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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.
Every time my house church meets, we share Jesus stories – testimonies about what God has done for us during the last week. It’s always very encouraging and often pretty amazing; we’ve heard about cancers getting healed, people receiving visions as well as evangelistic opportunities, prophetic insights and ordinary Jesus trot. In my latest contribution to the MennoNerd vlogging relay race, I talked about testimonies and some testimonies that have impacted me:
The Gospels are testimonies, Acts is a testimony, Revelation is a testimony. Church history is filled with testimonies. The Psalms encourages us to share testimonies (Ps 145:11-12). Testimonies rock, basically. When I was a younger Christian I refused to read any Christian books besides the Bible, ’cause my experience was that most of them deradicalized the Bible. But when I discovered Christian biographies and testimony accounts by saints that have encountered the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit, I became a Christian book nerd.
My fellow MennoNerd Allen Green followed up my testimony vlog with talking about martyr accounts and testimonies of sufferings for Christ, which I agree are also very important and encouraging in a way to read – not in a happy-clappy sense obviously but as a reminder of that Jesus is worth suffering for, faith in Him stands in the midst of hardships and injustice. In fact, the most powerful testimonies I’ve read both contain miracles and suffering, which I think was noticable in my video where I mentions some books that I recommend.
God, let us experience both the cross and the glory!
Happy Pentecost! I don’t know how it is in your country, but here in Sweden Pentecost is hardly celebrated at all – we’re must more eager to celebrate National Cinnamon Bun Day or Waffle Day (yeah, we have those). But Pentecost is worth celebrating – it’s the amazing power-boosting of the church when it receives the power and love it needs to perform its divinely commanded mission to save the world.
The book of Acts describes how the Holy Spirit baptized all of the early Jesus followers – men and women alike – and gave them the miraculous gifts of prophecy, speaking in tongues and preaching an epic sermon that leads to 3000 people accepting Jesus as their Saviour and receiving eternal life. It’s dramatic, it’s fantastic and it’s very supernatural.
Pentecost is repeatable – we can also experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit and be equipped with His miraculous gifts to spread the word about eternal life in Jesus. Pentecostals have always emphasized this: they often talk about preaching the “Full Gospel” – both salvation and Spiritual baptism – and the early Pentecostals said that they had restored the “Apostolic Faith”.
Had they, though? (more…)
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…)
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.
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.
I love to follow Daniel Kolenda’s Youtube Channel. Daniel is evangelist at Christ for all Nations, successor of Reinhard Bonnke and a passionate follower of Jesus. At the channel he publishes Bible studies, mission reports as well as wonderful testimonies of God’s miracles like these:
She was deaf in both ears for 17 years. She was rejected by family members and failed in school. She felt like a prisoner in solitary confinement and wanted to take her own life.
In January of 2014, Christ for all Nations visited Titi Bongo’s city of Yaoundé, Cameroon. Hundreds of thousands gathered that week to experience the Gospel. On the second night, as evangelist Daniel Kolenda was praying for the sick, Titi began to feel an intense burning in her ears and realized one of her ears could hear.
She to the platform to testify together with her brother. Her brother told the evangelist that although one ear had been healed, the other was still deaf and asked for more prayer. Evangelist Kolenda prayed for the ear twice. The first time, nothing happened, but the second time, he began to say the name of Jesus in her deaf ear in French, “Jésus, Jésus, Jésus” Suddenly she could understand and began to repeat the name, each time it became more clear and more powerful. He asked if she could hear now. She was smiling from ear to ear. She could hear, she could speak and she was praising the name of Jésus! (more…)
This week will be a sabbatical for me, where I won’t use any internet in order to rest and write on my book. To prevent you from being bored, dear blog readers, I want to share with you this very interesting lecture by Candy Gunther Brown, Professor of religion at Indiana University, on mecially verified healings. Enjoy!
The Bible describes how the early Christians were able to speak new existing languages when the Holy Spirit baptized them. There are reports of this happening in modern times as well.
J.W. Hutchins was baptised by the Holy Spirit at the Asuza Street revival in Los Angeles in 1906, and when she spoke in tongues a man who had been a missionary to Uganda exclaimed that she spoke the Luganda language. She also heard the external, audible voice of God telling her to go to Africa, so she became a missionary.
My pastor Hans Sundberg experienced something similar when he was evangelizing on the streets of Uppsala, Sweden, in the 70’s. He was debating with a man from Iran who believed in Bahá’í, when his friend Maria came and prayed for him silently. She prayed louder and louder, and Hans realized that she was praying in tongues. The Iranian man dropped his jaw and stared at Maria, understanding every word. She was speaking in Farsi about Jesus, although she didn’t know farsi.
In 2011, Hans was visiting Nepal to teach at a Bible school run by Touching Asia. During a prayer session before class, a man at the front spoke loudly in tongues. Afterwards, another student came to him and asked him some questions, and everyone became really excited. hans asked them what was going on, and they explained that there are over 20 languages in Nepal, and when the man had spoken in tongues he had been unknowingly prophesying to the other man in his own language, that wasn’t spoken by so many, about a coming revival to his village. (more…)
To be baptized with water is awesome, but to be baptized with fire is even awesomer. John the Baptist, who really knew baptism, said: “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Lk 3:16)
Who could this be? Spoiler alert: It’s Jesus. Before He levitated up to Heaven, He told His disciples:
Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit… you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses (Acts 1:4-5, 8)
And this happened ten days later:
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. (Acts 2:1-4)
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…)
One of my favourite Pentecostal saints of all times is Pandita Ramabai (1858-1922), Indian activist, evangelist and holy roller. Over a hundred years before Malala she campaigned for women’s right to education, and she was extremely active in helping the poor and discriminated. Born in a Brahmite family in what is now the state of Karnataka, she started to study in an early age and learned Sanskrit along with sacred Hinduist texts, astronomy, physiology and more. This was controversial since she lacked a penis, but her father encouraged her as she learned more and more about society, religion and activism.
In 1883 she went to England and taught Sanskrit at an Anglican monastery in Wantage. There she was saved. “I realized,” she later wrote, “after reading the fourth chapter of St. John’s Gospel, that Christ was truly the Divine Saviour he claimed to be, and no one but He could transform and uplift the downtrodden women of India.”
As she returned to her home country, she bought a piece of land outside Pune and started a Christian social community for young widows called Mukti, Sanskrit for Liberation. She also helped people who were orphaned, disabled or homeless, and when a famine hit India in 1896, Ramabai rescued over a thousand people and brought many if them to the Mukti mission.
In September 2003, pastor Francis Shongwe was beaten to death by a violent gang in Backdoor, South Africa. He was an usher at a youth conference, and as the gang beat and kicked him he suddenly saw his body below him, and he went to Heaven. There, he saw countless people and angels worshipping the Lord, and he was so happy. Francis comes from a very poor neighbourhood with a lot of social problems, but he realized that there would be no more hunger or need in Paradise.
Suddenly, he heard a voice, calling his name. He then woke up in the mortuary in a hospital in Nelspruit, and discovered that pastor Surprise Sithole had raised him from the dead in the power of the Holy Spirit. As readers of this blog should know, this wasn’t the first time Surprise has raised a dead person.
Now, Francis actually cried and was very sad at first when he woke up, since he now was among all the troubles and poverty of the world again. However, he now realizes that because of his experience of Heaven, he preaches the Gospel about eternal life through Jesus Christ more powerfully than before.
When I visited South Africa last year, I interviewed Francis about his resurrection as you can see in the video above. I also talked to Surprise as well as several witnesses to how Francis was killed and then come back. Francis has been featured in the documentary Finger of God, and his testimony has been shared by Heidi Baker and others. I’m very grateful that I got the chance to meet him. Praise God for His resurrection!