“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,