It was sad news indeed to learn recently that the news-attracting Lakeland Revival has ‘shut down.’ Sad not because some were priggishly saying, ‘See, I was right, it wasn’t of God and didn’t last!’ and too late came the ‘well-known big voices’ for fatherly intervention, correction and advice. But because it has meant that yet another Holy Spirit phenomena had phased out.
Yes, it was obvious that certain actions and claims needed challenging and some ground rules needed putting in place – if the blessing was to continue. But good results were happening; ministries were being bold with Holy Spirit expectancy; people were being miraculously touched and the news of a mighty God was getting out there!
It would seem that those who ran the revival down and bad-mouthed it just couldn’t see the bigger picture behind it all and praise God for the good things that were occurring during the short months of supernatural activity. Or give God, at least, some credit being original and willing to use non-perfect, but willing humans!
The bigger picture
To be frank, the Lakeland Revival’s closing has been expected for some time by those operating the 1 Corinthians 12:10 gift of discerning (incidentally, not ‘discernment’ as some repeatedly erroneously put it…that’s a completely different matter that I’ll deal with in another blog). I’m referring to those who simply were aware in their spirits that while good things were happening and God should be praised, all was not kosher.
And the bigger picture is this…at the proverbial end of the day Lakeland was yet another reason – and lesson – why Christians individually must draw close to the Holy Spirit in a meaningful and personal way; know the word and church history (especially pentecostal and charismatic) and check everything out – not just go blithely hiking here and there after ‘happenings, big names or those currently in the limelight.’
The devil is sidetracking so many these days and more distractions will inevitably come! People seek to run to certain places where it’s ‘all happening’ and to hear and be blessed by certain personalties, possibly kind of fulfilling 2 Timothy 4:3-4.
Oh it’s good, if you can, to visit and to be expecting to receive from God. But if you do, come away praying and believing for the Spirit to move in and through you and your own church! A Lakeland type revival will enrich any church!
And – very importantly – know that you can’t pinhole the Holy Spirit! When he wants to move on, or change the scenario or the personalities involved, he will!
What should we be doing now?
What do we do then about what seemed a fresh move of God that went on for several great months? Attack those involved? Write it off? Blame the devil? Revel in disappointments? How do we respond?
Very simple, especially when you realise that such pentecostal moves and personalities have come before, lasted for a while and then either mysteriously disappeared or progressed into something new and even better for the kingdom’s sake, or simply set a landmark for future expectation eg revivals or outpourings such as occurred in:
- Topeka in December 1900/January 1901
- Azusa Street in 1906
- Wales, Belfast and elsewhere
- the initial thrusts of Sunderland, Holy Trinity Brompton (London), Toronto and Pensacola, and so on
And personalities such as Smith Wigglesworth have come and gone, the renowned Rodney Howard-Browne has moved on to new areas of productive service for the Spirit.
They all happened or operated differently, even unusually. But they had one thing in common…they left a legacy! We should…
- Not write off such wonders and blame the enemy or some person or system or mishandling for everything!
- Gratefully thank God for the wonders and healings that genuinely occurred
- Go on, as has been requested, praying for all who have been involved. That disappointments will be dropped and great new things will happen, that ministries will be refreshed and renewed
- Look beyond the one or place the Spirit was using (they’re only gifted channels after all and the people involved are like you and me, very human! But at least they dared to be instruments of grace!)
- Seek after the blessed Holy Spirit ourselves with all our heart. He’s the one who causes the wonders, yet so few Christians have taken the time to read the many scriptures about him and get to know him on a personal level. Or dared to be used supernaturally by him
- Very importantly, expect the Holy Spirit to be moving powerfully in our own lives and through our local church! And even in any other new, fresh way He wants to! In other words be encouraged and find your own destiny – and your local church’s – in God.
Stephen Strader is to be congratulated for his courage in boldly allowing the Holy Spirit to flow in his Ignited Church. He himself has wisely stated not knowing how long the revival would last.
Of interest, I recall way back in ’95 I was in Orlanda, Florida visiting Steve Strang’s great Charisma organisation en route to LA. It was my intention to interview Stephen’s father, Dr Karl Strader, at his Carpenter’s Church about the megachurch’s great vision for the future.
But some Charisma staff volunteered to take me down to Melbourne where the Holy Spirit was moving. As it was closer, and I had, interestingly, come from Melbourne, Australia, I decided to go there instead and was given Steve Strang’s office to phone Karl. He wasn’t available and his daughter answered (Typical guy, I’ve forgotten her name. Sorry!) With a heavy heart she shared what had unfortunately happened at that time at Carpenter’s and that her dad was under attack.
I remember feeling compelled to pray with her and then prophesied that it would all come again, that the Holy Spirit would once more move powerfully in Lakeland but at a later time and in his own way. No doubt she’s forgotten about that phone call even as I had until hearing what was happening in her brother’s Ignited Church.
The Holy Spirit did move again in Lakeland! Not because I had spoken prophetically but because he obviously wanted too – and to get our attention. And in a mighty way – even if it was only for a short season – for which we should give thanks and, having learned some valuable lessons, move quickly on!
Moving farther on
Dr Luke tells us in chapter 24: 28-29 that Jesus wanted to ‘go farther’ but the previously disillusioned and disappointed two disciples mentioned only thought of the big three S’s…stomach, supper and sleep! They missed out on something ‘farther along’ with Jesus (I have a great teaching message on this!), and they turned back to Jerusalem.
We too can miss out by remaining disillusioned and disappointed, not moving on, moving farther along with Jesus, and going back or dwelling on the past. Until the Lord returns there will always be some kind of Lakeland, praise God. Those who are believing and praying for revival – and acting boldly – will see it! And God will be praised by those blessed by the Spirit’s refreshing and refiring touch.
The challenge as always is to learn, be wise, be discerning, give thanks and move on. As Master Potter Ministries’ Jill Austin recently stated, ‘Christians should stop waiting for the next big festival to spark a revival in their cities. Every Christian has the power to ignite a revolution in his town (let’s add ‘or her’) when he pursues a personal revival in his heart. Revival is not born out of mass movements but out of a series of solitary decisions.’ (Charisma’s Streams of Revival, Oct 22).