Saturday, June 21, 2008

Visit to Dudley (part 3)

This is the third in my reports on my visit to Revival Fires, Dudley (part 1 & 2).

After the worship and the prayers for healing, came first a short talk/exhortation to give, followed by a longer talk by Trevor Baker.

The offering was led by an associate called Tom, who (not that this matters much) wasn't especially eloquent, but we all need to learn how to speak well somewhere. The aim was 'to prepare our hearts to give' - nothing wrong with that. Generosity is a discipline that needs learning and we often need encouragement to give sacrificially or generously into the kingdom. Revival Fires are hosting these events, presumably responding to what they feel is God's call and obviously there are some costs to doing that, so no real issue on them asking for support and I understand they want to bring Todd Bentley to the UK and that costs too. Anyway, this does need to be done well and here it was just about OK.

Tom drew on two main passages, John 21 and the miraculous catch of fish and Luke 18 and the rich young ruler. Essentially the exhortation went something like this, obedience to Jesus leads to miracles and abundance (John 21) and Jesus is tonight asking you to give 'it all' (Luke 18).
Peter apparently left a fortune of fish in his boat for Jesus (although he went and pulled the fish back in later so not sure about that example), so should we leave it all for Jesus.
We were also urged to give to 'keep the anointing going'. Hmmm. Tom spoke for about 6 or 7 minutes on this so not a huge amount of time.

Firstly, the anointing isn't linked to the amount of money in the coffers, because God can just keep pouring out His blessing. Running meetings in buildings on the other hand does require money. Let's not confuse the two. Secondly, giving to the poor and following Jesus, giving sacrificially and generously (no argument), however giving to Revival Fires isn't giving it to the poor, at least we weren't told it was. Essentially, if I didn't give I was not 'giving it all to Jesus' and not helping the anointing continue. But it could have been worse, I've certainly felt a lot more pressure from the front in other meetings.

Here's what I would have done, feel free to tell me if this is even worse. I'd have said something along the lines of, 'We believe God has called us to keep running these meetings nightly for the foreseeable future. We want any who want to come to come and freely receive from God. It costs XYZ to run these meetings and we want to do XYZ in the future. Please, as you are here to receive please give generously so that others can come and receive too. We're trusting in God to provide, please join us in making this possible for His glory." It's up front, clear and unambiguous.

So to Trevor's talk. Well, expository preaching it wasn't. In fact there are lots of things it wasn't (short for example), which at 9.30pm would have been nice. His title was, 'Open heaven and prophetic experiences' which should give you an idea of the flavour and he loosely based it on Isaiah 64/1-3. He also referenced 2 Kings 6/8-23, Eph 1/18 and Ezekiel 1/1, Heb 4/14-16, Acts 8 and Revelation 1. So it wasn't devoid of references to scripture, not that they were all used that well.

As far as I can tell (and I could be wrong as it wasn't very coherent), Trevor's message was 'we need an open heaven to have prophetic experiences. We need prophetic experiences to have a visitation from God. When we have the presence of God we can receive the anointing. When we have the anointing we have the empowering presence of God for signs and wonders and then we'll have revival.'

We were encouraged to 'position ourselves for heavenly encounters', that we can 'see the realm of the angelic', that 'all believers can go to the third heaven', that 'there is a geographical location of the throne room of God to which we can all go' (presumably somewhere just off the M6) and 'we need to live in a totally different realm' and we need to go to the 'deep places, the place of hidden manna which is Christ Jesus', that the anointing passed on from Jesus to the disciples has been decreasing since the time of the disciples but we're now into the time of the increase'.

Hmmm. Mostly, that's all just nonsense.

There were some ok things too, in the interest of trying to be fair. In God's presence He births ministries in us, that a price will be paid to take ministries to another level, that sometimes those who have gone before us have a paid a price that we don't have to pay. Clearly no issues there, after all that describes what Jesus has done for us, and battles fought by former leaders mean we don't fight those battles but different ones instead. In delighting in God's presence we see a deeper purity and a desire to fulfil the great commission and that 99% of victory is just to keep showing up.

I didn't hear much about Jesus, I didn't hear much about the cross (not even when he made an appeal), I didn't hear much that I would be happy to teach in my own church. I wonder why, when someone has an ability to see people's lives touched that we also expect those same people to preach. I can't see why that has to be the case, it rarely blesses anyone. So as Peter Kirk found when he visited, the talk wasn't memorable. If you don't think I'm being fair then there's a link from my first post to the whole meeting. Talk starts at just over the 2 hour mark and lasts about 50 minutes.

I found it neither inspiring, nor especially insightful nor founded on good use of scripture. Does that make Trevor a false teacher? Probably not, just not a very good one. Although to be fair if I'd preached for 53 nights on the spin, my talks might not be up too much either.

In part 4, I'll share my experiences on the ministry time.


matthew hosier on 22 June 2008 at 14:14 said...

Thanks for this Phil - very well reasoned and reasonable.

I have avoided speaking about Lakeland/Dudley at my church so far, but did so this morning, largely because as elders we feel concerned about the possibility there is for division over this. A quick scan of the blogs show that for every extremist on one wing there is an equal and opposable extremist on the other!

As I expressed it, my concerns are, 1. The style - kneeing people in the guts doesn't much bless me; 2. Some of the personalities behind Bentley - e.g., those who have previously been removed from ministry because of immorality; 3. The theology - your example of 'going to the third heaven' is apropos. What exactly is that meant to mean? Sounds more clairvoyant than biblical to me...

More positively, I encouraged my church that, 1. We should be open to God moving among us in whatever way he chooses - and sometimes he does act in a way that we wouldn't expect; 2. To step into faith - we need to be expectant of God moving and not shut the Spirit out of our meetings; 3. That there should not be division amongst us - united by our common experience of having been justified by faith in Christ we can advance together in all that God has for us.

I look forward to your Part 4!

Tim Simmonds on 23 June 2008 at 12:22 said...

I love your suggestion that the throne room of God is just off the M6! I laughed out loud in my office.

I am also looking forward to part 4.

Brian said...

I don't wish to appear picky Matthew, but as Christians we are encouraged to check all things against Gods word.
I don't understand the following passage, but I am pretty sure it is not clairvoyant!

2 Corinthians 12:2
"I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows."

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