Monthly Archives: August 2008

The lure of the Internet; porn addiction and can there be found intimacy on line?

COLD FACTS:

55% of all men and over 30% of the women surf for porn on the internet. According to Aftonbladet, Swedish national daily that did a research among 60.000 of its readers.

People’s addiction leads to the break down of their lives(see article in the Christian Daily Dagen).

A major reason young people go on line (besides the search for facts and information for studies) is to find intimacy and relationships. However, soon after one starts surfing the web, unwanted site and pop-ups might appear luring you to places and addresses you never intended to visit in the first place!

For quite some years I have been dealing with the consequences of the lure of the Internet. I have met dozens of men and women who have become entangled by the poisonous tentacles of the ever-widening and aggressive porn industry sucking out all life from them. Teenagers, young single men and women, but also (many) married ones who have become totally addicted to visiting pornographic sites and the temporary release it seems to give them when needed.

I meet with people who have destroyed their relationships and families and they became more and more compulsive in their behavior as a direct result of their dependency on pornography.

Personally I believe that we are standing on the verge of an epidemic outbreak that will demand our full attention since it affects people’s life and relationships so deeply that it may handicap them for life!

Like I said before I believe one of the major reasons people go to the internet (and here I want to include the different chat rooms) is the search for intimacy. Our society has estranged people from each other and a sense of “aloneness” has made us feel alienated from our surrounding. Next to that we are dealing with the consequences of the break-down of relationships and marriages that leave deeply ingrained wounds in all persons involved (including the children!).

With that in mind and the reality of a strongly individualized society that we live in, it is not strange that we are encountering a “vacuum of intimacy” in our life.

The chat rooms.

A logical step to try to fill that vacuum would be to go on the internet and look for the “lost intimacy” in a non-threatening environment where we are interacting with other people in such ways that we could never do in “real life”. In the chat rooms where people communicate without the relationship having to be based on looks, people go much deeper. Yes, faceless communication on the Internet allows us to bypass a lot of shyness and awkwardness. The most socially handicapped person can become the star of the chat room! The chat rooms allow us to hide our weaknesses and exaggerating our strengths. It is easy for people to feel close to someone who is always able “to put their best foot forward”. After all, we all want to be able to grow close to someone without having to expose our worst sides. The Internet allows that. It is not uncommon for people to fall in love with faceless strangers only to discover that their princes / princesses were wolves in sheep clothes!

Pornography on the Internet.

Another way to search for intimacy is to create a fantasy world with pornography. It creates an unreal world that brings a person deeper and deeper into a dependency (NOT unlike drug and alcohol addiction!!!) that influences us throughout our development stages and that sets the tone for our further life. The problem is that an addiction is developed that forces us to find sexual relieve through masturbation and can (and often will) develop into compulsive sexual behavior / masturbation. Emotional and sexual needs are geared towards the encounter with “airbrushed models and porn stars and “nameless strangers” estranging us from our reality and our relationships. Torbjörn Fjellström who runs Sweden’s only state acknowledged clinic for”relationship abusers” (relationsmissbrukare) categorizes compulsive masturbation and Porn dependency as addiction!

All of us develop habits that are either good or bad. It takes a lot of energy, power and support to actually change habits that have been developed over time. For some it seems at time impossible to do so.

However, as many former drug-, alcohol- and sex addicts can testify: God, through Jesus Christ, can set us free from every destructive habit and sin! He is not only able to do that; He can also fill the void; the empty space and vacuum that led us in the first place to seek for that intimacy! He is able to renew us, change and transform us from the inside out. He is also able to help us deal with past issues and to build a platform for new meaningful relationships. Are you entangled in the web of dependency? Take the time NOW to take a stand and ask for help before you sink deeper into this quicksand.

It’s not an easy road to go, there are many obstacles, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel; dare to recognize that!

That’s the Way I see it!

John

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True comfort and perspective to a misunderstood church planter and entrepreneur…

Have you felt misunderstood? Have you been questioned lately? Have you been in a position of unbelievable opportunities and open doors and when you try to communicate the excitement of it all people look you squarely in the face and wonder what the fuzz is all about? “Hello, this is the answer on our prayers! These are the works which God has prepared for you and me to move into!” Hello! Is anybody home?!” you wonder.

No matter what you do, no matter what you say, no matter how you live; if you are a pioneer, a church planter or an entrepreneur YOU WILL BE MISUNDERSTOOD! Most people in our churches have something against people with gifts and callings like the once I mentioned. The uneasy awareness of having people like that in your close surrounding is a threat to the very things that most people appreciate and seem to worship, namely: security and stability.

The sheer presence of a person like me tends to shake the fragile equilibrium which has been subconsciously and carefully designed within the group. (By the way; can you do that kind of thing in such way?!) Anyway… I cannot start to even tell you about the number of occasions when I have been accused, questioned, or downright neglected because I was too fast, had too many visions, or was too dissatisfied with the speed or direction we were going. (At times we were going nowhere fast!) People have complained about the lack of structure in the ministries I have been involved in, or the lack of unity, the lack of uniformity, or the lack of conscious majority support of members and regular visitors.

HELLO!? Doesn’t the fact that one is called to be a pioneer, church planter, and or entrepreneur imply that there is no majority vote empowering and enabling the ministry? The essence of such callings imply having to do things other people don’t (yet) do, seeing things others don’t (yet) see, or giving oneself to causes, situations, projects and faith demanding enterprises which seem far too daring, far too insecure and far too challenging to the overwhelming majority of people around you. Structures and organization will always be a few steps behind because of the nature of pioneering.

I believe that we as a church have a unique calling to remain a pioneering and church planting church which means that the fragile equilibrium will be shaken time after time again. It is part of the nature of our calling. Too often I have tried to appease people, too often I have tried to be someone I am not, too often I have felt guilty for being the one I believe I was meant to be. I also have felt guilty for not giving what people wanted.

“True comfort and perspective for a misunderstood church planter and entrepreneur…” was the title of this blog… The other day I was comforted when a man who has perspective, experience and knowhow told me, as I described my inner journey and struggle in regards to this matter; “OF COURSE you cannot provide a secure structure and organization when the development of the church and ministry is going as it does. As long as you are willing and determined to search for people and ministries behind the doors which seem to open to you, structures will have to change and adjust!”

When he pointed out to that I was reminded of the Early Church and God’s unexplainable and incomprehensible move through His Holy Spirit in and through the lives of the believers and beyond them… There was no status quo, there was little security, there were, let’s be honest, numerous potential hazardous situations which could have broken down the fragile balance in this young Body of believers… But they didn’t! The theology, structures and organization of the Early Church were always a few steps behind, but God in His mercy choose this bunch of rather ethnocentric Jewish believers empowered by the Holy Spirit to bring about an all encompassing, multi cultural, cross generational and world sweeping movement which shook and shakes the fragile equilibrium of the world’s value systems and priorities by bringing the up-side-down kingdom.

That awareness made me smile…and it brought comfort to my soul. I realized that for a reason like that I don’t care to be misunderstood! I would love to be part of a new overwhelming minority which will do the same in our world!

That’s the Way I see it!

John

Todd Bentley – the fact that we are spiritually malnourished doesn’t mean we have to eat anything offered to us!

Dagen reported about Todd Bentley‘s seperation…I found this out a couple of days ago and latest today I received a mail from a friend addressing the same matter. I feel compelled to write something too, one of those who have their opinions on matters. Here I go: This is only my second blog on Todd Bentley. In an earlier blog I wrote;

There is another reason too for the quick spread of this phenomenon; the sheer absence of the super-natural, the power and the ever present need for EXPERIENCE (a main factor to be reckoned with in our Post-modern, Post-Christian Western world) in our churches has created a tremendous void. So when something supernatural happens we are overly focused on it because we are destitute for it.

Since April I have followed almost every single development in Lakeland, my earliest letter with a journalist in the Lakeland area is already from that time. I have spoken on the telephone with leaders living in the Lakeland area… and have tested and read the teachings and experiences of angels, prophetic words, and visions while this information was still to be found as reference material on Fresh Fire’s homepage.

I have tested Patricia King’s and others involvement, their extreme prophecies and her flirt with “kundalini” dances and the blending with New Age Philosophies left me astonished about the lack of discernment of them and the body of believers that get their “spiritual” input from her and her likes.

Peter Wagner (one of my former favorite professors) and the apostolic team shocked me with their lack of discernment and Bill Johnson’s motivation why he was involved in such a controversial ceremony to affirm Todd Bentley’s ministry puzzled me.

The whole exploitation of God TV as they “launched” this revival and tried to keep it alive through false prophecies and even treats to those who might ask questions shows how deep we have sunk in our desperateness to “get some” power and our how commercially motivated our ministries are!

YET I have publicly been quiet about my observations. WHY? That’s a relevant question. On a personal level I have talked about and explained many of my observations to numerous people as I considered the time and situation right. Besides my many theological questions I have been hurting as I saw how people were treated as gadgets and props in a play which is foreign to me and (I believe) to my Lord.

I have been hurting as I recognized the lack of discernment and the eagerness to embrace anything which was but a weak and (at times) unrecognizable reflection of God and His Power.

Let me continue my line of thought about the why of my quietness. As I said I chose the occasions when to speak, I feel responsible as a pastor of a local church to maintain the focus on the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, His Word and the unity of this local church for which He makes me responsible. If I would have gone out publicly in Stockholm and Sweden I could have created disunity and gaps between believers. That’s why I felt the Lord told me to let it all pass… Time will tell, I wrote months ago, whether this move is from God or people. My conclusion: there was a lot of flesh in it!

And yet… God met with many people on a personal level. I have understood that the worship and adoration to God especially in the worship times through singing and praying might have been the most anointed times of the whole revival. I know God honors the honest search for Him, He recognizes the thirst and hunger in our hearts… But we have to realize that although we have been malnourished of spiritual power, that we cannot eat anything offered to us.

Among those who were touched by this revival there was the attitude to take it or leave. Or, “Don’t question God, “Don’t touch the anointed of the Lord” and “Don’t stand in the way of God!” Every question was unspiritual or showed an attitude of rebellion. We had to eat what was offered to us!

My friends, the fact is that we in the West are malnourished in regard to spiritual power BUT we have the responsibility, discernment and wisdom to not eat anything that is offered to us or shoved down our throats! It is very unhealthy of malnourished people to just eat anything because they lack discernment; they are just hungry and want to eat anything – (here my comparison stops).

After my first blog on Todd Bentley, I have addressed a number of times the issue and characteristics of leadership not necessarily mentioning Todd to avoid unnecessary splits . Here, here, here and here...I did feel from the very beginning as I studied him and his material that there were character flaws and I hoped that they would not blow up in his face and ministry… Unfortunately they did. The latest development where there seems to be a potential divorce on its way between him and his wife confirms this fact. Although some have written about the fact that four months of revival and absence could break down any marriage (on that I agree), we know that Todd’s wife and kids were brought over to Lakeland quite some time ago to avoid such scenario. The present separation had its roots long before the Lakeland period.

What can we learn from this? So much can be said about it… But let me consider a few pointers:

Test everything; this is the responsibility God gives to the New Testament Church. He did not say “Question everything” – but test!

Accountability is needed for every single believer; not only in matters of the heart and character, but also in ministry.

Don’t eat anything that’s thrown at you when you are hungry!

Learn from Church History, and recognize God’s actions and His ways… But look especially for Him!

Don’t allow differences of opinions and style to create division and exclusiveness.

Stay humble! This is say to me as well; I am only one decision away from stumbling! Lord keep me, Lord keep us, close enough to You to become or to remain receptive enough to listen and obey You!

And let’s pray for Todd, his family and all the others that have been influenced for good or bad throughout this process.

That’s the Way I see it!

John