20.8.08

I Believe You are My Healer?

This story is just gaining traction today, and if you hadn't heard about it yet, you were probably going to soon.

Here's the nutshell version: Pastor Mike Guglielmucci was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He went home that day and wrote the song "Healer", which was featured on the new Hillsongs CD that released last week (titled This Is Our God). Integrity Music and Hillsongs felt it was an amazing story, because it was, and have featured the backstory to the song on the DVD and on the web. People from churches across the country were writing in with stories about healing they were receiving, perhaps as a result of proclaiming the truth of the song.

But news reports out of Australia today are reporting that it was all a lie. Michael lied to his fellow pastors, musicians, and even his own family. He does not have terminal cancer. And allegedly he is now seeking professional help.

As news of this spreads online, in your church, at the bar, or wherever news about lying church clergy gets spread...you may be asked about it. This song was a huge hit in Australia (#2 on one of their charts) and was growing in popularity here in the states. Ironically, just last night at worship team practice we all watched the video and started learning the song. So...where does this leave the church?

A few things to consider as you sort this out:

1) Everyone is assuming that because he lied about his cancer, that this song was written with a deceitful spirit. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. Maybe he crafted this plan years ago. Maybe he wrote the song with good intentions, and only after he did it, did he decide a tragic story would increase it's appeal? We don't know...and honestly, it doesn't matter...which is my second point.

2) The spirit that the song was written in does not validate or invalidate it. Can someone tell me what percentage of the church’s songs over the past 100 years were written out of a humble heart? out of a heart longing to praise God? out a heart looking to write a hit? out of a heart looking for personal fame and glory? out of a heart looking to glorify God? Nope. No one can. Because we don’t know. So let's not pretend this even comes into the equation.

3) As Derek Webb says, "all truth is God’s truth". I don’t care if it comes out of the mouth of Kid Rock, The Rock, or Barack Obama. I don't care if it comes out of the mouth of John McCain, Edwin McCain, or Dean Cain. I don’t care if it’s done with a deceitful heart, a greedy heart, a loving heart, or a depressed heart. If it’s true, it’s true. Period. And if the words of the song were true before you found out Mike was lying, they are still true now.

4) We sing these songs (hopefully) because they proclaim truth about the God we serve. It just so happens that Hillsong and Integrity were duped into including the backstory to this song because it was so powerful, and as it turns out, it was a lie. If this was a song about Mike’s power, I’d throw it in the trash. But it’s a song about God’s power, and because of that I’ll probably sing it again. Maybe.

5) If Mike G. was lying about this to everyone, than clearly he is in need of some healing. Only it's a different healing than he made us believe. Funny thing about God is that he can take the worst situations and find ways to bring glory to himself in them. Wouldnt it be amazing if God used Mike to bring this song into our churches, and then used the popularity of the song to expose Mike for his lying and bring healing into his life? I don't know...it could happen.

6) I'm not endorsing the song or flaming it. It's a simple song, full of simple words and simple truths. I'll leave it up to you to determine its artistic and biblical merits (or lack thereof).

Anyway, just wanted to share some thoughts on this. Maybe you just see it as more bad press for Jesus. Maybe you're sick of "praise and worship" music. Maybe you've sung the song before and you feel duped? Maybe you don't care. The comments are yours if you want to share...

34 comments:

  1. here's the lyrics:

    You hold my every moment
    You calm my raging seas
    You walk with me through fire
    And heal all my disease

    I trust in You
    I trust in You

    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

    Nothing is impossible for You
    Nothing is impossible for You
    Nothing is impossible for You
    You hold my world in Your hands

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  2. Oh, man...I'm so disillusioned right now. Next you're going to tell me the story behind "Amazing Grace" isn't true, either.

    Someone hold me!

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  3. Two words:

    Mike Warnke.

    Look it up. This is hardly the first time. Evangelicals are so desperate to be famous lying is a small price to pay.

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  4. it does seem like this was done for fame...which is sad. like i said, i watched the video last night and dude said all the right things.

    btw, here's more info on Warnke

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  5. I think the most important thing to point out is this guy might be Australian. The whole country was built as a prison colony...are we really so surprised?

    This type of thing could NEVER happen in America.

    Well, besides Mark Warnke, that is.

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  6. I think Paul would like the spirit of what you wrote:

    Php 1:15-18 - Some proclaim Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from goodwill. These proclaim Christ out of love, knowing that I have been put here for the defense of the gospel; the others proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but intending to increase my suffering in my imprisonment. What does it matter? Just this, that Christ is proclaimed in every way, whether out of false motives or true; and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice,

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  7. @Jordan's comment...Funny dude. I'm American. Everyone is messed up. America, Australia, Asia, and everywhere are in the same boat. Messed up and needing a Savior.

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  8. I think the song is definitely anointed. Great blog!!! Mike Warnke? Come on people! It's not just the Christians...it's humans wanting to be validated. Anyone remember James Frey! Everyone wants to feel important!! Once again....great blog!!

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  9. until they take it down, you can see the DVD video of the backstory of the song here:

    Healer - Hillsong

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  10. I think part of the difference between the Warnke incident and this is that Warnke was essentially a singular performer/charlatan, while this whole Healer thing has crossed various institutional lines. To be frank, if Integrity was going to base nearly their entire campaign around this one song (including their Healer website that now appears to be down), they might have wanted to just double check the validity of the story behind the song. One can't say that the motivation behind the song isn't important when the entire promotional video Bryan linked to is about the track's emotional background and his oxygen aided performance. Now that Integrity and Hillsong have banked their financial success (at least on this album) on the track "Healer", they have to sleep in the bed they made. I wish it weren't so, but in any other line of work, if you going to market something based on a supposed illness, nearly every company would do a little fact checking first, and clearly someone dropped the ball on that end, and lots of people are going to have long rough days because of it, not just the songwriter.

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  11. I'm just pleased to hear a shout out for my favorite singer, Edwin McCain!!

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  12. yeah Dan, as much as I want to argue with your points...I really can't.

    I find it hard to blame Integrity. I mean, this guy was preaching all over the place apparently. If the entire Christian community in Australia is vouching for this guy, is someone in an office in Nashville really going to think, "hey, we better make sure this guy isn't faking cancer." I just don't see someone doing that...but like you said, it's Integrity's money and reputation on the line, so it sucks for them. (and i do have a friend or two there, so that factors in too)

    and if you watch the video, all of the Hillsongs musicians are on record as saying what a magical night it was, and how God moved. and frankly, I believe He did (or at least could have). Because even if the guy leading the song was living a lie, there were a whole bunch of people gathered there in Jesus name, coming with great faith and expectancy, asking God to move in their lives. That's bigger than a guy faking cancer. But yeah, all those musicians must feel awful for being duped by this guy, and for emotionally investing in his terminal illness when it was all a farce.

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  13. Jordan, keep studying your Australian history. South Australia was a free colony not a prison colony, and thats where Mike comes from.

    Also have a look at 'Bound for America: the transportation of British convicts to the colonies, 1718-1775' (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1987). http://iccs.arts.utas.edu.au/data/boundforamerica.html

    One thing that interests me is the suggestion that Mike also deceived his family. When you think of the logistics of keeping such an elaborate deception on your closest family members for two years, it beggars belief. Mike was supposedly wheelchair-bound with a broken-back and needing oxygen. Didn't his wife ask to see the Doctor? No, at least some of his family must have been in on the secret.

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  14. Yes, Jordan. You're so funny. You americans are all the same. Arrogant, warmongering pigs. Just like all Australians are criminals. Idiot.

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  15. it's not often you see the word "warmongering" used in a sentence.

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  16. "If the entire Christian community in Australia is vouching for this guy"

    Australian website:
    http://signposts02.wordpress.com/2008/08/21/more-sick-than-we-knew/#comments

    We're critical Down Under.

    "I think the most important thing to point out is this guy might be Australian. The whole country was built as a prison colony...are we really so surprised?

    This type of thing could NEVER happen in America."

    Incredible statement. This corporate branded church 'Hillsong' was founded with American Stars in it's eyes. Many other shady American corporate-style ministries were it's source of inspiration. Hagin, Copelin, Creflo, Jakes, etc.

    This 'exaggeration' is not the natural Australian way. We're fair dinkum, true blue, the shark's a shark down to earth. Yeah we'll have a lend of ya. But the general Christian Aussie has now fallen into the identity of American Corporate Pentecostalism (ACP)in learning how to speak, live, learn, wear, etc. Unfortunately, you're way of life is our way of life. And these ACP's are telling us to be American.

    So don't say it's convicts buddy. It's the Sensational American Pentecostal dramatic hype that got this guy where he was otherwise the church down here would have told him where to go much earlier on.

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  17. specksandplanks (and everyone else),

    I'm pretty sure jordan was being sarcastic. I won't speak for him...no, actually i will. he was being sarcastic. maybe you don't find it funny, whatever.

    but if you really think he is blaming this on the colonization of australia with convicts hundreds of years ago, you need to relax.

    and I realize that saying "if the entire christian community in australia was supporting this guy" was a huge generalization. of course not everyone was. my point was that this did not appear to be some fringe dude who no one would stand with. This guy was sharing a stage with some of the most respected leaders in Australia, right? And speaking at churches and youth groups across the country?

    Not only that, but if this guy went to the trouble of getting an oxygen tank and a wheelchair, I'm sure he could have figured out how to work up some fake doctor's records.

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  18. oh and we're aware of the ills of the American Church. We know there's lots of money changers and pigeon sellers in the temple. I wouldn't say you should blame everything that happens in the Aussie church on us, but we know we've got issues.

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  19. Honestly, and this may just be naive of me, but why do we have to focus on the nationality of the church as the origin of its problems?

    Aren't we all kind of screwed up in so many ways, and as a result of such deficiencies, there are bound to be similar screw ups across the globe? Does it really have to be blamed as an "American" problem or an "Australian" problem?

    Personally, I find Jordan's comments to be witty and equal in their distribution of blame for the crap that takes place in the CHURCH as a collective body.

    With that said, I'm glad God has the final say in this matter and not me.

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  20. If these comments have taught us anything, it's that hard prison time has robbed Australians everywhere of a sense of humor (or humour).

    Seriously, however, I think this controversy has brought us is the difficult line walked when marketing Christian related product. I have a lot of respect for the people over at Integrity, but I think they might have gone a bit too far with the Healer campaign, making for an uncomfortable mix of the sacred and the commercial. To me, at least, pushing a new release album with a marketing campaign emphasizing miraculous acts of God is a really sticky wicket.

    I don't know if I blame Hillsong particularly for falling for this guy's story, but if say, Honda was going to run a series of ads based on some guy's near fatal car accident, and how his Accord saved his life, someone would have went and pulled the police report.

    To "Specksandplanks", I think there's been a lot of give and take in Pentecostalism between the US and Australia, especially with the rise of Hillsong. Feel free to blame us here if you like, but there's something rather universal in the appeal of that sort of theology and practice that isn't exclusive to American culture.

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  21. These critical comments make me feel like an Indigenous Australian right up until the 1970's. :(

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  22. The thing that hurts most about that comment is there is absolutely no comeback I can make.

    Irony Jordan, spelt i.r.o.n.y - for someone in a writer's collective you really should find out how to do it. Look it up in a British dictionary ... or something. ... oh never mind.

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  23. At least Mike Warnke was funny.

    I'll tolerate a lot more from people who make me laugh (or should I clarify, made me laugh...when I was 8).

    BTW, didn't Warnke grow up in Australia...I'm pretty sure that's what he said.

    Criminals...

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  24. Check out this video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MgH8SAk3xs
    The guy makes some really good points.

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  25. "She's got an inner child
    A little tame and a whole lot of wild.
    But as crazy as it is, it is who she is.
    And she smiles and she frowns.
    She's sunshine and she's clouds."

    -Edwin McCain

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  26. a) Stop playing the song.
    b) Stop buying the album.
    c) Don't let the guy anywhere near pastoral ministry again.
    d) Prevent charlatans from gaining traction in the future.

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  27. I loved this song from the moment I first heard it. We sang it in church this morning. It still upsets me when I think of the fraudulance behind it, but it doesn't change the meaning behind it.

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  28. I believe this song was written with the true heartfelt need for healing. Michael Gugliomucci is clearly in need of healing and grace from God for what he has done and the deception. But I don't believe his revealed actions discount the song itself. Yes, he did lie about having cancer, but that was the fabricated lie to cover for a porn addiction which began when he was 12 years old(google it and his father, Danny, makes a statement on his son's behalf explaining this). So although what we were intially told to be the illness was a lie, he wrote that song out of a need for healing from something much more spiritual. As to what 'one salient oversight' said, what happened to mercy? Everybody falls, and I think out of this experience can come an even greater story, one of redemption and healing. I don't think we should be so quick to judge and condemn, sure, we shouldn't totally ignore what went on and pretend like everything is hunky-dory once more, but I believe wholeheartedly in giving this broken man another chance. If we allow him to get through this and support him through it, his ministry, through God, will indeed be incredible. Now I have never met him, or heard him preach, and I'm only 17 and live in NZ so maybe I have a somewhat idealistic view, but I believe with the grace and mercy of Jesus, Michael Gugliomucci will be healed from what seems to be an intense spiritual disease. Look at the story of King David in the Bible, a great leader dubbed 'a man after God's own heart'. He fell and sinned, committing adultery and murder, but GOD STILL TOOK HIM BACK, and used what happened for His glory. So although what has happened is so awful, God will make right by it. We should be helping the sick up, not cutting them down. No matter what happens, no matter what lies we tell, no matter what we do, GOD IS OUR HEALER. And nothing will EVER change that.

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  29. A jarring, and sad commentary on what happens when we raise a generation of people up to believe that being a celebrity is more valuable than being a person of character. Shame on him. And shame on us for feeding such a frenzy.

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  30. I think the person identified as EMZ who left a comment (one comment above mine) summed it up so well. He/She says he/she is only 17 and yet this person has more wisdom than any of you lot put together and has managed to get over the shallow squabble of nationality and look at the real issues from a Christian point of view. She is looking at this from God's perspective.

    Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone. Judging by most of the comments I have read above, you are all white as snow. God forbid you ever let anyone down or take a wrong path.

    www.ransom33.wordpress.com

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  31. Let's put it this way. GOD IS AMAZING. He is a loving god, a healing god and he does not judge people. So why should we? I am not for a second concluding that what Mike did was okay, all I am saying is let's look through history, what gospel write, what profit has lived a life of complete purity? As Jesus famously said "let the man without sin cast the first stone"

    Mike is suffering from an illness, an addiction you might say, but if you ask me, that makes the song even more powerful, in this song I now see even more of a surrender a plea to be all for god. Plus, we have to give him some credit, he admitted his fault globally. I dont know if I could do that.

    It's an amazing song about god and his great heart, it will stay that way.

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  32. I agree with your assessment. The truth still rings out whether it comes out of Balaam's mouth or not. GOD is still who he was, He is who HE is and who HE always will be.

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  33. Below is a good description from the inside on what happened:

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/fraud-pastor-a-porn-addict-says-shocked-dad/story-e6frg6n6-1111117284239

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  34. This is a good description from the inside on what happened:

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/fraud-pastor-a-porn-addict-says-shocked-dad/story-e6frg6n6-1111117284239

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