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Yesterday I met a very friendly brother from England, Mike O’Leary, who is in Sweden for two weeks on a short missions trip. We’ve been in contact for at least a year on social media, and it’s evident that he’s on fire for Jesus. Yesterday when we went back to my place for some tea (my experiences from the Jesus Army has taught me that Brits like that drink), I asked him something that I often try to ask brothers and sisters I don’t know well: how did you became a Christian? His story was truly amazing, and I asked him if I could record it when we got home:
Mike used to be an atheist who found belief in God ridiculous. As he says in the video, he loved to debate with theists and show them how wrong they were. However, in 2007 he heard the external, audible voice of God three times, saying “Follow Me”, when he was out in his garden. That changed things.
“The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them.” – Acts 15:12
I love this little Bible passage! At the apostolic meeting in Jerusalem, where it was to be decided what rules and customs should be followed by Gentile Christians, those who have assembled take a testimony break to hear about some miracles. This I believe was both because they illustrated a theological point given by Peter – that God is already working among the Gentiles even before they had been circumcised – and because miracles are very cool to hear about. Seriously, not many grow tired of hearing about miracles.
Right now, I’m at a Pentecostal conference in the northern parts of northern Sweden, where the sun never sets and penguins ride around on polar bears. I’m helping the aid organisation of Swedish Pentecostalism, PMU and collects money for Denis Mukwege’s Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, Congo. It’s my first time at the conference and it’s nice, the vegetarian food is a little meh and the topics being talked about at the meetings and seminars aren’t always that radical, but overall it’s OK.
I guess that for an outsider, at first glance, the conference is like any conference or festival – people drinking coffee and eating ice cream, chatting and laughing, going to concerts and lectures. Of course, the topics are Christian and the songs are to God, but that wouldn’t matter much for a nonbeliever. The real game changers I believe are partly the eternal issues about the afterlife and salvation, and partly signs and wonders telling us about the truth of these eternal issues. And God is working through many in Swedish Pentecostalism hallelujah, so testimonies about amazing miracles can pop up anywhere.
Omid was saved after he heard the audible voice of Jesus Christ: “I’m real. Don’t take your life.”
Yesterday I was attending the Fire of God Revival Conference in Stockholm. I’m not a big fan of the setting (giant auditorium with coloured spotlights and smoke machines) but the Spirit and message was awesome. Three ordinary guys – Patrick, Charles and Omid – have together with Nigerian pastor Francis Anene arranged the conference. At this first meeting they shared their testimonies, and of the four Omid’s testimony touched me the most.
Omid Seppänen was born in Finland, raised in a family with a Muslim father who taught him the Qur’an and a Christian mother who brought him to church. Needless to say, he became religiously confused. As a teenager, he rebelled against his parents and became an atheist. He went to parties every weekend for two years, drank and used drugs, and started to become very depressed.
One night, he saw the devil himself, physically, standing in his room. He was shocked, not the least since he didn’t believe that the devil existed! This vision terrified him, and his depression increased.
It’s almost been one month since pastor Bill Johnson called evangelist Jason Westerfield out as a false prophet, but Jason has still not said anything about this publicly. Here, I talk about this and comments some of the comments I’ve received from my previous video and blog post about Bill and Jason. I hope and pray that Jason soon will announce that he does not believe in new age and that he confesses Jesus Christ as divine Son of God.
I have a friend called Elijah*, who used to be a Muslim but became a Christian after Jesus showed Himself to him in a prophetic vision. He know works with a missionary organisation and is spreading the Gospel in the Middle East. A couple of months back when he was visiting some churches in a South Asian city, a couple approached him when he was walking through a mall. They tried to convert him to Islam, but in 20 minutes time they became disciples of Jesus.
See, they told him that about six months earlier, they had been watching TV. As they zapped through the channels, they came to a Christian channel where Swedish pastor Stanley Sjöberg was preaching the Gospel. Since they were devout Muslims, they became upset, shut the TV down and went to bed.
The next morning, they told each other that they had had a strange dream. They soon discovered that it was exactly the same dream! Stanley Sjöberg had come to their house, they had let him in and he continued to preach about Jesus. As they protested, Stanley said “My friend Elijah will tell you more about Jesus”, and from nowhere they saw a Middle Eastern guy sitting next to Stanley. Stanley went on saying that they would meet him in a particular South Asian city, on one particular day at 5 PM.
They didn’t know what the dream meant and thought it was a bit freaky that they both dreamt it the same time, but after a bit if reasoning the wife said “Maybe Allah has given us this dream to find Elijah and convert him to Islam. Let’s go to that place – if we don’t find him we will just have a nice holiday.” (more…)
Two weeks ago something quite unusal happened: Bill Johnson, pastor in Bethel Church, Redding, which is one of the most influential charismatic churches in the US, opened his Sunday sermon with publicly warning against prophetic evangelist Jason Westerfield. Westerfield has been a student at Bethel, and both he and Johnson were filmed in the amazing charismatic documentaries Finger of God and Furious Love, that covers miraculous stuff that God is doing around the globe.
Now, Johnson said, “There has actually been a spiritual deception welcomed in his life to such a degree that it’s absolutely frightening. In over 40 years of ministry, I’ve never seen one individual being able to spiritually contaminate so many in one night…. The deception is crazy, there’s a real insanity involved.”
Darren Wilson, who has made the documentaries mentioned above, comments this on his Charisma blog (which I really recommend). He says that since Furious Love he hadn’t met Jason until a brief meeting two years ago, which perplexed him:
…the longer we talked, the more my heart sank. This wasn’t the same guy I had known. In fact, he was hardly recognizable to me anymore.
I won’t get into the particulars of our meeting or what we talked about, but suffice to say that Jason steered it into very odd and bizarre territory (aliens, interplanetary travel, etc.) and the whole time I just kept thinking, “What does any of this have to do with the gospel?“
Welcome to my brand new show Lunchtime with Micael where you can watch me eat lunch and hear me talk about God. In this first episode I’m reviewing one of the best books I’ve ever read: Surprised by the Voice of God by Jack Deere. Jack is the ex-cessationist who became totally surprised when he realized that the Holy Spirit is still bestowing miraculous gifts, and who then became an influential theologian in the charismatic third wave movement.
In this book he’s talking about the gift of prophecy, and he combines Bible study, smart theology and amazing testimonies. Deere has enormous knowledge about the Bible (he’s a professor of the Old Testament) and he’s also experienced some really amazing miracles, not the least through his friendship with prophet Paul Cain.
At the end of the Lunchtime with Micael clip I read one of the testimonies: how another prophetic friend of Jack’s could tell a girl what she did last Tuesday and let her know that God loves her. It’s a really powerful testimony, and you can hear Jack himself talk about it in this clip:
I give the book 10/10, I recommend it with all of my heart. You can listen to some of the stuff that Deere talks about in the book for free here.
This week I got the privilege of joining the MennoNerds vlogging relay race, where Anabaptist nerds like myself share stuff in YouTube videos. Last week, Steve Kymes talked about some of his favourite books, and so I continued with talking about the Book of Books, the Holy Bible. In the video, I present three points that I think are important when reading and interpreting the Bible, and I want to explain these in a bit more detailed manner here:
1. The Bible is a Prophetic Book
The single reason why Christian and Jews view the Biblical Scriptures as holy and divinely inspired, is because we believe that they are prophetically written. Prophecy simply means that God communicates to a human being, and that’s really what Paul is talking about when he says that the Scriptures are inspired by God (2 Tim 3:16).
Why is this important? Well, it’s a very good reason to why we today should “eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.” (1 Cor 14:1). When we understand prophecy we can better understand the Bible. Being a charismatic simply makes you a better Bible reader, in my opinion. (more…)
The guy to the right is my friend Botros. He had been living a tough life, involved in much sh*t, but somehow he finally became drawn to the Church. One Sunday he was in the Pentecostal Church of Uppsala, but he hadn’t yet decided to follow Jesus.
Suddenly he saw a vision. The people on the platform at the front faded away and there was instead the cross of Jesus. Botros could see the Savior himself, nailed and tortured, and needless to say he was quite surprised. “I saw it as clearly as I see you now,” he told me.
While he stared at the cross, Jesus lifted his head, looked straight into the eyes of Botros and then a voice said: “For you, Botros’. Then the vision disappeared.
When Jesus died on the cross, it was for our sake. He took our sin, our punishment and our darkness upon Himself and destroyed it. He killed death by dying, so that we may receive the eternal life we do not deserve by the death He did not deserve. The Bible says:
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. “- Romans 5:6-8
One of my favourite authors is Jack Deere, a charismatic evangelical, pastor and teacher, who has written an excellent refutal of cessationism called Surprised by the Power of the Spirit. In the book, he shares how he encountered Paul Cain for the first time and discovered how prophetic this man of God is in a dramatic way, at a meeting they were holding in Texas, 1988:
Paul had just finished giving a wonderful message and was beginning to pray for the people in the audience. There were about 250 people there that morning. He asked the diabetics to stand. As he started to pray for the diabetics, he looked at a gray-haired lady on his right. He stared at her for a moment, having never met her (or anyone else in the audience for that matter), and then he said,
“You do not have diabetes; you have low blood sugar. The Lord heals you of that low blood sugar, now. I see a vision of you sitting in a yellow chair. You are saying, ’If I could just make it until the morning. If I could just make it until the morning.’ Your allergies torment you so badly that sometimes they keep you awake all night. The Lord heals those allergies, now. That problem with the valve on your heart—it goes now in the name of Jesus. And so does that growth on your pancreas.”
By this time there was a strong sense of the fear of the Lord in the room. People had begun to weep openly as they saw the power of the Lord being displayed and the concern of the Lord for one of his children. Paul continued looking at the woman and then he said, “The Devil has scheduled you for a nervous break- down.” When he said this the man sitting beside her, who turned out to be her husband, began to weep. He knew that his wife was very close to a nervous breakdown. Paul said, “The Lord interrupts that plan now. You will not have the breakdown.”
And then, just as suddenly as Paul had begun to speak to the woman, he stopped and said, “I think that is all the wants me to do now.” Then he sat down on the front row.
My most well-read post on this blog ever is the Kundalini Myth, where I criticize Pentecostal kiwi Andrew Strom who argues that large parts of the charismatic movement is demonic, influenced by a false spirit from the Hindu Kundalini sect in India. I’ve now made a video where I develop this critique and talk about the difference between – and sorry if this sounds meta – true false prophets and false false prophets.
Strom’s only evidence to connect Bethel Church to Kundalini is basically YouTube videos; he has observed how people behave at the Kundalini meetings, found similarities with charismatic meetings and thus concludes that it is the same, demonic spirit behind it all. I critizise him for calling behaviour like shaking, laughing, crying etc “manifestations” even though the Bible never does so, and argues that a more suitable name would be reactions. These things are not necessarily produced by a spirit (whether Holy or false), but it could be a human reaction to it (or simply somthing people do without any spirits involved).
Strom’s biggest problem is that the Bible never says that these reactions is something we should pay attention to when discerning the spirits. These are some of the most important New Testament texts when it comes to false prophets and spirits: (more…)
Why am I a Christian? I started to follow Jesus to be saved. Saved from what? Saved from death, destruction and suffering.
When I was fifteen, I had some very depressing thoughts about life and death. My worldview, which I shared with many of my friends, was that there was nothing after death, and that I along with all of humanity are inevitably heading for nonexistance, where it won’t be dark because we will not have eyes to see with and it will not be quiet since we will have no ears to hear with. We won’t even remember that we’ve ever lived, and in the end no one else will remember it either. Everything is pointless. It takes less than that to give you anxiety.
My Lutheran father brought me to church on April 2 2006, and I wasn’t too excited since I had been there before and literally thought that it was the most boring place on earth. But for the first time, I actually started to listen to what they were saying. The Apostles’ Creed said “I believe in the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting”. Now, these were good news! I started to read the Gospels, learned that “gospel” really means good news and that it’s central message is that when we follow Jesus into the Kingdom of God, we get eternal life:
The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. (1 John 1:2)
Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death. (Jesus in John 8:51)
To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, God will give eternal life. (Romans 2:7)
For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” (1 Cor 15:53-54)
I was thrilled, realizing this! Death will not be victorious, Jesus will be! If I believe in Him, I will be immortal. I drank deeply from the comforting words in the Bible that spoke about the eternal glorious life that Jesus promised His followers. (more…)
Biggest Christian news story of the week: The boy who came back from Heaven didn’t come back from Heaven. In fact, Alex Malarkey never left earth in the first place, he now says in a public letter:
I did not die. I did not go to heaven.
I said I went to heaven because I thought it would get me attention. When I made the claims that I did, I had never read the Bible. People have profited from lies, and continue to. They should read the Bible, which is enough.
Tyndle Publishing House stopped producing the book and deleted its facebook page and web page pretty immideately after Alex’ released his statement. All this created a lot of debate about the authencity of other books about supernatural experiences, particularly “heavenly tourism”. Once again, cessationist Christians join hand with atheists and skeptics in refuting all charismatic litterature, claiming that this shows that books like this are a fraud. And by books like this we’re obviously thinking about the other book about another boy who shares his visions of Heaven in Heaven is for Real, published the same year (2010) as The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven. (more…)
Heidi Baker is one of the countless ones who have seen Jesus. It’s the most beautiful and holy of prophetic visions, and since we should eagerly desire the gift of prophecy (1 Cor 14:1), we should all pray that we see Jesus in this life. All who believe will see Him face to face in Heaven, but it is not impossible to see Him even if this life. In fact, I myself have seen Him.
As I told you in my last blog post, I started to doubt quite quickly after I became a believer. One evening, I kneeled down in my room, praying that I would see God, that He would show Himself to me. I haven’t read the Old Testament warnings that seeing the Lord will result in sudden death (Ex 19:21), so I prayed passionately about this for over 20 minutes. And the great thing with Jesus is that He made it possible to see God, since He is God. “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father”, He said (John 14:9). And because of His resurrection to eternal life, it is possible for anyone to see Him just like Ananias or John did (Acts 9, Rev 1).
So next day in school, I was tired and rested my head on a table in the corridor. As I closed my eyes, I saw Jesus’ silhouette in front if me. “Woaw! What was that?!” I thought, opening my eyes. Later that evening as I went to bed, I closed my eyes and I saw the same picture. It was a classic depiction of Christ, similar to this one. And the crazy part is that this continued for over a year. Every time I closed my eyes and rested I saw Jesus, independently of what I was thinking about.
Some years later, in 2010, the Lord gave me an incredible gift of prayer. I prayed thousands of prayers every day, and I could have a constant conversation with God inside my head for hours. After checking off a long prayer list, I was lying on my bed worshipping, and then the whole atmosphere of the room changed. It was filled with a holy presence, that’s the best way I can describe it. From above, a picture resembling an orthodox icon came down towards me, depicting Jesus. However, He was not a picture – He was alive. He had brown eyes, a brown beard and a blue robe, similar to this icon.
Happy advent! Let us as always read a Bible text that has nothing to do with Christmas, but rather is a prologue to easter:
As Jesus approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’ ”
Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?”
They replied, “The Lord needs it.” (Lk 19:29-34)
Jesus is not renting a donkey, nor does He ask permission to borrow it beforehand – He simply uses the miraculous gift of prophecy to foresee which donkey owner will allow him to borrow a donkey if they hear that He needs it. It makes me think of 1 Sam 9 where Samuel knows exactly where the donkeys of Saul’s father are. God keeps track of your ass! These prophetic words of knowledge are common today in the charismatic movement, where God gives you information about persons, places or donkeys. My friend Simon Adahl has experienced this countless times, so had John Wimber. Listen to this powerful testimony about words of knowledge on an airplane: