Monday, August 4, 2008

"Jesus Junkie turned Christ Follower"

As I write this, I am very grateful that some discernment actually does exist within the body of Christ. Seeing Todd Bentley in action is laughable yet at the same time saddening. It's laughable because such embellished stories are what I would expect to see on a sitcom or Saturday Night Live. It's saddening because a multitude of people in full view of an abundance of evidence to the contrary have been blind and stupid enough to continue to believe that this man and his ministry are indeed of God.

Eleven years ago I realized my own stupidity as God awakened to the imbalance of my own faith that resulted from my endorsement and walk becoming heavily dependent upon "The Pensacola Outpouring," which was the counterfeit revival of that time. After seeing a prophecy by Pastor John Kilpatrick proclaim that Hank Hanegraaf's ministry within 90 days would fail and then seeing that that did not take place, it opened my eyes to reading Hanegraaf's Counterfeit Revival which had been published a year prior. While I am constantly reminded of the fact that Kilpatrick did apologize for his prophecy Hanegraaf, I am appalled by the reality that Kilpatrick false prophecy was taken very lightly. That paved the way for tons of false prophecies and false prophets to simply get by with not meeting up to God's standard of a prophet- and allowed room for men like Bob Jones, Mike Bickle, Paul Cain, and Rick Joyner to flourish all the more.

After reading Counterfeit Revival, I realized the imbalance in my faith. It was eyeopening but also disheartening as I pondered the thought of thinking that if these men who claimed to be servants of God had deceived me, how do I know that God himself is not a great deceiver. That led me into a season of 10 months of anger, depression, and disillusionment. At times, I literally wanted to just walk away and forget about my Christian walk altogether. When God finally got my attention to the fact that he was not the one responsible for my deception, my feet became planted in the study of His word. Yet it was a trial because at that time my church was trying to produce its own carbon copy of the Pensacola Outpouring, a carbon copy that would lead to backbiting and superspirituality that would lead to my departure in 1999 and further towards a huge church split in 2003. God has drawn me back to that place and I thank God for a wonderful pastor who preaches the Word in a way I've heard it preached by few. But there are still those people who assert that the "Pensacola Outpouring" was indeed a great move of God.

In 1998 when I first started to express my views after God had awakened me to the deception, I seemed like the idiot in the matter. At that time, the "revival" was at its peak, and so I seemed and I looked stupid for saying the long term effects would bear forth more bad fruit than good. Looking at the state of where it all took place at Brownsville Assembly of God years later, my statement has been validated. A 2006 article by J. Lee Grady in Charisma Magazine pointed out that the church was in tons of debt and very lucky to have even 400 people in attendance on a Sunday morning. It all started coming apart with a split between Brownsville Revival School of Ministry President Michael L. Brown and Senior Pastor John Kilpatrick.

Looking back on at all I laugh at how big of a fool I was then. I was young but I should have known better than to think that signs and wonders were absolutely necessary in order to draw the lost so that they may hear the gospel. If I had a better understanding of scripture, I would have realized then that there is no greater spirit of religion than that which leads us to believe we need any more of a miracle, sign, or wonder than what Christ has already given us in His resurrection from the dead. But like most others who swam in the Brownsville River, I was too caught up in the thought of sustaining myself as I embraced absurdity and obscured reality in a manner of a "quick fix" to keep me from getting real with the brokenness that was present in my life. I was a Jesus Junkie when I needed to be a Christ follower.

While I am aware that for many the issue of whether or not the Pensacola Outpouring was of God is still being debated, I think we need to examine the longterm fruits of the revival more carefully. I contend that even in the midst of the revival there was much bad fruit as people got focused more on escpaing reality than dealing with the problems God was calling them to deal with in their lives. Yet this is never going to be advertised in the midst of a so-called "revival" movement." Years later as we look at the state of the church there and as we consider the multitudes that have fallen out of the back doors of the church as a whole into the kingdom of the cults and false religions- we need to be reminded of the importance of holding steadfast to the word of God- that that is our supreme authority for faith and practice and that the best way to experience God is by living out the principles set forth in His word.

When the body of Christ does that we will experience true revival. We will move from being "Jesus Junkies" to becoming Christ followers. And we will realize the danger of false teachers like Todd Bentley and the other people in the Prophetic Movement and the New Apostolic Reformation Movement both of which he is affiliated with. In reality, they are the Latter Rain heresy of the 1940's invading the church under the guise of a new name. As I have said before, while I was disheartened, depressed, and disillusioned in the midst of realizing how I had been deceived, what made it worse was the fact that I had led others into my deceit with me. I am continually grieved by the fact that some of those that I led into the deceit are still therein entangled. But all I can do is expose the error and leave the rest up to the Holy Spirit.