Morning Meditation: Why is Speaking in Tongues So Controversial?

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During a Holy Spirit conference, a pastor from a very conservative denomination sat in the front row. I could sense he felt out of place, but when he was presented with a clear Biblical presentation he was able to believe and receive that day. And his ministry was forever changed.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of praying in tongues, and the interpretation of tongues continues to be a topic of contention within the body of Christ. I believe this is because Satan is afraid of the supernatural power that is released when God’s people activate the power of the Holy Spirit and pray in their supernatural languages. So, he constantly stirs up confusion and strife via the lack of teaching and training concerning these very powerful weapons of spiritual warfare that God has given to us. Let’s clear up the confusion and see what the Bible has to say about this.

In the book of Acts before Jesus ascended into heaven He was teaching the apostles about things to come. He told them of another baptism, the baptism of the Holy Spirit that would soon come upon them (see Acts 1:5). He told them they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them (see Acts 1:8).

And in the second chapter of Acts we read of the day of Pentecost when suddenly a noise came from heaven like a violent rushing wind and it filled the whole house, and tongues of fire rested upon them and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving the utterance. (See Acts 2: 1-4.)

Most Christians believe that this took place, but many believe that mighty move of the Holy Spirit was for the early Church and not for believers today. Let’s look to the Scriptures for clarity.

The Apostle Peter declared to the onlookers of this amazing event (starting with verse 14) that what they witnessed is what the Prophet Joel prophesied about saying that in the Last Days a mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit would come forth on all people. Did the world end with the early Church? No. This was referring to a new dispensation of the Holy Spirit, which did not end, but just began.

Peter continues to teach and tells the listeners what they need to do (see verse 38). He tells them they need to repent, be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and that they will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. And he goes on to tell them in the next verse who the promise of the Holy Spirit is for. He says to them, “For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are far away, as many as the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:39.). Peter includes us when he says, “and to all who are far away” in the promise to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Now that we laid the foundation, let’s continue on and see what else the Word has to say about the baptism of the Holy Spirit, tongues and the interpretation of tongues.

The Holy Spirit:

  • The Holy Spirit is a good gift from the Father, and not an evil one. It says in Luke 11:11-14, “If a son asks for bread from any of you who is a father, will you give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will you give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will you offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit:

  • The baptism of the Holy Spirit is powerful and reserved for the believer in Jesus Christ only. It would literally destroy an unregenerated spirit. It says in Luke 5:37-38, “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise the new wine will burst the wineskins, and it will be spilled, and the wineskins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”

  • This baptism is for any and all believers in Jesus Christ.  ” For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all who are far away, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:39).

  • Through His baptism we receive His power, Acts 1:8 says, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you. And you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

  • The initial evidence of being baptized in the Holy Spirit is that you will pray in tongues. As it happens in Acts 2:4, “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to speak.”

  • Tongues and the Interpretation of Tongues:

    •  Tongues and its co-partner, the interpretation of tongues, are spiritual gifts given to us by the Holy Spirit, and not the devil. (See 1 Cor. 12:10.)

    The Purpose of the Gift of Tongues:

    • The Holy Spirit prays through us when we don’t know how. “Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weaknesses, for we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Rom. 8:26-27).

    • Our spirit prays for the unknown. “For he who speaks in an unknown tongue does not speak to men, but to God. For no one understands him, although in the spirit, he speaks mysteries.” (1 Cor. 14:2).

    • To build ourselves up. “He who speaks in an unknown tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.” (1 Cor. 14:4).

    • So supernatural power can flow through us. “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:38).

    The Purpose for the Interpretation of Tongues:

    • When we are in a public setting we need the gift of interpretation of tongues to be in operation so that the supernatural message can be understood by all. First Corinthians 14:13 gives us instruction concerning this situation, “Let him who speaks in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.”

    I believe, just like the pastor from the conservative denomination believed and received after he heard a clear Biblical presentation concerning the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the gift of tongues and the interpretation of tongues that many others from mainline denominations will be open to receive when they hear the truth presented with clarity.

    Becky Dvorak is a healing minister and the Destiny Image author of DARE to Believe and Greater Than Magic. Visit her at authorbeckydvorak.com.

Reblogged via Why is Speaking in Tongues So Controversial? — Charisma Magazine.

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Think on these things: The Idols of Marriage and Weddings

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We don’t really relate much to the concept of idolatry in America today. We think of people bowing down to statues and making animal or human sacrifices to wooden/stone/metal statues. Most of us are not remotely tempted to bow down to a ceramic figurine, pray to it, sing praise songs to it or have religious ceremonies trying to seek its favor. The very idea of worshipping a piece of wood, metal or stone seems laughable to most of us – and it is certainly not something we think about doing.

THERE IS IDOLATRY TODAY?

Idolatry is alive and well in our hearts today, too, though!  According to Wes Church, our Bible teacher on Sunday nights at First Baptist Church of Columbia, SC, we are created by God to be worshippers.  The question is not, “Will we worship something?”  but rather, “What/whom will we worship?”  Wes talked about that worship involves placing something/someone in the “place of preeminence” of our lives – the “glory place.”  And he also described that when we worship something, we make sacrifices for that thing/person in order to give them first place.  We give up our time, our money, our efforts, sometimes even our families, careers and health in order to worship that thing.

WHAT DO PEOPLE IN AMERICA WORSHIP OTHER THAN GOD?

We can put almost anything in God’s place in our hearts, sadly.  Wes said, “The human heart is an idol factory.”  We are always coming up with new dreams, schemes, plans and things to idolize and things that we easily slip into God’s special place of worship in our hearts.  And we can definitely have more than one idol at a time.

Some examples of idols people worship today include:

  • power
  • control
  • money
  • career
  • boyfriends
  • husbands
  • children
  • hobbies
  • health
  • beauty
  • weight/thinness
  • clothing
  • material things
  • false religions
  • friendships
  • approval of people
  • popularity
  • fame
  • travel
  • a beautiful house
  • a super nice car
  • jewelry
  • marriage
  • a college degree
  • the earth (environmentalism)
  • creation or created things
  • things that we make ourselves or that people make
  • movie stars/singers
  • drugs
  • alcohol
  • any addiction
  • comfort
  • a human ie: leader, president, boss, famous person
  • the media/computers/email/cell phones/technology
  • Star Wars…. ANYTHING!

None of these things are inherently evil.  Most of them are good things.  The issue is when we make these things the center of our lives, when we replace God with something like this.  God calls this the sin of idolatry – and it is an EXTREMELY big deal to God.

Peaceful Single Girl

We don’t really relate much to the concept of idolatry in America today.  We think of people bowing down to statues and making animal or human sacrifices to wooden/stone/metal statues.  Most of us are not remotely tempted to bow down to a ceramic figurine, pray to it, sing praise songs to it or have religious ceremonies trying to seek its favor.  The very idea of worshipping a piece of wood, metal or stone seems laughable to most of us – and it is certainly not something we think about doing.

THERE IS IDOLATRY TODAY?

Idolatry is alive and well in our hearts today, too, though!  According to Wes Church, our Bible teacher on Sunday nights at First Baptist Church of Columbia, SC, we are created by God to be worshippers.  The question is not, “Will we worship something?”  but rather, “What/whom will we worship?”  Wes talked about that worship involves placing something/someone…

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How I Moved Past My Awkwardness to Pray for People to be Healed

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.J.D. King never thought of himself as having a great healing ministry. Yet God has sent him to the nations to minister in healing. Here's how he got past being scared to pray for people to be healed.

J.D. King never thought of himself as having a great healing ministry. Yet God has sent him to the nations to minister in healing. Here’s how he got past being scared to pray for people to be healed. (Charisma archives)

 

Over the years several individuals have asked me to share my thoughts on the ministry of healing. They were particularly interested in learning how to operate powerfully in an evangelistic context. One man said that he wanted to get over the awkwardness and really begin to touch the lives of people.

I understand the questions and even the hesitation that many feel in this area. Ministering healing can appear difficult to those who have never functioned in it. In fact, when I started out, I struggled with this (and often still do).

Most have the idea that it’s overly “mystical” or even the byproduct of a perfect Christian life. I don’t think that this is the right way to look at it. God often uses regular, everyday believers who are still finding their way. I’m so glad that it doesn’t take “perfection” to touch the lives of others. If that was required, I would certainly be disqualified (and you would be too).

I also want to point out that healing is deeply relational; even “ordinary” in its outworking. It is not taking people out of their “earthly” experiences. Instead, healing is bringing the power and truth of Jesus into a fractured human body. Arguably, it is one of the most incarnational realities imagined. We engage and watch as the glorious God of the universe brings life to broken, corruptible flesh.

I want you to understand that healing doesn’t have to be so complicated. It begins by simply taking notice of ill individuals. You might see them in the checkout line or standing next to you at the gas station. Reach out and show some genuine concern about their life. People can usually tell whether you’re speaking to them out of a posture of love or not.

In a calm, reassuring voice, say something like, “I noticed that you’re in pain. Do you mind if I ask what happened?” Give them a moment to explain what’s going on. As you’re carefully listening and interacting, be sure to get their first name and affirm their great value to you.

After they share their diagnosis, be sure to mention that you’re a Christian and that you love to pray for people. Ask, “Is it alright if I pray for you?” Often, they will say, “Yes,” thinking you intend to intercede later. Explain that you would like to pray for them right now—if that is at all possible.

There are a few things to consider when you actually get the opportunity to pray (sometimes you don’t get that opportunity to pray, but you should bless them just the same). First of all, it’s good to be at peace. If you’re overly agitated, it will be hard for them to receive from you. Secondly, keep in mind that you don’t have to be loud or even pray for an extended time. It is not length or volume that brings healing. These things can make a real difference in people’s receptivity.

As you begin to pray, invite the presence of the Lord to come. Pray that His goodness and strength would be manifest. Bless the Lord and thank Him for all He has done! Center everything you are doing in the person and work of Jesus.

Then out of a position of authority, simply command – in the mighty name of Jesus—that the pain leave their body. Be direct and firm against the infirmity! Demand it to go! Throughout the New Testament they prayed prayers of command, not prayers of petition. We should always try to follow the Scriptural example when we pray.

 

Also, if appropriate, you might ask if you can lay hands on them in the place where they feel the most pain. “Laying on of hands” is a dynamic way of imparting the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

After you’ve prayed for a minute or two, it’s good to ask them how things are going. Find out if the pain has lessened or if they feel anything “different” taking place in their bodies. When a person is experiencing a touch from God, they may feel tingling, coolness, heat, peace, joy, or perhaps nothing at all. Have them provide a little feedback so you can get a sense of how things are going.

If there’s a sense of breakthrough, ask them to do something they couldn’t do before. For example, if pain was in their leg, have them now put a little weight on it and walk. Obviously wisdom must be shown in each circumstance. The ill should only be encouraged to respond in a way they’re completely comfortable with. I’ve found that sometimes the healing comes in a moment of response.

Obviously not everyone will respond favorably to this kind of prayer engagement. Healing doesn’t fit the common understanding of Christianity in North America or Europe. Because of this, some will reject your efforts. This is always disappointing.

Nevertheless, the possibility of rejection is probably not our biggest problem. I believe the greatest impediment to the ministry of healing is our own insecurities and fears. Christians often become their own saboteurs.

It is important that one doesn’t allow the awkwardness and discomfort to dissuade them from making an effort. It is not always easy, but Spirit-filled believers need to press in anyway.

I always get a knot in my stomach when I talk to someone about their illness, but I refuse to let that stand in my way. I have pressed against the awkwardness and have personally engaged hundreds of sick people. To my great joy, many were powerfully impacted by the mercy of Jesus. I’ve seen healing take place in gas stations, restaurants, and department stores. While my sincere efforts are occasionally rejected, most of the time people are genuinely open to an encounter with Jesus.

I think it’s time for Christians to get over the awkwardness and discomfort and start advancing the kingdom. It is time to be brave. There is a sick world that is desperately waiting for us to advance. Will you join me?

J.D. King is the director of the World Revival Network.

The Charisma Podcast Network is now live. Featuring a variety of programs including news, leadership, inspiring stories, women’s topics, sports, and even more.

Reblogged via How I Moved Past My Awkwardness to Pray for People to be Healed — Charisma Magazine.

Think on these things – The Devil’s Hit List

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The Devil’s Hit List

 

And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. —Luke 22:31-32

On the top of the devil’s hit list are those who love the Lord and walk according to His plan for their lives.

The devil wants to sift you as wheat, but you do not have to be afraid, because he has to contend with the next verse: “But I have prayed for you.” Who prayed? Not Abraham, David, Peter, nor Paul. The One who prays for you is the resurrected Son of the living God, the One who conquered death, hell, and the grave. He pulled the keys of your bondage out of the defeated hands of your adversary.

Take hold of this revelation: Jesus is interceding at the right hand of your Father, calling your name aloud and praying, specifically, that your faith won’t fail. Then rejoice that you have made the devil’s hit list. He cannot touch or harm you. At least, you are a problem to him. At least, he has noticed your work in the kingdom of God. Rejoice when he attacks. You are doing something right, and the enemy hates it.

God, empower me to withstand the

attacks and fiery darts of the evil one.

I know that Jesus is interceding for me,

and I walk in the power of His intercession.

Amen.

via The Devil’s Hit List – Daily Breakthroughs – Charisma Devotionals.

 

The Persecuted Church, Each year 100 million Christians suffer persecution, imprisonment and even death for their sacred religious beliefs

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“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Charisma Founder Steve Strang is speaking at the United Nations against the persecution of Christians in the Middle East. (Flickr/Creative Commons)

Steve Strang, founder of Charisma and CEO of Charisma Media is addressing an event at the United Nations in New York at 5:28 PM today called “Not Peace but a Sword: The Persecution of Christians in the Middle East as a Threat to International Peace and Security.”

He is one of several speakers and was asked to address the topic: “The Role of the Media—or lack of—in Highlighting the Persecution of Christians in the Middle East.” Here is the text of his remarks:

It’s an honor to be here this afternoon at this historic event to speak about the role of the media in covering the plight of persecuted Christians in the Middle East.

Each year, 100 million Christians suffer persecution, imprisonment and even death for their sacred religious beliefs. According to The Voice of the Martyrs, a ministry dedicated to assisting the persecuted church worldwide, “more people have died for their faith in Christ in the last 100 years” than in the previous 19 centuries combined.

As you are probably aware, until recently, the media have largely ignored and downplayed the slaughter of Christians in the Middle East and throughout the world.

It should have shocked the conscience of the world, but it registered barely a blip on the media’s radar for decades.

There are exceptions, of course.

Several years ago, Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, held a forum on “The Persecuted Church,” noting that of all the religions in the world that are being persecuted, “the single largest persecution is of the church—Christianity—far more than of Islam, of Buddhism, of Hinduism or any other religion.”

A few days after Easter this year, Pope Francis—reacting to the slaughter of nearly 150 Christians by Islamic militants in Kenya—called on the world to give tangible help to persecuted Christians, describing them as modern “martyrs.” The Vatican’s official preacher said there was a “disturbing indifference” among the world’s institutions and in public opinion to the killing of Christians.

Until recently, the media have mostly looked the other way, and even today we are still witnessing examples of how the media are ignoring, or minimizing the fact, that Christians are the primary targets of genocide by ISIS and other Islamic extremists in the Middle East. For instance, in January, numerous media outlets focused on the terrorist attacks on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo while ignoring the ongoing massacre of Nigerians, including many Christians, at the hands of the terror group Boko Haram. As many as 2,000 people are believed to have been killed and several churches were burned.

As head of Charisma Media, one of the nation’s largest Christian media outlets, we have closely covered the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and throughout the world for four decades. Our writers, sources and readers have witnessed some of the most horrific acts of human depravity imaginable. As a journalistic observer of these atrocities for decades, I can tell you without a doubt that the situation is reaching an unprecedented dimension of crisis.

I have personally reported as recently as this month persecution of Christians in Egypt, Dubai and Malaysia based on interviews with Christian leaders from those countries.

A century ago, Middle Eastern Christians represented about 20 percent of the population. Now they represent about 4 percent. In Iraq, before the Gulf War, there were about 1.4 million Christians in 1990. Now there are about 200,000 and the head of the Catholic Chaldean Church in Kurdistan says Iraqi Christians have “little time left.” We are literally watching the genocide of Jesus’ followers in the Middle East.

From kidnappings and the execution of journalists and aid workers to beheadings, crucifixions and the burning of Christians, the Islamic State is exhibiting shocking cruelty. Thousands have died at their hands—more than 24,000 in the first eight months of 2014. This doesn’t include the 21 Coptic Christians who were beheaded or 45 Iraqi citizens who were burned alive. ISIS is also kidnapping children and selling them into the sex trade, or crucifying them like the Romans did to Christians in the 1st century.

With the rise of ISIS and its threats of bringing “Armageddon” to the West, along with concerns that Iran is developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missile technologies, all eyes are on the Middle East. As the world witnesses the beheadings, crucifixions and torture of thousands of Christians, it’s become clear that this will have far-reaching consequences for not only Christianity, but the entire world. Left unchecked, the inhumane carnage we are watching in the Middle East and other parts of the world will eventually come to the United States and other western nations. It will pose a threat to international peace and security.

Nevertheless, the media have largely failed to cover the plight of Christians in the Middle East, the United Nations has remained mostly silent and the U.S. government has turned a blind eye to all this—downplaying the role of Islamic extremists in these atrocities and that Christians are their primary targets.

Meanwhile, the pulpits have been stunningly quiet. A week ago, we ran a story about how Glenn Beck is “sounding the alarm about a coming Christian holocaust in the Middle East—if Americans don’t do something to rise up and help stop the slaughter.” He said, “The American Revolution, the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement came and were won from the pulpits first. The pulpits should be on fire, but our pulpits are barely an ember. It’s shameful what is happening.”

In another one of our articles, best-selling author Joel Rosenberg pleaded for the church to wake up. “Much of the church around the world is asleep to the threat,” he said.

I share his lament. The pulpits and the media should be reverberating with righteous indignation at these injustices—the wholesale slaughter of our brothers and sisters in Christ in the cradle of Christianity’s birth.

We must address the mass genocide of Christians in the Middle East.

And just as we saw in the years leading up to the American Revolution, the efforts to free African-American slaves during the American Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement, the media and the pulpits must take the lead in building the case and inspiring United Nations and U.S. leaders to pass resolutions to protect Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East.

It’s also vitally important that President Obama appoint a Special Envoy for the protection of religious minorities in the Middle East and call for the establishment of an International Day of Prayer in solidarity with Christians in the Middle East.

It’s no coincidence that you are here today, or that you are listening at this time. The Lord will not hold us blameless if we pretend this isn’t happening. We must act and we must act soon. We have been called by the Lord to serve at this critical time, not only in the history of our nation, but also in the history of the world.

Allow me to close with two thoughts—one from Edmund Burke and the other from Moses.

Burke, the Irish statesman best remembered for famously saying, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Moses, who received the Ten Commandments from God, offers us this encouragement down through the mists of time: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

 

Steve Strang is the founding editor and publisher of Charisma. Follow him on Twitter @sstrang or Facebook (stephenestrang).

 

 

 

Reblogged via Charisma Founder Speaks Out on Persecuted Church at UN.