Archive for the ‘IHOP’ 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”]

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)

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

This post is just a question I have had which I once stepped back and asked myself:

Is it really just about intimacy and eschatology?

I remember coming to the realization one day that IHOP teaches their basic tenets and fundamental doctrines using primarily 5 books of the Bible: Song of Solomon, Daniel, Psalms, Joel, & Revelation. Their stated “themes” or over-arching messages are about romantic intimacy with G-d (otherwise known as “the Bridal Paradigm”) and the eschatology of the end times. How can you sum up the whole of scripture in those 2 teachings? From my viewpoint it is because they start with a ‘trunk’ of truth and add their own heresies as the branches. When people start to notice that the branches conflict with scripture and speak up, the leaders throw up a smokescreen and go back to citing how true the trunk is to defend their teaching. The trunk is the part they did take from scripture but unfortunately the final product has been so “genetically modified” that it doesn’t hold a candle to its original true form.

For example, take the intimacy with G-d themes from Song of Solomon that IHOP uses as their foundational message. Are there verses in scripture that talk about believers being the “bride” to their long-awaited Messiah? Yes, there are. However, when understood in context, these are references to the corporate body of believers being a bride…not individual lust-driven relationships between G-d and His people. IHOP leaders might deny that they teach this kind of intimacy with G-d but just listening to the lyrics of their music and the “love songs” that are sung in conferences and during worship sets and you’ll have a hard time convincing anyone that these subtler messages are not being promoted. So to illustrate my point: the “trunk” is the truth that G-d loves, cares for and protects His people the way a husband cares for and nurtures his wife. This is a picture of relational roles. The branches of deception that have been tacked on however are twistings of scripture and a misrepresentation of the kind of genuine and pure love that is illustrated throughout scripture and is congruent with the nature of the Father.

So we must be careful and watchful of what we allow ourselves to believe. When any church or ministry builds a spiritual fort around a single theme, pet doctrine or paradigm of G-d and camps out there let that be a red flag to you. G-d is FAR bigger than any box or paradigm we could try to define Him by. Our finite minds can grapple for all of eternity and never comprehend the vast wonder of the One who has created us. We dishonor Him by summing him up in such shallow regard. May He give us ears to hear and know His truth and eyes to see Him as He truly is.

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.

Those of you who have experienced or know someone who has dealt with any form of addiction can certainly attest to its potent strength and the strangle hold it possesses over the life it claims. It demands what it wants. Addictions must be fed and the cravings will scream so loudly that no amount of willpower will be able to squelch its pleading.

If one is able to hook people by use of spiritual addiction, they can maintain a tighter grasp than even a physical substance can…because we are spiritual beings–made in the image of the G-d who created us. I believe that spiritual addictions are often more difficult to recognize and break free from than physical ones. An illustration I use is that spiritual addictions take hold at the root compared to physical addictions that simply cling to the branches.  Because G-d knows how He made us (spiritual beings created in His image and likeness), He knows what will keep us free as well as what will tie us down in bondage and spiritual trappings.  So He set up a means of protection by giving us instructions in His Word regarding what to believe, what to follow and what to stay away from. Thinking that we are better at knowing what’s right and good for us than G-d is, humanity has very often taken the self-directed approach and as a result those who do will veer off into dangerous waters that they will eventually sink in.

Because I know the powerful effect of hypnosis on the human mind, I have not listened to music produced by IHOP in years. Shortly after I left, I put on one of the CDs I still had from when I was there. The repetitive chanting which IHOP calls “choruses” put me almost instantly into a familiar trance-like state. I felt almost nauseated even just to listen to it. I remember telling my Mom that there was something in the music that I didn’t hear when I was at IHOP but now it was so overwhelming, I couldn’t handle it. I threw out all of the music I owned which had been produced through IHOP. Why am I telling you this? Because unless you understand the power of hypnosis and the way IHOP is using it to fuel spiritual addiction, you will think that their “Harp & Bowl Model” using repetitive chorus lines is completely innocent…which is far from true.

Hypnosis puts you into an altered state of consciousness—making you susceptible and receptive to any message you hear while in that altered mental state.  Don’t just take my word for it–do a little research into how hypnosis works and it’s pretty clearly spelled out. The worlds of psychiatry and psychology use it as a form of “therapy” to help people overcome addictions such as smoking. But hypnosis can also be used to ‘program’ as well as ‘de-program’ the ones it is used on. (many hypno-therapists use it to de-program those who have been in satantic rituals or undergone military mind control)

I refer to spiritual addiction as “the perfect crime” because of the way hypnosis is used to ‘cover up the evidence’ of any mis-deed–making the victims of the abuse look like the ones who missed it and are in the wrong.  I’ve noticed many times when I was assigned to be in the prayer room a glassy-eyed, glazed over look on many people’s faces.  It was like they were locked in some kind of stupor.  I remember thinking after I left IHOP: “Why didn’t I see the deceptions sooner? When did this hook me? How did I get so attached that it controlled me and I defended it so vehemently?” The hypnosis used of that environment is like covering up the finger prints of a crime scene. You don’t remember when things went awry.  You can’t recall how or when you went from being the casual observer who was just attending conferences to the full-fledged IHOPer that would eat (or not eat), breath and sleep their mantras and try to convert everyone you know to sell their homes and move to Kansas City to join this “new” movement. Suddenly I became part of their word-of-mouth marketing department…and instead of getting paid for publicity, I was in fact paying them.

Spiritual hypnosis, as used in IHOP, utilizes repetitive, chanting, mantra-like phrases to bypass the mind (often via music) to touch people on a soulish level because it alters the brain’s waves and affects mood and emotions. IHOP’s theology is largely imparted through music. Because it is sung hypnotically over people…over…and over…and over again, it bypasses the mind and all rational/logical thought processes and is embraced on an emotional level. People feel an emotional connection to IHOP largely because of the many hours spent in the prayer room listening to repetitive music.

Add this to the fact that, for an intern, there was practically never time to be alone or rationally process anything being taught so you would be on sensory overload and find your moods and decisions being altered so rapidly yet it felt like something controlling you…not something you were controlling. Suddenly, life became all about IHOP. No outside friends. No hobbies, activities, etc. outside of IHOP. Time in the prayer room or at IHOP meetings and services became the center of my existence. Whenever I would have ‘negative feelings’ the solution everyone gave was ‘go spend more time in the prayer room’. Life became very small and confined. It happened so subtly I was slowly suffocating and couldn’t even put my finger on why until right before I left IHOP.

Back to spiritual addiction…why is it so dangerous? Because if an organization, ministry, church, House of Prayer, etc. can manipulate the soul (mind, will and emotions) then they can steer your decisions and actions. The soul has no discernment. Discernment is born of the spirit and is a gift from G-d. If you bypass the spirit and connect to someone only on a soulish/emotional realm, false doctrines can easily slip in because they “feel” good and appeal to the emotion. Once we emotionally latch onto something, it’s often very difficult to let go of it.

My prayer for you is that the Father would guard your hearts and minds from the deceptiveness of spiritual addiction and that the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us would be the antidote of freedom from all forms of addiction, abuse, etc.