Wednesday, 28 May 2008
Amongst a certain section of the church - especially those who are within streams associated with the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements there is considerable interest in what is happening at Lakeland, Florida. Todd Bentley - quite a character and not remotely 'english' in his approach - is seeing extraordinary healing miracles happening at meetings at Lakeland.
A church in Dudley in the West Midlands is also experiencing this outpouring as the Pastor returned from Lakeland. Various people I know are heading out to Lakeland and I await with interest their report on what they have seen and experienced.
The Toronto Blessing saw a significant outpouring of the Spirit in the mid to late '90's and many of us have been waiting to see what the Lord will do next as the times between 'outpourings' or 'awakenings' seem to get shorter and shorter. These things do cause controversy. As we saw with the Toronto Blessing people took up very strong positions yet many of us will vouch for a life-changing experience of the refreshing and reviving power of the Spirit.
Don't Take Offense and Don't Judge
It is so easy for us to say we will be open to God. However our attitude so often is really that our openness to God is subject to certain rules we put into place. When we experience the power of the Spirit, when we see the kingdom coming and people getting healed etc we want it to be in acceptable ways. We would rather we didn't have to get out of our comfort zones, we would rather it wasn't someone like Todd Bentley who doesn't fit our image of a leader in these kind of things. Sometimes our minds are offended so our hearts can be revealed.
I don't know yet whether this is going to be as significant as Toronto - but I do know that I don't want to miss out on anything God may be doing. I have seen people missing out totally on something God is doing - sometimes even choosing not to go that way - I see the danger of being like the people of Nazareth who didn't recognise and welcome Jesus when he came to them. He was only able to do a small number of healings rather than many that other areas saw because of their lack of faith.
I made a decision in the late '90's to seek to be open to whatever God may do - however strange the manifestations and however it came culturally. If God is on the bandwagon then I also want to be.
I don't understand fully what all this is about. Fortunately I understand this as a main factor of being a disciple - there are things I don't understand. My expectation for many years now has been that the next wave of the Spirit would be missionary in character, not just for refreshing within the church but for new life outside the boundaries of church-life. If the recent impact of Bill Johnson's teaching on the UK charismatic and pentecostal churches has any lesson to teach us it is that the Spirit is not given for cosy church life. It is on the streets, in the ordinary things of life that the kingdom comes. If we are finding that this is a time when the dunamis/dynamite of the Spirit is seen as a catalyst for us getting out more then I will have a bit of that thank you very much.
Any way, what have I got to lose? As far as I can see on the UK church scene the only way is up. We need an outpouring of the Spirit and we need it now.