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Micael Grenholm, a Swedish charismactivist, apologist and author.

Micael Grenholm, a Swedish charismactivist, apologist and author.

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Skeptic Surprised by Angels and Healed

elijah

Pastor and apologist Elijah Stephens is working on a documentary about medically verified healings as I have covered previously on this blog, and he was recently interviewed at the Uncommon Legacy podcast (which seems to be a very good podcast!). I highly recommend the episode, Stephens humbly shares his own doubts and struggles as well as making the case for a courageous faith combined with intellectual honesty that I highly resonate with.

While not spoiling the medically verified healings that the film will cover, Stephens shared a testimony of what I call a combo miracle – a healing combined with prophecy. You’ll find that at 15:30 into the podcast. A secretary at his church had severe breathing problems and needed to go home from work because of it. She was a cessationist herself and very skeptical to miracles, but still Stephens was allowed to pray for her for two or three minutes. During the prayer, he briefly spoke out that the Lord would send His angels to touch her.

The next week, she entered the church staff meeting in tears. She said that when she was alone in her house, she woke up in the middle of the night and a light was shining into her chest. She saw a man standing over her bed and another man in front of her, and she was obviously frightened. She heard them talking, one of them said ”Get her up” They grabbed her, took her to the bathroom and as she turned on the light they disappeared. Shocked, she then discovered that she had been completely healed. (more…)

The Desperate Need for Christian Hospitality

Have you ever wanted to meet an angel? If so, let some homeless people into your home.

Scripture says: “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” (Hebr 13:2). And even if the person we’re hosting turns out to be mere human, that’s not a very big problem since we are then simply doing a very good deed: “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” (Rom 12:13).

Homeless people getting a home§

Homeless people getting a home

In Sweden where I live, almost 50% of all the households are single households, meaning that only one person lives in them. We have almost half a million vacation houses standing empty most months of the year. And yet, so many – even Christians – are arguing that we don’t have space for more immigrants, that we should send Syrian refugees back to war and Romanian beggars back to misery. How about showing some hospitality instead?

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Pope Francis’ View on Miracles

Pope Francis blesses a sick man, right before praying an exorcist prayer

Pope Francis blesses a sick man, right before praying an exorcist prayer

As you may know, I’m writing a thesis in systematic theology about belief in miracles according to three church leaders: Surprise Sithole, K.G. Hammar and pope Francis. This is what I’ve found concerning the pope’s view on miracles:

Jose Mario Bergoglio, who would become Pope Francis, was born in in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1936. After a brief career as a chemical technician and a bar bouncer, he studied theology to become a Jesuit and a priest. In 1992 he became bishop of Buenos Aires and in 1998 archbishop of the same. He became known for his care for the poor and marginalised and was called “bishop of the slums”.

In Latin America, the charismatic movement is growing fast, both outside and inside the Catholic church. After Bergoglio became a pope, he would reveal how his view of the charismatic movement changed during the 80’s and 90’s, from skeptical to welcoming:

I’ll tell you something about the Charismatic Movement … at the end of the ’70s and in the ’80s, I wasn’t a big fan. I used to say they confused the holy liturgy with a school of samba. I was converted when I got to know them better and saw the good they do. In this moment of the life of the church, the movements are necessary. They’re a grace of the Spirit, and in general, they do much good for the church. The charismatic renewal movement isn’t just about winning back a few Pentecostals, but it serves the church and its renewal.

In 1996 to 1999, bishop Bergoglio was involved in the process of verifying a eucharistic miracle, where a host had allegedly turned into a piece of flesh in a church in central Buenos Aires. According to an article in Catholic magazine Love One Another, Bergoglio ordered that the host should be photographed and scientifically analyzed. The article says that Dr. Ricardo Castanón sent it for analysis in New York, and he was told that the substance was a fine slice of a heart muscle. Dr Castanon speak about this himself in a video that can be found on YouTube:

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“An Angel Called me to Sweden”

Edward Thomas, coolest priest on earth. Photo: Rickard Kilström

Edward Thomas, coolest priest on earth. Photo: Rickard Kilström

The United States has given us a lot of crap over the years but one of the best things they’ve handed over is Ed Thomas, priest in the Church of Sweden and a friend of mine. Well, actually the United States is not responsible at all in sending him here, nor any American, but God Himself called Ed to Sweden. And I’m not talking about a vague feeling or a subjective interest that many Christians normally identify “calling” with – Ed was actually ordered to become a Swedish priest by the audible voice of God and an angelic visitation.

Ed shares this experience in the video above. He used to be a chef in the states, cooking food for celebrities like Tom Cruise and started to earn a lot of fame and money. He was a passionate believer and went through some program to know the will of God, praying every morning with some friends for almost a year in trying to figure out what God wanted them to do. Since his chef job was going very well he simply concluded that this is where God wanted him, and he was pleased with that since he was making a lot of cash out of it.

But one night, everything changed as Ed awoke hearing someone say “Edward!” There was no one there. He woke his wife up, who just told him “You’ve eaten too much strong food! It’s just a dream, go to sleep!” Ed fell asleep and a second time the voice woke him up saying “Edward!”

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No Christmas Without Angels

Christmas angel

Christmas angel

We have a lot of symbols for Christmas, and honestly I feel that neither jingle bells, snowflakes or Santa Claus are adequate representations of this holiday compared to angels. Angels play a huge role in the birth of Jesus. Massive, in fact. This is yet another reason I believe that people without charismatic experience or theology won’t get what the Gospel is all about. You cannot have Christmas without angels.

First of all, the angel Gabriel visits Mary to tell her that she will give a virgin birth to the Messiah (Lk 1:26-38). Then, he visits Joseph to ensure him that Mary has not been cheating but that the Holy Spirit has conceived the child (Mt 1:21). As the Son is born in Bethlehem, angels tell some nearby shepherds that the Messiah has been born, and sings a angelic song about glory to God and peace among men (Lk 2:8-15). After the visitation of the wise men (who surprisingly weren’t led by angels but just by a supernatural star and prophetic dreams) an angel tells Joseph that he must take his family to Egypt to escape Herod’s madness (Mt 2:13). And after some time, Joseph gets to know that it’s clear for him to go back to Israel by – you guessed it – an angel (Mt 2:19f.).

Basically, angels are involved in almost every event in the Christmas story. What do people do with that? Well, since many lack the experience of angelic visitations even within the church, even Christians try to remove them. They’re viewed as mythological ornaments or exotic phenomena without any relation or application to our own lives. I’ve heard Christians who argue that Biblical angels are not supernatural creatures, but since “angelos” means messenger they were simply random people that brought messages from God… with the ability to fly up to heaven, I guess (Lk 2:15).

This modern form of saduceism (Acts 23:8) is only possible among Christians who haven’t met angels. And so I want to use this Christmas season to share a testimony of some angelic visitations that have received much attention in Scandinavia. Two years ago, a Pentecostal church in Finland released a video where the pastor interviewed a woman called Marita Mäntyniemi. She had been driving in her car and suddenly she saw that several other cars had stopped in the middle of the road. She looked to the side and among the trees was a giant angel. It had a prophetic message on its wings about revival for Finland, and it was massive! People bent their knees in the snow and were astonished by the vision.

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Jack Deere: The Voice of Angels

Angelic visitation

Angelic visitation

One of the best books I’ve ever read is Surprised by the Voice of God by Jack Deere. Through a combination of great Bible studies and awesome testimonies, Deere explores what Paul said was the gift we especially should desire: prophecy. Here is an excerpt from pages 137-139, concerning how God can give prophetic messages through angels:

Angels function not only as servants and guardians, they also function as agents of supernatural divine revelation. In the early church, angels were famous for engineering jail breaks (Acts 5:19; 12:7ff.). They also brought supernatural guidance and revelation to God’s servants. Philip was directed by an angel to bring the Gospel to the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26). Cornelius, the first gentile convert, was visited by an angel prior to his conversion with instructions for what he should do (Acts 10:3ff.). When Paul and all of his sailing companions were in danger of lsing their lives at sea, God send an angel who brought prophetic revelation to save them (Acts 27:23-26). And the greatest prophetic book, the book of Revelation, was communicated to John through an angel (Rev. 1:1).

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Many people do not report encounters with angel for fear of  what others might think. Early in my ministry a lady in my church told me the following story. Neither the lady nor my church were charismatic. Actually, our church had definite prejudices against the gifts of the Spirit. The woman had never wold anyone this story for fear of being thought crazy.

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