Archive for the ‘Discernment’ Category

I believe that the majority of what is labeled today as being “prophetic” is sadly the farthest thing from it. I believe this for a number of reasons…and these reasons are more than just the scope of my experience with the self-labeled “prophetic movement” that has been given its name by the leaders who spearhead it. The greatest of these reasons is that what I often hear being called “prophetic” does not line up with the tenets of scripture and also is not congruent with the nature and character of G-d and the uses for prophecy that scripture clearly defines.

The subject of prophecy is a vast and deep one and I’m sure none of us will get it “right” or fully comprehend it until we are with the Father and He makes known the fullness of it to us. We still very much see dimly (1 Corinthians 13:12).   So please understand that this post is by no means an exhaustive expository on the prophetic movement or prophecy as a whole. I’m simply hoping to illustrate the difference between what is often called “prophetic” with what G-d tells us in His word that this gift actually is and how it is to be rightly used to glorify HIM and not promote the agenda of man. You may have a differing view from the unique vantage point of your own experience but if we all humbly take our experiences and ideas and line them up with the word of G-d I would hope that we can come to the same conclusions and be united in the areas of our agreement. I just ask that you please understand in your commenting on this post that I realize I’m not presenting every side or bringing to light every issue that surrounds this topic.

Mike Bickle speaks often of “practicing the prophetic” like it’s a sport you train for or a kind of spiritual target practice you keep “trying” at.  But no where in scripture is prophesying something that we are taught to practice or get better at like a human skill in need of training.  It is a gift from G-d and it comes with an owner’s manual.  Prophecy was never designed to be yielded to the trial and error of personal experience.

G-d speaks quite clearly in His word about prophets presuming to speak things in His name.  In Deut 18:20 it records G-d saying ‘But if a prophet presumptuously speaks a word in my name which I didn’t order him to say, or if he speaks in the name of other gods, then that prophet must die.’  So it doesn’t sound like there’s a lot of trial and error room here for prophetic target practice.

Here is some of the dangerous “fruit” that accompanies abuses of prophecy:

1) A personal platform. There is the great tendency and ease with which one can speak their natural perspective, thoughts or ideas about a person or situation and simply say “Thus sayeth the L-rd” in front of them.  This adds “credibility” to one’s personal opinion and puts them seemingly above questioning because to question their “word” is to question what G-d said.

2) Merchandising.  For the past few years IHOPers have participated in psychic fairs under the guise of being prophets with “redeemed” giftings…as if to imply that they and the psychics use the same methods but that because psychics aren’t believers their “prophetic gift” is still unredeemed and is being used for the wrong kingdom. (read an IHOPers personal account of these psychic fairs here)

3) Promoting of personal agenda. On July 25, 2004 Mike Bickle got up on the platform in the prayer room to declare a 30 day fast. To promote the fast and get everyone’s buy in to get on board he had Paul Cain get up on the platform to talk about things G-d would pour out and do if people participated in the fast. This is an example of calling something prophecy and using another’s words to promote a personal agenda. (This was also when top IHOP leadership were aware of Paul’s alcoholic/homosexual lifestyle even though it wouldn’t go public to the masses until around Sept/Oct of that year. Paul was still used as a puppet to promote IHOP’s agenda because he still had status and reputation and who at IHOP was going to question what Paul Cain said?)

4) Making prophetic promises. I’ve been in a number of conferences where “prophesies” were cloaked spiritual promises–like dangling carrots to engage certain actions. I remember attending a Shawn Boltz conference in August 2004 where there was an altar call for people to have their prayer language changed so they could speak in new and different tongues to communicate with G-d on a higher level. There was a hook, a promise that if they would come out of their seats and fill the front and the aisles that G-d was going to do such and such. Everyone was asked to raise their hands and begin speaking in tongues so that new tongues would be transplanted as they spoke. Mike has also used altar calls to manipulate through emotion and making promises of what G-d was going to do if they came to the front. Mike’s most commonly used altar call has always been “if you feel….(a warmth, a fire, a tingling sensation, etc, etc.) then that’s the spirit of G-d touching you and we want to pray for you so come to the front”. A feeling meant G-d was doing something and they want to stir up that feeling so a promise would be made for what would happen if you came up for prayer and that suggestion would cause people to expect a certain manifestation. If you didn’t feel what Mike said then G-d wasn’t really touching you and you were left out of the altar ministry unless you just lied or faked it and went up anyway. Yeah, pretty twisted and convoluted. I know.

So let’s roll out a big black trash bag and sack the nonsense so many of us have been sold about what prophecy is. Let’s shred and burn this idea that prophecy is about goosebumps, getting emotional, having manifestations and buying into promises. There is not a shred of evidence in scripture of this anywhere so it’s quite safe to toss and chuck it up to being fabrications and creations of a deceived human nature.

Let’s see what scripture defines as prophecy and start there.

1) When a prophet spoke it was to draw people to repentance. (Ezek 14:6, 18:30; Acts 3:19, 8:22, etc)
Prophesy wasn’t about glitter and goosebumps or feel good, ear-tickling messages. It wasn’t a spiritual happy hour. Repentance was about calling people to line up their lives to G-d’s instructions and reminding them to obey what He had asked of them in order to spare them from judgment and destruction. It was a repentance that would bring about hope and healing and would restore people to right relationship with the Father.

2) Prophecy was in response and obedience to a direct command from G-d to do so.
Throughout the books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel G-d gives specific instructions and tells the prophet to speak and prophesy specific things. Ezekiel 13:1-7 says:

1 The word of ADONAI came to me: 2 “Human being, prophesy against the prophets of Isra’el who prophesy. Tell those prophesying out of their own thoughts, ‘Listen to what ADONAI says! 3 Adonai ELOHIM says: “Woe to the vile prophets who follow their own spirits and things which they have not seen! 4 Isra’el, your prophets have been like jackals among ruins. 5 You [prophets] have not gone up to the breaks in the barricade or repaired it for the house of Isra’el, so that they can stand fast in battle on the day of ADONAI. 6 Their visions are futile and their divination is false; they say, ‘ADONAI says,’ when ADONAI has not sent them; yet they hope that the word will be confirmed. 7 Haven’t you had a futile vision and spoken a false divination when you say, ‘ADONAI says,’ and I have not spoken?

There is no account in scripture of a prophet speaking a word on their own initiative apart from an instruction from G-d to do so without an account of it going badly for them. G-d’s word must be spoken in the way G-d instructs because when we take things out of context and misrepresent Him by saying He said such and such , we are on dangerous ground because we are mishandling His word and will be held responsible.

3) Prophecy is the testimony of Jesus the Messiah recorded throughout scripture. (Rev 19:10) Jesus is in scripture from Genesis 1:1 on. He doesn’t suddenly insert himself into the human scene in the book of Matthew. The prophesies about the Messiah who would come and everything He would fulfill are recorded throughout the Torah (instructions) in the first 5 books of the Bible, the prophets, the Psalms, and so on. Prophecy was about the foretelling of the Messiah who was coming and once He came Jesus was the embodiment of that prophecy. He fulfilled many of the prophesies of Isaiah, King David and others in His first coming and will bring complete fulfillment to the remaining ones through His 2nd coming as scripture promises.

Prophecy is not ever to be used to manipulate a person into acting or doing what someone else wants. It should never be connected with monetary gain (such as paying for someone to prophesy over you). It should draw attention to G-d the Father and never be about promoting the “ministry” of the person speaking. It should lead people to repentance and deepen their trust in G-d. It always points to who the Messiah is and brings the light of truth and salvation to those who hear it.

Let us be wise and diligent to only call something prophecy when it lines up with what scripture teaches us that prophecy is for. Always test the spirit of what you hear and question any prophetic word that promotes self or exhibits the dangerous fruit mentioned above. Let us walk in the light of truth and use the gifts G-d gave us according to His instruction manual on how to use them.

[Click HERE for the latest post on the http://kindlingembers.wordpress.com blog on “Obeying G-d: A Relationship Based on Truth Not Feelings”]

A number of you have left comments on posts or e-mailed me asking for some pointers or steps on how to pick up the pieces and start over after IHOP. This is a huge topic but an important one so I will do my best to respond to it through illustrations and insights from things I have learned in my own journey.

I know there are others of you that read my blog who have come out of IHOP so please feel free to post your experiences in the comments as well. I certainly don’t claim to have the corner on this and everyone’s journey will be a little different. Each of you have your own story to tell and you will have your own nuggets of wisdom gained along the way.

I will relate things mostly to coming out of IHOP but if your experiences were with another organization these same ideas still apply. These concepts relate to coming out of any form of deception, spiritual abuse, cults, etc.

Please don’t read this as a “how-to” list that you simply check off. I’m not writing this as a 12-step program or self-help therapy. Rather than a spiritual to-do list I encourage you to view these points as overarching themes and priorities to keep in mind. The actual process might look a little different for different people but here are the things I believe to be the most important in coming out of spiritual deception and getting grounded in what is true.

1. Numero uno…and most importantly, remember that He who began a good work in you is faithful to complete it. Thank your heavenly Father for opening your eyes and trust Him to lead and orchestrate every step in bringing you out of the deceptions, involvements, etc that you have walked in. Life is messy sometimes and solutions don’t come packaged in pretty boxes with bows on top. Since we peer dimly through the filter of our human experience and emotion we don’t fully see any situation perfectly so we must trust the One who is the Author and Finisher of our faith. Set HIS Word above the word of any man…no matter how eloquent it sounds or what venue, pulpit or position it is heralded from.

2. Do not condemn, berate or beat yourself up for not seeing it sooner. Condemnation is not part of the road toward freedom. It’s a trap door that drops you into a free-fall of judgment and self-analysis. Trust that the timing of G-d is right and He is perfect, true and just in all that He allows. He chose to open your eyes to the deception/error on His own timetable. Take your hand off the rewind button and don’t play back old experiences through the lens of “if I had only known this then, I would have done this…or I would not have done that…” You can’t judge yesterday’s actions in light of today’s wisdom. You didn’t know then what you know now so you couldn’t act out of what you did not yet know. What you know now however can equip you to make different choices going forward. So when the accuser comes knocking, remind yourself that you can’t change a month ago or 2 years ago but now you do know and you can choose to walk a different road…a road toward what is true because “you shall know the truth and the truth will set you free”. (John 8:32)

3) Pursue truth at all costs. When something doesn’t line up with the Word of G-d check it, test it, study, ask G-d for greater discernment and trust that discernment when you hear it. Don’t rationalize or excuse away what you hear. Trust that the Spirit of G-d is more than able to lead and speak to you. If you are His sheep, trust that you can know what is His voice. Still test however what you hear/discern/think He is saying but don’t discount it before you do. Don’t swallow any word, teaching, doctrine, scriptural interpretation, etc. you hear just because it sounds good. If a teaching/doctrine, etc. requires taking scripture out of context to understand it or apply its interpretation, run don’t walk the other way.

4) Give yourself time. You probably didn’t buy into IHOP’s doctrines overnight and it might take a little time to detox and sort through what is true and what is not and get your head clear but study what is true and the counterfeits become much more recognizable.

5) Don’t just get in the Word…let the Word get into you. Don’t study for studying’s sake. Absorb like a sponge the truth of scripture and let it permeate who you are. It will be the shield around your heart to protect you from the fiery arrows of deception, doubt, condemnation, unbelief, etc that are sure to fly your way. As you study, ask the Father to illuminate truth so that it comes alive to you and then the things which masquerade as truth can be more clearly recognizable. Read and study scripture in context. Studying in context means seeking to understand the audience, time it was written, who is writing, what was happening in the time and culture in which it was written and how should it be understood in light of the surrounding verses. A silly example of taking a verse out of context would be that if someone read the story of Adam & Eve in the garden of Eden and twisted its meaning and application they could say that G-d forbids eating fruit and we should eat only vegetables and meat. Context matters!

6) Don’t run away from research. Sometimes the thought of digging into something and researching it out conjures thoughts of college term papers and thesis writing. Panic attacks set in and the sound of laptops closing can be heard everywhere. Denial is not bliss but knowledge is power and if you are seeing red flags don’t ignore them. I’m not saying lock yourself away in a room for 6 months and go on a fact finding mission. I’m saying that part of seeking truth is investigating the roots of the tree from whose fruit you have been eating. If you’re wondering whether an organization you’re apart of is exhibiting cult-like behaviors and effects then perhaps research cult tactics and teachings and the side effects experienced by those who come out of them. Be willing to look at the dust that keeps getting swept under the rug. The value in researching is 2-fold: 1) you will often find evidence that backs up what you discerned. You then have that aha moment where you think “wow, I didn’t miss it.” 2) when you come across others who are waking up to deception and they are seeking answers to their questions about such-and-such you will have more than theories or hearsay to go off of…you’ll have some research: facts, dates and actual events, direct quotes and statistics, etc. in your back pocket. It’s not enough to convince someone with mere opinion.

7) Connect with other like-hearted believers who share your love for truth and are on that same journey. Being in fellowship with others who have discernment, who live lives that bear fruit and who speak the truth in love is really important. We were built for relationship and community. Seek healthy, authentic, truth-based, scripturally grounded relationships and communities to connect with. Another key to staying out of deception is being in fellowship with others who can see things that we can’t and who will lovingly illustrate truth by their words and actions.

May the Spirit of G-d continue to lead you into all truth.

Abundant blessings,
–Ariel

I received a comment on a blog post today which I hesitated at first whether or not to approve since I am careful about what I allow to be posted on my blog but then decided this one touched on some of the same objections that I have heard at different times and thought it worth opening up in a blog post so that I can address them at once for other blog readers as well. I have made the blog commenter anonymous to protect their identity.

Their comment:

i understand what you’re saying about IHOP, but in all honesty, what right do you have judging their methods? am i saying they’re perfect, and am i defending what they’re doing? not necessarily. what i am saying is that we ALL have common sense that God gave us as human beings, and we ALL have the ability to look at things objectively. i’m not going to sit here and say that i haven’t been helped by the ministry at IHOP, or that there aren’t certain elements at IHOP that can appear to be a form of witchcraft. i’m most certainly not going to judge them for that.

what you have to remember is that IHOP is run by imperfect people that are most likely all dealing with their own sets of issues. just because you or i don’t hear about it all the time doesn’t mean it’s not happening. i know you have first-hand experience in dealing with what happens at IHOP, but then again, i have first-hand experience in seeing people delivered from their sins, and how much of a change that can take place when they accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. i’ve never been a proponent of religion, nor have i ever been tossed all over the place trying to find my spiritual “fix”. i prefer to stay grounded in Jesus Christ, and to do as He tells me to do.

as for the manifestations of God, i definitely believe that when a person gets delivered from years of abuse, no matter what form of abuse it is, there will be a physical manifestation of what God is doing in them. my mother told me that she had to be held down by 5 grown people when she was a teenager as she was being delivered from witchcraft and occultism. my mother is only 5 feet 2 inches tall.

i think the main reason why so many people in america don’t understand who God is and what God is really about is because of the spirit of religion that has hung over this country for so long. God isn’t really that mysterious if we just take the time to get to know Him. we may not know and understand why He does what He does, but that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t make Himself known to us, and that He’s not using IHOP to help so many people that are in serious need. believe this or not, but not every young person’s parents really understand the calling that is on their kid’s lives. not every young person that goes to IHOP has Christian parents that are full of the Holy Spirit. there’s way more young people out there that feel in their hearts that no one else understands them, and it’s because God has placed such a powerful calling on their lives, and there’s no one else around them that can help unlock that calling in their lives.

My reply:

Dear Anonymous,

I generally don’t approve comments like yours because I decided when I created this blog that the comments section would not be a discussion board for people to berate each other and debate opinions. However, I decided to use your comment in a blog post because there are a few things that I want you (and others who read this post) to understand and hopefully I can address your questions and concerns. My disclaimer however is that should any subsequent comments follow (from anyone) that do not a) speak the truth in LOVE and b) address issues by lining them up with scripture without attacking people I will not approve them. So that being said, here is my reply:

In your opening sentence you said: “I understand what you’re saying about IHOP but what right do you have judging their methods?”

There is a clearly stated directive in scripture to believers that we are to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves and we have a responsibility to discern what is of G-d and what is not by judging fruit. I address this in a few other blog posts which you are welcome to read for more detail. To blow the whistle on things that do not line up with the Word of G-d or what He has told us to do, how He has told us to follow and serve Him, etc. is part of being a follower of G-d. There is a big difference however between judging actions, methods and teachings vs. judging and condemning people. I discuss that in detail in this post. So you ask what right I have to judge IHOP’s methods? According to Matt 7:15, 20 and Romans 16:17,18 I do have that right because in these verses we are instructed to watch out for bad fruit, watch out for wolves who masquerade as sheep and to recognize & stay away from those who ensnare by false teaching.

2 Timothy 4:3 says “For a time is coming when people will not have patience for sound teaching, but will cater to their passions and gather around themselves teachers who say whatever their ears itch to hear. Yes, they will stop listening to the truth, but will turn aside to follow myths.”

If common sense, which you say that we all have, were all that was required to discern between what is of G-d and what is not then there would be no need for the work of a Savior. I assure you that many have become deceived and have fallen into great error not only through IHOP’s teaching but from various other organizations and their common sense and objectivity is certainly not saving them.

As I have mentioned a few times in various blog posts, G-d can use any place or person He chooses to minister to His people but that place, person or avenue that He allowed to operate is not the source. G-d spoke through a burning bush and through a donkey but that’s because He spoke to His children through where they were at that moment. Of course G-d was able to speak to me and work in my life while I was at IHOP but He ministered to me there because that’s where I was at the time. I can tell you with a great degree of confidence though that it was because I was seeking to hear from HIM and not from IHOP that when I was studying scripture and listening for His voice and what I was hearing at IHOP was not lining up with that, it made the choice to leave much easier because my source for teaching and direction was the Father and not IHOP.

You said that “there are certain elements at IHOP that can appear to be a form of witchcraft but I am certainly not going to judge them for that”. Honestly, that shocks and greatly concerns me. If you can see things that do not line up with the Word of G-d and yet refuse to call them what they are, then by not separating yourself from them, you are remaining involved there and participating in the very witchcraft that you refuse to acknowledge and identify. I pray that the L-rd turns your heart on this one and that you receive boldness from Him to identify and address that which is not of Him. As His followers, we are called to love what He loves and hate what He hates. Imagine what would have happened if the apostles had turned a deaf ear to the false teaching running rampant in their day by saying “Oh yes, he’s a sorcerer but I’m not going to judge him for that.” (Acts 13:8-12)

Yes, of course I realize that IHOP is led by imperfect people. I know of no home, ministry, business or organization anywhere that is run by anything but imperfect people. I assure you that this blog is not an attack against anyone’s humanity or the fallible and imperfect nature that comes from being part of the human race. What I am addressing is the blatant heresy, error, deception and scripture twisting that run rampant in places like IHOP which is leading people by the thousands into following a different gospel. There is a very distinct difference between those who are wholeheartedly seeking to know what is true and are following G-d as He is taught about in scripture (rather than following their own forms, models and methods and calling them worship) VS. those who are clearly walking in error and practicing things that are not scriptural and defending deception by calling it truth. There is a major distinction between those who live a daily life of trusting G-d as their source who are quick to turn from things that do not please Him and who get back up with then fall as opposed to one who excuses their doctrinal heresies as merely “being imperfect” or “just being human”. One is a sincere walk of faith lived out by imperfect people and the other is one who has created their own version of following G-d and are leading others to follow their ministry…and not the L-rd.

A physical manifestation of being set free from something is ultimately to no longer walk in the thing you have been set free from. The manifestation of freedom is good fruit. In scripture, the manifestations of flailing, shaking, falling, being violent, or a myriad of other bodily manifestations were the result of demons being cast out of people. Yes, these are certainly born out in scripture as manifestations of deliverance. However, this is quite different from the obnoxious animal sounds, gyrations and other ‘manifestations’ which many people seek after to “feel G-d” in a service which do nothing but draw attention to self and open doorways into some pretty major demonic practices. In Luke 8 when Jesus cast demons out of a man and sent them into a herd of pigs, scripture tells us that when people went out to see what had happened, they saw the man whom the demons had been cast out of sitting at the feet of the L-rd, fully clothed and in his right mind. That is the manifestation of true freedom.

I do agree with you that religious spirits have blinded many to the truth of who G-d is and what He is really about. We may not always know or understand everything He does but scripture clearly teaches us enough about His nature and character and the heart behind why He does things that there is strong evidence to measure false teachings up against to disprove them as being of G-d.

I do know that there are many young people today whose parents don’t understand them and who may not understand the destiny of G-d on their lives but there is only ONE who does and that is the L-rd (Jeremiah 29:11). The Spirit of G-d is the one who was given to “unlock that calling on our lives” to us as you put it. Everyone I have personally known that has been part of IHOP and left would probably agree with me when I tell you that IHOP’s means of helping to “crack the code on your destiny” and tell you who you are and what you are called to do will always fit right into one of IHOP’s programs. Somehow, all of their prophetic words while I was there lined up with “G-d has called you to be an Anna in the prayer room.” Whatever your gift, it seems they will try to convince you that it will best flourish and be used at IHOP. This is a prime example of what I said about those who lead people to themselves and not the L-rd. The Father has a plan and a purpose for each and every person He has created and He is faithful to complete the work that He starts. One of the things that concerns me most is that many will miss the destiny and calling of G-d on their lives because they are spending hours and hours sitting in a prayer room under a lot of deceptive and false teaching instead of living the life that G-d called them to. That is the most sobering issue of all. Thanks for sharing your perspective and hopefully this helps to address some of your questions and concerns.

Blessings to you as you seek to know the truth and may it set your heart free.

~Ariel

Is Your Church on the List?

Posted: March 23, 2010 in Discernment, IHOP

Below is an alert I received from a reader who has had previous involvement with IHOP:

“IHOP is sending out recruiters to the churches to bring in young adults to IHOP. I do not know if it is just in the KC area or if they are branching out, but I know of 2 churches in KC they have been to. Fortunately both pastors know about IHOP and were able to talk to the recruiter. If you are in a solid church, you might warn your pastor so he will not be surprised if one shows up.”

Feel free to pass this along to others you know who would benefit from the information.

There are some very informational links and resources out there that very accurately address the issue of control (particularly mind control) and how it works (whether it be in a relationship, a workplace, a church or other organization). In this post, I am going to feature a couple of article links that address topics which I find very prevalent in the body of believers today.

One of my blog readers sent me a great link this week which I’m going to pass along to all of you. This article addresses some very common trends seen within cults and “churches” that operate like cults. It highlights topics such as:

The “Super Apostles” and church government
Abusive authority by leaders
The often mis-quoted mantra of “Don’t Touch the L-rd’s Anointed”
“Umbrellas of Divine Protection”
“Thus Saying the L-rd” words, warnings and instructions
Exclusivity
Favoritism
…and much more

I think this article (link above) is very to the point and doesn’t tangent off and hits the heart of some big issues so I will just let you read it in its entirety and omit my commentary on this one. Prayerfully consider the info in the article and let the Spirit (Ruach) of G-d show you any areas where you may be witnessing or experiencing these abuses of power in your own life. As with all sources I refer to or link to, I do not necessarily uphold or endorse that site or organization in its entirety but do want to call to your attention a particular aspect or article of interest. Don’t throw your discernment out the window. Always read everything prayerfully and line it up with the plum-line of scripture.

I also came across an article that contains some helpful information on How Cults Work which helps to distinguish the different types of cults which still clearly fall within that label because of their abusive and heretical practices. It’s an informative read…especially for those who are new to the understanding of exactly how a cult is defined and what the characteristics are to watch for and be aware of.

The below comment was posted on my most recent blog and I thought it to be quite insightful so I’m starting a new blog post with it.

Comment:

“And the one who leaves the cult may experience negative consequences of the stress related to leaving…. marriage and family problems, or even sickness. The cult leaders then use this as ‘proof’ the one who left is out of the will of God or is suffering because he/she ‘touched God’s anointed’”

My response:

You bring out a very important and insightful point. Cult leaders have to find a way to explain away the effects of their abuse which requires making the victim always the one at fault. One I remember hearing a lot at IHOP was that this whole “bridal intimacy/wooing” message about how “feeling lovesick” was G-d’s way of wooing you closer to him…that He used this feeling to ignite/illicit hunger in His people. So when you felt the emotional “withdrawal” of coming down from the hypnotic high of being in the prayer room, that was decoded as “lovesickness” which was supposed to signal you to spend more time in the prayer room. It was supposed to be a trigger that initiated a certain responsive behavior on our part (as interns) and make us feel depressed, discouraged and disillusioned whenever we spent time away from IHOP.

It’s a form of internal programming (aka mind control) to keep people “connected” and to create feelings of guilt and withdrawal upon leaving. I will never forget the intense emotional reaction after I left IHOP and moved home. I have never felt anything before or since to which I can compare it. I felt like my emotions had been hi-jacked. It was like an internal magnetic pull that tugged at me. The best way I can describe it is to compare it to the way alcoholics and drug addicts describe coming down from a high. It’s an intense detox where you feel sensory overload and need another fix. That’s what it was like when I left. By the grace of G-d I was able to go against what I had been programmed to believe was “lovesickness” and I fought hard to not get pulled back into what I had just left. Within a matter of days or a couple of weeks, that immediate withdrawal broke and I started to feel like the cloud over my head was clearing. The dull heaviness lifted and slowly, things felt clear. Confusion was replaced with clarity and over time, the more I began to see, remember, process through what I had come out of, and the more free and light my heart became.

I added some new links to the “Research, Links & Sources” page. One of which was regarding mind control. IHOP most definitely uses mind control and they are very skilled at it. No one is dumb enough to stand up and say “Okay, we’re going to mess with your head now and manipulate you into following what we say by reprogramming the way you view G-d, the way you read scripture and the way you think about life.” It requires a slow buy-in from those who will believe their propaganda and those who embrace the idea that IHOP holds the golden ticket to “closeness with G-d”. Our L-rd and Messiah Yeshua (Jesus as the Greeks called Him) stated very clearly that He was the way to the Father. So anyone else who claims to be “the doorway” through which you come to the Father is leading you away from truth. Any “ministry” that adds additional hoops for you to jump through to achieve “enlightenment”, closeness to G-d, salvation, favor, blessing, etc. apart from trust in G-d and following the teachings He clearly lays out in His Word is serving up some major deception–think of it like spiritual poison with a spoonful of sugar on top.

Salvation is based upon trust. The word that was translated into English as faith actually means trust in the original language of the Hebrew scriptures. It is a trust that is tested by actions (James 2). That trusting brings about fruit in the life of the one whose trust is in the Son of G-d—the One who gave his life as the last atoning sacrifice for the sins of humanity. So someone please tell me how that simple message of trusting in G-d has been polluted and perverted into “calling down signs and wonders to make people feel good, having “drunk Holy Ghost parties”, turning worship services into rock concerts, fasting until you have a full-blown eating disorder and multi-million dollar organizations that “market” their dogmas through conferences and internships via the belief that attending will give you a ‘supernatural experience’ and thus make you ‘closer to G-d’?” Excuse me? Closeness to the L-rd is not based on emotionalism–but in studying His word and allowing it to transform us from the inside out. The best times I have in fellowship with Him are in my living room or sitting around a dinner table in community and fellowship with like-hearted believers.

Brothers and sisters in the L-rd, let us not stray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Him. The rest of this “higher spirituality” which deviates into mysticism, new age and other occult/pagan practices is nothing more than a re-packaging of the same deceptions that existed thousands of years ago which the believers then were warned by Yeshua, Peter, Paul, James and others not to participate in. Satan’s message doesn’t change…just the packaging through which He promotes it. It would be like taking Bounce fabric softener and pouring it into a Downy bottle and selling it as Downy. The analogy isn’t about laundry product brands–it’s to illustrate the fact that taking a substance (or doctrine, teaching, belief or idea) and re-packaging it with a different name or label in order to present it as something else is what deception is all about.

A love for truth and a foundation set on the teachings of the Word is the only anchor we can securely hold to if we want to be free from the deceptive trappings, doctrines and webs of control that bring about spiritual abuse.

In Hosea 4:6 G-d says “my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children.”

G-d does not desire His children to be ignorant and blindly following the winds of heretical doctrines. He created one law–one truth–for G-d is ONE and following the laws and teachings of any other besides Him is idolatry. Period.

2 Thessalonians 2:9 and 10 speaks of what will happen when the Anti-Messiah is fully unleashed in the earth. It says that through wicked ways people will be deceived because they would not receive the love of the truth which could have saved them.

We must TEST, TEST, TEST what we hear and see. We cannot afford to be blind, careless and naive. If we do not love the truth of G-d’s precepts and follow the standards and guidelines for living life that He sets up in His Word, we will live lives of lawlessness and complacency–creating “our own” doctrines and thus living under the ruler-ship of the world system and doing its bidding.

Just because someone teaches something that sounds “spiritual” and uses the name of G-d does NOT mean it is truth or that it is of the L-rd. In His word, the Father teaches us exactly what we should believe and what we should follow. Deviations from that or additions to that are schemes of the evil one.

This is why the L-rd said that the path that leads to life is a narrow one. To choose life so that we might live (Deut 30:19) is to choose the narrow path that requires G-d to be the guide. The wide road is easy to navigate and leaning on one’s own understanding or the secular worldview are a few of many ways that will get you there. To navigate a narrow road requires trust in the One who is leading.

May the Father guide you with His eye, cover you with His love and lead you into the truth which brings about freedom!

by: Patrick Ryan, Editor of AFF News

Excerpt taken from this online article titled “Post-Cult Problems: An Exit Counselor’s Perspective”

Some of the recovery issues that keep recurring in my work with ex-cult members are:

1. Sense of purposelessness, of being disconnected. They left a group that had a powerful purpose and intense drive; they miss the peak experiences produced from the intensity and the group dynamics.

2. Depression.

3. Grieving for other group members, for a sense of loss in their life.

4. Guilt. Former members will feel guilt for having gotten involved in the first place, for the people they recruited into the group, and for the things they did while in the group.

5. Anger. This will be felt toward the group and/or the leaders. At times this anger is misdirected toward themselves.

6. Alienation. They will feel alienation from the group, often from old friends (that is, those who were friends prior to their cult involvement), and sometimes from family.

7. Isolation. To ex-cult members, no one “out there” seems to understand what they’re going through, especially their families.

8. Distrust. This extends to group situations, and often to organized religion (if they were in a religious cult) or organizations in general (depending on the type of cult they were in). There is also a general distrust of their own ability to discern when or if they are being manipulated again. This dissipates after they learn more about mind control and begin to listen to their own inner voice again.

9. Fear of going crazy. This is especially common after “floating” experiences (see point 18 below for explanation of floating).

10. Fear that what the cult said would happen to them if they left actually might happen.

11. Tendency to think in terms of black and white, as conditioned by the cult. They need to practice looking for the gray areas.

12. Spiritualizing everything. This residual sometimes lasts for quite a while. Former members need to be encouraged to look for logical reasons why things happen and to deal with reality, to let go of their magical thinking.

13. Inability to make decisions. This characteristic reflects the dependency that was fostered by the cult.

14. Low self-esteem. This generally comes from those experiences common to most cults, where time and again members are told that they are worthless.

15. Embarrassment. This is an expression of the inability to talk about their experience, to explain how or why they got involved or what they had done during that time. It is often manifested by an intense feeling of being ill-at-ease in both social and work situations. Also, often there is a feeling of being out of synch with everyone else, of going through culture shock, from having lived in a closed environment and having been deprived of participating in everyday culture.

16. Employment and/or career problems. Former members face the dilemma of what to put on a resume to cover the blank years of cult membership.

17. Dissociation. This also has been fostered by the cult. Either active or passive, it is a period of not being in touch with reality or those around them, an inability to communicate.

18. Floating. These are flashbacks into the cult mind-set. It can also take on the effect of an intense emotional reaction that is inappropriate to the particular stimuli.

19. Nightmares. Some people also experience hallucinations or hearing voices. A small percentage of former members need hospitalization due to this type of residual.

20. Family issues.

21. Dependency issues.

22. Sexuality issues.

23. Spiritual (or philosophical) issues. Former members often face difficult questions: Where can I go to have my spiritual (or belief) needs met? What do I believe in now? What is there to believe in, trust in?

24. Inability to concentrate, short-term memory loss.

25. Re-emergence of pre-cult emotional or psychological issues

26. Impatience with the recovery process.

—end of excerpt–

On a personal note, I can relate to experiencing some of these things after leaving IHOP and have heard many stories of others who have had involvement at IHOP and left (or were made to leave) who experienced much of this list as well.  Those who have left IHOP fit right into the same recovery process of those who leave cults.