Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire,
And lighten with celestial fire;
Thou the anointing Spirit art,
Who dost they sevenfold gifts impart
Sorry for my
hiatus from being online. I am back. I
have not forgotten the Revolution or you. Remember, the essence of Revolution
is obedience to Jesus. We need to have a radical commitment to the power, truth,
and reality of the Gospel to effect change in our lives and the world around us.
God is three-in-one, triune, Trinity--God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. We have already discussed God the Son--Jesus--and how we can
know about him—the Bible. Now for the Holy Spirit, about whom we can also
know through the Holy Scriptures.
The Holy Spirit’s
work and power in our lives and the life of the Church is central to Revolution. Jesus
taught using stories. Allow me to once again leave the style of philosophical
discourse and tell you a true story. A story of redemption and the power of the
Holy Spirit in life of a Jesus Follower.
I love books. Books pretty much rock. I also like monks. So it was a pleasant event last summer when I received a copy of The Poems of St. John of the Cross from Emily. Huzzah! As I read the poems, I wanted to have a vibrant, living prayer life like that of their mystic author, to
enter into communion with God and discover his “secret” love. Also
last summer, I was rather excited to find The Way of a Pilgrim for 25 cents at the Metis Nation of Ontario’s
Annual General Assembly. I bought it. The Way of a Pilgrim is all about a Russian peasant who goes on a pilgrimage to discover
the secret of praying continuously. I think it was Labour Day weekend when I
was on the bus with them in the pocket of my cargo pants I called my “book pocket.” They fell out as I exited the bus, lost forever to the abysses of the Transitway, and were never turned
in to Lost and Found.
What was I to do?
Since I love books
initially for reading, I grabbed a book off my shelf I’d been meaning to read, Nine
O’Clock in the Morning, which is all about the start of charismatic renewal in the Episcopal Church of the USA. Charismatic renewal is about the work of the Holy Spirit and being open to his more supernatural
gifts and manifestations. I grew up in a renewal church with parents who were actively involved with renewal. So there wasn’t much “new” except that it was a powerful story I’d
never heard before. I learned how God’s Holy Spirit can move and was encouraged
in my walk. And I also learned something else—I already knew the secret to praying powerfully and finding the secret love of God!
The Holy Spirit! I just needed to ask him in faith, ask him into my heart, into my soul, into my prayer
life. I needed to ask him to do powerful things in my midst. And I also started, as part of my daily prayer time, praying in my prayer language which the Holy Spirit
has given to me. I don’t believe that every believer needs such a prayer
language, but God has given me one, and we should use the gifts God gives us. The
essence of charismatic renewal is being open to the Holy Spirit to do dramatic things in our lives and Churches. So that’s what I did; I asked him to do dramatic things in my life.
Soon, as I was finishing
off this book, there was a healing conference co-hosted by St. Alban’s, St. George’s, and the Order of St. Luke, which focusses
on the healing ministry of Jesus and his Church. The speaker was Rt. Rev. Malcolm
Harding. Bishop Harding is the Ambassador for Anglican Renewal Ministries, so
he knows about and has been greatly involved in charismatic renewal. He spoke
about Divine Healing, how God heals us. He said that when we pray for healing,
God will always heal. He does not always heal the body, but he will always heal
the soul or spirit. Divine Healing, he taught, was the healing of the whole self:
mind, body, and spirit. Nor does God always heal immediately—sometimes
the healing is gradual. His teaching was very balanced, and rooted in both scripture
At the end of the
first night, for one of the first times in my life, I went to a prayer team for prayer.
This wasn’t for my perpetually sore shoulders, neck, and back,** but for the healing of my inner self, scarred
by sin. I’m sure you all know how sin can just slither its way in and before
you know it, you aren’t sure how to avoid committing it. Well, I was just
sick of this one sin. I was tired of the repetitive cycle of sin followed by
grace followed by sin then grace and so on. Sanctification means that we are
being set free from the power of sin in our lives. All things are possible
with God. So I went for prayer. And
from that night, I was free. Not from all sin, but from one sin. Move in faith one step at a time, this is the lesson the Lord has taught me.
My story doesn’t
end there, though. That night, I also talked with Bishop Malcolm. I wanted my friends to experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit just as I had. But it is an idea that is so misunderstood that I didn’t know how I could do that. And it was especially difficult being a leader in an IVCF setting, with different denominations and doctrines
represented. He taught me that the command to be filled with the Holy Spirit
in the New Testament is a present imperative. To those on whom Greek grammar
is lost, this means that the command has a continuous aspect. It is not, “Be
filled with the Spirit,” but “Be being filled with the Spirit.” The
baptism of the Holy Spirit is not a one-time event, like the baptism of water. We
are to be being baptised by the Holy Spirit at all times. And the Holy Spirit, he reminded me, is a spirit of evangelism. He
empowers us to do the work of evangelism. Although I never explicitly told anyone
about these things in my role as president of OCF this past year, I tried (when I remembered) to have them as a guiding principle
for my actions as president.
But the Holy Spirit does more than just cleanse of unrighteousness. He makes us into something new, something beautiful. He anoints
us and fills us. The next night, he came upon me in power. At the end of his time of teaching, Bishop Malcolm asked anyone who was involved in ministry to come up
to the front to be anointed with oil for their ministry. I decided this meant
me. There were those who went before me.
Some of them were “slain in the Spirit,” others were not. Being
“slain in the Spirit” means that one falls down while being prayed for.
If this happens, it does not mean that someone is more special. If it
does not happen, it doesn’t mean that the Spirit hasn’t come on you. When
one falls down, one does so of one’s own volition, and it is just one way to surrender to the Holy Spirit and allow
him to work.
I went up for prayer and told Bishop Malcolm that I was the president of OCF, and he anointed
me with oil then laid his hands on me and prayed for me. I have been prayed for
before. I have felt the Spirit move. And
I have felt him in my quiet time as I seek the Lord’s face. I have also
been prayed for and not felt him move—doesn’t mean he wasn’t there.
But this time, I felt the same feeling of comfort, strength, and the Lord blowing into my soul. And then I fell down. The carpet at St.
Alban’s was surprisingly comfortable. As I lay there, I just felt his calmness,
comfort, and strength enter into my soul.
I believe that this was a pivotal event in my year, a perfect beginning. The Holy
Spirit doesn't always come in power, you see. There are times when he will. But the Christian life isn't about
all these mighty, powerful, saturated experiences. It's about being able to walk in the dark, cold of a broken, fallen
world and say, "Yahweh, I know you are near." And that is the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The next day, my world
got a little colder, a little more broken, a lot more messed up.
My apartment building caught fire and almost the
whole OCF executive was left homeless for a couple of weeks until we moved into our new apartment—and then with none
of our things, getting them gradually until we got the last load in December. The
Spirit gave me the strength I needed as a Jesus Follower to get through and still work on my studies. He sustained me this whole year, as I tried to be overflowing with him.
I wasn’t always. Just ask any of my roommates. But his anointing power was on me that night. He is the Holy
One. He didn’t just anoint me that night—he anointed the whole year
and flowed out upon Ottawa Christian Fellowship. He is active and powerful and
in our midst. All we have to do is open up to him and be ready for what he’s
going to do in our lives.
Pax Spiritus Sancti,
*For any Latin-lovers in the crowd, the
Latin version of this hymn is available online. But don't trust this translation or the hymn book's.
**I don’t crack the neck anymore,
Kendra. It still hurts, though