I’m sure some of my friends leaning further into the ‘reformed’ camp will immediately question me for having gone, and I can entirely understand why: a scattering of unBiblical teachings from the ‘pulpit’, a number of examples of overblown claims, and some practices that are questionable at best. Don’t worry, folks – I’m still with you on those, but please hear me out.
Overall, I was really challenged and blessed there.
You heard me right: I was – generally speaking – challenged and blessed by attending 2 nights of the Lakeland Outpouring.
Now, what that DOESN’T mean is that I withdrawal ANY of my earlier blogs on the subject (see BE THE REVIVAL, MIRACLE WORKER, SOUND DOCTRINE, CURRENT THOUGHTS, QUENCHING, & AGAINST), though it definitely puts them in a new, broader perspective. It doesn’t mean, in fact, that I’m even convinced that Todd Bentley has a gift of healing, though I DO suspect he has a strong gift of faith, and the two are sometimes, though not always, related.
Honestly, I went – primarily for two reasons:
1.) My wife is significantly more open & less suspicious (that is not to say she has no discernment – the opposite’s true, but she is far more ‘open’…), and was very interested in attending, and it looked as though it would work out to be a ‘family vacation’ of sorts for us all. Her family has a history of involvement with the various revivals in this area over the years, so Lakeland was a draw for her.
2.) My brother-n-law, who I’m proud to say is also one of my best friends, is a current member of SonicFlood, who were leading worship both nights, and I wanted to go show him my support.
First, though I can’t speak for the other worship leaders who have been part of Lakeland since it initially broke out, Rick & SonicFlood led a particularly God-honoring, Gospel-saturated, Christ-centered worship set both nights. In fact, until Lakeland I had hardly HEARD anything by SonicFlood – they weren’t really on my musical radar. Not only were they technically a great band, but it was a powerful time of worship.
Then came the prayer time. I was very pleasantly surprised to discover that – at least on the nights I attended – though Todd Bentley was present and involved, it was clearly NOT the ‘Todd Bentley show’, as I had originally feared. Maybe in that way that cameras of GodTV have actually misrepresented Lakeland, since he is so captivating – he has such a strong presence. The stage was filled with various volunteers and pastors ministering, speaking, and praying – there was a significant team actively involved, and most of the time I was barely even aware of Bentley. I was very blessed that even the most extreme cases were welcomed to the stage for prayer, and when some of these individuals stood there in need for a touch from God, my heart broke, and I have not petitioned God with such passion in very long-time. I was face-to-face with a Holy, and powerful God, begging Him to intercede – to show His power, and in such an atmosphere of faith it was not hard to be convinced that God can do whatever He wills. Tears well up in my eyes even thinking about it.
Then Todd stood up to ‘teach’. Teaching is not Todd’s strong-point (everyone I talked to, in fact, emphasized this), and let me just say that I was about 50%/50% – when he was ‘on’ he was dead-on, and I wanted to shout “AMEN!’, but much of the time he was ‘off’, and there was a clear influence of various theologies that I think not Biblical (I’d encourage all of the teachers at this revival to study Carson’s “Exegetical Fallacies”, in fact). However, and though some may find this sad, others will sigh with relief: many left at the beginning of, or during the ‘teaching’, and many others there had enough discernment to sift it for the good, and even the not-so-good was at-least half-true. I know it sounds like I’m letting the guy off the hook, I’m not, however I don’t think this “Outpouring” is really about Todd, so it doesn’t concern me quite as much as I thought. I believe there were, and are, many being touched here, sometimes in spite of him, quite honestly. Yes, there are some with little or no discernment who may grab hold of and be led astray by some of what he says, but if it weren’t him, they’d find someone else to ‘whisper’ in their ears – without the true guidance of the Spirit any of us would do the same. However, I came, sincere God-centered worship took place, and God was encountered by many.
Personally, I am glad I went. You can proceed to pick your jaw up off the floor now.
Though I still don’t think it’s necessarily Scriptural to chase revivals, I will be praying for Todd more, and criticizing Him far less from now on.