Please Don’t Let Common Sense Go Out The Window!

I realize what I am about to say is controversial but that has never stopped me before now has it? I also realize that I do not usually blog this long but please read to the bottom, especially if you want to rebut what I am saying.

The last time I spoke to a group of leaders in my church I could tell some feathers got ruffled when I addressed this subject but it needed to happen. Troy and I needed to let people know what our stance was on this “revival” that was happening in Lakeland. We had addressed our staff and then I addressed a group of leaders but I have not blogged about this before but feel with the recent news it needs to be addressed. So here goes.

Troy and I have been in ministry now for 18 years. We have seen a lot and heard a lot in 18 years. We don’t have everything figured out by any means but I do believe that God gives all of us discernment if we are willing to use it. Sometimes in our excitement to chase God we will chase anything because we are hungry but it does not mean every stream is commissioned by God.

When we heard about “revival” breaking out we did not just flock to Florida, we prayed about it and we also used our discernment and we checked out the ministry. We found several things that did not line up with the word of God. Now I am not about to say what was just accidental or intentional in the unscriptural findings, that is not my place and I am not here to sling mud at anyone. What I am though is a pastor and as a pastor it is my job to protect the sheep. A good shepherd is willing to risk for them and protect them at any cost. For example, I would not let my kids go see a movie that I was not familiar with just because someone else’s value system said that the movie was fit for my kids. I would check it out myself and decide based upon the values we hold as a family if the movie was ok. Others may or may not uphold the same values we have put in place so as a parent it is my job to protect my kids as their shepherd. It is the same thing as a pastor. We are there to protect and to serve to the best of our ability. We don’t just throw our approval behind someone just because there is a bunch of hoopla around something or someone.

Well what about the signs and wonders happening in Lakeland? First of all I don’t know what is and is not substantiated but lets see what the bible says. In the bible Moses disobeyed God by striking the rock the 2nd time instead of speaking to it like God told him to. He was in complete disobedience when he did that but to the Israelites he was filling their need because they were thirsty. As a matter of fact the water did not just trickle out it gushed out of the rock. Now when you are in the desert that seems pretty cool but Moses was in complete disobedience when he did that, that was not God’s plan. You see people sometimes do not realize that there is a difference between results and success. Moses had results (water gushing from the rock) but had to die in the wilderness for his actions. He was not allowed to enter into the Promised Land (success).

So when people ask me if I think something or someone is legit I always say, “let me around the wife and the kids and I will let you know”. You see to me I have a hard time with the fact that I would be considered successful because I had a church of 10,000 or a ministry that reached 100,000 people but my own family was a mess. In fact that bible teaches quite the opposite of that scenario. It makes no sense, results and success are very different. Now I am not saying that families in ministry are perfect because Lord knows that the Maxwell family is certainly not. But I do think character is not optional; not perfectionism but character.

So why am I saying all of this? Because the leader of the “revival” just came out and announced that he was filing a formal separation from his wife because they have had severe marriage problems for years and him doing to revival meeting just “exacerbated the marriage issues”. In Canada (where the leader of the Lakeland event is from) you have to file for legal separation for a nine month period before you can officially be divorced. He also stated that he was going to continue to travel and do meetings but was going to end the revival and head back to Canada. His board has since come out and publicly announced an “emotional” affair took place with a female staff member and that all travel would cease immediately. This has been reported as the second affair, the first being 2 and 1/2 years ago with another staffer and was not emotional. He also admitted to raping a 7 year old boy but said that he was unsaved at the time. This happened in his teens but came out recently.

So what now? First we need to pray for the people who are devastated and wavering in their faith because of this bad publicity. Some people have voiced their hurt and pain, even doubting God because of this. We need to pray for them. Second, we need to pray for the family of this minister who is leaving his wife and their three kids. That family needs our prayers right now and all of us can do that. Lastly, I think we need to exercise caution in the future while still being open to what the Holy Spirit wants to do. Here is what another pastor recently wrote to his church about this very balance.

“Does having to evaluate or examine a person’s belief system seem counter to the way the Holy Spirit works? Does engaging our brain limit the work of the Spirit? I mean, to be evaluating all the time is hard work! Shouldn’t we just shut off our brains and let the “Spirit” take us? No. Because only through the lens of God’s Word can we ascertain how we should act or behave. When our actions or behavior find their definition outside of revealed truth in God’s Word then there is no boundary by which we will be governed other than personal desire.”

I think that about sums it all up. Do you know where Troy and I stand now?

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~ by pennymaxwell on August 18, 2008.

14 Responses to “Please Don’t Let Common Sense Go Out The Window!”

  1. PP, I like the article and agree with it, but the comment on the presaved incident seems like a low blow and probably needs to be edited out in my opinion.

  2. I understand how you feel John but I disagree when it comes to that because although I believe that God forgives people I do feel that someone who hides a pre-saved incident that landed them in jail and initially denies it (lying), just makes you wonder what else is being hidden. The truth is the truth pre-saved or not.

    I also believe that while people are forgiven from past sins there is still good judgment that needs to be used. Also John I think it IS relevant because knowing that he has had sexual issues in his past you would figure that he would have massive accountability in those areas but he did not. So the past thing comes into play when it is still playing out in his saved life today, he has not gotten over the sexual issues but has still been slave to them. I have yet to hear him apologize for any of this either (the affair I mean).

    The other thing I feel is that people who knew of the rape incident should look a little harder into things before jumping on someones bandwagon. He began his ministry only 4 years after that. I would think that some serious accountability would be in order. I also feel that he should have been sat after the first affair when some of his friends found out. It was kept hush hush for a while.

    John you are hearing my passion come out because I am a fierce protector of the sheep and this sort of thing has hurt so many sheep. It is just plain sad and I wish for all involved to be restored.

  3. I am so thankful that I am in a church with leaders like you and Pastor Troy. I’ve known people who have been really into everything that’s happened at Lakeland, but I haven’t been convinced it’s been 100% right on. My heart really goes out to the Bentley family and it makes me sick to see satan really attack Christian leaders that are in the public eye. It also makes me sad to realize that like you said, people are so hungry for God that they sometimes chase after anything without really questioning whether or not it really is Him. I read an excellent article by J. Lee Grady recently who made a great point: When Paul was preaching to the Bereans, they didn’t simply accept his words as truth, but rather compared what he said to Scripture to see if it lined up. In some ways, I hope that this is a wake-up call to the church in general that we need to be more on our toes. Now I’m not in any way saying that Tood Bentley should be “made an example of” or that anyone should choose this time to judge him. That’s between he and God. What I do hope is that we as a body seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance and discernment in the future when situations like this happen again. Thank you for sharing your and PT’s stance on this, even though some people disagree.

  4. Linzy, I thought of it like this. If I would not feel comfortable with him around my children(and I would not be) why would I throw my name behind him for others whom we have been entrusted to protect, church people. I have felt very cautious but at the same time Troy and I addressed our leaders and our staff on our stance months ago. After this news broke we felt it important to use this unfortunate situation to hopefully cause people to batten down their spiritual hatches, so-to-speak. Discernment is godly.

    What we need to do it to begin to pray for all of those involved and believe for restoration while at the same time not being naive. Forgiveness is instant but trust is something earned.

  5. I couldn’t have said it any better Pastor Penny! When I first heard of this “revival” I was drawn in watching online. But after about two nights of it, my spirit was grieved and I knew something was “just not right”. There were many things he said that simply did not line up with scripture. Thanks for the blog and being such a vigilant protector of your flock.

  6. I believe that the incident happened in his teens, so even though I believe it’s relevant to life and ministry, I believe it was unfair to mention it on the fly in the post since most people are not familiar with the whole story,it’s context, and so on. Herein lies my thought. A small blurb with no context and or back story doesn’t seem fair. Right or wrong about Bentley. However I totally agree with your conclusions otherwise.

  7. Thanks John! I hear ya. I just still feel that the teenage incident is no small one and had he have steered clear from sexual sin it would not have been as huge a factor although I still feel it would have been one since he covered it up initially. But I also feel that because of events that have not ceased in his life since his salvation it shows a pattern. The bible is very clear about keeping your house swept clean because the things you struggled with in the past will come up again without thoughtful and intentional diligence and accountability.

    My prayer is for restoration for all of those who have been affected by this, including his family.

  8. Wow I agree! I recently traveled to Lakeland because my 19 year old on his birthday wanted to go there for the revival. Who was I to say no to a 19 year old WANTING to go to church on his birthday. He paid his own way and flew in to Orlando where I flew in also to meet him.

    He was very excited and I was a Father with unvoiced concerns. I am not quiet or unopinionated but was giving a young man room to grow. We checked in to the Hotel and made immediate plans to be there early because he heard to get a good seat you needed to be there early. We arrived 2 hours early and stood in line only to find out that they have partners that get in first with preferred seating because of there support level. I believe I read about preferred saating in the the Bible…NOT

    We enjoyed the service and I was impressed with the enthusiam of the staff and workers after 108 days. We had planned to spend 3 days at the rivival and really soak up the atomosphere and Spirit per my son before leaving.

    I want to tell you, my son and I REALLY ENJOYED Disneyworld and Universal Studios and talking and sharing for the other 3 days.
    We did not return to the big tent.

  9. Oops! Forgot one thing according to scripture it says to let those who are Spiritual amoung you judge these things. If more Pastor like ours would Judge less sheep would be fleeced. Baaaad Baaaad

  10. For the record: the affair Bentley had has been listed by his pastoral oversight as “unhealthy relationship on an emotional level with a female member of his staff.” This leads me to believe that no sexual sin was involved as this has not come out in the recent admissions. Though very serious on all levels, we shouldn’t jump to the conclusion that Bentley was involved in sexual sin. Whatever comes to light in this, the lesson for me is to always keep my eyes on Jesus, not man, and stay close to God’s word as the standard for life and ministry, not experiences.

  11. John he lied about all of this stuff until it was forced out. When someone is lying I don’t exactly trust them when their story has changed several times, that would be gullible and naive. I wish him the best, really. What I am having a hard time with is all of the questions I am having to field as a pastor because people have been hurt and things like this cause them to stumble. This stuff is of millstone proportion. I hurt for those who have been hurt, including this mans family. I do appreciate your gracious undertones. I am in the stance of protection.

    Thanks for speaking your mind on this, even if we don’t necessarily agree on every detail I appreciate your stance. I am looking at this as a senior pastor and from the stance of those I am having to help who have been hurt. You and I know Gods word is that standard but babies dont always get that.

  12. Firstly, thanks a thousand times over for being such an amazing pastor(s) for being willing to step out and such a controversial issue – I’ve always loved that you two are willing to do what it takes in the name of the Father to protect your sheep. :o) Secondly, personally – I have always been a bit leery about this revival stuff – mostly because I don’t know a ton about it, but as all this is coming out the first thing that came to my mind was something from Jay Zinn’s book “The Unveiling” (a narrative view of the end times). In the story Aster (the anti-Christ) performs miracles all over the place – that’s how he gets the people, including Christians, to follow him. I am NOT saying AT ALL that Bentley is the anti-Christ – BUT, I am saying that it should always raise a ‘red flag’ when big revivals and miracles are happening for people to check the relevance, background and of course the Holy Spirit on this – especially if ONE man/woman is so ‘endorsed’ or publicized. It’s sad how many people (especially new or young Christians) will just jump on that bandwagon because everyone that’s “spiritual” is doing it so it must be good… prayer is definitely needed for everyone involved in any way with this situation!

  13. “Todd Bentley has agreed to step down from his position on the Board of Directors and to refrain from all public ministry for a season to receive counsel in his personal life.” This came from the letter released by Fresh Fire’s Board of Director’s found on freshfire.ca. He will NOT be continuing to travel according to the agreement aforementioned.
    We definitely need to pray for all parties involved and walk in grace and forgiveness. We must fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. No one person or group of people should be the end all or be all of our connection with God…nor the foundation of our faith. If we find ourselves now questinoing the revival or movement, we must check our hearts to see where we placed our trust: the God of the miracles/signs/revivals, or the servant of that God. God is faithful…always.

  14. Just proves that Satan can get in and distort anything he can get his hands into! We are ALL imperfect, flawed individuals, but I remember Troy saying in one sermon that leaders are held to a higher standard and will be judged more severly than others. Makes me think that we are living in the last days…

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