Bosh! If you bring me a wheelbarrow of that, I can fertilize my petunias, but I won’t use it on my vegetable garden. Ewww.
It is ABSOLUTELY part of the Kingdom to go to a brother and say, "Hey, friend. I see a problem here. Can I help you with it?" This is where a real friend can really help. It may be the only place. And it isn't really an option to strangers. Sorry, but unless I know them, and know them personally, I don’t qualify.
It is ABSOLUTELY from the pit of hell to go to the highways and byways, to the coffee shops and the interwebs, and spread slanderous accusations about them. There is no good that can be done by dragging their name through the mud on Facebook. Even if the accusation is true, it's still slander, it's still the work of the Accuser of the Brethren. And let’s be honest: those who actually do need to repent will not repent just because someone posted foul things online about them.
The hardest part is remembering that ultimately, the only one who can make choices for their life is them. You and I cannot, no matter how deeply we care. It is not, in the end, our choice.
There are a number of Christian websites that are passionately critical of Todd Bentley and the Florida Outpouring (which is now on the road, currently in Califorrnia). Hank Hanegraff of CRI, the Christian Research Institute is one of the most visible and most vocal. A friend recently asked me an opinion of Hank’s critical article against Todd and his ministry. It got me thinking. If you’re interested in this kind of stuff, you might want to read that posting on his blog, though it’s not entirely necessary if you’re at all familiar with the current standards of criticizing somebody different than ourselves.
It appears to me that so many critics of Todd, Hank included, are fundamentally evangelical: that much is a fine thing. The problem is that they seem to make the assumption that the only legitimate form of Christianity is evangelicalism, and everybody else is a heretic, and they're making a name for himself denouncing them. And they're using rather inflammatory language in doing it.
It’s interesting that Hank's biggest complaint against Todd Bentley that an usher wouldn’t let someone come to Todd for healing when they were discussing testimonies, not praying for the sick; they'd done that earlier. Todd’s usher practiced Todd’s teaching, which is (I suspect) a doctrine that Hank and many evangelicals would probably support: Todd is not the “healer”, but Jesus is the healer. Hank’s friend was prevented from coming to Todd as the “healer”, which is consistent with Todd’s teachings, and probably Hank’s too. (Though I allow for the possibility that he did it poorly or without tact.)
In addition, Hank’s friend was defying the instructions from the leaders of the meeting (which were essentially that “This is a time for testimonies, not for requests for healing.”), and Hank finds fault with Todd not permitting such rebellion. Moreover, Hank blames Todd for the emotional letdown and disappointment that his friend felt when Todd’s team stood up for two (appropriate) standards: they wouldn’t permit him to bust up the meeting, or to venerate Todd as “the healer.” Hank’s criticism strikes me as disingenuous here.
I also find it interesting that Hank defends his own judging of Todd while not validating others’ judging of Hank’s critical remarks.
Let me make it clear for the record, just in case Woodward and Bernstein (or their heirs) get ahold of this post: Todd Bentley makes me very uncomfortable. I don’t like how he does stuff. I don’t like how he does his meetings. I don’t like the way he relates to people. I don’t like the way his dad relates to people. I don’t like the truck he drives. I don’t understand the tattoos, and I think they could have been done much more artistically. (Note that these complaints are all about how he does things, not what he does; the difference is significant.)
I know something whereof I speak. I have business dealings with his ministry. I’ve met him and his father several times. I know well several people that appear to be Todd’s personal friends; I’ve been to a number of his meetings, as well as watched (as long as I could) some of his recent meetings on GOD.TV.
Having said that, I have to say that Todd is the best example I know of of the scripture that says, “We hold this treasure in earthen vessels.” Todd is a very earthy vessel, but the treasure inside is real: this is the real gift, and Todd – with all his warts and tattoos – is my brother. While I’m uncomfortable with his style, I’m convinced that the content is the real thing: God really does work through him to a degree that He does not in other mortals, including Hank, certainly including me, and possibly including yourself, dear reader.
Does that make Todd any less weird? Heck no. The guy’s covered in tattoos, is lousy in interpersonal relations, burns himself out with some (decreasing) regularity, and has a really weird public speaking style. He’s also – lest we forget – functionally a baby Christian: he only got saved a few years (was it 5?) ago from a life of drugs and violence: this guy was not raised in Sunday School: he looks like it and he acts like it.
The guy lacks maturity because isn't yet mature: he hasn’t had the time to develop it. He has his “flesh” hanging out all over the place. But probably no more than I do. Maybe less than Hank does (though I’m not confident that – despite Hank’s vociferous disputations to the contrary – I have the authority to judge that).
Todd's critics use the Bereans, as Hank does, to justify their judgments (Hank's word, not mine). In the Bible, the Bereans were commended for comparing Paul’s doctrine with scripture. Two conditions: judging doctrine and judging by scripture. It doesn’t appear to me that Hank is doing either. He’s judging Todd the man (calling him a “spiritual fraud,” a “liar,” among other things, none of which is about doctrine), and judging him by stories (while denouncing Todd’s stories simultaneously) and by “common sense”. Aargh. That’s not right!
The frustrating part is that both of them, stinky as they are, are my brothers in Christ.
The result that I see is that people are disappointed, hurt and confused by Hank’s ministry every bit as much as by Todd’s. But in the process, Hank is smearing everyone who is different than himself with slander, whereas Todd is trying hard (embarrassingly hard, IMHO) to point people to Jesus. I can’t tell to whom Hank is trying to point people; I’m not convinced it’s to Jesus, or at least not to the God of Love that I know Him to be. In other words, it's worth examining the fruit of both ministries: when people encounter Hank and Todd, what is the result; do either of them bring people closer to Christ, closer to other Christians, inspire us to be more passionate about loving God?
So I wish my brother Hank and others like him would just shut the hell up. I mean that literally: it seems to me that their words further the agenda of hell more effectively than that of Heaven.
(Isn’t that funny: the right-wing fundamentalist preaching inclusion? Sheesh. I know I make a pretty poor right wing fundamentalist, but I still get accused of it. )
One more in the sake of fairness. But first, let me ask this: is the Bible the standard for our behavior today? And if it is, do we limit ourselves to only what the Bible permits, or do we permit ourselves everything that the Bible does not limit (whether by command or by principle)? I know many Christians who say they espouse the former: if the Bible doesn’t permit it, then I don’t do it! But they drive a car. And they brush their teeth. And they use flush toilets, power tools and clean underwear, none of which is in the Bible. The Amish come closest to that standard, and they don’t come particularly close.
Most believers actually live (regardless of their doctrines) by the second: if the Bible doesn’t prohibit it, then neither do I. (Well, it could be argued that a fair percentage of American Christians don’t limit themselves at all, but that’s another conversation.)
Todd gets in a lot of trouble for living that standard doctrinally. He teaches some weird things that are not Biblical. They are also not anti-biblical; that is: the Bible does not teach against what he is teaching, neither do his doctrines contradict Biblical doctrine, but they do not conform to the stories and teachings in the Bible either. For example, I’ve heard stories that vilify him for speaking about an angel named Emma (I’ve not heard him directly on this). Is it weird? Yes! I mean, "Heck yes!" Is it Biblical? Well, not in the strictest sense: as far as I know the Bible names only three angels in all of scripture, and Emma is not on that list. But does it contradict Biblical teaching? Not really. It’s like the subject of toilet paper: pretty much ignored in Scripture (possibly for good reason).
Maybe it’s time to shut up about how God chooses to deal with His son and his servant Todd Bentley, and do what He’s telling us to do. Hmm. I suppose that would apply to His servant Hank Hanegraff as well. I think I'll shut up now. But please, let's not waste our time criticizing brothers who do things differently than we do.
My favorite teaching passage for deliverance is Mark 9, and Jesus is our model here, not the boys.
Some principles that work well for me:
- Be loaded up on the glory of God before going into that battle. Since it’s hard to know when you’re going in, go ahead & stay loaded up on glory. (vs 1 – 12)
- Don’t be surprised if the occasion is marked by crowds, disputing, amazement, hubbub and such (vs 14 – 16).
- It’s not unusual for believers to not know what to do with demons. (v. 17-18).
- Demons often manifest (act out) when confronted by the presence of God. (v20). Nevertheless, in His presence is the best place for them to become free (v20 – 27).
- There are 3 pieces of information that may be helpful in finding the key to that person’s deliverance:
- History (v21)
- Symptoms (v 22)
- Ungodly beliefs (v24) (This was the one that Jesus picked up on in this event, and he corrected the false belief before delivering the boy. Note that it was his father’s belief that was the key.)
- Note that these can be learned supernaturally (through prophetic words or words of knowledge) or naturally (by conversation or observation); a combination is always helpful.
- Rebuking and commanding are appropriate (v25). Note that
- a) these do not need to be loud or aggressive in either the physical or soul realms to be forceful in the spirit realm; my experience is just the opposite: the gentler my voice, the stronger my authority is on the spirit, and
- b) the rebuke and the command are directed at the demonic spirit; the person hosting the demon are almost uninvolved in the encounter.
- Making a scene is to be avoided (v25) if for no other reason than to avoid embarrassing the person to whom you’re ministering.
- Expect to see a physical reaction (possibly convulsions or something dramatic; more likely a substantial and Godly peace) in response to the exercise of real authority (v26)
- Ministering to their physical needs comes after the deliverance (v 27 and other examples).
- The best authority is a life characterized by prayer and fasting (v29: note that Jesus neither prayed nor fasted during this event).
The biggest issue is knowing that you have the authority in the circumstance and the demon has none when facing Jesus. In circumstances like yours – where you were dealing w/ a demon in a friend (if I understood the facts right) – then it helps to explain some of these things, at least enough to be comforting, to the person being ministered to.
Don’t be freaked: that’s the enemy’s goal: to get you to look at him instead of at Jesus. Weird voices, weird manifestations and the like are just part of the sideshow. I could tell you stories, but it would be redundant: if you’re looking at Jesus & listening to the Spirit in all of this, then the vitriol, the vomiting, levitation, or whatever, is completely irrelevant.
It would be easiest to teach this if we were ministering side by side with a demonized person; this will have to do for now. Please ask questions if you have any.
Walk in warm footsteps!
In this week’s posting, I want to look at something that God did in
This happened on Feb. 28th, 1999 at the Anglican church, in a special Sunday afternoon youth service in Pond Inlet. Pond Inlet is a small, predominantly Inuit community in the Qikiqtaaluk Region of
The Lord visited them that day with His miracle power, which was manifested in a very loud sound. They were recording a cassette tape of the meeting, and the sound of the Lord's wind and mighty fire was recorded. Here are some excerpts from the video on You Tube, where you can hear the recording and testimonies of that day:
"An invitation was offered for Youth who felt they wanted to come closer to God." The worship leader, Louee Arieak, was praying over the youth at the altar, "I felt so close to God... He kept giving me this verse that says, 'Blessed are the Pure in Heart, for they shall see God.' "
"Something started to happen, that was beyond our control."
"Fire went right through me!"
"It sounded like a jet, but I started to think, there are no jets in Pond Inlet".
"It was so loud, that everything started to shake, All the people started to shake."
"Fire !!!! Fire !!!! Hallelujah!!!!!! OHHHHHHH!!!!!"
When the sound first started, Pastor Moses Kayak tried to stop the sound by first adjusting, and then even turning off the sound board. But still the sound, and the recording, continued. "It shouldn't have been recorded. It's only by the miracle of God."
The pastor recounts the story. He was "... completely humbled, to the point where he wanted to continually come before God, kneel... and ask for cleansing of the heart - to become pure before Him."
"My name is John Tugak. I played the guitar that nite there at the service. The sound started just barely noticable like a tv with no signal. Then it built up louder like as if a big plane flew over but the noise was there longer than usual. Saw the pastor trying to adjust and fix the noise with the sound system but it continued. I even saw him turn off the system but it didnt help. Then I realize, and I believe the sound is from the presence of the almighty God. I still believe, and have never experience anything like it! If the sound was from the sound system, it would break as it was too loud for the speakers to handle it. The speakers cannot make that kind of sound and shake the building. The sound was amazing!"
Here's the story of what happened:
And this is a report from a few years later:
Please tell me what you think.
I’m convinced that one of the weapons in the realm of spiritual things – both for good and for trouble – is the issue of soul ties. As usual, this weapon was invented by God, was designed by God, and was absconded by the enemy.
Soul ties are pretty complicated to explain: it’s when two people’s souls are tied together. Please indulge me for a moment.
Soul ties start in the beginning. “In the beginning, God…,” and God is Father, son and Holy Spirit who are tied together. Shortly after that, he shared it with us: “…and they shall become one flesh.”
And God had a plan for soul ties:
So God’s plan for tying souls together is to create godly offspring: to make more kids. Kids like himself.
So the enemy hijacked the plan:
The enemy takes the same link between people, and he’s bringing his own children from the union. He’s using sex to tie people together in slavery.
Soul ties exist between guys who work together sometimes.
Here’s a soul tie that appears to be a good one, and it has nothing to do with sex. It’s a couple of guys working together in an authority-based environment (in this case, the army). You can be tied with your boss, or with an employee, or with a pastor or a teacher.
OK. Enough background.
I believe that there are a bunch of inappropriate soul ties among believers. We build relationships in the church that we’re serving – we build soul ties – and then we move on to another church. We build relationships – some of them become soul ties – and then we move. We have soul ties from our pre-Christian days and from relationships since then.
Many years ago, I had a soul tie with a very weird friend; after a while, we drifted apart. Later, I got married, and years later, my bride & I learned about soul ties. One night, ten years after I’d last seen my weird friend, my wife & I were in someone’s guest room, sleeping in twin beds across the room from each other. I couldn’t sleep, so I was thinking and praying, and God showed me the soul tie with my weird friend and told me to renounce it. Beneath my breath, inaudibly, I renounced the soul tie from that relationship. Instantly, my wife – with whom I have a wonderful soul tie – woke up, sat up in bed, and blurted, “What was that? Something just lifted off of me! What was it?”
So here's what it is:
God has given us a weapon to divide the soul, to divide my soul from the soul of my weird friend. The soul tie that I had with them clearly affected my wife through the soul tie I had with her. God has given you and me a tool to cut the ties that should be cut and to leave the ties that should be left.
And every soul tie, whether active or not, is a channel that brings stuff into your soul from somebody else’s soul. It’s like we have sixty-eleven IV tubes plugged into our arms, our legs, into every vein on our body; and every IV tube has stuff pouring into our lives from sixty-eleven different sources, with different motives, with different kinds of resources to pour into us. Some of them are fine. One or two may be good, but the majority are filling us with garbage.
So many of us in the Body of Christ have dozens of soul ties that need to be broken off. Let me encourage you to find some folks to walk with you through the process of cutting the ties that bind you.
Christians would tell me, “Don’t go in that store, it’s evil!” like any evil of the place would jump out and grab me or something. Admittedly, the store in question was making good money promoting witchcraft and druidism and other things that are completely contrary to the gospel. But their wide-eyed “Don’t go in there!” unsettled me. I’ve been trying to understand.
First, I needed to come to grips with a truth that I have sometimes overlooked: sinners sin. The proprietor of the shop (I’ll call him
There is room for the question, “What is the appropriate response of Christians toward sinners?” but I digress. I want to examine the concept of whether the “evil” of
The Old Testament teaches me that there are a bunch of ways to become unclean, and one of them is to touch anything or anyone that is unclean. For example, did you know that being dead makes you unclean, and anybody that has to touch your dead body will be unclean for a week. Leprosy is another example: You catch this, and you’re unclean for life. (Unless you get healed, but of course, nobody hardly ever got healed of leprosy.)
Worse, if you’re unclean, you can’t minister before God. If you ever do, you “shall be cut off from my presence” declares the Lord. Uncleanness is a big deal: God is holy, so we need to be holy if we want to hang around Him. It’s not like we’re going to make him unholy (ha!), but more that we’d get blown up if we showed up in His presence when we’re unclean. It’s a big deal, and the command is not just for our good, it’s for our survival!
So my Christian friends were trying to protect me when they warned me not to visit
So what did
So there is a huge difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant, and the New is better. In the Old, when a godly person touched an unclean thing, the unclean trumped the godliness and godliness did not overcome evil. But in the New Covenant, the presence of God in me trumps evil.
So what does that mean for my life?
First, it means that I don’t need to be afraid to visit
More, I see this as a New Testament extension of an Old Testament (or Old Covenant) promise: “Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours.” So now, I carry the presence of God with me, and everyplace I go, godliness trumps darkness, light shines in darkness and necessarily overpowers it. When I visit
Now for the sake of clarification, this does not mean that I should be spending my time hanging out at porn shops and liquor stores and dens of iniquity. Specifically, if I have had trouble with porn, I’m not going to be submitting myself to the strongholds there; if I’m a recovering alcoholic, I’ll avoid the bars, not because I’m afraid of being touched by the uncleanness there (though the uncleanliness of their kitchen may be an issue), but because I’m not going to submit myself to temptation.
So no, don’t go looking for sin, don’t get cocky about darkness. But neither be afraid of darkness; someone else’s sin is not going to be a danger to me unless I’m not walking in the Presence of God. Let’s live holy and invade the darkness! How in Heaven’s name will they learn about the light if we don’t bring it to them?
Some time ago, I was working on a cedar picnic table, and I got a sliver in my hand. It was a busy day, so I didn’t get a chance to pull it out right away, and I forgot about it. Over the next several days, the spot swelled up and became painful until I got a sharp knife and cut the spot open and dug out the piece of wood.
Later, I cut my other hand, and I was “too busy” to stop and slap a bandage on it, so of course it got sawdust and dirt and germs in it before I was through with the picnic table, but the damage had been done. This wound also swelled up and got tender, and I had to open it up, but there was no chunk of cedar to pull out.
A lot of God’s people are like my hands were: we’re wounded, but the wounds are hidden, buried because we didn’t deal with the issues when they were fresh. We have two kinds of wounds: some have slivers in them, foreign stuff that doesn’t belong in our lives, and some are just infected with lies or accusations or bitterness.
The pressing problem with healing old wounds is that they must first be opened. If we’re looking at our wound or our soul, then we encounter the pain first; sometimes we feel all of the pain that put the wound there in the first place and sometimes we have all that topped by the additional pain of having remembered the wound, or feared its opening, for Lo! these many years. However, I believe that God is urging us to not focus our attention on the wound, but on Him, and as we do that, He’ll be our anesthesia: the wound will be opened, cleaned and healed, and we won’t have suffered the same debilitating pain again and again.
Let me prophesy this: we are in a season where God is opening up old wounds in His saints, bringing to the our consciousness things that we haven’t thought about for years or decades. Some, we haven’t ever dealt with, and some we have addressed, but God wants to get the last little specks out of them and clean the wounds.
God wants His warriors healed; He wants us able to fight the enemy without fear that a stray shot will hit our old wounds and knock us out of the battle. His goal is healing those hidden places, and it might hurt for a while, but he’s taking out the foreign stuff, cleaning out the infection.
There are three things that are needed to bring healing in these old wounds:
· First, we must let God take us there, but we look at Him, not at the wound. If He says to repent of stuff, we repent. If He says to forgive folk, we forgive. If He says to make declarations, we make declarations. We need to focus on what He has done, not on what He hasn’t [yet] done. Psalm 37:3 says “Dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness.” If we dwell on His faithfulness, it grows good things. If we dwell on our lack, it grows bitterness and offense.
· Second, we immerse ourselves in good input. This is more than just immersing myself in Spiritual or godly activities, it’s intentionally making place for Him to speak into my life. Worship is a wonderful way to spend a couple of hours. If I use worship to run from the work God is doing, it’s less wonderful, it’s hiding from God and the work He’s up to. But if in worship I open my heart to his scalpel, it’s more profitable for both Him and me. Immersion in the Word – sitting under Its teaching, not marking off pages or studying to teach – brings faster healing. Opening my spirit to anointed teaching CD’s or podcasts, or reading the blogs of radical God-chasing Revolutionaries will be helpful.
· Shut up and move on. OK, that was too blunt. Sorry. How about, “Let’s not complain about the process but instead, let’s position ourselves for growth by aggressively pressing forward into the good things of God.”
· Get over the blame game. We really often blame God (“It must be His will…”) or ourselves (“I must need to learn some lesson from this”). God pretty much never answers the “Why did that happen?” question, but He loves to answer the “How shall I respond?” one.
· Look for the profit. In the Bible, the standard is that stuff that is stolen from us must be repaid seven times. Your wounds, your losses can be seeds for a profitable harvest. But the thief never repays what was taken voluntarily; you must take it back, perhaps violently. It’s called plunder, and it’s yours. But that’s another story.
So don’t be surprised if old hurts come back in the weeks and months ahead: God is bringing an invitation to us: will we let Him clean the wound? Will we let Him heal us? Will we be healed so we can heal others?