I've just read a post from 19 January 2012, in which a very famous and highly lauded preacher/author is purported to be an absolute paragon of Teliological Perfection, a model of Faith and Truth, without error, worthy of being totally trusted, looked up to, and safely depended upon for the dispensing of that intellectually pure Biblical knowledge and understanding that leads to eternal life. And my heart is full of grief. And the grief is not my own; it is the grief of the Holy Spirit. You come to recognize and understand it when you've walked with Him over a lifetime. You've also come to experience that most will not want to hear it or be troubled by it, that it makes you seem odd to most in the mainline denominations, and why just not bother - especially now, when time is so short - perhaps too short for even trying to explain or reason.
I come from a long line of Baptists. My father pastored one of the most picturesque and historic churches anyone could ever wish for, situated in the rolling countryside of Scott Co, Kentucky - Great Crossing (Buffalo Trace) Missionary Baptist Church. The building is very beautiful, dating back to the 1700/1800s, and near the area where Queen Elizabeth visits to choose her horses. I was always so proud of my father's name being integral to one of the beautiful stained-glass windows.
I was always much involved with music, and a great highlight of my youth was sitting on stage at Carnegie Hall with the very excellent Central Kentucky Youth Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Marvin Rabin, sharing a program with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic.
Why have I dragged out this pitiful bragging? PRIDE. The GREAT STUMBLING STONE to so many. The attitude of "I know it all. You can't tell me anything different from, or in addition to, what I learned in my denomination." When I first tried to explain to my father what I had learned about the Baptism (by Jesus) into (the Greek is always and only 'into,' not 'by' or 'with') the Holy Spirit, thus being filled 'with' His Spirit, his only words to me, then or ever, about the matter were, " Oh, Honey, being a Baptist is like being on the gold stardard." Neither of my parents wanted to hear about this experience.
The only three things my mother ever said were, "Yes, we heard about those things in my church when we were young, but we called them 'holy-rollers,' and her little nose would turn up as she said this. She also loved to say, "Well, Brother Wood never preached those things, and what Brother Wood preached was good enough for me." And her greatest indictment - "You had a young aunt who would go walking out through the fields, praying and laughing and crying, and everyone thought she was crazy." .(Knowing what I know now, she was 'praying in the Spirit,' and fellowshiping with the Lord, and those prayers probably laid the foundation for the Lord's later tapping me on the shoulder.) An old song comes to mind - "My God and I walk through this world together. We walk and talk as good friends should and do. We clasp our hands; our voices ring with laughter. My God and I will walk this whole world through." Oh praise and glory to His holy, mighty, powerful, precious NAME.
When I was about 26, we were (military) stationed at Ft. Lewis/McCord AFB, Washington, living beside Spanaway Lake, south of Tacoma. One fateful, life-changing Sunday, we went to Chapel, then to the Officer's Club for brunch as was our habit, then home to put our little boy for a nap and enjoy our afternoon. But by God's own intervention, I turned on the radio and began to hear a message that would change my life forever. The speaker was Dennis Bennett, rector and priest of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in the Ballard area of Seattle. He was speaking about something he called the Baptism into the Holy Spirit, and my heavenly Father's big magnet began to draw me to listen more and more, week after week. My first reaction was like my mother's - this can't be true or I would have heard about it in my church. Not. My church had simply left it out, 'skipped those pages' as if they were not in the Book. But I came to know that the Book was true ("let God be true and every man a liar") in every place where the Holy Spirit- his ministry to and through us, and His gifts were presented, just as surely now as 2000 years ago.
Many exciting and wonderful things are added to your relationship with the Father and Jesus when you learn to "walk in the Spirit," "pray in the Spirit" as well as with your understanding. Just one message given to me by the Holy Spirit, later on at Ft. Carson, Colorado, changed things on that Army Post. Gloria Cruz had come one day to be our guest speaker at Protestant Women of the Chapel. And later that week, in our Bible study, we began to say, "Wouldn't it be wonderful if Nicky would come here and preach to our soldiers," and we began to pray about it. About a week later, the Holy Spirit woke me up in the middle of the night, and said so clearly, "Find seven people to stand with you in prayer and fasting for seven days, for you are in the midst of a mighty stronghold of Satan (Ft. Carson, Peterson Air Force Base, the Air Force Academy, Manitou Springs down the road - one of the major witchcraft/satan worship 'headquarters' of the geograpical earth, etc.). The next time I returned to Chapel, I relayed that message from the Lord concerning what would be necessary for Nicky's coming there, and a young Army Captain, Bruce Messinger, stood up and said, "I believe that's the word of the Lord, and I will be one of the seven. Then there were others. I wrote the story to Nicky, and his reply was that he believed the message was from the Lord and he would do it. He preached at Ft. Carson, then completed the week with a crusade for Colorado Springs at the Rodeo Center. So many wonderful things happened there that I can't possibly write them all.
Refering back to the first paragraph, the grief is that because of unbelief, because of wrongful teaching, how many thousands have been turned away from asking for, and receiving, that Source of all our Power for living the Christian life!! Jesus said 'Woe' to those who not only would not enter in, but also keep others from entering in. Therein lies the grief, for yes, the Holy Spirit is grieved by the teachings of such men, not only the one mentioned, but a famous one in Atlanta, Georgia, and many others such as the very famous and highly-esteemed ("be careful when ALL men speak well of you..".) teacher/preacher who has posted online a horrible video of a meeting in which people, supposedly Pentecostal, are rolling around on the floor, being led about on all-fours, on leashes - false in practice, embarrassing and humiliating, but shown forth to the world as representative of God's Spirit-baptized children who allow the Holy Spirit to pray through them so that the perfect will of God can be done.
Since these teacher/preachers teach that the Baptism into the Holy Spirit is 'not for today,' that speaking in other languages, as led by the Spirit, is 'not for today,' but ceased with the deaths of the apostles, and that the Holy Spirit Baptism is the same as the initial profession of faith, then who are they implying is behind this experience in the lives of so many of us? I think you know the implication. And my Lord said that every manner of evil spoken against Him could be forgiven, but that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan) would not be forgiven, neither in this life, nor in the life to come.
The whole point of this too-long letter is to encourage you to investigate for yourself, and not grieve the Holy Spirit by believing what is taught about him by so many preachers, highly-esteemed though they may be. The first book I ever read about the subject when I was trying so hard to understand, was "Nine O'Clock in the Morning" by Dennis Bennett. Though so long in print, it remains popular because of its wonderful, forever-relevant story. I also want to recommend to you a newer book by Frank Viola and George Barna, called "Pagan Christianity." No disrespect to Christianity - just a great presentation of the sources of so many of our taken-for-granted customs and traditions.
I love all of you, and can't begin to express my gratitude for this website. I hope and pray that I have not sounded too harsh. Please forgive me if I have; I didn't mean to. I so hope to meet you very soon. Can't help keeping my eye on Dr. Owuor's schedule :).