Please Don’t Let Common Sense Go Out The Window!
I realize what I am about to say is controversial but that has never stopped me before now has it? I also realize that I do not usually blog this long but please read to the bottom, especially if you want to rebut what I am saying.
The last time I spoke to a group of leaders in my church I could tell some feathers got ruffled when I addressed this subject but it needed to happen. Troy and I needed to let people know what our stance was on this “revival” that was happening in Lakeland. We had addressed our staff and then I addressed a group of leaders but I have not blogged about this before but feel with the recent news it needs to be addressed. So here goes.
Troy and I have been in ministry now for 18 years. We have seen a lot and heard a lot in 18 years. We don’t have everything figured out by any means but I do believe that God gives all of us discernment if we are willing to use it. Sometimes in our excitement to chase God we will chase anything because we are hungry but it does not mean every stream is commissioned by God.
When we heard about “revival” breaking out we did not just flock to Florida, we prayed about it and we also used our discernment and we checked out the ministry. We found several things that did not line up with the word of God. Now I am not about to say what was just accidental or intentional in the unscriptural findings, that is not my place and I am not here to sling mud at anyone. What I am though is a pastor and as a pastor it is my job to protect the sheep. A good shepherd is willing to risk for them and protect them at any cost. For example, I would not let my kids go see a movie that I was not familiar with just because someone else’s value system said that the movie was fit for my kids. I would check it out myself and decide based upon the values we hold as a family if the movie was ok. Others may or may not uphold the same values we have put in place so as a parent it is my job to protect my kids as their shepherd. It is the same thing as a pastor. We are there to protect and to serve to the best of our ability. We don’t just throw our approval behind someone just because there is a bunch of hoopla around something or someone.
Well what about the signs and wonders happening in Lakeland? First of all I don’t know what is and is not substantiated but lets see what the bible says. In the bible Moses disobeyed God by striking the rock the 2nd time instead of speaking to it like God told him to. He was in complete disobedience when he did that but to the Israelites he was filling their need because they were thirsty. As a matter of fact the water did not just trickle out it gushed out of the rock. Now when you are in the desert that seems pretty cool but Moses was in complete disobedience when he did that, that was not God’s plan. You see people sometimes do not realize that there is a difference between results and success. Moses had results (water gushing from the rock) but had to die in the wilderness for his actions. He was not allowed to enter into the Promised Land (success).
So when people ask me if I think something or someone is legit I always say, “let me around the wife and the kids and I will let you know”. You see to me I have a hard time with the fact that I would be considered successful because I had a church of 10,000 or a ministry that reached 100,000 people but my own family was a mess. In fact that bible teaches quite the opposite of that scenario. It makes no sense, results and success are very different. Now I am not saying that families in ministry are perfect because Lord knows that the Maxwell family is certainly not. But I do think character is not optional; not perfectionism but character.
So why am I saying all of this? Because the leader of the “revival” just came out and announced that he was filing a formal separation from his wife because they have had severe marriage problems for years and him doing to revival meeting just “exacerbated the marriage issues”. In Canada (where the leader of the Lakeland event is from) you have to file for legal separation for a nine month period before you can officially be divorced. He also stated that he was going to continue to travel and do meetings but was going to end the revival and head back to Canada. His board has since come out and publicly announced an “emotional” affair took place with a female staff member and that all travel would cease immediately. This has been reported as the second affair, the first being 2 and 1/2 years ago with another staffer and was not emotional. He also admitted to raping a 7 year old boy but said that he was unsaved at the time. This happened in his teens but came out recently.
So what now? First we need to pray for the people who are devastated and wavering in their faith because of this bad publicity. Some people have voiced their hurt and pain, even doubting God because of this. We need to pray for them. Second, we need to pray for the family of this minister who is leaving his wife and their three kids. That family needs our prayers right now and all of us can do that. Lastly, I think we need to exercise caution in the future while still being open to what the Holy Spirit wants to do. Here is what another pastor recently wrote to his church about this very balance.
“Does having to evaluate or examine a person’s belief system seem counter to the way the Holy Spirit works? Does engaging our brain limit the work of the Spirit? I mean, to be evaluating all the time is hard work! Shouldn’t we just shut off our brains and let the “Spirit” take us? No. Because only through the lens of God’s Word can we ascertain how we should act or behave. When our actions or behavior find their definition outside of revealed truth in God’s Word then there is no boundary by which we will be governed other than personal desire.”
I think that about sums it all up. Do you know where Troy and I stand now?