At 27 years old, on December 14, 1991, I experienced the fullness of being born again. Seven months prior I walked across the stage at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center to receive my Green Beret and Special Forces tab. It was the culmination of my childhood dream after discovering a National Geographic article in grammar school titled, Special Forces in Southeast Asia. In it a Green Beret was fighting for the freedom of an indigenous people. I was captivated and everything about it was romantic from the palm trees and the huts they lived in to their tribal dress and the weapons they carried. I wanted to fight for their freedom with all my heart. I didn’t know it then, but God had wired me, before the foundation of the world, to be one of His liberators and destiny was pinging all over the place. It was the motto of the Green Beret, De Oppresso Liber – to liberate the oppressed, that set me ablaze for a dream I would stop for nothing. There was one glitch in this whole endeavor; when this kid from Newport Beach, California, whose every fifth sentence was a string of “dude,” “gnarly,” and “cool” became a Green Beret, he was empty.
This abject emptiness was so deep that I looked up into the starry sky that graduation night and said, “I know you are out there God – there has to be more to life than this or it’s just not worth living – please God, please . . .”. God heard my cry and seven months later I was born again in the privacy of my room back in Newport Beach. I can still remember the stillness of the air when Holy Spirit showed up. I was cut to the very core with conviction over sin and the fear of God rocked me. It’s as though the earth opened up at a fault line and I was about to fall into the fiery abyss yet simultaneously I was convinced that Jesus had paid for my every sin. That was the day of my so great salvation when I placed my faith alone in Jesus who died for me. It was a glorious occasion and it did not stop at faith in Him. With tears streaming down my face I gave Him my life that day – to do whatever with me He so desired.
I would never be the same because I had encountered the love of God and the experience indelibly marked me forever. I was evangelizing anyone who would listen to the good news. There was no holding back what God had done for me and His message of forgiveness that was available to anyone who would simply just believe. My friends thought I had gone coo coo for Jesus. After surfing one day I can remember taking my favorite Mexican blanket out of my VW Bus and tucking in a sound asleep homeless person outside of 7-11 while whispering in his ear – “God loves you”. On Christmas morning I drove from Newport Beach to the downtown LA mission to help serve the homeless – that just wasn’t in me before I encountered the love of God. Within two years I was in graduate school preparing for a life of ministry at Dallas Theological Seminary.
I had a burning passion for Jesus but I would soon swallow a few lies that took me down a 19 year path which extinguished my heartfelt passion and left me in a prison in which doctrine mattered more than relationship. No extra charge for this, but here’s one of those truly truly statements:
Love will ebb when principle is more important than relationship. Selah
One of the lies I believed was that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a non-experiential act limited to salvation. A lie such as that is easy to swallow especially when you’ve had a salvation experience. We reason with our mind, how could there be anything more, yet deep within we cry out. Now, as my wife says, let’s get to the juicy part! Fast forward 17 years . . .
I entered a season of such brokenness that Bible doctrine was not going to deliver me. I needed my Savior to show up and meet me where I was or there was no hope. It was so bad that I gave my handgun to a missionary across the street for safekeeping because I had thoughts of ending my life. Afterwards, I can remember dropping to my knees in such despair, dry-heaving as I told God that my life belonged to Him and I had no right to take it. “Please Lord, just let me curl up and die.” was my plea and I meant it. Until then I could never get in touch with the heart wrenching laments in Scripture. It was in this valley of despair that my Savior rescued me. When Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” He really meant it (Matt. 5:3). I was so bankrupt spiritually that His kingdom invaded. Just like He did with the apostles in Acts 10:10 & 22:17, He put me in a trance to break the theological mindset that had enslaved me. This is only a slice of what Jesus revealed during those five hours in the mountains: The Sermon on the Mount is for today, all the gifts of the Spirit are for today, and there are apostles & prophets walking around as well. For something like that to impact a die-hard cessationist with a Master’s in Theology who vehemently preached against these things for today requires a trance.
I thought that I had lost my mind and wanted to go back to the other side of the valley where it was safe, and I tried, but my Shepherd was not going to let me remain trapped within the briars I was thrashing about. He had arrived to rescue and guide me to quiet streams where I would be refreshed. Through a series of events that only He could direct, I was soon in a spirit-filled church with contemporary Christian music to boot. I thought it was total mayhem but the Lord gently said, “Park it and zip it, judge not”.
Within three months I had experienced my first vision, danced with reckless abandon in worship like King David, prayed in the Spirit, was healed of a brain tumor which is MRI verified, and began to function on a prophetic team. Each of these things is a chapter in a book, but the greatest of these was that I experienced the love of my Lord and Savior in this church from people I had ridiculed and judged from a pulpit for 14 years. I was beginning to “know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge” (Eph. 3:19). I was undone and this was just the beginning of experiencing the fullness of God! His mercies are really new every morning, great is the faithfulness of Jesus! Shaba!!
Now you would think that I had experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit at this point and I was told that I had. Intuitively though, I wasn’t sure and it just didn’t line up with what I had read about the accounts of DL Moody and RA Torrey, two mighty men of God who preached that Spirit baptism was a post-salvation experience during the Third Great Awakening in the late 1800’s. In answer to the question, Do you teach that the baptism with the Holy Spirit happens at the time of conversion? Torrey replied, “No, and I also believe that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is a definite experience of which one may and ought to know whether he has received it or not” (Choy, Powerlines, 292). I was seeking with all my heart and the Lord’s promise in the Sermon on the Mount is true for today, “Seek and you will find” (Matt. 7:7)!
When Randy Clark began to speak at the Revival Alliance Conference at Hrock Church in Pasadena last week, I could not hold back the tears. The message was for me and I new it with all my heart. When he shared that he has encountered people who have spoken in tongues and not received the baptism of the Spirit, I knew that was me. If it weren’t for the ushers, I would have ran down to the front with all my might and slid in on my knees yelling, “That’s me!”. At the end of the service my wife and I purchased a book and stood in line just so I could speak with him. “Randy, I cried for the first 30 minutes of the service.” “That’s good,” he replied. “I was the senior pastor of a Bible church and a DTS Graduate that used to speak against the gifts for today, now I’m operating in them, but I have not experienced the Baptism of the Holy Spirit”. He affirmatively said, “You will!” and signed our book, Henry & Amanda, There is More for You! Randy Clark. I knew it was going to happen, yet I just didn’t know when.
It was the following day of the conference, Thursday, April 24th, 2014 after watching the film, Compelled by Love, when Heidi Baker began to pray. My tears flowed like a river then someone mentioned God’s heart over Hollywood and the power of God overcame me. My body almost took out two rows and fell to the ground. I was told that my body shook uncontrollably for about 30 minutes during which my left hand was pinned to the ground. I heard a man kneel down and say to me, “He wants your heart” to which I barely mustered, “He’s always had that and the deed to everything too”. I heard him walk away, then – my Savior showed up and knelt down beside my hand. “Will you stretch out your hand and let me pierce it Henry?” Let me tell you something – when you hear Jesus say your name it just does something to you. I could see the wooden cross bar underneath my hand and the nail coming down out of heaven into my palm as I said, “Yes Lord, I trust you, I trust you”. When I was helped off the ground I felt drunk, and an hour later, when I looked in the mirror, my eyes had a light in them that was not there previously. My wife later remarked when she looked in my eyes that it looked like I had the eye’s of Jesus.
I can encouragingly affirm and herald, “Yes, there is more than being born again and the baptism of the Spirit is a post-salvation experience just as DL Moody experienced and preached!”. More importantly, it is taught in Scripture and is sound doctrine. Now it’s time for Amanda and I to enjoy Randy’s book, There is More – The Secret to Experiencing God’s Power to Change Your Life.