Saturday, September 27, 2008

Truth and Consequences: Exposing Sin in the Church

Truth and Consequences: Exposing Sin in the Church
By Bob and Gretchen Passantino

Copyright 1994 by Bob and Gretchen Passantino.

King David had a humongous problem. A problem that threatened to destroy his administration. This problem not only could destroy his career, but in doing so it could destroy the economic and social stability of the nation and leave it ripe for internal decay and external exploitation. He'd had tough problems before in his years as Commander in Chief, but this was the worst yet.
How was King David going to explain to his people that his affair with the wife of one of the army's most successful generals had gotten so complicated that he was forced to send the general to his death in a hopeless battle so he could quickly marry the new widow to legitimize their child?

The ordinary people didn't know how hard it was to run a country, to have multitudes depending on you for leadership. They didn't understand how the extraordinary stresses leaders faced almost demanded extraordinary tension relieving activities. They didn't understand how using all of one's energies to run the country left one vulnerable to what the ministers called the "sins of the flesh."

It was time for a damage control strategy meeting. King David called in his most trusted advisors for a top-level secret meeting. First to arrive was his court magician, Mike, who had parlayed a brief flirtation with the black arts into a national inspirational comedy ministry. He had been able to hide his four marriages, numerous affairs, and tall-tale telling for twenty years. He was sure to have some great ideas.

The next to arrive was Brother Jimmy, from Southern Judah. True, Jimmy wasn't as well-liked anymore since that last police stop with the prostitute in his chariot, but he did have years of experience covering up his pornographic recreational activities. He could help devise a plan for keeping the worst details out of all but the most tacky tabloids.

The West Coast Kingdom Network contingent arrived later that day. Paul and Jan were sure to give David good advice on how he could appeal to the people with a powerful "word from the Lord" and take pledges for a new temple franchise at the same time. In addition, they brought suggestions from several West Coast ministers who had managed to overcome their bad PR to form new speaking platforms, and from other national ministers who were unable to attend because of their busy crusade schedules but who advised how to prosper in the midst of human suffering and poverty.

Last to arrive was Prophet Hal, brimming with ideas about how David's "little problem" was actually a sign that the Messiah was near and that the people should be concentrating on the refurbishing of the temple instead of David's personal life.
The top secret summit lasted all week. The media tried to crack security, but the usual "high level administration sources" were curiously silent. Nobody knew what was going on behind closed doors, except that the Jerusalem Kosher Pizza Hovel was making a fortune on late night deliveries.

When the king's press conference was finally announced, media from all the world jammed the pomegranate garden awaiting the king's presence. King David's communications advisor, George the Greek, strode to the podium.

"Members of the press. I have a brief statement from the palace, then King David will give his statement. Copies of both statements will be available as you leave, as well as 8x10 glossies. Now, to the statement: 'The palace announces that King David has instituted a new policy of cooperation with the armed services and chosen as liaison between the palace and the Hexagon Mrs. Bathsheba Uriah, whose late husband, General Uriah, sacrificed his life for his country in the recent battles supervised by Secretary of Defense Joab. This is a wonderful opportunity for this administration to confirm its commitment to supporting women in strategic leadership roles. In an effort to further reduce the national debt, King David has additionally decided to marry Mrs. Uriah so that she can perform her duties without salary. Thank you.'"

The murmurs of the reporters had started to die as King David walked briskly out the palace door, into the garden, and to the podium, flanked by his advisors. The morning sun glinted from the special highlights applied to his hair. No shine reflected off his carefully powdered cheeks and forehead. He turned his best side to the press artists and gave the magic smile that had won him the popularity of the people.

"My fellow Israelites. Today marks the beginning of a new era in God's kingdom. After careful consideration and agonizing self-sacrifice, I stand before you fully prepared to continue my responsibilities as the Lord's servant according to the Lord's calling. There have been rumors about my relationship with Bathsheba, wife of the late General Uriah. I tell you in all sincerity today that these rumors are vicious and are tearing down the trust relationship I worked so hard to build. A man in my position expects attacks from the Enemy, and Satan has been working overtime on this one. Sometimes all it takes for a war to be lost is for the people to lose trust in their leadership because of evil rumors and destructive gossip. Well, I think better of you all than that. I know you will reject any such malicious talk and not believe anything you hear unless it comes from my lips.

Over the years, God has used me in mighty ways to further his kingdom. All of you know how as a young boy God gave me the power to kill the giant Goliath with my little slingshot. And those of you who've read my best-selling biography know the words God directed the prophet Samuel to speak when he anointed me as king. I waited patiently for the old administration to finish its term and for King Saul to die before I took office. Israel has never been so prosperous or so safe as it has been under my rule (by God's grace, of course).

Now, all of us have our little imperfections. Take my magician advisor here, Mike. He got in a little trouble a while back for using exaggeration and embellishment in his comedy routine, and he learned a lot about God's forgiveness for his moral lapses, but he's still going strong -- he didn't let those little things keep him from the ministry God called him to. And look at Brother Jimmy. I think people appreciate the struggles he goes through with demons. It isn't easy to keep on preaching against pornography when demons are harassing you at every turn with the stuff. And my dear friends Paul and Jan, along with the dozens of ministers God has prospered through their crusades, they know that when God entrusts you with 30 million pieces of silver, Satan can tempt you to use it for personal gain. And yet they allow the Lord to use their mansions, chariot limousines, Nile barges, and jewels as an inspiration to their "partners" to give even more to the Lord's work so everybody can prosper just like them.

Frankly, we're all sinners. I apologize for being merely human. I don't want you all to think I've gone Holy-wood on you -- I would never do that. In fact, I think my human shortcomings should reassure you that I haven't forgotten what it's like to be struggling with sin. I'm just a simple country boy who's been called by the Lord to the most important leadership position in His kingdom, and my communications team just hasn't caught up to the big league yet.
I'm proud to announce my marriage to Bathsheba, and her appointment to liaison with the armed services. I know this move will strengthen our nation, save us tax money, and restore in you the confidence you once had in my administration.

I close with advice from my dear Brother Hal here, who years ago wrote prophetically that demonic activity, Satanic temptations, and even the moral failings of Israelite leaders are a sign to rejoice because the Messiah is right around the corner. I am confident that Brother Hal and his wives, as well as my wives, join me in encouraging you -- The Messiah is Coming! Rejoice!"
As King David gazed out over the media crowd his smile broadened into a grin. The glazed eyes, the vacuous smiles, the reporters' blank notebooks all testified to David's triumph. God's kingdom was saved!

Exchanging Truth for Lies

When the Church allows compromised Christian leaders to explain away sin, compromise truth, and sin with impunity, we exchange truth for lies. We become no better than idolaters, people whose credulous adoration of compromised leaders fulfill what Paul calls exchanging "the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man . . . exchang[ing] the truth of God for a lie" (Rom. 1:22, 25). Our recasting of King David's story from 2 Samuel is a lie, but sadly, it represents a popular attitude in the Church today toward sin in Christian leadership.

Unfortunately, although most Christians sincerely want truth and want to follow biblical ethics, we too often listen to such lies from our leadership and instead of denouncing sin and demanding accountability, we parrot excuses like those given here and allow compromised leaders to continue in leadership.

Biblical Accountability

The Bible clearly states that Christian leaders should be accountable both to the Word of God and also to God's people, whom the leader serves. Among the requirements Paul describes for a Christian leader are that he be "blameless," and "of good behavior" (1 Tim. 3:2). A Christian leader must "have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil" (1 Tim. 3:7). This does not mean that the Christian leader is simply good at covering up his sin. Christian leaders must display integrity and honesty -- they must prove themselves worthy of Christians' trust.

One would think that our outspoken faithfulness to truth telling would extend to telling the truth about sin within the Church. And yet at this point many Christians shrink from truth telling, instead hiding behind empty platitudes such as "don't judge;" "forgive and forget;" "don't shoot your own wounded;" "look at all the people who came to the Lord through this ministry;" etc. Sadly, we have unbiblically acted as though telling the truth contradicts biblical concern for a sinning Christian leader.

Christians who cry out, "It's wrong to judge," are ignoring the context of the passage (Matt. 7:1-2), which does not forbid judging, but instead insists on judgment according to God's word. In addition, a judgmental criticism of judgement is self-refuting. If it is wrong for a Christian to publicly criticize a Christian leader whose testimony is false or who is immoral, then isn't the critic also wrong for publicly criticizing the Christian? Paul points out this contradiction among some Jews, saying, "You who say, 'Do not commit adultery,' do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?" (Rom. 2:22). One who speaks English to utter the sentence "I can't utter a word in English" has refuted himself. Aren't those who accuse Christian investigative journalism of being the "Christian Gestapo" themselves acting Gestopo-ish?
Assuming that integrity and accountability exclude compassion unfairly brands truth telling as "shooting" and ignores that "the wounded" have been wounded by their own sin.

Christians who excuse false testimonies and immorality by pointing to the "fruits" of a ministry deny Paul's forceful argument in Romans 3:8 that to do evil that good may come is slanderous and contrary to biblical ethics.

To equate forgiveness with absolution from personal responsibility is to cheapen biblical forgiveness and to deny biblical justice.

Christian Leadership

The objections against revealing a Christian leader's sin seem to imply that it is possible for one to have a valid Christian ministry or profession, and yet have a private life of corruption. However, the Bible explains that it is not possible for one's sinful conduct to have no negative effect on one's profession of godliness. Titus 1:6-8 summarizes the same qualifications for a Christian leader Paul gave in 1 Timothy 3, but goes on to condemn one who says he believes, and yet whose works deny his profession of faith:

To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work (1:15-16).
To attempt to combine immorality with godliness to produce spiritual fruit is completely contrary to scriptural teaching. In fact, Paul ranks it with "profane and vain babblings" and warns Timothy to avoid "contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge" (1 Tim. 6:20).

In addition, Jesus openly rebuked Peter when Peter argued against Jesus going to the cross (Matt. 16:22, 23). Paul writes Titus that it is the responsibility of the church to hold the leader accountable for his sin: "Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith" (Titus 1:13). Paul also commands Christians to rebuke sinning leaders publicly, "Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear" (1 Tim. 5:20). Paul took his own advice, as recorded in Galatians 2, and publicly rebuked Peter "before them all" (Gal. 2:14).

If we neglect to uncover sin within the Church, we rob the Church of the integrity it should expect from its members. The Church becomes weak through compromise, and the leader becomes weak because of his or her immorality. Fallen leaders betray the trust of those they lead. Maturity in the Lord, which is an essential part of qualifying one for spiritual leadership, can be confirmed only by an established pattern of resisting sin and walking faithfully with God, family, and others.

First Thessalonians 5:21-22 commands us to "test all things," and Paul commended the Bereans for "searching the scriptures" to test what he himself had taught them (Acts 17:11). The Christian whose life is characterized by truth telling must support spiritual leaders whose lives exemplify Christian maturity, and must hold those leaders accountable. If a Christian leader is chosen whose life is bound by immorality, the Christian has the obligation then to expose that sin publicly since the leader is public and his actions impact the church he leads.

Fallen leaders damage the trust relationship established between them and their followers, a relationship mirroring the trusting relationship we are to have with the Lord. In addition, they break the trust relationship Peter tells us to have with the world; that is, we are to live so that even the world will note our trustworthiness and be unable to speak against us, but will, instead, glorify God (1 Peter 2:12).

It is unethical for Christians to cover up for leaders who have achieved their position through false qualifications or stories, or who are living immorally. Can the Church claim a higher ethical standard than the world when we adopt a "code of silence" worthy of the most pernicious organized crime conspiracy or even some suspected invisible satanic ring?

Some people in society have a greater responsibility for honesty and integrity than others. This does not mean that it's less wrong for one person to lie than another, but a public leader has a greater responsibility because the consequences of his failure have greater ramifications. A lay person who has a mistaken medical opinion will not affect the lives and health of as many people as a doctor with a misunderstanding of medicine.

An individual in a position of public trust surrenders his privacy regarding his suitability and trustworthiness. He has asked the public to trust him for specific reasons or qualifications. Those reasons and qualifications are open to public scrutiny. If the leader is trustworthy, they will withstand examination. If he is not, close examination will reveal their inadequacies. Christians who are committed to truth must preserve this fundamental right and obligation to know in whom they are asked to trust.

Forsaking Lies for the Truth

The examples of Jesus and his disciples' commitment to truthfulness and integrity give us our model for holding our Christian leaders accountable. If we do not expose false testimonies and revisionist histories, especially when they are propagated by Christians, then all truth claims and all historical knowledge comes into doubt. We can have no certainty of the truth of Christianity or the objective reality of the resurrection. In the first century, the apostle Paul could claim that the resurrection "was not done in a corner" (Acts 26:26). Should Christians be so careless with the truth that we need to hide our corrupt leaders "in a corner" to preserve the faith rather than speak the truth and call those corrupt leaders to repentance and reconciliation? God forbid!

Good discernment and moral accountability should be practiced among believers. The Old Testament establishes this pattern. Instructions concerning false prophets in Deuteronomy 13:1-5 assume the prophet arises from the congregation of Israel. The passage admonishes the people to banish idolatry from their families, "If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend" (v. 6). Deuteronomy 13 instructs the Israelites how to practice good discernment within their own communities: "you must inquire, probe and investigate it thoroughly." If the community is idolatrous, it must be dealt with publicly (v. 14). Psalm 50:18 states that one who sees a crime and doesn't report it has moral culpability.

The New Testament continues the theme of good discernment within the believing community, most notably when the Bereans test Paul's teachings (Acts 17:11) and the Thessalonians are commanded to test all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22). Judgment is not excluded, but unrighteous judgment is, as Jesus declared: "Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment" (John 7:24).

Jesus expelled the money changers from the temple, denounced the Pharisees and scribes, and rebuked the teachers of the Law. He reprimanded Peter in front of the other disciples (Matthew 16:22-23). Paul followed Jesus' example and named false teachers in the Church (2 Timothy 2:14-19) and openly criticized Peter (Galatians 2:11,14).

Paul warns that false teachers will arise within the Church, "Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them" (Acts 20:30). The false teachers of Jude are said to "have secretly slipped in among you" (v. 4).

The Biblical Pattern for Accountability

When immorality occurs in the Church (Titus 1:15-16), the Bible says to deal with it truthfully and constructively. The procedure for public leaders caught in false teaching or immorality is to be rebuked publicly "so that the others may take warning" (1 Timothy 5:20). A congregation member who sins privately against another Christian is not to be exposed publicly unless he persists in sin, in which case he is to be rebuked before the church and we are to "treat him as you would a pagan or tax collector" (Matthew 18:15-17). Paul follows this in 1 Corinthians 5:3-12 concerning the Christian who persisted in his sexual immorality, and affirms that judgment belongs to the Church: "I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present . . . . What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. Expel the wicked man from among you" (v. 3, 12).

Christian leaders are accountable to God's people, whom the leader serves, and should be "above reproach," "respectable," and "able to teach" (1 Timothy 3:2). A Christian leader must "have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil" (1 Timothy 3:7). A Christian leader who is a false teacher or immoral should be rebuked to encourage reform (Titus 1:13), and cannot dichotomize his ministry from his life, expecting God to bless his preaching while privately he sins; he is "disqualified for every good work" (vv. 15-16).

Telling the truth about false teaching or immorality in the Church corresponds with the ethics and truth characterizing the Church. The Church is "salt of the earth" and "the light of the world" (Matthew 5:13- 14) only if characterized by truthfulness (v. 11) and righteousness (v. 16). Each Christian leader has an obligation to "hold firmly the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it" (Titus 1:9). No Christian is happy when false teaching or immorality arise, but we cannot neglect responsibility, doctrinal and moral accountability.

Christians sometimes are uncomfortable with criticism within the Church because they wrongly assume that public criticism, because it is painful, is also destructive. On the contrary, the "pain" of biblically conducted confrontation produces individual growth (1 Timothy 4:16), encourages others to Christian maturity (1 Timothy 5:19-20), promotes Church strength (Ephesians 4:15), and preserves the Church's reputation in the world (1 Peter 2:12).

A Call for Christian Integrity

The consequences of compromising biblical truth and ethics are devastating. Like an insidious cancer, lies and immorality eat away at the church. Tender believers lose their faith, the associates of the sinner fall into sin themselves, non-believers mock the church and reject the gospel. While covering up for a compromised leader, or tolerating sin in the midst of the congregation may appear at first glance to be loving, compassionate, and "good PR," in actuality it is like a lung cancer patient continuing to smoke.

We cannot condone continuing sin within the Church. We must expose it, deal with it biblically, call sinners to repentance, and then extend the forgiveness, discipleship, restitution, and restoration offered from God's Word.

Sadly, Mike Warnke's problems are not unusual in the Church today. When we began ministry in 1972, we had already experienced some of the duplicity too prevalent among Christian leaders. Gretchen had quit working on one ministry's newspaper because the editor, who was also an evangelist, kept making advances to her, suggesting that the burden of his ministry caused him to need special comfort. Bob, who is nearly blind in one eye, had struggled with what to say when a traveling evangelist prayed for his healing and then announced to the audience that Bob was healed -- but he wasn't. As new Christians, we assumed that these were isolated instances and that the Church wouldn't ordinarily tolerate such moral compromise.

Now, almost twenty years later, we've worked on numerous investigative pieces regarding compromised Christian leaders. Crying Wind, Alberto Rivera, John Todd, Michael Esses, Joey LaVey, Lauren Stratford, Troy Lawrence, Mike Warnke, Bob Larson, and dozens of others have come under temporary Church scrutiny for their ministry and moral lapses. Many were completely defensive when challenged, and many responded much like our fictional King David. No true confession, no real repentance, certainly no biblically mandated restitution and restoration. Tragically, most of them continue in active ministry.

The Christian Church cannot compromise forever by covering up and excusing sin within its leadership. Continued toleration of immorality will transform the Church into what Jesus described as white-washed graves -- pristine on the outside, and full of rotting flesh and decaying bone inside.

The true biblical story of King David is quite different than what we created here. In 2 Samuel 12:1- 14, Nathan rebukes David for his sin with Bathsheba, and God attaches consequences to David's actions that follow him throughout the rest of his life and reign as king. But most important is David's response to God's rebuke through Nathan. Let each of us join David in his confession before God:

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are proved right when you speak
and justified when you judge.

. . . .
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.

Create in my a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will turn back to you
(Psalm 51:1-13).

----- Original Message -----
From: Gretchen Passantino-Coburn
Sent: Thursday, September 25, 2008 3:00 PM
Subject: Re: Permission to post your articles in our Blog.

You may post the 2 articles you listed below on your blog with the following conditions:

(1) They must be posted in full, without edit, omission, or change;
(2) They must contain full authorship, organization, & copyright information, including the Answers In Action website URL for each article.
(3) They must say you are reprinting them with our permission.

If you would like to post any other articles, please make the request for each requested title.

Sincerely in Christ,
Gretchen Passantino
Answers In Action

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Servants Maintain a Low Profile by Rick Warren


Servants Maintain a Low Profile by Rick Warren

And all of you must put on the apron of humility, to serve one another; for the scripture says, “God resists the proud, but shows favor to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5 (TEV)
*** *** *** ***
Real servants maintain a low profile. Servants don’t promote or call attention to themselves. Instead of acting to impress and dressing for success, they “put on the apron of humility, to serve one another” (1 Peter 5:5 TEV).

If recognized for their service, they humbly accept it but don’t allow notoriety to distract them from their work. Paul exposed a kind of service that appears to be spiritual but is really just a put-on, a show, an act to get attention. He called it “eyeservice,” serving in order to impress people with how spiritual we are (Ephesians 6:6 KJV; Colossians 3:22 KJV).

This was a sin of the Pharisees. They turned helping others, giving, and even prayer into a performance for others. Jesus hated this attitude and warned, “When you do good deeds, don’t try to show off. If you do, you won’t get a reward from your Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:1 CEV).

Self-promotion and servanthood don’t mix. Real servants don’t serve for the approval or applause of others. They live for an audience of One. As Paul said, “If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10 NIV).

You won’t find many real servants in the limelight; in fact, they avoid it whenever possible. They are content with quietly serving in the shadows.

Joseph is a great example. He didn’t draw attention to himself, but quietly served Potiphar, then his jailer, then Pharaoh’s baker and wine taster, and God blessed that attitude. When Pharaoh promoted him to prominence, Joseph still maintained a servant’s heart, even with his brothers, who had betrayed him.

Unfortunately, many leaders today start off as servants but end up as celebrities. They become addicted to attention, unaware that always being in the spotlight blinds you.

You may be serving in obscurity in some small place, feeling unknown and unappreciated. Listen: God put you where you are for a purpose! He has every hair on your head numbered, and he knows your address.

© 2008 Purpose Driven Life. All rights reserved. Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and best-known churches. In addition, Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life and The Purpose Driven Church, which was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th Century. He is also founder of, a global Internet community for ministers. Pastor Jon Walker is a writer for

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Dinner to Raise Funds for Pastors’ Kids and Widows

Source: The Star Online

Wednesday September 24, 2008

Dinner to raise funds for pastors’ kids and widows

THE Assemblies of God (AG) of Malaysia is now one step closer to its goal of raising RM1mil for its existing AG EduCare Fund and establishment of an AG WidowCare Fund.

A fundraiser dinner held at the Civic Hall in Petaling Jaya on Monday was successful in raising about RM70,000 from the 70 tables sold.

“This is a real encouragement for the children and widows of pastors in Malaysia.

For you: Ong (right) presenting a souvenir to Teresa.

“It gives hope to the children, who now not only can look to God, but also to AG EduCare Fund, to further their tertiary studies. The funds will also help the widows financially,” project chairman Rev. Terrence K. K. Sinnadurai said.

He added that more than 75% of pastors in small towns or small churches in big cities do not receive proper salary.

“We wish to enlist 10,000 individuals to contribute at least RM100 each to help us achieve our goal. Christian businessmen and companies are also welcome to contribute,” he said.
Senior Selangor state executive councillor Teresa Kok, who was the guest of honour, contributed RM5,000 on behalf of the state government.

In her speech, she urged the audience to continue praying for the country.
“I was able to sleep well in the cell when I was detained under the Internal Security Act for seven days, while the fact is sometimes I couldn’t rest soundly in my own bedroom,” she said.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

An Urgent PRAYER Request 4 ORISSA

We just received this SMS.

Pls pray for Paul Thangaia in Bangalore. RSS planned to kill him. They burnt 20 churches yesterday night and planned to destroy 200 churches in ORISSA. BJP has planned to kill 200 pastors in the next 24 hrs.

Pls pray for at least 2 mins for our brothers and sisters and the dear pastors and church workers in ORISSA now.

Thanks to a reader who has given us this info.

Please click here to find out more:

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

We Serve God by Serving Others by Rick Warren

Subject: Permission to publish your daily devotions on our blog.
Dear Pastor Rick Warren,
We are writing to ask your permission to publish your daily devotion which we receive in our email.We find your devotion today, "We Serve God by Serving Others" most relevant to what we are facing today in our life.
Thank you and God Bless.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Purpose Driven Life Customer Care" <>
Sent: Monday, September 15, 2008 2:10 PM
Subject: RE: Permission to publish your daily devotions on our blog. (#8262-111489602-6623)
Thank you for your integrity on checking about that. Yes, you have permission to use all of or part of the Daily Devotional so long as you give credit to the author and refer your members to the Purpose Driven Life website at>
where they can view additional issues of the daily devotional. Blessings, Purpose Driven Life Customer Care


We Serve God by Serving Others by Rick Warren

Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Mark 10:43 (MSG)
*** *** *** ***
We serve God by serving others.

The world defines greatness in terms of power, possessions, prestige, and position. If you can demand service from others, you’ve arrived. In our self-serving culture with its me-first mentality, acting like a servant is not a popular concept.

Jesus, however, measured greatness in terms of service, not status. God determines your greatness by how many people you serve, not how many people serve you.
This is so contrary to the world’s idea of greatness that we have a hard time understanding it, much less practicing it. The disciples argued about who deserved the most prominent position, and 2,000 years later, Christian leaders still jockey for position and prominence in churches, denominations, and parachurch ministries.

Thousands of books have been written on leadership, but few on servanthood. Everyone wants to lead; no one wants to be a servant. We would rather be generals than privates. Even Christians want to be “servant-leaders,” not just plain servants. But to be like Jesus is to be a servant. That’s what he called himself.

While knowing your shape is important for serving God, having the heart of a servant is even more important. Remember, God shaped you for service, not for self-centeredness. Without a servant’s heart, you will be tempted to misuse your shape for personal gain. You will also be tempted to use it as an excuse to exempt yourself from meeting some needs.

God often tests our hearts by asking us to serve in ways we’re not shaped. If you see a man fall into a ditch, God expects you to help him out, not say, “I don’t have the gift of mercy or service.”
While you may not be gifted a particular task, you may be called to do it if no one who is gifted at it is around. Your primary ministry should be in the area of your shape, but your secondary service is wherever you’re needed at the moment.

Your shape reveals your ministry, but your servant’s heart will reveal your maturity. No special talent or gift is required to stay after a meeting to pick up trash or stack chairs. Anyone can be a servant. All it requires is character.

It is possible to serve in church for a lifetime without ever being a servant. You must have a servant’s heart.

How can you know if you have the heart of a servant?
Jesus said, “You can tell what they are by what they do” (Matthew 7:16 CEV).

© 2008 Purpose Driven Life. All rights reserved. Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and best-known churches. In addition, Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life and The Purpose Driven Church, which was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th Century. He is also founder of, a global Internet community for ministers. Pastor Jon Walker is a writer for
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Monday, September 15, 2008

"The Anointed Priest Who Sins"

Rev. Susan Tang's book, entitled, "The Anointed Priest Who Sins," and amazingly it zeroes in on what is happening now in the Church...

"When we raise money supposedly for God's kingdom and then use it on ourselves, it is extortion. It is wrong to tell people to give money to church projects, to "God's work" for starving orphans, destitute old people, unwanted mental patients, etc. and then use the money on ourselves to feed our excesses." (Tang, 2005, 29)

"It is unfortunate that the 21st century church loves to thrive on outward excesses and extortion. Are we using all these exteriors, the theatrics, the sensationalism, the false excitement, the sensuality, the 'hyping up,' the showmanship, the entertainment, etc. to make up for the lack of inward spiritual reality?

Human nature loves excesses. Greed is so natural. If we can have two, three, or four, why have one? God speaks very clearly in His word that kings [or, senior pastors - some senior pastors do see themselves as kings, and even worse, they act like they are really kings!] are NOT to multiply horses [or luxury cars, in today's context!], silver, gold [or loaded personal ministry bank accounts, in today's context!] or women, yet Solomom did it and was not judged. This emboldened him to continue to multiply these possessions until he lost the spiritual reality and the presence of God." (Tang, 2005, 29-30)

"If the priest that is anointed do sin according to the sin of the people; then let him bring for his sin, which he hath sinned, a young bullock without blemish unto the LORD for a sin offering" (Leviticus 4:3)

STEP THREE: "Bring a young bullock" The offending priest was required to bring a sacrifice larger than that brought by the common people and the ruler of the people. This is because he had a larger share of the sacred position before God. Special privileges do carry with them special responsibilities. But why bring an unblemished young bullock?

Holiness demands it. God will not accept any sacrifice with defects as the sacrifice is a symbol of the coming supreme sacrifice that will be offered at Calvary. Why a bull, and not a lamb or any other animal? Because that bullock represents the offending priest - and all of us. Yes, by nature, we are all 'bullish' - stubborn, insensitive, rebellious, stong and (destructively) powerful. The guilty priest had to identify himself with that bull by laying his hands on it and then he had to KILL IT. Yes, kill it. Kill it without any second thoughts, without any mercy and without any excuses.

This is not a pleasant scene - no, not in the natural. To plunge a knife into a healthy animal and watch it totter, die and have its body hacked into pieces with its blood splattered all over the place is nauseating. But God requires it because this is the only way to atone for this sin. This is the only way to put an end to all our natural talents and human dynamism. Many of us are too strong, too capable, too brilliant, too shrewd, too manipulative in ourselves for God to use us. We have to die. This nauseating and brutal act of killing and hacking this young healthy bull to death has spiritual meaning and eternal validity." (Tang, 2005, 21-22)

(This is a borrowed comment that someone posted on The Spikeee's blog. It is so relevant for our current situation. Thank you whoever you are, for this comment)

Friday, September 12, 2008

We Only Need To Believe.

ISAIAH 65:24 "And it will be, before they call I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear."

This beautiful story was written by a doctor who worked in Africa .

One night I had worked hard to help a mother in the labor ward; but inspite of all we could do, she died, leaving us with a tiny, premature baby and a crying two-year-old daughter. We would have difficulty keeping the baby alive, as we had no incubator(we had no electricity to run an incubator) . We also had no special feeding facilities.

Although we lived on the equator, nights were often chilly with treacherous drafts. One student midwife went for the box we had for such babies and the cotton wool that the baby would be wrapped in. Another went to stoke up thefire and fill a hot water bottle. She came back shortly in distress totell me that in filling the bottle, it had burst (rubber perishes easilyin tropical climates). 'And it is our last hot water bottle!' she exclaimed.

As in the West, it is no good crying over spilled milk, so in Central Africa it might be considered no good crying over burst water bottles. They do not grow ontrees, and there are no drugstores down forest pathways. 'All right,' I said, 'put the baby as near the fire as you safely can, and sleep between the baby and the door to keep it free from drafts. Your job is to keep the baby warm.

'The following noon , as I did most days, I went to have prayers with any of the orphanage children who chose to gather with me. I gave the youngsters various suggestions of things to pray about and told them about the tiny baby. I explained our problem about keeping the baby warm enough, mentioning the hot water bottle, and that the baby could so easily die if it got chills. I also told them of the two-year-old sister, crying because her mother had died.

During prayer time, one ten -year-old girl, Ruth, prayed with the usual blunt conciseness of our African children. 'Please, God' she prayed, 'Send us a hot water bottle today. It'll be no good tomorrow, God, as the baby will be dead, so please send it this afternoon. 'While I gasped inwardly at the audacity of the prayer, she added, 'And while You are about it, would You please send a dolly for the little girl so she'll know You really love her?'

As often with children's prayers, I was put on the spot. Could I honestly say 'Amen'? I just did not believe that God could do this. Oh, yes, I know that He can do everything; the Bible says so. But there are limits, aren't there? The only way God could answer this particular prayer would be by sending me a parcel from the home land. I had been in Africa for almost four years at that time, and I had never, ever, received a parcel from home.

Anyway, if anyone did send me a parcel, who would put in a hot water bottle? I lived on the equator! Halfway through the afternoon, while I was teaching in the nurses' training school, a message was sent that there was a car at my front door. By the time I reached home, the car had gone, but there on the verandah was a large 22-pound parcel. I felt tears pricking my eyes. I could not open the parcel alone, so I sent for the orphanage children.

Together we pulled off the string, carefully undoing each knot. We folded the paper, taking care not to tear it unduly. Excitement was mounting. Some thirty or forty pairs of eyes were focused on the large cardboard box.

From the top, I lifted out brightly-colored, knitted jerseys. Eyes sparkled as I gave them out. Then there were the knitted bandages for the leprosy patients, and the children looked a little bored. Then came a box of mixed raisins and sultanas - that would make a batch of buns for the weekend. Then, as I put my hand in again, I felt the.....could it reallybe? I grasped it and pulled it out. Yes, a brand new, rubber hot water bottle. I cried. I had not asked God to send it; I had not truly believed that He could.

Ruth was in the front row of the children. She rushed forward, crying out, 'If God has sent the bottle, He must have sent the dolly, too!' Rummaging down to the bottom of the box, she pulled out the small, beautifully-dressed dolly. Her eyes shone! She had never doubted! Looking up at me, she asked: 'Can I go over with you and give this dolly to that little girl, so she'll know that Jesus really loves her?' Of course, I replied!

That parcel had been on the way for five whole months, packed up by my former Sunday school class, whose leader had heard and obeyed God's prompting to send a hot water bottle, even to the equator. And one of the girls had put in a dolly for an African child - five months before, in answer to the believing prayer of a ten-year-old to bring it 'that afternoon.

''Before they call, I will answer.' (Isaiah 65:24)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

An Obituary printed in the London Times..

London Times Obituary

Interesting and sadly rather true.

'Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years.
No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.

He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:
Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
why the early bird gets the worm; Life isn't always fair;
and maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are incharge).
His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place.

Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate;
teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch;
and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.
It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an Aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.
Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.
Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap,and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death,
by his parents, Truth and Trust
his wife, Discretion
his daughter, Responsibility
his son, Reason.

He is survived by his 4 step brothers;
I Know My Rights
I Want It Now
Someone Else Is To Blame
I'm A Victim

Not many attended his funeral because so few realised he was gone.

Discernment Required for Wise Giving

By Michael Barrick

Donors are to be good stewards of the resources with which God has provided them – "Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful" (1 Corinthians 4:2)."

To be good stewards, donors must have discernment – "Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance" (Proverbs 1:5).
"Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7).
Donors, to be generous and cheerful givers, must have confidence that ministries' disclosures regarding financial practices, spending habits, board governance and compensation, and other key practices are complete, thorough, timely and transparent.

Accountability required

Sometimes, that means some ministries – which would prefer that their
fundraising and spending habits not see the light of day – will not be pleased with the efforts of Wall Watchers staff, has already advised donors to not contribute to the many so-called Word of Faith or "Prosperity Gospel" televangelists because of their refusal to release even the most basic financial data and other information, such as salaries and possible conflicts of interests among board members. Indeed, most of them live lavish lifestyles that demand an answer as to whether or not the gifts of the donors are not actually benefiting the leaders of these organizations.

These leaders refuse to share this information based on an unbiblical theological dogma that holds that extra-biblical "anointings" from God somehow provides them with immunity from having to share financial data and other information with donors.

Greed the Culprit?

With these "church" or "ministry" leaders living in multi-million dollar homes, jetting around the world in private planes, buying homes for their families and otherwise living a luxurious lifestyle that would not be otherwise available to them but for the generosity of unsuspecting donors, those giving to these ministries – and as important, those for whom donors intend their resources to help – deserve greater accountability from these "churches" and "ministries" than is presently occurring.

Service requires the proper motivation

Most importantly, we are accountable to God, and that is reflected in our relationship with Him and one another. Peter taught ,
"Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care – serving as overseers – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve, not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away" (1 Peter 5: 2-4).

Explicit in this verse is that we are accountable to God and to those whom we serve. In the life of the ministry, that is not only the recipients of the charity, but also those who made the charity possible. Clearly, the proper motivation – sacrificial service, not self gratification – is the only proper incentive for Christian service.

Misusing the name of the Lord is a sin

"You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God" (Exodus 20:7).
Those that would use God's name to raise money for their own benefit are
misusing the name of the Lord. A Christ-follower's purpose is clear: to bring
glory to God –
"So whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Clearly, using God's name to coerce donors into sending money that then ends up in the pockets of ministry/church leaders and their families is a misuse of the name of God, undermines the Gospel and trivializes the sacrificial work of Jesus.
Silence gives sanction to sin

However, in some cases, a ministry just simply refuses to be transparent, or has been found to have engaged in questionable or illegal practices. Is silence acceptable in such situations? Scripture teaches not, and in fact implies that silence gives sanction to sin –
"Have nothing to do with fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them" (Ephesian 5:11)

The proper motivation

A Christian leader is to be a shepherd, have a willing heart, be guided by the
right motives and have a servant's spirit. Those that don't may be doing
"good," but they are not operating by God's precepts. Inevitably, such
management will bring shame to the practitioner, the Gospel and perhaps both.


While unscrupulous ministry leaders may reject independent accountability, there can be no question but that accountability is a biblical standard. It begins, of course, with each believer's relationship with God – "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad" (2 Corinthians 5:10).

However, this is not to say that people are not accountable to one another. Those who would say that a person is accountable only to God ignore or fail to recognize that God has established human spheres of accountability – "All of you, clothe yourselves with humility towards one another, because God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble" (1 Peter 5:5)
As noted previously, but worth repeating, those that serve as leaders – shepherds – are accountable to The Shepherd for how they lead their flocks

"Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be, not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you but being examples to the flock" (1 Peter 5:23)
Having to be accountable is often not a pleasant task. However, the leader that wishes to grow in his or her relationship with God understands that being accountable to others is required –
"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another" (Proverbs 27:17).

Those that refuse to be held accountable to God's word by fellow Christ-followers invite suspicion. While pointing that out may not be popular, it is biblical.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The prophetic words release from surabaya-C.Pierce&C.Jacobs

I received this in my mail today and thought that you may be interested to know. Fr KL

To: Friends

4 of us from JB returned from the recent national Prayer Conf in KL last week. All sensed that there is a unique new level of prayer watchfulness over the nation as things WILL begin to change , a new spiritual atmosphere, something has been broken at last. This sense was shared at the prayer conference , even before we got the below email from a close friend in full time missions.

For our overseas friends on this email list, pls join us in prayer for ushering in a new era of evangelism and harvest which of course will be preceded by turmoil, since the enemy will not give up a large section of the unsaved population without a tough battle. The represented churches have purposed to set up prayer towers and centres all over to fortify against the warfare coming on. Deut 7v22 was spoken out at the prayer conference, and we must prepare our hearts and facilities for large ingathering of folks whom we have not sought to reach all these years.

---------- Forwarded message ----------

Date: Sat, Aug 30, 2008 at 7:25 PM
Subject: The prophetic words release from surabaya-C.Pierce&C.Jacobs

Received this today.

Malaysia, the next 3 years is very crucial. You are on the verge of a great breakthrough. There will be a great manifestation of GOD's promises.

Warning: there are spiritual forces working against us. The enemy hates the thought of great change in this land. THE NEXT 3 WEEKS, things will change. This is a critical time, we MUST NOT BACK OFF but STAND FIRM. The heavens will manifest GOD's glory.

Next year, conflict will increase. KL (the capital) will resist the change. 8 regions will rise up to rally around KL. Next year, continue to declare, to take your stand and DO NOT GIVE UP.
Pray for an increase in the anointing and manifestation of GOD's power and glory.
21-23 August, 2008 Prophetic Conference in Surabaya, Indonesia - With Chuck Pierce and Cindy Jacobs.
(conveyed by someone who attended the recent conference ending on 24 August, 2008, shared at WIN prayer meeting on August 25th, 2008) (Women Intercessors Network of Penang)

Chuck Pierce:
Year of 8 - new beginning
Hebrew number for 8 looks alike a door. We have to find the door and ENTER IN, otherwise we will go around in circles.
CP drew a circle around the number - a year where new things are happening.

CP asked the question – GOD is ready, are we ready?
Are we ready for increase? There will be increase of harvest, power, spiritual gifts, supply, authority and favour. To hear GOD in order to move into HIS VISION.

New season of harvest. GOD will again cause us to see the harvest in a new way as many have lost sight of the harvest field. To transform the nation, GOD will have to transform us first.

GOD is looking for 3 generations to align themselves to HIM. When all 3 generations begin to speak the prophetic WORD of GOD in the earth realm, we will see HIS glory manifested.

GOD is calling forth intercessors and those with the prophetic gifts. Either we are surrounding our nation in prayer in a new way or the enemy is surrounding the nation in a new way. The NEED to build A NEW WALL around our nation NOW until end of 2009.

Make decrees into the atmosphere. Speak forth and say what GOD is saying to bring forth the transformation. Speak as a corporate group.

GOD is also asking – "Do you believe that I AM ABLE to bring change and transformation to this land? HE wants us to answer. What comes out of your mouth is what HE is going to work with. We can either agree with HIM or disagree with HIM. If we want to see change, we will have to prophesy. What has been started this year will ACCELERATE next year. If GOD can find a people that can prophesy everything that has been spoken, IT WILL BE DONE. GOD is raising up a prophesying people that will bring change to this whole region.

The enemy does not like GOD's people to prophesy. He will stir up unbelief to reject the prophecies. He will come up against the prophetic voice. We have to keep moving forward. Do not get distracted. DO NOT STOP.

Malaysia, you are at the most critical place. Your future is hanging on the ballots right now. You need to understand what GOD is saying RIGHT NOW. Things are going in a different direction in this nation. Someone must decree the prophetic declaration to determine the direction of the nation. Start to decree and you will see the changes taking place.

Timing is very important as you speak prophetically. You need to know GOD's perfect timing, speak it so that it will come to pass. Intercessory people will need to work with the prophetic people to bring the birth and change to the atmosphere.

Malaysia, the next 3 years is very crucial. You are on the verge of a great breakthrough. There will be a great manifestation of GOD's promises.

Warning: there are spiritual forces working against us. The enemy hates the thought of great change in this land. THE NEXT 3 WEEKS, things will change. This is a critical time, we MUST NOT BACK OFF but STAND FIRM. The heavens will manifest GOD's glory.

Next year, conflict will increase. KL (the capital) will resist the change. 8 regions will rise up to rally around KL. Next year, continue to declare, to take your stand and DO NOT GIVE UP.

Pray for an increase in the anointing and manifestation of GOD's power and glory.

Cindy Jacobs prophecy:
While in Israel, she saw a vision of a great tsunami hitting Asia. When she looked closely, the waves were made up of Asian faces. GOD is raising up a mighty army in Asia. The revival waves will hit South East Asia and the Pacific realm. GOD will use those HE has raised up to bring in the millions in the harvest field.

A New Move of GOD, new mantle of prayer.
Hab 2:14 - For the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, As the waters cover the sea.

Borneo, you are meant for revival. A revival fire is coming upon you, revival among the first nations group. GOD is using the children and the youth. There will be a cleansing of leadership.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Life After Lakeland: Sorting Out the Confusion

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Todd Bentley’s announcement that his marriage is ending has thrown our movement into a tailspin—and questions need to be answered.
It was not supposed to end like this.

Evangelist Todd Bentley had heralded the Lakeland revival as the greatest Pentecostal outpouring since Azusa Street. From his stage in a gigantic tent in Florida, Bentley preached to thousands, bringing many of them to the stage for prayer. Many claimed to be healed of deafness, blindness, heart problems, depression and dozens of other conditions in the Lakeland services, which ran for more than 100 consecutive nights. Bentley announced confidently that dozens of people had been raised from the dead during the revival.

But this week, a few days after the Canadian preacher announced the end of his visits to Lakeland, he told his staff that his marriage is ending. Without blaming the pace of the revival for Bentley’s personal problems, his board released a public statement saying that he and his wife, Shonnah, are separating. The news shocked Bentley’s adoring fans and saddened those who have questioned his credibility since the Lakeland movement erupted in early April.

I’m sad. I’m disappointed. And I’m angry. Here are few of my many, many questions about this fiasco:

Why did so many people flock to Lakeland from around the world to rally behind an evangelist who had serious credibility issues from the beginning?

To put it bluntly, we’re just plain gullible.

From the first week of the Lakeland revival, many discerning Christians raised questions about Bentley’s beliefs and practices. They felt uneasy when he said he talked to an angel in his hotel room. They sensed something amiss when he wore a T-shirt with a skeleton on it. They wondered why a man of God would cover himself with tattoos. They were horrified when they heard him describe how he tackled a man and knocked his tooth out during prayer.

But among those who jumped on the Lakeland bandwagon, discernment was discouraged. They were expected to swallow and follow. The message was clear: “This is God. Don’t question.” So before we could all say, “Sheeka Boomba” (as Bentley often prayed from his pulpit), many people went home, prayed for people and shoved them to the floor with reckless abandon, Bentley-style.

I blame this lack of discernment, partly, on raw zeal for God. We’re spiritual hungry—which can be a good thing. But sometimes, hungry people will eat anything.

Many of us would rather watch a noisy demonstration of miracles, signs and wonders than have a quiet Bible study. Yet we are faced today with the sad reality that our untempered zeal is a sign of immaturity. Our adolescent craving for the wild and crazy makes us do stupid things. It’s way past time for us to grow up.

Why didn’t anyone in Lakeland denounce the favorable comments Bentley made about William Branham?

This one baffles me. Branham embraced horrible deception near the end of his ministry, before he died in 1965. He claimed that he was the reincarnation of Elijah—and his strange doctrines are still embraced by a cultlike following today. When Bentley announced to the world that the same angel that ushered in the 1950s healing revival had come to Lakeland, the entire audience should have run for the exits.

Why didn’t anyone correct this error from the pulpit? Godly leaders are supposed to protect the sheep from heresy, not spoon feed deception to them. Only God knows how far this poison traveled from Lakeland to take root elsewhere. May God forgive us for allowing His Word to be so flippantly contaminated.

A prominent Pentecostal evangelist called me this week after Bentley’s news hit the fan. He said to me: “I’m now convinced that a large segment of the charismatic church will follow the anti-Christ when he shows up because they have no discernment.” Ouch. Hopefully we’ll learn our lesson this time and apply the necessary caution when an imposter shows up.

Why did God TV tell people that “any criticism of Todd Bentley is demonic”?

This ridiculous statement was actually made on one of God TV’s pre-shows. In fact, the network’s hosts also warned listeners that if they listened to criticism of Bentley, they could lose their healings.

This is cultic manipulation at its worst. The Bible tells us that the Bereans were noble believers because they studied the Scriptures daily “to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11, NASB). Yet in the case of Lakeland, honest intellectual inquiry was viewed as a sign of weakness. People were expected to jump first and then open their eyes.

Just because we believe in the power of the Holy Spirit does not mean we check our brains at the church door. We are commanded to test the spirits. Jesus wants us to love Him with our hearts and our minds.

Because of the Lakeland scandal, there may be large numbers of people who feel they’ve been burned by Bentley. Some may give up on church and join the growing ranks of bitter, disenfranchised Christians. Others may suffer total spiritual shipwreck. This could have been avoided if leaders had been more vocal about their objections and urged people to evaluate spiritual experiences through the filter of God’s Word.

Why did a group of respected ministers lay hands on Bentley on June 23 and publicly ordain him? Did they know of his personal problems?

This controversial ceremony was organized by Peter Wagner, who felt that one of Bentley’s greatest needs was proper spiritual covering. He asked California pastors Che Ahn and Bill Johnson, along with Canadian pastor John Arnott, to lay hands on Bentley and bring him under their care.

Bentley certainly needs such covering. No one in ministry today should be out on their own, living in isolation without checks, balances and wise counsel. It was commendable that Wagner reached out to Bentley and that Bentley acknowledged his need for spiritual fathers by agreeing to submit to the process. The question remains, however, whether it was wise to commend Bentley during a televised commissioning service that at times seemed more like a king’s coronation.

In hindsight, we can all see that it would have been better to take Bentley into a back room and talk about his personal issues.

The Bible tells us that ordination of a minister is a sober responsibility. Paul wrote: “Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thereby share responsibility for the sins of others” (1 Tim. 5:22). We might be tempted to rush the process, but the apostle warned against fast-tracking ordination—and he said that those who commission a minister who is not ready for the job will bear some of the blame for his failures.

I trust that Wagner, Ahn, Johnson and Arnott didn’t know of Bentley’s problems before they ordained him. I am sure they are saddened by the events of this week and are reaching out to Bentley and his wife to promote healing and restoration. But I believe that they, along with Bentley and the owners of God TV, owe the body of Christ a forthright, public apology for thrusting Bentley’s ministry into the spotlight prematurely. (Perhaps such an apology should be aired on God TV.)

Can anything good come out of this?

That depends on how people respond. If the men assigned to oversee Bentley offer loving but firm correction, and if Bentley responds humbly to the process by stepping out of ministry for a season of rehabilitation, we could witness a healthy case of church discipline play out the way it is supposed to. If all those who were so eager to promote Bentley now rush just as fast to repent for their errors in judgment, then the rest of us could breathe a huge sigh of relief—and the credibility of our movement could be restored.

I still believe that God desires to visit our nation in supernatural power. I know He wants to heal multitudes, and I will continue praying for a healing revival to sweep across the United States. But we must contend for the genuine, not an imitation. True revival will be accompanied by brokenness, humility, reverence and repentance—not the arrogance, showmanship and empty hype that often was on display in Lakeland.

We are weathering an unprecedented season of moral failure and spiritual compromise in our nation today. I urge everyone in the charismatic world to pray for Bentley; his wife, Shonnah; his three young children; Bentley’s ministry staff; and the men and women who serve as his counselors and advisers. Let’s pray that God will turn this embarrassing debacle into an opportunity for miraculous restoration.

J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma. To read Charisma’s news story on Todd Bentley’s recent announcement.