Posted by: minnow | January 11, 2011

When God Shows Up

Fifteen years ago we moved to South Bend, IN.  The little congregation we came from had just a year before started to experience what people called “manifestations of God”.  I never before saw people clucking like chickens or roaring like a lion in a prayer meeting.  When the pastor and his wife (friends of ours to this day) came to tell my husband and I a little about their experience at a conference in Anaheim they and my husband began laughing uncontrollably in my living room.  The wife told a story of being at a restaurant where some of the people from the conference were still exhibiting some of the manifestations that had been happening in the conference.  When they went to leave she could not open the door.  She sensed in her spirit the Lord ask her to go to each of the restaurant workers and explain to him or her what was happening.  Once she obeyed she was allowed to leave.

In South Bend we landed in a brand new church plant called Open Door Christian Fellowship.  As nearly as we could discern one of the pastors had been at the same conference in Anaheim as our previous pastor and his wife.  For the next eight years (most of which was in that fellowship) my walk included increased “manifestations” of the Holy Spirit such as praying in tongues, laughter, prophetic words, being slain in the spirit, symptoms of labor, and spiritual dreams and visions.  These experiences were always usually intense, often thought provoking, and sometimes stressful and confusing.  F0r the seven year we were part of Open Door the fellowship moved from a basement gathering to an actual building but never quite broke 100 members.  When we moved out of state we immediately began to attend Clark Fork City Church.  At the time it numbered between 600 and 900 participants.  They too experienced similar manifestations.

Those were exciting times even though leadership often called them messy.  I guess trying to explain why someone is rolling on the floor laughing to someone who never had that experience themselves was just a bit difficult.  At the same time, attendance generally increased and budgets were most often met so who was going to argue with what “the Spirit” was doing.  Over all, the congregates were happy “when God showed up” which is what we began calling it when the types of manifestations I described began happening on a regular basis.  Soon people made pilgrimages to places that had a reputation for being “spirit filled”, like Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship and Brownsville in Florida.  Some went in order to “get filled” and “bring it back” to their fellowships.  Others went for their own refreshing.  When people were physically healed, like Heidi Baker, a fairly well known missionary from Mozambique, even greater excitement was generated.

When the manifestations began to wane or stopped altogether however, nobody knew what to do.  In some settings leadership instructed their congregations on how to get more of the spirit.  This behavior sometimes lead to a hyper spirituality coupled with a subtle condemnation of those who were not “getting touched”.  In other settings leadership simply let the sermons become the central focus again.  This attitude sometimes lead to a decrease in attendance and a more legalistic mind set of those who remained.  A few fellowships continue to see the  manifestations I described.  But, not many make them as much a focus as they once were.

Granted, I have not conducted a study or gathered official data.  I have simply watched, participated in a few different congregations, entered into conversations, and reflected on my own experiences.  One aspect I have noted is as soon as people began asking questions–Why are these things happening?  What should we do about or with them?  Where is the focus?  Who is in control?  How do we know?–many of the manifestations diminished.  I am not saying these manifestations are “not of God”.  I believe for the most part they are.  Nor am I saying they do not have a purpose.  I think they do.  I just do not know what it is.  I am saying I think the hype of manifestations and the focus on them can lead to abuse in some situations and neglect in others. I am also saying as soon as we think we have the formula and act as if we can make “God show up” in predetermined ways, we have stepped into some dangerous territory.

I also believe one of the reasons the manifestations waned is because when we asked our questions–why, what, where, who, how–we did not like the answers. I personally do not have an answer for why.  I’ve tried to find one.  Told myself several possible whys but eventually landed in the “because God is God” camp.  What to do has evolved as I matured.  Again it comes down, for me at least, to letting whatever is happening happen and protecting those it is happening to.  The focus while initially on the manifestation ultimately needs to be taken to God.  I know this because as soon as I do it I have peace.  If what is happening is not His doing I at least have turned it over to Him to do with as He will.  And if it is Him who better knows His purpose.

As irony would have it, I was in the middle of writing this piece (and about to dis manifestations since my more recent experience is that God shows up quite frequently without them if we are willing to see Him) when a dear friend came over with her friend to see our new puppies.  We ended up, she in laborious intercession and me playing midwife, sitting in the middle of my kitchen floor.  My youngest daughter (5) for whom seeing manifestations is completely new, placed her icy hand on my friend’s arm and prayed.  My youngest son (now 18) for whom at my daughter’s age manifestations were an integral part of his life, ran interference.  You see, our home was a hub of activity at that moment.  My non-religious sister and her two adult children had also come to see puppies and a fairly new friend with his two young children had just arrived for an NFL play-off game.  They too were escorted downstairs to see puppies.

It was messy.  It was unexpected.  I am fairly certain what I have shared is not exactly what the synchroblog organizers expected to see when they thought of the topic of epiphany.  But God showed up this week-end just as He had at the food bank when I wrote about Advent, so I thought I’d share.

Here is a list of participants with links to their contribution:

Mike Victorino – What To Do?

Beth Patterson – A Robust Universe Includes The Botched and Bungled

Jeff Goins – The Manifestation Of God

Jeremy Myers – Pagan Prophecies Of Christ

Mark Smith – Manifestation Of God

Alan Knox – A Day I Saw Jesus

Ellen Haroutunian – Stories of Epiphany

Liz Dyer – God Breaking Through Moments

Kathy Escobar – orphans

Josh Morgan – The Manifestation Of God

Steve Hayes – Theophany: the manifestation of God

Sarah Bessey – In which Annie opens the door of her heart

Christine Sine – Eve of Epiphany – We Have Come, We Have Seen, Now We Must Follow

Tammy Carter – Paralysis In His Presence

Katherine Gunn – Who Is God

Peter Walker – Epiphany Outside Theophany (Outside Christianity)

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Responses

  1. […] See the original post: When God Shows Up « Minnowspeaks Weblog […]

  2. […] Minnow – When God Shows Up […]

  3. […] Of God Jeremy Myers – Pagan Prophecies Of Christ Mark Smith – Manifestation Of God Minnow – When God Shows Up Alan Knox – A Day I Saw Jesus Ellen Haroutunian – Stories of Epiphany Liz Dyer – God Breaking […]

  4. […] Minnow – When God Shows Up […]

  5. […] Minnow – When God Shows Up […]

  6. […] Minnow – When God Shows Up […]

  7. […] Minnow – When God Shows Up […]

  8. […] Minnow – When God Shows Up […]

  9. […] Minnow – When God Shows Up […]

  10. Unusual, unexplainable, out of the box, even a bit undignified. Sounds like God to me. 🙂

  11. […] Minnow – When God Shows Up […]

  12. […] at Till He Comes Pagan Prophecies of Christ Mark at Mark Time Manifestation of God Minnow Speaks When God Shows Up Alan at The Assembling of the Church A Day I Saw Jesus Ellen Haroutunian Stories of Epiphany Liz at […]

  13. […] Minnow – When God Shows Up […]

  14. hmmm…I have to admit, I have found myself mocking the Toronto tooth thing before…AND, asking why?? Good challenge for all of us to “turn it over to Him and His will” and realize He’s in control! Thanks for sharing, Minnow!

  15. Minnow – I admit that like you I have my suspicions about the authenticity of the manifestations that you describe, but then I always think that perhaps they are of God as I have experienced a few strange and mystical things myself. The problem I see when they appear to be happening in mass is that the manifestations themselves seem to become the focus (instead of the way of Jesus).

  16. BTW – we really didn’t have any expectations about the theme we chose – at the most we hoped for a diverse collection of posts – and I think we got that :>)

  17. […] Minnow – When God Shows Up […]

  18. Ellen–I certainly remember explaining God that way, and the manifestations. There was even a song we used to sing with the line “…and I will be even more undignified than this…” But it isn’t how I currently experience God, at least not most of the time.
    Tammy–My personal experience at Toronto was interesting to say the least. I went to a Bride of Christ conference (maybe the first one they had. It was just before Mike Bickle started IHOP as a 24 hour prayer place). I wandered through the book store and came across Leonard Sweet’s book, SOULSTUNAMI. For some reason I could not pick it up. I went in again the next day and still could not pick it up. Finally on the third day I could pick up the book but without so much as reading the back cover I just started crying. I eventually got the book. It’s been a while since I read it, but I think that book planted a seed for the journey I’m on now.
    Liz–I often have difficulty with the mass manifestation stuff, but I can for the most part let God worry about all that. These days I just don’t put myself in a position to have to deal with it. And, I realize there were really no pre-conceived notions on the part of the organizers. I still have those fleeting paranoid thoughts however (most times they’re pretty harmless).

  19. Thanks for this post–I came from a Pentecostal/Holiness background, so I have a distrust of some of those manifestations–but neither do I dismiss them. They are. possibly, like many other God-manifestations that I do not understand: like how a flower opens or a puppy is made.

    Like that!

    Thanks–

  20. minnow – thanks for sharing, that’s what i love about the synchroblog, really, all the different and beautiful angles and textures. one time years ago when my big kids were just babies we went to a very charismatic church when we were church shopping. we still talk about it! it was wild. that has not been a part of most of my christian experiences and like the other commenters, i feel quite skeptical of everyone searching for the “high” that is sometimes associated with it. but i also never want to lose the mystical and supernatural ways that God’s spirit moves, either. thanks for being part & i am really glad we are connected out here in blogland…

  21. […] Minnow – When God Shows Up […]


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