Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Barak Obama Ordained of God

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“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” Romans 13:1 (KJV)

I have never endorsed a political candidate in my ministry and I don’t want to start now. We had two great candidates. John McCain is a great war hero and I am grateful to him for his commitment and service to this country. We should pray for him and his family.
However, I would like to say that ever since I saw the injustices done to African Americans in the early sixties, injustices that I witnessed myself integrating our meetings in the south, I have longed for the day when America would elect an African American President.

Only 22 years old and just beginning my ministry, I’ll never forget the humiliation of police officers marching down the center aisle of my 1963 tent revival in Charleston S.C. and pulling me off the stage in handcuffs, for what they said was, “disturbing the peace.” The next morning I was lead from a jail cell into the courtroom where the white judge began to lecture me for allowing, “…those N-words to sit next to white folks!” The courtroom was full of my black followers from the night before. Somehow they had learned of the hearing. They began praising God and one elderly woman spoke in tongues. Then another interpreted and said, “Harm not the servant of the Lord!” The judge was completely flustered and even seemed afraid. He pounded his gavel to no avail. Then called me to the rostrum and spoke to me under the noise so that only I could hear, “If I let you go will you just close your services by 10:30?” I said, “Yes your honor.” And the case was dismissed. I have always been humbled, honored, and proud of the love and support I’ve received from the African American community.

The gift of my ministry has always been the gift of hope. The message of my ministerial calling is the message of hope. My prayer is that African American children as well as the children of all races will now believe that anyone can become president. We are seeing Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream come true.

Did God appoint Barack Obama to become our President? In the New King James version of Romans 13:1 the bible says it this way, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” Regardless of how you voted I believe that its God’s will that we pray for Barack Obama and his family as the scripture instructs us in 1 Timothy 2:1 (NKJV), “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, [and] giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.”

Friday, August 29, 2008

Todd Bentley and Ministry Burn Out

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Fresh Fire Ministries announced that Todd Bentley and his wife Shonnah are separating. God T.V. said that it would stop broadcasting the Florida Outpouring. They asked all their partners to pray for Todd. Fresh Fire Ministries has sent out an e-mail stating that Todd was stepping down from the ministry.

I have been asked by a number of people what I thought about the controversial Florida Outpouring with Evangelist Todd Bentley. I never cease to be amazed at how some Christians and ministers are so quick to make judgments and criticize any revival or move of God. They become obsessed with trying to find fault with the vessels God chooses to use. Like the Pharisees in Jesus’ time, they feel like they are God’s F.B.I. agents in charge of policing evangelists, revivals, and moves of God.

When I first watched the Revival on God T.V. and saw Todd Bentley, I will admit it was a bit of a shock to me to see this young man with tattoos all over his arms and neck with a diamond stud on his lower lip. I’m sure I was looking at it through the eyes of an older generation.

But as I watched the hunger in the people and Todd Bentley, I recognized a genuine outpouring as it was broadcast by God T.V. to over 200 nations. This may have been the first time that many people witnessed a miracle on live T.V. and the internet as it went out to the world.

As I watched this the Lord reminded me that I prophesied in 1971 that through satellite, T.V. would broadcast miracles live around the world. This prophetic word was published in Miracle Magazine.

The Florida Outpouring started in Ignited Church in Lakeland, Florida where Stephen Strader is the pastor. Lakeland has had 3 outpourings over the last 50 years. The first one was when Karl Strader brought in Evangelist Richard Vineyard for a revival. Richard Vineyard was a part of the Healing Revival that started in 1946. This was a time in America when a great Healing Revival swept across our nation. God raised up such men as William Branham, Oral Roberts, Jack Coe, T.L. Osborn, A.A. Allen, and about 200 others that made up the Voice of Healing. As a child and teenager I attended many of these revivals then in 1958 I started working with A.A. Allen and still continue that ministry today. A.A. Allen discipled me and imparted his anointing to me and like Elisha picked up the mantle of Elijah, I picked up the mantle of A.A. Allen.

In 1962, at the age of 22, I was arrested for integrating my revival service in Charleston, SC. In 1971 I was told that I was the first healing evangelist to go to the new Madison Square Garden, where 22,000 people filled it up and 7,000 souls came to Christ and powerful miracles took place. It was called Compassion Explosion. The media attention I received was incredible. It included the Associated Press, and Rolling Stone Magazine as well as other newspapers.

I was only 31 years old at that time. From there I started speaking to the nations of the world -- Brazil, England, Africa. In the Philippines the crowd was reported to be 500,000 people.

By 1971 I had already been on the field for 13 years, most of that time with A.A. Allen. For the next 10 years I went non-stop. Night and day, many time preaching 3 times a day. I had such a passion for souls and the miracle working power of God. After 23 years I burnt out as a result. I went through a divorce in 1983.

I am telling you all of this to say that Todd Bentley is only 32 years old. He started his ministry when he was at a young age and for the last 10 years he has given of himself night and day in the ministry of the supernatural.

My son, Brendon Stewart, went to the Lakeland, Florida Revival in May and spent a week there and received a powerful impartation. I began to pray for the revival in Lakeland and for Todd Bentley because I knew that he was going to have a lot of pressure on him and receive persecution from some religious people as well as the media.

I did not know Todd. I had never heard of him until Brendon brought him to my attention on God T.V. God spoke to me and gave me a word for Todd. I contacted a number of people. I called his assistants, his office, sent e-mails to ask if I could have 5 minutes of his time to give him this word. I didn’t get any response at all. But I flew to Lakeland anyway and spent 3 days there trying my best to get the word God gave me to him. A number of people recognized me and tried to help, to no avail.

I will not tell you what God told me to tell him. But I will tell you this: I was able to identify with him because he became a highly visible evangelist very quickly as I did years ago. Todd became famous because of his exposure on God T.V. as well as the powerful anointing that was on him. The word God gave me for him had to do with the media, his family, and burnout.

I am not critical of Todd for not responding. He probably did not even know about it. I know that after I received all the media exposure that I received when I went to New York’s Madison Square Garden I was living in a glass house. There were probably people who tried to get in touch with me that couldn’t, so I understand. I’m sure that he had all kinds of people who were trying to give him advice or a word. I heard him a number of times quote the Scripture that in the last days God would turn the hearts of the father to the sons and the sons to the father. (Malachi 4:6)

The only thing though that bothered me was an attitude by some staff and workers. I could see it was the same attitude that hindered the Healing Revival of the 40’s and 50’s: the lack of recognition that God has many streams that He is flowing in. When a revival or movement starts feeling they are the chosen one and fail to recognize that God has many streams in the body of Christ. My experience has been that when you take on this attitude that it starts to self-destruct because they don’t discern the Lord’s Body (1 Cor. 11:29).

I don’t know if it would have made any difference had I been given the chance to speak into Todd’s life or not. Would he have received it? I do know that God gave me the word and I did what I could to get it to him. There is something about being in a miracle prophetic ministry for 50 years seeing many different ministries and movements, dealing with a lot of the same issues that Todd has had to deal with that I believe could have helped him.

I pray for him and believe that he will be back stronger than ever because he and his gifts are needed. I did not come out of the prophetic stream of Toronto and Brownsville which were powerful moves of God. My spiritual heritage is the Latter Rain movement and the Healing Revivals of the 40’s and 50’s.

Each of us are influenced and molded by whatever stream of anointing we were birthed in. We also see them from both a cultural and generational influence in our lives.

The Bible says, “Every scribe brings forth both new and old.” (Matt. 13:52)

I will tell you that I received a Fresh Fire Impartation when I was in Lakeland those 3 days at the first of June. I am grateful for Todd’s ministry and the price he paid to bring it to us. My prayer and faith is that Todd will be back stronger than ever.

The Florida Outpouring continues at Ignited Church. I can assure you it’s in good hands with Pastor Stephen Strader who has a powerful anointing on his life with signs, wonders, and miracles. He is a very gracious man that I am happy to call friend.

Over the 140 days of revival in Lakeland a number of men and women of God ministered in the Revival such as Bob Jones, Karl Strader, Rick Joyner, Patricia King, and Bill Johnson.

Is Todd Bentley going through burn out? Tell me what you think. Just click on the Comment area below, register with Google (this is free) and post your comments.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Was John Edwards His Own Prophet?

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John Edwards admits he became egocentric and narcissistic when he had an extra marital affair with Rielle Hunter while his wife was fighting cancer and he was running for president. He is accused of fathering her child, which he denies. My concern is for his wife and children. Why should they be humiliated for their husband’s and father’s sins?

This is not a new story. It could have been told millions of times, ever since the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. After all, men and women have feet of clay. We have seen over and over how great men have fallen; from John Kennedy to Franklin Roosevelt. Of course in their day the media did not report on such personal matters. Things are different today.

Recently, New York Governor Elliot Spitzer was caught with a prostitute and yet as a New York State Attorney General, one of his top priorities was fighting prostitution. And then of course there’s President Clinton with his affair with Monica Lewinsky. It’s not only politicians. We’ve certainly had our share of fallen men and women in the ministry.

I don’t necessarily believe it’s any more prevalent in politicians, preachers, priests, sports figures or actors than it is in ordinary people. But because of the visibility of these professions it just seems to be. However, the same thing happens with teachers, plumbers, electricians, truck drivers, middle mangers, etc.... I myself went through a divorce in 1983 after being in the ministry for 23 years. I believe that ideally people should be married and stay together until death do them part. But things happen, people make mistakes. God is a God of forgiveness and grace.

I believe it's the job of every Christian to forgive and restore people who have fallen and made mistakes in their life. Jesus said if you do not forgive you will not be forgiven (Mark 11:26). Judge not lest you be judged (Matthew 7:1). This is a time to take heed. The Bible says to be spiritual you must restore. It’s my belief that the true sign of spirituality is the ability to restore. If you see your brother take a fall, take heed lest you fall (Galatians 6:1).

With 50 years of ministry I have come to the conclusion that you can pretty much predict when a great man or woman is about to fall. Let’s go back and look at what John Edwards said in 1999 when he first came to the Senate. He was very critical of President Clinton at the time. In the impeachment hearing about President Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky he said, I quote, “I think this President has shown a remarkable disrespect for his office, for the moral dimension of leadership, for his friends, for his wife, for his precious daughter. It is breathtaking to me the level to which that disrespect has risen.” Over and over I have witnessed that when someone becomes critical of someone else’s behavior, it seems that invariably it’s just a matter of time before they end up falling by the very thing that they were critical of someone else for. Let’s pray for the restoration of the Edwards family and ask God’s grace to cover John Edwards.

Is there a law that you become what you oppose? Write your comments to me.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Even Christians Can Have A Bad Day

We all need to show some grace to everyone involved in the Victoria Osteen situation. Since September 11, 2001 air travel has become tense. The added security, longer lines, crowded flights, are creating more stress for passengers and flight crews. The crews are stressed by the lay offs at airlines because of the economy. Meanwhile ticket prices have gone up because of fuel prices. Passengers are paying more and getting less. It requires a little more patience from us all.

Airports can be strange for a person who is known to the public. I know from my own experience. Each year I log thousands of miles in travel for my Fire of Miracles Revival meetings. Every now and then I catch someone at the airport staring at me. I start to worry that some egg from breakfast is still on my chin. Then I realize that they may know my face from TV – they’ve seen my Power & Mercy television program. They are probably just trying to remember how they know me.

Joel Osteen’s TV program has a much larger audience than mine. His wife Victoria appears on it regularly. They have been featured on TV news and in TIME magazine. Some evangelists, such as Kenneth Copeland and Benny Hinn have been criticized for having their own airplane. While I have never been able to justify such an expense for me, I can understand why someone would – if their schedule and budget demand it, why not? It seems to me that as busy as the Osteen’s are they should be commended for flying commercial in stead of private. Former Vice President Al Gore would be happy that they are reducing their carbon footprint.

I don’t know what happened on that flight to Colorado that day. There are charges that Victoria Osteen did not want to deal with the flight attendant, Ms. Brown because she is African-American. Most churches in America are either Caucasian or African-American, or Hispanic. For over four decades, reaching back to the days of legalized segregation, my meetings include people of all skin colors. And I was criticized for it. In fact, before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 I was put in jail in South Carolina because I was letting Blacks and Whites sit together at my meetings – but that’s another story. I have many good friends in Houston, and they tell me that the Osteen’s Lakewood Church has people of all races. Sadly that’s rare. It doesn’t make sense to me that Victoria Osteen would have such bias.

Even Christians can have a bad day. I know that air travel can bring out some of the worst in me. We live in an age where people who are known to us from TV and movies have every wart examined. How many of us would look good having every word and every action scrutinized by 24 hour news channels and by the lawyers on Court TV? It’s kind of crazy to demand 10 percent of someone’s net worth for having a bad day. Let’s give Mrs. Osteen and Ms. Brown some grace.

The saddest thing for me was hearing that Ms. Brown feels that the incident has affected her faith. We all need to pray for the restoration of Ms. Brown’s faith. I know the price paid for my faith – the Blood of Jesus Christ. That is a price that is far higher than any amount a jury can award.

Note: Since I posted this blog, the Victoria Osteen jury decided to dismiss the case. Praise God for common sense winning out.