I've been talking about how God won't make you be out of control - He can overwhelm you, cause you to lose strength in His presence, but when people talk about being overwhelmed or 'it just hit me' sort of thing, STILL, He would have let you withdrawal from His presence if you had wished.
The first time I went to heaven wasn't the first time the Lord wanted to give me a tour. Three weeks before my 'tour' I was praying at home and had a visitation from the Lord. It was one of the 'teaching visitations' I wrote about in my first book, Pursuing the Seasons of God, and after He left my angel remained and told me he had been given permission to give me a tour of heaven.
My eyes were wide open as with nearly all these visitations, but my spiritual eyes were also opened to see in His realm at the same time. My angel said, 'Take my hand.' And I saw my left forearm of my spirit man come up out of my physical arm to almost grab his hand - but I stopped short...I became concerned about whether this 'tour' was a round trip or just one way! I had a wife and 3 young boys, the oldest handicapped, and I didn't want to leave them yet.
As overwhelming as the Lord's presence was that evening, and as much as I wanted to continue to give myself to the experience of seeing heaven, I backed out though I was resisting what seemed like an almost magnetic drawing to heaven...but I backed out asking, "Is this a round trip?" My angel said 'Round trip of course!' But as I hesitated he backed up and I was immediately out of the Spirit and alone in my living room.
Once I settled some things in my heart after talking to the Father that He really was giving me a round trip, I told Him, "Okay, if you want to again I'm ready this time, as long as it is a round trip." About 3 weeks later while praying and I saw my angel's forearm appear in the air above my left arm, and he said, 'Take my hand', and I went this time and saw many things in heaven.
Those details are at the end of Pursuing the Seasons of God and more fully in the sequel (e-book) 'Knowing the Ways of God'. My point is you are always in control and no matter how overwhelming your experience seems, the Word remains true; The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets - you are in control.
What the Argentineans said
They were a group of 8 who made an appointment to see me, and were very insistent and passionate. They had just come from the Brownsville revival and TACF (Toronto) before that, and had come to Tulsa looking for answers. Somehow they were directed to me, as the views I've shared in this series I was teaching to the Bible school where I was Director. Their leader started the conversation:
"We are confused. We went to TACF and Brownsville and saw people shaking and convulsing and doing all sorts of things, which we understand as demonic or the flesh, but they were calling it God. In Argentina during our crusades we put up 2 tents on the grounds. Then we have ushers who walk through the crowd and if they see anyone acting like what we saw in TACF or Brownsville, they bring them down to the tents and people inside cast the demons out of them, or instruct them what is happening if it isn't a demon. We thought America was much more spiritually mature than we are, yet we find such ignorance, why is this?"
What a visit that was! That conversation helped me fill in the gaps of my research trying to trace backward in time how the various revivals got to the point they thought God would cause someone to bark, crow, slither on the ground like a snake, lose control in convulsions, and even manifest the kundalini (snake spirit coiled around the spine) from yoga and Eastern religions and call it God.
Years before I had already seen a video a friend had of a woman pulling feathers out of her sleeves in a very well done sleight of hand, and by the time of my visit with the Argentineans the cell phones were coming out with cameras in them I had guessed the incidence of these stigmata would soon fade corresponding to the rise of all things being recorded, and that is what happened.
As far as I've been able to tell, in Argentina there were real miracles of gold fillings and such, which my new friends confirmed, explaining dental care is almost non-existent for many people, and these were miracles of healings and wonders God was doing on behalf of the people. How did it become entertainment in the US?
The Lord did do many miracles among the people of South America, and many of these people remained in the Roman Catholic faith that dominates South and Central America. These stigmata moved northward becoming more and more a part of the Catholic/demonic/natural religions of Mexico and Central America, and we started hearing of stigmata that included gold dust, jewels, feathers, blood and oil in the hands. From there it made its way to the US retaining that mix of the demonic rooted in Mexican and South American Catholicism but readily accepted among sign-hungry US believers.
I know it may be strange for some to think that demons could manifest alongside a sign from God, but if you've attended any church for any length of time, you know there are demons that love church and church goers - ha! People forget these things - God will do a real miracle to help someone, like a tooth filling or other healing in a service, but when gold dust or feathers are also seen, and you have people not able to tell a demonic assisted 'sign' with God - but then Jesus acknowledged even as He was casting out demons disciples of the religious leaders were also casting out demons, and the same with Paul in Ephesus. (Matthew 12:27, Acts 19:13-14)
I don't doubt some of the stigmata are real, my point is they aren't from God any more than the statue of Mary crying tears of blood in Salto Grande, Argentina or Mary in a glass case in Monterrey, Mexico crying. If not a hoax, they are the mix of the demonic with Christian religion. As Paul said in II Corinthians 11:13-14, Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light along with his deceitful workers and false apostles.
Signs, wonders, healing
The big picture is that the earth is in the process of undergoing a restoration. Romans 8:20-25 that creation was subjected to sin in the certain hope it would one day be delivered, and is now 'waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God' for the curse to be lifted. God is doing is moving in the direction of restoring the earth and man to the wholeness it once knew. That is why humanistic environmentalism is so prevalent now, because man's efforts at healing earth is what the world (and the spirit behind it) wants - the government of man rather than the government of God restoring earth.
That is why healing is what God does - He is always moving in the direction of wholeness. That is why He does miracles like water into wine or multiplying food - it moves the person or event towards wholeness. That is why He brings peace to an arguing couple, deliverance to those bound in sin - He is moving towards 100% restoration and wholeness in all things and the cross was the legal means of bringing that about.
Signs appeal to the intellect. Wonders appeal to the imagination. But it all moves towards wholeness, and when we see His highest creation, man, barking like a (lower creation) dog or crawling on the ground like a snake, it isn't God as it isn't moving that person higher and towards wholeness.
Signs and wonders find their conclusion in wholeness that is Christ-centered. False signs are self-centered. The Father seeks worshippers, not applause like an entertainer.
I was in a meeting where gold dust appeared, and many were in awe...I knew the speaker and pulled him aside afterwards. He talked of gold dust appearing on people who came forward for prayer and was still on his hands a little. I noticed his Bible hanging in his right hand rather loosely and partially hidden as we talked, so I asked what version he used, and without thinking he brought it up for me to see.
I held it up to him and noted the gold leaf edges of the brand new Bible - the silence was deafening - he finally admitted 'Maybe the gold dust on the edges got onto my hands as I preached and then on the people when I laid hands on them'. At least he didn't try to pull feathers out of his sleeve.
So...the Lord will overwhelm you, but you will always have the opportunity to go deeper, or not. Anything He does in your life is moving towards wholeness, and He does nothing just for entertainment purposes. Balance, balance, the Word and Spirit always agree, and there is nothing in the Word that says God will make you bark, crow, or crawl on your belly like a reptile! Service in the kingdom is voluntary, you can go deeper or back out as you wish. Further up and further in!
New subject next week...blessings,
www.cwowi.org and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org