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Deadworm

My Journey through the Lens of Spiritual and Paranormal Experiences

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This thread will present the many pivotal moments of my lifelong spiritual journey with special focus on my spiritual and paranormal experiences.

(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.

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(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 life. 

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(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!

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(4) The major turning point in my life that I'm about to share is also by far the spiritual and emotional high point in my life. Even now, decades later, I constantly draw spiritual nourishment from the very memory of that fateful day I was "ambushed" by an experience of glossolalia at Manhattan Beach Camp in Manitoba. I was 16 at the time and felt I had lost my faith. I was determined to give it my best shot to find God real, but not to succumb to wishful thinking and emotionalism. That fateful, Tuesday, I went on a 7 mile walk towards Ninette, MB, pleading with God to make Himself real to me. That evening, I did something I'd never done before. I fasted for dinner and put my dinner money in the offering plate. After the service, I stayed at the altar and prayed to be filled with the Spirit as I had previously done in vain. After almost everyone (about 1,000) left the amphitheater, my heart still felt like stone as I tarried in prayer. Then suddenly I felt a warm breeze, but it wasn't the wind from nearby Pelican Lake; it was the Holy Spirit first warming me and then possessing me. I was forced against my will to speak in tongues at the top of my voice. More importantly, wave after wave of liquid love surged through my being with ever increasing intensity until I feared it might kill me. My ego seemed on the verge of collapse into the divine presence.

A Lutheran pastor observed me, unseen, and quietly came and knelt beside me. He told me he was not Pentecostal and had only come to the camp meeting as an interested observer. He said he could tell God was doing a special work in me and he asked me to pray for him. The moment i touched his forehead, he exploded into tongues like me. Another lady was sitting in the now darkened amphitheater and just staring at me. Self-conscious, I asked her why? She said, "Don't you know? Your face is glowing in the dark!"

When it was all over, I realized that God had said to me clearly: "Son, you long for answers to burning questions. But answers aren't good for you right now. They will make you live in your head, and I want to live in your heart. I want you to live your questions until they lead you to the center of my heart." That is the reason for my long educational pilgrimage from BA (U. of Winnipeg) to MDiv (Princeton) to doctorate in New Testament, Judaism, and Greco-Roman Backgrounds (Harvard). Interestingly, the experience made me a much better student than I had been. And like marijuana, that experience of glossolalia seems to have functioned like a gateway spiritual drug that soon led to other gripping experiences of other spiritual gifts, especially "the word of knowledge" (1 Corinthians 12:8-10).

(5) Previously, I had not been a stellar student in school and was insecure about God's plans for my future.  But shortly after the experience, I suddenly knew that I'd receive the highest GPA in Manitoba in my senior year.  Decades later, my cousin, a psychiatrist, reminded me that I had shared "this word of knowledge" with him when I recounted my tongues experience.   That experience evidently improved my mental capacity.  When Premier Duff Roblyn publicly acknowledged that achievement at my graduation,  I felt that my somewhat awkward attempts at Christian witnessing were rendered more effective and I became more confident in a calling to an academic life.  

But my next 2 experiences of "the word of knowledge" (premonitions) were as puzzling and disturbing as they were riveting.  More on that in my next planned post.

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Fascinating and wonderful.  I recently posted an interview with St. Seraphim in which the interviewer did not perceive his own glorification either.

The perception of glorification is an interesting in itself.  

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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-huntng 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?
 
The ultimate indignity for Dallas is that a massive year book with photos was created that covered my church's long history and in the list of youth leaders Dallas's name was inadvertently left out, as if he never existed.

(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 Ken's fate because He wanted me to intercede for their protection.
M
 
 

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3 hours ago, Deadworm said:
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-huntng 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?
 
The ultimate indignity for Dallas is that a massive year book with photos was created that covered my church's long history and in the list of youth leaders Dallas's name was inadvertently left out, as if he never existed.

(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 Ken's fate because He wanted me to intercede for their protection.
M
 
 

That's Rod Serling level stuff.  We've been watching Twilight Zone reruns, and you should definitely avoid looking in mirrors (The Purple Testament, S1:E19).

Joking there, but I believe spiritual charisms in Scripture are always for the benefit of the church as a whole and not the individual. 

Quote

For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit,  (1 Cor. 12:8 ESVi)

I don't think Paul is being definitional here, but it points more to the speaking of knowledge than knowledge itself.  My guess would be the purpose was not so much for you to intercede as much as to proclaim.

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Deadworm,

Interesting story. Had one similar story in my life but not with as tragic as death for an ending. Another that provided a word to another to visit  a person that i knew was not getting out of the hospital from a routine operation and numerous other words that were verified and came to pass through out my life. The word of knowledge is a very special gift and works best with the gift of wisdom. In my experience, many times one might receive a word of knowledge but not have the wisdom to know what to do with it.

Were you suppose to intercede? I believe if so you would have had an unction to do so or compelling urge to pray in spirit (tonges). Perhaps it was for both of your benefits that you received a word or premonition. One can only work within their limitations at the present moment. You did your part and the rest is not in your hands nor is there ever a need for obsessing over any possible different action on your part.

Joseph

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(8) My next reported Princeton premonition was more helpful.  It came in the form of a nightmare in which my life was threatened and I pleaded with God for mercy. The next day, I drove to the Newark College of Engineering, where I was doing field work as a chaplain assistant. As I was driving home in the dark on a freeway, my motor suddenly died and my car slowed to a stop. I was fortunate to walk off the freeway through the heavy traffic and my car was totaled by another car shortly thereafter. I called 2 friends, Mike and Peter, from my dorm and they came and picked me up. Both of them said they too had experienced a nightmare the night before. At least in this case, the premonition seems intended to alert me to my personal danger and to induce me to pray for God’s protection. The precognitive nightmares of my 2 friends may have prepared their hearts to come to my rescue.

(9) I had an eerie premonition soon after I became a theology professor in Western New York.  This premonition involved a woman who read auras. I didn’t believe in aura reading; so I dismissed her claim that I would soon overreact to a disastrous experience. At the time I was renting a nice garage apartment. I had just bought a Toyota in Colorado Springs (while visiting my brother) and had driven it back to western New York. I suddenly had a premonition of a threat to my new car. I asked my landlord if I could park it in his driveway, but he refused. The next day, I was watching late night TV, when I heard a loud crash. A drunken 19-year-old girl had crashed into my car parked on the street and totaled it. The aura reader was right: I did overreact, partly because of my anticipation that something like this was about to happen. I later asked myself if my premonition was intended to prepare me to embrace this mishap in the right spirit.

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(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.
 

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Just a footnote to spiritual experience (4), the spiritual and emotional highlight of my life.  Weeks before the experience my faith was crippled by doubt and I found myself drifting towards agnosticism.  Then someone gave me a Mormon Tabernacle Choir record.  Now as a 16 year old, my favorite music groups were The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.  So this high brow choral music was not my cup of tea.  Still, 2 hymn in particular had the effect of intensifying my longing for God to make Himself real to me.  The first song was "Come, Come, Ye Saints" which I heard as an allegory of my troubled spiritual journey:

https://www.bing.com/search?q=comr%2C+come%2C+ye+saints+mormon+tabernacle+choir&form=EDGNB1&mkt=en-us&httpsmsn=1&plvar=0&refig=921544bb3f5749dfbaafdc2316dcb661&sp=2&qs=HS&sk=HS1&sc=7-0&cvid=921544bb3f5749dfbaafdc2316dcb661&cc=US&setlang=en-US

The 2nd is Gounod's "Holy, Holy."  Looking back, I'm awed by how deeply moved I was by a passionate longing for God as this majestic number built elegantly to its climax:

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=gounod+holy%2c+holy+youtube&view=detail&mid=CA8C0D0FDDCC52765E9CCA8C0D0FDDCC52765E9C&FORM=VIRE

Edited by Deadworm

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