I'm up kind of late. It has been a lazy-ish couple of days as I am in de-compression mode after the big deal thingy I had at work. My body is demanding I slow down a bit.
And I've been kind of rocked by the whole Bentley thing.
I don't know what it is, but at some point I've taken it on as my mandate to stick up for the guy. I'm not really sure why... Maybe it's the local boy made good thing as he is from our town. Not that he is a favorite son. There have been a spat or two around here over the years due to his ministry and such. I once wrote a post about him (fairly positive) that received tons of traffic (fairly negative) on the old blog. That kind of provoked me to stick up for him even when I wasn't sure why. I've been to a few of his conferences, and really could have taken or left it (meant as harmless as possible). The funny thing is God always spoke deeply to my heart through another speaker or I met someone while there. Most fondly was my friend Peter Moyo from Zimbabwe.
Over time I've gone about my own business and such and Todd has grown in some renown I suppose. The folks that stuck around our church after the "troubles of 06-7" tended to be the lot that appreciate Todd and Freshfire. We still have a bunch that either came from the church they planted, Global Harvest or attended his ministry school. They are honestly fantastic, wonderful people. One had a word for me a few weeks ago that was right on the money and very affirming. That's the part that gets me. I have a tough, real tough time with some of the stuff Todd teaches, the hype, certain experiences and so forth. Some of it makes me cringe in fact. But I know a lot of people that are very connected to those guys and they are golden, salt of the earth. People that I love and trust deeply. Therein lies the rub. And I've chosen to concentrate more on what I know through them than what I don't understand in the way of the theological stuff. God is good, and if these good people who know him and love him a lot more that I can stand up for him, then I just believe the best and pray the rest as Francis always said.
And then this whole mess that has come up in the last few days. The first thing my fleshly heart thought was "oh great, I've been sticking up for the guy and now I have egg on my face". Awesome heh? My heart=selfish. But then I thought, "oh man... it is going to hit the fan", and sure enough it is.
I think that's why I've kind of found myself defending the guy. I can't stand the other team. Almost why I'll vote for any team playing against the San Fransisco Giants, I don't like them. I've never really stood up for Todd's doctrine as much as I've stood up against these blind, ignorant, vicious attacks on people. Man, some of the stuff that is out there is sickening. I don't understand what they think they are going to accomplish. Are they going to succeed in keeping people from believing God might want to heal people, save people, deliver people...?
I mean it's always been there I guess... but if people want to travel and listen to a guy, and they are coming away blessed and transformed, encouraged, hopeful, pumped-up, inspired to minister, and have a greater heart for lost people then whats the deal? These same people leaving church and going to the park just to find people to pray for, going onto the streets feeling empowered to bless and encourage and looking to bring the kingdom. Moving to Africa to start orphanages. Good stuff. Yet, there are these critics who have this sloppy, lazy caricature of these same people as mindless zombies who just open up their wallets and heads and dump the contents in the offering basket.
Do I have concerns around some issues? Sure. Some who were not healed when they might have thought they were, some who are immature and put too much hope and stock in a man other than Jesus, some who aren't connected with a local body. Their are certainly many things within the Charismatic realm that need an overhaul. I'm praying it'll happen. That God may use this latest news to propel some of that. But I believe that God is able and interested in keeping people and protecting them. Just like the baby believers Paul left behind every time he was kicked out of a town, just like the believers who were flirting with bad doctrine and bad character that he would write his letters to, God kept and protected them. He also challenged and rebuked them too. But a loving father chastises those he loves.
I'll be praying for these guys. I have a way that I hope it will go. It might not. But I'll pray none the less. I wish my first response would have been grief and a challenge to pray for the kids and the family... the important stuff.