Saturday, February 18, 2006

Our Years in the Faith Camp

The first leg of my charismatic journey was through the word of faith teaching. We were involved in this for about 12 years. As I mentioned in my post "The Slippery Slope to Charismania" the young people we met with at the time often listened to Kenneth Copeland tapes.

Although there wasn't a word-of-faith church in our town at the time, my newlywed husband and I were very influenced by this teaching. We received the monthly magazines and cassettes from both Hagin and Copeland, and we had the complete Kenneth Hagin library.

Because I was newly spirit-filled, this was a time of growth for me. On the positive side, I grew in my understanding of scripture. This movement is heavy on teaching, and except for the extremes, there is a lot of good teaching about our identity as believers.

I also grew in the discipline of taking my requests to the Lord. However, looking back, I see that relationally I did not feel close to God, and my prayer life was very formulaic. I won't blame this on the movement, it is simply where I was at personally.

My husband and I thought the extremes of positive confession were silly. In the group of people we knew, there were a few who were the confession police. It was a constant strain to watch how you said things when you were around them.

It was always funny when someone with watery eyes and a runny nose would vehemently deny having a cold. We quickly learned the appropriate way to dodge a negative confession was by saying, "The Lord is healing me from a cold."

On a more serious note, trying to believe enough to save my first baby while in the midst of a miscarriage was devastating.

We have friends who are still strongly word of faith in their beliefs. The turning point for us came at the beginning of the renewal movement. For my husband, the change began when reading a John Wimber book and realizing that some of the things we were taught just didn't line up with scripture.

I was ready to believe differently. With the word of faith teaching, too much depended on me. I had come to the place where the object of faith was my faith. Again, I will not place the blame for this on anyone but myself.

While I continue to be bold in making my requests to God, my trust is in Him, and I do not presume to know His answers. I don't believe His answers are dependent on my ability to pray just right. Honestly, I have to believe in a God who loves me, understands my needs and my weaknesses, and will answer me according to His good plan for me.

Pam asks an interesting question in the post updating my husband's condition:
This is a sensitive and heartfelt topic for those who suffer from chronic pain or illness or who have lost someone to disease. It is a mystery why God heals some but not others. What do you and your husband think since God is choosing not to heal him at this time?

I don't have a good answer for this. As long as he is in pain, we will continue to pray for healing. In the end, I have to accept that there are things I do not understand. God is God, and I am not.

Robby's post-charismatic project is online. He has done an amazing job of compiling and explaining charismatic history and experience. Hopefully you won't get tired of me continually linking to it. Regarding this post, he has an entire section on Word Faith that will give you a much more indepth picture of this movement.

The next leg of the charismatic journey for us was renewal.
Oh, the stories I could tell!


Jim said...

I fell into an independent Pentecostal, old-time holiness assembly 3/27/72 with just about no Bible knowledge, no previous church experience. I didn't buy everything they held as truth, but could not, can not deny the reality of the Holy Ghost via several experiences along the way. Hagin, Copeland, and the Charismatics swept through our area in the 80's. We, for the most part, remained grounded in our own dogma, the "holiness" part just starting to mellow out in the latter part of that decade. By the early 90's, with legalism being history for the most part, our ranks began to swell with those whose own experience involved a brush with charisma. When I walked away from the church last year after more than three decades of teaching, singing, kids camps, vbs, various of the reasons why was simply that I no longer recognized their dogma. Money, money, money, give, give, give, and the Lord will make you rich. To each their own; but mine had reached the point where I was happier down at the local rescue mission and once a month with the Youth Detention Center. I hold no grudge. Somewhere along the way the church and I just parted company.......

David Cho said...

Thanks grace for sharing. What is "positive confession"?

Thanks for the link to Robby's post-charismatic project. Looks interesting.

eija said...

"It was a constant strain to watch how you said things when you were around them."

Oh, I so know this! Expect that it wasn't only about saying or not-saying things. Most of the time I felt that I was even breathing the wrong way!

It took me years to shake these pressures off. But praise the Lord, He has shown me, what the true mercy is about!

Robbymac said...


As always, you have a way with words! :)

Would you consider copy-and-pasting some of these stories into the forum at the Post-Charismatic part of my website?

(1) People can really relate to what you're writing, and you do it so well, and

(2) Part of the forum being a "safe place" means that somebody has to go first -- maybe you?

Either way, I look forward to your renewal stories; this is where our journeys probably overlapped more.

grace said...

I agree with you about the reality and necessity of the Holy Spirit in our life. It's interesting that when we follow Him, he will lead us to those He would serve. Be blessed in your mission.

Sorry to use christianese. Sometimes it's hard to realize when I'm doing it.

Positive confession is being careful to only speak the things you desire. The power of a person's word to create and affect one's circumstances was one of the main teachings of word of faith.

This was especially prominent in our group after reading a book called the power of the tongue.

In principle, we should learn to be in agreement with God's word. The book however was exteme in the power that was attributed to a person's spoken words.

What ended up happening was that someone would not verbally admit to any weakness, sickness, or flaw, but instead would declare health, success, and prosperity about themselves, regardless of their circumstances.

I read your comment over at Alan's site. I didn't post there (staying out of the fray), but I thought it was an excellent comment.

It's wonderful to see you. I know exactly what you mean. I was always afraid of seeming "unspiritual" because I didn't play the game well enough. Living in His grace is so much better. I don't have to pretend to be someone I'm not.

Thank you.
I will paste this into the word faith section.

We have spent a lot of time at your project this week. In fact, I've had to fight with hubby for the computer more than usual since he's been very interested in reading there also.

I plan to participate in the forums. There is just so much material to engage with that I'm not sure where to start.

Processing our history has been interesting for me. There were so many charismatic events that shaped us along the way. Your project has been a helpful part of our sorting process, and it has helped to identify specific beliefs and teachings from which we are detoxing.

Senselight said...

Good heart...those were the first words that came to mind after reading your post. It does most of the time when I read your stuff, grace. You are such an encouragement.

I am slowly learning, at the young age I am at (23), that we have to stop blaming eveyone else for where we are in our Christian life and what we believe. We choose, and I appreciate you not blaming but learning and moving on. Thank you for sharing ... once again, your heart!

grace said...

Thank you for your kind words. It is a good lesson to learn. And I've found that few of the things we experience are either 100 percent good or bad. Thus making it necessary, but more difficult, to discern what to hang on to and what to let go of.

Debbie said...

As a Christian woman I have suffered from a rare disease all my life (achalasia), I find this post very validating for lack of a better word. I am also a ministers wife and the congregants are well aware of my illness. The good intentioned believers who insist I "put my faith into action" were not aware of how hurtful claiming someones lack of faith has not made them healed but I learned that God moves in mysterious ways. He Sustains me I am alive because it is in His will up to now. I don't know His plans and like You say "He is God and I am not." I rely on Him to see me through this and if He chooses to heal me after years of suffering, "amen!" but if His will is to leave this thorn on my side and have me realize that His grace is sufficient, then so be it.
My thoughts and prayers are with you and your husband. If my circumstance has taught me anything, it is not to judge another persons faith

Be Blessed

Debbie said...

2 more things-
1-What is the difference betweeen "Positive confession" and lying? I am not trying to be sarcastic or harsh in that question. I really don't know what the difference is?

2- I believe we can have an honest attitude in our Christian walk and not pretend AND still remain in our churches. Someone has to break the mold. I am Pentecostal and Latin! (most Latin Pentecostal churches are legalistic to the max)but my husband and I are very accepting of the congregants in our church and with God's help are trying to teach them not to judge,not to tie themselves down with dogma and legalism but to embrace and accept Gods guidance in their lives and in their fellow church members lives, especially to accept that God does not deal with all of us in the same manner. I still believe in divine healing (Automatic, laying of hands , disease gone) but I also believe that God doesn't always choose to work that way and who are we to say that a person who is not healed is because they are faithless or negative! Let me stop I don't even know if I am making sense.
This is just a sensitive subject for me because I have so often been "accused" of not being healed because of my lack of faith.
Good thing that I know that God doesn't think that way.

grace said...

I'm sorry that you've had to also deal with the reality of unanswered prayers for healing.

It sounds like I'm pretty much at the same place as you. I continue to believe in divine healing. However, I put my trust in God and His abilities, rather than in my own words or prayers.

The kind of positive confession that denies the reality of our circumstances does seem like a lie.

For me, true positive confession is agreeing with God's word. He does heal, he wants me to bring my needs to Him, he loves me and provides for me, his grace is sufficient for all my needs. These things are true.

They are the things I line up with, not only with my words, but in my heart and mind also. If I am to trust(have faith in) Him, I have to know Him and believe in His love for me.

I also believe that He can deal with my fears, doubts, and worries. I don't have to pretend to be stronger than I am. It is wonderful to know that His grace is made perfect in my weakness.

Often my greatest act of faith is simply to bring Him my weakness and to say, "Lord, I trust you."

I know that the accusations can hurt. If possible, perhaps you can deflect them by simply telling the person, "I welcome your prayers on my behalf." In that way, they have the opportunity to model their own faith rather than criticize yours.

I will remember to pray for you also. Be blessed.