Father’s miraculous gift to me
I have received feedback from many of you regarding our St. Louis Conference. I will be publishing many of them in the days to come—all anonymously so you can be free to comment candidly. There is still time for (and I encourage) attendees to send me an email with your thoughts and comments.
Before I share with you my own experience during Vinnie’s Sunday ministering, I first, however, want you to know my background vis à vis the pentecostal and charismatic-type of ministries and activities. Some of the following is an edited version of a talk I gave to a Full Gospel Businessmen’s meeting some years ago.
I began fulltime ministry work in 1991. Some of my early Bible teachings were on some of the basic doctrines, and so I did a 4-tape study proving the deity of Christ (now superseded by an 8-lecture series called The Divinity of Christ) [link is no longer valid]. I followed that up by doing a 2-tape study proving the deity of the Holy Spirit. That was in the early 90s.
During the late 70s and all through the 1980s, my family and I had attended numerous Bible camps and conferences all over the United States. By 1987, I began to be one of the Bible teachers at the conferences.
Some of the groups with whom we fellowshipped were comprised mostly of pentecostal and charismatic-type folks, and so that was my exposure to those who believed in the baptism of the Holy Spirit, with speaking in tongues and all the other gifts.
But a number of incidents along the way gave me a kind of spiritually-nauseous feeling. In other words, I became fairly convinced that this pentecostal-charismatic realm was a lot of sham and show. Now, keep in mind that my background included being disgusted with the Catholic church and leaving it because of the hypocrisy I had seen there during my youth, including at the Catholic seminary I attended.
This, in my mind at the time, was simply the Protestant version of it. I had seen Jim Bakker and Tammy Faye on TV. I had seen Benny Hinn and others like him who did the “slain in the spirit” stuff, and that type of stuff just made me gag. Of course, I realize that it was not fair to lump them all together with all charismatics and pentecostals, but this was how I saw it at the time.
So when I finished my Bible lectures on the deity of the Holy Spirit, I announced to my tape ministry audience that our next subject was going to be a study of the pentecostal and charismatic movements. I must have said something which hinted that I was going to “expose” them all as a bunch of frauds, because I got more than one letter back from tape listeners who urged me not to do that, but simply to wait on the Lord.
Well, that was the manner in which I now know that the Holy Spirit was holding me back from making a huge mistake. Meanwhile, I had personally been part of many healing services where I and one or two or three others would lay hands on the sick and anoint them with oil, and in some cases, we witnessed miraculous healings, and in other cases, gradual healings (which still may have been miraculous), but many times, we saw no improvement.
Over the years, I became very good friends with a number of people who came from the pentecostal or charismatic background. Some of them laid hands upon me for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I do believe in the baptism of the Holy Ghost, or the second anointing, or the second work, the second blessing, or whatever terminology you want to call it.
You see, after I was withheld by the Holy Spirit from “exposing” the pentecostal-charismatic movement, I began to do a lot of reading and Bible study from the pentecostal and charismatic perspective. I learned a great deal. But the chief reason I believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit is because I experienced it!
And I continue to experience it: At various times, I believe I have been given a supernatural word of wisdom, a word of knowledge, and discerning of spirits. I have never felt called or been given to utter predictions about future events, as in “thus saith the Lord,” but I have experienced numerous times of prophetic inspiration, if you will recognize that “to prophesy”
also means to set forth and teach the Word of God.
Let me now relate to you one experience I had regarding tongues, or rather the interpretation of tongues. Please understand that I believe that the apostle Paul was divinely inspired when he wrote clearly that tongues is among the least of the gifts, and so I personally do not make it a litmus test of whether or not a person has received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, nor am I in the habit of speaking in tongues frequently.
But there have been any number of occasions, almost always when I am alone, sometimes when I am driving down the highway, that I will spontaneously break forth in some sounds which I do not recognize as any earthly language.
In the course of my education and career, I have studied four years of Latin, two years of French, two years of German, one semester of Spanish, three years of Greek and one year of Hebrew, and I can tell you that those utterances have no resemblance whatsoever to any of those languages.
In 1999 I began to hold annual Bible conferences in the Philadelphia area, and it was back then that this experience happened—the spring of ’99. The conference was over and I had decided to visit a cousin who lived in Allentown. So, when I left Allentown on a Tuesday morning I was driving west on the interstate. In those days, I often used to listen to National Public Radio news if I happened to be on the road in the morning.
At that time, there was still a lot of news coming out of the Balkans, and one of the regular NPR correspondents was Sylvia Pojoli, who is based in Italy, but she was covering the conflict in the Bosnia-Herzegovina area. (She is still a stringer for NPR, to the best of my knowledge.)
My undergraduate degree from the Ohio State University was in journalism, broadcast journalism and public relations, to be specific. I was trained in how to gather and produce news reports for broadcast. In those days, when a reporter went out and interviews someone, he had a tape recorder and he recorded the interview. Then he returned to the studio or production facility, he writes the story, and at some point or two, he insert a portion of the tape recording that he wants to be part of the news report. That portion is called the “actuality.” It’s the actual voice of the interviewee. (Of course, the technology has changed with the advent of digital recording and production, but that is irrelevant to the point of my story.)
So here is Sylvia Pojoli in 1999 reporting on her trip to this certain town in the war-torn area and she had interviewed the mayor or some other official and she said something like: “…and so we spoke to the mayor about these events and here is what he had to say…”
And then—you have all heard news reports similar to this—where they will play the actuality, and you hear this man speaking in a foreign language. And they let that go on for ten or twelve seconds and then they do what is called a “voice-over,” where the foreign language is “taken under.” It is still heard in the background, but you hear the translator giving you the English translation in the foreground, so to speak.
So there I am driving along the interstate listening to Sylvia Pojoli, and I hear the mayor speaking, and as soon as he started to speak (#1) I knew that it was a foreign language, but yet (#2), I knew exactly what he was saying just as though he was speaking in perfect English. That went on for about ten seconds and then that sound track “went under,” and the English translator came in with the voice-over and to me he was repeating exactly what I had just heard.
I was so shocked that I literally had to pull off on the shoulder of the interstate so I could think about what had just happened. I wracked my brain trying to understand how this might have been a technical glitch at NPR, but I concluded that there was no way that was the case. It then occurred to me: Oh, my God! Father! You have just given me a sample of the gift of interpretation of tongues!
That list of languages I gave you above were all the languages I have studied. I never studied Bosnian or Serb or Croat, and although those countries are close to Greece, I did not consciously recognize it as even a relative of Greek, let alone me being able to be fluent in it.
So anyhow, I now believe that was Father’s little gift to me to confirm the absolute validity of the gifts of the Spirit being valid in our day. I have only heard of one case of a similar experience.
That was told to me by a very close friend, who has a friend who has done missionary work in many countries overseas. He said that when she would come into China, for example, she suddenly could speak Chinese and understand the Chinese people, no matter what dialect, and as soon as she left the country, she could no longer understand or speak it. And that happened to her in numerous countries.
Since that miraculous experience in 1999, I have never doubted that all the gifts of the Holy Spirit are in operation today in the 21st century. As I related, I do speak in tongues, but I will not do it on command, or to supposedly prove to someone that I have the baptism of the Holy Spirit. When it happens, it happens; I do not try to “bring it (Him) up.” Well, it had been quite a while since I had spoken in tongues, but it happened Sunday morning, October 9, 2011, during Vinnie’s ministering at our Conference in St. Louis.
My next Journal entry will shift gears to give you my experience with Vinnie and what I witnessed of others during Vinnie’s Sunday ministry at St. Louis. Vinnie also has sent me more teaching which I will post, but I wanted to get my personal background vis à vis the pentecostal-charismatic realm posted first.