Hold on for the Ride! We’re Headed for Stormy Weather!

Hold on for the Ride! We’re Headed for Stormy Weather!

My Sunday-worship part of our missional church community just witnessed what I think was its first exorcism in their midst on Sunday.  Is that what it was? I think so.  But I don’t know so.  Let’s just say some paradigm shifting went on as some really crazy, wild stuff went on.  Let’s also say that a whole lot of powerful conflict went on right before worship that threatened to throw off the Spirit of worship that day.  I got a message from a witness who laid hands on the person in question and witnessed and heard everything that transpired.  Here’s what he’s asking and my meager response to it.  Hold on for the ride.  We’re headed for stormy weather.

Congregant: (Self-described believer, and I would concur with that.  True desire to follow Christ in his life.  Part of our Sunday-worshipping community for about 10 years.  Male. Late thirties, Caucasian, middle class, college-educated, in a professional position at work.  From a Pentecostal/Baptist family heritage.)

“So what was that at church today? I’ve heard of that stuff, but never really seen it up close, much less been right in the middle of it. That was something REAL, and my cynical side wants to explain it away but can’t. I am convinced that God is real and that Jesus died for my sins, but that was something else altogether! That was something with flesh. Then after we sat ________ (the person, she actually passed out after the event) down at a table, I looked up at everyone else and they were acting like nothing happened. And I kept thinking “Did you not just see what happened?” I know we talked about “IS-ness” in Bible Study, but THAT was some serious IS-ness today. I have to admit that I was WAAAY out of my comfort zone. I was kinda expecting the pea soup to start flying. Just wondering if you can put some detail on what we all witnessed today, cause your message was very powerful, and then what happened with __________ really shifted my spiritual paradigm today. Thanks.”

My Response: (Self-described believer, and I don’t know who else would concur with that. I am a poor excuse for a “holy man”.  True desire to follow Christ in my life.  Part of our worshipping community for about 13 years.  Late fourties, Caucasian, middle class, graduate-level theological education – way too much education for this kind of thing. Pastor of this community by title – not sure yet where I stand in people’s hearts in actuality though {titles don’t mean much in the Kingdom of God}.  From an educated Episcopalian/Congregational family heritage.)

I don’t have answers to things like that. I’ve seen that three times in my life. Until I heard it and saw it with my own eyes, I didn’t believe in it either. Jesus said, “Those who believe in me will do the works that I do, and greater works than these will he do because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, I will do.” I asked for God to act. And I tried to ask as Jesus would have asked. (I think everyone who was praying was doing that, too.) What’s killing American churches is that they have never seen the Holy Spirit actually act in their midst. It’s weird when it happens. Crazy. It leaves people confused and feeling strange. I don’t know what that was exactly. I know the voice I heard come out of her during the sermon…I have heard that exact voice come out of someone before….right before things started flying around the room (Literally, and there were witnesses). I saw the dance in her eyes before we prayed for her…light to mocking to light to mocking. What it was? I don’t know. We will all spend the rest of our lives trying to answer that. Including _________ (the person). I also know that there is more work to be done in her, and in the community. It’s either real, or it’s not real. There isn’t anything in between.

There’s this guy who uses big words named Jurgen Moltmann who writes that the Holy Spirit IS the Church. Whatever happened Sunday was the Holy Spirit’s doing, and thus it was the Church. Modern churches just fall so short of their hope because they have never seen the power of the Holy Spirit in their midst. Maybe they don’t see it because they are afraid of the other part of the equation of signs and wonders of the Holy Spirit. Where there are signs, there are also crises and conflicts, because the Holy Spirit also provokes and convicts. So wherever the Holy Spirit is people are getting healed, and demons are being cast out, and hearts are repenting and being forgiven and healed. And the wind is also always rising around it, and divisive powers are always contending against it. THAT is the Church of Jesus Christ. There is no other Church than that. Hold on tight, because it’s fixing to get windy if somebody’s getting healed. Forecast: WILD and stormy! What are you thinking today?

(Two days later, follow-up response) “I spoke with __________ last night and this morning. She has no memory of what transpired on Sunday. I told her that we think the Holy Spirit cast something out of her. I told her that a voice came out of her twice (maybe three times actually) that was not her voice: once during the sermon, and once while we were praying for her. The first voice shouted, “No!” as I was talking about the voices inside of us and that we have to move to stand apart from them so that God can deal with the demons that whisper vile lies to us. And I told her that when I asked the demon’s name while we were praying for her, a voice said, “Death!”. She said she has no memory of that at all. She said that yesterday she kicked a person out of her apartment who was bringing death into it…literally (There’s a pretty good chance that that person was involved in a recent murder.). And she said that she doesn’t know what happened but she feels totally different today, like she hasn’t felt before. I asked, “Lighter?”. She said, “Yes, lighter.” I asked, “Does it seem like there was a darkness around you and now it’s gone?” She said, “Yes. Oh my God, yes!” I told her that I think she is now clean. I told her that she can make new choices and have a fresh start (Another Christ follower in the community told her that, too, on Sunday after _________ came to.). She said, “Oh my God! Thank you, Jesus! Thank you!”

“I told her to be careful, because I don’t know exactly what happened either. I told her that the Bible relates that when the Holy Spirit casts something out, it (that dark spirit) stays around for a while looking for a way back in. And if it gets back in, it will bring seven of its friends with it. I told her to ask the Holy Spirit to fill her up. I told she has to surrender it all.  I told her that I can’t do that for her. She has to do it. (She prayed that right there and then.) I told her to stay strong in the Lord, to be in constant prayer, and to fix her eyes hard on Jesus. I told her that if she felt oppressed or assaulted, to call me immediately and I will pray with her right over the phone.

“Not exactly textbook pastoral care methodology, but then again, not everything we do is pastoral care. Do I know what happened here? No. I know what I heard. I know what I saw. I know what I felt. Now I know what she is feeling. That’s what I know so far. I’m still interested in what you are thinking and feeling.”

I’m also interested in what you, who are reading this, is thinking and feeling about it.

 

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3 Comments »

  1. Betty Christian Said:

    As one who used to go all around Robinhood’s barn trying to make the Gospel sound intellectually acceptable to people (even to myself), I’ve decided to end up like Paul, counting it all crap “that I may be found in Christ,” etc…
    So here’s my opinion:
    The Church is not the Holy Spirit any more than I am God. The Spirit is the Deity, the Wind that bloweth where it listeth, that we hunger desperately to have blow through our churches but of Whom we are scared as Hell, and Hell is exactly what keeps Him at bay if we let it, which we do–often!.
    The Wind blew through your iglesia and blew the Hell out of one of your congregants who was ready to be delivered. She was not a mental case; she was a demon-possessed woman and Jesus had compassion on her. We could carry this compassion to a lot more people if we didn’t care what anybody thought of us.
    I am a WASP lady, Baptist background, educated at home and in church and SS–then in public schools and University (BA with honors in English), which did their best to remove the “Solid Rock” from under me and nearly succeeded except for my taking John 7:17 as an experiment and having the hypothesis of Truth confirmed. So here I am.
    I’m not a person with a ministry of deliverance, and experience as much intimidation about it as anyone, but I’m not proud of that.
    God the Holy Spirit sees that you are a servant of His with an open heart, and as you stay that way, I believe He will use you in all manner of ways; this is just the beginnig. Admittedly some people do become somewhat unhinged or unbalanced in the presence of the Supernatural; you won’t. Just ask the Lord for His wisdom and control.
    That’s all for now from Grandma Betty

  2. Betty Christian Said:

    Warms my heart for you to say that, Max–I guess that’s my biggest desire!


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