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an online resource for Reformed Charismatics, Pentecostal Calvinists, & Empowered Evangelicals

Some days it strikes me as particularly strange…

Some days it strikes me as particularly strange that so many who claim to believe in a good wonder-working God, who – listening to them – apparently wants to shower us all with financial blessings and success, often tend to pray – or rather, beg and plead (or “cry out”?) – as though either God doesn’t really want to help and needed convincing, or is simply unable to do a thing apart from them personally “stirring up their faith”, as though He needed it like I need a cup of coffee in the morning.  Just a note: if this is you, go on and say your God is a God of blessing and abundance all you want, but your actions betray you: it sounds to me as though you don’t trust Him, and trust IS faith.

Of course, it also strikes me as absolutely bizarre that there are also a great many who claim to worship and all-powerful, sovereign God – who recognize to the full extent the real miracle that is the salvation of lost sinners (it’s not as though God just sits there with open arms: we don’t want Him, and don’t know we need Him, apart from His miraculous work in us…) – who, in spite of the extent of His absolute sovereignty over everything, don’t expect much out of God at all.

Please tell me something is wrong here?

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Filed under: Charismatic, Contraversy, Doctrine, Holy Spirit, Reformed, Theology, , , , , , , , , ,

The Lakeland “Outpouring”: I have gone, and these are my thoughts…

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.

Filed under: Bible, Charismatic, Continualist, Contraversy, Debate, Doctrine, Emotionalism, Flesh, Gospel, Hermeneutics, Holy Laughter, Holy Spirit, Lakeland Revival, Pentecostalism, Prayer, Revival, Signs of the Spirit, Theology, Tongues, Word of Faith, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Prayer is not Magic: approaching Aslan…

A few years ago I was emailed an excellent essay by my old friend, Julie. So many aspects of what she had written struck me as so very true – and rarely heard – that I felt it necessary to quote her. Please be encouraged and challenged by her words of wisdom…

“Every time we bend our knee to petition God for the healing of an ill, we open ourselves to a Person Who is neither manageable nor fully known, and what is at stake in this exchange is nothing less than the integrity of our working theology and the endurance of our friendship with this God. When we petition God, our deepest beliefs about God’s goodness, God’s power, and God’s kingdom are laid bare. And when we petition God, the solidity of our friendship with this God is the very ground on which we tread.”

“How often when we pray do we remember: God is not safe. Like Aslan, God cannot be made to perform tricks at the flick of a wrist or the click of a rosary bead. ‘Our God is in the heavens, He does whatever He pleases.’ There is a wildness in God.”

“…how often are the ‘ends’ we beg for very well conceived, either? Our culture has seduced us into thinking that personal wealth, happiness, and general well-being is the chief end of man.”

Julie reminds me that we were created by and for God – not the other way around. Be humbled. Pray accordingly.

Filed under: Bible, Prayer, , , , , , , ,

Blog-Love: confessions and more…

There have been some excellent new blogs in the blogosphere as of late – so many that it’s been hard to keep up!

A great author, James K. A. Smith, whom I’ve learned much from in the past 2 or 3 years, recently wrote an articles that’s making it’s rounds on the web, entitled Confessions of a Pentecostal Calvinist. He also recently published Teaching a Calvinist to Dance in Christianity Today Magazine. Both are well worth reading. And look here – he has his own blog! Apparently he’s finishing up his new book, Thinking in Tongues: Elements of a Pentecostal Worldview. Add another one to my ‘to read’ list. Here’s an article from Smith which develops this idea.

Finally, one of the Christians I admire most has chimed with a very well balanced response to the ‘Lakeland Outpouring’. Terry Virgo, leader of New Frontiers International, has posted a two part blog-post entitled Lakeland, Florida, & aptly, Lakeland Florida (continued). Honestly, his is a solid ‘reformed charismatic’ – or even simply a solid evangelical – response. They are well worth reading.

On a somewhat lighter note, but not really, the Wittenburg Door posted this detailed expose on their neighborhood televangelist. I also found this stunning NBC documentary about the same televangelist.  As many of you will know, much of what I see there breaks my heart, as I’ve written on similar issues myself here in the recent past. As one who believes firmly in a miracle working God, I’m likely saddened by the frauds more than most.

As a bit of the old-school, I found this old article by David Wilkerson, referencing an even OLDER article from Azuza Street many moons ago – it’s called A Christless Pentecost. Wow.

And I’m not even to the end of all the goodies! I think I’ll have to post a Blog Love part 2 tomorrow just to keep up! Let’s hope!

May God’s blessings be evidence. Seek God, walk in the Spirit, and USE DISCERNMENT. So be it. I mean, Amen!

Filed under: Blog-Love, Bloggers, Calvinism, Charismatic, Continualist, Contraversy, Debate, Doctrine, Emotionalism, Flesh, Gospel, Lakeland Revival, Ministers, Miracles, prophecy, Reformed, Revival, Signs of the Spirit, TBN, Terry Virgo, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Be the revival, don’t go to one (on revivals in Florida & elsewhere)…

I do hate to be the skeptic. Sometimes I think having discernment is more a curse than a gift. It might be fun to be able to jump on every bandwagon that comes down the Spiritual pike. It may not be spiritually healthy, but it might be fun.

Yet, I’ve done enough digging to know that my internal sense of uneasiness towards this ‘revival’ in Florida is not something I can support unquestionably with a clean conscious. I think the prophetically gifted Andrew Strom – who I disagree with on a few things as well – sums up most of my concerns quite well both here and here as does another blogger here(& though we don’t get along very well, I think Dan Philips makes a few good points himself). Don’t get me wrong – I hope & pray that the healings are genuine, even if the doctrine behind them is askew, for the sake of both those looking for healing and for the Glory of God. And that’s really what it comes down to: is this really about God?

That’s what I loved about the First Great Awakening, and Jonathan Edwards: from all accounts, Edwards was far from flashy – He preached the Word, God moved, people’s hearts were changed, and they came to God by the thousands. And it didn’t happen only in one church, but many, and for almost ten years! That’s what I call a revival, and that’s the sort of move of God that I’ve been praying for: that God will be the center – that Christ will be lifted up and made much of – that the Holy Spirit will move (which Scripturally means He will draw eyes AWAY from himself, and TO Jesus).

As I wrote a good friend this morning, I’m not going on the rampage battling against this – in fact, that would be silly. Ultimately if it’s not the real deal that will become readily clear (it always does), even if it takes some time. In fact, it’s probably a mix of divinely revealed truth, and human error, which I’ve dealt with before on this blog. However, I’d hate to see believers whom I love go the route that emphasizes flash & bang over (and ultimately against, since it’s a distraction from the real deal) what Christ did on the Cross, and the heart of the Gospel.

Don’t get me wrong – walking in the Kingdom of God results in miracles, but the picture of how the apostles worked miracles – the part miracles played in their ministry – and how many modern-day revival preachers use them look so different that I have a hard time even comparing the two. We’re so thirsty for signs & wonders that we forget what it means to actually follow God day-to-day, and instead we run to where-ever we hear that something exciting is happening.

Think about this: the only time I recall Paul going to where the signs & wonders were happening was to rebuke them for doing it incorrectly.

The real core of the issue is this: why even bother going to where someone else may or may not be experiencing ‘revival’? If it’s real, and God wants to do it, pray for it where you are! Then, when God sovereignly brings revival, you’ll be in the midst of it – you’ll already know the hearts and motives of those involved – you’ll see the real change in your own heart, and know your deeper affection towards God, and recognize it in those you’ve known all along when you see lasting change in them. Ultimately, that’s how one recognizes true revival – not only by it’s immediate external expressions, but it’s fruit many years after the ‘buzz’ has left the building.

I’m just another voice that wants to see God’s will done on earth as it is in Heaven – it just so happens that this voice isn’t yet convinced that many of the modern day revivals are working to bring that about. I say, “Be the real revival – don’t go to one.”

Filed under: Bible, Charismatic, Continualist, Contraversy, Debate, Doctrine, Emotionalism, Flesh, Gospel, Holy Spirit, Lakeland Revival, Signs of the Spirit, Theology, , , , , , , , , , , ,

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