[anzac] CHARISMA- "QUESTIONS About LAKELAND"

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From: "REVIVAL List" <prophetic@...>
Date: Fri, 16 May 2008 00:50:56 +1200
NOTE:  We are not publishing this because we fully agree - but
because it is important - and it's just come out. Our comments
follow the article:


HONEST QUESTIONS ABOUT the LAKELAND REVIVAL
-by J. Lee Grady [CHARISMA EDITOR]

I support any holy outbreak of revival fervor. But let’s be careful to
guard ourselves from pride and error.

God is stirring deep spiritual passion in the hearts of the thousands
of people who have traveled to Florida during the last month to
experience the Lakeland Healing Revival. Since these meetings
began in a 700-seat church on April 2, the crowd has moved four
times to bigger venues, the fervor has intensified and the news
has spread worldwide—thanks to God TV and online broadcasting.

Within a few weeks, the bandwagon effect was in full swing. It’s
safe to say that no outbreak of Pentecostalism in history has
gained so much international exposure so quickly as these
meetings have.

I’m a cheerleader for the charismatic movement, so I rejoiced
when I heard the news about revivalist Todd Bentley’s extended
visit to Ignited Church. It was thrilling to hear the reports of
miracles and to watch the crowd grow until a stadium was
required to hold everyone.

When I visited a service on April 15, I was blessed by Heather
Clark’s music and the audience’s exuberant worship. And I
laughed with everyone else as I watched Bentley shout his
trademarked “Bam! Bam! Bam!” as he prayed for the sick and
flailed his tattooed arms over the crowd. Hey, Jesus didn’t pray for
people according to the Pharisees’ rulebook, so I’m open to
unconventional methods.

But I would be dishonest if I told you that I wholeheartedly
embraced what I saw in Lakeland. Something disturbed me, but I
kept my mouth shut for three weeks while I prayed, got counsel
from respected ministry leaders and searched my heart to make
sure I was not harboring a religious spirit. The last thing we need
today is more mean-spirited heresy hunters blasting other Christians.

I am not a heresy hunter, and I support what is happening in
Lakeland because I know God uses imperfect people (like me and
you) to reach others for Jesus. At the same time, I believe my
questions are honest and my concerns are real.

My motive is not to criticize Bentley or the pastor who is
sponsoring these meetings, Stephen Strader. In September 2002
Charisma featured a seven-page article about Bentley’s amazing
conversion from drug addiction. I believe Bentley is a sincere
brother who wants people to encounter God’s presence and power.
No doubt this 32-year-old evangelist needs our prayers now more
than ever, especially since he has become the focus of
international media attention.

But as the noise from Lakeland grows louder and its influence
spreads, I’m issuing some words of warning that apply to all of us,
not just the folks in Lakeland. I hope everyone understands that
these cautions are offered in love:

1. Beware of strange fire.The name of Jesus is being lifted up in
the Lakeland revival, and three people came to the altar for
salvation the night I attended. Larger numbers have come to the
front of the auditorium to find Christ every night since then.

Yet I fear another message is also being preached subtly in
Lakeland—a message that cult-watchers would describe as a
spiritual counterfeit. Bentley is one of several charismatic
ministers who have emphasized angels in the last several years.
He has taught about angels who bring financial breakthroughs or
revelations, and he sometimes refers to an angel named Emma
who supposedly played a role in initiating a prophetic movement in
Kansas City in the 1980s. Bentley describes Emma as a woman
in a flowing white dress who floats a few feet off the floor.

All of us who believe the Bible know that angels are real, and that
they work on our behalf to protect us and minister to us. But the
apostle Paul, who had encounters with angels himself, issued
stern warnings to the Corinthians, the Galatians and the
Colossians about angels who preach another gospel or that
demand attention. In Colossae, believers were so enamored with
angels they had seen in visions that they became “inflated without
cause” by spiritual pride (Col. 2:18, NASB). Paul was adamant
that preoccupation with angels can lead to serious deception.

We need to tread carefully here! We have no business teaching
God’s people to commune with angels or to seek revelations from
them. And if any revival movement—no matter how exciting or
passionate—mixes the gospel of Jesus with this strange fire, the
results could be devastating. We need to remember that
Mormonism was born out of one man’s encounter with a dark
angel who claimed to speak for God.

2. Beware of bizarre manifestations.When the Holy Spirit’s power
comes on people they may feel weak or even fall. The Spirit’s
power can also cause people to tremble, shake, laugh or cry.
Such manifestations are biblical and we should leave room for
them. But where do we draw the line between legitimate
experience and fanatical excess?

The apostle Paul had to deal with outrageous charismatic
manifestations in the Corinthian church. People were acting like
raving lunatics—and turning the church in to a free-for-all of
unbridled ecstatic behavior. Paul called for discipline and order,
and he reminded early Christians that “the spirits of prophets are
subject to prophets” (1 Cor. 14:32). In other words, Paul was
saying that no one under the influence of the Holy Spirit should
act out of control.

In many recent charismatic revivals, ministers have allowed people
to behave like epileptics on stage—and they have attributed their
attention-getting antics to the Holy Spirit. We may think it’s all in
fun (you know, we’re just “acting crazy” for God) but we should be
more concerned that such behavior feeds carnality and grieves the Spirit.

When exotic manifestations are encouraged, people can actually
get a religious high from jerking, vibrating, screaming or acting
intoxicated. (I have even been around people who writhed as if in
pain, or made sexual noises—thinking this was a legitimate
spiritual experience.) But emotional euphoria doesn’t guarantee a
heart change. The person who is bucking like an untamed bronco
in a church service would benefit more from sitting still and reading
the Bible for an hour. When we put bizarre behavior on the platform
we imply that it is normative. Thus more strange fire is allowed to spread..

3. Beware of hype and exaggeration.Our hearts are crying out
today for a genuine move of God. We want the real deal. We’ve
read about the Great Awakenings of the past and we long to see
our nation overcome by a wave of repentance. The church is in a
backslidden state, and our nation has rebelled against God. We
are desperate!

In our longing for a holy visitation, however, we must be careful not
to call the first faint breeze of the Spirit a full-fledged revival. If we do
that, we are setting people up for disappointment when they realize it may not
be what we blew it up to be.

Some of the language used during the Lakeland Revival has
created an almost sideshow atmosphere. People are invited to
“Come and get some.” Miracles are supposedly “popping like
popcorn.” Organizers tout it as the greatest revival in history.

Such brash statements cheapen what the Holy Spirit is doing—
and they do a disservice to our brothers and sisters who are
experiencing New Testament-style revival in countries such as Iran,
China and India. We have a long way to go before we experience
their level of revival. Let’s stay humble and broken before the Lord.

I am rejoicing over all the reported healings at the Lakeland
meetings. Miracles are awesome. Crowds are great. But miracles
and crowds alone don’t guarantee a revival. Multitudes followed
Jesus during His ministry on earth, but many of the people who
saw the dead raised or ate food that was supernaturally multiplied
later crucified the Son of God.

It was the few disciples who followed Jesus after Calvary who
ushered in a true revival—one that was bathed in the fear of God,
confirmed by signs and wonders, tempered by persecution and
evidenced by thousands of conversions, new churches and the
transformation of society. We should expect nothing less.
-J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma.

ANDREW STROM:  For the Editor of Charisma this is a very
courageous thing to put out - and I certainly welcome it. But he
says in the article that he has been concerned for several weeks -
yet did not say anything until now. (Let's be honest - he put
out one of the first articles promoting the revival and everything
in it!)  Meantime, in the last 3 weeks, this movement has exploded,
and it is simply too late to pull it back now. The "anointing" has
gone worldwide. I have been getting reports from all over the USA,
Hong Kong, England, New Zealand, Hawaii. It is everywhere.
Sorry, Lee, I know you are trying to be "balanced" and 'cautious'.
Its just that we desperately could have done with these warnings
3 weeks ago. But I am sincere when I say that I do appreciate
your words. You have been a lot braver than many others.
-God bless you!  -Andrew Strom.

~Article source: http://charismamag.com/fireinmybones/