PART TWO – Pentecost to Israel
The Third Dimension
The Feast of PENTECOST
At the end of Part One of wHaT tHe LoRd HaS dOnE wItH mE, Marilyn and I were headed for new adventures in a spiritual reality that most people don’t dream about!
We lived in a whirlwind of diverse and simultaneous activities. During the year preceding our marriage, various people spoke to me about the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Those I recall were Mrs. Black in Regina, Saskatchewan; Mervin and Muriel Mediwake in Lanigan, Saskatchewan; Dave Loewen of Calgary, Alberta; his daughter, Diane, who had been staying with her grandfather, Mr. Toews, my landlord; and some unnamed persons at various meetings.
Muriel Mediwake had been holding Charismatic meetings at a local United Church in Lanigan, Saskatchewan with some youth. At one meeting that some of us Southern Baptist “Bible-correct” doctrinaires attended, Brian Sherry was to lead the meeting. He stood up, spoke about 10 words, and said he had nothing more to say – he would let the Holy Spirit take over. After a brief silence, many of about seventy people began to cry, unable to conceal their emotions, wondering what was going on. Some of them tried to describe what they were feeling, but couldn’t.
I felt the emotion, but I didn’t have too difficult a time holding back the tears; I suppose I was still hard in heart. Yet I knew something was happening, no matter how much one could logically argue with the externals. We went home criticizing, but it seems the Spirit was gently, lovingly criticizing me!
Len Koster, our Faith Baptist Church outreach minister, was there, criticizing what happened. You’ll see why later.
Mrs. Black, who wasn’t knowledgeable of Scripture, but whose conviction about receiving the Spirit I found irresistible, invited me to a Pentecostal meeting led by Pastor Straza in Regina. Going there, I had a discussion with a tall, slim fellow with an overbite (Cliff, I believe), in his mid-thirties, who testified to me personally of the baptism in the Holy Spirit and the gifts.
He patiently endured with me, while I argued enduringly with him. I doubt that he has changed 32 years later, and I haven’t changed. I still argue, only now I argue with knowledge and conviction. Then, I had no clue of what I was saying.
It wasn’t his knowledge of Scripture that counted, however, but his friendliness, patience, and particularly, his conviction that impacted me.
Even Diane Loewen, Dave Loewen’s backslidden daughter who was staying for a while with my landlord (her grandfather), penetrated me by her conviction. She had turned her back on the Lord, but she convincingly declared that there was such a thing as a real, legitimate, godly baptism in the Holy Spirit, and that she was not speaking of just some silly emotional experience or delusion of devils.
My silent question was, “If one is deluded by devils, and not aware of it, can’t or won’t one have a demon-inspired conviction? Isn’t that what delusion is all about?” Yet somehow I knew she spoke the truth, though she couldn’t argue with me or afford much Scripture.
What she did was candidly admit she was wrong in turning her back on God, thinking there was no more hope for her, and she insisted that her decision did not reflect on the reality and virtue of the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
Here was a backslidden young woman, running around, dating an obvious roughhouser in my very presence, yet admitting her wrong and bearing a strange but strong testimony to me. Legalists would despise her doctrine because of her lifestyle and apparent spiritual failure. Though I may have been somewhat of a legalist, I couldn’t resist her conviction.
The lesson: All persons glorify God. He is over all. There is a purpose and timing for all things. I’m thankful that Diane and her father, Dave, shared with me.
Another lesson: It’s not Scriptural knowledge that persuades or convicts – it’s the Spirit, Who bears witness not only in the present, but also by the past work He has done.
I may see an old rusted-out car in the bush, obviously useless for transport, but it still speaks of something beyond natural occurrence or development; it was not something a fox, a hill of ants, wind, rain, or the sun could do – there was an obvious intelligent human design involved in the making of it, though the course of natural degeneration had taken over.
But try to persuade an indoctrinated evolutionist of those laws or factors. He would fail to see that complex things, though deteriorating, have the marks of having been formed by deliberate intelligence, and that rust and rot are the norm in all of creation, the natural direction of things. Long-term progress in natural creation, with improvement and development, is not.
Diane was there, wasn’t there, but I knew that some of her that once was, still was. What was left of good was not of her doing.
While in Regina, we met Larry and Sue Spencer, a young Southern Baptist pastor and his wife from the US who were beginning a church at a school. Larry was rather outspoken and more apt to speak of social issues than most pastors.
I recall a girl in her later teens coming up from the south to help with their work, who would go to the beach wearing a bikini. Larry took issue with that.
“What is the difference between being nearly naked at work or at church and being naked on the beach?” he asked. “Does the beach or a public swimming pool make it right? Does everybody else being naked make it right? Women should dress discreetly anywhere, shouldn’t they? Christians are supposed to have a conscience about these things. What kind of testimony is it to be nearly naked before the world?”
I agreed with him. The concept seemed lost on the girl, who was there presumably to help Larry build the church and win souls to Christ.
This wasn’t the last we would hear of Larry Spencer’s stand on moral issues, though it would be many years later.
While with the Baptist Student Union on the university campus in Regina, I got into a discussion with a couple feminists who had a table next to ours. They blamed the social and marital plight of women on Christianity. One was capable of carrying on a decent conversation, while another was foul-mouthed, ignorant, and very obstinate. God gave me the patience to talk with the young women, not treating the one in kind.
Then came the leader, a woman in her fifties or older, very bitter, sarcastic, and vicious. She was snarling right in my face, almost spitting, cursing men and Christianity. Without waiting for my response, she turned on her heels and left. I wondered how someone could be so full of hatred.
I also wondered how anyone with any intelligence or decency wouldn’t see through her foul influence, take immediate note, and run in the opposite direction, instead of becoming her follower.
So what did the more “rational” of the two feminist students decide? Could she tell by my conduct, contrasted with her partner and leader, that perhaps she should reconsider her direction? She said, “I’ve learned something today. I’ve learned how to deal with people in a more effective manner,” judging my manner effective and adopting it to support her leader’s agenda of hate.
What?! Was that it?! My manner was effective?! Was I not saying anything worthwhile? Could she not tell by my fruits that perhaps the subject matter was the cause of my manner and my peace? Apparently not, at least not for the time being. I marveled that by my peaceful conduct, I was encouraging a feminist to promote hatred more effectively.
Is Christianity responsible for the ills in this world? The Christianity of this world is responsible for a good deal of it, but Jesus Christ is not. And He’ll tend to those who have claimed and done evil in His Name.
To give an example of evil in this world perpetrated by those who call themselves Christians, we were in Regina with Jo Campbell, daughter of a successful grain farmer. Publicly, she was a friendly, smiling, zealous proselytizer, using Campus Crusade’s “Four Spiritual Laws” tract to “win souls.” Why? Because she didn’t have her own oil, though having “accepted” Christ “into her heart” as her “personal Savior.”
Jo was highly and overtly critical of her father, who, she said, was consumed with financial gain. Was her obvious contempt for him the spirit and conduct of a true believer? She had formed her own brand of Christianity and used it as a tool to show herself morally superior over others, father included.
With Jo’s guard down, I found her quite cynical and spiteful. She was also twice her proper weight. Did she not know gluttony was a sin? Who was she to judge her father?
Knowing we would be away for a week during Christmas, the landlord asked us if his daughter, Irene, and son-in-law, Dave Loewen, could use our basement suite while visiting him from Calgary. We consented.
Before he returned to Calgary, Dave left behind a little booklet, “The Baptism in the Holy Spirit,” by R. A. Torrey. He had been sharing about the Spirit with me by mail. I replied argumentatively, not knowing what I was talking about, barely reading what he sent me. It is amazing to me now, in retrospect, how arrogant, closed, and unreasonable I could be.
In reading the Torrey booklet, however, I felt and hoped there was something there for me. Baptists are quite opposed to such doctrine, which caused us to hesitate, but not for long. I said, “Lord, if You have something here for us, I want it.”
We would be away during Christmas, because we were asked to babysit a home for Terry and Norma Wuester while they took a trip to the States. They were very friendly people, university professors and members of good standing in Faith Baptist Church. However, I recall a great curiosity concerning them. They were both very heavy – Terry weighing possibly over 300 pounds. While at their house for supper at an earlier date, I saw them eat three or more times as much as I would or even possibly could. Their pantry was heavily stocked with a variety of foods.
Plainly, they were gluttons. “Doesn’t the Bible place gluttony in the same category with drunkenness?” I thought. “Surely, it does. Why isn’t Pastor Henry Blackaby saying anything to them? But if they were true believers, why would he have to say anything? Wouldn’t they know for themselves?”
It was an array of situations like this that made me question what Christianity was all about. I, as a relatively new believer, knew better. Why didn’t these older believers know better?
I didn’t feel it was my place to speak, judge, or even inquire. I fully expected that if I asked, I would be rebuked, whether sharply or kindly. I wasn’t confident that I understood enough to make accurate judgments, although there truly was no opportunity to say anything; otherwise, I might have done so. Soon it wouldn’t matter, at least with them, because within two weeks, we would be gone.
As I see it now, Terry and Norma had a problem, they didn’t seem to see it as a problem, and those presuming to shepherd them seemed derelict in their duties to counsel them to life, whether they were receptive or not. The bane of churches and their pastors in nominal Christendom is accepting sin in their churches in the name of accepting sinners, with the primary goal of increasing numbers, both in people and offerings.
Of course, it goes deeper than that. They don’t know the Lord; their fruits declare it. Their fruits manifest that they aren’t founded on the Rock – Jesus Christ. “Having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof”?
We would celebrate our last Christmas at the Wuesters’. Marilyn, at my request, prepared a big festive Ukrainian meal, with perogies and all the things Ukrainians eat at that time. We invited my unbelieving cousin, Linda Michaluk, for one supper, when I learned she was in town. She nearly fell asleep on us. Tim and Verna Friesen came for another supper. Verna was pregnant and not feeling well.
It was a strange season. Interestingly, nobody at Faith Baptist invited us for Christmas, and we didn’t invite any of them. The Baptists all celebrated Christmas. Why didn’t they invite us? Why didn’t we invite them? Shouldn’t the Body of Christ rejoice together in an event that was supposed to be so significant to Christians?
We didn’t know it would be our last Christmas celebration, something I would have a bit of a challenge giving up, because in the past, before I came to believe, I enjoyed it very much.
Henry arranged for a “Watch Night Service” on New Year’s Eve. It began about 7 p.m. We were expecting a “season of prayer,” Bible study, and worship to bring in the New Year. (Archie and Cathie were with us that evening.) Food was served, games were played, and it turned out to be nothing more than a worldly social in the basement of the church.
It wasn’t until about ten minutes before midnight that Henry rallied everyone upstairs to the chapel and spoke a few words. We prayed a short prayer at midnight and went home. I was greatly disappointed, if not disgusted. That night seemed to be the final straw, precipitating us to going on with God the next night.
I had finally red through R. A. Torrey’s booklet, “The Baptism in the Holy Spirit,” and was desirous to receive the promises therein. One month after being married, at about 9:30, the evening of January 1, 1975, the night after the “Watch Night Service,” my wife and I red Torrey’s booklet, considered what he was saying, got down on our knees, confessed our sins, and asked for and received the Holy Spirit.
We did it with a bit of apprehension because what Torrey talked about was an experience our evangelical church condemned as “Pentecostalism,” as of the Devil. It took us about an hour to pray through the steps outlined by Torrey, based on Acts 2:38-39:
“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.”
(Read more about this blessed event in The Baptism in the Holy Spirit.)
Before receiving the Spirit, I had to confess to my wife an attraction I had for a single woman at the church, and who it was… Judy Linton. We had only been married one month and there I was having to confess sin tantamount to adultery, if not adultery (not that there seemed to be lust involved). I confessed, and Marilyn forgave me. Peace came, and upon asking for the Spirit and reading the following passage, an assurance settled in my bosom:
“And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask any thing according to His will, He hears us: And if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him” (1 John 5:14-15 KJV).
There were no manifestations of any kind. It was very quiet, but substantial.
A note of interest: April 1 was once New Year’s Day, I’m told. My physical birth, that being of the “old man” – the carnal nature, as the Bible puts it – was on the day of the old New Year’s: April 1. My spiritual birth was now on January 1, our present New Year’s, the day of the birth of my new inner man.
Something happened to us that evening, though quiet and unobtrusive. We immediately called Len and Ruth Koster, the outreach minister and his wife, and invited them over. We thought they needed the power of the Holy Spirit as much as anyone at Faith Baptist.
Their reaction surprised us; they were alarmed. Apparently, while formerly pastoring a church in Taras, British Columbia, they had suffered a church split because someone had come teaching about the baptism in the Holy Spirit and the gifts. The Kosters would have none of what we wanted to share.
We pursued the subject no more, and they soon left, but we were unmoved in our conviction and course. They had been the first to meet us fresh in the Spirit and had been shaken, while we, in spite of their rejection, were unshaken.
Today, as I write, I see why Len had been so critical and outspoken at the Lanigan Charismatic meeting, when Brian Sherry declared he was going to let the Holy Spirit take over. Len had seen this “sort of thing” before and was on the losing end.
And lo and behold, in less than 2 years, in another city, we would meet the man who allegedly split their church. His name was Koster, as well.
After the Kosters left at about 1:30 a.m., we went to bed, but we couldn’t get to sleep. Off would go the lights, but not the inner light. The Lord would quicken things to me and direct me to Scripture. So we turned on the lights and red. Off again would go the lights to get some sleep, the Lord would quicken yet more, and on again came the lights. This happened several times that night.
It was a new world! The Bible came alive in a way I had never experienced. All night, the Lord was taking us through the Scriptures, revealing many things to us, taking us from the Book of Joshua, wherein we red of the Lord’s parting and Israel’s crossing of the Jordan River (a second water crossing) and entrance into Canaan, to the third chapter of John, concerning the new birth, to Paul’s teaching on the Spirit in his epistles. The Lord made Himself known to us in a new exciting, joyous, yet solemn, way. We didn’t get to bed until 7 a.m., sleeping for perhaps an hour. We were on to a new day – in more than one way.
Who says there is no God?
My brother Archie and his wife came over that morning. I was filled with the Spirit and testified to them. Archie and I got on our knees and began to pray. I saw Archie’s face distort and he began to pray in tongues, something that sounded Oriental.
I was suddenly envious, seeing he immediately received tongues, while we had not. I knew I should be thankful, yet I was disturbed; there was something amiss, not because I hadn’t received tongues (though that disturbed me slightly), but it was something with Archie that was more disturbing. I felt something evil, but I didn’t understand.
Nothing happened with Cathie that I recall. She was never interested in the things of God. All she did was go along with Archie. Only weeks before, while we were at their place, she was resentful of us for something and didn’t prepare us a meal at suppertime. Instead, she made a bowl of popcorn for herself and sat down to eat it in front of us. Being the slow one as usual, and so preoccupied with what the Lord was doing, I was completely oblivious to her resentment and subtle sign to show us the door.
Disillusionment…. Get to the back of the line!
Upon receiving the Spirit, I had expected and assumed that we had arrived to fullness of power in the Lord. I expected that many would come repenting and believing. I thought the world would soon be falling at my feet. Instead, nothing happened with the Kosters, and nothing happened with Archie and Cathie (though I thought perhaps something had with Archie).
To add to my chagrin and disillusionment, I got suddenly annoyed with Marilyn for some little thing she had done, which resulted in my spilling some hot water on my hand, though harmlessly. I was chagrined by my attitude, but too proud or hard to immediately confess that there was still something lacking. I had no doubt, however, that the Lord had done something very good and important for us. We had entered not only the clouds of heavenly dew, but also the smoke of purging fires. As John testified:
“I indeed baptize you with water to repentance. But He Who comes after me is mightier than I, Whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire; Whose fan is in His hand, and He will cleanse His floor and gather His wheat into the storehouse; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:11-12 MKJV).
Being baptized in the Holy Spirit didn’t make the flesh holy. It established warfare with the flesh, and the battle began. I had no idea!
I tried sharing with everyone I could, hoping and expecting they would be open. I was expecting perhaps a revival. Was I so wrong!
They were chagrined, confounded, disturbed, skeptical, disinterested, afraid, alarmed, and even hostile. I could see in the Scriptures what I was talking about, and marveled that they couldn’t. I marveled that even when the Bible clearly declared something, they were incapable of receiving it or understanding. They really weren’t interested in the truth or in going on to a deeper relationship with the One they professed to worship and serve. Indeed, I was beginning to suspect they didn’t have a relationship with the Lord at all!
I shared with Al Niebergal, who trembled in fear as we went to prayer, and got nowhere. “What is he afraid of?” I wondered.
I shared with Randy Wilson, Warren Mackenzie, Dan and Dale Fishley, Bob Bye (who was offended that I was “deceiving” my simple, innocent brother, Archie, and his wife), and others. They all rejected what I said out of hand. Henry was away at the time, so I couldn’t share with him before we were taken to Prince Albert to the Scarborough Baptist Church to work with Jack and Bonna Connor.
Mrs. Bates was an apparently kind, gentle, friendly lady in her eighties, whom many perceived to be pious. She was one of the core members of what was left of Faith Baptist before Henry Blackaby came to revive it as a church. She kept a room reserved for Henry in case he wished to retreat for privacy to write or study. Marilyn had rented a room in her basement before she and I married.
One day, I thought I would share with her about the baptism in the Holy Spirit. That day, I saw a Mrs. Bates I hadn’t seen before. She became very agitated, obviously prejudiced by conversations that had taken place about us and what had happened. She was loud and incoherent and refused to listen or reason. It was disturbing. I left, knowing there was nothing I could do.
Another person who seemed humble and reasonable, if not godly, was John Cunningham, the pastor of Cambrian Heights Baptist Church in Calgary, Alberta, an associate Southern Baptist church. Before we received the Spirit, I had wanted to get together with him, just to learn from him. I had a taste of a short and sweet visit with him at a pastors’ retreat.
Soon after we received the Spirit, he spoke against us or against “Pentecostalism,” though he never spoke personally to us. I was disappointed, but not entirely surprised. This was only a start on the great road of disillusionment concerning man’s virtue.
As for the Cunninghams, we would hear of tragic developments for the whole family in the future.
Why should I have been surprised that those not having the Spirit couldn’t see the testimony in the Scriptures? Before receiving the Spirit, I was blind to it, and fought it. And before I was converted, when reading the Bible, I couldn’t so much as see that Jesus Christ was what it was all about. How does one see the sun when in the grave? It wasn’t until the miracle occurred in me, bringing me up from the dead, that I was able to perceive spiritual reality as recorded in the Bible.