So far, I have shared my thoughts, and my friend, Jesse, has reported on the worship and other events of the evening he attended. Today he begins to reflect on his thoughts, looking back on that experience.
“Those are the events that stand out in my mind as I look back over the evening. I was able to draw out my father-in-law a bit, who has been to Toronto and Kansas City during various times of outpouring, and develop some perspective about the Lakeland Revival. There were several things that stood out to me:
First, there was an inspiring atmosphere of expectancy. As I said earlier, there was an amazing sense of hunger and thirst for God to do something great. Everyone present anticipated seeing amazing evidence of the active presence of God. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says that a sense of contentment and complacency is a great cause of apathy and hindrance to revival, and there was certainly no contentment present, but hunger. That was convicting. I thought to myself, “How often do you just show up and treat each Sunday like just another Sunday?” In the days after Toronto, I’ve heard, there was such an expectancy for God to work in power, that one pastor said, “I’m never going to look at Sunday the same way again.” Each time we gather, God will honor an atmosphere of faith and anticipation. I say this very hesitantly, but even if there is some bad theology mixed in, I still think God honors our faith and child-like trust in him. So I would encourage anyone who would be tempted to write this whole thing off as demonic, or to call Todd Bentley the anti-Christ, that there does seem to be a strong genuine thirst for revival and faith that God is stirring one up.
My initial thought about the whole thing when I first learned of it was that, like a brief shower during a great drought, this rain that was falling was going to demonstrate just how dry and thirsty the ground really is. That prophetic leaning was confirmed as I was there last night. There are certainly some healings taking place, and I think these outpouring of healings are exciting people and causing them to thirst for more, to desire a genuine outbreak of the presence of God. I was amazed at how many people seemed to be genuinely hungry for God to work wonders.
Second, I did not feel an incredibly strong sense of God’s presence. I’ve been part of meetings where the presence of God seemed so thick you could almost cut it with a knife. On the ride home we were talking about Toronto and how it was like that. There was one time in Toronto when a man from China was asked to intercede in his native tongue. When he started praying, the presence of God was sensed so strongly through the power of the prayer that people who did not even understand the language began weeping. Then, when asked to give the translation, the prayer was interpreted as, “God, the blood of the martyrs cries out to you.” The environment in this meeting was not like that. Again, I’m not saying that God wasn’t present. I know that he was present, but my subjective experience was that while there was certainly much excitement about the healings that had taken place, and people were certainly being rallied up to pursue the fire of the Spirit and healing power, there wasn’t an overwhelming sense of “Wow, God himself has drawn near!” Someone asked me today, “Is there a real move of the Spirit there?” I answered, “I don’t know.” I expected to walk into the room and instantly be aware of God’s presence, and that something was ‘going on.’ That’s what can typically be the experience in seasons of outpouring. To me, the environment seemed more casual than that. It was very electric and excited, but lacking that general overwhelming sense of God’s immanence and holiness that just makes you stop in your tracks and worship.
Third, there were no prophecies. I’m not saying that there have to be prophecies in order for God to really work; I just thought it was interesting that there weren’t any prophecies shared. There was more of an emphasis on healing than hearing. With previous moves of the Spirit there has been a very strong prophetic tone, a great sense of what God was up to, and how each member present was to be a participant, and to be affected. Obviously, I was only there one night, but I must say I was hoping for more of a prophetic dimension. 1 Corinthians 14:1 makes it clear to me that one of the chief gifts of the Spirit to be desired is that of prophecy, when it comes to a large gathering. I’m not saying that there is no place for any other gifts—far from it—but I would have liked for there to have been more prophecy. I kept thinking to myself, “Lord, what are you saying through all of this? What are you doing in all of this?” I thought to myself, “I don’t just want to see God at work, I want to hear his voice also.” Galatians says that miracles come through “hearing with faith” (Galatians 3:5). I think that an added presence of prophecy and the preaching of God’s Word would have greatly complemented the miracles and greatly increased my anticipation as I heard with faith.
Continued in part 4 . . .