How I became a Pentecostal preacher

Okay so I’m still officially a United Methodist, but I became a Pentecostal preacher this week. I’ve decided to describe what happened to me in a matter-of-fact way even though it was paranormal. Here’s a summary. Wednesday morning, at a prayer meeting, I started speaking in tongues, which I had done before, but without fully owning the gift since I wasn’t sure whether it was “Jesus Camp” fake or not. Then Thursday morning, I was posting a blog piece to the Huffington Post and God didn’t like what I had to say so He made the power flicker at the church so I lost everything I wrote and had to rewrite it the way He wanted it. Thursday night, I wrote a 7667 word prophecy overnight over the course of about 5 hours after which I had an enormous pain in the top of my abdomen which made me think I was going to die. Then I took a bath and had some sort of awful spiritual encounter with Satan in which I made awful spiritual utterances which seemed really loud to me even though my wife in the next room couldn’t hear, and I asked God to throw somebody “into the lake of fire,” then wept and laughed uncontrollably. Friday morning I went walking at Burke Lake and the air was so bright and beautiful that I literally thought I was going to run into Jesus on the path. Then Saturday night, I preached a sermon completely extemporaneously though I had generally thought through the ground I was going to cover. I hope you’ll still be my friend even though life has gotten a little strange.

Honestly, I want for you to be able to experience what I have. It’s been pretty amazing. What I have learned is that “the powers and principalities” Paul said we are supposed to wage war against are the boundaries that define the “normal” world that keeps all of us in a state of false comfort and hopelessness. It is the delusion that things will always be as they are, there’s a certain way that life works, and you just kind of coast through and try to pretend like you’re having fun. Life is so much more beautiful than that! God is alive and active in our world. He has put mysterious people in our path for a reason. We are inside of a giant tragicomic drama in which the reason it seems like the bad guys are going to win is because God wants us to give us an opportunity to be heroes. Heroism is simply the word for listening to the breath of God and letting it carry you into battle.

Basically we have a choice as to what story we are going to inhabit about the world around us. The default story in our world is one in which impersonal forces are in charge and we have to obey them. The change in the Dow Jones Industrial Average lets us know whether we’re supposed to be happy or sad that particular day. We pick whether we’re going to be donkeys or the elephants and throw ourselves into the uber-important task of forwarding articles about the latest outrage that Obama or Romney committed because the world will end if the wrong guy gets elected. Step back from that silliness and just laugh  for a minute. We’ve got our talking points and we’re so proud of how strongly we articulate them. What a sad, sorry existence.

Well I’ve got news for all of you who are slaves to the meme wars. Jesus is coming. The election is irrelevant. And you know what? It doesn’t matter whether He comes in a month or 200 years from now. Your life will be immensely more beautiful if you live as though He’s landing tomorrow. That’s what it means to live in the kingdom of God. The true king of the universe has been in exile like Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings. Those who have joined the king are soldiers of truth. We don’t have any enemies except for the one enemy who tries to trick us into hating other people. We don’t have any weapons except for the sword of truth, the sacraments of the church, a contrite spirit, and a crucified flesh. With these weapons, we transcend the “normal” that is oppressing everyone else. We go to the same bars and the same baseball games, but without the anxiety of living under the rule of the powers and principalities. If you join the kingdom, you can be sitting in the most miserable cubicle job in the world and have a taste of heaven every day through fasting and prayer.

To me, being Pentecostal simply means that you live in a world that’s a lot cooler and stranger than the so-called “real” world that a lot of people live in. You lose the basic foundation of nervousness that so many people carry around with them. I don’t know what it was that I battled in my bathtub last Thursday night, but it was something because there was an awfulness that filled the room as I was hollering at it in strange otherworldly tongues. It’s funny because I had a pain in the same place in my abdomen tonight and my wife said, “Why don’t you just take some heartburn medicine?” I was like duh, I wonder if that was the issue the other night when I wrestled with Satan. But there was more than just heartburn going on. Because of where it was and the way it was intense enough to make me short of breath, I started thinking about Jesus on the cross and it was as though God had gifted me with the experience of bearing some of the weight of that glory. I cannot explain why it was so beautiful to feel some small measure of what He felt. Maybe you’re reading that saying, dude, why would you be happy about having a pain in your gut? I would just say that when you live outside of the powers and principalities of the “normal,” the authenticity of crucified flesh is sweeter than flesh that is comfortably sluggish.

I have no idea what will develop. I just know that God is present with so much more intensity now than was the case before. He tells me what to do and I obey it. It doesn’t feel like slavery; it feels like inspiration. I hope that you get a chance to join the world outside of “normal.” It’s pretty awesome.

16 thoughts on “How I became a Pentecostal preacher

  1. I am a Pentecostal/charismatic. And this is definitely a parody. Although, if the Morgan described above really existed, I’d rather spend time with him than with the kind of Christian who has deep joy … so deep that it never shows on their face!

  2. Morgan, I truly believe that people speak, sing and pray in tongues! It is a gift from God! And, from hearing a dying person pray ordinary prayers and then start praying in tongues, I know it was like the Holy Spirit within the person’s soul praying directly to God! At that dying point in life, one does have time to make up stuff for anyone. It is between them and God! May God continue to bless you and your family!

    • Parody? Hmm… I did describe things succinctly so it probably seemed a little flip, but those were the experiences that I had. Read through my past blog posts and you’ll know that this has never been my default way of looking at the world. I was repulsed by it until Wednesday morning. And I do think there is a blasphemous, corrupt version of it that people exploit to make lots of money.

  3. Glad to hear that God has broken through the walls of your higher education in theology and reached your very heart and soul! Amen and amen! Keep walking in the light, brother!

  4. About 12 years ago, I also experienced a charismatic outpouring. God began doing miracles all around me. I’d like to share a few tips with you about this spiritual gift The gift of tongues has been given to you for the upbuilding of the Church. All spiritual gifts (prophesy, healing, miracles, etc) are given for that same purpose. Keep that focus in your prayer. Over time, I have learned to pray in tongues using the model of the Lord’s Prayer. It is like DOUBLE impact to combine the two–tongues AND the petitions of Jesus. Pray for God’s people. Pray for “us” using Jesus’ form and the spiritual gift you have been given. It is amazing what God will do through you as you use this gift for God’s people. It took me a number of years to learn this way of organizing my prayer life; but it has been a positive development. I love sharing this strategy when I have the chance. So I pass it on to you.

    • Thank you for these words of wisdom. Is there any chance you can send them in an email to maguytonATgmailDOTcom so I won’t lose track of them?

  5. Morgan, I am happy that you have had this wonderful experience. Yes, it seems strange to most of us – but that doesn’t make it any less real for you.I would also urge you to remember that even if we never have exactly this experience in our lives, there are many, many of us who DO see the world in some of the same ways you have just described.

    Each one of is unique, designed by God, known intimately by God. And the ways in which God moves in you and speaks to you will not necessarily look like the ways in which God moves in and speaks to me.

    I have no idea what will develop in our life, either. But I would venture to guess that this experience will not continue at this level for very long. The after effects and wonder of it all will linger and inform you as you move out into the areas of ministry you feel God is calling you to explore. But don’t be disappointed or discouraged if the emotional intensity shifts and settles over the coming weeks. I think maybe it’s like the first throes of falling in love that, with time, energy and commitment morph into something different, but equally rich and profound. Hang in there, Morgan. Wait upon the Lord, as the Good Book constantly reminds us!

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