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The other day I saw a comment on my Twitter feed.  It didn’t, for some reason, link to the original post that began the kerfuffle to which I arrived.  The most vocal commenter was ranting about biblical tongues being no more than a distracting, self-induced, self-aggrandizing gibberish, while some others tried without success to reason with the critic.

Later on (while mowing and praying, actually), I formed a general mental retort to that critic; However, a Scripture popped into my head which, in turn, popped my “bubble,” so I purposed to check my Bible (always a good place to start!), which I did that evening.

This took me to First Corinthians 13 and 14, but let’s begin in Acts, Chapter Two, which the critic used as her sole basis for her rant:  (NKJV used except where indicated.)

 “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language” (Acts 2:4-6).

Her reasoning, based on this single passage, was that anyone within earshot should understand someone “speaking in tongues,” and since she didn’t understand it, it must be fakery.

Rather than here quote huge portions of Scripture, I’ll point you to it and “let your fingers do the walking,” as the old ad used to say.

There are distinct instances of tongues: first, that initial physical evidence of having been filled (or baptized with) the Holy Spirit—separate from the Holy Spirit being received upon being born again. The first is the result of seeking the infilling, Luke 11:13; the other is received at the new birth (John 3:6, 14:16). Second, there is the use of said language to edify oneself (1 Corinthians 14:4), giving personal, private praise and thanks to God.  Lastly—and the critic apparently experienced a misuse of this—is a “message” in tongues given aloud in a gathering of believers. Such a prayer (for that is what it is) must always be directed toward God, and must always be followed immediately by an interpretation so that the assembly may be edified. I repeat: tongues, in whichever situation, is always directed Godward – it is never a message to the flock or to an individual. (1 Corinthians 14:1-33).  That is something else entirely, into which I will not delve here.

One more thing.  Speaking in tongues is always the initial, physical evidence of being “baptized” in the Holy Spirit.  The Scriptures clearly state this in every instance but one, where the language strongly implies it:

“And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee” (Acts 8:18-22 KJV).

How did Simon perceive they’d received the Holy Spirit?  I have bolded the word “matter,” above. This is the key.  This word is, in the Greek, logos, or “something said.”

I hope I have given some of my readers food for thought.

Resounding Praise

This is a letter to the body from a family in our local church assembly:

Dear Family,

She had blood work done on Monday. Our faith was hoping for a positive report,
but in the natural we were discouraged because she has not been feeling well the last few weeks. She has also been experiencing many physical, emotional, and spiritual attacks … it’s been a battle. But God has been so incredibly faithful through it all.

In addition to the liver function tests,  she asked the doctor to retest the Autoimmune function panel. Last February while in the hospital, she tested positive for an autoimmune disease…more specifically Autoimmune Hepatitis (Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver). The liver biopsy done in May, confirmed the Autoimmune Hepatitis and showed continuing and extensive damage to the liver.

However, the autoimmune function panel from Monday came back completely NORMAL – saying she has NO autoimmune disease anymore.

And the liver function tests are the BEST they have ever been!!

To explain it a little better – her liver function results should be under 30.  When she was admitted to the hospital last February, her counts were about 1,000 (according to the doctor she was in “end stage liver failure.”)  This past year, her liver has continued to function and symptoms subsided without the use of the steroids and immunosuppressant medication.  However, her liver levels have stayed dangerously elevated. The hepatologist told us repeatedly that he has never seen anyone come back from end stage liver failure without the use of high dose steroids and immunosuppressants.

In November, the UVA hepatologist told us that her liver levels were going back up and her liver was failing again.  At that point, he told her she had 1-2 years max to live (unless she started the steroids and immunosuppressants) and she would definitely need a liver transplant within the next year.

BUT GOD.

Her liver function results on Monday (remember, the normal range is under 30) were 36 and 43!!!!

We still need to see those numbers COMPLETELY normal and stay normal, but there is absolutely no other explanation for this other than GOD.

WE GIVE HIM ALL THE GLORY FOR THE THINGS HE HAS DONE.

Thank you for your faithful prayers, intercession and encouragement on our behalf.

We love you all.

For some reason, this morning my thoughts drifted back to around 1955, when I lived in the newer section of Buckingham (apartments), in Arlington, Virginia. There, bounded by N. Pershing Drive, Henderson Road, and what is now North Second Street, lay a five-acre oasis of sorts, the home of “Mr. Culpepper” (Charles Washington Culpepper (1886-1980) a renowned horticulturist, it seems).

I was a runt, eight years old, with allergies to just about everything. I couldn’t stand to be around flowers, for instance, but I never experienced any symptoms while wandering, with his permission, through what was to me a jungle of every type of plant and tree imaginable, including a stand of bamboo. There was even a frog pond, fed by a spring. I was the only kid I knew of whom he trusted to wander unaccompanied through his property, because all I did was wander. I never interfered with the frogs or picked anything, as did others later on, which resulted for a time in him posting his land off limits. Mister Culpepper had the biggest hands of any man I’ve ever known.

While I never developed an interest in gardening, I did later on in life find enjoyment in traipsing through the woods, hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT) (not all at once) from Harper’s Ferry to Swift Run Gap, and about half of the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail in Pennsylvania, as well as numerous “day hikes” on offshoots of the AT, and two traverses of Old Rag Mountain, one on which Mary accompanied me.

I wish I could let his descendants know how fondly I remember Mr. Culpepper and how much his (to me) “Garden of Eden” still evokes pleasant memories, but that trail seems to have grown cold, as I discovered his son passed away over a decade ago.

She Bared Her Soul

Two weeks ago, the Holy Spirit moved upon hearts in one of our church services.  This is a transcript of what one young woman openly shared with the congregation during that visitation:

I couldn’t sleep last night.  God was dealing with me.  I agonized for hours, not knowing what or how to pray, not knowing what Father wanted to say to me.  All I could do was cry.  All I could say was, “What, Lord?” No answer.  I started declaring great statements of how I want to live for Him and love Him etc., and in the middle of my Peter-like statements and pride, He asked me a question.  He said, “But do you want to die with Me?”

I could not answer for a while.  I was so stunned and horrified as I saw who I really was.  I am critical, judgmental, unforgiving, jealous, covetous, and fearful.  It’s not the first time God has showed me this, but I saw it how He saw it.  I was physica1ly ill.  As God encompassed me in his great love and forgiveness, very sheepishly, but with all my heart, I answered him. “Yes, Lord. I want to die with You.”  God began to speak to me. This is what He said:

Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isaiah 59:1-2).

We say we want to live for Him
But we won’t die with Him.

We say we want to be filled with His Spirit
But we don’t want to be empty.

We say we want to be clothed in His righteousness
But we won’t be stripped bare, with our hearts exposed before Him.

We say we want to be great for God
But we CAN’T STAND to be nothing and small in our own eyes.

We say we want to move in His power
But we don’t want to be weak.

We say we want compassion and boldness
But we don’t want to be a fool.

We want to sit in heavenly places
But we won’t sit at His feet.

We say we want to abide in Him
But we won’t come out from among them.

We say we want to go forward with God
But we won’t turn and repent.

God loves us and He wants to give us the kingdom, but how can He if we will not humble ourselves? We must humble ourselves before Him. There is no other way.

If we will not pay the price, if we won’t sell all to purchase that pearl of great price, then we are only religious, Jesus is no longer precious to us. He is no longer real to us.

Do we want to be glorified, or do we want God to be glorified? Do we want dead works, or do we want fruit that remains?

We say we want to go where He wants us to go. There is only one place He is leading, and that is the cross.

From the greatest person to the least, every single one of us, from the one with the most perfect pursuit, to the utterly lost among us, we should all be trembling at the word that has been coming to us for months and months. Every one of us fall so far short of the glory of our Holy Father. All of us should be crying out for the searchlight of His Holy Spirit to shine into every crevice of our being, that we would fall on our face before Him and allow Him to bring a fire so hot into our soul, that we will NEVER again be the same. That God would be great in this place, and in each one of our hearts. That we would be nothing and that He alone would be glorified.

Dear God let it start with me …..

Moved?

I inadvertantly saw a brief portion (I could bear to watch only seconds, and thankfully it has been removed) of a video showing “Pakistani Islamists” beating with sticks a domesticated dog which was hung up by a harness. My emotions were instantly torn between heartbreak for the dog and seething hatred for its tormentors. The face, the eyes especially, of one of the torturers made me think of a demon in the third panel of Bosch’s triptych, “The Garden of Earthly Delights,” which depicts a (Dante’s) Inferno-like punishment for past sins.

That, in turn, made me think that even now people are tormented – in their minds, their bodies, their souls – by Satan’s “henchmen.”

It has been said, with respect to a lack of compassion for the lost, that “our eyes are dry because our hearts are dry.” If I but look upon those who do not have faith in Christ, should I not feel for them as much as I did for the animal? Should I not seeth with hatred for the devil’s minions under whose power these folks unknowingly (for the most part) find themselves? Should I not at the very least speak to them, pray for them, and see them illuminated and given the opportunity for freedom?

But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:36- 38).

This is not meant either to distract or to educate, but if you’re interested…

Genesis 2:10 (NKJV) says, “Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads.”  I got wondering just what “went out” means.  Apparently, in the Hebrew it means only “went out,” with no certainty that the “River of God” (as some call it) actually originated in Eden, which has always been my assumption.  If its source is there, that places it somewhere in the area west of Mt. Ararat.

Other theorists think that Eden is not at what was then the source of at least two of these rivers, but at their confluence, in southern Iraq.  In this scenario, one of the four rivers is thought to run where the Red Sea is now.

It seems logical to me to stick with my original assumption that Genesis, in saying “went out” and “from there” and “became,” meant that Eden encompassed the source of the originating river.

What do you think?

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Having just celebrated the birth (incarnation) of Jesus Christ and realizing that, even of those of us who claim to be Christians, only a minority focused on Him, I began to reflect today on the upcoming transition to 2017.

Here is an entire world, waiting upon what it deems to be the push of The Great Cosmic Reset Button, expecting that “things will be different next year,” or “I’m really going to…,” when there is absolutely no logical (or cosmic) reason for that expectation.

So many folks tonight, are looking for the New Year to bring a clean slate, a new beginning, a fresh start. They’re looking in the wrong place, or to be more precise, they’re not looking to the One who has already provided the one and only way to what they seek. They don’t want to hear it, but yielding their lives to God through Jesus Christ, whose birth we just celebrated, is their only path to that clean slate, that new beginning.

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