Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Dear Friends,

I address you as such because over the past few years you have been so much more than just readers of my blog.  From all over the world, you have shared your stories, your tears and your own journey.  Thus, you have in many ways become long distance friends.

I have taken some months to prayerfully and thoughtfully consider this blog, those who read it and those of you who have written in to share their own stories.  I’ve taken that into consideration as well as my own heart, life direction, etc.  In this time of careful evaluation I have decided that the season of writing on this blog has come to a close.  I can’t say at this point whether I will write here again in the future or not but at least for now, I feel I have said that which has needed to be shared.  While I realize many, many people are still working through a lot of their own IHOP experiences and some are just finding this blog for the first time, my walk and my heart moved beyond IHOP years ago.  I have written down what the Father impressed upon my heart to share.  I went back through memories and re-visited experiences so as to share them with you and now I must move on into the next thing He has for me.  I will still leave the blog up as a resource but will be closing the comments on the blog.  It won’t remove existing comments.  It simply will close future ones since I will not be going in to moderate/approve them.

I want to sincerely thank each and every one of you who have been part of this journey with me…whether you were one of the first readers at the very beginning or just visited 2 weeks ago.  Many of you have shared what this blog has meant to you but let me just say that your comments, e-mails, encouragements, prayers and stories have enriched my life beyond words.  It’s been a privilege to write this blog and I never imagined that in the process of inviting you into my journey, I would become part of many of yours.  Thank you for that honor.

Honestly, deciding on a title for this blog post was the hardest one I’ve had to write yet.  I didn’t want to use the word “goodbye” because there really is no such thing as a goodbye…it’s just a “see ya later” in whatever form that later ends up being.  Maybe the Father will cause our paths to cross in another way or perhaps we’ll meet on the other side of eternity and dance together on streets of gold.  Whatever the case, I am confident that this isn’t just the end of something; it’s the beginning of many other somethings.  I had originally titled this post “On to New Beginnings” but upon further thought re-visited the post later to give it a re-name.  I left the post URL the same for those who found this page via a hyperlink.  So I’m closing this particular writing chapter of my life and crossing its finish line.  But I’m still running the race and pursuing the next phase of what the Father has for me.  I hope our paths cross again somewhere on the road.

I will still write from time to time on the Kindling Embers blog if you’d like to subscribe and keep up with me there.  You’re also welcome to drop me an e-mail at midnightbookworm@gmail.com.  I won’t be checking it quite as often as I did when I was managing the blog, moderating comments, etc. but will still write back when I can.

Thank you all for your faithful readership.  I pray that the things written within the posts of this blog have opened your eyes, challenged your thoughts, encouraged your heart and set your feet on a path toward truth.

Faithfully yours in our L-rd and Messiah,

Ariel

Dealing With Criticism Online

Posted: October 21, 2010 in Uncategorized

I get asked fairly frequently how I deal with the negativity and criticism I encounter online as a result of this blog.  So I thought I’d write a little postie about it (yes I just made up that word) for other bloggers, authors and writers out there who may be encountering backlash from writing on topics that clearly pick “a side” on issues that are treated as fairly controversial.

So here’s what I’ve learned:

I can pay attention to the chatter on forums, websites, blogs and the occasional “hate e-mail” I receive from time to time…or not.  It’s basically that simple.  I have the choice, the option to engage or disengage from it and I have chosen the latter.  It can be a “blog-eat-blog” world out there and I totally realize that there are people who disagree with my message, my experiences, my story, my beliefs and just plain don’t like me for things I have written.  That’s fine.  I’m not running for President or a Miss America pageant and I didn’t start a blog to win a popularity contest. I started this blog to share a story…my story.

So, when I come into contact with that kind of critical, negative, mean-spirited stuff I for the most part ignore it and don’t respond.  I’m busy living my life, doing things I love, spending time with the amazing people that I am blessed to have in my life and occasionally I post on a blog or two.  I don’t have to try to make people like me or get me.  If they do, then great…but if they don’t that’s okay too.  Everyone has the personal choice to agree or disagree and that’s up to them.  I have my stance on the issues and they have theirs.  Remember that no one really can “talk you out of” or “reprimand/berate” you for your own personal experiences.

I also realize that I write about subject matter that draws very emotional reactions from people because readers tend to be very passionately for or against what I’m saying and there isn’t much in the middle.  But that’s just the way it is.  I’ve accepted it and hopefully, if you’re out there sharing your story, you’ll read this and feel a bit more empowered and encouraged and you’ll come to that place of accepting it too.  Speak the truth in love, keep an open heart to the L-rd and listen carefully for His direction, but don’t divert your attention or give a 2nd glance to that loud fog horn of judgment and venomous anger that you might be getting hurled with.  Listen to the still small voice of the Father’s reassuring love and do all to please Him and not man.  Don’t lose sight of truth or get caught up in trying to bend your message to cater to an audience.  Be authentic and sincere and those who are seeking truth will find you, if it’s truth you are speaking, and they will be blessed, uplifted and encouraged.  At the end of the day, that’s really what doing this whole blog thing should be about anyway so let the chaff sift through and keep sharing your story.

Lastly, let me say that the positive comments and e-mails many, many times over outweigh the negative.  I’ve been blessed to have truly amazing readers on this blog who have shared their own stories and personal experiences, offered incredible insights, poured encouragement into me and supported my blog by sharing it with their family and friends.  You know who you are and I can’t thank you all enough for that!

~Ariel

(Note from Ariel: This is a direct copy/paste from the Kansas City Star article.  The link to their site is at the bottom of this post.  The link is also located at the top of the blog site on the Research, Links & Sources pages under IHOP)

IHOP (the pancake-maker) sues IHOP (the prayer center) over trademark
By DONALD BRADLEY
The Kansas City Star

A sign at the entrance to the prayer room at the International House of Prayer helps keep a prayerful atmosphere. Now, the IHOP restaurant chain is suing the Kansas City-based religious group, alleging trademark dilution and infringement.

Pancakes and prayers — have we reached a point where even those two can’t get along?

Frankly, yes. So praise the Lord and pass the syrup, the International House of Pancakes and International House of Prayer are fixing to throw down.

IHOP (pancake), based in Glendale, Calif., has sued IHOP (prayer), based in Kansas City, for trademark dilution and infringement. The lawsuit, filed last week in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, essentially said there was room for only one IHOP and that would be the restaurant chain that has been using the initials since 1973.

The religious group drawing thousands from around the world to south Kansas City to prepare for “end times” was started just 10 years ago.

Other than an acronym, the two have nearly zilch in common.

The IHOP (prayer) on Red Bridge Road operates 24/7/365, sending a never-ending digital signal of prayers to Jerusalem, where it streams live on God TV for broadcast all over the world.

The other largely operates 24/7/365, too, but it is known for its pancakes, including a signature breakfast specialty called “Rooty Tooty Fresh ’N Fruity.”

But the chain, which has 1,476 restaurants across the country, claims it has six registered trademarks with the IHOP acronym and that the religious group’s use of the same four-letter logo causes, according to the lawsuit, “great and irreparable injury and confuses the public.”

The lawsuit further accuses the church mission of adopting the name International House of Prayer knowing it would be abbreviated IHOP — the intent being to misappropriate fame and notoriety of the food chain.

On Tuesday, IHOP (pancake) spokesman Patrick Lenow said the suit was filed only after the church mission refused repeated requests to stop using the trademark.

“We are compelled to protect the 350 small-business owners who own IHOP franchises and the IHOP good name that’s been around for 52 years,” Lenow said.

Thus the question, why sue now? The church mission started calling itself IHOP a decade ago.

“They’ve expanded — and now some of the branches are serving food,” Lenow said.

Among the seven defendants, four are in California where the suit was filed, including the Pasadena International House of Prayer. Although the suit also seeks attorney fees and costs of litigation, it does not ask for monetary damages.

Calls to IHOP (prayer) chief operating officer Mark Schumacher were not returned.

Gary Cooper, a former Houston attorney who until recently served as the mission’s chief financial officer, said the lawsuit lacked legal basis.

“I don’t think it will go anywhere,” Cooper, who serves on an IHOP board, said Tuesday by telephone from Oklahoma.

But Gary Hecker, a well-known intellectual rights attorney in Los Angeles and founder of the Hecker Law Group, said the court would probably side with the restaurant chain.

“Because of that extremely famous name, IHOP may well have the right to protect itself even well outside the scope of selling pancakes,” Hecker said Tuesday.

One defense might be that the two sides are so different that no confusion could exist.

Even so, Hecker said, “I would take the pancakes.”

IHOP (prayer) was started by a man named Mike Bickle, who by his own admission grew up in a Waldo bar and claims to have traveled to heaven twice.

The ministry is now planning to build a $150 million world headquarters — including IHOP University and a 5,000-seat conference center — along U.S. 71 in Grandview.

Again, IHOP (pancakes) got there first. One of the restaurants is across the highway.

To reach Donald Bradley, call 816-234-4182 or send e-mail to dbradley@kcstar.com

(Click HERE to view the full article on the Kansas City Star website)

Have you ever noticed on your morning commute a building, a sign, a restaurant that you had never noticed before and then found out it had been there for years?  You’ve made that back and forth drive on the same road a thousand times and this is the very first moment you became aware of something along the way which had in fact been there the whole time.  It snaps you out of the blank stare and pulls you into a present awareness of your surroundings.  It shuts off the auto pilot mode and you realize “wow, I’ve never noticed this before.”  What is now very obvious to you seemed invisible on your other morning drives but what changed was not the building or structure but your awareness of is existence.

Truth operates much in the same way.  The truth is like that fixed building–strong and steady, grounded, solid, on a good foundation.  It has always been there and always will be but if we aren’t looking for it and aren’t aware of it then it fades into the background and becomes seemingly invisible to us.  One definition of deception is something which clouds our ability to see the truth.  Having a love for truth is the only thing that, through the grace of G-d, leads us out of deception.

I receive e-mails from many who have friends, family, etc. still involved in groups, churches or IHOPs that teach their extra-biblical ideas as doctrines and deviate from the simplicity and truth of scripture by teaching their own version of “truth”.  I can hear their frustration as they tell of trying to share the truth of scripture with those who simply don’t have eyes to see or ears to hear anything that is not taught by IHOP or doesn’t support IHOP’s central doctrines.  There is a lack of testing what they hear, a lack of sensitivity or openness to even seek understanding or find answers.  Instead they seem to just avoid and deny the existence of the questions.

The reality is that no one wants to believe that whatever they are involved in is wrong or in any way in error.  Very often deception becomes the wool that gets pulled over our eyes when we are afraid to be wrong and admit it.  In those situations, we can quite easily blind ourselves to what is true because to deal with the areas of deception is to also deal with the foundational lies we have chosen to embrace and believe.   Addressing and dealing with the cracks and holes in our own personal belief system is an uncomfortable place and those who require comfort are usually unwilling to go there.  They don’t want to identify it for what it is, unpack the lessons to be learned there and then move on out of it.  Instead it becomes a spiritual tomb where their love for truth just gets buried and forgotten.  The pride and fear of being wrong causes them to put up a defensive front.  This self-protective shield creates a personal prison that locks them into that wrongness because a love for truth cannot coexist with a desire to be comfortable.  The pursuit of truth will lead you down some uncomfortable and bumpy roads at times.  The price tag for living that kind of life isn’t a cheap one but the value is priceless.

Have you ever known something to be 100% true to the core of your being and felt utterly frustrated and bewildered that others didn’t see what you saw or know the truth you knew as if you were reading out of 2 different Bibles?  How can it be that the truth which is obvious to one person can be completely invisible and seemingly nonexistent to another?  The thing I have noticed in my experience is that the only thing that determines whether someone recognizes and embraces truth or not is based on whether they are looking for it.  It’s like that building I mentioned at the beginning of this post.  If you weren’t looking for it, it would blur into the backdrop of the morning commute.  There must be a heart for truth and a pursuit to know truth that leads us.  When anything leads our course besides a love for the truth, deception can always find a place to roost.  G-d is the G-d of truth.  He is not the author of confusion.  Where confusion exists there is a mixture of truth and error because truth is not confusing.  Truth brings clarity, understanding and freedom.  It’s the mixture that breeds confusion and inner conflict.

So friends, here is my admonition to you.  Set your heart on what is true.  Guard carefully what gains jurisdiction in your thoughts and beliefs.  Let the truth of scripture be a light to your course and a torch that illuminates your path.  If you have friends or family that are still swirling in the debris of deception, pray for them that G-d would put within them a love for truth so that He can lead them out.

Grace and peace to you.

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”]

The “Big Announcement”

Posted: July 9, 2010 in Uncategorized

This blog was created to provide information, support and encouragement to readers who have questions and concerns about the International House of Prayer. In it I share my own personal experiences and insights from being an IHOP intern, things I’ve learned, scriptural evidence for why the teachings of IHOP are not Biblical, etc. As I explain on the About This Blog page, I started this blog after receiving a number of inquiries from others about my experiences there. Concerned parents, former IHOPers, etc. had questions and I really felt led by the L-rd to start a blog to make my experiences public while keeping my identity private. The response from readers has been truly overwhelming. I never thought for a moment when I created this blog that it would generate such interest, get so much feedback and turn into what it has become. I’m incredibly humbled that my simple words and shared experiences have resonated with so many of you and that you have been blessed and encouraged by reading this blog.

Even with my involvement at IHOP being a number of years ago I’m thankful to have been given the opportunity and avenue to still encourage and minister to people who have been a part of, affiliated with or in any way affected by IHOP–whether that be those on staff years ago or those freshly impacted by more recent involvement. While I will still continue to share and write through the Gospel Masquerade blog I also want to be able to encourage those who, like myself, have been out of IHOP for a while or have moved beyond IHOP and are seeking to know how to grow in simple, authentic relationship with G-d .  I have spoken with many who are in a sort of in-between place where they have come out of something (like IHOP or other organization) and they have hearts set on truth but just aren’t sure how to go forward and grow from where they have been.

Now for the big announcement: I have launched a ‘sister blog’ to The Gospel Masquerade called Kindling Embers. It’s already up and I’ve begun posting on it so feel free to visit anytime. This blog is for anyone who desires to grow in truth, deepen their relationship with the Father , walk in a greater degree of freedom and wants to pursue authentic everyday lives that bring glory to the Father and impact the lives of those around us.  This is what I want in my own life and where I want to go with my writing so I invite you to come along and join me in the journey.  Wherever you are in your walk of faith, I pray that you find this blog to be a place of continued encouragement.

Click here to visit the new blog http://kindlingembers.wordpress.com

<– This link will also be available on the left column of the blog.

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)