Friday, August 22, 2008

Latest on Todd Bentley

I was sure to alert you all to the Healing Outpouring going on in Florida, and as far as I know, it's still going. Since then, we got to see Todd Bentley at the UNT Superpit, and I felt very good about him. He gave a totally orthodox salvation message, including repentance for sins covered by the blood of Jesus, so I know that the healing ministry is for the purpose of evangelism. For the last 4 years or so we've kind of kept tabs on him through various trickles of information, and it's been fun and exciting to see what is going on there.

When he showed up in the last year or so with all those tattoos and piercing, I said to Will, "That guy is in a lot of pain." But one thing I've learned is that the Holy Spirit can and does use anyone to minister regardless of their pain level, lack of maturity, or personal issues. And God's been doing that with Todd. Another thing I've learned is that God is in the business of humbling Christians. The verse "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble" is found in two places in the NT, both are in the context of resisting sin.

James 4:4-10

You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:

"God opposes the proud
but gives grace to the humble."

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Will and I have a little inside comment we make to each other sometimes: "I'd rather be humbled in private than in public." And so far, the Lord has been good to us by keeping us from large scale humiliation (same word, scary implication?). But I have come to the belief that part of the Christian life involves a series of opportunities to humble myself, and each time I choose pride, the cycle gets bigger, and the implications of my pride get bigger, and the fall that happens when the humiliation comes gets bigger....So the continuum of the humiliation process can go from me asking forgiveness for my sins privately in a relationship, to ending up in jail where everyone knows my sin.

A couple of months ago a number of the main apostolic leaders in the Charismatic community, headed by Peter Wagner, went to Florida and publicly blessed Todd and what was happening in Florida. They also brought with their blessing an accountability component for Todd, which he received. So he basically surrendered to their leadership, and received their blessing over what was going on. Before that point there was no outside leadership or accountability for the Florida Outpouring.

The leaders who "put their stamp" on Todd did so in the face of much opposition from various parts of the Christian community, and Todd and the entire healing movement in Florida has been a very polarizing event. Christians either reject it or embrace it.

So, now the big news...In the last couple of weeks, the news has come out from Todd's Fresh Fire ministry that Todd had become "emotionally involved" with a woman on his staff, and his wife and he are separated. Its kind of a no brainer that going non-stop for months at a time is going to make you super weak anywhere that there is weakness but I also know that this is yet another level of humiliation for Todd. I wanted to post a letter from Doris Wagner about the whole event, because it expresses what the Apostolic Leadership over Todd is saying, and I wanted to give you, my dear readers, a bigger picture of what is going on from the Charismatic leadership side of the coin, rather than hearsay.

Here is Doris' letter:

A Message from Doris

My Take on the Lakeland Happenings

August 15, 2008

This past Tuesday, August 12, started out like any other tough travel day. Peter was out of the house by 4 a.m. heading to the airport for a grueling 24 plus hour trip to San Francisco, Tokyo, and finally to Singapore where he would arrive midnight the next day after crossing the International Date Line. He called me from San Francisco with his usual cheerful: "Hi, did you wake up?" He hadn't awakened me to say goodbye since I had major surgery on my foot on August 1 and it is sometimes tough to sleep well with the cast on my foot and lower leg.

Did I wake up? Man, the computer was filled with correspondence about Todd Bentley's announcement that he was separating from his wife. This was not quite a complete surprise since late the evening before the rumor of marital strife had been dropped in our ears, but it was just a rumor. Of course we had hoped it wasn't true. But there it was.

Since Peter doesn't do his own email, I had to read the Lakeland Ledger newspaper article to him. He then called Chuck Pierce, who immediately wrote the following letter to Peter and e-mailed it to me and wanted to fax it to Peter in the United Airline lounge in San Francisco where he had a little layover. After some detective work (I couldn't call him directly, his phone was busy and his battery was fading fast from overuse), I located him in the International Lounge and procured that fax number from the kind receptionist. She found him and positioned him at the fax machine where this letter from Chuck arrived:

August 12, 2008

Dear Peter:

When I got up this morning and prayed about the move of God in Lakeland and Todd Bentley, this is what God showed me: First of all, I felt a compassion to pray for Todd. The anointing of this move has stirred up a hunger in the Body, and the scrutiny of Todd's life has probably taken its toll on him. So when I began to pray for Todd this morning (since I usually set aside Tuesdays to pray), I saw several things. The Spirit of God is beginning to move greatly. Also, I feel that your call to set some sort of apostolic authority in place was warranted because of potential problems moving into this move of God. The order you set in place in Lakeland establishes a structure and boundary for Todd's problems to be addressed. Before that, there were no boundaries, and Lakeland had been going on for almost three months.

The thing we must remember is that God chose to use Todd to stir up the hunger in the Body of Christ. Therefore, as I prayed, the Lord took me to the life of Samson. He is a mystery. He had a Nazarite vow on his life, yet he had many character flaws. His character flaws did not stop God from using him. I think this is the biggest misunderstanding that the Body has when it comes to the anointing. That is why you see anointed men and women being used so mightily by the Lord, and then falling into sexual sin or monetary impropriety.

Because you have set an order for his life now, for the first time he has a shot at being fully accountable and breaking spiritual forces that could destroy his future. What he needs to do now is submit to apostolic authority over the next nine months. Ministry should not to be his goal. Instead, the restoration of covenant alignments must occur in his life. He and his wife might not be able to withstand the pressure of ministry together in the future, but during these nine months Todd's choice would be to submit to the authority structure that God has established in his life publicly. If he does that, he might have a ministry in the future. If this had not been set in place, this would have been much more serious. I'm sure others would say you should not have been involved at all.

Since Stephen Strader requested your help and he is in ICA, you did respond to his Macedonian call. Yes, you would have looked like a hero if you had waited and gotten involved now. But just as you wrote recently, you chose to establish the order first and then any spiritual discipline could be brought. That makes you look like a father.

Again, Todd's ministry allowed us all to see the hunger in the Body of Christ for miracles, healing and just a touch from God. Todd had flaws going into the time in which God chose to initiate his call and had not dealt with some of his problems. But God still chose to use him. Not only did his ministry reveal this hunger, but many have gotten saved. Now, hopefully, Todd will enter in the phase of being disciplined and establish his life in a new way so he can be qualified for use in the future.

Have a good flight to Asia.

Blessings, Chuck

To that, Peter added the following letter the "Lakeland Outpouring Apostolic Team", Skyped it to our assistant and grabbed his plane for Tokyo and Singapore.

To: Lakeland Outpouring Apostolic Team
From: C. Peter Wagner
Date: August 12, 2008
Subject: Todd Bentley's Character Crisis

Most of you would be aware that the Lakeland Ledger broke the news publicly that Todd and Shona have decided to terminate their marriage. In Canada this requires a nine-month "separation" before official divorce proceedings can go into effect. I am quite upset by this development, and I know you will be also. I am now receiving a large amount of "I told you so!" email and I must say that my friends have a point. This has taken the lid off of a number of related character accusations against Todd that are now coming in which I might have dismissed previously, but no longer can do so off hand.

Let's take some time to process this. Todd was officially, publicly aligned with the Revival Alliance, so the three of you should definitely make some kind of statement, probably sending it to Steve Strang. Let's not sweep this under the rug with a "touch not God's anointed" as has been done with so many similar issues in our morally soft charismatic environment.

Meanwhile, I called Chuck Pierce for help, and he sent me the letter I am attaching with this. Chuck has some very encouraging insights for us.


C. Peter Wagner
President, Global Harvest Ministries
Chancellor, Wagner Leadership Institute

Then, during all of Tuesday, until after 1 a.m. Wednesday, all of my time was spent at the computer with e-mails and they all fell into two categories: the PROS and the CONS, roughly pretty equally divided. Wednesday and Thursday, all of my waking hours have been spent answering this type of mail.

The Cons are pretty nasty. One even said: "Let me be the first to say 'I told you so.'" These individuals asked Peter not to get involved in the "Lakeland Thing" from the onset. Some of them are probably rejoicing over Todd's problems. Several are demanding a public apology from all who were on the platform on June 23rd, along with God TV. Many are disrespectful, seemingly calling names and slinging mud. They come across to me as jubilant in victory. I question the godliness of this attitude. Along the way we have lost friends who have ceased to trust us, pulled out of our organizations and separated from us. That's o.k. They say we have been guilty of poor decisions and actions.

The Pros have seen things differently. They have agreed with our actions. Let me reflect a little on these actions as I see it. If I seem defensive, forgive me. Peter is such a kind and gentle person that he would never defend himself. I am a deliverance minister, and can become abrasive when I see Religious Spirits, Pharisaical Spirits, Spirits of jealousy, envy and even hatred become exposed. The fattest of all is the Accuser of the Brethren very much at work in the current situation. Whenever Peter is falsely accused in print, he usually just smiles and says "Did they spell my name right?" If things get really bad with false accusations, by a John Doe, he will serenely say "John Doe is not the enemy-we know who the enemy really is." This ability to handle the negative really bugs some folks and they dislike him even more. Believe me, my pillow has been next to his for 58 years and I have seen this played out. There doesn't seem to be a wide neutral zone, either he is liked or disliked. That's just the way it is.

Peter is a man of the highest integrity. He's a man of his word, as honest as the day is long. He has kept his wedding vows-no need to renew them, the old ones are still perfectly good! He has been total fun to live with and to raise our children together. He has treated me as a colleague with great respect. He is brilliant and godly. As we have been working on his memoirs, I have been amazed at what we have accomplished together, and we have worked side by side all of our married lives. Of all women, I consider myself to be highly blessed. Enough of that.

Peter did not jump into the "Lakeland Thing" lightly. He thought about it, prayed about it and we talked it over. Did "the outpouring" or Todd have some imperfections? Absolutely. Peter was asked to help out to set things in order and to investigate what some folks thought might be doctrinally "iffy." He was asked to do this by Lakeland's host, Stephen Strader, a colleague in the International Coalition of Apostles, which Peter leads. It was a "Macedonian Call" for help. That is Peter's job. Many of the Con people mentioned above thought Peter should have said no to this plea. After serious thought, prayer and consultation, particularly with our most closely related prophet, Chuck Pierce, we decided to move forward.

We felt as though there was a legitimate anointing on Todd's life. We knew he was an imperfect person but our honest desire was to sort out and save the good. The other charge against us is that we stupidly could not recognize that these miracles were being done under the power of a satanic spirit and that we were totally lacking in discernment. My answer to that is, there probably was some of the flesh at work on some occasions, and people operating with a higher level of discernment may have picked up on some things we could not. I seriously question whether a satanic spirit got away with all of the good. My conclusion is that it was mixed and we wanted to help sort out the good. The Apostolic Team of 11 apostles which Peter put together is still in the process of sorting all of that out, and time is needed to do that.

The most serious charge against us is that the alignment meeting of June 23 was absolutely wrong (implying that at best we were misled, at worst committed a grave sin in so doing). Our thought was to bring alignment to Todd, thereby gaining the right to speak into his life and ministry as he accepted the apostolic oversight of Che Ahn, Bill Johnson and John Arnott. This was accomplished. Please reread Peter's paper sent out to our entire mailing list a few days ago. Peter did not "ordain" Todd, as some journalists keep saying over and over wanting it to become truth. He blessed him, yes! Isn't it strange that all the negative things surfaced so soon after alignment took place and Todd agreed to oversight?

I see all of this as God's great mercy and love. Lots of critics just plain don't like Todd's looks. He's tattooed and pierced and dresses down on the platform. I wouldn't want my son to look like that, but to throw it all out at the cost of throwing out the anointing needs to be carefully considered. But then the world didn't think much of John the Baptist who probably wore smelly camel pelts and ate bugs. Jesus had other thoughts about John, however. As I work in the field of deliverance we start with what wants help and go from there. To see some major transformation in a person's life is a miracle often witnessed. We work with some raunchy raw material at times and our only prerequisite is that they want to be helped. It's enough. Man, indeed, looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. Let's look at hearts and the hand of God, and bless what He is blessing.

Todd is in a perfect spot for help. The night of June 23 when we were there, Todd gave a long testimony. He has been wounded, and has wounded others along the way. He is still a young man, rescued from the streets and a biker society. He is not highly schooled or terribly polished. He does not fit the scholarly, seminary finishing school mold. He has not had the advantage of a solid steady home environment. But then again God has this habit of not choosing the things that we would choose. I could easily see that Todd needs deep inner healing and professional-level deliverance he has not yet had the opportunity to receive. One of our critics said that we got it backwards and should have taken him into a back room and ministered to him before the ceremony. We had the luxury of a few minutes with Todd before the evening meeting. We had never met the man before. Was I to say "Hey, Todd, you're a mess and need help in the next five minutes"?

The prescribed protocol is to put things in proper alignment first, then be in a position to speak into his life. That opportunity is presenting itself now. Todd now has the opportunity to address some character flaws and get them healed and corrected in order to carry the anointing God has given him. We in deliverance and inner healing minister to these things daily-they are nothing to be ashamed of. Not to deal with them out of pride or denial is where the shame can take hold. I worked with dairy cows as a kid and picked up some of their lice once. My mom told me as she treated my head with some smelly remedy "The shame is not in getting lice, the shame is in keeping them." I never had lice again!

Be assured that Todd's overseers, Che, John and Bill along with Peter are hard at work. Please give us some time. Peter is in Singapore and goes on to Indonesia for a few days and will not be back until next week. Che is ministering in Korea. Bill and John have killer schedules all summer long. We are working as best and as fast as we can, but there are constraints that slow us a little. Things like thousands of miles and schedules that cannot be changed, and when it is day here it is night in Asia.

I am very optimistic. I see a door of opportunity swung wide open. I see a wonderful, merciful God reaching out. What many are calling a rotten mess I see as a splendid chance for one of the church's finest hours. The mess was there festering for a while anyway, now let's fix it. Is Todd's situation a strange thing? The breakup of the family is one of the most common societal problems we face today. How many other couples contemplating family breakup could be encouraged to get help if this is a successful rehabilitation?

Todd now has some fathers by his side to help in time of need and to avoid shipwreck if he chooses to accept that help. He now has some authority in his life, and parameters are comforting to kids. He is deeply loved by many who are in a position to help spiritually, emotionally and mentally. He is a place of protection he did not have the luxury of before June 23.

Let me close by asking and a few questions:

Might it be that there is a hunger for revival as never before in our country? I think so.

Might it be that God wants to send us that revival and is anxious to do so but needs the right persons and proper government in His church to look after it? I think so.

Could it be that there was true anointing in an imperfect vessel and a merciful God wanted to set up circumstances to bring healing to Todd? I think so.

Could it be that when one apostle asked another for help in separating truth from error in a situation of mixture, that error began to surface so quickly? Isn't the church better off when error is exposed and corrected? I think so.

Could it be that God brought alignment, authority and order into the Lakeland situation and once that order was established Todd was in a safe place to be ministered to? If a wounded soul gets help and is rehabilitated, isn't that good? Isn't it wonderful to have a restoration process in place to help a brother back to useful service and full use of his gifts and anointing? If he decides not to be helped, we have done our job in making that help available, and his overseers have charge of his care.

Isn't this what the church is supposed to look like? I think so. If we fail, at least we will have tried. Not to have tried would have been failure to do what God required of us at this point in time.

Now here is where you come in. PLEASE PRAY. Ask God to so minister to Todd to soften his heart and to reach out for help, and to be fully healed. Ask God to help him to be willing to submit to the apostolic oversight that has been put in place. Ask God to heal his marriage and protect and bless his wife and three children.

This episode has the potential of being one of the finest hours the church has seen in recent years. I implore you to pray. Because this has all been so public it is all of our business and we must act on our knees. We have a real enemy capable of infiltrating the church to truncate this process. Let's fight for victory!

Sincerely, in Christ,


Monday, August 18, 2008

My crazy Sunday

My supervising pastor, Lisa, is about to give birth any moment. So, yesterday was her due date, and obviously she wasn't able to be at church doing all she does. I'm her assistant, so for the next month and a half or so, I'm responsible for various details that she does normally. I don't have to be responsible for the elementary kids teachers; Pam is doing that, but we just recruited about 15 new teachers for the fall quarter, and the meeting was yesterday. I had a lot to do, and basically I ran around from 8am to 2pm.

On my list of things to do were:

Get breakfast snacks ready for the elem. kids meeting from 9-10
Make sure all the nurseries were staffed
Find two subs when they weren't
Stay in the nursery until the sub could come
Make sure the babies room wasn't too crazy-we ended up having 4 adults in there with 10 babies
Get the prizes for the elem kids to the teachers in time to pass them out in class
Pick up the lunch at the store and get it ready for the teachers' meeting after church
Find pens and name tags for the teachers for the meeting
Enjoy sitting still while Pam led the meeting

At one point I was actually running across the parking lot with the prizes, and one of the new teachers saw me and asked me later, "was that you I saw running?" Yes it was.

I can't really convey the day, but it was crazy. And fun, in a way, since I had success and nothing too big fell through the cracks. And I was so blessed by the many adults who did the real work of the morning.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Chuck and the Kabbalah

Last night I talked to Gretchen who had looked at the Chrisma Magazine article about Steve Lapp from Will's blog. At the bottom of the Chrisma article, there was a conversation stream about Chuck Pierce and the Kabbalah. We looked at the links, and found a blog all about how Chuck had to be a Kabbalaist because he uses phrases that are similar to the Kabbalah. It juxtaposed a paragraph from the Kabbalah, and then a paragraph in one of Chuck's letters. There were a number of phrases that were very similar. However, the content of the paragraphs had very different meanings. 

Today while I was at work, I heard Chuck mention the Kabbalah issue to someone next door. As he walked past our door, I asked him about it. He said, "Well, if someone's not mad at you for something, you're not saying much..." and we talked a little more. I shared how my sister had called asking me about it. 

So today, after I left, Chuck sent out the following email. It's funny for me because I didn't know anything about it until yesterday, but I thought that it might be interesting for ya'll to see what Chuck and Robert have to say about the whole thing.

Dear Friends:

 Many times we are asked how what we teach on the months, tribes and the Rosh Chodesh blessing of God is different from the ancient occult Jewish practice of Kabbalah.  There is some truth in the Kabbalah when it comes to the names of God and the ancient mysteries connected to the Hebraic letters.  However, Kabbalistic signs and writings must be coupled with magical practices for them to have power. This is different from understanding Hebraic times and seasons.  By understanding the times and seasons we live in, we can stay in God’s perfect time and then experience His supernatural power and Spirit.  True students of Kabbalah live a very strict, stringent life and resist any sort of secularism.  Though one sect believes in joyous types of celebration, legalistic rule is part of their structure.  None of those are practices at Glory of Zion. 

 Robert Heidler has written an awesome article that we have used over the past several years when individuals who do not understand why we teach on God’s biblical timing throughout His Word inquire of us as to what we believe concerning God’s Firstfruits blessing.  I think you will enjoy this teaching.   Kabbalah believes that God Himself cannot be really known.  Though He interacts with mankind, we really cannot see God in our midst and know Him personally.  We believe you can seek God, find Him, know Him, and have an intimate, personal relationship with Him. 

 I want to caution you not to discount all supernatural manifestation and teaching at this time in history.  We, in Western thought, tend to discount anything that is not totally rational.  We must remember that we are spirit, soul and body made in the likeness of God.  Kabbalah is linked with oral tradition.  We believe in the Word of God.  Therefore, the Word of God is the foundation and basis for all teaching that occurs here in this ministry.

 Please remember that Jesus tells us that we will worship in Spirit and in truth.  Therefore, you must get to know the Spirit of truth as well as the written Word.  Do not be like the Pharisees when Jesus said to them in John 5:38-40, “But you do not have His word abiding in you because whom He sent, Him you do not believe.  You search the scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life and these are they which testify of Me.  But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life!”   

 I want to encourage you to seek the gifts of His Spirit and ask His presence to fill your life. Get to know His presence in your atmosphere.  Do not just live the rational life of conforming to the world in your generation.  Also, gain knowledge of how God intersects with us in time.  You can do this by reading Interpreting the Times and God’s Unfolding Battle Plan.  You have been set in time and you can move from blessing to blessing until blessings overtake you.  The Holy Spirit is the person of the Trinity that is reigning in the earth realm guiding us.  Get to know the Father and the Son through the Spirit. 


Chuck D. Pierce

 Hebraic Understanding Vs Kabbalah

 Several have asked if there is a similarity between what we teach prophetically at Glory of Zion, and the occult Jewish practice of Kabbalah.  My answer to that is a clear and unambiguous “no!”   I have looked at websites and material that present Kabalistic teaching and I agree that it is occult and clearly demonic.

At Glory of Zion, we operate from a prophetic understanding, based on God’s revelation of Himself to the ancient Jewish people (Rom 3:1-2).  Through His historic dealings with Israel, God imparted to the Jewish people a unique “Hebraic” mindset.  This Hebraic mindset was also the mindset of the early church.  It is part of the “rich sap from the olive root” that Paul writes about in Romans 11:17.

When the church rejected its Jewish roots in the 4th century, it lost the Hebraic mindset, and adopted a pagan Greek worldview.  Because of this, there are many things in Scripture, and in the world around us, that we have a hard time understanding.  

Because the church has so embraced a pagan Greek worldview, Christians often find the biblical worldview strange and unfamiliar, but it is essential to understand if we are to correctly interpret what God is saying to His church today.

The Hebraic mindset includes the presupposition that God has revealed Himself and His purposes in many ways:  Through His calendar, through His providential dealings with Israel, and even through the Hebrew language.  The Jews believe that the Hebrew language was the original language given by God in Eden, and the Hebrew alphabet was given by God to enable Torah to be recorded. (Interestingly, many archaeologists now believe that written alphabetic language probably originated with the Hebrew people.) 

The kind of thing Chuck and I do, concerning the meaning of the months, tribes, years, etc, does not grow out of Kabalistic teaching, but out of an understanding of the Hebraic mindset God imparted to Israel.

In our English alphabet, for example, a "letter" is just a symbol used to represent a sound.  In the Hebrew alphabet, however, individual letters not only represent sounds, but ideas.  They each have meaning.  (The Hebrew letters were originally pictograms, like the Chinese alphabet.)   Even the shapes of the letters can be significant.

The meaning of a Hebrew word was often determined by the collective meanings of the individual letters.   This is not Kabbalah.  It was always part of the Hebrew language.  Jesus, Himself, taught that even the smallest Hebrew letter, and the smallest part of a Hebrew letter had lasting significance (Mt. 5:18).

It is true that those who practice Kabbalah also begin with a Hebraic view of reality.  Because of their background in Judaism, they have a Hebraic understanding of God’s times and seasons.  They recognize that the Hebrew alphabet has rich meaning.  The works of darkness always begin with a grain of truth, but then mix the truth with error.  Kabbalah begins with truth that is inherent in God’s creation and perverts it into something occultic. 

If we are to accuse Glory of Zion of Kabbalah we must also accuse every astronomer of practicing astrology, since they both astronomers and astrologers study the heavens and track the positions of stars, planets, and constellations.  Recognizing the truth God embedded in the Hebrew language is not Kabbalah, any more than all study of the heavens is astrology!

The problem for many Christians today is that we have inherited a Greek rationalistic mindset that has no appreciation of the Bible’s Hebraic context.

If you read even a little of the writings associated with Kabbalah, you quickly see that what they do is VERY much different than what Chuck and I are doing. 

We have had a number of Jews listen to our presentation of the Hebrew year.  These have included both messianic and non-messianic Jews, and even a Torah scribe from Jerusalem.  Their usual response is that they have never heard a Gentile with such a good understanding of the Hebraic way of thinking.  None of them considered what we are doing as Kabbala.

I believe the Hebrew months, alphabet, and numbering system are an incredible testimony of God's providential working, and His blessing on the Jewish people.  

I hope this helps!

Many blessings,
Dr. Robert Heidler