Thoughts on Florida Revival

I see that revival is back and causing trouble again. Avid viewers of GODTV will have been watching the Lakeland meetings night after night and I’ve managed to catch some of it recently, as ever just that little bit late for the revival party. A shame, as I promised myself I would be extra prompt this time!

Ever since the Toronto/Pensacola days, where a revival could literally be visited by booking yourself into the nearest ‘Holiday Inn’, seekers have been on the lookout for the next world hotspot. Well, it seems to have been divinely lit, as thousands are flying into Todd Bentley’s meetings in Florida, where every night people are being saved and healed in powerful ways.

Now, I ought to make a small confession. I have never especially been a ‘fan’ of Todd Bentley. I am not speaking about the man, his character, or passion for Jesus. It’s just that his preaching has always seemed a little too anecdotal for me, with an over emphasis on angelic experiences and some pretty ropey sounding visions! Add in to the mix, a loud, ‘hyped up’ style, with the constant head shaking “booms” and “bams”, and we have a young evangelist who can be very easily criticised by those who are suspicious of him.

But I, like millions of others, have been quite staggered by these Lakeland meetings. Only God Almighty could be performing these extraordinary miracles, and those of us who claim to have healing ministries can but gasp as we see “greater works than these” on display.

Historically, of course, whenever there are rumours of God at work in revival, the Sanhedrin arise to sharpen their knives and publish websites. “Be careful!” they cry, “it might be counterfeit!” Most bizarre. The devil does not cure the sick at the Name of Jesus. There is no ‘grey area’ in the spirit. On the contrary, Jesus said, “No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me” (Mark 9:39). Critics should be careful not to demonise the workings of Jesus just because they don’t like the look of His new donkey. Indeed, the same Scripture that tells them to “test all things” equally commands them to “hold on to the good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

So where we may differ with some of the unimportant manifestations or theology of Bentley, we ought to relax. As Ken Gott said, “We must always look at what God is doing, rather than what we think He is not doing”. There is a rich treasure in Lakeland right now, even though we may have to buy the whole field to obtain it. I, for one, would rather have the noise of a maternity unit than the silence of the mausoleum. Revival is such a messy business.

Let me offer some advice to British Christians over thirty who, like me, might have a culture clash with tattooed Todd. Todd is different to us! Not only is he from a North American culture, but he is also part of a new, contemporary youth culture – two factors that will make him seem as far removed from John Wesley or Evan Roberts as is possible to be. Just a few decades ago, churches in a well-known Pentecostal denomination sent letters of warning concerning a ‘Mr S Wigglesworth’. Nothing changes. Clearly, the Holy Spirit is not offended by some of the things that offend us, and we will always be surprised by His divine choices. He has been working through weak and foolish vessels, like you and me, for two thousand years, manifesting Himself to confound the wise through every cultural expression in every age.

Preachers especially may need to guard their heart. The Pharisees claimed to oppose Christ because of his doctrine and practise, but their real issue was jealousy (Matthew 27:18). Bentley, like King David, enjoys God’s blessed presence and power with little decorum. Let’s not cast ourselves in Michal’s part – it leads only to barrenness. It is the role of older men to be patient and gracious with younger men, so if you can’t catch the fire, at least hold your fire.

The claim is that this anointing is contagious and there are reports of miracles happening all over Britain. I think it’s time to get excited and to risk believing that God is about to do something marvellous in this nation too. And I don’t think I’m on my todd.

JOY Magazine, July 2008

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