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Yesterday I met a very friendly brother from England, Mike O’Leary, who is in Sweden for two weeks on a short missions trip. We’ve been in contact for at least a year on social media, and it’s evident that he’s on fire for Jesus. Yesterday when we went back to my place for some tea (my experiences from the Jesus Army has taught me that Brits like that drink), I asked him something that I often try to ask brothers and sisters I don’t know well: how did you became a Christian? His story was truly amazing, and I asked him if I could record it when we got home:
Mike used to be an atheist who found belief in God ridiculous. As he says in the video, he loved to debate with theists and show them how wrong they were. However, in 2007 he heard the external, audible voice of God three times, saying “Follow Me”, when he was out in his garden. That changed things.
One of the best books I’ve ever encountered on the topic of miracles is simply called Miracles, and is written by Craig Keener. A professor of New Testament Studies, Keener started his book as a footnote in another work on the book of Acts where he explained why he didn’t rule out the possibility that the miracles described there actually happened, and when his footnote had grown to a couple of hundred pages he decided to make a book out of it (and it’s pretty clear that this guy likes footnotes, there’s such an insane amout of them that the book had to be published in two volumes!)
Keener covers a various of fields such as exegesis, history, philosophy, natural science and journalism as he provides hundreds of testimonies about miracles, most of them from recent times and several of them medically and scientifically verified. It’s a very good read. And I would like to share with you the essense of his philosophical argument, which also can be viewed in this video:
It is common to hear, especially in the Western world, that miracles “clearly” don’t exist, that belief in miracles is a medieval relic, that “modern” people can’t believe in supernatural superstition etc. Quite often this is simply viewed as an axiom, a self-evident premise that does not have to be proven; it is often believe that science has already denied the existence of miracles so arguments for the premise is not necessary. However, science has not proven that miracles don’t exist, science is agnostic on such matters just as science has not proven that God does or doesn’t exist. I’ll come back to that shortly. (more…)
In May 1976, a 16-year-old girl called Heidi was kneeling at the altar of a small Pentecostal church at a Choctaw reservation site in Mississippi. She had been saved just two months earlier, and now she was astounded as she suddenly saw a white light coming over her while she heard a voice, audibly, that said “I am calling you to be a minister and a missionary. You are to go to Africa, Asia and England.”
Heidi married Rolland Baker, grandson to the great missionary H.A. Baker, and God took them on an amazing adventure across the world. Today they live in Mozambique and help thousands of orphaned children, planting thousands of churches and witnessing amazing miracles such as blind people seeing, deaf people hearing and dead people coming back to life. I’ve made a video about them and their organization Iris Global which you can watch below:
Heidi and Rolland have inspired me so much in my vision to combine miracles, evangelism and social justice, and I pray that they will continue to make an impact in Mozambique and all across the world for the glory of God.
I witnessed my first exorcism five years ago. A friend who belonged to my church – a very gentle, humorous and smart person – started to act extremely weird during worship; shouting and shaking uncontrollably. The other church members quickly started to pray, and as they brought Michael, who previously had told me that he had a lot of experience when it comes to deliverance, I knew things were serious.
It was pretty terrifying of course, realizing that something else may be controlling my friend’s body. I was even more upset when Michael failed to cast out the demons that day. Their filthy activities continued for several weeks when we met for worship, until they finally were driven away by prayer and the Word of God.
Delivering people from demons is of course a very Biblical practice. We read in the Gospels:
Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
“Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. – Mark 1:23-26
“The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them.” – Acts 15:12
I love this little Bible passage! At the apostolic meeting in Jerusalem, where it was to be decided what rules and customs should be followed by Gentile Christians, those who have assembled take a testimony break to hear about some miracles. This I believe was both because they illustrated a theological point given by Peter – that God is already working among the Gentiles even before they had been circumcised – and because miracles are very cool to hear about. Seriously, not many grow tired of hearing about miracles.
Right now, I’m at a Pentecostal conference in the northern parts of northern Sweden, where the sun never sets and penguins ride around on polar bears. I’m helping the aid organisation of Swedish Pentecostalism, PMU and collects money for Denis Mukwege’s Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, Congo. It’s my first time at the conference and it’s nice, the vegetarian food is a little meh and the topics being talked about at the meetings and seminars aren’t always that radical, but overall it’s OK.
I guess that for an outsider, at first glance, the conference is like any conference or festival – people drinking coffee and eating ice cream, chatting and laughing, going to concerts and lectures. Of course, the topics are Christian and the songs are to God, but that wouldn’t matter much for a nonbeliever. The real game changers I believe are partly the eternal issues about the afterlife and salvation, and partly signs and wonders telling us about the truth of these eternal issues. And God is working through many in Swedish Pentecostalism hallelujah, so testimonies about amazing miracles can pop up anywhere.
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…)