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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, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Against Revival?

In the case that anyone has come to the conclusion that I am somehow ‘against’ the Lakeland Revival (if some have misunderstood, than I’m sure other’s will have as well), I hope you will re-read all I’ve written on it hre, as I’ve tried to be clear and Biblical through-out. Though I rarely think attending a ‘revival’ the best option (I’d rather one happen locally, so those involved be under authority I know personally, and trust – besides I see no Biblical example of ‘running to where the miracles are’, for any reason other than to correct their improper use), as far as this particular ‘revival’ is involved, I have all along encouraged discernment and critical thinking on the issues surrounding the events in Lakeland, and – by most account – have been very balanced in my reporting. As I’ve already said more than once in my recent blogs, I won’t judge anyone who attends (I’ve had many friends go, and the reports have been mixed), but my conscience – at this point – will not allow me to go, and I’m a firm believer one should never acts in opposition of their conscience. If you think it would benefit you to go – by all means, go – just don’t turn off your filter, and keep your ears open to the still small voice, in the midst of all that’s spoken from the platform.

And if you’d like to reminded of all that I’ve said so far concerning revival, particularly in Lakeland: Be the Revival; Be the Miracle; Sound Doctrine, Drop-Kick, Current Thoughts, & Quenching the Spirit.
Be blessed as you read. Amen.

Filed under: Bible, Cessasionist, Charismatic, Continualist, Contraversy, Debate, Doctrine, Emotionalism, Flesh, Holy Laughter, Holy Spirit, Lakeland Revival, Miracles, Prayer, prophecy, Revival, Signs of the Spirit, , , , , , , , , ,

Recent Assemblies of God statement on Revival…

Though the AOG would reject my reformed theology, and I disagree with them regarding the significance they bestow on the gift of tongues (there my 3rd Wave leaning begin to shine through again), overall I find much to admire among Assemblies of God churches.  Here is the AOG’s excellent official response to the numerous reports of revival around the world presently.  Well worth watching the whole thing.

Filed under: Apostles, Bible, Charismatic, Continualist, Contraversy, Debate, Denominations, Doctrine, Emotionalism, Evangelical, Gospel, Hermeneutics, Holy Laughter, Holy Spirit, Lakeland Revival, Pastors, Pentecostalism, Prayer, prophecy, , , , , , , , ,

Still more Lakeland blog-love (and some)…

Still more people are chiming in on Lakeland & the goings on there. Again, I don’t agree with all that’s written below – in fact, some I disagree with, but they are helpful perspectives to get a bigger picture of what’s happening:

My visit to Lakeland

When is a “Revival” Genuine?

Leaving Lakeland

Lakeland – real revival?

Does Todd Bentley have anything to do with Jesus?

Todd Bentley and the Lakeland Revival

There is much to take in, but I will let these speak for themselves: real people, honest thoughts, sincere emotions…seeking the truth.  Some have left the church entirely and are taking one last peak inside, some are in the middle of the excitement yet voicing concerns, some are sympathetic but have questions, and others are diametrically opposed.  Read, pray, listen.  Amen.

Filed under: Bible, Blog-Love, Bloggers, Charismatic, Continualist, Contraversy, Debate, Doctrine, Emotionalism, Flesh, Gospel, Holy Laughter, Holy Spirit, Lakeland Revival, Miracles, Mystery, Pentecostalism, Philosophy, Prayer, prophecy, Revival, Salvation, Sermon, Signs of the Spirit, Theology, Tongues, Uncategorized, Unity, Word of Faith, , , ,

Quenching the Spirit, my heart aches…

It happens so often in charismatic circles.  I listen to sermons – I don’t simply absorb them, but I listen for what is really being said, and to the best of my ability I check all of it against the Scripture in my head, and I open the Word directly and check things that sound questionable, yet attempt to still rejoice in what is true.  In the process of trying to filter sermons for ‘truth’, and trying to stand for the truth, I am called “mean”, “heartless”, “too heady”, and have even been told that I am somehow “quenching the Spirit”, and I won’t lie – sometimes it hurts.

In the flesh, it hurts my own pride – which is sad, I admit.  Yes, I am prideful – aren’t you?  I like being ‘right’, but that doesn’t mean I’m not open to correction…by Scripture.  As a former campus minister, and as someone who still find himself in various areas of ministry leadership, I sometimes get asked questions – hard questions.  I see it as part of my calling to help guide people to God’s answer to those questions, which means I don’t only read the Word to get ‘personal words from the Lord’, but I go to it to find what is God’s mind – to the best of my human ability – towards certain issues.  I’ve heard too much junk from man – I’ve believed too much junk taught by men: I want to know God’s thoughts.  That has led me to be a critical thinker.  I hate lies, subtle or overt.  I don’t (usually) hate the people from whom they are coming (often they don’t know they speak untruth), but so many people grow disillusioned with God and lose faith not because God has somehow failed them or been shown untrue, but because – in little ways – they believed in a false god, or at least so many falsities about God, that it led to the same end.  And when we believe in a god of our imaginations, instead of the God of revelation, in spite of how spiritual we may look on the surface, our lives will eventually take us the clear route of open idolatry.  That sure explains the ‘New Age’ edge that much of what calls itself ‘Charismatic’ carries with it.

In my spirit, however, that is what hurts me deepest: to see genuine, sincere people – some who may really be Christians – engage in idolatry, trusting in a false god, instead of the God revealed in Scripture.  It saddens me because I’ve seen the disappointment that ultimately leads to – I’ve seen them lose faith altogether when their tiny ‘image’ of god refuses to follow the ‘rules’ they’ve set up for him (which is nothing short of ‘magic’ – thinking ‘if I do x, my god must to y in response’).

So, go ahead and tell me I’m too often ‘in my head’, or that I’m ‘quenching the Spirit’.  Though it will hurt my pride, what will ache most is for the Church to return to her first love: the one true God revealed in Jesus, empowering His people through the Spirit.  My heart aches to see Spirit-filled believers turn from their idols – turn from their ‘magic’ – turn from the god of their imagination, and see the Biblical God as He really is: to meet the real Jesus.

Send Your Spirit, Lord – restore Your truth to Your church, and we would walk in it.  Till then, I will continue to ache, and to do all within my power to be faithful to Your Word.

So be it.

Filed under: Doctrine, Flesh, Hermeneutics, Intellectualism, Lakeland Revival, Miracles, Pentecostalism, Prayer, Reformed, Revival, Signs of the Spirit, Theology, Word of Faith, , , , , , , , , ,

the Holy Spirit told me to drop-kick you

I realize that God doesn’t always work in nice neat categories, and obey every rule that we may set out for him (that may be why I call myself a ‘charismatic’), however much of this is too much to take. I’m tempted to laugh, but some of it doesn’t strike me a very funny

Now, having watched that – and recognizing that it was edited (he didn’t say all of those things in a row, but each from from various sessions – seems he has a general tendency to hear violent commands from the Spirit, though), is there Biblical justification for these things. That is to say, if you heard a voice in your head ask you to drop-kick someone, does that sound like the Spirit of Christ that you encounter in His Word? Why or why not? Discuss.

Filed under: Bible, Charismatic, Continualist, Contraversy, Debate, Holy Spirit, Knowing God, Lakeland Revival, Miracles, Revival, Uncategorized, Word of Faith, , , , ,

Friday Bloglove: HONEST QUESTIONS

Let me just say that my opinion of Charisma magazine just jumped 10+ points today.  Charisma’s editor, J. Lee Grady, posted what I believe to be the most balance look at the so-called Lakeland Revival I have read yet, far surpassing my own blogs, BE THE REVIVAL & BE THE MIRACLE.  It’s called HONEST QUESTIONS ABOUT THE LAKELAND REVIVAL.  Read it, consider it, pray over it.  It’s one of the best things I’ve read online for weeks.

Filed under: Charismatic, Continualist, Contraversy, Debate, Doctrine, Emotionalism, FAVORITE BLOG POSTS, Holy Laughter, Holy Spirit, Lakeland Revival, Revival, , , , ,

The Miracle Worker: be the miracle…

Having never read it from cover-to-cover, I’ve still found much to agree with – in what little I’ve read – in John Wimber‘s POWER EVANGELISM, and the overall portrait he set forth for what the Christian life should look like. Though I was wary of him during his life (when he was living I was far more skeptical of the pentecostal/charismatic movement – even the 3rd Wave – than I am now), in hindsight, he had a degree of humility that many modern ‘healers’ seem to greatly lack.

Wimber made a Biblical case that, as Jesus disciples, we are to walk as Jesus walked. Even though Jesus was sinless, and we sinful, he still – setting aside the benefits of his divinity – lived as a Spirit-filled man during his life-time, and as his disciples, so should we. As a result, though maybe not in magnitude or perfection (sin didn’t trip up Jesus’ miracles – it may our own), we should walk in the miraculous much the same way that Jesus did. Jesus was not only our ‘Savior’, but also our example of what Kingdom living should look like. Amen, Mr. Wimber – and again I say, AMEN!

So, where are the miracle workers who run from the spotlight, instead of revel in it – you know, like Jesus? If we are to be ‘little-Christs’ (the meaning of the word ‘Christian’), walking in the ‘Kingdom of God’ (meaning submitted to Christ’s Lordship/Kingship), and to display the restored Image of God (which is what it means to be conformed to Christ – a restoration of what we lost in Adam’s fall), should we not only walk in the miraculous, but walk AS JESUS WALKED in the miraculous.

When I skim the Gospels, the healings He offered were personal – often he even told the ones healed to tell no one about it. When crowds gathered to see a display of miracles, He fled. His miracles had 2 purposes: the most important was to reveal God, or an aspect of God, to the individual or individuals present, and the 2nd was to enable the one healed to give glory to God. Even Jesus, who deserved the glory, didn’t glorify Himself – He gave glory to the Father, who in turn glorified His Son. One thing is for sure: when I look through all of the accounts of healings in the Bible I absolutely never see ANYTHING that even moderately resembled a show of any kind. It’s not there.

As I said in response to another blog earlier this morning, if you suspect you have the gift of healing, or God has annointed you to heal, or however you see it, do us all a favor: get a list of the sick from your church, and go to them, find the sick homeless under a nearby bridge or down a dark alleyway, then visit your local hospital, or even hospice, if they’ll let you in. If God moves powerfully, delight yourself in HIM, and not in what He’s done through you – remove yourself from the picture, empty that hospital, if God so wills – clear the beds of your local hospice. Whatever you do, don’t seek a stage, where people thirsty for a miraculous ‘tickle’ – a ‘God-show’ – will come for miles to catch a glimpse of ‘power’. It’s not about ‘power’ – particularly, it’s not about your power. At least, for Jesus it wasn’t – I guess I expect to much to hope that Christians will want to live like Christ.

Honestly, I suspect that’s what has happened to many of our famous, continually re-discredited big-time healing ministers today. There was a time when God really and truly used them to heal – I believe it is entirely possible – then they put it on stage as a show, and took the show on the road. At that point it becomes far more about the supposed miracle-worker than about Jesus – more about the ‘show’ than about Jesus – and what do you know: at that point the Holy Spirit has left the building! God wants none of it! But now they are a superstar – it’s how they make the bacon, so they have to fake it, to use artificial methods to work people into an emotional buzz which they call ‘faith’, and their doctrine creeps downhill to justify their actions. Voila – we end up putting on revivals, instead of God visiting on His own accord and bringing one about!

Yes, this moves me deeply, and I am saddened by so much of what I see. And, as always, the change begins in – and with – me. Be the miracle, and walk it like Jesus did – that’s the only place we can begin.

Amen…

Filed under: Charismatic, Continualist, Contraversy, Emotionalism, Flesh, Holy Spirit, Lakeland Revival, Miracles, Revival, Signs of the Spirit, TeamPyro, Uncategorized, Word of Faith, , , , , , ,

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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