Chapter 12 Gods Gift

This entry is part of 16 in the series article 92

Chapter 12 Gods Gift

CHAPTER 12

GOD’S GIFT

It is easy to assume that if one is filled with the Holy Spirit, problems vanish. In my experience, it’s the opposite; the Spirit filled life produces greater responsibility because of a greater awareness. Those of us raised in a Biblical structure where rules and regulations were outlined by church leadership, find the liberty of the Spirit filled life on the edge of Christian recklessness. The freedom in such a relationship is so unrestrictive, while at the same time confining, it is difficult, without faithfulness to God’s Word and accountability to other christians, to maintain spiritual stability. The reason for this isn’t because the Holy Spirit is haphazard. The cause is self inflicted. We have lived for so long by standards, and what we thought was true, that when the Holy Spirit illuminates God’s true nature, we stagger from the forcefulness of the revelation. I am not referring to sin but relationship and commitment. For most of us, our relationship with our Heavenly Father is based upon what we do for Him. In the Spirit filled life, our relationship is based upon what God does for us.

Shortly after being filled with the Spirit, Christian friends began to ask questions. One Baptist pastor invited me to come and speak in his church for five days on the topic of being filled with the Spirit. As a Baptist, that was frowned upon and certainly grounds for suspicion. This attitude is largely do to a fear, as Baptists, that the gift of tongues, which we believed to have died out with the last apostle, was demonic. After all, we reasoned, if it isn’t of God; it must be of the devil. What I will share in this chapter is personal and not doctrinal. I have written on the topic of the gift of tongues and will not take the liberty of addressing the subject of the doctrine in this book. I simply wish to share how God led me to what the Scriptures call, and what Jesus called, “the baptism of the Spirit,” (Acts 1:4-5).

I had made a commitment to seek God for answers on two topics: What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit and how can I get my prayers answered. Somehow I felt that if one could solve these two Biblical questions, everything else would fall into place. The Lord revealed the truth to me concerning the filling of the Holy Spirit in early August of 1982. The second question, however, concerning prayer wasn’t answered for three more years.

A year following the infilling of the Holy Spirit, we moved into a home the Lord enabled us to purchase. My prayer times had become celebrations of praise and worship. The presence of the Lord was almost tangible at times. Since I was a Baptist, I did not believe in speaking in tongues so I never heard any audible voices, not even my own, speaking strange tongues as I prayed. I was, on the other hand, keenly aware of the Holy Spirit as I prayed.

One day, nearly a year before moving into our home, I was praying in the basement of our rented duplex and as I sensed the presence of the Lord, I felt as though my head had been opened and things were being poured in. In my silent prayer, I asked the Heavenly Father what He and the Holy Spirit were talking about. I could sense they were communing in my behalf but I didn’t hear any words pass between them. Later I would learn from the Scriptures that this actually occurs as the Holy Spirit prays in our behalf but at the time I was completely unawares. When I posed the question in my heart without opening my mouth to verbalize the thought, the Heavenly Father placed this thought in my thinking. “I am giving you all that is needed for you to walk through the balance of your life. You are unable, at this time, to fully embrace all that I am placing within you, but the Holy Spirit will begin to reveal it to you a little at a time.” I felt the peace of God settle upon me; knowing what He had just said was true. I felt the exchange continuing for several minutes.

Rejoicing in the experience of being filled with the Holy Spirit took up the better part of a year; the greatest intensity lasting the first nine months. About that time we began working on the move into our new home. It was, therefore, shortly after our move into our home that I began to realize I had not heard from God on the answer to my other question: “How do I get my prayers answered.” I mentioned this to my wife and told her I was going to return to the only method with which I was familiar to solve this problem: I was going to pray. In the fall of 1983, I returned to my schedule of praying thirty minutes each day to obtain the answers I wanted on the subject of how to pray.

Month after month past without any additional information forthcoming from the Holy Spirit. I knew without a doubt that I had been filled with the Holy Spirit of God but I, for some reason, needed to know how to pray. I singled out many passages of Scripture on the subject of prayer and as I prayed each day, I presented these passages before the Lord and requested the Holy Spirit teach me their meaning and application. The longer I prayed accordingly, the more frustrating it became. I simply wasn’t making any headway.

During this time I lost a rather large account I had been working for many months with a well known independent Baptist evangelist. After hearing the bad news, I sat in my living room with tears in my eyes wondering how I was going to support my family. I still had tape work to do for other churches but it wasn’t sufficient. As I sat considering my situation, I suddenly decided to branch out and expand. I immediately began to work toward obtaining a bank loan so I could advertize my tape duplicating business.

As the months rolled by, I became very involved with the tapes; getting more new customers each month. I was working twelve and fourteen hours a day but I still took time to pray my thirty minutes each day in order to learn how God wanted me to pray. I often slipped a second half hour into my busy schedule because I wanted to learn the truth about answered prayer.

In May of 1985, I was in my little two-room office attached to the side of my home. It was after 8:00 o”clock in the evening and I had been praying for about twenty minutes. The business had been growing magnanimously but for some reason I felt uncomfortable in my spirit. I had decided to spend extra time in prayer for a few days to express my concerns and request wisdom. As I walked around my little office praying out loud and asking God for wisdom, He very clearly spoke to me in my heart. Most Baptist will not admit to this inner voice we sometimes here but I had been listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit for nearly three years and was used to it. I never spoke to other Baptist about it however. As I requested wisdom from the Lord on how to handle my business, the Lord said to me in that still small voice, “You can have this wisdom for which you have made request but you must first have a prayer language.” This made me very uncomfortable because as a Baptist, I did not believe in speaking in tongues as a viable gift of the Holy Spirit for today. I was familiar, however, with the meaning of “prayer language,” because I had been doing business with Charismatics for several years as I duplicated cassettes and sold them tape supplies. I knew that a prayer language was the gift of tongues which one used in prayer to commune with God. I state again, I did not believe in speaking in tongues. I knew the voice of the Lord, however, and I did not like what I heard.

As I remained in prayer out in my office, the Lord revealed two additional things to me which, at the time, were both as unsettling and mysterious as the first. The Lord again spoke to me in that still small inner voice and said, “I have a treasure reserved in Heaven for you.” I had no idea what that referred to but since He used the word “treasure,” I assumed He referred to money. I figured my problems were over with my business because God was going to dump a big fortune on me for being such a good guy.

I suppose in some sense, the third thing the Lord said to me was the most discomforting. After perhaps five minutes of pondering the first two revelations and accepting them as from the Lord, I then asked my Heavenly Father what it was He desired of me concerning His will for my life. He immediately responded by saying in my spirit and heart, “You will be an intercessor.” I understood the term but I did not know, until a few months later, what an intercessor was and what they did.

As I concluded my prayer time that evening, I told the Lord I was greatly concerned that He might be telling me I needed to speak in tongues. I confessed to the Lord, however, that I would begin to study the Scriptures again on this subject and if He could convince me that tongues was for today, I would submit myself to it. I knew, however, if I ever spoke in tongues, I would have to leave the Baptist church; something I didn’t want.

On July 8, 1985, I began a three day fast. I had fasted for ten days once, without food, and other times for two and three days. I knew the three days wouldn’t be too difficult and perhaps I could twist God’s arm a little about this Heavenly treasure He had reported was in reserve for me. I was still doing well with the business, making more money than ever, but I still felt something wasn’t right. I wanted to know what that something was and the only way I knew of finding out was to pray. I figured, as long as I was at it, I would also inquire of the Holy Spirit on the topic of tongues.

On the first day of my fast, I became somewhat apprehensive. My studies of the Scriptures concerning the gift of tongues was beginning to unfold a number of questions. I didn’t like what I was reading. I had recalled two tape customers who were regulars; bringing preaching tapes by almost weekly for copies. They were both women and both Charismatics. Their testimonies were impeccable and not only were they concerned about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, they cared for the lost, too. This cut across the grain of everything I had been taught as a Baptist. If someone was wrong in a major doctrine such as tongues, surely they wouldn’t be winning people to Christ, too. They were, though, and that made me even more uncomfortable. I decided, therefore, to try and contact one of these two women just to ask a couple of harmless questions about the gift of tongues. Unfortunately, neither could be reached. The first lady had moved and I hadn’t seen her in a few months. The second lady was living in Saudi Arabia with her husband who worked for an American company.

On the second day of my fast, a new tape customer stood in my living room and as he picked up his tapes and visited for a moment, he told me the name of his church. It was the same church the first lady attended. I asked the customer if he knew her. This church ran over two thousand so I figured my chances were slim, to none, that he would know her personally. “Sure,” he said, “I know Kathy quite well. She’s teaching in our Christian school,” and he told me how to reach her. As I spoke with her on the telephone the next afternoon, I told her what I wanted to know and she answered a few of my questions briefly. “Phil,” she announced, “I’m not at all surprised you’re asking these questions. I’ve been praying for you about this for nearly three years now.”

Hanging up, I continued to question the Lord concerning this gift of tongues that I didn’t want to know about as a Baptist. As I read over I Corinthians 14 for the umpteenth time that afternoon. I told the Lord that I didn’t understand all Paul was talking about in that chapter but I agreed that as a Baptist, I didn’t have the whole truth under my belt. I prayed He would reveal the whole truth to me soon.

The next morning, the third and final day of my fast, the other lady living in Saudi Arabia called me on the phone. She and her family were in Denver on business for a couple of weeks and she wanted some tapes duplicated. I informed her of my quest of the gift of tongues and she answered a few questions over the phone and a few more when she came to drop off the tapes. “I’ll be back tonight, to pick up the copies,” she said. “By the way, Phil, I’m not at all surprised you’re asking these questions about the Holy Spirit and the gift of tongues,” she said proudly. “I’ve been praying about this for you for about three years.”

Wednesday evening Bonny came for her tapes. It was after 9:00 P.M. and as Bonny and my wife and I talked in the living room, she asked if she could pray for us. Sandy was not at all interested in speaking in tongues at that moment and in fact wasn’t for many more months. We stepped into my office and Bonny asked if she could lay hands on me to pray. Though I felt very nervous about a Charismatic woman laying hands on me, I gave my consent and prayed I wouldn’t start acting like an uncontrollable fool in the next few minutes. Though Bonny prayed and I requested the gift of tongues, nothing happened. A few minutes later, she left.

An hour later or so I began walking through the house and checking windows and doors before going to bed. My three day fast was over and I didn’t know any more than I had when it had begun. I didn’t have a “prayer language,” I didn’t know what the “treasure in Heaven was,” and what was an intercessor? I checked my watch and at 11:15 P.M., I went to bed more spiritually frustrated than ever.

As I lay in bed, I considered the past few weeks and wondered what all of this was doing in my life. If the Bible was true and if tongues was a gift for today, it shouldn’t be that difficult. I lay meditating on the Scriptures for perhaps thirty minutes. Finally, just before dropping off to sleep, I remember thinking of the prayer Paul prayed for the ephesians. He said, he prayed that their eyes would be enlightened. I recall drifting off to sleep with a prayer in my heart that my spiritual eyes would be enlightened to God’s truth if tongues were for today.

A minute or two after midnight, just fifteen minutes after fallen asleep, I awakened, propped up on my elbows and breathing as though I were just coming off a marathon. I felt as though I were on fire. “I’m having a heartache,” I said to myself. “No you aren’t,” I heard a voice say firmly. I lay back down on the bed once again and turning over,

pulled the covers up around me. I tried to figure out what was going on and told my Heavenly Father how frustrating He could be some times. I fell asleep once again.

fifteen minutes later I was awake again but this time it was due to someone speaking in the room. At first I thought one of our kids had come in to crawl into bed with us and as I continued to force myself awake, I realized it was me talking. What I heard coming from my lips wasn’t anything I understood; it sounded foreign. I tried to force myself awake in order to hear it but by the time I had come fully awake, I was no longer speaking. I had heard something but I thought perhaps I was either talking in my sleep or it was imaginary.

Climbing from bed, I went to my living room and knelt at my couch and prayed. “Lord, if that was real, if it was a gift you were giving me, allow it to return.” I prayed, went back to bed, got up and prayed, went back to bed, and got up and prayed off and on for an hour and a half. Nothing happened.

Finally, sliding under the blankets once again, I checked the time. It was 1:30 in the morning. My spiritual frustration was sharp. I lay on my back in semi-prayer; questioning the Lord about all that had been happening to me that day, that night, and for the past three years. I still felt very much confused about the subject of tongues, though I now believed the Scriptures taught there was some kind of gift available today, but I just had no understanding. I recalled the three things the Holy Spirit revealed to me two months earlier out in my office. The Lord had told me I needed a prayer language if I wanted the type of wisdom for which I had been praying. Then why wasn’t it happening?

As I contemplated, I noticed music playing far off in the distance. At first I ignored it since I figured it was our neighbor’s car radio playing as he drove into his driveway. He worked nights and often came home about this time; his radio playing as he drove in. After a moment, I realized it wasn’t him. I listened to see if the sound was outside or in. It sounded as though it were coming from outside the house but I couldn’t pin point its location. I held my breath to listen. “Was it inside the house?” It was growing louder but still was very soft. They were musical notes, about thirty or forty in number, and they were playing the same tune over and over again. Suddenly, I realized they were not outside the house nor inside. They were in me! The music played softly deep down inside of my spirit and I could hear the notes clearly and distinctly as they played their little tune again and again. At first it seemed as though I were singing a song to myself but I wasn’t. It was there, however, and it was clear. As I continued to listen, the notes grew louder and stronger. Yes, the same notes were being played repetitively. “What was this?” As I attempted to listen closely, and as the notes grew louder, I began to realize they weren’t notes, they were words and each note was a syllable. The words became crystal clear and their pleasant sounds filled my ears. It was as though a sentence was being repeated again and again. I said, and did nothing, for several minutes as I listened to the comforting sounds. Eventually I decided I could say the words if I wished but uncertain as to what was taking place, I remained silent for some time. Somehow I knew what I was to do and opening my mouth, I repeated the words I heard syllable by syllable. They sounded reassuring as I spoke them and as I repeated the sentence a few times, I noticed the sounds in my ears, coming from my spirit, beginning to fade. Eventually the sounds coming from inside of me disappeared completely and I lay quietly in my bed. I could still hear the words I had spoken as though they had been engraved into my vocabulary for ever. As I drifted back to sleep, I wondered if I could remember them by morning.

As I opened my eyes the following morning, I could still hear those words in my heart which I had spoken during the night. Pulling on my clothes, I hurried to my office and closing the door behind me, I spoke the few syllables I remembered. I didn’t seem able to recall the entire sentence but I did recall the first few words and as I spoke them out loud, they seemed strange and foreign to my voice. All day I spoke the words occasionally to make sure I wouldn’t forget.

During the late afternoon, still feeling baffled, wondering if what I had was indeed the gift of tongues, I called a local Christian counseling ministry I had heard often on the radio. As I spoke with the Christian brother on the phone and explained to him what had happened, he agreed that what I had was the gift of tongues. He suggested we pray together over the telephone and when we were done, he would begin praying with his prayer language and he encouraged me to do the same. Though I agreed, I was very uncomfortable and nervous. When he finished his prayer and began to worship God with his gift, I followed his example and began to worship the Lord. We finished our conversation with him offering a few words of advice and encouragement and I cradled the phone and walked to my desk. Setting down, I opened my mouth and with tears rolling down my cheeks, I prayed in a language unfamiliar to me for fifteen minutes without stopping.

If it is possible to be happy and sad at the same time, I was at that moment. Something I had been praying for and about for several weeks had finally happened. Was it real? What did it mean? How would it effect my life? What about church? What about being a Baptist? All these questions, plus many more, flooded my heart.

As the next few weeks unfolded, I became concerned about my walk with the Lord and its direction. I couldn’t call my pastor and discuss with him what had happened. We were Baptists; Baptists didn’t believe in speaking in tongues. If I spoke with any Baptist friends, they would tell me I had spoken in tongues by the power of the devil and demand I stop it immediately or be kicked out of the church. I knew I needed some doctrinal guidance but whom could I trust. I began praying the Lord would help me find some Bible study group or some person that could help me walk through the Scriptures concerning the gift of tongues.

Eventually I contacted a pastor for whom I had done tapes. He was a Charismatic pastor of a group of about fifty or sixty people. I discovered he was well trained in the Scriptures and because I could not find him wrong, or in error, in any basic Bible doctrine which I believed as a Baptist, I was convinced he was correct in what he told me about the gift of tongues. We spent many hours over the telephone for the next few weeks as I asked him many questions. He shared with me many cassette recordings of men of God and I learned a great deal in a short period of time. I began to desire a group of people with whom I could fellowship. My pastor friend was too far away for me to attend his church and though I made a few discrete telephone calls to large Charismatic churches, they had no Bible studies in my area of town. I had heard so much about how wrong Charismatics were, I was afraid to attend one of their church services. I still had no trust for Charismatic doctrine and I only wanted to perhaps meet in a home with a small Bible study group where I could ask questions, or perhaps with a single person.

One day, after hanging up the phone from talking with another large Charismatic ministry and discovering, “No, I’m sorry sir, we don’t have any home Bible study group in your area,” I remember saying out loud, “Lord, you are going to have to bring them to me. I don’t know where to go from here.” I was replacing the telephone in its cradle as I prayed out loud. I decided to forget trying to find a church or a fellowship or a Bible study group.

Less than twenty-four hours later, I received a telephone call from someone wanting to order copies of tapes from my pastor. Since I had been handling the tape duplicating for several years for my church, the church secretary just referred calls to me which had anything to do with the church’s tape ministry. As I wrote the order for the lady on the telephone, I asked for the mailing address where the tapes should be sent. She said, “Just mail them here to our church address,” and she recited it. The name of the church did not have a Baptist title. That was highly unusual and I said so. I asked, then, what kind of a church it was but the only answer I received was that it was a nondenominational church. I asked her again what kind of a church it was and received a similar answer. Finally, lacking recourse, and wanting to know what kind of a church was ordering these tapes, I said, “What men does your pastor follow that are nationally known?” She named three men I had never heard of but the forth was Bob Mumford.

Six years earlier, while working as the assistant pastor in Hotchkiss, Colorado, one of the men in the community had gotten saved through our church. His brother, when he heard of his salvation, began sending him books and tapes by Charismatics. Though my newly saved friend wasn’t interested directly in Charismatic doctrine, and in fact was afraid of it, he had shared a tape with me by a man named Bob Mumford. He asked me to listen to it and wanted my opinion. Though I disagreed with Bob Mumford’s teaching on tongues, I was really impressed with his teaching and had never forgotten it. As soon as this lady on the other end of the telephone mentioned Bob Mumford, I knew it was a Charismatic church. I mentioned to her I had ben filled with the Spirit and just got my prayer language but had a lot of questions. She said her pastor would be happy to talk with me so I said I’d return the call sometime in the future; not ready at that moment to take the plunge.

Three days later I called her pastor and talked with him for quite awhile concerning all that had happened to me. The love and friendship which came over the phone was difficult to receive. It seemed as though I had known this man all of my life. He invited me to come to their Saturday night monthly mens meeting that weekend and though uneasy, I promised I would.

The mens meeting was just as I expected. There was lots of singing and worshipping of the Lord. Here were men who praised and worshiped God like they really meant it. They weren’t afraid, or shy, in how they worshiped God. They spoke of souls to be saved and their love for God. They spoke of faithfulness and consistency in their walk with the Lord. They spoke of reaching other men for Christ and how they would go about it. Everything I had been taught in the Baptist church about Charismatics somehow seemed Malapropos. These were men who loved God.

The pastor introduced me and asked me to speak for awhile about how the Lord had been working in my life. They laughed and cried with me as I spoke and their love came through with force and power. When I finished and we all began to pray, they laid hands on me; praying for my physical sight, and for God’s leading. They never once tried to encourage me to leave my church and join theirs.

Shortly after meeting these new brothers in the Lord, I sat in my own Baptist church one morning and listened to my pastor teach Sunday school. I always carried a small notebook so I could jot notes. As I listened to the pastor, I continued meditating on prayer. I had only been speaking in tongues for two months. No one in my church was aware of what had happened in my life and as I sat and listened to the pastor, I wondered what people around me would think if they knew I spoke in tongues. Suddenly it seemed as though God had something to say to me. Pulling my little notebook from my pocket, I began to take notes. I wrote during Sunday School and I wrote during the morning service. I couldn’t wait to get home to continue writing notes. As soon as we got home, I went to my office and began to write. I spent hours that day writing down everything I felt the Lord was showing me about prayer and how to get my prayers answered. The Lord gave me seven sermons that day on the subject of prayer and from that moment on, I began to receive answers to my prayers as never before.

Since our new Charismatic friends were holding services in a rented church building, they had to meet Sunday afternoons. This made it possible for my family and I to attend our own church and theirs as well without being detected. It was time to make a decision. It had been six months since I had been given the gift of tongues. I had gotten more answers to my prayers during those six months than I had since I had been born again. God had revealed to me what an intercessor was and how I was to employ that calling upon my life. He had revealed to me how to pray and how to get my prayers answered. I now had to decide whether to stay in the Baptist church and keep what had happened to me a secret, or leave and follow God’s leading.

In January of 1986, my wife and I took our family out of the Baptist church and joined with our Charismatic friends in their fellowship. Though life never became a bed of roses, I felt God’s leading in a way I had never known possible. My calling as an intercessor was confirmed in a very unusual way, the Lord continued to reveal truth to me concerning how to pray for answers, and the Scriptures opened to me like a newly found treasure of wealth. Eventually my wife and children were filled with the Spirit and given the gift of tongues.

Opening the door one afternoon, Brother Jere Todd came in and said he had come to visit. “Have a seat,” I said cheerfully, though none was in my heart. “What you wanna visit about?” I asked.

“Well,” Jere said, clearing his throat, “I know a man who is very discouraged right now.” “Oh, really,” I said nervously, “and who might that be?” “You,” he said with conviction. “Well,” I agreed, “you got that right.” “I’m sorry the church didn’t call you to be the next pastor

Phil. I wish there was something I could do about that. I haven’t been saved very long, of course, so I have no say-so in the church affairs. I do know this, however. God has something very special for you in life. He’s called you to the ministry and though this church won’t allow you to be their pastor because of your blindness, God will make a way somehow, somewhere, for you.”

“That sounds pretty good Jere but right now I don’t see or feel it in my heart.” Tears burned my eyes as I recalled the emotions when I faced the unyielding unbending pulpit committee alone.

“I know you don’t right now Phil,” I heard Jere say, “but I feel it in my heart and I believe it. I want to try and encourage you, though, with this little message. I know God has something planned for you.”

We talked further but my heart wasn’t pumping blood. I couldn’t see God working in my life at that moment at all. I heard my brother’s words and hoped they were true but somehow I felt terribly alone in my life. I had just been rejected by my own friends. I couldn’t see my way clear to God’s will any longer. The road at come to an end. As Jere and I prayed together that afternoon and he left my house, neither of us knew in a few short years, we both would be filled with the Holy Spirit, speaking with tongues, and pastoring Charismatic churches.

print

Series Navigation
Spread God's love