SEEK THE HOLY SPIRIT AND HIS POWER
A Fresh Encounter With God
It felt like escaping from Devil’s Island. Wormwood High was just
an ugly memory. I could just earn my diploma in a night class and then go on to community college. Most importantly, I could
lower my guard a little and think about things other than dodging spitwads and
insults. For the first time in years I could breathe easy. I still didn’t feel alive spiritually, but at least I was free from that devil’s den of tortures. A friend invited me to go out with her
church youth group to sing songs at nursing homes and the TB sanatorium. I had
nothing better to do, so I went.
An elderly “master sergeant” in the “Gospel Garrison” took us out to sing twice a week. It
was rather fun singing time-worn hymns about Jesus, and chatting with the patients out in the hallway. Before we left, we’d
always offer up a prayer for their well-being. I kept myself busy, going
places and looking for answers in life. But something was missing.
I attended services at the Gospel Garrison. I tried to feel close to
God, but I felt dead inside. Up to that time, I had been reading supermarket
tabloids and playing with the Ouija board to try to satisfy the spiritual need in my life. At church, I listened to the sermons and sang the songs, but a vital sense of the Presence of God was missing. As I had done in my earlier years, I went up to the altar repeatedly to “rededicate
my life” to the Lord in a vain effort to rekindle that spark of joy I’d known at the moment of my conversion. I did not go out every day and commit earth-shaking sins, but neither did I feel that
I’d made any spiritual progress. I considered God to be a Great General in the sky struggling to defend His Kingdom against the onslaughts of an equally powerful
enemy. Believers were primarily soldiers God needed to go out and fight satan,
because He and His angels couldn’t do the job all alone.
It is true that His people are called to fight the good fight of faith, yet my concept of God was altogether negative. I pictured Him as a Giant in the sky wielding a big club, just waiting for
me to make Him mad enough to use it on me. I believe that misconception originated
from the days I’d been bullied. It’s very easy to blame God for all
the evil in the world. I had yet to learn that God is not like the unmerciful,
hard-hearted creatures who had left me with inner scars. Some knowledge He reserves strictly for Himself, at least in this
present dispensation of time. I honestly don’t know why the devil is allowed to
cause so much wrack and ruin in this world. But God has put faith in my
heart to believe that He is working out His own purposes, even as the devil has his final fling in this sin-cursed earth before
his confinement in the Great Abyss. It is imperative that each individual know the essential victory truths in contained the
Word of God, and keep himself by faith under the Shadow of the Almighty, where there is divine protection from evil.
It wasn’t long before two other girls joined our little singing group.
What struck me about them was the remarkable brilliance of their eyes. They
shone with peace and the love of God. The smiles of “Joan and Lottie”
had an intensity I’d never seen before. The
life of God radiated from their faces. Even if you don’t think you’re
much to look at, the Holy Spirit will give you a beautiful countenance, because of the beauty of Christ within you. Passing years might age you outwardly, but a youthful vitality will remain in your eyes.
The two girls knew they differed with the “master sergeant”
on the doctrine of the “second blessing”, which was rejected by the Gospel Garrison. Joan and Lottie
did not preach to us about it, they just enjoyed being with us. The Lord used the off-hand comment of a young boy to trigger
the series of events which led to my liberation from the devil’s bondage. He
came up to the car I was sitting in and said, “Don’t visit Joan and Lottie’s church. They speak in tongues.” My natural curiosity was kindled.
This I had to see for myself. The next time those two girls sang with us, I asked
them to pick me up and take me to visit their church at the next Sunday service. They
must have been praying for God to reveal His purposes for singing with the Gospel Garrison, and they were delighted that I
Sunday, June 21, 1970, was to be my date with destiny, the day I would
encounter the powerful Presence of the living God. My mind was made up even before
we reached the church. I was a real chatterbox as we all drove down the highway, so full of questions and so hungry for a fresh visitation from God. That day is forever etched into my memory, even what
I wore. I wore a light blue Western-style shirt, a brown-and-yellow plaid skirt,
a Timex watch and brown loafers. On my head hung my prize possession, and my
biggest concession to Babylon: Dark brown silky genuine human hair fastened
to my head with a black headband, cascading down my back. A passport to WASP
respectability, which cost me only $35!
Joan and Lottie were calmer personalities than I was. They smiled at
my enthusiasm for their answers to my many questions. I could hardly contain my excitement at the adventure which I sensed
was in store for me.
Once we arrived, I felt right at home in the informality of the setting, and the warm smiles of the pastor and his
family. Our tiny group sat around in a small circle of chairs in the back
room, for the sanctuary was still under construction. “Brother Letson”
was pleasantly surprised to hear how eager I was to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Usually, people are more reticent,
and it takes God more time to persuade them to take this big step in their lives. Brother
Letson said it would be best if he preached on the Baptism first, so I would gain a fuller understanding of what this Blessing
Nobody told me that I would experience any particular sensation. Before
they all laid their hands on the top of my head to pray for me, I thought, Great. I’m making a new agreement with God. I’ll just take what He has to offer, go home, and maybe my outlook on life just might improve. Maybe this will work, where “rededicating my life” countless times didn’t.
I had been told that speaking in unknown tongues was the most common sign of having received the Baptism, according
to Acts 2:4. Brother Letson encouraged
me to raise my hands and praise the Lord with any syllables which came to mind, as a step of faith. I repeated a simple prayer,
and everyone joined in, praising the Lord in the prayer languages of the Spirit. Brother
Letson said, “Relax, Pat. Just breathe Him in.”
I inhaled deeply. Then came a glorious sensation like spiritual lightning. In Acts 2:3, the early disciples experienced
a similar phenomenon when tongues of fire appeared to rest above each of their heads.
I had received the Fire of the Spirit, spoken of by John the Baptist in Matthew
3:11: I indeed baptize you with water, as a sign of your repentance, but He Who
comes after me (Jesus) is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to carry. He, (Jesus) shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with Fire. At conversion, God the Father baptizes (immerses) a repentant sinner into Christ, making him
one of His children by faith (see Romans 6:3; Galatians 3:27). Another believer, usually a minister, baptizes his body in
water as a public testimony that he has died to the old life. When he is raised
up out of the water, it is a sign that he has been raised to newness of life with Christ.
It is indeed possible to be truly born again, without ever partaking of that precious third baptism into the Holy Spirit. Here are two cases in point:
When the disciples in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the Word of God,
they sent Peter and John to them. When they arrived, they prayed for them, that
they might receive the Holy Ghost. For He had not yet descended upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the Name
of the Lord Jesus. Then the disciples laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy
Spirit (Acts 8:14-17).
Many religious folks scoff at the idea that the Spirit (and His accompanying gifts) are still being poured out on
believers today. But in Acts 2:38-39
Peter says: 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.
Have you repented and been born again? Has God called you to be one
of His own? If so, then according to the Apostle Peter himself, you qualify for
receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Peter put no expiration date on this precious
Promise of God!
While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior of the province and arrived in Ephesus. Finding certain disciples there (notice, they were ALREADY
disciples) he asked them:” Have you received the Holy Spirit since
you believed?” They replied, “We have not even heard that there
IS a Holy Spirit.” Paul asked them: “What kind of baptism did you receive, then?” They replied, “John’s baptism.”
Paul said ,“John truly baptized with the baptism of repentance, teaching the
people to believe in the One Who would come after him; that is, Jesus Christ.”
When they heard this, they were baptized in the Name of the Lord Jesus. And
when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them; and they spoke with tongues, and prophesied
Not everyone has the type of same experience I had. Many people receive
the Spirit with a quiet joy. Others claim to feel little or no emotion at their
Baptism. My infilling with the Holy Ghost swept down upon me in ardent waves of divine Glory, inundating a soul which had suffered cruelty from so many bullies.
What followed was entirely unplanned on my part, and as I reflect upon it now, it seems miraculous that such a shy person
as myself could react the way I did. No one had told me to do this. At first I uttered what sounded like baby talk. Then the words
acquired a new fluency and beauty. My voice began to take on a musical rhythm,
and I was lost in my own lovely song of praise.
At the time, I knew only English words, but the words sounded like Latin. In that golden moment, I felt like my whole
being was filled with pure light, that I was on the threshold of heaven, and my earthly surroundings seemed unreal. Everyone
rejoiced with me. At length my
singing ceased. I was surprised to hear the pastor utter these words: “My daughter, you have praised Me.”
After the service I asked Joan and Lottie about the words he’d spoken.
I learned that this was an example of prophecy, one of the manifestations of the Holy Spirit. God can use people to
proclaim His own words of love, fresh from His Throne Room (Examples of this are shared in this book). I was deeply moved
by this first brief message from my loving Heavenly Father. Just to realize that
I really was His own cherished child, and no longer felt myself a cringing slave who was scared of making Him mad. I, who had been treated like trash all through high school, was at last feeling like a worthwhile person!
The Waters of Refreshing
John 4: 7-14
What’s the difference between living as one barely saved from going to hell, and going on after conversion
to receive the Baptism into the Holy Spirit? It’s the difference between
taking that first drink of water out of the Well of Salvation (our initial conversion experience) and being wholly immersed
in the flow of the mighty River of God.
To be saved we must enter through the Door, Who is Christ (John 10:7). Some are content to linger at the entrance, satisfied that they are safely inside the
Ark of Salvation. But many desire more
than mere fire insurance. They want to more fully enter into the manifold riches
of their salvation. In my case, it was a matter of life and death. I had left Wormwood High, but I needed all the precious resources which could only be imparted by the Holy
Spirit. Because I had dabbled a bit in the occult, I also needed His deliverance
from powers of darkness which still tried to oppress me. That wonderful joy which
filled my being was not some frill I could survive without. For years on end,
unhappiness had been shoved down my throat by my enemies. The joy of the Holy
Ghost was a healing balm, His love an antidote for the poison of hate injected by vicious tongues. The wounded soul must draw
water from the Well of Salvation, for God alone is his Defender.
Behold, God is my Savior; I will trust in Him, and not be afraid. For the Lord God is my Strength and my Song; He has saved me. Therefore
you will joyfully draw water out of the Well of Salvation (Isaiah 12:2-3).
Jesus says in John 7:38: “ He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has
said, Out of his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.” There
is a drinking of the Water of the Spirit, and there is also the overflow experience of the Holy Ghost Baptism. Both are necessary for victory over the devil , and provided for through the Atonement of Christ on Calvary.
Jesus: The Water of Life
Wearily the woman trudged to the well, the hot sun beating down upon her head. It was noon. There were cooler hours
of the day to go draw water. But that was when everyone else usually made the
trek from the city of Sychar to fill their jugs. The troubled Samaritan had good
reason to avoid all the other women. The well was their favorite place to congregate
to exchange the latest village gossip. She herself was the most notorious news
topic. The mere mention of her name would always evoke either scorn or derision
from more virtuous villagers, who prided themselves on never breaking the rules of respectability.
Oh, how great it would be, she thought, to have water piped into her home, just like wealthy Romans in luxurious
villas. But Sychar was just a backwater village of a conquered province of the
Roman Empire. And she felt like a nobody, fit only to function as some man’s
pretty plaything. When her partners tired of her, they simply discarded her and
went on with their jaded lives. Men were like that. Curiously enough, scorn was never heaped upon THEM; no matter that it was impossible for a woman to carry
on a scandalous love affair without the eager cooperation of a predatory male.
“I’ll go to my grave before I meet a decent man who doesn’t think only with his loins,” she
muttered to herself. “I wish I could just hide myself away, and didn’t
have to go out for ANYTHING! Those silly old hens, always spying on me when I
go to the market place for food, or to the well for water...”
Then she saw Him. A man,
she thought. Never mind. He’s quite alone. Better to encounter a man than another
People problems teach a downtrodden person to be more observant than others. There was something about His appearance or clothing which tipped the lady off.
He’s a Jew, she realized. Well, I don’t care. This is OUR well, even if a Jew IS sitting on its edge!
Back in those days, Jews and Samaritans shunned one another. The Samaritan
people were descendants of those Israelites who remained in that region after the Assyrians invaded the Holy land hundreds
of years before, carrying away many of their brethren into captivity. This remnant had intermarried with their conquerors and produced mixed offspring. Moreover,
they had developed their own religion based on the first five Books of Moses. Samaritans
were heartily despised by full-blooded Jews for their ancestry, and for religious differences.
The two peoples had no social dealings with one another. One notable exception
was the Good Samaritan spoken of by Jesus in Luke 10:30-37.
That’s about as low as I can get, she thought. A despised outcast of a despised, outcast people. Strange. He’s a Jew, but he’s actually smiling at me.
There was something different about the smile of this Man. Oh yes, she
had received plenty of bedroom smiles from men before; that lustful leer which responds to a good figure and is spoiling for
action. But His was more like the smile of an innocent little child who had never
been initiated into the stratagems of the Games People Play.
Jesus was much more tactful and sensitive than most preachers are. Indeed,
the average preacher would have approached her by immediately zeroing in on her sin problem. Talk about scaring away the
very fish you’re trying to catch! Jesus knew this woman’s sex
life was a wicked mess, that she probably had even used sex as a substitute for genuine love denied her by others. But He was also wiser than any modern-day theologian or psychologist.
He realized that she had been shunned by respectable society, had been made to feel unneeded and unwanted, except for
her bedroom skills. Jesus’ first words to her would serve to meet a very practical need in His own life, and, more importantly, help restore this woman’s feeling
of self-worth; that realization that she had something of value to give to another. In a thirst-parched voice Jesus began
His life-changing sermon: “Please give Me a drink from your pitcher.”
She was shocked by His request. Not only had He requested a favor from
a Samaritan, but a woman! In the ancient Near East, men and women did not normally
converse with one another in public, the customs were so straitlaced. Moreover, Jews would not eat or drink from containers used by Samaritans, for they were considered ritually
unclean. The woman replied, “How is it that You, a Jew, are asking me,
a Samaritan woman, for a drink? Don’t you know that the Jews have nothing
to do with the Samaritans?”
Jesus ignored the woman’s objection. Whatever her nationality,
she was a human being, and He would die on the Cross to redeem any descendant
of Adam willing to own Him as Lord. He got right to the point: “If only you knew how great the Gift of God is, and Who it is asking you for
a drink, you would have asked Him, and He would have given you Living Water.”
Eyes wide with wonderment, she brought a minor detail to His attention: Sir,
the well is deep, and You have no bucket to lower into the well shaft. How, then,
do You propose to get this “living water” You speak of?” The
old ethnic contention resurfaced with her next question: “Are You greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this
well, and drank from it himself, along with all his children and cattle ?”
Again Jesus refused to waste time on pointless debate. He said, “Whoever
drinks water from this well shall thirst again. But he who drinks the Water which I am able to give him shall never be thirsty
again. The water that I will give him will be in his innermost being a wellspring
of eternal life.”
The woman still did not get Jesus’ point. She was delighted to think that after one drink of Jesus’ water,
she need never again make the daily
trip to the well in order to sustain the life of her mortal body. It would be
terrific, not to have to lug that heavy water jar on her shoulder in the heat, or endure the stares of gossips coming and
going on water runs. “Sir’” she pleaded, “give me this special water, so I’ll never be thirsty
again, or have to come back to this well to get water.”
Jesus introduced a prickly subject: “Go, get your husband and
bring him back here.”
Her frank admission: “I haven’t exactly got a husband.”
Divine revelation was at work in Jesus’ life, for He was God incarnate, as well as being full of the Spirit
of God. The woman was startled to hear Him say:
“You’ve spoken the truth. You’ve been married to five
different men, and the man you’re living with now isn’t really your husband.”
“Sir,” replied the woman, “I believe You must be a
For some reason the woman seemed to want to divert Jesus’ focus from her personal life by dredging up an old
dispute. She found it so much more comfortable to just talk about religion in
general. “Our Samaritan ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you
Jews say that Jerusalem is the only place where God ought to be worshipped.”
Jesus refused to play into her hands by getting into a heated religious controversy. He said, “Woman, believe
Me. The time is coming when people will neither worship God on this mountain
nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans don’t really know what you’re worshipping. We Jews know Who we worship; for salvation comes through the Jews.” Indeed, God had chosen to have His Son be born into the Jewish nation.
The Samaritan woman would have to accept Christ, even in His Jewishness, in order to be saved.
Jesus continued, “The hour is coming, and is already here, that true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father
is seeking such worshippers. God is a Spirit, and those who worship Him must
worship Him in spirit and in truth.” In saying this, Jesus showed the woman
that worship had much more to do with spiritual reality than physical location.
The woman replied, “I know the Messiah is coming, and when He comes, He will tell us everything.”
Jesus plainly told her: “I am He.”
Talk about perfect timing. His band of disciples arrived, bearing provisions
purchased in the village. They were surprised to find their Master engaged in
lively discourse with a woman. But they knew better than to take Him to task
for it; He must have His reasons. Nevertheless, His followers had been puzzled by more than one thing that day. Usually the Jews would take an alternate route to travel between Judea and Galilee, just to avoid contact
with the hated Samaritans. And in no case would a Jew engage any Samaritan, male
or female, in friendly conversation. In
fact, observant Jews of first-century Palestine never socialized with non-Jews of any type, with the exception of converts.
The disciples were baffled. Why had Jesus led them into Samaria, just so He could minister to one heathen woman?
How refreshing the Lord Jesus is! He has a habit of breaking out of all the little boxes stodgy religious folk try
to cram Him into. It’s people He cares about, not petty traditions which
keep His Light from shining as it was meant to in this dark world. He even cared
about this woman who didn’t fit into the category of being “respectable”, and worth cultivating as a friend. Reader, don’t ever give up on Jesus, even if some of the churches you’ve
been to have cold-shouldered you for failing to blend in with the wallpaper (i.e. arriving clean-shaven and formally attired,
bringing along a picture-perfect family, inserting a big check into the offering
bag, and above all, keeping your exuberance in check). Jesus violated most of
those rules too, but I put far more credence in what he says than in what imperfect
people say. Jesus won that troubled
lady over because He didn’t represent
the status quo.
The woman got so excited she left her waterpot behind at the well; it would only slow her down as she raced back
to the village to tell all her friends (exclusively male) that she’d met the long-awaited Messiah. In short order she
returned, followed by a contingent of men who wanted to meet this mysterious Man Who had shown the notorious woman that He already knew the secrets of her life. The village
men invited Jesus to stay in town a couple of days and impart the Words of Life
to them, for they believed in their hearts that He was indeed the Promised One Whom God had sent to bring salvation to the
Nothing satisfies the longings of the soul except the Presence of Jesus Christ.
Earthly friends will fail you. Indeed, you feel like you’re walking
on a tightrope most of the time, worried that you won’t succeed at the little games which make them want to stay friends
with you; just knowing that the day you fall short of your friends’ expectations and they feel they are no longer getting
their due from you, they’ll either turn on you or freeze you out. When
I was in high school, I envied the popular kids: the statuesque blond with the silken tresses and spindly legs; the geniuses
who showed off their musical or artistic talents and snagged the big brass trophies.
Nobody dared pick on the school idols.
But that’s just it. People are merely acting out roles chosen
for them by others. Even the boisterous laughter of the teenager has uneasy undertones. For the moment, he feels accepted, but people
know they are always on probation with each other, and can’t really count on the longevity of love. There is subtle blackmail in every relationship built on the flimsy foundation of human selfishness: If you quit giving me what I want, we’re
through! There is pressure in every secular high school to belong to the
right clubs, make the cheerleading squad, be a big football jock, to accomplish something
to justify your existence (although it definitely isn’t cool to get good
grades while everyone else is struggling). The leader of the Glam Girl’s Clique presiding over the VIP table in the
lunch room realizes her position is precarious. Once she fails to supply her
giggling chums with juicy gossip about whatever “friend” happens to be absent from the table that day; once the
quantity and quality (smuttiness) of that gossip diminishes, she courts the likelihood of being demoted, and talked about
The boys aren’t much better. They’re willing to befriend
any obliging beauty who confines herself to the role of boytoy. But were she to withhold her favors, they’d cease to be her “friends”. Deep down in the
heart of the teen idol is the nagging fear that someone will uncover the real person
beneath the facade.
The bottom line is this: Babylon’s devotees tend to be users.
A plain girl is used as the butt of jokes by vicious bullies, to break the monotony of the long school day. Cosmetically perfect females are sought after for cheap sex. And
kids use each other as stepping stones to climb into cooler cliques.
When the disciples saw Jesus talking to the woman at the well, all they saw was a Samaritan woman, an occupant of
the lowest rung of humanity. All the villagers saw in her was a sexual
adventuress. Jesus saw a person worth relating to, one who had the potential
to become a child of God through faith in Him. He already knew everything about
her. She didn’t have to throw up defenses.
That’s why I love Jesus so much, because of the revelation of what He is really like. I can relax in His Presence, knowing that even my faults are
covered by His atoning Blood. As a redeemed individual, you don’t have
to feel like you’re constantly sitting on eggs when you’re communing with your Lord. You are free to love Him as He really is, and He is free to love you; for being a God of faith, He sees you as already perfected in His Holy Son.