Deliverance from Extreme Pentecostalism – A Personal Testimony of Bethel’s Influence

[Following is a personal testimony of an individual who, under the influence of Bethel Church in Redding, CA pastored by Bill Johnson, fell into error and later was freed.  The original article in four parts can be found at inerrantword.]

A Dangerous Journey – My Wife’s Deliverance from Extreme Pentecostalism (Part 1)

 

At the beginning of 2010 I decided I wanted to get involved in a more passionate “Christianity”. I have always thought of myself as a worshipper & I craved being around others who lived & breathed worshipping the Lord. 

Our church had been *pushing* & wanting revival to break out. So naturally I went home one day and decided to research about what “revival” actually was and how we could get it!  Through my discoveries I found out about The Welsh Revival, Charles Finney and others.

I wanted *revival* to break out in our church. The more I read about the “amazing” things that happened in Wales, the more I wanted that to happen to us.

A member of our church had been involved in the Brownsville Revival.  She told me many stories about the revival that happened there & the anointing that she received from there.  Whenever she went up for prayer her body would shake & eventually she would, fall to the floor.

I was curious and started looking into the information surrounding the Brownsville revival. Like the Toronto blessing, the Brownsville revival had similar manifestations of the holy spirit, and following that was the Lakeland revival.

At that time I was initially very cautious. It didn’t seem to line up with the God of the Bible I knew and I couldn’t find anything in the scriptures to back up what was happening in these places. BUT I so desperately wanted to feel God and being among passionate Christians, I thought that this was where those sorts of people were.  Some of the manifestations, including the prophetic seemed exciting and it drew me in.

Despite my initial caution & a nagging feeling of unease, I started listening to the answers that these extreme prophetic people would give to the sceptics.

Here are some of the things they said/say:

 – God was revealing new things to the church today.

 – God was moving in a way that was different & more relevant to the world now.

 – How could these things not be of God, when people were singing his praises all within the safety of a church?

 – No one can judge or dismiss the manifestations of the holy spirit, if you did then this then you were quenching the Spirit.

 – David danced in the streets and people then thought he was crazy, but he was a man after the Lord’s heart.  This meant that even though manifestations were similar to David’s dancing (disorderly behaviour) they were of God.

 – The church at Pentecost had exactly the same spirit manifestations (like drunken behaviour…because in the Bible the mockers thought they were acting drunk therefore the early church must have had drunken spirit manifestations.

 – Bill Johnson is such a kind, quietly spoken & gentle man therefore he must be a man of God.

 – People from all over are coming in droves to these churches, so its has to be good.

 – In the last days, God’s spirit will pour out on his people and this is that.

 – No-one can judge the holy spirit. If something is done in the name of the holy spirit then it must be the holy spirit.

 – Those who think that these manifestations are not of God are Pharisees (& are not open to things happening in the spirit outside of the Bible).

 – People who were outside of these movements were missing out on a special anointing from the Lord.

I became convinced by these sorts of answers. I was drawn to it, I wanted to be around enthusiastic worshippers of God and I did not want to act like a so called Pharisee. It also looked exciting.

So began my journey into the world of extreme Pentecostalism, the teachings of Bill Johnson, Bethel Church, & the music of Jesus Culture.

(Little did I know how dangerous this path was going to be)…

 

Hidden Dangers – My Wife’s Deliverance from Extreme Pentecostalism (Part 2)

 

I spent months immersing myself into the Bethel Church teachings and music of Jesus Culture.

 I started engaging in what is called ‘soaking’. Soaking is a practice of opening your mind and spirit to the “lord” whilst listening to loungey “Christian” music.  I gave up reading my Bible…because I wanted new revelations from God.  I had heard mentioned in so many sermons (including writings by Rick Joyner) that the Bible was being superseded by new revelations.  The people who only read the Bible were called “wordies” and these people (the “wordies”) were setting themselves up against the new spiritual move of “god”.  The new spiritual movement was more important than the information in the Bible.  So I gave my regular bible reading and embraced soaking.

I wanted to encounter God.  I wanted something dramatic to happen, something exciting. During my soaking I would sit quietly opening my mind and heart up to the ‘presence’. I would focus on this little warm fuzzy I had in me and eventually this feeling started to get bigger and bigger. I would have this almost ecstatic feeling on call anytime I wanted it. Eventually I would just begin to start a soaking “prayer” and this feeling would come over me immediately. It made me feel “in love” with jesus. He was no longer in a position of authority or a lord on a throne, but someone I was in love with.  Someone who made me feel really good and superior.  This feeling made me feel good and I wanted more of it.

My whole world started to change…in fact I was changing more than I really knew…and not for the better.

The more I engrossed myself into Bethel church’s teachings the more passionate I became about “us” being ‘right’ and those that only followed the Bible being wrong. This set me up against my husband. My husband is a fervent student of the Word of God – quiet and humble – and so he did not embrace what I was now into.    I resented this and felt he was not good enough anymore. I wanted him to be more passionate and open to the spirit like I was. My main goal in life now was to save our money to get to a Bethel Conference so I could receive these special anointings. I was increasingly unhappy with my life the way it was. It was too boring, it didn’t excite me or make me outwardly more passionate for God. I wanted this anointing. I wanted to see the gold glitter and jewels falling from heaven. I wanted to move in the prophetic.

As you may have noticed…it had now become all about ME.

I wanted the new anointings. I wanted to be blessed by God. I wanted to give up my entire life and get into one of these churches…I even wanted to get my husband to move our entire family to Redding (where Bethel is based) so that I could be apart of this new move of God.  All I wanted was to have these good feelings I had inside all the time. The ones that made me feel “in love” and passionate about jesus. I loved how those feelings made me feel, and I wanted more of it.  No one was going to stand in my way. I knew what was right for me! I had become a loud, aggressive woman, extremely impatient and completely caught up in my own selfish ambitions. 

I could not see that this was happening.  I no longer had any time for my family, I needed this and that what was all that was important.  I couldn’t understand that my husband wasn’t able to see the great *change* in me. I needed to be soaking and listening to my Jesus Culture music.  As time went on, I started to get exceedingly rude towards my husband. I grew to be resentful towards him and completely disrespected his walk with the Lord.  I wanted him to become “great” for God by receiving the new anointing.  I was in a superior place with the Lord and I thought his bible studies were a waste of time. 

One day however I did pick up my Bible and read it.  It was during that time that I noticed something very different from what I was experiencing.  I became aware of this quiet still voice. This had become very foreign to me. It was no at all like the excited, loud experiences I was having in my soaking time. It concerned me as I could not work out in my head why this gentle, quiet voice was so different from my other experiences.

Then something happened that completely opened my eyes.

At a church gathering I started chatting to the same member that I referred to in part one on my story.  We started talking about all the amazing anointings and manifestations that were happening overseas, like the gold dust, glitter and jewels and how we wanted these things to start happening in our church.  We longed to go and attend these conferences and receive “more”. 

Then it happened.  She started telling me about this amazing “anointed” man of god, who received the glory of god.  His name was Joshua Mills.  At his conferences were all the same manifestations…she started telling me that the glory of god was so strong on this man that he had oil that drips from his body as a show of his anointing. She was amazed by this. But for I suddenly started to realise that something wasn’t right. In fact there was something very wrong with this.

I felt very uncomfortable with this. I had been raised in the Catholic church, before I became a born again believer. When I became I believer God opened my eyes very clearly to the satanic influence in that church.   The Catholic church is full of visitations from “mary”, oil dripping from their own “anointed” people, the stigmatas etc.   So when my friend started telling me about Joshua Mills and his oil dripping from this body as a sign of the glory of god, alarm bells starting ringing inside my heart!

As soon as I got home I started looking up Joshua Mills to find out more about this.  Joshua Mills is part of the Elijah List, a list of special “prophets”.  On this list included Bill Johnson, Kim Clements, Rob De Luca, Randy Clark, Cindy Jacobs, Rick Joyner, Todd Bentley, Patricia King, Rodney Howard-Brown, Carol and John Arnott and so on.  Joshua Mills was a man who ran conferences and teaching classes (which you pay huge amounts of money to attend).  He ran these classes so the students could receive from him and take home his special anointing.  And sure enough, just as my church friend had said, Joshua Mills was producing oil from his skin, that was sign of the glory of god upon him.  And if it wasn’t bad enough – he was collecting his drips of oil on rags and selling it…so that people could buy and get his special anointing from the rag.

All of a sudden, like a lightning bolt, I realised what I had got myself involved.

 

Uncovering the Dark Deception – My Wife’s Deliverance from Extreme Pentecostalism (Part 3)

 

After reading about Joshua Mills on the internet I started to realise exactly what I have allowed into my spirit, my heart and my life. It hit me like nothing I have ever experienced before! I had allowed a deceiving spirit into my life. A false spirit, a false jesus.

All of a sudden everything that had been covered up was uncovered.  The truth of what was my reality, my darkness was exposed. The moment of this is like nothing I can explain or give a full account of. I became completely aware of this sick, filthy darkness that had been in my life. The heaviness of the reality on my spirit was awful.  To give you an idea of what this felt like I can only explain it like this: There have been times in my life when I felt a deep darkness. Times like when I had a life before Christ. Another time was when I was a born again believer but started living in the world for myself. I got involved in immorality and it was awful and caused a deep wound in my spirit then. When I realised I had allowed a deceiving spirit into my life, it was far, far greater than anything I have ever felt when I was not a believer and when I was engaging in full blown sin as a believer. The intensity and depravity of what I had done and allowed in was so great I simply just cannot explain in words. Perhaps for me I can only liken this to what is the actual reality of the dark evil spiritual realm. What it may feel like to be in alliance with satan. One thing is sure, when the Light of God and His Truth uncovers deception nothing can hide from His glory.

I came before my husband and confessed what I had allowed into mine and our lives. I explained to him exactly how I had been deceived and the burden and heaviness on my spirit that had come from allowing this false spirit in my life. I had spent so many months desperately trying to get him into this “world”. He told me that he had been praying to God intensely for Him to reveal to either one of which of us was wrong. God answers prayer and He came through for us!

When I realised what had crept into my life, all I wanted to do was get rid of this thing as fast as possible. I was absolutely desperate to get rid of this darkness, this filth! (One can only imagine what it will feel like in hell for people who will live an eternity with this constant desperation and never be able to get rid of it and get peace).

Praise the Almighty One. Earlier that year I had visited a blog about a woman who had gone through a similar experience (visit M’Kayla’s Korner), but I thought I knew better and had not heeded her warning. Thankfully I had bookmarked her blog page and that night Nick and I sat down searching through it to help us work out how to get rid of this darkness and filth that was in my spirit. God had given this woman the insight to put an extremely helpful link to getting rid of these false spirits if you had allowed them into your life (read this here).  We printed off the pages and followed each step.  I spent a few hours in our bedroom on my own paging through the advice and looking up bible verses. 

That night I spent those hours confessing my sin and disobedience to my Lord. I confessed my lack of discernment and my own sinful willingness to expose myself to this deception and false spirit.  I was able to see that after I confessed this from my heart and made a decision to never expose myself or my family to these false spirits again I was set free! The Lord Jesus took the darkness away from my life and in place the sweetness of His Spirit returned.

 

What is a False Jesus? – My Wife’s Deliverance from Extreme Pentecostalism (Part 4)

 

This false spirit, a false “jesus”, one that pleases the flesh, had been given permission by me into my life. If I knew the character of the Lord well or knew my Bible basics I would have recognized the false spirit simply by looking at what type of behaviour I was displaying when I was experiencing this “spirit”.  I would have know that the fruit of the real and true Holy Spirit  is peace, love, real joy, gentleness, self-control, humility, patience, kindness, faithfulness and goodness. If I had done this little test I would have clearly seen that I lacked gentleness, self-control, patience, peace and real love. This false spirit is very easily recognised when you do this little test. What I had allowed in my life brought out impatience, anger, rudeness, complete lack of Self-Control, chaos, flesh seeking madness, self ambition and selfish desires.

The next way to determine a false spirit is to do a quick comparison with what the God of the Bible is like in character versus the spirit you have opened yourself up to. Does it match up with what the Word of God says?

 – Who God is (a God of order and peace)

 – The order of a Church service (no chaos, no un-interpreted tongues, no more than 2 or 3 people talking in tongues and in turn (not over each other)

  – That these manifestations are similar if not the same to the strange fire offered by Aaron’s sons in Exodus

 – Leadership in the church (should be characterised by godly character: men of peace, self-control, peace, gentleness, quietness and of humility).

 – The focus of godly teaching (is leading one towards complete reliance on Jesus Christ and not on yourself or a person or a ministry)

 – People under the authority of the Lord (will display a peace, calmness, quietness and gentleness about them).

 – Dying to self and dying to flesh. The entire false spirit movement is characterised by satisfying your own flesh and carnal nature. Rather than bowing down before the Lord, it is about getting as much out as you can for yourself, getting the “anointing” for yourself, getting the “manifestations” for yourself, seeing the signs and wonders for yourself. This is completely the opposite to the life of Jesus Christ, one of complete self sacrifice and in turn the life Christians are to live. We are to beat our body/flesh to make it our slaves (1 Corinthians 9:27).  

 – The real gospel of the Lord is unpopular. I have realised that wherever there are huge crowds and no real genuine repentance (followed by no major changes in the person’s life) then one needs to proceed with extreme caution! The way of the Lord is a narrow way, not a popular one.

 – We need to be very careful of false teachers and false prophets in the end times. There are no arguments that we are in the end times, so why would we switch off our discernment buttons because we are too scared to be wrongly called Pharisees.

Will we be accountable to God for being easily deceived?

We have access to the Truth, the Word of God. The Word of God specifically warns us in detail about what deceptions there will be in the end times and yet we are still easily deceived.  I was warned by earnest believers, but still chose to be lead astray.  And in turn we have earnestly warned others but they choose to defile themselves with these false spirits too.

Why are we caught off guard by so called “men of god” that are bringing these false spirits into the church?

Most likely they are completely deceived themselves and are themselves, in turn, deceivers. The whole purpose of deception is that is going to come in and trick us! Why does it surprise us that this is happening in the church? Satan has had over 7,000 years to work out the best ways to deceive and cheat people, of course he is going to influence people in the church today. It is naive to think he wouldn’t. There will be no excuse for us on our day of judgement when we face our Lord and King and we realise we have been tricked into allowing false spirits into our hearts. We should know better and be prepared for this.

How do we know and recognise satan?

Satan will deceive us by enticing our flesh! It is not surprising them to find that these so called movement of the “holy spirit” are about ‘making us feel good’, ‘hyping up our emotions’ and ‘satisfying our carnal desires’ into chaos, uncontrolled disgusting behaviour and acting like mad people.

Is it any surprise why we are so desperate for the next “fix”?

This behaviour is not found anywhere in the Word of our God. The Holy Spirit came upon the disciples and then they went out with their purpose, to spread the gospel NOT to  run from conference to conference, meeting to meeting to get *more* of the “anointing”.

When I look back over my darkest days I can now very clearly recall some of the behaviours of these people and even friends who are in these “movements”. Their behaviour (including my own) was some of the most selfish, prideful displays I have ever seen. We were desperate to have our next “fix”, the next manifestation, the next drunken moment in the so called holy spirit, and the next “loved up” feeling. The longer I was involved the greater my drive and motivation was to fulfil my flesh and carnal desire. This selfish, flesh seeking drive is intensely stronger than the motivation to go out into the world and spread the gospel and to save lost sinners in the name of Jesus.  I only cared about myself and truthfully I had no real genuine care or love for other believers during that time. It was all about me.

I also have noticed and experienced the anger of these people when they are questioned about the truth behind these movements and any mention of false spirits. It is like they turn into monsters defending their prey. There is an awful ugliness that emerges and it is quite frightening (that is why I used the word monster). I displayed this ugly behaviour myself so I speak from first hand experience…these people have sold themselves out to a false spirit, a false jesus. The devil has a hold on their heart and their desires. This false spirit makes them feel good and they will hold onto it like nothing else! Their flesh fights to hold onto it and fights against the truth being revealed.

If you are concerned about this false spirit that is creeping into the church please go to my sister in Christ’s Mkayla Kelly’s blog.

Testimony of a Former IHOP-KC Attendee: Stephanie

[Part of this testimony first appeared here and is titled "I Was at IHOP and FSM for about 3+ Years..."  In a subsequent comment on that blog article, "Stephanie" added some more to her testimony.  She graciously revised her testimony to include both the original and her additional comments for publishing here at CrossWise.  Bill over at Beyond Grace has recently published two other testimonies.  Please take the time to read both The Mother of all IHOP Casualties and Red Flags over IHOP - Devotion or Deception?.  I had previously made a passing reference to another one of the second author's articles (Red Flags... author "Ariel") in a previous CrossWise post -- The Kingdom of God is at Hand, part II (at footnote 5).]

I grew up as the only Christian in my household. My parents came to know Jesus when I was about 10. My Father began to backslide after his grandmother died which took a pretty big toll on his relationship with my brothers, my mother, and I. Off and on since I was in about 7th grade, I had severe night terrors and nightmares. I attended a Bible High School as well as a Bible College after I graduated. I often tried to find a reason and a way to stop my night terrors, with little to no answers.

Meanwhile, my family was extremely rocky to say the least. My dad was an absentee, my youngest brother was abusive, and my mom was enabling them both. I always wanted to help them, but neglected myself in the process. Wanting to get closer to the Lord, I decided to go to an extension campus in Hawaii (without praying about it and for pretty selfish reasons). I knew I probably wasn’t supposed to go but went anyway to escape from everything else going on in my life.

The Pastor who ran the campus quit 3 days before our arrival and a local apprentice to the pastor was put in charge and (very) reluctantly took the position. It was a pretty messed up situation, to which I and everyone else on campus (about 20 people) ended up leaving as a result. At this point, my walk was very dry and I felt so out of place no matter where I was. I just needed a place I felt I could fit in and, at the same time, draw closer to the Lord and get some answers for weird things that would happen (like the night terrors).

Then a friend told me about the International House of Prayer (IHOP). I heard that my favorite band was going to play at their “One Thing Conference” in December. I decided to go, for three reasons:

1. To meet the friend who told me about IHOP

2. To see my favorite band

3. Hopefully get closer to the Lord and find some answers to my questions

At this time, I had absolutely no experience in anything the Charismatic church teaches and was clueless about manifestations, deliverance ministry, baptism of the Holy Spirit, etc. At the same time, I was very desperate to be loved and accepted by God and by people, and I was desperate to feel anything. I felt so dry and empty. I just needed someone to be there for me and understand… I needed Jesus.

SO I went to the conference and had some very different experiences. I heard people speak in tongues for the first time. People talked about Angels and Demons like it was a normal every day experience, and I heard doctrines that I’d never heard before. I was also told that all the other churches in America were dead, dry, and boring and were, therefore, without Jesus. Because my walk was dead, dry, and boring, it seemed right to me. And the experiences I had that weekend, although strange to me, felt good and exciting. Because of the conference, I decided that I wanted to go to FSM [ed: Forerunner School of Ministry], in hopes of finding Jesus and acceptance there.

I attended IHOP/FSM and was heavily involved for about 3+ years.

My first semester there, I had nothing but good things to say about IHOP because I was still learning all these new things that I found to be fascinating, and I felt I was accepted by everyone else who was “just like me.” I also thought I found answers to my night terrors, when they explained it was because I “had demons” that needed to be delivered. After going through several of their deliverance ministries, however, the terrors only got worse and more frequent.

It wasn’t until my second semester (after going home for Christmas break) that I realized I had completely disconnected from my family, friends, and reality. All of my closest friends and family members sat me down (individually) for an intervention, of sorts. They would tell me things like that I’ve changed and I seemed happy and “on-fire” for God, but that something was off and something was wrong. And when I would tell them some of the things I was learning or experiencing, they only became more worried and they confronted me with scriptures, which got me thinking. So going back into my second semester, I was a lot more confused and had a lot more questions.

Slowly but surely, the Lord chipped away at my heart and showed me very clear scriptures to cause me to question the things that would go on there. After realizing this, I started feeling really weird about some things that were being done and said there, so I took it to the Lord, as any “Berean” should. I started looking up the scriptures my teachers would give us in handouts to explain some of their doctrines, and I realized that not one of those scriptures had anything to do with those doctrines. They were either taken completely out of context or just had nothing at all to do with what the doctrine was (ie: deliverance, manifestations, etc). So, I became even more confused and concerned. I started asking very genuine questions about where certain things were in scripture (like deliverance ministry, false prophesies, manifestations, etc.) because I wanted to be sure that I was doing the right thing in God’s eyes. I just wanted it to be explained to me because I didn’t understand the doctrines and I didn’t understand why the scriptures weren’t lining up with my experiences. When everyone would “feel the presence of God” or everyone would “break out into manifestations of God,” I wouldn’t feel anything and I would almost never experience what everyone else did. So, most days, I felt like an outsider because everyone but me was “getting it.” I started feeling confused and rejected by God, which is why (again), I turned to scripture.

I noticed that, when I started asking questions, that I had been “red flagged.”  What I mean is that I had particular people in leadership following me around and keeping tabs on me.  I was moved out of my core “Omega” group and into one with Sabrina Walsh who was a former, practicing witch and was also a leader at FSM. She and her husband were in charge of the “Signs and Wonders” classes where they teach kids how to prophesy and perform miracles. I was put in the group because I was to be “monitored.” After changing groups, I began having strange dreams and getting attacked on almost a daily basis.

As I read more scripture, I also began to realize that much of what they were teaching and practicing was extremely unbiblical and even dangerous. We were constantly fasting and in the prayer room. After starting to eat more and going to the prayer room a little less, I felt my head start to clear up and I didn’t like what I was seeing and how I felt. I often went back and forth, in my mind, between wanting to feel what everyone else felt, and realizing that it wasn’t from God, trying to figure it out. Half-way through my third year of school, I was brought into a room with several staff members (including Walsh) who accused me of many things that I hadn’t even come close to doing and they said something to the effect of:

“We know that you have father issues that need to be resolved (I didn’t) and we can tell that you are heavily oppressed by many demons.  However, we are incapable of this level of deliverance on someone. We just don’t have the time or the resources. So we are going to send you to this wonderful place in Toronto, Canada.  This rehabilitation facility is capable of handling your type of situation. We’ve sent many students there who have come back completely delivered.  We are going to send you there.  You cannot come back to IHOP or FSM until we have a written letter from them stating that you have been delivered.  In the current state you are in, you’re a danger to the other student’s growth and spiritual being.”

…To which I told them I would certainly go, but had no intention of actually going. I said I would go because I was very much afraid of what would happen if I told them I wouldn’t go, and was afraid until I moved back home. After the meeting with them, I immediately called my Dad, who I’d been told not to talk to anymore because he said IHOP was a cult. At one point, they also told me that I needed to stay away from my mom (who is my best friend in the world) because she had demons and was pulling me away from God (which was anything but true). My Dad booked the first flight to Kansas City.  At that time, my mom and I owned a home in KC and we had been helping students that went to FSM by providing rooms with low rent. I had an excellent relationship with each person in the house. Within two weeks of being pulled into the office ALL of my roommates – my friends - moved out. When asked directly, they either had no response or told me that the school had told them it was an “unsafe environment” because I and my mother “had a demon”.

I was absolutely crushed.  All I ever wanted was to know God and at the time I felt completely rejected by Him. When I finally left IHOP, I was not all the way better. I was actually worse than when I started because I was more confused, felt rejected, and still needed help. My head felt like it was covered in a fog. I would constantly go back and forth between “I know what happened was wrong” and “God was the one taking me out of there to save me” all the way to “IHOP was right” and “there is something wrong with me.” Like I said, I was a complete mess and it took a whole lot of love and prayer to get me out of that state of mind. I even flew to Illinois to go to my friend’s church (the same one who told me about IHOP in the first place) to try to get “Delivered” of this demon that IHOP told me about because I was so messed up. After that trip, I walked away from the Lord completely for about 6 months and was absolutely miserable both in and out of the church.

It wasn’t until I came back to my Calvary Chapel church that life started to become normal again. Even then, it took a really long time. I was able to let go of needing to feel something that wasn’t there and just focus on the truth of the Word of God and loving and understanding who God is. He is never-changing, always loving, arms-wide open, ever wise, ever beautiful, ever strong, amazing, orderly, and truthful God. He is my best friend, my Father, my peace, and my joy. And it didn’t take barking like a dog, falling over, being “drunk,” or being “delivered” from a “demon,” to do it. It was straight-up surrendering to His will and letting go of mine. It was repentance and it was loving God, even if it seems “Boring.” It was just worshipping at his feet, reading His word, fellowship with believers, accountability, etc… going back to the basics. The gospel is truly simple and God is very straight-forward. He is not the author of confusion.

I thank God for my Calvary Chapel pastor back home (and the amazing women at my church) who spent every minute praying for me, speaking life over me, and bringing me back to the truth of the Word of God. I almost lost faith and hope many times. But God is so amazing…He spared my life and got me out of there.

I grieve for the people I love who are still stuck within the lies of IHOP and for the many who are recruited to IHOP daily. I pray for their souls and I pray for the truth to be made known to them. If ever there was an “antichrist spirit,” this is it.

I’ve kept all of my journals, notes, books, and materials from when I was there. When looking back on the things I wrote and the things I would say…it’s like I was a mindless drone who repeated everything I heard. It scares me to think that so many people are being deceived, so many families ripped apart…so many lives destroyed….and all in the name of “Jesus”.  God help us and God forgive those who tarnish and blaspheme Your name!

[see also Hyper-Charismatica versus True Christianity]

‘Word’ of Faith: Testimony of Bob Scruggs

Bob Scruggs sent this to me unsolicited just as he has sent this to others.  After contacting Mr. Scruggs, I decided to post his testimony here.    – Craig

I’ve read many of your articles concerning the false prosperity prophets we have today and thank you for exposing them on your web site or You Tube. I would like to point out that this is nothing new, my first exposure to this false teaching was back in 1954 at a Pentecostal church. I left the hospital, recovering from a severe burn accident with my arms infected and was in great pain. A friend of the family started taking me to several Pentecostal healing services in the Washington, DC area. When there were no results the preachers blamed my lack of faith etc,. The friend also took me to a faith healer and tent evangelist Jack Coe, who turned out to be another false teacher, died a year later of polio.I just could not understand why God would not heal me. I was thirteen, saved and thought, based on the teachings I was getting that I did have enough faith to be healed . Several preachers looked at my swollen arms would pray and then say “you have to have faith,” then walk away leaving me feeling like I had no faith and questioned my salvation because of the “Fire And Brimstone” teaching being taught. After months of pain I did recover even though the healing wasn’t instant. GOD was working in my life in spite of the spiritual leadership and false hope I was getting. It was years later that I realized what “JESUS” meant when HE said “My Grace Is Sufficient For You” but the Pentecostal preachers left more scars on me than my burns did.

While attending these loud, out of order and scary services, the pastor would bring in special anointed evangelist that traveled around going from church to church, “preying” on the people, usually on a Friday night (pay day) preaching the same nonsense that you see today. The ‘pay me so God can bless you’ ministers. Even though I did not attend these services often, one night several years later, just before going into the Marines, the preacher said that “GOD” was going to give a special blessing to all those that would give $100, then $50, then $25. Since I’d just been paid (I cleared around $45 a week) and was leaving home in a few days, I felt I could give $25.00. People lined up with their money in hand, the preacher laid his hand forcefully on their foreheads and they would fall down with the “Catchers ” behind them. When it came to my turn I was prepared to fall down, which I did, not because of the so called power of the preacher but because everyone else was falling, as I laid there I even looked around to see if others got up so I could. What a hair raising experience, I stayed away from these fake “signs and wonders” for years.

Many years later I got involved with a prison ministry. I was to meet my mentor inside a prison for my first volunteer bible study but he did not show up and I had to conduct the bible study on my own. I had never done this before, was unprepared and couldn’t wait to it was over. When I walked out of the prison I felt miserable thinking I let God down, but He gave me the desire and compassion for this type of ministry. I was determined to learn what the bible teaches instead of relying on what someone else was teaching in church or on TV and ask the Lord to help me. I really felt inadequate for the task but found that the Holy Spirit really does the work, I have to be willing. I started going to this prison every week and after awhile started conducting bible study’s in several prisons. Of the many laymen volunteers that taught ” God’s Word “, none ever had there names in “Lights,” asked for money to go to more prisons, or portrayed The Lord as some personal benefactor that needs an intercessor (them) to answer prayers. They all talked of forgiveness, personal responsibility, obedience, love, that the Lord is with us through it all, not that He will ALWAYS heal, ALWAYS prosper but that He will ALWAYS be with you. – NO- COPELAND- HINN-PARSEY-ROBERTS, ETC. , no offerings or preach the “WORD OF FAITH” movement . If they had, I doubt if they would have gotten out alive. Which brings up the point, if the “WORD OF FAITH MOVEMENT” is correct, it would be easy to convince the lost to come aboard the gravy train, obtain wealth and health. The problem is that only the preachers are prospering by preaching this evil deception. How many inmates would continue to come to the bible studies if they were told they could get wealth and out of prison sooner if they would accept the word of faith gospel and quickly found out it was a lie. Of course, most of these Word of Faith ministers do not go to prisons, partly because they wont get any money there. It is bad enough that some of these preachers raise millions of dollars for themselves, and give precious little to anyone, any organization or ministry in need, but they are puffed up with their own self-importance, some threaten to curse anyone who dare speak against them or disagree with their message and they clearly are teaching a gospel other than that in the bible. The true gospel should and is being taken throughout the world with the same results as the first apostles had, sharing the salvation message and people coming to know Jesus Christ as their personal savior and His plan of salvation. Most of these men and women of God struggle financially, are in a position to help many if they had proper funding but get $0 from these pay me so God will bless/heal you people.

One of the biggest lessons I learned was that a person doesn’t have to be cleaver with “GODS WORD” but to teach the basic salvation principles, encouragement, and that great “LOVE OF GOD” and how through “Grace Are We Saved By Faith”. I also learned to trust “GODS WORD”, LUKE 22:35 NIV JESUS told the disciples “When I Sent You Without Purse, Bag Or Sandals, Did You Lack Anything?” “Nothing” They answered. I had just started a cleaning business to support my family but I did learn to trust God for my needs and my business grew over time and gave me the opportunity to devote more time to the ministry not with a lot of excess or instant wealth but we made enough to meet my needs. Once I was ask to take over a ministry at a brig at a military base that was over 50 miles away. Not really being able to afford it I prayed that God would provide my needs, and He never let me down. Have you noticed that the Word Of Faith preachers  want your support money before they go to the next
conference?

“Signs And Wonders”- “Fire Conferences” … Think about this, if I put up posters in the prisons saying there is going to be a special “Signs and Wonders” Conference, would the inmates think that this was a ticket to a magic or freak show? If it was called a “Fire Conference” would the warden greet me with armed guards stating that it’s against state law to start fires or bring explosions in prisons. These terms are misleading.

There comes a time in ministry and our personal lives that we ask ourselves is God’s Word real and does it really work? In my years of prison ministry I’ve seen hundreds come to the simple salvation message with changed lives and with future hope. Not by a fancy sermon or cleaver words but of bringing the words of our Savior Jesus and letting the Holy Spirit do His work. “THE TRUTH Will SET YOU FREE” to the lost. Never did anyone receiving Jesus Salvation Message ever fall backwards, roll on the floor, make animal noises, act insane, or jerk around as you see from the Pentecostal and TV preachers.

What of all the miracles that we hear so much about from the “TV FALSE PROPHETS”. I’m convinced that God does miracles in all our lives but that He’s the one who deserves the credit, these people talked as if God needs their help and we must go through them for God to act and usually for a price. While in the prison ministry I saw many subtle signs of Gods intervention, I saw lives changed, hope, forgiveness, restoration, understanding, and above all “new hearts.” The Holy Spirit does give a new conscience, I experienced it and saw it in many. Only God can change someone mind and heart without indoctrination. The biggest response I ever received for salvation was when I did not want to go, it was a cold rainy night and I was in a bad mood and not prepared but went out of obedience. I was shown it is definitely God, not me.,One night I came home during an ice/snow storm and was hit from behind at a stop light. Since I was prayed for by the guys and was doing God’s work I was a bit disappointed that I got hit and had slight injuries that is when we really need to trust The Lord when things go bad.The biggest miracle I personally witnessed was when a murderer had accepted the gospel message and ask Christ in his life, regardless of my inadequacies. I had volunteered at a county jail as an assistant chaplain that housed about 2000 prisoners and had about 40 requests a day to see me. On one occasion I went to a special security cell and noticed the person name on the request form had been on the nightly news several weeks before. He had murdered his mother-in-law in front of his wife and kids while high on drugs. Well, this just did not set well with me, I pre-judged him and kept my visit short no “Love Of Christ Here”. Later I was really convicted of my sin and letting down Jesus. I went home and ask the Lord to forgive me for judging him, being in a bad mood and not showing the love I needed to show and besides, that is what I was there for, to
try to bring others to the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.

The next day I went to visit him and ask the guard to let me take him out of the cell to the chaplains office. The guard refused since he was considered very violent and had to be watched 24 hours a day and besides, he said the inmate was twice my size and he could not be responsible for my safety. I said that God will protect me and something like “This Is God’s Business “. He went up the chain of command to get permission and I was able to bring him to the office. The first thing I did was to apologize for not being the Christian that I should have been the day before and for pre-judging him. I ask his forgiveness he was shocked. I gave him some coffee and treats I snuck in. He ask me what kind of sentence he could expect and I told him most likely the electric chair in a few years. He stated that he wanted to die for his crime and ask if God could forgive him. I ask him if he ever heard about King David the giant killer and about his life etc. Even though he was responsible
for taken a life God forgave him ! I found that most inmates knew very little about the Bible but most have heard about certain evens in the Bible such as  King David.

We discussed Jesus plan of salvation and read scripture and prayed for the Lords Forgiveness. Holding my hands he accepted Jesus into his heart. Was this just a jailhouse conversion or was it real? I know it was real by his response to the simple salvation message, the look in his eyes and his countenance change. The chaplain in charge also saw the change in this mans life and arranged with the sheriff office to allow him to attend bible studies with other inmates without deputy escorts. Now that is a miracle!

As I watch these “False Prophets” on TV always raising money for their ministries, their false prophecies, lavish lifestyles etc, I see the same repeats of the 1950’s except they have have a much larger audience to deceive due to the world wide TV coverage  they are one of the delusions that God has sent for those who do not know  Gods Word. These preachers know what they are doing, laughing their way to the bank and gathering followers the ones that do not know Jesus or are just ignorant of Gods Word and continue to search for Signs And Wonders, etc. following these “False Christ” just as Jesus said they would in the last days.

I’m retired now and as I look back I wonder, as many of us do, did I do enough? Did I fail Jesus because I wasn’t  cleaver with my bible study, not a great speaker, what more could/should have I done? I guess we all evaluate what we should have done, but I do know this by teaching God’s Word as instructed by Jesus we can’t go wrong, we are His disciples and His word proves that if God could use me with all my flaws He can use anybody. I’ve been reluctant to write this article for various reasons. First, I don’t take any credit for what the Lord has done in my life or to make it appear that I’m this great man of faith. Rather, I hope that others might realize that Jesus is working in their life as He did mine, perhaps bringing His subtle caring ways to the surface in your life. Think about this, when I started in the prison ministry I was still a federal prisoner on probation, had to get permission from the prison warden to visit any state or federal facility due to having spent several months at came Fed after losing a tax case. They rarely allow this. Yes, God can use anybody! Comments Welcome!

The prisons that I conducted bible studies were : Virginia Department Of Corrections– Fairfax Detention Center– Quantico Marine Base Fairfax, Va- Fairfax, Va- Marine Brig Quantico

Yours In Christ
Bob Scruggs

Hyper-Charismatica versus True Christianity

Personal Testimony by mbaker

For many years after beginning my Christian life as a Southern Baptist, I converted to the charismatic church because several things about it appealed to me.  Unfortunately, while I met many committed wonderful Christians in the process, it was almost my downfall spiritually.   Except for the urgings of the Holy Spirit and some very good discernment websites, I would still be there now, thinking I possessed or could possess some ‘special’ revelation that others weren’t privy to, rather then being deceived by emotional appeals which had no biblical basis.

They say hindsight is 20-20.  In hindsight, of course, I see that because of some things that occurred in my life, like divorce, I no longer felt accepted by the mainstream church. Without a mate, I no longer felt I was personally a part of that body which seemed more about couples and ‘real’ families. For many years, I only felt connected to anyone through the mutual emotional highs I experienced in the charismatic church. For a while, they fulfilled this unmet emotional need in me for connection.

Unfortunately, I let my need for emotional validation through this connection with others interfere with the true foundational tenets of Christianity and it almost destroyed my faith. I do not want to make the same mistake and make this all about my testimony, although I suspect many reading here would readily identify with my personal journey.

What I do want to focus on is the experiential brand of Christianity, as promoted by the hyper-charismatics, as opposed to something that a lot of folks think is out of date and immaterial – the foundational tenets of the faith that Christ promoted. Those are things which will never change with time or popular religious fads.

The first clue was the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy that the leaders of hyper-charismatica seem to almost universally to express when questioned.  It has to do with not questioning anything that comes out of the mouths of the leadership, in this case being the five-fold ministry, or whatever leadership is in place. We were told ‘not to touch God’s anointed’ in any instance because to do so was committing a sin against God Himself.  I fell for that at first because I was raised to respect whatever came out of the pulpit as God’s truth.  However, blindly accepting that rule was my first mistake down the long road of deception I was to follow for years.

My second mistake was bowing to appeals for ‘unity’.  Unity of the brethren as the Bible speaks of it has nothing to do with blindly agreeing to anything our particular church leadership deems as correct, but the unity that comes from the belief in the essentials of the faith determined by God the Father, and the Christ His Son. All else is non-essential in that we can chose where we stand.  Some examples would be whether the spiritual gifts continue or have ceased since the advent of Christ, or the Calvinism versus Arminianism debate, and so on. It is important to know the difference between mere denominational preferences and biblical essentials.

The third thing was the emphasis upon ‘new’ revelation, vis a vis ‘prophecy’.  While I believe that we can receive true prophetic words, I know now that they do not constitute new ‘additions’ or changes to the Bible, as they are often presented in hyper-charismatic venues, such as the Elijah List.  They are not bought and sold either, as all God’s gifts are apportioned freely according to his grace, not determined by popular religious fads.

In short, to get back to the real truth I had to return to the basic truths of the Bible and to the honest emotional conviction and guidance of the Holy Spirit, who only tells us what Jesus tells Him.  I can only urge anyone who is reading this who has any doubts about what they are being taught to check it out from several Bible based on theological sources which have God’s unchanging truth uppermost in mind.

It isn’t easy to admit we are wrong as Christians.  However, when we do, it is almost like a death in the family, because it is hard to tell others we were wrong, when we are supposed to be so right.

As a former charismatic, I knew many of the people I was personally connected with were very sincere Christians, yet we were all being deceived. It is hard on an otherwise intelligent person to admit that at first.  Then you become angry.  Then you wonder what was so wrong with you that you got yourself into it, or what need it was fulfilling in you.  Then finally you want to make sure others never get sucked into it.  It’s a real process that people need to be helped through. 

And, I’m thankful to have these blogs with individuals who go to the trouble to patiently explain step by step the false teachings and errors by using good Bible hermeneutics and solid theological resources and who do so without being dismissive or having a holier than thou attitude as these were invaluable resources in my journey back to God’s truth.

God bless.

[see also Testimony of a Former IHOP-KC Attendee: Stephanie]

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