by haRold Smith
from Jerusalem, Israel
Walking in the Old City of Jerusalem one day, I came upon St. Alexander's Russian Orthodox Chapel at the beginning of the via Dolorosa (the street Yeshua was forced to carry His cross down on the way to being crucified at Golgotha). Through the centuries, the city has undergone many restructurings where entrances, or gates, are torn down or re-built. So, inside this Chapel, I was surprised to find much of the original wall of the city where the Judgment Gate had been located, had been preserved and kept intact. This was the gate under which Pilate pronounced judgment on Yeshua and He began His arduous journey to death on the cross. The opening shown in this picture is an actual "eye of the needle", spoken of in Matthew 19:23-30 where Yeshua said it was easier for a camel to pass through than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God. These were small passageways next to every gate in the city of Jerusalem where people could pass through and were the only way in and out after the gates would be locked at night to keep enemies at bay. They are very narrow and are less than 5 feet tall, so one has to stoop over and squeeze through in order to gain entrance to the other side. As you can see, it would be impossible for a fully grown camel to slide through this small opening. What became very intriguing was the information provided that rich men of the day were extremely resistant to utilize this passageway because it would cause them to have to stoop over in order to get through and many were too proud to do so - considering it beneath their "position" among the social ranking of their community.
It seems as though there are a lot of folks who have taken very personal positions over the collapse of the Todd Bentley / Ignited Church / Lakeland, Florida "revival" that was referred to in the last article "Compromise." As a result, I have been labeled as insolent, reactionary, a spreader of gossip and rumor and "who are you to judge" because I made the statement in that article that Mr. Bentley had been removed from the ministry as a result of having admitted to having an affair outside of his marriage that I called adultery. So, please allow me this opportunity to clarify my statement and set the record straight. Also, please, read all the way through this article before forming your assessment.
It has been brought to my attention that, so far, there is no "proof" of any actual sexual dalliance on Mr. Bentley's part, that it was only an "emotional involvement" that he confessed to. As a man, I have an acute understanding about what "emotional involvement" actually means. Yeshua said adultery is an attitude of heart (Matthew 5:28). Now, I did not write the Book - I just read it. Words mean things and I believe He meant those words.
There are some other issues that have surfaced since publishing that article I was unaware of at the time of writing that had I known of, I would have included. I did not know about them because, frankly, I didn't really care enough about what was going on in Lakeland beyond here was, yet again, another place for believers to get "goose bumps." Isn't it interesting that we have all these "believers" running to and fro, to this event and to that prophet, to be healed and nowhere in scripture is it recorded that Yeshua ever healed or delivered any of the disciples? He EMPOWERED them. We look for His Power to be on exhibit externally when scripture says, for a believer, the very power that raised Yeshua from the grave dwells within US. (Romans 8:11).
Then this week, this email came to me by way of a woman who had spent some time as a member among the occult sect of Wicca: She writes: "I saw this man on God TV, (I do not usually watch this but wanted to see what all the fuss was about) and saw the Wicca 'EMMA' brand on the inside of his left arm. THAT is what turned me off. I guess if people have not been in the occult, they have no idea just what this means. EMMA is the king of Hell in Wicca. It appears as a seducing spirit, either male or female, whatever appeals to the person who works for Emma. It calls itself an 'angelic' spirit, which tells its host that they do not have to approach 'God' alone, they will go with you and plead your case for you. You know, Satan can look whichever way he wants - if you are with Emma, he will look like the Lord."
Curious, I began some research and found just what this woman had revealed to be true. In fact, what else I found documented on video was Mr. Bentley, caught on camera, boasting of his personal "angel" he had been given by God whose name is EMMA that had come to him and led him into salvation (I was careful to document his own words) and that he regularly prays with this angel who shows him heavenly things. On top of this, after watching hours of video from the Lakeland meetings, I was struck with the realization that rarely, if ever (I could not remember a single instance), where the name of Jesus was spoken. The words, "God", "heaven", "angels" (lots and lots of angels), "spirit" were all used frequently - but not the name of Jesus.
Folks, this is not rocket science. The scripture says plainly to "try" the spirits (1John 4:1-3). The way they are tried is to hold them up to the standard of Truth which is the testimony of the Life of Yeshua (Revelation 19:10).
But that article and this one are not written about the subject of individual sin be it near-adultery or occultic-demon spirits, nor was it written to castigate Mr. Bentley personally (Romans 3:23). Having been divorced and witnessing firsthand the devastating and lasting effects it leaves on everybody's lives, I am deeply saddened for him, his family and those who are affected by all of this and pray for God's intervention, healing and restoration to encompass them.
So, let me make very clear - these words are addressing the foundational premises that brought us into this arena to begin with, i.e., compromise. These were compromises that were made, as a Body, to be tantalized by signs and wonders at the expense of integrity. character and Truth; and the compromises that were made from the embrace of the hierarchical structure of "apostolic authoritarianism" that developed, maintained and promoted the very platform Mr. Bentley stood upon which is not found in scripture. We are given no model in scripture for how this should work, except through love unfeigned (2Corinthians 6:1-10) - and that model was breached. What surfaces in overt behavior (darkness), on any level are just indicators of a more basic separation from Truth (light) at the root.
There were other indicators that compromise had taken place. When one moves in power without character it becomes like Paul describes in 1Corinthians 13, a sounding brass or clanging cymbal. It becomes jarring to the ear. If you look at any of this event in Florida on the YouTube videos, that is what you see and hear. Strange doctrine being preached, embracing encounters with other spirits, sick people getting kicked in the stomach, little old lady worshipping getting kicked in the face with a biker boot, etc. and the people laughing at the stories of this abhorrent violence in the audience. It is perverse and nauseating and in no way represents or extols this Person of grace and majesty and true Power spoken of in scripture that I have witnessed and come to know over the years. (James 3:13-18).
Throwing aside pre-conceptions of Who He Is does not mean mitigating His Nature to suit our purposes. Just because He can use rocks or donkeys does not mean He plans or intends to from the outset. He wants to use us, but He wants us to present Him in Truth. If it is Truth, it will be so all the way down the line with no excuses, no equivocation and no shadow of darkness - and it will apply equally to all involved. There IS a more excellent Way. This aspect of His Nature applies even more fully to those who would assume a mantle of responsibility within the Body because of the eternal effects their words and actions have on those who would follow them (James 3:1, Matthew 23:13).
I lay the responsibility for this debacle squarely at the feet of the so-called "leaders" of this so-called "movement" and their willingness to turn a blind eye to the excesses that led to this and other places. They have all soiled their hands with wealth (when did Yeshua ever charge admission to hear HIM speak?) fame and renown (Philippians 2:7) and it has clouded their judgment - all of them. These men, even now (with the exception of only a few), are not decrying any of what has been mentioned above, but are searching for ways to gloss it over and keep it running so they might continue to profit from it - for great is the seduction of these spirits. The Hebrew word for "mammon" is finances - money (Luke 16:13).
Scripture tells us that Yeshua and the boys carried a money pouch (John 12:3-6). Now, they didn't have jobs, so why would they need such? - except to receive donations. There is nothing wrong with receiving donations. The truth of what He is wanting us to see of Him, though, is that nowhere in scripture is it found that He ever took up a collection - He never "passed the plate", didn't take up an offering, He didn't "pull" for money, didn't ask for or let anyone know of His needs. He KNEW that if the Father was in it, He would fund it. Yeshua did not have to, nor is it recorded that He ever, made an appeal to the masses. He GAVE Himself and everything He had to the masses. He FED the poor. He didn't use the money donated to Him to buy an upscale donkey to "further the ministry" and the Son of Man had no place to lay His Head (Matthew 8:20), so it wasn't spent on His personal welfare. Consequently, if we do the same as His example, the Lord will move on this one and that one to come alongside as we have need without us ever having to "reach out". I have seen it happen over and over - but this is a way of life that is completely foreign to what we have been taught and led to believe is the normal way of operation by these "power" ministries in complete contradiction to His Life.
So, who am I to cry out and denounce these men and their antics? Nobody. I am nothing - I have no wealth, no position or prestige, I have no following, no cathedral to fill and I haven't written any books. I am but a single cell on the little toe of His Body. But, if you think the little toe is of no importance, try ramming it on the bedpost when you get up in the middle of the night and see if it doesn't bring the whole Body to a complete halt. There are many of us little cells that comprise this Body. The way to put a stop to all of this nonsense, this heresy that continues to crop up in our midst is to do as Yeshua did, to bear witness to the Truth by His Life (John 18:37) and to quit being a participant by encouraging them with our presence, making excuses for their errors and sending them our money - not for their sake, but for ours. A small flame will illuminate the whole room when it is dark. He is the Light of the World and He Lives in Us.
Having tasted of His Glory, and from a life-time of experientially knowing Him, I do not care to "settle" anymore for anything less than Truth in my personal life nor do I care to partake in the mechanics of men that would attempt to compromise by the illusion of that Glory the lifting up of some man or artificial architecture. Personally, I am here to extol the high standard He set with His Life for me to aspire to with my life so as to be, as He declared, a witness by my life, to Truth. I do not believe that bar to be out of reach. He is found in Truth. Not half-truth, faded truth or attempts at truth. He IS Truth. If I am alone in this endeavor, then let His Light begin within me. But, I am not alone. That is the confidence I have in Him for where sin and darkness abound - there grace abounds even more (Romans 5:19-21)
The Lord is allowing all of this in this moment to test our hearts. He is bringing decision and even judgment to the Body (1Peter 4:17) to see what we really want - signs and wonders at any price or Him and Him alone. If we choose Him, the signs and wonders will follow, but the presumption of man will be gone. If we choose signs and wonders, He will say He never knew us - because we didn't know Him enough to BE Him. (Matthew 7:23).