MY LIFE JOURNEY THROUGH THE LENS OF CHARISMATIC AND PARANORMAL EXPERIENCES

Berserk

Member
(1) I was born and raised in the first Pentecostal church in Canada. I was born with congenital glaucoma in my right eye. My distraught parents were impressed by a famous faith healer named William Branham, who held healing crusades around North America. What set him apart was his clairvoyance. Before he laid hands on people, he accurately described one of their recent past experiences in awesome detail and he did the same for my parents. Mom and Dad were poor, but they spent their savings on a trip to Elgin, Illinois to bring me to a Branham crusade there. When I (age 3) finally made it onto the stage, Branham looked at my introductory note that said, "blind in the right eye," and shouted, "This boy is blind!" He then laid hands on my eyes and waved them in front of me. When I blinked, he yelled, "This little boy has been cured of blindness!" The huge crowd went wild but my parents were sick. Of course I blinked because I could see out of my good eye. This fraud devastated and disillusioned my parents. All this attention to getting me healed made me feel like they regretted my birth and ultimately created a deep desire in me to justify being born! It also sowed the seeds of a lifelong determination to discover whether miracles and divine healing were ever real and whether the Bible was trustworthy. God used those events to shape my calling in life.

(2) By the time I was 6 I had learned to hate church. There was no children's church or Sunday school for my age and Church bored me because I couldn't relate to much of the 1 1/2 hour services, especially the sermons. So I squirmed and protested in our pew and made myself a nuisance to my parents. My parents were weekly attenders, but one Sunday they stayed home for reasons I never understood. I suspect the nightmare of dealing with my hissyfits was part of the reason! I was so glad to escape church that sunny and clear July morning! God was the furthest thing from my mind. To celebrate I zoomed up and own the sidewalk to the ends of our block on my little tricycle.

Then I noticed the big new blue Chevy with huge tailfins parked behind the Jewish shoe store salesman's building. Evidently he had just waxed and polished it and it just glistened as it reflected the brilliant sunlight. To me it was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen; so I constantly road back to it to stare in wonder. Once, when I returned, I had my first life-changing God moment. For some strange reason, my attention was directed to a patch of blue near the sun. As I gazed at it, wave after wave of liquid love surged through my being. Suddenly I became acutely aware of the presence of a God who loved me and I just basked in that love!

I told my parents about my experience, but they didn't seem very interested. That all changed a few days later when neighbors came over to tell my parents how impressed they were that I was excitedly sharing my embryonic new faith with my playmates. I knew little about God and the Bible and I have always wondered what I was saying about God and my experience to my little playmates.

This experience didn't make me want to sit through church, though. Now Dad sang in the choir and my parents now let me sit by myself. This was fortunate because it allowed me to I sneak out of church to buy lifesavers at the little grocery store across the streets from the church. As I ate them, I browsed the comic books on the store shelves. The owner eventually got annoyed by my regular presence and shooed me out his store. So I ate my lifesavers outside and began to meditate on the meaning of my li

(3) At age 11, I realized that I should be baptized to please my parents and obey the Gospel. I had to attend a few preparatory catechetical classes and I was the only child among about 11 adult male candidates. The classes appalled me because the lecturer used poorly explained jargon like justification, propitiation, and sanctification which produceded excruciation in the mind of this young boy who couldn't grasp the meaning of these big words. Quoting Colossians 2:11 , the lecturer informed us that we needed to be "circumcised in spirit." That might have been helpful if I knew what physical circumcision was and if he explained this jargon.

I would be the last of the 12 to be baptized by immersion in a large tank behind the platform before a crowd of about 1,400 people. I was petrified because I learned I was expected to share a personal testimony in front of that huge crowd and because, blush, the bottom of my baptismal robe seemed to float up, exposing my nakedness! All the men gave a formulaic personal testimony that I can recite even today. Then I nervously waded out to the pastor and he asked me, "Donny, would you like to share a word for the Lord Jesus?" I shook my head in the negative. So the pastor continued, "OK, let me ask you some faith questions." I felt publicly humiliated as the only one not to share a testimony and at that point I just wanted to get this ordeal over with to please my parents.

But after the pastor dunked me, something amazing happened as I emerged from the water. I suddenly had a vision of Jesus, smiling at me, radiating love and conveying the feeling that He found my predicament rather amusing. I sensed His empathy for my confusion over all the poorly explained catechetical jargon and my groundless fear about my nakedness being exposed by the floating bottom of my robe. And years later when I became a theology professor, I reflected that Jesus must have found it amusing that a motormouth like me would be utterly tongue-tied at my youthful baptism. My first and only vision in my life transformed an unpleasant baptismal ordeal into one of the most sacred and treasured memories of my life!
 
Last edited:

Berserk

Member
(4) THE SPIRITUAL HIGHLIGHT OF MY LIFE: MY SPIRIT BAPTISM

At age 16 I was so nagged by doubts about the reliability of Scripture and the authenticity of charismatic manifestations in church that my faith crisis prompted me to spend a week at Manhattan Beach Camp near Ninette, Manitoba with the hope that God would meet me in the Pentecostal camp meetings in the huge outdoor amphitheater there. I responded to the encouragement to seek God at the altar after the services. But my heart felt like stone when I did because I felt tempted to succumb to wishful thinking and just speak gibberish in the flesh. So on Tuesday, I went on a long 7 mile country prayer walk, pleading with God to resolve my crippling doubts and pledging my willingness to die in His service, if He would only make Himself real to me. When I returned from my walk, I was famished and went to the camp dining hall to buy dinner. But then it occurred to me that I should instead fast and put the money I would have spent on dinner into the evening offering plate. So I did and then attended the evening camp meeting.

At the end of the service, as I had done previously in vain, I walked to the altar up front and knelt in prayer. My heart again felt like stone and I was determined not to succumb to the power of suggestion and wishful thinking by stepping out in faith and speaking in tongues. Soon everyone had left and I lingered in my depressing prayer vigil in the mostly darkened amphitheater. Suddenly I felt a warm breeze, which I assumed had blown in off of the adjacent Pelican Lake. I was shocked when I realized that this breeze was in fact the wind of the Holy Spirit! The Spirit immediately overpowered my resistance and I found myself speaking in tongues at the top of my voice. I was engulfed by wave after wave of liquid love, each wave more intense than the last, until I felt like I might die! At one point, my ego seemed on the verge of collapse into the divine mind. I can only describe this outpouring of divine love as a hundred times more intense and sweeter than I have experienced before or since. This proved to be unquestionably the highlight of my life and, decades later, I continue to draw emotional nourishment from the memory of that epic day.

After several minutes, I noticed a few spectators sitting reverently nearby. I asked one lady why she was staring at me and she replied, "Don't you know? Your face is glowing in the dark!" I returned to my knees to continue feasting on God's presence. Then I was interrupted by a Lutheran minister, who tapped me on the shoulder and said he was there only as an interested spectator of other religious traditions and didn't believe in speaking in tongues. But he could sense that God was doing a special work in my spirit and he asked me to pray for him. I didn't argue wit him, but just touched him gently on the forehead and he exploded in other tongues!

When I returned to my cabin, I realized that God had spoken to me, though not in an audible voice or a message printed on the neon screen of my mind. God told me, "You desperately need answers to your vexing questions. But right now answers are not good for you because answers would lead you to live too much in your head rather than from your heart. I'm calling you to live the big questions until they lead you to the center of my heart." That calling led me to get an MDiv from Princeton and a doctorate in New Testament, Judaism, and Greco-Roman religion from Harvard.

Like many others, I believe that speaking in tongues is like a gateway drug that leads to other gifts of the Spirit. Shortly after the experience, I had my first of many experiences of "the word of knowledge (see 1 Corinthians 12:8-10)." I suddenly knew that I would obtain the highest high school GPA in the province as a gift from God to signify my academic calling. At a funeral a few years ago, my cousin reminded me that I had informed him of this divine message before it was fulfilled. Previously, my academic performance had been nothing special. So I believe that my Baptism in the Holy Spirit had "renewed my mind (as per Romans 12:1-2). Duff Roblin, the Premier of the province, awarded my a scholarship in recognition of this achievement. I believe this recognition supported my earlier attempts to witness to classmates, which had seemed to give me a reputation as a religious fanatic. To God be the glory!

Quite apart from the teaching of Paul and the Book of Acts on this matter, I'm convinced that if any of you had experienced what I did that fateful night, it would by BY FAR the spiritual highlight of your life. It is the reason why I never drifted off into agnosticism.
 

Berserk

Member
(5) My Spirit baptism experience truly renewed my mind (Romans 12:2-6). After this experience, my first exercise of “the word of knowledge” was the inner knowing that my future career would be aided by being honored for the highest GPA in my province in my senior year. A few years ago, my psychiatrist cousin reminded me that I had told him I would achieve this goal. What makes this revelation such a gift is the fact that I had previously not done particularly well in high school. When the premier of my province announced this achievement at my high school commencement, it was one of my most thrilling experiences not because of the ego gratification, but because it proved that my Spirit baptism had truly placed me in the center of God’s will.
But “the word of knowledge” is a spiritual gift that can be part of a learning curve and its application is not always easy to grasp. Consider these 2 examples:

(6) At age 19, I was a Winnipeg college student. About 5 years my senior, my friend Dallas was the leader of our church youth group of about 150. I had just been Best Man at his wedding and was now invited to the newlyweds post-Christmas dinner. After eating, we played table tennis in their basement. Dallas mentioned that he was going deer hunting in northern Manitoba the next day and I instantly felt a sense of dread. It seemed as if I saw his skeleton and was certain that he would be killed in an accident if he went on this trip. Horrified, I felt compelled to share my premonition with him. He was offended and blamed my so-called premonition on my anti-hunting views. I had no such views, though I’ve never gone hunting myself. What could I do? I had no evidence beyond my certainty. I guess I hoped God would confirm my premonition to Dallas.

A few days later, we had a New Year’s Eve service at our church. What happened when I arrived at the church was straight out of a horror movie. 3 young girls in our youth group approached me, giggling, and said. You do know that Dallas was killed yesterday in a hunting accident. He was riding a snowmobile with his gun leaning beside him and hit a bump, which caused his rifle to discharge into his shoulder. He bled to death before his hunting buddies got him to a doctor. Thr girls giggled and one said to the other, “Wow, I guess we sure ruined his day!” It was as if Hell was taunting me for my friendship with Dallas. What was so funny about their youth leader’s death? I charitably assumed that their was just a nervous laughter. I later obsessed over what this tragedy meant. Why was I given this premonition if it would be useless to prevent his death? And was his death predestined fate?

(7) In my senior year at Princeton Seminary, I was about to return home for Christmas vacation. My friend Ted had just been accepted in the D. Phil. program in New Testament at Cambridge U. and I also wanted to apply to that doctoral program. So I went to Ted’s dorm room and asked if I could borrow his Cambridge catalogue. As I did, I suddenly “saw” his skeleton and knew that his death was imminent. But what could I do? I didn’t know how he would die. So I tried to put this knowledge out of my mind and flew home for Christmas. When I returned, I learned from Ted’s friend Ken that Ted had been killed in a car accident. Ken was driving him home to Ohio, when Ken’s car slipped on an icy freeway onramp and the car crashed into a pole, killing Ted and breaking Ken’s arm. I had tried to suppress my premonition. In retrospect, I wondered if God alerted me to Dallas’s and Ted’s fate because He wanted me to intercede for their protection. These premonitions kept coming and were never wrong! Stay tuned for more accounts.
 

Berserk

Member
(8) My next experience of the "word of knowledge" was unequivocally helpful. As part of Princeton's field education, I worked as a chaplain assistant at the Newark College of Engineering. The night prior to my drive to Newark, I had a nightmare, a premonitory dream in which I knew my life would be in danger and I cried out to God for mercy. On the drive home the next day, my car died in the dark a New Jersey freeway. I was fortunate to escape the fast-moving traffic and my car was quickly totaled by another speeding car. I called my friend Peter at my dorm and he and another friend, Mike, drove up to fetch me. Both of them had experienced nightmares of impending disaster the previous night! By these 3 dream warnings, God showed me that He was in charge and was my divine protector.
 

Berserk

Member
(9) This next encounter with "the word of knowledge" is probably my 2nd most treasured spiritual highlight in my life. I had applied to Harvard's doctoral program in New Testament, Judaism, and Greco-Roman backgrounds, but my a fellow seminarian told me I'd be rejected just like he was. So where would I study next after my graduation from Princeton's MDiv program in the next few months?

As I was worrying about this, George ( a godly fellow seminarian) knocked on my door one Tuesday night to say, "Don, I've been praying for you, and the Lord has shown me that you're going to be accepted by Harvard." George was not even a friend, but he must have picked up my dream from table gossip in the seminary dining hall. In any case, his warm assurance melted my fears and was transferred to me! What a blessing he was! The next night was absolutely surreal!

Another seminarian, Ann, came to my dorm room and falsely accused me of calling her to tell her that she was too emotionally unstable to be in seminary! The guy's voice must have sounded like mine. Ann had just broken up with John, a frequent dining companion of mine, and Ann probably assumed that John gossiped to me about his reasons for breaking up with her. In fact, John never said a word about this. How does one defend himself when he is blindsided by a false accusation like this? I was actually quite fond of Ann for being a great comfort when my boyhood spiritual mentor, Nick, was killed in a car accident.

In the midst of her harangue, there was a knock on the door, and I was summoned to answer a pay phone call down the hall. It was John Strugnell of Harvard, the professor who controlled the Dead Sea Scroll translation project at that time. He congratulated me on my acceptance at Harvard with scholarship assistance. Imagine how emotionally torn I was by joyful gratitude for George's "word of knowledge" and anguish over Ann's false accusation. When I returned to my room, Ann asked me, "Who was that?" perhaps thinking that John had called to tip me off about her accusation. She looked very puzzled when I shared my joy at just having being admitted to Harvard's doctoral program. Then she asked me, "Are you all right? You're right palm is streaming blood onto your pants an the floor!" I felt no pain, but I nearly freaked out when I saw all that blood! This is the first and only time I have experience the stigmata. Ann seemed to take the combination of this bleeding and the timing of my great news as a sign of my innocence, and so, she hastily left. I'm so grateful that God orchestrated these coincidences to vindicate me, encourage me, and let me know that His guiding hand was on my life. My only regret is that I can't recall tracking George down to let him know how grateful I was for his effective prayer support.
 

Redeemed

Well-known member
And I thought I was the only one that typed out my whole life story here on the CARM forums. I went to go get a cup of coffee then read every word of Berserk sordid adventure and walk on the wild side. Welcome to the board Berserk, Glad to have you please stick around and give us time to get to know you better.
 

Redeemed

Well-known member
And I thought I was the only one that typed out my whole life story here on the CARM forums. I Going to get a cup of coffee then read every word of Berserk sordid adventure and walk on the wild side. Welcome to the board Berserk, Glad to have you please stick around and give us time to get to know you better.
 

Redeemed

Well-known member
(1) I was born and raised in the first Pentecostal church in Canada. I was born with congenital glaucoma in my right eye. My distraught parents were impressed by a famous faith healer named William Branham, who held healing crusades around North America. What set him apart was his clairvoyance. Before he laid hands on people, he accurately described one of their recent past experiences in awesome detail and he did the same for my parents. Mom and Dad were poor, but they spent their savings on a trip to Elgin, Illinois to bring me to a Branham crusade there. When I (age 3) finally made it onto the stage, Branham looked at my introductory note that said, "blind in the right eye," and shouted, "This boy is blind!" He then laid hands on my eyes and waved them in front of me. When I blinked, he yelled, "This little boy has been cured of blindness!" The huge crowd went wild but my parents were sick. Of course I blinked because I could see out of my good eye. This fraud devastated and disillusioned my parents. All this attention to getting me healed made me feel like they regretted my birth and ultimately created a deep desire in me to justify being born! It also sowed the seeds of a lifelong determination to discover whether miracles and divine healing were ever real and whether the Bible was trustworthy. God used those events to shape my calling in life.
Thank you so much for sharing that with this, I can totally relate. Our God is an awesome God's it's amazing how much he loves us.
 

Berserk

Member
(10) My next experience of "the word of knowledge" happened when I was a Theology professor at a Catholic university in New York state. I had just finished my 4-course teaching load and was exhausted. So I began to think about a much needed vacation. But that Friday night I became obsessed with the thought that someone was about to die and that death would affect my life and change my plans. I tried hard to put this depressing thought out of my mind, but the more I tried, the stronger it got! By Saturday I began to fear that someone in my immediate family would die. On Monday morning I decided to ignore this premonition by going out for breakfast to contemplate my vacation plans. But as I walked to my front door, an inner voice shouted, "Sit down! You are about to hear about the death!"

The moment I sat down, the phone rang and it was Dr. Whelan, the chair of our summer graduate theology program. She told me that visiting Professor Corcoran had failed to show up for his summer class on Pauline Theology. Thinking he had slept in, someone knocked on his campus apartment door, but there was no answer. Alarmed, they opened the door and found him in bed, having died from diabetic shock! Dr. Whelan said the grad students were waiting in the lecture hall and that I was the only one around trained to teach that course with no notice. Would I teach it? I complied because the Lord had been preparing my heart for this news all weekend and I was richly blessed by my contact with those grad students.
 

Berserk

Member
(11) As a new UMC pastor here, I soon learned that elderly residents from a nearby assisted living place missed out on lunch if our service ran late. As I walked to my church the next day, I mused about whom I should call to remedy the situation. Just then I felt an overwhelming impulse to enter an nearby bookstore. I inexplicably found myself sharing this problem with the owner. He repled, "My wife is in charge of that: I'll see that she handles the problem. So don't worry." And she did take care of the problem. This is is typical example of a divine guiding impulse that helped me quickly solve a problem that vexed me.
 

Redeemed

Well-known member
(11) As a new UMC pastor here, I soon learned that elderly residents from a nearby assisted living place missed out on lunch if our service ran late. As I walked to my church the next day, I mused about whom I should call to remedy the situation. Just then I felt an overwhelming impulse to enter an nearby bookstore. I inexplicably found myself sharing this problem with the owner. He repled, "My wife is in charge of that: I'll see that she handles the problem. So don't worry." And she did take care of the problem. This is is typical example of a divine guiding impulse that helped me quickly solve a problem that vexed me.
Yep that's how it works! The Holy Spirit at work guiding and directing us..
 

Berserk

Member
(12) When I was a Theology professor at a Catholic university, I used to play Bridge with professors from the School of Education. During one game, I received a "word of knowledge" about an absent Education Professor, Ellie. Ellie was grieving the recent loss of her husband Joe, another Education professor. I suddenly found myself announcing to the group: "Ellie has just been contacted by Joe; and she is wondering whether the vision is real. Tell her I can assure her that is!"

The other professors were stunned by my announcement. Paul, the Dean of the School of Education, was one of them. Curious, he called Ellie to report what I had declared. Ellie was shocked but grateful. She replied that she had experienced a waking apparition of Joe during which she and Joe were able to express their loving good-bye to each other and tenderly reminisce about the good times in their marriage. A skeptical Ellie was wondering if her vision could be real; so my clairvoyant reassurance was very meaningful to her.

Impressed by this confirmation, Paul later contacted me to ask what I thought of playing with a Ouija board. I warned him that demonic entities sometimes use the open surrender required for the board to work to manifest in a terrifying way. Paul grew pale because the Education department had just had a group party during which they played with a Ouija board....until they began to receive messages from Hell and from demons. So my warning proved timely.
 
Top