I Quit – Effective Immediately

As I look at the state of the Church today and what is going on within it;
As I look at the way Christians are behaving and living their lives – no different than those who do not claim Jesus as Lord;
As I look at the lack of passion and enthusiasm for the things of the Lord;
As I see the lack of biblical knowledge, understanding and insight of most believers who are almost totally ignorant of the book;
As I see dwindling attendance and falling revenues;
As I see a lack of serious commitment to the Great Commission to reach out and save the lost;

I reached the conclusion that I have had enough – enough is enough – and I quit, effective immediately!

I quit babysitting believers who, by now, should have grown up and got on with the thinks of the Kingdom
I quit being politically correct when what is needed is a blunt and honest expression of the truth as it is truth that sets people free
I quit chasing believers who have stopped coming to Church, who are offended at someone in the Church, who believe that you don’t need to worship with other believers; who chose to use Sundays for family and friends or to catch-up on things around the house or at the office, or whatever stupid excuse they have for being disobedient to God’s Word
I quit listening to people justify why they are living with (and sleeping with) someone they are not married to
I quit caring about the reasons people give for not tithing – I already know why they don’t tithe … they are in rebellion to the Lordship of Jesus and have decided they know better than God and want to live with financial struggles the rest of their lives
I quit having coffee with Church members who are really not members at all – as they are not connected to this local body of believers and are using it for whatever they can get out of it – never giving but always taking
I quit trying to help people straighten out their lives (marriage, kids, job situation, finances) unless I see some serious commitment to change on their part first – so that it is apparent they really want help because they are actually desperate enough to do something on their own about things without being prompted, pushed, and yelled at
I quit teaching people who are simply tolerating the Word and show absolutely no interest in what God is saying to His people this day – in fact, I am now bluntly asking them after the service why they bother to come in the first place
I quit being tolerant and understanding when people nod off or sleep through my teaching – this is God’s Word for goodness sake – If you are that tired stay home. Or, better still, party on Friday night and go to bed early on Saturday night
I quit chasing people who have received prophetic words about a call of God and an anointing on their lives – but who are doing nothing to cooperate with that word so that it will come to pass
I quit trying to live on less income than I should simply because people are not tithing – yet they go out to eat after Church on Sunday and spend 5 times what they placed in the offering plate
I quit sacrificing “normal things” for the Church – I am willing to sacrifice everything for the Lord – but, for the Church – very little
I quit hoping it is going to get better – I am now looking for those who are hungry for the Lord and we will run together the race set before this Church and the others can catch up later if they want to or find us when and if the dust settles
I quit draging a dead horse – if the horse is dead, dismount
I quit listening to those who are always critical of what others are doing and yet never lift a finger to help or become involved
I quit caring what you think Church should look like, smell like, function like, sound like … Jesus already determined all that 2,000+ years ago and the rest is a pointless academic argument
I quit going to conferences and seminars – unl;ess they will help me to fulfill the call that is on every believers life – to seek and save the lost
I quit chasing the latest and the greatest – I am busy following Jesus
I quit caring what you think – I play to an audience of one – Jesus!

I have permanently quit playing Church effective immediately as I seriously want to get on with what the Lord is doing and I am simply tired of the wailing and moaning, the excuses and the crap, the lack of commitment and enthusiasm, the absentee believers, and the armchair coaches who are so out of spiritual shape that they never step on the playing field.

I’m here for you – if you are here for Jesus! Otherwise, don’t call me and don’t wait for me to call you as I just quit!

Time to be Honest With Yourself

Another long weekend and the summer is coming to an official close. Children are back at school, university is back in session and the gardens are wrapping up their colours and fading into shades of fall. The sun goes down earlier each evening it seems and the nights are getting colder.

The fall season is now upon us and the questions need to be asked: What are you planning to do spiritually this fall to grow as a believer? What are you willing to do to help your Church to grow both spiritually and numerically? What changes are you planning to make in your lifestyle so that your life better exhibits Christian values and beliefs? Are there some issues in your life (even sins) that you need to be dealing with so as to better connect to the One you worship? Are you thinking through ways to connect with and influence your loved ones and your friends and neighbours in the hope that they would seriously consider the claims of the Christian faith that you base your life on? Planning on joining a Bible study group where you can learn and grow and fellowship with other believers? Does your attendance at Sunday worship in this local church need to improve and become more consistent so that you are living obedient to the Word? Do you have plans to improve your prayer life?

These are questions I ask myself – and so I do not hesitate to ask you the same questions. They need answering. I mean, if the Christian faith is real and life-changing then these questions are well worth considering and struggling with. Change is never easy but always necessary. And the truth is: if you always do what you have always done – you will always get what you have always gotten. Poor English but truth nonetheless.

And, you should never be content and satisfied with where you are at in your spiritual life and walk with the Lord Jesus. There is always more to know and discover. We are told to hunger and thirst after Him who is the righteousness of God. So, that is what we must do in this new fall season we have now entered.

The Church can offer leadership, good worship, life-changing teachings … but you determine how much benefit you will receive by what you are willing to do and how much effort and energy you put into being intentionally directional in your Christian life in the coming months. Spend some time today thinking about it!

All Hell Is Breaking Loose

When God calls you to do something for Him – full-time or part-time – and you accept the call on your life and step out; you do so in faith. You will not know all the things that are going to happen to you or through you to others. You are usually clueless about the obstacles and difficulties you will encounter. You simply believed God and stepped out in faith. Like Abraham, you know where the start point is (you are standing in it) but have yet to find out where the destination is or what it looks like – or even the path to get there. One step at a time. Faith – trusting God.

Some believe that if you are doing God’s will and walking in your calling – that everything will work out smoothly. You will see doors open supernaturally, you will prosper and always have all financial needs of the ministry met plus extra. Slogans like “When God guides, He supplies” are common in these circles of believers.

Here is what I have found after 40 years of ministry (I preached my first sermon in 1968)… In my personal experience, I have found that whenever I step out in obedience to do something that God told me to do, all hell breaks loose.

Reminds me of the pastor who was standing at the back of the Church on a Sunday shaking hands with his parishioners. One felLa came up to him and said: “I’m going through Hell, pastor.” To which the pastor responded: “Great – don’t stop!” Good advice for all believers as they walk out the call on their lives – “keep going”.

Often when we step out in faith to fulfill the will of God things can be or become tough. Ministry is no picnic. In fact, being a Christian is not for wimps. It can be and often is very difficult and trying. Some times you just wish the Lord would take you home … but then there is that great verse in the story of Moses: “This too shall pass”. So, we hang on and watch God move on our behalf and we find ourselves breaking through and moving forward – only to be faced by another obstacle.

As I studied the life of Paul this summer this is what I see in this man’s life – one difficulty after another, one riot after another, one close escape from death after another. He is, at times, in need of food, clothing and shelter and at other times all of this is there in abundance supplied by the government whose prison he sits in. Yet, at all times, he was walking out God’s will in his life and fulfilling his calling – running his race, as he puts it, in such a way as to win the prize.

So, if all hell seems to be breaking out and coming against you. Rejoice. It may be a sign that you are doing God’s will and doing it well – because you are making the devil nervous and so he is throwing everything, including the kitchen sink, at you.

If your walk with the Lord leaves you calm and cool at all times– no ruffled feathers or difficult situations being faced – then maybe, just maybe, you have missed a turn in the road and are wondering off on your own and have missed God’s will for your life at this point in time.

God never promised us happiness – just righteousness. And, it is during the struggles that we learn to be totally dependant upon God and grow more into His likeness as we learn patience and long-suffering, endurance and self-control.

August 19th, 2008 National Post Newspaper Report on Todd Bentley

This report – well written and not slanted – can be found at:


What Would Happen If

What would happen if every disciple (let’s not talk believers) – every committed follower of and student of Jesus (disciple means follower and someone who learns from the one they are following) … what would happen if every disciple of Jesus around the world became passionate about what Jesus is passionate about and then risked all to see that passion come to pass? What would happen? Eh? (a Canadian phrase)!

Dream with me – what would happen?

I’ll tell you what would happen. Every person on the face of the planet would soon hear about the name above all names – Jesus. They would hear about the Kingdom and the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. They would hear of the coming judgment and the need to repent of sin and get right with God. There would be a massive movement of the saints from one nation to another in the tens of thousands – hundreds of thousands – as their passion for the Lord moved them to “go into all the world and preach the Gospel… making disciples…”

I’ll tell you what would happen – disciples would be excited and alive and their Christian faith and walk with the Lord would be the adventure of a lifetime. Prayer would become number one priority. Bible study would be first priority and then Bible reading would follow a close second. Bitching, complaining and criticism would stop as troops in the front lines are too busy fighting the war to be complaining and gossiping. We would learn how to be 100% dependent upon God for everything we need to do His will in this world.

I’ll tell you what would happen – worship services when the saints assembled would explode with excitement, testimonies, new converts being introduced and trained. People would lean forward and literally suck the anointing out of the teacher of the day they would be so hungry for spiritual food. They would take notes, talk back, say “wow” a few times, and you would see life shining out of their souls through their eyes – the windows to the soul. There would be life – the service would be alive!

I’ll tell you what would happen – disciples would become focused and not have time for loose talk about pet themes from the scriptures. They would major on the majors and leave the rest to those who are simply wanting to be followers – following at a safe distance. Let them talk about angels and anointings and manifestations. Those on the front lines – the disciples – would be busy talking about soul winning, discipling, and spreading the Gospel to the least and the smallest around the world.

I’ll tell you what would happen – life would center around Jesus and His message and no longer around our comfort and security. We would become givers living on as little as possible so as to give as much as we can to the spreading of the Gospel world-wide. Luxuries would be out of the question – just the bare necessities would be all we desired and needed. We would be free of materialism and the “me” generation – which seems to be every generation these days.

I’ll tell you what would happen – Christians would get serious about living holy lives and dealing with the sins that have hung around for years since they received Jesus and were born again. They would read – no devour – the Word of God feeding on every morsal and tidbit they find in the truth of the Word. They would hunger and thirst for more of God and more of His Word. They would no longer be interested in books, CDs and conferences that did not help them to be better at fulfilling and living The Great Commission. A lot that now exists in the “Church world” would literally come crashing down in ruins.

I’ll tell you what would happen – the world would no longer write us off as irrelevant and out-of-date. Religions would tremble as would all the demons of Hell. Power would be seen in the life of the disciple and would threaten every stronghold on the face of Earth and would pull them down. People would be delivered and saved. The gifts of the Holy Spirit would flow regularly in the streets and businesses and shops of our world – as they were meant to do in the first place.

I’ll tell you what would happen – I would think that I had died and gone to Heaven. It would be a shock but I would quickly get over it and I would enjoy every last second of my life on this planet and go home to Heaven exhausted and exhilerated!

I remember something Heidi Baker once said talking about what is happening in Africa as God uses the ministry there: “…but at the core of this movement is a white-hot, total abandonment to Jesus and His Kingdom. We will not be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Him. We are advancing. Our weapons are a firm faith, gentleness, peace, patience and a love that cannot be resisted. In Him we cannot lose!”

I believe that – and I am no longer waiting for things to begin to happen here. I have quit playing Church and babysitting believers who long ago should have become disciples. It is time for them to get saved or grow up or whatever they need to do. I have spent too much time and energy helping when they didn’t want help and prodding and pushing when they were not seriously trying to follow the Lord Jesus. Time for you to change your own diaper.

It is time to move forward declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ which is the power of God unto salvation. Want to come with me?

Believers in the Book?

Why is it that Christians struggle continually with sin in their lives? Why is it that believers – both ones who are new to the Christian faith as well as some who have been walking with the Lord for a long time – seem to be constantly and willingly living in sin? Yet they are believers in the Book.

The Bible states that:

“No one who abides in Him (habitually) sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.”

How come the younger generation who declare themselves to be born again find nothing unsettling about living together before marriage? And those who are married – immediately declare they want a divorce when things are not working out to their liking? Yet would declare themselves believers in the book.

Whatever happened to the concept of “holiness … without which it is impossible to see God”. And, righteousness? And, “becoming a new creature in Christ”when asking Jesus to be your Lord and Saviour? “Behold old things are passed away and all things have become new”.

It can be frieghtening to think about what the Bible really says:

1 John 2:29 “If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness if born of Him.”

So, if you are not “practicing righteousness” as defined by God’s Word you should be questioning whether you really have a personal relationship with Him who is righteous. We receive “the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus” when born again – but God expects us to live it out in practical, daily life.

1 John 3:6 quoted above: “No one who abides in Him (habitually) sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.”

1 John 3:9 “No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”

Do we really believe this stuff? Are we really believers in the Book? If we are, this verse should frighten those who are deliberately living in sin – shacked up with someone they are not married to, committing adultery on their wife (as they await a divorce settlement and are thus still married), excessive drinking (or as God would call it – drunkenness), or whatever the issue is.

1 John 5:18 “We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.”

So, in other words, we can’t even blame the devil for our problems with sin. It is really the flesh running wild and a will (soul) not yielded to the Holy Spirit or submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Believers in the Book? True Christians (wheat) or tares? Dare we even ask that question?

I have been reading recently (and again) on the Church in China. No, not because of the olympics which I totally ignored other than a major write-up in one issue of Maclean’s Magazine (like Time Magazine but Canadian). In one of the books I am reading the author wrote:

“Without a deep experience of repentance in our lives, we will continually struggle with basic sin and never mature as believers.” [Page 19 Living Waters by Brother Yun and edited by Paul Hattaway]

Is this what is missing in the western Church today? I think so. Maybe even more basic to that is a clear understanding of what constitutes a sin. And, maybe more foundational to that would be an understanding of the character and nature of God (holiness) and His view on sin.

Can a person be born again without an understanding of these concepts and the true nature of God and sin?

Maybe what we have are people who are false converts and are really not believers in the Book but, instead, have created a god in their own image who smiles on sin and forgives everything and everyone without any need for repentance and responding by making permanent changes in your life.

Are we allowed to even say that today?

Well, the Book, for those who still believe in it, states:

Revelation 3:19 “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.”

Matthew 4:17 (Jesus speaking) “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”

Maybe it is time for the Church to start preaching a serious message on sin, repentance, and the holiness of God – and not on “God has a wonderful plan for your life”. Maybe we need to focus on these heart issues and take the focus off healing, prosperity, ministry, anointings, miracles, signs and wonders … Afterall, the biggest miracle, sign and wonder is when a life is totally transformed by the power of the Gospel.

And there seems to be a lack of this transforming miracle in the Church today.

Peter Wagner – Second Report re. Lakeland

Update on Lakeland by C. Peter Wagner
Posted on August 25, 2008 by realmsofglory
A Message from Peter

An Update on Lakeland from Peter

August 25, 2008

I was in the San Francisco airport on my way to Singapore and Indonesia when the news of Todd Bentley’s separation from his wife became public on August 12. When I arrived back home last week, I found that Doris had received and replied to around 1,700 emails and the stack of correspondence on my desk was unbelievable. It took me the rest of the week to catch up!

During the week I was gone, a major watershed occurred regarding the Lakeland situation as most of you would know. We are now on a new playing field. Lakeland Outpouring I, in which Todd Bentley was the main figure, is now history. Lakeland Outpouring II, in which Stephen Strader of Ignited Church is the main figure, has begun. The Outpouring started in a local church, went to a tent, and now is back in the local church. My suggestion is that we no longer use the term “Lakeland Outpouring” but rather distinguish between Lakeland I and Lakeland II because they are very different.

Let me talk a bit about the present, then revisit the past, then project the future.

The Present

It will sound surprising to some, but Lakeland II in Ignited Church, which you will remember was the original host church, is going very well. The big crowds and GOD TV, of course, are gone. Ignited Church seats around 700 in the main sanctuary and Stephen Strader reports that on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings they have to use their overflow room. It is comfortably filled on week nights. The morning training sessions continue with a couple hundred every day, and teams continue to move daily into the streets of Lakeland spreading the gospel. Percentage-wise the dramatic miracles and healings occur nightly with probably a higher percentage of salvations on a daily basis. Support from local pastors is improving considerably. The most interesting report is that every night some 30 percent are first-time attenders, meaning that people are still coming to Lakeland from the outside to experience Outpouring II. A lady from our church with a severe chronic back problem went to Ignited Church and came home healed! Such a thing does not usually happen when a public figure suddenly goes down the tubes, so we need to take our hats off to the apostolic gifts and role that Stephen Strader is demonstrating for us.

Speaking of the public figure going down the tubes, Todd Bentley now carries the label of a liar and a deceiver. I’m sorry to mention it, but I felt personally deceived in the same way when Ted Haggard’s sin was exposed and he was immediately removed from ministry. In the Lakeland I case, I am elated at the way things are turning out. The Revival Alliance with whom Todd was aligned on June 23 has kicked into action with a vengeance. Ché Ahn and Bill Johnson, like me, were overseas when things broke, but John Arnott stepped up to the plate and moved in apostolically. It has since become clear that Todd’s Fresh Fire Board could not have handled the situation, Stephen Strader and Ignited Church could not, nor could any of his other close friends. Only the Revival Alliance could. I am delighted that they are not buying into typical charismatic soft morality, also called “greasy grace” or “don’t touch God’s anointed” or “mercy must triumph over judgment,” phrases that have been used on other similar occasions as convenient religious cop-out excuses. They’re proceeding in love, but it is tough love!

Since this is an update, I will share some of what I know about what is happening with Bentley, but not all because some things need more verification and it is up to discernment of Revival Alliance what and when this will be revealed. Suffice it to say that there is more than I am going to mention. First of all, Todd has been removed from public ministry until further notice. He has resigned from the ministry he founded, Fresh Fire, so he is no longer a part of that board. It has become clear that he indulged in periodic drunkenness. He has no intention at the moment of reconciling with Shonna, nor does she with him. Their marriage has been torn for years by his emotional attachment with at least one other female whose physical contact went beyond hugging and kissing and holding hands. Enough said-maybe more details will be revealed later-but it was clearly immoral. All of this was skillfully concealed by lying and by swearing close associates who had observed his behavior to secrecy. Stephen Strader, for example, knew nothing of this before June 23. Apparently some of his board members did, but they did not have the ability to deal with it.

The Past

I hope this is the last time I will have to address the past. It is now history. But as history is written, I feel that I have some responsibility of helping to have history be written accurately, especially since I have turned out to be a lightening rod for a number of severe criticisms.

Most of you know this, but let me reiterate to keep it on record. Previous to around the middle of June, my interest in Lakeland was about a 2 on a scale of 1-10. Then I got a call from Stephen Strader, the host pastor who was a member of ICA, which I lead, with a passionate appeal for apostolic intervention because chaos and confusion had begin to invade the Outpouring I. Toward the end of the hour we were talking, I received one of my infrequent direct words from God: “Alignment!” Just one word, but I knew I had a divine command and responsibility.

Once I knew that God had assigned me to initiate some sort of apostolic intervention at Stephen’s side, I began praying and consulting with close colleagues. In less than two days I discovered that Todd Bentley had no formal, established apostolic alignment. I asked God how I should proceed, especially since I had no inclination to attempt an apostle-evangelist approach and expect that Bentley would submit to or even listen to what I had to say if I made an appointment with him in Lakeland. I felt that proper apostolic protocol would be for me to deal with one or more peer-level apostles to whom Todd had aligned apostolically. Since as yet he had no such alignment, I began asking God how such an alignment might come about. He directed me to my close friend, Ché Ahn, who himself is apostolically aligned with me and who also had been close to Bentley for years. Ché agreed that the best apostolic protocol would be for Todd to align with the Revival Alliance if he were willing. Ché called him and Bentley agreed to submit publicly to the Revival Alliance.

At this point some disagreements arose. I have already mentioned that I was consulting with several apostolic colleagues whom I trusted and whom I know trusted me. It is very necessary for us to understand exactly what the disagreement was about. It was about the most appropriate apostolic protocol for the occasion. After prayerfully listening to the different points of view with careful consideration of what was being said, the decision had to be mine. I believe that God’s word to me about “Alignment!” had to be directional. I concluded that the best protocol was to do the alignment first, then deal with the issues that had been raised. My other friends disagreed and urged me to deal with Todd’s problems first then do the alignment. I respected their point of view and I was very sorry that I had to follow God’s leading for me personally instead of taking their advice. It was not a comfortable decision.

Now let me address what was behind much of their disagreement with my apostolic protocol. They were concerned that if I appeared on the platform with GOD TV, many viewers would interpret it as my personal endorsement of everything that was going on in Lakeland I, and since they were so closely associated with me, they would be implicated as well. This was a legitimate concern, and one I seriously wrestled with as I made my decision. If I went to Lakeland and presided over the alignment, some might well take it as an endorsement. It was a risk, I knew. Let me say personally that all my life I have been a risk-taker instead of a play-it-safe person, and I have taken many hits for it. As an example going to the jungles of Bolivia as a career field missionary when I was 25 with my wife and a one-year-old baby girl was a serious risk. Both that daughter and another who was born in the jungle without medical attention came close to losing their lives during those five years. And we were criticized for our decision to take the risk by many, including parents!

Closer to the Lakeland I situation, I have a private list of no fewer than 18 high-profile Christian leaders starting from the 1970s until Bentley for whom I took risks. For each one of them I took serious criticisms and in some cases personal hits even much more serious than I have received in this current case because I endorsed or partnered with or provided alignment for them. Some were typified as “crazy!” However, I can pretty much discern winners, although not always. My track record for the 18 is 72% emerged as real winners (you would know most of them), 17% ended up losers (including Bentley), and 11% indecisive. I’m sorry for the losers, but they prove I am not perfect. The point I am making is that I am no stranger to taking risks and living with the fallout.

One fallout from Lakeland I is that several have resigned from ICA and other organizations that I lead because they no longer want to be identified with me. Others are still upset. Still, believe it or not, I think that everyone involved is still my friend. We just disagree.

I want it understood that I did not go to Lakeland on June 23 for Todd Bentley. I had never met him personally. I had no knowledge of and little interest in his ministry. I went because I received an apostolic plea to help bring order to the confusion and chaos that was sweeping through the body of Christ worldwide because of the television. I went strictly for the body of Christ at the invitation of the host pastor of the Outpouring I.

The final question is: Was it successful? Looking back, I praise God for using me and others to help bring order to confusion, which is one of the chief biblical tasks of an apostle. Stephen Strader, who has been keeping records, affirms that the evil that the prince of the power of the air had been subtly introducing into the Outpouring I started to be exposed and unraveled the day after the alignment, June 24! Spiritually, this is very understandable. Just about every leader I knew had discerned that Lakeland I was a mixture of the godly and the ungodly. We were praying in one accord that the evil would be separated from the good. My take is that God had decided to answer these prayers and in order to facilitate His process, He assigned me and the Revival Alliance leaders and others who were with us to align Todd Bentley apostolically for the first time in his life. When we did this publicly, spiritual transactions took place in the invisible world that would not allow the enemy to maintain the veil of secrecy he had carefully placed over the Outpouring. The evil was exposed, Revival Alliance had the authority to deal with it, and the net result is that order is replacing chaos in the body of Christ.

In my section above on “The Present” I gave you some details. Believe me, they are only the tip of the iceberg as I just learned from a new phone call even as I was writing this paper. The proper apostolic structure, happily, is in place at the time of crisis!

The Future

It is now important to recognize that from now on we have a different playing field. Two separate things are going on. (1) The Revival Alliance is dealing with Todd Bentley and the fallout from his sin that has been and continues to be exposed. (2) I have told you previously about a group of 11 apostles that I have formed into the Lakeland Outpouring Apostolic Team. We no longer need to deal with Lakeland I and Bentley as such. However, we have a list of 24 serious issues that have emerged from that unpleasant experience which need to be thoroughly discussed with the conclusions circulated in the body of Christ. If you have seen Dutch Sheets’ recent “A Statement and Appeal Regarding Lakeland” you will get a glimpse of some of the things that we agree need to become standard operational beliefs and practices, particularly in our charismatically-inclined evangelical segment of the church.

It will take time, but our Apostolic Team will get to work on the 24 issues after some of this present dust settles, and we will be back to you!


Finally – Some Sanity Has Arrived

A letter from Dutch Sheets on Lakeland or Lakeland I as it is now called. Post-Todd Bentley is Lakeland II.

Taken from: http://realmsofglory.wordpress.com/2008/08/23/dutch-sheets-a-statement-and-appeal-regarding-lakeland/

Dutch Sheets- A Statement and Appeal Regarding Lakeland
Posted on August 23, 2008 by realmsofglory

A Statement and Appeal Regarding Lakeland
August 21, 2008

It has now been a couple of weeks since I heard about Todd Bentley’s plans for separation and divorce. Like everyone, I have had a variety of emotions including anger, sadness, and grief. Every time I see this scenario repeated, I grieve: for the husband and wife involved; for the family that will be scarred in so many ways; because of the incredible reproach it brings to Christ; and the distortion it gives concerning God’s heart and ways. I am praying for Todd and his family.

I was asked numerous times to write my position on Lakeland while it was happening, but always felt checked by the Lord—the waters were too muddy and emotions too high. I now feel strongly that the Lord wants me to do so. It will be arguably one of the greatest risks of my ministry to date, but one I feel must be taken. Fathers, when given the voice to do so, bear the responsibility of giving correction and wisdom. I hope mine qualifies for the latter. I assure you I have spent many hours praying and thinking through the situation.

The risks are broad: with some of my dearest friends and co-laborers, I risk harming those relationships; with many in the charismatic body of Christ, I risk appearing to be an arrogant, “self-appointed” spokesperson for them; to the “I told you so” crowd, I risk the accusation of “spinning” the situation. (As far as the heresy hunters and revival police—not those who raised legitimate questions about Lakeland, but the attack dogs who make their living and build their ministries criticizing everyone else—I lost respect for them long ago and couldn’t care less what they think.) My purpose and sincere prayer in writing this statement, however, is three-fold: to see healing begin for the body of Christ; to initiate a process that can remove the reproach brought to Christ and the Church; and to do these things while preserving and honoring my current relationships. I pray that these desires, along with my heart, come through loudly. And I hope I’m writing this with true humility—who among us clearly sees all hidden in our own hearts?

Let me also preface this statement by saying that what needs to be said cannot be done quickly or carelessly. I do not want my heart to be missed and am not willing to run that risk for the sake of brevity, so please bear with the length. (Incidentally, I think it will be obvious no one involved in the Lakeland situation has asked me to write this; and for the sake of integrity on my part, none have been consulted concerning what I’m stating.)

Mistakes at Lakeland
Did leaders handling the Lakeland situation make mistakes? Yes—huge mistakes. Beyond the obvious fruit of salvations and healings, can good come from Lakeland, as some have suggested, even with the recent revelations concerning Todd Bentley? Yes, but only if there is complete honesty and transparency, the removal of all attempts at self-preservation, and absolutehumility from all sides.

Did I endorse the Lakeland meetings? No, I did not, nor did I condemn them. I acknowledged that healings were occurring and some were being saved, which I still believe and rejoice over. I realized and stated that the thousands of people attending were hungry and sincere, as were those involved in leading the meetings. The worship was regularly good. But looking past some of the immediate and positive results, I, like many, also looked ahead to the possible fruit from questionable doctrine and experiences, exaggeration and hype, youthful pride, character issues and the frightening potential of a 32 year “young” man leading a movement that could shape the future of the Church. These things were frightening, very frightening, to others and me.

When something has the potential of setting precedent, birthing a movement and being reproduced as a prototype, we are no longer simply endorsing good brothers, good intentions and miracles. Doctrine and foundations will be built on these events. Teachings and paradigms for future ministries will be formed—in short, the next generation of the church and the move of God in the earth could be greatly impacted. This is why I stopped short of endorsing everything at Lakeland. Just as importantly, I could not ignore the “check”, the uneasiness, the sickening feeling deep in my spirit telling me something else was wrong—terribly wrong—in this situation. Like other leaders I tried to push past my uneasiness with the showmanship, the “bams,” the head butts and kneeing, along with certain experiences and doctrines, all in order to embrace the good. Like many of my friends I tried to be—and believe I was gracious, accepting, ready to think “out of the box”, etc. But try as I may, the uneasiness in my spirit just wouldn’t leave.

Did I voice my concerns to the appropriate people? Yes, including stating my concerns for Todd’s marriage to the Lakeland Outpouring Apostolic Team. Did they listen? Some did, some didn’t. But I want to state emphatically, this is not an “I told you so” statement. In fact, much of what I want to address goes back several years into our charismatic Christian history. And I assure you that concerning our present weaknesses in the charismatic church, there is plenty of blame to go around. Personally, I’ve been right at times with my discernment and decisions, wrong at others. It would be worse than hypocritical for me to point the finger of accusation—I have no stones of judgment to throw. Nonetheless, mistakes were made and must be acknowledged and learned from in order for us to heal, grow and move forward.

Some of my closest friends endorsed and participated in the Lakeland meetings. For them I have both criticism—all of us lose credibility at this point if we’re not completely honest—and affirmation. Should they have been more discerning and have listened to the warnings they received? Obviously. Should those who “aligned” Todd with spiritual fathers (which was a good thing and positioned him to receive help if he chooses to accept it) have realized to do so publicly was a mistake and could be interpreted by those watching in no other way than as a complete endorsement? Yes, they should have, especially when the event became a commissioning ceremony, complete with decrees and prophecies of going to higher levels, predictions of Todd’s increasing world-wide influence and leading a world-wide revival, emphatic and prolific endorsements of his character, etc.

How could those watching believe the evening was anything but an aligning, endorsing and commissioning ceremony? It was. It really doesn’t matter who laid their hands on Todd—all share responsibility. This was unwise at best, naïve at least and at its worst, foolish. And should the leaders involved have realized that those of us connected to them relationally, ministerially, and as movements—some even in alignment with them apostolically and as sons and daughters—would feel minimalized, if not betrayed, by the fact that they were in essence taking us onto the stage with them? Yes. These feelings were inevitable, especially when we had such uneasiness and asked them not to. Should there be an acknowledgment of these mistakes to the body of Christ for the sake of accountability and in order to rebuild trust? I believe so, and remain hopeful this will happen.

With such strong statements of disagreement, what is the affirmation toward my friends who led, participated in or endorsed this ceremony (and the meetings in general)? Simply stated, I know their hearts. It is not a contradiction of my criticisms toward some of their actions to, at the same time, defend and endorse their hearts and character. It is completely appropriate—when true—to defend a person’s heart and integrity while disagreeing with their actions. I think the blunder of that night was huge and very damaging to the body of Christ, but I also realize that in their hearts, those involved honestly felt they were doing the right things.

Again, while not defending the action taken, I would defend the character and integrity of Peter and Doris Wagner as vigorously as anyone I know, and do so with absolute confidence. There are no two people, and I mean that literally, who embody the qualities of humility, integrity, holiness (no compromise!), sacrifice, unselfish kingdom-thinking, the tireless giving of themselves to Christ’s cause and the body of Christ—and do I need to add risk-taking?—as much as Peter and Doris Wagner. It remains my great honor to be associated with them and call them a spiritual father and mother. And again, while not minimizing or “sweeping under the rug” any wrong decisions, I remain steadfast in my belief that similar affirmations could be made of others involved—either directly or indirectly—in the ceremony. And some of them still see their endorsing of Lakeland as an endorsement of revival generally, not of Todd personally.

The Bigger Picture
It may come as a surprise, however, that my real purpose in writing this is not to only state the above, as important as I believe saying it is. My primary purpose, and I believe my assignment from the Lord, is to identificationally repent on behalf of the leadership of the charismatic body of Christ (see Nehemiah 1:4- 7; Daniel 9:1-19). In doing so, I do not have a pompous, “no one else will, so I’ll do it” attitude, nor am I arrogant enough to think I have become the spokesperson for the charismatic church. But in the same way that I can identify with the racism of white predecessors and repent to blacks, Native Americans and other races, I can represent the leadership of the charismatic body of Christ and identificationally repent for our sins and weaknesses. I encourage leaders who find my statements true and appropriate to join me. Beyond the simple fact of it being appropriate, I firmly believe it is the only way to begin the process of rebuilding trust with those asked to follow us and to remove the cynicism of the world we ask to listen to us. As you know, regaining, credibility is much more difficult than attaining credibility.

Concerning what I’m about to say, I don’t believe I have a critical spirit, nor do I want to diminish the sacrifices, faithfulness, and hard work done by so many in ministry. The fact remains, however, that we have failed the Lord and His people in many ways—not just with Lakeland but in countless other situations— and must repent if we are to be trusted in the future. And as you also know, no repentance is effective if watered down and couched in excuses, therefore, I intend to be brutally honest:

1) We, the leaders of the charismatic community, have operated in an extremely low level of discernment. Frankly, we often don’t even try to discern. We assume a person’s credibility based on gifts, charisma, the size of their ministry or church, whether they can prophesy or work a miracle, etc. (Miracles and signs are intended to validate God and His message, not the messenger; sometimes they validate the assignment of an individual, but never the person’s character, lifestyle or spiritual maturity.) We leaders in the Church have become no different than the world around us in our standards for measuring success and greatness. This has contributed to the body of Christ giving millions of dollars to undeserving individuals; it has allowed people living in sin to become influential leaders—even to lead movement, allowing them influence all the way to the White House. Through our lack of discernment we built their stages and gave them their platforms. We have been gullible beyond words—gullible leaders producing gullible sheep.

When a spiritual leader we’re connected with violates trust, is exposed for immorality or falls below other accepted standards of behavior, it does not exonerate us simply to say we don’t condone such behavior. Those we lead trust us to let them know whom totrust. We have failed them miserably in this regard.

For this lack of discernment, and for employing and passing on inappropriate standards of judgment, I repent to the Lord and ask forgiveness of the body of Christ.

2) We, the leaders of the charismatic church, spin our involvement and fail to acknowledge our responsibility when other leaders fall—all of which stems from our self-preservation and pride. Enough of the spin—we’re no different than Washington, DC. Every time another embarrassing and disgraceful situation is exposed, the dancing begins. It seems that no one bears any real responsibility except the man or woman who actually commits sin. Incredibly, we even blame “revival” itself—the pressures, attacks, weariness, the “revival is messy” argument, etc., saying it is responsible for the failures. This is disgusting. Those of us on boards of fallen leaders, those who helped give them a voice, put them on TV, published and endorsed their books (yes, I have), etc., are not exonerated simply by saying we don’t condone the wrong behavior or that we didn’t know. We’re supposed to know.

I don’t believe anyone is expecting perfection from us—I know I’m not. We’re far too human for that. But we are expected to have enough humility to look the world and those who follow us in the eye when we miss it and say, “we were wrong and we are sorry.”

Our careless accountability has caused the body of Christ to be spiritually raped and abused. It has produced disillusionment and brought immeasurable reproach to our God and cynicism to His message. Concerning Lakeland, what was called the “greatest revival since Azusa Street” has become possibly one of the greatest reproaches. We, the leaders of the charismatic church, are responsible.

For not accepting and acknowledging our responsibility, for caring more about our own reputation than Christ’s, I repent to God and ask forgiveness of the body of Christ.

3) Our procedures and standards of accountability are incredibly inadequate. We have provided camaraderie, not biblical accountability. For those on Todd Bentley’s board who had previous knowledge of his marriage problems and said nothing, it was more than a mistake—it was reckless, foolish, and irresponsible. For those on the stage the night of his aligning and commissioning who knew and said nothing—ditto. For those there who didn’t know, my question is, “why didn’t you?” You were trusted to know. That is one of the purposes of public commissioning and the purpose behind the concept of endorsement. I’m not trying to point the finger; I’m endeavoring to get us to be honest about our failures—we have serious credibility issues. Have I ever laid hands on, commissioned or endorsed anyone without adequately checking them out? Yes, but you better believe I’ll be more careful next time! And we must not single out Lakeland. We’re all guilty.

What about the leader in my city who ran with some of the leading spiritual fathers in our nation—sincere and good men, I might add, and not all “charismatic” leaders—who sang his praises and helped build his stage—all while he was doing drugs and having sex with other men? But we shouldn’t blame only the high profile cases—what about those of us who unknowingly have had adulterers on our staffs or appointed elders that turned out to have compromise in their life?Sounding familiar yet?

This is so epidemic that every member of the body of Christ stands guilty—what pastor or leader did you follow that turned out to have sin issues? What ministry did you support that was unworthy? There is plenty of blame to go around. The big question becomes not “who do we blame” but “how do we fix this mess?”

Leaders can live in sin—adultery, homosexuality, financial wrongdoing, drugs, etc.—for years without it being realized. They can offer completely unacceptable lifestyles for the body of Christ to follow and still keep their TV programs and lavish lifestyles. In the name of grace, compassion and forgiveness we have lowered the standard so much that often there isn’t one. We have bought into the lie that true discipline is “shooting our wounded.” We have made a mockery of biblical restoration, making “ministry”—not healthy individuals, marriages and families—its ultimate goal. The fact is, integrity matters. No, we don’t need legalistic, pharisaical standards,but we must have standards.

For this lack of biblical accountability, I repent to God and I askforgiveness of the body of Christ.

4) We, the leaders of the charismatic church, have built on hype, sensation, innovation, programs, personality and charisma. This has produced: shallowness; false movements; novice leaders—gifted but immature and untested; a deficient understanding of God’s word; the building of man-centered rather than kingdom-centered churches and ministries; competition rather than cooperation; humanistic, selfcentered Christians who don’t understand sacrifice and commitment; Christians without discernment; superstar leaders; a perverted and powerless gospel; prayerless and anemic Christians; a replacement of the fear of the Lord with the fear of man; and a young generation that is cynical of it all. We are responsible, not the devil; he takes what we give him.

For this compromise in the way we build, for giving the Church watered down wine, commercial Christianity, a flashy but weak Church and hype disguised as anointing, I repent to God and ask forgiveness of the body of Christ.

Galatians 6:1-5 is an appropriate reference with which to end this statement:

“Brethren, even if a man caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. For each oneshall bear his own load.” NAS

My passionate prayer is that God honors this repentance—I believe He led me to do it and therefore, will—and uses it to begin a process of cleansing and healing for all of us. In order for the coming great awakening to bear maximum fruit we must have both, as well as a course correction that sets us on a path of wisdom leading to life. There is no doubt that past moves of God have been aborted, ended prematurely and contained error or heresy that have wounded, if not destroyed, many. The healing revival of the 40’s and 50’s, the charismatic movement, discipleship movement and Jesus movement are all examples. My heart is to help shape a movement, the fruit of which will last for decades—better yet, forever. And I have great expectations for us—I am not a cynic.

My passionate prayer is also that Todd Bentley’s marriage survives and thrives…that he turns his heart fully toward Christ and toward those with whom he is aligned, and allows them, as God leads, to put him on a path of complete restoration. I thank God for those who were touched by the Holy Spirit at Lakeland and while watching it on God TV and the web. May we all move forward into all God has planned for us in this awesome season of endless possibility.

With great hope—

Dutch Sheets

God Plus

As I have been sorting through all the aftermath of the events in Lakeland, Florida I have been noticing a troubling trend in the Church world today. I have called it “God Plus” because it seems that God (especially as expressed and revealed in Jesus) is no longer enough.

In my walk with God I have focused on my relationship with God the father through Jesus Christ (John 17:3) and in getting to know Him better each day as the Holy Spirit continues to lead and to guide me. I have studied His Word daily for the purpose of knowing Him better and being able to recognize His voice immediately when I hear it. That has taken up most of the last 31+ years that I have known Him and suspect it will take up a large portion of eternity after my death for I walk with an awesome God who I suspect can continue to reveal Himself to me (and surprise me) for many trillions of years to come.

So, call me stupid, but I have spent my time daily with God and then attempted to obey what He said in my prayer time with Him and in His Word which I read daily. And it has been sufficient and fulfilling. Seeking and obeying God has been my main focus!

Over the last several decades I have noticed a trend that concerns me. And, as I sort through what has happened at Lakeland, Florida this trend has again come front and centre. It seems (and this is simply my opinion based on a lot of observation) that God alone is no longer enough. That knowing the Father and His Son better each day is not enough. That the guidance of the Holy Spirit is not enough. That reaching out daily to the lost with the gospel of Jesus Christ is not enough. That hearing God’s voice and obeying what He says is not enough. That loving Him is not enough.

Now we apparently need “God Plus” something else…

We seem to be seeking after these other things as if they verify our spiritual depth and our ministry or service. We seem to get more excited about these “pluses” then we do about God Himself. We flaunt these “pluses” as if they verify everything is okay and God is really pleased with us. Believers seek after these signs and flock to places where they are happening to be a part of what the current “God plus”.

God plus manifestations (thought we were to walk by faith and not by sight/experience)
God plus Emma the angel floating a few feet above the platform and looking like Kathryn Kuhlman
God plus angels as orbs of lights floating around the meetings and appearing in pictures
God plus personal revelation received while willing ourselves into some place or state (The Third Heaven heresy)
God plus speaking to and hearing from dead saints (Cloud of Witnesses heresy)
God plus visions and dreams
God plus healing
God plus a prophetic word
God plus a new insight into an old verse or Bible story
God plus Old Testament Jewish festivals and holy days
God plus a warm fuzzy feeling
God plus great worship
God plus an open Heaven
God plus gatekeepers (Jesus never mentioned them – spiritual or physical)
God plus watchmen on the wall (Again, Jesus failed to mention these)
God plus conferences and seminars (Christian entertainment)
God plus revival (is it beoming an idol or a status symbol?)
God plus ministry
God plus Christian television (and resulting telethones)

Am I against all these things? Not at all (other than Emma and a few others). I am more concerned about what I see as a trend happening. This trend is that people are so hungry for “something” and that God apparently is no longer enough. So we add something else -biblical or non-biblical, it does not seem to matter.

Whatever happened to finding our fulfillment in God.

What ever happened to the Holy Spirit leading us into all truth (and so not needing Third Heaven visitations, dead saints speaking to us, or angels ministering fresh revelation)?

Whatever happened to just working on our relationship with the Lord and obeying everything He has said through His Word (“obeying all that I have commanded you” – Matthew 28:20) and whatever He speaks to our hearts personally ONLY after we check it to a balanced and mature understanding of His Word?

Can I be honest? I think we are seeking other things than just God. We have entered a “God Plus” stage in the North American Church. And, we are not very discerning about what we are discovering and declaring to be God or blessed by God.

Can I be honest? I think most of this “stuff” is taking our focus away from the one mandate the Lord left His Church – to seek and save the lost (statistics speak loudly here).

Can I be honest? I think we are making most of this “stuff” up and complicating a simple Gospel.

I am deeply concerned that history will record this as a time when the Church entertained itself with the “plus” and added to God’s revelation as found in the Holy Bible thus destroying the Church’s witness and effectiveness in winning the world. History might even record (if it is honest) that the Church was self-deceived in many ways.

So, How Close to God Are You?

As I write this it is 37 above outside (88 F) and I am thankful for air conditioning in my office up here on the second floor with windows facing east, south, and north … otherwise my brain would have fried earlier in the day.

However, it did bring to mind the fact that summer break is almost over and school is about to start – which means life returns to a bit more of a routine. For most of us we enjoy the more relaxed pace of the summer but also look forward to a bit more structure returning to daily life as fall approaches.

Structure reminds me of daily disciplines – routines that are good for us. Spiritually they include daily prayer, worship, meditation on God’s Word, Bible reading and study, outreach to our friends and neighbours, and assembling with other believers on Sunday morning for corporate family worship. If these disciplines (love habits) have been neglected over the slower summer months now would be a good time to begin thinking about them once again – thinking and planning what you would like to see happen and where you would like to be spiritually in a few months time.

Growth, maturity, understanding, answered prayer, spiritual insights, sensing and knowing the presence of God … none of this happens by chance. It requires a decision to seek after God and to learn how to love Him with our whole heart. It is something that must be intentional as it will never happen by accident.

So, it’s a good time to be thinking about the fall. Take a long look at where you are right now spiritually – and note what is lacking and where you are currently weak. Then, ask the Lord how you can improve in these areas and what He would have you do to move forward into the center of His will for your life at this time.

Nothing is more important than your spiritual life. And, you determine, by your choices, how close to God you are. It is time to take a spiritual inventory and then decide what needs to change and where improvements should be made. This has to be something you do for yourself and it has to be something you intentionally do.

So plan a time in the next few weeks where you can focus, determine, decide and plan – so that you then discover the life God has always had planned for you.