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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:
As you probably know by now, I’m writing a thesis in systematic theology about miracles. A week ago I presented to you my research on how pope Francis views miracles, and now I like to share what Surprise Sithole, pastoral director for Iris Global in southern Africa, thinks about the miraculous. Enjoy!
Surprise Sithole was born in the late 1960’s into an animist family in the small village of Cachote in Mozambique. In his biography Voice in the Night, he writes:
“From the time I was born, my parents hoped I would follow the family tradition and become a witch doctor. […] My childhood was full of strange spiritual experiences and spiritual oppression. This was the only life I knew. […] Did my parents have heal power, or were they charlatans? The answer is both. Much of what they did was trickery, pure and simple. But I also know that they sincerely believed in the spirits, and I saw many strange events for which I have no other explanation than the supernatural. More than once, I found myself floating above the floor as I tried to sleep at night.”
Sithole claims to have heard the voice of God at the age of 15. This voice told him to leave his village, and after wandering in the jungle for two weeks he met a Christian man, Mr. Lukas, who took care of him and taught him how to be a Christian. Lukas said that God had given him a dream where he foresaw Sithole’s arrival. Soon, they received the news of that Sithole’s family had been poisoned back in Cochete. Surprise was the only survivor.
Sithole writes that he then became a missionary, travelling mostly by foot in Mozambique in Malawi to preach the Gospel. He says that on the island of Chikusi, he started to preach in a language he had never studied – Chichewa. People on the island were converting to Christianity when they saw this, Sithole writes, since they knew that he didn’t know the language naturally. He also claims that he still speaks Chichewa, and that his first bible was written in that language.
RT Kendall, a preacher known for his zeal to combine evangelical and charismatic Christianity, says in an interview that he wouldn’t be surprised if he met Palestinian freedom fighter/terrorist Yasser Arafat in Heaven. In fact, he has met him here on earth five times, bringing him closer and closer to Jesus. Premier reports:
The first time RT Kendall was granted rare access to Arafat,the Christian writer and speaker told him he had prayed for him every day for 20 years. According to Kendall, the 20-minute appointment turned into an hour and 45 minutes, and an unlikely friendship began.
The third time Kendall visited Arafat, the pair watched The Passion of the Christ together, along with 30 members of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
Arafat wept during the viewing and allowed Kendall to pray for him at the end. During each of his five visits, Kendall was able to speak to Arafat about Jesus’ death and resurrection, and of how to accept Christ.
Kendall says that, despite Arafat’s translator attempting to intervene, the Arab leader was determined to hear more about Jesus and the gospel.
Now, there are no evidence that Arafat ever became a Christian. Of course, even if he did convert there are tons of reasons why he and PLO would keep silent about it. Kendall doesn’t say he know that Arafat received Jesus, but he “wouldn’t be surprised” if he did. And this is primarily because of two prophetic visions (I told you he’s charismatic!): (more…)
As I mentioned last week I’m reading Jeff Doles’ Miracles and Manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the History of the Church, and it’s amazing to see what God has been doing continously in His church throughout world history. The book is basically only made up by quotes from older works, and it gives clear proof that cessationism – the idea that miraculous spiritual gifts ceased with the apostles – hardly existed before Luther and Calvin. For example, take a look at what Irenaeus of Lyon, the second century bishop who was a disciple to Polycarp – who in turn was a disciple of John the evangelist – says concering miraculous gifts when he refuted the Gnostics in his famous work Against Heresies:
“Those who are in truth His disciples, receiving grace from Him, do in His name perform [miracles], so as to promote the welfare of other men, according to the gift which each one has received from Him. For some do certainly and truly drive out devils, so that those who have thus been cleansed from evil spirits frequently both believe [in Christ], and join themselves to the Church. Others have foreknowledge of things to come: they see visions, and utter prophetic expressions. Others still, heal the sick by laying their hands upon them, and they are made whole.
Yea, moreover, as I have said, the dead even have been raised up, and remained among us for many years. And what shall I more say? It is not possible to name the number of the gifts which the Church, [scattered] throughout the whole world, has received from God, in the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and which she exerts day by day for the benefit of the Gentiles, neither practising deception upon any, nor taking any reward from them* [on account of such miraculous interpositions]. For as she has received freely from God, freely also does she minister [to others]**. (Against Heresies, book 2, chapter 32, section 4)
A few days ago I attended a meeting with Simon Adahl, a musician and evangelist that has experienced many miracles. I have already written about how he was saved after his atheist wife saw the apostle Matthew, and how he and his friend Orjan prophesied in a Californian bar and told people stuff about them that they heard from God, which resulted in that four people received Jesus. Let me share with you some other cool things that they have experienced.
Simon loves missions, and when he attends the big Pentecostal conferences here in Sweden he is usually not on the platforms bragging about all the cool miracles he experiences, instead he is sitting in a booth marketing IBRA, a Swedish media missions organization, or Dagen, the biggest Christian newspaper. But of course, the Holy Spirit is active even when you’re not on a platform (thank God). This summer, a lady came to Simon and said that she had been healed from asthma.
“That’s great!” Simon said. “When did that happen?” “Two years ago, in the chair over there”, the lady responded and pointed inside Simon’s booth. This lady had been suffering from severe asthma since she was a little child, and had been using inhalers every night. She said that since the moment she was prayed for in the booth, all asthma disappeared and she hadn’t had a need for inhalers for two years.
Orjan was also at the meeting and he told us about how he and his wife went with Simon and his wife together with some friends from church on a holiday on a ferry to Finland. They were dancing at a club and when they sat down to have something to eat, they sat right by a man they hadn’t met before, who introduced himself as Peter. Orjan felt the Spirit of the Lord coming upon him and he told Peter “Right now, God is renewing your life!” And he commanded him to prophesy over them.
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!”
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.