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Archive for the ‘Spiritual Gifts’ Category

My Encounters With the Holy Ghost (Con’t): Pastors


Yes, being a pastor is a spiritual gift. It is not just a job. In scripture the word ‘pastor’ means ‘shepherd.’ My experience with this gift is brief. (They nicknamed us the ‘whirlwind pastorate.’) But I am convinced that many people have, and use this gift without ever holding the position. (Pastor is always plural in the New Testament, indicating that there should be more than one with this gift in the church.) These are the people that direct flocks of people. People follow them and look to them for advice and guidance. There is a danger to this. People with this gift must be careful what they say and how they act because other people naturally copy them and have a tendency to do what they say.

I became pastor in a very odd way. I was home schooling my children and had just finished my doctorate when one of my children, during night devotions (a practice I would highly recommend) said, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to have our own church?’ This was not a child that one would expect to say this, and it struck me as something I needed to pay attention to. I mentioned it to my pastor, who, instead of reminding me I had seven children at home, thought it was a great idea. What I didn’t know is that the area we were moving to was in desperate need of a pastor. My pastor called the powers that be, and put me in touch with them. When I called their office what I did not know was that many, many people call and say that they have a call from God to pastor a specific church, and that they are usually phonies. Later the gentleman I talked to said that when he got off the phone with me he spoke to the higher up person and said, ‘I think this is for real.’ We moved, and I attended the church for a while. I then told the interim pastor what God had placed on my heart and he got really excited. I became senior pastor (they only had one pastor, it was small) before I was even credentialed. Now, before you think it was all smooth sailing, by the time I got to the credentialing meeting I thought it was merely a formality. Somehow God had not informed the pastors on the board that this was the case, and the interview did not go as well as I hoped, though I was credentialed in the end. I thought I would be pastor for life, but that was also not to be. I don’t know why I was there only a brief time, but we did much while we were there. God has a plan and a time for everything, and one of my children needed more attention and needed to be far from the environment he was in. We moved, and he improved. Later he went downhill again, but as an adult, and that is a different story. The beauty of pastoring is knowing that you are called. I never felt anxiety over what I was doing, nor did I worry about what I was going to preach. I threw out my sermons when I was done because these were messages for this group, today, and they were not to be repeated. I was shepherding a small group, teaching them what the Lord needed them to hear now. Not that the messages weren’t good for everyone, but they were specific for this time, place and people. Some weeks God did not lay anything on my heart to preach until the last minute. Most of the time though I knew what I was to speak on after the Sunday service. God also directed people to me. I had the resources and answers to meet their needs when they called. It was fun. If I had no message, then we prayed, and truthfully those were the best services! I also encouraged my congregation to ask questions and talk back to me. (This can only be done in a small church, but it was fun.) People came to the church, but God also moved many away in that year. Some relocated due to jobs. One became a missionary and left quickly, it was amazing how the pieces fell into place. Still the church did grow, despite the fact that my goal was to fix the place up before we did much outreach. (The building needed much work, and there were ‘smells’ that had to be located… Four major ‘smells’ to be exact.) We ripped out carpet, painted, planted and decorated. One of my sons felt moved to rip out dead bushes. Not an easy job. (When children really want to do hard work, for free and do it well and quickly you kinda know it has to be God!) People also got saved. We baptized three and more professed faith for the first time. And we weren’t even ready yet. And then I knew we were to go. This was hard. I loved this church and felt like a perfect fit for it. But I was obedient, and knew my adopted son came first. I missed the work, and the people, but also knew that my calling was for that church, and not for pastoring in general.

I still have the ability to have people follow me. I am very careful about it, but find it strange when I, now the new person, am the one people look to for the answers. This is the true gift. You may have all of the right answers, but if no one is willing to listen or follow, you can accomplish nothing. You can also lead people astray. I kick myself when people misunderstand my words because there is a very real chance they will do something based on what they think I said. They will also tell everyone else I said it and make me look bad, but that is another issue.

Some say that the gift of pastor goes along with the gift of teacher and that they are never separate. I am not sure that this is true, but it is good for the pastor to be a good teacher if people are going to listen and follow. There are some however, who have people follow their example. They are quiet, and don’t say much, but everyone knows they do what is right. This may be teaching by example, or it may be just pastoring. I don’t know, and truthfully it doesn’t matter. What I do know is that pastor is a spiritual gift and there are many people with this gift directing the sheep in our churches, not all of them in the proper direction. (Everything can be abused.)

My Encounters With the Holy Ghost (con’t): Miracles


Miracles are much like healing. They are supernatural things that occur because God wills and does them through you. Moses turned the water to blood, and parted the Red Sea etc. As far as I know God has not performed any miracles through me, so I will share my favorite story.

A pastor and his congregation built a new church. Just before they were to open the town decided that their parking was inadequate and they could not open the church until the problem was solved. They were out of money, and only had a huge hill that was not suitable for parking to work with, so the pastor called the congregation to the property to pray, and in faith claimed that they would be meeting in that new building next Sunday as planned. On Monday the pastor received a phone call. A new building was going up and they desperately needed fill dirt. They noticed that the church had quite a hill that would supply what they needed. They promised to pay for the dirt and leave the area level when they were done. The pastor now had money, so he called a local paving company. Surprise, their job for the week had just been cancelled and they would be happy to do the work for just less than the money the pastor was to be given for the dirt. So the next Sunday the church was allowed to open. God had moved a ‘mountain’ though not in the way anyone expected. In my experience, this is often the way God likes to work. Using people and including them in His plans. Since He is a God who values relationships, this makes sense.

My Encounters With the Holy Ghost (con’t): Healing


First let me tell you about my own healings. When I was a sophomore in college I began having problems with my blood sugar. I would pass out multiple times during the day and the doctors were stumped as to why. Finally they labeled me hypoglycemic, and by eating every three hours, and avoiding sugar, white flour (simple carbohydrates) and caffeine I was fine. This lasted for eleven years. At the same revival where I was blessed with the gift of tongues my husband, without my knowledge, prayed that I might be healed. (We had just adopted and I was busy, so busy I was not taking as good care of myself as I should and had passed out two weeks before.)

The next day I awoke to a friend on the phone who revealed that her husband had been abusing her. This was not the type of conversation where you said, ‘Excuse me, can I get back to you after I eat?’ So I stayed on the phone until one in the afternoon. (Somehow the children stayed in the vicinity and behaved, another miracle!) When I hung up I noticed the time and thought that I had just made a huge mistake. When my blood sugar was out of whack it usually meant three days of feeling bad before things righted themselves again, and not eating often put it out of whack. But I did not feel bad. I did feel strange though, and then I realized, ‘I’m hungry!’ When you eat every three hours you do not ever feel hungry, so I had not had this sensation in years! I went to get something to eat and, when my husband came home from work told him about what I had felt. He admitted that he had prayed for me. Later, I decided that even if I was healed I would continue to eat as I had since it was ultimately better for me. (I was not trusting and was rationalizing things.) That night I had a dream where God told me that if Peter had not gotten out of the boat he would have never walked on water. I knew this meant that I was to trust Him for my healing, so that week, at a Baptist Camp that did not believe in these things, I ate everything, eclaires, candy bars, you name it. I have not had a problem since.

The Lord healed me before this time as well. I was in a Baptist Church that believed the gifts of the Holy Spirit were of the devil, yet I was experiencing some of them. This created a bit of a problem. I sought out all of the area pastors, Pentecostal and otherwise, and asked many, many questions. I also studied the Bible. I wrote a ten-paged paper on why I believed the gifts were for today and where the flaws in the logic of the arguments against them existed. (I had also been given, and read, many books about why the gifts were not for today. I read no books on why the gifts were for today, apparently Pentecostals don’t write as much…) I was driving home, ready to throw my paper away, having an argument with God. (We argue a lot. He usually wins.) I had just talked to a pastor’s wife who had told me to ‘pray for a sign.’ Now I knew the ‘sign’ she wanted me to have was the gift of tongues. I also knew that my God has a sense of humor, and could just see this gift being bestowed on me in the middle of a quiet Baptist service. (Okay, maybe He wouldn’t do that, but it was a fear of mine.) So I was praying for a sign, but also telling God that I loved my church and did not want to have to leave it. I was also singing to the radio. (I multitask well.) What I didn’t tell you is that I was born tone-deaf, and while I enjoyed signing, those around me did not. Suddenly I heard myself sing. I mean really sing. (Before I always thought I kinda sounded like the radio- not true.) The radio and I did not sound at all alike. I was over-joyed (even though I obviously stunk at singing, but many, many people had driven this fact home for me so I was okay with that.) When I got home I tried singing songs I knew, and realized I can’t! I did not know how they go! (I was bad enough to know I had to be wrong.) I also heard the baby voice of my youngest daughter that day. So incredibly precious. I am no longer tone-deaf, even today, and I know that I know that God’s gifts are for His people still. I sing slightly better, but still make sure my microphone is off when I do. The Lord also has a sense of humor. Not long after that I was asked to join the church Praise Team. I played saxophone by reading music, and was very ‘technically’ correct, but their style required me to play by ear, even though they tried to provide me with the notes. What a stretch! But the Holy Spirit showed up every week and it went extremely well.

Other healings have happened in our lives as well. My youngest daughter prayed for a new-born kitten who had a mass that was bigger than its head. We had tried everything, and the vet said that the only thing we could do for the kitten was to get a shoe-box and a shovel. (Country vets are a different breed. It’s okay, we spoke the same language and knew what he meant.) My daughter prayed and the next day the cat was healed, perfectly fine, not even a scar where the mass stuck out of his head. He lived until he jumped out of an RV when the door accidentally opened, much, much later in life, and may be alive with a new family still. (We did not find him.)

My daughter also broke her leg. While the healing was not full, by the time we arrived at the ER it was not the nasty compound fracture it has been. She also broke her clavicle. I could palpate both ends of the break, and they were not lined up. I prayed and when the ambulance came, there was nothing wrong. I took her to the hospital in my car to have her looked at anyways. This is where I found out that miracles can sometimes make you look a little foolish. She was a perfectly healthy child, in the ER. Thankfully the doctor was my husband who said, ‘You prayed, didn’t you?’ He knows I am sane, and also a physical therapist who taught Gross Anatomy Lab in college. This means I am good with my hands and know where things are. The clavicle (collar bone) was once not where it should be. I knew it, and even showed others that it was so.

There are many more people however whom I have prayed for who were not healed. Some I prayed fervently for, to no avail. Why? I don’t know. But I do know that when you are supposed to pray, and there is a miracle available there is a feeling that you know that you know that this is what you are supposed to do and a certainty that it will happen. The certainty comes from God. It was not something I had by myself. I was prepared to bury the cat and bring the child to the ER each time. But somehow I knew, even though I checked. My son shattered his ankle playing soccer during his senior year and if anyone ever prayer wholeheartedly for something it was him, yet he had to go through the slow recovery and the physical therapy that followed, and missed the end of the season he really wanted to be a part of. I of course prayed too. I can’t tell you how it works, just that God must know what He is doing and why, and in that we have to trust that everything is ultimately for the best. For one son a broken arm kept him out of BMX bike racing in a town where the BMX crowd was bad news. I did not know this when we were preparing to sign him up and consider it a blessing in retrospect. He did not need that kind of pressure.

My Encounters With the Holy Ghost (con’t): The gift of tongues


The first time I spoke in tongues was at a Benny Hinn revival. Now before you get too judgmental remember, these revivals have over 30,000 committed Christians praising the Lord for many days straight. Even if Mr. Hinn is not the type of ‘godly’ you would like him to be, there is no doubt that there is power in this many people praising God. So here I was, singing with the choir with the rest of the stadium, lost in the fact that I loved the Lord, and it just happened. And it was wonderful. And I wanted to do it all day, everyday, which would have been weird. I think that reason that so many do not receive this gift is that we are rarely completely focused on praising God. I know that this is difficult for me. Even now my worship and prayer time are commonly a struggle between giving attention to God, and thinking about whatever else is going on in my life, mostly stupid little stuff, not even things I am greatly worried about. So what I am going to have for dinner often precludes being totally present with the Lord. Sad, but true. It is this tendency that keeps many from having an experience where the Holy Spirit can freely work in and through you. Being completely present when you worship and pray is therefore the goal I would recommend seeking if you want to experience His gift. Do not focus on the gift, but the giver, God, and be content letting Him decide where or when He will give you what you seek. Two things to remember though. God is a gentleman; He will not give you things you do not want, against your will. Second, this is a gift, and the giver gets to decide what and when a gift is given. Sometime it is not you. It is just not the right time, and when you do receive it, it is then that you know why He waited. Or maybe not.

So what is it like to speak in tongues? I really can’t say. Even though I am able to pray this way, it is incredibly difficult to describe. You are talking, but you are fervent, wanting to really pray. It is like you are going to fast for words. (Not that tongues is speaking fast, it just seems ‘efficient.’) Most of the time you know who or what you are led by God to pray for, just not really aware of what exactly you are praying. There is sometimes an urgency, like this really needs to be prayed for, but sometimes a peace, and a comfortable feeling. It probably depends on the person you are praying for’s need. One time I began laughing every time I prayed for a certain man. He was my pastor. (Not my current pastor.) It got to the point that I wanted to know what the joke was. Then he spoke on the gift of tongues and said that the first time God blessed him he could not stop laughing. Somehow this made sense. You don’t know what you are praying for, exactly, when you pray in tongues but you have a feeling that you are being effective and that God is hearing you intercede for whatever the need is. (How is that for a non-answer?)

Tongues in church, or other group setting is different. Why? Probably because you are not by yourself. This prayer is therefore not just between you and God, but for the edification (building up, benefit) of the group you are in. For this reason it is different. First, there should be someone else there who has accepted the gift of the Holy Spirit so that they may interpret in words people can understand what you have said. On Pentecost it seems that many, many people were gifted with the ability to interpret in their own language, and it makes sense that they would translate in the language that they are most comfortable speaking, probably the language they think in. Today it happens like this (at least in my experience). There is a feeling, almost a ‘heaviness.’ The church gets quiet. (Even my seven children shut up and settled down, which is how I know it must be from God!) It is as if people are waiting for something to happen. Someone will then say something. It sounds good, but no one understands. Then someone, usually someone different, translates and tells the room what was said. I have never spoken in tongues in a group, nor have I translated. I instead am often able to ‘confirm’ the message. (This is not in scripture, but it is what I do.) God gives me the translation after the interpreter speaks, usually about one or two words before they say them. Not fast enough to be the interpreter, but just early enough to know the message is from God.

Has anyone ever faked a message? Yes. One person I know always had messages that basically said ‘everyone needs to be nicer to me.’ Another group told a woman she would have a baby in a year. She didn’t and actually had her uterus removed. This I knew was false, but how do you tell an infertile woman people she loves are giving her false hope? She left the church over this, but has thankfully kept her faith. Faking this is an awful, awful thing to do. I am not sure everyone who does it understands that they are faking. I think some are emotional people who really want what they say to be true. But it hurts people and destroys their faith, so let’s be sure before we say anything, okay? And remember, God tends to trust people with maturity with His messages, so it is okay to consider the source.

My Encounters With the Holy Ghost (con’t): A Word of Knowledge and A Word of Wisdom

A Word Of Knowledge:

On another occasion I looked at a Face Book picture and the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and told me that this girl was going to mean something in my son’s life. Being a Christian mom, I assumed that this was ‘the one.’ No. This was the girl he had already gotten pregnant and wanted nothing to do with. I would have this girl in my home for a time while the two of them tried to make things work out, and be there for the birth of the baby. The Holy Spirit prepared me to handle this situation and accept the girl with love, but did not promise everything I read into the message. In retrospect I again realized how much I had assumed. I had added to what the Lord had told me in my mind.

Same son, different day, a long time ago. We had just adopted this son, and he had asked to go upstairs to his room to do his math homework because it was too noisy for him downstairs. This seemed like a reasonable request so I allowed it. As I was making dinner the word ‘calculator’ popped into my head. I knew it was true, but the boy in question had been in so much trouble that I hesitated, not wanting to add one more thing to the list of things he had been in trouble for lately. But I knew it was from God, so I called him down. Sure enough, all of his work with fractions had answers that were not fractions, but decimals, always to eight digits, a sure sign that a calculator is being used. Because he was so stunned the conversation was brief, but it made an impact. This, and a few other times things like this have happened, now have my adult son saying, ‘God always tells my mom…’ (But He does not do the same thing for my non-adopted kids!)

A Word of Wisdom

Knowledge is knowing something when you should not. Wisdom is knowing how to apply it. King Solomon showed wisdom when he asked the women to cut the baby in half knowing that the true mother could not allow this to be done. Now it may not have been the birth mother who stopped him (ever think about that, adoptive mothers often have!). But it was the mother who cared the most for the baby’s safety, and the one the baby would do best with. This is a true ‘mother.’ And hopefully it was the one who gave birth to the boy, because that is how it should be.
Wisdom is therefore the ability to apply God’s laws to difficult situations. Many people know the Word, but not everyone can apply it well.

My Encounters With the Holy Ghost: Prophecy

We are Pentecostal. This week our pastor preached on the subject of the gift of the Holy Ghost (or Holy Spirit- your choice). It is a difficult subject, and one that is hard to explain to those who have never experienced His power. So I thought I would give it a try by just explaining the things that have happened in my life…

Let’s start with a tough one: Prophecy

Now I do not receive prophecies from God on a regular basis, so I do not consider myself a prophet. I have never asked God for a message and received one either; they have always come unbidden and at the oddest times. But the thing is, when they do come, I just know that I know that this is from God. There’s not a question about it. I just look at people like, ‘How could you not know that these are the words of God?’ People who are not convicted do not like this attitude by the way…

Let me explain.

One of my first prophecies occurred while talking with an unbeliever about Christ. I was reading through the Bible for the first time. (I have a weird salvation story, and decided if I was going to say I believed what was in the Bible I had better actually know what it said! Maybe I will share my salvation story later, but right now I was talking to an unbelieving person.) During this conversation I said something. Something I did not plan to say. I thought about what I said, and thought to tell the woman that I don’t know why I said that. Then I thought ‘no,’ that’s right, and it sounds like something that is in the Bible. Well the woman went ballistic. I did not think that what I said warranted such an emotional response, but it certainly struck a nerve. I thought again to tell her that I had no idea why I said that, but then realized that I could not say this, that what I had said was right, and that it would not only be wrong, but painful to me (a grieving pain, like I was betraying someone) to take it back. So I stood there, and she ranted. Later, as I was finishing my reading of the New Testament I saw the words I had said, but not known were there. It was a verse from scripture, a direct quote, and one that obviously struck a nerve and hit a secret spot in this woman’s life that I did not know about.

A bit later I was with a group of new believers in a karate do-jang. I turned to a man and told him, ‘You need to clean your house.’ Everyone in the group, including the man, immediately realized that this was a word from God, and we were excited to do what He said. Now here is where we went wrong. Instead of praying and asking God to reveal exactly what He meant by this, we used our own logic. We examined the man’s life and decided that it was time for him to break up with his unbelieving girl friend who was pressuring him to do things he was committed to not do now that he was a believer. Well, breaking up with the girl might not have been a bad thing, but it was not what God meant. A few days later the police arrived at his home. Apparently his ex-wife was spreading lies and accusing him of things that he did not do. While no evidence of what she accused him of was found, there were many things from his old life tucked away in corners of closets that did not make him look good. When we heard what had happened we instantly knew that this is what the Lord had been telling us. We were to literally clean his house! Oops.

Another prophecy came to me in a dream. We had adopted a daughter with Reactive Attachment Disorder. (Let’s just say ‘Extremely Tough Kid.’) Many people were encouraging me to put her back into the system and focus on the rest of the children. (Some decided she was bad because I didn’t know how to parent, but that is another story.) So this daughter was giving us much trouble. God woke me up from a dream where He said, ‘She was Macaah. She is now Merabah. She will be Merab-Manasseh!’ I had no idea what these words meant, so I trudged down the stairs to get my concordance at two in the morning, not happy about being up. (Remember, I had small children and a full day.) Also, I had encountered a group of people in our church who, in my opinion, just made this stuff up, and I did not want to be in that group, so if this wasn’t right, I was not going to be happy. (God and I argue a lot. I’m glad He and David did too.) This is the translation I found. ‘She was dull-stupid.’ When we adopted our daughter the school system told us that she was borderline mentally retarded and that she would fall into the mentally retarded range as she aged because of her emotional problems. She would never learn to read, and would have to live in a group home for the emotionally handicapped for the rest of her life. Shortly after adopting her I realized that this girl was not lacking in intelligence. No one who is mentally retarded could think up this many creative ways to tick me off! The next part of the prophecy was that she was ‘Merabah.’ This name means, ‘Strife, rebellion, one who cuts down.’ This is exactly the type of behavior we were seeing in our home! But, there was hope. (And she is still not here yet, though she does read and is a wife and the mother of a huge baby boy!) The hope is that she will be Merabah- one who brings abundant blessings, and Manasseh- one who makes you forget the past. Now the Lord also reminded me that Moses did not begin to fulfill his prophecy until he was eighty… But I knew that I was to keep her, and even though it was tough, there was hope.

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