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Though some are probably smiling, I found it quite sad yesterday to hear about Todd Bentley getting separated from his wife. Thousands every day speaking word curses over him (that was the main point of all my blog posts on him) – a demonic full frontal assault all on a guy with a lot flaws and a lot of growth and maturity yet ahead of him. Ministry is extremely hard and even harder when you step out and get radical for God and the Kingdom. The devil plays hardball when it comes to ministry families. And, who knows what was going on with Todd, but so many ministry guys serve Jesus and let their wives serve them. We miss warning signals and convince ourselves that things are better than they really are.

I hope you are moved to pray for Todd Bentley and his family. The God who can heal bodies can certainly touch a marriage. The devil likes to claim victory but God may have something even greater up his sleave in terms of redemptive purposes here. It’s still about Jesus.

I really like Lee Grady and know him from when I had my book published with Strang. His commentary on this matter is good even though I take a different view at a number of key points. I resonated with his statement, “it wasn’t supposed to end like this.” But then again, God is big and can bring good out of bad and whether you do or not, God loves Todd Bentley.

I agree with Grady’s assessment that what we saw in Lakeland was “raw zeal for God” but disagree there was a wholesale casting aside of discernment. I’m sad because it’s a step back perhaps for a lot of people and those I was trying to temper in my posts will surely shift now from being scoffers to gloaters. Those who are already connecting dots between Bentley’s controversial teachings and practices and his marriage troubles will have trouble explaining to me why the wives of the more “orthodox” guys (like Pastor Charles Stanley) sometimes leave too. All eyes on Jesus and we’ll grow from this too.

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The answer to the question – can God heal Fibromyalgia? – is YES! The Bible says, he forgives all our sins and heals ALL our diseases! (Psalm 103:3) There isn’t one disease or diagnosis that is beyond his ability or desire to heal today. I hope that is a hopeful truth for somebody who is hurting right now.

I’m led to post on this topic today because people very close to me, whom I love dearly, are getting pummeled by Fibromyalgia. We have seen God physically heal people here at Church at the Gate in numbers into the three digits. However, we have only seen what I’d call temporary relief as we pray for healing from Fibromyalgia so far. Also, I’m hearing Fibromyalgia being regularly called out through the Word of Knowledge in healing and revival meetings throughout America – I do believe the Great Physician is giving great and full victory to many people from this devasting infirmity. I have more many more questions than answers – so pardon my ignorance – is this only an American malady? I’ve seen/heard nothing of it in the healing meetings I’ve attended overseas. I want to hear from those of you who have been freed of Fibromyalgia where ever you are.

If you, or anyone you know has been healed by God from Fibromyalgia, please share your story here in the comment section of this post. The Bible says we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the WORD OF OUR TESTIMONY. If you have been healed of Fibromyalgia, please share your testimony for the benefit of others here. If you have experienced any victory from Fibromyalgia through Christian healing prayer, please share that here. If you know of someone who has been supernaturally healed of Fibromyalgia, encourage them to share their testimony here.

Our local newspaper today did a brief story on “Mysterious Fibromyalgia.” (The link is to the original article in the Jackson Clarion Ledger.) The subheading is “Chronic pain brings on insomnia, depression, loss of brain activity and IS INCURABLE.” The last two words paint a hopeless picture. Here’s the opening paragraph of the artcle…

Imagine hurting all over, every day, with a physical exhaustion that never completely subsides, not even with adequate sleep and rest. Add insomnia, brain fog, and depression. The worst part – there’s no cure. Sufferers of fibromyalgia don’t have to imagine that nightmare. They live it. Daily.

The article gives these facts… according to the National Fibromyalgia Association, 3-6% of the population suffers from it. Women are most affected by it. And, there are physicians that don’t believe the disease even exists.

I’ve spoken recently with some of our doctors and it’s a mixed bag – some think it’s a “catch all” diagnosis for something that no one can really explain. One said she never saw these symtoms twenty years ago and now she sees them every day in her office. Others say “its real” and relief can be found in various treatments – acupuncture, chiropractic care, osteopathy, pain meds, etc. but that there is no cure or any real understanding of root causes. I’ve spoken to some of our counselors and mental health people about it – some say they have found it relates to previous trauma or (sexual) abuse. Some of my friends in healing and deliverance ministry also say this is the case, and this is how a demonic spirit of infirmity first gains access – through some trauma or abuse. I was given a Gulf War Vet newsletter minutes ago that says the United States military now lists Fibromyalgia at the top of the list of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder manifestations.

I am no expert, nor am I a doctor. Those of you reading this who suffer from Fibromyagia know light years more about this than I. If you are struggling with Fibromyalgia, I hope you’ll join the conversation here and dialog with others who comment here about their victory. I do welcome you to comment about your journey into supernatural healing and even mentioning how people have prayed for you in not-very-helpful-ways (as long as you stay positive about it). I think there is something to learn from unsuccessful well-intentioned attempts at divine healing.

I seek no controversial debate or attack here, nor do I want to lay a lack-of-faith guilt-trip on those who honestly and desperately desire a touch from God. I have a pastoral heart and desire to see God touch peoples lives. I’ve seen him do amazing things and I know he loves people. I’m throwing this post out there to solicit comments from people who’ve seen God heal Fibromyalgia. The most valuable thing about this post is not in what I have to say, it will be in what these folks share. In fact, I probably won’t offer much in the comments section because again, I’m not an expert and have little more to say. I would welcome comments from people in healing and deliverance ministries who have insights into how to pray for healing for people suffering from Fibromyalgia and more importantly, what are the spiritual dynamics behind this infirmity. The article I quoted above said there is some thought that this is genetic. But even there, I don’t want this to be a medical discussion. I’m asking for testimonies of how God healed people of Fibromyalgia and graceful dialog about the spiritual realities here. I’m hoping hope comes forth.

Here are just a couple “rules” for this post and commenting. I don’t want to hear anything about turning to Buddhism for relief or anything like TM, yoga, Oprah, or anything other than Jesus and Biblical Christianity. If you suggest anything else is our hope, I’ll delete that comment immediately. Jesus is our only hope. If you are among those who’ve given up hope concluding Fibromyalgia is your “lot in life” I’d rather you not share that here either. If you think it’s God’s Will that you are sick, I’d rather that get discussed elsewhere also. Not here. Really, if we are unsure it’s God’s Will we have relief from Fibromyagia we better sort that out before we even go to a doctor seeking relief. With that thinking, taking meds would go against what God wants for you. I don’t like to debate if healing is God’s will and don’t want to open that can of worms here. I just want to pray for the sick and let God be God. I want to hear testimonies of the grace of God. I do know God uses suffering and that there are redemptive purposes for pain but I also know one of the reasons God allows sickness is to reveal himself as Healer.

My sole purpose and hope in bringing this up is to provide a place where one beggar can share with another beggar where they found bread. I’m not the baker. But I know the answer is in the one who multiplies the loaves.

ABC Nightline’s feature last night on Todd Bentley and the Florida Healing Outpouring was hardly favorable. Is anyone surprised? Gnat-straining camel swallowers in the Body of Christ were given much to delight and gloat over. The lost watching world was shown what the devil would want them to see. Todd Bentley was surely disappointed. Obadiah 1:12 came to me early this morning… “Do not gloat over your brother’s day of misfortune.” I’m sure few, if any, among those in the seat of scoffers will be restrained by this verse, or any other, for that matter.

I’ve been to the meetings in Lakeland. It was apparent to me the ABC Nightline folks went there to get the angle they were after and they got it. They missed much as well. They found a precious wheelchair-bound girl on the streets of Lakeland who has had multiple unfortunate encounters with the revival’s street evangelism teams who, no doubt with good intentions, invited (and probably pressured) her to the attend the healing meetings. She shared the pain of people being insensitive to her. I could fully relate as my father-in-law has been wheelchair-bound for nearly 60 years since he contracted polio at age 14. My wife has numerous stories growing up of being in places like the parking lot at Billy Graham Crusades being accosted by people on the way out that told him he’d “get up out of the chair if he only had faith.” This isn’t what the street evangelism teams told the girl in Lakeland, but the effect was the same. I attended the street evangelism training in Lakeland last month and yes, they do need to give people a briefing on sensitivity to the feelings of the infirmed before they send them out.

But, the faithful hitting the streets in Lakeland have something the rest of the church doesn’t, that being… boldness. They are not sent forth with a spirit of timidity, but rather full bold faith in the power of God. Can a person walking in apostolic boldness simultaneously walk in great sensitivity? Yes. But this is a grace that doesn’t typically come initially. Boldness must be tempered by wisdom and discernment. Rather than criticize the street evangelism teams, we need to pray that they walk in wisdom and power, love and compassion.

ABC Nightline could have worked harder to find positive encounters out there on the street – like the lady I heard about when I was there who was planning to commit suicide the day she met a loving couple from the revival in a grocery store parking lot. That lady was baptized in love and hope in that parking lot and gave her life to Jesus Christ.

ABC Nightline found a local shop keeper who viewed the revival negatively. Maybe they should have interviewed the mayor and city council members and got a comment or two on the fact that Todd Bentley, who for 100 days has brought 5000-10,000 people daily to the city, is responsible for bringing millions and millions and millions of dollars into the city’s economy. I’d guess there are mayors all over America who would love to have something like this grace their city. Instead they predictably dug up Bentley’s dark past but neglected to report on his dramatic conversion to Jesus Christ and subsequent dozen years of ministry to the poor, the orphans and hurting worldwide.

ABC Nightline is incapable of any sort of favorable story on anything remotely Christian. I’m not even convinced they are telling the truth when they reported “not one single miracle could be independently verified.” Wow- that went across the airwaves turning the hearts of many against what is happening in Lakeland. But, I can point them to a verifiable miracle. I’ve even seen doctors on the platform in Lakeland standing alongside the healed to testify. Those stewarding the revival apparently need to spoon-feed stories to the media in their media packet but even then, Jesus spoke of a deep-seated societal unbelief, so deep that people won’t even be convinced when the dead are raised right before their eyes. ABC Nightline has a deep-seated disbelief for sure. The light is veiled from their eyes.

But hello, again, getting ABC Nightline to do a favorable story on anything Christian is about as likely as getting the Code Pink gals to do a favorable piece on the Iraq War. ABC and every other main stream media outlet has a distinct and secular (which means godless or without God) agenda. They are the spokespeople for the godless left and are keenly aware that the only thing standing in the way of gay marriage, abortions and decency in broadcasting is THE CHURCH.

I deal with the media here far more than I like because my role in the abortion battle in our state. More times than I can count I’ve found it maddening that the pro-life position is maligned and misrepresented by the media. We hand them facts and stories and testimonies on a silver platter and they don’t even do a story. We got 100 pro-life doctors together for a press conference in ’06 and we had to beg the media to even show up. Yet, Planned Parenthood propaganda gets released and the media parades it across the headlines. Do we not see that these are the same types “reporting” on what is unfolding in Lakeland. They operate in the same denomic spirit. These are the very people who feed the global warming fears with story after story and fully ignore the vast amount of scientific expertise that says its all hoax and false alarm. Are we surprised they found nothing to verify in Lakeland? I’m not.

Many in my world believe an end-time revival is coming that will spread, in part, due to God touching the main stream media. I first grabbed onto these prophecies in the late 80’s when I lived in Kansas City. I still believe them to be true. However, I also know as we more fully enter the end of the age, the world will rage against the people of God. The people of God will be singled out for ridicule and reproach. Jesus said woe to you when men speak well of you. In other words, if they like us, we apparently aren’t much like Him (Jesus). The same hungry and hurting people who liked and flocked to Jesus are the same people who like and flock to Todd Bentley. The same people who feverishly tried to nail Jesus to the tree are the same types trying to nail Bentley today. That’s interesting to note isn’t it?

If you haven’t been to Lakeland to take this all in first hand, here’s one additional important thing ABC Nightline missed. They missed that there is more going on here than one sees on the stage. Most Christians can only imagine what it would be like to stand in such an atmosphere of faith. In this economy, people who buy airline tickets to get closer to where they hear God is moving are desperately hungry people. God always honors that hunger. Being in a tent with 5000-10000 people with that level of hunger places a heavy draw on heaven to visit earth. I’d rather be in that atmosphere any day than among the “Bible Deists” whose only hope for well-being is that their doctor will continue to dish out their antidepressants week after week. I’d rather be in the room with people who bought airline tickets to get a touch from God than sit in all these scoffing churches with people who aren’t hungry enough to drive a couple miles to church more than 2-3 Sunday mornings a month. This ABC Nightline story could have covered the OBVIOUS spiritual hunger in our land. They could have interviewed people who have given up hope on the pharmaceutical and health care industries, people who have no hope but God.


I hope you’ll also read my other posts on Todd Bentley and the Florida Outpouring. My main focus in all of these is that we ought to be really careful that we are not calling unclean what God has called clean. “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:2
Revival in Florida – Todd Bentley and the Seat of Scoffers part one
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?
Todd Bentley, C. Peter Wagner and apostolic alignment at the Florida Healing Outpouring
Florida Revival – Todd Bentley answers his critics, Dr. Gary S. Greig gets healed and provides an independent theological witness
A parody; the doctrine police take a break from straining gnats at the Lakeland Healing Outpouring to take aim at Psalm 23
Florida Healing Outpouring – Is Todd Bentley a New Age Mystic?

So far I’ve cranked out eight posts on this subject – perhaps I should have waited as Todd Bentley just produced his own seven page response to his critics and those concerned. Perhaps far more valuable is this (which some will miss because its at the end of the paper – so I’ll paste it here)…

Dr. Gary S. Greig, PhD., a former Associate Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Regent University School of Divinity, and Senior Editor, Theology and Acquisitions for the Regal Publishing Group. In his letter, this biblical scholar and theologian shared that the Lord had healed him of sleep apnea while entering into worship while watching a telecast of the Lakeland Outpouring. He wrote that the Lord prompted him to write and send us an independent theological witness to help as many leaders and believers as possible understand that the Lakeland Outpouring is from God. That by writing this theological response to questions and criticisms in: Biblical Reasons to Receive God’s Glory and Give it Away in Power Evangelism, that as many as possible would receive “biblical permission” to get on board and fully commit to receiving the Lord’s glory and anointing, and to give it away in power evangelism. This paper is written at a high level of scholarship for pastors, church leaders, and theologians yet is understandable to the layperson. The Lord told Dr. Greig to “sow into the revival,” not by publishing this 55 page booklet in a conventional way, but by donating it to Fresh Fire Ministries to use as we will, even if it’s just as an encouragement to the ministry.

Big thanks to Dr. Greig and praise God for touching this man. This is huge and an answer to my prayers! I encourage everyone to read it, especially those who are honestly searching all this out right now. More of this and we’ll see evangelicals start to open up to the move of God. You can download Dr. Greig’s booklet here.

Now, here’s Todd’s paper:

Lifting Jesus High!
Bringing Biblical Light to Your Questions about
the Lakeland Outpouring & Todd Bentley

June 8, 2008

Dear Friends,

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and for hearing my heart on some of the issues that seems to be causing division and some confusion in the Body of Christ. Read the rest of this entry »

I offer this parody to compliment what I’ve already written on the Florida Healing Outpouring, Todd Bentley and all the anonymous heresy hunters online who stay in the shadows slinging arrows (Ps 64) at others in the Bride of Christ. (Shadows remember, are a form of darkness).

In any case, someone sent me what it might look like if the same types presently picking on Todd Bentley and the Florida Outpouring were to turn their guns toward Psalm 23. Enjoy. Who knows who wrote this but I thank them. In case you are wondering, the reference to “straining gnats” comes from Matthew 23:24 – “You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.”


HERESY HUNTERS INSTITUTE, INC.
Address unlisted

Dear brother,

Thank you for sending us the questionable document. We are always glad to examine any teaching materials that may adversely affect the Church. We do think that this material is dangerous and certainly want to warn the Body of Christ concerning its subtle false doctrines. Read the rest of this entry »

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.

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

If you’ve not yet read my earlier post on Todd Bentley, the Florida Healing Outpouring and the Seat of Scoffers, please read that first. This post is a follow-up to that earlier post and the stream of comments it provoked.

Since I wrote that post, I have spent three days and nights in Lakeland at the outpouring. A couple of those days I was with my friend Randy Bohlender.  I concur with his assessments and refer you to his blog for those. Basically Randy notes there are a ton of hungry people there – and some strange folks as well (who can control who comes to a public meeting?). Randy notes… this is mostly God and there’s more going on than you see on TV.

My focus in blogging on this twice now has been to counter some of trash talk out there from the supposedly “Christian” self-appointed, anonymous, unaccountable, unfruitful, on-line revival police – these unloving people are sowing a fear of deception in the Body of Christ robbing many people of an innocent faith in a God who only gives good gifts to his children. They hinder children wanting to come to Jesus. These people only have faith for a counterfeit to show up on the scene. I’m now deleting most of the comments from those sitting in the seat of scoffers because they are missing the point of my posts. I’m not dialoging here about the rightness or wrongness of tattoos or any of the other things people are finding wrong about this revival. Most of what is coming in is mass “pasting” of links and selected Scriptures shot as arrows from places of concealment (Ps. 64).

I have my own growing list of relevant Scriptures. Read these carefully and you’ll begin to see my point. After that, I will share some very important things I heard said in Lakeland by the leaders there.

Romans 14:1,4,12,14 “do not pass judgment on disputable matters… who are you to judge someone else’s servant? …each of us will give an account of himself to God… let us stop passing judgment on one another…

Ephesians 4:29-30 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

In one of the comments in my previous post, a fellow took after me calling me “gay” and “limp-wristed” for not speaking against this… he then swore. He did send a follow-up comment the next morning to apologize. I forgive him, but this is my point… unwholesome talk is coming out of the mouths of people right now – the Spirit is being grieved – praise and cursing don’t come from the same mouth. These folks need to repent, and not to me, it’s not my revival. Jesus nailed these folks to the wall…

Matthew 12:34-37… You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Here it is again from the Message… “You have minds like a snake pit! How do you suppose what you say is worth anything when you are so foul-minded? It’s your heart, not the dictionary, that gives meaning to your words. A good person produces good deeds and words season after season. An evil person is a blight on the orchard. Let me tell you something: Every one of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you. There will be a time of Reckoning. Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation.”

Regarding the reaction of some to what is happening at the revival – 2 Corinthians 2:14… “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

Regarding Todd Bentley – 1 Corinthians 1:27… “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise

Proverbs 12:18… “Reckless words pierce like a sword, the tongue of the wise brings health.”

And my personal favorite – Philippians 4:8-9… “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Why don’t people focus on the good stuff going on here? Jesus is the focus of these meetings – that is indisputable. God’s Word is sung for hours, preached, there are powerful altar calls where people are getting saved. I was a part of a training where 600 people were trained in the basics of street evangelism and sent out in the community of Lakeland to witness and pray for people. The stories and testimonies coming back were awesome. 120 people were saved in the three days I was there through the work of these street evangelists. Nearly all of those going out into the streets have never done that before and were nervous-as-can-be. We should be praying for them. These hyper-critical scoffers on-line ought to log off indefinitely and go out in their communities to win the lost. But here’s the deal there… they have no life to offer the dying. They are so caught up in the “ministry” of killing what God is doing.

Why not focus on this… this is a picture of a seven year old boy who was severely cross-eyed five minutes previous. Now his eyes are normal and his mom and family members were absolutely beside themselves. The boy talked about Jesus touching him and how he loves Jesus. It made 8000 people cry. The scoffers have what to say about this?? They are blind to what God is doing here.

This revival started in Ignited Church which is pastored by Stephen Strader. Strader spoke in a morning session about what it was like to pastor something like this and how hard it was to be on the brunt end of merciless criticism from people supposedly in our camp. He said when this started April 2, God spoke to him to “not steady the ark.” People were calling saying “correct this” and “rein this in” but Strader says “we sensed we were not to steady the ark.” He’s referring to the time the oxen stumbled while bringing the ark of the covenant into the city of Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6). Uzzah reach out to steady the ark and God struck him down for his irreverent act. David took six steps and sacrificed a bull and fattened calf.

DON’T “STEADY THE ARK”

Pastor Strader and Todd Bentley are stewarding the presence of God here trying to usher it into cities around the world by imparting what God has given them to those who come wanting it where they live. And they sense they aren’t to “steady the ark.” Instead, Strader and Bentley are following David’s example in taking six steps and then sacrificing. Six is the number of man and Strader says they are interpreting this as representing the hand of man and how they are to do all they know to do, and then pray. For six days they are doing what the leaders collective experiences and counsel and wisdom say but then they are stopping on the seventh day and offering themselves up.

Strader preached a message on May 4 explaining why they sense they are to let the wheat grow with the tares. The message is called “The Wheat and the Tares” and includes this illustration:

(My paraphrase) Down the street is one of my favorite places to eat – it has a great buffet. But on that buffet are beets and I hate beets. But I don’t walk in the restaurant and make a scene and scream out to the manager – “This restaurant has beets on the buffet, get rid of them!” I’m not out spreading a bad report in the city saying “this restaurant has beets and the manager won’t get rid of them. This whole restaurant is bad and will kill you and everyone eating there is being poisoned!

Pastor Strader’s point is just come to the buffet and eat – stay away from the beets if you don’t like them. There are a lot of other things being offered here. Let’s focus on all the good things!

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