Sunday, August 31, 2008

A View From the Other Side-A Former Leader's Journey

While reading this post from Barb at A Former Leader's Journey, I couldn't help but wonder what great measure of healing could come to the Body of Christ if all leaders were as open and transparent as Barb. Thank you, Barb, for being willing to speak the truth and to walk in the truth even though it cost you so much.

I am the Person Formerly Known as Your Leader.

I was the supporting cast in our church. I was not one of the “Main” leaders. I was never paid to lead. I had “leadership roles.” I (along with my husband) was viewed as one of the supporting pillars in our community of believers. I tried not to be one of the front leaders. I simply took the vision of the church, supported it, taught it, explained it, fought for it and promised loyalty to it. For almost 20 years my husband and I have been in this role and just recently we have come to see many things we never would have thought possible.

I am the Person Formerly Known as Your Leader.

All this time I worked as your leader. I was at one time or another, your small group leader, your counselor, and your ministry head (nursery, new member development, etc). I helped at various times on the worship team, the prayer team, the nursery, the elder board, the college ministry team, the hospitality team, and I’m sure a host of other teams and positions.

I am the Person Formerly Known as Your Leader.

Because of all this, I need to repent and ask your forgiveness. I was wrong. I thought wrong things. I believed wrong things. I modeled wrong things. I taught wrong things. I was wrong. I have sinned against you and the others and against my grace loving, mercy giving, all powerful, all loving God.

- I repent for teaching and modeling that the “covering” of our church, my leadership, and our network would keep you from going into rebellion or deception.

- I took your private confidences and passed them on to the other leaders regardless of my telling you that I wouldn’t. I told myself that this was an accepted practice to gain wisdom in dealing with your situation. Now I see it was probably mostly to garner, in some twisted way, the favor of my leaders, to show my loyalty and to gain a better placement of myself in their leadership system.

- I taught, modeled and practiced tithing. I taught you that if you didn’t tithe, bad things would happen to you and/or your finances. Now I understand the fallacy of this. It is a fear tactic – and it is not of God.

- I did not stand up and speak up when I heard and saw something wrong being taught, lived, or modeled. In this way, you, as people who respected me had neither voice nor protection. There were many times I should have spoken up gently/humbly to correct other leaders around me. I wrongly felt that it was up to God to correct and deal with them. That it was not my “place” to correct “God’s Anointed.”

- I wanted to be seen by leaders as loyal and mostly I wanted to be in what I perceived as one of the “inner circles of friendship.” I bought their friendship with flattering words, serving them unconditionally, not making waves, not challenging them and being disloyal to what I sometimes knew was wrong. I was a religious whore.

- I taught you that with leaders, you did not have the right to expect friendship or any sort of loyalty back. I told you that you should become what I had become, completely a servant. They owed you and me nothing. I have learned to watch out for “friendships” where I am the servant only. I have learned my “servanthood” was nothing more than trying to manipulate myself into prominence.

- I taught that the church was an Army and that we therefore needed Generals and Sergeants to lead us. (I of course saw myself as the sergeant – not the head but certainly one of the right arms of the head.) Again, I did not read my Bible.

- I taught you to despise other churches in our city. I taught you that they were not as enlightened as us, did not have as much of the Holy Spirit as us, could not worship as we did, did not recognize the leadership in our church and come under their apostolic leadership, and so many other things. I hinted at their pastors “weaknesses.” I judged their programs, people, leaders and lives as unfit for the true expression of the Kingdom of God and taught you to do the same. It is true that I did see many legitimate problems, and I still do but I had pulled back and decided I was done with the all but the select body of Christ in our area and encouraged you to also “not waste your time.”

- I practiced and taught you “shunning.” This is the practice of not associating with those who have left our body. I taught you to look the other way in the grocery store. To ignore their emails and be succinct and distant when they called you. I taught you that you could be contaminated by a perceived friendship with them, and instilled in you the fear that was in me, that I would be seen as disloyal.

- I taught you that when people left our body, they left their destiny. I thought that the only way they were to fulfill what God had for them was through our particular church.

- I encouraged you in total obedience to our leaders and total submission of ministry to their vision. I often referred to the church as being in the leaders’ “boat.” We were to totally get in this “boat” and leave it up to God and the leaders where and how to navigate this life. We were not to question this boat leader’s vision or direction as they were “hearing from God”. If you wanted to minister it had to be under their direct “umbrella.”

My pride, arrogance, manipulation and disregard for the scripture are detestable to me. In that I was your leader, role model, and teacher makes it doubly serious. I know of nothing else than to remove myself.

I am not beating myself up as to the point where I imagine that I did nothing right. There were many of you that I loved unconditionally. We showed hospitality, we modeled a good marriage, an open and honest life and when I needed to, I have asked your forgiveness. But the scope and magnitude which I see my own heart today is detestable to me.

So today, I ask your forgiveness. I know many of you were not directly under my leadership. So why do I ask your forgiveness? This is why. - Maybe in reading my “confession” you will come to realize that those in leadership above you who have inflicted so many hurts will someday come to realize what they have done. Maybe your prayers for them will result in them walking out of their own deception. Maybe the grace that you show to them will be a signpost for them to follow. Maybe in not hating them you will be able to love and pray for their blinders to fall off. From my heart to you, I am so sorry, please forgive me. And please forgive those who also have been your leaders.

A Person Formerly Known As Your Leader

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Spin Doctors Dissect Lakeland (and Each Other) Part 1

On Thursday, August 28, Stephen Strang issued the following response to news of Todd Bentley's fall. Note that this is not an apology from Mr. Strang even though he promoted the "Lakeland Outpouring" from the beginning. My responses to Mr. Strang's comments are in red.

The Emperor Has No Clothes

When I was in Canada last week on vacation, I picked up a Canadian newspaper with a full-page article about revivalist Todd Bentley titled "Bentley Bends." It appeared in the National Post on August 19, and though it put the typical secular journalist spin on anything having to do with Pentecostals or miracles, it was surprisingly gentle in telling about Bentley's fall.

Meanwhile ministry to Bentley continues. I'm thankful that the Christian leaders who were set over him in the June 23 "alignment and commissioning" ceremony at the Lakeland Outpouring are ministering to him behind the scenes. In an earlier Strang Report I had called on them to step up and intervene in this situation, a day or two after news of Bentley's separation was made known.

(Why didn't Strang call upon these leaders to deal with Bentley's separation from sound doctrine earlier in the course of the Lakeland meetings? And why did he promote these meetings as a new move of God when Bentley was obviously moving away from God? In the earlier Strang Report, Strang said, "Now is the time for Bentley to be corrected. But it would also be good for Arnott, Ahn and Johnson, as well as other leaders such as Wagner, to issue a statement to the body of Christ to help the tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands who were affected by the outpouring understand what is going on spiritually. Because all of these men endorsed the revival, it might even be appropriate for them to issue an apology." Where is your apology Mr. Strang? You endorsed the "Lakeland Outpouring" as a true revival very early on, and you promote yourself as one of the apostolic leaders.)

Two of the three leaders were out of the country and later challenged me via e-mail by saying that I had made it sound as if they would not do their jobs unless outsiders put pressure on them. Of course I assumed that they would do their jobs because I know they are men of integrity.

But in the rush of dealing with the situation quickly I did not contact them other than to send them an advance copy of my Strang Report. So, for what it's worth, I apologize for leaving the wrong impression. My reaction was based partly on past observations of situations in which spiritual discipline needed to be applied and those who were supposedly over the person ran for cover.

(So, which was it- did you assume "that they would do their jobs because...they are men of integrity" or did you think they would run for cover instead of applying spiritual discipline?)

Meanwhile, many people are talking about the situation and wondering why there wasn't more discernment. In fact, I had lunch recently with a Christian leader who watched the Lakeland Outpouring on the Internet for 60 days and said the longer he watched it, the more inclined he was to overlook some concerns he had. He said initially he felt that Bentley's actions, along with his tattoos and piercings, indicated that he was "in rebellion." This leader confessed to me that next time he is going to be more careful to listen to his inner witness when he has a concern about a ministry.

(Earth to Stephen: Hello? There was discernment. Did you even read the message boards at your magazines or the emails that were sent to you? I am glad that your Christian leader lunchmate has decided to listen more carefully to GOD next time instead of telling the Holy Spirit to be quiet so that he could listen to a rebellious false prophet. Unfortunately, many people "overlooked some concerns" because they wanted to have a spiritual experience more than they wanted to draw closer to Jesus. The Lakeland leadership and their cohorts in the apostolic/prophetic movement chastised anyone who was critical of Todd Bentley's messages or practices saying that the critics were judgmental pharisees who wanted to stop a move of God. Many of these so-called "judgmental pharisees" were sincere believers who were using God's Word as the standard by which to measure the message being preached in word and deed at Lakeland. The Bereans were commended for being careful to check that the message preached lined up with the Word of God. "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." Acts 17:11 The discerning believers who spoke out about Lakeland were condemned, not commended, by the undiscerning leadership.)

Others are e-mailing me what various people have written about the situation. If you have not read Dutch Sheets' very in-depth and thoughtful letter about Bentley and the Lakeland Outpouring, I urge you to do so by clicking here. I agree with essentially all that Dutch writes.

(What do you not agree with? Or are you just leaving yourself some wiggle room in case Dutch gets booted off the apostolic island?)

Someone else e-mailed me an item from the United Kingdom. We tried to get permission to use it but couldn't contact the author, so I am assuming it is all right to make this point. I was taken by the fact that the person who wrote it rightly comments that many Pentecostals believe "if it's odd, it must be God." I had never heard that expression, but I know his statement is true.

The writer also makes a comparison to the emperor in the old fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, The Emperor's New Clothes. Because he relates the story better than I can I quote him here:

There is an old fable that should serve as a pertinent parable for today's church. The story is told of two unscrupulous tradesmen who offered to sell an emperor a quantity of material that was so exquisite that 'only those with the greatest taste and style' could see it. The emperor, not wanting to give the impression that he lacked such finesse, paid an enormous sum for the non-existent material that was then 'made' into a suit of clothes.

It was later announced to his subjects that he would be leaving the palace wearing clothes of such wonder that 'only those with the greatest taste and style' could appreciate it. The crowd, falling into the same trap as the emperor, cheered and shouted at the non-existent apparel.

The ecstasy and applause continued until a small child, who had come to the gathering late and had not heard the intimidating preamble, joined her mother and, pointing to the emperor shouted out loudly, 'Look, Mummy, the emperor is not wearing any clothes!' Only then did the bubble burst.

The e-mail I was sent is so good that I want to share some of the points the author made since I couldn't say it better myself. I wish I had been able to discover his name to give proper credit. He says, in relation to the fable:

We need the simplicity of that childlike voice in today's church.

It is the voice of people [who] refuse to accept that spirituality is "less than" if it is not accompanied by uncontrollable shaking. It is the voice of leaders who, when they see manifestations of the flesh, refuse to be intimidated by the voice of a crowd that declares that "If it's odd, it must be God" and have the courage to say, "Please stop doing that; it's silly."

Those who operate in this gift are almost universally considered to be the party-poopers of Pentecost. Their voice is universally seen as negative, and the body language of those who do not want to hear their message is always, "Why are you trying to stop us when we are having so much fun?"

(And weren't you one of the ones telling the childlike voice of discernment to be quiet? You endorsed Todd and Lakeland.)

Yet the Bible tells us to "test the spirits" and "weigh prophecy."

Why, with so many mature leaders present at Bentley's endorsement, was the gift not used or, given what we now know, why was there not a word of knowledge? Why was it that, as millions listened and a prophecy was given that Jesus would appear in person on the platform on a specific date, not one person expressed a word of caution? (Mr. Strang, you reach a nationwide audience with your magazines. Why didn't you express a word of caution? Couldn't you have at least sent us an email??) Could it be the intimidation of crowds, the awe induced by Christian celebrity or the absence of the childlike voice that needed to burst the bubble? What the church should be hungering for today is not "extreme prophetic" but "accurate prophetic."

Why is it then that some people who have gone to Lakeland are seeing things occur in their church that they had not encountered before? The answer is simple. God recognizes and responds to hunger. (Or demonic forces go where they are invited?) Leaders heard there was a fire and wanted to be warmed, heard of a well and wanted to be refreshed, and heard there was food and wanted to be fed. That God met them on their journey is yet another expression of His amazing grace.

Please share your thoughts with me about the situation. Meanwhile, pray for Todd and his wife, Shonna. Let's especially pray for Shonna, who received none of the adulation but is experiencing most of the pain. (And for their children who will suffer, too. And for all who were exposed to and accepted false doctrine from the mouth of Todd with the silent approval of undiscerning leaders. Lord Jesus, please help your Church to follow You and not be deceived by the next false prophets that come along.)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

More Musings

My dear grandfather, Howard, lived to be 100 years old, and he used to tell me that time seemed to speed up the longer he lived. He said to value each moment because it will be gone far too soon. Often I find myself living in the future and missing the now. I am so busy planning and scheduling and trying to figure out what to do tomorrow that I tend to ignore what is going on around me today. I have to remind myself to "stop and smell the roses" as often as possible.

My husband and I have spent the last few days helping our oldest daughter get settled at college. Where did the years go? Yesterday, we welcomed her into the world, and tomorrow, we will leave her in a city far from home. We must make the most of our time while it is still today, in this and every situation. (James 4:13-15)

Go with God, Brianna. He will direct your path, and don't forget to enjoy the flowers along the way!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Warning About the "New Mystics"

Once again, I felt the need to post an email that I received from Andrew Strom. He has vital information about some ministries connected with Todd Bentley of which the Church needs to be aware and wary. (See the section titled, "WHO ARE the "NEW MYSTICS"?")

by Andrew Strom

Let me start by saying that there is no-one who would enjoy "moving
on" from the topic of Lakeland more than me. When I first heard
of what was going on there, my immediate reaction was "OH NO!"
because I knew we were going to have to use this List to expose
certain things - a task I dreaded at the time. But overall I think it
has been a good thing. I have received huge numbers of emails
from all over the world from people who were caught up in that kind
of deception - who are now breaking free from it - Glory to God!

Also, it is important to realize that even though Lakeland is
closing down on Aug 23rd - and God TV will stop broadcasting it -
Todd Bentley will still be travelling to other cities and nations
holding what he calls a "One Night Revival Impartation with Todd
Bentley". So it is not completely over - but yes - I am very keen to
"move on" from Lakeland and get back to the things we normally
emphasize - "Personal Revival" and the 'True Gospel' and massive
Reformation and Change in the church, etc.


And now onto the topic of my 'Open Letter' to Rick Joyner and
Peter Wagner earlier this week. I received literally hundreds of
supportive emails over it, but also a few where they obviously
thought I was being sarcastic in my use of the word "sir", etc.
Please realize - there was no sarcasm intended at all. I used the
word 'sir' to try and inject some "respectfulness" into quite a hard-
hitting letter. Please go and read it again, taking the sarcasm out,
and hopefully you will get a different impression of what I was trying
to convey. I certainly apologise for any misunderstanding, my friends.

Others felt that I was "exceeding my bounds" in writing such a
letter to men of stature like that. After all, David did not throw rocks
at King Saul. I can totally see this point. And so, if I exceeded my
bounds in any way I am truly sorry. I apologise unreservedly for
doing so. It may be that in my zeal for protecting the sheep and
rooting out deception I went "too far" with that letter. God forgive me.


Some say that Lakeland would have fallen apart by itself without
any need for all the emails or blogs, etc. As someone with an
inside view of events, I have to say that this is not true at all. The
people posting information via blogs, emails, Youtube videos, etc,
have been utterly essential to what has happened. When Charisma
started publishing about the Revival, I know for a fact that when
they found out certain information through the Internet it changed
their stance from "total support" to 'questioning'. I'm sure that ABC
Nightline would say the same. And I know for a fact that ICA
apostle Robert Ricciardelli's opposition to Lakeland would not have
become widely known at all if it weren't for blogs or email Lists like
this one. All of these factors have been utterly crucial. I think some
blogs may get a little bit harsh or "personal" at times, but overall
I want to say- Kudos to the bloggers! You've made a real difference.
You have protected multitudes of sheep around the world from
being further deceived and destroyed.

When you think about it, isn't it amazing that this is the first 'revival'
in history that has played out almost entirely on the Internet and
the "new media"? -A sign of things to come, perhaps?


Since I am hoping this may be our last post about Lakeland for
awhile, I need to put forth a very specific warning about certain
ministries while I have the chance. Todd Bentley has long been
numbered among the 'New Mystics' in the Prophetic movement -
but there are others that I need to warn about also. These are
literally the most dangerous ministries (operating in a strange
"power") that I have ever come across in the Christian church.
That is the only reason why I feel I must "name names" in this
email - and I do so with great sadness.

The first of them is Jill Austin - from 'Master Potter' ministries.
I have seen her live in person, and sadly I regard her as one of the
most dangerous of all. A minister from England described one of
her meetings as follows: "The weirdest three hours I have ever had
to endure... she spoke of the times that she meets with the Angel
Gabriel and other spiritual beings, next we moved on to portals
between this world and the next and then finally to how she was
going to open up a portal to Heaven in the room that we were all in.
Now things started to happen, really crazy things and strange
noises... As [she] moved around the room ministering to individual
people they were crashing to the ground, bouncing up and down,
running around as if on fire and making all sorts of sounds... My
Vineyard friend was the first to crash to the floor. Since that day
his church has taken on a different guise, it is not the same
church any more."

In a very similar vein is Patricia King - who operates in the same
area of "portals", jewels, 'angels', drunken jerking, etc. There is
real power in a lot of this - and I urge people to stay well clear.

John Crowder is another one. With his 'Drunken Glory' tours and
his "toking the ghost" and every other deceived thing - you cannot
even imagine how "off-beam" this guy is. Words sadly fail me.

And then there are the "fellow travellers" - men like Ben Dunn, Dave
Vaughan, Justin Abraham, Joshua Mills and many others who have
imbibed of the same weird spirit out of Toronto and the Prophetic
movement. It is just awful what is going on out there. So sad.

It is tragic to have to put out warnings like this, but my hope and
prayer is that it will prevent great harm from coming to Christ's
precious sheep. I hope you can hear my heart in this, my friends.


A lot of people have commented that we should be PRAYING for
all these leaders who have been caught up in these various
deceptions. I totally agree with this, and I would like to devote a
large portion of our Friday night Phone Prayer to exactly that. And
we will not be praying "against" them either - but rather for God's
grace and truth and mercy and blessing to prevail in their lives and
ministries in a powerful way.

Please help us pray for these ministries, my friends.

God bless you all!

Andrew Strom.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Andrew Strom Questions Wagner and Joyner

Andrew Strom brings up some very pertinent points in the following letter.

by Andrew Strom

I write this as a tongues-speaking, Spirit-filled, prophesying believer.

Dear Rick Joyner and C. Peter Wagner,

I will do my utmost to avoid disrespect in this letter. But I cannot avoid the hard questions which must be asked.

I hope my comments here are not construed as "arrogant". This is certainly not my intent. But I'm sure you have heard the news by now that the tide has turned in what you call your "Civil War". I'm sure you have heard that the Lakeland meetings have dwindled,and the "big tent" has been abandoned in favor of the 700-seat Ignite church once again. I'm sure you have heard that your man Todd Bentley's meetings in England have been cancelled, and that respected leaders even within your own movements have found vast evidence of falsehoods,fraudulent claims, manipulation and hype of the most blatant kind. The news of it is worldwide. It is not just ABC Nightline. It is your own people saying these things.

I'm sure you have heard the news that has even shocked and saddened me -that the British press is calling Bentley "A US child sex offender turned church minister who tries to cure cancer victims by kicking them" - and that 79% of Britons polled want to keep him out of the country. Where is the glory to Jesus in this? How could Todd even set foot in England under such a cloud? Sirs, if this really were a 'Civil War', aren't you living in Gettysburg?

Mr Wagner, I am sure you are aware that because of your open endorsement of Todd Bentley, numbers of your own ICA 'apostles'(some very well-known) are already planning an "alternative"network without all your 'Dominionist' trappings or NAR hierarchies.Sir, they are leaving. Are you sure you were right to endorse the Lakeland movement in the very face of your own apostles like that? Wasn't this one of the most crucial tests of your leadership? Sir,if your discernment is such that you could get on a stage and openly endorse one of the most deceptive movements in the history of the church, then - with all due respect - should you really be heading up the apostles of the entire Charismatic world? Are you aware that you have greatly endangered God's precious sheep all around the globe?

And Mr Joyner, are you conscious of how terribly the Prophetic movement has deteriorated on your watch, sir? As the most influential 'father' in that movement, why have you stood by while the "New Mystics" have taken over - with their gold dust, their portals, their 'orbs', their drunken jerking, their strange "angel" encounters and 'visualization' techniques, etc? In fact, why have you actively encouraged and participated in these very things yourself?

Isn't it true that Bob Jones has been a big mentor for you in these things, just like he was for Todd Bentley? Wasn't it Bob Jones who taught you how to "visualize" your way into the 'Third Heaven',Mr Joyner? Isn't Bob Jones one of the major hidden influences behind your ministry? Where do you get your visions? How do you write your books? How can we ever again trust the "angels" that you see? Sir, what were you thinking - to openly endorse the"New Mystics" as you did with Todd Bentley? Did you not see that it could end so badly?

We all know what Bob Jones said when he stood on the stage with Todd Bentley in front of the whole world:
BOB: "I released my angels to him... this man from Canada asked for my angels; this Wind of Change is most powerful. Except for the arch angels, this 'Winds of Change', this is the most powerful angel..."
BOB TO TODD BENTLEY: "As I watch you, you VIBRATE. You know there are two portals, clockwise and counter-clockwise.When you vibrate you close demonic vibration. Counter-clockwise vibration is demonic. The vibration is healing. Does it seem peculiar?"[He waves his hands]... "I’m releasing it to you."

A very basic question here: Is there anything even remotely biblical about any of this?

Mr Joyner, since Bob Jones is your major mentor, and since you stood on the stage and openly endorsed that whole movement, I guess we have to assume that this is the kind of "Prophetic" that you now represent? Isn't that fair to say, sir?

And now I need to ask some questions of my colleagues overseas:Isn't it true, my friends, that almost every deceptive fad or heresy of the last 25 years has come out of North America? (ie. The USA and Canada)? And hasn't it been growing worse and worse?

When I travel to Africa I find deadly "Prosperity" teaching rampant in the most poverty-stricken of nations. When I travel to Europe I find them bombarded with flakey 'prophets' from the States. When I travel to Australia I find them enthralled with 'Mega-church-Itis' imported from the USA. In every way, North America has become a source of utter pollution, sickness and compromise -both in the church and the world. And I believe God wants to put an end to it.

Personally I love Americans. I lived there for four years, and I have many dear friends in that part of the world. But I do not believe that God is going to allow this pollution to spread any longer.

Why do leaders in Australia or Europe think that their movements must be led by Americans? What nation is most of this pollution coming from? Why do African leaders allow sick money-grubbing telecasts from the USA to be beamed to their people via satellite?Why are any of us allowing any of this garbage? When are we going to stand up and cry, "ENOUGH"? When are we going to cut off this pollution - not just for ourselves - but for the sake of God's precious sheep? Why should we be led by America if they are leading us into deception?

Should North America even be allowed to lead the worldwide church any more?

And finally, let me return to Mr Joyner - who once intimated that it is time to "drive" out those who want to "test the spirits" in the church. Sir, let me say to you that indeed the time has come to drive a particular spirit out. It is the spirit of rampant "Charis-mania".And sir, I have to say with all due respect, that your very own movement strikes me as the primest of prime places in which to start.

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