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So, Jesus says (Luke 4:18)… “Will not God bring about justice for his elect who cry to him day and night?”  Yet the moment someone stands up to do just that – here come the “cult” labels from those who don’t have a clue what they are looking at. Remember this – a fanatic is someone who loves and obeys Jesus more than you do.

Yesterday my hometown paper, the KC Star, decided to do a lengthy story on the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, founded by Mike Bickle. Read the story yourself. In case you are wondering, we are thrilled that Caleb returns in a couple weeks for his second year there. Kristen and I have often wondered over the years what our lives would have been like had we stayed there in the 80’s. We fully support what is happening at IHOP-KC. (For those of you who feel led to “fill me in” on this some more, don’t bother, maybe you aren’t aware that we were there in the 80’s during the days of the KC Prophets and though we were young and dumb, what personally hurt us was the adultery of Bickle’s accuser, not Bickle – he stayed faithful). 

I thank God for Mike Bickle and that God has used him to raise up 24/7/365 prayer all over the earth. Like I told one cynic recently, he who has a better prayer life than Mike Bickle can cast the first stone. He who lives the Sermon-on-the-Mount lifestyle more closely than Mike Bickle can cast the first stone. I should have said this: I wonder what they’d write and say about you if you were even a tenth as successful at raising up tens of thousands of twenty-somethings to pray non-stop night and day for mercy and justice for every concievable issue facing planet earth.

Also in the newspaper, the Washington Times, is this op-ed by my friend Pastor Walter B. Hoye II. I honored Pastor Hoye recently on my pro-life blog. But more than what I have to say I hope you’ll read what he has to say about black genocide and abortion. It’s no secret that Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger was a eugenic racist – calling for abortions and forced sterilizations of those she dubbed “human weeds” (the blacks Jews and the other, as she called them… “dysgenic races.”) Planned Parenthood has never renounced their racist roots and continues to target poor communities and countries with their population control programs.

Pastor Hoye is trying to let others know we are aborting more black babies than are being born – that because of abortion, Black America now has a negative population growth rate. Thanks to those who profit from abortion, as Pastor Hoye states, “Black American’s are no longer replacing themselves.” And, at the present rate of birth, “the entire black community in the United States could be wiped out by the year 2100.” (And America’s first black President is leading the charge! Oh the irony of that! ) Can you imagine a black pastor who remains silent about the genocide of his people? Thank God for Pastor Hoye!

Here’s a good place to plug my friends Darlene and Danielle Wibeto children’s book… Justice Loves Babies.

Today we got up early and drove an hour to the city of Luzerne, Switzerland – beautiful times three here – water, Swiss Alps, old town! It’s been a really full day 1) walking, in a 2) car, in a 3) gondola, on an 4) alpine toboggan, down a 5) cogwheel train, on a 6) boat, and a 7) bus back to the car.

And it’s been a record breaking day times three… we first saw 1) the Guinness Book of World Record’s largest rolling ball clock in the world (that’ll be featured in the next post). We had a blast flying down the beautifully flowered mountainside of the Alps on 2) the longest summer toboggan run. And, we rode back down on 3) the world steepest cogwheel railway – 48% gradient!! I know Kaitlyn will be putting pictures up soon and Thomas has some video. It was a great day. I had a few God-moments in the toboggan.

Now on to the point of this post. All this transpired at Mt. Pilatus. This mountain is named for Pontius Pilate, you know, the one who gave the green light to crucify Jesus, the one who tried unsuccessfully to wash his hands of the shedding of innocent blood. Here’s a pic…

Mt Pilatus 3

Most people know what happened to Jesus but few know what happened to Pilate. According to the ancient historian Philo, Pilate was “inflexible, he was stubborn, of cruel disposition. He executed troublemakers without a trial.”  Philo refers to Pilate’s “venality, his violence, thefts, assaults, abusive behavior, endless executions, endless savage ferocity.” Three years after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, Pontius Pilate was exiled from his post as the Governor of Judea for cruelty to the Jews. The second century historian Eusebius tells us he was exiled to Gaul and eventually committed suicide in Vienne.

Here’s where it gets interesting.  His body was thrown first into the Tiber, but the waters were so “disturbed by evil spirits” that the body was taken to Vienne and sunk in the Rhône. Apparently he kept washing up ashore. The Rhône also rejected his corpse and it was then taken and sunk in the lake at Lucerne on, what we call today, Mt. Pilatus (its ancient name is fractus mons or “broken mountain.”).  This is my new favorite example of the reality of all creations allegiance to our Lord, the ground kept spitting this guy out, the earth would receive him or give him rest.

For centuries Mt. Pilatus was haunted, feared and reputable people gave numerous detailed and collaborating eyewitness account of seeing dragons on Mt. Pilatus. In 1387, six clergymen were arrested for planning a journey to the lake and an ascent to the peak. Fierce thunderstorms and heavy flooding were common and confirmations that spiritual darkness loomed there. The government of Lucerne forbid locals and visitors to climb the mountain. Here’s a bit from my guide book;

Even shepherds were placed under oath to not approach the dark waters of the lake, where it was believed that the Roman governor Pontius Pilate had been laid to rest. Banished to this desolate wilderness, the man’s tormented spirit was said to surface every year on Good Friday, in a vain attempt to wash his bloodied hands.

Fireballs and flame-throwing dragons were frequently observed and described in minute detail by Europe’s most celebrated physicians and scientists. One such account is as follows: “While observing the night sky, I suddenly saw a fiery dragon emerging from a cave in a massive crag on Pilatus. It flew with rapid wing-beats to another cave called “Flue” on the opposite lake shore. It had a gigantic statue, with a long tail, a great neck, and a head with jagged, snake-like jaws. In flight, it threw off showers of sparks, not unlike a blacksmith’s hammer striking white-hot iron on an anvil. I first believed the phenomenon to be a meteor but, observing it’s limbs and bodily motion in detail, I could only conclude that it was a dragon.”

I have a little booklet with a dozen more of these wild stories and the spiritual mapper and prophetic prayer warrior in me about fell out of the gondola chair on the way up reading about the brave 16th century pastor who led a prayer mission to break the power of this demonic stronghold in the region. Note the prophetic acts!

In 1585, a parish priest of Lucerne led a courageous band of his church members on an exorcism mission.  They prayerfully ascended Pilatus to challenge any spirits lurking there. They threw boulders into the lake, churned it’s surface, waded through the shallows. A supernatural counter-offensive failed to materialize and the spell was broken. To still the spirit’s thunderous habits for good, a sluice was dug in 1594 to drain the lake. Four centuries were to pass before the watercourse was dammed in 1980 and placid waters once more filled the lake bed. The spirits of Pilatus are at peace.

Here are a couple more pics – we have many others with more blue sky on Kaitlyn’s facebook, but I picked a couple here that better illustrated this foreboding, jagged-edged mountain with it’s bleak crevaces.

mt Pilatus 2

Mt Pilatus 1


If you are mad at God, struggling to forgive others, otherwise discouraged, sad, miserable or stuck spiritually, I encourage you to read The Shack by William P. Young. (It came out last year and I’m just now getting around to reading it.) Actually, everyone who wants to know more of what God is like and what God is thinking would benefit, but I especially commend The Shack to those who’ve known pain, loss or who’ve been hurt by others. The author himself suffered great loss as a child.

If you have a hunger to plummet the depths of God, skip seminary and spend a few days with this book. Really, from one who has been to seminary, and read the book, I recommend the latter (and not just because it’s cheaper). William P. Young, aka Willie, has been given a deep and profound revelation of God, the human condition (suffering), and even some new light on the mystery of the Trinity. Prophetic people will discern the voice of God throughout. There are layers of depth here, one read is insufficient. Young is either a seer who has been in the Realms of Glory himself, or God dictated some of the detail of that environment to him. It’s fully fictional, and a number of you know I’m not much for fiction, but this transcends fiction – I found it to be theologically sound and hugely stretching at the same time. I’m hesitant to pronounce something a “classic” before time bears out that fact. However, my sense is this book will occupy a special place for some time far removed from the ocean of Christian fiction out there today.

Expect The Shack to help you set religious expectation aside and usher you into greater intimacy with God. This book is about the Presence of God and the purposes of God. It uncovers God’s heart for relationship with us. The dimensions of love are sketched out here. The Cross and why Jesus died are explained in paradigm shifting ways. The judgments of our own heart against God and others are exposed, as is the shallowness of our understanding and the self-centeredness of our complaints.

I hope the book becomes a movie, the website says it’s so, but I’m not sure this is capture-able in that format. It’s a revelation, maybe with a capital “R”. It’s a mystic book – in the good way of testifying to a genuine encounter with God.

The Shack hit #7 on sales. That’s remarkable really. Here’s my theory… God is involved in this book and we are heading into tough times here at the end of the age. The Bible says many will fall away under the pressure of the End Times. That is, people now standing with Christ will become bitterly offended by him… how could a “loving God” allow such trauma to come upon the earth? My sense is God is preparing people for these times by releasing a revelation of intimacy and greater understanding to the Bride of Christ.

This is my seventh post on the Florida Healing Outpouring and frankly I had no intentions of doing any posts beyond the first one. But, due to popular demand (and subsequent questions) more have come. Initially I had a burden to throw some caution out there to those tempted to occupy the seat of scoffers and so I wrote a couple posts on being careful what we speak against. Some may wonder why I’m now tackling the more controversial points – the Angel Emma, Third Heaven Experiences, is this Kundalini, Violence and the Kingdom of God. It would be easier to say nothing, there is even some potential in my own circles that I’m inviting an unnecessary controversy by even bringing these matters up.

I’m writing on these points to ready us for a move of God. No doubt, as we’ve seen in revival history, when God visits things break out beyond the sinners prayer of the traditional fruitful evangelistic meeting. People weep and wail, there are waves of joy, extravagant giving, shaking, falling out, trances, tongues, healing – the blind see, deaf hear, signs and wonders, dreams and visions, lights, angelic encounters and sightings and more. We want it to be on earth as it is in heaven don’t we? Do we really think it’ll all look like earth does now when heaven graces the earth?

As I’ve indicated, even within our own fellowship, much of this is uncharted waters for, I’d think, half our people. But I’m called to ready the rest – to prepare the way – for God to visit. This venue (the blog) has proved to be a great way to interact on a regular basis with hundreds in our church and thousands more who are seeking God right now and need understanding. So here now I aim to demystify myticism a bit. I’m trying to model how to seek God fully and openly without “passing judgment on disputable matters.” (Romans 14:1) I’m watching people throw labels on stuff that do not fit and are not fair and they do so because it’s human to label things we can’t really grasp so we can get a better hold on them. We try to box up and categorize stuff – that’s “Word of Faith”, that’s “Health & Wealth gospel”, that’s “New Age,” that’s “mysticism,” etc. I remember thinking on my last Africa trip that so many back home would think “that’s not Christian” as the African believers went “happy” during a much extended offering. The “church” is far bigger than our version of it – and God is far bigger yet.

I’ll put myself here in a vulnerable position and share a mystic experience that happened to me. Read the rest of this entry »

For years now I’ve been answering questions each week that people email me in relation to what I’m teaching or what they are learning about the things of God. Some I can answer quickly, others I spend more time on. I call this D-MAIL for discipleship mail. The blog is a perfect place for me to let many others in on what we are talking about so we can grow together in our understanding of God and Scripture. This question came via a recent comment on one of my Todd Bentley and the Florida Healing Outpouring blog posts.

QUESTION: Pastor Steve, I saw a teaching Bob Jones, Todd Bentley and Patricia King did on the third heaven. I searched the Bible on this and could find only one scripture (2 Corinthians 12:1-5) where Paul lightly touches on the third heaven, yet they have made whole teachings on how to get there etc. Could you explain to me if there are any other references to a third heaven in the Bible and what exactly are we talking about here and how it is possible that going up to the third heaven 3 times a day (as Bob Jones and Patricia King say they do) can be a better substitute than just reading and obeying Gods written Word?

MY RESPONSE: Paul’s reference to his third heaven Read the rest of this entry »

Some are comparing manifestations at the Lakeland Healing Outpouring with Kundalini. Kundalini is a demonic strain of yoga. The word means “coil” and the idea is that a serpent is coiled around the based of your spine. That serpent can be awoken through intense meditation and prayer and the people under this influence display very bizarre behavior. And there are some remarkable similarities between the outward displays of those under the influence of Kundalini and those in the meetings at the Lakeland Outpouring. And of course, those in the seat of scoffers are preparing video clips saying they are one in the same. I hope if you take the time to watch the clip, you’ll also take the time to read my take on it below. What is happening in Lakeland is crushing the head of the serpent, not calling it forth. Not all the manifestations are the same – no one in Lakeland is slithering like serpents. We saw one person there manifest a demon and people sitting around immediately shifted into deliverance mode to deal with it.

In response to these valid concerns, I’m devoting this post to the subject… the “Florida Healing Outpouring – Todd Bentley, the manifestations of the Spirit or Kundalini?” In a follow-up post I will speak to the issue of – Is Todd Bentley a New Age Mystic? My answer is NO – not New Age, not Kundalini. Mystic yes. In a follow-up post I will show what mysticism is in the Bible and in church history. There is Christian mysticism and Non-Christian mysticism. Evangelicals just write off all mysticism and manifestations as bad. I think their favorite hymn must be – “I Shall Not Be Moved.”

There are both enormous differences and remarkable similarities between Kundalini and the manifestations of the Holy Spirit. My view is the reason is because the common denominator is a human being/body. I suppose a guy could put a few video clips together of people laughing hysterically and then show how one, say a Muslim, is obviously laughing at the fall of the twin towers and then draw the erroneous conclusion that this same horrific event is ultimately behind the laughter of the rest, even the children. After all, the manifestation of hysterical laughter looks identical no matter what provokes it. Does it matter that the children on the video were laughing at Sponge Bob not the death of 9/11?

It absolutely does. And this is where there are enormous differences with Kundalini and the Lakeland Outpouring. The Lakeland Outpouring is about Jesus touching you. The God who can touch your mind can touch your emotions. And the God who touches your emotions can certainly touch your muscles. I remember the first time my wife touched me, I got a bit weak. Who can stand, literally stand, under the touch of God? When anything supernatural touches the natural, the natural is profoundly effected.

And, let’s not forget Satan always has his counterfeits. The reason the Bible differentiates something like “lying signs” is because there are true signs that look quite similar but aren’t (2 Thessalonians 2:8-11). There is much overlap in the religious practices and expressions of a variety of faiths, Christian and non-Christian – prayer, fasting, self-denying, Scripture, pilgrimages, music, ritual, rites, chanting, meditation, giving and so on. It’s no different with a variety of manifestations, we see similarities in manifestations in Christian and non-Christian religions, and we see remarkable differences.

Some are writing me saying “this revival isn’t of God because the fruit of the Spirit is self-control.” But that verse isn’t saying we have to be stiff, stoic and calculated all the time. The verse is simply saying for example, that after God touches you and the Spirit starts increasing in you, you won’t blow up the next time you get mad like you did before because the Spirit in you now tempers you. The Bible also says the manifestation of the Spirit can look like drunkenness to those on the outside – laughing at things not really funny, stumbling, nonsensical speech, passing out? (See Acts 2:13, 15, 1 Thess. 5:7) I think the Bible leaves the door wide open for wild meetings like we are seeing in the Lakeland Outpouring followed up with changed living.

One person wrote me saying a simple reading of 1 Corinthians 12, 14 reveals this to be a hoax revival because meetings should be orderly. I agree, the gathering of the people of God should be orderly. But God can disrupt a service can’t he? And was Paul talking about regular weekly meetings primarily or was he saying that if another fiasco like the Pentecost Outpouring (Acts 2) breaks out somebody better squelch it quick. There is a time for everything. There is a time for order. And there is a time for God to shake the foundations of all that we are and do.

While not wanting to fuel any debate with those in the seat of scoffers, I’m devoting a few additional posts on the Florida Healing Outpouring to explain why I’m not thwarted in my belief that “this is mostly God” even by reports of things like angel appearances and other Christian mystic experiences (post on this to follow) and even the matter of Todd Bentley’s violent methods. What follows is an transcription from my final point in my message Sunday where I spoke from Matthew 11:12. You can check out my earlier posts on the revival here and here. I appreciated Peter Kirk’s post yesterday on this topic of violence and the Kingdom of God so you’ll want to check that out. Peter is from Essex, UK. I especially appreciate him drawing in this quote from C.S. Lewis’ Prince Caspian.

Aslan pounced. Have you ever seen a very young kitten being carried in the mother cat’s mouth? It was like that. The Dwarf, hunched up in a little, miserable ball, hung from Aslan’s mouth. The Lion gave him one shake and all his armour rattled like a tinker’s pack and then – hey-presto – the Dwarf flew up in the air. He was as safe as if he had been in bed, though he did not feel so. As he came down the huge velvety paws caught him as gently as a mother’s arms and set him (right way up, too) on the ground.

Expect the new wine to come forcefully.
This will really stretch your old wineskin… Matthew 11:12 brings us to key point of controversy regarding Todd Bentley and the Lakeland Outpouring. “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.” 99% of the church has no understanding of this verse. We gravitate toward the nice verses at the end of the chapter… come to me all you who are weary and I will give you rest. But verse 12 is every bit inspired as verse 28 and verse 12 says the Kingdom of heaven is forcefully advancing and forceful men lay hold of it. A literal rendering read “the violent take it by force.”

Many church people are rejecting the Florida Outpouring because Todd Bentley is so violent. We’ve all seen him body slam people on stage and knee people in the stomach. And he talks openly about this – he said one time the glory of God wasn’t evident in a meeting and he asked God about it and God said, “It’s because you haven’t kicked that woman in the face.” He said, “What? You want me to kick that 80 year old woman in the face.” God said, “Yes, with your work boot.” And so Todd kicked the woman in the face and just as his boot got to her nose she fell back under the power of God and God’s glory visited that meeting.

You can understand how this kind of thing is causing many to be offended and reject everything about this guy. Surely a loving God wouldn’t tell a guy to kick an 80 year old woman in the face! Are you sure? He told Abraham to sacrifice his son. “Do this Abraham – no wait, don’t… I just wanted to see if you would.” Are we sure the God who shakes nations with earthquakes is always safe and soft?

We all know God doesn’t need us to kick people in the face for them to be healed and Bentley says its not the point – the point is his obedience. Maybe Bentley operates at a great level of power because he is radically obedient. Maybe many in the church are walking in the lowest levels of God’s power in their lives because we won’t even obey a simple prompt from the Holy Spirit to give a bigger offering next week.

The Bible talks about those who have a form of godliness but deny the power. The word power is the word “dunamis” – dynamite, explosive power or force. Those who walk in this power seeing signs and wonders are often forceful, aggressive and walk in a holy violence. Part of the problem is most evangelicals have no knowledge of church history or what is happening in terms of deliverance ministry in the church globally. Nothing Bentley is doing is any different than what is normal many churches in Africa. I’ve been there a couple times… they aren’t driving foul spirits away in Africa by saying “shoo.” African Christians get in the devils face. They are kind/gentle. From what I’ve seen, Bentley is tender with children and it’s indisputable that he’s and his ministry are kind to the poor – he weeps when he talks about intimacy with Jesus. But facing a sickness or a devil, at times he comes out swinging – mostly though with strong words.

Seventy-five years ago Smith Wigglesworth was having mass revival meetings here and all over the world. Wigglesworth is one of the American revival heroes. He considered every type of sickness a work of the enemy – sometimes when he’d identify the part of the body that was hurting he’s punch the person in that part of the body. He’d grab the tongue of a stutterer and some people got upset that he was hitting the sick. He’d reply, “I don’t hit people, I hit the devil and people just get in the way.” Through his ministry people regained their hearing and sight, new limbs were created, cancerous growths disappeared and demons fled. Twenty-three people were raised from the dead at the hands of Smith Wigglesworth.

He once took a corpse out of the coffin and threw it up against the wall. The people were shocked until they saw that the deceased had sprung back to life. I’m not saying you need to rubber stamp this kind of violence, I’m saying we need to be careful to pounce on things like this so quickly as not being from God. I’m saying “the kingdom of God comes by force and forceful men lay hold of it.” The Kingdom of God is not the kingdom of the cushioned pew.

My own testimony is that I was healed when a minister hit me. I was healed of debilitating migraines in 2001 when a guy from Texas came to Church at the Gate for a prayer conference. He hit me on the forehead with the heel of his hand and said, “spirit of infirmity, be gone!” My hair would hurt when I’d have a migraine, and my wife will tell you, touching me was a no-no. So this guy hit me in the head and I haven’t had a migraine since. I don’t recommend that methodology to our prayer team people, but folks, God is God and he does what he wants.

The context of this verse in Matthew 11 on the violence of the Kingdom of God is Jesus talking with John the Baptist’s followers about John. Jesus asked them, “who did you go out in the desert to see, a man in soft clothing?” Is anyone else tired of the soft-clothing preachers who have words but don’t have any works to offer – who have “words” but the sick aren’t healed and the demons aren’t cast out? They ought to put signs out front – DUNAMIS-FREE ZONE, IT’S SAFE HERE – DEMONS WELCOME.

A couple verses later is Matthew 11:16-17. These verses are a bit perplexing. Jesus says; “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.” In other words, yours is a generation that is immature in the things of God. You are out there in the world thinking like children and this verse is about expectations and particularly how God isn’t doing what they set up for him to do. Is your church a church that dances to God’s tune or a church that tries to get God to dance to ours. I believe this to be the key issue each of us need to sort out– will we dance to God’s song, or wait til it’s over and try to get him to dance to ours?

God is not coming as we expect. He never limits himself to our expectations. He will not conform himself to our likeness, or liking. I heard Mike Bickle say once that “people are very comfortable with the Jesus in white, but not the Jesus in red.” The red is regarding the blood splattered on his garments when he returns to make war against the kings of the earth and violently remove everything that hinders love. As we near the end of the age, we can expect a great increase in the violent clash between the Kingdom of Light and the Kingdom of Darkness. Maybe next week I’ll preach the John 2:15 verse which talk about Jesus making a whip… 🙂 Would the Jesus you worship really make a whip?

UPDATED – Thanks to Andrew for commenting on this post and pointing us to this verse… 1 Kings 20:35f “Now a certain man of the sons of the prophets said to another BY THE WORD OF THE LORD, “Please STRIKE me.” But the man refused to strike him. Then he said to him, “Because you have not listened to the voice of the Lord, behold, as soon as you have departed from me, a lion will kill you.” And as soon as he had departed from him a lion found him and killed him. Then he found another man and said, “Please strike me.” And the man struck him, wounding him.”

Apparently, God does tell people to hit people.

We are getting ready at the Hickey household to send our kids to Kansas City. I’m really wishing I could go – a few uninterrupted weeks in the prayer room would do me good – and, even after being away for 18 years, in a sense, it’s still home. Thomas went down last summer to STI (now called ATC… what’s with the fixation with acronyms at IHOP-KC?). ATC stands for Awakening Teen Camp but I still slip and call it STI (which, last summer, stood for Summer Teen Intensive). Now the kids correct me when I say STI… “Dad?! Hello?! STI stands for sexually transmitted infections and that’s why its ATC this year.” Anyhoo, his sister is going this summer as well for this annual two-week summer intensive for high school students. But the big thing we are gearing up for here is sending Caleb in 60 days to start a four year program in Apostolic Preaching under Allen Hood at FSM in KC. (See what I mean about the acronyms?)

Here is an 11 minute taste of Allen Hood preaching at the OneThing conference. You will see why I’m excited to get Caleb to FSM. And, for what its worth, this clip alone nullifies all the smack talk against IHOP-KC. This is indeed a strategic equipping center for the Kingdom of God. Any who’ve said they preach another gospel are simply bearing false witness (one of the Ten Commandments by the way). The evangelical seminaries I went to didn’t preach this message with this boldness.

Thanks to Zack Hensley for finding this on YouTube. The video is a bit odd as the images really don’t relate to the message but it’s better than audio only.

Here I decided to make a post out of some comments from my earlier posts on the Florida Healing Outpouring – Todd Bentley and the Seat of Scoffers. Those posts can be found here, here and here. The fact that Todd Bentley claims an angel named Emma visited him is creating a bit of a stir from the on-line revival police (aka the “Bible Diests” to use a Jack Deere term). First, I’ll let you read about Emma from Bentley himself. Then I repost my reflections on this which I wrote in the comment section of one of the earlier posts mentioned above.

EMMA, ANGEL OF THE PROPHETIC by Todd Bentley (entire article here)

Now let me talk about an angelic experience with Emma. Twice Bob Jones asked me about this angel that was in Kansas City in 1980: “Todd, have you ever seen the angel by the name of Emma?” He asked me as if he expected that this angel was appearing to me. Surprised, I said, “Bob, who is Emma?” He told me that Emma was the angel that helped birth and start the whole prophetic movement in Kansas City in the 1980s. She was a mothering-type angel that helped nurture the prophetic as it broke out. Within a few weeks of Bob asking me about Emma, I was in a service in Beulah, North Dakota. In the middle of the service I was in conversation with Ivan and another person when in walks Emma. As I stared at the angel with open eyes, the Lord said, “Here’s Emma.” I’m not kidding. She floated a couple of inches off the floor. It was almost like Kathryn Khulman in those old videos when she wore a white dress and looked like she was gliding across the platform. Emma appeared beautiful and young-about 22 years old-but she was old at the same time. She seemed to carry the wisdom, virtue and grace of Proverbs 31 on her life.

She glided into the room, emitting brilliant light and colors. Emma carried these bags and began pulling gold out of them. Then, as she walked up and down the aisles of the church, she began putting gold dust on people. “God, what is happening?” I asked. The Lord answered: “She is releasing the gold, which is both the revelation and the financial breakthrough that I am bringing into this church. I want you to prophecy that Emma showed up in this service-the same angel that appeared in Kansas city-as a sign that I am endorsing and releasing a prophetic spirit in the church.” See, when angels come, they always come for a reason; we need to actually ask God what the purpose is. Within three weeks of that visitation, the church had given me the biggest offering I had ever received to that point in my ministry. Thousands of dollars! Thousands! Even though the entire community consisted of only three thousand people, weeks after I left the church the pastor testified that the church offerings had either doubled or tripled…

I believe Emma released a financial and prophetic anointing in that place. That was the first angel that I have ever seen in the form of a woman. Some angels I’ve seen seemed like they were neither male nor female. However, Emma appeared as a woman who was like a Deborah, like a mother in Zion. When she came, she began to mentor, nurture and opened up a prophetic well. The people in the church began having trances and visions and the pastor began getting words of knowledge and moving in healing. That congregation also saw more financial breakthrough than they had ever seen before.

Regarding your question about Todd Bentley and the angel Emma… Certainly angels visit people and speak to them. They are “ministering spirits sent to serve those who inherit salvation.” They are angelos – messengers. In Acts 8:26 an angel shows up and speaks to Philip about which road to go down to meet up with the Etheopian Eunuch. And, absolutely, angels have names – Gabriel, Michael, etc. Demons are fallen angels and we have numerous named fallen angels in Scripture – Legion, Abaddon, Lucifer, Prince of the Power of Persia, Mammon, Beelzbub, etc. Those in our deliverance ministry will tell you demonic spirits have identities that are often related to their assignments – spirit of perversion, spirit of division, spirit of infirmity or fear. Angels are no different, some minister before the throne of God, others in the dark corners of the earth. Some bring supply, some war on our behalf. They have assignments and identities. The seminaries I went to didn’t teach angelogy or demonology – they are good evangelical schools but they have no theology of the supernatural. I had to learn this stuff right from the Bible.

Angelic activity is increasing in the earth as is demonic activity and both will continue to increase until we reach the great conflict of the ages. I praise God for angelic activity, visitations and have several stories of personal interaction with angels myself and many, many more visitations and sightings at our church.

That an angel named Emma or “Winds of Change” visited these revival leaders is nothing to fret about at all. Even the fact that Satan comes as an “angel of light” says volumes about how active angels are in the world and the Body of Christ today. Satan is just trying to blend in with what God is doing and pull a few people off course.

God send more angels! Each weekend at Church at the Gate I ask for God to send angels to minister and bring the atmosphere of heaven in our worship services. Spiritually sensitive people frequently, almost weekly, comment to me they see angels in worship at our church or around the premises or in prayer meetings. Why are we surprised and skeptical? The Bible says they are ministering spirits send to serve us?

I’ll share one personal story. My wife and I were in Idaho praying with a another couple. The man said, “Pastor Steve do you know that you have angels around you right now?” I said, “I guess, aren’t they all around?” I meant like in a generic way, aren’t angels out and about anyways? He said, “open your eyes.” I did and I looked and saw two huge angels, one on my right and one on my left.

My wife didn’t see them. But I did and so did he. A week later I was back home and was heading to the church at 6 AM on a Sunday morning. I was tired, not ready to preach, discouraged, beat up, etc. As I drove to church I prayed that God would help me and that he’d send those two angels to me again, the one on the right and the one on the left and that they would pouring refreshment and strength over my life.

In our second worship service that day I was praying and notably in full strength again. At the conclusion of the service, a college girl in our church, now married, named Marissa, came up to me with a note written on the blank half of her Sunday bulletin. I have the note under the clear plastic mat on the top of my desk. The note basically says, “Pastor Steve, while you were praying in the service today I peeked and saw two massive angels standing over you pouring bowls of refreshment on you, one was on your right and one was on your left. I thought you’d want to know.”

Marissa will tell you today that she had no idea I’d seen those angels the week before or asked God to send them to me again that day. Today I welcome angelic activity, visitations and sightings do nothing except fire up my faith that God is at work in our midst! Imagine though that I were to “go public” (as Bentley has) with the fact that two “angels of refreshment” visited me twice. I suppose the unloving and anonymous heresy hunters would have my hide too. I’m thrilled to hear angels are visiting Todd Bentley. I hope angels visit you too.

Be careful of listening to the scoffers online whose “doctrine” is based on their experience in things supernatural – or in this case their lack of experience. The Word of God says God uses angels to minister to us and even speak to us.

UPDATED: A big thanks to LadyofFe for sharing this verse in the comments section. The verse speaks of two female angels “Then lifted I up mine eyes, and looked, and behold, there came out two women, and the wind was in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork….” Zechariah 5:9 This is an interesting and important reference as some in the seat of scoffers are making the absurb claim that angels can only appear as men.

This is my third post discussing those discussing Todd Bentley and the Florida Outpouring. If you have yet to read the earlier posts you can do so here, and here. Two weeks ago I ventured down to Lakeland for a few days with some folks from our church. This past Sunday I decided to devote my message to what is unfolding there. Those of you who are used to a 25 minute sermonette each week will need to take this in two parts because it’s 58 minutes long. It’s probably easier to grab it off itunes and plop in on your ipod, or you can get it off the podcast link below which is on our church website. Feedback is welcome though I prefer you read the earlier posts first before commenting as I’m not interested in giving scoffers a greater platform.

Is this that? Relections on the Florida Outpouring – Matthew 11:1-19

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.

I share Randy Bohlender’s sentiments

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?

Sorry to disappear from the blogosphere for a few days. I hope you were able to function for a few days without my life-giving insights into whatever I’m interested in. (Blame a $39 a night La Quinta hotel room that promised wireless internet but apparently the wires were missing that would have made it actually work.)

We just got back from Birmingham late last night. Went with 11 CATG peeps to Church of the Highlands for a spectacular church planting conference. Many things are rolling around in my head right now that will soon gel into more vision and passion for what we are doing right here in SD!

It’s always great to travel with friends. Lots of laughs… like yesterday when Pastor Dennis mis-spoke during a conversation about his baldness and talked about his using viagra and how that didn’t help his hair grow (he later tried to assure us he meant to say rogaine.) We flew from Birmingham to Dallas with Brian Houston – that was cool for the star-struck among us. I want to publicly thank Kathy for packing light this time… we knew you could do it!

Here’s some highlights:

– The greatest church planting “tool” is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told his followers after three years of equipping… stay here in the upper room until you get what you really need to go out and take territory. Jesus sent people out to plant churches with POWER!

– Great word from Brian Houston on how we often focus on what we don’t have and only take notice of the lack… we miss what is right here in our own house- people, potential. We learned THE Darlene Zschech was once just a lady in his church named Darlene – now her song made America Idols top ten list – shout to the Lord! We often don’t see the “oil” in our own “house” because it doesn’t look like its going to look like when God touches it. We’ve got to raise people in our midst up and release them!

– Regarding prayer… a man on his face never falls from that position. Do we as leaders, at our core, really believe that prayer matters? How we run our ministries reveals whether or not we really believe that is true. The hard days in prayer are more important to God than the easy days.

More later…

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