- Stephen D Blum Jr
I am considered a little distant by many of my Pentecostal friends. Having spent years of my life in Charismatic circles I know the doctrine and culture as an insider. This is my apology to those I’ve offended, or who fear I’ve fallen from Christ. About 1973 or so Jesus came to the Blum house. Since dad was a logger like his dad before him, my brother and I followed, and were too tough for Jesus or religion. A man’s heart may devise his way, but “the Lord directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). Thank God. Please don't become my enemy because I tell you the truth. The Holy Spirit is called "The Spirit of Truth" . No human came to our home to preach the gospel. With no discernable outside influence, our entire family was born again within a single month. Our first Christian fellowship was a local bible study, and then a one-room country church where Gene DeMay, a Village Missions pastor taught the simple message of blood and atonement and mercy. It was overwhelming! Who can tell of those wonderful first days in Christ, when every fluffy cloud that passed overhead might be carrying you safely to the arms of the One who had forgiven you?
. . remember? It was standing room only in that little country church back then, rednecks loving Jesus hugging long-hairs who loved Jesus. Everyone was getting saved. Remember “I found it”? And it was so easy. Witnessing was just being yourself. It wasn’t work. It was simply letting your heart run over! Hallelujah! See how powerful faith is? A lady lived up the road from us who told us there was going to be a “move of God”. We called Jennie the “movement”, and loved her. We were a musical family, and when Jesus transformed us he transformed our music. Overnight it seemed, the Blums were in demand everywhere at once. We soon met our first “Pentecostals”, happy folks who were looking for more of God, a higher or deeper experience than that of ordinary Christians. Though non-Charismatics were saved, we would say, they didn’t have the “fulness thereof”. Well what normal new believer doesn’t want more of Jesus? What true, thankful Christian doesn’t want to experience Jesus in a supernatural way and live in the miraculous book of Acts forever? It is telling that I had no lack until Jennie told me I did. In my life no one had to tell me to pray - I couldn’t wait! No one had to tell me to give, or to read my Bible - I couldn’t get enough. And no one had to tell me to witness - everyone was trying to get me to shut up! I was full of faith and the Spirit without knowing it, and without speaking in tongues. One day mom popped in the door of our 70 foot single-wide trailer and laid a plain white cassette tape on the counter and left. I knew what is was. They said they had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and wanted me to have it too. Suddenly I had lack. I’d had some pretty sound teaching up ‘til then about “gifts of the Spirit”, but now I pushed it aside. I knew the Bible clearly said “not all speak with tongues” but it wasn’t about doctrine. It was about my family leaving me behind. It was about the closest people I knew on the planet going in another direction without me. The tape said to trust God and “make noise”, and if it didn’t make sense it was O.K. because God was talking. I wondered who coached those in the Upper Room but kicked the thought out of my mind. I knew what was expected, and I delivered. I quickly became comfortable making the sounds and enjoyed the mystery, awe and respect it seemed to evoke among our new admirers. We had something that lesser believers lacked, and we were the ones chosen to pass it on! One morning one of our old Christian friends from our old “half-gospel" church was visiting, beaming with love for Jesus, while I sat across the table with an air of superiority glumly trying to tell him how he needed what we had. But I needed what he had. I remember going to see the Rambos in Coos Bay and shouting all the louder every time Al Cartwright, who sat behind me cringed, thinking I was stomping the devil - instead of making my brother in Christ uncomfortable. I remember a Pentecostal service where some of our old “less spiritual” friends had come to hear us. Afterward I was tearing down equipment when one of the Sheldahl girls came up to me. She was crying. Why do you always do that?” she sobbed. I was mortified. “Do what?” I asked. “Why do you always act like you have more of Jesus than we do??” I was speechless. I have never forgotten her question - after 40 years. I remember a lady pastor “dancing in the spirit", falling and bloodying her head as she fell onto a theatre chair - and me turning my eyes away and killing the thought that she wasn’t in the Spirit. I remember playing music for an International Pentecostal group. Speaking between songs I confessed how we had been ordinary Christians“until we became Pentecostal”. The crowd erupted. People stood and cheered, raising their hands. I continued, “And became the most holier-than-thou, stuck up, self righteous group of people you have ever seen”. You could have heard a pin drop. I remember the congregation at Dora Chapel being pumped up to pray for Dick Shields who had been bound to a wheelchair for years, and I remember the lady pastor nervously walking us back as we neared the day we would pray. He was not healed. I remember Mert Langley, a fellow logger, bringing his autistic son to our church after we assured him God would heal him. And I remember the look on his face when nothing happened in the prayer line. We continued on for a few years, enjoying the popularity that comes from being the only fish in a small pond, and saw many strange, chaotic things. We saw people flee meetings in terror and laughed. We saw many “slain in the spirit”, and I put in my time as a “catcher”. Always wondered why the Lord needed catchers, but , hey- My friend Jim Moore and his family followed us from church to church, attending the same out of control services that we did, but never could got “the baptism”, or be “slain in the spirit”, though he tried. One day I sat in the yarder cab reading my bible as I always did. Jim was working with me as a chaser, unhooking the logs as they came in and trimming limbs. As I read 1 Corinthians chapter 12, for the 100th time, I came to the place where Paul asks incredulously, “Do all speak with tongues?”, but this time something different happened. For several years I had deliberately been skipping over this passage and lying to myself about it. This time I could not skip - and read the words. Tears fell on my Bible. I called Jim and asked him to climb up so that I could talk to him. “Jim, I am so, so sorry. Can you ever forgive me? You don’t have to speak in tongues. It says right here that “not all speak with tongues”. Plainly. Forgive me”. And that was a new beginning for me. It is significant that our first step into Christ begins with telling the truth. The Holy Spirit is called the “spirit of truth”. Mom confessed that years earlier when she was ‘slain in the spirit” it wasn’t God - she just wanted to belong and got carried away. And once she was on the floor she didn’t know what to do so she just laid there. I’ve heard more than one person tell me this. So this is my confession. I confess that I wanted to better musically and spiritually than my fellows, to be preferred before them, and was willing to lie to get there. I confess that most of my life and motives have been about me, not Christ. But the Bible told us all of this long ago, when Jeremiah warned "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9). The Reformers knew too, and warned us. But I confess too that I belong to Jesus, even after disgracing his name, and His imputed righteousness is all I can offer at heaven’s gate. I don’t deserve to be here - and neither do you. I’m not condemning my friends for they are me, and we all are clean every whit in Christ. I’m confessing my sins, and telling you why I am reluctant to participate. I feel like I‘ve caused enough trouble. “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy cross I cling” says the hymn. And so now I am The Second Man. If I could see the Sheldahl girls and Al Cartwright I would profusely apologize. They had, and shall eternally have as much of Jesus as we all have . . everything. He has promised us all things that pertain to life and godliness. “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power” (Colossians 2:9, 10) We have no lack children, for we have Him. Jennie was mistaken, though she meant well. God has given us freely all things in Christ. It is God himself thru his Spirit who “divides severally to every man as he will” and decides who has what giftings. I have come full circle to stand once again as a beggar before Christ who has made me rich. When you take a wrong road, the quickest fix is usually to go back. I took the wrong road for years, and often still do. I've believed (because of a deceitful heart) things that were obviously not biblical. Never trust your heart! Trust the Word! So . . I repent. I have changed my mind. When things we believe don't turn out to be true we cannot abandon Christ. He is our Life. Instead we confess and return to the scripture to study where we went wrong. He has not abandoned me, even after my selfish self-deception, but has brought me, just like he will you, through to the other side. My dad used to drive me up the wall when he said "I just want to be saved!". Well, now that I'm older I understand perfectly. As Pentecostals we were not satisfied with "just being saved". And that's because we didn't understand how big of a deal it was to be saved. It is the biggest and only deal. Now, after being shown by my loving Savior the hopelessness of saving myself, I find myself saying "I just want to be saved". It is not merely enough . . it is everything. Jesus said, "But don't be glad because the evil spirits obey you; rather be glad because your names are written in heaven." (Luke 10:20 Good News Bible). In this present world it is a mad rush to the top, to be the best, the most spiritual. But there at the eschaton, when that which is unfathomable and immutable bursts onto the scene it will be a mad rush to the bottom. There will be no secrets, so I prepare with my confessions here. It is always best to take the lowest place at the table. There shall be ONE fold and ONE shepherd, and all of us, whatever our titles, Pentecostal, Charismatic, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Gentile, who have put their trust in Jesus the Sin Bearer, will be together forever - without the titles.
Romans 12:4, 5, 1Corinthians 10:17, 1Corinthians 12:12, 1Corinthians 12:13, I Corinthians 6:16, 1 Corinthians 12:14, vs. 18, 19. 20, 25, 2 Corinthians 5:10, 2 Corinthians 12:2. Ephesians 2:16, Ephesians 4:4, Colossians 3:15