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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Hang On vs. Let Loose

By Bob Cook
May 27, 2012

As long as I can remember, I’ve been around Pentecostal people. When I was 5 years old, my family moved to Colorado and began attending an Assemblies of God church.

My parents are Pentecostal, and I can remember early in life having them pray in tongues during our family devotions. Our church services regularly had a “message in tongues” and the “interpretation of tongues.” So I grew up with it.

But I didn’t have a desire for a Pentecostal experience until I was 13 years old, in junior high. A revival was going on down at the church, and one night I decided to go to the altar and ask God to fill me with His Spirit.

I knelt down and raised my hands — I figured that was the way you were supposed to do it. Soon a crowd of relatives and friends began to gather around me.

Some of them got close to my ear and yelled, “Let loose, Bobby!” Others would cry out, “Hold on!” Some grabbed hold of my arms and held them up for me. I was crying buckets of tears. And was it ever getting loud around me! I can still remember finding it hard to concentrate on the Lord.

Even though I had grown up around this kind of thing, I was a little scared and confused. Maybe some of you can relate to that. I was getting really self-conscious.

Oh, I sincerely sought the Lord that night. I wanted to be filled so badly! But after about an hour, everyone had left except for my family, our pastor and the evangelist.

I got up from that altar discouraged. I hadn’t been filled. My mom tried to encourage me. She said I was “close.” But I wanted to be more than just close. I wanted to be totally filled.

Six years later, I was in my sophomore year at Bethany Bible College (AG) in Scotts Valley, Calif. One Sunday night in the fall of that year, I attended church along with some of my college buddies at First Assembly of God in Santa Cruz.

I still had not experienced a Pentecostal baptism. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to — I did! I had it all figured out. I knew exactly how it would happen. I’d be in my room one night all by myself, and God would fill me then. Nice and quiet. Nothing loud. Nothing to be embarrassed about.

But God had other plans.

Toward the end of the service the pastor gave an altar call, and a guy I knew from town responded. I got excited! This kid needed God. I headed for the altar to pray with him.

As I walked to the altar that night, there was absolutely no thought in my mind of going forward to pray to be filled with the Holy Spirit. In fact, I can remember having second thoughts about going down at all because of the clothes I was wearing! I had a plaster cast on my leg because of a basketball injury, and the only pants I could wear over my cast were my blue jeans. In those days, it was not “cool” to wear jeans to church! But I went down to pray with my friend anyway.

As I prayed with him, it was evident that a genuine conversion was taking place. Tears of repentance were flowing down his face. He was asking God to forgive him for his sins and help him to live a Christian life. I was excited that my friend had accepted Christ. I began to weep and praise God out loud. At that moment, I didn’t care who was around me or who was watching. My friend had found the Lord!

Then it happened. I sensed some strange words that I began to feel I ought to start speaking. I spoke them out, and immediately more began to flow out from my mouth. I knew I was being filled with the Holy Spirit! I was speaking “in other tongues.”

That was in 1969.

In 1975, I was the youth pastor at First Assembly of God in Denver. A young man named Gary wanted to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit. He attended all the youth services, revival services and retreats.


But I still remember one morning when Gary called me and shared a beautiful testimony: Very early that morning, as he lay in bed, he sensed the presence of God in his room. So right there in his bed, in his pajamas, he began to speak in a heavenly language and was baptized in the Holy Spirit.

People can receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit under many different circumstances and in different places. For some, it takes place at church; others, at home; some, at youth camps; others, at conferences.

Some people receive while standing up; others, kneeling; others, lying on the floor or on their beds.

Some are loud and boisterous; others, very quiet.

Don’t allow people to tell you that you receive the Baptism by simply doing the same things they did when they experienced being filled with the Holy Spirit. Some will even tell you to repeat some nonsense syllables after them. God forbid!

Allow God to baptize you in His own unique way. Don’t limit Him.

Don’t be afraid. God loves you and will never try to trick you.

From Speaking in Tongues: Is That All There Is? by Bob Cook (Springfield, Mo.: Gospel Publishing House, 1982). Excerpted with permission.

BOB COOK is president of the Alliance for Assemblies of God Higher Education.

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