Mike Bickle and Benjamin Netanyahu

Thursday, November 2, 2023

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Dear Pastors

Mike Bickle

It is with a heavy heart that we once again hear of a high profile pastor and Christian leader being investigated for serious misconduct. Mike Bickle, the founder of the International House of Prayer of Kansas City (IHOPKC), is facing allegations of sexual and spiritual abuse spanning decades and involving multiple women. Bickle, 68, has been accused of sexual misconduct “where the marriage covenant was not honoured,” according to a statement released Saturday (28th October) from a group of former IHOPKC leaders who investigated the claims.

Can I say again, this is too sad for words. What I find so hard in this (and all previous cases of fallen pastors) is that it invariably causes a lot of hurt amongst Christians even to the point that some abandon their walk with the Lord. And that is saying nothing about our witness to the watching world.

Here is a very good ‘word of encouragement’ from Dr Michael Brown for those who have been rocked by these latest allegations. I so agree with him when he says, “If the charges are true, focus must first be put on the victims themselves, working for their full restoration and healing. They are often forgotten at times like this, which only adds sin to sin and hurt to hurt. As for Mike, if he were found guilty, the focus should be on his personal, spiritual restoration, not on discussion about ministry restoration (highlighting mine).

Benjamin Netanyahu

I write as one who is pro-Israel. I do believe that Israel is entitled to have a piece of land (not necessarily according to the Old Testament) in the Middle East that is their own and that they should be able to live in peace just like every other nation in the world.

I have previously expressed my deep disappointment (now outrage) at the actions of Hamas. These actions should be condemned.

That said and some two weeks later I am feeling very upset with Netanyahu. I say Netanyahu rather than Israel because I no longer believe that Netanyahu is fairly representing the Israeli position. Some experts say the episode (bombing of innocent civilians in Gaza yesterday) confirmed a widening rift within the political and military establishment, one that questioned Netanyahu’s leadership and his capacity to navigate the country through war without prioritising his own interests over national security.

Further, some might assume that evangelical Protestants automatically support Israel based on eschatological views that cast the modern state of Israel in some role in biblical prophecy. For some, this is indeed the case. It’s a kind of ‘Israel can do no wrong mentality’. Many of us, though, don’t share those beliefs. We believe the promises of God are fulfilled in Christ, not in the 1948 Israeli Declaration of Independence. Many of us are quite willing to call out Israel when we believe it is acting wrongly. We don’t believe the Israeli Knesset is somehow inerrant or infallible. And by the way there were many occasions in the Old Testament that God was displeased with the children of Israel to the point that God punished them. As at this moment I believe Netanyahu (and Israel to a lesser degree as a result) is behaving badly. Personally, I am praying for a ceasefire.

Finally, my friend and colleague, Michael Hewat (pastor at West Hamilton Community Church) gave some good advice recently when he wrote to his congregation. “As always, the Scriptures are our best guide, but they must be understood and applied correctly. So, for example, the call to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Ps 122:6) is just that: a call to pray for peace—for God’s peace. It is not a call to pray for a crushing military victory. The relationship between Old Testament Israel / Jerusalem and modern-day Israel / Jerusalem needs careful, biblical thought. What’s more, Jesus firmly resisted any suggestion that his kingdom would come by force, or that it be equated with any human kingdom”. Amen!

As always I welcome your comments. Please don’t hesitate to shoot me an email. Alan.vink@leadershipworx.org.nz


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