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By Ron Graham
The end times are approaching and the signs spoken of by Jesus Christ in Matthew 24 are spilling out continually onto the scene today and are pointing dramatically to Christ’s soon return. Believers can see the signs if they are alert and watching. As Dr. Chuck Missler* puts it “We must be well versed in the scriptures to accurately ascertain the time of the signs”. There is a preordained time that the signs are going to appear, and what we see happening all around us are the birth pangs that are so aptly spoken of in the scriptures.
I for one can’t imagine this world going on the way it has in the past. Signs that point to the end time when Jesus will return aren’t just subtlety appearing on the scene, they are exploding with a fierceness that’s unparalleled in mans history. We can watch this explosion on our television sets, radios, internet, newspapers, and from every other direction one can imagine. This was not the case even ten years ago; the birth pangs have arrived.
So just what are our options as believers now that we are beginning to witness a plethora of recurring signs which we are assured will occur just before Jesus return? We have many options. They include such things as witnessing fervently to our family and friends. Being in constant prayer is an admonishment from the Apostle Paul, maintaining a close relationship with our Church family. Create and maintain an atmosphere of love and support for those who are shut-ins and especially provide for those who lack provisions.
In these last days all Christians should be intent on always keeping abreast of whatever intrusions the enemy might devise against the brethren. In these last days Satan is going to hit hard against anyone who promotes the name of Jesus and diligently proclaims His message. The last thing any Christian will want is to be caught alone and off guard when the evil comes down, and it is coming. Solitude creates evil bedfellows. Continue in fellowship, the breaking of bread together, encouraging one another.
None of us know when Jesus is going to remove His Church from the wickedness this world offers. It could be within the next few days, weeks, or even years. I know what you’re going to say, “Well, if we are seeing the time of the signs as you’ve suggested could the Rapture of the Church still be years away”? Yes, but everything is lining up perfectly (prophetically speaking that is) and this gives us tremendous optimism that our remaining days here on earth are indeed few.
Here’s the rub. Believing the truth of the Rapture view and believing that the time for the Rapture is near has led some to become complacent in their duty to Christ. Believers should not ease up on witnessing. Complacency is of the devil, he would love it if those who are born again would all just sit back and relax and wait on the Rapture. In the meantime Satan will be hard at work convincing the lost that they are in good shape and not to worry or take seriously what those wacky Christians are promoting.
Satan knows the Rapture will occur at some point in time, but similarly to believers he hasn’t any idea of exact moment when this will happen. God has kept it a mystery. More intense persecution of Christians on his part will become commonplace in the near future, which will attest to very fact that the Rapture is close at hand.
As believers we must combat the lies put forth by Satan and those who follow him. Jesus, at one point, speaking directly to the Apostle Peter said, “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men”. Matthew 16:23. Whenever we hear someone spouting off against believers, and most importantly against our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we can know without a doubt that we are hearing Satan speak. I can tell you this, the Holy Spirit has a louder voice and can drown out Satan at every turn if Christians will only speak up.
Faithfulness is adhering to Jesus’ strict set of commandments in every aspect of our lives. As believers we all have our own miniature world to evangelize. You are a Christian and that means that no matter where you go you are to spread the Gospel of Christ. If you are out on a business trip to another state that doesn’t mean you leave your Christianity at home. When you’re on vacation or you’re just out watering the lawn, remember your Christianity. Our lives should reflect our faith in Christ. We never know when God’s going to ask us to step out in faith and talk to someone about their salvation.
You may feel you’re without sufficient resources or knowledge to speak to others about your faith. If this is the case, you’ve probably been neglecting a regular Bible study routine. Our boldness to witness is provided by the Holy Spirit through prayer and study. You receive more boldness as you become more familiar with God’s word. If you’re willing, know this, the Holy Spirit will move you into position to confront the next person that you encounter with the Gospel of Christ. If you’re not willing then you’re not following Christ’s commandments. “If ye love me, keep my commandments”. John 14:15. Do you love Him or are you just play acting?
The resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ was the most important event in history, and now we are rapidly approaching the second most important event in history, in the believer’s life, and that is the Rapture. Christians must step out in faith to follow Jesus’ commandment to spread His Gospel to the entire world. There is no doubt of the many extreme measures which will be coming against His Church. I believe some huge obstacles will be thrust directly into the lives of those Christians who are faithfully following through with Christ’s commandments. Satan isn’t just going to sit idly by whilst we take away his followers. Not at all, and you can take stock in the fact that you will be battered and bruised by his minions of evil. Like Paul, as he was being pummeled by the enemy over and over again, you too will feel the heat of battle.
Witnessing can be one of the most daunting tasks for believers especially now days when it seems people are so repulsed by and demonstrate such violent tendencies toward our Christian faith. Nevertheless we aren’t to shirk from our duty and keep silent. Paul was persecuted by a “thorn in the flesh” but still continued evangelizing. He prayed for relief, but didn’t let this “thorn” stop him. As you face the barriers that Satan has in store for you, you too can be comforted by Jesus’ words, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness,” 2 Corinthians 12:9.
Non-believes are blind to the truth, they aren’t able to understand the consequences surrounding their decision to reject Jesus until those blinders come off. You and I can help remove those blinders.
God will be glorified by our witnessing efforts because He is certainly able to equip us with all we need to complete our task. If we use the strength of Christ as we confront the lost, the enemy won’t be much of a hindrance, but relying on our own strength will be our Achilles heel.
If we allow the current events we see going on around the world to affect our witness in that we become silent, we are allowing the enemy to get the upper hand. Can you just imagine what would have been the outcome of the Apostle’s ministry if they had simply gone about their pre-Jesus routine after the Lord had ascended into Heaven instead of spreading the good news of His Gospel as they were commanded to do? No Gospel proclaimed throughout the world, no Christian movement, and no Christian Church, just a world of lost sinners vying for whatever scraps of meaningless existence that could be grasped.
Today Christians are standing in the sandals of the disciples of yesterday. It’s our responsibility to proclaim the Gospel of Christ to all nations. We must not retreat from our assigned task. Think about this, someday we’ll stand before Jesus Christ face to face. How can we possibly explain to our Savior our apathy? “I was too sacred”, “I didn’t trust You to protect me”, “My faith was too small”, “I didn’t care about others just myself”. Which of those excuses will you use?
Certainly the Rapture of the Church is nigh, and we rejoice in knowing that soon we will be taken up to be forever with our Lord Jesus. We read and study our Bibles and those commentaries posted on various websites that all proclaim the end is in sight. Every day we grow more and more assured of what we believe about the times of the signs because of what we see happening around us. But if the majority of Christian believers continue in their stubborn refusal to spread the Gospel of Christ many of their family members and friends will be left behind to fend off the wiles of the devil without the help of the restrainer which is the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit is removed hell will break lose on earth.
If your family is anything like mine, you have some relatives who, in their current state of mind, aren’t going to spend eternity with Jesus. They remain in unbelief. You’re okay though, you’re doing just fine. If that is your attitude you may very well be living in a false sense of security. As Charles Spurgeon puts it “If you have no heart for the lost you may not be saved yourself”, and you may find yourself spending eternity with your unbelieving family members after all.
Don’t let the ever nearing Rapture of the Church keep you from your assigned task. We should be witnessing now more fervently then ever before. Christians are to be salt and light to a lost world, but if that salt loses its saltiness then it’s absolutely worthless. Are you absolutely worthless? Say NO!
God bless you all,
* I do not endorse Chuck Missler and knew little about him when I posted this article.
This is a nice article from Discernment 4 Truth
This morning I read Matthew 10 and a particular verse that stayed with me is verse 15
“I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgement than for that town. I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”
Now in the past I always thought this verse applied to people that don’t believe in God and those outside of the church. I read this verse and it struck me who the wolves are. Those within the church that portray a form of godliness, those that claim to know the way but instead they show deception. There are wolves within churches. Could Jesus have been talking about those that actually claim to know God? This verse is not just for those that don’t know God, it is for those who are out there that are influencing the church negatively leading them to another doctrine other than the true gospel.
The verse where we need to be shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves is towards those who claim to know it all, those in leadership that are blinding the sheep and leading them to another Jesus. Honestly, when I look at the verse the way I now see it, it makes so much sense.
People that have never heard about Jesus or new born christians will embrace truth more than the ‘christian’ who has been in the church for more than 20 years who has the feeling in their heart that they know it all. A person who is devoted to Todd Bently and the lakeland revival is so blinded to the truth that they are harder to rebuke, teach, encourage than the unsaved. The wolves are not those outside the church as their influence is not to steer someone away from true doctrine and a christian will not follow the outsider who drinks and lives in sin, the christian is more likely to be deceived by a self acclaimed apostle or prophet.. They are the wolves. Mind boggling.. and I hope I have made sense here.
It is funny because the one time before walking into the church I had a picture in my mind of the majority of them being wolves and I shut my mind up thinking that I was being silly but looking back, it makes a lot more sense.
The point that I am trying to make is that we really ought to discern more and never be afraid to question what is going on. We have a duty to look out for oneanother in all things. We are sheep among wolves and we need to be focused on the Good shepherd and follow His leading in everything.
“Savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.”
“There will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them – bringing swift destruction on themselves.”
2 Peter 2:1
“Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.”
1 John 4:1-3
2 Cor. 11:3-4 “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted– you may well put up with it. (you will have to endure it, or you wear it beautifully, and some do).”
Gal 1:6-9: “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”
Early this morning three things entered my mind when I recounted the religious deception that had occurred in my own life.
1. I had listened to the lies of Satan.
2. When I knew the truth I repented and turned away from the spiritual pride of thinking of myself as “special”.
3. I had to warn others of the spiritual deception of “christian divination”, which in truth is witchcraft or fortune-telling.
Moments later I came across these two posts.
Adrift in the River of God
Adrift in the River of God- Part Two
1. It is easy to identify false teachers.
Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
2. False teachers hate money.
They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach-and that for the sake of dishonest gain.
3. The people will not want to listen to the false prophets.
These are rebellious people, deceitful children,children unwilling to listen to the Lord’s instruction.
They say to the seers “See no more visions!” and to the prophets “Give us no more visions of what is right!
Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions.
4. We have to sort the counterfeits working right along side of us.
Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’
5. We are told that the false teachers will be destroyed.
2 Peter 2:1
But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them-bringing swift destruction on themselves.
6. Those who teach false doctrine, we are to receive into our homes.
2 John 1:10-11
If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.
7. Many in the church will accept false teachings in rebellion of God.
2 Thessalonians 2:3
Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.
8. Stay close to those who are teaching false doctrine to correct them.
I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.
9. Many will seek teachings that will satisfy fleshy desires.
2 Timothy 4:3
For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
10. The gate to heaven is wide and inclusive.
But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
11. We are warned that many will be deceived in the end-times.
And many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.
12. There will be false teachers who will proclaim to be Christians.
They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.
13. We can reprove and rebuke the false teachers.
2 Timothy 4:2
Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage-with great patience and careful instruction.
14. Error can be prevented by listening those who interpret dreams.
Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.
15. False teachers will be hard to find within our own churches.
Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.
16. As time goes on we should see increasing peace and strive for this at all costs.
You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.
17. False teachers will use flattery to deceive those who are easy targets.
For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.
18. Only those professing truth will be able to perform great miracles to convince the people of their words.
For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect-if that were possible.
19. False doctrine planted by false teachers will be someday be rooted up by God.
He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them; they are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”
20. Those teaching heresy will appear gentle as doves but will be ravening wolves.
Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
21. The world will have to be “taken” and Christianized before Jesus Christ can return.
I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?
22. New revelations take precedence over scripture.
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
22. Everyone who publicly calls on the name of Jesus is saved.
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
23. Those who preach, heal, perform miracles, and cast out demons, have to be people of God.
Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
24. False teachers promise material blessings for those who give abundantly to their ministries.
2 Peter 2:3
In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.
25. There will be false prophets and teachers who will deny Christ.
2 Peter 2:1
But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them-bringing swift destruction on themselves.
26. Bible study is a good way to protect yourself from false doctrine.
2 Timothy 2:15
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
27. There are other true gospels besides the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ
As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!
28. False healers will not be able to perform miracles.
If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,”
29. We are not allowed to judge the teachings of others.
Do not judge, or you too will be judged.
For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye
You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
30. False teachers do not want to be unpopular and warn you about your backsliding.
So, because you are lukewarm-neither hot nor cold-I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
31. Preaching good works, gives all the glory to man instead of God.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast.
32. Once you hear and understand the gospel you will never turn away from the truth.
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-
33. Using seeker-friendly and worldly entertaining methods is a good way to bring people into the church.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.
34. Those who say there are many ways to God are false teachers.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
35. It is okay for evangelists of the Word to have many worldly extravagant luxuries.
1 John 2:15
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
36. True teachers need to study many types of books to be well-rounded in their education.
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.
37. Men who perform miracles, and promote their visions of angels must be empowered by God.
2 Corinthians 11:13
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ.
2 Corinthians 11:14
And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.
2 Corinthians 11:15
It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.
38. We are instructed to be grounded in the Word of God, so that we can immediately recognize a false teaching.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.
39. False teachers say that Jesus Christ is just a myth.
2 John 1:7
Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.
40. You can be like God.
2 Corinthians 11:3
But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
41. God is doing a new thing.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
42. As time goes on there will those who will leave the faith by believing the doctrine of devils.
1 Timothy 4:1
The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.
43. We need to point out error to our brothers and sisters in Christ.
If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, brought up in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed.
44. Those claiming to speak for God, but do not, will not pay the consequences.
But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death.
45. There is something we can do when we suspect a false spirit in a false prophets.
1 John 4: 1
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
46. Jesus told us to abide in His word so that we would know the truth.
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”“See, I have told you ahead of time.”
“See, I have told you ahead of time.”
FIRST-PERSON: Neither faith nor healing
FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Todd Bentley’s healing ministry has gained national attention. His daily meetings for the past three months in Lakeland, Fla., have attracted hundreds of thousands from all over the world. The press has begun to question Bentley’s legitimacy — Is his financial accounting above board? Are miracles really happening? I want to raise some more personal concerns.
On July 3, my wife, three children and I attended Bentley’s “impartation service” in Denton, Texas, north of Dallas. Why? We have twin 7-year-old boys, one of whom is autistic (largely nonverbal, still not fully toilet trained, serious developmental delays). Friends urged that we attend the meeting for his miraculous healing.
Call us stubborn, but my wife and I are unimpressed with doctors who see our son’s condition as hopeless. We believe that God still heals and that His means of healing include conventional medicine, alternative medicine, prayer, fasting, love and, yes, miracles. In any case, we haven’t given up on our son’s recovery (we still remember the day when he was developmentally on track). So if God wanted to use Todd Bentley, we were open to it.
As faith healers go, Bentley is unconventional. Exhibiting black shirt, baggy jeans, tattoos and piercings, he prefers grunge to Gucci. But his appearance wasn’t a problem for my wife or me. God in the Bible used many unconventional people. The problem for us was the manipulation, hype and agenda that seemed to pervade the meeting.
It was a 130-mile drive for my family to get to the meeting. When we called the organizers, they urged us to get there by 3 p.m. even though the meeting didn’t start till 7 p.m. The venue (a basketball arena) seated 8,500 people, yet the organizers told us to expect 14,000 people to show up. So the only way to be sure of getting a seat was to get there early.
We therefore piled the kids into the minivan early afternoon, arriving around 4:30. At 6:30, after sitting for two hours, the arena was about three-quarters full. One of the organizers then announced that traffic was backed up for miles around Denton and that several thousand were trying to get into the meeting, most of whom would have to be turned away. This was sheer hype. A significant block of seats (at least 20 percent) were cordoned off and never used throughout the whole night. We could have arrived anytime and still gotten seats.
At 7, Keith Miller (the chief organizer, http://www.sfwm.org) started things off. After prompting the audience to perform ritualistic acts of worship (stand up, raise your hands, say after me …), he passed the baton to a young woman singer and her backup band. The sound system was terrible — sounds were loud and distorted. The music was repetitive in the extreme. In almost two hours of this “music ministry,” only a handful of songs were sung, and many of them seemed to consist of only one or two phrases.
Finally, around 9 p.m. Bentley began to speak. He devoted much of his message to the visions he has received and the miracles he claims have happened in his ministry. Then, almost as an afterthought, he spent a few minutes preaching from the Bible (John 5). In fact, he admitted that he was having us open the Bible simply so that it couldn’t be said that he didn’t preach from the Bible. So much for reverencing the Scriptures.
Nowhere in Bentley’s message did I see an emphasis on the love and compassion of God — that healing is an expression of God’s goodness and care for humanity. Rather, the emphasis throughout was on power — the power to heal and be healed.
Bentley told stories of remarkable healings. In fact, he claims that in his ministry 30 people have now been raised from the dead. Are these stories credible? A common pattern in his accounts of healing was an absence of specificity. Bentley claims that one man, unembalmed, had been dead for 48 hours and was in a coffin. When the family gathered around at a funeral home, the man knocked from inside the coffin to be let out.
But what are the specifics? Who was this man? What’s his name? Where’s the death certificate? And why not parade the man at Bentley’s meetings? If I am ever raised from the dead through anyone’s ministry, you can be sure I’ll put in a guest appearance. Bentley claims that he is having a team investigate healings performed under his ministry and will soon go public with the evidence. I look forward to seeing it.
After preaching, Bentley took the offering. During the offering he asked “How much anointing do you want to receive?” Thus he linked the blessing we should receive with the amount of money we gave.
After the offering, Bentley said a general prayer for mass healing. People who thought they were healed then came forward. But I saw no obvious or dramatic evidence of healing. After the general prayer for mass healing, Bentley indicated that he would pray for the severest cases.
At this point, a friend who was with us urged that she and my wife take our son with autism down for prayer (I stayed with our other son and daughter). Over an hour later my son with autism was still not able to get to the main floor for prayer. Ushers twice prevented that from happening. They noted that he was not in a wheelchair. Wheelchair cases clearly had priority — presumably they provided better opportunities for the cameras, which filmed everything. They also invoked the fire marshals, who, they claimed, prohibited too many people on the floor of the arena. But earlier in the service, during the worship time, they had packed the floor with people singing and whooping it up.
After midnight we were told that it would be an hour and a half before our son could get prayer. At that point, we got up and left. Yet the story doesn’t end there. When we got to the minivan, our other son remembered that he had left his Bible in the arena. When my wife went back to retrieve it, everybody, including Bentley, had suddenly cleared out. Staying an hour and a half would not have mattered.
Our son was refused prayer twice because he didn’t look the part, and he was told to wait still longer for a prayer that would never have been offered. And even those who looked the part seemed to look no better after Bentley’s prayer — the exodus from the arena of people bound in wheelchairs was poignant.
My son’s situation was not unique — a man with bone cancer and his wife traveled a long distance, were likewise refused prayer, and left in tears. People with needs were shortchanged. It seemed that power, prestige and money (in that order) were dominating motives behind the meeting. Minimal time was given to healing, though plenty was devoted to assaulting our senses with blaring insipid music and even to Bentley promoting and selling his own products (books and CDs).
Neither my wife nor I regret going. It was an education. Our kids are resilient. But the ride home raised a question. We found ourselves avoiding talking about the event until the children fell asleep. Then, as they drifted off in the early morning, we talked in hushed tones about how easily religion can be abused, in this case to exploit our family. What do we tell our children? I’m still working on that one.
William A. Dembski is research professor of philosophy at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
The above article was passed on to me by:
Bud Press from:
Bud also send out this update about a video from ABC. Watch and you will see the actual documents presented to ABC from Fresh Fire Ministries, for proof of the healings. Only three were produced and they were measely indeed. What a sham.
***The service, a routine meeting, was scheduled for 50 minutes. Instead, it lasted 185 hours non-stop, 24 hours a day. Intermittently, it continued for weeks. Ultimately, it spread across the United States and into foreign countries. Some say it is being felt even today.***
Lately it seems many of us have been sharing many concerns and comments about the latest debacles and the latest false revival. There are many occurring presently and I have watched so many videos of people falling to the ground with false anointings that my head is spinning, my stomach is sick, and my heart hurting.The burden many feel for the church is immense. So many are being deceived and loving it.
I have searched the web for true revivals and the result has been dismal to say the least. Then I was sent a link about the asbury revival. I was skeptical because the link was surrounded by new-age articles. But thank God I was persuaded to watch it anyway. The footage is old and the sound poor to begin with, but it improves in a minute or so.
The Asbury Revival – February 1970 – Wilmore, Kentucky
Dr. Dennis Kinlaw was in Canada, away from the college when he received an emergency message to call the Dean….
I have some quotes from this amazing video. Here goes:
The Dean – “I have a problem…and I don’t quite know how to handle it.”
Kinlaw – “What is it?”
The Dean – “It’s chapel..it’s not over yet.”
Kinlaw – “It isn’t over yet? The morning chapel isn’t over yet? What do you mean it isn’t over yet? It is 7:00 at night. (Chapel starts at 10 am) What happened?”
“GOD IS HERE!”
“…the response lasted until the next Tuesday morning, a week later, at 8:00 when we began classes again.”
“Dr. Kinlaw..I am a liar..what do I do?”….”That was the kind of thing taking place. An honest, candid dealing with personal sin and with personal disobedience and personal problems.”
“It is interesting to me to know what the emphasis was…Holy Spirit in those days. There was an amazing openness and transparency.”
“The emphasis was never upon the gifts of the spirit. The emphasis was upon..sin. The need for repentance, need for restitution, the need for repairing relationships, human being to human being and the need for bringing alive into obedience the need for the highest and the best.”
“The amazing thing was a person would tell what had happened, it would be recapitulated, as a person would go somewhere and tell what God had done in his auditorium … it would take place in the church where the person was telling it!”
“The less impressive the student was the more effective an instrument he was”
“How did it come? What called it?…Our need.”
“We had some students interested in prayer. In October before the Spirit came in February six students came together, banded together in what they called ‘the great experiment.'”
“They covenanted for 30 days to take 30 minutes every morning and spend in prayer with the Word, writing down what truth they got from the Word. They were to obey that day, sharing their faith somewhere in the course of the day, and meeting once a week for those 30 days and checking up on each other to see that each one had done his disciplines that week. So for 30 days they met that way and they worked that way.”
Did you get that? What a recipe for revival…… and it is no wonder why there are so few….
Take 30 minutes daily….add prayer while in the Word of God.
Search for truth in the Word of God and apply directly to self in obedience.
Take faith and share daily.
Check weekly for compliance.
DAILY PRAYER DAILY READING THE BIBLE DAILY WITNESSING OBEDIENCE TO THE WORD OF GOD
It is no wonder why the church is in crisis and we have false revivals with false gospels with false anointings.
Here is the video….It is about 37 minutes…Please take the time (just over 30 minutes, hint…hint) to prayerfully watch and compare with the revivals of today. The quotes cover the basics but i left out the ending.
Actually, I long to attend some of the so-called revivals of today. I want to be in the back of the room, kneeling on the floor with my Bible on the chair. Or just standing at the back, head down in prayer, Bible in hand. First, one should be totally armed with the spiritual weapons of Ephesians before stepping one foot into a demonic meeting. Please pray with me that those who are truly seeking God will be protected from the evil spirits at these meetings. Pray that the Lord will prick their heart with fear, and warn them with the knowledge that something is wrong and that they need to leave immediately.
Now for that 30 minutes each day… You will set this time aside won’t you? Daily, pray in the Word, obey it and share your faith.
Experiencing God – Anton Bosch
I just did a search on the internet for the phrase “experience God” and came up with over 51 million references! Wow, that must be an important idea! “Well off course it is”, I hear you say. “We must experience God” has become such a common idea amongst Christians today that we all accept, without question, that this is God’s will for us. And of course none of us want to be so unspiritual that we don’t want to have an experience with God and so many who have not “experienced God” silently sneak away feeling embarrassed, cheated, and inferior. Then there are those special, highly spiritual ones who have experienced God and walk around feeling superior to the rest of those who have never experienced this level of spirituality.
But what is the truth about experiencing God? I did a search through the Bible and found that neither the King James nor the New King James version use the phrase “experience God” at all. The English word “experience” appears three times in the New King James and three times in the King James. None of these scriptures refer to experiencing God in any way.
The idea of experiencing God is simply not based on the Bible. It finds its source in ancient occultic and pagan practices, and the modern entertainment oriented world where the emphasis is on experiences to the degree that many will use any means, even narcotics and witchcraft, just to have some kind of an experience. The whole entertainment industry is built around the idea of giving people an experience. Even shopping is supposed to be a wonderful experience which, it seems, only the fairer sex are capable of enjoying.
There is just no scripture that enjoins us to experience God, or that Jesus died that we might have an experience with (or of) God. Is God like a movie or a theme park or a bungee jump that has to be experienced? Is He the ultimate thrill? I guess to some people He is just that. A denomination in South Africa used to run a full page, full color, advertisement in a trendy magazine showing the derrière of a curvaceous young girl clad in denims. The following words were embroidered on the pocket of the jeans: “You’ve tried it all, now try Jesus”. No wonder the leader and founder of the denomination was fired for multiple adulteries.
Did Abraham, Moses, Paul or anyone else in the Bible “experience” God? What was the experience like? What did they feel when the experienced Him? No, none of these men (or any others) experienced God. Some saw some aspect of Him and others heard him “speak” but none of the saints of the old or New Testaments “experienced” Him. The closest any one came to experiencing Him was John and the other disciples, who wrote “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled…” (1John 1:1). But that was unique to those who saw Jesus in the flesh and even they did not “experience” Him in the mystic way which is now being promoted.
If we were to experience Him, what would that experience feel like? Is it like the goose bumps we feel when they play the national anthem or the hair standing erect on our necks on an eerie night? Or is it like the experience of hearing a live orchestra play a stirring piece of music, or for some, the bagpipes or when the pipe organ hits those low notes that makes your very soul reverberate? Well, it seems that whatever experience some may claim to have, the world is able to produce exactly the same feelings, and even greater.
How do we get to “experience God”? One writer says: “Many have never had a personal experience of God’s presence with images as the primary medium”. So God’s presence is in pictures? Yea right! Others will insist we can experience God through music, worship and meditation. None of these ideas have any biblical basis. Can you see Jesus on the mountain looking at a DVD so He could “experience” His Father, or Paul attending a contemporary Christian music concert so he could “feel” God?
And what are these experiences supposed to do? They are supposed to change us. Wilson and Moore speak about “…the power of digital media to create transformative experiences of God”. Well, they have that partly right. These experiences are transformative and changing. But while the scriptures want us to be transformed into the likeness of Jesus (Rom 12:2), these experiences will change us into the image of the world. And no, it is not God you experience in the concert hall, at the parade or on a dark and stormy night and it is not God you experience when looking at the beautiful (often abstract) pictures of the PowerPoint presentation; neither is He in that magnificent cathedral with the powerful pipe organ. Oh, and was there not something about not making an image of God and worshipping it? (Exodus 20:4). (Sorry, I forgot that was Old Testament – modern Christians are far to clever to be bound by such ancient rules!)
Paul had this to say “we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising” (Acts 17:29). This kind of idolatry, for that is what it is, is exactly what Paul had in mind when he wrote about those who, “Professing to be wise… became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image…” (Romans 1:22,23).
Praise God, He can be known, heard and seen but not with natural senses and not through the use of technology and techniques. “The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1Cor 2:14). God is hidden from natural eyes, ears and emotions. There is only one way to the Father and that is through Jesus Christ. No service, multimedia show, picture, music or drama can bring you into His presence – it is only by the shed blood and broken body of His Son that we are able to draw near to God. (Heb 10:19-22)
 Gen 30:27, Ecc 8:5, 1Pet 5:9.
 Gen 30:27, Ecc 1:16, Rom 5:4.
 Len Wilson and Jason Moore. Help! My Pastor Won’t Plan Ahead. Technologies for Worship. October 2005. p15. (The article deals with how to get the pastor to allow the “media minister” more freedom to manipulate people’s emotions through the use of media)
Next – Part two of four.
This is a very important article especially in light of the current Lakeland “Revival” being led by Todd Bentley…
It affected me deeply on two levels. Steve relates what should happen in a true revival and the comparision of what we are seeing today is truly stark. Also.. it made me think and ponder the idolatry in my own life. I have to ask myself..what is it that God wants me to GIVE UP in order to serve Him? Please read……
Here is a portion of this article taken from here:
Much is being said, and many are praying for revival. With the carnival act going on in Florida, and the mega-mentality of the Church growth industry, it is being said and believed that, with the mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the people of God all problems would be addressed and remedied, all disabilities and debts relinquished, and all foolishness reversed, etc., etc., etc. Reference is made to past visitations and blessings, and loose translations of Scripture are trumpeted, with the intent that the sheep will draw certain conclusions as to God’s plans and their privileged position with the Almighty. True spirituality, as recorded in the Bible, invariably had the effect of making ridiculous many of the things of which the Church is so proud of today; calling childish most of what the Church requires as essential elements. True spirituality discounts many of the things the Church today takes for granted, and upsets the wagon of the status quo. This kind of revival only takes place when there is a real unity through connectedness, a commonness of spirit, and a foundation of oneness. Real revival is destructive and bold, and turns the world upside down. Revival is a great shaking, and causes things to come apart, and is not applauded by the world, but stomped on, and persecuted, and driven out, and extinguished– if possible.
In times of true revival the Holy Spirit does not revive worldly religious things, He destroys them, and tears them down. All the machinery of men must go. Does it mean then, since we see the exploding of the mega-church growth movement, and the emerging movement, and the carnival healing movement, the massive machinery of men crawling over the earth, building God’s Church for Him, that we are in “Revival?” NO! It is the exact opposite, men have become mega-maniacs, gorged on their own foolishness, drooling all over themselves in their frantic efforts to reverse a world spinning out of control, and they dare not trust something so nebulous, as faith in God. They not only do not trust God, but teach others to not trust God. All these things of men must be left behind, but man has so much invested in his efforts that that is not likely to happen. The Bible just can not mean what it plainly says, there must be an answer elsewhere, and many men are vying for that cherished position, with preposterous presentations, and are winning great followings; it is insanity. The effects of revival is the smashing and tearing down of all our idols; the things that we have built up in our lives and in our heads as being necessary to the spiritual life. No sacrifice was ever made to God that did not die. To die is hard. To empty our selves is painful. To watch as God reduces to ashes our whole life, all that we have built and became attached to, it is nearly impossible to do. To take our most cherished possession and hand it over to God is a real stretch that throws our whole life out of joint. He doesn’t want our damaged goods, only our very best is good enough to give. That little lamb that would have been the beginning of that new flock, that would allow you the retirement you long for, that beauty, that had become the family pet, the one that was well beloved, it alone was good enough and you know it, spotless, without blemish, perfect in all his ways. You watch as your young son hands over the little lamb, and the priest puts the blade to his neck, and you watch as you see your retirement run out onto the ground, a scarlet red, and you watch as the body is laid on the altar, and you watch as your life goes up in smoke, a sweet savor unto the Lord. Then it is that you realize, you have been accepted of the Lord, and your life is in His hands, and you are truly safe and sound, in Him.
There is none of this in all the talk you hear today. There is none of this coming out of the pulpit, the cost is just too great, jobs could be jeopardized, funds depleted, and people lost. But, this is the message of revival. My heart aches at the thought of such a move of God. I am not satisfied with phoniness, the foolishness going on today to please the crowds and keep them coming, and giving. The delusional visions, and words from God about so-and-so, and such-and-such, sickens me. The casting out of demons, even from furniture and houses and cars, it’s lunacy, and it is dangerous. It doesn’t matter if it is false manifestations of the spirit or the manifestations of men, it is all of this world and God has discounted it, and weighed it, and found it worthless and vain. It is not only unimportant but it is a barrier between God and man. All of these methods have been found wanting, they just have not produced the kind of men that God requires, but God has found Himself some men and women, who will do His will, who know what God wants, and with His help they obey.
It is nearly impossible for Christianity to believe that anything can go on without the influx of men and machinery, marketing and management, and all the support from the organization! God’s mightiest and most fruitful works in nature and in His gifts to us are not done in a closet, quietly, inconspicuously, and they are done even before we realize there exist a need for it. We can’t appreciate the resurrection of nature every Spring-time without appreciating God’s mercy for an unworthy race. He knows what we need, even when we don’t deserve it. What God is trying to tell us is that we don’t need an organization, we need an organism, a real LIFE.
Leaving Lakeland – A Firsthand Account
1 June, 2008 — Deborah
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.
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.
“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.
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.
I am unsure where this video was recorded.