Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Is it real?

I was exchanging emails with a friend of mine today about the Lakeland, Florida Outpouring... she used it as an example in a preach and sparked some fierce debate about whether it's a legitimate source of Holy Spirit work.
Which is an interesting thing... almost every single revival in history was surrounded by judgment and warnings, complete with skepticism and fear... The Salvation Army included in them... John Wesley - Jonathan Edwards... Pentecostalism... Toronto Blessing... the UK Anglican thing... I mean, I wonder what our problem is:
1. fear in general - I think anything out of the ordinary sparks a fear response from most people... we fear what we do not know AND we certainly don't know how God works...
2. unbelief - we have a deep root of skeptism at the supernatural (this is much more prevelant these days IN the church then out of it - ironic as it may be).
3. experience - many of our own experiences have been intellectual experiences and not supernatural or emotional or public or demonstrative... so, we don't get what we don't know...
4. protection - there is a lot of scam going on in anything publically religious it seems... we are sick of being duped... so, I think a natural response is to fear and doubt anything that looks like it might have scam or glam attached.

so, how DO we know and what DO we do in response to those things that we don't understand...
1. faith - believe for God's kingdom to expand anyway it can/will/wants... I'm not sure that the Lakeland thing is 100% godly (as in without any fault) but I do know that it is bearing fruit and is expanding the Kingdom... I was just reading Paul (the apostle) who suggested that some people preach Christ out of selfish gain - but who cares?... as long as Christ is preached! And Jesus is being preached at Lakeland...
2. humility - most of my unbelief is rooted in pride... I don't think Lakeland is the place God would want to show up - or the people involved are too american or too pretty or too... well, anything really... it's humility that will cause my head and heart to bow in submission to God and let Him use anything he wants to expand the Kingdom on earth... I'm not the judge of what is worthy of the Kingdom - He is.
3. experience - check it out (if you can) or seek it out (anywhere you are)... find some expressions of the Kingdom (part of the church) that you aren't familiar with and try them out... our God is a God of colour not black and white... and the church - well, she's beautiful! Enjoy every part of the diversity of God.
4. faith - the only way to really protect ourselves from scams/glams and false stuff is to root our faith in Jesus... to allow Jesus to use anything and everything for His glory in us... Christ formed in me... my faith isn't in the person or the ministry or the denomination but in Christ - the cornerstone of everything Kingdom... let Christ be your provider and protector.

There is no sure fire way to determine whether something is 'of God' or 'not' - I mean, who will really be the judge in the end... only God. But there is a way to progress and celebrate and engage and to enjoy the Kingdom when we see it... I hope we all have eyes to see... in Lakeland but also in our own hearts.


Jim Dunstan said...

I suppose a lot of the skepticism comes from what we've observed over the years, i.e. Jonestown, Branch Dividian etc where "the word" was preached and bore fruit but ended in disaster because of the true mandate of the leader(s). Also, scripture teaches us that in the last days more and more false prophets will surface deceiving many. To your point, how do we tell the difference? Personally,I think we need to tread carefully, reserve criticism, pray for discernment and trust that God will not allow his name to be mocked for more than a season. But in my experience, sometimes things don't feel right for a reason.

Andrew Bale said...

As Jesus himself said...

"No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us."

Matthew 7:21-23 reminds us that not all apparently annointed ministries are of God but we're at war and anything that damages the enemy is to be welcomed.

Love and prayers


Anonymous said...

Very good advice. I have looked at the good and the bad reviews of the Lakeland Revival, and have also had some experience in the past with the Toronto Blessing. I agree with what you have written.

Another point I would add is: If you are caught up in Revival in any way, keep focused on Jesus - not the miracles or manifestations. Don't become complacent either, but keep praying for protection, guidance, discernment, and keep praising - keep it pure. Don't allow the devil a foothold, don't extinguish the Holy Spirit's flame.

I think this is one reason that a Revival can sour, and people start to wonder whether it was a genuine Revival in the first place.

Remember, when we open ourselves up to the Supernatural, there are two opposing forces competing for our souls. Jesus is Victor, never forget to claim him, ask for his protection, and praise him for it. Test the Spirits - for example, if something tells you to start barking like a dog, you may want to enquire of the Lord whether it is in fact from Him - if it is not, then get back on track with God immediately and get rid of the evil that has crept in, but don't renounce the good work the Holy Spirit is doing just because some evil thing is trying to disrupt and deceive.

God is good and with Him all things are possible.


Keeler said...

Thanks for this, Danielle!
I think, for me, the fear can just be about "losing control". I know that I am a weak person who can be carried-away by emotion and pageantry. To protect myself, I become skeptical about "workings of the Holy Spirit". But, this always makes me a bit sad, because I feel that I am not allowing God to have His way in my life, completely, whatever that may mean for me.
I would like to be more open, but like others, am afraid of being hurt. Therefore, I like to maintain a certain amount of control. Is this right? Perhaps. Wrong? Maybe. But, could it be that it's just a natural side-effect of sin? When I open myself up, I am hurt. Inevitably. It can be difficult to find "safety" when I "let go and let God". Your advice, however, is helpful and encouraging!