Dear Worship Community,
I write this article today from my home office and studio. Looking outside my windows I can see the rain and wind increasing from Tropical Storm Fay. Although she is located several hours south of our home I can see and feel her presence. As the sky grows darker and more ominous I can’t help but think of the storm we’ve encountered over the last twenty four hours in the world’s worshiping communities.
Breaking across the news, forums, blogs, and twitter we all became aware of a great disappointment involving Mike Guglielmucci, author of the smashing hit song, “Healer”. Many who are familiar with this song and Mike’s story would read this and immediately think “Mike has passed away. He lost his battle with cancer”.
Thankfully, that is not the disappointment and sorrow that we embraced yesterday. On the contrary, we were informed of a totally different, sad situation … the news that Mike Guglielmucci’s story of his terminal disease, his battle with cancer, and who knows what else …. was a lie. While we can rejoice that our brother in Christ does not have cancer, we grieve for the reality that He felt it necessary to create a lie that would spread around the world. One of the original stories was published in this Australian news site.
So as worshipers, many of whom have promoted this song, the now-famous video testimony, and the recordings, we find ourselves tossing back and forth with waves of emotion including anger, grief, frustration, bitterness, pity … and the list goes on and on. Many of us have shown the video of this false testimony to our churches, our friends, and even our sick loved ones.
This comes on the heels of continued announcements of sin and moral failure from other well-known ministers including Todd Bentley of the “Lakeland Revival”.
Events like these invoke such incredible emotions and questions. With today’s technology it’s not uncommon for a person, a song, a ministry, or an event to become world-famous within a few weeks. How do we handle the fame?
How do we address the elevation of people and songs into the world’s view? More importantly – how do we handle it when these “vessels” break?
The news came pouring into my inbox yesterday morning. I was scheduled to lead an hour of worship and prayer at my home church, St. Simons Community Church. I arrived for prayer, sat down at the keyboard, and looked across the congregation. With authentic disclosure I leaned into the mic and said, “I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to worship. I don’t want to sing. I’m frustrated. I’m disappointed and disillusioned”. Jumping into a super-spiritual time of worship would have been fake and fabricated – just as much as the story Mike Guglielmucci has told us. I gave a quick, 2-3 minute recap of the morning’s events and just sat back for prayer.
One of the men in the congregation spoke out and brought forth a reading from God’s Word that I believe is incredibly relevant to this situation.
15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.
18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, …
I love how “The Message” translation covers verses 18-19:
18 So how am I to respond? I’ve decided that I really don’t care about their motives, whether mixed, bad, or indifferent. Every time one of them opens his mouth, Christ is proclaimed, so I just cheer them on! And I’m going to keep that celebration going 19 because I know how it’s going to turn out.
Men and women of God, we must remember this truth. God has given us His light. We are to be His glory here in the earth. However, the all-wise God of the Universe chose to put Himself in us, a people who despite all the wonderful glory of God are “prone to wander” as the hymn writer of “Come Thou Fount” so poetically puts it.
Paul speaks to this in 2 Corinthians:
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all‑surpassing power is from God and not from us. (2 Cor. 4:7)
We are these earthen, clay vessels. The thing about earthen, clay vessels is that they are fragile. They can break. So when vessels break, how do we respond? Biblical discipline should be exercised through the local church. I’m grateful to see this is happening. The position of influence and honor should be removed. Restoration should begin. Healing should be sought. Prayer should be offered.
As I have pondered these events, I’m somewhat at peace by the reminder that none of this surprised God. He wasn’t caught off guard. As much as this sin and failure grieves Him and His Church, He is still in control.
We do not know the heart or motives of Mike Guglielmucci, Todd Bentley, or other ministers who have had their sins exposed on a worldwide level. We certainly must confess that we’re all capable of such sin. We must ask ourselves how the Church would respond if all of our secret sins, thoughts, motives, and selfish ambitions were exposed for the world to see.
With this in mind, we have to ask ourselves this question – does the breaking of the vessel disqualify what the vessel produced? Is the song tainted? Honestly, the true motive behind the creation of these lyrics and this beautiful, anthemic melody is still unknown. We cannot (and should not) accurately judge that at this time with our limited information. Still, aren’t these lyrics still true? Do they not express God’s redemption and healing grace? Do they not uplift and edify the sick, the weak and the weary?
Lastly, could it be that God will use any vessel (weak, strong, broken, tainted) to accomplish His will? I believe we can go to Scripture and see God using the weak to confound the wise. He uses wicked Kings and rulers to further His plan. He uses prostitutes and yes, even donkeys. He uses you and me.
These actions, like Tropical Storm Fay, are sending out their effects. The rock has been thrown into the water, and the ripples are racing across time. How will we, the Church, respond? Despite our frustration, let’s allow the local church and those in authority over these “broken vessels” their freedom to exercise discipline. For the rest of us, let us pray. Pray earnestly for those affected. Pray that God will be glorified in the midst of failure. Pray that “in our weakness, He will be strong”. Pray for wisdom to those involved in the music industry that have supported this song. Pray for Planetshakers, Hillsongs, and for Integrity Music. Pray for the tens of thousands of Believers that will be discouraged by high profile, public failure.
I believe You’re my Healer
I believe You are all I need
I believe You’re my Portion
I believe You’re more than enough for me
Jesus You’re all I need
My Healer, You’re my Healer
Nothing is impossible for You
Nothing is impossible for You
Nothing is impossible for You
You hold my world in Your hands
As for me ….
I STILL BELIEVE.