9.10.09

"Tongue speaking - An experiment in spiritual experience" by Morton T Kelsey

I am reading the book with the title above and finding it very useful.

I am also thanking God that he is raising up an army around me to help me to rejoice further in and explore the Spiritual gifts.

So my close prayer partners are a pentecostal/now Anglican and a charismatic Anglican and my Spiritual director, whom I have just found, is very open to the Holy Spirit too.

Now surely all Christians are open to the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues and being invested with power and other manifestations of his presence are a normalised part of Christian experience as they were in the early church (Paul's letters testify to this). We are encouraged to eagerly desire such things and God is God of the word and the Spirit so that we come to know the Living Word both through the written word and the Spirit poured out for us at Pentecost. I have studied the Bible carefully over the last few months for the Spirit usually because I have been wanting to check that something experienced has scriptural warrant.

Anyway I am reading this book and praying over whether it is wise to share my experiences of the power of the Holy Spirit when I give my testimony next week. Will what I say be simply expected? It is a part of everybody's Christian life at college? It seems to be the case for most people from what I have witnessed so far. The book is helping me to articulate the work of the Holy Spirit. It is helping me to find some of the words I need because it is full of people's testimonies about their experiences of the love of God and then the consequences that this has had for their lives. I am still as yet unsure about the vocabulary I might choose to express my journey and I am wondering how it will be received if I use language like 'saved' and 'second blessing' - I am also wondering if there might be alternatives to this vocabulary which do not strip God of the glory for the transformation that he worked in my life but that also avoid courting controversy and disagreement, which is the last thing that I want to happen. I wonder how Paul felt before sharing his road to Demascus conversion story. It is fairly obvious that some people believed him and some didn't but from what I can tell, it did little to put him off his task. I am hoping that the Spirit will give me the right words to speak so that my testimony both honours God and the people around me who will be listening. 


I also wonder if I have some unresolved hang-ups left over from cessationist teaching which I did at one time listen to too much.


I am finding that the editor of the testimonies in the book has discovered that a reticence to talk about the experiential aspects of our relationship with God is very normal.


Is it something you struggle to articulate too?
Am I just needing to be more honest? Less afraid? Or should I continue to keep a lot of this to myself because it is about my relationship with God and it is different for all of us? Is it a bit of all these? Em...lots to read and mull over...much to pray about.


Thanks for journeying.

9 comments:

Rosemary said...

Two things very briefly.

1. A Christian is a person who is indwelt with the Holy Spirit, EVERY Christian, otherwise they wouldn't BE Christian.

2. You use Paul's words "But you are eagerly desiring." Can I suggest that you re-read that First Corinthian passage imagining that Paul is actually quite cross. So when he says that, he's chastising them because they're not looking to be more mature than that. Flat words on paper can sometimes fail to communicate the emotion of the writer.

Rachel Marszalek said...

Rosemary - thank you.
I am familiar with the tone in which Paul is talking to the Corinthians and I have not experienced church like the Corinthian church where all are competing for Spiritual gifts. If the Spititual gifts are received as a gift from God and used in love to build up others then all is to the glory of God.

Yes, we are all indwelt by the power of the Holy Spirit but I have been asked to speak about my conversion, which I can not do without speaking about those time when 'the volume' of his presence seems to have been turned up to 'loud' for want of a better analogy. My journey is much like that of Cornelius or Apollos, in that I received baptism into the name of Jesus as a two year old but simply protested that I didn't want to have my hair-washed and so I felt little of God's presence at that time. In my twenties, however I was baptised in the Holy Spirit and the experience was marked very obviously with manifestations as it was in the early church. So I am seeking to express this in the right way.

Curate Karen said...

Rachel, I too have struggled with sharing my personal experience of the Spirit with others because the first time I shared it, some people in the group (an adult confirmation class long ago) were notably upset that they hadn't also experienced God's presence and action so clearly. And as my involvement in the life of the church increased after that, I was dismayed to observe that those same people began to stop coming and their faith seems to have decreased. Obviously in your circumstances, you are being asked to share in a group of people who are pretty solid in their faith, so that is different. But I think you are right to be careful about the language you use to describe your experiences, especially whenever you speak with people who are unchurched or on the fringes.

Aside from that, God most certainly does do some powerful work in our lives and for some of us, the Spirit virtually bowls us over.

Rachel Marszalek said...

Thank you Karen - perhaps you could offer up a prayer for me at about 8.15 next Friday 16th that all I say is to the glory of God.

Thank you

Curate Karen said...

Will do, Rachel. AM or PM?

SueM said...

I certainly came from that background where I was baptised in the Holy Spirit with "manifestations" such as tongues at 13. It is a recognised phenomenon and can be found in context other than that of religious esctasy. I see the Holy Spirit at work in my life much more now in very unobtrusive, tender and gentle ways. I have to say I now regard such manifestations with suspicion and doubt, despite having experienced them, and worry about the role of hysteria and potential for spiritual abuse when vulnerable people are feel the sensational and extreme is what validates their faith.I wonder if this is somewhat arid of me?

Rachel Marszalek said...

am thanks Karen so much

Rachel Marszalek said...

Doubt? Em - so do you think that such manifestations, even when they have biblical precedents might come from somewhere else? If so, where?

Suspicion? Same as above really.

It is this reaction that I am aware of which makes me very sensitive about sharing my testimony. If people ever thought such experiences were not of God, it would affect me on a human level, even though my standing with God is assured. This is because we are called very much to live in unity with those around us and I would never want anything I say to act as a stumbling block both in terms of people's relationship with me and with God.

My experiences of the Holy Spirit are also, like yours, of a gentle and at times convicting Spirit. I also feel his teaching.

There is no sensationalism or emotionalism attending my prayer language, it is just something very normal I live with, a daily part of my prayer life.

I think Jesus wants the thirsty to come to him and drink of the living streams. I think also that Spiritual abuse can go both ways in so much as those who leave little room for the manifestations of the Holy Spirit or who even teach that these things are somehow dubious or demonic do a great deal of harm. I have a difficult time in cessationist circles no matter how much I love these fellow Christian brothers and sisters.

I think that God wants us to have an experiential relationship with him.

In some churches I feel like I am being parented by a Father who is being prevented from giving me a hug, it almost feels like that. I think that some churches can quench the Holy Spirit and so he flees.

My book is helping me to realise how normal manifestations of the Holy Spirit are but also how much the Church fathers failed to talk about such things as the church became taken over by secular thinking and institutionalisation in the face of such attack from outside.

The east as opposed to the West, suffering less persecution continued to explore and receive from the Holy Spirit and the issues are not the same there in terms of controversy over the gifts.

Thank you for your comment. Gives me much to think about and more motivation to keep reading.

SueM said...

Hmm, think I have had exposure to some possibly abusive Christian contexts in which such gifts were sometimes promoted as the be all and end all. Perhaps this is what Paul is warning against? Maybe, for those who have been damaged by this approach, the Holy Spirit heals and works through those gentler methods? This is not to say that gifts or manifestations are wrong or fallacious or extreme in themselves, more that we can often make them so if our approach to them lacks maturity or love? I think all of this is actually present in the advice of scripture on the issue ( as in 1 Corinthians, chapters 12, 13 and 14.)

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