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.