Tuesday, December 2, 2008

New Statement From FreshFire

Titus 1:13-16
13)That testimony is true. For this reason rebuke them sharply, so that they may become sound in the faith,
14)not paying attention to Jewish myths or to commandments of those who reject the truth.
15)To the pure all things are pure, but to the corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure. Their very minds and consciences are corrupted.
16)They profess to know God, but they deny him by their actions. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.

Freshfire Ministries has come out with another P.R. statement on their website. When are people going to stop making excuses for Todd Bentley? Bentley’s bad and sinful behavior is not acceptable nor excusable; nor did this so-called revival adhere to God’s Word from its early beginnings. Sure, it had a little smidgen of Word in it--along with new age themes, apostolic and prophetic cameo appearances to bless one’s star-struck noggin, worship music to accompany gyrating body parts, howling and roaring animal charades…and voila--you’ve got a superficial revival—with dvds, t-shirts, key-chains, and a hole in the consumer’s wallet. Reading their statement, one might gather they believe stress was a major factor for setting a match aflame to Bentley's britches. By the way all people get tired: they get exhausted from working, from stress, from trials in their lives! Exhaustion does not make someone say, “wow I am exhausted thus I am tempted sexually therefore I doth act upon my lust”. Bologna. He had been "acting out" a long time before Lakeland rolled around. Apparently he has yet to stop this relationship with the other woman--a FreshFire intern/nanny; nor has he seen his kids since summer! Where is genuine repentance? Nowhere from where I can see.

People questioned the legitimacy of the revival long before Bentley’s latest discretions became public-- not just because he got caught with his fingers in the cookie jar. People questioned it because it was false, crooked, and filled with error… Is it wrong to expect godly behavior from church leaders? Is it wrong to warn people of false prophets and dangerous teachings? Is it wrong to question ministerial manipulation and fraudulent claims? Is it wrong to question those operating in the ways of Balaam? Is it wrong to question someone boastful and proud; seeking to magnify himself instead of Jesus Christ? There is nothing wrong with defending the Word in truth and speaking out against falsehood. Godly character in leadership should matter in the Church. And it certainly matters when it comes to a world that is watching. Part of FreshFire's statement is directly below:


Nov 28 - From the Board of Directors
November 28, 2008

Greetings to our FFM Partners—past and present.

Please allow us to begin by sincerely apologizing for the long silence between our first two letters and this one. We will do our best to help you understand why it has taken us so long to respond to your many legitimate requests for information. Please also know that we write this letter as an explanation of our silence and not a defense of it.

We have received letters, emails and phone calls from many of you during the last three months, expressing sympathy and support as well as frustration and disappointment. We ourselves have been on an emotional rollercoaster for some time now and have found that looking to the Lord for His new mercies every morning enables us to make it through the day.

In light of our lack of communication, some of you have felt the need to withdraw your partnership with Fresh Fire Ministries; we completely understand and both release and bless you in your walk with God. Others have been compelled to discontinue their giving as a result of the economic crisis in America and in other countries around the world. We thank you for the many years of faithful support, and wish you to know that it was not in vain; more on that later. Nonetheless if you must go, for whatever reason, we trust that the Lord will lead you in connecting with the many other excellent ministries out there faithfully advancing His kingdom. Some of you have received so much good word and powerful impartation through FFM, that you might consider starting your own ministry.

Moving on, let us first say that we know, without a shadow of doubt, that Lakeland was and is an authentic move of God. Having known Todd well for many years, both his amazing strengths and his areas of weakness, we can say without reservation that the move of God in Lakeland, which began at Ignited Church, was genuine. We have never seen, in the history of this ministry, a greater quantity and quality of the miraculous demonstration of God’s healing power. As the Lord began to pour out His glory in Ignited Church and in the many venues that followed, Todd’s spirit was as pure as it has ever been and he was intensely hungry for more of God’s presence. He would spend hours soaking each day before the evening meeting, and once the worship had begun, Todd would become lost in the presence of God. The manifestation of amazingly accurate words of knowledge and astounding miracles flowed effortlessly night after night.

As the Outpouring continued, the Board of Directors and other leaders in Lakeland suggested that Todd take a few days off each week to rest and refresh. We learned from experience, however, and the post-Lakeland counsel of Christian leaders, that the anointing can be addictive. Significant personal issues in Todd’s life and make-up, as well as, flaws in the functioning structure of our leadership resulted in an impossible pace to maintain… seven nights a week for more than 15 weeks on end. We fully accept the responsibility as a Board of Directors for this lapse in judgment; we should have required that not just Todd and the team, but the entire Outpouring rest a minimum of one day a week. God himself rested after six days work as a pattern for His creation, and if the yoke of the Lord is easy and His burden is light, then He has no need to exhaust His people in a fresh encounter with Him.

As fatigue began to set in, significant personal issues in Todd and in his relationship with Shonnah were exacerbated. This, together with his increased familiarity with a female staff member created more tension in the Bentleys’ relationship. As the pressure of leading the revival continued, media attention increased resulting in less and less personal time. With the development of more friction in his marriage relationship, Todd began to make irrational decisions. Alcohol, movies and leisure time spent with a few of the younger, more impressionable members of his staff and road-crew began to replace the hours of soaking in the presence of God in which Todd had engaged during the early days of the Outpouring. Finally, Todd began to burn out, and things came to a head in his relationship with Shonnah. He was unwilling to put distance between himself and the female staff member and ultimately told Shonnah he wanted a separation.

The fact that the revival was in Florida, three thousand miles from our home office in Abbotsford, BC Canada, meant that the entire administration for the revival was provided by a rotating stream of church leaders and Board members who would assist behind the scenes and on the platform for a few weeks at a time and then return to Canada, usually on the verge of total exhaustion. Trying to keep up with the logistics of administrating the revival, including the massive challenge of moving from venue to venue until we finally arrived in the tent along with the media circus that ensued shortly afterwards, meant that communication was greatly inhibited between the leaders involved. Many early signs that something was drastically wrong were overlooked. By the time we became fully aware and/or were willing to admit how dysfunctional things had become behind the scenes, the damage had already been done.

As to our long silence in writing to you, please let us explain. We have been in much contact with Rick Joyner, Bill Johnson, John Arnott and other members of a team focused on restoring Todd, seeking to do all within our power to encourage him to embrace a process of counseling and genuine accountability. In deference to these leaders we have refrained from communicating at all until we could be assured that we were all on the same page. At the same time, senior members of the leadership team here at Fresh Fire as well as members of the Board of Directors have been stretched to the breaking point in attempting to deal with all of the attention created not just by the revelations of Todd’s marriage problems and personal issues, but also by the five months of revival preceding their disclosure. Since then, many false accusations and rumors surrounding both Todd and the Lakeland Outpouring have attempted to use Todd’s failures as a springboard to question the legitimacy of the revival. Consequently, key leaders have had to step back and rest in order not to burn-out themselves. This, coupled with the busy schedules of the restoration team, all of whom travel internationally, has made getting everyone on the same page difficult.

We so appreciate all those who have stepped in to assist the FFM Board in a process of restoration for Todd, but what we have come to realize is that ultimately, the buck stops with the FFM Board of Directors. No one knows Todd better, or has more access to all the facts from both sides than we do.

Again, we apologize for not writing to you sooner. We struggled for a while with the question of how to satisfy two important obligations – that of honoring Todd, while believing for his restoration and at the same time, our obligation to be completely honest and open with you as our partners. Through much prayer and with the Lord’s help, we hope to satisfy both those obligations with this letter.

There is a difference between covering Todd and covering for him. We refuse to expose explicit details of his failings over the last few months, but neither will we pretend there haven’t been any. “Covering” is a biblical term as in “love covers over a multitude of sins” or as in the case when Noah’s two sons draped him in a blanket when he unwittingly discovered what happens when you drink too much fermented grape juice. “Cover for” is a contemporary idiom meaning to lie or misrepresent the truth in order to enable another to get away with or to continue to be involved in illicit behavior. We have been slow in responding up until now, because we wanted to bring you a positive report, full of hope and the promise of restoration. All of that is still entirely possible and we pray to that end, however, further silence on our part would be misrepresenting the truth by allowing you to believe that what we said in our first two statements (which were true to the best of our knowledge at the time of their writing) is still the case. Unfortunately that is not so.

Here are the facts:

1.Todd has yet to enter into a clear system of accountability with the leaders he identified that would be involved in such a process. Todd has visited Rick Joyner in Fort Mills, South Carolina, and indicated early on in September that he would be moving there soon to become a part of the community there and to receive counseling from Rick Joyner, Jack Deere, Bill Johnson and others that Rick might feel to bring alongside. Todd is in regular contact with Rick Joyner and has agreed together with Rick that he will move to Fort Mills during the first few months of 2009.

2. Having spoken with Todd in recent days, he is resolute in his intentions to divorce Shonnah, and in his mind, the restoration he is seeking is one which would not include reconciliation with his wife. Todd admits to being 100% responsible for the divorce.

3. It also needs to be clarified that Shonnah has in no way initiated this divorce and has no present intention to do so at any time in the future. She is understandably hurt by Todd’s infidelity, but is not asking or pressing for a divorce. The legal separation from Shonnah was initiated completely by Todd and he has not seen her or the children since the last week in July. To our knowledge, Todd’s relationship with the female staff-member, who was a former intern and also, at his initiative, a live-in nanny in his house for over a year, is still ongoing. We believe that there are currently no biblical grounds for Todd to leave his wife and children. While it has been maintained that no physical contact happened between Todd and the former female intern until after he filed for legal separation from Shonnah, in the Boards’ eyes, the nature of the present relationship between Todd and his former staff member is that of adultery.

Having said all that, our sincere desire is to see Todd first restored to Shonnah and the children, though at present this seems unlikely. We are optimistic that should Todd keep his word and move to Morning Star, Rick and his team are well equipped to be the Lord’s instruments in a process toward restoration. With genuine accountability, inner healing, counseling and deliverance we are confident that it is entirely possible for Todd to come through and gain victory over a number of significant personal issues with which he is struggling.

We love Todd dearly and so appreciate the ground he has broken, not just for us, but for many tens if not hundreds of thousands within the body of Christ. Todd’s genuine love for the Lord, his hunger and passion for souls and his tangible demonstration of the love of God in miracles, signs and wonders will be remembered for many years to come. Todd is a champion in the Global paradigm shift from a lethargic and dunamis-deficient church to an empowered body of believers carrying out the Great Commission in a mighty demonstration of the Spirit’s power. That’s how we, and we think many others, will choose to regard Todd even if he doesn’t allow the Holy Ghost to work a process of restoration in his life. If he will, and we pray sincerely for that, then only God knows what can be accomplished through this young fire-brand’s life.

It is our deep desire that our brother Todd should be restored, and we are still hopeful that this will be achieved. Please let us make it clear, that although what Todd has done is inexcusable, it is not unforgiveable. We do not judge him unworthy of a second, third or even fourth chance, and we hope that you don’t either. The Lord spoke clearly that those desiring mercy themselves would be well advised to give it to others, and the Lord has brought amazing goodness and life out of far worse circumstances.

The Lord has been speaking to us about sins of commission and sins of omission. Many may look at Todd and judge him for what he has done and excuse or justify themselves on the basis that they have not failed or sinned (missed the mark) in the areas in which Todd has failed. But if we are going to judge Todd by what he has done, then we need to include all that he has done. And if we will excuse ourselves on the basis of what we have not done, then we must also take into account all that we have not done.

Todd Bentley has demonstrated himself unfaithful to his wife by entering into a relationship with another woman while still legally married. He has consumed more alcohol on a few occasions than is prudent or becoming a Christian leader (or any believer for that matter). His sins have been sins of the flesh and we do not defend them.

He has, however, also seen over 1 million people make decisions for Christ in the 10 years of his ministry. He has been instrumental in seeing the Lord heal tens of thousands of people (if not more) of all manner of sickness and disease through the personal laying on of his hands and who knows how many others vicariously through television and the internet, or though the prayers of those who received the healing anointing through Todd’s ministry. He has been used by the Lord to give countless accurate prophetic words and words of knowledge to thousands of people around the globe, and his testimony and passion for God just since April 2 in Lakeland, Florida has touched literally millions through the internet and television.

Jesus said, “They are my children who obey my commandments”, and if the theme of the Ten commandments in the Old Testament is “Thou Shall Not”, then the theme of the Two Greatest Commandments as outlined by Jesus in the New Testament in Mark 15: 30-31 is most definitely, “Thou Shall!”

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength… (and)…You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (NIV).

As is also said in 1 John 4:20-21

“If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

How many believers have become almost vicious in their attack against Todd, demonizing not only him but his ministry and everything he has ever done? What sort of spirit do you think is behind this? And how many around the world are sick and dying and unsaved because of what we, the global body of believers, have not done? Because we have not been obedient to preach the gospel, heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead and cast out devils (Matt. 10:8). Nothing is defined by what it is not, but rather by what it is; not by what it does not do, but by what it does do.

What Todd has done should not only be defined by his present failure. He has raised the bar on what is possible. He has broken a barrier of sorts for all of us and made a pathway into new possibilities. This is what you partnered with - not a man but a transferable anointing and an ability to reach into a combined realm of prophetic revelation and signs and wonders manifestation! Guard your deposit and don’t let the enemy’s backlash rob you of what you have already received. At the same time we openly admit that what Todd has done at the height of his supernatural breakthrough has resulted in a tragic breakdown in the natural causing great pain to many, but to none so deeply as to his wife and children.

Yet in all this we have been challenged and chastised by the Lord to remain gentle in our hearts toward him while we pray and encourage him to do the right thing and to come into accountability.

Galatians 6:1 is very clear in its instruction on how and with what attitude we are to restore one who has fallen,

“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted” (NIV).

Maintaining gentleness of heart towards Todd means that we do not write him off or wish any manner of evil upon him. We need to continue to pray for him and to keep a door of relationship open to him. We are willing to assist in the process of his restoration, messy though it may be. Neither does a gentle heart towards Todd mean condoning what he has done nor enabling him to live in sin by either our support or our silence.

So please pray for Todd and also for Shonnah and their family. Pray with fervency that the Lord would do a mighty miracle for the number one purpose of bringing vindication to His Name, but also that we might see our brother restored. We cannot control a person’s choices, nor have we any desire to do so. What we can control is our response to their choices and see the Lord take what the enemy means for evil and work it together for good.

We at Fresh Fire Ministries are presently in a season of waiting on God. We are in the process of re-defining our government structure with assistance from leaders in Bethel (the church pastored by Bill Johnson in Redding, California) and others affiliated with Morning Star—Rick Joyner’s ministry in South Carolina. In August, Todd verbally stepped down from the FFM Canadian Board of Directors and has recently given written notice of his resignation. With Todd no longer at the helm we are looking to identify vision-casters from within and to refocus the ministry’s endeavors in keeping with the original mandate of Fresh Fire Ministries. In the coming weeks we will provide you, our partners with a detailed update of our vision and emerging leadership structure.

*it continues on about ministry in Uganda..., full article can be read on home page of the Freshfire Ministries.