The Great Awakenings in early America (that evangelicals love to romantically look back upon) were scandulous and freaky to the mainstream church of that day. The revival leaders were heralded as “false-everything,” the manifestations made the news. Yet today we look back quite fondly on those “special times” God visited our nation. Today, May 1, is the National Day of Prayer. People are gathering all over America asking God to visit us again.
Let’s be honest… if God were to “visit” our churches today in similar fashion, half of yous would walk out and spread a bad report. Am I wrong? Before you judge what is unfolding in Florida, ask yourself this question… what will it look like when God shows up? The self-appointed, unaccountable, anonymous, bitter and fruitless doctrine police on the Internet are already having a heyday with Todd Bentley and the Lakeland Florida outpouring. They shoot their arrows from places of concealment. They sit in the seat of scoffers. They bother me because their methods and message are far more unBiblical than anything unfolding in Florida. The Bible cautions against those with forms of religion but who deny the power. Anyone else want the power? I do.
Come out of your cave and stand there and wait for God to pass by. You thought he’d come in a storm or a whirlwind didn’t you? Nope. He came in a still small voice. To all of you now standing outside your cave waiting for a still small voice, I’m guessing he’ll come now in the storm and many will miss his coming. Do you think he’s forever locked into passing by in only one fashion?
Some of us have been praying and fasting for years for God to come in power. Personally, I’ve been fortunate to have been in some recent outpourings – Kansas City being our hometown, Kristen and I experienced the early years of the Kansas City Prophets and saw God move mightily in those gatherings. We were dating at the time and that’s what we did for dates – go hear Bob Jones! There was good and not so good and, long story short, we bolted to Chicago for a few years to settle into safer ministries. But I love the Narnia line about Aslan the lion/Jesus… “Is He safe? No. But he’s good.” In 1996, the Spirit rocked us again. Since then I’ve been to Pensacola/Brownsville, Toronto, Nigeria and Kiev. Last summer my son Caleb and I, and friend Andy, went on a prayer journey to Herrnhut, Germany to tap into an ancient awakening there.
I believe in cross-pollination, transferable anointing and impartation. Historical revivals spread up and down the east coast of our nation because people traveled. I’m bummed some of the aforementioned outpourings didn’t last or, in any tangible way, transform the city in which they occurred. I believe we are learning more each time about how to steward a move of God. There are God visitations spoken of in the Bible that were soon quenched by carnality, pride and the like. I know we are to inspect fruit, but the Bible doesn’t discount the authenticity of a visitation just because the people afterwards veered off course.
And now something has broken out in Lakeland, Florida. With many others who also have their ear-to-the-track regarding the End Times, I’ve been waiting for something to pop somewhere and for it to go national, indeed global, in just a few weeks through the wonders of technology and transportation. In the 80′s back in KC we held on to prophecies that God would one day fill stadiums with prophetic healing meetings. This is happening tonight in Florida. Meetings that were only intended to go for a couple days have now been ongoing daily for weeks – they are outgrowing every venue they’ve moved into and tonight they will be in Tiger Stadium.
For these reasons I’m watching Florida really close and watching my tongue lest I speak against something God is doing. Friends who have gone have come back powerfully healed. Others report some misgivings. I certainly have some misgivings of my own but they are easily overcomeable. Each night our family has been watching via GODTV. A few guys in the church have talked with me about going. I probably will. I think you should do what Zack Hensley is thinking of doing – driving down with a buddy just to kick your skepticism in the face. Let’s be people who bless not curse. Thanks Zack for this blessing prayer:
Bless Todd Bentley, Bless those in Lakeland Florida. I pray that the Lord continues to give him a spirit of wisdom and revelation, that they would know the hope of which Christ was called. I pray for all those touched by the Lord in healing and salvation that He would complete the work he has started in them. That they would be counted worthy of His calling and that the grace and peace of Christ would sustain them until the end. amen
I’m not worried about being deceived. I trust God’s ability to keep me more than the devil’s ability to deceive me. Here’s what I fear more… missing a move of God because it came in a way that made me uncomfortable.
Revival is always a polarizing event and this one is no exception. I don’t feel compelled to answer for ministry styles or personalities any more. I do know this – our friend, Kelsey Hayes, was dramatically healed (is there an undramatic healing?) last week. My guess is her parents didn’t worry too much about the ministry style. Do I wish people did things a different way? Of course…but not enough to reject something if God is in it.
[SH: Read a news report of Kelsey's healing here. I highly, highly recommend you read this testimony/news report.]
Do desperately hungry people get real picky about how and who hands food to them? No.
Numerous CATGr’s are quite familiar with the main personality in the Florida outpouring – Todd Bentley. A year ago I led a group of 30+ people through a study of his book on the Supernatural World. It was a great upgrade for those of us ready to “set our minds on things in heaven, not on earthly things.” Others have been to conferences where Todd has ministered. Same story… some powerfully touched, others report misgivings.
Personally, a few of his antics and of course, the observables (tattoos and piercings) don’t make much sense to me. But here’s how I’ve overcome that… I asked myself what the 21st century equivalent to eating locusts/wild honey and wearing wild camels hair and a belt might be. What do you think it is? Wearing wild camels fur put John the Baptist in league with the outcasts and unclean. I’m thinking today’s equivalent might be tattoo’s, t-shirts and piercings. Lou Engle once commented about the young generation that God is raising up today that is so full of piercings. Frustrated, he told God… they “look like fishing lures.” God responded something to the effect, “Precisely, and I’m going to use them to reel in the nations.”
What should a “man of God” look like? Do I fit the bill? In other nations, cultures and camps probably not. Twenty two years ago when I entered ministry the “man of God” wore a blue suit and a red tie (that is if you had any holy role on the platform). But I started to move in other circles and discovered a camp where the “man of God” had to have a $3000 suit to show off his anointing. If I’d have shown up with my $100 blue suit/tie they’d have kept me off the stage and cast the spirit of religion off me and tried to introduce me to the new wineskin.
Today we are active in the ARC and in the prayer movement. Last week we were in Birmingham for the ARC conference and repeatedly saw how the “man of God” wears an embroidered untucked shirt with the sleeves barely rolled up, jeans and dress shoes. At IHOP, frankly, anything from Goodwill will work. They don’t care down there because the knees will wear out soon anyway from hours in the prayer room. Dressing like that in the house of God is “offensive” to some – where’s the reverence and respect?! I say, lighten up. In the case of female attire, at least they exude a modesty I’m not seeing in suburban evangelical youth/college ministries. My son Caleb graduates high school in a couple weeks and is heading to IHOP’s Forerunner School of Ministry in the fall. After four years of buzz haircuts for Marine Corp JR ROTC, he told us this AM his hair is going to get longer and that he is thinking about a tattoo on his arm of the Hebrew letters for the word “Nazirite.” I told him to hold off on the tattoo but I was delighted that he has the heart of a Nazirite. Maybe I need a tattoo. When I cut my long hair a few years ago many CATGr’s were relieved. One of our worship team peeps commented to me the day I cut my ponytail off… “good, now I can invite friends again to church!” Maybe I’ll put my earring in again.
One of our praying people at CATG once told me regarding Heidi Baker that “she offends the natural mind before she even opens her mouth.” If you’ve seen her you know about the twitching and jerking. It does… it offends the natural mind – many probably think “this lady is a certified nut.” But, no. No, no she isn’t. God is using her to minister to the discarded children of the world – to start thousands of orphanages and churches. She is going to the hopeless places in the world the scoffer has yet to go and, unlike the scoffer, she is bearing eternal fruit. And, buckle up for this… she is literally seeing things in her ministry like the feeding of five thousand with a single bowl of soup.
One things I know about a genuine move of God, it will offend the natural mind. If you can get past that you can get into the supernatural.
I hope you’ll also read my other posts on Todd Bentley and the Florida Outpouring.
Florida Healing Outpouring – Todd Bentley and the Seat of Scoffers part two
Florida Healing Outpouring – Todd Bentley and the Seat of Scoffers part three
Florida Healing Outpouring – Todd Bentley and the Angel Emma
Florida Healing Outpouring – Todd Bentley, Violence and the Kingdom of God
Florida Healing Outpouring – Todd Bentley, the manifestations of the Spirit or Kundalini?