Monday, May 25, 2009

Lessons Learned From Bentley

*The article below is well written concerning the Lakeland Revival which was churning along a year ago in Florida. Excellent points made!


Lessons we can learn from Todd Bentley

by Burton Campbell

Just over thirteen months ago, the flamboyant and energetic Todd Bentley launched what was originally going to be a three night series of revival meetings in Lakeland, Florida. That opening weekend, in early April of 2008, suddenly turned into a two-meeting-per-day, seven-days-a-week, multi-month extravaganza marked by stories of angels, supernatural happenings, and divine healing. Along the way, thousands came from all over the globe to experience the gatherings for themselves, and millions more viewed it live via God TV’s international satellite and internet broadcasts. Hundreds claimed to be supernaturally healed by God during the “outpouring,” and numerous believers throughout the world became invigorated and bold in their proclamation of God’s Kingdom come.

In mid-August 2008, Todd stepped away from the revival (and ultimately from the ministry organization he founded) in disgrace as the revelation came that he was involved in an unhealthy relationship with a staff member, in addition to other areas of moral and doctrinal concern. Within a few months, Bentley divorced his wife and immediately married the other woman. The frustration, fallout, and division that has since ensued throughout much of the Church has been incalculable, as has the potential hardening of hearts to both the Gospel of Christ and the understanding that God still works supernaturally in the lives of people.

With a bit of hindsight now engaged, here are four lessons to be learned from Todd Bentley and the “Lakeland Outpouring.”

  • Outward demonstration of the Kingdom of God is irrelevant without inner transformation. God isn’t as interested in what people do as much as He is in who people are becoming. The outward show is nothing without true character change. Christ’s sermon on the mount emphasized eight ways to be. People may have been initially drawn by the Lord’s miraculous signs and wonders, but they stayed because of His love, compassion, humble service and authenticity. Paul’s letter to the Romans indicates man’s destiny is about conforming to the image of Christ. The sad truth is that Christians today get accused of many things, but rarely is it of being like Christ. The Bentley debacle should serve as a divine wake-up call.
  • The promotion of the "super apostle" is a mistake. There is no question that God utilizes individuals for divine purposes. Both the scripture and church history is replete with example after example of how God has worked powerfully through the lives of specific people. Yet, His intention is the empowerment of all believers. There is not some special hierarchy of people whom God loves more than the rest. Vocational ministers may serve a unique role in the Body of Christ, but God is wanting to work through all who call on His name and live for Him. When people become enamored with individuals and begin to believe that some are more inherently “anointed” than others (or than they, themselves, could ever be), they are easily prone to making severe errors in judgment regarding the fallibility of men and God’s intentions for His Church.
  • Ministers and believers alike must go the extra mile to restore public trust. There is no question that those who claim to follow Christ have an uphill battle to climb in showcasing the character of God to the public, especially those who serve in a ministry office. There is a generalized view that ministers are corrupt and self-serving. The pervasive perception of the church is that it is phony, mask-wearing and hypocritical. This can only be changed by the open transparency of Christians who will do whatever it takes to live honestly and demonstrate accountability, who will lovingly serve, listen and showcase humility, and who will readily admit imperfections without becoming defensive even as they exhibit true repentance.
  • God works powerfully through those who will believe. When Jesus walked this earth, He was in the business of bringing the reality of God’s presence into the lives of everyday people. The risen Jesus is still doing just that, but now through the lives of those who have surrendered to Him. That presence is revealed through the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit as seen in both transformed character and power for ministry. God still loves, still saves, still rescues, still comforts, still forgives, still heals, still speaks, and still performs signs and wonders. He does it through those who will dare to believe and depend on Him. Where there is the combination of humble, loving character and a confident trust in the miracle working power of God, there is an opportunity for explosive, dynamic impact that brings real and lasting change to the world. Let’s choose to strive for that!