More Christian Chaos
by Michael Tummillo
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You may wonder what the following article as to do with Christians and Workplace ministry. Well, in a nutshell, (A) your thinking about what a real Christian IS will be provoked and (B) it may not be about your workplace directly, but it certainly IS about Our Father’s Business.
I’ve been reading and hearing from some Christian people regarding the last 100 days worth of the so-called Lakeland Outpouring” in Lakeland, Florida, and the tattooed and pierced minister who’s leading the charge there, Todd Bentley.
Things are getting ugly! Have you heard?
The issue over Bentley’s beliefs, whether the healings reported there are genuine, the offerings and the reports of resurrections, his interviews on Geraldo and CNN, have clearly caused many to choose sides, creating a Christian Civil War of late.
Recently, some comments were shared with me including statements that “very few were being healed at Lakeland.” It caused me to wonder how many Christians were aware of the following facts:
A 1990 Gallop poll found that 74% of Americans claimed to have made “a commitment to Christ,” yet George Barna’s Research revealed that 84% of born-again Christians deny that there is a Devil, a hell, or a Christian doctrine.
Read that again. Translation: Most born-again Christians are in very sad shape. That explains a great deal.
Apparently, many respected evangelists and pastors estimate that over 50% of our church members may not really be saved! (Mt. 7:21-28).
Dwight Moody lamented, “There is only about one in ten, who profess Christianity, who will turn around and glorify God with a loud voice. Nine out of ten are ’still-born’ Christians.”
Charles Finney repented of his Sinner’s Prayer and Altar Call that he had claimed would win souls from coast to coast because his converts exhibited so little fruit after their initial emotional moment with God.
Dr. R.L. Hymers in his booklet, “The Falling Away,” provides the following estimates from renowned evangelists and ministers: Dr. W. A. Criswell said that he would be surprised to see 25% of his members in heaven! Billy Graham once estimated the percentage of lost people in evangelical churches to be 85% while Dr. A.W. Tozer put it at 90%! Dr. Rod Bell and Dr. Monroe Parker estimated 50%, while Dr. B.R. Lakin and Dr. Bob Gray believed that number to be 75%.
In December 1958, the Oakland Tribune reported that out of the 26,000 people who came forward at a Graham crusade, only 13 people actually joined a church. That’s less than 1%! Maybe those numbers got better as the years went on?
Andrew Wommack, who served in Katherine Kuhlman’s ministry, states on his website: “Billy Graham was quoted as saying that only fifteen percent of all the people who professed to be Christian are truly born again. Here is something else that may surprise you: Katherine Kuhlman said that only fifteen percent of those who were healed at her services kept their healing when they left the service. These numbers should tell us something about how we measure success in ministry.”
I minister healing all the time and, frankly, more people stay sick than are healed. However, for those who ARE healed, it’s a glorious moment. Healing is hard only when I start believing I might have anything to do with it. My job is to pray and obey, not to heal. So, I lay hands and see what happens. It’s very interesting how, as I minister by phone to 3rd world countries, many healings are reported afterward. By phone! Is America a giant Nazareth with so few miracles taking place here that, when some actually DO occur, we cannot help but argue about their validity rather than seek God for more miracles in our OWN ministries? Does attacking Bentley divert attention from our OWN ministerial impotency?
Let’s bear in mind that Jesus Himself was limited in His own hometown, had to pray twice for a blind man, had to clear the room with Jairus’s daughter for the lack of faith there but healed the woman with the issue of blood in a crowd. The lepers were not healed on the spot but “as they went,” we are told.
In regard to the reported resurrections and Todd’s apparent lack of proof, truth is, let’s remember that resurrections happen every day all over the world. Whether it’s by CPR, an ambulance driver’s defibrillator (CLEAR!), or those whose hearts stop beating but start beating again in a few moments - how long must a person be dead to be considered dead any way?
Resurrections won’t always make the evening news. My goodness, God is doing all kinds of miraculous things on the battlefields of Iraq but all that makes the news are body counts. I’ve even experienced two resurrections in my own ministry and neither made the news. I’ve also had people get out of their wheel chairs and, well…no big deal. My friend, Jim Rutz, wrote a wonderful, faith-building book called “MegaShift” which documents incredible miracles and even resurrections, complete with contact people, just in case anybody wants to ask. It was glaringly obvious as we read the book that most all of these miracles were taking place in third world nations. Bummer. What about us in the U.S.? At dinner one night in Dallas, Jim told my wife and I that he was now getting so many reports of miracles taking place in the U.S. that he had enough material for another book (no, he wasn’t committing to one, but who knows?).
Please hear my heart on this: I’m NOT the world’s biggest Todd Bentley fan. He IS our brother, however, and Jesus IS being preached in Lakeland, at least every time I’ve watched on my computer. I would like to scold him into stopping some of quirks and things that strike me as plain weird. But I would have said the same to Isaiah for walking around naked for 3 years, Ezekiel for laying down on his left side for 390 days and then on his right for 40 more, and to Jesus for coming as a babe in a manger and for not kicking some booty before letting them catch Him and crucify Him.
In other words, God’s ways are apparently not ours. I just read how, in the 1880’s, Billy Sunday would thump his chest, tear off his coat, collar and tie, leap up on chairs, and fling himself on the floor in imitation of a ball player sliding into home plate! Millions flocked to see him. What Billy could have done with GodTV and the InterNet!
You get the picture.
While listening to the Holy Spirit’s instructions, I’ve done some pretty strange things myelf. I’ve had people lay down on the floor while we ministered healing to them. I’ve been led to stick my fingers in people ears twice, hugged a man until he bawled, sang over a sick baby till she stopped crying, given all my money away (all that I had, about $400), gave two cars away…I even cleared a pathway in the woods, knocking down five trees, to build an aisle for weddings. Though I appeared quite nutty for doing so, I KNEW God told me we would be doing weddings in the woods. Two years past by. We just did our first wedding there last weekend! Beautiful!
We need to start thinking outside the box…outside the Ark of the Old Covenant and the prescribed ways of ministry. God’s already “out there” actively doing things, some of which doesn’t happen to line up with our own puny belief system. Be advised: Among all those who side for or against Bentley lie dozens of other beliefs that would amount to many more factions.
I was in attendance when Todd came to Denton. We traveled 3 hours and met many friends there. If anyone attends these meetings out of curiosity, that’s their problem. If anyone attended as one following after signs and wonders, bad Christian, bad (signs and wonders should be following YOU).
Those who went because they were very sick, in many cases, were obviously desperate for a healing manifestation. Not from Todd, I hope, but from God. I was seated in the nosebleed section, basically looking down on the stage into Todd’s right ear hole. Early after he took the stage, I was startled by a bright fireball bouncing down the center aisle and disappearing as it bounced upon the platform! My sister, seated next to me, noticed that I reacted strangely. I thought it was an act of terrorism! Oddly, nobody else moved. Apparently, nobody saw what I saw. I made two quick cell phone calls to friends I had spotted around the auditorium. They looked at me in amazement and shook their heads. They had seen nothing.
Afterward, at an IHOP restaurant, I was sharing what I had seen with a group in the parking lot. One man, a good friend, overheard me and said, “I saw that, too! It looked as bright as a laser, right?” Yes, it was that intensity of red!
Don’t ask me what that was all about except that Todd had just been talking about fiery coals. Very strange. Very wonderful!
As I have stated many times regarding Todd’s ministry that so many Christians are struggling with, like Gamaliel said, “Men of Israel, take care what you are planning to do to these men! Some time ago there was that fellow Theudas, who pretended to be someone great. About 400 others joined him, but he was killed, and all his followers went their various ways. The whole movement came to nothing. After him, at the time of the census, there was Judas of Galilee. He got people to follow him, but he was killed, too, and all his followers were scattered.
“So my advice is, leave these men alone. Let them go. If they are planning and doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown. But if it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God!”
I know several Christians whose lives have been dramatically impacted as a result of Lakeland – and all some of them had opportunity to do was to watch God TV. One man in his 70’s said, “The past 100 days have been the best in all my life!”
I went to Todd’s Denton meeting because it was billed as an “Impartation Meeting.” In Romans 1, Paul tells the Roman church how famous they are for their faith. Then, he turns around and tells them that he cannot wait to see them so that he might IMPART SOME SPIRITUAL GIFT.
Since attending that meeting, yes, I can honestly say that something wonderfully different was imparted, even despite Todd’s finest efforts to distract. Humans do have a tendency to get in God’s way at times. So, let’s put away the Flesh-O-Meters, boys and girls, lest someone turn the guns on US in order determine if, the next time we preach, sing, minister, tithe or write an article, we are doing so by the flesh rather than by the Spirit.
Would I recommend you go to Lakeland? I would ONLY if that’s what God is already saying to you. In that case, go out of desperation.
In closing, my friend Robert Fitts wrote me yesterday and reminded me of a verse that can easily be applied to this Bentley situation. He wrote: “Concerning Todd Bentley, this certainly shows that the Pharisee spirit is still very much alive within the Body of Christ! If all had he same attitude Paul had when there was imperfect presentation of the gospel in his day, we would all be better off. He said, "It's true that some here preach Christ because with me out of the way, they think they'll step right into the spotlight. But the others do it with the best heart in the world. One group is motivated by pure love, knowing that I am here defending the Message, wanting to help. The others, now that I'm out of the picture, are merely greedy, hoping to get something out of it for themselves. Their motives are bad. They see me as their competition, and so the worse it goes for me, the better—they think—for them. So how am I to respond? I've decided that I really don't care about their motives, whether mixed, bad, or indifferent. Every time one of them opens his mouth, Christ is proclaimed, so I just cheer them on! And I'm going to keep that celebration going because I know how it's going to turn out. Through your faithful prayers and the generous response of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, everything he wants to do in and through me will be done." (Phil. 1, The Message)
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