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Saturday, May 25, 2002

Toungues-Upclose and Personal-Interesting Bible study last night. Good praise session, some powerful laying-hands-on-prayer for people and yours truly leading the study, using a slightly-trimmed-down text of a post I had done last month on the Armor of God in Ephesians 6. It went over well, but the kicker came later. A new guy to the group had a prophetic tongue last night as we were praying. I've never been an interpreter before; I had heard such things before, but at big churches and not at such a small group. That round-to-zero chance that God might want you to be giving the interpretation just stopped rounding to zero. Silence. Long silence. Quiet inner prayer, "Lord, if you want me to do this, give me the words." Look around at the people. Look at the AoG preacher's-daughter that's in the group-Jen's going to give the interpretation, right? Nope. Eileen starts to vaguely catch a theme of what the prophecy was about and then God gave me the words. Thankfully a hand on her arm was able to stop her in mid-paragraph. I wasn't hearing the words directly, but I knew what was supposed to be said, taking dictation but like on a thought-for-thought basis, with my brain translating into coherent English. I don't remember it word-for-word, but the message was that God would be with us as we went into the world and the He would be giving us the power we needed. When we needed more power, more would be supplied. [Update 5-26. I just found out that was the first time Eileen had been around a prophetic tounge, and wasn't familiar with the typical "tounges etiquite" of expressing things in the first person with confidence.] It did fit in to the message of actively taking the Gospel out to the world that my teaching was on, but I can honestly say that I wasn't editing what I was receiving other than to express it in English. Is this running counter to the Gospel? No. Is this adding to the Bible, as John is interpreted to be warning about at the end of Revelation? No. 1 Corinthians 12:7 comes to mind-"Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good." This was designed to edify the dozen of us that were there last night. It doesn't rewrite scripture but it does show God's hands-on presence in the here-and-now. Excuse me while I get maybe a bit too personal. Pentecostal tradition assumes that people who act in the gifts of the Spirit have been "Baptized in the Spirit," a second (or third) dose of the Holy Spirit's presence that makes itself known by the recipient speaking in tongues. I had an experience about a week after accepting Christ in 1985 where I was praying and having my spirit "reaching" out to God and felt a surge of power that was like getting a finger in a light-socket, except it was good rather than shocking. I don't remember any tongues that came with it at the time, but is was such potent confirmation of God's presence that I could call it a "Baptism of the Spirit" that felt something like what the Pentecostals I had just started to know were talking about. This personal experience, coupled with a lack of clear command in Acts, might explain my unwillingness to buy the evidential tongues doctrine. I can't say with certainty whether I had "spoke in tongues" in my life before. There have been many times where I have uttered things that were not in English (or any other language that I know something of) that came from the heart while being moved by something that sure felt like the Holy Spirit. Typically, they were close enough to babbling where I wasn't quite cocky enough to claim it as an actual language, yet often had more structure than a mere babble. I don't want to be in a position to be cocky, but this confirmed to me that God's presence is real and he isn't out of the miracle business, even if it small things, like the power of prayer to take a depressed person and lift their spirits or to give a message of comfort to a body of believers. After last night, the skeptics will have to call me a nut-case or a liar as they bash charismatic stuff.

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