Revivals, Pastors and Discernment

I want to take a detour and look at something that has been in the news lately; something that has plagued the cause of Christ since the beginning of time. I wrote on August 21st about Michael Guglielmucci (see the post), and it made me sad and angry at the same time. How could someone so revered and trusted do something like that? He certainly isn’t the first and definitely won’t be the last. So what can we as believers do to protect ourselves and families from wrong teaching, ungodly revivals, or pastors living a double life?

On Pastors

I grew up mostly in the 80’s -I was born in 1972- so I was well aware of the Swaggart, Warnke, and Bakker fiascos. You may not lump Warnke, if you even know who that is, into that category but I do. More recently Ted Haggard and now, Todd Bentley and Michael Guglielmucci, can be added to the list of Pastors who have had to resign because of “issues”. I put it in parentheses because not all of them committed a fraudulent crime, but an issue is there none the less.

My question is this: what is our role as believers and/or leaders in all of this? Where is the accountability? Where is the gift of discernment? Are we encouraged to just follow blindly or to weigh, as the Bereans did in the Bible, each message we hear against the Word of God?

The list of famous, fallen Pastors or Revivalists seems to be growing exponentially. Before the 70’s there may have been a handful; but since, the list is getting bigger by the year not the decade. How many times recently have we read about a pastor who was caught with an undercover police officer in a child sex ring? We, as followers of Christ, have to be discerning. That doesn’t mean pessimistic, just careful.

It is no coincidence that the list of false teachers, or fallen pastors, is growing. As we inch closer and closer to Christ’s return things are going to get worse and worse.

Those of us in any leadership capacity in a church must not forget the importance of accountability. We have to make sure we come under the “covering” (for lack of a better word) of godly council. As soon as we find ourselves wanting to pull away from our spiritual advisers, we will be heading for destruction.

On Revivals

Our discernment must also be applied to revivals and moves of God. There have been so many great things come out of revivals over time: mass salvations, healings, deliverance. But these are often overshadowed by revivals that ended because of leaders going astray.

Just as pastors can go unchecked so can revivalists. It almost appears that good, godly people want to see God move so bad that they check their discernment radar at the door.

In his article, Life After Lakeland: Sorting Out the Confusion, J. Lee Grady says,

“I blame this lack of discernment, partly, on raw zeal for God. We’re spiritually hungry—which can be a good thing. But sometimes, hungry people will eat anything.

Many of us would rather watch a noisy demonstration of miracles, signs and wonders than have a quiet Bible study. Yet we are faced today with the sad reality that our untempered zeal is a sign of immaturity. Our adolescent craving for the wild and crazy makes us do stupid things. It’s way past time for us to grow up.”

So, where are we? Are we so wrapped up in the “wild and crazy” things that we lose sight of the only thing that really matters, Jesus? Are we so busy praying for revivals and talking about the next big wave of God that we neglect our own relationship with Him? Whatever happened to just following Him? Is that so bad?

Those of you who know me, know that I long for God to “show up and show out”, as someone once said, but doesn’t He already do it everyday in innumerable ways?

Are revivals in itself bad? Of course not. But instead of praying for (insert your church name here) to be like Lakeland, Brownsville, Toronto or Azusa, why not pray that God will do what He wants to do, when He wants to do it, and how He wants to do it? We are limiting God when we pray for a revival like ______. What if He wants us to have so much more? We need to focus on Him and His agenda not ours. My guess is most churches that pray for a real revival couldn’t handle it if they got it. Why not let God change our churches to fit His will and then we will be set up for a mighty move of God if and when He decides to move in that capacity.

On Wrong Teaching

If something on TV or at your church doesn’t seem to line up with the Word of God, check. Look for yourself. If you can’t find the answer or don’t understand the answer go to someone you trust; someone who uses the Bible as the final authority, not another religious book.

There are churches and denominations, or sects, in Christianity that don’t view the Bible as the final authority from God. They use other religious books, written by their leaders or prophets, to help people understand what the Bible really means. If you see this happening, run as fast as you can.

In Conclusion

Check everything against the Word of God. Use the spiritual discernment God put inside of you.

God encourages us to test every spirit. Are we?

If something feels unholy then there is a good chance it is. Check.

We must pray that God will move mightily in our cities. We must intercede on behalf of those who are lost. But we mustn’t do it outside of His will or timing.

As for revival? Be willing to walk out your faith everyday. Be willing to reach out to the poor around you. If we are faithful in the little things we may find God is ready to trust us with the big things.

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