Division that burdens my heart…

Jesus Culture - Encounter 2013

Do you look at things according to the outward appearance? If anyone is convinced in himself that he is Christ’s, let him again consider this in himself, that just as he is Christ’s, even so we are Christ’s. -2 Cor 10:7

My heart has been very burdened lately for the division I see among different denominations and movements of God.

Seeing so much division in the church causes doubt among believers and those whom have not yet accepted God’s call. This is precisely the devil’s plan—if he can divide the church and get believers arguing and striving over theology disputes, then there will be less converts. The church will become powerless this way because there is not a strong foundation.

The ways of God are just too big and mysterious for any one man to have all the answers. There are many things in scripture that are confusing and to my limited finite understanding often seem contradictory to other parts of scripture. The man who has to have an answer for everything in this life, will without a doubt put his faith into some answers that will end up being wrong. The Apostle Paul understood this when he wrote, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! (Rom 11:33). We must approach these issues with humility, knowing that we are never going to have all the answers on this side of the veil! I’ve even heard people say that, “the entire Bible makes complete sense and I’ve never found any parts to contradict each other.” Really? If you’ve said that then I’m not sure what Bible you’re reading. It’s time to get real. It’s time to be authentic and repent of our distrust in God and our need to have all the answers. It’s time to unpack your god box and give the living God room in your life to take control.

It’s time to trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. (Prov 3:5)

It breaks my heart seeing brothers in Christ pointing the finger condemning one another—and done with the intentions of serving Christ no less. However, I believe that the finger pointing is actually rooted mostly in pride, fear and insecurity of their own salvation. If someone believes something different from what another has been taught, then suddenly their belief system has been threatened and defense mode kicks in. To feel secure and “provide a defense” the finger pointing starts and the three year old theology bickering begins.

My wife and I have recently moved to become part of a community of believers in Redding, California at Bethel Church. Those of you familiar with the church are probably familiar with it’s many critics as well. The Lord had been calling me here through many dreams, visions, circumstances, impressions and prophetic words spoken over the last year. One day in December I received a very clear word from the Lord that it was time to “Go”. He confirmed this three times. At the time He told us to go I had no way possible of moving. In the next week God performed one miracle after the next opening multiple doors to provide the “how” to His command. He took care of every single detail. He got us both jobs in a city where the unemployment rate is very high. He provided a low rent place to live – and even pet friendly so we could bring our dogs. He provided money gifted to us for moving expenses and even a second car to use so we could both start our new jobs. This all took place in less than one week from getting the “go” command.

Anyways, since moving here on Jan 1st I have become increasingly aware of different groups of Christians who have made it their agenda to criticize the church as being under demonic influence. It just seems so ridiculous to me and it burdens my heart to see them speaking so condescendingly. The Lord has been teaching me to let go of my fear of man and live in freedom from being confident in who He is and who He says I am. Through this process He has put it on my heart to get this off my chest and in a sense “come out,” that I am now a part of the Bethel community and I am not ashamed of my new family. As sure as I am in my salvation, I am sure that the Spirit of the Lord is here with us at Bethel and working through the church. There are many things in life and our spiritual walk that we are never going to fully understand. Pointing the finger at something and calling it demonic every time this happens is just plain childish and precisely what the Pharisees did to Jesus. There have been countless miraculous healings and testimonies of transformed lives as the fruit of Bethel. To call these acts demonic is giving the devil way too much credit.

If you are a person who has spoken out against Bethel then know that I forgive you and I love you as a brother in Christ. We serve the same Lord and I pray that His desire for us to be as one from His love for both of us, would compel you to act also in love toward us here at Bethel.

My prayer today is the same as our Lord’s from John 17:20-21

I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You Father are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.

19 thoughts on “Division that burdens my heart…

  1. Talitha Kum

    “It’s time to get real. It’s time to be authentic and repent of our distrust in God and our need to have all the answers. It’s time to unpack your god box and give the living God room in your life to take control.” AMEN! sometimes i think that such blogs have more authentic faith then some churches and denominations. people are tired to be boxed!

    1. Justin Post author

      Thanks so much for your reply. I felt vulnerable in this post and you were the first “like” and encouraging comment so thank you for blessing my day. 🙂

      1. Talitha Kum

        Hey, I get it! My family are not Christians. After spending 2 years in the U.S. I actually thought I was in a land of religious freedom. I accepted Jesus and had no idea what was ahead of me when I come home. Man, that was like an icy shower. I was ridiculed, mocked, called crazy, people eagerly shared with me that religion is for the weak and not very bright people.. oh, and for the desperate people too. It was ok to be “a little” Christian, but following Christ – madness! Dad kept telling me that I got myself brainwashed… And I come from a “Christian” nation. So I know how it is to come out of the closet 🙂
        Actually, I came across Bethel on the internet once. But I haven’t been there, so I can’t really make any educated comments. I know one thing, the fruit of the ministry looks impressive, and mocking and undermining the Holy Spirit is not a good idea. He’s powerful and beyond our comprehension. Just be the light wherever you are! Love people! There’s so much we don’t understand of God’s mysteries. Like one of my favorite pastors says, if we could understand everything, that would be a disaster, that would mean that God is limited, and predictable. And nobody really thinks this way.
        (I’m in a mood for long comments these days 🙂 )
        Blessings to you, brother! Embrace the trials, they are for a reason!

      2. Justin Post author

        It baffles me that society has chosen to make belief that life is meaningless the “educated” worldview. I’ve thought about this many times and it seems so irrational and unreasonable to believe we are a complete accident. Life is bigger than us.

  2. aevardis

    Amen to that! The Holy Spirit has obviously led you – keep trusting HIs leading… My wife and I made the sacrifice last year to do BSSM – I too have been burdened by the negative propaganda that us circulating, particularly from home (Australia). I usually point people to fruit. Look at all the amazing things that have taken place and are taking place as a result of Bethel. Not to mention several thousand believers who love Jesus…

    1. Justin Post author

      Yes! I am blown away every time of worship at Bethel by the passion! You can’t fake the passion in that church for Jesus. Good stuff brother. 🙂

  3. Cindy Powell

    Welcome to my world. Proud of you–you got there a lot quicker than I did. Hard to take a stand when it is certain there are some who will misunderstand or disagree. All you can do is release grace to them to be where they are and trust that Jesus will continue to supply the grace for you to be where He has called YOU. After awhile, I learned to stay away from certain internet site, forums, etc.–and sadly even certain people–because it just made my heart hurt. Most of those who are so fearful of deception and who respond so vehemently to those who don’t think just like them, are already more deceived than the deception they fear. Jesus IS the Truth–keep your eyes on Him and it will all work out okay 🙂

  4. Don

    Good conclusion. Our oneness is in Christ. As the first part of your post describes, our oneness is not in so many varied understandings (or lack of understanding) of the Bible. But we know that God came in the man Jesus, died for our redemption, rose, and is coming again. He is our salvation.
    Thank the Lord for His wonderful leading and supplying of you both in your move.

  5. nopew

    Jonah shows us what happens if we don’t go God’s way, right? Only when people live out love as disciples of Jesus and override tradition and rules of any congregation/denomination can we say we take John 17 as a practical guide to faithfulness. Alas, too many people would rather be right than righteous!! Grace and peace to you in the will of Almighty God

  6. Don

    Justin, this is a response to your Jan 23, 2:39 pm comment. Could it be possible that the “life is meaningless” worldview is actually God confounding the worldly wise people (I looked at 1 Cor. 1:18-29). Since God has set eternity in the human heart (Eccl. 3:11), those who are sensitive to what God has done in their heart might question the teaching of meaninglessness and thus open to the gospel.

    1. Justin Post author

      I think there is a connection. It’s hard for me to really say why other people choose the materialistic view – of basically what you see is what you get and when you die that’s it (which I see as saying “life is meaningless”) – since each story is different. I think some just accept it because it’s what they’ve been taught and it’s become a very popular view. With myself I rejected belief in God for many years because it didn’t make sense to me. So in my inability to understand something much greater than myself, and the thought of that greater than me being actually wanting to influence my lifestyle towards a direction I felt I did not want to go, I rejected it. Once you’ve rejected theism you have to put your faith into something. I suppose in that situation materialism becomes attractive to many. Then somewhere down the road many like myself hit a wall where we get tired of lying to ourselves and when we actually show humility, search inside, and are honest with ourselves.. we find God. So I see materialism as man’s best answer to rejecting theism which I think is directly related to the scripture you quoted about the wisdom of man being foolish to God.

  7. dkdanknowles

    Thanks for this post! It’s really important to stay united in Christ and centre around LOVE and the things we share – LOVE of CHRIST! Only then, as family (not strangers), we can encourage and converse with each other about our shared love.
    Anyways, nice post 🙂 Many blessings to you guys at Bethel from the UK!

  8. Trevor Cain

    Great topic man. It does burden my heart as well seeing and knowing the crazy disputes and unnecessary disagreements christians get into concerning conservative/charismatic or whatever you wana call it. When it comes to the Holy Spirit my pastor said it well, “you know some people just dont let the Bible get in the way of their theology.” And thats just it we have to allow the Love of God and His Presence to invade our lives if it goes against a previous experience or theology. Jesus is Lord and the rest falls into place. Culture of honor!

  9. Zazzy

    No one wants division, its really quite ugly but we must have truth, we must test the spirits – we must be responsible in the things we are partnering with to ensure that they really are Godly, they line up with with the word of God & that we & those we may be responsible for, are not being led into deception & falseness..

    Im sorry to say that I left my Bethelized church, because I could plainly see that the leadership there had sidelined the person of Jesus & the truth of the Gospel – thereference & grounding of Christ Crucified to the back benches… mentioned only in passing – it felt like “we have moved on from all of that” instead we had ambigious teaching about “the presence” with no clear explanation of what that really was about — everything became increasingly experimental & experiential… The culture of honour was widely talked about & expected … but that didnt stop the senior leader from speaking to people in relationship so disrespectfully & getting away with it because no one was able to hold him to account… Every single word & teaching that leaves the lips of Bethel’s leaders was highly highly regarded without question.. & if anyone in our congregation had (dared) brought a word, genuinely from God that didn’t seem to fit with that which was coming from Bethel it was simply disregarded… there was no longer any seeking God, or waiting on him or discerning.. the acceptance of whether something was deemed Godly or not, anointed or not lay with WHAT would Bethel’s approach/response/leadership be over the issue…. I understand that this makes what I have seen & been involved with idolatry..

    Our lives blew up because we had to leave a church on this basis of falseness.

    I have 2 questions to ask you guys: you talk of fruit- but truly where is the fruit of the spirit when there is dishonesty, sign seeking & a demonstration of personal ambition,… & falseness with things not rooted in the word of God.

    & second: the focus on signs & wonders & miracles… some of the manifestations of the “spirit” I see which are transferrable anointings are the very same demonstrations that would have provoked responsible leaders to facilitate deliverance from evil spirits 25/30+ years ago… how can this be? surely the entire history of the church cant have been discerning things that wrong for approx 1994 years..

    I could go on but I wont… as we have set up blog for that purpose… http://rooftopsandrafters.wordpress.com

    I want to honour you guys too… but sadly Im having to separate from what I see & now know as un scriptural error in the outworking of “spiritual experiments”… on this basis, I would lovingly ask who it is that has brought in deceptions & errors..?. It seems to me the change in the charismatic “churchview’ promoted by Bethel & others in this River is quite recent & constantly changing & mutating further & further from the truth of the Word

    with love.


    1. Justin Post author

      Hey Z,

      As far as fruit I hear multiple testimonies at church pretty much every time I’m there about transformed lives and different miraculous healings, etc. We recently had a baptism night where each of the 50 or so being baptized talked briefly about how their life had been dramatically changed by coming to know Jesus. Each story had their unique details of course. As far as personal fruit in my life my wife had trouble with her eyes having floaters for the last couple years. One service at Bethel they asked anyone who had floaters in their eyes to stand for prayer. They instantly went away and have stayed away since. We’ve also been involved with a Love After Marriage workshop/class that we go to weekly and the fruit of this has been an amazing spiritual closeness between my wife and I and a closer partnership in seeking and knowing the Lord as a union more so than our separate walks we had before. It’s been quite amazing! Praise Jesus!

      As far as seeking signs and wonders – Pastor Bill Johnson is very open that he teaches signs and wonders are strictly to point people to Jesus Christ – not a substitute at all! With myself I always found it strange reading about things in the gospels and the book of Acts but never seeing these things (signs and wonders) in the church or ministry. It appeared as if the Gospel had lost power.. But I didn’t believe that and so in seeking God He led me to Bethel – which was quite a miraculous process itsefl. The rest of your question I suppose you’re talking about people laughing or “twitching” from the Holy Spirit. This is something I have not personally experienced myself and Ill admit seeing others like this is quite weird, but so is rolling around naked and prophesying – like happened to Saul under the Presence of God.. Also the experience of the coming the of The Holy Spirit in Acts must have looked pretty weird too – so weird that they were thought to be drunk by others observing it.

      Hope that helps answer your questions. I’m sure you know there’s entire books written to speak for and against Bethel which explain both points much better than I can but I hope my personal experience can give you a better understanding of the church. I’m sorry to hear you had to leave your former church and I pray that God moves you to a perfect fit for you.
      Much love brother. -Justin


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