Steve's Story: Searching for Something More
Excerpt from Rescued from Hell, Chapter 6: Back on Planet Earth
Throughout the working day, I was memorizing scriptures like crazy in an attempt to “armor up,” but it seemed like much more was needed. This was war! What had I gotten myself into? The enemy was all pervasive, highly deceptive and very determined. Why did they also have to be invisible? Why couldn’t the Lord open my eyes like He had Barden’s? That would even the odds. There wasn’t much chance of that, though, so I wasn’t counting on it. Meanwhile we were going to not one, but two churches: the local Episcopal Church in Morehead City that Eddy pointed me towards where there was a charismatic priest; and June’s independent charismatic fellowship in Havelock, NC, the next town over.
That key word charismatic held the answer I was seeking: power. Holy Spirit power. Jesus told His own newly reborn disciples to stay and pray in Jerusalem after He ascended in order to receive power from on high (Acts 1:8). He called it being “baptized with the Holy Spirit”; John had baptized with water, but this was something Jesus would do Himself by an “outpouring” of His Spirit. This baptism of power came to the early church on the great day of Pentecost, ten days after Jesus ascended to heaven. It came to the churches of our day first through the Pentecostal movement in the early 1900s and then with the Charismatic movement in the 1960s and ‘70s. All three times the Biblical and historical sign of it was speaking in tongues, power for witness and power for ministry. That last included the gift of “discerning of spirits”—one of the very things I desired most. I was particularly interested in getting my spiritual radar enhanced.
The truth is I wanted anything the Lord said I needed! That certainly included water baptism, for me and for our whole family. One month after my conversion, June, Stefan, Alisha and I all trooped out to the Neuse River with our Havelock fellowship on October 31st 1982. I loved the swipe at Satan that date represented—we were reclaiming Halloween (All Hallows’ Eve) for Jesus. There is nothing like total immersion baptism on a bitterly cold day to give you an assurance that you’ve gone the full measure of obedience. We came out of the water feeling so cleansed! The kids looked like they were seeing angels. But because the pastor’s wife—on the dry shore—shouted out that my head, the “offending part” as she called it, hadn’t gone totally under, down I went a second time!
In the month following my river baptism I was hot on the trail of the Holy Spirit and reading all I could about His work and ministry. I kept hearing about the baptism of the Spirit and knew that I wanted that too. My Episcopal priest, King Cole, who was himself Spirit-baptized, prayed for me to receive it, but I was too bound up with fears and desperation to make any headway. I was afraid I might not qualify, or that God would withhold it, or that I wouldn’t be able to do whatever my part was. Simply put, I wasn’t trusting—that’s usually our part. Salvation is a wide term, which covers all we might need to receive from God; but I had already forgotten that salvation is by grace through faith. King said to me, “Steve you are so jammed up with this, when it does happen, tongues will probably come out of you like vomit.” My heightened anxieties went through the roof. What an image!
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