Experiences of the Gifts of the Spirit--Mine and Others

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MadHermit

Junior Member
May 8, 2018
382
140
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#1
Methodist founder John Wesley is the source of the Methodist Quadrilateral, which states that there are sources of doctrinal authority: Scripture, (primary) Tradition, Reason, and Experience. So this thread will generally focus on experiences of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, especially my own and those with whom I'm acquainted. I will restrict myself to my experiences of 2 gifts of the Spirit, speaking in tongues (= glossolalia) and "the world of knowledge" (1 Corinthians 12:8-10).

(1) If skeptics like had experienced what I did in my first example below, I have no doubt that they would not only treasure speaking in tongues, but would consider the experience the high point in their lives. Even now, decades later, I constantly draw emotional and spiritual nourishment from the very memory of that fateful day. By far he most powerful and important turning point in my life was an experience of glossolalia at Manhattan Beach Camp in Manitoba. I was 16 at the time and felt I had lost my faith. I was determined to give it my best shot to find God real, but not to succumb to wishful thinking and emotionalism. That fateful, Tuesday, I went on a 7 mile walk towards Ninette, MB, pleading with God to make Himself real to me. That evening, I did something I'd never done before. I fasted for dinner and put my dinner money in the offering plate. After the service, I stayed at the altar and prayed to be filled with the Spirit as i had previously done in vain. After almost everyone (about 1,000) left the amphitheater, my heart still felt like stone as I tarried in prayer. Then suddenly I felt a warm breeze, but it wasn't the wind from nearby Pelican Lake; it was the Holy Spirit first warming me and then possessing me. I was forced against my will to speak in tongues at the top of my voice. More importantly, wave after wave of liquid love surged through my being with ever increasing intensity until I feared it might kill me. My ego seemed on the verge of collapse into the divine presence.
A Lutheran pastor observed me, unseen, and quietly came and knelt beside me. He told me he was not Pentecostal and had only come to the camp meeting as an interested observer. He said he could tell God was doing a special work in me and he asked me to pray for him. The moment i touched his forehead, he exploded into tongues like me. Another lady was sitting in the now darkened amphitheater and just staring at me. Self-conscious, I asked her why? She said, "Don't you know? Your face is glowing in the dark!"

When it was all over, I realized that God had said to me clearly: "Son, you long for answers to burning questions. But answers aren't good for you right now. They will make you live in your head, and i want to live in your heart. I want you to live your questions until they lead you to the center of my heart." That is the reason for my long educational pilgrimage from BA to MDiv to doctorate. Interestingly, the experience made me a much better student than I had been. And it led to experiences of spiritual gifts that, at times, provided more questions than answers and at other time gifted me with my most electrifying life experiences.​





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MadHermit

Junior Member
May 8, 2018
382
140
43
#2
After this experience, my first exercise of "the world of knowledge" was the inner knowing that my future career would be aided by being honored for the highest GPA in my province in my senior year.. A few years ago, my psychiatrist cousin reminded me that I had told him I would achieve this goal. What makes this revelation such a gift is the fact that I had previously not done particularly well in high school. When the premier of my province announced this achievement at my high school commencement, it was one of my most thrilling experiences not because of the ego gratification, but because it proved that my Spirit baptism had truly placed me in the center of God's will.

But "the word of knowledge" is a spiritual gift that can be part of a learning curve and its application is not always easy to grasp. Consider these 2 examples:
(1) At age 19, I was a Winnipeg college student. About 5 years my senior, my friend Dallas was the leader of our church youth group of about 150. I had just been Best Man at his wedding and was now invited to the newlyweds post-Christmas dinner. After eating, we played table tennis in their basement. Dallas mentioned that he was going deer hunting in northern Manitoba the next day and I instantly felt a sense of dread. It seemed as if I saw his skeleton and was certain that he would be killed in an accident if he went on this trip. Horrified, I felt compelled to share my premonition with him. He was offended and blamed my so-called premonition on my anti-huntng views. I had no such views, though I've never gone hunting myself. What could I do? I had no evidence beyond my certainty. I guess I hoped God would confirm my premonition to Dallas.

A few days later, we had a New Year's Eve service at our church. What happened when I arrived at the church was straight out of a horror movie. 3 young girls in our youth group approached me, giggling, and said. You do know that Dallas was killed yesterday in a hunting accident. He was riding a snowmobile with his gun leaning beside him and hit a bump, which caused his rifle to discharge into his shoulder. He bled to death before his hunting buddies got him to a doctor. Thr girls giggled and one said to the other, "Wow, I guess we sure ruined his day!" It was as if Hell was taunting me for my friendship with Dallas. What was so funny about their youth leader's death? I charitably assumed that their was just a nervous laughter. I later obsessed over what this tragedy meant. Why was I given this premonition if it would be useless to prevent his death? And was his death predestined fate?

(2) In my senior year at Princeton Seminary, I was about to return home for Christmas vacation. My friend Ted had just been accepted in the D. Phil. program in New Testament at Cambridge U. and I also wanted to apply to that doctoral program. So I went to Ted's dorm room and asked if I could borrow his Cambridge catalogue. As I did, I suddenly "saw" his skeleton and knew that his death was imminent. But what could I do? I didn't know how he would die. So I tried to put this knowledge out of my mind and flew home for Christmas. When I returned, I learned from Ted's friend Ken that Ted had been killed in a car accident. Ken was driving him home to Ohio, when Ken's car slipped on an icy freeway onramp and the car crashed into a pole, killing Ted and breaking Ken's arm.

I had tried to suppress my premonition. In retrospect, I wondered if God alerted me to Dallas's and Ken's fate because He wanted me to intercede for their protection.
M
 

MadHermit

Junior Member
May 8, 2018
382
140
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#3
(3) My next experience of the "word of knowledge" was unequivocally helpful. As part of Princeton's field education, I worked as a chaplain assistant at the Newark College of Engineering. The night prior to my drive to Newark, I had a nightmare, a premonitory dream in which I knew my life would be in danger and I cried out to God for mercy. On the drive home the next day, my car died in the dark a New Jersey freeway. I was fortunate to escape the fast-moving traffic and my car was quickly totaled by another speeding car. I called my friend Peter at my dorm and he and another friend, Mike, drove up to fetch me. Both of them had experienced nightmares of impending disaster the previous night! By these 3 dream warnings, God showed me that He was in charge and was my divine protector.
 

MadHermit

Junior Member
May 8, 2018
382
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#4
(4) This next encounter with "the word of knowledge" is probably my 2nd most treasured spiritual highlight in my life. I had applied to Harvard's doctoral program in New Testament, Judaism, and Greco-Roman backgrounds, but my a fellow seminarian told me I'd be rejected just like he was. So where would I study next after my graduation from Princeton's MDiv program in the next few months?

As I was worrying about this, George ( a godly fellow seminarian) knocked on my door one Tuesday night to say, "Don, I've been praying for you, and the Lord has shown me that you're going to be accepted by Harvard." George was not even a friend, but he must have picked up my dream from table gossip in the seminary dining hall. In any case, his warm assurance melted my fears and was transferred to me! What a blessing he was! The next night was absolutely surreal!

Another seminarian, Ann, came to my dorm room and falsely accused me of calling her to tell her that she was too emotionally unstable to be in seminary! The guy's voice must have sounded like mine. Ann had just broken up with John, a frequent dining companion of mine, and Ann probably assumed that John gossiped to me about his reasons for breaking up with her. In fact, John never said a word about this. How does one defend himself when he is blindsided by a false accusation like this? I was actually quite fond of Ann for being a great comfort when my boyhood spiritual mentor, Nick, was killed in a car accident.

In the midst of her harangue, there was a knock on the door, and I was summoned to answer a pay phone call down the hall. It was John Strugnell of Harvard, the professor who controlled the Dead Sea Scroll translation project at that time. He congratulated me on my acceptance at Harvard with scholarship assistance. Imagine how emotionally torn I was by joyful gratitude for George's "word of knowledge" and anguish over Ann's false accusation. When I returned to my room, Ann asked me, "Who was that?" perhaps thinking that John had called to tip me off about her accusation. She looked very puzzled when I shared my joy at just having being admitted to Harvard's doctoral program. Then she asked me, "Are you all right? You're right palm is streaming blood onto your pants an the floor!" I felt no pain, but I nearly freaked out when I saw all that blood! This is the first and only time I have experience the stigmata. Ann seemed to take the combination of this bleeding and the timing of my great news as a sign of my innocence, and so, she hastily left. I'm so grateful that God orchestrated these coincidences to vindicate me, encourage me, and let me know that His guiding hand was on my life. My only regret is that I can't recall tracking George down to let him know how grateful I was for his effective prayer support.
 

MadHermit

Junior Member
May 8, 2018
382
140
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#5
The thought just occurred to me that my be of interest to those following these ongoing reports of how the gifts of the Spirit have operated in my life. So here are 3 providential moments from my childhood:

(5) I was born and raised in the first Pentecostal church in Canada. I was born with congenital glaucoma in my right eye. My distraught parents were impressed by a famous faith healer named William Branham, who held healing crusades around North America. What set him apart was his clairvoyance. Before he laid hands on people, he accurately described one of their recent past experiences in awesome detail and he did the same for my parents. Mom and Dad were poor, but they spent their savings on a trip to Elgin, Illinois to bring me to a Branham crusade there. When I (age 3) finally made it onto the stage, Branham looked at my introductory note that said, "blind in the right eye," and shouted, "This boy is blind!" He then laid hands on my eyes and waved them in front of me. When I blinked, he yelled, "This little boy has been cured of blindness!" The huge crowd went wild but my parents were sick. Of course I blinked because I could see out of my good eye. This fraud devastated and disillusioned my parents. All this attention to getting me healed made me feel like they regretted my birth and ultimately created a deep desire in me to justify being born! It also sowed the seeds of a lifelong determination to discover whether miracles and divine healing were ever real and whether the Bible was trustworthy. God used those events to shape my calling in life.






 

MadHermit

Junior Member
May 8, 2018
382
140
43
#6
(6) By the time I was 6 I had learned to hate church. There was no children's church or Sunday school for my age and Church bored me because I couldn't relate to much of the 1 1/2 hour services, especially the sermons. So I squirmed and protested in our pew and made myself a nuisance to my parents. My parents were weekly attenders, but one Sunday they stayed home for reasons I never understood. I suspect the nightmare of dealing with my hissyfits was part of the reason! I was so glad to escape church that sunny and clear July morning! God was the furthest thing from my mind. To celebrate I zoomed up and own the sidewalk to the ends of our block on my little tricycle.

Then I noticed the big new blue Chevy with huge tailfins parked behind the Jewish shoe store salesman's building. Evidently he had just waxed and polished it and it just glistened as it reflected the brilliant sunlight. To me it was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen; so I constantly road back to it to stare in wonder. Once, when I returned, I had my first life-changing God moment. For some strange reason, my attention was directed to a patch of blue near the sun. As I gazed at it, wave after wave of liquid love surged through my being. Suddenly I became acutely aware of the presence of a God who loved me and I just basked in that love!

I told my parents about my experience, but they didn't seem very interested. That all changed a few days later when neighbors came over to tell my parents how impressed they were that I was excitedly sharing my embryonic new faith with my playmates. I knew little about God and the Bible and I have always wondered what I was saying about God and my experience to my little playmates.

This experience didn't make me want to sit through church, though. Now Dad sang in the choir and my parents now let me sit by myself. This was fortunate because it allowed me to I sneak out of church to buy lifesavers at the little grocery store across the streets from the church. As I ate them, I browsed the comic books on the store shelves. The owner eventually got annoyed by my regular presence and shooed me out his store. So I ate my lifesavers outside and began to meditate on the meaning of my life.
 

MadHermit

Junior Member
May 8, 2018
382
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#7
(7) At age 11, I realized that I should be baptized to please my parents and obey the Gospel. I had to attend a few preparatory catechetical classes and I was the only child among about 11 adult male candidates. The classes appalled me because the lecturer used poorly explained jargon like justification, propitiation, and sanctification which produceded excruciation in the mind of this young boy who couldn't grasp the meaning of these big words. Quoting Colossians 2:11 , the lecturer informed us that we needed to be "circumcised in spirit." That might have been helpful if I knew what physical circumcision was and if he explained this jargon.
I would be the last of the 12 to be baptized by immersion in a large tank behind the platform before a crowd of about 1,400 people. I was petrified because I learned I was expected to share a personal testimony in front of that huge crowd and because, blush, the bottom of my baptismal robe seemed to float up, exposing my nakedness! All the men gave a formulaic personal testimony that I can recite even today. Then I nervously waded out to the pastor and he asked me, "Donny, would you like to share a word for the Lord Jesus?" I shook my head in the negative. So the pastor continued, "OK, let me ask you some faith questions." I felt publicly humiliated as the only one not to share a testimony and at that point I just wanted to get this ordeal over with to please my parents.
But after the pastor dunked me, something amazing happened as I emerged from the water. I suddenly had a vision of Jesus, smiling at me, radiating love and conveying the feeling that He found my predicament rather amusing. I sensed His empathy for my confusion over all the poorly explained catechetical jargon and my groundless fear about my nakedness being exposed by the floating bottom of my robe. And years later when I became a theology professor, I reflected that Jesus must have found it amusing that a motormouth like me would be utterly tongue-tied at my youthful baptism. My first and only vision in my life transformed an unpleasant baptismal ordeal into one of the most sacred and treasured memories of my life!

Now that I've recounted these 3 childhood experiences, I return to my adult experiences of the gifts of the Spirit.







 

MadHermit

Junior Member
May 8, 2018
382
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#8
(8) When I was a college student in Winnipeg (age 19), I was Best Man in my friend Dallas's wedding. After his honeymoon, he invited me over for dinner between Christmas and New Year. After dinner we went down to his recreation room, he, his wife, and I took turns playing table tennis. After a few games, Dallas told me about his planned hunting trip with friends to northern Manitoba the next day. I suddenly seemed to see his skeleton and just knew that he would be killed if he made the trip! I shared this premonition with him, but this just angered Dallas. He asked me, "Are you one of those anti-hunting people?"" I replied, "No, I've never gone hunting myself, but I have no objections to hunting. It's just that I somehow seem to know that you will be killed, if you go!" Dallas replied, "You deny it, but I think you're just one of those anti-hunting people!" I felt very frustrated and embarrassed. How does one convey a "word of knowledge" (1 Corinthians 12:8-10) for which one has not evidence?

A couple of days later, I attend our New Year's Eve Watch Night Service. The service started at 10 PM. After a special guest preacher, we would kneel in prayer, so that we entered the New Year on our knees. But before the service began, I felt like I was in a horror movie on the Twilight Zone. 3 giddy teenage girls approached me and asked, "Did you hear about your friend, Dallas?" "No," I replied. " "Well, he was just killed in a hunting accident!" "How?" I asked. "He was riding a snowmobile, when he hit a bump and his rifle accidentally discharged into his shoulder. The other hunters didn't know how to apply a proper tourniquet and he bled to death before they could get him back to civilization!" The girls saw my shocked and crestfallen expression and they all giggled, as one of them said to the others, "Well, I guess we just ruined his day!"

I felt like Hell was laughing at me! What was so funny about Dallas's death? He was the leader of our church youth group for Heaven's sake. Worse, why had the Holy Spirit given me that 'word of knowledge" if He knew it wouldn't be accepted?

(9) When I was 23 at Princeton Seminary, I used to sit with Nick and Frank in the dining hall. Nick had just been accepted by Cambridge into their doctoral program in New Testament. I had applied to Harvard, but I also wanted to apply to the same program at Cambridge. So shortly before I left for Winnipeg for Christmas vacation, I went to Nick's dorm room and asked if I could borrow his Cambridge catalogue in order to apply to that New Testament program. As he handed me the catalogue, I once again seemed to see his skeleton and somehow knew that his death was imminent. But this time I didn't know exactly how or when. I had been burned by Dallas the last time I shared my premonition; so this time I said nothing, hoping this was just personal paranoia.

When I returned from Winnipeg after Christmas vacation, Frank told me that Nick had been killed. The day after my premonition, Frank was driving Nick to Ohio, where they both lived, when the car skidded at high speed off the onramp to the freeway and hit a pole. Frank broke his arm, but Nick was killed in the collision! Once again, I was in torment over the question of why God would give me this premonition, if it wouldn't be helpful. In both Dallas's and Nick's case, I had tried to dismiss "the word of knowledge" as personal paranoia. Thinking back on both episodes years later, I began to wonder if the future is not fixed, so that if I had vehemently interceded in prayer for my friends' protection, their fatal fate might have been averted. I share these 2 cases to illustrate that a relative newbie to the gifts of the Spirit might not always be able to understand why he receives such revelations.
 

MadHermit

Junior Member
May 8, 2018
382
140
43
#9
(10) My next premonition occurred during a nightmare in which my life was threatened and I cried out for divine protection! The next day I drove up to the Newark College of Engineering to perform my field work as a chaplain assistant. On the drive home, my car suddenly conked out in the winter dark on the freeway during rush hour! It is providential that I made it to the roadside because moments later my car was totaled! I called my friends Mike and Peter at Princeton and they drove up to pick me up. Amazingly both of them had also had a nightmare of impending disaster the night before! God's guardian angels were communicating with the 3 of us to help save me from being killed and to make arrangements to bring me safely back to the seminary.

(11) My next premonition was clearly the most edifying and I do consider it a manifestation of "the word of knowledge." I had just finished my year of college teaching and was looking forward to a much needed vacation. It was Friday and I was contemplating travel plans, when I was overwhelmed by a premonition of an imminent death that would affect my life. But who and how? The more I tried to put my sense of dread out of my mind the stronger the impression grew. By Sunday, I feared it might be a premonition of the death of a close family member. That Monday morning, I was about to bolt out of my door to have breakfast at a favorite restaurant, when an inner voice seemed to shout, "Sit down! You are about to hear about the death!" Stunned, I sat down by the phone and instantly it rang. It was the professor in charge of our summer graduate theology program. She told me that Cassian, a visiting Catholic professor had not shown up for his first class (Pauline Theology); so some students went to the on campus apartment where he was staying and got no answer to their knocking. University officials opened the apartment and found Cassian dead in bed. My colleague said she didn't want to cancel the class and that I was the only professor still around qualified to teach that course. I agreed and had an unusually fulfilling teaching experience with a group of very intellectually curious grad students. in this case, I feel that God was preparing me to sacrifice my vacation plans. despite my fatigue, to fulfill a teaching role I might otherwise have rejected.