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Posts tagged ‘Pentecost’

When Your Prophetic Journey Meets With Spiritual Warfare.

woman worshipping

From her encounter with Gabriel to her experience at Pentecost, Mary’s journey parallels that of any woman who pursues God’s promises for her life.

Mary knelt in the shadow of the cross, weeping in anguish as her first-born Son hung above her, naked and bloody. The ominous roar of thunder was crowded out by His agonizing cry, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

She looked up through her tears. “Why,” she cried out in the deafening silence of her thoughts, “why didn’t You defend Yourself? I saw the raw power of God move through You. At Your word, demons fled, blind eyes were opened, lepers were cleansed. Why didn’t You command the angels to save You?

“You were going to be king of the Jews. It was prophesied; I didn’t make it up. The angel Gabriel visited me, and everything happened as he said. It wasn’t supposed to end like this.”

Most of us remember Mary as the 15-year-old girl who rode off on a donkey to facilitate the Christmas story. But her life was so much more. It was a tapestry of mysteries that unraveled gradually across the seasons of her years, bringing her ultimately to this scene at the foot of the cross.

Mary, you see, was on a prophetic journey. And so are you.

On the day of the crucifixion, Mary’s Son was not all that was dying; so were every belief and prophetic promise she’d clung to for 33 years. Perhaps you, too, have had your life turned upside down. You’ve seen your dreams die. The future looks bleak and empty. You need to understand that your prophetic walk with God is a cyclical journey. Like Mary, you will have seasons of prophetic revelation; seasons ofspiritual warfare and wilderness wandering; seasons of ordinary, “ho-hum” life; seasons of effective ministry. All these ultimately lead to the cross and to the death of all things you hold dear.

But the cross is never the end.

Radical Visitation “One night the angel Gabriel came to me. Me–a simple Jewish girl living in poverty in the little town of Nazareth. What did I have to offer anyone, especially almighty God?

“His voice filled the room. ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored among women. The Lord is with you.’ He told me not to fear and that I would give birth to the Messiah. I cried out,’Yes, Lord, let it be unto me according to Your word.'”

Mary was a sovereign vessel chosen to be the mother of Jesus. Yet the Bible doesn’t indicate that she moved in miracles. She simply possessed a heart of devotion and childlike faith. She said, “Yes Lord, let it be done unto me,” and it changed her life forever. That’s why we can all be like Mary.

The Holy Spirit overshadowed her, and the new life that was birthed in her womb ushered in the Messianic Age. Do you cry out, “Lord, I want to be like Mary–radically overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, impregnated with your purpose”? Do you want to usher in revival?

Then know that there is a price behind the anointing. There is a stigma. Birthing the things of the Spirit is messy, and revival is controversial. Are you willing to be a humble vessel giving birth to God’s purpose in an untidy stable, or will you say, “There’s no room in the inn”?

Spiritual Warfare “In the middle of the night Joseph shook me violently. He was terrified, crying, ranting about Herod’s wanting Jesus dead. He said we had to leave town–right away. He grabbed Jesus and was out the door before I could understand what was happening. We left everything behind that night, no explanations, no goodbyes. Life as we’d known it was over.”

Satan always goes after a move of God in its infancy, when it’s most vulnerable. King Herod diabolically ordered the slaughter of baby boys. But God gave Joseph and Mary divine strategies to protect their son, telling Joseph in a dream to flee with his family to Egypt.

Are you under attack from the enemy? The greater your call and destiny, the greater the spiritual warfare you will face. The enemy wants to abort your prophetic promises. When the stirrings of revival begin to be birthed in you and around you, challenging the status quo, the demonic realm is aroused. Don’t be afraid; God will be faithful to deliver you out of the enemy’s hand.

The Wilderness “Why didn’t God remove Herod in-stead of us? It hurt so much to leave everyone behind. I kept thinking, If only my family and friends could see Jesus grow up.

“And why Egypt? Why did God send us to the land that represents bondage for our people? Are we going to die here or in the wilderness, like our forefathers?”

Maybe you’ve had incredible, dramatic encounters with God. You’ve had multiple prophetic words recorded on tape and transcribed into notebooks. You’re sure that any minute now your prophetic promises will come to pass.

Mary also received prophetic words: Her Son would be king of the Jews. So why were they banished and suffering in an uncomfortable and foreign land? Mary didn’t realize that the prophetic timetable for the fulfillment of Jesus’ destiny would be a grueling 30 years long. You, too, will spend time in the wilderness; you will experience seasons of barrenness. Are you willing to wait on the Lord’s timing?

An Ordinary Life “Finally, after several years in Egypt, God spoke to Joseph again in a dream. Herod was dead. This time it was I who grabbed Jesus and ran out the door with Joseph trailing behind. We couldn’t get home fast enough.

“Things eventually settled down, but mothering Jesus was always a challenge. Once, when He was 12 years old, and we were returning in a large group from the festival in Jerusalem, I realized He wasn’t with the other children. We frantically returned to the city to look for Him. Finally, we found Him in the temple. You know what He said? He said I should have known He was there! Oy vey! I wanted to ground Him until He was 21!”

Do you feel as if you’re on a shelf, living an ordinary life? Are you changing diapers, cooking dinner and dealing with the neighbors while crying out in your heart: Lord, have you forgotten me? Why don’t people recognize my gifting? Don’t they realize I had a radical visitation back in 1990?

Mary had 30 years of obscurity to develop a hidden testimony–a secret history with God. You, too, have an appointed time to build family, community and greater intimacy with Jesus. In the midst of that time you may feel like crying out, What’s taking so long? By the time my destiny comes, I’ll be pursuing it in a wheel chair! But seasons of preparation are important. These are the times when God works patience, radical passion and deep devotion into your life.

Finally, Ministry Begins “When I was 45 years old, life changed dramatically for Jesus and me. He started bringing home a ragtag bunch of fishermen to dinner. Then, at a wedding, He changed water into wine. From then on He moved in amazing signs and wonders, and a huge crowd followed Him everywhere. The excitement grew daily as Jesus walked among the people, bringing revival. But I still don’t understand what He meant when He said, ‘Who is my mother?'”

Mary had to relinquish control of her life and Jesus’ life in the midst of an outpouring of the Spirit. In your life and ministry, you also have to let go–of your plans, your expectations, your ways. Just as Jesus had to leave His home and follow the Father, you also have to relinquish control of your life and follow the Father, even if it takes you to the cross.

And it will.

The Dark Night “Why God, why? Why have You forsaken Him? Why have You forsaken me? He was supposed to deliver us. He was our salvation, and now He’s gone. If you really love us, why have You allowed this to happen?”

Jesus was in the prime of His life. The countryside was in the midst of a tremendous revival. But now He was dying on the cross–and so was Mary. Overcome by feelings of abandonment and betrayal, she was in the middle of a crisis of faith.

When Jesus chose to go to the cross, Mary was compelled to go there, too. The truth is, the cross is always being worked in our lives–sometimes through the choices of others. Your daughter has an abortion; your son abuses drugs; your husband files for divorce. You never intended to go to that cross, but there you are.

You want to believe the Lord will rescue you at the last moment, but often His plan is to crucify you. Everything dies at the cross: relationships, ministries, agendas, reputations, finances. It’s painful, but it’s necessary. If you cry out to be part of the bride of Christ, then you must be–you will be–identified with the sufferings of the Bridegroom.

Resurrection “He’s alive! I thought I’d cried all my tears on Golgotha, but when our eyes met, it was like a flood. As I ran into His open arms, He scooped me up and spun me around in joyous laughter.

“The times we shared after the resurrection were the most precious of my life. They made it easier to release Him–again. As I watched Him ascend, I prayed again, ‘Lord, let it be unto me according to Your word, for the rest of my life.'”

Out of great death comes great life. Mary’s prophetic promises had been limited by her worldview. In her mind’s eye she had seen Jesus as king over the little nation of Israel for the span of His lifetime. In reality, He was King of kings and Lord of lords for all people and all time.

At the cross, God crucifies our limited view concerning the fulfillment of our prophetic destiny and resurrects it to His eternal view. The Lord revives our broken dreams–when they come to pass, they rarely look as we thought they would.


An Open Letter to John MacArthur From A.W. Tozer: He Being Dead Yet Speaketh.

A.W. Tozer
A.W. Tozer

That every Christian can be and should be filled with the Holy Spirit would hardly seem to be a matter for debate among Christians. … I want here boldly to assert that it is my happy belief that every Christian can have a copious outpouring of the Holy Spirit in a measure far beyond that received at conversion, and I might also say, far beyond that enjoyed by the rank and file of orthodox believers today.

It is important that we get this straight, for until doubts are removed, faith is impossible. God will not surprise a doubting heart with an effusion of theHoly Spirit, nor will He fill anyone who has doctrinal questions about the possibility of being filled.

In light of this, it will be seen how empty and meaningless is the average church service today. All the means are in evidence; the one ominous weakness is the absence of the Spirit’s power. … The power from on high is neither known nor desired by pastor or people. This is nothing less than tragic, and all the more so because it falls within the field of religion, where the eternal destinies of men are involved.

Fundamentalism has stood aloof from the liberal in self-conscious superiority and has on its own part fallen into error, the error of textualism, which is simply orthodoxy without the Holy Ghost. Everywhere among conservatives we find persons who are Bible-taught but not Spirit-taught. They conceive truth to be something which they can grasp with the mind.

If a man holds to the fundamentals of the Christian faith, he is thought to possess divine truth. But it does not follow. There is no truth apart from the Spirit. The most brilliant intellect may be imbecilic when confronted with the mysteries of God. For a man to understand revealed truth requires an act of God equal to the original act which inspired the text. … “Now we have received, not the Spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things which are freely given us of God.”

For the textualism of our times is based upon the same premise as the old line rationalism, that is, the belief that the human mind is the supreme authority in the judgment of truth. Or otherwise stated, it is confidence in the ability of the human mind to do that which the Bible declares it was never created to do and consequently is wholly incapable of doing.Philosophical rationalism is honest enough to reject the Bible flatly. Theological rationalism rejects it while pretending to accept it and in so doing puts out its own eyes.

Few there are who without restraint will open their whole heart to the blessed Comforter. He has been and is so widely misunderstood that the very mention of His name in some circles is enough to frighten many people into resistance.

It is no use to deny that Christ was crucified by persons who would today be called fundamentalists. This should prove to be disquieting if not downright distressing to us who pride ourselves on our orthodoxy. An unblessed soul filled with the letter of truth may actually be worse off than a pagan kneeling before a fetish. We are saved only when our intellects are indwelt by the loving fire that came atPentecost. For the Holy Spirit is not a luxury, not something added now and again to produce a deluxe type of Christian once in a generation. No. He is for every child of God a vital necessity, and that He fill and indwell His people is more than a languid hope. It is rather an inescapable imperative.

Now the Bible teaches that there is something in God which is like emotion. … God has said certain things about Himself, and these furnish all the grounds we require. “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing” (Zeph. 3:17). This is but one verse among thousands which serve to form our rational picture of what God is like, and tell us plainly that God feels something like our love, like our joy, and what He feels makes Him act very much as we would in a similar situation; He rejoices over His loved ones with joy and singing.

Here is emotion on as high a plain as it can ever be seen, emotion flowing out of the heart of God Himself. Feeling, then, is not the degenerate son of unbelief that is often painted by some of our Bibleteachers. Our ability to feel is one of the marks of our divine origin. We need not be ashamed of either tears or laughter. The Christian stoic who has crushed his feelings is only two-thirds of a man; an important third part has been repudiated. Holy feeling had an important place in the life of our Lord. “For the joy that was set before Him” He endured the cross and despised its shame. He pictured Himself crying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.”

The work of the Holy Spirit is, among other things, to rescue the redeemed man’s emotions, to restring his harp and open again the wells of sacred joy which have been stopped up by sin.


Aiden Wilson Tozer (April 21, 1897–May 12, 1963) was an American Christian pastor, preacher, author, magazine editor and spiritual mentor. This article is an excerpt from The Divine Conquest.

Cessationist John MacArthur Can’t Put the Real Holy Spirit Fire Out.

Pastor John MacArthur
Pastor John MacArthur

Author’s Note: Recently I became aware of the buzz surrounding a new book, soon to be released, by a prominent cessationist who has been around for a long time. I was asked by the Pneuma Foundation to write a review of this book for its Pneuma Review publication. I thought it important enough to share with all of you. Here it is.

Strange Fire by John MacArthur is basically an attack on anything and everything related to thecharismatic movement and the various movements descended from it, as if the whole of it were composed of one monolithic set of doctrines and practices that all of us espouse. It invalidates anything that smacks of the supernatural or of emotion freely expressed in God’s presence.

MacArthur pours his vitriol—and I mean vitriol—through the filter of his own prejudices and theological presuppositions in a way that blinds him to the differences between the various movements within thecharismatic stream and causes him to deny the existence of the majority of us who do not agree with or practice the abuses he objects to. In doing so, he ignores or reinterprets, through very poor exegesis, the clear teaching of much of the Scripture as well.

Ironically, as he formulates his attack, he builds upon concerns that many of us in the movement share. I share his concern over abuses in prophetic ministry, aberrant doctrines, fallen leaders, manipulative fundraising, acting out in fleshly ways that are not of the Spirit and fakery on the part of some associated with the movement. As an insider, I confront these things as well, seeking what is genuine and calling for biblical grounding. MacArthur commits grievous error, however, in claiming that these abuses characterize the movement as a whole. They do not.

For example, I am a charismatic and have been from my childhood in the 1950s. I am also a 1976 graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary. Consequently, I have been steeped in exegetical principle and the doctrines of the historic faith from a time when Fuller described itself as “reformed” in its theology. Consequently, I do not embrace aberrant theologies.

Reading MacArthur, you’d think all charismatics espouse prosperity teaching. We do not. You’d think we are all Word of Faith adherents when, in fact, they constitute a small minority and promote a doctrine many of us oppose. I actually wrote a rebuttal of those two doctrines in my own book Purifying the Prophetic.

On a side note, in his introduction, MacArthur asserts that Fuller Theological Seminary abandoned the doctrine of biblical inerrancy in the early 1970s. I was there from 1973 until my graduation in 1976, and I can state categorically that Fuller at that time held to inerrancy. MacArthur is wrong on many fronts and should be held accountable for what is either blatant intellectual dishonesty or just inexcusably sloppy research.

In reading MacArthur uncritically, you’d think that all charismatics focus in unbalanced ways on manifestations and behavioral aberrations like barking and animal sounds. We do not. Over the years, I’ve spent at least a cumulative five months in meetings at the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship, now known as Catch the Fire, serving for 14 years in leadership as a regional coordinator and international council member. Never in all that time did I hear an animal sound. I think MacArthur must be reacting to what he has heard from other revival critics rather than his own eyewitness experience. This, again, constitutes intellectual dishonesty and sloppy research.

MacArthur states, “I’ll start believing that the truth prevails in the charismatic movement when I see the leaders, who are the people who are most exposed to its principles, looking more like Jesus Christ.”

Yes, some very few of us have been guilty of seeking or walking in anointing without character. Our exercise of church discipline in response to their failings has often been deficient. Tragically, some of those failures have been seen in people with prominent ministries, and as a result we have all had to wear the mud we didn’t deserve.

The truth is that the foundation of the Toronto Blessing, for instance, was and is the kind of transformation of character to conform to the image of Jesus (Rom. 8:29) that has produced people like Rolland and Heidi Baker. In their ministry in Mozambique, not only are many thousands of orphans given homes and countless thousands of hungry fed, but thousands of churches are planted, hundreds of thousands come to Jesus, the dead are raised, the sick are healed and the lame walk. The vast majority of lesser-known leaders in the renewal go quietly about the business of doing those same things in the places where they labor all over the world. The fallen leaders and those operating with less than the character of Jesus to whom John MacArthur actually objects are not my leaders and never were for a majority of us.

In bashing spiritual gifts, MacArthur characterizes the gift of tongues, for instance, as “babble,” relegating it to the flames of “strange fire,” seemingly ignoring the clear teaching of Scripture on the various uses of it. It was evangelistic on the Day of Pentecost, but Paul in 1 Corinthians 14 clearly defines its use in corporate prayer (with interpretation) and for private personal edification, saying, “I wish that you all spoke in tongues.” The 120 did, in fact, speak in tongues on the Day of Pentecost. Paul did, in fact, franchise its disciplined use in gatherings in Corinth and clearly described it as praying with an unfruitful mind for personal edification. Nowhere does the Scripture say that any of thesupernatural gifts would cease.

MacArthur cries out against people falling into senseless trances but seems to miss that this very same thing happened to Daniel, who broke into physical trembling when the angel touched him after he awakened from what was clearly a trance state. MacArthur seems to miss that the priests at the dedication of Solomon’s temple couldn’t stand up under the weight of the presence of the glory of God. And didn’t the disciples appear to be drunk on the Day of Pentecost? Speaking in foreign languages would have attracted little attention in a city where many thousands of Jews from different regions of the world had gathered for the feast, so it had to be their drunken behavior under the power of the Spirit that drew the comments. Through the filter of his cessationist theology, when these things happen today, McArthur calls them “strange fire.”

This book isn’t about strange fire. It’s about putting the fire out.



R. Loren Sandford is the founder and senior pastor of New Song Church and Ministries in Denver, Colo. He is a songwriter, recording artist and worship leader, as well as the author of several books, including Understanding Prophetic People, The Prophetic Church and his latest, Visions of the Coming Days: What to Look For and How to Prepare, which are available with other resources at the church’s website. 

Is the Church Dying or Are Christians Just Falling Away?.

Is the Great Physician unable to heal rifts in His church? (Stock.xchng)

Is the church dying? Apparently, that depends on whom you ask. Indeed, the life or death of the church of Jesus Christ that was founded more than 2,000 years ago on the Day of Pentecost is a topic of debate in some evangelical circles.

Ed Stetzer, the president of LifeWay Research, author, speaker, pastor, church planter and missiologist, recently penned an article in Christianity Today entitled, “The State of the Church In America: Hint: It’s Not Dying.” His opening sentence makes it abundantly clear where he stands. There’s no tip toeing around the issue or trying to avoid offending anyone who disagrees.

He says, in five words: “The church is not dying.”

Yes, the church in the West—the United States included—is in transition right now. But transitioning is not the same as dying, particularly if you hold the belief that Christianity is represented by people who live for Christ, not check ‘Christian’ on a survey form,” Stetzer writes.

“While I believe we need to understand reality inside our ranks, I don’t believe the situation is quite as dire as many are making it out to be. Actually, no serious researcher believes Christianity in America is dying. Not one.”

Steve McSwain begs to differ. McSwain, who describes himself as an award-winning author, speaker, thought leader and spiritual teacher, responded to Stetzer’s article with a snarky question: “Really? What cartoons have you been watching?”

McSwain then points to information from the Hartford Institute of Religion Research citing that more than 40 percent of Americans “say” they go to church weekly. As it turns out, however, he points out, less than 20 percent are actually in church. In other words, he notes, more than 80 percent of Americans are finding more fulfilling things to do on weekends.

“Furthermore, somewhere between 4,000 and 7,000 churches close their doors every year. Southern Baptist researcher, Thom Rainer, in a recent article entitled ‘13 Issues for Churches in 2013’ puts the estimate higher. He says between 8,000 and 10,000 churches will likely close this year,” he continues. “Between the years 2010 and 2012, more than half of all churches in America added not one new member. Each year, nearly 3 million more previous churchgoers enter the ranks of the ‘religiously unaffiliated’.”

OK, so fewer people are going to church. That’s a sign of the times, if you ask me. But how does that prove that the church is dying? Saying the church is dying—DYING—seems like an anti-biblical perspective. I mean, correct me I have misinterpreted the holy Scriptures, but wasn’t it Jesus who said, “I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it”? (Matt. 16:18).

I suppose one could argue that the church that’s dying is not the church Christ is building. But, from my perspective, it seems like the church that Christ is not building—that false church that endorses homosexual lifestyles and refuses to otherwise call sin a sin—is thriving in the age of humanism.

There are many reasons why people don’t go to church. Pharaoh is working some of them to near death. Others have been spiritually abused by pastors and don’t want anything to do with the church. Still others are watching televangelists on Sunday mornings because they don’t feel like getting gussied up and driving across town. Yes, sometimes it’s just that simple.

The reasons why people aren’t going to church—or why people are leaving the church—go on and on. But make no mistake. The church of Jesus Christ is not dying. Jesus is still building His true church. That may mean in these last days that there are fewer believers flocking to organized religious buildings, but that doesn’t mean the church is dying. It may mean more are opting for home church or some other alternate form of fellowship in the name of Jesus. And it absolutely means we need to get out on the American mission field and preach the gospel.

“Bad stats and hyperbole do just that—demoralize God’s people,” Stetzer concluded. “Today, we need a mobilized mission force in the midst of this mission field. So, it’s time to time to work for the sake of the gospel, and to live for the cause of the gospel, not run around proclaiming the sky is falling.”

What’s your take? Sound off in the comment box below.


Jennifer LeClaire is news editor at Charisma. She is also the author of several books, including The Spiritual Warrior’s Guide to Defeating Jezebel. You can email Jennifer at or visit her website here. You can also join Jennifer on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

When God Overlooks You for a Spiritual Promotion.

Jealousy doesn’t win promotions. (Stock.xchng)

Whether in the world of work or the work of the ministry, everybody likes to feel appreciated for a job well done. But some strive, scratch and claw for promotion.

There’s nothing fundamentally wrong about hoping God notices your faithfulness, increases your territory, and gives you greater works to steward. But striving for promotion can breed all manner of discord in a church—or in our own hearts.

Nowhere does this manifest more than when someone is overlooked for a promotion they feel they deserve. Maybe it’s a management position in the marketplace or a preaching opportunity in the pulpit—or some other public recognition they’ve been working for. Regardless of the circumstance, our true character is on display when we feel like God has overlooked us for a promotion.

Jealousy Doesn’t Win Promotions
When God told Samuel to anoint a new king, he went to visit Jesse the Bethlehemite and his sons. Israel’s next king was among them. Samuel thought Eliab was the chosen vessel, but God told him, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).

Each of Jesse’s seven elder sons passed before Samuel but the Lord didn’t choose any of them. Finally, the prophet asked Jesse if he had another son. When David emerged from tending the sheep the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!” So Samuel anointed him in the midst of his brothers (see 1 Sam. 16:12-13).

Why was Eliab overlooked for the promotion? You would think the firstborn would be the most deserving, naturally speaking. But God looked at the heart and there was something there he didn’t like. I believe in Eliab’s case it was jealousy, and we actually see its ugly head rearing on the battle line. When David heard about Saul’s magnanimous promise to the Israelite who defeated Goliath, his ears perked up and he asked some of the soldiers to confirm the reward.

“Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab’s anger was aroused against David, and he said, ‘Why did you come down here? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and the insolence of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle’” (1 Sam. 17:28). Could it be possible that Eliab was angry that David was anointed king because he felt like he was more deserving? Was Eliab jealous?

Let’s not forget Joseph. Already his father’s favorite and donning a coat of many colors, this young one had dreams that symbolically revealed his brothers bowing down to him (Gen. 37:1-10). That didn’t go over too well among his brethren, who were already jealous about his special coat and favorite status with dad. Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery and told his father Jacob that he wild beasts devoured him. Joseph suffered much but God promoted him time and time again. His jealous brothers did indeed bow down to him, just as he dreamt it. But Joseph and the entire family suffered plenty before peace was restored.

Staying in One Accord
By contrast, even before the Holy Spirit fell on the Day of Pentecost, believers in the early church refused to allow jealousy to distract them from their mission. Since Judas betrayed the Lord and committed suicide, Peter pointed out Scripture that a new witness to Jesus’ resurrection must be appointed. Two men were proposed: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias (Acts 1:1:23).

“And they prayed and said, ‘You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.’ And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles” (Acts 1:24-26).

We don’t see Justus getting jealous, making false accusations against Matthias or throwing him in a deep well to die. Justus didn’t pitch a hissy fit to the other disciples or seek to prove why he was better suited for the promotion. He didn’t breed strife in the early church. In fact, the Bible says when the Day of Pentecost came they were all with one accord in one place (Acts 2:1).

Justus didn’t storm of out the Upper Room and spread rumors about the apostles. No, he went on to receive the Holy Spirit in the Pentecostal outpouring and it appears he may have gone on to work with the apostle Paul and Mark, the cousin of Barnabas (Col. 4:10-11). Whether that’s the same Justus or not, only the Lord knows. But somehow I believe Justus, of whom the disciples thought to select him as one of the two candidates to become an apostle, went on to do great things for the Kingdom of God in his humility. And if you respond in humility when someone else gets the promotion you want, so can you. Amen.


Jennifer LeClaire is news editor at Charisma. She is also the author of several books, including The Spiritual Warrior’s Guide to Defeating Jezebel. You can email Jennifer at or visit her website here. You can also join Jennifer on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

{ Day 287 }.

These are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel. —Acts 2:15-16, NKJV

The Joel 2 prophecies concerning the outpouring of the Holy Spirit are partially fulfilled in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost. But just because the outpouring at Pentecost was “what was spoken by the prophet Joel” doesn’t mean that was all of the outpouring. The Spirit fell on one hundred twenty people in a small room in Jerusalem. That’s not big enough for the complete fulfillment—even if you include the three thousand who were converted and baptized that day. I am convinced that the fullness of Joel 2 is yet to be seen. The greatest and fullest manifestation of the kingdom of Godthe Day of the Lord, the restoration of all things, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit—is reserved for the consummation of all things at the end of the age. I believe there will be an unprecedented revival in which all believers will experience dreams, visions, and everything Joel prophesied just before the Second Coming of Christ.


Father, I long for the fulfillment of Your prophetic word to pour Your Spirit out upon this world. I wait eagerly for revival to fill our land and for Your people to experience dreams and visions from You.

The prophecy will have a worldwide scope
to it where all flesh—that is, all believers,
not just prophets—will have
dreams and see visions.


{ Day 286 }.

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Acts 2:1-4

Many elements in this passage reveal how God started His church on the Day of Pentecost. I want to highlight three of these elements. First, God sent the “wind” of the Spirit, then the “fire” of the Spirit, and then the “wine” of the Spirit. When God sends the wind of the Spirit, we can expect to see great signs and wonders. The fire of God will enlarge our hearts in the love of God. The wine of God is linked in the Book of Joel to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, God’s ministry of bringing joy inexpressible and refreshment to weary, burdened souls. As God restores the church before the Second Coming, I believe the order will be reversed. First, He is sending the wine of the Spirit to refresh and heal the weary church. Then He will send the fire of the Spirit to enlarge our hearts in God’s love. Last, He will send the wind of the Spirit, which includes a manifestation of the ministry of angels. This demonstration of the Holy Spirit’s power will bring countless numbers of new people to saving faith in Jesus Christ.


Spirit, send Your “wind” and “fire” and “wine.” I long to see Your mighty signs and wonders and to have my heart enlarged by Your love. Give me a fiery passion for Jesus and a heart of compassion for others.

I believe that Acts 2 is a divine pattern
of how God visits His church in power.


Why We Need Supernatural Manifestations in the Church Today.

I believe this article is coming in due season, particularly with all of the recent talk of “strange fire” concerning modern Pentecostalism and an increasingly wariness in the charismatic movement (of all places) toward supernatural manifestations and unusual phenomena. Also, Jennifer LeClaire recently posted a most timely article about how a church that was birthed in the flames of Pentecost—namely, speaking in tongues—has all but abandoned this glorious gift in pursuit of “relevance.” This is unacceptable, and I contend that to be relevant for the kingdom, we should not only tolerate but earnestly desire supernatural manifestations and phenomena.
My Encounter With Supernatural Manifestations
Last November, I had an unforgettable experience at Bethel Church in Redding, Calif., that completely rocked my world. This experience was hardly limited to just me or even those attending that particular service. Supernatural phenomena has been gaining momentum in places like Bethel and in other houses of worship across the globe. The physical, visible glory of God is being revealed in an increasing measure—and rather than approach it with immediate skepticism, I believe we need to adopt an entirely new approach to supernatural phenomena and unusual manifestations of God‘s presence.
He might just be saying something to us.
The Travesty of Toning Down the Supernatural
Yes, even we—the charismatic church that has a rich history in the supernatural—have had the tendency in recent years to try and tone down the supernatural in fear of excesses. But there will always be excess. There will always be those who abuse and misuse something genuine and authentic. We need to deal with it, learn how to biblically navigate it, shut down the distractions, kick the dust off and continue pursuing the real deal. Counterfeits will always follow the genuine, and tares will always grow alongside the wheat. Counterfeits are the enemy’s strategy for getting believers to throw important truths and realities out the window.
My theory? If there is something circulating in the body of Christ that produces confusion and uncertainty and cannot be easily categorized, it demands careful study, observation and evaluation through Scripture. Supernatural manifestations are just such a topic.
The Glory Came Down
Back to my Bethel experience. I was attending a Friday night service. Everyone was worshipping … and then the glory came. Now, when I say “the glory came,” people have all sorts of impressions and responses.
I stand shocked at what we have reduced the glory of God to be. We use the phrase God‘s glory as flippant Christian jargon, so it can mean anything from God being the focus of a worship song (and, by default, He receives glory) to a warm flutter in our chest and a tear trickling down our cheek. I refuse to devalue those experiences, as God’s presence produces a myriad of responses, from simple and quiet to electric and overwhelming. At the same time, I also refuse to equate emotional behavior and feelings with a manifestation of God’s glory.
What I saw and experienced at Bethel did not require faith. It was not in my head. It was not some spiritual vision or hallucination. I, along with 1,000 other worshippers, witnessed what has become identified as the “glory cloud.” Shiny, transparent, golden, sparkling embers started falling out of the sky near stage right of the church platform. This caused some commotion and excitement. Rightly so! The commotion was not at all distracting, but rather fuel for more intense worship and focus on Jesus.
I was excited, but of course still a bit unsure, as my natural mind was in full swing, trying to make sense of the supernatural—that is, until the embers started coming up out of the ground. At this point, I was thoroughly convinced that some person was not up in the rafters sprinkling glitter on the congregation. God was in the house, and this visible manifestation of His presence filled my heart with incredible joy and praise but also intense fear and awe.
God is bigger than my box. He comes in unusual, unexpected ways. He is glorious and actually enjoys sharing this glory with His awestruck children. That is where I want to land this article, as I believe there is a powerful purpose for signs, wonders and unusual supernatural manifestations—such as the glory cloud phenomena.
A few things to know:
1. Unusual supernatural phenomena should be expected and welcome, as they are scriptural validation that we are living in the last days’ outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
“I will show wonders in heaven above and signs in the earth beneath: blood and fire and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord” (Acts 2:19-20).
The “last days” signify the Pentecostal era since the book of Acts, as all these items originally listed in Joel have been coming to fruition—from the initial outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost to sons and daughters prophesying to young men seeing visions and old men dreaming dreams.
Even as a charismatic community, we have embraced the outpouring of the Spirit, dreams, visions and the prophetic. But for some reason, we stop short of the wonders in heaven and signs in the earth. Why? They are noted very plainly in Scripture.
2. Unusual supernatural phenomena reintroduces the fear of the Lord to a generation that has become overly comfortable with the church experience.
Time after time, we note a correlation between extraordinary supernatural phenomena and the fear of the Lord.
Jesus raises a young man from the dead. This is undeniably supernatural phenomena. The result? Fear of the Lord. We read, “Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, ‘A great prophet has risen up among us’; and, ‘God has visited His people’” (Luke 7:16).
The early church moved in the fear of the Lord, and this was directly connected with the demonstration of signs and wonders: “Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles” (Acts 2:43).
When God shows up in ways that bust open our 21st-century “safe” spiritual boxes, we come face to face with the fear of the Lord. Let’s be honest: In many contexts, church has become overly predictable. We know what to expect from the church service, and we assume we know to expect from God. I believe it’s high time leaders embrace the shift and earnestly contend for the Spirit to break out once again.
Sadly, many poorly respond to this glorious invitation to tremble before Almighty God. Supernatural phenomena is purposed to increase our reverence for the awesome One who is uncontainable, indescribable, and does what He wants, moves how He wills and is utterly supernatural. We poorly respond to supernatural manifestations when we either reject them as a whole or place inappropriate emphasis on the signs or wonders.
The pursuit is never the manifestation. Many contemporary charismatics have made that very clear, and I totally agree. However, we must welcome and celebrate the manifestations, for they are invitations to experience a truly awesome God. I’m tired of worship songs with lyrics that describe experiences and revelations of God that we as the church are living beneath. It’s time to finally catch up with what Rich Mullins wrote about in his classic praise chorus “Awesome God”—and experience God as such.
3. Unusual supernatural phenomena should be experienced, as they are part of our Pentecostal inheritance.
Modern Pentecostalism was actually birthed out of unusual manifestations. Many of our contemporary Pentecostal denominations emerged from the revolutionary outpouring at Azusa Street in 1906 to 1909, which included visible flames of fire appearing over the Azsua Street mission to similar glory cloud phenomena to limbs literally growing out of people’s bodies.
To divorce ourselves from a rich heritage in the supernatural is to simply consent to an insidious form of “seeker sensitive” Christianity. Many of us may be under the banner of a historically Pentecostal denomination, but if someone walked into our churches, they would not be able to distinguish it from the seeker-friendly congregation down the street. We cannot afford to live beneath our supernatural Pentecostal inheritance, for it is actually the spiritual birthright of all born-again believers.
Whether we define ourselves as Pentecostal (by denomination or paradigm) or not, all believers have a Pentecostal heritage. If we are born again, we received the same Holy Spirit that was poured out at Pentecost. This is the same Spirit that empowered Jesus to work miracles and even rise from the dead. This is the Holy Spirit who resides in every believer on the planet. Everything the Holy Spirit did, He is fully capable of doing again. It’s not a matter of waiting for some new sovereign outpouring or us crying out for heaven to open. Heaven has been opened for 2,000 years. So here’s the kicker of a question: What are we going to do about it?
Pastor Bill Johnson summed it up perfectly in his response to the manifestations Bethel has experienced over the years: “You can’t invite God into the house and not have something outside of your box happen. He’s bigger than our understanding.”
Of course, we keep our eyes and focus on Jesus. We are God-centric. Bethel is one of the most Jesus-centered, God-focused churches I’ve ever experienced. That said, it is time to pursue His presence—without strings attached. Let’s welcome Him and everything He brings. Let’s take one step deeper into our Acts 2, Pentecostal inheritance and contend for everything promised—that His glory would be seen, the church would be struck again with the fear of the Lord and “many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord” (Ps. 40:3).
Larry Sparks is host of Life Supernatural, a weekly radio program that features best-selling authors, emerging filmmakers and key ministry leaders. In addition to serving as the director of curriculum resources for Destiny Image Publishers, Larry is president and founder of Equip Culture Ministries—an organization that equips believers to experience a life of sustained victory through the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. Visit him at or on Twitter at @LarryVSparks.

A Sound From Heaven.

And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. —Acts 2:2

Sound is the vibration of air molecules; the Greek word translated “sound” here is echoes, which means “to reverberate.” Acts 2:6 says, when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together. The word noised” is phoneo, meaning “to publish” or “to proclaim.”

Luke is telling us in these two verses that the multitude heard a voice echoing like a mighty rushing wind and the phenomenon was made public. On Pentecost, God spoke life to the church in much the same way He created heaven and earth. Ezekiel prophesied to the wind, and the army came alive (Ezekiel 37).

When God speaks to us, His Spirit reverberates in our human spirit. We can then speak the oracles of God and allow His message to reverberate in the hearts and spirits of others (1 Thessalonians 1:8).

What has the Spirit deposited in your heart that you are burning to speak? What message from the Lord are you passionate to share with others?

Lord, open my mouth and baptize me in fire so that
I may share Your Word with anyone who will listen.
Empower me to speak Your message. Amen.


Why I’m Praying God-Mockers Start Praying in Tongues.

praying in togues
What if God-mockers encountered the Holy Spirit and started speaking in tongues? (© istockphoto-ollyy)

I’ll admit it. The first time I saw people praying in tongues, it completely freaked me out. It actually scared me!

It was 1993. I was interning at a Christian television station. Before going live on the air, the producers, cameramen, on-air talent and others stood in a circle holding hands—and praying in tongues just as fast and hard as they could. I looked on with confusion for a few minutes; then I left and never came back. I went home and told everyone, “Those people were crazy.”

I mocked this supernatural experience.

Fast forward 20 years, and now I pray in tongues for extended periods every day. I believe praying in tongues builds me up (1 Cor. 14:4, 18) as I speak directly to God (1 Cor. 14:2, 14). I believe praying in tongues stirs my faith (Jude 20). I believe praying in tongues assures I’m praying God’s perfect will (Rom. 8:26-27). I believe there are many benefits to praying in tongues. That’s why I do it as much as I can, and I encourage other believers to do the same.

So when I came upon an article in the New York Times titled “Why We Talk in Tongues,” I was intrigued. T.M. Luhrmann, a professor of anthropology at Stanford and author of When God Talks Back, dived into the controversial topic in an op-ed column that drove plenty of mockers, even among those in the Christian faith.

Luhrmann starts her column discussing a recent trip to Accra, Ghana. She traveled there to learn more about charismatic Christian church growth in the region. What struck her was how much people spoke in tongues. She went to services that lasted three hours and reports people prayed in tongues most of the time.

“People I interviewed spoke about praying by themselves in tongues for similar stretches of time,” Luhrmann writes. “They said they did so because it was the one language the devil could not understand, but what I found so striking was how happy it seemed to make them.”

Luhrmann goes on to write about how some of the early Christians spoke in tongues and how the practice, for the most part, died out until Pentecostalism emerged around the turn of the 20th century atAzusa Street. She also points to studies from the Pew Research Center revealing 18 percent of Americans speak in tongues at least several times a year.

“What dawned on me in Accra is that speaking in tongues might actually be a more effective way to pray than speaking in ordinary language—if by prayer one means the mental technique of detaching from the everyday world, and from everyday thought, to experience God,” she writes.

Lurhmann’s column opened the floodgates for mockers of many stripes.

Some commenters accused tongue-talkers of seeking to elevate their status. Others claimed tongue-talking stopped after Pentecost. The list of objections and mocking continued, with people claiming that praying in the Spirit is for “weak-minded believers” and insisting it is “delusional, self-induced, hallucinational gibberish,” “mass hyperactivity and imitation” and “controlled hysteria.” Others were convinced “cunning charlatans” talk us into talking in tongues for their own personal gain.

The list of mocking accusations go on and on, but I found one comment particularly interesting. A commenter named Jaja wrote, “I think that if Professor Luhrmann looked closely she would find that whiskey does the same thing … if taken in sufficient quantities.”

Hmm. Isn’t that what they said on the day of Pentecost?

When divided tongues, as of fire, fell upon the born-again believers in the upper room and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:3-4), everyone was amazed and perplexed, wondering what it meant.

“Others mocking said, ‘They are full of new wine’” (v. 13).

That’s when Peter stood up and set the record straight, preaching from Joel 2: “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days” (Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:17-18).

Peter went on to preach the gospel, and 3,000 people got saved. But that didn’t put an end to the mocking. Of course, we’ve seen this mocking spirit come against the things of God throughout the Bible. Some youths mocked Elisha (2 Kings 2:23). Messengers of God have been mocked (2 Chron. 36:16). Sanballat mocked Nehemiah’s work to rebuild the wall (Neh. 4:1). Job’s friends mocked him during his trial (Job 12:4). Jeremiah was mocked (Jer. 20:7). Jesus was mocked (Matt. 27:28-29).

With all this in mind, it’s no shock that speaking in tongues is going to bring modern-day mockers. We shouldn’t be surprised. Jude, the man the Holy Spirit inspired to write, “Building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit” (Jude 20), also warned us there would be mockers in the last days (v. 16).

So why do people mock praying in tongues?

Ultimately, because they don’t understand it. It does look pretty wild when you don’t know what’s going on—and can look pretty intense even when you do know what’s going on. As a young woman working at a Christian television station, witnessing tongue-talkers frightened me so much that I abandoned an internship I vied hard to win. So I get it. I understand why people, especially unbelievers, think praying in the Spirit is strange.

Nevertheless, I’m praying for the Holy Spirit to encounter all those who don’t believe in Christ—or who don’t believe tongues is for today—in a mighty way so that, like me, a once-mocker can become a tongue-talker that enjoys all the benefits of a heavenly prayer language.


Jennifer LeClaire is news editor at Charisma. She is also the author of several books, including The Spiritual Warrior’s Guide to Defeating Jezebel. You can email Jennifer at or visit her website hereYou can also join Jennifer on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

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