Tag Archives: David Mainse

Growing in God: Word based, Spirit Directed, the Radical Middle, part 2

 

This is a drawing that I did on Good Friday.  It is called “Carol – When I survey the wondrous cross.”  It’s of my mother, who died this January in Toronto, Canada, while I was tethered to South Africa during chemo treatments.  It will be part of my second colouring book, Colouring with Jesus 2 (the first version of the colouring book is available in South Africa via Takealot). Click here if you are in South Africa and would like to purchase one.

My name is Laurie-Ann, and I’m a missionary. During my mission travels, I have ministered with people in Northern Ireland, Pakistan, Canada and the USA.  I’ve also ministered in African countries like Kenya, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. But at this time, we live in the beautiful Western Cape of South Africa.

During the last article, we learned the how important the balance of the Word and the Spirit is in our lives.  I had learned this lesson through Canadian broadcaster David Mainse.  He said, If you don’t have the Holy Spirit in your life, you DRY up.  If you don’t have the Word, the Bible in your life, you BLOW up.  Yet when you receive from both the Word and Spirit together, you GROW up.  I thought that this made sense, but I didn’t ponder on it; other that I should always have a biblical base for sharing my prophetic impressions. After all, I did come to faith in a Baptist church.  They love scripture, and so they should! It’s important to have a good, solid understanding of the Bible.  We need to know the Bible, so we have a standard to go by in our faith.  Our personal devotions and words of knowledge aren’t scripture. But these often repeat scripture in a loving, personalized way.

RT Kendall was one of the speakers at our Iris Harvest School. He’s been on the Word side of the church for years, but he became Spirit-filled along the way.  Since he didn’t come from the Spirit side of the church, he keenly sees some tendencies that could pull people away from what is known as the “radical middle,” or the core of our faith.  This term is used by the Vineyard movement, especially by the late Bill Jackson. [Radical Middle ministries dot org]  I remember hearing the term “radical middle” when I was part of the Vineyard. It was certainly something that they strove for.  They even called themselves a ‘centred-set’ rather than a ‘bounded set.’  What they meant by this, was that mainline denominations have a clearly thought-out set of beliefs. Anything outside of these isn’t a part of their creed.  The Vineyard then saw themselves strongly agreeing on the central aspects that all Christians believe. Secondary, more divisive issues, were less central. Vineyardites could differ on these without it being a big deal.  This attitude seemed to change after the Vineyard distanced itself in 1995 during the Toronto Blessing revival.  Alan Hawkins is a theologian based in North Carolina. He unofficially shared with a Vineyard theology forum that he could see changes in the Vineyard after that unfortunate church split.  He said, “If you read [Bill Jackson’s book] Quest for the Radical Middle, you find an amazing record of the work of the Holy Spirit within the Vineyard. That is, until 1995, at which point the book literally changes character and tenor, and reads like a denominational report.”  If you read Jerry Steingard’s book ‘From Here to the Nations, “it reads like Jackson’s first 19 chapters.”  [unofficial report from a retired Vineyard pastor’s Facebook page, May 10, 2019]  The movement may have become ‘safe’ from scoffers, but they lost their place in the radical middle of Spirit and Word. This unfortunate split has been reconciled, and the Catch the Fire stream will always acknowledge their Vineyard roots.

So when you aim to be in the radical middle, you cling to the core truths of your faith. This helps keep us from going off the deep end.  Life is in the middle of the river, where the water is fresh.  It is in this place that many biblical truths that seem to contradict each other, actually don’t.  I would elaborate, but that’s another for another time.  What is important and what matters are the central truths of our faith. The Alpha Course movement takes that same stance. While the Course began in the Anglican Church, many different streams of the Church use it for seekers and new Christians.  Alpha includes all central aspects of Christianity, while secondary teachings like say, the differences of how to baptize, aren’t discussed. That’s what denominational classes are for. Nicky Gumbel shares an idea that he attributes to early church father Augustine, based on the Apostle Paul’s words in Ephesians 4:3, “Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace;” but not at the expense of the truth.  Nicky gently shared seventeenth century theologian Rupertus Meldenius’s motto, “in essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty [and] in all things, Charity” in a gentle way. (Click for quote)  Nicky’s explanation was, “In the really essential things of the faith, the things that are at the core of our belief, there would be unity. In the things that are more peripheral (the non-essentials), there be freedom. People can believe different things; that’s fine. And in everything, love.” [Alpha Course, 2009 version, “What about the Church]  This motto has been picked up by many churches, from Anglican to Moravian.  [Mark Ross]

Unfortunately, this conciliatory attitude of unity in essentials hasn’t been adopted by all.  During my research, I discovered one anonymous blog author who wrote: “balancing Spirit and Truth is like trying to balance law and grace.”(for quote click here) [Ben Eastaugh/Chris Sternal-Johnson]  I don’t think this is a fair comparison.  The Bible contains law, but we don’t live BY the law. We need to read the law section of the Old Testament. It teaches us about holiness. The apostle Paul explained Galatians 3:24: “the law was our guardian until Christ came. It protected us until we could be made right with God through faith.”  This means the law teaches and shows us what sin is. But we can’t be made holy through the law; that’s impossible. So you can’t balance living by the law against living by grace. Paul speaks about that in Galatians. That’s going backwards in our faith towards legalism.  This is actually a pitfall of the Word side of the church.  Legalism chokes the life out of you, and only makes you religious.  Danny Silk warned that if teachers play their true role in the church, they will first have to be willing to pursue a supernatural lifestyle.  They will have to be dissatisfied with the armour of their arguments and the lifelessness of their theology. […] Teachers must embrace mystery.”   [Danny Silk, Building a Culture of Honour]

So as faith is dead without works, so theology is dead without the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit helps your faith become active.  The Bible helps your faith become stable.  When Jesus taught his disciples and all those around him, he used “show and tell.” Jesus’ teaching was not passive, even when he taught his disciples to “turn the other cheek.”  This takes an active decision. The writer of Hebrews shared that the Word is alive and powerful, but this is because the Holy Spirit breathes it.  He is the author. Listen to the words of Hebrews 4:12: “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.”

RT Kendall shared in Harvest School talk about how we can grow in godly character and the fruit of the Spirit. This happens through genuine obedience and persistence in our faith, where the Holy Spirit helps us through difficult circumstances. He reforms our hearts. Scripture is an amazing tool to bring change.  Like the scripture in Hebrews 4 that I just shared, this is a living surgical tool. It’s important to not run from this and seek comfort instead.  It takes real guts to be an obedient Christian.  It takes not only head knowledge of Scripture, but also an open heart to let those words transform you.  Say you struggle with fear and insecurity.  You may feel like you are orphaned, and all alone.  Yet, as children of God, who love Jesus Christ, we aren’t orphans anymore. We are loved children.  You may read the words of scripture, but it’s the Holy Spirit that helps you take that word to heart.  It is he who transforms your heart so you can receive that truth, and the love that comes directly from God.

RT told us at Harvest School that we “need to work in the Word, to actively read it, pray it and think on it.  Too often Spirit people want a rhema, or (Holy Spirit) word, because it is quick and we are lazy” [RT Kendall – notes from HS 24, June 15, 2016].   When we pursue scripture with the Holy Spirit, he makes it come alive to us. This is where the practice of Lexio Divina comes in. This is actively reading scripture more than a few times, to allow the words to speak to you.  Sometimes the Holy Spirit can give you an impression of the context of the scripture you are reading.  Say is Jesus is speaking to Martha that he is the resurrection and the life, you can actually imagine Jesus comforting Martha on the death of her brother Lazarus with the hope that he will again be alive.   Jesus was creating a “now moment” full of God’s promise.

These “now moments” are similar to when Heidi Baker ‘stops for the one.’ She does this in obedience to a prompting from the Holy Spirit; the timing is God’s, but there is also a scriptural command to care for the orphans and widows. Some scriptures call these people the “least of these.”  James 1:27 says pure and undefiled devotion, “in the sight of God the Father, is caring for orphans and widows in their distress, and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”   The third Iris core value is to care for the least of these.  The IrisGlobal site shares:  “We look for revival among the broken, humble and lowly, and start at the bottom with ministry to the poor. God chooses the weak and despised things of the world to shame the proud, demonstrating His own strength and wisdom. Our direction is lower still.” [Iris Global site – https://www.irisglobal.org/about/core-values]

When Heidi responds to the Holy Spirit’s prompting, it’s partly by obedience to God’s general guidance in ministry to the poor. But she’s also obedient to the Holy Spirit for the time and place. Heidi shares many such stories in her books. She also was led in January 2010 to stop for me. She gave me roses, a hug and a kiss.  It took years for me to figure out that Heidi was simply led to bless me. I learned from another Iriser in East London, that Heidi often blesses specific people at conferences this way. And on that day, I was the one.  I was in the centre of that convergence. This was the morning after I responded to a missions call, by giving my yes to a life of service. I didn’t know what that would look like. A ministry team member prayed over me, and shared that I would be working with the poor. There are many kinds of poor.  In Ottawa, we have the refugee poor, the single mothers poor, and the hidden poor who work multiple low paying jobs to make ends meet.  I can identify with the latter, since I’ve only once had a job that was able to cover rent and basic expenses – and even that was short lived.  I’ve always just had a part-time job or no job at all.  If I weren’t helped by my dad or husband, I might have been on welfare, despite having two degrees, art school and radio broadcasting school.  Yet, God still supplied my needs.

Then I met the real poor in Pakistan and different African countries. I worked in Ottawa’s east-end with French-speaking west-Africans.  The poor are among us.  They are in townships and neighbourhoods, sometimes hidden in plain sight, sometimes secluded. Do we really require Holy Spirit to remind us about them?  I believe so, yes.  Sometimes we go about our daily lives, and forget about those around us, because we have tunnel vision.  It takes a prompting to shake us out of our stupor. We need to see a divine appointment that’s set up right in front of us.  I’m very thankful when Holy Spirit gives me that leading. Sometimes the Father wants to do something special right then with that specific person. When you respond to this nudge, it’s obedience to BOTH Word and Spirit. Can you reach out to people with just the Bible scripture?  Of course you can.  But will you?  Perhaps.

Brian Nickens is a valued teacher in Bethel Church, Redding. He used to be a Word Christian, and the pastor of a few Calvary Chapel churches.  He wrote a book called “Hunger Driven: Overcoming Fear and Skepticism of the Supernatural Lifestyle.”  Like RT Kendall, he has a solid foundation of scripture. He became Spirit-filled later on.  He shares on his website [brianknickens.com] that Jesus ministered by both Word and Spirit. He shared a Bible story from Luke 4:31-37:  “ Then Jesus went to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and taught there in the synagogue every Sabbath day. 32 There, too, the people were amazed at his teaching, for he spoke with authority.

33 Once when he was in the synagogue, a man possessed by a demon—an evil spirit—cried out, shouting, 34 “Go away! Why are you interfering with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

35 But Jesus reprimanded him. “Be quiet! Come out of the man,” he ordered. At that, the demon threw the man to the floor as the crowd watched; then it came out of him without hurting him further.  36 Amazed, the people exclaimed, “What authority and power this man’s words possess! Even evil spirits obey him, and they flee at his command!” 37 The news about Jesus spread through every village in the entire region.”

Nickens shares that Jesus taught the word, and acted in the Spirit in the same gathering. He says that “Jesus most often began his ministry events and then operated according to his observations as to what his Father was doing in that given moment.  Notice that response of the crowd after they witnessed the demonized man delivered. [They] said, ‘What authority and power this man’s words possess! Or, more clearly in the World English Bible, “What IS this word?This word “was the declaration and exhortation of the written word of God.  [It] literally agitated and activated the spirit realm.  Jesus did not teach a series on family living, he declared the Word of God.  This kind of example of Word and Spirit is the key that unlocks the kingdom of heaven in our midst.  [It also unlocks] the supernatural realm around us.” [brianknickens.com/word-and-spirit]

Nickens also shares that there are many Spirit people who don’t realize the journey that Bethel Redding has gone through to reach revival.  He says, “so many are reading the books, speaking the language and singing the songs of Bethel; while at the same time, [they] fail to see the big picture as to how they got there.  So many try to attach the bells and whistles of this movement to their ministry.”  [Nickens – website as prev noted]

They may expect the same result, but they won’t get it.  There is no shortcut to excellence, so there is no shortcut to revival either.   Nickens says, “you have to labour in the Word. If you trace the Bethel Redding journey, you will discover [that] it is a journey through the Word of God into the realm of the Spirit.  When … [scripture teaching] results in a move of the Spirit, Bill [Johnson] is never in a hurry to move out of that moment.  That is Revival at its core.”  [Nickens – website as prev noted]

Amos Yong is a Fuller Seminary professor. He reviewed RT Kendall’s book co-authored with Paul Cain.  Cain was to represent the Spirit side of the church, and RT the word side, and yet both were hungry for the other side. Cain encouraged Spirit people to get into scripture, and RT encouraged Word people to embrace the Holy Spirit, while having a biblical base.  Some critics had and still have a problem of using both, despite examples of Jesus and the Apostle Paul.  Amos Yong got to the heart of the matter. He said that “the problem is [in] how to understand the Word and the Spirit as both distinct and independent on the one hand, and yet mutually related and interdependent on the other.”[Amos Yong, “Between two extremes: Balancing Word Christianity and Spirit Christianity: A Review Essay (of a Paul Cain-RT Kendall book) Feb 25, 2000]

There is no either or.  Why choose when you can have both?  Bill Jackson was a writer and Vineyard pastor in various locations. He wrote the book Quest for the Radical Middle, that I mentioned earlier. He and the then Vineyard attempted to combine evangelical Word-based faith, with the Holy Spirit. This was called “empowered evangelicalism or the Third Wave movement.  It included the Vineyard, the Anglican Mission, Soul Survivor, Acts 29, and Canada’s Anglican Renewal Ministries, or ARM Canada.  [paraphrase from radicalmiddleministries.org] I was the secretary and later bookkeeper for ARM Canada, so I was blessed to partake of the Third Wave through the Vineyard, ARM Canada, and the daughter of the Vineyard, Catch the Fire. This became part of my culture, in my own search for the radical middle.  Surprisingly many Word Christians think this middle is actually the extreme.  Yet if you don’t utilize BOTH Word and Spirit, you ARE NOT in the middle at all.

Bill Jackson’s son, who now runs his ministry, notes on their website a beautiful rendition of what is the centre of the river.  He says, “the ‘radical middle’ is the beautiful intersection of the Word and the Spirit.  As empowered evangelicals, we are grounded in the Word of God, while listening to the Spirit of God, as he leads us into mission.  Radical middle people want to be about both the Word and the works of Jesus.  Jesus both proclaimed the reality of the kingdom of God and demonstrated the power of the kingdom.  Our call is to go and do likewise.”  When Word and Spirit converge, there is action and power.

I discovered a suburban Durban church called City Hill, that includes itself in the radical middle.  This is what they say this is: “One could argue that the wheel is one of man’s best inventions. A bicycle wheel, for example, is a brilliant piece of engineering. From the centre of the wheel radiates spokes that support the tyre which rotates and propels the bike forward. If the centre of the wheel is slightly to the left or right or just a little too high or low, the spokes would not be equal lengths and the tyre would not be perfectly round and it would not function the way a wheel should. Are the spokes important? Yes! Is the tyre necessary? Yes! But they would all be redundant without that all-important middle which forms an inherent part of the wheel. The centre is radical!”  The centre is Jesus, who used both Scripture and Holy Spirit. [Bonny Dales, Culture Magazine, Issue 31, from here.

If Jesus is the centre, what does this look like in our lives?   How do we live that out? RT Kendall believes that many forget God’s sovereignty.  They say, “Lord, increase my faith, help my unbelief.”  So, ask God for mercy. You never outgrow the need for mercy. RT shared at our Harvest School that we need to remember the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit. We need to respect this.  We also need to remember the sensitivity of the Holy Spirit. It’s too easy to grieve God.  Listen to Ephesians 4:30-31: “Do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.”

The chief way we grieve the Spirit is by bitterness. This could be pointing the finger at someone else, losing your temper or road rage. But if you ask Holy Spirit to help you to overcome these, he will give you joy, peace and authenticity.  This doesn’t mean that you can’t be angry – just not vent it in a sinful way.  David took his anger to the Lord in Psalm 69. Mercy tempers anger and cools it right down, which is why we don’t outgrow the need for mercy.   If you do grieve the Spirit, you don’t lose your faith, but you can lose your sense of his presence.  So our job is to be quick to repent.  Imagine if the ungrieved Holy Spirit filled ALL of us.  No one would take offence at mistakes. There would be no bitterness and nothing to prove. This is a beautiful part of being in the middle of the river.

When you have no offence or bitterness in your heart, you can walk with integrity. This is in balance between Word and Spirit.  It becomes easier to HEAR his voice.  Ask God his opinion on the attitudes you have. Work on not grieving Holy Spirit.   The Holy Spirit is like a dove, gentle, untrained and wild.  Pigeons on the other hand are angry birds, that can be trained. Too often we’re like the pigeons that squawk and hurt each other.

The Spirit and Word also converge in surprises.  Allow Holy Spirit to surprise you.  This is where specific nudges come in, based on Jesus’ words to love our neighbours.  The NOW aspect is the Holy Spirit’s timing. This is just like Peter and John with the beggar at Gate Beautiful. It’s like Heidi Baker with stopping for the one. It’s like Matteus van der Steen with stopping the car to reach out to two specific Ugandan street children.  God’s plans are wonderful, as are the specific assignments he gives us. When we walk in that middle, we are in just the right spot to hear God.  So watch your heart, and don’t choose any sides.  Just look up and keep your focus on the Lord.

If we, as Christians, are to fulfill our calls, we are to be a people of love, power, morality, truth, justice and equality.  We are to be an example of how to live: in love, peace and unity with each other. We are also to manifest God’s glory and power.  When we fulfill this purpose, we become the people of the radical middle; as a conscience to our nations, and a living testimony that points to God.

Bert Farias from Charisma Magazine notes that this radical middle is a stance that God often takes in scripture. He doesn’t take sides. One example of this is when Joshua was preparing for the battle of Jericho and his eyes are opened to see the Captain of the Lord’s army.  The  captain follows the Lord’s command, not Joshua’s.  Joshua 5:13-14 shares, “When Joshua was near the town of Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with sword in hand. Joshua went up to him and demanded, “Are you friend or foe?”  14 “Neither one,” he replied. “I am the commander of the Lord’s army.”  So Farias advises, “let us not take sides, but let us move according to the Lord’s command.” [Bart Farias, “The Church must move from the Right Wing and Left Wing into the Radical Middle” Charisma magazine.

Let’s pray. Lord, open our hearts to be at the centre between Word and Spirit.  Take away any bitterness, and offence we may have against others.  We forgive those who have hurt us, and ask for you to heal and soften our hearts.  We want to walk to hear your voice, experience your joy and be at peace as we love others through you.  Bring us to balance and show us mercy, as you transform our character.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

If you’d like to hear an audio version of this article, please visit the Ways to Grow in God podcast page on the Coppleswesterncape.ca website (under the listen drop-down menu).  Click here  and scroll down to #56!

If you have been blessed by this article, please let us know!

For those looking for news on my cancer journey, I’m now about to have a preliminary scan before 16 radiotherapy sessions in Cape Town.  My oncologist believes this may be the last major step of beating the cancer, so it doesn’t return.  I’m also in MLD and compression therapy for lymphedema (also known as lymphoedema), which is swelling of the lymphatic system.  While we explored that this condition was a side result of the mastectomy, I actually had primary lymphedema in my legs since 2006.  It’s time it’s dealt with.  Click here to the medical campaign page for info! 

Blessings to all,
Laurie-Ann Copple

 

Learning the balance between Word and Spirit

 

“Worshipping Family” by Laurie-Ann Zachar Copple

My name is Laurie-Ann, and I’m a missionary. During my mission travels, I have ministered with people in Northern Ireland, Pakistan, Canada and the USA.  I’ve also ministered in African countries like Kenya, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. But at this time, we live in the beautiful Western Cape of South Africa.

During the last two articles, we learned some of the different ways we hear God’s voice.  We discovered that when we seek God in the secret place, we do this from a place of intimacy.  The secret place, or our prayer closet, is our special place we go and pray.  Your prayer closet can be an actual small place like a cabin in the woods or in the desert.  It can be in a quiet room in your home.  When we are intimate with God, we hear his voice.   In John 3:10, Jesus says that his sheep hear his voice.  We are his sheep. We need to stop and listen. When you do, you’ll be surprised by his answer.  He loves to speak to us.

Mark Virkler also shares about the importance of learning to tune into the spontaneous thought flow that comes from the Holy Spirit [Four Keys to hearing God’s Voice]. After you quiet yourself down, you tune in, and focus entirely on Jesus. What comes next is a two-way conversation. It’s important to set aside the desires in your heart that threaten to consume you.  They get in the way and you won’t hear God clearly. If you don’t set these aside, you’ll get a distorted word that is a mix of your desire, and what you think is God.  You need to set aside these things and allow God to whisper to your heart about who he really is.  And so, it’s about a personal encounter with him that continues as you press in for more.

We also discovered four major prophetic personalities, and learned from some real people who teach and share at Bethel Church in Redding, California.  It was from part seven of Bethel’s Prophetic Personalities course, which is online at Bethel.TV.  We learned that the primary four ways of the prophetic are: hearing, knowing, seeing and feeling. Sometimes when people supernaturally receive in these ways, it may seem strange to people who haven’t yet opened the eyes of their hearts to God.  Yet, they still hear God through his written word: the Bible.  They may hear in common sense, or when people pray together.  Some Christians tend to lean toward the Holy Spirit side of the church, while others are on the Word side of the church.  Both ways are very important.  You can’t separate them from each other, and yet in many places, this is exactly what has happened.

RT Kendall is a renowned preacher and teacher who ministered at Westminster Chapel in London for 25 years. He’s written many books. He is a balanced voice speaking to both Word and Spirit churches.  He was one of our teachers at Harvest School in 2016.  His teaching impacted me in two ways.  One was on total forgiveness, which will we share about in another article.  The other was about the battle that goes on between “Word” Christians and “Spirit” Christians.  He said that we need to address the “silent divorce that has happened between Word people and Spirit people.  It’s like we are children in a family going through divorce.  Some children go with one parent, others go with the second parent. But when you keep a balance with BOTH, it is honouring God in spirit and in truth.”  [RT Kendall, personal notes from Harvest School 24].  RT believes that there is a new reformation coming of Word and Spirit together. If only the two halves would reconcile!  We need each other.   I believe that RT Kendall is right.  When we are out of balance, either one way or the other, we become arrogant and grieve the Holy Spirit.

Danny Silk is a teacher-pastor in Bethel Church.  He shares in his book Building a Culture of Honour,   that “when we focus solely on the Word, eventually we begin to fight amongst ourselves over the Word.  We begin to pull apart the Body of Christ because there is a right and a wrong.  Each teacher is compelled to be right.” That is ultimate division. What then is the role of the teacher in the church if it is not to prove that Christians are right to believe what they believe?  If teachers play their true role in the church, they will first have to be willing to pursue a supernatural lifestyle.  They will have to be dissatisfied with the armour of their arguments and the lifelessness of their theology.” They will need to increase their courage to risk and be unable to answer all the questions of their world. Teachers must embrace mystery.Basically, Danny Silk is saying that theology without the Holy Spirit is dead. After all, it is the Holy Spirit who was the author of the Bible through human writers.  He then encourages teachers to teach in line with having a supernatural component.  He likened Jesus as taking “show and tell” to a whole new level. “When Jesus taught a crowd about the Kingdom of Heaven, He always showed them the Kingdom.  His disciples were in a never-ending classroom experience.”  This is probably why churches that have both Word and Spirit include an activation session on what they are learning, rather than just learn theory and scripture.  The Holy Spirit helps you become active in your faith.  The Bible helps you become more stable in your faith.

One truth, that was taught to me early in my Christian life, was shared often by David Mainse. David was a Canadian pastor who founded Crossroads Communications, including the TV show “One-Hundred Huntley Street.”  Back in the 1970’s, the studio was located on Huntley Street, which is in downtown Toronto.  Nearly twenty years later, they moved west to Burlington, to a larger space.  They have continued to grow under the leadership of David’s son Ron since then.  David died in 2017.  While David was alive, he always spoke with such kindness and wisdom. One day, he shared on a broadcast about the importance of having balance as you grow in your faith.  If you don’t have the Holy Spirit in your life, you DRY up.  You burn out.  If you don’t have the Word, the Bible in your life, you BLOW up.  Yet when you receive from both the Word and Spirit together, you GROW up.  Of course, this statement is often preached by many, but I heard it first from him. It impacted both me and my mother.

When I came to faith, I wasn’t very biblically literate. Therefore, it was important for me to get a foundation in the Bible as soon as possible.  What I read was eye-opening.  I grew up in a liberal church, where only part of the Bible was shared.  This contributed to my Biblical illiteracy. However, I have to admit that I did have a Bible, and I could have read it if I could get past the archaic language of the King James Version. I was then drawn to a different church that was biblically literate. While they were not charismatic, they were open to the possibility of the Holy Spirit touching people’s lives. They were open to new enthusiasm for Jesus, and a renewed fire for getting into the Word of God.  So this Word congregation decided to invite the Father of the Charismatic movement, Canon Dennis Bennett, to come speak at their church.  Dennis was an Episcopalian priest who spoke on the Holy Spirit at the very beginning of the charismatic movement in the American mainline church.

At the time, even though I attended church, I wasn’t yet a Christian.  I was drawn to the supernatural, but since I wasn’t Biblically literate, I became involved in the occult, which is forbidden in the Bible. The practices of fortune-telling, tarot cards, and all the things that I became good at was actually a counterfeit of the genuine prophetic gifting that comes from God.  The source was wrong, but I didn’t know that at the time. This was one of the things I learned very quickly through Dennis.  He was a breath of fresh air at a Word church. Many were impacted, and the conference drew people from different denominations.  I came to faith the first night of the conference. That night, Dennis said in the middle of his talk that you have to make a choice, and not mix your spirituality.  Too many people pragmatically mix different aspects of various religions to make up their own.  This is a common tactic of seekers and New Agers.  But since Christianity and Judaism serve and love a Holy God, we must leave all other forms of spirituality behind.  Dennis said, “you can’t be a Christian and a New Ager too.  If you’re anything other than Jewish or Christian, then this is something you walk away from.” [paraphrase of Dennis Bennett at “Spirit of Promise conference, Kingsway Baptist Church, Etobicoke, April 1988]

Dennis really got my attention!  I thought I was both a New Ager and a Christian.  So I made a choice that night.  The Holy Spirit had already spoken to my heart six months previously about finding God.  I somehow knew that he meant Jesus, and this was the time.  When Dennis led the prayer of renouncing other faiths and spirituality, I prayed that prayer.  The following morning, I then learned that all the stuff I had been in before was completely from the wrong source.  There was no neutral spirituality. Dennis told us, “after the fall of man, Satan set up the psychic world.”  That was another mind-blower.  Patricia King often shares that the seekers and New Agers are adventurous about their experience, which is good, but what matters is about their source. [Generalized comment based on many Patricia King conferences and books] If the source is anything other than God, it’s not from him; not at all.  When Holy Spirit spoke to me about finding God, there was a completely different feel behind the voice.  The voice was pure holy love, which washed over me like a waterfall.  While I had previously experienced spiritual euphoria, it was tiny and flat compared to the deep, deep love from God.  Of course I wanted more – and this hunger drew me to find that conference.

I’m sure that this church didn’t realize that when they planned for this conference, they would receive some people who would come to faith right there and then.  Once I was there, I needed to learn the Bible, and foundational teaching. I asked for someone to disciple me.  I chose a Christian counsellor who was involved at the church. She and others helped me to grow in the Bible as well as in other ways.  I desperately needed a foundation of Biblical understanding.  At the same time, I was also hungry for the Holy Spirit. I eventually found what was then the local Vineyard congregation. I found that I could attend both, since the Vineyard met in the afternoon.  Five years later, my second church became the very epicentre of the Toronto Blessing. I was there at an amazing time. But, I still needed both Word and Spirit to grow. I was so spiritually hungry that I needed to receive at more than one church.

Three years before Tony and I became long-term missionaries, I became hungry again. I became involved in three churches – one liturgical, one Pentecostal, and one very charismatic.   Since I tend towards being a “Spirit” person, I needed that foundation that I received in the Baptist “Word” church.   Years later, I also needed the liturgical structure and history to give me a good framework to express both Word and Spirit together. But that realization goes beyond the balance of Word and Spirit to the idea of a three-legged stool.  We’ll share about that model in another article (I just have to think on that some more, other than dive into Cursillo teaching).

So how does the Holy Spirit nurture us?   Imagine the Holy Spirit like one who pours out the love of God in a watering can.  He’s the one who convicts us of sin, and the most important truth that we need God.  Matteus van der Steen shares about the Holy Spirit in his book Dare to Dream.  He was another of our teachers at Harvest School alongside RT Kendall.  He shares that in the affluent West, many people think they have everything. They think that they are God and can do everything without the help of anyone else. They do not believe that God is Almighty, and that it is he who created us. [Matteus van der Steen, “Make Space for the Holy Spirit” – Dare to Dream]  This is in contrast in some third-world countries. “The acknowledgement of God is wide-spread, because prosperity has not destroyed their need for Him.”   For the west, it will take the Holy Spirit to help people realize there is a God and that they need him.  So these people need to have the same encounter I had with Holy Spirit, as he spoke to my heart that it was time to find God. It just made sense.  Holy Spirit also gives us dreams from the very heart of God for our lives. When we connect with them, and spend time with God, he transforms our hearts, and we begin to become more like what we were meant to be.  We become more like our true identity as a child of God.

The Holy Spirit gives us that confirmation that we are children of God. The Living Bible version of Romans 8:16 shares, “For his Holy Spirit speaks to us deep in our hearts, and tells us that we really are God’s children.”  Sometimes, it takes time for this to sink into our hearts, past all our hurts and defences.  This is a classic example of Word and Spirit working together.  Even the Word people would have to agree.

Spirit people also need to learn that the Holy Spirit helps us realize the truth of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. When we come to faith, we are awakened to the things of God.  In time, we are also anointed and prepared to carry out the tasks that God gives each of us to do.  Some tasks are the same, others different.  God has you grow in anointing of the Holy Spirit, and in understanding of the Word. Yet, you also need to work on improving your character.  Character is another aspect that must be in balance with the anointing in your life. Character includes obedience, integrity, faithfulness, and so many godly virtues that are displayed in the fruit of the Spirit.   The Holy Spirit gives them. He teaches about them through Paul’s words in Galatians 5:22-23:  The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Self-control is developed as part of our character, as something at the core of our wills.   It is impossible to achieve this in your own power. It does require our constant consent to lay down our tendency to either get out of control, or have too much control.  So, you also can’t fake these virtues. They are grown in you.  If you fake it by just using the Word, you become a religious hypocrite; just acting a role.  If you genuinely grow, you are utilizing both word and Spirit.

Van der Steen shares, “God is more interested in developing your character, which must be in balance with the anointing on your life.  This is why God will use the Holy Spirit to convict you of things that you do, that are not in line with His Word.”  So, give the Holy Spirit permission, and the opportunity to convict you of everything that is not right in your life. That is, things that which cannot be tolerated by daylight. Let your character be formed by Him.” [Matteus van der Steen, “Make Space for the Holy Spirit” – Dare to Dream]

RT Kendall goes further when he speaks about growing character.  He shared at Harvest School that “we need to work in the Word, to actively read it, pray it and think on it.  Too often Spirit people want a rhema, or (Holy Spirit) word, because it is quick and we are lazy.  We are living in a day when many people don’t read their Bibles.  Many leaders only turn to the Bible for a sermon!”   You also need a Bible reading plan, rather reading the Bible sporadically. It’s not Bible roulette.  If you chase after a rhema word, you’ll never get it. [RT Kendall – notes from Harvest School 24, June 15, 2016].   If you go after scripture, God will give you the very word you need while you read the Bible.  The words will leap off the page into your heart.

Kendall continued to encourage and admonish the mostly “Spirit” people who were at our Harvest school.  He gave us examples of what happens when Word and Spirit are acting together in Scripture.  One is that integrity is central.  Jeremiah 29:11 is God’s plan for everyone.  God always has a plan not to harm us. But we must resist temptation, especially of the sexual kind.  Remember the temptation that Joseph encountered in Genesis chapter 39, when he worked for Potiphar? His employer’s wife kept pestering him to go to bed with her. Kendall said that 75 percent of Christian servants fall due to this very same temptation. But Joseph did not. Kendall also warned Spirit people not to say, “The Lord told me.” when we share words we have received.  Our personal devotions aren’t scripture, and we aren’t Old Testament prophets. “What’s your motive in couching your word of knowledge in that way?  Is it to make you look good?  No, far better to say “I believe the Lord may be saying.”  This is again about character.  Word and Spirit work together to transform our character.     And what happens when the Word and Spirit are together?  God causes something special to happen that’s almost explosive.  Van der Steen shared of it in an example from a mission trip in Uganda.  RT Kendall shared of something similar in Acts chapter 3, when Peter and John meet a beggar by Jerusalem’s Beautiful Gate.  Both had a “now moment” that only happens when you walk in integrity and the special timing of the Holy Spirit. Something beautiful happened with the beggar, and he was healed.

Van der Steen’s sharing takes us to the streets of Kampala, Uganda. Matteus had a word of knowledge to help two specific orphans. One became a great student, whose life was radically changed.  The other went back to the streets. While some thought his attempt to love them a waste of time, he shared these words, “I believe that we were right to stop the car and share God’s love with these boys. Did I fast, pray, and ask for permission from my leaders before stopping to talk to them on the street that day?  No!  I simply chose to be obedient to God‘s leading. “Yes,” you may ask, but “what would have happened if it wasn’t the Holy Spirit that you heard?”  Well, even if it was my own idea, it was still Jesus’ heart. If you read Matthew 25, you will see that you don’t need special guidance from God to take care of orphans and widows.”  [Matteus van der Steen, “Make Space for the Holy Spirit” – Dare to Dream]  So we see here a perfect convergence of word and Spirit, as well as the purity of heart and integrity to recognize a special moment when God wants to do something.

We’ll discover more about this wonderful convergence, through more of RT Kendall in our next article.  But for now, think on this example from the Holy Ghost movie.  Jamie Galloway and Will Hart are on the streets of Salt Lake City ministering to seekers, by praying for them and introducing them to Holy Spirit.  They gently interacted with people with kindness and compassion, and showed them that God cared about them. Their method was by actively showing that God is real and loving by the action of the Holy Spirit.  Will and Jamie are Spirit People, but they are also biblically based.  They met an evangelist who stood outside the Salt Lake Temple. This man was almost entirely Word based. He used this method for reaching Mormons: that of sharing truth and scripture.  We watched him calling out to people in the temple that Jesus and Lucifer were NOT brothers. He cried that this was “such heresy!”  Then the three men meet up, as well as the Word evangelist’s wife.  The evangelist decries the mistakes and near arrogance of some Spirit people. But in the end, he allows Jamie and Will to pray for him.  He asks for more of the Holy Spirit in his preaching, and for the Word to come alive. All agree that we need the Holy Spirit.  When these three prayed together, it was indeed a special moment.  The movie creator, Darren Wilson, narrates at that moment that both ways were important in faith and outreach; Word and Spirit, and that it is explosive when they are used together.   Do we want to be in the centre of that convergence?  I know I do.

If you’d like to hear an audio version of this article, please visit the Ways to Grow in God podcast page on the Coppleswesterncape.ca website (under the listen area).  Click here and scroll down to #55.

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For those looking for news on my cancer journey, it looks like the surgeon got excellent margins on my mastectomy.  I’m still in recovery mode.  We’re not sure whether I need radiation therapy or not.  At this point, we are trying MLD therapy for lymphodema.  Click here to the medical campaign page for info!

Blessings to all,
Laurie-Ann Copple