You've probably or most certainly have heard it. I sure have. It's certainly right up my alley. It's become one of the most common catchphrases in these parts amongst Pentecostal-Charismatics. It's often used when a "man of God" is supposedly or presumably "prophesying,' often to an individual or several individuals.
The mesmerized spectators would be feverishly urging him on with interjections of, "Deeper! Deeper! Go deeper!" And, just for dramatic effect, he can play to the gallery and also say, "Can I go deeper?" Fascinating stuff! But what's really going on here? Is it real? Is it staged? To be fair, there are many genuine manifestations of the gifts of the Spirit out there.
Sadly, some of them are cheapened by theatrics and juvenile gimmicks. This then trivializes matters that are actually of grave importance. Let me first preface my submission by saying that, first of all, what we have come to call prophecy is nothing of the sort. Most of the "go deeper" movement is not within the scope of prophecy as defined by the scriptures. Scriptures clearly distinguish between prophecy and a word of knowledge, which is actually what we are looking at in brief here.
So what is a word of knowledge? I don't and won't claim infallibility in definitions. However, we can more or less agree, those of us who have some sort of competency in the area, that a word of knowledge is a definite conviction, impression, or knowing that comes to you in a similitude (a mental picture), a dream, through a vision, or by a Scripture that is quickened to you.
It is supernatural insight or understanding of circumstances, situations, problems, or a body of facts by revelation; that is, without assistance by any human resource but solely by divine aid. It is knowledge of facts imparted by the Spirit of God. It is awareness of things you shouldn't or couldn't possibly know as a human being. It is not knowledge gleaned from research, observation, or interviews. While there might be similarities, which is where confusions arise from, the word of knowledge is different from the practice of clairvoyance or psychics. It is by the Spirit of God.
Any legitimate gift must of necessity be by the Spirit of God. Some people are very intuitive. However, the word of knowledge is not mere intuition. It is of divine origin. There are many spiritual sources that may convey transcendental information. Certainly shamans and sangomas and clairvoyants possess supernatural knowledge and insight that's not humanly possible to access. While Satan is neither omniscient nor omnipresent, he most certainly knows far more than any human being. And he can share his knowledge with certain men and women; knowledge which, when uttered or shared, just might come across as the word of knowledge from a servant of God. So, it's not enough that the word is accurate. The source must be interrogated.
"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1). In this verse, believers are commanded to "test the spirits to see whether they are from God." This same command is echoed in other parts of Scripture as well. For example, in 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21, we find Paul exhorting the Christians to not "despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good."
These two passages are just a few of the many that warn Christians to test the message that people or spirits proclaim. This is true in all situations but most importantly when a person or spirit is claiming to speak for God. Christians are to be discerning hearers and readers of all messages.
The reason for the admonition to "test the spirits" or "test all things" is that there are "many false prophets" or "wolves in sheep's clothing" that try to lead Christians astray. Sadly, there are many people who claim to speak for God who are presenting a false gospel that is powerless to save. Such errant teaching leaves people with a false hope of salvation and, in a way, inoculates them from the true message. People who are deceived into thinking everything is fine will be more resistant to the truth.
Second Corinthians 11:13-15 warns us that "such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds." So the reason for testing the spirits, for testing all religious teaching, is to see if it is truly from God or if it is a lie from Satan and his servants.
The test is to compare what is being taught with the clear teaching of the Bible. The Bible alone is the Word of God; it alone is inspired and inerrant. Therefore, the way to test the spirits is to see if what is being taught is in line with the clear teaching of Scripture. In Acts 17:10-11 the Berean Jews were commended because, after they heard the teachings of Paul and Silas, they "examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so."
The Bereans were called "noble" for doing so. Anything that exhibits scriptural inconsistencies or just a theology that is out of whack must be questioned. We must not be easily impressed or easily impressionable.
Furthermore, the gift of the word of knowledge is the transcendental revelation of the divine will and plan of God. It involves moral wisdom for right living and relationships, requires objective understanding concerning divine things in human duties, and refers to knowledge of God or of the things that belong to God, as related in the Gospel. The gifts of the word of wisdom and the word of knowledge function together; knowledge is raw material and wisdom builds on it.
Most Christians have been taught that the gift of discernment allows believers to examine natural or spiritual actions, events, doctrines, or practices to determine whether they are good or evil. Most Christians have also been taught that discernment is the God-given ability to determine whether a spirit is godly or demonic.
Although these understandings are biblically accurate, failure to address the means by which discernment occurs has left many believers to rely on an intellectual process of analysis and application of scriptural truths and principles. Within this understanding, discernment becomes skilled decision-making or the ability to weigh evidence and deduce answers. In 1 Corinthians 12: 7-10 discernment is listed not as a human ability, but a spiritual gift:
"Now to each one the manifestation of the spirit is given for the common good. To one is given…the message of wisdom…knowledge…to another faith….to another gifts of healing….miraculous powers… prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits." (NIV)
The New King James renders this phrase “discerning of spirits.” Elsewhere it is translated “discernment of spirits” (NRSV), and “distinguishing all spirits” (NASB). In the New Living Bible this text is paraphrased as “the ability to know whether it is really the Spirit of God or another spirit that is speaking.”
"We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s Word all over again. You need milk, not solid food. Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature who, because of practice, have their senses trained to discern good and evil” (NASB, author’s emphasis).
The final words, “solid food is for the mature who, because of practice, have their senses trained to discern good and evil,” shone like a floodlight. For more than a year I and the prayer teams had struggled with questions about physical sensations we had experienced. Why did one member’s hands get numb when he prayed? Why did another feel pain in her chest? They’d experienced smells like rotting garbage, high-pitched shrieking sounds, heat, cold, physical discomfort, and even laughter. They’d asked the Lord more than once, What does this mean? They were on the verge of finding some answers.
The book of Hebrews says mature believers are ready for solid food of “teaching about righteousness.” Verse 14 then describes one route to maturity, saying, “the mature, who because of practice, have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” Discernment is not child’s play. It is a mark of the mature Christian. According to 1 Corinthians 12:10, discernment is a spiritual gift. But as the writer of Hebrews clearly teaches, this gift must be developed by constant practice. Only then will discernment become a sharpened weapon of spiritual warfare. Only then will God’s people become acquainted with “teaching about righteousness” in this area of discipleship and training in godliness.
Evangelicals commonly teach discernment as an intellectual process of analysis and application of biblical principles leading to logical conclusions. The writer of Hebrews, it seems, flies directly in the face of that understanding. Discernment is described as a sensory rather than an intellectual process. How can this be? Although some translations, including the NIV, render Hebrews 5:14 as "train themselves," the Greek is most accurately translated as "train (or exercise) their senses."
The text refers specifically to the five physical senses of touch, hearing, smell, sight, and taste. The writer of Hebrews is saying discernment operates through the physical senses. Discernment is tested with the mind by rightly applying Scripture. Throughout history many of God’s people have experienced both godly and demonic presence with their senses. Even a cursory reading of Scripture reveals a consistent pattern.
God’s voice was heard by Adam and Eve in the garden (Genesis 3:8), by Abraham (Genesis 12:1), Moses (Exodus 19:19), Joshua (Joshua 1:1), and Samuel (I Samuel 3:4). After Jesus was baptized by His cousin John, how many people heard the voice of God say, “This is my son in whom I am well pleased?” This event was of such importance it was recorded in the Gospels of Matthew; Mark; and Luke. When Jesus commanded demons to identify themselves in Mark 5:9, they said, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” The text indicates "the demons said." Therefore, it is logical to assume Jesus heard.
God’s people see into the spirit world. God appeared to Moses in the physically real though symbolic form of a burning bush (Exodus 3:2). God used an angel to appear and speak to Abraham (Genesis 18:1-2). He showed himself to Joshua as an angel with a drawn sword (Joshua 5:13). Scripture also records evil manifesting in physical, “seen” forms.
In Exodus 7:12, wooden staffs were transformed into snakes both by God’s power and Pharaoh’s magicians’ occult magic. God’s power was good, and the magic of Pharaoh’s servants was evil, but the results of both were visible in the natural world. Both good and evil appear in visions. The prophet Isaiah saw the Lord in a vision rather than with his natural eyes.
He described in detail, “I saw the Lord seated on a throne…the train of His robe filled the temple. Above Him were seraphs, each with six wings. With two wings they covered their faces…” (Isaiah 6:1-2). As recorded in Revelation 13, John saw satan (or a manifestation of the enemy’s evil) in a vision. He described “the beast” in vivid detail.
The following passages record experiences of taste from biblical records. Ezekiel, and John, writer of the book of Revelation, each received a vision in which they were given a scroll to eat. Ezekiel wrote, “So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth” (Ezekiel 3:1-3). John received a scroll from an angel. He wrote, “It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour” (Revelation 10:8-10).
The Bible rarely refers to spiritual presence or realities being perceived through smell. Paul writes of the “aroma of Christ,” the “smell of death,” and the “fragrance of life” (2 Corinthians 2: 15-16). Are these poetic metaphors or is Paul referring to actual smells with which mature–and discerning-believers were and should still be familiar? In addition, Chapters 5 and 8 of Revelation describe bowls of incense.
The smell and visible smoke of incense appear to be a physical manifestation of the prayers of the saints. Both good and evil are revealed by touch in Scripture. Peter saw, heard, and felt an angel. Acts 12:7 records that an angel bathed in light appeared to Peter. The angel “struck Peter on the side” to wake him and said, “Quick. Get up.” In I Kings 19:7, the prophet Elijah fled from Queen Jezebel. Hungry and despairing, he lay in the desert and prayed for death. An angel of God prepared food and touched Elijah to wake him from his exhausted sleep.
In Mark 9:20, evil manifested physically. A young boy was possessed by what Jesus named a “deaf and mute spirit.” The moment the demon saw Jesus, it “threw the boy into a convulsion.” This passage should be carefully noted. Western reasoning would lead to the logical conclusion that this boy suffered from a biochemical/neurological imbalance resulting in epilepsy. However, Jesus operated in discernment as well as human logic. Although elsewhere He recognized physical illness, here He named and took authority over demonic spirits.
The teaching of Hebrews 5:14 coupled with confirming Scriptures established the foundation I and the prayer teams used to share, examine, and test their sensory experiences. Hebrews 5:14 became alive in our ministry. The “solid food” of discernment did produce fruit of greater maturity as the prayer teams grew in confidence, authority, and trust in the power of God’s living word.
As they began to understand and use discernment, this gift emerged as an important weapon in the battle for deliverance, healing, and spiritual freedom. The spiritual terrain is a vast, treacherous, and precarious one. One needs all his wits about him to properly discern and avoid being sucked into the abyss of deception or mass hysteria rallying behind an impressive exhibition of a spiritual gift. Can I go deeper?
Many a times I get clients casually walking into my room and requesting to be checked for “appendix”.Few questions down the line, it is clear they are unaware of where the appendix is or what to expect when one does have it (appendicitis). Jokingly (or maybe not) I would tell them they would possibly not be having appendicitis and laughing as hard as they are doing. On the other hand, I would be impressed that at least they know and acknowledge that appendicitis is a serious thing that they should be worried about.
So, what is Appendicitis?
Appendicitis is aninflammation of the appendix; a thin, finger-like pouch attached to the large intestine on the lower right side of the abdomen. Often the inflammation can be as a result of blockage either by the faecal matter, a foreign body, infection, trauma or a tumour. Appendicitis is generally acute, with symptoms coming on over the course of a day and becoming severe rapidly. Chronic appendicitis can also occur, though rarely. In chronic cases, symptoms are less severe and can last for days, weeks, or even months.
Acute appendicitis is a medical emergency that almost always ends up in the operating theatre. Though the appendix is locally referred to as “lela la sukiri”, no one knows its exact role and it definitely does not have anything to do with sugar metabolism. Appendicitis can strike at any age, but it is mostly common from the teen years to the 30s.
Signs to look out for
If you have any of the following symptoms, go and see a Doctor immediately! Timely diagnosis and treatment are vital in acute appendicitis;
Sudden pain that starts around the navel and shifts to the lower right abdomen within hours
The pain becomes constant and increases in severity (or comes back despite painkillers)
The pain worsens on coughing, sneezing, laughing, walking or deep breaths
Loss of appetite
Nausea and vomiting
Constipation or diarrhoea
The doctor often asks questions regarding the symptoms and the patient’s medical history. This will be followed up by a physical examination in which the Doctor presses on the abdomen to check for any tenderness, and the location of the pain. With acute appendicitis, pressing on and letting go of the right lower abdomen usually elicits an excruciatingly unbearable pain. Several tests may be ordered to determine especially the severity of the illness and to rule out other causes of abdominal pain. The tests may conditions include: blood tests, a pregnancy test, urinalysis, abdominal“How do ultrasound scans work?” ultrasound (scan), CT scan or MRI Scan.
The gold standard treatment of acute appendicitis is surgical removal of the appendix known as appendectomy. Luckily,a person can live just fine without an appendix! Surgical options include laparoscopy or open surgery and the type will be decided on by the Surgeon after assessing the patient’s condition. Painkillers and antibiotics are also given intravenously usually before, during and after the surgery.
Appendicitis can cause serious complications such as;
Appendicular mass/abscess– If the appendix is inflamed or bursts, one may develop a pocket of pus around it known as an abscess. In most cases, the abscess will be treated with antibiotics and drained first by placing a tube through one’s abdominal wall into the abscess. The tube may be left in place for a few hours or days while the infection is clearing up but ultimately one would still have surgery to remove the appendix.
Peritonitis – without treatment, the appendix can rupture/burst. The risk of this rises48–72 hours after symptoms start. A ruptured appendix spreads the infection throughout the abdomen (peritonitis). This is life threatening and requires immediate surgery to remove the appendix and clean the abdominal cavity.
Death – The complications of appendicitis (and appendectomy) can be life threatening, only if the diagnosis has been missed and no proper treatment has been given on time. This is rare though with the evolved medical care.
If you need further advice or treatment please call 4924730, email HYPERLINK “mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org” email@example.com or visit www.themedisccentre.co.bw
Antoinette Boima, MBBS, BMedSci, PgDip HIV/AIDS, Cert Aesth Med is the Managing Director of The Medics Centre in Palapye.
Here’s a news item from last month you may have missed. In December 2021 the University of Staffordshire announced it would be offered a degree course in pantomime! Yes, that’s right, a degree in popular festive entertainment, the Christmas panto.
We used to have one here, put on by the Capitol Players, though it seems to have fallen away in recent times, but the spectacle is still alive and well in the UK, both in local ad-dram (amateur dramatic ) societies and on the London stage and most of the major cities, these latter productions usually featuring at least one big-draw name from the world of show business with ticket prices commensurate with the star’s salary.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the pantomime format, it consists of a raucous mixture of songs and comedy all based around a well-known fairy or folk tale. Aladdin and His Magic Lamp, Cinderella, Jack & The Beanstalk & Dick Whittington are perennial favourites but any well-known tall tale goes. There is no set script, unlike a play, and storyline is just a peg to hang a coat of contemporary, often bawdy, gags on, in what should be a rollicking production of cross dressing – there has to be at least one pantomime dame, played by a man and always a figure of fun, and a Principal Boy, ostensibly the male lead, yet played by an attractive young woman.
As an art form it can trace its roots back to 16th century Italy and the Commedia Del’Arte which used a mélange of music, dance, acrobatics along with a cast of comic stock characters so it has a long and proud theatrical tradition but you have to wonder, does that really qualify it as a suitable subject for a university? Further, what use might any degree be that can be acquired in a single year? And last but not least, how much standing does any degree have which comes from a jumped-up polytechnic, granted university status along with many of its ilk back in 1992, for reasons best known to the government of the time? Even more worrying are the stated aims of the course.
Staffordshire University claims it is a world first and the masters course is aimed at people working inside as well as outside the industry. Students on the course, due to start in September 2022, will get practical training in the art form as well as research the discipline.
“We want to see how far we can take this,” Associate Professor of Acting and Directing Robert Marsden said. The role of pantomime in the 21st Century was also going to be examined, he said, “particularly post Me Too and Black Lives Matter”. Questions including “how do we address the gender issues, how do we tell the story of Aladdin in 2021, how do we get that balance of male/female roles?” will be asked, Prof Marsden added.
Eek! Sounds like Prof. Marsden wants to rob it of both its history and its comedic aspects – well, good luck with that! Of course that isn’t the only bizarre, obscure and frankly time and money-wasting degree course available. Staying with the performing arts there’s Contemporary Circus and Physical Performance at Bath Spa University. Sounds like fun but why on earth would a circus performer need a university degree?
Or how about a Surf Science and Technology degree at Cornwall College (part of the University of Plymouth). Where the one thing you don’t learn is….how to surf!
Then there is a degree in Floral Design at University Centre Myerscough. No, I hadn’t heard of it either – turns out it’s a college of further education in Preston, a town that in my experience fits the old joke of ‘I went there once…..It was closed’ to a ‘T’!
Another handy (pun intended) art is that of Hand Embroidery BA (Hons), offered at the University for the Creative Arts. Or you could waste away sorry, while away, your time on a course in Animal Behaviour and Psychology. This degree at the University of Chester teaches you about the way animals think and feel. Cockroaches have personalities according to the subject specs– you couldn’t make it up.
Happily all these educational institutes may have to look to their laurels and try to justify their very existence in the near future. In plans announced this week, universities could face fines of up to £500,000 (P750m), be stripped of their right to take student loans or effectively shut down if they cannot get 60 per cent of students into a professional job under a crackdown on ‘Mickey Mouse’ courses. Further, at least 80 per cent of students should not drop out after the first year, and 75 per cent should graduate.
The rules, published by the Office for Students (OfS), aim to eliminate ‘low-quality’ courses by setting new standards & requiring courses to improve their rating in the TEF, the official universities ratings system. Universities not meeting the new standards will not be able to charge full annual fees of £9,250. Unconventional courses that could fall victim to the new rules could include the University of Sunderland’s BA in Fashion Journalism, where students learn essential’ skills such as catwalk reporting and the history of Chanel. They have only a 40 per cent chance of entering highly skilled work 15 months after leaving.
At University College Birmingham, BSC Bakery and Patisserie Technology students – who learn how to ‘make artisan bread’ – have a 15 per cent chance of a professional job within 15 months. Universities minister Michelle Donelan welcomed the move, saying ‘When students go to university, they do so in the pursuit of a life-changing education, one which helps pave their path towards a highly skilled career. Any university that fails to match this ambition must be held to account.’
OfS found that at 25 universities, fewer than half of students find professional work within 15 months. Business and management courses at the University of Bedfordshire (14.8 per cent) were among the least likely to lead to graduate-level jobs. Asked to comment, the University of Sunderland said it always looked ‘to find ways to improve outcomes’; University College Birmingham said data on graduates and definition of ‘professional work’ was limited. I’ll bet it is! As the saying goes, ’what the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t grieve over’. What a pantomime!
With the world still reeling from the negative impact of the Coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19), and the latest Omicron variant (which is responsible for the ongoing global forth wave) on everyone’s lips, we should not forget and neglect other aspects of our health.
While anyone can get infected with corona virus and become seriously ill or die at any age, studies continue to show that people aged 60 years and above, and those with underlying medical conditions like hypertension, heart and lung problems, diabetes, obesity, cancers, or mental illness are at a higher risk of developing serious illness or dying from covid-19.
It is a good habit to visit a doctor regularly, even if you feel healthy. Regular health checks can help identify any early signs of health issues or assess your risk of future illness hence prompting one to take charge and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Heart disease, diabetes, some cancers and other non-communicable diseases (even communicable) can often be picked up in their early stages, when chances for effective treatment are high.
During a health check, your doctor will take a thorough history from you regarding your medical history, your family’s history of disease, your social life and habits, including your diet, physical activity, alcohol use, smoking and drug intake. S/he will examine you including measuring your weight, blood pressure, feeling your body organs and listening to your heart and lungs amongst the rest. Depending on the assessment, your doctor will notify you how often you need to have a health check. If you have a high risk of a particular health condition, your doctor may recommend more frequent health checks from an early age.
Diet – a healthy diet improves one’s general health and wellbeing. It is recommended that we have at least two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables daily. Physical activity – regular physical activity has significant health benefits on one’s body, mind & soul. It contributes to preventing and managing non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers and diabetes, reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, enhances thinking, learning, and judgment skills and improves overall well-being. According to the world health organisation (WHO), people who are insufficiently active have a 20% to 30% increased risk of death compared to people who are sufficiently active. Aim for 30 minutes to an hour of moderate physical activity at least four days in a week. Examples of moderate physical activity include brisk walking, gentle swimming and social tennis.
Weight – maintaining a healthy weight range helps in preventing long-term complications like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and arthritis. It is also vital for one’s mental wellbeing and keeping up with normal activities of daily living. Ask your doctor to check your body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference annually. If you are at a higher risk, you should have your weight checked more frequently and a stern management plan in place.
Alcohol – as per WHO reports, alcohol consumption contributes to 3 million deaths each year globally as well as to the disabilities and poor health of millions of people. Healthy drinking entails taking no more than two standard drinks per drinking day with at least two alcohol-free days in a week.
Smoking –Nicotine contained in tobacco is highly addictive and tobacco use is a major risk factor for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, many different types of cancer, and many other debilitating health conditions. Every year, at least a whopping 8 million people succumb from tobacco use worldwide. Tobacco can also be deadly for non-smokers through second-hand smoke exposure. It is not ‘fashionable’ if it is going to cost you and your loved ones lives! If you are currently smoking, talk to your doctor and get help in quitting as soon as possible to reduce the harm.
Blood pressure: Hypertension is a serious medical condition and can increase the risk of heart, brain, kidney and other diseases. It is a major cause of premature death worldwide, with upwards of 1 in 4 men and 1 in 5 women – over a billion people – having the condition. Have your blood pressure checked annually if it is normal, you are aged under 40 and there is no family history of hypertension. You might need to have it checked more frequently if you are over 40, your blood pressure is on the high side, or you have a personal or family history of high blood pressure, stroke or heart attack. Your doctor will be there to guide you.
Dental care – eating a low-sugar diet and cleaning and flossing the teeth regularly can reduce one’s risk of tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss. Visit a dentist every six months for a dental examination and professional cleaning, or more frequently as per your dentist’s advice. Blood tests – annual to five-yearly blood tests may be done to further assess or confirm risk of disease. These may include blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, kidney function, liver function, tumour markers, among other things. They may be done frequently if there is already an existing medical condition.
Cancer screening – various screening techniques can be done to detect different cancers in their early or pre-cancer stages. These include; skin inspections for any suspicious moles/spots, two-yearly mammograms for those at risk of developing breast cancer, Pap smear or the new Cervical Screening Test (CST) every five years, stool tests and colonoscopy (every five years) for those at most risk of bowel cancer, prostate cancer screening for those at risk (over 45 years of age, family history of cancers etc.). Discuss appropriate tests with your doctor.
Vaccinations – You should discuss with your doctor about the necessary routine immunisation, in particular; the Covid-19 vaccines, an annual flu shot, a five-yearly pneumococcal vaccine if you have never had one or you are immunocompromised and any other boosters that you might need.
If you need further advice or treatment please call 4924730, email HYPERLINK “mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org” email@example.com or visit www.themedisccentre.co.bw
Antoinette Boima, MBBS, BMedSci, PgDip HIV/AIDS, Cert Aesth Med is the Managing Director of The Medics Centre in Palapye.