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It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
Charisma House (June 7, 2011)
Ron Phillips is senior pastor of Abba’s House in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Under his ministry, this church has experienced tremendous growth and has exploded into new realms of renewal and spiritual awakening. His weekly television and daily radio programs are broadcast worldwide and are available on the Internet. He is a sought-after speaker and the author of numerous books, including Our Invisible Allies and Everyone’s Guide to Demons and Spiritual Warfare.
Visit the author's website.
What does it mean to be baptized in the Spirit? What does the Bible say about it? How do I experience it for myself?
Many people have questions about how the Holy Spirit works in our lives. In An Essential Guide to Baptism in the Holy Spirit, Ron Phillips explains the experience of being baptized with the Holy Spirit and provides clear and comprehensive biblical background and support for the practice. Phillips takes you inside his personal journey to fullness.
As a Spirit-filled Southern Baptist pastor, Phillips brings a welcome balance to the topic, demonstrating how the power of the Holy Spirit can help us to preach the good news, drive out devils, heal the sick, and see God’s kingdom on the earth grow.
The Holy Spirit has not given up on the church! He is still speaking to us and is simply waiting for us to listen and obey His voice.
List Price: $9.99
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Charisma House (June 7, 2011)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
As my plane sped westward toward a speaking engagement, I felt that my life as I had known it for twenty-two years had come to an end. At age forty-two, the dew of my youth had long since dried up. I had reached what would be considered by many to be the pinnacle of evangelical life. I served a large and growing congregation of Christians. My family was intact and devoted. How could I have felt so inadequate and miserable? These thoughts tumbled over and over in my mind. I fumblingly opened my laptop and began to write out my resignation to the ministry. As the twenty-six years of my education, vocation, and calling began to evaporate before my eyes, my mind reflected on the years of my life. I remembered the deep conviction of the Holy Spirit on my life at the age of eight. The fires of revival and harvest swept through Montgomery, Alabama. Our young church met in a tent for weeks. A powerful evangelist named C. E. Autrey preached at these meetings, and the fire of God fell for two weeks. I trembled and wept with conviction at every gathering of the church.
Finally, my pastor, John Bob Riddle, spoke to me in the front seat of his car on a late summer afternoon. Although I was too shy to pray in front of my pastor, after he drove away I bowed on my knees beside a swing set in my backyard and prayed for Jesus to save me. I remember flopping down onto the grass afterward and gazing up into the stars; I felt as though I were floating right through them.
At age fourteen, I felt God tugging at my heart with a call to preach. At the time, I resisted His gentle prodding because I feared the prospect of speaking in front of others. God continued His work in my heart, however, and when I was sixteen years old, I ran down an aisle at a youth revival, yielding my life to His service. I was so overcome with emotion and tears there at the altar that the minister couldn’t understand my incoherent confession of my decision. When others told him later of my call to preach, this godly man wasted no time in giving me a preaching assignment in a service.
Thus my spiritual life had begun with an overwhelming conversion experience and a fiery call to the ministry. It was a natural step at the age of eighteen to further my training at Clarke College, a Baptist institution in Newton, Mississippi. There I gained a number of friends who loved to speak of spiritual things and the power of the Holy Spirit. During a school break, I journeyed to Camp Zion in Myrtle, Mississippi, where I first felt the longing for more of God. This was the first time I ever heard a Baptist explain outward works.
Later that year I was invited to speak at a weekend youth revival in Natchez, Mississippi. I failed miserably in my preaching effort on Friday evening, preaching every sermon I had in the course of twenty minutes! Early the next morning a pastor took me in a back room and asked me if I had ever been filled with the Holy Spirit. I confessed that I had not, and, in fact, I didn’t know what he was talking about. He laid his hands on me and prayed, and I felt a surge of power rush through me. I preached with a greater anointing the rest of the weekend. I learned that preaching only with your mind and intellect was not sufficient.
I left those early experiences behind and went on to Sam-ford University at age nineteen. While a student, I became a pastor of a small church. A year later, Paulette and I were married, and our lives were caught up in an unceasing succession of school and church activities that went on for seven years.
In 1974, I received my doctorate of ministry from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. With my degree, a wife, and the addition of two precious daughters, we moved to minister in Alabama. In the next five years I consecutively pastored two churches, seeing both ministries complete building and remodeling projects as the attendance thrived.
In 1979, I was called to pastor at Central Baptist Church in Hixson, Tennessee, where I currently serve, and the Lord continued to bless. My family soon expanded with the addition of a son. We began radio and TV ministries, broke records in church giving and attendance, and completed several new building projects.
The years of ministry brought me much success in religious life. However, I felt burned out instead of on fire for God. I knew how to play the game, draw a crowd, and stay in favor with denominational leadership. Yet personally I was miserable.
What had happened to my first love? Where had the passion to preach gone? Where was the joy of ministry?
Back on that airplane, I finished typing a one-page resignation letter just as we touched down in Albuquerque. I would complete this speaking assignment, return to my church, and quit!
Upon my arrival at the conference center, I found my room and then made my way to hear the evening speaker, Mrs. Minette Drumwright. Since my assignment to speak was not until the next morning, I sat in the back so I could make an easy exit if the session proved to be boring. After all, in my fundamentalist world, women were not to have much to say.
Was I in for a surprise!
Mrs. Drumwright began to share about the tragic and untimely death of her husband, Huber, who had been a minister and denominational executive. His sudden death had
brought her face-to-face with her own spiritual needs. She confessed that her husband had been her spiritual support, and at his death, she felt as though her spiritual foundation
had been suddenly kicked out from under her. She announced that it was a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit and a new walk with the Lord that had sustained her.
Such words were not new to me. I had read The Key to Triumphant Living by Jack Taylor.1 I had read R. A. Torrey’s testimony on the baptism of the Holy Spirit. At a previous state conference I had heard Stephen Olford’s eloquent call to the Spirit-filled life. Across the years, I had, in fact, experienced temporary touches of the power of God. Yet I refused to believe in a “second blessing.” I reasoned that the Holy Spirit stuff was for the Charismatics. I was an educated pastor who could read the Greek New Testament!
Despite those thoughts, I undeniably felt all of my prejudice melt away as I tearfully left that hall for my room. I fell exhausted across my bed and slumbered into a fitful sleep.
In the night I heard my name being called. The voice was deep and clear. Going to the door, I found no one there. I returned to my sleep, but I was certain that I had heard my name called. Before long I heard my name called again. Startled, I got up and looked down the hall and out the window. No one seemed to be there.
As I was awakened a third time, my room was filled with God’s presence. It was the voice of my dear Savior. I wept as the glory filled the room, and I cried out, “Lord, where have
He said to me, “I have been waiting for you.”
I asked, “Lord, where have You been waiting?”
He replied, “Read your scripture for today.”
It was my discipline to read five psalms a day, and since it was the nineteenth day of the month, I opened my Bible to Psalm 91 and read these assuring words:
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.”
A secret place! Why had I never seen this? How had I never realized this? The “Most High” had a secret place, an intimate place where I could meet Him and receive power. Not only did this place exist, but also my heavenly Father longed for me to enter in and commune with Him. I read on to discover that I could be anointed with fresh oil.
But my horn You have exalted like a wild ox; I have been anointed with fresh oil.
Soon His presence and anointing overcame me. Fresh oil and new wine poured into my dry and thirsty soul. It was the baptism of power. I wept, sang, laughed, shouted, shook, and lay at peace before Him. I left that place never to be the same. I had moved into a new realm of communication and power with God. A fire burned in my soul that rages until this very day. A burning passion for Jesus and a desire to do His will came upon my life.
Did I speak with tongues right away? Though I did not understand this gift, I woke up several times with a new language on my tongue. The full manifestation and understanding of that gift would come later.
A few months later, my dad died unexpectedly. Just as many in bereavement have come to realize, I knew there were things that I wished I could have said to him, and I was in grief that I did not get to say good-bye.
Then came the blow of all blows; an associate pastor was arrested. His actions generated a storm of bad publicity for the ministry. Members as well as non-members called my integrity into question. It was a dark moment.
One evening in the midst of this crisis, my heart seemed to stop, and I fainted. Rushed to the hospital, I was told that I had a “heart incident.” Later that evening someone came into the room and prayed over me for my healing. My heart was found to be undamaged, and God restored my health, but the close call took its toll on my hurting spirit.
Another associate suffered a heart attack. Thankfully he recovered and continued serving God with fresh anointing. In spite of the crisis confronting our church, I watched and rejoiced as I saw God direct Spirit-filled men and women to join our staff, each one bringing fresh enthusiasm and specific giftings that enabled the church ministry to expand.
While skeptics predicted our church would likely go to pieces, the very opposite proved to be true. The church grew at a rate of two for every one who left. Questions and discussion concerning the crisis were handled privately so that church business and worship were never hindered. The staff and deacons were trusted to take care of these problems.
Many more of our people began to move in the power of the Holy Spirit. In the midst of a staff prayer meeting in fall of 1992, God spoke clearly that He would grow the church if we would allow Him to do a “new thing.” This word was based on these verses from Isaiah:
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. . . . Behold, I will do a new thing. . . . For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring; . . . No weapon formed against you shall prosper.
—Isaiah 43:2; 44:3; 54:17
The power of God fell in that room, and we left there with the assurance that all would be well with the body.
More than two decades have passed since those days, and our church has continued to surge in revival power, though the storms have come frequently.
Revival at Last
As awakening broke out in our church, and wave after wave of blessing has flowed ever since. Membership, attendance, and finances have more than doubled, even though hundreds have left who were fearful of the move of God! The church’s ministry is worldwide via television, radio, and printed media. Thousands are walking in fullness and freedom today.
All of the distinct signs of revival have followed, bringing the church under scrutiny and criticism. People have been saved, healed, and delivered from demons. They have trembled, wept, laughed, shouted, and fallen in the Spirit. Praise and worship, including singing, clapping, hand raising, body movement, and spiritual singing, continue to mark the services.
Are these experiences valid? Is what is happening biblically accurate? Did these signs happen in church history? The following chapters will give biblical and historical evidence for the baptism of the Holy Spirit.