feel like giving up when you don't see your prayers answered? I do. You pray and pray and even fast but there doesn't seem to be any result. Part of you wants to go on hoping that your prize is just around the corner but another part says, 'Give up while you can; you don't need the heart-ache.' Sometimes you pray and get an answer but it looks nothing like the answer you were expecting. I want to encourage you not to give up. Your prayers are not wasted. They are not a lost cause. In fact, it's when all seems lost that you must not quit!

Think about the farmer getting ready to sow. He prepares the soil for seeding. The work is hard and the farmer puts in many hours of sweat and toil. When the soil is ready, he carefully deposits the seeds in them. Once the seed has been incorporated into the soil, the farmer can safely retire from his labour.

For a period of time, all is quiet.  Every morning the farmer looks over his fields where he has sown but sees nothing; no results. If there is no visible outcome for what he has put in, has his investment failed? But while there is no movement on the ground's surface, below the dirt, strong roots are emerging, and pushing downwards in search of moisture. The tiny seedlings burst out of their jackets and begin their upward climb seeking to free themselves from the weight of the soil they are under. But none of this happens immediately or overnight.

There is a period of waiting; a time where the farmer has to exercise patience, self-control and perseverance. Patience because he can do nothing to quicken the process but allow nature to take its course. Worrying doesn't make things move along any faster either. Why self control? Because he must resist the urge to dig them up to check if roots are showing. Can you imagine what will happen if he did? He risks aborting the germination process and all his efforts will be lost.  And perseverance because he cannot give up tending the ground - to keep it sufficiently watered, weeded and free from known pests.

All  of this requires a measure of FAITH. The farmer does not depend on a random chance or luck that something will happen to make the seeds grow. He knows they WILL. It is an established science that repeats itself no matter how many times the farmer does it. It is a formula that works.

God's word cannot fail because God cannot fail. His reputation is tied up in His word. Do you know the One who you have committed your prayers to? Jesus said if our earthly father knows how to give good things how much more will our Father in heaven give to those who ask Him? He is trustworthy to do all He promised. God is fully capable of doing what He said He would.

We are not sowing our prayers in the air where strong winds blow them away.
We are not sowing our prayers in the sea where shifting currents wash them away,
But we are sowing them in the rich soil of God's  FAITHFULNESS and LOVE.
And we know God NEVER fails.

What are you sowing? Where are you sowing? How are you waiting?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

God's Word

God’s WORD will stand the test of time. Everything that lives eventually dies but the Word of God abides FOREVER. Time passes, memories fail, expectations waver, and even circumstances change but God remains true to His Promise. He is COMMITTED to accomplish all that He has purposed. For His Word is TRUE and PURE - tested and refined seven times over.

No promise of God has ever fallen to the ground. Everything He says will come to pass. Nothing and no one can annul the promise God makes to His children. God's Word will go forth and carry out everything He wants to achieve for it carries the weight of His PURPOSE. It will never return to Him void. Because God has both the POWER and the WILL to do EXACTLY what He says. 

You may forget. But God remembers. You may give up. But God NEVER. 

God is watching over His WORD to fulfill it. It cannot fail because GOD never fails. He will have the last WORD because He is the ETERNAL GOD.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

10 Things Jesus never said about Healing

I've jotted them down for your convenience but I really encourage you to watch the video to get the full benefit of his teaching. He backs it up with scripture, illustrations, experience with a little humour thrown in. It runs for a little more than an hour but it will be well worth your time, I promise.

         10 Things Jesus NEVER said about Healing
  1. I am sorry but it's not my Father's will to heal you.
  2. I am sorry but my Father is building character in you so you have to remain a leper for a while longer.
  3. My Father doesn't want to heal you until after you die.
  4. I'd like to heal you but my Father is saying, "Not yet".
  5. Looks like you don't have enough faith.
  6. Your friends and family don't have enough faith.
  7. My Father gave you this disease so I can look more glorious.
  8. Remember that my kingdom is now but not yet, so not all of you will be healed today.
  9. We have to figure out what the spiritual roots of this thing are or it's not going to work.
  10. Unfortunately this sickness is a punishment for your sin and you have to reap what you've sown. 
Click here to go to Art's official website

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Things you are NOT going to hear Dr Jesus say

I am afraid I have bad news for you. I’ll do my best but no promises. Sorry, appointments are full until after Christmas. There is nothing more I can do. You have to take this medicine for the rest of your life. There will be side effects. It’s terminal I am afraid. I'm sending you home. Best spend it with your family. Do you believe in prayer? Some say it helps. You have only yourself to blame. You should have got it tested earlier. We can’t do much at this stage. This is going to hurt... a lot. I am afraid they haven’t found a cure yet. Well, you just have to live with it. Do you  have insurance? Hmmm.. have you ever considered organ donation?