Archive for the ‘False doctrines’ Category

Over the past few weeks I have reflected upon and discussed what I believe to be a major issue affecting believers today. I feel it is very pertinent not only to the situations I have written about regarding IHOP but I believe it to be a wide-sweeping idea that is affecting believers at large.

In the western world there is a prevailing Greek mindset which is so deeply ingrained that it is nearly undetectable without close study. There are Greek philosophies and ideas that have so permeated every aspect of American life that we have absorbed them into just being “American”. This nation has become a melting pot of cultures, ideas, philosophies, worldviews, foods, religions, etc. to the point that it’s difficult to define what is in fact truly “American”. Most being traced to another culture, nation, people group, etc. that brought it to the US when they immigrated here.

One aspect of Greco/Roman philosophy and tradition is the compartmentalization of life. It is the idea of categorizing things as a way of keeping them separate to control them independently of their other parts. In many eastern countries, there is no separation between culture, ethnicity and religion. In Israel, for example, the “constitution” or law of the land is the Torah. What Torah forbids is regarded as illegal in the nation of Israel. In the US however, religion and government are separate so that they can run independently of each other and be governed without influencing each other. (for more on the Greek mindset, check out the audio MP3 files on “De-Greecing the Church” on the Research, Links and Sources page.

As part of this compartmentalization, different aspects of life can be grouped under a new heading to be more widely accepted within a culture. For example, a statue of Buddha or other deity kept in someone’s home is now considered art instead of a god because it has been re-compartmentalized under a heading of “Art: statues, paintings, artifacts, etc.” So if you were to point out to someone that they have a Buddhist god in their living room they would say “No, it’s a piece of art we brought back from our trip last summer to India.” It has become cultural and artistic rather than being seen for what it actually is according to scripture: a false god. Whether the owners of the statue bow down to or sacrifice to isn’t what makes it a god. It’s the very fact that it was fashioned into a figure for worship and is acknowledged and worshiped as a deity by those of the Buddhist religion that makes it a god.

This also relates to the practice of Yoga. Yoga, an eastern Buddhist meditation practice with poses of worship to the sun goddess, has been re-compartmentalized and re-labeled in western culture as a “workout” and you can now buy DVDs on how to practice the various forms of yoga right next to the Richard Simmons’ Sweatin to the Oldies aerobic videos. Yoga is encouraged by the medical profession and the health/wellness industry as a great workout for body and mind, many with complete ignorance of the fact that they are promoting a religious practice. See also this link for more on the religious nature of yoga.

There is also an “inner healing” practice called Theophostics which is making its infiltration into Christian churches and ministries which basically teaches that all current negative emotions are simply triggers of past pain from an initial “first memory” experience in childhood rather than the present event which caused the pain, negative emotion, etc. The part that makes it dangerous is the introduction of guided imagery which has the participant go back in their memory to the initial trigger experience, look for Jesus in the room and have Jesus re-frame that experience through the journey made in the mind. Having witnessed and experienced this from a Christian ministry myself in the past I can attest to it’s virulent influence. In his article “Why Theophostics Is Not Biblical” Bob DeWaay writes:

This process is not “prayer” as defined Biblically. Prayer is not asking God for personal revelations about the meaning of first memory events. Prayer is not about getting revelations at all, it is about bringing our needs to God and knowing that He hears us. Furthermore, the process involves tempting God which the Bible prohibits. I say that because it is asking God to involve Himself in a process He has not ordained.

For example, God did not ordain that Jesus jump from the pinnacle of the temple. Had Jesus done so, expecting God to send the angels to catch Him as Satan suggested the Scripture promised, He would have been tempting God. In like fashion, teaching people that their emotional well being depends on identifying first memory events and gaining personal revelations about the meaning of such event makes them vulnerable. They take the leap into the subjective realm and think that God is going to catch them by providing special revelation. There is no good outcome for this process. Either God gives them what they are looking for and thereby reinforces the false teaching that this whole process is Biblical, or He does not and allows them to be deceived by spirits that are all too ready to hand out secret information. It is pretentious and dangerous to ask God to give revelations, the need for which was determined by a man-made psychological theory. The result is that if the process is deemed positive by the person who submits to it, they think that God has put His imprimatur on what amounts to divination.(source)

 

Many people practice yoga because it helps them with certain physical ailments, health problems or muscle injuries. People use Theophostics as a healing modality to address negative emotions and experiences and see results. Here is the clincher though: just because it works doesn’t mean it’s biblical. If false signs, wonders and miracles didn’t work, who would believe them? If psychics didn’t reveal secret knowledge, why would people consult them? There is a dangerous belief that has permeated this culture:

–The secular world says “If it works, it must be a good thing.” So they adopt it into their lifestyle, spiritual practice and thinking.

–The religious world goes a step further and says “If it works, it must be a good thing…and therefore, if it’s a good thing it must be of G-d” This is the free pass given to a whole host of false teachings, practices, etc. that have been checked off as okay simply because they show some evidence of having worked.

As believers and followers of the one, only and true G-d we are not called to pursue that which “works”. We are called to pursue that which bears fruit. The kingdom of darkness can dance and sing and enchant you with things that very well may “work” and produce results in the natural realm but they are deviant substitutes intended to lull you away from the truth of scripture…which is the only thing that produces fruit in the spiritual realm.

I’ve heard Christians argue that yoga can be practiced by believers without actually engaging in the worship of the sun goddess because they are just exercise positions or that because in Theophostic ministry they saw “Jesus” appear in their childhood memory when they were being beaten or raped and he re-framed that experience in their mind that it must be a biblical teaching and legitimate method of healing. In like kind, IHOP has taken the same path by following and promoting the teaching of Catholic mystics who re-categorized transcendental meditation by re-naming it and teaching it as contemplative prayer. TM has been around for centuries and is well known in the new age world by that name but the only way to introduce it into Christian practice is to re-name it and insert the name of G-d and then believers will buy in. Bottom line: this is not how G-d says we are to worship Him. Those who participate in what is widely accepted as another form of worship or prayer by convincing themselves it has been “redeemed” because Christianity improved it then sadly, they have been completely fooled. Borrowing a teaching, belief or practice from any secular religion (paganism, humanism, pantheism, Hinduism, etc, ) and tacking it on to the faith we are called to walk in as believers is to fall into another form of grand deception that has hypnotized well-meaning believers into worshiping another G-d.

It is imperative that we guard our hearts and be cautious about what we attribute to being “of G-d” simply because it makes grand claims of the good it can bring to your life. Consider this: since we know that “His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” (2 Peter 1:3) then if we seek solutions to our present day struggles from these alternate modalities which introduce a solution that does not lead and point us back to the Father, are we not then allowing that modality to be our savior and messiah? Yeshua (Jesus) always pointed back to the Father so then it would be entirely accurate to say that a teaching, practice, etc that points to another source or solution which leads you away from the Father and glorifies another deity, method of worship, etc. is pure and simple idolatry.

Satan is not without power…even though it is a far lesser power. He has the ability to deceive, seduce and enchant humanity with his myriad of solutions to better your life by looking to yourself and your knowledge, experience and worldview as the source to draw wisdom from. We must be on our guard and carefully filter what we allow ourselves to absorb from our western culture. This is how we are we to be in the world and not of it. We must choose lifestyles of holiness–by what we embrace as well as by what we avoid. We must choose the things of the kingdom of G-d and live as children of light (Eph 5:8) and reject that which pulls us away from Him or seeks to steal our loyalty and allegiance. By this we guard our heart and keep it with diligence. (Prov 4:23)

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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

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!

There were many, many experiences that made me do a double take and say “what?” while I was at IHOP but that internal questioning was quickly explained away or rebuked by internship leaders. Once I began to deviate from IHOP’s teachings and study scripture on my own for answers to the internal conflicts I wrestled with, I began questioning the pseudo reality I had been conditioned to embrace. Suddenly I saw the isolated red flag incidences as a seamless pattern of error and the veil of deception fell. I stopped rationalizing and justifying. Enough was enough and I was done and wanted out.

There are much more personal experiences than I can put into one single blog post, but here are a few I still recall pretty strongly.

1. Mandatory fasts which made me very physically ill. They would never admit to having “mandatory” fasts but when you don’t have any food available, close down the kitchen, give your cook the day off and don’t allow interns to hold jobs (so that they have money to go buy food if they aren’t participating in the fast) then that is called mandatory.

2. Being practically held hostage in the prayer room and told that it was required that I be there and I was not allowed to leave even though I did not feel well and wanted to go back to my apartment. I was told I needed to stay in the prayer room to be part of the “corporate anointing” and that I shouldn’t leave. It was one of my “required” prayer room sets as an intern so I spent the remainder of that 2-hour set in one of the side prayer rooms in the back sobbing on the floor because I wanted to leave so badly and our internship leaders were standing by the door. You might ask “why didn’t you just force your way out and leave anyway?” When you are part of cult where free, independent thinking is not condoned when you don’t comply with what is expected of you, very often guilt, manipulation and penalties are instated for those who resist. Interns who didn’t follow “the rules” of the internship were penalized through loss of privileges (such as loss of your day off, having to do extra work/manual labor, etc.)

3. The grip of control and micro-management increasing: greater demands and restrictions on interns (such as increased pressure to fast more to attain a higher pinnacle of spirituality) being told where we had to sit when in the prayer room, taught a model for how to pray, how to dance, sing, etc. Any form of worship outside of this model was not considered to be acceptable. It had to fit IHOP’s style and method to be admissible.

4. Mandatory journaling assignments which we had to do weekly and then we had to turn in our journals to be read by internship leaders

5. Seeing how controlled the prayer room was. Rather than having freedom to express my heart to the Lord, I was put in a box and told how I had to do everything IHOP’s way. I had reading and writing assignments whenever I was in the prayer room.

6. There was no alone time ever to really think, reason, test, question or process anything. We were run ragged from sun up to late into the night which always left me exhausted, depleted and burnt out.

7. Once when I got sick, my mother came to pick me up and internship leaders resisted letting me leave with her (even though she lived in town). My internship ‘com leader’ (short for community leader) objected and still impressed upon me the importance of going to the prayer room even though I was too sick to get off the couch. My mother said “she is my daughter and I’m taking her home and taking care of her. Period.”

8. The more leadership responsibility I was given as an intern, the more I got peeks into the “inside”. I saw the outer fringes of the internal operations of how IHOP functioned. I was on an IHOP dance team and sang as a chorus leader on a few worship teams. To dance, I had to follow a specific model that IHOP required. To sing, I had to attend the briefing/de-briefing meetings before and after each worship set where I saw first-hand how carefully controlled that the seemingly “spontaneous” aspects of worship were carefully calculated and often planned ahead of time.

9. Another intern got deathly ill and it wasn’t until she ended up being hospitalized that internship leaders took seriously the fact she was sick. They accused her of faking an illness to get out of attending IHOP classes and time in the prayer room. This was told to me directly by that intern.

10. If I wanted to go anywhere off IHOP property (even to go see my family who lived in town) I had to notify internship leaders of my whereabouts at all times. I had no autonomy or freedom as an individual. Some leaders who were 19 (but were former interns which gave them elite status) were telling me where to be, what to do and when I was expected to be home. I had to answer to them for everything. I was in my early 20’s and had lived on my own before so the feeling of suffocation and having no personal rights to space, privacy, independent thought, etc. was overwhelming.

There is much more but I think that’s a sufficient start to at least give you an idea of some of what was happening when I was at IHOP. It wasn’t until after I left that I began to see far more than I had been able to see when I was still involved. The casual observer on the periphery won’t necessarily see the reality of all that is happening there because they are seeing the veil that IHOP has built to carefully cloak the truth of a lot of what really happens.

After I left, I realized how worn out and exhausted I was in every way imaginable. I spent days and weeks sleeping and physically healing from the trauma of the experiences I had just come out of and to let my body heal from the fasting and sleep deprivation. It took a long time for me to really start healing emotionally and spiritually and to begin putting pieces together. Recovering from mental and spiritual abuse like that is a hard road and a difficult place to come out from. I did months of research after I left IHOP and the immediate dust had settled. I wanted to see the roots of the giant beanstalk that had sprouted up and choked the life out of everything in me. I started going back as far into the history of IHOP as I could. As interns we were required to listen to 18 hours of audio CDs recapping all of the history of IHOP and the “prophesies” that led to it’s starting. I started researching on the internet about the names of the so called prophets of this movement and what they had come out of. That led me to picking apart a very carefully woven web of key players that all were connected to this massive organization.

I shared with one parent who e-mailed me about her own child at IHOP the importance of praying that the L-rd will open their eyes not only to see, but to recognize and identify the red flags of IHOP. The thing is, they are probably already seeing them, but rationalizing and excusing them away as isolated events rather than viewing them as a destructive pattern. I pray that the Father will show those there who are truly seeking him the pattern of red flags…making them so obvious they can no longer ignore them.

My hope is that the young people there who are much like I was will begin to question what they see and compare it with what the scripture actually says…not how Mike Bickle twists and teaches it…and that they have the courage to identify it and reject it. Those who oppose IHOP and speak out typically experience some kind of consequences or backlash. People are a commodity there. They are traded. When wounded ones leave, IHOP leadership doesn’t sweat over it…new and unsuspecting people who are ignorant of their dangerous devices but are hungry for emotionally-driven experiences and spiritual highs will come back in the same door the others left. It’s a revolving door of deception.

The deceptions of IHOP are treacherous and very real. Did G-d use that place in my life and work together for my good the devastation I experienced? Absolutely. But that is a testimony to the goodness of our G-d…not a stamp of approval on a place. Remember he spoke through a donkey and a burning bush. That doesn’t mean we should glorify donkeys and start worshiping bushes.

I’ve been asked many times how my eyes were opened to see what was happening at IHOP and how I got out, etc. I’ve thought about that many times and the simplest answer I can give is that I knew who my source was. G-d was my source of instruction, teaching, counsel, truth, etc. It was His voice I was seeking to hear and His approval I desired. IHOP wasn’t my source. So when the things I heard from the L-rd through prayer and studying His word were in conflict with the things I was being taught in IHOP it made the decision to leave an easier one. It was traumatic and painful and I’m not going to minimize that. But it was the price of protecting truth and I knew that staying would have compromised what I knew was right and since my desire is to delight the heart of my Father, once He removed the scales, I was out.

My desire is to see people set free to live lives of healing and wholeness…walking in genuine love and pursuing truth. My prayer is that the things you read on this blog inspire you to that end.

Grace and peace to you.

This is a follow-up post to “Are Manifestations Really From God?” (10/09). The below question was added as a comment and I believe it is worth addressing as I have had this question posed to me more than once.

Joy wrote:
“Thank you so much for posting on this. I have been feeling red flags towards things I once just accepted as from God. But more recently, God has been teaching me what it means to measure everything by His Word. Manifestations (in the physical sense) have been one of the things that I have always blindly accepted as normal, and yet I can’t seem to find examples of these kinds of physical manifestations anywhere in the God’s Word! When I’ve questioned why I don’t see Jesus or his disciples practicing this kind of behavior, I am told that I am limiting God and putting Him in a box. One of the things that I keep hearing about lately is how physical manifestations are biblical, since the disciples behaved in a drunken manner when God’s Spirit came upon them in the book of Acts. I would love to hear what your take on this scripture is!”

My response:
I’m glad you brought that up. That is an argument I have heard others make also. What I see and hear often in groups like IHOP is the idea of building whole theologies around one verse or one isolated event and “canning it” as a justification for whatever they are wanting to defend in their words or actions. There are many reasons that the argument about why “behaving in a drunken manner is a manifestation of God’s Spirit” is a completely invalid one. I will address a few them.

First, remember that there are two specific groups of people who give a response in Acts 2 and for accuracy in reporting, both are mentioned. Group A, scripture tells us, is comprised of believing Jews from every nation (Acts 2:5). So these were observant, religious Jews who fully kept Torah. Group A takes note that each of them is hearing the apostles speaking in his own language (the languages of those present from each region). They marveled and asked how it was possible (vs. 7 & 8). Here’s the part that is often missed: Group B is made up of “others” who are there observing. [vs. 13: But others made fun of them and said, “They’ve just had too much wine!”]. Who makes up this group of “others” is un-told but they are clearly addressed as being a group other than and separate from the earlier mentioned group of Jews. So this is a group of mockers and naysayers standing on the sidelines. We could make many speculations but since there is no further mention of who were part of this group, assumptions would be adding to scripture what is not told to us. But we can clearly draw the fact from the passage that they were the group that was joking and mocking–not the group who was marveling and in awe that they were hearing their own native tongues being spoken by local men from the area of the Galil. (Galilee as it has been translated today)

Then Kefa (Peter in Hebrew) stands up with the eleven and quickly addresses the mocking by explaining that no one is drunk and he quiets their joking. He quickly brings a serious tone to the situation and explains what is happening. Now let me back up and address the drunkenness issue. Consider what these others (who clearly don’t know the languages being spoken) are observing: men speaking earnestly in a language they have never heard which would have made no sense to them who are full of joy and celebration. The fact that they weren’t understanding what they were hearing but saw these men testifying joyfully to what God had done is enough to have made them judge that the men had been drinking.

Now having said that, read again the paragraph below from Mike Bickle’s book “Growing in the Prophetic” and you tell me if these behaviors can be put in the same category of what the apostles were doing when the Ruach (spirit) of God came upon them:

“Shaking, jerking, loss of bodily strength, heavy breathing, eyes fluttering, lips trembling, oil on the body, changes in skin color, weeping, laughing, ‘drunkenness,’ staggering, travailing, dancing, falling, visions, hearing audibly into the spirit realm, inspired utterances (that is, prophecy), tongues, interpretation; angelic visitations and manifestations; jumping, violent rolling, screaming, wind, heat, electricity, coldness, nausea as discernment of evil, smelling or tasting good or evil presences, tingling, pain in the body as discernment of illnesses, feeling heavy weight or lightness, trances (altered physical state while seeing and hearing into the spirit world), inability to speak normally and disruption of the natural realm (for example, electrical circuits blown).” (Growing in the Prophetic, op. cit., pg. 209)

Do you see the difference?

When the spirit of God came upon people they shared the good news of the gospel, were healed of illnesses and physical handicaps and were made completely whole. Over and over there are accounts which clearly illustrate what is of the spirit of God and what is from the evil one (Satan). Violent shaking, falling into fire, foaming at the mouth, barking, gnashing, etc. were the effects of demonic manifestation when the Lord (or his followers) cast demons out.

As a disclaimer I want to mention that I am not saying that every time someone dances before the Lord or feels the love of God envelop them that they are experiencing a manifestation of the demonic. Keep in mind that when the Lord healed someone it was not to draw attention to himself–it was to bring praise and glory to the Father. He discouraged people from telling others and often asked them to keep it quiet and tell no one when they received a healing. Is this the same attitude and approach that accompany barking, shrieking and rolling on the floor? What does this activity communicate? Is it drawing attention to self or does it glorify and give praise and honor to the Father? What does this behavior produce in the life of the one who participates in it? Is a sign of healing and freedom to shake and convulse or see gold dust on your hands? Think about it and ask the spirit to lead you into what is true–not what you’ve been to conditioned to accept as truth simply because a ministry endorses it.

I’ve heard criticisms such as “to say that these things are not of the spirit of G-d is blaspheming the spirit so you’d better be careful in making that claim.” Knowing what I know to be true of the G-d I serve…the G-d who looks at the heart and knows the thoughts & intentions of all men…I know that He knows my heart and what I intend by what I say. I would caution that the real danger is to attribute to G-d such things as loss of bodily control, meditative trances, contemplative transcendental meditation, etc. A true blasphemy of the spirit of G-d is to insult the L-rd by attributing actions and manifestations to Him that are not of Him at all. Would that not be a far more grieving action than to avoid what does not bear the fruit or characteristics of being from Him? If the Lord knows your heart and knows that your desire is to serve Him in truth and purity of heart and so you withdraw from and stay away from that which you do not believe glorifies Him, is that not what guarding your heart is also about? We are called as believers to walk blameless and holy (set apart) lives before G-d which do not look like the pagan and self-gratifying practices of the world around us. So then, being entangled in things that are clearly part of the occult, spirit-ism, pantheism, new age, humanism, etc. that have infiltrated our culture (including religious cultures) is the very thing we are to guard against.

Let us choose to live lives that are set apart from the practices of the world so that we may glorify the Father with our words, actions and the thoughts of our heart.

Blessings to you!