Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My Thoughts on the Lakeland Outpouring

Before Pete Moon spoke on Sunday night I made some comments on what is being called the Lakeland Revival (or elsewhere on the internet seems to be called the Lakewood or Florida Revival). I thought I'd repeat them here for the benefit of those who weren't there on Sunday night and make some additional comments.

I want to be clear that I haven't actually been to Florida to experience what is going on first hand. My comments are based on having seen coverage of what is happening on God TV and YouTube, hearing from people who have been there and some very helpful comments made by Terry Virgo at the last Newfrontiers prayer and fasting.

Firstly I want to question the use of the term revival which is being used to describe what is happening. We need to be clear that revival isn't a term used in the Bible so we can't be pedantic, but revival in the historical sense (as Ben has been preaching over the last few weeks) is a move of God which changes culture. That would be true of the 1904 Welsh Revival, what God did through Wesley and Whitefield in the 18th Century or William Booth and the Salvation Army in Victorian times. What is happening in Lakeland seems to me much more similar to what happened in Toronto and Pensacola, where God poured out his Spirit in a fresh way, but has yet to develop into what we would all long for, a genuine transformation of first us as the church and then society as a whole.

Secondly I'd encourage us never to accept anything simply based on how it makes us feel or whether miracles seem to be taking place without measuring it against what the Bible teaches. One of the phrase that seems to be have been used in Lakeland is "let your brain get blown away" which simply isn't a mature or Biblical outlook. One of the key passages for me would be in Acts where we read "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true". This was people examining what Paul who wrote much of the New Testament had to say, so how much more must we be measuring what gets taught by people who don't have that pedigree - I want us to be a noble people too. Another key passage would be in Matthew where Jesus taught "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'. I believe with a passion that God still heals today, the gifts of the Spirit are for today and that miracles still happen today, but we don't go after those things at the expense of being people of the word as well as the Spirit.

Thirdly speaking to people who have been to Florida they said there were things going on there which they struggled with. Particularly a large emphasis being put on angelic visitations and not a huge amount of talking about Jesus. I think Todd Bentley, who is the main leader at the centre of all that is taking place, has a style we would struggle with if he came to The Kerith Centre! However, that has often been true of people God has used powerfully in the past. To take one example Smith Wigglesworth on occasions punched people to get cancers out of them, so let's not let the fact that someone is different and at times controversial get in the way of us hearing what God has to say through them.

But having said all that those I have spoken to who have been there have said there was an undeniable sense of the presence of God, and genuine healings on a scale they'd never seen before. They also felt they'd very much brought back with them some of what God had been doing there.

So for me my longing would be that we remain very much open to God breaking in amongst us in a fresh way. I've got a growing expectation that we're going to see an increase in God healing people, and I've got a renewed desire to pray for the sick whenever I get the opportunity. I believe that breakthrough is coming, although we must be prepared that when it comes it might not look how we expected it to look. I do long for something which is more than just an outpouring where we all get filled with the Holy Spirit and fall over, to something where we start to see people being saved and added in huge numbers and society being changed. Let our prayer be "your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" - more heaven on earth is what we need.

Finally to say that all of this is my opinion and may not represent the views of all our other elders. We will be talking about this more as an eldership team as one of the responsibilities of the elders is to be the gate keepers of the church and decide what comes in and what gets left outside!

I hope that's been helpful - it's taken me a complete Champions League final including extra time and penalties to write so I hope it was worth it! Comments as always are very welcome.

Simon.

13 comments:

Chris said...

Thanks Simon. 1 Thess 5:19 - 22 has really helped me as I struggled with some of the things being said in the Lakeland outpouring:

"19Do not put out the Spirit's fire; 20do not treat prophecies with contempt. 21Test everything. Hold on to the good. 22Avoid every kind of evil."

What you've written, though, cuts to the heart of the issues and it's very much appreciated by me. I've sent it on to a few folks here in Bath, who may find it helpful. ;)

DC said...

Simon - I wasn't around on Sunday evening but this is all really helpful stuff. I've always been a bit skeptical of these kinds of things.

In terms of seeing healings and signs and wonders, I've always believed that it shouldn't be our desire to see amazing things that should drive our passion for 'revival' but as per Jesus' commands - love your neigbour as yourselves - this should be our driving ambition. The signs and wonders are the manifestation or by-product of us following Jesus' commands and praying for the sick out of our love for them, not our desire to see God's 'magic'.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comments Simon, very helpful and insightful.

Eileen

Reginald said...

Simon,

I couldn’t agree with you more. Coming from a charismatic background, I have seen a lot of stuff which the Holy Spirit inside of me has come against. Having a discerning spirit is one of the many gifts the Holy Spirit gives and by discerning comes by knowing the Word of God. Now I’m not admitting being a Billy Graham but if the Spirit inside you kicks against what is going on then God is trying to tell you something. If you simply except what other people excepts as being right you likely to get hurt. But in God’s infinite love for His children His always there to pick us up where others have left us. My prayer is for a Spirit of discernment in God’s Church in order for God’s Kingdom to grow!

Val C. said...

I have never heard of the Lakeland outpouring neither do I watch the God channel so found your comments Simon very measured and helpful. We are fortunate indeed to have you as our leader and to know that you will always firstly look to the Word of God rather than to be swept away by a trend or simply be guided by feelings.
Many of us remember the Toronto blessing and the River of God meetings that followed on from that. God seemed to be upon us in a specially powerful way but I think that most of us looked for an overflow from the Church into the Town.
I agree let's be ready for anything that God will do with us, but pray especially that God will change us and our culture.
Have a good weekend and thanks again for all the many ways both you and Catrina minister to us.

SuzanneW said...

Thank you Simon, for spending so long writing this very wise and helpful insight into the 'Lakeland Revival'.

I too, have not heard of it but I know when the 'Toronto Blessing' was about, I found the whole thing very spiritually confusing - mainly people's differing opinions and attitudes.

What you have said, sits very comfortably with me as it is so biblically based - something we need to continually get back to in order to remain level-headed.

Have a nice weekend away.

Suzanne

Matty said...

"let your brain get blown away" is a colloquialism used in many countries which simply means "be amazed" or "be in awe" and means nothing more.

We stand in awe of an incredible God who created the universe in 6 days, filling it with an amazing array of life. To not be blown away by such a God would be hard hearted.

We even have worship songs with lines such as "I stand awe of you".
In fact we are commanded in the bible to stand in awe of God - Psalms 33v8.
I get the picture of a little child looking up in awe. Child-like faith has room for awe and amazement at our God.

Also mentioned as a negative report was "clear you minds", which is an exhortation to take ones mind off of the heaviness of the worlds worries and allow the stillness of God's peace to enter as we set our gaze on him - read Psalms 23. Still waters. Still waters. And Im sure those waters are clear waters too.

Anonymous said...

I visited a preacher in Dudley last Saturday evening, Trevor Baker (I believe Ken Bothamly knows him)was preaching, he had just returned from Florida where he had spent time with God and Todd! He is roumored to have brought the fire back to the Uk. What an amazing evening! There was no talk of brains being blown out, no one emptied their mind. The presence of God was outstanding, the worship was several levels above anything I have ever seen and the Holy Spirit was present in all His Glory. I witnessed an amazing outpouring of healings that night along with almost two dozen people declare Jesus as their saviour. Over 1500 people were annointed with oil from Florida which Trevor had brought. If its not classified as a revival yet, I pray that it will continue to gorw and that whan it does, Bracknell, and the Kerith will be strongly involved. I am off to Florida in August, and plan to visit Todd wherever he may be by that time. I can understand the reluctance to become involved (I do see Todd as extravagent in his manner), but as Simon said, he has not seen an awful lot of what is going on. Maybe a visit to Florida is unrealistic, but a trip to Dudley? I dont think it would hurt anyone to visit and then make their own decisions.

See you next week.

Carolyn

orthodox said...

Hi Simon

I am not part of Bracknell Family Church - but was a few years back when I lived in the area. I occasionally check your blog for Bracknell news....

I am privileged to have just returned from Florida, where I was able to visit the Lakeland meetings.

The tangible sense of the Presence of God was certainly the most remarkable feature …..at times as if we were standing in heaven. My theological perspectives follow.

We are familiar with the concept of renewing our minds, but so often we equate this with having good theology.

It is when we are confronted with the Presence of God that we realize that despite our good theology, some of our attitudes stink. Certainly, this was my experience!

In the Kingdom of God, we have the privilege of facilitating the activity of God by our faith. Our level of experience of the Kingdom is thus generally according to our faith.

What is occurring in Lakeland is an outbreak of the activity of God, significantly beyond the faith of those involved in organizing the meetings.

In my experience such encounters give opportunity for us to realign our souls with heaven, which I guess for us all is an opportunity to be grabbed with both hands.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Simon Benham said...

Hi all,

Thanks for all the comments which I've found very interesting. I was particularly interested in those from orthodox (can I encourage people to use their names in comments) as they've actually been to Lakeland.

I still stand by my original comments that we need to be open to what is happening in Florida but test everything against scripture. Let's be believing for God to break in powerfully amongst us in a way which changes culture.

Simon.

matty (Matthew Wicks) said...

Hi
On Saturday night my wife and I got home at about 11pm. We turned on GOD tv to see Todd Bentley praying for dental miracles. We raised our hands and asked Jesus for gold fillings. I felt nothing but went upstairs to check and PRAISE GOD there were 6 GOLD FILLINGS in my teeth. My wifes single filling had also turned to GOLD.
All doubting Thomases are formally invited to come round and see my mouth in all its God given shiny glory :)

On of the blog comments calls the miracles "magic". Magic is an art of deception and the father of Magic is the father of lies. Interestingly in Matthew 12, we see the religious leaders accuse Jesus of the same thing when they see the miracles. Matthew 12 is happening all over again!
Helpfully for us in the context of this blog, Jesus refutes the accusation by going on to explain how Satan does not liberate people from disease and bondage, because that would weaken Satan's kingdom.

If the fruits of Lakeland are deliverance, healings and outpourings of the fruit of the Spirit (renewal of Joy, Peace, Love and fervour for Jesus) then we need to consider Matthew chapter 12 before classifying Christ's miracles along with the devil's lies.

luap said...

Simon,

Hi from an expat living in Fl. [about 135 miles from Lakeland]
Interesting to read of what is happening there....
I have been asked by 3 friends from UK about this and before I was directed to your blog,had actually referred to revival in somewhat the same 'frame work' that you had done.
Its a word that gets 'bandied' around much over here in what is the Bible Belt and is often advertised outside of churches announcing a 'revival' to take place at such and such a time in the future.much like we used to use the term , 'campaign' in byegone English days.
Coming back to the question of what is happening in Lakeland, with your indulgence, I would like to make a few comments.
To begin with. I would like to ask a few questions.What is it that makes news over in UK but not here?
It reminds me of the so called 'revival' in Pensecola a few years back [again in Florida] and the one in Toronto in the early 90's.
As you have rightly commented...Genuine revivals like Hebrides and the Welsh revival were ,if my history is correct, affected the community and the morals,such as they were, of the surrounding community..
Others that have been movements of the Holy Spirit in Ruanda and other such places had the same effect.When we look at the local revivals,so called, in Lakeland and Pensecola [the latter of which I had some personal knowledge,as my next door neighbour,an Assemblies of God man, visited there often.] these seem to be more 'in house' phenomenon... attracting a kind of Christian who is always looking for manifestations of the Spirit etc.

Martin Lloyd Jones in commentating on the Welsh revival and the extrordinary outpouring of the Holy Spirit, suggested that there are periods in which God pours out his Spirit and there are periods in which we exist as believers in our daily walk before God.

As someone who witnessed first hand what God did through His Spirit in the UK in the late 60's and onward, I am reluctant to question too closely what is happening in Lakeland but would rather take the view that Gamiel espoused in Acts 5:39...If this activity is of human origin-it will fail but if it is of GOD-you will not be able to stop it.
God knows we need an outpouring of His Spirit upon this land and State,one that will truly impact the culture.
Greetings from across the 'pond'

matty said...

I posted earlier about my fillings turning gold from the effect of God's glory. Now, a few days later, they have changed to a shiny silver. I would have liked the gold to be permanent. Unfortunately I can only get a dentist appointment at the end of the month for a professional report.

I have heard that these signs can be permanent or temporary.
In the case of my mother, some years ago, her tooth turned gold whilst watching a different anointed christian meeting on video. In her case a dentist appointment produced a professional confirmation that it was in fact gold. And it remained gold until she passed away last year.

Im hoping God will repeat the sign on my teeth and others too, so watch this space!