First Corinthians 12:8. Part Two
While my 65+ years of ministry have witnessed astonishing blessings of the Holy Spirit I also experienced numerous disappointments and failures on my part. My biggest disappointment came in 1978, thirty years into ministry, when I involuntarily became the center of a denominational fire-storm over the issue of spiritual gifts–”tongues” (as always) being the oil-on-the-flame. 1 Corinthians 12-14. I believed First Corinthians twelve was valid; the denomination did not. As a result, my Ordination was cancelled by my beloved Church in Miami and I was exiled to the desert. Pastors who had been friends for years never spoke to me again. Friends died and I was not even notified. There is no way to describe the emotional pain my wife and I went through. Like Moses, God found us in the “waste howling wilderness,” Deuteronomy 32:10, sent me out with a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit and opened doors of ministry that otherwise would have remained closed forever. Painful as the denominational rejection was, I was actually being rescued for more significant ministry. In a few months time I saw more people impacted by the power of God than I had seen in all my preceding years of denominational preaching. In time, God connected me with R.T. Kendall and Jack Taylor for a traveling ministry that has astonished the three of us. Today, my books and articles are being translated into Chinese, Spanish, French, Japanese, and covering wide parts of Africa.
In time I settled into a new routine of pastoral ministry and “words of knowledge” began coming in unusual ways. Some were personal and for my own benefit. Others benefitted everybody. Once, I had a specific “word of knowledge” to preach from Proverbs 2:1-5, to “Seek wisdom as silver and search for her as for hidden treasure.” The message was wonderfully anointed and the people blessed. When I got home I had another “word of knowledge” that the following Sunday I was to preach from Colossians 2:2-3, in “Christ …are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” The two scriptures were perfectly joined into one truth. I wrote the instruction on a scrap of paper and taped it to my desk; the next day I drove to Tampa to hear Bill Gothard address a gathering of a thousand pastors. To my absolute shock–and joy–Bill used only two scriptures: “Seek wisdom as silver and search for her as for hidden treasure.” and the one taped to my desk: In “Christ …are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
On Wednesday I drove home and Thursday went to Miami to hear Jerry Sevelle speak to another huge gathering of pastors. Jerry’s opening text was Proverb 2:1-5: “Seek wisdom as silver and search for her as for hidden treasure.” I moved to the edge of my seat, praying, “Lord, have him complete the pattern …” Almost immediately, he turned to Colossians and read “in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” With no personal contact, the three of us in separate parts of the state had each heard precisely the same “word of knowledge.” This was what the “Spirit was saying to the churches.” Revelation 2:7,11,17,29, etc. Why do I have such high regard for these charismatic men? They hear God! The world may hold Spirit-filled believers in contempt! So what? God holds them in the palm of His hand.
I once stood at the death bed of a dear friend whom I had known and loved for years. We had a special bond, he was an attorney, I was a pastor, we had hiked the Appalachian Trail together and camped across South Florida. At the time of his death he was at home, unconscious, and under the care of Hospice. The head of his bed was elevated. I turned to his wife, shared with her the “word” I believed the Lord had given me, and with her permission whispered in his ear: “Dave, this is Charles, I know you can hear me–I love you–your family loves you–I release you–they release you–you can change your pain for Paradise–turn loose and Go!” I stepped back, he took two breaths and died. A “word of knowledge” set him free. The final sound he heard on earth was beautiful–a message of love from his family and his friend. Several years later, one night while asleep, I had a vision of him. He stood facing me–only two feet away–wearing what I can only describe as a magnificent, shining-white satin tuxedo. The detail was so sharp I could discern silk-like threads in the garment. He did not speak; I did not speak. After a few seconds he vanished. But it was tsruly he in a glorified state.
Another church-brother and I once prayed for an unconscious Jewish lady, who lay in a pre-natal position in a hospital bed, rails up, catatonic, who never moved as we anointed and prayed for her. A short time later, I was in my office when the secretary called me, saying, “someone is here to see you.” I stepped out and was greeted by an elderly lady, erect, dressed in a silk pants suit, hair nicely styled, “You don’t recognize me, do you?,” she said. Then, without waiting for my reply she continued, “I am the Jewish lady you prayed for.” The “prayer of faith” had saved the sick and the Lord had raised her up.” James 5:15. Unknown to everyone, during her illness she heard her family quarreling about her will–so, after her restoration and deliverance from a “spirit of infirmity” she went back to her attorney and had the will re-written. Hearing is the first sense that develops in the womb and the last to go at death. Unconscious people can frequently hear and we should be aware of that when we are in their presence.
Before my wife died she too was unconscious for several days. On Sunday morning I told her that our daughter and grandson were coming that afternoon. She made no response. They arrived at 5:00, prayed with her, kissed, caressed her, and 5:20 she died. I am convinced she heard me that morning and waited for their arrival. Her passing was so peaceful that only a nurse with a stethoscope could tell us she was gone.
A young lady called the church office, made an appointment to see me, and when she arrived I realized she was the granddaughter of a high-ranking Episcopal priest in our area. She was laughing, attractive, and very well-dressed. When we began to pray the Holy Spirit said, “Take authority over the spirit of suicide.” That “word” did not seem to relate to her but I obeyed. When I concluded the prayer she snatched up the long sleeve of her dress: Ugly scars showed where she had already slashed her wrists. The word of knowledge told her several things: God cared, He was present to deliver her–and His love was unconditional. When she left the office that day the spirit of suicide did not go with her. She was free. A “word of knowledge” identified the presence of a demon–and the Holy Spirit drove it out.
A “word of knowledge” came to me one time during a prayer meeting, instructing us to pray for a Jewish lady named Mildred. Though we knew absolutely nothing about this stranger, we stopped everything and prayed for her. At the end of the service an attractively dressed matron–a visitor– came forward, took the microphone, and in a very shaken voice said, “I have never spoken before a congregation in my entire life, but tonight I must. I came this evening to ask you to pray for a friend of mine in the North–but I arrived too late to make the request–However, the Lord told you for me–Her name is Mildred and she is Jewish. She is the one for whom you prayed.” The visitor went home, called her friend, told her how the Holy Spirit had miraculously spoken her name to a congregation in Florida and of the prayer that followed. Mildred was not only healed but was so impressed with the Lord’s “word of knowledge” that she went to a Baptist church in her community, was saved, and became a disciple of Jesus.
I was at a prayer meeting of local pastors one time and saw a vision of a Catholic Priest at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Seminary in Boynton Beach, Florida. I knew nothing about the priest and the Holy Spirit forbade my going to the Seminary to find him. A few months later when my congregation was hosting a community-event a priest attended and strangely bonded to me. He became urgent that I pray for him. We went to my office and when I prayed he not only experienced deliverance but was filled with the Holy Spirit. His life so radically changed that he arranged for me to speak twice to the Seminary Assembly of Professors and young priests about the baptism and gifts of the Holy Spirit. A “word of knowledge” in the form of a vision had put me there.
In 1985 God introduced me to Jack Taylor and fifteen years later to R.T. Kendall. At that time R.T. was pastor of the famed Westminster Chapel in London. He and I shared the pulpit at a huge Baptist Church near Chattanooga, Tennessee, but did not get to meet. As David Rhea, my assistant, and I were leaving the church that day I turned to him and said, “You and I are going to London.” That was not my wishful thinking, it was an authentic “word of knowledge.” A few months later R.T. and his wife Louise were sitting on my sofa in Florida making plans for my visit to London. I preached a number of times at Westminster; David was with me. According to R.T., God used those meetings to re-direct the course of that historic church. The “word of knowledge” played a key-role in that event. Since then, Jack, R.T., and I have conducted more than 70 Word, Spirit, Power Conferences, from London to Alaska, New England to the Southwest, and seen thousands of people experience the Holy Spirit’s miraculous gifts. This past year at a Word, Spirit, Power, Conference, R.T. Kendall, Jack Taylor, and I ministered to a young woman who had attempted suicide twenty-two times. The final night she came to me and with joy in her voice said, “I am healed!” And she was!
One of the most astonishing “words of knowledge” came in Rome, Italy, where I was escorting a group of Americans through the Forum area. We were below ground in the old Mamertine political prison, when an elderly lady in our party fell and fractured her hip. For the moment, I panicked, not knowing how to get help or whom to call. Rome is a city of millions. We were scheduled to fly home the next day and the lady insisted that she not be taken to the hospital. Without knowing why, I suddenly left her, raced up the steps, and began running down a crowded sidewalk to a huge, circular intersection a block away.
Running fast as I could, I pushed my way through people who were crowded together. The traffic was snarled, there were no traffic lights, and the area where I headed was jammed with cars. Many were blowing their horns. As I ran, my actions seem illogical. In my mind, I kept saying, “Charles! This is foolish! You don’t know where you are going! Stop! Go back to the woman and help!” Even so, I kept running. The moment I reached the intersection, out of breath and confused as to why I was there, I looked up, and a short distance away saw a van driven by an American Missionary I had met earlier that morning. He recognized me and waved, I signaled him to come, told him of the crisis, and in a few minutes, the injured lady was on her way to the hotel. I had made no phone call, contacted no help. Yet, here I was, a stranger in a city of millions, and the Holy Spirit directed me with absolute precision to the exact spot I needed to be. There was no way my meeting the missionary was accidental. I was guided to that special place by the Holy Spirit. In this case, without my realizing what was happening the word of knowledge urged me onward. Would I go back to life before the Spirit’s baptism? Never!!
There have been other times when the “word” came in surprising ways. I was in a telephone booth in Brighton, England, attempting to call a pastor friend in Wales but unable to operate the system correctly. Through the glass I saw a young oriental man using the adjacent phone. When he stepped out of the booth I felt impressed to stop him, “Can you help me?,” I asked, “I can’t seem to dial correctly …” He apologized, explaining that he had the same problem. We immediately got into conversation and when I asked where he was from, he answered “Bangkok, Thailand.” “I have a friend in Thailand,” I answered, “Charlie Milbrodt, an American missionary …” “I know Charlie!,” he answered, thrusting out his hand, “I am his chauffeur!” In the next instant, we grabbed each other, hugged like long-lost friends, rejoicing as if we were brothers, when we had known each other less than a minute. We were both foreigners in Britain, thousands of miles from our homes, but connected by the Holy Spirit in a miraculous meeting. Such is the wonder of the Holy Spirit’s guidance through the “word of knowledge!” Such is the love that exists in the Body of Christ! Such is the joy of a Spirit-led life!
A few years ago I was sitting in Detroit’s huge airport, having already run into another friend from South Florida, when a young woman came rushing to me. “Pastor Charles!,” she half-shouted, “I prayed that I would find you! I told God that I wanted to talk to you!” I recognized her immediately as a former Moslem, now a dynamic Spirit-filled Christian who had worshiped at Grace Fellowship in Boynton Beach when I was pastor. In an excited voice she kept talking, “I am on my way home from a mission trip in Mongolia, on the plane I was reading your book, The Edge Of Glory, and prayed that I would find you! I did not know you were in Detroit but God has answered my prayer!” She dropped onto the seat beside me and shared exciting things the Holy Spirit was doing in central Asia. On the long flight to Florida she sat in the seat directly in front of me and told how the Lord was moving in her life. The Scripture says, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord and He delights in his way.” Psalm 37:23. That promise extends to every believer, male and female, young or old.
Another amazing meetings the Holy Spirit directed took place on a ship in Dikali, Turkey. I was retracing the missionary journeys of Paul and visiting sites of the Seven Churches of Asia. We were trying to get ashore in Western Turkey to visit the ruins of Ephesus but were handicapped by a storm at sea. The tide was out and the harbor was too shallow for the ship to enter. In the emergency we were forced to use tenders to get ashore. Waves were treacherous, there was no gangplank, and passengers boarding the tenders had to step directly from one boat to the other. This was hazardous as the two vessels rose and fell independently of each other. When my turn came, I miscalculated the step and fell about three feet, landing on my knees with my elbows in another man’s lap. I was not harmed and we both laughed.
When I learned he was an American, I asked which state he was from. “Georgia,” he answered. “I live in Georgia!,” I replied in amazement. “Where in Georgia?,” I asked again. “Atlanta,” he continued. “I’m from Atlanta!,” I half-shouted. “Where do you work in Atlanta?,” I asked. “I’m a pastor …” By this time, I could hardly believe my ears. “I’m a pastor too,” I answered, “Where is your church?” He was answering, “Ponce de Leon Avenue at Oakdale Road …,” when I interrupted. “My church is on Ponce de Leon Avenue and Oakdale Road!”(There were only two churches at that intersection–mine and a Lutheran Church.) When we both recovered from the shock he said to me, “I think the Lord wants you to know that no matter where you go–anywhere in the world–He can have someone there to help you.” And he was right. The Holy Spirit is our “paraclete”–the One who travels beside us to give guidance and direction. Thank God! He not only gives “words” to guide but will even let us fall in someone else’s lap.
Another time, when I boarded a plane in Miami for South America, I discovered that friends from Delray Beach, Florida–a husband and wife–were on the same flight. They were going to Cartegena, Columbia, and I was continuing to Medellin. When we realized we would both be in Bogota at the same time, they said, “We want you to meet our friends there. How may we get in touch with you?” I explained that I did not know where I would be staying and suggested that they contact the American Embassy. I would leave the information there. We parted in Cartegena, I continued to Medellin, met a group of American biologists, flew next to Bogota with them, moved into a hotel, and told the Embassy where I was. But I never heard from the Florida couple on the plane. A short time later, the biologists told me about meeting another gentleman from the States who lived in Bogota and felt that I should meet him.
Reluctantly, I called the man, spent an interesting afternoon, learned much about the huge, over-crowded city, and amazingly–that he knew my wife’s family in Georgia. He apologized for his wife’s absence, explaining that she had driven to Medellin to bring friends back to their house. A short time later, I left Bogota and returned to the U.S. My friends soon called, disappointed that they had been unable to reach me and that I failed to meet their hosts in Bogota. When they called the family’s name, I was shocked. That was the same man I had visited! “I did meet him!,” I said, “Americans I met in Medellin gave me his name! You did not introduce us so they did that for you!” I was more shocked when I learned that the reason the man’s wife was absent that day was that she had gone to Medellin to bring my Florida friends back to their home. To this day, I have been unable to identify any “spiritual” motive the Holy Spirit had in that strange meeting. One thing I know: He showed me that He can make paths cross when human efforts fail. He even uses total strangers, in this case–a group of American biologists–to perform His will.
Would I deny the gifts offered in First Corinthians 12-14? Never! For me, preaching without the gifts of the Spirit would be like life without both arms. I can’t imagine any preacher being of value to the people without the power of God and the operation of spiritual gifts. If Christian ministry is only a theological “mind game”–bereft of the miraculous presence of God–we would do well to abandon it. But! Spiritual gifts are ours for the asking! Seek the Holy Spirit’s full provision! —
Charles Carrin http://www.charlescarrinministries.com