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The Holy Spirit

To make tongues a moment of ecstasy in God and not the very means by which the Holy Spirit will train us is a mistake.

Dr. Mark Spitsbergen

As I was reading through Dr. Mark Spitsbergen’s book, highlighter poised and ready, I ran in to this phrase: “To make tongues a moment of ecstasy in God and not the very means by which the Holy Spirit will train us is a mistake.” (Side note: I love highlighters. And I love highlighting things. It’s a rarity not to find my books marked up in every color of the rainbow. You know, highlighters are like the Holy Spirit. They illuminate things for you.) I stopped. And not only did I highlight that phrase, I underlined it and put a big, old box around it! That statement sums up both the modern day church’s problem and solution, all in one. A lot of the church sees tongues as merely the initial evidence of the baptism but, it is so much more than that! Tongues is the link to the very power that transforms, and sustains us. Tongues is the process by which we stay connected to the person of the Holy Spirit.

John 16:7-8 says, ” But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And he, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” How does the Holy Spirit convict the world? By people, Baptized in the Holy Spirit, standing up in power and demonstration!

Jesus told the disciples that it would be better for them for Him to go away. How in the world… Because it would go from Jesus being in the midst of one single group of people to the Holy Ghost being able to sit upon and indwell every single person who is Baptized. The disciples must have been so perplexed by what Jesus said. How can anything be better than having Jesus in their midst? Jesus knew that in order for the church to go forward and accomplish its purpose in turning the world upside down, it would need the unbridled power, the uncontainable outpouring that the Holy Spirit brings. 

The disciples couldn’t understand how anything could be better. There is no way in their finite minds to grasp what was about to happen! Jesus walked among them but there would come a day when the God of the universe, the God that Psalm 33:6 tells us, breathes out the stars — THAT GOD — who created everything that we see by the spoken word would baptize them and empower them.

If Jesus knew the Holy Spirit was so important to the life of a believer, why would anyone who calls themselves “Christian” not want Him? And to take that question even further, why does it seem that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is not just forgotten, but even mocked and disdained amongst a large part of today’s church? First of all, they have believed the lie that tongues is not for today. It is read Acts 2:38-39. We are those that are afar off. 1 Corinthians 14:1 tells us to “Eagerly desire the gifts of the Spirit.” If the church isn’t eagerly desiring the Gifts of the Spirit there’s something very, very wrong.

In Acts 2:1 we find a couple of very important points. “When the day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all together in one place.” Fully means complete or entirely. To wait for something to “fully come” requires patience. We know for a fact that the believers in the upper room dwindled in the waiting. What started as a large group, ended up a mere 120 people. People are impatient. We need to learn to wait on the important things. While we don’t need to wait for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit any longer (He was poured out on the day of Pentecost and hasn’t stopped pouring since), there are things we do need to wait on to come to fullness in our lives. Fullness takes time. The initial Baptism in the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in other tongues is the beginning of our journey in the Holy Spirit but its also the middle and if we stay with Him, He will give us the power to carry our calling through to the end. They were all together in one place. They were in unity. Unity is the state of forming a complete and pleasing whole, especially in an artistic context. I love this definition as it pertains to art, after all Ephesians 2:10 does say that, “We are His workmanship” other translations use the word masterpiece. We, the church, are a glorious cacophony of brilliant colors and brush strokes that come together to create a beautiful masterpiece! The church was meant to be that way. It was meant to be  unified and complementary and when it isn’t, well… the Holy Spirit cannot stay — if He was welcome there to begin with.

The modern day church values their independence more than the Holy Ghost. If He is going to invade their space, so to speak, they don’t want Him. Much of today’s church cares too much about their image and what the Holy Spirit will do to their neat and tidy services. They care too little for the Gift and the power that He intended for the church to walk in and too much for their agenda.

The church I grew up in was Pentecostal but there wasn’t much emphasis on the Holy Spirit. When a 6th-grade girl (namely me) doesn’t know what the Baptism in the Holy Spirit or tongues is, you’ve got a problem. A church that doesn’t allow the move of the Holy Ghost — better yet — a church that doesn’t treasure and value the Holy Spirit and tongues is in for a world of hurt. (The irony is, I went to the Christian school attached to the church through 5th grade. In 6th grade I went to public school and met a girl who was Pentecostal and I went to her youth group and began my journey with the person of the Holy Spirit.

Confusion and impotence are the inevitable results when the wisdom and resources of the world are substituted for the presence and power of the Spirit.

Samuel Chadwick, Wesleyan Methodist Minister 

Why is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and tongues so important? Here is an living example of what the baptism in the Holy Ghost can to do for an individual: Samuel Chadwick. He was born in Lancashire in northern England. His father worked in a cotton mill and at the ripe old age of 8, Samuel joined his father working 12 hour days at the mill. (The cotton mill was not a place that people wanted to work: working conditions, ventilation, breathing in cotton fibers — terrible.) In his early 20s he escaped the factory to become a pastor in a nearby city. Somewhere in his late 20s or early 30s he experienced what he called his “epiphany.” What happened? He came face to face with the person of the Holy Spirit. He was Baptized with the Holy Ghost and fire! The Holy Spirit turned what was once was a way out of the cotton mill to a burning calling. The Holy Spirit became a fire inside of him. A fire that could not be quenched. So much so that he burned up all of his old sermons. He recognized that everything before that point was rubbish and got rid of his old way of preaching and thinking in an amazingly profound way. In his book “The Way to Pentecost” Chadwick wrote, “The soul’s safety is in its heat. Truth without enthusiasm, morality without emotion, ritual without soul, make for a church without power. Destitute of the fire, nothing else counts; possessing Fire, nothing else matters.”

What does the Holy Ghost do for us when we speak in other tongues? We are edified. 1 Corinthians 14:4 tells us, “One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself.” Forget listening to a self-help guru or reading a pointless book, want to edify yourself? Spend time speaking in tongues! We are built up. Jude 1:20 says, “But you beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit.” To build is to cause to be constructed, to develop according to a systematic plan, to increase or enlarge. Look at the life of Samuel Chadwick. He went from preaching for a profession to preaching from a calling. He went from walking as a mere man to walking in the power and fire of the Holy Spirit! He wrote numerous books and was the principal of Cliff College in England where he was instrumental in educating a young minister who should sound very familiar — Leonard Ravenhill. We are empowered. Mark 16:17-18 says, “These signs will accompany those who have believed: in my name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues, they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them, they will lay hands on the sick and they will recover.” It’s not coincidental that speaking in tongues appears in this list of remarkably miraculous things. How do you think those great miracles are accomplished? By charging ourselves up in the Holy Ghost by speaking in other tongues.

The sound board in our old church was gloriously uncomplicated. Flip it on, turn on the channel and you had sound. When we moved to our new building we got a new board. This board had lots of channels. This board had lots of lights. This board, much to my chagrin, required amps. My husband is the sound board guru but when he can’t be there I stumble my way through. When the new board was first hooked up, I had a constant problem. Flip the board on, turn on the channel and…nothing. Nothing except pure, unadulterated panic on my part. I would call Vince at work and the inevitably, first thing that would come out of his mouth was, “Are the amps on?” To which I would sheepishly respond. “Noooo…” The Amps have one job, to give the speakers the power to do their job. We are the speakers. Holy Ghost Tongues are our amp. He give us the power to speak and declare the Word. To walk in signs and wonders.

Here’s another analogy. Have you ever noticed birds on a high voltage wire? Do you know why they can sit there without being electrocuted? Because they are only touching the line and nothing else. Electricity is always trying to find its way to the ground. (You know, theoretically you can hang off of the same wire and not be harmed but I wouldn’t test that theory.) The power flows when you are connected. If you were to touch that same line while touching anything that gives the electricity a path to the ground? Ka-Boom! The power is in the connection. That’s what tongues does for us. It is the connection between us and the Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit is electricity, then Tongues is the charging cable.

The baptism of the Holy Ghost cannot happen without speaking in tongues and speaking in tongues cannot happen without the baptism in the Holy Spirit. One cannot happen without the other. It’s time for the church to quit looking at speaking in other tongues as a one-time occurrence. As merely the initial evidence of the baptism. Not only is it the initial evidence, it’s the continual evidence. We were intended to be filled and poured out and filled and poured out over and over. It’s a continual infilling. Which happens as we pray in the Holy Ghost. The pitcher is filled up and poured out.

Ephesians 5:18 tells us to be “continually filled with the Holy Spirit.” You don’t need to continually fill something that’s still full. We were meant to pour out! So let’s go for it… Over and over, day after day, moment by moment. Taking in, giving out. Taking in, giving out, through speaking in the heavenly language of the Holy Ghost.

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A Year for a Suddenly

I know you’re just itching to know what word I picked for this year. For those of you who are like, whaaat? Its grown in popularity over the years for people to pick a word — or words. Words that speak to them. Words that they want to see develop in their life over the coming year. I don’t often pick one (There are so many, how do you choose?) but when I do, its something that jumps up at me strongly. Words like: perspective and intention, are ones that I’ve had in the past.

A few weeks ago as I was getting ready for church I had Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne on, as I often do. I call it my pre-service service. He was talking about “suddenly.” It’s not first time I’ve heard a message on that subject, as my Pastor can preach a message on suddenly from Acts 2 that will blow your hair back! As I listened it just grew stronger and stronger. This was my word. We have been believing for some specific things over the last couple of years and while the answers have trickled in I felt God say, “This is your year for a suddenly.” And I am holding on to that with every ounce of faith within me.

Now you may say, suddenly, that’s a strange word to choose. First off, I didn’t choose it, it chose me. And secondly, that word appears in the Bible many times — not always in a good context — but we’ll just focus on the good this time around. Here are a few examples:

The shepherds in the time of Jesus’ birth had a suddenly. In Luke 2:13, “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God.”

The early church had a suddenly in Acts 2:2, “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind.”

Paul certainly had a suddenly when he was knocked off his donkey in Acts 9:3.

The woman with the issue of blood had her suddenly in Matthew 9:20, when she pressed through the crowd and received her miracle.

The suddenlies of God are powerful, transformative and, dare I say, SUDDEN. The shepherds were innocently herding their sheep when suddenly, their eyes were opened to the Messiah. The early church was on the defense, when BAM! Suddenly they received the power of the Holy Spirit and became those who were known to have turned the world right-side up. Paul was transformed suddenly on the road to Damascus from a man who persecuted the church to one who built the church. The woman with the issue of blood was suddenly changed from a desperate social pariah to a woman who was praise by Jesus for her faith.

Our suddenlies are no different. We’re all believing for things — and if we’re going to get God involved, let’s make those things big! Let’s stand this year. And having done all to stand, let’s stand some more. For our suddenly is surely coming.