Archive for September 2009

Letter to Bill Johnson From “A Child”

September 27, 2009

Dear Bill,

I’m writing because a lot of us kids are not happy about what you and your friends are doing. I heard you want us to be one big happy family. I want that too, especially if you all play NICE (like no stuff I see on GOD-TV: no electrocutions of people!) so first I’ve gotta know some things. Our Daddy In Heaven says there are bad people out there who just LOOK like his kids, but aren’t, and that they actually want to HURT us so he says we have to be careful about playing with strangers. I’m not saying you are a stranger Bill, but you sure do some strange things!

Like you and your friends do things that our Daddy doesn’t let US do, such as   tell people to give them their money so then they’ll get rich, and also BULLYING others!!! Like your BFF, that guy with the tats! (Remember him, that one you tried to explain about, and you said,  “Have you seen him with his wife? Have you seen him with his kids?  I have.” ) He did VERY bad things like head-butting a man with a very sick tummy right where it hurt SO BAD and lying that he was healed. He died!) and I know our Daddy would want us to stop people from doing these very bad things. So this is very confusing to me.

And Daddy always likes us to be very well-behaved in public, so we don’t give the wrong impression to other kids, ’cause then they won’t want to be adopted into our family, so this is real sad ’cause Daddy loves those stray kids. I’m sorry to say this to you Bill, but I’ve seen you on TV with some very WEIRD people, like that snakelady who shook her head and hissed some strange words, (and I sure wouldn’t want to be in HER family!) You should tell her to mind her manners better! And everybody acting drunk! Everybody knows Daddy doesn’t like people being drunk. Or even worse, some of your friends pretend to smoke baby Jesus and toke the Ghost, and call that the HOLY SPIRIT!!! That is naughty!

And you and your friends always preach about stupid stuff too, like girly looking angels with feathers that fall, and drop gold dust, (and then Emma became a him, that is so weird!!!) and who wants to hear about angels anyway? I don’t need my ears tickled. I don’t need Glory Clouds. I need to hear about JESUS!!! And then there’s porta potties taking people to Heaven (what’s up with that!!!) Bill, in all that stupid stuff, I never hear much about what Daddy’s best son did on the cross to bring us home to him! Yes, Jesus is all I want to talk or sing about.Your songs are sooo boring too, singing over and over again, until you’ve gotten yourselves practically hypnotized; and you sing scary stuff, like  “fire fall down on us we pray.”  Wouldn’t fire burn you?? It is all VERY STRANGE, this fire!

Daddy helps us to be orderly in public, so I don’t think his training is bad at all, (if that is what you meant, that ’cause we don’t like this kind of weird stuff, that our “training is defective”). He asks us to read his letters a lot so we remember what pleases him. We love him so much we read his letters over and over again, because he uses such wise words. I reeallllly think you should read his letters more Bill, your talking might be better!   And you won’t teach wrong stuff such as “the anointing Jesus received at his baptism was the equipment necessary to make  it possible for Jesus to live beyond human limitations.”   Then you said Jesus was born again.  Someone smart told me this is the kenotic heresy.    So read Daddy’s letters more  and all your talking might not have so many mistakes in it.

Daddy always says when you love the true things it is easy to understand his words. So just use short sentences and no hard words, like how  you said we have to give up “denominationalism.” I think denominations are a good thing Bill, like someone smart once said, “Denominations mean that somebody somewhere still believes something.”

So I have this question for you, Bill, and I sure hope it doesn’t hurt your feelings like last time someone asked you a question like this and it seemed like you were ready to cry! Well, you swallowed hard a lot. Anyway, Bill, here it is: Are you sure it is “in GOD’S name” you and your friends do what you do?

Your friend, I hope,

Karen Butler

Author update, 2009 : Mr. Johnson came to town just recently, perhaps to decree some apostley things for us all, as is his wont. Perhaps he has decreed we are a cancer-free zone now, like his hometown of Redding?  So, I updated  this piece I wrote  when we left a church very dear to us because they aligned with Bill Johnson’s Bethel Church, an organization our children named “The Kick Your Face Crew.” That moniker is in response to Johnson’s protege, Todd Bentley, whose notorious initiation into the deeper things of God was when he kicked a worshiping old woman in the face with his biker boot in obedience to the prompting of the (Holy?) Spirit.

The video I used to link to this letter, and set it  in its context, has been pulled from YouTube. Sad.  It was so easy to spot that judgmental spirit sitting heavy on the brow of the one who tells us we may not judge. But scroll down the page of the last link in the letter above. There is the text, but without those tears he choked back, when he delivered it at his pulpit in Bethel, his usual ad hominem attack of critics (…” Have you seen Todd with his wife and kids?”…But sadly, Bill, we have! We have seen Todd abandon them for an adulterous relationship!  And a re-marriage that is completely unscriptural). Johnson defends the charlatan there with no biblical support, propping up Bentley’s seeming integrity.  Johnson’s lack of discernment reached its peak in the in the falseness so evident when stood at the podium at Todd’s commissioning ceremony, with its parade of lying prophecies and weird manifestations.  Within weeks Bentleys’ debauched nature was clearly evident to all with eyes that see.

There can be no more defense of  Todd Bentley. Reputable journalists such as World Magazine  and the producers of Nightline have agreed with the bloggers who first sounded the alarm about Lakeland’s blatant charlatanism.  The  record of  supposed healings and dead-raisings is non-existent. Ample documentation is online regarding the gnostic and new age practices of Johnson and his friends among the International Coalition of Apostles.

My friend M’Kayla writes about some of these issues on her excellent blog. She has had experience as a leader in the Healing Rooms, and was trained in the Sozo style of prayer Johnson popularized. Now she is effectively demonstrating the unbiblical roots of this movement, and ministering to the brokenness of those coming out of the Extreme Prophetic.

And Craig at CrossWise is an encyclopedia for all things Bill Johnson, and the Latter Rain Movement. Because many of us believe Bill is the most dangerous of them all, because he is  the most wiley and the most winsome.

The sickest thing in the theology of this man is that he says he  does not “allow for sickness.” How is that working for you and your wife, Bill? I know it doesn’t work  for me nor myown.  I do not understand the callous theology of those who would say to a paraplegic like my gentle and humble brother-in-law, that the reason he was not healed when Johnson  prayed for him was that my brother did not have enough faith. Words fail. And thanks be to God,  my brother-in-law’s  faith has not.

And let this be said of all who have passed through their strange fire, that it has not burned them.

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The Reason For A Cage

September 19, 2009
dead bird

Image by celeste343 via Flickr

Some years ago, a dear friend who was breeding birds gave me a new-hatched canary whose mother had rejected him and was not feeding him. He looked pathetically naked and drawn up into himself like a fetus, and my heart was bonded to him. I worried myself over that scrawny featherless baby, and fed him with a dropper at all hours until he could eat mash on his own.

He feathered out gray and looked grave and distinguished like the finch his breed is cousin to, so my eldest brilliantly named him Atticus. He learned to fly, and would flap about the house till he landed on my shoulder, then affectionately peck at my face for attention. I was his mother. What a delight to the family Atticus was! He began to sing the most wonderful songs, and we wanted only the best for him, so we nurtured his musical talents with Mozart.

But foolish me, I could not bear to keep that sweet free spirit caged up, and I would let him fly free, but the wee bird would often walk about the floor as well, and in alarm, we would scoop him up to the safety of his cage. One day the unthinkable happened: Atticus was not in the safety of his cage, no, he was hopping about on the floor, when a hapless child stepped on him. Oh, my poor son! And oh, the mourning and crying over that bird! I wept, so heartbroken. And why did God allow that to happen to that poor sweet creature who only filled our troubled home with his cheery trills?

Recently I asked Him that again, and I think the Father knew I was strong enough spiritually to hear His tender rebuke. He said that I was given the responsibility for keeping our fledgling safe, and I ignored the cage that was provided for Atticus’ protection.

Ravi Zacharias has written in Recapture the Wonder

G.K. Chesterton once quipped that before you remove any fence always ask why it was put there in the first place. You see, every boundary set by God points to something worth protecting, and if you are to protect the wonder of existence, God’s instruction book is the place to turn. Anyone who thinks he or she can place the boundaries arbitrarily will either destroy the enchantment of life or else wear him or herself into exhaustion. God’s commands are there to protect what life is truly about, not the other way around. Implementing that truth in our lives keeps us from losing the wonder.

And even more vitally, implementing those truths keeps our very life. For I have heard many say, “God would never allow me to be deceived. He is good and loving. He would not give me a snake when I’ve asked for a fish.” Well, yes, indeed He is very good, but He has entrusted you with the stewardship of His Word in your life; and bold adventuring beyond the safe boundaries of scripture leaves you open to delusion and deception. And you will not feel deceived. It will always seem so right and natural, so emotionally satisfying to be rid of all that restricts the Spirit’s free expression. Caught up from the bliss of of flight, and not discerning the one who seeks to crush and destroy and render you captive to his will, you might never see that cruel foot coming down.

The Single Eye

September 12, 2009

acute conjunctivitis Day 3

All happenings great and small are parables whereby God speaks. The art of life is to get the message.” –G.K. Chesterton

I don’t think it was just the pain that made me cry so much. As I bent to pitch some laundry down the chute, the dowel handle of the feather duster slammed into my glasses, with enough force to knock a lens out and send them flying into the dim broom closet. My eyeball was cut and so the pain was considerable, and I had every reason to be a baby about it. But my hurt wasn’t purely physical– there was some self pity seeping in. I admit this with some shamefacedness. I was getting tired of suffering, and I voiced my complaint! Yet I was also afraid, until I could brave trying to open it, that I had lost my eye. All those tears were hot and tasted like blood.

The eye is miraculously quick to repair itself, so the severe pain was gone by the next day, but my face looked as if I’d had a beating. And I had to deal with the bruise to my soul.

Even that was beginning to heal. My spiritual eyes were soothed in the salve of the grace of God. I was humbled by God’s kindness: the nurse at the hospital marveling at my broken glasses, and saying “Someone was looking out for you!” ( oh, that I had directed him to Jesus, Lord of All!) I was humbled by the marvelous sovereignty of our loving Father– because of conjunctivitis in my left eye, I was wearing those shielding glasses which absorbed most of the impact of that blow.

But chiefly I was humbled as I sought Him about a single eye. He has taught me with a potent object lesson this parable once before, so an invasion serves as a warning to be vigilant. Once, I was worshiping at church when my eye suddenly clouded with such goo I could not see clearly, and I went to rinse my contact lens in a sink. There the Lord spoke clearly to me, “Let your eye be single”, and I was convicted as I remembered the rest of the scripture, “and thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. Therefore, if the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew 6:22, 23).

I knew the Spirit was rebuking me for great slothfulness during a time when vigilance was needful; this was a past season of great spiritual conflict. A foolish distraction kept me up all night and made me short-tempered in the morning, and the Father sought to show me how costly that unwatchfulness could be.

Now, when I am being pressed, I try to separate myself from anything that draws strength away from the battle. Yet in this stressful season, instead of watching and praying with patience, I let my guard down, and at the worst possible time I spoke callously and hurt deeply a dear one. I was oblivious to that soul’s sense of betrayal as I half-heartedly apologized later. My heart was hard, and I felt justified; and so my eye, like my soul, crusted over with its infection; and it stayed half shut until I bowed down, stopped grumbling and submitted to the discipline of the Lord.

I am so thankful for that spanking of conjunctivitis. It protected me when the enemy, the one who is a destroyer of everything, desired to put out my eye. The hand of the Lord deflected the blow. What a contrast between the enemy’s designs and the Father’s discipline! The devil seeks to dishearten, discourage and shift our attention so we forget that our God is good. Our Father, in His loving correction, seeks only that we would fall back into His arms again, back into the blessing of His tender care.

I have fallen back into the Father, He has restored my soul; I have my gaze back onto my Lord.

And how excellent it is to see Him clearly again.

There is Sorrow On The Sea

September 8, 2009

( Jeremiah 49:23, from Spurgeon’s, ‘Evening by Evening’, 9/7)

“It cannot be quiet…” for the sea longs
to give up its dead! All its billows roll
over so many bones: ruins of the fallen,
all the drawn under–the sea
mourns for them! It weeps in its
waves, keens in wind, and ends in
sobs, the shudders of pebbles on sand.

The sea remembers some comfort,
once: the exquisite voice of Him
who understands this pain,
who does sit by and moan, who does
share such sorrow too! The sea was
silenced at the word of this One,
and longed for its own annihilation,

for time’s final unwinding,
heavens bright dawn
and the end of all turmoil–
when the sea will be relieved of grief,
and its salt tears at last.
Like the sun and moon, it will be gone, and yet
a rainbow, like an emerald, is around Him.

Joy In A Stone

September 7, 2009

For Elijah T

Surely it cried out then,
when the ponderous weight of it
was pushed by some angelic hand,
and mysteriously rolled away.
Surely the stone was singing then–
perhaps in rapture —

it no longer covered
His sarcophagus.  It had been
first witness to death’s collapse. The stone
saw the grave give up it’s relentless
gravity;  the grave had power no longer
to return to dust the children of men.

The Son of Man spoke this truth:
When man’s stark silence is stubborn,
the stones must speak His praise.
So in that moment, the yearning
of all creation echoes in
that stone’s shout of — Hosanna!

Then silenced,
until Apocalypse, until
after the rocks have all fallen.
But when every broken boulder is gone
and every tomb is empty —
then we shall hear again the joy of stones.