Leaving the Land of “Never Enough”

Posted: October 25, 2009 in Cult, Deception, False doctrines, Healing, IHOP, Leaving a cult, Spiritual Abuse, Truth

From my experiences as a former IHOP intern & staff member and from other involvements with cult-like religious groups and churches, etc. one thing that I find to be a consistent thread is the message of never being or doing enough. There is a spiritual pinnacle you are always trying to reach, a spiritual high you are always trying to attain, a sense of closeness to God that you are always running after but it seems to elude you. You run on a constant emotional and spiritual treadmill but you never reach the destination.

A cult always wants MORE. It requires more of your time and resources to accomplish its goals and visions. You become the fuel that they use to run the machine. It’s your energy that they extract to feed their agenda. A cult makes constant demands…some are spoken directly and some are implied indirectly by using guilt and manipulation to influence you to give more and do more…and make you think it was YOUR idea–not theirs.

A cult will never say “Thank you, you’ve done enough. You can stop giving to us financially, we have all that we need. You are enough exactly as we are and we accept you without requiring you to redefine who you are to fit with us.”

In a cult, there is never enough of your:

effort
dedication
sacrifice
money
desire/passion
self discipline
performance
focus
giving (of yourself and resources)
fasting
hours of prayer
meetings
time
energy
your talents and gifts

No boundaries are respected.
Personal free will and opinion is denied.
Questioning, independent thinking and logical reasoning are forbidden.

If you are content in who you are, they lose control. A cult cannot operate when its members are free thinking people with a free will to choose and make their own decisions. Co-dependency is required for control to continue.

But here is where the truth shatters the glass of deception and control:

You don’t have to do more to be loved more and you don’t have to be more to be accepted more.

While we were yet sinners, the Father sent our Messiah who gave His life as a ransom for us. Before we were anything by the world’s evaluation, we had purpose and value in the heart of the Father.

The goal of every believer and follower of God should be to live our lives from a place of complete shalom. Shalom in Hebrew doesn’t just mean peace. Hebrew words can often carry multiple meanings depending on the context in which they are used. Shalom can also be translated as tranquility, safety, well being, welfare, health, contentment, success, comfort, wholeness and integrity. It is a common Jewish greeting.

So when I speak of living life from a place of shalom rather than striving after something that a cult, church or religious group tells you that you have to work harder to achieve or attain, I’m talking about a life that is lived from a place of rest and wholeness. A place of having enough and being enough.

That doesn’t mean we won’t have trials or go through difficult times. It is about coming to a place of where our hearts are at rest and we experience total contentment in our heavenly Father. It requires ceasing from striving. It’s about having hearts and minds grounded in the truth that He loves us and delights in us….simply because we are His. We have inherent value because we were instilled with value when we were created. From the womb, we were given purpose and our purpose will never be realized and fulfilled in a cult or group that defines us and tells us who we are.

I invite you to leave the land of “never enough”
to let your heart cease from striving
and rest in the fact that you are loved
right this moment…at this very place and time in your life
even as you grow, mature and develop into the fullness of what God has created you for.
He has begun a good work in you
and since He is the author and finisher
of our trust, He will carry through to completion what he starts.

Grace and shalom to you!

–A

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Comments
  1. Hello Ariel,

    This is the predestined blog (the one from your links) and I appreciate all you have done b/c I know writing these blogs takes some work.

    Unfortunately, the IHOP influence (as you might have guessed from my posts), is creeping into my church.

    I will def. people check out your blog and put a link on it for mine.

    • Ariel says:

      Thank you Predestine Blog! I appreciate your feedback. Thanks for writing and please let me know if I can be of any further encouragement to you. Blessings!

  2. […] by a good e-friend of mine that had found this article from The Gospel Masquerade blog entitled Leaving the Land of “Never Enough” that discussed in a different realm of light one of my “pet peeves” about the […]

  3. J Fowler says:

    Hi Ariel,
    I just stumbled onto your blog (long story) and wanted to say thank you for speaking out. I was in Kansas City when the House of Prayer went 24/7. I was not on staff and never did an internship but nonetheless experienced some of the things you speak of. I did play on one of the worship teams but only once a week for a few hours.

    I will say I have been greatly impacted by Mike Bickle’s teachings on the Bride of Christ and the love of GOD. I can honestly say that they have been a hugely positive input into my life. That being said, while in KC I did have a sense that there was something spiritually/culturally unhealthy happening but I wasn’t sure what.

    It is sad that in a place that focuses so much on the ‘bridal paradigm’ that some members of His bride would go away wounded.

    I can’t apologize on behalf of the staff or the community there but as a fellow Christian I can say my heart is deeply saddened to hear that your experience there was so damaging.

    I pray that the LORD surrounds you with a faith community that can show you the grace, love and wholeness that are found in following the One who lifts our burdens and heals our hearts.

    -shalom!
    JF

    • Ariel says:

      Hi JF! Thanks so much for your post. I’m glad you “stumbled onto my blog” and took time to read it. The important thing to remember about places like IHOP is that if there were not a mixture of both truth and error, no one would be a part of it. I remember once praying and asking the Lord why it seemed that He still used IHOP and did a work in my life and heart while I was there in spite of the horrible abuses, heretical teaching, unbiblical practices, etc that I experienced. I heard a very simple reply: “because that’s where you were at the time and it was you I ministered to. I can meet my children wherever that are. It’s about my spirit ministering to a person…it has little or nothing to do with validation of a place.” That really brought shalom to my heart when that truth settled in. God ministered to the Jews who were in concentration camps during the Holocaust. He clearly did not endorse or agree with what was happening there or what was being done to them…but He touched them there nonetheless…because it’s where His people were. Thank you for your encouraging words. Shalom to you as well.

  4. Ryan says:

    “You don’t have to do more to be loved more and you don’t have to be more to be accepted more.” I love this quote in terms of our relationship to Christ and find great joy in this truth, but I also find that this motto can be taken to a dangerous misinterpreted place and has settled too deep into the American church (maybe I should say “Western” church). By this, I mean that most Christians I know don’t expect the Holy Spirit to move anymore. They are satisfied with not being challenged by God to give things up. I see them settling into a life of faith without action, all justified by the statement above (although it is twisting the above statement, Christians all over are doing this exact thing). They believe that loving God correctly involves peace and safety and security that will lead to content lives, a kind of heaven-on-earth that is not supported by Scripture as a whole.

    God does not promise these things in our lives. If anything…if we truly know Him, then Scripture should be a ilttle unsettling. Timothy, Paul, 10 of the 12 all die as martyrs in striving to further His kingdom. Scripture actually tells us we should have a Spirit of striving for the world around us. Now we must also be firm in our understanding that we ourselves can do nothing on our own, but in allowing God to work though us (which he amazingly wants to do!!), we can see more of His kingdom on earth because of our dissatisfaction and continual striving.

    I am also a bit confused by this longing for “shalom”. I might be misinterpreting, but it raises a warning flag in my mind that I hope you will consider. It has a ring to it that encourages embracement of the American dream and to be content with the desparate world around you. It kind of says…”Dont try too hard to fix it. Dont ask too much of yourself. Striving is not intended for people that know God because He just wants you to be happy and know your identity in Him.” I find myself wrestling with these temptations as well, but still finding myself back in Scripture and recognizing that living by these false ideals can be more dangerous than many of the intentions of IHOP (I dont really know this organization at all, but have friends that have been physically andspiritually healed from similar 24 hour prayer groups with desires and intentions that sound similar). I do not try to point fingers or create conflict, but I do see most middle class American churches resist “Spirit-led” movements out of fear of change. And not fearful reverance, but a type of fear that is not from the Lord. They like to feel that they have done enough and are living exactly as God has called them (my flesh is drawn to this too).

    When i look at the New testament believers and the men and women that are examples of Christ-followers, they ALL find discomfort and dissatisfaction in the world around them. They make reference to finishing the race, striving and longing for more of Christ’s kingdom in this broken world. The only true shalom and hope that they hold on to is in heaven. They still experience shalom on earth in terms of confidence, but they do continue with a Spirit of striving in order to bring glory to God. No doubt, if the striving comes from yourself, or with unhealthy expectations, then you will wear yourself out. However, a spirit of striving (in terms of changing the world around you) is very Scriptural.

    Having an attitude of “never enough….Dedication, sacrifice, money, desire/passion, self discipline, focus, giving (of yourself and resources), fasting, hours of prayer, time, energy, talents and gifts” is actually a perfect description of the attitude of paul and the disciples (notice I took out “performance” and “meetings” because I agree that those do not belong here). All of the men I can think of in the New testament (other than John and maybe a few others) actually died as martyrs because they strived for these things to a far greater extent than most Americans would even consider. We consider them as”spiritual giants” and the most highly regarded models of a Christian, but then turn around and assume God calls us to safety and comfort and satisfaction. My guess is that if God called all Christians in America to live a life of outward fatih with a high risk of danger (like many Christians in the world experience), the Church would shrink to an incredibly small size because they would assume God can not and will not call His loved ones to something like this. They would make some argument that He is a “God of life” and it is not in His character to call people into danger. Scripture very consistently and boldly contradicts these arguments.

    All I ask is that you check your heart and make sure you are confident as God’s child, but never content and always striving to see more of His kingdom on earth (and unfortunately, that requires continual sacrifice).

    • Ariel says:

      Hello Ryan. Thank you for your post and for sharing your thoughts and perspective. I appreciate your ability to articulate concepts. It seems that you might however have misunderstood what I was referring to when I wrote about “living from a place of shalom” and “ceasing from striving”. Just a casual read over my post explains that I am referring to striving in the context of performance…and working to “be enough and do enough” for acceptance…from God and others. Our acceptance is not based upon our performance. This certainly doesn’t mean we should never pray or have any passion for anything because the pursuit of anything is striving. That is not what I wrote nor what I am referring to. I am speaking of living out of a place of rest in the heart where you know that checking off a list of spiritual disciplines doesn’t earn you extra brownie points. Every aspect of our lives should be lived from a place of rest and confidence in the Lord–with our identity deeply planted into Him–and all other actions and works are the outflow and fruit of that relationship we have with the Lord. Faith without action is lifeless…but action is the fruit and the byproduct of faith. Action in and of itself is not the goal. Actions or spiritual works are the manifestation of relationship–not the currency with which you purchase it.

  5. Concerned Friend says:

    So appreciate your direct and thoughtful handling of the IHOP deception. I have very dear friends, falling into this HOOK, LINE, & SINKER. Their house is up for sale, and they are moving there, to be a part of every ministry they can involve themselves with. Their youth are planning to attend the school. Their entire lives have an unexplainable magnet draw to this place and these people. I have watched this unfold over the course of a year and a half. I wrote a letter to my friend (the wife) with my deep concerns, the very things I felt God was warning me about with this new interest of theirs developing. The letter was not only ill-received, but caused a FIRE storm in the church. The church, of which they were leading (the husband was the pastor) has shut it’s doors. I am HEARTSICK about the direction they are going. And stunned, and a little numb. I don’t even know quite how to pray. Reading your comments are yet another confirmation to me that this group is not only misguided, but extremely DANGEROUS, and the kind of deception that could “decieve even the elect if that were possible.” I feel my hands are tied, as they have defended their decisions a few months ago, and keep their personal decisions and plans to move a private matter now. This from friends that we used to be very open with. We never would have guessed they would get pulled into this group. But they were dealing with some discouragement and frustrations with their church situation. I guess the IHOP movement prays primarily on the vulnerable, disheartened who REALLY want to love God more… but who are not established in His FINISHED work on the Cross. The spiritual deceptions of this movement are astounding to me. I just want to scream at the top of my lungs sometimes, “Don’t do it! Don’t go there! Can’t you SEE it? Will you recognize that the living Christ is NOT the one they are wishing to be “kissed” by? Oh, God… open their eyes!”

    A Very Concerned Friend

  6. Miranda says:

    thank you so much for your blog! Keep Writing! 🙂

  7. truthspeaker says:

    Great post Ariel! The spirit of striving is a deadly thing!

  8. Diane S. says:

    Thank you for your post. I have one more characteristc to add to your list; an emphasis on being obedient to the authority of a pastor or leader. Any questioning is considered a threat, spiritual attack, or spiritual immaturity on the part of the one who questions.