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The Lakeland Series:
A Case Study in Advanced Prophetic Listening
The Illusion of "Pure Revival"
[ Part 4 ] [ Part 5 ] [ Part 6 ] [ Part 7 ] [ Part 8 ]
May 31, 2008
The first test of true discipleship is the ability to overcome offense in the Lord. And the first test for some of you in relation to this ministry has also begun. It doesn't seem accidental that my series on overcoming wilderness challenges has been interrupted by a live test! Some will have to really wrestle with this.
A Personal Testimony
Tonight I'm led to share a little about the wilderness illusion called "a pure revival." I want to begin with a personal story. The year was 1985, March to be exact. I had already been in the wilderness a few years, dedicatedly set against anything to do with the "false church." Meanwhile, I had for a year been seeking the Lord over obtaining my prayer language. For though I had been inwardly fire-baptized in the Holy Spirit in 1976, I received no prayer language--largely because I had been so taught against it. But I came to earnestly desire "it" as well as other anointings in Him.
One day in my travels, I was invited to a house where a live meeting by satellite was being conducted featuring a purported healing "revival" led by evangelist Robert Tilton of
. So I went. And I watched. I had never seen anything like this before. Incredible testimonies of immediate healings were taking place--very much like Dallas, Texas today. There was worship, dancing, shouting. There were also reports of angelic visions. To me, it all seemed like a bunch of "hype." Nevertheless I watched intently. I had no way to argue against the testimonies. There were just too many of them, and many were being documented. The name of Jesus was pre-eminent. Lakeland
The meetings continued nightly and I kept going, wondering, pondering. As they did, I sensed a subtle negative shift taking place as Tilton began focusing on raising money. This bothered me. This was clearly not of the Lord. Yet the healings continued. I did not know what to think. In my consternation I cried out to the Lord: How could this be of God, yet "not" be of God? The Lord seemed to say to me, "Hold your judgment." This only frustrated me the more because it was my nature to piercingly discern into things! But I obeyed. And just kept watching.
After a while, Tilton said he felt led to have everyone "pray for the president." Well, here was one thing I could really agree on since I was already a fervent intercessor for President Reagan. So I began to pray--that is, I tried to pray. I opened my mouth. But I could not speak. My voice was somehow blocked and I could get no words out! What was happening to me? Then after a few more moments of speechlessness, it was as if a giant spiritual "cork" popped out of my mouth and a gushing torrent of tongues poured forth out of me, and out of me, and out of meall night long! And for days on end afterward. I spent hours daily pacing the area I was staying practicing my new prayer language!
That night, I learned one of my first and most shocking wilderness lessons about the Lord. I learned that the Lord has the sovereign prerogative to operate in spite of and without regard to the impurity of the people He may be moving upon or working through. And I have never forgotten it. My ability to pray in the Spirit is a daily reminder to me of this lesson. And much of my prophetic discernment since that day has been shaped by this awareness.
In the 23 years since, the Lord has increasingly refined my understanding between His inwardly transforming work of the cross and His equally genuine work of anointing apart from the cross. (Incidentally, for those who don't know, Robert Tilton was eventually brought down in public national disgrace just 6 years after the
outpouring.) In all these years, I have continued studying the work of anointing and reality of God's Presence among the unsanctified, urging the anointed to get sanctified and the sanctified to get anointed where they need it, regardless of the sanctity of those involved with it. Dallas
Fast forward now to last week. I had only heard of the
outpouring in the last two weeks. And to be honest, when I first heard of it, my heart slumped with that wilderness thud that says, "Not again Lord!!!" After a little bit of asking around, I reluctantly decided I would need to tune in to "see for myself" what was going on. No sooner did I turn it on than I begin to sense a welling up of the same power of anointing I had received 23 years earlier. In fact, I have rarely felt such anointing anywhere anytime since that night in 1985. The entire next day I caught myself continuously praying in the spirit at work--which has continued. My entire family has been touched as well. And I have become very energized in the Spirit to write you. (Significantly, not even knowing about Lakeland Lakeland, the same week started is when I was quickened to open up the Lakeland Readers Circle. Was it a coincidence?)
How Much Must Be of the Lord to "Be of the Lord"?
Allright. Enough of my testimony about whether the Lord has something to do with this move. My own touch by Him has clearly changed my perspective. The question still remains, "To what degree is this move of the Lord? How do we interpret the aspects around this move that don't seem to support the complete gospel of discipleship? Is this a "false revival" just because of what it lacks and because it evidences a mixture of spirit and flesh?"
See, here is our problem. We want it to be all one way or all another way! We want a clear black and white word from the Spirit saying, "This movement is all of Me," or "That is a totally false revival." But I can tell you from first hand testimony--and you should already know it for yourself--it just doesn't work that way. By the very nature of God's pure operation on impure humanity, the work of revival is always a mixed work--and has always been a mixed work--even in the New Testament.
Would We Really Accept a "New Testament-class Revival"
One of the things we purists commonly say is, "We will only accept as pure revival one that looks like what happened under the ministry of Jesus and the book of Acts." Yet if we saw such a ministry like that today, we would have to conclude it was a "false revival" because of the impurity attached to most of its ministers.
Folks, before they became transformed into mature apostles over a lifetime, the disciples were a carnal bunch of guys jockeying for "kingdom position" who were yet entrusted with an anointing like Todd Bentley's. They certainly did not "preach the cross" as they did not even know what it was. Not only this, they would literally discourage people from coming to Jesus! (I haven't seen Todd do that yet.) Moreover, one of the disciples was actually a devil!! (Didn't Jesus have any better discernment than that?) As well, in their immaturity, the disciples did not take on the Pharisees like Jesus and John did. They did not take on "the system." They didn't even know how to respond to the Pharisees when questioned.
If you had gotten close enough to see these men in action and how they interrelated, by the "pure revival standard" you would have had no choice but to dismiss them as fleshly "false revivalists." Remember, the Lord was not always around when these guys were out on their ministry runs for Him. In many cases, their immature lives are all you would have had to go by to decide whether this "Yeshua move" was real or not.
Can He Be This Way Today?
So? If the Lord hasn't changed, is it possible He might entrust His power to immature people today--like a Todd Bentley? How about to devils like Judas? (What about a Robert Tilton?) Is it possible God might even anoint some guy who all he knows is how to cast out demons in Jesus' name but has no other word--like the man in Luke 9? (Just where did that guy get his anointing anyway?) And if so, might He want to touch you by one of them? And if so, would you be willing to be so touched if it meant the difference between fulfilling your destiny and not fulfilling it? (Do we still really want "revival" like it was in the Bible?)
I don't have time to go into detail now. But the real problem most of us "pure revivalists" have is we see the Lord only through the eyes of John the Baptist--and so conclude that John represents the fullness of Christ, and therefore anything that doesn't immediately sound like John must be "totally false."
Let's be clear. John's fiery repentance is a badly missing component in today's passionist ministry! I daily pray for the conviction of sin, righteousness and judgment in people, and have repeatedly written about this lack. But repentance is not the totality of the Lord's message or necessarily pre-requisite for His ability to work among people. The Lord healed multitudes before they ever repented (Could we do the same if called?)
[P.S.--just for the record, Todd did call for repentance and salvation last night in the
meeting (9:50 PM EST if you want to be exact)--contrary to criticism that there is "no call to repentance" in these meetings. (I heard a similar call from one of his associates last week.)] Lakeland
In Defense of Whom?
You may be taking this letter as a defense of Todd Bentley and the
outpouring. But Lakeland doesn't need my defense--nor my correction. (Can we discuss the shortcomings later?) Lakeland
No. I'm not writing about
, but about you. I'm writing to encourage you to see beyond where you are in the wilderness and in your expectations of what constitutes God's work--however incomplete and even "muddied" by men that work may be from your side of God's nature. This is something we need to do if we hope to come up into the full image of Christ. Lakeland
If we don't get past John the Baptist in our vision of Christ, we will not come into Christ's full image. And if we don't, we will be disqualified from our full sonship inheritance. That is all this ministry is about. And that's what the challenge of
and similar moves is really about for people like us. It is about our completeness out of incompleteness. It is about our maturity out of immaturity--about "following the Lamb whithersoever He goes," even if it is into a setting like Lakeland . My heart is to see every man presented perfect (whole, complete) in Christ--from the offended wilderness as well as from the offended mainstream. That is what my first love is about. Lakeland
Will Ye Also Go Away?
For those of you for whom this view of
is a serious offense, you will need to work through your relationship to me with the Lord. If you choose to depart, I can totally understand. Some of you may simply not be ready yet for this kind of wholeness in Christ and need more time in the deeper desert to ponder your destiny. But if so, know you can depart in peace and have my blessing. And you're welcome back any time! Lakeland
At this point, I close by commending everyone to the Lord as we all face this latest anointing and seek His mind for our relationship to this new work.
Next: Reflections on Lakeland -- Part 1C
New Meadow Neck, Rhode Island
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
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