Part traditional Pentecostal revival (which is how it started), part prayer and praise meeting, part over-the-top healing service, but controversial without a doubt, is the Lakeland Revival centered on Todd Bently.
There are those who argue it is a massive deception, such as the End Time Deception site. Others believe it is the beginning of a massive move of God. My sister has been to Lakeland numerous times and believes it is real. The music ministry leaders from our church took their son who has stage 4 cancer there for several days, and they believe it is real, and believe me, they are well grounded people who love the Lord.
Me? My middle name has always been Thomas (even though it is literally George – slayer of dragons), and I could have been born in Missouri, because I am a skeptical, over test the spirits, going so far as to discern the separation between the bones and marrow kind of guy.
I cannot deny, there is a sense of power to what is happening in Lakeland, even across the computer (You can watch it on God tv every night from 7:30-11 – simple registration required for the best reception) or if you have Direct TV, tune to channel 365. What is happening there, and its growing world-wide reach, dwarfs all of the other things I have seen over the years, and I came to Christ in the midst of a healing revival at a staid Episcopal Church back in 1976. My wife was healed during that revival of a first trimester Rubella exposure and we had the lab results to prove it. However, what is going on in Lakeland is literally becoming a tsunami and that flood is either of God or of deception.
As I work through my attempts at discernment, I am constantly brought back to one section of Luke:
Then a dispute arose among them as to which of them would be greatest. And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a little child and set him by Him, and said to them, Whoever receives this little child in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me. For he who is least among you all will be great.
Now John answered and said, Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow with us. But Jesus said to him, Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side. Luke 9:47-50
I am also brought up on a short leash by Paul.
Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of rivalry, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Philippians 1:15-18
So the question is whether Todd Bently is true, against Christ, or just a person seeking his own gain? Only being against Christ is condemned, that being a person who is a wolf (serpent’s servant) in disguise.
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheeps clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Matthew 7:15-16
While I don’t agree with everything I see and hear, I have not yet seen the wolf or the greedy opportunist, though that lurks in most of us to some degree.
The decision is still out. I have not yet put my hands into his side and sought the purity of Christ. But, I am listening. I am praying. I am seeking to try the spirits. I invite you to join me.
Either Jesus Christ is about to do a work that overshadows anything I have seen in my lifetime, or the spirits of deception are waging one the greatest battles in many an age.
God be praised and to God be the glory. Grace and peace and may the One with Whom we all have to do, grant us wisdom and discernment, strength and mercy. Amen.