Last night we returned from 5 days in Lakeland, Florida, center of a current revival.
We were sent there by someone (from former ministry days) to see what God would do in us and how we would assess what is happening there.
Sunday morning we attended Stephen Strader's church - one of the core churches in the revival - and came away blessed by everything and excited for the evening ahead.
That night we drove the c12 miles out of town to "the tent" - a large auditorium on what appeared to be a county fair grounds. It was 5:30 - we had come early. At 7, worship began and was instantly charged with excitement. For 90 minutes we sang and clapped and danced and praised. Then it was testimony time and brief announcements and then to the teaching.
The primary teacher, Todd Bentley, was away in ministry and is in transition towards international ministry. We never did get to see or hear him - though we did see his Dad. :)
The pastor on deck that night began a lengthly exhortation that lasted until 11pm. Then there was an altar call and a time of prayer for three categories of need. Finally, around midnight, people stood on the perimeter of the gathering place and were prayed for rapidly one by one, by a leadership team - for "fire."
The next nights were to prove similar in structure and size - probably there were 1500-2000 there. It is hard to estimate. In the mornings a 10am gathering was held in town for the purposes of further worship and teaching.
1. There was a remarkable ingathering from all over the world - some 20 nations represented with more announced as being "on the way." "Busloads coming."
2. GodTV was there telecasting the evenings to an immense potential audience. This is wonderful and also seemed to be controling of the length and order of the gatherings. It seemed at times to put pressure on the nights to "keep it going." That seemed to me to limit other potential God-options. Cameras do spread the news but can also have their own interpretive control and impact.
3. The passion of the people was wonderful. Freedom and joy were in the air. All generations were represented well. This is not a certain generation in renewal - ie Jesus people. It did seem like it is a renewal time for the saints versus a time when lost people are coming to know Jesus.
4. Each night there were testimonies of healings that were wonderful. At times those who had been healed were present to attest to what has happened.
5. We attended the renewal when it was crossing the 100+consecutive-days mark. Leaders seemed elated to move towards the Brownsville 300+, but they also seemed weary. The challenges of such a gathering must be endless. (We were warned against enemy invasions in the evening - people who are bent on disruptions.)
6. Arminian or Calvinist? This gathering is southern and Arminian - deeply so. Personal responsibilities for renewal are underlined boldly. Taking notes, I jotted down 16 different focuses of exhortation one night. In truth....I became restless and weary. At times I felt far more driven by human energy than led by the Spirit. (And our response in visiting Brownsville years before was quite the opposite - led not driven.)
Perhaps this is why some (magazines such as Charisma and World) have adopted a positive but wait-and-see attitude towards this renewal expression.
We came away from these days
*refocused and thankful for what is happening in Lakeland.
*praying for their leadership - for wisdom and energy,
for their stewardship of their world-wide audience,
and especially for God to carry them more and more by His sovreign Spirit.
We pray too against enemy invasions,
pride that gets eveything off course,
and that the Presence of God will not be dulled by the human push.
Let Your Kingdom come!
David (and Jackie)