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The True Spiritual Direction of Spiritual Formation

Spiritual Formation/Spiritual Direction is unbiblical

Last year, I was at a spiritual crossroad and I had some decisions to make. Any direction would have been ‘biblical’, but I was convinced there was one specific, narrow path that God had painstakingly planned; as such, I believed that if I missed that path it would ruin my life, ruin the world around me…and Jesus would never return!

Without vocalizing that insanity (and hyperbole), I sought guidance regarding my life’s direction from the teaching pastor at my former church. He suggested spiritual formation (or spiritual direction). I asked around, and a friend who was in full time ministry assured me that spiritual formation was biblical. Satisfied, I booked my appointment with a Spiritual Director through the Tyndale University & College Seminary. Its website states,

Spiritual Directors are those who have received specific training in Bible, Theology, and Spiritual Formation, who assist individuals (called directees) in their spiritual journey. Spiritual directors are interested in the spiritual health, well-being, and spiritual growth of the directees they serve. Spiritual Directors provide this ministry through regular one-on-one sessions (or group sessions) that are focused on listening to, and working with both the directee and the Holy Spirit.”

I now clearly see the red flags in this description; however, back then this definition seemed okay. Famous last words, right? Additionally, not only did my pastor recommend it, but the sessions were also going to be held at Tyndale, which exists in part “to honour William Tyndale, the early English reformer whose commitment to making the Scriptures available to all persons led him to undertake the first English translation of the Bible, at the cost of his own life. Surely, the college would not permit anything that would disgrace this martyr’s name, would it?

At the time, I was completely deceived by many false teachings, but had somehow managed to escape the practices of Roman Catholic mysticism. That was about to change.

 

spiritual formation session

Eager to begin my new direction in life, I met with my Spiritual Director, whose quiet way of being and acceptance was exactly what I needed in this confusing time. In the early sessions, she explained that God had made me a certain way; subsequently, she shared many “impressions” about my relationship with God, and these impressions were often paired with Scripture verses. In determining ‘God’s will’ for my life, my first assignment was to make a scrapbook of my interests and of everything that was important in my life…because it’s all about me, right?

During one session, I was directed (a spiritual formation technique) to think of the scene in Matthew 8:23-27 in which Jesus calmed the storm. I was asked to imagine myself in the scene and to ask Jesus what He wanted me to do in my life. I asked my director if this was contemplative prayer, because I had heard that it was dangerous. She assured me it wasn’t since we were filling my mind with Scripture and scenes from the Bible. My mind assuaged, I continued with the exercise.

In the following weeks, many exercises started with prayer to Jesus. These prayers were followed by silence, so I could ‘listen’ to what Jesus would say. Naturally, the name of Jesus flowed constantly. We also prayed before the sessions, declaring that the room we were in was for Jesus only and demons were not allowed in there. I wasn’t sure how that provided a fortress of spiritual protection-we might as well have encircled ourselves with ‘protective white light’ while we were at it.

Following on, my director advised me to read works by contemplative mystic Brennan Manning, Roman Catholic mystic Henri Nouwen, and a book about interpreting my dreams, which I had read as a former New Ager (that’s why I ignored this last piece of advice altogether).

Are you perhaps wondering why I remained ignorant about this practice in which I was a willing participant? Well, by now my pastor, seminary graduates, and ‘mature’ Christians had all given their support to this. One of the formation’s defenders got exasperated at my questioning and told me I needed to read the Bible more. She was correct, but oh, the irony. Looking back, I had put the opinions of man above the Word of God and had also made God’s will an idol. I had been so focused on trying to find what He wanted for me that I missed Him altogether.

Back to the trainwreck.

 

train wreck of spiritual formation

 

Outside of the sessions, I studiously completed my readings, and I practiced the so-called presence of Jesus. I was also attuned to any ‘signs’ of God in the world, thanks to Henri Nouwen and his book, ironically named:

 

 henri nouwen discernment

 

Having come out of various New Age and occult practices that had taught me how to be ‘one’ with everything and to look for synchronicity, I was unfortunately rather good at this. And so, once again, I started worshipping the creation and not the Creator (Romans 1:25).

I continued seeing my Spiritual Director for another month (two months in total). While I wasn’t one hundred percent sure that spiritual formation was unbiblical, I had an uneasy feeling, which was enough for me to stop attending the sessions.

Discerning the True Spiritual Direction of Spiritual Formation

The spiritual direction I was heading in was leading me to devastating eternal consequences, and the Jesus I was invoking was the one spoken of in 2 Corinthians 11:4:

 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.”

And like so many in the visible church, I too ‘put up with it readily enough’.

Through contemplative prayer, I was unknowingly communing with a different Jesus. Looking through my well-kept journal from those sessions recently, I noticed words like ‘surrender’, ‘gentle’, ‘presence’, ‘the Way’, and ‘paths’, all words which are commonly found in channeled books (such as Jesus Calling) which are the products of this mystical form of prayer. 

Works-Based Perfection

Spiritual formation was developed from Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox mysticism, and it promotes the idea that we journey inward and engage in disciplines to develop the likeness of Jesus Christ. Disciplines such as meditation (listening silence), contemplative prayer, and solitude are just a few of the disciplines that without we purportedly cannot experience true spiritual growth.

Spiritual formation teaches that anyone can practice these mystical rituals, and that anyone is able to find God within himself or herself. It is a works-based practice to becoming perfected, which in itself is a lie. I was told, “Once we are aware what our responsibility is, that is where the transformation will happen”. This is in stark contrast to what Scripture declares:

  • Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth (John 17:17)
  • Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely (1 Thessalonians 5:23)
  • God chose you as the first fruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:13)
  • And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6)

You see, only God is able to sanctify us; only God can make us conform to the image of Christ. True spiritual transformation occurs when we realize we are sinners who need to be forgiven and who need to be reconciled to God through the atonement of His Son, Jesus Christ. As we submit to God and the Holy Spirit, God transforms us. He transforms us.

While consulting my journal for this post, I noticed it was exactly a year ago (from the time this entry was posted) that I repented of spiritual formation and its dark practices. The truth did not come to me from any mystical practice or discipline, and it did not come from a sign in nature or from the silence in my mind. It came only because God had chosen to reveal the truth out of His mercy and grace, delivered through the more sure word of God, which is all we need (2 Timothy 3:16).

Soli Deo Gloria,

Pamela

Resource for further understanding:

Ray Yungen – Rise of Spiritual Formation

Christian Research Network: Spiritual Formation

Dangers of Spiritual Formation

Contemplative Prayer and the Evangelical Church by Ray Yungen (PDF)

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Cult of Personality: The darkness under the evangelical limelight

The Cult of Personality – The darkness under the evangelical spotlight

I sell the things you need to be
I’m the smiling face on your TV
I’m the cult of personality
I exploit you, still you love me
I tell you one and one makes three

You gave me fortune
You gave me fame
You gave me power in your God’s name
I’m every person you need to be
I’m the cult of personality

These lyrics from the 1988 song “Cult of Personality” (by the band Living Color) aptly describe the many preachers and teachers found in Christian media, megachurches, bookstores, and at conferences. Wikipedia states: “A cult of personality arises when an individual uses mass media, propaganda, or other methods to create an idealized, heroic, and at times, worshipful image, often through unquestioning flattery and praise.” These prominent ‘Christian’ leaders deliver these false gospels and teachings, which flatter the ego and praise the flesh. They exploit the sheep, lie, (2 Peter 2:1-3) and tickle the carnal Christian’s ears with what the Christian desires to hear (2 Timothy 4:3), while they themselves are revered and put up with easily enough (2 Corinthians 11:4).

When we think of a cult, usually Jehovah’s Witnesses, the religion of Scientology, or someone like David Koresh comes to mind, as we’ve become accustomed to determining which group is a cult, based on society’s definition. However, cults and their leaders can be determined from a theological basis as well. While we can examine prominent leaders in the visible church from the societal viewpoint (which include devotion toward a particular figure, having beliefs regarded by others as strange or sinister or having a misplaced admiration for a particular person), I’ll use a theological viewpoint to show how some evangelicals in the limelight exhibit the traits of cult leaders. I’ll show how they teach so-called truths that deviate from the Christian faith.

Marks of a Cult–From a Theological Viewpoint

While society is concerned with whether a cult is physically dangerous, the theological viewpoint determines if a cult is spiritually dangerous, based on whether the original doctrines of biblical truth have been distorted. This is important because spiritual deception and heresies may have devastating eternal consequences.

The following points demonstrate how some evangelicals (personalities) in the limelight distort the original doctrines of biblical truth.

1. These Personalities Introduce Extra-Biblical Revelations or Teachings 

Teachings and practices not found in Scripture flourish due to some popular Christian leaders. These practices include: contemplative prayer, spiritual formation, lectio divina, prayer circles, deliverance ministries and false spiritual warfare teachings; mysticism, psychology,  positive thinking and humanism, word of faith teachings, modern-day prophecies, heaven and hell ‘tourism‘, the slain in the spirit phenomenon, to name but a few. Additionally, there are many women pastors who disobey God’s command that women should not teach men; sadly, many popular leaders support these women. Many high-profile teachers also support gay marriage through the lens of distorted scripture. Rachel Held Evans is an example of one who teaches men and who supports gay marriage:

Rachel Held Evans support of gay marriage

 

2. These Personalities Promote a Wrong View of God and/or Man

Many popular leaders have a wrong view of the members of the Trinity: T.D. Jakes is a Modalist, John Hagee denies Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, Brian Houston of Hillsong claims Muslims and Christians serve the same god (1:30 minute mark), while Benny Hinn, Paul Crouch and Kenneth Copeland proclaim we are gods.

The Word of Faith Movement is notorious for elevating man while mocking God’s sovereignty and providence, as recorded here:

 

3. These Personalities Minimize or Eliminate Sin

Absent from the limelight is the need for repentance and the wretchedness of sin. Joyce Meyer eliminates her sin altogether and says she is not a sinner.

Joel Osteen talks about his decision to not teach about sin.

4. These Personalities Teach a Different Gospel

Found amongst the teachings of these leaders are the false man-made gospels of Ecumenism, the Prosperity Gospel,  NAR/Dominionism, Chrislam, and the Social Gospel. New Age and Eastern Mysticism are present in most of these false gospels.

Yet another lie promoted by Joyce Meyer, Kenneth Copeland, Frederick K. Price, Kenneth Hagin, Charles Capps, and other Word of Faithers is that Jesus paid for our sins in hell.

Also tragic are the many teachers who wrongly state that speaking in tongues, healing, and/or sinless perfection are proof of salvation.

5. These Personalities Are ‘Guru Type’ Leaders 

These prominent Christians promise what the Bible does not promise–the seeking and fulfillment of carnal desires such as wealth, health, prosperity, and a comfortable life. Since Jesus did not teach that we are promised these things this side of heaven, it is clear that followers of these teachers are following the teachings of men and not those of God: ‘For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive’ (Romans 16:18).

These teachers toss the name of Jesus around as lip service in order to deceive the sheep and often blaspheme His precious name with heresies, so that these stars and starlets can be catapulted into fame and wealth. These prominent leaders have managed to acquire a large following rather successfully. Unfortunately, many in the church are blind as to how captive they are.

Biblically ignorant Steven Furtick, pastor of Elevation Church, perfectly demonstrates the strong hold over his followers:

 

Steven Furtick

Used with permission from Mary, who faithfully contends for the faith at Living4HisGlory

 

Steven Furtick is a visionary that his followers must unite under? Shockingly unbiblical.

Just as with traditional cults, followers of false teachers often passionately defend their leaders when these teachers are exposed as false teachers. Regrettably, the followers do not compare that what is being taught by their idols to Scripture, and they defend the teachings of these men and women, and not the Word of God. They demonstrate a willful ignorance and submission to these leaders.

Not surprisingly, most of these leaders are no better at receiving rebuke, and instead of prayerfully submitting to God’s wisdom and studiously studying God’s Word, they get angry and defensive. Again, Steven Furtick perfectly demonstrates this:

 

 

Furtick egotistically disagrees with God’s command to test all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21), to expose false teaching (Ephesians 5:11), and to show ourselves approved in rightly handling the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). This video surely demonstrates many of the personality traits of a typical cult leader. A typical cult leader:

  • has a grandiose idea of who he is
  • requires excessive admiration
  • is arrogant and haughty
  • is hypersensitive to how he is perceived by others
  • publicly devalues others as being incapable, inferior or unworthy
  • calls those who question him the  ‘enemy’
  • refers to non-members or non-followers of him as ‘the enemy’
  • treats others with contempt and arrogance

Warnings and Judgements

As shown, the teachers mentioned above are teaching heresies; they are surely not part of the faith that was once delivered–they are teaching different doctrines and are therefore cults.

Scripture is clear regarding the seriousness of false teachings and the judgement that will follow. If you think there is nothing wrong with these teachers because they teach some ‘good stuff’ or their teachings have ‘blessed you’, please take your eyes off them and read these warnings from God:

  • And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed (2 Peter 2.2).
  • But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed (Galatians 1:8).
  • As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned (Titus 3:11).
  • But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction (2 Peter 2:1).
  • Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons (1 Timothy 4:1).
  • Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep (2 Peter 2:1-3).

The warnings are clear, and yet many are ignoring them just as in Jeremiah’s day.

Don’t Believe the Lies!

If you are of the opinion that these teachers are Godly because they are successful, that is a lie. God’s definition of success is not popularity–think of the apostles and of others martyred for their faith, even to this day.

If you think examining doctrine is being divisive, that is a lie. Romans 16:17-18 is clear that it is those who teach unbiblical doctrines that are causing division.

If you think we are not supposed to judge, that is a misconception and lie. We are to judge righteously (John 7:24).

If you think questioning these people is unloving, that is a lie. Love is sharing the truth–the truth of the Gospel in the hope for God’s mercy and His granting of repentance.

If you think being doctrinally accurate is ‘stifling’ the Holy Spirit, that is a lie. The Holy Spirit teaches and convicts us through the Word of God. If we are ignorant to what Scripture says, that is ‘stifling’ the Holy Spirit.

Lastly, it is a lie and a deception to think that just because you love Jesus that you cannot be deceived. Matthew 24:24 teaches that false teachers will perform such signs and wonders that if possible they would deceive the elect. Therefore, these teachers are deceiving some in the visible church. If you think you might possibly be deceived by these teachers, you should examine yourself to see if you’re in the faith and if you’re truly saved (2 Corinthians 13:5).

Beloved, take nothing for granted. The time we have left is short; pray for wisdom and discernment and examine whom and what you believe. Stop following this cult of personalities and follow the Lord Jesus Christ, our rock and redeemer who deserves all the glory.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Pamela

ANNOUNCEMENT: CONGRATULATIONS Susie Glennan! YOU ARE THE WINNER OF THE JESUS UNMASKED GIVEAWAY! Please check your email inbox or spam folder 🙂

 

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“Psst … Lectio Divina … your mysticism is showing.”

Beware! Lectio Divina is a mystical practice

 

One thing I appreciate about the clothing of Jesus’ day is that there were no zippers or grommets to contribute to a possible wardrobe malfunction. People from that time also didn’t have to worry about removing of an overkill of stickers and price tags from clothing. And who is not grateful when told a dryer sheet is stuck to a sweater? Oh, but are we grateful when someone points out our theological loose threads? Just as we would inspect and remove an offending item from clothing, are we just as quick to inspect and remove faulty doctrine from our lives? Are we as teachable with our theology as we are with our outward appearances?

Recently, I was privy to a conversation regarding the promotion of the mystical practice of lectio divina. Thankfully, there were many discerning women warning of it; however, there were many who could not see the error of this practice. Lectio divina has gathered momentum in evangelical circles and, like most deceptive practices, there is much ignorance regarding its origin and intent. I do appreciate the desire to be closer to God; however, we walk by faith, not by experience and feelings.

 

Beware of Lectio Divinia

 

What Is Lectio Divina?

Pronounced “lex-ee-o di-veen-a”, it is Latin for “divine reading” and “is undertaken not with the intention of gaining information but of using the texts as an aid to contact the living God.”* It is popular among Catholics and Gnostics and has gained wide acceptance within the emerging church. In general, lectio divina is being promoted as a form of Bible study and is found within the unbiblical practice of spiritual formation. Sadly, this practice has found its way into the evangelical/protestant church too, and many teachers and preachers are openly promoting and endorsing this unbiblical practice. Note that other faiths practice lectio divina too; so it does not matter whether one is reading from the Koran or the Bible, all one has to do is ‘adopt’ this practice for Christianity – you know, as the visible church has done with yoga.

The practice is described as follows, courtesy of Lighthouse Trails Research:

Reading (lectio)—Slowly begin reading a biblical passage as if it were a long-awaited love letter addressed to you. Approach it reverentially and expectantly, in a way that savors each word and phrase. Read the passage until you hear a word or phrase that touches you, resonates, attracts, or even disturbs you.

Reflecting (meditatio)—Ponder this word or phrase for a few minutes. Let it sink in slowly and deeply until you are resting in it. Listen for what the word or phrase is saying to you at this moment in your life, what it may be offering to you, what it may be demanding of you.

Expressing (oratio)—If you are a praying person, when you are ready, openly and honestly express to God the prayers that arise spontaneously within you from your experience of this word or phrase. These may be prayers of thanksgiving, petition, intercession, lament, or praise. If prayer is not part of your journey, you could write down the thoughts that have come your way.

Resting (contemplatio)—Allow yourself to simply rest silently for a time in the stillness of your heart, remaining open to the quiet fullness of God’s love and peace. This is like the silence of communion between the mother holding her sleeping infant child, or between lovers whose communication with each other passes beyond words.”

Where are these steps in Scripture? Surely, if we needed to repeat words many times over, it would be in the Bible. In fact, in Matthew 6:7 Jesus instructs us to do the opposite: “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again (NLT).”

Common Misperceptions about Lectio Divina

1. “It’s been practiced throughout the history of the Church”

First, lectio divina was started around the year 220 by contemplative monks, but the four steps date back only to the 12th century**. Second, which “church” are we talking about? The roots of this practice lie in Catholicism and has no ties to the true church of which Jesus Christ is the only cornerstone and head (Colossians 1:18). Catholics who are knowledgeable of and practice lectio divina, boldly declare it as mysticism, and they do not claim that it is found in Scripture. Additionally, as many have pointed out, if this practice is vital to ‘experiencing God’, then what did the church do before the year 220? Truly, the Body of Christ – the true Church – has nothing to do with this heretical and unbiblical practice.

2. “The Bible says we are to meditate and pray”

Yes, we should; however, the proponents of lectio divina have redefined meditation and prayer. These people do not mean biblical prayer – they mean contemplative prayer, which seeks to empty one’s mind to hear the ‘still small voice’ of God. Consider this description of meditation (courtesy of Southern View Chapel):

Meditatio: the next step is meditation but not meditation as we normally would understand it. Boa describes meditation as “a spiritual work of holy desire and an interior invitation for the Spirit to pray and speak within us (Romans 8:26-27).” [28]  Two brief thoughts before we move on.  First, note the misinterpretation of Romans 8:26-27, which is virtually universal in mystical literature.  The text does not promise that the Holy Spirit will speak to us in prayer but that He will intercede with the Father for us as we pray. This is an important and often overlooked point.”

and

‘Christian’ mystic Madame Guyon writes, “[In lectio you are not reading the Scriptures to gain some understanding but to] turn your mind from outward things to the deep parts of your being. You are not there to learn to read, but…to experience the presence of your Lord!”

Since our Lord is the Word (John 1:1), to what ‘lord’ is Madame Guyon referring (2 Corinthians 11:4)?

Part of the misunderstanding is the belief that lectio divina is merely prayerful reading. However, according to mystics, “it is the focusing on and repeating a word or small phrase to facilitate going into the ‘silence'”. Indeed, and that is the real danger. As this article in Lighthouse Trails Research points out, “There is certainly nothing wrong with reading Scripture carefully and thoughtfully. Thoughtfully, we say. In eastern-style meditation (and in contemplative prayer) thoughts are the enemy.”

In lectio divina, Scripture is merely a tool to bring about a mystical experience. A word or phrase becomes a mantra where it is repeated over and over, and the words become what the practitioner’s imagination or other influences – be they internal or external – come up with. The words do not hold the meaning that the original authors intended. In effect, what the adherents of this practice are saying is that Scripture isn’t sufficient and that extra-biblical revelation is needed – additional, personal revelation gleaned through man-made works. We are warned about being taken captive by human tradition (Colossians 2:8).

3. “It has affected me for good”

Why hasn’t Scripture done this? The Word of God thoroughly equips us (2 Timothy 3:15-17) and is perfect (Psalm 19:7). What is being gained through a mystical experience that trumps the Word of God? Nowhere in Scripture are experiences heralded; in fact, we have the more sure Word (2 Peter 1:19), which outranks experiences. Additionally, the Word of God, through the Holy Spirit, convicts us of sin (Hebrews 4:12). It is good to be convicted and led to repentance, so we can become holy (1 Peter 1:16), as God expects us to be.

The different forms of contemplative prayer that I used to practice soothed and pacified me; I was courted for pride and destruction. My sin and wretchedness never came to mind during my devotional time because my wicked and deceitful heart always deceived me (Jeremiah 17:9). During this contemplative period, I was never affected for good because I needed a truth that was outside of me – the objective and authoritative Word of God.

4. “I belong to Christ; this has nothing to do with Satan”

Practicing man-made techniques and basing our approval on them through subjective evaluation and misinterpreted Scripture are dangerous. We are to renew our minds through the Word of God (Romans 12:2), not empty them; and we are commanded to guard our wicked hearts, not open them (Proverbs 4:23).

It’s erroneous to think one can be a Christian and practice whatever ‘spiritual’ ritual or fad one wants. Whenever the Israelites were about to enter a foreign land, God would warn them to stay clear of the pagans’ “abominable practices” (Deuteronomy 18:9-11). In our age of global travel and global communication, these pagan practices have come to us; and so we need to be on full alert (1 Peter 5:8). Additionally, the entire Bible is packed with warnings to the church about false teachings – simply because something is taught within the walls of a church does not necessarily make it biblical.

Unfortunately, many Christians believe Satan and his minions are only involved with Ouija Boards and spirit mediums; unfortunately, this misunderstanding is further complicated by deceptive TV shows and movies (Long Island Medium, Ouija, etc.) that glorify and glamorize these occult activities and that basically applaud Satan’s evil craftiness. Yes, of course Satan and his demons have a hand in these things. However, using his subtle deception, it’s inside the church where he does his best work. It’s within the ‘safe’ confines of a church that he deceives through false doctrine and tempts with experiences, personal revelations, and secret knowledge. He doesn’t show up as the visible boogeyman in pew number nine; he shows up as falsehood. Certainly, if he did show up in person, he would sit in the center of the front row, smiling, and clutching a well-worn Bible.

R.C. Ryle quote

 

The claim of this quote is supported by this Southern View Chapel excerpt about lectio divina. As we’ll see, an expository understanding of Scripture is frowned upon:

How the believer mines the treasures of Scripture is through the normal, literal (often called grammatical/historical) approach to its reading and study.  As God’s truth is understood through this process, it is then to be applied to our lives through the power of the Holy Spirit. This is not the approach to Scripture recommended and promoted within spiritual formation.  As a matter of fact, this approach is often ridiculed as merely an intellectual process that does not reach the inner person and does not lead to transformation.  Instead, we are told that if our lives are to be truly reformed by the Bible we must turn to an ancient technique, never actually taught in the Word itself, known as lectio divina.

Ruth Haley Barton adds that while reading we are to listen “for the word or the phrase that strikes us…we have a sense of expectancy that God will speak to us.  After reading there is a brief period of silence in which we remain with the word, savoring it and repeating it without trying to figure out what it means or why it was given.”

Rather than turning us to the Word of God to hear the Lord’s voice, lectio turns us inward to attempt to listen to a subjective thought that is being interpreted as coming from the Lord.  In addition, Barton cautions her readers not to think too much about the passage at this stage, rather “keep coming back to the word that we have been given.” [30] The word “given” to one of the students of Yaconelli, while reading about Jesus sitting in a boat, was “cushion.” After repeating the word “cushion” over and over “for the longest time” until he started to remember his grandmother lying on a pillow just before she died, the youth felt so peaceful he nearly went to sleep. [31]. This was supposedly the message that God was speaking to this young man from Mark 4:35-41.”

How tragic that Scripture is utilized for this! Since the Holy Spirit guides us into all truth, and seeing that the above eisegesis is unbiblical, exactly what spirit was guiding Yaconelli’s student?

Conclusion

I long to see my sisters and brothers free in Jesus; I long to see them consciously deciding not to chase after Satan and fall for his age-old lies. There is a growing appetite for experiencing God, and the enemy is more than happy to see us gorge on his deceit. Pagan religions seek to ‘experience’ God, whereas Christians live by faith. As true believers, we are partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4) – how much closer to God can we be?

Therefore, if someone says to you, “Psst, you need a theological alteration”, please pray for discernment and knowledge (Psalm 119:66). Test everything (1 Thessalonians 5:21), and do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

Soli Deo Gloria

Pamela

Recommended resources:

Moody’s Pastors’ conference and lectio divina

Got Questions

http://www.lectio-divina.org/

** http://www.neomysticism.com/lectio-divina.html

 

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About

Wow, a whole page just about me.

Actually, I talk about myself a fair amount on this blog, because I’ve been deceived – a lot. From my formative years until adulthood, I was an atheist. Sadly, it didn’t take much convincing for me to then dive into the New Age Movement (thank you, Oprah), and from there it was a dark slide into the occult for many years. Although God mercifully revealed the truth of His Son, Jesus Christ to me in November of 2000, I followed false teachers or ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’ (Matthew 7:15) for the next 14 years.

I devoured false teachings from Word of Faith teachers and prosperity preachers. Through the local churches, I was introduced to “healing” crusades, spiritual warfarespiritual formation, lectio divina, and contemplative prayer. I believed in false ‘Christs’, accepted scripture misinterpretation, and listened for God’s audible voice–and responded to it!

I was still in the occult.

Now I write to warn those who will have ears to hear (Matthew 11:15). If you are a berean who has spotted counterfeit Christs (Matthew 24:4) and doctrines of demons (1 Timothy 4:1), I pray that the material in this blog will aid you should you need to correct someone who is deceived as I was. However, if you haven’t been a berean nor tested everything against the Word of God (Ephesians 5:11), then please pray for wisdom and discernment and test what I write against Scripture. Examine yourself to see if you are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).

I do not update this blog frequently; I will write new articles as I see dangerous trends emerging in the evangelical church that I have experienced myself.

Thank you for visiting. If you want to contact me, I can be reached at pamelacouvrette@gmail.com or on Facebook. In the meantime, I look forward to guarding the deposit with you (2 Timothy 1:14).

Hallowed be His name,

Pamela Couvrette

May 24, 2016

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The Christian Woman’s Guide to Conversing with Bereans

How should you respond when someone calls your favorite teacher a wolf in sheep's clothing?

 

Imagine the scene: You have finally found some time to sit down to relax; you tune into the Trinity Broadcasting Network only minutes before your favorite teacher (I’ll call her Joyce Osteen) comes on the air. During these few minutes, you check Facebook, and to your horror, you see that someone has posted a warning that Joyce Osteen is a “false teacher“, a wolf in sheep’s clothing! How dare they touch the anointed Joyce Osteen! Although you might be tempted to respond to this claim in a fury of rebukes in ALL CAPS, please read the considerations below.

The purpose of this article is not to point a condemning finger but to address possible obstacles to fruitful conversations. These obstacles may include immature defenses and wrong presuppositions. Ideally, people on both sides of the conversation should act with integrity and humility. But it is most important that we must be imitators of Christ Jesus; yes, even during these conversations.

First, let’s take a look at who the Bereans were. In Acts 17:1-15, we learn that the Bereans researched, tested, and compared what they heard and were taught to Scripture … daily! We are commanded to do the same (1 John 4:1; Hebrews 5:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:21, etc.), so that we will not be taken captive by lies (Colossians 2:8). Not only are we commanded to be Bereans, but we are also commanded to expose evil (Ephesians 5:11Titus 1:9-13; Galatians 6:1). False teachings in the church are evil because they lead to damnation. We don’t hesitate to warn about physical danger, so how much more important is it to warn about spiritual danger?

When Conversing With Bereans:

1. Pray for Discernment, Knowledge, and Wisdom

Be slow to address your concerns, and take the time to pray to God for discernment, knowledge, and wisdom (Philippians 1:9-10James 1:5; Proverbs 4:7). The path to destruction is wide (Matthew 7:13), and there are many false teachers WITHIN the church’s walls (Jude 1:4); so, unless you are behaving as the Bereans did, you might be deceived. The danger of deception is that the deceived do not know that they are being deceived. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit is faithful to guide to truth those who are in Christ (John 16:13).

2. Respond as a Child of God

When responding to something, many people take advantage of the anonymity of the Internet; however, as Christians we know that God is watching and that we will be held accountable for what we say (and type!). Even if a Berean is rude, respond with integrity. A mature Christian woman is gentle, kind, self-controlled, loving, and teachable. Be assured (in giving and receiving) that warnings about faulty doctrines are not a personal attack any more than a caution sign along the road is meant to offend. There may be an urgency to these warnings since we do not know when Jesus will return or how much time we have left on this earth; please do not mistake immediacy for lack of love.

3. Do Not Resort to Name-Calling

Since God has given us the gift of understanding His truths (2 Thessalonians 2:13b), we should be humble and reverent when discussing His Word. There is no place for immaturity or condescension, such as the following remarks:

“You’re just jealous!”

Worldly success is not something a Christian should strive for, so it’s highly unlikely that Bereans are jealous of material success or popularity ratings, and they are certainly not jealous of the dire, eternal destination of a false teacher (1 John 2:15; Galatians 1:10; Galatians 1:8-9). Regardless, this accusation does nothing to help the conversation.

“You’re a Hater!”

Warning the Church about false teachers is an act of love. Would you call someone a “hater” for warning you if you were about to walk off a cliff? Jesus, Paul, and others warned about false teachers and even revealed who these false teachers were. Was Jesus a “hater”?

“You’re of Satan!”/”You’re grieving the Spirit!”/”You’re a Jezebel!”

Resorting to histrionics does not further your position; rather, it leads your listener to assume you do not have a Scriptural defense.

4. If You Respond With Cliches, Make Sure You Know What They Mean

It’s easy to respond with a statement that sounds good or that you’ve heard many other churchgoers say; however, please take the time to understand what your statements actually mean.

“Don’t Put God in a Box!”

It’s a catchy phrase, but what does it mean? Regardless of the definition, Jesus exposed false teachers – was He putting God in a box?

“Touch not my anointed!”

This verse is about physically harming a prophet (1 Chronicles 16:22), but since we are commanded to expose false teachers, and because Scripture does not contradict itself, this verse obviously does not apply to anything else. So, there’s nothing wrong in a fair, biblically-based criticism of a teacher, whoever that teacher may be.

“You’re creating division!”

Let’s look at Romans 16:17: “Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.” This verse explains that division is caused by those who teach contrary to the Word of God. Truth naturally divides itself from lies; therefore, Christians should not seek unity at the expense of truth … that’s what the world does.

“No one has perfect theology!”

True, but that’s not an excuse for heresy.

“This teacher has blessed me!”/”This teacher helps the poor!”

Following false teachers will lead you to destruction, and that’s not a blessing. There are many leaders and teachers who help people (including those in the secular arena), but that doesn’t mean we should follow after them.

Since false teachers have an appearance of godliness (2 Timothy 3:5), we can’t assume their teachings are sound simply because they do good works. Remember, atheists also help the poor.

“They’ve led hundreds/thousands/millions to Jesus!”

Yes, but which “Jesus” have these teachers led people to? Jesus warned that many people will be misled because of false teachers who will come in His name and preach another “Jesus” (Matthew 24:5; Matthew 24:24;2 Corinthians 11:4). These false teachers are in the church today, preaching their Jesus to their unsuspecting flocks.

Additionally, the Bible informs us that not everyone in church or fellowship is a born-again Christian, and that there are false converts who attend church services (Matthew 13:21; 1 John 2:18-19; Matthew 7:21-23).

5. Please Realize that Proclaiming “Do Not Judge!” is a Judgment

Not only is this crowd favourite a judgment, but if you take Matthew 7:1 out of context and apply it to everything, this then only displays a lack of biblical knowledge and application. There are many great teachings regarding the biblical use of judging, but for the sake of brevity, here is a short video that explains how we should judge:

 

 

6. Make Sure You Know What You’re Talking About

What you think is right, or what your “heart says” is right is not a substitute for the Word of God. Use Scripture in your arguments and interpret verses correctly.

A Berean examines what a teacher believes about important doctrines such as the Deity of Christ, the Gospel, the Trinity, and salvation. Do you know what the teachers you follow believe about these things? It may be difficult to know everything that a television preacher or Christian author believes, but the information is available. It’s also wise to educate yourself on the beliefs of movements that are within evangelical circles. Too many Christians are deceived by the belief systems of the Word of Faith Movement, the New Apostolic Reformation, the Emergent Church, and other unbiblical factions.

7. Converse with Etiquette

As with any conversation, make the effort to understand what is being communicated and read any information that is provided. It’s time-efficient and practical to link to information, especially on social media, so don’t ignore this information. Additionally, ask questions or ask for examples if you are unclear about anything, and remember that even if the conversation ends in disagreement, the goal of communication is understanding, not winning.

Remember Who You Are and to Whom You Belong

Christians belong to the royal priesthood and are joint-heirs with Christ. We have been saved out of the darkness by a merciful and loving God who does not want us to respond out of the flesh with tactics that are better left on the playground. We are a chosen race (1 Peter 2:9) and daughters of the King, who reigns in truth. Let’s make sure we act (and type!) like it.

Hallowed be His name,

Pamela

 

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If it Heals Like a Snake and Prophesies Like a Snake, It’s Satan Masquerading as an Angel of Light

Do healings and prophecies in the modern church have more in common with the occult than the Bible?

I have been hearing about the power of the Spirit in regards to prophecy and healing frequently, and not only from professing Charismatics and Pentecostals. Is this healing and prophesying done in the power of God, or is this Satan masquerading as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14)? While Scripture is our first and highest authority, I’ve noticed that the healing and prophesying being performed in the modern church have more in common with the occult than it does with the Bible. I will discuss healing and prophesying as done in the occult, the apostate church, and the Bible.

Although I am questioning the methods and practices of man, I do believe that God still heals today.

 

When Moses prayed for the people, God instructed him to make a bronze serpent and put it on a pole so the people could be healed (<a href=

When Moses prayed for the people, God instructed him to make a bronze serpent and put it on a pole so the people could be healed (Numbers 21:5-7). However, the serpent became an object of worship (2 Kings 18:4). source.

Healing in the Occult

 

May the Force Be With You

In the occult, energy and vibrations are manipulated for emotional, physical, and spiritual ‘healing’. Those in occult circles claim that this energy is an impersonal force that is in all creation. It is referred to as consciousness, energy, vibrations, spirit, or force. The goal of occult ‘energy work’ is to ‘enlighten’ the individual and to raise one’s frequency to attain a higher consciousness. In The Kingdom of the Occult, Walter Martin writes,

Energy can be defined in countless ways: creative life forces, moving power, or ley lines (energy lines said to crisscross the earth). Reiki (the energy associated with Reiki massage), Prana, polarity, chi – there are many names for occult energy–but generally it refers to the creative life forces within human beings and/or outside of them. This energy is the power that can be controlled by human beings through various means –crystals, cards, ceremonies, meditation, the correct diet, and yoga. This is the power source worshipped by the kingdom of the occult. God has revealed that this power source does not originate with Him, and that leaves only one other source: the prince of darkness–the devil (p. 324).”

Initiations and Spiritual Teachers

The occult world offers many different techniques and training in spiritual healing. Sometimes, there is an initiation or ceremony which involves a ‘transfer’ of the power or an activation of the supposed ability. Spiritual healers are channelers of energy and they impart this energy to the initiate.

Experiencing the Supernatural

A spiritual healer reports the following regarding the experiences of his client:

I have had people tell me they have experienced temperature changes, heat and coolness, tingling feelings, a feeling of weightlessness, sometimes a feeling of heaviness, feelings of their bodies moving even though they are on their back, sharp pains for a short time, which then disappear, feelings of some kind of manipulation, and have seen emotional releases (crying).”

That was also my experience as a former Reiki practitioner. During my involvement in that occult practice, there was a strong presence of energy coursing through me and my clients; there were also vibrations, heat, and emotional releases. Counterfeit feelings of ‘love and peace’ were also present. There is a definite psychic component to this type of healing, which is not surprising since holistic healing encompasses mind, body, and soul. Please not that there is also a strong connection between prophesying and healing in many apostate church ministries.

Healing in the Apostate Church

Please read the following and ask yourself if it appears biblical:

Throughout the history of the Church, Christians have been listening to the call of the Spirit, being anointed by God, and providing healing and life-saving prophetic information for others. In the church, a man or woman may be called to the gift of healing by God Himself. This call may come through a dream, or while in the wilderness, a vision. Sometimes, a serious illness may be used by God and lead to this anointing. When the call is answered and the person begins receiving impartations with an elder, the illness is often healed altogether. There are three big stages in the initiatory process: suffering, death, and resurrection.

As a discerning Christian, you’re most likely feeling uncomfortable about what you’ve just read–as you should. That statement is from a website* which promotes the occult practice of shamanism; all I did was edit the words so it appears biblical. Here is the original text (note that I did not alter the last sentence!):

“Since time immemorial, shamans have been listening to the calling of the spirits, being initiated by them and bringing back healing and life-saving oracular information for others. In indigenous cultures, a man or woman may be called to the path of the shaman by the spirits themselves. This call may come through a dream, or while in the wilderness, a vision. Sometimes, a serious illness may foreshadow the path toward shamanism. When the call is answered and the person begins training with an older shaman, the illness is often healed altogether. There are three big stages in the initiatory process: suffering, death, and resurrection.”

This exercise shows how easily the undiscerning Christian can be deceived when statements appear biblically sound. Many movements take advantage of this weakness, and they also redefine words such as ‘faith’ and ‘power’.

God is an Electric Force

In the Word of Faith movement, faith is a ‘force’ to be manipulated. This movement’s false teachers claim you have a ‘miracle in your mouth’ because words have power, and through these words, you are able to create your destiny. Likewise, faith healers speak of the anointing power that is required for healing. This power causes people to fall backwards, stumble, and/or shake uncontrollably. The faith healers claim you are ‘slain in the Spirit‘ because the power of the Spirit has come upon you.

About 40 years ago, Benny Hinn says he met this counterfeit ‘power’ at a healing crusade of the late faith healer Kathryn Kuhlman. He recalls:

As I stood in line, I suddenly began to shake. Nothing like that had ever happened before. It didn’t stop. I was too embarrassed to tell Jim or anyone around me. Even when we got to our seats on the third row of the auditorium, the shaking continued. The longer it continued, the more beautiful it became.”

After Kuhlman talks about what she perceives to be the Holy Spirit, Benny Hinn says,

At that moment, I cried and said, “I’ve got to have this!”

Then, within moments, the service was over. I was shaken to the core. God had used that service and His mighty evangelist to reveal His power that day.

All the way back to Toronto, I kept thinking, “What did she mean? What was she saying when she talked about the Holy Spirit?”

I was totally exhausted when I arrived home, but I could not sleep. As I lay on my bed, I felt as if someone were pulling me off the mattress and onto my knees. It was a strange sensation, but I didn’t resist.

I had never spoken to the Holy Spirit before. I didn’t know He could be addressed that way.

Finally, I prayed, “Holy Spirit, Kathryn Kuhlman says You are her Friend. I don’t think I know You. Before today, I thought I did. But after that meeting, I realize I really don’t. I don’t think I know You.”

Then, like a child with my hands raised, I asked, “Can I meet You? Can I really meet You?”

A few brief moments passed, then like a jolt of electricity my body began to vibrate all over again, exactly like at the church in Pittsburgh.

I was afraid to open my eyes. I felt like a warm blanket of God’s power was wrapped all over me. That continued until I finally dropped off to sleep that night. Even then, I still didn’t realize all that had happened to me.”

This interaction with the ‘Holy Spirit’ is not biblical, but it’s interesting that Benny Hinn says, “I’ve got to have this!” What is this? It sounds more like the impersonal force of the occult than the personal being of the Holy Spirit. Benny Hinn should be seeking a who, which is Jesus; not a what.

Todd Bentley is another faith healer who speaks about this force: “When people visited me at my home, they’d get zapped by an invisible electric force field in whatever room I was in, and then they’d bounce back.” Extra-biblical healing practices have a strong appeal to the senses and may cause tingling, heat, and seeing light.

Teachers and Initiations (Impartations)

As with the occult, the so-called ‘Christian’ community also has many leaders who impart power and who teach how to perform healings. This is from Bethel’s Healing School website:

At the Bethel Healing School, you will be inspired, trained, and activated in a lifestyle of healing & miracles. The school is more than just a seminar of teaching. It is a quick immersion into a culture of joy, freedom, and understanding of everything that Jesus paid for! During the school, you will increase in understanding how to carry the anointing as well as learn ways to cultivate and maintain an atmosphere conducive to healing in your churches and ministries.”

There is much nonsense in that paragraph; for instance, how is power from God ‘activated’ and where in the Bible does it teach us how to ‘carry the anointing’? Additionally, does it make sense that the Holy Spirit would give us this gift (1 Corinthians 12:11) but then require man to activate it?

Another alarming occult practice is grave sucking – the transferring of supposed energy from the dead. Many professing Christians do this bizarre ritual. Benny Hinn admits to frequenting the tomb of Kathryn Kuhlman to receive anointing from her dead and decomposed body. Well, this is nothing but necromancy. Todd Bentley claims to have received his anointing from false teacher William Branham, even though Branham had died nine years before the birth of Bentley.

Putting aside anointings from the dead, consider what this article from LetUsReason.org says about anointings in general:

Many today are taught to get an impartation from the anointed preacher. There is no need when Scripture states we all have the same standing before God; all believers have the same Holy Spirit and Christ as our mediator. We can all receive from Jesus, who is the one we should all be seeking. Going to a certain person or meeting to seek an anointing by impartation is unbiblical. No other person is to be our mediator to receive the Holy Spirit. Whenever men become mediators, Christ’s teachings diminish and men’s teachings increase. We are then giving them, not the Lord control over our lives.

Laying hands on the sick to pray is not the same as imparting the spirit and watching them buckle.

A ‘transferable anointing’ is not seen nor practiced anywhere in Scripture. We also find that the Apostles did not rush around laying hands on people to impart an experience of ‘fire’ or power. They did not chant words over and over and expect a immediate response. The impartations done today that come through certain men are not the true anointing, who is the Spirit of God. Only God can give the Spirit; Jesus is the baptizer of the Holy Spirit, not man. Man cannot control God- there is no teaching on how to obtain or release the anointing to another.”

John MacArthur also warns, “Dear ones, Jesus is the only mediator between God and man, right? Demons are mediators between hell and man. They make captives out of man”.

Supernatural Experiences

As explained above, the healings of the apostate church provide sensations of electricity, shaking, and vibrating. When I was still spiritually immature and lost, I experienced similar sensations with two different faith healers, and these abnormal feelings were uncannily similar to the electric sensations I had experienced  as a Reiki practitioner.

Healing itself is not proof that it came from God; also, it’s worth knowing that falling to the ground (or lying prostrate, e.g.) in repentance and grief over one’s sin is very different to falling backwards and shaking uncontrollably.

 

Healing In the New Testament

We are commanded to test all things (1Thessalonians 5:21), including the spirits (1John4:1), and when we examine the healings in the New Testament, we see that they were instantaneous and permanent. Since they were obvious and public, they went unchallenged. The apostles were given authority to heal every disease and every affliction–unlike what we see at healing crusades, where those in wheelchairs are pushed to the sidelines.

Do healings and prophecies in the modern church have more in common with the occult than the Bible?

The Pythia, commonly known as the Oracle of Delphi, was the name of any priestess throughout the history of Temple of Apollo. The Pythia was widely credited for her prophecies inspired by Apollo. source

Prophecy (fortune-telling) in the Occult

Merriam-Webster defines a fortune-teller as “a person who claims to use special powers to tell what will happen to someone in the future.”** Fortune-tellers work with energy as well and claim to be sensitive to vibrations from the spirit world. Since Satan and demons are not omnipresent or omniscient, fortune-tellers’ predictions are often wrong. However, they know that if they get some things right or are able to manipulate circumstances in favor of their predictions, that their victims will be held captive. Divination practices such as astrology, palmistry, and tarot reading are never entirely accurate; however, millions of people are in bondage to these enchantments. God forbids fortune-telling (Deuteronomy 18:10-13).

Prophecy In the Apostate Church

If we believe that the office of prophet is still active today, then we have a duty to test and investigate the practices and prophecies being made against Scripture.

GotQuestions.org says,

Prophecy – The Greek word translated “prophesying” or “prophecy” in both passages properly means to “speak forth” or declare the divine will, to interpret the purposes of God, or to make known in any way the truth of God which is designed to influence people. The idea of telling the future was added sometime in the Middle Ages and is in direct contradiction to other scriptural passages that condemn such fortune-telling or predicting the future (Acts 16:16-18).”

The kind of prophesying we see in the apostate church is one of fortune-telling. God has already revealed in Scripture all that He desires us to know. As Jude says, we have the faith once delivered (Jude 1:3). However, many people are dissatisfied and seek personal revelations, despite the command not to go beyond what is written (1 Corinthians 4:6). Not only are the vast predictions of modern-day prophets incorrect, but their collective theology is among the worst in the church. If the Holy Spirit, who is truth (John 16:13), is actually the one giving these revelations to these fraudsters, why would He not first correct their doctrine?

Prophecy In the Bible

In the New Testament era, the early believers did not have the completed Bible, so prophets (or apostles) proclaimed messages from the Lord. Prophets were foundational to the church (Ephesians 2:20), and they were 100% accurate.

Furthermore, GotQuestions.org says:

Note the transition from prophet to teacher in 2 Peter 2:1: “There were false prophets among the people, even as there shall  be false teachers among you” (emphasis added). Peter indicates that the Old Testament age had prophets, whereas the church will have teachers. The spiritual gift of prophecy, in the sense of receiving new revelations from God to be proclaimed to others, ceased with the completion of the Bible. During the time that prophecy was a revelatory gift, it was to be used for the edification, exhortation, and comfort of men (1 Corinthians 14:3). The modern gift of prophecy, which is really more akin to teaching, still declares the truth of God. What has changed is that the truth of God today has already been fully revealed in His Word, while, in the early church, it had not yet been fully revealed.”

Examining the Fruit

Mysticism and the occult seduce the flesh because they provide subjective experiences and promise to reveal secret knowledge. This is the opposite of how Christians are commanded to live. We walk by faith in God, trusting that He will direct our steps (Proverbs 16:9). Much of what is occurring in the apostate church is divination and speaking to spirits – forms of sorcery that mark the lives of unbelievers (Galatians 5:19-21). Sorcerers are given power by Satan to lead people away from God (Matthew 24:242 Thessalonians 2:9) and since there will always be sorcerers, even in the end times (Revelation 18:23), we must always be vigilant (1Peter 5:8).

One of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control (Galatians 5:23), not falling down and shaking uncontrollably or speaking false prophecies – these practices are the work of Satan. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit does not allow Himself to be the focus; He does not seek the spotlight.This is in direct contrast to the blasphemous way that these unbiblical ministries so falsely portray the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus, not Himself (John 16:14); the Holy Spirit also testifies about Jesus (John 15:26), not about Himself.

Our enemy always promises something that we think will benefit us, and it’s important to remember that our minds can be corrupted (2 Corinthians 11:3). To think that we cannot be deceived simply because we are Christians is contrary to the many New Testament warnings about deceptions. To assume we can dabble in the occult because of a response to an altar call is as much a lie as the belief that the occultists can surround themselves with ‘white light’ to protect themselves from evil spirits. If we claim to follow Jesus, then we should truly follow Him. We should have nothing to do with pagan and occult practices. Do not be deceived – God performs miracles; Satan performs magic.

Friends, do not subject yourself to anything that ‘awakens’ you, that encourages you to open your heart, or that manipulates energy. Do not seek ‘fresh fire’, new revelations, or impartations. If God desires for you to be healed, trust that He will providentially provide for the healing. Do not believe everything you hear, but test the spirits (1 John 4:1). Let’s leave signs and wonders alone; instead, let’s strive to be holy and righteous, and living a life that’s pleasing to God.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Pamela

* http://www.shamanicuniverse.com/shamanic-initiation.html

** “Fortune-teller.” Merriam-Webster.com, n.d Web.24 May. 2015. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fortune-teller

Additional Resources:

A Call For Discernment Part 1, 2, 3

Kundalini Warning Part 1, 2, 3

Is the anointing tangible and transferable; can we impart it?

The Lord Told Me – I Think!

 

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The Dangers of Hypnosis

The Dangers of Hypnosis. Christians should not participate in this practice.

 

You’ve most likely experienced different states of awareness, whether having been lost in thought while driving a familiar route, singularly focusing on a project, or watching a movie with rapt attention. These scenarios all have the hallmarks of a hypnotic trance–slight amnesia, time distortion, and loss of awareness of your surroundings and of your body. It’s probably happening now to some extent, or did you realize your tongue was touching the back of your teeth?

While these altered states of awareness are a normal everyday part of being human, I must underline that the act of inducing trance states– regardless of the purpose and person doing it–is abnormal.

What is Hypnosis?

There are many definitions; however, this one from freedictionary.com explains it well: “An artificially induced state of relaxation and concentration in which deeper parts of the mind become more accessible”.

Generally, hypnosis is used for pain relief in place of anaesthesia, to cause psychological change, and in occult practices.

How Hypnosis is Induced

When I was a practicing hypnotherapist, and upon meeting clients for the first time, I would begin to build rapport by matching how they spoke, breathed, and positioned themselves; furthermore, I’d used various other methods, which I’ll discuss in a future post. My point is that I used techniques outside the awareness levels of my clients–all for the sole purpose of affecting and building agreement with their subconscious minds.

Fun fact: Who hasn’t seen a hypnotist swinging a watch in front of someone’s eyes? The deft practitioner would then tell the client, “You are getting sleepy”, or “Your eyelids are getting heavy”. Well, this procedure aids in inducing a hypnotic trance: As the client keeps his or her head level and following the pendulum-like movements of the watch, the client’s eyelids do get heavy. Go ahead…try it! While keeping your head level and still, gaze up and pretend to follow an imaginary watch that is swinging a few inches in front of your forehead. I’ll wait.

Exhausting, isn’t it? When the hypnotist remarks how tiring it is, the subconscious mind agrees and is primed for further agreement.

Next, as I instructed my clients to relax, I would use manipulative language patterns to help them go into a trance, and then to bypass the “critical mind”. Every waking second, we are being fed tons of information–from sights and sounds to words and thoughts. Once someone is in a trance, the hypnotist can bypass the factor that judges information and may then implant suggestions for change.

(Note: No, a person will not go rob a bank if that particular suggestion is planted nor will someone be able to recall the information in a set of encyclopedias should one be read to that person while under hypnosis.)

Outside of my practice, I consulted for a chain of hypnosis centers that used a light and sound machine to affect the brain waves of clients. The machine looked much like this one:

 

 

I don’t recall receiving any specific knowledge regarding this machine. My instructions were simply to make sure the lights and sounds were not loud and to be careful not to use the machine on epileptics, as it could cause seizures. Scary, eh?

Limited Training

The majority of my clients wanted relief from addictions, phobias, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorders. Astonishingly, my certification to become a hypnosis practitioner and master practitioner took only about one month; the training for the chain of hypnosis centers was much shorter.

And then this revealing piece from a decades–long practicing veteran and one of the leading hypnotists in the world: “Right now, our view is that most certifications mean nothing anyway. The certifying bodies are usually owned by the trainer, and some of the larger certification bodies provide what we consider garbage training.”

Garbage training; I agree. Truth be told: not a single hypnosis practitioner, despite reputation, has the right to dig around in the minds of others.

Is Hypnosis Mind Control?

This is a common question. Naturally, opponents of hypnosis say it is mind control while defenders claim it is not. 

This site claims that hypnosis is not mind control. It says:

Hypnosis is no more mind control than watching TV, listening to a political speech, or attending a worship service. It is my belief that a person will not do anything under hypnosis that is against his/her will.”

This statement makes hypnosis seem like an innocent and non-invasive technique. Don’t people go to a hypnotherapist so that another person (the therapist) can control their minds in order to bring about therapeutic change? These defenders can’t sit on the fence by claiming their technique is as innocent as watching TV, and yet attempt to attract clients by proclaiming hypnosis is powerful enough to help people overcome their battles. A little logic, please.

While people will not do anything while under hypnosis that is against their will, the clients certainly are seeking techniques that will override their will. For instance, people without the willpower to stop smoking are seeking another person to change their wills for them in order to quit.

The Arguments from Professing Christians Who Defend Hypnosis

Look at the last sentence in this quote from a United Methodist pastor (bold is mine):

I’ve been a hypnotist for 17 years. And for 17 years I’ve had to deal with people who think hypnosis is of the devil. Where do they get such a notion? Usually, it comes from the non-expert, expert. People who think they know, but they don’t know. People who make blanket statements without researching the facts. People whom you would think know better, but they don‘t. Usually, most objections come from Evangelical Christians who believe the Bible is inerrant [without error]. If the Bible says it, it must be true.”

 

john macarthur

 

Exactly, John MacArthur! There’s the problem right there. Anyone who believes the Bible is errant can make up the rules as he or she goes along.

Oddly, the Methodist pastor then goes on to teach us exegesis and attempts to defend his practice of hypnosis; he states there are no verses in the Bible that prohibit hypnosis. There are also no verses in the Bible that prohibit eating sand, but guess what’s not on the menu tonight?

This pastor also brings out the overused “people fear what they do not understand” defense. Well, many others and I perfectly understand. May I respond with, “people promote the evil that they do not discern”?

Then there’s this  minister and director of hypnotherapy who says,

Some would say that there is no place in religion for hypnosis. I believe that hypnosis and religious faith can work hand in hand to bring about a better life. Jesus said in St. John 10:10, “I am come that you may have life and have it more abundantly.”

Well, in that case, if a better and abundant life is what we’re after, then anything goes.

 

Joel Osteen

 

I think he is, Joel!

This minister goes on to say,

There are certainly some strong prohibitions in some Christian books, but the readership is, I think, restricted to fundamentalists.”

So it’s all occult fun and games until those pesky “fundamentalists” show up–you know, the ones who believe the Bible is inerrant and authoritative.

He continues, “Hypnosis is one of the gifts of God which help people experience the ‘more abundant life'”.  Really? What’s the chapter and verse for that?

There I go, getting all “fundamentalist” again.

What Do the Fundamentalists Say?

In Occult Invasion, Dave Hunt says,

Spontaneous “memories” of past and future lives (about one-fifth involving existence on other planets) often surface. Hypnotic trance also duplicates the experiences common under the stimulation of psychedelic drugs, TM and other forms of yoga and Eastern meditation. Moreover, hypnotized subjects spontaneously manifest psychic powers, clairvoyance, out-of-body experiences, and the whole range of occult phenomena (p.454)”.

Hunt also says,

“If the human spirit operates the brain, which in turn operates the body, then…hypnosis…and any other technique for altering consciousness could very well loosen the normal connection between the spirit and the brain. That temporary disconnection could allow another spirit to operate the brain and thereby subject that person to occult bondage and delusion (p. 67)”.

In The Kingdom of the Occult, Walter Martin gives an example of another spirit operating the brain in this chilling account of Hollywood star Glenn Ford, who submitted to hypnosis to explore his “previous lives”:

He [Ford] discovered he had been killed in a duel in one of his past lives. A sword penetrated his body, and Ford described the pain under hypnosis. But as real as this sword wound seemed to be, the whole story was nothing but a clever occult farce.

When Glenn Ford awoke, the hypnotist pointed to a birthmark as the exact spot where his wound occurred in a previous incarnation, and Ford believed it after listening to himself speak fluent French on audiotape – a language he had never learned. And it was not modern French. UCLA experts analyzed the tape and determined that Ford was speaking a Parisian dialect common in seventeenth-century France (p.254-255)”.

Dave Hunt explains: “Satan is behind the world of reincarnation, and he supplies all the data. He details all the regressions, so it is not surprising when the details check out” (p.255).

Past life regression (PLR), psychic communication, seances, automatic writing, and hypnosis have long been connected to the occult. Hypnosis is dangerous not only because another person is affecting your mind, but also because Satan is always looking for any opportunity to destroy (1 Peter 5:8).

What Does the Bible Say?

  • The fruit of the spirit is self-control (Galatians 5:22). Hypnosis is giving someone else control.
  • Above all else, guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23). The heart is what affects speech and conduct. We must guard our heart, not let down our guard.
  • Renew your mind by studying the Word of God and meditate on it day and night (Psalm 1:2). Do not empty your mind.
  • We are to take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5). We can’t do that when we’re in a trance state and under suggestion by another. 

Hypnosis does not glorify God or lead to Jesus. Beloved, walk in the truth of the Lord (Psalm 86:11), conquer your thoughts with spiritual warfare (2 Corinthians 10:4-5), and submit yourself to God only (James 4:7).

Soli Deo Gloria,

Pamela

Free ebook from PsychoHeresy: Hypnosis: Medical, Scientific, or Occultic?

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Weekender

Christian articles found around the internet this week

Christian articles found around the internet this week

Interested in ministering to those in jail?

10 shocking quotes from the founder of Planned Parenthood

If you haven’t yet heard of #the15, a group tired of the heresy Lifeway sells, you can catch up here

GoTandem.com delivers scripture verses to your email pertaining to your spiritual growth

Standards for Shepherds

Good warnings about Rick Warren, Mark Driscoll, and Perry Noble. Also in this post is the Church of Tares documentary which I highly recommend

Heaven Will Never Be Boring

All the Raptures in the Bible

The Insanity and Consequences of Islam (and all anti-Christ worldviews)

Discerning between Mindfulness and the mind of Christ

God is at Work in Your Unremarkable Days

When an Atheist Says it’s Okay to Rape Her Sister

Enjoy your weekend,

Pamela

God called us to love people

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Reiki – Satan Masquerading as An Angel of Light

As alternative medicine continues to gain in popularity, confusion will continue to increase over which practices–both medical and spiritual– are acceptable in the eyes of God. In the Old Testament, God explicitly warned the Israelites not to participate in pagan practices of the land He was about to give them (Deuteronomy 18:9-14). However, in these times, the pagan practices have come to us.

My entrance into the occult came via Reiki, an ‘energy healing’ technique that hid behind the innocuous title of ‘alternative medicine’. (I participated in many occult practices, but none ever manifested demonic activity more than Reiki did.) What is most alarming is that this practice has become an acceptable alternative treatment (and even a profession) to many Christians, and it is in this vein that I write and warn.

My Dark Journey with Reiki

Here is my story; it started in 1995.

I had just come out of atheism; in fact, I was busy getting my feet wet in the seas of agnosticism and the New Age movement when something attracted my attention. At the time, the idea of ‘synchronicity’ (simply another name for pagan ‘confirmation’, to be honest) was being bandied about in various ‘enlightenment’ circles. I found it extremely seductive that the Universe evidently crafted events to occur in my life, specifically.

All the while, I was experiencing chronic pain; as such, I was on a search for healing. One afternoon, as I was while walking through a mall, I spotted a woman working in a kiosk; she was busy reading James Redfield’s book, The Celestine Prophecy. I had just finished that book, and so I identified this chance encounter as a synchronous event–the type that Redfield mentioned in his book! After the woman and I had gushed over the book, I left, but not before visiting a health store to get her some tea for her sore throat. Beside the tea–surprise, surprise–were brochures for the alternative healing technique called Reiki. Since I was looking for healing, I interpreted this as another synchronous event. 

That same week, I began chiropractic treatments, but I showed up too early for my first appointment. I looked for a place where I could kill some time, and guess what I saw across the street? Yes…a Reiki centre! (I’m sure it was even called The Reiki Centre.) In any case, back in 1995 in North Toronto, this type of establishment was very rare. The synchronicity was not lost on me: I was convinced. I signed up for the next workshop–not to be a client, but to become a practitioner; that’s when my journey in the dark and demonic world of Reiki began.

One night we–the Reiki trainees and practitioners–each brought a picture of someone who needed healing (this specific person didn’t need to be physically present); these pictures were then handed out randomly to those present. During the distant healing session, we wrote down every thought and image that came to our minds about the people who were being healed; the writing was needed for the healing energy to ‘ground’. Next, we read aloud what we had written. The other practitioners were spot-on as they spoke accurately about people they had never met. I had written many pages of either fantasy/fiction or imparted words of accuracy myself, but I had no idea which it would be.

After I read my words aloud, a woman I’d never met instantly verified mine as truthful. In my mind, I had ‘seen’ a woman in a psychiatric institution, and I had commented specifically on her hair; I had also seen a couple of boys sailing. (Altogether, I had many pages full of information.) In reality, the woman I had ‘seen’ was indeed in a psychiatric institution because of trichotillomania (the irresistible urge to pull out one’s own hair), and she had been sailing with her nephews. As the confirmations of my impressions and visions continued, I grew confident that I had tapped into true power and truth.

Reiki is often described as a hands-on healing technique that transfers universal (Rei) life force (ki) energy to a client (or yourself) in order to promote healing and restoration. To undiscerning folk, this description makes Reiki appear to be just a step away from common, acceptable forms of physical therapy. However, what is not widely known is that Reiki students and practitioners have to undergo initiations, called ‘attunements’ or so-called sacred rites, as they move up the Reiki ladder towards becoming a Reiki Master (my initiation took place in a storage room of The Reiki Centre-cum-bookstore). As you can plainly see, Reiki incorporates secret or hidden knowledge–the very definition of occult. In addition, we initiates were taught secret hand movements and symbols that are used to give power to the healing energy. This universal energy is referred to as ‘thoughtforms’–something that allowed us to have the psychic impressions. Whenever I laid hands on a client, noticeable heat and warmth would flow from the energy that was streaming through me; and many times, as I touched clients’ shoulders, their shirts would become soaking wet.

At the time, I was attending university and living with my parents. Once into Reiki, I noticed that my room had become considerably colder than the rest of the house. I also felt touches on my arms, and I saw objects move by themselves. These abnormal events concerned me, but my Reiki Masters reassured me that these presences were my spirit guides, who were just letting me know they were ‘there’. The Reiki Masters told me that if I got scared, I could call on the Archangel Michael, and he would take away the bad spirits. Understandably, I was a bit confused as to who the ‘good’ and who the ‘bad’ guys were, but I was a novice, and I thought I would learn in time.

One night, I ordered a spirit to leave my room. Moments later, something in the doorway whispered my name. ‘Pam’, it said, in my mother’s voice…but it wasn’t my mom! (Only my mother calls me Pam; everyone else calls me Pamela.) That demon counterfeited my mother perfectly; such is the magic of Satan and his demons.

The voice imitation was not the end of the supernatural activities: I also felt puffs of breaths on my forehead every night after I’d gone to bed. One night I decided to allow a breath flow inside me and through me (I don’t know how I knew to do that, as I had not read about it anywhere). I also don’t know how this demonic energy sensed that it had the ‘permission’ to flow through me, as I had not said anything; I’d only thought it. So I simply relaxed and let this breath in. At once, I felt a swirling sensation inside of me, and I immediately fell asleep. I woke up in the middle of the night, feeling dehydrated and nauseated. I wonder now if I was on the brink of full demonic possession. Fortunately, I didn’t take this ‘allowing breaths’ practice any further; unfortunately, I figured the scary parts were simply part of the deal.

Regardless, I went on to my second level of Reiki certification and then pursued and learned various New Age practices and techniques for another five years and a bit. Reiki was my gateway into everything occult, and it eventually led me into witchcraft. The moment that God revealed the truth about His Son Jesus and the Gospel was the moment I knew Reiki and every practice I had been participating in was terribly wrong.

It is only by God’s mercy and grace that I am no longer deceived and that I am able to warn about this demonic practice today.

Reiki: A Warning

See how the writer at  this ‘Christian’ website defends Reiki and makes it appear biblical by twisting theology and mauling Scripture. I’ve included the link only to show what some in the faith are facing. If you have questions, or if you can’t see the aberrant viewpoints on the website, please email me or ask your question in the comment section; I will be happy to respond.

As seen on the website, many deceived people think Jesus used Reiki to heal people. Well, Jesus is God–He doesn’t need a ‘technique’ to heal.

I have heard people say, “I don’t experience anything demonic when I receive Reiki”. Friend, Satan is a con man. He’s not going to scare the daylights out of you or you just might repent and stop what you are doing! I think I had the manifestations because I was a practitioner and directly channeling demons. Also, I didn’t know my Savior, so whom was I going to run to? These dark forces seemed like my only option, as I didn’t know I was on the wrong side.

There is such a focus on healing in the occult: Energy medicine, crystal healing, chakra healing, feng shui, hypnosis, acupuncture…the list is long. It’s no wonder then that aberrant church movements focus on healing so much (healing crusades, health and wealth gospels, affirmations, “binding” diseases, etc.).

I do believe God still heals today, and I do not deny the existence of miracles–my conversion was a miracle. However, I do see the obsession with healing as concerning, as it forces us to focus on ourselves, our comfort, desire to escape pain, and our obsession to achieve optimal health. Because of sin, we will never be fully healed this side of Heaven.

I pray that God reveals the truth behind this Reiki deception and that He frees the captives. Reiki is a very dangerous and demonic practice; so please, if you know of a friend who is involved in it, please pray for them and warn them!

Soli Deo Gloria,

Pamela 

Note: I am not saying fear is a measuring stick to determine what is evil (that was my experience though.) Evil practices don’t always (very rarely) result in fear to participants, as there is no benefit for Satan in making us afraid of these practices. Satan wants us to let our guard down; he wants us to feel comfortable, so he can capture us. He’s a con man, a master manipulator.

Further Resources

Reiki and Energy Healing – Ray Yungen

Energy Healing: Reiki and Therapeutic Touch – Entertaining Devils Unaware

Got Questions – Energy Medicine and Reiki 

Testimony from an Ex-Reiki Master

 

 

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