So some of us in the realm of Christianity have become aware of a “revival” taking place in Lakeland, FL lead by Todd Bentley. If you don’t know about this, simply go onto youtube.com and search Todd Bentley, you’ll find a bunch of videos both supporting and opposing Todd.
Let me just give you a little background on my personal church history. It started as an infant when I was baptized a Roman Catholic as my mother and her family were all dedicated Catholics. I don’t remember the baptism, and I barely remember attending mass, because I think around the age of 5, my mother began attending a Northeaster Regular Baptist Fellowship Church in Enfield, CT.
First Baptist Church of Enfield was at first a church devoted to supporting the community through provision and Evangelism. While I did not get saved at this church, I did grow up here (I became a Christian at the age of 9 while visiting a small Baptist church in Northern Maine). I spent my youth discipling under the guidance of strong, traditional Christians who loved their church, and their family. The church began to change when the original pastor left (called to plant a church in FL).
Around the age of 16, I began attending a Charismatic church in Windsor Locks. Living Waters Fellowship Church had just experienced what everyone deemed, a renewal. The Toronto Blessing (See Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship) had just begun, and this revival seemed genuine. In fact, I visited TACF numerous times with the youth group and felt the power of God. Unfortunately, in time, the Toronto Blessing turned inward and became focused on signs and wonders.
LWFC eventually split. The senior pastor felt the Toronto Blessing was not of God, while the assistant pastor (who I sided with) felt it was. Oh, the split was over much more than just that. The senior pastor was having some family difficulties and left the required sabatocal early causing a strife during the middle of the service. Truly a sad experience in my church life. Jesus was not happy there.
Finally the senior pastor gave the assistant pastor his blessing to start a church with a majority of the youth. We started Open Gate Ministries in 1998. I have some awesome memories and fond blessings that come from Open Gate. We were all on fire, excited, young, and ready to take on the world with God’s word. Under the wing of my youth leader, and senior pastor, I eventually joined YWAM for their Discipleship Training School. This too was a great experience that brought me into a closer understanding of God.
Fast forward a few years. I have moved away from my home church, living in NJ with my wife. We both consider ourselves Charismatic Christians (and do so to this day for the most part), but we can’t find a church that satisfies our needs. We visit one place after another, but seem to thirst more, as none can quench. Most churches are either focused on money, or on signs and wonders. This was enough to stop us from going to a church for sometime. Big mistake, please keep in fellowship.
Well, we found our home at a bible study started by Calvary Chapel Old Bridge. The Bible study eventually grows into a full time church. From our experiences here, we have again found love of the word. The study is refreshing, and the worship is simple, yet heartfelt. God is definitely moving in our humble church!
To get back to Todd Bentley, my point is, I have been there. I have seen folks who claim to heal people. I have experienced the shaking in the spirit, was slain by the Holy Ghost, and I spoke uncontrollably in unknown languages. I prophecied over others, and I laughed liked a drunkard. It got me nowhere spiritually. My armor was tarnished and weak. The temptation to seek after signs and wonders was overbearing at times.
Todd Bentley may feel he is genuinely doing the right thing, but he is doing things that make me scratch my head in wonder. Kicking a person in the stomach who has Stage IV Colon Cancer and claiming God told him to do this?! Laughing about knocking a person’s tooth out after punching him in the face? Poking a little girl in the eye who had lazy eye? These are not representative of Christ’s compassion and love. These are not found in His word!
This is no revival that is going on in Lakewood. This is simply a spectacle of freakish proportions. I would guard yourself against such actions before getting caught up in the energy of it all. A true revival shows people repenting for their sins, the church coming to a point of restoration, and people being moved by the awesome power and love of God. Nowhere in the Bible does God show Himself as a fool! He is the ultimate person of logic.
Todd Bentley seems to have found an easy way to gain money and fame. When confronted by the media about his healings, he has no evidence to back it up. Folks, that is a sign of a false prophet!
I want revival. I want our country changed like never before. I would love to see millions saved. This should be every Christian’s desire. I don’t want to go to a carnival freak show and experience “signs and wonders”. Fact is, a wicked and adulterous generation seeks these things.
In conclusion, we as Christians are called to love God, love our neighbors, and to know His Word! Throw away emotional experiences and open up God’s awesome and Holy Bible. When more American Christians begin to do this, we will know what a true American Revival is!