Archive for the ‘Truth’ 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”]

Advertisements

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

As human beings created in the image and likeness of G-d, we are all endowed with these wonderful things called emotions. We have been given the incredible privilege of possessing a very wide range of feelings which ebb and flow in response to the circumstantial climate we are in. Emotions are an internal thermometer inside of us which activates a neurological sensory response to the world around us. We also have 5 fantastic physical senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch through which we interpret our surroundings as well as communicate and interact with others. I realize that this moment is probably not the first time this whole idea has been introduced to you and I imagine you probably already know that you possess these things. No news flash here.

Even though we know these are things we all have built within us and we probably have been using them for a good number of years now, we are by no means experts on what to do with them or what they are really all about. The truth is that because our senses and emotions are things G-d created and put in us, He is the supreme authority on how they were designed to be used. He holds the owner’s manual on our hearts. He knows the depths of our inner person because he formed us and designed each cell and atom to work together in a beautifully orchestrated symphony of anatomical genius. (Ps 139)

In our ignorance, we often misuse these innate little gifts and when used inappropriately they can be highly destructive to our hearts and lives. This is especially true when it comes to our spiritual lives.

The vast majority of what I see being called faith today and what I hear being labeled as a “move of G-d” is rooted not in truth but in experience. Closeness to the Father is measured in feelings, sensations, impressions, “divine hunches” and the way a certain spiritual encounter made one feel. The closer we feel to G-d, the closer we think we are.

Now as I said at the beginning of this post, emotions and senses are truly awe inspiring things but when they are mis-directed or used to navigate our lives and choices, they have a power and will all their own and become fueled by the soulish drives of our carnal humanity. Emotions and senses can be manipulated. They are like the variable “x” in an algebra equation. When they are not under the direction of the Spirit of G-d, by default, they become yielded to the flesh…which is Satan’s playground. When we do not submit ourselves to the L-rd and filter our experiences through the truth of His word, we all too easily will yield to the temptation of trusting what we felt or experienced over what scripture teaches to be immovably solid and true. Emotions, thoughts and sensory experiences that are not completely yielded to the L-rd become loose canons and we will be deceived when we use these highly unpredictable wild cards to navigate our choices and beliefs.

It seems in the present day religious culture of our nation that one can hardly set foot into a service or pick up a book without hearing some very distinct messages about what I will refer to as “feel good faith.” It is in effect not truly faith at all because it is based upon the foundation of personal spiritual experiences and emotions. True faith is to put our total and complete trust in Elohim…the creator and sustainer of all life. It is a trust in the nature and character of the one true G-d who is the same yesterday, today and for all of eternity. It is not a trust based upon feelings, warm fuzzies or senses. We trust because He is supremely trustworthy and binds Himself to His own covenant and fulfills to the letter every word He says He will do. His love and faithfulness are everlasting and He is not like man that he should lie or wake up one day and have a personality makeover.

Having a “faith” built on emotion or sensory-based experiences is like taking refuge in a port-a-potty during a tornado. That sounds ridiculous of course…who would want to risk being pulled up in a cyclonic vacuum? In the same way, how do we expect to withstand the storms of life if we are not rooted and grounded in the truth of G-d’s word and placing our full and complete trust in the immovable anchor of His character? Where did we get the idea that our “experiences” were a safe thing to place our trust in to define reality? How can we prove the accuracy of our experiences when they dwell in the realm of emotional variables?

Herein lies one of the greatest dangers of having an experienced-based faith. It is our human nature to base reality on feelings. If we felt it, then it must be real. We become one with our experiences and when someone disagrees with our experience then they have disagreed with us. Tracking with me? So if our spiritual lives are defined by the “spiritual experiences” we feel in a service and we have decided that because we felt it then it must be real and if we think it’s real then it must have been from G-d then we are now in a dangerous predicament. It’s dangerous because if someone challenges what we are sure we have experienced and that experience is the foundational basis of how we relate to G-d then one tiny kick to the side of our “faith” will send that house made of straw falling down around us. It then becomes a game of my experience vs. your experience.

This is especially sticky, for example, when you encounter a situation where someone has justified a bizarre action or decision with “the L-rd told me to do such and such”. Your spiritual antenna buzzes, a little red flag goes up and you now are in the realm of trying to determine the accuracy of someone’s said experience based on the fruit of their bizarre behaviors.

Here is the other side to this deceptive coin: there is the one who proves their faith by their experiences which automatically creates the flip side of the one who, by contrast, thinks they have no authentic relationship with G-d because they lack these feelings, manifestations, experiences, etc. So if they didn’t feel warm fuzzies or have goosebumps or feel a warm sensation or the like, then “something must be wrong with me.” Can you see what a dangerous dichotomy has now been created because experiences have defined reality?

Like I said earlier in this post, emotions and experiences can be moved and manipulated. You can be having a glorious and wonderful day and feel on cloud nine and one bad experience in a grocery store line, a traffic jam, a hurtful conversation with a family member or a myriad of other life circumstances can immediately and involuntarily alter your emotional state in a fraction of an instant. If natural events can manipulate emotion and change how we feel about our lives (even momentarily), how much more potentially destructive can a change in feeling or experience rock our spiritual worlds when we let that define our reality in G-d?

So if not from warm fuzzy feelings and experiences, where does true faith come from? How do we know if what we are defining our relationship with G-d by is truly accurate?

We must put our wholehearted trust in the nature and character of G-d and allow the truth of His word to be the plumb-line which we measure our experiences up against. In the same way that we hold and handle different things in different ways in the natural, we are to treat spiritual things the same way. The grip you hold on a hammer when you drive a nail or the way you hold the leash on your Rottweiler is different than the way you would hold a baby or catch a lightening bug. In the spiritual sense, we should hold hard and fast to the truth of scripture for it is our foundation. It is strong, solid and immovable. It is what we should anchor our lives to. Teachings of man, warm fuzzy spiritual experiences, prophetic words that people give, etc. we should hold a bit more loosely and open-handed to allow the L-rd to show us what is of Him and what is not. These are the variable factors–not the constants. These are the things we have to test, sift through and watch the fruit of to see if they truly be from Him. Sometimes things that appear to be “of the L-rd” are not. Just because you felt it, doesn’t mean it was reality.

We have a responsibility to diligently guard and keep our hearts in check and filter our emotional and experiential messages through the truth of scripture which is never wrong and will never change. This produces a trust that is not easily shaken because it is built on the foundation of a G-d whose faithfulness never changes, whose love never runs dry and whose character is more dependable than the sun that pierces the horizon and heralds each morning. He is our rock and the fortress upon which we must build our lives. Experiences will change. Emotions will fluctuate. If we evaluate reality based on things that move, then we will totter to and fro based on this variable environment. If we are firmly rooted in truth, we can build a trust that is tried and true and that will carry us through any storm we face in this life.

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

I’m fed up. Tired. Disgusted. Over it.

I’m tired of my G-d being treated like a laughing stock–a mockery. I’m tired of seeing those who claim to follow Him not taking Him seriously…not taking Him at His word. I’m so sick of hearing excuses being passed off as reasons to not step up and live the righteous, no-compromise lives that He’s called us to. I’m tired of wishy-washy living and sin being looked over and permitted in the name of “grace”. Righteousness is righteousness. Period. There is no substitute and no external behavior modification has ever changed a heart. That is an internal work that begins in the spirit of a person and then expresses itself through action.

I’m totally over the chump change that is being passed off as fruit. The name of our G-d is being used and represented wrongly every time we turn around. I’m really fed up with the mirage that is being passed off as the image of G-d. I’m saddened to see the Creator and Master of the universe being so grossly misrepresented. Those who do so are not ambassadors of His kingdom…they are simply posers who are copying the dance moves without hearing the music.

When will enough be enough already? When will the true body of believers rise up and stop merely talking and start living the truth? When will we allow it to so permeate every cell and fiber of our being that it transforms us from the inside out?

When will we stop wasting time? When will we get serious about what it means to bear His name and what it means to call ourselves His children, His followers, His friends? Do we even comprehend the depth and vastness of what it means to claim those titles? What does it mean to be a child of the Most High? There is no greater honor or responsibility on the planet. Why do we think we have the right to take it lightly?

When will we understand that repentance isn’t a word. Saying “I repent” isn’t repentance anymore than saying I’m a size 4 makes me so. Repentance is a radical change of choices inspired by a deep inner conviction. It’s lived out. It’s visible. There is evidence of change.

I don’t know about you but when I step back and look at so much of what gets passed off as following G-d it disgusts me. I believe that we need to come to a place of righteous dissatisfaction where pleasing Him, following His instructions, loving His Word and living passionate lives of truth rightly defines what serving Him looks like. We must come to the place where we love what He loves and hate what He hates. The days of befriending compromise need to end and living holy set apart lives unto Him needs to become the new standard of normal. It’s entry level. It’s like the stock speakers in your car. It should come standard for those of us who call ourselves His.

I challenge you, my readers and friends, to set a new bar. Raise the standard. Dig into the word and let it tell you how to live rather than living what feels comfortable and then going to scripture to find some moral backing. Let’s live lives that truly shine and let’s be torches of truth in a world offering up unholy fires to the gods of self and leisure.

Let’s not chase after the fanfare. My Dad says that “not all that glitters is gold”. Not everything that others claim to be of G-d truly is. Forget chasing after the next big speaker, conference or best-selling book. It’s time for a spiritual detox…to come down off the superficial highs and feast on the meat of what is true and lasting.

Let’s start with our hearts–the inner person of who we are. Let’s allow the truth of G-d’s word to be a flashlight to our souls and let Him do some deep spring cleaning. Let’s deal with the skeletons in the closet. Let’s put some action to our repentance and ask for the Father’s forgiveness for misrepresenting at times what being His and following Him looks like. Let’s allow Him to lovingly prune and till the soil of our hearts so that He can make us into earthen vessels worthy of bearing His name, carrying His presence, and being channels of His love and mercy to a broken and dying world.

A Word to the Weary Warrior

Posted: February 22, 2010 in Truth, Uncategorized

On a regular basis I hear from those who read my blog…people from many different places, backgrounds, experiences and histories. There are many weary and wounded in the body right now who are desperately clinging to the truth they know and trying to be a light where they are. I hear the frustration and I understand the pain. I know the cry and pursuit for what is real that rings loudly in them.

This is a word of encouragement for those of you who this describes:

Your prayers have not fallen upon deaf ears. Our Father’s grace is not in short supply. His canopy of love is not too small to cover you and His arm is not too short to catch you. His plans are not too small for your life to fit into and the warfare you wage by holding fast to truth is not in vain.

No matter your situation or the particular events you find yourself in the midst of…whether your church has fallen into error, you’ve left an IHOP, you’ve been burned by one of the many “spiritual movements” that are currently circulating or a myriad of other difficult circumstances, stand firm in the truth of G-d’s word and let that be the anchor of your hope. When your hope has grown deferred and your heart has become sick, set your hope on the one foundation that is immovable. He is an eternal rock in a world of sandy foundations…a fortress of strength…the Creator and Sustainer of all living things who holds your life and is writing the blueprint of your destiny. Has He changed? Has He forgotten His sheep? Don’t let the adversary, Satan, tell you that your G-d is too small.

Put your complete trust in the Father…the kind of trust that you felt when you jumped off the deep end of the swimming pool for the first time to the open arms that caught you. The one who carries you is faithful and He knows where you are right now. He knows your hunger for fellowship with like-hearted believers when you can’t find a fellowship or congregation to connect with. He knows the pain of sharing truth with friends and family who simply turn a closed ear to your words.

Take heart. Even though creation groans and everything that can be shaken will be, if your trust is firmly set on the Father then you will dwell on a foundation that will not move. This is the beginning of birthing pangs but take comfort in knowing that our King wins in the end and that your perseverance in the face of persecution and hardship is what produces patience in you and tests you to show you where your trust lies.

The accusations against you may be numerous. Those you have tried to share truth with may have told you things such as “stop being so judgmental”, “try to see the glass half full”, “you have a ‘spirit of Jezebel’ because you’re trying to control the Spirit”, “you’re putting G-d in a box”, “He’s doing a new thing and you’re just not getting on board”, “If you mention that a ministry is in error then you are being slanderous” and much, much more. Keep in mind that when truth meets deception one of two things happens: those with a love for truth embrace what is genuine because they have sought to know the truth of G-d’s word and live by it. They will quickly turn from deception and be restored. Or, they will hold to what seems right and feels comfortable and safe and become defensive–accusing you of being the one in deception.

You may have been dis-fellowshipped. Your wounds may still be bleeding and you may be carrying some pretty big resentments against those that have hurt you. But my desire for you is that you would, through the power of the Father’s love and His words of truth, be brought through your present storm and into a place of healing and greater trust than you have ever known. Forgive those who have hurt you and let vengeance and vindication come from above.

There are many wolves among the flock. Some are easier to recognize than others but the difference between the wolves and the sheep is the fact that the sheep know the Shepherd’s voice and will follow Him where HE leads. The wolves will not follow the Shepherd and are not trained to know His voice so they go their own way and take the sheep with them. Keep your eyes on the Shepherd and follow HIS voice alone. He is bigger than the wolves so don’t fear them or what they can do to you. (Matt 10:28)

Cling to what is true. Connect to those who will speak the truth to you in love. Forgive. Trust the Father to direct and guide you.

“Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. They say continually to those who despise the word of the LORD, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.'” ! Jeremiah 23:16-17

“Lead me, Adonai, in your righteousness because of those lying in wait for me; make your way straight before me. For in their mouths there is nothing sincere, within them are calamities, their throats are open tombs, they flatter with their tongues. G-d, declare them guilty! Let them fall through their own intrigues, for their many crimes, throw them down; since they have rebelled against you. But let all who take refuge in your rejoice, let them forever shot for joy! Shelter them; and they will be glad, those who love your name. For you Adonai, bless the righteous, you surround them with favor like a shield.” Psalm 5:8-12″

Take heart dear brothers and sisters in faith. Do not let your trust be shaken and do not compromise the truth even when it temporarily seems easier to do so. The price of acquiring truth is less costly than the lessons learned in losing it. Having done all, stand. The King still rules from the throne of justice and truth.
G-d isn’t finished and He alone gets to have the last word.

Why Truisms Aren’t Truth

Posted: January 18, 2010 in Deception, Truth

There is a subtle but important distinction between truisms and truth. Truisms sound true…but at their root, are based in falsehood. Truisms will often appeal to emotion and then are adopted as belief whereas truth is solely based upon the inspired words of scripture and is nourishment and life to our spirit–bringing freedom to our minds and hearts. Truisms have a thread of truth but with a non-truth mixed in.

A simple example:
Truism: G-d helps those who help themselves. (the true part of this truism is in bold)

Truth: G-d helps those who can’t help themselves.

If we had to help ourselves before G-d would help us, then there would be no basis for needing a Messiah to save us. If G-d only helps those who help themselves then the character and nature of the Father is a total lie–making him insensitive, selective with his love and support, and painting a picture of one who withholds what His children need. The truism that ‘G-d helps those who help themselves’ is not borne out in scripture. Rather, many times over, the Word states that the Father is the defender of the innocent, widows, orphans, poor, etc. and that those who call upon Him will find salvation. (Isa 19:20, Ps 68:5, etc.) Scripture tells us that He will not withhold anything good from those whose lives are pure and who walk uprightly (Ps. 84:11)

Why is believing a truism so dangerous? Because when we adopt a system of belief based on things that sound true and make decisions, etc based on them, we alter the course and direction of our lives based on that belief. So using this same example, if G-d only helps me when I help myself then I have to work to earn His help, support, etc. How radically would someone’s life be affected if they held to the belief that they had to work for G-d to do anything for them? They would be “paying for” the free gift of salvation with their own self-driven performance. They would feel the need to “clean up” themselves before they could approach the Father. A downward spiral unravels. One small mis-belief or truism can radically affect our walk with the L-rd because it takes a shift away from what is true and toward what seems right. (Prov 12:15, 14:12)

In this generation, few are taught to study the entire Word of G-d for their theology. Many form their own emotional or new age-based theologies based on what sounds spiritual and then twist scriptures to back them up. Sadly, it seems that congregations are spilling over with baby believers…and I don’t mean those who are new believers. I am referring to those who aren’t growing and maturing in their walk of trust with the Father. There is still a lot of spiritual bottle feeding going on where many are asking a pastor or leader to ‘hear from G-d and tell us what He’s saying’ and not rightly handling the word of truth for themselves (2 Tim 2:15). The book of Hebrews tells us that solid food is for the mature (Heb 5:12-14). Let us study to show ourselves approved and go back to the source…return to the elementary principles of trust in G-d and return to the simplicity of knowing and following Him. We must be on guard against the snares of the enemy that are carefully laid to entrap us.

We must be cautious to not be entranced by the seduction of emotionally-driven “feel good” doctrines that are sure to lure us away from truth and into an emotion-based reality. The Shepherd enters through the gate, he knocks at the door. He isn’t the thief who comes in from another way and entices us with a false, man-centered gospel.

(NEW to the blog: On the blog home page, I have added a new page which lists ALL of my blog posts and their links for easy access. So, if you want to ever look for a title or read an earlier blog post, you can now access them all from that page)