Already people are starting to ask me what I think about what some are calling the Lakeland Outpouring in Florida, USA. It seems that thousands are already making the pilgrimage to "catch the anointing" and bring it home.
That alone makes me wonder about people’s motivation. Will they return to obscurity to simply do the work of the Father they’re now empowered for, or are they going in the hope that they may be the next great superstar ministry to bring revival to their city? That’s a little cynical, I know, but it’s a question that needs to be asked.
I recently even had a well-meaning friend call me saying, "Oh Kerry, this is the BIG ONE!"
Sometimes discernment can be a funny thing. You don’t know why you know something, you just know you know .. y’know? Well, in response to those who are already asking, I would like to offer Robert Holmes’ and Brian Medway’s collective response to Lakeland as an answer, which you can also read at Storm Harvest, since it strongly reflects my own thoughts and concerns.
The Lakeland Outpouring and Todd Bentley
by Robert Holmes & Brian Medway
We are whole hearted supporters of revival, and certainly the renewed focus on the miracle working aspects of the gospel. We love the documented testimonies being shared by Bill Johnson and Kris Vallotton of www.ibethel.org in California. Fervour for God, and a desire to see revival are good and godly things. A renewed interest in ministering with angels, prophetic ministry and sharing the testimony of Christ in these last days is admirable too (Revelation 19:10).
So how about Todd Bentley and the Lakeland Florida phenomena? More than a dozen Christian leaders have written to us in the past week, asking what our take on all this was, and whether we thought this was a genuine move of God. That we cannot tell you – for neither of us has been over to it. For reasons outlined below, we have no intention of going. What is being broadcast (also outlined in more detail below) in Lakeland leaves us rather disturbed.
A close ministry associate hosted Todd Bentley in Melbourne, Australia, and can testify to the positive influence he had during events a few years ago. Indeed heaven touched earth. Another ministry associate in Nigeria testified to the genuine miracles and healings which took place there under his ministry. A friend in Carolina testified to Todd’s recent honour toward older prophetic men such as Paul Cain and Bob Jones. This is all good.
By no means do we wish to encourage heresy hunting, or criticism of other sincere brethren. What do we gain by spending time and energy criticizing others? What do we gain spending time and energy publishing material denouncing others, let us seek Christ. Our reason for writing is to sound a warning, to refocus our attention on things that are true and things which really matter…
The Gospel We Preach
It is from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34) and it is what is inside a man that makes him unclean (Matthew 15:11). Our letters, emails, correspondence, prayer meetings and web sites portray to the world what is inside us. Our broadcasts, messages, podcasts and videos are an expression of our hearts. So if we want to know what a person’s passions are … simply listen to them.
The apostle Paul issued a stern warning to us about men or angels who preach another gospel or that demand attention (Galatians 1:7). Though angels are part of our worship celebration, of healing the sick and even preaching the gospel we must be wary of worshipping them, honouring them overly and being puffed up with visions (Collosians 2:18). What then is the gospel being presented through Todd’s ministry and the Lakeland Revival? What are the first things being concentrated on in the preaching there?
Angels are Central
www.god.tv Angels are the focus of this Florida outpouring (opening screen, banner). Todd, in his May 9th address speaks of the release of financial angels (where is that in the Bible?) He promotes an angel named Emma, said to be associated with the prophetic movement. (There are no female angels in Scripture). Jesus intimates that they are without gender (Matthew 22:30). Todd also claims to be walking with the angel who accompanied William Branham.
Third Heaven Focus
www.extremeprophetic.com In an interview with Bob Jones, Todd Bentley and Patricia King, Todd focused in on the idea that, "Relationship with Jesus starts in the Third heaven" and that we "have experiences in the supernatural dimension, to release the glory"… (WSTK-ITV broadcast). We find it difficult to substantiate either of these statements in the gospels.
Appeals for Money
www.lakelandrevival.tv The first thing presenting itself at the main web site is a request for money to keep the meetings going in the large auditorium. Evidently the finances are not sustaining the revival.
Focus on Anointing
www.hubpages.com/hub/Lakeland-revival "One of the ten anointings that was going to manifest is the fire anointing!!!" (April 27th, 2008). There’s the prophetic anointing, the healing anointing, the prayer anointing, and our favourite – the anointing to cancel debt (May 9th 2008) Where are these in the Bible?
www.freshfire.ca The oft-repeated phrase is "Come and Get Some" – some what? Stroll around the web site and it’s all about Todd, and all about supernatural impartation. Great, but what about Jesus Christ? How about the things He cares about – the lost, the lame, the poor, the widow and the orphan?
www.charismamag.com/news Since when did we have to promote, advertise, request for a revival? Since when did revivalists have to call their own meetings "outpourings" and "the greatest revival in history"? This is very, very sad.
1. Why are we calling this a revival?
The largest churches in the UK (such as Kensington International) draw more people every week than are turning up to Lakeland. The largest church in Nigeria (Faith Temple) draws three times that number! These churches win as many people to Christ each week as are being won at Lakeland. We do not call them revival because such a term implies that communities are being affected, towns are being changed, nations are being shaken. For a start, there are no credible evaluations of how many have been saved in Lakeland, Florida. Not from any of the main sources. We are now six or seven weeks in! There are estimates of how many people show up, and how many are falling down – but not of salvations?
2. Why have all the recent "revivals", which (seem to) cause tourism, taken place in America?
Toronto, Smithton, Pensacola, Lakeland… thousands travelling to see it. Next week in a Northern Indian city there will be a baptism of 10,000 new converts, gathered in from hundreds of COC churches. In two weeks time there will be the confirmation of 8,000 new converts in a Pentecostal assembly in Uganda. It is estimated that 1,000 Iraqis are being converted a week now from Islam. Why don’t we fly to those places – whose statistics are far more impressive than Lakeland. (for more information on revival tourism to those places watch this space!)
3. What has our Christianity become about?
Since when is the gospel centrally about a focus on angels, third heaven revelations, impartations and transferable blessings? Since when did Jesus die to make us rich, or to cancel debt we have accrued through the self focused spending we engage in here in the West? What happened to the simplicity of the gospel – repent, believe and be baptized?
Nevertheless, when asked about people who worked miracles in the name of Jesus, but who may be off-centre, or walking a different path from Himself, Christ answered, "Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in my name can soon afterward speak evil of me. For He who is not against us is for us." (Mark 9:39,40 NKJV).