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New to my blogroll – Slaughter of the Sheep

Two People “Healed” at the Lakeland Revival Die – From Slaughter of the Sheep

 

It was inevitable.  A false healing revival with overblown and unsubstatiated reports of healing can only lead to one thing for those who are desperate and looking for healing… death.

I grew up as a Charismatic.  I have seen people suffering with maladies and they were visibly in pain, but yet they would say, “I don’t accept that.  I don’t have _______.”  Even though they have been diagnosed by reputable doctors, they refuse to claim the disease or illness they have been diagnosed with.  To some charismatics, words have power, and if you speak a negative word, they will negatively effect you.  Therefore, only positive words must be spoken.

People with little to no Biblical knowledge have a heart that is a breeding ground for error.  It is these people that are susceptible to the hocus pocus of the Word of Faith/Charismatic doctrine.  One of the cruelest things a minister can do is to tell people unequivocally that they are healed.  Especially when these people are suffering from life-threatening illnesses.  Their misplaced faith can then turn deadly if they aren’t grounded in the Word of God.

Rest of article HERE

 

Todd Bentley: Claimed but Not Ordained

by Bud Press, Director

Christian Research Service

April 7, 2009

  

According to his January 2008 book, Journey Into The Miraculous, Todd Bentley claims to have been “ordained” through the Canadian-based Christian Ministers Association, and recognized as a “minister” through the World Ministry Fellowship here in the United States.

 

With its original roots in the Pentecostal movement, the Christian Ministers Association (CMA) is a “licensing body” that “provides a covering for those in need of meeting the requirements of Canadian Law concerning ordination of clergy,” and a “Canadian charter society registered with the Federal Government” ( http://www.canadacma.org/home/index.php?id=4 ).

 

But according to a top official from the Christian Ministers Association (CMA), Bentley is not ordained through the CMA, and has never been a member of that association.

 

Further, Christian Research Service has learned that while Todd Bentley was recognized as a minister through the World Ministry Fellowship (WMF), his membership “papers” have been removed, according to a top official.

 

Founded in 1963, the WMF is an outreach and fellowship of ministers worldwide that “functions under the oversight of a 12 member Executive Board, a 21 member Advisory Board, and a 12 member Credentialing Committee” ( http://www.worldministry.com/aboutwmf.html ). 

 

Once the WMF board learned the circumstances surrounding Bentley’s leaving the Lakeland revival and resignation from Fresh Fire Ministries, the WMF wasted no time and “moved-in quickly to take action,” a top official said.

 

Christian Research Service’s contact with the CMA and the WMF was due to the claims made by Todd Bentley in Journey Into The Miraculous

I thank God for my friendship with Patricia [King], and for how God used her as an instrument to ordain me into the ministry–but I always will know that the call came from God. I’ve since been ordained in Canada by my local church, and through the Christian Minister’s Association. In the U.S., I’m recognized as a minister of the Gospel through World Ministry Fellowship in Texas. [Todd Bentley, Journey Into The Miraculous, Destiny Image Publishers, January 2008, p. 162]   

According to Bentley, “God” led him to write Journey Into The Miraculous (p. 22).

 

Currently, Todd Bentley is undergoing another “restoration,” this time under the auspices of Rick Joyner, Bill Johnson, and Jack Deere. Unfortunately, Joyner, Johnson, and Deere are part of the problem, not the solution.

 

Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived (2 Timothy 3:12-13). 

 

Truth to the core

 

In 2008, Todd Bentley left the Lakeland revival in controversy, disgrace, and sin. Since then, Christian Research Service has maintained that he needs to repent and be born again, and surround himself with solid, Bible-based Christians for council.
CRS has also maintained that if Bentley is groomed, mentored, and “restored” by those who groomed and mentored him in the first place, he will end up in worst shape than ever before.

Solid, Bible-based men and women strive to lead holy lives and teach sound, Bible-based doctrine. They set good examples for others to follow–including the younger generation. They do not suddenly disappear in controversy, disgrace, and sin, then suddenly return months later in more controversy, disgrace, and sin. They are accountable first to God, then to their fellow Christians. To them, truth is paramount, and a false prophet is a false prophet; a false teacher is a false teacher, and sin is sin.

 

 

Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them

on the tablet of your heart (Proverbs 3:3). 

 

Closing comments…

 

This current fiasco is just the tip of the iceberg, and a natural consequence to a hyper-Charismatic movement gone wild and out of control. In many cases, false prophecies, false teachings, and sin are just mere “mistakes” that can be handled by playing the Wiser than God game, then filtered down though the Department of Compromise and Excuses. Eventually, after all the dust has settled, sin in the camp ends up in a mound of paperwork on the desk of Mr. I. Could Care Less. From there, it ends up in “File 13” (trash can), never to be discussed again.


And they get away with it because they have spent years conditioning and deceiving and intimidating their followers into believing in their self-appointed apostles, prophets, and teachers over-and-above God’s written word, the Bible.

 

But their fine-tuned deception hasn’t gone unnoticed. God’s righteous judgement is already at work, for He does not bless, honor, or excuse false prophets and false teachers. And they, like others before them, will fall:

 

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap (Galatians 6:7).

There is an old saying: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Todd Bentley made choices. His actions will return to haunt him and those surrounding him. In the meantime, God warns those who continue to be fooled by the Todd Bentley’s of this world:

 

 

He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous, both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD (Proverbs 17:15).

 

 

 

Time is an enemy to all false teachers. Time has revealed that Todd Bentley’s claims are not ordained.

 

 

 

 

Volume 19  Number 4                              July/August 2008

 

 

 

 

What Language Do You Speak?

Jewel Grewe

 

Our spoken and written language is the most important aspect of our culture and identity as a people. In 1997 The Summer Institute of Linguistics noted that the Bible had been translated into 2,197 languages.  The Ethnologue Institute has a detailed list of 6,809 distinct languages. In the U.S. we recognize what part of the country someone comes from by their accent. As an American traveling overseas, my ears always perk up when an American accent floats across a crowded airport (Americans seem to speak quite loudly, especially overseas). We identify one another by our language. Our knowledge of the spoken and the written word enables us to hear and understand each other.

 

Likewise, true knowledge is gained through understanding. Understanding comes through applying oneself to the Truth. Proverbs 24:5 states that:  A man of knowledge increaseth strength.

 

The Word of God is the very fountain of all knowledge. The study thereof should be of utmost importance in the believer’s life. It will identify us as believers. Our knowledge of the Word will enable us to hear and understand His will for our lives.

 

The Language of the Redeemed

 

In I Peter 2:9 we are told that we are a peculiar people: But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:

 

This means that we have been set apart from the world.  We are part of a different world than that which is around us.  We speak a different language; it is the language of the Redeemed. True holiness before God is the daily goal of the true follower of Christ. I Peter 1:13&14 says: Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance.

 

The language of the redeemed binds us together even closer than the language of our native country.

 

It is because of this understanding that our hearts break over so many dear Christians who are not steeped in God’s Word today. They are not satisfied with the simplicity and beauty of walking by faith daily in the joy and blessings that He gives. This is the reason why Discernment Ministries has plodded along these many years weeping in the dreary dust of the crowds flittering here and there like the Athenians who spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.

 

Oh, but they say, God is doing a new thing in the earth.  That does not mean to jump ship without a life jacket.  When you hear those words, follow the admonition of Scripture – rather prefer to err on side of caution.  Listen to the language spoken. Oh, yes, websites of many errant teachers can copy a statement of belief that looks genuine. But is this what they really believe? They can make many claims that will suck in the gullible. But what are they really teaching?

 

After studying these things for so many years, it is hard to know who is deceived the most.  Is it the Leaders who have moved so far away from the knowledge of the Holy and instead, promote the profane and call it holy; or, is it the Followers who blindly run to and fro?

 

As a young girl, I grew up in Minnesota. The Voice of Healing had just started. Evangelists visited Minneapolis on a regular basis and my father, an Assembly of God pastor, supported every campaign that came through. My eldest sister was born with spinal bifida and was paralyzed from the waist down.  Naturally, the greatest desire for our family was that she be healed. We attended meetings by: William Branham, Oral Roberts, AA Allen, the Cerullo brothers, Raymond Richey, Velmer Gardner, Kathryn Kuhlman, and I could go on and on. My sister was usually relegated to a back corner somewhere as she was considered a “difficult case.” I wondered about that. William Branham told my father that “it wasn’t God’s will to heal her.” I wondered about that. In some meetings I would observe “set-ups” where people would walk in a side door, sit in a wheelchair and when the healing lines would form, they would be wheeled up and be proclaimed “healed” and walk off the stage. I wondered about that.

 

At 12 years of age we moved to Zion, Illinois where there was a lot of fascinating history.  My father had known John G. Lake personally when he had lived in Zion in his younger days.  My piano teacher would relegate us with stories of John Alexander Dowie. During this time the Charismatic movement started, and my father and I visited many Full Gospel Business Men’s Conventions as he was active in the local chapter. A whole new set of individuals became known to my father as he would drive speakers to their next engagement, and I would sit in the back seat drinking in every word. Derek Prince, Don Bashan, Nicholas Bhengu and many others passed our way.

 

Latter Rain

 

Stanley Frodsham, a dear man of God and the Editor of the Pentecostal Evangel for many years, became part of the Latter Rain Movement that started in 1948. He and many others left the fold of the Assemblies of God and joined with those who were part of the “new thing” that came out of that particular time. Stanley Frodsham and his wife moved to Zion and attended our church. Mrs. Frodsham became my Sunday School teacher. Rev. Frodsham was the biographer for Smith Wigglesworth. He and his wife had traveled extensively with him and I was fascinated with the many stories they told. When I went to Central Bible College, the Frodshams had moved there and they introduced me to the Latter Rain group called The House of Prayer. At CBC attending Brother Kessel’s class I learned one side of the story of the split in the Assemblies of God http://www.discernment-ministries.org/NL_January1997.pdf. After attending this particular group for awhile, I learned the Latter Rain side of the story.  I now realize all of this was part of God’s teaching process in my own life, even attempting such a ministry as Discernment Ministries.  (Many years later I questioned Stanley Frodsham’s daughter about his involvement in the Latter Rain. Her answer was: “My father was a glutton for the supernatural”).

 

Yes, there are wonderful sincere people who are genuine in their love of the Lord but are always looking for “supernatural experiences and revelations,” but in doing so cause division and harm to the body of Christ.  Yet, God in His infinite mercy has a way a working in the lives of His children who are humble and remain low at the Master’s feet, which I know was true of the Frodshams.

 

After several years of processing and growing in my Christian walk, I left for South Africa as young eager missionary to work with a 75-year-old lady with a genuine “apostolic ministry gift.” I say that because Ruth established many churches along with other wonderful  missionaries, and the work of God in the Northern Province in South Africa is a testimony to their lives and sacrifices.  Those people truly laid down their lives for the Gospel.  They gave their all! Many times Ruth would go out and spend her last mite to fill up the little pick-up truck with vegetables that she could pass out to the hungry. They gave unstintingly of their time and resources for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.   It distressed me greatly when new innovative thinkers came on the scene and denigrated the work of these pioneers with a “new way of doing missions.”  They then would maneuver to get rid of those who had gone before.

 

Marriage in 1971 and arrival of a family took our lives into a different set of circumstances and new ventures in our ministry – even to then Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Ultimately we came to the U.S. where many things already had changed in the church.  While pastoring in the States, we quickly became aware that Christian television was changing the whole direction of the church. A language was being spoken that somehow sounded foreign to our ears. Thankfully we realized that what at stake was the preaching of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

The Language of the Apostasy

 

It is grieving to me to write this as there are so many sincere people involved.   It is so hard for me to understand why so many get caught up in these things. My heart cries with Paul who said, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.  For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”  (I Cor. 2:1-2).

 

Please don’t dismiss me as a heresy hunter and shut up your mind to anything but your preconceived notions.  This is about Truth.  Whether you are Todd Bentley, C. Peter Wagner, Bob Jones, Paul Cain or a pastor of a church, you can be deceived.  None of us escape Satan’s devices. As simply as I possibly can, I will attempt to lay out some of the unscriptural language of the apostasy.

 

Let us examine the foundation for what we are now witnessing – from a 1993 Discernment newsletter,

www.discernment-ministries.org/NL_JanFeb1993.pdf

 

In the newsletter there is a review of a book by William DeArteaga entitled Quenching the Spirit DeArteaga makes the assertion that “God brings new truth to the church by first revealing it to cults and occult groups.”  He already had written a book in 1983 entitled Past Life Visions in which he lauds Agnes Sandford’s incredibly heretical The Healing Light and defends her belief in a pre-earth human existence (pp 145-6); seems to embrace evolution of man from a lower species (p. 126); declares the “ghosts” are “earthbound souls” (p 187) who may legitimately communicate with the living (p 182) and that the dead should be ministered to by the church (p 183). He argues that reincarnation is Biblical and was “validated by Jesus” (pp 197-209) and that such a gospel is helpful for India because it allows “the Hindu to maintain… the concept of Karma-reincarnation” (p 215); and he recommends regression into past lives as a standard method of spiritual healing for the church to adopt (pp. 151-163). [The Berean Call, Nov. ’92.]

 

The language of the occult

 

At the time this Discernment newsletter was written (1993), DeArteaga’s book was legitimized by the TBN, obviously to back up many of the teachings being promoted. There are ministries active today who have no problem introducing occult practices and call it “truth,” and claim we can use these experiences for a deeper “relationship” with God.

 

Satan’s language

 

I heard about one ministry that boasted, when invited to a Luciferian Initiation, that really Lucifer just means “angel of light” and after all, we all want “light”! Do you wonder why there is no mention of sin any longer?  Has it grieved you that the cross is a subject avoided like poison?

 

Patricia King (Extreme Prophetic) influenced Todd Bentley after his conversion.  I personally do not think he had any opportunity to sit under sound doctrine and learn the first principles. He was “channeled” into the supernatural realm to hook up with what taught him as getting “connected.””.

 

Her itinerant pastor, who doubles as a travelling DJ, calls the show “Club Mysterio”  on an online video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2i5k6WuwX4 Please compare this to the New Age version  at www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxDebb9dLKY&NR=1

 

This newsletter could actually be a large book to do justice to this vast subject. However, if it just makes one person stop, think and repent, it is worth the effort.   It is about souls for whom Jesus died that our hearts grieve.  The days for “playing church” are over, folk.

 

Revival Language

 

“Well, revivals can be messy you know”.  This is the way the weirdness is excused.  After all, we want to “move higher” into God.  We hear sincere folk saying things like: We have to move into a ‘higher place’ – a place of intimacy with God.  Jesus did the things the Father told Him to do. WE MUST MOVE INTO THAT PLACE. A place of the knowledge of the Lord that the Lord yearns us to come into. Teachings on “intimacy with God” have sold many books.  But just stop here a moment. Isn’t that what any “religion” requires? Always striving after something? Bringing offerings to the many gods in Hinduism, faithfully bowing low in the mosques, dancing into a frenzy to obtain “oneness”?

 

Let us take a breath and rest in the Scriptures a moment.  But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: Which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.  (I Peter 2:9&10)

 

The language of the Scripture tells us to go into all the world and preach the Gospel.  It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ that is the power of God unto salvation. This is what this is all about.  The perversion of language is the ploy of the enemy to subvert the body of Christ to follow another gospel.

 

Matthew 24:24  For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

 

II Thess. 2:9  Him, whose coming after the working of Satan, with all power and signs and lying wonders.

 

Language of Angels

 

Dear ones, nowhere in Scripture do we find angels appearing out of nowhere to just keep in communication with us.  The culture right now is crazy about angels and Hollywood is churning out movies to satisfy that desire.  To read and listen to the stories about Todd Bentley’s angels really denigrates the truth of Scripture. On his website in 2002 he talks about a particular rock on Rick Joyner’s property at Moravian Falls. This rock supposedly has some power, and as they approach it there are three young angels “horsing around, wrestling, getting each other in head-locks and giving noogies.” He learned from others that these were the worship angels who oversee the worship center.

 

Sorry, but this isn’t biblical. The worship angels are before the throne of God… and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. They give glory to God night and day without rest. We serve a Holy God.  His holiness NEVER CHANGES.  Isaiah saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.  Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.  And some cried unto another and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts:  the whole earth is full of his glory.

 

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=kSlt0_8HwMk

 

Yet Todd Bentley says, “they [the angels] have nothing in heaven to do but waiting to serve God’s purpose in you!”

 

Language of the Lie

 

Bob Jones, who obviously has had a huge influence in Todd Bentley’s life, even introducing him to his angel in 1988, said, “the children will possess the Spirit without measure – for these are the best of all generations that have ever been upon the face of the earth. And the best of all generations are those ELECTED SEEDS that will glorify Christ in the last days… they will move into things of the supernatural that no one has ever moved in before. Every miracle, sign and wonder they’ll move in the power that Christ did…. They themselves will be that generation that’s raised up to put death itself underneath their feet and to glorify Christ in every way and the church that is raising up in the government will be the head and the covering for them… the chosen generation of history that will go beyond all the others in power.”  He goes on to say, “This generation of the young people that are coming are going to see the beginning of this World-wide New Order… it is going to change the expression of Christianity in the earth in a generation.”

 

From a Discernment newsletter in 1990, www.discernment-ministries.org/NL_Sept1990.pdf you will read that Gnosticism has again entrenched itself in the thinking of Christendom.  Mystical knowledge is replacing the truth of the Word of God.   And they are talking of taking over the WORLD?

 

Language of Heresy

 

The greatest sorrow of all is that the deity of Jesus Christ is undermined by this teaching.   The divine purpose of the Holy Scriptures is the revelation of Jesus Christ – the Lamb of God.  Gnosticism gives way to “higher knowledge”.  It brings about disinterest in the Bible and Bible teaching.  The “anointed seed” is now said to be connecting with the supernatural realm, and this heresy draws the masses with its instant gratification.

 

The door is being opened, Eat this fruit and ye will be as god.  Accept this lie and you will find yourself at the altar of mysticism where all of the religions of the world worship based on subjectivity, humanism and brotherhood.

 

What Language do you Speak?

 

It is time to examine ourselves – whether we are in the faith or not.  Have we been led astray by “strange fire”? Has the siren’s sweet song lulled your senses and caused shipwreck to your walk with God? Repent and return to your first love that you may be found worthy to stand in His Presence.

 

The following are two recent podcasts that I did on the subject of The “revival” and The New Apostolic Reformation.  http://sliceoflaodicea.com/slicecast/

 

“Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, …For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God…. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.(I Cor. 1:10a, 2-3)

 

****This article was posted with the permission of Jewel Grewe****

 

http://www.discernment-ministries.org/NLJulyAugust_2008.htm

 

 

Jewel Grewe and myself at the conference in Spring Hill, Florida.
Jewel Grewe (left) and myself at the conference in Spring Hill, Florida.

How to get drunk without drinking – via Derren Brown

The anointing that Brown gives this young man, is the same anointing that many are receiving in our churches today.

Derren Brown –  The so called Messiah Part 3 0f 8.

In Part 1 Brown is headed for the US where he is basicallly unknown and he going to approach people with “paranormal belief systems” to see if he can convince them that he is the real deal. He says that he uses magic, suggestion, psychology, misdirection, and showmanship when he is performing. He is going to slay people in the spirit and “convert” them.

There are those who have claimed to be “drunk in the spirit”, or feeling out of control because of the overpowering of the Holy Spirit. But in these videos these people are being “slain” and “intoxicated” by a well-known medium, who admits to be conducting an experiment and posing as someone religious. Brown is an atheist.

Derren Brown – The so called Messiah Part 4 0f 8

These two videos are very interesting to watch in tandem. It is actually difficult to tell if Bentley really knees this man in stomach. I have watched it over and over and I do see his leg lifted, but I am wondering if a different power was transferred to this man to knock him down. A power like the one Derren Brown calls on.

Next watch Derren Brown deliver his “One inch punch.” The effects on the two men are very similar. Remember that Brown is an atheist and does not believe in God.

Why should you be watching these videos clips?  For one thing they show that a spiritualist, can recreate the experiences that are happening in our churches. Why is this?   Simple ….the spirit is the same spirit. A deceiving spirit.

Our churches are being invaded by false, masquerading spirits and we need to educate ourselves about the paranormal/occult world so we can recognize them. Unfortuneately, the deceiver Satan make these experiences pleasant.

From his website:

Derren Brown: Mind Control, with Derren Brown’ quite literally aired. It was an immediate success, and gained Derren a cool, underground kudos which he described as “not enough”.

Mind Controls 2 and 3 followed, then a series, then a brief spell in prison, and then in October 2003 Derren caused an international furore with ‘Derren Brown Plays Russian Roulette Live’. This secured his notoriety with the public and his big apartment in London. “Bristol can shove itself”, he said.

The Seance followed soon after, which was Derren’s first look at the area of spiritualism and paranormal phenomena, and the first show where his intelligent scepticism could be expressed. Derren says of the show, “By now I was properly famous and could pretty much buy whatever I wanted”. Further specials have followed, including ‘Messiah’, which took him undercover to the US to see if leaders in paranormal belief systems would wrongly endorse him as the real thing.

I am unsure that Brian Flynn knows the extent of the service he provided when he wrote, “Running against the Wind.”  The information he shares about Mind Control and TM are really invaluable. He was taught how to access information from the netherworld. The spirits he contacted gave him real life information about the people he was dealing with. The power from the supernatural world is there and available. But Christians are clearly not supposed to delve into this world and access demon power.

At the beginning of this article I quoted Brown about how his magic is done. But there is much more than meets the eye here. Brown is deeply entrenched in the paranormal world and has attained demonic talents. Others videos on his site  demonstrate his ability to convince the bereaved he was communicating with the dead, and he can definitely astral project.

It is no wonder he doesn’t truly explain the source of his abilities because he may not know….or is not telling. But as we compare the demonic abilities against similar abilities being demonstrated in the church, we must sit up and take notice.

 Angels or Demons? 

 

Todd Bentley and “The Beautiful Side of Evil”

 

By Berit Kjos – June 26, 2008  

 

The Beautiful Side of Evil

Back in the eighties I read The Beautiful Side of Evil by Johanna Michaelsen. For many years she was caught up in the occult, yet she believed that the “angels” who reached out to her were servants of God, not Satan. One of those “angels” sounds strangely similar to Bentley’s “floating” angel, Emma:

“[She was] beautiful with flowing hair and robes of shimmering dark blue spangled with tiny stars…. She took me by the shoulders and gently kissed me on the forehead…. ‘Welcome, my child,’ she said. Then she turned and floated back through the wall as she had come. I have never experienced such joy, such light and peace, such unspeakable ecstasy. I was on the right path at last.”[2,p.83]

No, she was tricked! Masquerading as an “angel of light,” Satan used her feel-good experiences to deepen the deception. Through those painful years, Johanna’s “fellowship” with demons brought her indescribable depression and despair. The enchanting moments of light were fleeting, while fear and confusion darkened her days. She would continue to suffer under that cruel master until God set her free. But since that time, God has used her testimony as a much-needed warning. It calls His people to– 

“Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.” Eph 5:8-11

Exposing the darkness can be costly. Church leaders who seek unity, popularity and unbounded fellowship are quick to label us intolerant and judgmental. But the cost is nothing compared to the genuine joy of serving our Lord!

Mesmerizing the masses

To alter her consciousness and connect with these entities, Johanna used meditation, visualization, concentration — and the repetitive beat of a metronome. Bentley’s tools are different but just as effective. Like tribal shamans (and like his own former world of “satanic music”), he uses loud rhythmic sounds (drums, etc.), then adds repetitious words and hypnotic music. Pastor Gary Osborne described it in his article, Bentley’s “Revival” in Lakeland, Florida:

The phrase ‘stir yourselves up’ was used repeatedly…. A woman led in prayer for the service and … told the people to ‘roar like a lion!’ … People everywhere shouted at the top of their lungs…. This same lady was jerking and twitching…. There was also much talk of ‘birthing’ and ‘signs and wonders.’… People were swaying and dancing…. There was a very sensual spirit… People seemed to be in a trance all around me. If the worship leader said, ‘raise your hands’ everyone did so immediately. If he said, ‘drop to your knees’ they did…. The music had the people mesmerized….

 

“At about 8:30 PM… the music leader says, ‘I’m feeling drunk.’ He then tells the people to say to God, ‘Intoxicate me, Lord…. Now the people are getting truly wild and the leader says, ‘Scream!!!’ and the people let out a yell…. Finally the worship leader falls to the floor himself….”[5]

This manipulative process started up again the next evening. Finally, with the crowd thoroughly conditioned to “break out of the box” of Biblical order (1 Cor 14:40), Bentley took control. Wearing a t-shirt with the words, “Jesus Gave Me My Tattoos,” he announced the presence of “great authority” in the building. “I speak creation,” he declared. “I speak new hearts, new livers into existence tonight….’”[5]

Doesn’t he know God’s view of such arrogance? Has he no fear of His judgments on those who serve the purpose of the master deceiver?

“For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven… I will be like the Most High.’
Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit.” Isaiah 14:13-15

Signs, wonders and mystical healings

“The glory of God is intense,” wrote Bentley in a “Personal Message” on May 20. “…miracles continue – tumors disappearing nightly, cancers and deaf ears being healed. It has been reported that more than 55 people in wheelchairs are receiving their healing. Another remarkable turn of events – 13 reported resurrections!”

He claims that a male “angel” named “Healing Revival”[6] worked with him in many past healings: When he comes,” said Bentley, “I get… the ability to diagnose people’s sicknesses with my left hand…. I get very accurate details from God…. And whenever this angel shows up the miracles go off the charts.”[4]

Four angels supposedly operated on him during one of his heavenly visions. He saw “a Pillar of fire” rise up through the roof of a church. When “God” told him to “get into the Pillar,” he complied — and landed on an operating table in heaven. The angels tied him down and began surgery:

“[T]hey pick this thing up… and they stuck it in me right here on my neck and it didn’t hurt…. they went right down to my lowards and all of a sudden … everything inside of me popped out onto the table, my heart, my liver — like everything…. . [T]he angels start taking these white boxes… and they start stuffing these things inside of me… and I heard the verse ‘I desire truth in the inward parts.’”[7]

Bentley’s reference to Psalm 51:6 illustrates his blatant Scripture twisting — a timeless demonic tool. And his “surgery” reminds me of the mystical reports about “alien abductions.”

It’s also similar to Johanna’s experiences with painless operations in Mexico. Both claim to have seen countless supernatural healings that clashed with all medical knowledge. But Bentley’s “heavenly” experience (while in a trance) occurred only in a psychic realm, while Johanna assisted in numerous operations where patients actually bled. A few incredulous doctors observed this bizarre process and validated the results.

We shouldn’t be surprised. Long ago, missionaries to distant tribal cultures described both the source and the effect of and shamanic magic. It’s not a new phenomenon!

Johanna would assist Hermanito, a demonic spirit that “possessed” a Mexican woman named Pachita and used her body to operate on his patients. Like Bentley’s six angels, he often replaced something from the patient’s body with special objects.

A former army officer with an inoperable brain tumor came seeking relief from blinding headaches. As his operation began, Hermanito ordered Johanna to hand him the knife: She described the brutal action:

“In a single, violent motion he plunged it into Perry’s skull. The man on the table gasped. ‘Do you feel pain, Perry?’ I asked him anxiously. ‘Oh, no,’ he replied with a faint smile, ‘but I can feel something moving inside my head—it’s so strange!’ he laughed nervously…. Several days after the operation, I called him to see how he was doing. He told me his headaches were completely gone….”[2,p.126-127]

To heal David, a young man with terminal cancer, Hermanito called for more concentrated prayer — using words that blended the Scriptures with occult ideas:

“Take a glass of pure water. Go out to the balcony, raise it high in your right hands and say, ‘May the most precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ which, when only represented in Egypt brought freedom to the Israelites by the strong arm of God, free us and favor us against all evil.’… Sun and Earth, Moon and Stars… Mosses, Reptiles…. I ask of you this day the health of this patient.’

      “’Form a circle around him…. Hold hands and pray….’ He raised the scissors in prayer for a long moment, then plunged them into David’s side. He cut for a few moments, then asked ‘Do you feel pain…?’ David didn’t answer…. Hermanito’s breath drew in sharply…. ‘Roll up your sleeve. We must perform a transfusion. Hurry! The rest of you pray!” he ordered…. Suddenly, David took a deep breath and opened his eyes….

     “David had died on the table that night. The force behind Hermanito had brought him back…”[2,p.118-119]

But all was not well in this psychic realm. David died less than four months later. And many other healings were only temporary.”[2,p.134]  Christians who sought help through demonic forces suffered more and were less likely to be “healed.” Satan has only hatred for his deluded victims — especially those who actually belong to the true God.  [See From torment to triumph]

God’s Victory in this Spiritual War

“…many of our churches are in serious danger of occult contamination,” wrote Johanna.[2,p.183]  She knew how easily even Christians could trade God’s truth for counterfeit promises. After all, she didn’t stray into darkness because she loved evil — but because evil looked so good! Her testimony is a wake-up call to churches everywhere:

“That first week in college, when the gospel was shared with me, I welcomed it with open arms. I confessed my sins before God and asked Jesus to enter my life as my Lord and Savior. I know, on the basis of God’s word, that I was born again, and I received in my spirit the assurance of my salvation. I gave myself to Him with my whole heart.

“But I did not understand the importance of carefully, systematically studying His Word. I had no real understanding of what I believed or why I believed it.’ And so, in time, I began to build my relationship with God based on my experience. My experience told me the healings and miracles I witnessed at Pachita’s were of God. My feelings assured me the work there was holy, for the name of Jesus was used and there was a crucifix on the altar, and demons were ‘cast out.’”

“Soon my ‘logic’ told me the Bible was too narrow…. Ultimately, I came to believe Jesus was a way to God — but not the Way, the Truth, the Life. Gently, a step at a time, I fell away from the faith, unwittingly ‘paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.’ (I Timothy 4:1).… Ultimately, because I was a child of God, because I wanted more than anything else to know the Truth, He delivered me.”[2,p.181-182]

I thank God for His mercy and saving grace that reaches out to all who will hear and heed His Word. As the spiritual war intensifies, may we be ready to hear His call, turn around (repent), resist the deceiver, and follow our wonderful Shepherd.

“Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6:10-12

 

Full story here”

http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/08/bentley.htm

 

This article is from:

Authentic Spirituality

 Here is the blog address and you really should go this blog and read the comments.

http://freebelievers.com/blog-entry/authentic-spirituality

First of all, I’d like to say that I consider myself to be a “Charismatic Christian.” By that, I mean to say that I share an excitement about God that is not always visibly evident in some of the more traditional denominations. I also share the belief that the Holy Spirit is alive and moving as much today as in the New Testament. Most of my writings specifically address the Christian mindset from the perspective of Charismatic-Pentecostal because that is the background from which I come. I say that because I want to make clear that when I “call stuff out,” I am not critically standing on the outside looking in, but I am living very much on the inside. The fire with which I address certain subjects, however, does not come from my loyalty and love for a set of beliefs or a particular sect, but from a sincere love for individuals who many times are trampled to death by those beliefs.

With that in mind, I would like to address something that has bothered me all my life, but have never put into words until now. I believe that this little issue has taken its toll on thousands of genuine and honest God-seekers, and has left them feeling as though they are completely missing God. It’s time to expose one of the church’s greatest and best-kept secrets. Exposing this could set Charismatic Christianity back a thousand years. I’m about to blow a cover off this religion in a way I’ve never seen done before, so buckle your seatbelts.

My 8th grade science teacher pinned up one of those psychedelic mind-bending posters that supposedly had a picture within a picture that you could psychologically see inside, if you stared long enough and allowed your eyes to go out of focus. Those things never worked for me. I could stare for hours and I never saw anything but a bunch of squiggly lines and shapes. Supposedly this particular poster had moving dinosaurs in it. At least that’s what the first kid claimed to see as he let out a, “Wooooee, dude, I tooootally see it!” I got up close and looked till my head hurt but I still couldn’t see what he was talking about. Sure enough, one by one, people started to see the moving dinosaurs. Everyone was laughing and talking about it. There was energy and excitement as people coahed friends on how to look in just the right way to “experience” it with them. One by one you could hear people getting a “break-through” as they would finally se what everyone else was seeing. I felt ignorant, because all I saw were stupid, squiggly lines.

I quit trying about half-way through the year. I got to the point where I just ignored the poster when I came to class. Truthfully, I resented the fact that he put it up there in the first place. It was a science class. Why hang a poster with hidden dinosaurs? It didn’t make sense to me, and I found it to be a source of irritation every time another two or three people exclaimed, “I see it, I see it!!!!” I even considered lying to everyone at one point because it was only me and perhaps two other kids who were on the outs, and neither of them had a cool bone in their body.

By the end of the school year, it appeared that the majority of the school had experienced the dinosaurs and I still couldn’t see them. How embarrassing. My embarrassment was short-lived, however, because on the last day of school, the cocky old science teacher stood before the class and revealed to everyone that there were no dinosaurs in the picture. IT WAS A HOAX! He wanted to illustrate how peer pressure can easily sway others. It was amazing to see different people become angry and defensive and swear up and down that they saw moving dinosaurs. I believe those kids could have taken a lie-detector test and passed with flying colors. They fully believed that they saw dinosaurs moving!

Time and again, I have sat with sincere people who feel like they must be missing something in the God department. They tell me that they don’t understand why God hasn’t moved on them the way He has with their friends and Church mates. They are plagued with a nagging sense that they are always a few miles behind the rest of the group and regardless of how hard they try; they can’t seem to catch up. Every time there’s another testimony about God moving in someone’s life, they are reminded that they can’t hear His voice like everyone else and don’t feel the same spiritual ecstasy that their Christian counterparts continually describe and claim to have received.

Over and over, I hear people talking about “Peace that surpasses understanding” and “joy unspeakable,” as though it’s an orgasmic state of mind that truly spiritual people achieve after encountering God in a personal way. I can recall being in Bible college, watching my classmates weep and wail while lying on the floor during the worship service as though the Holy Spirit had completely taken control. They would talk about receiving a touch from God that instantly changed everything. Some couldn’t remain upright during the service because the ‘power of God was all over them.’ All the while, I felt like I did in my 8th grade class when I couldn’t see the moving dinosaurs. What am I missing here? Why doesn’t God do that to me during praise and worship? When am I going to receive a touch like that? How come I can’t hear His voice so easily? Why do I still struggle with depression? What’s wrong with me?

It began to unravel when a popular evangelist came to our Bible college. This guy was known for laying hands on people and having them “fall out” in the spirit. I was excited to receive this and nervous that I wouldn’t. After a short sermon on the power of God, this gentleman instructed us to line up side by side. He would then walk from person to person, laying hands on each one. Sure enough, they were dropping like flies. Everyone he touched turned to Jell-O and hit the floor under the power of God. I was praying a million miles a minute as he drew closer. Finally, I felt his hand on my forehead and I stood there waiting to be launched into the supernatural. I waited and waited but nothing happened. He kept praying for me but I wasn’t going down. Then he started saying things like, “Just receive it, brother,” and “Don’t hold back from God.” At that moment, I felt the eyes of everyone in the class upon me and I knew somehow it was my fault that I wasn’t receiving “the power of God.” Guess what I did. . . . I fell.

When we were in the parking lot and walking to our cars, my classmates were praising God and leaping for joy because of the incredible move of the Holy Spirit that they had just witnessed. People were talking about how awesome God was and how wonderful it was to receive a touch of His power, but I continued walking with my head down, saying, “I will never, ever do that again!” Someone asked me what it was I’d never do again and I said, “I fell on purpose.” To my amazement, every person there admitted that they had purposely fallen, as well.

I say all that to say this: For the better part of my ministry, I have attempted to take things that people say about God that are terrible and wrong and correct them. I have kept myself busy for the past ten years in an attempt to correct all the troubling misconceptions taught by the Church regarding the heart of God. Recently, however, I felt like I came to the conclusion of those bad things. I couldn’t find anything to address because I had pretty much covered it all. Then I felt the Lord strongly impress upon me that He would reveal that even all the good things said about Him are not true.

Our concept of “living in victory” has been embellished and exaggerated from generation to generation, to a point where we wouldn’t recognize the real thing if it jumped up and bit us on the nose. People talk about “freedom” as though it were a state of spiritual nirvana where nothing goes wrong and everything is blissfully perfect. I believe that in the Charismatic movement, there are thousands of people chasing dinosaurs in an effort to appear like they’re getting it when in fact, they have no real idea of what “IT” is.

I’m amazed when I hear testimonies of people in those Churches. It reminds me of “Reality Television.” The problem with “Reality Television” is that there is nothing real about it.

The editor reveals what he chooses by cutting and pasting bits and pieces. He omits certain parts and highlights others in an effort to create exactly what he’s looking for. This is what I see in modern-day Christian testimonies. They remind me of a 30-minute scripted sit-com where everything miraculously comes together in the end. The middle part that is raw and real is always mysteriously omitted so that the listener only sees the rags-to-riches part of what God did in a person’s life. “I once was lost, but now I’m found.” Nothing in the middle. That’s it. Overnight, everything changed and now there are no more struggles and strife in the Christian life, only continual happiness and fulfillment.

I think we do this because deep in our hearts we’re trying to sell Jesus to the public. We attempt to make Him out to be more than He is in an effort to spark interest. We present “life with Jesus” as though it’s a continuous mountain-top experience that comes with batteries included and a life-time guarantee. If this isn’t your personal experience with Him, something is wrong with your spirituality. Sadly, the result of this pattern of exaggeration is that people chase a carrot that is always just out of reach and then become depressed and disillusioned.

Let me be the first to say that the reason you can’t find the peace and joy and freedom that you’ve heard about is because it doesn’t exist. At least not in the way it’s been presented. The Christian life as advertised to you is a lie! The promises and claims that were made to you about Jesus were nothing but a list of sales tactics to close the deal. After all, who would reject eternal happiness and contentment? Who in their right mind would walk away from a Jesus who could make all their problems go away overnight? Who would say no to instantaneous freedom and victory? Especially when it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3. Rattle off a quick sinner’s prayer and you’re on your way to a life of constant adventure and roller-coaster spirituality.

I think there is something to be said for the way Jesus presented Himself 2000 years ago. He rode into the city on the back of an ass. Now that resonates with my life! I get this real and raw picture in my mind, “Life on an Ass,” and it rings true. Maybe it’s not a popular concept with the Christian world, but the fact is, life is humdrum. There are “up” days and there are “down.” There are times of purpose and times of purposelessness. There are extended times when there is clear direction and you know where you’re going and then there are times when you just sit and stare at the walls and go nowhere. Life with Jesus is not filled with a continuous vibration of exhilaration and adventure. Scripture never promised that to us.

I believe that until we are given permission to accept and embrace our humanity, we will be unable to possess values such as peace and contentment. Present-day Christianity seems to be about denying and even detesting our humanity and all in the Name of Jesus. We want nothing to do with out human-ness. It’s as though people present the Christian life as a rejection of the physical realm and an adoption of all that is spiritual. You’d think that some of us are embarrassed to have arms and legs because we think we’re supposed to float from here to there through the power of God. Anything physical or human is considered ugly by today’s Charismatic standards. The phrase, “In the flesh” has been coined in an effort to shame and silence anyone who might dare to be normal and live with both feet on the ground. If God was against living in the flesh, He wouldn’t have created flesh and inserted our spirits into it.

I believe that true spirituality is more physical than spiritual. In other words, it’s NORMAL. Today’s perception of true spirituality is equated with someone no one can relate to. I think it’s something else entirely. If a person is truly in touch with their spiritual side, they will connect and become relatable to everyone. They’ll embrace their flesh and be content with who they are while, at the same time, accepting it in others. Peace and contentment is not a point in life where you no longer experience pain and discomfort. It’s the point when you understand that you will experience pain and discomfort in this life and when you do, you know He is with you and nothing’s wrong. Many perceive any form of depression as evidence that God is not present or we are not receiving what we should from Him. I disagree. Being spiritual, in my opinion, is when an individual embraces every facet of their humanity with no apologies, knowing well that their shortcomings are not evidence of God’s absence but rather, evidence of life. True spirituality comes when we understand that in the midst of living, He will never leave us.

I am convinced that an authentic Christian life looks nothing like what most Charismatic churches promote. The picture they paint is not only unattainable but it’s impossible. I no longer believe the majority of the testimonies I hear. They’ve been edited to fit a story-line that’s proven to be a crowd-pleaser and a bestseller. Rarely does anyone merely provide an accurate account of their life because to do so would be flat-out boring. We don’t want a day-to-day Jesus; we want Super Jesus!

Additionally, I don’t believe all the hype that comes out of Florida. I’m telling you right now that all the people who profess to have experienced “the fire” in Florida are nothing but a bunch of self-conscious teens claiming to have seen the moving dinosaurs on a poster in science class. When asked to produce a shred of verifiable evidence of healings and miracles, the ring-leaders in Florida have come up empty-handed. Everything you are hearing about that “outpouring” is nothing but exaggerated rumors from people who desperately want to appear as if they got it too.

Matthew 24:24
“For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time. “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the desert,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it.”

These rumors are spread by those who sincerely want to believe that something’s happening somewhere because when they look at their own “humdrum” life, they are filled with guilt and condemnation for not measuring up to the embellished testimonies and exagerated claimes they’ve grown up hearing in the Church.

Yes, I believe that God heals and yes, I believe the Holy Spirit is alive and well. I believe in the gifts of the Spirit and I believe that God is actively speaking to His people. I consider myself to be Charismatic to the bone, but I don’t believe for one moment that these manifestations occur in the manner that we claim. The sooner we release the modern-day Christian fantasies about true spirituality and embrace normalcy, the better we’ll be.

You might be surprised to find that what you have been seeking; you already have.

Ok I have to see for myself
Posted July 3, 2008 by Mike Kendall

from:

http://kingdomgathering.wordpress.com/

I have been hearing SO MUCH about Todd Bentley, reading SO MUCH about Todd Bentley, and watching SO MUCH YouTube on Todd Bentley and the Lakeland Revivals that I had to see for myself what was going down in Lakeland, FL. I actually live about 45 minutes away from Lakeland, FL where Todd Bentley has set up his camp. Though I did not see him personally, I went just yesterday to Ignited Church that he is connected with. I visited a 10 am service that happens daily, and there was probably 1000 people there. Keep in mind that I am a worship leader/young adult pastor at a large non-denominational church, and consider myself a charismatic with a seat belt on. I do believe in the spiritual gifts, including tongues, prophecy (which I have), and miracles or healing. I prayed to God to let me have an open mind, and for His Holy Spirit to guide me in worship and also in discernment. As I entered the lobby/ cafe area I noticed something right away: No one greeted me and there were no signs of any crosses or anything that made me feel like I was at a Christian church. As I walked into the main worship area (that had no hint of a Christian cross anywhere) the music had just begun and was very hypnotic, building up with chants in tongues by the worship leader and his other vocalists. Right away I felt like I was at a Hindu, Buddhist, or new age meeting. It was creepy to say the least. It really reminded me of kundalini. Google kundalini and you might be shocked to see how it connects with the revivals that are happening.
Again I prayed to God to help me have an open mind, but I was very distracted by people speaking in tongues, and dancing around through the rows of seats. The music went on for about an hour, with the worship leader laughing and jerking uncontrollably, and speaking in tongues between singing and playing piano. A man then came on stage to introduce a prophetess that was going to bring a message from God, a prophecy that she had been given for the church. She began by speaking in tongues, and calling down the glory of God into the room. By this time the congregation had been worked into a frenzy from an hour of hypnotic music and tongues, and was crying out and shaking, and laughing, and crying, and screaming, and dancing, it was all going nuts at once.
Again I tried to pray and ask God to help me have an open mind and discernment. It was tough to hear God, to feel God through all of the chaos…but then it happened. God reminded me of what Paul wrote:

1 Corinthians 14
Gifts of Prophecy and Tongues
1Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy. 2For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit. 3But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort. 4He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. 5I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified.
6Now, brothers, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction? 7Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the flute or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? 8Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? 9So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. 10Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. 11If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and he is a foreigner to me. 12So it is with you. Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church.
13For this reason anyone who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret what he says. 14For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. 15So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind. 16If you are praising God with your spirit, how can one who finds himself among those who do not understand say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since he does not know what you are saying? 17You may be giving thanks well enough, but the other man is not edified.
18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue. 20Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults. 21In the Law it is written:
”Through men of strange tongues
and through the lips of foreigners
I will speak to this people,
but even then they will not listen to me,” says the Lord.
22Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is for believers, not for unbelievers. 23So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and some who do not understand or some unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind? 24But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, 25and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”

Orderly Worship

26What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church. 27If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. 28If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God.
29Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. 33For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.
As in all the congregations of the saints, 34women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. 35If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

36Did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? 37If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. 38If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored.

39Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.

Once God finally spoke to me I left that “church” building as quickly as possible. Again let me say that I believe in tongues, prophecy, healings, when it is done orderly as the BIBLE instructs. I am weary of ANYONE that can call on healing, call on God when they want to, in an instant. Though I did not see Todd Bentley at Ignited Church, I saw enough. What I did see was a lack of a cross, a communion table, a Bible (although some people had one, they were not in leadership), and Biblical teaching or preaching. What I saw is exactly what Paul was writing against to the church in Corinth.

 

Be prewarned, this 5:09 YouTube video is one of the most disturbing of its kind I have seen. While it contains no profanity or sex, it is not suitable for children!

 

 

–Bud

 Christian Research Service

 

FROM THE GENERAL SUPERINTENDENT

From time to time, the General Council receives inquiries desiring comment on various revivals or ministries held in both Assemblies of God and non-Assemblies of God churches.

Rather than attempting to comment on any specific series of meetings, I feel it would be preferable to provide some Scriptural guidelines for assessment. I have great confidence in the maturity of Assemblies of God pastors and laity to make their own judgments and heed the admonition of the Apostle Paul: Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22).

The Assemblies of God is irrevocably committed to the inspiration of Scripture, that the Bible provides the assessment tools needed for evaluating doctrine and experience, and is deeply hungry for the continued filling and empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

Our former general superintendent, Thomas F. Zimmerman, once compared the Holy Spirit to a mighty river, and the Scriptures to the banks of that river. Brother Zimmerman said that great harm occurs when the river overruns the banks, but that the river does great good when it stays within the banks.

Thus, it is well for us to look at the safeguards the Bible provides in helping us “test everything.” Here are the questions we should always ask.

1. Is Jesus Christ exalted? The purpose of the Holy Spirit is to testify about Christ; and to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and the judgment to come (John 15:26, 16:8). To the Corinthian church that had become overly enamored with charismatic manifestations, the Apostle Paul reminded them that “I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).

Thus, the focus for any lasting revival always must be on Jesus. The Holy Spirit has not come to glorify Himself, or any human or angelic personality.

2. Is the Word of God proclaimed? Every revival with lasting effect has always been rooted in the preaching of God’s Word. This is in keeping with the spread of the Gospel in the early Church as recorded in Acts.

  • Following the first persecution, they “spoke the word of God boldly” (4:31).
  • Following the second persecution and flogging, “day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped preaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ” (5:42).
  • After the selection of deacons, “the word of God spread” (6:7).
  • Resulting from Saul’s persecution of the church, “those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went” (8:4).
  • Samaria “accepted the word of God” (8:14).
  • The Gentiles of Cornelius’ household “received the word of God” (11:1).
  • Paul and Barnabas preached “the word of God” on their first missionary journey and “the word of God spread through the whole region” (13:46, 49).
  • Before departing for their second missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas and many others “taught and preached the word of the Lord” at Antioch (15:35).
  • The Holy Spirit kept Paul and Barnabas from “preaching the word in the province of Asia” (16:6).
  • The Bereans “received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (17:11); Paul “was preaching the word of God at Berea” (17:13).
  • At Corinth, “Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God” (18:11).
  • Through Paul’s ministry at Ephesus, “all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord” (19:10).
  • Paul’s farewell words to the Ephesians elders are: “For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God” (20:27).

It is clear from the above references that great focus was given in the early Church to the preaching of the Word, sometimes also identified as proclaiming the Gospel. This is consistent with the first commitment of the early Church following the day of Pentecost – “they devoted themselves to the apostles’ doctrine . . .” (Acts 2:42).

Thus, a doctrinal test for any revival is whether the content of the preaching is the same as Jesus and the apostles. The Word of God stands over personal viewpoints. Any Biblical revival must “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3). If so-called truth is being proclaimed that cannot be found in Scripture, then that proclamation violates the specific announcement of Scripture that the faith “was once for all entrusted” and such a proclamation also deviates from the apostles’ fidelity to preach the Word, and from the early Church’s devotion to the apostles’ doctrine.

The Azusa Revival (1906-1909) unabashedly proclaimed that the sure plumb line of truth was God’s revealed and written Word. Elder Seymour and others were criticized sharply for their insistence on “checking everything out with the Word.” But, they were unashamed. In fact, Seymour responded to these criticisms in the September, 1907, issue of The Apostolic Faith.

“We are measuring everything by the Word, every experience must measure up with the Bible. Some say that is going too far, but if we have lived too close to the Word, we will settle that with the Lord when we meet Him in the air.

Miraculous manifestations are never the test of a true revival – fidelity to God’s Word is the test. Jesus Himself said there would be many who would do miracles in His name and even cast out demons, but He does not know them (Matthew 7:15-23). Jesus warned that “many false prophets will appear and deceive many people” (Matthew 24:11). Paul warns, “If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing” (1 Timothy 6:3). To the Galatians, Paul writes: “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned (Galatians 1:8). Paul also warns us: “Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. He has lost connections with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow” (Colossians 2:18-19). Peter warns us that “there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies . . . Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up.” (2 Peter 2:1-3).

In summary, the message must always be examined. If the message and the messenger line up with God’s Word, then the revival is on safe Biblical ground and it should and must be embraced. If not, then even though miracles and manifestations occur, it should be avoided.

This raises the question of how can healings and miracles occur if the message and/or messenger are not consistent with Scripture. The attribution for the healings and miracles is the grace of God and his mercy for hurting people.

3. Are persons repenting of sin, and being baptized in water and the Holy Spirit? Repentance has been called the first word of the Gospel because it is the initial response called for by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:2), Jesus (Matthew 4:17), the Twelve (Mark 6:12), Jesus after His resurrection (Luke 24:47), Peter (Acts 2:36), and Paul (Acts 26:20). With repentance comes baptism in water and the overwhelming or baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38-39).

Unless these initiatory events of the Christian life occur, along with the sanctifying work of the Spirit that leads to a holy life – then the miracles, crowds, and enthusiasm will quickly wane.

Of course, there are additional questions that can be raised, but my purpose is to give some starter reflections for those who have honest hearts to “test all things” as Paul admonished. If the above three questions cannot be answered with a resounding yes, then perhaps other questions are unnecessary.

The modern Pentecostal revival is now over 100 years old. Within that revival, there have been some significant centers of activity. For example, the Azusa Street Revival generated a missionary movement whose effects we still see today. The Charismatic Renewal brought refreshing both to Pentecostal and non-Pentecostal believers. However, there have also been some tornadoes that have brought destruction. In other words – there have been good winds and ill winds.

It is our responsibility to maintain a deep hunger for God and to keep our focus on the mission He has given us: to bring glory to God, to evangelize the lost, and to make disciples. We cannot do this on our own. We need the empowerment of the Holy Spirit along with the signs that follow those who believe.

Someone has said that revivals are like child birth. They are messy, but you like the final result. Certainly, every revival has been marked by some elements that would be regarded as extreme. Dr. J. Edwin Orr, who studied and wrote more on the history of revivals than any one else in Christian history, told me once that revivals are like a cabin on the Maine coast that has been shuttered up for the winter. When the winds begin to blow, the first thing that begins to make noise is all the loose hinges and shutters. And, that may well be the case – so we must be cautious at the initial onset of a revival to let some “loose hinges and shutters” have their freedom – but, ultimately, if the revival is to have enduring fruitfulness, it must be pastored carefully with doctrinal soundness, moral and financial accountability, and care to give publicity to Christ rather than to the revival.

The Azusa Street revival had such enduring fruitfulness precisely because the three questions raised above can be well answered – both then and now: Christ was exalted, the Word of God was the plumb line, and people responded to the Gospel with repentance, and baptism in water and in the Spirit. And, like the early Church, they were full of the Holy Spirit and went everywhere to share the Good News!

Let us keep the prayer of Habakkuk (3:2) in our hearts and on our lips:

LORD, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds,
O LORD.

Renew them in our day,
In our time make them known.
 
Your brother in Christ,
George O. Wood
With the concurrence of the Executive Presbytery of
The General Council of the Assemblies of God
 
 
 

 

 

 Assemblies of God say Lakeland “should be avoided”?

 

from Living in the way:

I’m not sure if it is in direct response to our open letter, but I just received a note (thanks Karen) notifying me that just a few hours ago, the Assemblies of God posted an “Official Statement on Revival” . The link leads to a video of Dr. George O. Wood making comments which deal with “revival” in general. The “statement” never mentions Florida, Lakeland, Ignited Church or Todd Bentley, nor does it mention specific matters in relation to the “Florida Outpouring”.

I think this would be a good start if there is going to be some further direct statements concerning the “Florida Outpouring”. But if there will be no further statements, I would only call this a positive step to a wishy-washy objective. This statement gives no firm warning to the “sheep” to stay away from Lakeland, and to stay away from Todd Bentley and his posse of heretics

For now, I will have to take what I can get. Dr. Wood’s statement deals with the history of the Azusa Street Revival and he states: “the sure plumb line of truth was God’s revealed and written Word. Elder Seymour and others were criticized sharply for their insistence on “checking everything out with the Word.” But, they were unashamed.”

Dr. George Wood also states “The Word of God stands over personal viewpoints. Any Biblical revival must “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3). If so-called truth is being proclaimed that cannot be found in Scripture, then that proclamation violates the specific announcement of Scripture that the faith “was once for all entrusted” and such a proclamation also deviates from the apostles’ fidelity to preach the Word, and from the early Church’s devotion to the apostles’ doctrine.”

Dr. Wood continues; “Miraculous manifestations are never the test of a true revival – fidelity to God’s Word is the test.”

“In summary, the message must always be examined. If the message and the messenger line up with God’s Word, then the revival is on safe Biblical ground and it should and must be embraced. If not, then even though miracles and manifestations occur, it should be avoided.”

So according to Dr. Wood’s own statements, this “outpouring” in Lakeland, Florida is NOT on safe Biblical ground because it most assuredly DOES NOT “line up with God’s Word! Therefore, Dr. Wood implies that the “Florida Outpouring” and Todd Bentley “should be avoided.”

I wonder how Dr. Wood and the Assemblies of God national leadership will get this message to their flock??

I hate to be so pessimistic but I have a feeling that if Dr. Wood can’t bear to name names, then he must not want to turn his pastors and congregations against a “particular” outpouring.

I’m thankful that Dr. Wood has made some kind of statement (regardless of the generalities and vague non-specifics). I just pray that he does whatever it takes to make sure that the congregations hear the little bit of a leading that he expressed. (Dr. Wood… How about an article in the Pentecostal Evangel telling people to stay away from Lakeland?)

Leaving Lakeland – A Firsthand Account

I found this article written by Mike Kirkland posted on:  http://www.darinhufford.com/article.php?id=19.  Mike went to Lakeland to get a firsthand account of what was going down.  I am posting this article for it’s very humorous, but more importantly I am posting this because it’s also a very sad article, in that it shows us what really happens at Todd Bentley’s revivals – that those who desperately need healing, leave the same way they came!

** Please note that I have edited some of the language. I understand that Mike is angry, but, there are other words we can use to express our anger.

Leaving Lakeland

by Mike Kirkland

The three o’clock traffic in downtown Lakeland wasn’t bad. I decided to ride by Lake Mirror since it was such a beautiful afternoon. The sun warmed the gentle breeze as it blew across the water where Blinky the one eyed alligator once lived and enjoyed celebrity status in the downtown area. Somewhere around here is the site of the old building where my grandmother worked. She was the first female manager in the Kress department store chain and I spent many a day hanging out here, looking for Blinky, and watching the people come and go.

This is my past. This is where I grew up. Though I have fond memories of Lakeland I also carry the scars of bad choices and negative influence. I was kicked out of Jr. High for drug possession and had been enticed into other small-time criminal activity along the way. There was good here and I had plenty of wonderful experiences; but the bad seemed to overshadow the beneficial and my parents had to make a decision for me. Leaving Lakeland changed the course of my life forever and it was difficult for me. I was fifteen and this place helped form my personality, it was my identity and my home. I didn’t like leaving and it felt like I was ripped from the only turf that provided me both trouble and a sense of belonging. Though it was a difficult transition and the pain of the change would take years to fully heal, the end result would prove life changing.

At four o’clock we decided we better hurry to the Lakeland Center so we could sit outside and wait! We wanted to make sure we got good seats and we were sure we’d be there early enough to make that happen. Mandy, the lovely but tenacious (and sometimes smug) voice of our GPS, guided us directly into the parking lot where we were elated to see that there was no charge.

It had only been a few weeks since we’d heard of Todd Bentley, and only then because of a message board post talking up a healing revival. “This guy is the real deal” they said, which made my skeptical skin crawl. I’m no stranger to this stuff having spent nearly 15 years involved in Christian worship ministry at various levels; but my perspective has changed quite a bit and having fallen off a few, I’m not so quick to jump on any wagons. But when the opportunity presented itself for me to actually see this revival first hand I had to take it.

Todd Bentley is a healing evangelist holding revival crusades all over the world. His quick rise to fame is all but miraculous, and the fact that he has garnered the support of heavy hitters like Bob Jones, Bobby Conner, Paul Cain, Rick Joyner and others, tips the scales of his charisma-cred. They’re calling it the “thing” they’ve been waiting for, the next big move of God, “this is it!” Of course, the fact that Bentley has taken full advantage of the internet to “spread the word” of his crusade instantly should be seen as no small factor in the success of the movement. One thing is for sure, whether it’s God or Google, Bentley’s Fresh Fire is catching on like… well, somethings hot.

The Lakeland Center is a fairly large venue with ample parking and open spaces. There were lots of cars in the lot but maybe a hundred or so people outside lined up at the various entrances. I noticed the handicapped spaces were filling up as well. We walked up a ramp and stopped at the first set of glass doors. There were about twenty people positioned strategically and ready to move at the first sign of the unlocking. The people seemed nice and they smiled friendly smiles welcoming us into line as the newbies. We wouldn’t be there long before we too would turn, smile, and try to make the rookies more comfortable.

Earlier in the day I told a friend that I planned on interviewing as many people as possible while waiting in line. But that proved more difficult than I imagined. What would the people think? I refused to lie about my skepticism and I certainly didn’t believe any of the hype about Bentley. But would I come across as a self-righteous ass by admitting it? Would I cause them to lose the happy feeling they seemed to be enjoying right now? I couldn’t do it. Maybe I’m a coward, but I didn’t feel good about it. So we decided to listen in on some conversations instead. We considered it eavesdropping for truth.

To our left were four middle aged ladies discussing the revival. “People have been hungry for God” said the lady with red and gray highlights. “Yes. People will crawl over one another to get to God!” said another woman. We would soon find out that she was the prophet of the group. One of the other women talked about being so overtaken with the “spirit” that she couldn’t stand up and she doesn’t remember how she drove home. I couldn’t help but wonder if God would really put lives in danger that way or was she simply embellishing? Or hell, maybe God has a special angel that helps people when they’re DWS (driving while spiritual).

Todd Bentley certainly believes in angels. In fact, he works with them all the time. One angel in particular is named Emma. She is a “mothering angel” who also made appearances to Bob Jones. Bentley says Emma put gold dust on people during one meeting which subsequently helped him bring in “thousands and thousands” of dollars. But why wouldn’t Bentley see angels? It seems perfectly natural since he also makes trips to heaven to visit the apostle Paul who lives in a cabin there. Oh, and by the way, all of you scholars who are debating over who actually wrote the book of Hebrews, Bentley said Paul claims that he co-authored the book with none other than the patriarch, Abraham. Personally, I think Paul is lying.

Two Hispanic fellows stand at the front of the line, all smiles, talking with the elderly couple and young man behind them. Three younger guys stand to our left talking smack like young guys do. One, with long stringy hair, black-rimmed glasses, shorts and flip-flops, mixed spiritual topics with various quips. His partner, dressed in all black, metrosexual, with what appeared to be fake glasses (which seemed a bit ironic at a healing revival), laughed as if on cue. My wife and I stood patiently looking, listening, but apparently not looking right in front of us because the three young guys decided to squeeze their way into our spot. I mean, they moved in front of us when we weren’t looking… praise Jesus, “on thy feet, lose thy seat”, so to speak.

Up at the front of the line I overheard the Hispanic guy explain to the elderly couple and young man about a gold tooth that appeared in “one guy’s” mouth after one of the meetings. I never understood why God, the creator of the universe would take the time to do that. And then I wondered if God would give me gold fronts like Flavor Flav, cause that would just be cool. They talked of expectations and being ready to receive whatever God had to offer. The vibe outside the venue was definitely that of expectation. I looked over at the other entrances and all over the place people were praying for each other and some were beginning to get what I call “the Cocker Shuffel”. Out of the blue they would break into Joe Cocker like movements; kind of like Tourette’s but with rhythm and the added convenience of being able to turn it off at will.

As I stood in line I began to wax nostalgic about my past. This was the town where I got saved. It was in a little place called Crystal Lake Church of the Nazarene. Sure, it was after watching a movie called “A Thief in the Night” which totally scared the shit out of me, but still, I have fond memories of that place and the people there. That’s also where I discovered I had a talent for singing and first felt “called” to somehow do that for God. I also wondered whether or not the pastor’s daughter remembers me but was jolted back to reality by my wife pointing out the fact that the four ladies had also cut in front of us. I really need to pay more attention.

Just then a hulking security guard, and by hulking I mean if the Hulk were played by Peter Griffin from The Family Guy, opened the door and the crowd surged forward. Only one door was opened. In other words, three lines of people were funneled through one door. I was quickly reminded of the earlier prophesy regarding people crawling over each other to get to God and just then three more people jumped in front of us. When it was finally my turn to breech the opening I noticed an elderly couple standing slightly to the rear and to the right of me. I saw a look of frustration sweep across their faces as they stood not knowing how to approach the situation. Immediately my years of home-training kicked in and I held the door for the old folks. They seemed appreciative and gave a slight smile as the passed by and moved through the doorway. Then another couple slipped in behind them, and another. I counted nearly 15 people rush past me while I held the door. I finally had to put my hand out toward the crowd and say “whoa! I’m not the door man people!” That created a hole just large enough for my wife and I to scoot through and enter. Once we got in we saw people running toward the corridors and we were once again separated by swarms of pushy people. Though we were very early, we weren’t ruthless enough to secure floor seating. That was left to the truly spiritual, the battle-ready, hard chargers for Jesus. We wound up second tier, stage left. But that’s okay.

A nice lady sat beside us. She was middle aged, seemed a bit stern, kind of like a librarian, one that wasn’t afraid to tell you to “shut the hell up!” She asked the typical questions: “where are you from?” and made the standard statements: “this is going to be good” etc. Turns out, she had driven twenty-two hours straight to attend a few days of the revival. She wanted to bring the “FireTM” back home to her church. She told us of how she’d been to previous “outpourings” such as Toronto and Brownsville. She asked how we liked it so far and I couldn’t help but mention our recent adventure traversing the God-Gauntlet in the lobby. She wasn’t amused but decided to relay a story about last night’s prayer time. She said that Bentley asked how many in the service were senior pastors and about a hundred raised their hands. He then said for the senior pastors and ONLY the senior pastors to come down front to receive prayer. But instead, almost a thousand people got up and rushed down front. I felt a bit of indignation come over me and I said: “wait, did Bentley stop everyone and rebuke the spirit of LYING!?!! If he didn’t, WHY NOT?” “Why are Christians such selfish jerks?” “If I would have known that’s how God rolls, I would have brought football pads and numchucks to secure my personal blessing!” I continued. I could tell I made her uncomfortable so I let my lovely and way more tactful wife talk with the nice lady while I decided to go get some food at the concession stand.

During my absence the lady recounted a story Bentley told regarding yet another angelic encounter. The angel came to him in a dream but didn’t give his name. It turns out that Bob Jones already knew about that angel and said that his name was “winds-of-change”, which, obviously suggested that Bentley was a new kind of revivalist or something (further establishing his charisma-cred). My wife said that Bentley must have channeled an Indian angel with a name like that. I said, yeah, well there was demon in the men’s room named “hey-light-a-match”. You couldn’t see him, but you knew he was there, oh yeah, he was definitely there!

I ordered two nachos, two red-bull’s and a snickers. It was $20! I made the lady at the counter tell me she loves me before I paid her. She asked why but then almost as quickly said: “Ohhhh I get it, I love you man”. When I got back I think the librarian lady had decided that we were just going to bring her down so she changed seats. It was just as well, the music was starting.

The band wasn’t bad. By the end of the first song they had most of the technical bugs worked out and even with our bad seats and poor acoustics, I liked them. But then again, I tend to cut worship bands a lot of slack. They played a song that my worship team used to play and my mind began drifting back a few years. I remembered how good it felt to cut loose and express deep seated emotions through music. I remembered the synergy shared between team members each expressing their individual creativity held together by the laws of rhythm, timing and tone. As a worship leader, my style leaned toward the “prophetic” and back then I was known for being spontaneous and spirit led. Today I’m known as a skeptic. I’m not sure when the transition began, but on some level I think I understand this stuff more deeply and better than ever before.

Part II

“I want to change”, “fill me”, “wash me”, “set me on fire.” This was the mantra shouted by the emcee, then repeated by the crowd, over and over, prior to the live feed television broadcast. The people were being hyped up and primed for the cameras. Prayers and more prayers, with lots of shouting preceded the program. This is a healing revival and according to them, it requires activating faith. “You have to expect it” stated the emcee. And the people definitely expected something.

I began my interest in stage magic and hypnotism several years ago after seeing a show in a local bar. Though I never actually engaged in the art, I studied the techniques intently and greatly enjoyed trying to figure out various tricks and illusions. One particular interest was the power of suggestion and how it relates to everyday life, especially in advertising and later in Charismatic meetings. Few people realize that hypnosis is completely voluntary and only works on willing subjects. Trickshop.com put out a book called “Mastering Hypnosis”. In it, they define hypnosis as:

“…an altered state of consciousness characterized by heightened susceptibility to suggestion. Under hypnosis, suggestions bypass the critical faculties of normal consciousness and directly enter the subconscious mind where, if accepted, they are acted upon. The deeper the level of hypnosis, the greater the subject’s suggestibility.”

“This entire process is based upon the fact that while our conscious thought processes produce inductive reasoning, our subconscious uses only deductive reasoning. Once a suggestion is accepted by the subconscious, it is automatically transformed into reality. It does not matter if the suggestion originates from an internal source (i.e. self hypnosis) or an external one (the operator). Indeed, the distinction between autosuggestion and heterosuggestion is considered to be both arbitrary and superficial.”

The speaker approached the stage with a serious look and a nervous twitch that apparently told the audience that he was about to say something important. “Seventy-five percent of what happens here is due to hunger” he said. “Are you hungry tonight?” The crowd responded loud and long; of course they’re hungry, that’s why they’re here! After several minutes and more such comments the band cranked back up.

The music was carefully selected to create an atmosphere of surrender and expectation. I’m no stranger to this sort of manipulation, but I’m not going to say it’s necessarily a bad thing either. Maybe I’m just defending the art since I’m a musician but before you stop reading, at least here me out. I would say that all music is or can be a form of meditation. At least it helps one experience a meditative state. These type worship songs are a merging of music and message which allows one to accept the suggestion and experience it emotionally. What’s wrong with that, as long as the suggestion is positive? All music does that to some degree and that’s why I still listen to Christian radio. At least I am meditating on pleasant things for the most part and not subjecting my subconscious mind to accept the rubbish produced by the various other artists such as Brad Paisley “checking his girl for ticks”, or Juvenile’s infamous “Back that a** up”. No thanks, I’ll stick to the positive message found in Christian music whether or not I describe myself as one or not. In doing so I’m making a logical and informed decision on what I allow to influence my mind. The trick is learning when and how to turn it on and off. For a brief moment, I allowed myself to relax into the music, but that would quickly change.

The speaker once again took the stage and began telling an Old Testament story where Aaron and Hur held up Moses’ arms so that Joshua could defeat the Amalekites. He then told the crowd that they too could be like Aaron and Hur and undergird Todd Bentley by becoming a, you guessed it, “ministry partner” to financially support the revival crusade. This classic bait and switch was a bit too blatant for me. I almost called b**s** but just then they asked for twelve more volunteers to help with the offering. “Meet at the bottom of the platform, stage right” said the emcee. I immediately leapt to my feet and didn’t even have time to tell my wife where I was going; she knew. It was all the way across the arena so I sprinted down the steps, nearly busting my butt on the sticky soda stained floor but I made it to ground level in tact. Others were running too, and they beat me. I showed up at the corner, out of breath and attempting to speak. “I’m… here… to volunteer” I said but was too late. The younger, more agile guys (with football pads and numchucks) made the cut and I was turned away.

On my way back to my seat I decided to get the lay of the land. To check out the people and see if I could get a better feel for the type of crowd that was present. As I made my way around the floor seats I noticed several wheel chaired individuals, people with various infirmities and some with obvious deformities. Some were old; some were young; like this one little girl with dark hair and angelic smile. Her legs had not formed properly and they hung from the wheelchair motionless but most notable thing about her was the way she brightened up the space around her with her presence. I walked by an old man, slumped over in his chair barely moving. It looked as if he’d had a stroke or something, his wife stood behind him dutifully with rays of hope beaming from her eyes as she looked around expectantly. I saw another man walk by and I caught myself do a double-take as I noticed a large tumor protruding from the right side of his face causing his right eye, nose, and part of his mouth to be distorted by the intrusive mass. As I continued to walk, I noticed more and more chairs and people, all in some need of physical healing, all with the same gleam of hope and air of expectancy. By the time I made it back to my seat I was emotionally exhausted. My little comedic adventure of trying to volunteer was overshadowed by the notable suffering of the individuals I passed.

The emcee took the stage and delivered a monologue which I would describe as a Bentley promo. He told a story of how a group of ministers recently said that whenever Bentley came in the room, they could feel the presence of God and that they would often drop to the floor (in typical charismatic type fashion I suppose). My ears perked up at this because I felt he was laying the groundwork for what was to come later. He was literally and blatantly implanting suggestions. I predicted (not prophetically) that Bentley would use these suggestions later to create the desired effect so I quickly jotted down notes. I put myself in Bentley’s shoes and tried to read the crowd. They were not that difficult to read, it was like they were holding up a neon sign that read: “we’ll believe whatever you tell us, but just tell us SOMETHING!” And tell them he did.

A Successful hypnotic induction relies mainly on acceptance by the subconscious mind of the target. “Even under hypnosis this acceptance is not always automatic but rather relies on proper timing, repetition, and delivery. Timing is the single most important element in presenting a suggestion” says the book Mastering Hypnosis. “Always begin by suggesting what will happen, and gradually work up to reinforcing what has happened”. Bentley’s crew did a wonderful job of doing just that. They certainly don’t call it that, they call it activating faith. But the entire evening, prior to Bentley’s first appearance, has been spent on priming the pump and implanting suggestions. “Think of repetition” says the book, “as the glue that binds your timing together. It helps to ensure you maintain proper timing with regard to your suggestions. In addition, the persuasive power of suggestion tends to be cumulative in effect.” The music, the prayers, the cheering, the repetitive and monotonous nature of the songs, growing in intensity, all culminate in one thing; the arrival of the main speaker.

I see Bentley sitting on the sidelines reading a magazine. No doubt it is the Charisma Magazine article which just today published their take on the event. I thought he was about to take center stage but another man walked to the podium and asked the crowd if they were ready for testimonials. It may seem pretty innocuous to ask that question, and the guy probably didn’t mean anything by it, but it is significant nonetheless. They were responding on cue and willing to be led. He began by reading a testimonial he received via email. A man was flying into the Lakeland airport and saw an angel outside the plane. My mind immediately raced to the Twighlight Zone episode “Nightmare at 20,000 feet” where a creature devoured the wing of the plane right in front of a passenger who subsequently went nuts. Even though this guy’s angel didn’t do anything as cool as that, I listened intently. He said the angel looked in the plane at him as if wondering to himself, “why are you in a plane?” I thought that must have been a really dumb angel. Then the man said that he looked ahead and saw thousands and thousands of angels spiraling into the city of Lakeland to attend Bentley’s event. Wow. That sounds pretty cool and the crowd seemed to enjoy it as well. I’m sure there were more skeptics at the event, but everywhere I looked I saw nodding heads. The man read other testimonials claiming various healings and such but what struck me was that there didn’t seem to be any verification process, they simply took their word for it.

As Bentley approached the podium the crowd began cheering. He’s a lot shorter than I imagined and pale, the man is very pale. Tattoos cover most of his arms, hands, and neck and his face is pierced with several metal studs. His appearance is certainly atypical and stands out from his peers. That’s about the only thing that stands apart from them though. His voice, his mannerisms, and his style all seem to mimic those who have gone before and you can definitely detect a Kathryn Kulhman-esque quality in his performance. He didn’t preach, and I’m not sure he even had a message. But he did have a point and it came through loud and clear. Todd Bentley is the next big thing. He droned on for a long time, dropping names of the charismatic superstars like John Wimber, Paul Cain, and Bobby Conner showing how they all approved of Bentley. He spoke of their long-time prophecies that called for a big revival and proceeded to insert himself as the fulfillment of that prophecy. And why shouldn’t he? Bob Jones sat directly behind him nodding in approval.

At first I was confused as to why he was pumping himself up like that but it soon became clear. It wasn’t because of healing, it was because of support. He wanted people to give to his ministry, become a “ministry partner” and help spread the word. He told stories of spreading the FreshFire revival worldwide and that even Arab countries are opening the airwaves to his ministry. He claimed that a group of Arabs attempted to hop a plane and come to Lakeland but that day terrorists shut down the Beirut airport so they called Bentley on his cell phone telling him of their predicament. I wonder how they got his cell phone number? I’m calling b**s** on that one.

Bentley went on and actually made a theological point. He claimed that God was in heaven, and that he couldn’t come down unless we tore open a hole so that he could come through. And if we tore a little hole, we would get a little bit of God, but if we tore a big hole, we would see more of his presence. It doesn’t matter that this statement has absolutely no basis in fact, reality, or even biblical theology; he said it and that’s all that matters. The people responded with cheers; maybe they were attempting to let God out of his cloudy prison, I don’t know. But the wording here is important. Bentley suggested to the crowd that they were responsible for how much of “God” they would receive. The ball was now in their court and he garnered himself a bit of plausible deniability. If nothing significant happened, then he could blame it on the small hole, if something cool happened, then all they would remember is the name Todd Bentley and that cool thing. It’s a win-win for him.

Part III

One thing I noticed about the crowd is that they all seemed to be long-time Christians of the charismatic line. Those I talked to and listened to throughout the evening had all been to several of these type events and seem to speak the same language.

My wife confided in me that when she was sixteen she attended an event with Eastman Curtis as the key-note speaker. It was a camp that lasted several days and during that time they tried their hand at the healing aspect of ministry. Several of the teens were encouraged to receive prayer for all sorts of ailments and sure enough, my wife had one that necessitated urgent and immediate prayer. Some of the girls noticed that her right ankle turned in a bit and they talked her into being the center of a prayer circle where God would be invoked to heal her ankle. She reluctantly agreed and entered the circle. Now her ankle isn’t deformed it simply rolls inward after standing for any length of time, but those folks were desperate for a restorative miracle (one where God actually fixes a physical problem). After several minutes of prayer and touching the affected body part, they asked her to stand. When she stood up her ankle was completely and utterly straight. It looked absolutely perfect. The people shouted hallelujah! Praise God! Their faith immediately went through the roof. All the while my wife never told them that this was completely normal for her and that after a few minutes standing, it would roll inward again. She said that she chickened out and allowed them to feel that they had actually done something. To do otherwise would disappoint them she said. I’m not sure it would have mattered, because people tend to only look for whatever confirms their bias and omit the rest. I can’t be too hard on her though, I had a similar experience when one of my legs was shorter than the other!

One of the elders of my church had us over for lunch after services one day. He told me that God gave him the ability to lengthen shortened limbs! I said, well, that’s cool. So he decided that he would show me. I didn’t even know I had one leg shorter than the other but sure enough, whenever he sat me down and held them up, it was true. Holy smokes! Maybe that’s why I always felt I leaned to one side! At any rate he prayed in tongues for a minute or two then said “watch this, here it comes, look, it’s growing, there it goes”… and sure enough, IT WAS! Right before my eyes I saw it grow. At least I said I did and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings because I really liked the guy. Much later I learned how to do the exact same parlor trick, without the praying and speaking in tongues. It’s a simple illusion, nothing more.

Those events led to my eventual skepticism and rejection of the Charismatic movement as a whole. If you want “success at hypnotic suggestion” states the author of Mastering Hypnosis, “You need to get it early and build slowly. With each failure you diminish the suggestibility of the subject.” I think that’s what happened to me combined with my hard-headed nature and analytical personality. Other factors that increase suggestibility include getting people to respond early to suggestion. Voluntary responses increase susceptibility to involuntary responses later on. Non-verbal suggestions such as certain repeated mannerisms, body movements, and breathing all influence the outcome. Mass suggestion is more powerful than individual. People who are in groups tend to lose inhibitions as long as the entire group is going with the flow. By this time it seemed like the entire arena was in Bentley’s grip. They were ready for what he was about to do.

Bentley began telling a story of a recent crusade in Africa. He spoke of creative miracles which are supposedly where God actually restores a body part such as an amputation. He said that these things actually happened at his crusade in Africa. I wondered to myself; why the hell does this only happen in Africa? What is so special about them that they can get documented, verifiable, bonafide miracles and we get healing of hemorrhoids? Of course, those miracles are NOT verified, documented, or proven; they are simply claimed, halfway across the world, where it is nearly impossible to actually investigate. That’s why it only happens in Africa.

Bentley then claimed that after he prayed for a creative miracle, a woman ran up on stage and ripped open her shirt to expose her breasts. He said that the woman had one of her breasts surgically removed due to cancer and that God had given her, apparently, a new set of chi-chis. I kid you not; Bentley said that this miracle was verified by those who knew her. Bentley also talked about a man who came up on stage and said that he had a creative miracle of his own, and pointed to his nether-regions. So Bentley now claims that God restored a man’s penis, which had been previously amputated. He said it, I’m just reporting it.

What I think offended my intellect most was that here Bentley had a great opportunity to actually document and verify a significant and ministry-altering, life-changing and ultimately faith building event, and he doesn’t do it. Instead he offers a theological explanation of why God did it. This again is a classic bait-and-switch! It takes the crowd’s focus off of the reality of the claim and forces it onto why God would do such a thing. Turns out, as Bentley suggests, God was showing him that it was about reproduction. And reproduction incidentally was what Bentley was all about; reproducing his ministry to as many people and places as he could. God was giving his seal of approval by symbolically, and actually, restoring reproductive organs. What more could you ask for? Well, I would ask for proof, but that’s just me.

Bentley then claimed that some 34,000 people came to his revival in Africa and had become Christians there. I would like to know how he accounts for this number since he doesn’t seem too worried about verifying the most exciting miracle since Jesus walked the earth, I’m not sure he can be trusted to show how he arrives at his numbers.

“Get ready!” said Bentley. Then he began calling out creative miracles that God wanted to perform! He used the typical shotgun approach where he called out so many different types of things, he was bound to get it right with some. He said that God was going to remove tumors, heal sexually transmitted diseases, re-grow body parts, heal erectile dysfunction and even re-grow hair. People literally ran down to the front of the auditorium and the front area filled up quickly with at least a thousand people. As I looked out over the crowd, I was amazed at how many people needed a creative miracle in their reproduction organs.

When it came time for healing testimonies; the part of the show where Bentley calls up people who have been healed throughout the service, several people vied for their spot on stage. One-by-one they sifted through and gave their testimony with Bentley ending each with his signature “BAM!” (which he totally ripped from Emeril) and an open handed push to the forehead which sent ninety-nine percent of them to the floor resulting in a quivering pile of mush. Of course, they fell ever so gingerly, never messing up their hair or sustaining a bruise but always falling in someone else’s way. To that I have some advice… If you’re going to protect your head and elbows, why not take the extra second to make sure you’re clear of the aisle? C’mon people!

A few of the testimonies stood out to me, like the woman who claimed she was healed of Fibromyalgia and Rheumatoid arthritis. Or the other woman who said her doctor told her she had cysts in her arms but now they were gone. Another woman insisted that she had a golf ball sized tumor in her neck that disappeared instantly. Still another woman claimed that God healed 18 fibroid cysts in her breasts. The only consistent thing in these testimonies is lack of proof. I mean, the man I saw earlier with the large facial tumor, wasn’t among those giving testimonials. Why would God only heal occult symptoms and not obvious deformity? I’m calling b**s**. It may not be these women’s fault either; they were literally hypnotized from the outset. I am quite sure they actually believe they were healed but I am equally sure that an independent physician would not corroborate their claims. I would love to be proven wrong here. That would make me very happy indeed.

A man in a wheelchair with Multiple Sclerosis approached the stage. The staff helped him up and sat him in his chair after he hobbled up the steps. Bentley told him to get up and walk. The man slowly pushed out of his chair and stood. As the man got up he walked toward Bentley and the crowd cheered. But his gait was unsure and his legs weak, typical of MS. He was obviously struggling under the pressure. Bentley told him to remove his back brace and the man did so. It actually made him more unsteady but Bentley told him to walk nonetheless. Again the crowd cheered and Bentley took the opportunity to claim victory for the miracle. But this wasn’t a miracle, it was more likely a simple case of the crowd seeing only what they wanted to see and not questioning the information to the contrary. If the man was actually healed of MS, it would be a significant find. After that Bentley said that there is an anointing for crippled people in wheelchairs to be healed.

In a bold move Bentley called all those in wheelchairs up to the front of the stage. He said he would pray for them to be healed. Faithfully they came and lined up side by side along the front of the arena. But they never got prayed for and they never got healed. Bentley left the stage.

I noticed the older man in the wheelchair leaning forward, his wife still behind him, not smiling nearly as much now, but still hanging in there like a faithful companion. I was very close to them and wanted so much to reach down and take the man by the hand and just hang out with them but as the worship band played the crowd grew densely packed and the woman wheeled her husband slowly back to her seat.

I saw the angelic little girl, still lighting the path with her smile, head back to her seat along with all the other wheelchair faithful. They’re the ones that need the miracle. No amount of suggestion can heal them. Hypnosis cannot create body parts or even restore life to them and these folks are the evidence of that. They are also evidence that Bentley’s healing revival is merely a revival of hype with no actual substance. All of the physically impaired individuals with very real and evident medical problems were not healed. They’re still in their chairs Todd; they’re still in their chairs and you’re p****** me off.

After the cameras were turned off the real show began. Todd took a break and a guy named David Hertzog gave the offeratory. It was an hour long ridiculously lame infomercial about how people need to give more money to the revival. This guy was blatantly over the top. I can’t say enough how much I don’t like this guy. For instance, he said that if you give, you’ll get that many times in blessing. For instance, if you give three times, you’ll get three years blessing and that whether you give or not, you’ll affect the next seven years of your life, good or bad! In other words, if you don’t give money, it’s worse than breaking a mirror people! Holy smokes. Did I mention that I don’t like this guy? He also mentioned that there are angels of finance. He said that he prays to his angel of finance to bring him money from the four corners of the globe. Huh? Dude, this guy is really, really weird. No wonder they waited till the cameras were turned off to feature him.

The rest of the night was more of the same but as fatigue set in the crowd thinned and the rhetoric stopped being as affective. I was tired at this point and just wanted to leave. I forced myself to stay though, and took the opportunity to wander around the arena again. There were lots of people who seemed genuinely moved by the experience. These were self admitted ministers who were there to bring back the “Fire” to their respective towns and cities. There were those who were less elated but still somewhat pleased to be there. These were the truly crippled and I can only wonder what they must be feeling since they left the arena in exactly the same condition as when they came. Was their faith not strong enough? Does God only wish to heal obscure or hidden conditions that cannot be medically verified? Maybe God is too humble or shy and doesn’t want to call attention to himself.

Then it hit me. This revival isn’t about those who actually need healing. It’s about those who think they can be used by God to heal those who need healing. That’s where the revival is, that’s what is spreading like fire. It’s a big ole steaming pile of ego gratifying and emotional marketing without substance. What it is sure to do is fund a huge ministry to perpetuate the same. I predict (not prophesy) that they will bring in tons of cash and I also predict that not one single verifiable healing will take place; one that passes rational inquiry of a qualified medical professional.

This kind of thing will happen as long as people buy into it, lock, stock, and barrel, without subjecting it to the rational mind. As long as people continue to give their wills over to others without thinking for themselves, they will be duped.

As I walked back to my seat I saw a woman frantically running through the arena with a panicked look on her face. As she came near to me I reached out and grabbed her arm and asked “what’s wrong ma’am?” She kept moving but started crying “my baby I can’t find my baby”. I followed behind her a short ways and then her child popped out from behind a table and the woman collapsed in delight. I didn’t really have to help her but what is significant is that no one else bothered to approach her to ask. That seemed to be the capstone of the event for me. People are too spiritually self-absorbed, trying hard to get a personal and supernatural touch from God while overlooking others who could benefit from real and practical aid.

Walking to the car I noticed a young lady being lifted out of her wheelchair into a van. She’s still in the chair Todd and you’re still p****** me off.

It was around one o’clock in the morning and as we left the Lakeland Center we drove around by Lake Mirror then set out to see the old neighborhood and finally by Crystal Lake Church of the Nazarene where I said hello to the old building. It was just as I had remembered it; in fact I don’t think it changed at all, but I certainly had.

As I left Lakeland for the second time I realized that my life was once again changing. I was leaving behind a belief system that helped form my thought processes and shape my personality. I was leaving behind an identity and moving toward a future which would no doubt be full of uncertainties, hard work, and downfalls. But I knew that where I was moving would be better in the long run.

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