UPDATE – Todd Bentley has now stepped down from ministry after separating from his wife.
Over the last few days we have been reflecting on events in Florida. This will be the final post. To read the complete series, please visit the following posts:
- Todd Bentley and the Lakeland, Florida ‘Revival Meetings’
- Worship at the Lakeland, Florida ‘Revival Meetings’
- What is Happening in Lakeland, Florida, by Jesse Phillips
- Terry Virgo Continues His Reflections on the Lakeland, Florida ‘Revival Meetings’
- Jesse Phillips Reflects on the Lakeland, Florida ‘Revival Meetings’
- More Reflections from Jesse Phillips on the Lakeland, Florida ‘Revival Meetings’
My dear friend, Jesse Phillips, concludes his report as follows:
“As I conclude, let me say that I have tried hard to withhold coming to many firm conclusions because I was only there one night. There are other things I have heard which have gone on in the past about which I am not going to comment. Instead, I have tried to limit my remarks only to those things that actually happened while I was there. I would have the following two main warnings, which seem pretty basic to me:
First, beware of the tendency to overstate what’s going on. One of the interesting things about this whole event is that it is the first time something of this scale has taken place in the blog era. News about Lakeland is getting out at an amazing rate. After just 45 days, it’s been fascinating to see how quickly the world has learned of it and started talking about it. In my former blogging career, I read a Challies article about how the blogosphere has contributed to a resurgence of interest in reformed doctrine, and I mused at how technology might impact the charismatic aspects of our doctrine as well, renewing an interest in revival.
I guess the caution would be that things look a little different on television than they do when you are there in person. I did watch one night on God TV, just to check it out, and then closed the computer, opened my Bible, and had a pretty significant encounter with the Lord, being filled with the Spirit and ministered to by God so that my faith was increased. No doubt God can use the Internet or a television broadcast to minister to us, speak to us, and fill us. Of course, when I was actually there, I did not have such a significant encounter with God. I guess the caution would be that some of the things that are being said—both good things and bad things—by people who have never actually been present at any of the meetings can tend to overstate what’s actually going on. For example, this has been compared to the Toronto Blessing. When I first heard about it, I wondered if it might be true that God was doing something like he did in Toronto again. But having been there, it really doesn’t seem very much like what happened in the mid-90’s at this point—not that it couldn’t grow into that. But it seems like comparing it to that time of refreshing is an exaggeration. It seems like a smaller group of people are getting more world-wide attention because of technology, although to the degree that it stirs people to pray and thirst for more of God, it can be a good thing.
Second, beware of the tendency to discount everything. Let me end by saying that we should avoid the tendency to write everything off. For example, when I heard about the girl being raised from the dead, my initial response was to say, “Yeah, right.” But I think the Lord kindly asked me why my inclination was immediately to doubt. I do believe that miracles are for today, so why should I find it so difficult to believe it when one actually occurs? Just because there are some oddities or theology that I find unbiblical doesn’t mean that God is not still working. There are many miracles being done. God is healing people. This is something that should be celebrated. This is the kind of thing that the New Testament prescribes as part of our experience; that God apportions various kinds of gifts, including healing and miracles. Therefore, just because we didn’t have an amazing encounter with God, or just because we don’t have a gift of healing, this should not cause us to doubt people who do encounter God at these meetings and give testimony to gifts of healings.
I pray that God uses what is going on and the attention it is receiving to cause the world to begin to pray for revival so that this little shower in Lakeland can grow into a storm.”
— Jesse Phillips