Archive for the ‘Judgement’ Category

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

Advertisements

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

How can one tell the difference?

What is the difference between making a judgment against someone and discerning when a belief, teaching, etc is false and speaking out against it?

A common disclaimer I hear from people is “well, don’t speak against a person/ministry even if what they do/teach is wrong. God will take care of it. Just go on doing what you know is right.” I call this the head-in-sand response. This means: “If I ignore false teachings and false prophets, they will all just go away.” This is otherwise known as denial.

Did Paul say: “Hey, it’s ok. No congregation is perfect. Go on believing the false gospel that is leaking into your congregation. You’ll find heresy everywhere so no need to make a fuss over this.” Um, I think not. He was pretty direct in how he dealt with this issue…as you will see further below in the scripture references I have included at the bottom of this post.

But to answer my question above, I believe the difference between judging a person and dealing with a false teaching is this:

To judge a person is to attack their identity based upon their actions. To discern a false doctrine and call it out as such is to deal with the two separately. This allows one to bring loving correction, healing and restoration (Gal 6:1) to the person/ministry while eradicating the false teaching and exposing it for what it is. In other words, in dealing with a false teaching or doctrine, it’s important not to make harsh judgments of the PERSON who is in the deception. The person can come to repentance, be restored to truth and turn from that deception…but the deception is still just that, deception. It remains false. It cannot change. An erroneous teaching is just that and regardless of who buys into it, its validity as a doctrine is not based upon the one who believes it.

Take for an example a person with cancer. Is that person evil because they have a disease? Should they be hated and judged because they have cancer? Of course not. But will the cancer eventually destroy them if not removed? Yes. The properties of cancer are the same regardless of what person they have infected. Cancers are toxic, deadly and life-ending diseases that attack different systems within the body. They have measurable effects because they can be seen in the natural with medical equipment. False teachings and deceptions are internal cancers that are more elusive and more difficult to detect…thus requiring the discernment of the Spirit of God. The cancer is what must be removed in hopes of sparing the life of the person infected. The goal is to bring healing and freedom to the person by exposing the cancer that is eating them away inside…whether physically or spiritually.

As the verses below illustrate, there is judgment that comes upon those who buy into and teach false doctrines and lead others astray. But keep this in mind: the Father does not wish that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). So even his judgment is for the purpose of bringing them to freedom and wholeness. Spiritual chemotherapy can be painful.

So let’s take a closer look at how Scripture identifies false teachers and doctrines. Where is there documentation in the Word of those who spoke out against false teachers, doctrines, etc? Please don’t take my word for it. Go search it out.

What does God say about those who twist truth and teach and/or prophesy things that did not come from Him? What is HIS response? What did the apostles in the new covenant such as Paul, Timothy, etc say in response to false teachings that introduced a “new and higher gospel” than they had been preaching?

Here’s a starting point:

Zech 10:2–The idols speak deceit, diviners see visions that lie; they tell dreams that are false, they give comfort in vain. Therefore the people wander like sheep oppressed for lack of a shepherd. (vs 3) “My anger burns against the shepherds, and I will punish the leaders; for the LORD Almighty will care for his flock, the house of Judah, and make them like a proud horse in battle. (NIV)

Matthew 7 (Jesus’s warning)
15-“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
16-By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?
17-Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.
18-A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.
19-Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
20-Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. (NIV)

Matt 24:10–At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, (v.11) and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. (NIV)

2 Cor 11:4–For if someone comes to you and tells you about some other Messiah than the one we told you about, or if you receive a spirit different from the one you received, or accept some so-called “good news” different from the Good News you already accepted, you bear with him well enough! (CJB)

2 Cor 11:13–For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Messiah. 14. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.

Colossians 2:18–Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. 19. He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.

1 Tim 6:3–If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, 4. he is conceited and understands nothing…(v 11) But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

1 John 4:1–Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

2 Peter 2–whole chapter

Feel free to continue researching this issue on your own. I pray that the eyes of your heart will continue to be enlightened to the truth of God’s Word and they He will lead your heart into freedom!