Charismatic Confusion Over Knowing the Will of God – Part Two

22 03 2012
Truth Matters Newsletters – March 2012 – Vol. 16 Issue 3 – Charismatic Confusion Over Knowing The Will of God – Part Two

Part Onehttps://discernmentministriesinternational.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/charismatic-confusion-over-knowing-the-will-of-god-part-one/

Discernment Ministries International

Charismatic Confusion Over Knowing The Will of God

Part Two

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Last month we began to consider a common belief that there are degrees of being in or out of God’s will. It is also commonly taught that God has His own unique personal “perfect” will for each of His children. This belief is held by thousands of sign-gift devotees and Christians of every evangelical stripe.

We specifically considered the false teaching that it is the will of god for all His children to be financially wealthy. However, we also learned that God’s will simply does not come to pass by His divine fiat. In order to enter into His will for one’s prosperity there are various laws which the believer must work in order to be blessed financially. The dirty little secret is this; these blind guides are promoting nothing less than a Ponzi scheme with their names at the top of the pyramid. People who have been donating to these frauds and their SINistries faithfully for years are not any more finically prosperous than the rest of us who do not work their laws.

Copeland has however (as the “top” of the Ponzi scheme) raked in an estimated one billion dollars over the last forty years because of televangelism, books, tapes, investments. When you add the financial take from Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Fred Price, Benny Hinn it is billions of dollars. What have they done with the money they have siphoned off from the Church? Where are the schools, hospitals, the feeding & clothing programs, orphanages or other visible expressions of the love of Christ for a dying world? The reality is, these people suck in huge amounts of money and yet a very small percentage is ever given away (most ministries these folks support are run by volunteer staff with little overhead).

As a pastor I know this false belief about God’s will is very destructive to the spiritual wellbeing of Christ’s people. The very concept of law keeping and/or doing some works in order to receive (merit) something from our Lord is a horrid and retched belief which can, at its fullest foul flowering lead to the damnation of the individual due to a reliance upon their own works (pride) to merit salvation. Others are led to despair and some become destitute after giving their last farthing in “faith.” After being slavish workers of the various laws, principles and Kingdom rules for prosperity they believe they have failed to enter into God’s will and they fall away, discouraged and usually angry at the Church in any form. Thus Satan wins, he has gotten these deceived sheep to give sacrificially and pour their hard earned money into to these dry wells, wells that never produced the promised results.

It is not just this view on financial prosperity that is wrong, it is the faulty foundation of God having a specific will for each of our lives and that it is up to us to enter into it by our conscious efforts. The other insurmountable problem is that their endeavors are all attempts at uncovering the hidden will of God.

Because God is sovereign He does have an overarching plan for all of His creation, much of this plan is “hidden” from our knowledge. On the micro-level, how our individual lives exactly fit in to His macro plan is not revealed in Scripture to us.

This obvious fact (one only has to read) has not stopped people from teaching that we can and should know God’s hidden will for our lives in spite of the deafening silence of the Scripture. There are many methods people use to try to discern God’s hidden will for their lives. Some hidden areas that people commonly try to bring into the “light” are issues such as who should one marry, what school to attend, which job to take, where to work, buy a home, which local church to attend, etc. See if from time to time you have relied on the following techniques in the past (I admit I have).

Putting out a “fleece” we piously base this on the example of Gideon’s fleece in Judges 6:33-40. The problem with us using Gideon as our example as we put out our “fleeces” of prayer, weather, circumstances or whatever we are using to divine what the Lord’s will is that this example was an unrepeatable event. Another instance of making an “event” a doctrine is seen in the example of the Apostle Paul use of prayer clothes (Acts 19:11). There is no biblical support for such a doctrine or practice in the Church.

I was guilty of doing this when I first met Tracy. After we met, had gone out a bit, I went before the Lord in prayer and said “Lord if You want her to be in my life have her call me.” that was my fleece, the phone call – – – I was dead serious about it, I was at the time one of a small group of self-named brethren “the intense brethren” and was one of “the bachelors till the rapture.” God had mercy on my foolish ways and Tracy did call me within fifteen minutes of my prayer and we have been very happily married for almost thirty years. This is an example of God’s mercy, not a method to determine His will! What if she had not called me? What if my phone went on the blink? I guess we will never know (but I do know this, I would have chased Tracy to the ends of the earth).

Inner-Witness of the Spirit

After a (short) period of time Tracy acquiesced to become engaged to be my wife. This caused no little ripple among the members of our congregation (not to mention my family), where I was serving as the Associate Pastor. Another sister was positive she had heard from God and that I was out of His will because I was supposed to marry her. She shared her belief among the congregation and so I was faced with a decision, had I missed God? This is no small charge when considering marriage coming from the strong belief that you only get one bite at the marriage apple. Was Tracy the one, or this other one? In all honesty I could have chosen either handmaiden of the Lord, but which one was God’s perfect will for my life and here? If I choose wisely then I will have a good life with a loving mate. Miss God and I am (1) out of His will, (2) thus out of His umbrella of protection and subject to demonic attack, (3) open to the possibility of divorce since I/she am out of His will, (3) open to the possibility of divorce since I/she am out of His will. Let me stress the divorce aspect, many evangelical Christians we know have sadly gotten divorced, some will blithely say “well he or she was not God’s will for my life.” So due to this false teaching, they actually believe that their divorce was pleasing to God since now they are united with His best choice for them!!

Faced with a decision like any good charismatic extremist I turned within. Is not my body a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19) and as such I am filled with “God” and I can thus expect that He will lead me (Romans 8:14). Since I am one of Jesus’ prized sheep I will hear His voice (John 10:27). Having already had my fleece answered previously, it was not too hard to discern His voice regarding who should become my smoking hot wife, giggity giggity giggity. Naturally the other sister was sure we had missed God, but she did attend the wedding and gave us a nice frying pan that Tracy and I have used for years.

When it comes to using our inner-witness as the means to determine the will of God is that 99% of the time the Spirit” seems to lead us in the direction we had already pretty much determined to go in. Also, is there anything more subjective than listening to a voice only you can hear? People end up with arguments going on in their minds, sort of like the cartoon figures with an angel and demon on each shoulder whispering in the ear of the listener. You respond one way and it is a path of blessing, go with the wrong voice and become cursed. The inner-witness of the Spirit is tricky at best and potentially fraught with danger. That still small voice (1 King 19:12) many rely upon is in no way representative of how God leads His people. Here is an example of how wrong people can be following that inner-voice:

The Findhorn Community was begun in 1962 by Peter and Eileen Caddy and Dorothy Maclean. All three had followed disciplined spiritual paths for many years and had been specifically trained to follow God’s will. Eileen received guidance in her mediations from an inner divine source she called ‘the still small voice within’. Peter ran the hotel according to this guidance, following to the letter the instruction of the “voice” in complete faith. In this unorthodox way – and with many delightful and unlikely God-guided incidents – Cluny Hill swiftly became a thriving and successful four-star hotel.

Where did this inner-voice lead these people? Findhorn became one of the world’s leading centers of New Age occultism mixed in with some heretical esoteric form of pseudo-Christian concepts. This particular inner-voice did not lead them closer to Jesus Christ, but they are in fact are His enemies.

Open or Shut doors

God can open a door that no man can shut (Rev. 3:8). You got the job? Great, God opened the door!  Did not get hired, then He closed that door, look for an open one somewhere else! This is sort of a pragmatic approach to God’s will. Sometimes it is required of us to knock (Matthew 7:7) and keep knocking on a “door.” Work is something god has given man to do, it is honorable to work and whatever we do we are to do to the glory of God in Christ’s name (Col. 3:17). There is nothing in the bible which indicates that god has a specific dead-center of His will “job” for you or I. Sometimes persistence is required of the saint. Daniel’s answer to prayer was withheld by a demonic struggle in the heavenlies (Daniel 10:2) for three weeks, sometimes repeated knocking is required (Matthew 7:7). An example of this would be in my own life, I am still “knocking” at the Synod’s door for a call.

Dreams & Visions

Yes God revealed His will to Abraham, Joseph and Daniel and several others through dreams and visions. Is there any promise where God has said He will reveal His will for your life to you via dreams and visions (please don’t abuse poor Joel)? If you do have a dream or a vision how do you know it was from the Lord? Often the divine dream required someone else to interpret t for the dreamer (Genesis 41:8). Regarding important decisions there is nothing wrong with “sleeping on it,” as long as it is for simple mental quietude and refocusing versus seeking God’s will in a dream. Many cults have been founded on dreams, visions or apparitions of demons appearing as angels of light (2 Cor. 11:4). Any dynamic or seemingly prophetic dreams in/for your life demands a thorough biblical examination and virtually all of them can probably be traced back to some tainted mushrooms on that Domino’s extra meat pizza you ate the night before.

Personal Word from the Lord

One of the huge draws to the prophetic wing of the diffuse sign-gift movement is that these men and women claim emphatically to be in direct communication with the Ancient of Days. This is a “field” ready to be harvested financially by the wolves due to the endless stream of people seeking God’s hidden will.

We live in uncertain times politically, socially and economically things are not good and the future is unclear. People want to know the future and more specifically they want to know their own personal future and how it fits into God’s plan.

{An Aside} – It has always amazed me how the evangelicals decry the belief in the need for Mary or deceased saints to pray for the living (understandable) BUT they wholeheartedly believe in spiritual mediations in the form of the living, such as the need for Benny Hinn to lay his hands on you, an Oral Roberts to pray for you, or how you MUST be at the next meeting, etc.

Prophetic conferences are scheduled with the guaranteed promise that those who attend the prophetic breakfast or dinner (for an extra cost) at the conference will receive a word from the prophet or prophetic hosts who are there! Profit E. Bernard Jordan can be seen on cable television with his school of the prophets lying over people regarding their future marriage, jobs, income, family members, vocations, etc. Christians people pay BIG MONEY to hear from these blind guides. Although it would come as a shock to some of these Christians, but this is really nothing less than giving a fortune teller some money and having her read your palm.

The whole idea of “personal” prophecy being a means to determine where one works, whom one marries, what church to attend, how to “save” your loved ones is a fairly recent addition to the biblical concept of a prophetic utterance. It should come as no surprise in our “me” centered culture that the words flowing from darkened hearts and through the seared lips of these liars that their words would mirror our fallen culture (Luke 6:45). Great spiritual harm has come to many lives through following these revelations of God’s hidden will.

Perhaps all of us have fallen into using one of the methods in the past trying to distinguish what is and is not God’s will for your life. The problem again is in misunderstanding the concept of the will of God. As I have already alluded to earlier in this article first and foremost God’s will is sovereign. He is God and as God He is in control of all of His creation and He is under no obligation to explain His way to us. Nothing exists outside of His sustaining power. As a former Presbyterian I would cite question twelve from the Westminister Large Catechism:

Q. 12 What are the decrees of God? A. God’s decrees are the wise, free, and holy acts of the counsel of his will, whereby, from all eternity, he hath, for his own glory, unchangeably foreordained whatsoever comes to pass in time, especially concerning angels and men.

As a Lutheran I can say “this is most certainly true” regarding the tapestry of history I can attest that God is indeed in complete control, He knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10), nothing takes Him by surprise. This aspect of His overreaching will is often referred to as “the hidden will of God.” God has not revealed everything to us, but what He has revealed to us belongs to us and to our children (Deuteronomy 29:29) that we may fulfill His law, in the Christian’s case, fulfill His law of love (Romans 13:10). Examples of His sovereign will can be seen in Ephesians 1:11 and Job 42:2.

Before moving on in all fairness to our Reformed brethren an important distinction must be made regarding the Reformed catechism – – – it is not saying that God “causes” everything that happens to happen; if this were the case then God would indeed be the Author of sin, which he is not {James 1:13, 1 John 1:5} A succinct way to put it follows:

Rather, it acknowledges that because He is sovereign, He must at least permit or allow whatever happens to happen This aspect of God’s will acknowledges that even when God passively permits things to happen, He must choose to permit them, because He always has the power and right to intervene. God can always decide to either permit or stop the actions and events of this world. Therefore, as He allows things to happen, He has “willed” them in this sense of the word.

God has not called His people to grope about trying to determine what He has plainly hidden from us. God has revealed to us in the Bible what His will is for our lives and yet apparently this is not good enough for the Pharisees in our midst, they need to peer behind the veil. It is this type of seeking that has caused so many people great confusion in their Christian lives. Why not examine what the bible does teach is God’s will for our lives and seek His grace to enable us to be doers of what we have heard and not mere hearers only (James 1:22). In doing so what we will discover is that the false teachers proclamations, such as; “God’s will is prosperity” or “God’s will is healing” are not mentioned as part of God’s revealed will for all His children. One way to easily “spot” a false biblical teaching is when it declares a promise to only Christians who attain to it by their efforts; such a notion of a works based system is antithetical to the Gospel. Fundamentally people err in two ways regarding the will of God. First they teach that we can know and walk in the hidden will of God, others err in teaching things which are not God’s will for all His people, such as financial prosperity, physical healing and divine health.

The Revealed Will of God

I could start with the Ten Commandments (Deut. 10:4), as a revelation of God’s will, but for the sake of space, let’s accept them as a given. Any of the laws given by God in the Old Testament are examples of His will for His people. We know that the Israelites could not keep it, that in fact, no flesh will ever be justified in God’s eyes by working the law (Romans 3:20, Gal 2:16). We also know that our Lord Jesus Christ has fulfilled the law for us (Matthew 5:17; Romans 10:4). With this understanding we know that walking in the revealed will of God does not involve trying to fulfill various O.T. laws. Theologically speaking we always begin with the “plain” texts and use them to help determine the meaning of more “obscure” texts. In the case of God’s revealed will al the texts are “plain” texts, easily understood by anyone who can read. Let us focus on what we know for sure.

For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to posses his vessel in sanctification and honour; Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not god; That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter; because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy spirit.

Here is a perfect example of an in-your-face truth – – – God’s will for ALL Christians is that we ABSTAIN from fornication. Fornication in the Greek is which we transliterate into from which we derive our word for pornography. Naturally, Christians should abstain from viewing pornography but the term has a wider meaning. It coves all manner of sexual activity outside of marriage, not just looking at sexual images. Abstaining from fornication entails all of the mental activity that precedes the actual sexual activity. It encompasses what we think about, what we read, what movies we watch, and our verbal conversations with others (Ephesians 4:29). “Christians are to avoid and abstain from any and every form of sexual practice that lies outside the circle of God’s revealed will; Christians are to avoid adultery, premarital and extramarital intercourse, homosexually, and other perversions.”

The walk that pleases God is first defined with the words, “the will of God,” and then as “your sanctification.” With the statement, “This is the will of God,” Paul brings into focus the constant battle and a key issue going on in the hearts of men. “Will” is thelema, “what is will.” It points to the sovereign will and plan of God for the Christian. But all men by nature tend to follow the desires, thelemata, of the flesh and mind which are opposed to the will of God (see Eph. 2:3) and which can never please God (Rom. 8:8). It is not that all of those desires are evil, for many of them are God given. Sex is not evil. From the beginning God created marriage as a sacred union between one man and one woman and sex was to be a part of the union for the continuance of the race and for pleasure in marriage. What makes many of man’s desires (thelemata) evil is his self-centered commitment to follow those desires contrary to God’s will (as in adultery) and at the expense or exploitation of others. The specifics of God’s will are clearly set forth in many places in Scripture, even though Christians often seem to have a great deal of difficulty applying it in everyday decision-making (cf. 5:16-18; 1 Peter 2:15). Nevertheless, Paul describes this in general terms as “your sanctification.

In our sexually obsessed culture God’s will for His people is sexual purity before and during marriage period.

Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not ever be named among you, as is proper among saints. Ephesians 3:8

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you sexual-immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Colossians 3:5

How many para-church ministries are devoted to setting people free from pornography within the Church? Immortality among some of the best known televangelists and revivalists is scandalously well known in the world. The divorce rate within the Church mirrors that of the world, when we ought to have next to zero divorce among us if the love of Christ indeed rules and reigns in our lives. It is painfully obvious that this seemingly simply aspect of God’s revealed will takes great faith, patience and grace to walk out daily. The Holy Spirit via Paul given us further revelation of God’s will for our lives.

Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Chjrist Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit. I Thessalonians 5:18

Sandwiched in between “pray without ceasing” and “quench not the Spirit” is the clarion call to give thanks in every thing. Why? Because this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning us! Note that the verse says “in” and not “for” everything which makes all the difference in our lives. Nowhere are we told to be thankful for the evil, wicked and sinful things that we bring on ourselves or that befall us. However, it does take faith true biblical faith to look up to the heavens and give thanks to God in the midst of the fiery furnace. It is easy to be thankful when things are going very well in our lives which is why I believe the Holy Spirit had Paul write in “every thing” knowing our tendency towards being only partially grateful some of the time. This is not “deep” present day truth received through praying in other tongues, but it is the stuff that sets us apart from the world; it is also a sign of spiritual maturity to exercise child-like-faith.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind; that ye may prove what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

As we saw last month, this is the text that is often cited as proof that God has three levels of His will. Without laboring the point again, the Greek simply does not support this assertion; it is an example of hyperbolic speech. One of the points of this pericope (there are several really) apart from presenting our bodies to God as a “living sacrifice” a conundrum in Paul’s day; we are as God’s people not to be conformed to this fallen world age. How? Through the practice of renewing our minds by the power of the word of God. As we feed regularly (hopefully daily) on God’s Word, hearing it proclaimed from the pulpit as well as personal study our minds begin the process of transformation. Our minds will not be fully “transformed” into the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16) until we receive our glorified bodies, however we are to start the process now in this life as disciples.

The entrance of God’s Word gives us light (Psl. 119:130) and as God’s Word renews our thinking we are enabled to deal wisely (Matthew 10:16) in this fallen world. To know God’s Word is to know His will (but (but you have to know it before you can do it, right?). Obviously the bridge between “knowing” and “doing” is the grace of God, as our Lord said “apart from Me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5) yet let your heart rest assured in the fact that Jesus also promised to “never leave or forsake you” (Deut. 31:8; Matthew 28:20).

In Christ Jesus we are now the children of God (1 John 3:2) and we have freedom in Christ, for it is for freedom that Christ has set us free (Galatians 5:1) – – -you are free to make the choices you want to make. God has given us His Word and the Great Teacher (John 14:26) has come to dwell within each of our hearts and we are free in Christ to either deal wisely or unwisely in the affairs of this life. I suggest you take the path of wisdom which can only be gained through the fear of the Lord. (Psl. 110:11) this golly reverence will unavoidably lead to the study, contemplation, ingestion and incorporation of the Word studied.

Brothers and sisters God has not revealed to us in His Word the specifies for our individual lives, not because He does not “care” about you individually, but because we are free to choose. Out of His great love He has given us His Word and Spirit, what more do we need to walk in God’s will? Jesus had paid the price for our sins on the cross. Now through faith in Him, He is not ashamed to call us His brothers (Hebrews 2:11) and He ministers before our Father as our Great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14) ever living to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25) so we do not have to live in fear of making the “wrong” choice. It is not called a walk of faith for nothing (2 Corinthians 5:7)

Let me close with another personal example. Tracy and I just purchased our first home last month. Many people are having mortgage problems, losing their homes, loan money is tight etc. Buying a home is a big decision with a ton of variables, such as the neighborhood condition currently and potentially in the future; type of homes, distance ot our church and work, utility cost, monthly mortgage payment on and on. How did we decide?

First, we prayed and asked for God to grant us wisdom (James 1:5), we’ve never bought a home, what do we know? Secondly, we researched the different variables. How much house can we afford? What do we really need in our home? What style? Then we found a Realtor who then showed me over sixteen homes. Of those I narrowed it down to 2 or 3 possibilities. Next Tracy visited the homes selected and then we decided on the one we wanted.

God did not speak to us and say “thou shalt buy this home and not that one,” nor did we have any visions or dreams. We did not “fast” over our decision. We took it to the Lord in prayer and then we stepped our trusting our Lord and purchased our home.

There is tremendous liberty in Christ, don’t let the false teachers and false brethren place you back into bondage. Allow the principles for wise living as found in the bible to be incorporated into your study and live in the liberty of our Lord.

Copyright © 2012 Robert S. Liichow





When the Purpose of a Thing is Misunderstood Abuse is Inevitable

7 09 2011
Truth Matters Newsletters – September 2011 – Vol. 16 Issue 9 – When the Purpose of a Thing is Misunderstood – Rev. Robert Liichow

 Discernment Ministries International

“When the Purpose of a Thing is Misunderstood Abuse is Inevitable”

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Last month I began an article on The International House of Prayer (IHOP) and now I want to focus in on what it is that actually transpires in these vaunted 24/7 never ending prayer services.

 I have gone as far as to join the IHOP website and I have spent too much time watching their archived services and reading through their own literature. One thing I am pretty firmly convinced of this that IHOP is a grand experiment, which may or may not yield anything verifiable. By “experiment” I mean that Bickle has put into motion a charismatic-experiment, something hitherto untried in the Church. This vision he has created is simply one of a long line of charismatic-experiments.

 Most people today know nothing about Shiloh in Maine operated by early restored apostle Frank Sanford which ended in the spiritual abuse of many people and the deaths of several of them and children as well. (2) Sanford was indirectly connected to another grand experiment down south from him in Zion, Illinois. Again, many people do not now that Zion was founded by apostle/prophet/healer John Alexander Dowie. Dowie wanted to create a godly city patterned after heaven. He got things going pretty good until he received the revelation that he was The Elijah to Come and after making that pronouncement he was stricken with a stoke and died suddenly, only to be replaced by several men more despicable than himself.

 In our day PTL had their little precious moments Kristian Kingdom. We know where that experiment ended up today — vacant land. Let us never forget The City of Faith that Oral Roberts built in Tulsa. Another costly, yet failed experiment. I am still waiting for the medical cure for cancer to come from the now defunct ORU Hospital and Medical School that Oral said God told him would happen. (3) The Children of God led by the now deceased David Berg aka Moses David tried to express a utopian view which was in reality nothing more than a thin veil to cover Berg’s insatiable sexual perversions. (4) Berg was a tongue-talking self-proclaimed restored prophet who burst onto the Jesus Movement in the late 1960’s.

 IHOP seems to be following this pattern. In all these cases a leader gets an “inspired” (aka novel) idea, gets feedback from others of like mind, seeks some form of biblical proof text(s) and rallies disciples and puts the vision into motion. When it fails later, as they all have, the leaders shrug their shoulders and keep on stepping leaving in their wake many shipwrecked souls.

 Think I am being harsh? I am not being harsh enough. Here is the proof: John Arnott allowed the Holy Laughter phenomena which destroyed true body ministry, burned out his staff and people. In the end, Arnott left TACF and took off when the revival died. The same thing happened to Pastor John Kilpatrick who oversaw the Pensacola revival (Brownsville Assembly of God, BAG). When problems arose at BAG and the crowds diminished revivalist Steve Hill left, then music leader Lindell Cooley bugged out and finally Kilpatrick left (or was fired, it is unclear) to assume the same role as Arnott who declared himself as one called to “shepherd the revival.” These men took the money and ran, leaving in their wake more damaged and abused souls.

 In researching IHOP I learned that there are many people (mostly unmarried) that make up the “staff” of the IHOP meetings. It is these people who have the responsibility to see to it that Isaiah 62:6-7 is fulfilled by them:

 I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: Ye that make mention of the LORD, Keep not silence. And give him no rest, Till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth. (5)

 As in some of the other experiments, the people all live together in a campus/communal setting. Living together makes sense on the surface, but in the charismatic experiment cases it has always been about control over people’s lives and has ended in spiritual abuse and often sexual abuse as well. The IHOP application form which asks some extremely personal questions concerning past sins. Answering such questions places the devotee at the “mercy” of their leaders who will refer to these forms if there are any problems with the person. Knowing every detail of one’s life, especially a detailed list of past sins is an easy way for a SINister to psychologically manipulate their followers by playing to either their strengths or weaknesses. Do I sound cynical? I hope not, but as one who has suffered spiritual abuse I know what I am saying is true.

 IHOP has been hopping along since 1999 but it has taken them awhile to develop to the place where they have people paying money to serve their vision. It takes time for abusive situations to develop. The initial recruits have to proe themselves to their leaders, who initially are very involved with the people. After some time of people coming and going a core group remains; these become the second tier of leadership. At this point the leader(s) usually back off from contact with the plebeians, (7) apart from the larger gatherings they spend their time “imparting” to tier two leaders and living off the largess generated from the “down-line” dupes in this Ponzi scheme. [I’d make money all day betting Bickle is virtually impossible to get “face time” with by the rank-n-file].

 There are now several credible accounts on the Internet from people long associated with IHOP who have escaped the madness and are now sharing their sad experiences. One Blog account located at truthspeaker.wordpress.com/2008/08/17/is-ihop-a-cult speaks about some common practices in the charismatic experiments formerly mentioned:

 1. Food deprivation (required fasting), 2. sleep deprivation – (praying at all hours of the day and night) Sleep and food depravation are all used as mind control methods! Mike Bickle’s own words: (Matthew 12:37 “for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”) “We require that all our full-time staff missionaries commit themselves to at least 50 hours per week of dedicated service. This includes helping to lead prayer and worship meetings, training missionaries and leaders, evangelism, outreach to the poor, administration of the Missions Base, etc. our missionaries maintain a rigorous prayer life with regular fasting as they serve the poor, sick, and needy in our outreaches.” So, the question is how do you support yourselves? If you have to work a secular job to pay for your food and rent and then are REQUIRED to work another 50 hours per week as a full time staff missionary, this causes SEVERE SENSORY DEPRIVATION! (8)

 Anyone whose studied religious phenomena knows that protracted fasting accompanied with hours of repetitive songs and ecstatic tongues does at least tow things in virtually all people: (1) it causes ones conscious mind, the ability for critical thinking aspects to be diminished, (2) and opens people up to paranormal experiences bypassing one’s normal state of perception. These practices are used as spiritual tools by all religious cultures to attain altered states of consciousness — EXCEPT — orthodox catholic Christianity. (9)

 Even the most cursory reading of any of IHOP’s literature reveals a myriad of paranormal (10) experiences including angelic visitations, visits from Jesus, visits to heaven/hell, out-of-body experiences which are the same results attained by the false religions and cultists whose deception is shown to them in the appropriate religious grab. If a Hindu has a demonic paranormal experience it falls within the context of his religious culture, background, former experience. So, I am not surprised that demons present their deceptions in Christian grab. Isn’t this what Scripture warns us about?

 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. (11)

 Prayer, fasting, worship are as we know are godly activities when used in their biblically prescribed forms. However, when they become simply tools and or as spiritual weapons (12) depending upon the context of the gathering, although the atmosphere can change in these meeting in an instant and I mean suddenly from praising Jesus to calling down demonic strongholds with angry shouts, foot stamping, karate kicks in the air (I kid you not); they become twisted and open people up to deception. Never forget what Jesus taught us in:

 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (13)  John 8:31-32

 If we continue in God’s Word, being doers and not hearers only (James 1:22) we shall know the truth ( truth matters, it really does) and the truth we know shall set us free. However, I believe the converse is equally true. Just as the truth of God’s Word sets us free, the misapplication of His Word will put people in bondage, even though they think they are people of the Word.

 There is little contextual validation for using prayer, fasting and praise/worship as either weapons or as means of gaining spiritual power. [A Short Rabbit Trail to be Fair & balanced] I say “little” because of one possible text in:

 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting (15) Mt. 17:18-21

 It would seem that Jesus is saying that “this” specific kind of demon is cast out by means of prayer and fasting. Some interpret this event to mean that since Jesus neither “prayed” nor “fasted” at that moment He was referring to living a fasted life in which one is prayed-up at al times so the disciple will be ready to victoriously encounter the demoniac. Others, say this refers to the need for a specific time of fasting and prayer in preparation to successfully cast out the demon. So if pressed I would agree that prayer and fasting can be used to cast out this specific demon if ever encountered. This text does not teach a doctrine that fasting and prayer is required to cast out all demons. [IHOP abuses prayer, fasting and their concept of worship. [End of the Trail]

 Let’s focus back on the abuse of the people, next month we will deal with the abuse of the three practices that comprise this movement. The formula is like this: Get the people to fast for long periods of time combined with hours of praying in other tongues during virtually their every waking moment liberally sprinkled with dancing, moving around, loud repetitive music both vocal & instrumental. Intersperse during the lulls in these marathon services with quasi preaching exhortations delivered under the emotion that befit’s the mood. (16) The result is like this: A room full of, in Rush Limbaugh lingo, peole with “skulls full of mush.” Within the large group is a sub-group that is highly susceptible to suggestion, probably many more people than we suspect and these folks comprise the swallow-and-follow cadre of devotees. These folks have been taken “captive” by the enemy (2 Timothy 2:26) and they have suspended their rational critical thinking abilities. The fact remains, there are things people will do or believe under duress that they would not act on or accept if in their sober mind (1 Peter 1:13). Many leaders use what I have shared (the less scrupulous SINisters in their ranks) because they know the mechanics work whenever they are applied.

 The following is the testimony of a former prayer-warrior showing how these spiritual practices were really tools for manipulation, spiritual control and abuse:

 1. Mandatory fasts which made me very physically ill. They would never admit to having “mandatory” fasts but when you don’t have any food available, close down the kitchen, give your cook the day off and don’t allow interns to hold jobs (or that they have money to go buy food if they aren’t participating in the fast) then that is called mandatory.

 2. Being practically held hostage in the prayer room and told that it was required that I be there and I was not allowed to leave even though I did not feel well and wanted to go back to my apartment. I was told I needed to stay in the prayer room to be part of the “corporate anointing” and that I shouldn’t leave. It was one of my “required” prayer room sets as an intern so I spent the remainder of that 2-hour set in one of the side prayer rooms in the back sobbing on the floor because I wanted to leave so badly and our internship leaders were standing by the door. You might ask “why didn’t you just force your way out and leave anyway?” When you are part of a cult where free, independent thinking is not condoned when you don’t comply with what is expected of you, very often guilt, manipulation and penalties are instated for those who resist. Interns who didn’t follow “the rules” of the internship were penalized through loss of privileges (such as loss of your day off, having to do extra work/manual labor, etc.)

 3. The grip of control and micro-management increasing: greater demands and restrictions on interns (such as increased pressure to fast more to attain a higher pinnacle of spirituality) being told where we had to sit when in the prayer room, taught a model for how to pray, how to dance, sing, etc. Any form of worship outside of this model was not considered to be acceptable. It had to fit IHOP’s style and method to be admissible.

 4. Mandatory journaling assignments which we had to do weekly and then we had to turn in our journals to be read by internship leaders. (17)

 I do not doubt the validity of the many growing complaints by former IHOP participants. These groups/experiments have always ended up being abusive to its followers. Sometimes they can be pulled back from the brink of becoming labeled an actual cult. This was the case concerning The Jesus People U.S.A. (JEPUSA) located in Chicago. A large and influential charismatic commune that got very heavy-handed and abusive got brought back to some form of orthodoxy via the intervention of people like Dr. Norman Geisler and others. IHOP as an organization is beyond redemption, but the people, often referred to as sheeple can have their eyes opened and be recovered back to usefulness. God delivered Tracy and myself from extremism so I know He can do the same in the lives of others too.

 Next month we will biblically consider the three ingredients that comprise an IHOP meeting prayer, fasting and worship. I believe you will continue to learn why false doctrine produces false practices which often lead to bondage and abuse. Selah.

 Copyright © 2011 Robert S. Liichow

 1. Restored false apostle Myles Monroe made this statement to us as elders at an extremist congregation Detroit. Later he wrote a best selling book on “Purpose.”

 2. DMI has an excellent and hard to get book entitled: Shirley Nelson, Fair, Clear, and Terrible: The Story of Shiloh, Maine (Latham, New York: British American Publishing 1989). Nelson was the daughter of former members and it is fascinating and sobering reading. Check for it used at www.abebooks.com

 3. To read more about it check out http://www.ondocrine.com/10robero.htm

 4. Fellow truth-tellers have a good web site & article on Berg at http://www.arcapologetics.org/articles/article17.htm

5. The holy Bible: King James Version 2009 (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version.) (Is. 62:6-7). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

6. Obtained from www.ihop.org/Publisher/Article.aspx?ID=100005168o Underlining added for emphasis by the author.

7. Nothing like paying for the privilege to be abused.

 8. If you doubt what I say simply visit any big charismatic Word of Faith church say Word of Faith in Detroit with over 10,000+followers and try to speak personally with Pastor Keith Butler (you will not get past his armed bodyguards, I kid you not). This is common in many charismatic congregations where the pastor is led to and from the pulpit by his or her personal Armor Bearer one of whose duties is to deflect cloying toadies from the SINister.

 9. Obtained from www.truthspeaker.wordpress.com/2008/08/17/is-ihop-a-cult/ Bold type added to honor the text cited.

 10. By “Catholic” I obviously mean universal referring to the “one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Faith” type of Catholic (I regularly tell people who ask “Oh me? I’m an Evangelical Catholic which never fails to open doors for communication).

 11. I purposefully use the term paranormal to describe these type of events. Only God is supernatural and only His actions are truly supernatural. Paranormal simply means beyond the normal observable realm, a realm I consider the haunt of demons and unclean spirits and all manner of darkness and deception that masquerades as the supernatural.

 12. The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009) 2 Co. 11:14-15.

 13. When I was an extremist my wife and I ministered at a congregation led by a restored “Apostle.” We were know as a “warfare church,” in that we waged what we called “strategic level spiritual warfare” using as weapons fasting, long sessions of praying in tongues and protracted praise and worship times.

 14. The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009) Jn 8:31-32.

 15. Naturally if you interpret “truth” here to refer to Jesus then simple faith in Him is eternal life, yet I do stand by the fact that a person cannot walk (live by faith, obey, etc…) the Word (portion of the Bible) they do not know. Ignorance is one thing, something that is easily ovrecome through study. Ignorance when combined with scriptural error and the resulting self-deception (see Gal. 6:3) takes the power of God’s Word rightly roclaimed to set at liberty such individuals.

 17. The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), Mt 17:18-21.

 18. I’ve seen these guys cry at the drop of a hat, then quickly switch gears. If the service atmosphere is somber or too happy either can be manipulated by a skillful charismatic con-artist.

 19. Obtained from www.endtimepropheticwords.wordpress.com/2010/01/24/some-of-my-ihop-%E2%80%Cred-flags%E2%80%9D/ Underlining added for emphasis by the author.





7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day

4 01 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – November 2007 Vol. 12 Issue 11 – 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day – by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day

by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

When Larry King mentions me as a “critic” of Joel Osteen our web site went down for 2 days due to excessive band-width use which told me that a lot of people were downloading my initial article concerning Joel. Next more negative e-mails berating me for simply pointing out the errors Joel had made in his interview began to flow in. I knew it would only be a matter of time before a Osteenite asked me “well have you even read Pastor Osteen’s book?” I can honestly answer in the affirmative and tell them “yes I have and here is the problem I have with it.”

Joel’s latest book is the largest printing ever published at one time by A Free Press, the publishers of his materials. They’ve printed an initial 3 million copies of his latest book based on how well his former book Your Best Life Now performed.

This book could easily be entitled “The Little Engine that Could” or possibly “Fake It Till You Make It,” and anyone who has been involved with the charismatic movement will be disappointed in the contents because it says absolutely nothing new. The entire premise of the book can be boiled down to the old aphorism “God helps those who help themselves.”

In the DMI archive we have several bookcases filled with titles such as: Super Brain Power: 6 keys to Unlocking Your Hidden Genius; God is My CEO: Following God’s Principles in a Bottom-Line World; Prayer, Power, and Prosperity: Three Keys to a Move of God; Biblical Keys to Financial Prosperity; seven Facts About Prevailing Prayer (John Osteen), You Can Change Your Destiny (another John Osteen)…and the list could go on.

Now just when we thought we might have gotten past the formulaic approach of laws, principles, and rules for spiritual development we are offered another set of 7 keys to self-improvement! Here is Joel’s list: 1). Keep pressing forward. 2) Be positive toward yourself, 3) Develop better relationships, 4). Form better habits 5). Embrace the place where you are 6). Develop your inner life and 7). Stay passionate about life!

Obviously, the book is divided into these 7 sections and we’ll take a quick trip through each (it will save you the price of buying the book)! The first chapter urges the reader to never be content with where they are in life. “He’s a progressive God and He wants every generation to be increasing in happiness, success and significances. (1)

The Apostle Paul said this about Contentment:

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. Whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Phil. 4:11-13

Paul’s source of contentment was found in Christ Jesus not in any material sources. Whether he had “plenty” or whether he was in need Paul was content because he had the correct focus knowing who was his source of strength.

Where does the Bible ever say that one of God’s purposes is for us to be happy? I’d be willing to grant He does not want us to be depressed or despondent but where does the Scripture teach that God wants each succeeding generation to increase in happiness, success and significance? I’ll give you a hint, the Bible never teaches such things.

In Joel’s reality our only limits are self-imposed. It does not matter if you live in the poorest ghetto in Haiti, or if you are horribly handicapped the only limits to life are those you place upon yourself. “If your thinking is limited, then your life is going to be limited.” (2) If that sounds like the old Norman Vincent Peale “power of positive thinking” you are correct!

At the start of each new day, remind yourself, ‘I am talented. I am creative. I am greatly favored by God. I am equipped. I am well able, I will see my dreams come to pass.’ Declare those statements by faith and before long, you will begin to see them in reality. (3)

Let me just briefly unpack this common thread through the entire book. This is also basic Word of Faith (WOF) cult doctrine “101.” It’s called “calling those things that be not as though they are, i.e. “fake it till you make it.” Hagin, Copeland, Capps, Savelle, Duplantis, Price and pappy Osteen all have taught this same error.

WOF dogma teaches that this world is ruled by spiritual laws and these laws will work for whoever will work them, child of God or child of the devil. Furthermore, the WOF cult teaches that faith is a force that we use to create our own reality. Understand — it is not faith in Jesus, it is faith in a spiritual force we wield and release by our words.

Joel is after all his father’s son, and all he has ever learned about the Bible has come through the lens of a Word of Faith heretic (John Osteen) which explains why his books are nothing more than warmed-over WOF dogma.

How can I say that? Simple! Joel begins with encouraging the readers to think positive thoughts. From here he will go in a few chapters to the next building- block of WOF error…positive confession. Once you have the image of what you want in your mind then you confess “faith-filled” words out of your mouth continually until you change your reality by the power of these faith-filled words. However, before getting to speaking the right words he has to deal with an uncomfortable fact, i.e. why does your life stink now? In Chapter 4 Joel teaches another bizarre WOF concept, that of generational curses. Again this a teaching I heard Marilyn Hickey teach at Robert Tilton’s church over 20 years ago, but Joel is reaching many folks who probably don’t know about generational curses.

This is the false teaching: that some believers problems stem from their family line passing a “curse” through the generations. Joel says” many times, you can look back and see the results of those choices somewhere in your family line.” (4) The proof texts these false teachers use are Ex. 20:5; 34:7 Num. 14:8; Deut. 5:9 and these texts basically say that God will curse the generation that hates Him to the third or fourth generation But let’s consider the rest of the context of these passages.

Notice that the curses are on those who hate God. It is not for those who love God, but make some mistakes in life. One might argue, however, that their father or grandfather might have hated God. This is irrelevant, but brings up the next point. Using a hyper-literalistic interpretation of this passage, if the Lord shows mercy for 1000’s of generations on the fathers who loved God, then all that would be necessary for us to be in the “mercy” rather than “cursed” category is to find one relative in the past thousand or so generations that loved and obeyed the Lord. Is it not probable that we have at least one distant relative in the last 1000 generations who loved the Lord and kept His commandments? The statistical probability is that we most certainly do. And if we do, then we are part of the 1000 generations the Lord promised to show mercy to, not curse. This notion is pure WOF heresy which Joel follows up by teaching in the next chapter on “Generational Blessing.” Joel says that we are to think of our good works in this fashion.

Think of it like this: Each of us has a spiritual bank account. By the way we live, we’re either storing up equity or storing up iniquity. Equity would be anything good: our integrity, our determination, our godliness. That’s storing up blessings…You have more of God’s favor, more of His blessing because of what they have done. (5)

Its almost like a Roman Catholic belief (Joel does not know that of course) of the storing up of meritorious favor by the saints that can be drawn upon by those on earth! If you come from godly parents and grandparents then they have been putting spiritual ducats into the family account, or as Oral Roberts might say “they’ve sown seeds and you’re reaping the harvest.” My father was a godly man but I doubt I can tap into some heavenly bank account and draw from his good work! Naturally Joel offers no contextual biblical proof for such a doctrine, but who cares, right? It sounds good and who doesn’t want a spiritual piggybank to draw upon?

In part two of the book Joel, having liberated the reader from negative self-talk marches on to encourage them to stop listening to accusing voices (negative words spoken to the reader). He says that it is imperative that you “learn to feel good about yourself.” (6) Anytime a criticism comes to you (or from your conscience) you are to cast it down immediately!

Don’t make the mistake of dwelling on that rubbish, not for a moment. Sometimes when I walk off the platform having spoken at Lakewood and around the world by means of television, the first thought that comes to my mind is, Joel that message just wasn’t good today. Nobody got anything out of that. You practically put them to sleep. I learned to shake that off. I turn it around and say, ‘No I believe it was good! I did my best…I thought it was good. (7)

Brothers and sisters one of the ways we grow is by receiving correction, by useful criticism. When we reject rebuke and correction then our spiritual growth is stunted. Proverbs clearly says:

Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. Prov. 1:30

He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise. Prov. 15:31

A rebuke impresses a man of discernment more than a hundred lashes a fool. Prov. 17:10

Flog a mocker, and the simple will learn prudence; rebuke a discerning man, and he will gain knowledge. Prov. 19:25

Personally I want someone I respect and trust to tell me the truth when I have finished teaching or preaching. Maybe my message fell way short of the mark. Maybe I didn’t properly distinguish between Law & Gospel or took certain passages out of context. If I immediately reject any “negative” input then I will not grow and worse yet may lead those who hear farther from Jesus and not closer to Him. Joel’s guidance in this chapter is simply “if it seems remotely negative don’t listen to it!”

Chapter 8  entitled “Learning to Like Yourself” is more nauseating pabulum. Joel does not seem to get a fundamental message in the New Testament — the problem is not that people do not love themselves or like themselves, just the opposite, we love ourselves far too much!

Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. 1 Cor. 10:24

Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Phil 2:4

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Heb. 13:16

All of this psycho-babble about people not loving themselves is recent nonsense which the Bible does not even address…because 99.9% of humanity has no problem loving numero uno.

Another one of Joel‘s glaring theological inadequacies is his lack of any real sense of our sinful fallen nature.

Shake off guilt, condemnation, inadequacies, and a sense that you can’t measure up, and start feeling good about who you are. ‘Well Joel, I don’t know if I believe that,’ a dear, well-meaning man told me. ‘We’re just poor old sinners.’ No, we used to be poor old sinners, but when we came to Christ, He washed away our sins. He made us new creatures. Now, we are no longer poor old sinners. (8)

This too is a WOF cult and general charismatic extremist point of view. They teach that we were sinners prior to salvation. Now in Christ we are the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21) and no longer sinners. They have no concept of the reality of being simil Justus et peccator which means we are simultaneously justified, and yet sinners. Both conditions are always true of us. We will fight against sinful inclinations our entire lives and by the means of grace God will be working in us progressive sanctification in this life. Joel is dangerously misleading his readers to encourage them to think they are no longer sinful.

Chapter 9 – is classic WOF/Positive Confession dogma and Joel has very subtly brought the reader from a place of thinking positive thoughts to now confessing these thoughts. What he says in this chapter is regularly proclaimed in any Ken Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Joyce Meyer, Jesse Duplantis or Fred Price meeting.

As long as we have that poor self-image, we’re not going to experience God’s best. You will never rise above the image that you have of yourself. (9)

He restates the problem of humanity as he sees it but he fails to recognize one very salient point — God blesses us APART from what we do virtually all of the time! Grace, is the undeserved gift from God. We experienced God’s best (which by the way, Joel, is salvation by JESUS CHRIST alone) when we were haters of God.

For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Rom. 5:10

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation — if you continue in your faith, Col. 1:21-23a

In Joel’s warped view how are we supposed to overcome this self-image problem in order to experience God’s best? Simple! We speak positive words about ourselves!

One of the best ways that we can improve our self-image is with our words. Words are like seeds. They have creative power. Every day, we should make positive declarations over our lives. We should say things such as, ‘I am blessed. I am prosperous. I am healthy. I am talented. I am creative. I am wise.’ When we do that, we are building up our self-image. As those words permeate your heart and mind, and especially your subconscious mind, eventually they will begin to change that way you see yourself. (10)

Our words do not have creative power. We cannot change reality by what we say. To believe such things is simply occultism and not Christianity. I’ve buried folks who died from AIDS confessing they were totally healed by the stripes of Jesus.

Positively or negatively, creative power resides in your words because you believe your words more than you believe anybody else’s. (11)

The WOF/extremist universe words are the most powerful things in the universe. They teach that God Himself created the universe not out of “nothing” (ex nihilo) but out of words that contained the force of faith to bring to pass whatever He said. They teach that since we are in His image we too have been given this same power. Negative words will produce bad results in our lives, they carry a sort of negative-faith. Positive words carry the force of faith in a fruitful direction creating whatever the wizard wielding the magic wand desires.

The sad thing is that Joel probably has not thought it through enough to realize what bondage such a belief system puts people under. If Joel is correct, then humanity is in the condition it is in simply because of not speaking the right words necessary to create a better life. All of his congregation’s problems fall squarely on their shoulders. Whatever their situation it is their fault.  The only way out is to begin to confess positive “faith-filled” words until your situation changes, which may take years…Remember just a few negative statements can dig up years of positive confessions and then the poor soul, like Sisyphus, is back at the beginning. What a horrific weight to place on the shoulders of God’s people.

No matter how impossible something looks, no matter how you feel, start boldly declaring, ‘I am strong in the Lord. I can do all things through Christ. I am well able to fulfill my destiny. Call in what God has promised you…Don’t merely use your words to describe your situation; use your words to change your situation….With our words, we can prophesy our own future. (12)

Notice God active in any of this? Who is the agent of change? Who determines your situation? Who is in control of your future?  Obviously, you are! God set these so-called spiritual “laws” in place and now we eat the good or bitter fruit from them apart from God.

I think you can see why Joel’s book is so immensely popular. It is all about self and works righteousness. Which all people love (yes even Christians). People love spiritual legalism in all its varied forms and dislike the orthodox biblical view of sola Christus, by Christ alone and looking to Him to do what we cannot do. That is too easy, we want to know “where’s my part in the play?” The point is this — salvation and all its benefits are monergistic, which means that God did all the work and we passively receive what He has done on our behalf. We add nothing to our salvation but thanksgiving to God for His great grace and mercy which He richly pours out on us through the sacrifice of His Son our Lord Jesus Christ.

The genius behind Joel’s writing is that he has encapsulated the basic tenets of WOF heresy into a format which does not come across as either charismatic in nature nor as something that has been taught by WOF heretics for over fifty years now. He has “spun” old false doctrines a new set of “Dr. Phil” clothing and is marketing it as a self-help book. The problem is that people will not genuinely be helped, in fact, many may end up in some serious bondage due to his lightweight version leading some readers to seek heavier teachings on the same concepts.

In closing, I will leave you with some simple biblical texts that will show you how to truly become a better you.

And anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matt. 10:38,39

Then he said to them all; “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? Luke 9:23-25

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. John 12:24-25

You want to be a “better you” then take up your cross, follow Jesus (where) to Calvary and DIE to yourself. This dying (reckoning ourselves dead Rom. 6:11) is a daily process/struggle (we Lutherans like to urge one another to “remember your baptism”) that is how we become “better people” we become less SELF-INVOLVED and thus with ourselves off our hands we are freed up to love God and our neighbor more perfectly Jesus said seek first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness and ALL the things the Gentiles seek after will be added to you (Matt. 6:33), something Joel does not mention. Instead of seeking the sphere of God’s rule he has his readers trying to conjure up a better self-image instead of one buried in the waters of baptism. He has people confessing how good they are as opposed to saying “God have mercy on me a poor miserable sinner.” He inflates human pride by a system of works-righteousness to our account. Frankly, Joel is fundamentally wrong regarding the major premises of each of his chapters. His biblical/doctrinal ignorance is truly appalling and I sincerely urge all of us to pray for him (and I will be writing and sending him a registered letter soon, I’ll let you know if he responds) and more importantly the 100,000’s of people who watch him on television and buy his books. Lord have mercy upon us! ♦

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. Osteen Joel, Become a Better You New York: A Free Press, 2007, p. 3

 2. Ibid. p.21

3. Ibid pp. 22 -22

4. Ibid. p. 49

5. Ibid. pp.56,66

6. Ibid. p. 85

7. Ibid. p.86

8. Ibid. pp. 101-102

9. Ibid p. 109

10. Ibid pp. 109-110 underlining and bolding added for emphasis.

11. Ibid. p. 11

12. Ibid pp. 113-114 underlining and bolding added.

Anyone else notice a “theme”? 7 steps to living at your full potential & now 7 keys to improving your life every day. Is it possible that Joel is using a ghost writer to pen these novels? If I was already achieving my full potential why should I read his latest book? It simply does not make sense to me?

 





THE TORONTO DECEPTION by a Former Vineyard Pastor

23 10 2009
Truth Matters Newsletters – May 2007 – Vol. 12 Issue 5 – The Toronto Deception By a Former Toronto Vineyard Pastor

Discernment Ministries International

THE TORONTO DECEPTION by a Former Vineyard Pastor

It has taken me nine years to actually come to the place where I would write this story. Part of the reason was because I was not fully convinced that it is appropriate to speak out against weaknesses in the body of Christ publicly. Another reason is because it has taken years of soul searching to become convinced that what happened in the Toronto Airport Church was actually all bad or at least more bad than good!

For the past number of years I have called it a mixed blessing. I think James A. Beverly called it this in his book Holy Laughter and the Toronto Blessing 1994. Today I would call it a mixed curse concluding that any individual good that came from this experience is far outweighed by much harm and satanic deception. I suppose that therein has been the dilemma. I have tried to live my life in the fear of the Lord and Jesus told us that the unforgivable sin was the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Attributing to Satan what was in fact a work of God. If pressed as to whether or not the Toronto blessing is all God or all Devil I will still be hedgy, but I am convinced that Satan has used this experience to blind people to the historical doctrine of God, to produce fruit in keeping with repentance, to failing to test and discern the spirits and failing to test prophecy.

After three years of being in the thick of the Toronto blessing our Vineyard assembly in Scar bough (East Toronto) just about self destructed. We devoured one another, with gossip, backstabbing, division, sects criticism etc. After three years of “soaking” praying for people, shaking, rolling, laughing, roaring, ministering at TACF on their prayer team, leading worship at TACF, preaching at TACF, basically living at TACF we were the most carnal, immature and deceived Christians that I know. I remember saying to my friend and senior pastor at Scarborough Vineyard Church in 1997 that ever since the Toronto Blessing came we have just about fallen to bits! He agreed!

My experience has been that the manifestation of spiritual gifts mentioned in 1st Corinthians 12 was much more common in our assembly, before January 1994 (when the Toronto blessing started.) than during this period of supposed Holy Spirit visitation. During 1992-1993 when praying for people we would experience what I believe was genuine prophesy, deliverance and much grace and favour from the Lord. After the Toronto Blessing started, all ministry time changed, the only prayers were ‘More Lord MORE’, the shouting of ‘Fire’ the jerky shaking of the body with the ‘ooh ooh OOH WOOOAAH’ prayer. (I kid you not!)

On January 20th 1994 about 15 people from our church traveled over to Toronto Airport Vineyard in order to listen to Randy Clark, a Vineyard pastor from the USA. John Arnott had called our senior pastor to invite us. He communicated that Randy had been to the Rodney Howard Browne meetings and that the stuff had broke out in his church in the following weeks. John was hoping that something might break out with us too. We were only too happy to travel over. We were a church plant out of the Toronto Airport and we started in 1992. In those days there were three Vineyard Churches in Toronto. One Down Town church, Scarborough vineyard church to the east and the AirPort Church. We were one big happy family. Because we were small in number we did special meetings, conferences etc, together.

The year before most of our leadership teams joined and had headed to Nicaragua for a short term missions trip. We had genuine love and fellowship with each other. Since leaving the Vineyard churches I have read a fair bit of analysis from the critics. Some make out that the Toronto Blessing was one huge conspiracy to lead the body of Christ into heresy. Heresy and apostasy I suspect may well be the result, but none of these destinations were intentional. I am honestly convinced that the leaders in the Vineyard churches are genuine born-again Christians who love the Lord, but have fallen into deception. They have not loved the Lord enough to keep His commandments. They have failed to obey the scriptures and have been led astray by our longing for something bigger and brighter and more exciting and dynamic. I am guilty of this sin also. I have preached renewal in Korea, the United Kingdom, the USA and here in Canada. I am genuinely repentant and in writing this story I would ask you the bride and body of Christ to forgive me. Especially the Pentecostal/charismatic Christians among you, for you are my immediate family theologically. I am an evangelical Christian, I always have been but I do not believe in the cessation of the spiritual gifts at the end of the apostolic era. I believe that it was my evangelical roots (my Family are Baptists and I was born again in the Presbyterian Church) that started to open my eyes to problems with this so called renewal In hindsight I look back and think how could I have been so blind? I laughed at people acting like dogs and pretending to urinate on the columns of the TACF building. I watched people pretend to be animals, bark, roar, cluck, pretend to fly as if they had wings, perpetually act drunk and sing silly songs. How I thought that any of this was from the Holy Spirit of God amazes me today. It was loud irreverent and blasphemous to the Holy God of the Bible. I suppose in my mind I reasoned that as long s they did not teach any thing in direct violation to scripture then it was what we called the exotic. This is a buzzword for manifestations that could not be justified from a biblical perspective. I was taught from the pulpit that we had two options. The order of the nursery full of life and messy or the order of the graveyard, very orderly but dead! As a young immature pastor I wanted life with mess. I failed to remember that God wants us to become mature and grow up in him.

I became disconnected by the prophetic words that came forth especially one by Carol Arnott in which she had her bride experience where she was taken into the very presence of Jesus and said that the love that she experienced was even better than sex! I was shocked in my spirit and thought how can one compare the love of God with sex? When we suspected that demons were running riot in our services John Arnott would teach that we should ask are they coming or going. If they are leaving then that is ok! John would defend the chaos by saying that we ought not be afraid of being deceived, if we have asked the Holy Spirit to come and fill us then how could Satan come and deceive us? This would make Satan very strong and God very weak! He said that we needed to have more faith in a Big God to protect us than in a Big Devil to deceive us. This sounded very convincing but was totally contrary to scripture for Jesus and Paul and Peter and John all warn us about the power of deceiving spirits and especially so in the last days. Again we did not love God enough to obey His Word and the result was that we opened ourselves up to lying spirits. May God have mercy upon us!

Finally the penny dropped for me a I was rolling around one night ’drunk in the Spirit’ as we would say. I started singing and as I rolled around the floor the Nursery the Rhyme ’Mary had a little lamb its fleece was white as snow.’ came to mind. I sang this in a mocking spirit and instantly my heart told me this was a demon. Instantly I repented and was in total shock. How could a demon get into me? Did I not love God? Was I not zealous for the things of God? Was I not nuts about Jesus? I knew that as unclean spirit had just manifested through me and I was guilty of great sin. After this experience I stayed away from TACF. I did not go back there any more. I did not possess the conviction to denounce the whole experience but thought that we were failing to pastor the Blessing well enough.

Even after I stopped going over to TACF, I had to pastor the fruit of it. One example was when some of our people returned from a meeting there asking us if we had all received the golden sword of the Lord? I asked them what they were talking about thinking that it was some prophetic reference to the Holy Scriptures but they said, ’no its not the Bible, it’s an invisible golden sword that only the really pure can receive. If taken in an unrighteous fashion then the Lord would kill you. But if you are holy enough to receive it then you can wield this sword and it will heal aids, Cancer etc. and bring salvation. How one wielded this sword was by pretending to have this invisible sword in your hand and motioning to strike people with it when in prayer! I thought while even in deception at this time that the TACF had become Looney bins! This was purportedly first received by Carol Arnott and then given to the ones holy enough to receive it! Another thing was the golden fillings in the teeth. We had people in our assembly peeping down one another’s throats looking for the gold fillings that God had placed there to show how much he loved them! In all my time there I only heard one message on repentance given by a visiting speaker from Hong Kong named Jackie Pullinger. It went over like a lead balloon. We were not there to repent, we were there to party in the Lord! After one year into the blessing, I spoke out at a pastors meeting and said ‘guys we have shaken, rattled, rolled, laughed cried and bought the tee-shirt. But we have no revival, no salvation, no fruit and no increased evangelism so what’s the deal?” I was soundly rebuked – who was I to expect to see fruit when the Lord was healing his broken people? We had been legalistic long enough and god was spending this time restoring his wounded and freeing us from legalism I was told not push the Lord and the harvest would come in his time.’

So there is my story. I could go on and document much excess, folly, sin and latter day reign teaching that manifest from the prophetic end of this blessing but others have already done that. We sang about Joel’s army and the billion soul revival as if it were one of the Ten Commandments, and as always it was just around the corner. Next month, next year etc. Jesus said that when the son of man returns will he find faith upon the earth ? And if he dies not return when he does no flesh would be saved but for the sake of the elect he comes. This is a far cry fro the dominionism, that is being taught all through the vineyard/prophetic/spiritual warfare movement. I honestly think that they think they are going to take over the whole world! While in the Vineyard I embraced a life verse from the Apostle Paul the phrase do not go beyond what is written!

To finish I just want to say sorry for the damage, that I have personally done by teaching things that are not correct biblically. I repent before men as I already have before God. I will not excuse my falling into deception. I did not bother to test things when the scriptures commanded us to do so. Everyone who was there when this thing started knows that what I write is true, they would just come to different conclusions especially if they are still promoting the ‘river!’

To those in te river I would say swim out, there are things living in the water that will bite you real good! I love the people of TACF and the Vineyard movement but I think that we have much to answer for and may the Lord open your eyes sooner rather than later. I suspect that when this letter goes online I will get bombarded by emails from both camps, some damning me for still believing in the ministry of the Holy Spirit and still walking in deception and some old friends damning me for exposing dirt or being negative about the Lords anointed! Well, the Lord knows my heart and by his grace he will guide me into all truth as I seek to know Christ and him crucified! I would call on all who read this to pray that the Lord would open the eyes of all who have been involved in this deception. Whether leader or follower, we are loved and the Lord is a forgiving God. He says if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. I believe we are like the church in Laodicea, we think that we are rich, have prospered and need nothing, we do not realize that we are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked. We must take the Counsel of Jesus and buy gold refined in the fire (which is his suffering, not a false spirit!) white garments to clothe our shameful nakedness and salve for our eyes that we might see again. Jesus is calling us to repentance and thank the Lord that he is, for it will lead us to true restoration with our Father! If God has forgiven me and opened my eyes then he can do it for all those caught in deception too. I will finish with a warning from Paul, he says if you think you are standing firm be careful lest you fall.

Sincerely, Paul Gowdy

Personally having been redeemed form charismatic extremism I applaud brother Growdy for his honesty and brokenness to share his testimony. My wife and I were present when Mrs. Arnott gave her infamous “golden sword” prophecy and saw firsthand the effect it had on the thousands present at that service. I pray our gracious Lord continues to restore Paul’s soul and that he has found safe haven in a biblically sound congregation. His testimony simply affirms what DMI has been saying for over the years. Literally hundreds of thousands of professing Christians have bought into a belief system which is not only biblically unsound but also spiritually damaging.

Sadly to date charismatic extremism shows little decrease in momentum and in some of its man facets in growing rapidly. Due to the growth of such gross doctrinal error DMI needs your support more than ever and we ask that you would pleas pray for our portion of Christ’s ministry and to also put “legs” to your prayers by financially supporting our work to His glory.

Rev. Robert S. Liichow