Holy Spirit

4 Sep

I am writing something here today which might potentially lose me readers, credibility, whatever. Last weekend I went to a conference which dah, dah, dah, John and Carol Arnot were at. I have to confess I really dug my heals in at the last minute and didn’t want to go at all. I did though, and was blessed in some ways, and left frustrated in others. I’ve been really interested in Robby’s posts recently about prayer ministry and ministry time questions and answers. In his posts Robby refers to the Vineyards five fold prayer model. Robby talks about how a more pastoral and Spirit led model of prayer has been replaced with the repetition of “more Lord” as if it were a charismatic incantational mantra.  Robby is all for the work of the Holy Spirit, and has experienced “on the floor” encounters with him many times.  In some ways I agree with Robby, as I have experienced many people using the “more Lord” mantra, as if they really didn’t know what else to pray. If I’m honest, quite often the “more Lord” mantra for me has been accompanied by someone pushing firmly on my head or shoulders, or sticking their foot behind mine, I guess trying to help me fall over?? I’m a stubborn soul though, and I don’t perform for anybody! On the other hand I have experienced wonderful people praying for me over the years, who did truly seem interested in why I wanted someone to pray with me.

The whole pessimist in me came out whilst at the conference. I couldn’t get my head around why as soon as John Arnot would raise his hand up loads of people would shrill, what was it they were getting in all of the rows in front of me, that I wasn’t receiving in my row? I found it difficult on the only evening that John Arnot spoke (there were various Christian speakers there) that he majored in on healing. Some people were genuinely healed, one man who I know had a heart problem healed that night. That’s wonderful. I found a pushiness to the evening as well though, as people were prayed for they were asked “does it feel any better?” some replied “I’m not really sure” the response to that was “Well you either know if it’s better or not, now tell me, does it feel any better?” One lady with a bad back problem had tears as she said “no it feels no better at all.” they prayed for her again to receive the same response, at that point they asked a ministry team member to pray with her, and then moved on to another person. I really felt for this lady. I wondered how many times she’d received prayer for her back. I wondered how many times she’d been disappointed in the past, and how much she hoped that tonight would be her night. I really hope that she receives healing.

The whole conference was focused on the Holy Spirit. That again is great, as you can never have too much Holy Spirit in your life. There was lots of talk about the river, but I wondered where other parts of Christianity fell into this, you can’t just focus on one aspect of God. The time I dreaded came – a call for all of the pastors and their wives (oh, yes, that’s me then) to go to the front and receive prayer. The Arnots, and a few others, started the “more Lord” mantra and the people went flying. John Arnot came up to me and squeezed my hands really tight – nothing- he squeezed them again – nothing. Like I wrote, I don’t perform for anyone if I’m going to end up on my back, then it’s God who is going to do it! John then stuck an imaginary hat – or something like that on me – and said “wear it”, he then moved on to my non obliging husband! Inside I was thinking “ha”, then Carol Arnot came up to me and squeezed my hand ……. and the next thing I knew was that I was on my back! I’m not really sure what I make of the whole Toronto thing and the Arnots. There are things they say and do which I simply do not agree with or believe. However, God is obviously using them – is it because they are more open to his Spirit? I don’t know. I cannot deny though, that when Carol touched me something went shooting through my body and literally knocked me off my feet. I know it was God because he ministered to me whilst I was on the floor. I guess as they say, his ways are not our ways.

I’ve been pondering over the past week though how the work Holy Spirit is viewed in emerging/missional Christianity. Is there a big enough place for him, or are we trying to run away too much from things such as the Toronto blessing, that we have squeezed the HS out a little? I’m processing this right now. What are your thoughts?

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18 Responses to “Holy Spirit”

  1. Erin September 4, 2007 at 23:43 #

    Wow…OK. I grew up Charismatic, as is our CLB where I was heavily involved in all HS type ministries…and Sweet Jesus, I’ve seen it ALL.

    They have tried to get me to fall over for years (without success…I’m an HTR)so I know what you’re talking about. And that’s not to say I was closed…not at all…I just refuse to fall down. So your experience interest me.

    I had missed, in the chaos of the last couple weeks, those posts by Robbymac – thanks for the pointing…

    I am a fence sitter now…I think it’s hard for some of us…we just want to flush the abuses of that kind of stuff right out of our system never to be seen again. There is a middle ground, and I do think we have tried to put a lid on the work of the HS, maybe too much. I have all but walked away from the excesses and abuses, I think there is still room…but I don’t know how that really looks in my life anymore.

    What I want and have had is a season of this stuff being absent from my life…I grew far far too dependent on the manifestations and that’s like building your faith on Jell-O. I did need to “detox” from that. But I also know I cannot deny the real experiences I have had…they are many and some have no other explanation but the HS. So I don’t know…I do miss it, sometimes. And I have felt a gravitation lately that I haven’t felt for almost 3 years…

    This is just me…and I respect that a lot of people have different views…FWIW.

  2. robbymac September 5, 2007 at 03:49 #

    Thanks for sharing some of your story here! I’ve mentioned a few times at my blog that I’ve also experienced many “out there” encounters with the Holy Spirit, so I’m not in any way against what the Spirit was doing in Toronto.

    I, for one, would be deeply disappointed if the emerging/missional church didn’t embrace a more charismatic view of the Holy Spirit (but without the hype or the mindless mantras).

  3. lynhallewell September 5, 2007 at 08:21 #

    Yeah, I agree Robby. I hope you didn’t think that I was inferring that you were against HS encounters – this wasn’t my intention.

  4. Paul September 5, 2007 at 09:24 #

    Hi lyn, thanks for sharing and raising those Qs on the HS. I read a book by john arnott which i found really helpful and encouraging a long time ago when the whole world of a real experiential God was knew. In fact i’d say that the toronto blessing was fundamental to many aspects of my life – as a sceptical conservative i was paranoid of anything smacking of manipulation and i guess i still am – i had an encounter with God in all places a shopping centre with no one praying for me at the time, so no manipulation -either it was the HS or me. I’m really grateful that we follow a God who does not push us around but calls to us and knows our hearts.

    I’m with robby, having hung out in the vineyard for the last 12 yrs i’m so glad of a model of prayer that is about conversation and being led together by the HS – i readily admit that doesn’t turn us into the HS, there is a lot well meaning crap that gets prayed, advice given, mistakes made etc. the fact that we pray for each other and believe that God is involved as we do somehow is awesome though.

    Back to your Q though – there is no doubt a lot jaded charismatics out in the emerging church – afterall charisma is great when people have awesome experiences with God, when we feel the emotional connection, the new thing of God is exciting and and awesome and carries us along. On the flip side though we can end up as shiny happy people talking seeing the future as a glorius wave of worship etc but if your not in that place, if your feeling far from god, you aren’t having the experiences, you got doubts and questions then what substance is there for you? The answer of ‘more holy spirit’ just doesn’t cut it.

    The reaction then is to focus on the times when we have felt manipulated, pushed, squashed by our inability to feel like we think we should feel and our charismatic heritage doesn’t deal well with that. In reaction we can push against the holy spirit, push out the experiential side of our experience as weird and not want to deal with that. One way of looking at the whole missional thang is to say it’s not working for us in here so maybe we should be out there…

    I think it is a shame where we walk away from experiental faith but we also need a faith that is grounded deeper in our experience. It is the faith that grounds us in the suffering, servant hood of Christ as well the immediacy of the present of God in our lives – we need a faith that has both the glory of the resurection that goes through the pain, anguish and darkness of the cross.

    The holy spirit is about God’s presence being with us, if we look at Jesus on the cross the whole trinity is present, so the spirit being there is not about avoiding pain and struggle, sometimes it is about helping us face the pain and diappointment rather than deny it, medicate it or escape from it.

    And across our faith community we’ll have people who will be having an upsurge when we’re on a downward slope – it’s why it helps stop me measuring my faith by my charismatic barometer of how God makes me feel but about the hope and faith that engenders and being able to paritiopate and pray for people because the Spirit is within me and i can receive the same from others.

    I don’t know why people fall over sometimes but its what happens when they get up again, these experiences of God are awesome but they are not the be all and end all of our faith and hope.

  5. jon September 5, 2007 at 11:12 #

    Well, I think the thing that concerns me is that sometimes the Holy Spirit seems to be being used to glorify the people ‘wealding’ it. To speak up the ‘movement’ around what is happening (“the river”) instead of the movement of Gods kingdom. My understanding of the HS is that it helps us know Jesus, who is our way to the Father. HS works Gods transformation within us.

    I love Pauls comment about HS at the cross. This is really important. I think that a lot of the emphasis on the EMC is rightly on the incarnation, specifically Jesus life, and whilst it embraces the cross, there has been a reaction from forms of christianity focussed almost entirely on the cross and limited views and charactatures of the atonement. Thus the humanity of Jesus and his mission, our humanity and involvement in his mission have moved to the fore. This shift of focus could erroneously lead to less emphasis on the HS. Yet the HS is key to understanding Jesus life and how He was empowered to live, and to how we can live as Jesus intends us to.

    So to our experience of the HS. I want as much as I can get – or should I say – the best relationship I can have. Through the HS I can know God and know that I know God. Alan Hirsch wrote a really interesting and provocative post on this. However, I think we need to seek this all the time and in every place, not necessarily to be in set meetings and all that comes with that. When we ‘do the meeting thing’ I believe that should merely act as an encourage and equipping of us to seek the relationship with HS that God intends us to have all the time – not to turn us into people who appear to be addicted to that kind of meeting and experience.

    In favor of what God has done through people like the Arnots, and what has happened in Toronto – I would say there are people who on the back of that have gone into all kinds of mission / missional lifestyles, people whose lives have been transformed etc. Wonderful. There are people who squawk like eagles and take up a fly posture (I’ve seen it) and roar like lions etc. Well – it might be God – I want to try to believe the best, but I’d rather be empowered to live the missional life.

  6. jon September 5, 2007 at 11:21 #

    At the risk of seeming slimy Rob – I’ve told Lyn that when I’ve met you, you positively exude the HS and fruit thereof. 🙂

  7. lynhallewell September 5, 2007 at 20:29 #

    I’ve really struggled with the HTR label. I’ve had a great time with the HS over the years and experienced him in many ways over the years, I simply hadn’t been put on the ground until last weekend! I guess there has to be a middle ground. We nede the HS, but should focus on all aspects of God.

  8. lynhallewell September 5, 2007 at 20:32 #

    Excellent points Paul, thank you so much.

  9. lynhallewell September 5, 2007 at 20:39 #

    “However, I think we need to seek this all the time and in every place, not necessarily to be in set meetings and all that comes with that. When we ‘do the meeting thing’ I believe that should merely act as an encourage and equipping of us to seek the relationship with HS that God intends us to have all the time – not to turn us into people who appear to be addicted to that kind of meeting and experience.”

    Yes, you are right, seeking the HS should be an everyday action.

  10. cindy September 6, 2007 at 02:37 #

    what is HTR?

  11. Patti Blount September 6, 2007 at 03:27 #

    What about “lying signs and wonders,” that Jesus told us would be so prevalent in the last days, and to test the spirits whether they are of Him or not. Let’s not forget about the “angel of light.”

  12. lynhallewell September 6, 2007 at 07:21 #

    Hard to receive! It’s a term given for people who I think basically don’t fall over or manifest when being prayed for, in some circles. I’ve never liked it because although until last weekend I’ve never fallen over or manifested , I have been filled with the Holy Spirit on many many occassions, so I am not hard to receive, as they say, because I receive him often enough!

  13. jon September 6, 2007 at 07:36 #

    You are right that we are to test the spirits. In my engagements with the Toronto stuff, any sense of discernment I have would suggest that the spirit side of it is defiantly of the God variety, but it is a mixed bag, and there is a whole load of flesh and culture in there too. (like a lot of things in life I guess) John and Carol Arnot are trying to glorify God, and they ‘are not’ (ha ha) pointing and saying “heres the messiah, theres the messiah.” So I don’t think there is any falsehood in terms of the signs and wonders. Sometimes people have an overwhelming touch of God, and of his peace, which is what people think is healing, and sometimes it is but at other times it subsides. Again, Paul comment about the HS being there to help us walk through pain and suffering is an important one.

  14. chill24 September 6, 2007 at 16:17 #

    once we accept Christ into our life isn’t He all there? this may show my ignorance more than i want it too but i don’t understand why the HS would cause someone to fall down or lose control of ourselves unless He were intervening to minister through us or save a life? and why would the HS just come upon someone when He,in my understanding, is already residing within us?
    i come from a VERY conservative background and while i know i don’t know most of the ways God works, this one really confuses me (slain in the spirit, etc…).
    i’m interested to know how you feel now lyn? has this experience brought you closer to God? is there a long term effect (for a lack of a better word) from what happened?
    not trying to pry too much just curious.

  15. lynhallewell September 6, 2007 at 20:49 #

    Calana, I agree with you, the Holy Spirit is indeed living in us. I think when people experience the Holy Spirit in a more powerful way it is a way for God to minister to us. God did minister to me that Saturday. How do I feel – well much the same really. Whilst I was “on the floor” I felt that lovely warm sensations that I normally feel when I sense the Holy Spirit in me – so nothing new there. (I must write here that I was very much aware of everything going on around me during this time, I had my eyes open some and shut for some, but I really sensed God and enjoyed just resting with him – for all of about 5-10 minutes!) If I’m honest then I don’t think it’s brought me closer to God – some of that is probably to do with where I’m at right now. I think I was afraid before and I don’t feel afraid of the HS coming on me powerfully anymore because I experienced that it was good. There is one thing that I felt God say to me whilst I was “on the floor” and that was that he valued me. That really hit home as I’ve been feeling very undervalued recently, so long term I need to remember that.

  16. chill24 September 7, 2007 at 00:42 #

    thank you for sharing – this is interesting to me because i’m usually very skeptical about things like this. it’s good to hear an experience from someone i don’t know well (as well as you can get to know someone from a blog) 🙂 but respect.
    i’m glad He reminded you of your value. again, thank you.

  17. lucinda October 14, 2008 at 14:38 #

    Well i mean, i agree I am not one to put on a show for anyone, if God wants to slain me then I am all for it, But i too have wondered about these very things, I agree more Holy Spirit the better, but I have been to a few conferences and there was much manifestation going on all @ but there was ppl falling over, laughing almost uncontrollably in the spirit and nothing happening to me, or not physically from what i could see. Am i just not knowing how to receive? hm very cool about when Carol touched you.. they are really cool ppl, Check out this movie- “The Finger of God”

    God bless..

  18. lynhallewell October 15, 2008 at 10:45 #

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing Lucinda. I’ll have a look at the movie 🙂

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