Homer wrote:I certainly have no expertise, only my personal observations, but I can see no discernable improvement in the lives of charismatics over non-charismatics. Perhaps I can be shown to be wrong in this.
I agree in general but what about hidden specifics? I don't have anything to go by either except personal experience so let me focus on a discernable difference which I once found in a remnant of sisters who I believe frequented their "prayer closets." To make my point first, these sisters were different not only to me, but to many others whom I was witness to.
When I was a "baby Christian," three years into the last eleven, I was attending a Baptist church and reading about 20 chapters a day, and singing
the Psalms to the Lord
and praying fervently for my teenage son! I mean I was literally face down on the floor showing scripture to my Father and then, literally crying out to the Lord for my son (etc.) (in those days, I actually did what the Bible says to do...hmmm, what does that say about me
now?) Anyway, I honestly think I was a charismatic without even knowing what one was. So it was that at that time, I was literally moved by the Holy Spirit to a new town and into a Charismatic Church (although I did not know it was one). Honestly, I only went there because I felt the Holy Spirit move me there.
I met three sisters, well more like five+ but anyway, Sherry, Charlotte and Betty blew my mind. On the third Sunday, Betty asked for prayer for her husband's hurt back. Sherry and Charlotte lay hands on Betty's back and began to pray. Fervently! Soon a Bible was opened and Sherry was holding her open Bible in one hand with her other one on Betty's back while praying the scripture for Betty's husband. Charlette had one hand on Betty's back and one hand in the air as if to signify a serious petition to the Lord. Within 15 or 20 minutes of watching this, I began to actually get scared because I thought, "Man! These people are praying as if they think God is REALLY here! like He is really listening! as if He is REAL!"
I felt intimidated "in the presense of the Lord" so I moved over and stood (hid)
behind the sisters as they prayed on for about 15 more minutes. When I left that day, I pondered....wow! Who prays like that?
Soon I asked Charlette where the sisters go mid-week. Little did I know what I was in for. For the next two years, I was driven all over northern Oregon to many "flavors" of "charismatic circles," but I don't want to get ahead of myself.
On my first night of that mid-week fellowship they offered to pray for me. After about five or ten minutes of hearing my heart and soul, they had me sit in a chair so they could gather around and lay hands on me. I was in for a shock! They prayed for me looong and hard, as if they loved me! (go figure)
I felt afraid of this kind of love. No one had ever loved me enough to pray this long for me and with this much scriptural focus---for me? (---not before -- and not now that I am no longer among Charismatics. So I definitely see a discernable difference.) I was amazed at this kind of love. They prayed scripture; they gave prophetic words; they blessed me and others (over the years I followed them) in so many ways--in thought, word and deed. And they did so bless me for three years!
We parted ways because I moved away geographically. We don't keep in touch too often, but I see them from time to time--about once a year I guess--and when we do, although we disagree on some scriptural interpretations, we always show grace to one another. I would not hesitate to break bread, fellowship and pray with them again.
These sisters and those like them did more for my Spiritual growth than they may know. So I have used their first names to honor them while maintaining their confidentiality. They would recognize themselves if they were to read this, and so does our Lord.
Homer wrote:For those interested in an objective experience I recommend LoveINC (Love in the Name of Christ) if there is one in your area. Then you can experience cleaning up a helpless person's bathroom, driving someone to medical appointments, building a handicap access ramp, or even helping someone apply for disability benefits. But then, as I say, the gift of "helps" isn't much sought after nowadays, if it ever was.
I endorse Love, INC too. And here again, there are the remnant few from within and without charismatic circles who are actively using the gift of "helps." I guess Homer, are you noticing the difference between the attraction to the sensational popular gifts verses the resistance to the overwhelmingly necessary gifts? Personally, I would like to see a Love, INC in every town of America...and beyond. Shall we pray for that?