Sunday, 16 June 2013

My Story 2 (Led by the Spirit)

As I explained in part one of my story, the church that I had attended as a child was very traditional and as far as I remember there was little teaching, if any, given on the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian and therefore I had no ideas of Him doing anything specific in my life. However, I was to find out that God had more of a hand on my life than I had expected! At the time of my finding faith again, I was a student at the Royal College of Music in London and very close by was the church of Holy Trinity Brompton. In late 1985 I began to hear of something called the Alpha Course, which has now become worldwide. I forget the exact details of how I got there, but very soon I was attending weekly classes on the basics of the Christian Life, and slowly I became aware of a dynamic that I had not heard of before; the baptism of the Holy Spirit. That was 23 years ago but I still remember the great anticipation and excitement I felt as I found book after book talking about this wonderful experience of being filled with the Presence of God and speaking in other tongues. One day whilst at my parent’s house my eyes fell on a book called Nine o’clock in the Morning by Dennis Bennett, which talked about how this experience of the Spirit totally transformed the author and his church. As I read this and other books on the subject, God gave me a strong desire to seek Him for this baptism of fire. John the Baptist said of Jesus:
I baptize you with water for repentance, but the One who is coming after me is more powerful than I. I am not worthy to take off His sandals. He Himself will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Matthew 3:11
Again, like my conversion, this awareness of the Holy Spirit’s power was a gradual awakening, but it did begin with a remarkable experience. After reading many books and seeking God, I realised that I actually had to ask God for this gift, and in order to speak in tongues I needed to open my mouth! So one day, late at night, I sat on my bed and prayed to be filled with the Holy Spirit. I still remember the sense of quiet awe and anticipation. I opened my mouth and as I spoke just one syllable I immediately felt something light enter the top of my head and then for a second I felt I was actually being lifted up out of my body. In fact the experience so took me aback that I stopped and went to sleep! The next day I furtively tried to speak again, this time without the same feeling but sensing that the Lord had indeed answered my prayer.

A few weeks later I was on the Alpha Course Holy Spirit weekend when we all gathered to ask Him to fill us. Some fell to the ground under God’s power, others gently cried and others laughed. All the time we sang and worshipped. I was aware of the air being ‘thick’ with His Presence in a way I have never experienced since, and I was touched with a holy laughter. With my friends, I returned from that weekend absolutely full of joy and walking on air! I describe these things not because they are experiences to seek after in themselves, but simply to show that the Holy Spirit is a real Person and when He touches us, we react spiritually, emotionally and sometimes even physically, just like the day of Pentecost. This dynamic of the Spirit in my life has given me a joy in worship and a hunger for God that I believe I would not have had otherwise.


It was a while after this time when God taught me something more about how the Spirit wanted to touch me with healing and forgiveness. I was coming up to my final exams and had an irritating problem with my ear which, with my final recital looming, was causing me anxiety. One day, a friend from Holy Trinity Brompton invited me to a prayer group and as we were praying (there were maybe 8 of us), the lady on my right asked if there was anyone present with ear trouble. With amazement I admitted it was me and I was prayed for. After the meeting this lady spoke to me privately and said she felt I might be suffering because I was holding unforgiveness towards someone. I knew immediately that she was right as I was having a very difficult relationship issue at the time. There was someone I needed to approach for reconciliation. In the following days I was able to forgive this person and God gave me the amazing opportunity to talk to them. The very morning after this meeting I woke up and put my hand up to my ear to feel a discharge that had come out of my ear and run down the side of my face during the night. From that moment, my ear began to improve. This is just one example of how the Holy Spirit gave a word of knowledge through another that resulted in forgiveness and healing.


In 1994 there was a worldwide move of the Holy Spirit that originated from a small church in Toronto. That very year I had been in Israel and had been struck by the passage in Ezekiel 47 where the amazing image is given of fresh water flowing from the temple in Jerusalem down into the Dead Sea, bringing life in its path. Some believe that this will one day happen in reality, but as the year progressed it became evident that God was using this picture to show what He was doing spiritually from Toronto. His Spirit was being poured out bringing spiritual life and restoration to all who would receive. This move touched many churches in the UK and I was blessed to receive the Holy Spirit in a new way with some of the most intense experiences of His love and Presence I have ever had. It was also at this time that I was given a strong desire to study the Bible and I launched into a series of courses with great enthusiasm.

Some of my strongest experiences of God’s Presence during the Toronto Blessing had been of physical shaking and I believe, in retrospect that this was a sign of what God was going to do next. In the Bible we are told that when God comes He refines us like fire.
But who can endure the day of His coming? And who will be able to stand when He appears? For He will be like a refiner's fire.
Malachi 3:2.
When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.
John 16:8 .
About a year following the time of the Toronto Blessing I went into one of the darkest times of my life that lasted about 3 years. I felt like a ton of bricks had landed on me. Absolutely everything was a huge effort. I was plagued by constant tiredness, feelings of guilt, desperation and hopelessness. By the classic definition, I was depressed. Although my work life was severely disturbed, it always amazes me as I look back, that I was actually able to continue working during that time. God had provided me with a wonderful counsellor and it seemed that one issue after another came tumbling out of me for healing. Events from my past, even from childhood, threatened to crush me, and the feelings of guilt forced me to make confession of things that I had buried long ago. All through this time I was aware of God speaking to me, particularly through scripture, and as time progressed I realised that I was a different person. I felt that I had being given a thorough spring clean! I share this because I believe that it was a work of the Holy Spirit in my life. Part of being open to the Holy Spirit is allowing Him to cleanse and refine us so that we can be equipped for greater service in His Kingdom. During this period the Lord also led me to a different church and has since given me a ministry in worship leading that has completely amazed me! And the story continues!

Led by the Spirit means many different things for me. It is essentially giving God the whole of ourselves and holding nothing back. This can be started simply, but not easily, with a prayer of relinquishment of all that we hold dear. As we pray; Lord , have Your way in my life, whatever the cost, He will respond and take us at our word. He will take us on a journey through difficult places if necessary, but in it there will be the most intense and unspeakable joy and the destination will be the heart of Jesus. For that is what the Spirit desires for us; an intimate and holy passion for the Lord Jesus Christ.

35 comments:

Paulie said...

Thanks for taking us on your spiritual journey. May you always have an open heart to receive the message of the Holy Spirit.

madeforjoy said...

hmmm... part II. :)
Thanks, Mike, for telling more of your story. It is a testimony of being drawn into God's loving presence. God wants us to enjoy unhindered access to his throne of grace. Why else would he have sent his son to pay sin's price and the Holy Spirit to encourage and help us?

Your account bears witness to this truth.
~suz.

p.s. My prayer partner is going to the Florida meeting today for the week. I am curious to hear her reflections when she returns.

Steve said...

Thanks for sharing so much of your spiritual journey,Mike. I also remember reading Nine o'clock in the Morning and other related works and received the gift of tongues way back in 1976. My spiritual walk has been a little up and down since but mainly I've kept on the straight and narrow.

mry said...

Thank you for sharing part2 Mike. It tells the story of how you've come right through the fire and been cleansed; how God is using you for His purposes..

ChrisJ said...

Thank you for sharing your experiences, Mike. Perhaps you are aware of Cliff College in Derbyshire. I was saved through one of their seaside campaigns 53 years ago. They have a strong history of holiness teaching. Samuel Chadwick a past principal wrote a classic on Holiness and so did another of Cliff's forefathers. Sorry I can't remember titles and names and my husband is away and can't remind me of them. My husband attended Cliff College. Cliff always had a fantastic weekend at Whitsuntide. What a blessing that was for me as a growing Christian! God ALWAYS keeps His promises.

Incidentallly, (from the sublime to the ridiculous, sorry!) the photo you couldn't make out on my blog is of broken chicken egg shells.

Cuckoo said...

Thanks Mike for sharing this inspirational story. Sometimes we don't realize where we are heading to and it serves as a guide then.


Cuckoo

Sidharth said...

Glory Hallelu Yah! I weighed every word of this and I love it. I send it to many of my friends who are seeking the Spirit. =)

Awesome!

=)

Sid

Wanda said...

Pastor Mike, I've been waiting for Part II in your story. A person's personal testimony and experience is the most powerful tool there is to communicate the Lord to someone.

Your testimony, and your shared life and blog are touching many.

So many people know about God, and Jesus, but our helper, our guide, our comforter...the Holy Spirit somehow is thought of as something less than a Person...You are a witness that He is real in a person's life and testimony.

LOL:)

SuzyQ said...

Thankyou for sharing these special experiences with us Mike.
God Bless

Gudl said...

Thank you, Mike, for sharing part 2 of your spiritual journey with us.
God is good!! The Holy Spirit is awesome!!
I am glad you are my brother in Christ!

deena said...

Thankx Mike for taking us on your spiritual journey.Such an inspiration to all those who read your blog-an excellent way of evangelising.

Barbara said...

Mike, thanks for sharing this next part of your story. So many parallels with my story.
All who seek and are serious go through these "dark night of the soul" experiences.
Loved reading it all. True life experiences speak far more powerfully than doctrine alone.
Bless you.

Penless Thoughts said...

Great telling of a hard subject to put in words to one's who have not experienced it. We who have relate instantly!!!! A dangerous prayer to pray "Lord what ever it takes....." but one I feel we all must to truly walk in the fullness of The Way. Keep up the good work.
Susan

zakscloset said...

what a great story!!! it seems like you're really close to the god. i pray only before my exams and maybe that's why i never feel my god responding... i should really feel guilty for that! i like your new blog layout as well!

GrandmaK said...

May God bless you and keep you!!! You are truly a faith filled man and your witness if proof of that...Cathy

J. Andrew Lockhart said...

I've printed this out -- nice to have it on paper. :) Thanks!

retha said...

I like that way you speak about these things. You are showing the LORD is everyday for all of us not just for some and for a feeling-good-moment!
That shaking it reminded me of when one swirls a container with say soil in the bigger pieces will come to the top and it is easier to remove it.

Andrea said...

Enjoyed reading your testimony. I always enjoy reading your uplifting posts. May God always bless you.

Tammie said...

I enjoyed reading this post - came by your blog via "Daughter of Annie" - refreshing - Come Holy Spirit!

Monday through Sunday said...

Excellent!!

onionboy said...

Good old Alpha. :) I'm a former Protestant (Pentecostal) minister come convert to the Catholic Church. Love it.

I've lead Alpha in each church where I was pastor and have always seen great 'results.' Currently (still active as now as a lay person) I am teaching Alpha live in our local parish and we have 80 folks attending - which is rather something amazing. Last weekend we had our Holy Spirit weekend and it was the usual - stellar!

Thanks for sharing your journey. God bless you.

LAUREN at Faith Fuel said...

Mike, You're boldly proclaiming the power of God in your life, here- and how His power IS seen in our weakness. Amazing how you came from the mountain peaks of the wonderful Toronto Blessing to the valleys of our human experience with depression. It always amazes me what God ALLOWS us to go through, and How He has a way to make it all work together for good. If we dare proclaim the reality of our experience, if we "get up into the high mountains and there proclaim, 'Behold your God!'"- He will ALWAYS ALWAYS SHOW UP!

jim said...

Wonderfully written. I praise God that he does fill us with His Holy Spirit.

Jill said...

Read through this a while after it was written I've been struggling hard but it's really encouraged me, thanks Mike.

Lourisa said...

Wow! What a great testimony!
"I felt like a ton of bricks had landed on me. Absolutely everything was a huge effort. I was plagued by constant tiredness, feelings of guilt, desperation and hopelessness. By the classic definition, I was depressed." I could have written those words myself. I thought that after returning to God and the church everything would be great, but this is what I got. Your story gives me great hope though. Many blessings to you.

Gudl said...

I just re-read your whole testimony again. I wish others would stumble across your page and read it and understand!!
God is good!

ascu75 aka Don said...

I too came back to faith because of Alpha I had known of God for 40 odd years but now I really know him and his Son and am filled by his Spirit daily.Thank you for sharing your journey with us .Gods blessings XXX Don

Barbara said...

I like the idea that you can click on your story from a bar at the top of your blog.

Much easier to access. I know I have read much of your story before but am thinking that you had added to it here.

A blessing to read again anyhow.The best testimonies always come out of times of suffering.

photowannabe said...

Praise and thanksgiving. The power of the Holy Spirit is in my life too. I read 9 o'clock in the morning many years ago too and it changed my life.
Thank you for your public testimony.
Sue

Pietro said...

Thanks for sharing your spiritual experiences! Reading these texts is absolutely wonderful and uplifting.

Steve said...

It was good to re-read your testimony. Thanks for sharing.

Kansas Bob said...

What a cool story Mike. I was involved in the Alpha Course in the late 90s (taught the course once) and met Nicky Gumbel several times at conferences. Small world.

Schotzy said...

I have been truly blessed to read your amazing testimony to the power and presence of God in your life. I too, am looking forward to sharing this with my prayer group in our Baptist church here in Virginia. I do believe God is ready to shake the denominations to prepare His church for the great awakening. Maranatha!!!

photowannabe said...

Thanks so much for sharing your story.
I love how you explained your baptism in plain language.
Nine O'Clock in the Morning was one of the first books I read on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
It birthed new life in me.
I remember the Toronto Blessing and its impetus in our San Francisco church.
Blessings to you.

deena said...

Thank you for sharing your spiritual journey with us.You are truly inspirational. I admire your perseverance,obedience to your calling and the love you have serving
our God. You are abundantly blessed.