My Observations of the Outpouring in Lakeland, Florida
A great revival took place in Wales in 1904. Sadly there is little to show today for the effects of that revival. Two years later the Pentecost revival started at Azusa Street in Los Angeles. The black church where it started actually closed around 1930. But the revival it generated continues to include more than 400 million people around the world today.
The difference between the two revivals is that the Pentecost revival has actually been a “series of revivals” that has happened again and again over the years– the Latter Rain movement and the healing revivals of the late 40’s; Full Gospel business men that started in the 50’s, along with ministries emerging such as Kathryn Kuhlman; followed by the Charismatic movement of the 60’s in the mainline Protestant churches and the Roman Catholic church. Then there has been the Faith movement, the Apostolic movement, and various revival outbreakings in places like Toronto and Brownsville.
The latest outbreak of revival is apparently in Lakeland, Florida. It started with meetings with Todd Bentley on April 2 at Ignited Church pastored by my long-time friend Steve Strader. I’ve know Steve since I was in the 9th grade and he was in the 6th grade when his father Karl Strader came to pastor the church my family attended in Lakeland. That was also the church where Rodney Howard Browne’s ministry really took off in the United States with extended meetings back in the early 90’s.
(This revival with Todd Bentley started about the time that we had a death in the family so I was not able to go down to the services until Monday, May 5– the 34th continuous day of the revival. By the time I attended, Lee Grady and others had been to the revival and had given their analysis. If you missed Lee’s analysis you can CLICK HERE to read it. Before I attended on Monday I was also beginning to get critical emails about the revival, expressing cautions, etc.
As I’ve covered the move of the Holy Spirit for the last three decades, I know that anytime there is a genuine move of God, it is guaranteed that certain people will automatically oppose it. These people oppose any move of God that is beyond their own religious experience. The sad thing is that some times they will have some valid criticisms that people like me tend to discount because they are so negative.
Some people also question Todd Bentley’s past. He has quite a “testimony” that actually was first reported in Charisma several years ago. But there are those who feel that a person who is less than perfect can’t really be used by God. Actually I believe that the Bible teaches that “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise” (1 Corinthians 1:27, NIV).
Also, at one of the meetings recently Paul Cain was given a place on the platform. Unfortunately Paul Cain has disqualified himself from ministry due to various sins in his life he has confessed to including drunkenness and homosexuality. Other ministers have worked to restore him, but we are told that the restoration process has not continued. Nevertheless, Paul publicly said in Lakeland that there were “false rumors” about him and that he had lived a “chaste life.” Both are not true. I’ve been told by leaders in the revival that Paul won’t be invited back. I compliment them for this. I can understand how someone is let on the platform and they shouldn’t. But to me, before I attended the first meeting, this was a real caution on their discernment.
When I attended the meeting I was excited to see the level of enthusiasm among those who attended. People waited in lines for hours to get a seat at the civic center in Lakeland, a venue that seats about 7,000. There seemed to be about 6,000 there that night and I was told that at the baseball stadium over the previous weekend there were 12,000. The meetings are broadcasted live on the Internet on the Ignited Church’s website, http://www.ignitedchurch.com, and also on GodTV which is also broadcasting the services daily from 7 to 11 p.m. EST.
There was great praise and worship that night for about an hour and 15 minutes. Then there were testimonies, Todd Bentley shared and there was ministry of various types that took place. There was a lot of humility exhibited in the service that I attended. There were also words of knowledge including that there would be an outbreak of revival in Holland, Germany and Ireland. Todd Bentley called for delegations from those countries that had flown over for the revival to come forward. There were about a dozen from each country and they seemed to be mightily touched by God when Todd prayed for them.
Toward the end of the service there were two lines of people who wanted to give testimonies who were called up to the stage using the format that has become familiar with Benny Hinn, where he has the helpers call out the miracles on one side and then on the other. Bentley interviewed the people one by one and then there was a ministry time where they generally fall over under the power of God.
Todd Bentley is from Canada. Most of the people in his ministry team have come down from Canada. Many of them are from the biker culture. While I had never met Todd Bentley nor heard him minister, I was a little surprised to see that he was covered with tattoos– which is much more acceptable in his generation than in mine.
Nevertheless he ministered with power. When I was asked later on to describe the service I heard myself saying rather extemporaneously that the first part of the service with worship reminded me of the worship at the Brownsville revival and Todd’s style of ministry reminded me of a “Benny Hinn with tattoos.” A couple people I’ve said that to have found it rather funny and have also found it a helpful word picture.
It’s too early to really tell the long-term effect of this revival. My report today is neither criticism nor an affirmation. I have not had an opportunity to research any of the miracles or even to talk personally with Todd Bentley. Much of what I know has come from Steve Strader (whom I have known a long time and who I trust).
However, the people I saw at the meetings seemed genuinely hungry for a move of God. Like many, I’m also hungry for a move of God and I’m glad to see this outpouring of the Holy Spirit. I’m glad to see the excitement that has been generated– not only in Lakeland but in various parts of the country.
I’m encouraged by the miracles that have been reported even from those who watch on the Internet or on GodTV. I actually know a few of the people who are reporting healings. Again, I’ve not been able to research them and I may even report on that later. Today I just wanted to get out a quick report on what I saw and say that I was encouraged rather than discouraged.
I encourage you to check it out for yourself on GodTV or on the Internet and analyze it for yourself but if you can come to Lakeland that’s even better. Please CLICK HERE to post your comments below.