As we end this year I want to reflect on eight individuals—seven of whom I know personally—whom I greatly admire. These are the people who inspired me most in 2008:
Later in the year I had the privilege of attending a Civil Forum that Warren held with President George W. Bush in which the pastor gave an award to the president for the considerable work he’s done to help AIDS victims in Africa. If you missed my report on this a couple of weeks ago, click here.
I was around Huckabee enough in various situations to see that he was always consistent behind the scenes as well as in front of the camera. He now has a very interesting program on Fox News Channel on which he continues to champion causes that I believe are important. I hope we have not heard the last of Mike Huckabee in the political process.
I learned later that Palin has a Pentecostal background, as I do. The January issue of Charisma features a cover story on Palin’s faith. I wrote about her in October and so far have received more than 1,450 reader posts, the biggest response ever to my blog. You can read what I wrote by clicking here.
I know that she has a remarkably accurate prophetic gift and operates in a powerful anointing when she opposes demonic powers, both in individual lives as well over nations. If you missed what she wrote in my blog a couple weeks ago, you can click here.
I’ve known for a long time that he had a dream of becoming a public servant by age 50, after he had established a successful business. In March, when the Florida legislature convenes, he will be a week away from his 50th birthday (even though he looks much younger). Because I’m his close friend I have seen that he did not compromise during his campaign—even though there were opportunities to compromise, and even though there were major compromises on the part of others in local political races.
Scott is a strong pro-life advocate. Part of the reason is that his mother became pregnant with him when she was unwed at age 17. Some encouraged her to have an abortion even though it was not legal at the time. Scott also stands strongly on the other moral values and will do a great job in the Florida legislature. I hope he is a prototype for many other believers who will enter the political process.
While Jim was undergoing enormous pressure regarding Proposition 8 and providing outstanding leadership, he was dealing with intense pressures in his personal life. His wife, Carol, learned two years ago that she had more than 100 cancerous tumors and was given a 5 percent chance to live. However, she is doing great today. I admire the way Jim has stood strong with Carol during this difficult period.
The battle really began at that point because Florida law requires 60 percent voter support to pass a constitutional amendment. This is the highest standard in any state. John worked tirelessly, crisscrossing the state and brilliantly strategizing to involve African-American and Hispanic pastors, many of whom voted for Barack Obama but who also voted for the Marriage Amendment. It ended up passing by 62 percent. I admire his tireless effort, his strategic brilliance, and his absolute commitment, both to preserving traditional marriage as well as to saving the life of the unborn.
Within days it was obvious that this was no usual revival meeting. The services lasted for hours, with many miracles being reported. The services were first broadcast on the Internet and then by God TV, and people came from around the world. I first visited the services in early May and wrote about my experiences. If you missed it you can click here.
There were things that concerned me about the Lakeland Revival from the beginning, including the fact that Bentley was ministering for many hours a day seven days a week. That inevitably leads to a crash, which happened only a few months later.
In addition, Bentley invited Paul Cain to the platform even though Cain’s ministry has been discredited. Bentley also claimed to communicate with the same angel that reportedly appeared to evangelist William Branham. However, Bentley did seem to modify some of his statements when others challenged him, and he took references about the angel off his Web site. Throughout all of this, Stephen was loyal to Todd because he wanted the revival to expand. He also reached out to spiritual fathers to help him “shepherd the revival.” His plea convinced C. Peter Wagner and others to bring Bentley into “spiritual alignment” at a widely publicized service in late June. There are those who believe the service was inappropriate, partly because prophetic words spoken over Bentley indicated that the revival would continue. As it turned out, that very week revelations began surfacing about Bentley that resulted in him leaving the revival. In July Bentley announced he was divorcing his wife. You can click here to read more about this.
I admire the grace Stephen demonstrated while he handled enormous pressure and intense criticism. He pastored his church in such a way that it emerged from this revival stronger than it was before. He also kept a humble spirit and a passion for revival even though Bentley left in disgrace. This had to be a huge disappointment to Stephen. I also admire the fact that he was teachable and open to constructive criticism from those in ministry who had concerns about Bentley’s theology and practices.
At 2 a.m. on Wednesday, April 17, Howard breathed his last and was ushered to the other side. Standing around his bed were Rosella, his son Dean, daughter Denae and their spouses; as well as me and Joy; our sons Cameron and Chandler; and my daughter-in-law, Maya. I loved Howard deeply. I had opportunities to eulogize him both in print and verbally in many ways. But for me this was the single-most difficult and traumatic event in 2008. While my admiration for Howard was not due to anything he did during this year, I wanted to take this opportunity to once again publicly say how much I loved him and miss him.
I invite you to post your comments on my blog. Tell me whom you admired most in 2008 or let me know what you think of The Strang Report, which I launched one year ago.
Happy new year.