Well we're safely back in Birmingham - landed at half past one and noticing the temperature difference! It's been quite a week and there's lots to reflect on and tell. Thanks to all who took the time to leave comments - I know there's a bit of diversity of opinions on comments. I for one really appreciate them - even the angry anonymous ones ... who I note has been suspiciously quiet lately. Does that mean I am becoming an "acceptable blogger" or has he given up?! Anyway that aside it's been an interesting week in the UK so I see.
I was very interested to read what happened at the Brighton conference last week - most of the talk of course centred around new Christian celeb Driscoll (like Luke, I too switch from calling it "Together on a Mission" to mainly just "Brighton conference"!). There are of course the obvious very well-documented reports which I am sure most are aware of. I, myself took particular interest in Mark Heath's comments - an opinion I always trust. Also worth reading is a question I have pondered quite often ... what other guest speakers would be a helpful input to the conference. As I guessed they would - my parent's pastors made the trip down to Brighton to hear Driscoll and brought an SGM opinion to what they thought of the conference.
Terry himself shared a more personal view about Driscoll and what he enjoyed about the contribution that he brought to the conference. Joel Gill wrote two posts so far - here and here. Finally Ant Hilder summarised the conference in just one blog - useful for those of you who don't have the time to read post after post on session after session (plus I was instantly attracted to the fact that here is someone who shares my obsession with McDonald's McMuffins ...).
It was quite hard having no access to God TV and not knowing what was going on in Florida! I made-do reading Todd Bentley's latest book; "The Reality of the Supernatural World". More of that to come in a later post! Julian Adams wrote an excellent blog post on Florida. He said;
"I sit writing after having watched some of the Lakeland Outpouring with evangelist Todd Bentley. Man alive, God is moving and using him powerfully. So many healings and God encounters. I have felt the spill over effect of impartation connected to the revival. My friend Richard Maybury prayed for me after returning from Trevor and Sharon Baker’s ministry at the Dudley Outpouring in Birmingham. Since then I have begun to see some exciting miracles and healings".
On the other slightly more cynical hand, I am a subscriber to Evangelicals Now and the latest edition was waiting on the doorstep when I got back. Lakeland, Florida has become enough of an issue for them to address - always a sign that something is here to stay! The review of Todd Bentley's ministry was written by someone called Steve Ridgeway and I was disappointed that once again it was written by a cynic who clearly hasn't taken the time to really investigate what is going on in Florida and has seemingly written his review based on the scare-mongering websites and You-Tube videos rampant against Todd and Florida.
He slates Todd for not preaching the Bible. "While Bentley does occasionally appeal to the Bible when teaching publicly, the appeal is always superficial". But in rather a pot-kettle-black scenario the reviewer also does not use Scripture convincingly to stake his claim as to why Todd Bentley is not within the boundaries of Scripture in his opinion. (Other than quoting Galatians 1). Coming from "Evangelicals Now", I suppose we should not be surprised that he does not like the references to angel Emma and also the manifestations accompanying the healings and signs and wonders.
Interesting point though ... the obvious question to me goes unanswered in this review called "The Gospel of Todd". Is this of God? Is it of the flesh? Or is it of the devil? The reviewer doesn't comment on the authenticity of the healings happening in Florida but merely concludes we should be "gravely concerned" with Todd Bentley ... if we are "discerning" that is ... how I am growing to hate that word when it is used in a context such as this.
It's All About the Church!
The theme throughout these links is the Church! Even disagreements, I notice, are about how best the Church should be. I was thrilled therefore to be taking notes from Rob Rufus's Sunday evening Miracle Healing Weekend - probably one of Rob's best sermons yet - and to hear him deal with something rather obvious from the book of Acts.
"None of the others dared join them".
How is it at your church? Or your conference? Or your family of churches? Or your denomination? Do you make it easy for people to join your church? Rob commented on this verse;
"I am talking about the power of God coming to you to absolutely flood you and equip you and anoint you to walk in His Presence to release you into a new dimension of walking in His Presence from tonight. People in our midst who are sick tonight can get healed while that is happening.
But the focus is to see the power of God released on people. (Acts 5:13) - Because God was so awesome in their midst that people were frightened to casually join that early Church. There was such a density of the concentrated power of God that carnal religious enquirers couldn't handle it! They would freak out! It was too awesome and they didn't join a Church that had such an awesome Presence but God added to their number every single day those who are believing and being saved".
The sermon transcript will be available soon. But it raises a really important question that I've been thinking about all this week. What kind of Church are we building? What are the priorities? Is it the Presence of God? Or is it something else? Are we building a Church that is built around the idea of God - but a Church that doesn't actually KNOW God and His Presence?