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  • Writer's pictureJenni Lien

What Does It Mean to Be a Charismatic Christian?

Jenni Lien of The Yay Project standing by the water

Growing up, when we lived in both the UK and Canada, my parents always brought our family to charismatic / Pentacostal churches. Seeing people praying in tongues, slain in the spirit, dancing in the aisles … all that was normal to me and I believed it was good. Yet I never had the desire to worship God in that way myself. Until recently.

Eight years ago, when I graduated from university, moved to Singapore and chose my own church for the first time, I chose one that was part of Tim Keller’s City to City network. The sermons were much more conservative and academic than what I was used to and I soaked it up. It’s not that I thought it was better than the Pentecostal ones, more that I was experiencing God from a different angle and felt I was deepening my understanding of him. And I loved it. I had a wonderful four years at that church, learned loads from the Pastors, had great community. I thought I’d find a similar one when I moved to Hong Kong but God had different plans.

I came to my now church after spending a month or so checking out more conservative ones but after one sermon I just KNEW it was the place for me. The Holy Spirit really met me that first Sunday and showed me that at this church I wouldn’t be able to hide, avoid, downplay areas in my life that needed him. Here I would grow. It ended up being the perfect mix (for me) of Word and Spirit. (Side note: Today I realized that my current church is involved with City to City as well!)

And as is life’s nature, the past four years have been a roller coaster but today I was hit afresh with the realization that God absolutely knows what he’s doing. That he is our perfect God, King, Father. When I was younger, I wasn’t ready to fully surrender to the Holy Spirit. To be so free and expressive in my love for him. Even after being at this church for many years, I wasn't ready. But over the past few months as my church has gone through series on spiritual warfare, the fruits of the Spirit, and now the gifts of the Spirit … I feel like I’ve built up both knowledge and experience of the Holy Spirit. In knowing his goodness more, I'm comfortable surrendering more and more.

Tonight, in keeping with God’s reminder to me last week to observe the Sabbath, I spent some time just worshipping him. During this year alone, I’ve gone from singing at my desk; to singing while walking around my apartment with my hands in the air; to lying in bed, dancing with my arms, singing my heart out and wanting to worship God as fully as I can. The last one was tonight, probably the first time I’ve desired to worship God with such abandon. (And I’m sure I looked very…interesting! Thanks, God, for loving me as I am. ;)

As I was singing Oceans by Hillsong, I meant every word including “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, Let me walk upon the waters, Wherever You would call me, Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, And my faith will be made stronger, In the presence of my Saviour.” While worshipping, I was reminded of the churches I attended growing up and gained a newfound appreciation for those worshippers. I think I used to want to be seen as authentic but still within the confines of what society says is acceptable. Now I pray I can learn to live for Christ alone. If he leads me to dance, I will dance. If he wants to slay me in the Spirit, I’ll do my best not to resist. Whatever God wants to do with me, with my life, I am open. It might seem weird, radical, crazy, unusual to some but I pray I just focus on my audience of one. I love and trust God and want to learn to obey him as much as I possibly can.

So… this is where I am right now. How about you? Would love to learn about your current walk and how / if it differs from your past! Please feel free to share. #theyayproject


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