Tag: Deception

What are your ears itching to hear?

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Don’t you just love all the wonderful options we have these days where churches are concerned?

I mean, gosh, somewhere there’s a church, television show, or a website proclaiming a message someone wants to hear.

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” (2 Timothy 4:3 – 4:4 NKJV)

The word “fables” is translated from the Greek word “mythos”, meaning – a tale, myth, fiction.

Many stories sound nice, but nice doesn’t necessarily equate with truth.

Christian folklore won’t raise the dead, but may harden someone’s heart.

Although a “church” may be known as a Christian hotspot, popularity isn’t necessarily an indicator of God’s approval.

In fact, if you’ll take a moment and remember all that you’ve read in the Bible, you’ll recall the majority is almost never right. The majority is typically found opposing God.

Truth isn’t always a popular thing.

At the Tower of Babel, the majority was wrong.

The residents of Sodom and Gomorrah were wrong, though they were loud, demonstrative, and in the majority.

The majority follow good marketing hype, popular opinions, charismatic personalities, and anyone who promises a great life with little investment or trouble.

“All you need is to believe in yourself, and you’ll have a life everyone else will envy.”

Truth is sometimes hard to handle. The Apostle Peter remarked that some of Paul’s writings were difficult to understand. But he reminds the reader to remain steadfast in the truth, not being led away into error. (2 Peter 3)

If you don’t abide in truth, you’re giving in to error, myths, and “Christian” fables.

In short, if you shun truth because it “doesn’t bear witness with your spirit”, you’re settling for a lie.

So what are your ears itching to hear?

Jesus said, “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what He is saying to the churches.”

It is very difficult to listen to the Spirit of God, and understand what He is saying, if we’re focused on something else.

No, I don’t want to sit and listen to gloom and despair, or how bad things are going to get before Jesus comes.

I’d rather not listen to a prophet who only speaks of judgment.

But I do want truth. I NEED truth.

And so does this world, whether they know it, or believe it, or not.

Truth may not give a person goosebumps, but it can enlighten one’s darkened spirit.

Truth won’t bow down to presidents or kings, peons or paupers.

It never yields to opinion polls, Twitter followers, or Facebook friends.

Truth doesn’t care who’s listening; it’s the same in season and out.

Truth is always relevant. Fads and fetishes are not.

What are your ears itching to hear?

“How can I tell the difference between truth and error?”

The word of God is truth (John 17:17).

Anything which doesn’t line up with the whole counsel of God is error.

“Mostly true” is error.

If you’re determined to hear (and speak) truth, don’t be surprised when people mock you for taking a stand for truth.

“We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one.” (1 John 5:19 NLT)

And don’t be surprised to learn the majority of the world, unfortunately, will not repent of their rebellious ways.

“Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil people and impostors will flourish. They will deceive others and will themselves be deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:12 – 3:13 NLT)

One last time: what are your ears itching to hear?

You’d better know the answer…

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall…

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“Mirror, mirror, on the wall…”, inquired the evil queen in the fairy tale “Snow White”. 

Have you ever wished YOU had such a mirror; one that would always tell the truth, regardless of who’s standing in front of it?

Actually, there is such a mirror. But the question is, can you handle the truth?

Mirrors pull no punches, and tell no lies. What you see is what you get. They reveal every hair out of place, every pimpled chin, and every roll of fat no matter what your religious affiliation or political persuasion is.

Mirrors do not care if you are black or white, yellow or blue.

For those who are interested in truly changing their lives, the mirror is probably the most important thing to have handy.

Like I said, if you can handle the truth. 

If you cannot stand to see yourself for how you really are, you will never change for the better. As long as you keep from seeing your reflection, you will see yourself in a much better way.

Without truth, there can be no worthwhile change.

In the Snow White story, the evil queen enjoyed her magic mirror every day. Each morning she’d awaken, rise out of bed, and stand before her favorite friend; the mirror. She’d ask it the same thing each day, “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?” To which the mirror would answer, “My queen, you are the fairest one of all.”

As long as the mirror continued with the same response, the queen was cool. But once the mirror began reporting someone fairer than the queen, she was ready to kill.

Once again; the awesome power of the mirror.

God’s word is like a mirror. It reads the same to whoever looks at it. Whether you have tons of money, or barely enough to make ends meet, you can always count on God’s word to tell you exactly what you look like.

But, it has at least one advantage over every other mirror; magic or not.

God’s word, His mirror, will not only show you what you look like, but what you can become. It reveals your present spiritual condition, and the one God is creating within you.

In other words, it shows you what you are, who you are, and what He can make of you.

What do you need to do? Only one thing.

Continue in it.

Don’t be afraid of the truth, and the truth will set you free.

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” (James 1:22 – 1:25 ESV)

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16 – 3:17 NKJV)

Here’s why there are less perverts in the world.

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Many folks believe the world is a greater, much better, place to live these days.

“Things are much better than before”, they’ll say. “People are more tolerant of one another, and mankind is finally outgrowing their need for a god of some kind.”

“But what about the condition of a person’s heart?”, I ask. “Nothing seems to have changed. People appear to be more tolerant of perverts than ever before.”

“You’re looking at everything all wrong”, I’m quickly reminded. “Statistics prove there are less rapes, less sexual crimes, and even extramarital affairs haven’t increased much over the past twenty years. When people are allowed to express their true selves, there is less reason to be uptight.”

“People are showing greater respect for diversity. Mankind is finally realizing they have the power within themselves to make the world a better place.”

Nice tune, but I don’t buy it. It doesn’t play well when compared with the original record. Mankind is not evolving into perfection.

But I do believe there are less perverts, less perversion, in the world today; and I’ll tell you why.

I looked at these areas of society; things that are are commonly accepted as good.

Language of people conversing while walking in a public mall.

Advertising campaigns.

Men’s and women’s fashions.

What people refer to as entertainment.

Educational standards.

Just to name a few.

After thinking about those things, I went to the dictionary:

Pervert – a person who has sunk below the normal moral standard.

Did it smack you in the face like it did me?

The world has less perverts these days for one reason; the standard has been lowered!

It’s not because man is getting better. It’s not that we’re finally figuring out this thing called life.

And why do we keep lowering the standard?

Because man still believes they can make a utopian world without God.

Ask them, they’ll tell you.

Or better yet, read the bible.

“…They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles.” (Romans 1:19 – 1:23 NLT)

Truthfully, it’s easy to see just how far we are from the Creator’s intent.

But these days, truth isn’t very highly received, much less believed.

So that’s why there are less perverts in the world.

By the way, we not only live in accordance with our beliefs, we also die in the same manner.

Wanna talk about it? Let’s!

How to face this strange, crazy kind of world.

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First off, at the end of this post I offer you some advice about how to face this crazy, strange kind of world.

Okay, on with the facts.

I just read where, a couple of days ago, the Target Corporation restated their commitment in allowing “transgendered team members and guests to use the…facility that corresponds with their gender identity.”

They went on to say, “Everyone deserves to feel like they belong. And you’ll always be accepted, respected and welcomed at Target.”  Full statement here: https://corporate.target.com/article/2016/04/target-stands-inclusivity

They wanted everyone to understand their stance on what many were calling “the bathroom bill”.

My mind is spinning, but my heart is grieved.

Why?

Because of the confusion which exists in many lives. 

Those who are confused about their sexual identity, as well as those who want to support such confusion and deception, regardless of the possible physical harm and emotional trauma many others (both team members and customers) risk encountering.

It’s one thing to have a sexual attraction to someone of the same gender. It’s unnatural. It goes against the physical and emotional makeup of men and women.

And, it is contrary to God’s original blessing and command to the First Couple.

“Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it…” (Genesis 1:28 NLT)

So although I am emphatically against same sex “marriage”, I can at least come much closer to understanding that level of deception (for that’s what it is) than understanding how someone could be confused about their gender.

Growing up I had a number of identity issues I needed to sort out (probably still do). Some I didn’t do so well at, but even though I was given a girl’s name, was told I walked like a girl, and had hardly any facial hair until I was into my early twenties, I always knew I was a guy.

Yes, I was confused about a lot of things; things like who to believe, who to pick as friends, and many other things teens can have trouble with.

But, and thank God, I always knew I was a male.

Always.

So, like I said, I cannot understand that level of confusion and deception.

But neither can I understand a major retailer, who claims to be sensitive to the needs and wants of everyone, showing such insensitivity toward their team members and customers who aren’t confused about their sexual identity.

To me their words are: “We care, but not enough to do the right thing”.

Men in women’s restrooms, and women in men’s restrooms. At one time it was only confusion, deception. How people dressed on the weekends was their own business.

But that’s all changed. Now, whatever a person thinks they are, everyone else is called upon to validate their feelings; accept them for whoever, or whatever, they want to be or think they are.

What’s next? People who believe they’re an animal or a bird?

Do I think men who believe they’re women should be made to feel uncomfortable by forcing them to use a men’s room?

If that’s all there is, why not?

How uncomfortable will women feel when a big hunk of man, dressed as a woman, comes marching into their restroom?

If it’s all about acceptance and comfort, why can’t Target and others remodel and create more private, “unisex” restrooms?

But maybe it’s not about that kind of acceptance. As I said before, I believe it’s more about forcing the public who ISN’T confused to validate those who are. 

“Yes, dear one; it’s perfectly normal for you to question your gender. Everyone does…”

Like I said, it’s a strange, strange world.

And it’s gonna get worse, before it gets better.

“…when you see all these things, you can know His return is very near, right at the door.” (Matthew 24:33 NLT)

My advice? Three things.

Pray, love people (even if you don’t understand them), and wait until you get home to use the restroom.

Is there witchcraft in the Church? (sixth and final part)

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This is the sixth and final post dealing with witchcraft in the Church. Some of these points could probably be lumped together, but I felt it was important to be as clear and defining as possible.

At the end of this post I’ve listed seven things a person should do if they believe witchcraft is operating in their church.

8. Above correction (not above reproach). 

There are times when a person acts as though they’re infallible; they’re incapable of making a mistake. That should be a warning sign to everyone else.

It is a controlling spirit that demands submission even if clearly in the wrong. “Do as I say, not as I do” is not in sync with kingdom principles.

9. Word of knowledge/wisdom. 

The gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12) are given to benefit people. There are people who may tell you some secrets about your life, but that information isn’t necessarily an indication of the Spirit of God.

What else is going on? Does the “word” bear witness with your heart? Is the minister demonstrating the love, compassion, and character of Jesus?

A good safeguard? Make certain you are actively in fellowship with the Lord. Seek Him above everything. Don’t go around hunting for a “word from the Lord”. You can find that for the price of a Chinese meal.

10. Discerning of spirits. 

Is someone always telling you about the demons and evil spirits they see? Maybe they are, but maybe not.

According to my understanding of the Word, there are numerous angels in the spirit realm, as well.

A preoccupation with the spirit realm is an open door to deception. Although a person may be able to have such a vision, it is always as the Spirit wills; I’ve not seen anything in the scriptures that indicate it’s okay to seek a vision.

I may be wrong, but the only time someone was seeking such a thing was King Saul. That didn’t turn out so well for him.

Witchcraft, or seeking to manipulate through fleshly means, is something evil spirits love to accommodate.

11. Idolizing a leader, doctrine, etc.

Here’s where people like you and I can push someone toward witchcraft. How? By demanding so much from them, and not checking their message with the scripture.

Paul said to, “Prove all things, hold fast to that which is good”(1 Thessalonians 5).

Regardless of how wonderful a person preaches, or how many miracles they may perform, they are still human. They can miss the mark, just like the rest of us.

Esteem them highly for their works sake, but keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.

12. Misinterpreting the Spirit’s direction. 

One Sunday, probably ten years ago, while we were singing and praising God, I was at the piano feeling all frustrated. It was as though God was locked out of the room.

Suddenly I sensed the Lord saying, “Call brother Francis to the platform and have him lead in the shout.”

I called Francis up, and told him what I thought I heard the Lord say. He looked at me kind of funny, but started shouting praise to God.

In almost no time the whole church was shouting, and the dryness and frustration left. God’s presence filled the place that day.

Never happened before or since. I had learned not to do something simply because it “worked” before.

Here’s where I learned it:

At a previous church the Lord directed me to have a tent meeting. We rented a tent, called an evangelist, and had four wonderful meetings. People were saved and healed.

Well, it worked so well, I planned a meeting for the next year. Bigger tent, same evangelist, but I planned it all in the flesh.

What a flop! I was wrong, and operating by a wrong spirit, in the flesh.

I had to repent and yield to God’s direction.

13. Counterfeit spirit.

In Acts 16 you’ll read the story of the girl possessed with the spirit of divination; a lying, death dealing spirit. She said the right things, but was “inspired” by the spirit of darkness.

I knew a man twenty some years ago who had a terrible battle with depression; and I believe he was specifically bothered by evil spirits.

I had ministered to him a few times, and one evening he stopped by the house to give me a “praise report”. It was late when he stopped by, so the rest of my family was in bed.

He wanted to thank the Lord, so I took his hand and began thanking God rather quietly, so as not to wake up my household.

He started getting real loud, saying, “Praise the Lord, Pastor Grace. Praise the Lord, Pastor Grace!”

All of a sudden I sensed something evil and I said, “I rebuke you lying spirit!”

At once, he changed into a crazy man, walking wildly around the house, yelling and screaming.

I told him to sit down and shut up in the Name of Jesus, and then called my next door neighbor who was a believer.

When he arrived, as soon as I opened the door, the man stormed past me and took off.

Unfortunately, the man never was able to get free and ended up taking his life a couple years later.

14. Forcing a word from God, rather than relaxing and resting in His grace and ability. 

Sometimes people think there has to be a demonstration of a spiritual gift or two in order to “have a good service”.

Those who believe that are apt to be duped into operating in the flesh; i.e. witchcraft.

Why not simply seek the Lord, whether at church or not, and follow His direction? As long as His will is accomplished, what else really matters?

Besides, if we’re too busy looking and waiting for something “spectacular”, we just may miss the real supernatural move of God.

15. Desiring the show rather than the grow (Simon – Acts 8).

If you desire “the show”, rather than “the grow”, you will be fooled. If you’re only satisfied with hype, you’ll never be grounded in truth.

Paul said, “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:1 – 12:3 ESV).

Throughout the New Testament Paul tells us to put away the old man. The old man is easily deceived, can be manipulated as well as manipulate others. It loves to be caught up in the excitement, attributing everything happening to God, even if it doesn’t pass any scriptural litmus test.

Witchcraft, misuse and fraud, which lead to deception and ultimately broken lives and churches, is breaking out in churches.

Is it breaking out in yours?

No, I’m not on some witch hunt, but I am hungry to see the genuine move of God I read about in scripture.

I’ve given a number of examples of where witchcraft could be showing up in the church, as well as reasons why.

But what should we do if we suspect things aren’t exactly right?

Try these seven things…
1. Examine the scriptures.

2. Examine your own heart.

3. Pray for the leadership.

4. Speak to leadership (pastor, elder).

5. Confused? God is not the author of confusion, but we don’t always see things God’s way. Give the leadership the benefit of the doubt.

6. Still unsure? Maybe it’s time to speak with another spiritually mature person.

7. Truth or error? When you’ve settled the question, act accordingly.

Please let me know if any of this helped you. I’d love to visit more with you, so please drop me a line.

Is there witchcraft in the Church? (part five)

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Throughout the last twenty centuries, supernatural and spectacular miracles have been used by God to not only authenticate the Word of faith the servant of God is preaching, but also draw millions to services where they hear and believe the gospel, and receive Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Awesome!

But try and imagine a guy, let’s call him Brother I. M. Anointed, who seems to be used by God in powerful ways. His words are smooth as silk, and people are greatly blessed by God’s presence when the man ministers. He gets a reputation as someone God anoints with signs and wonders. Someone who always has a “word of the Lord” for a congregation, and maybe everyone in the church.

People are funny, church people even more so. When the “gifts are flowing”, so does the excitement AND the money.

It’s much easier to book meetings when you can draw a crowd. 

But what if the meeting takes place, the songs are sung, the shouting begins, and God doesn’t anoint as in previous services?

Sometimes the preacher gets used to the “flow”, that special feeling of being used by God, as well as the words of affirmation from those who have been helped. And if the feeling isn’t always present the preacher can “press in” more and more until the people receive the word they’re looking for.

Even if he has to rely on the flesh (Galatians 5:20) to do so.

Here’s where witchcraft can enter in undetected.

The preacher, Brother or Sister Anointed, can “hear” something from a familiar spirit (a false spirit), even information about someone in the congregation whom they’ve never met, and give a “word”. There is no life attached, but because the info is spectacular it’s swallowed up as coming from God.

Over and over it happens until the fake has overtaken the genuine.

Some have become addicted to what they call the anointing, but it could be something from a source other than God.

Don’t misunderstand me; there is a genuine work of the Spirit. God DOES anoint men and women with the Holy Spirit and power. Miracles DO happen, even in the twenty first century.

But God isn’t a genie, or a dealer at a blackjack table. As Paul wrote, “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.” (1 Corinthians 12:11 NKJV)

The Spirit distributes as He wills (WHEN He wills).

There is no magic formula or incantation that automatically opens the windows of heaven. There’s no song, shout, liturgy, or offertory that can push the “anointing button”. Loud or soft music, dim or bright lights, do not move Heaven.

Here are some more areas in the Church where witchcraft can be found.

5. Reliance upon gimmicks/mood setting. 

Somewhat like our first example, but I’m thinking more in the area of an actual worship service.

Lights up, lights off. Music loud, music soft. A specific order of service.

And let’s not forget the altar call.

Are these things bad? No. But why do we do these things? Is it because it’s the best way to move people through the maze of faith? Because it makes sense? Because we’re trying to appeal to their emotions and intellect?

Am I saying that whoever gives an altar call is involved in witchcraft? No!

But have you ever heard these phrases?

“I’m going to count to three, and when I reach three I want you to step out and walk the aisle.” Then, the preacher takes five minutes between numbers doing everything but toss a rope over the person’s head to get them to the altar.

“If you were to die tonight…”

“I’ll tarry just a minute longer…” Meanwhile the worship team plays something that draws on a person’s emotions.

Can people be talked into the kingdom of God?  Does an emotional experience equate with the new birth?

Manipulation is not the anointing of God.

There ARE moments when the Spirit says to sing a certain song, say a specific word, or prolong an altar call. Yes!

But this is what I’m trying to get us all to see: we’re either gonna be led by the Spirit of God, or we’re gonna develop our own fleshly way of doing kingdom business.

6. False prophecies (out of the flesh). 

Balaam, Numbers 22-24, had a business of blessing and cursing. He was known as a man who could conjure up a supernatural blessing or curse upon someone; for a price. People, especially leaders, from all over the known world had Balaam’s cell number in their phone.

But he was NOT a man of God.

If you read those chapters in Numbers, you’ll notice he tried everything he could in order to curse God’s people, Israel.

Why? He was after the money. 

It’s true, Balaam gave an appearance of having connections with the Most High God, but the true picture is found in Balaam’s character. He wanted Balam’s paycheck!

God had to override the message the evil spirits were giving Balaam.

How can I use such an example, claiming there are people in the church acting like Balaam?

Because the Word of God says so.

“They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;” (2 Peter 2:15 NKJV).

Also see Jude 11 and Revelation 2:14.

Again, not every supernatural manifestation is false; or true. If there are false prophets, there must be true prophets. If there is a real thing, there’s also a counterfeit.

It’s happening in the Church, and many believe everything spectacular is of God.

7. Extra-biblical/non-biblical experiences. 

I’ll not say much about this point, other than God’s Word is our pattern for living. Be careful, though, in judging someone’s experience. There were a number of times in both the Old and New Testaments when God had His servants do some wild things. Or, maybe it wasn’t anything THEY did, but God used some different situations to perform His works.

Examples? How about dividing the Red Sea, the Jordan River, Joshua fighting Amalek, the Walls of Jericho, the sun standing still, the floating axe head, etc.?

Jesus spit on the ground, made mud, and dabbed it on a blind man’s eyes. Peter walked down the street and people got healed as his shadow passed over them. Paul had a handkerchief ministry in Acts 19.

But here’s the thing we must understand. None of those experiences were designed to become “the formula”, or a “pattern”.

Jesus is the pattern. He’s the One Who will lead and instruct us as we walk with Him. He won’t lead us into foolishness and/or error.

By the way, if you haven’t read the other four posts in this series, I encourage you to do so.

Also, please comment below, or ask any question you’d like pertaining to this subject.

To be continued…

Is there witchcraft in the Church? (part four)

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Is there witchcraft in the church?

Here’s part four…

Witchcraft, as I’ve shared in previous posts, isn’t necessarily about hexes, potions, and Ouija Boards. It IS about seduction, manipulation, deception, poisoning, and medication for the purpose of control.

Galatians 5:19,20 mentions witchcraft as one of the works of the flesh. One doesn’t need to be a bonafide sorcerer or warlock to dabble in witchcraft. Simply giving in to certain fleshly tendencies is enough to open the door to the spirit of witchcraft.

Remember these words of Paul?

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:5 – 8:8 ESV)

Even seasoned, Spirit-filled believers must be aware of the continuous battle between flesh and Spirit. No one outgrows the desires of the flesh; if we are going to have victory we must crucify the flesh, training it to obey, instead of yielding to our baser tendencies.

And that brings me to this: ways witchcraft has made its way into the Church.

Nice, well meaning believers have succumbed to witchcraft without knowing it. Some preachers, worship leaders, Christian leaders and celebrities are dabbling in it.

Here are some areas I see it happening:

1. Hype, bigger and better advertising.

The need to build up, to promote in order to get a certain natural reaction, can be nothing more than manipulation, or witchcraft. It’s very essence reveals where one’s trust truly lies.

2. The wisdom of man.

Realizing God can give a person creative ideas is one thing. Yet scripture indicates the wisdom of man is foolishness to God. Touting one’s ability to “turn a phrase”, “preach the house down”, or use the right amount of voice inflection to “move a crowd” is NOT the anointing of God. It’s something else.

Paul said, “And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:1 – 2:5 ESV)

3. Rebellion toward God’s authority. 

God has set in the Church…leaders. Not the kind that lord their authority over others, but those who are called to a life of servant leadership.

However, when people fail to recognize the leaders God has placed into their lives, they are quick to either speak ill of them or step away from the proper relationship with them. In a way, their words are calling for curses upon God’s leader.

A manifestation of the flesh.

4. Manipulation/coercion of members.

On the flip side, there are leaders who aren’t clear about their calling, or are simply so stuck on themselves they abuse their supposed authority over their flock.

Peter warned against such actions (1 Peter 5), but sometimes people don’t recognize the difference between walking in the flesh and walking in the Spirit.

They “feel” the Spirit, and make demands of others because God has “given them charge of His flock.”

A favorite passage is “don’t touch God’s anointed”.

Too bad, because dictatorship isn’t the nature of the kingdom. We are supposed to submit to one another in the fear of God.

God’s way produces godly results. Fleshly ways may produce numbers and excitement, but the final tally may be lacking.

To be continued… (I’ll include another group of areas where I believe witchcraft has found its way into the Church. I have a total of 15. I’ll list them here, then explain them later.)

5. Reliance upon gimmicks/mood setting
6. False prophecies
7. Extra-biblical/non-biblical experiences
8. Being above correction
9. Fleshy “word of knowledge/wisdom”
10. Discerning of spirits
11. Idolizing a leader, doctrine, etc.
12. Misinterpreting the Spirit’s direction
13. Counterfeit spirit
14. Forcing a word from God
15. Desiring the show rather than the grow

Is there witchcraft in the Church? (part two)


Really.

Throughout the New Testament we are taught the reality of the spirit realm, the power of the Name of Jesus, the miracle working power of the Spirit, and the need for the Body of Christ to know the difference between true and false manifestations.

But witchcraft in the Church? That should be easy to detect, don’t you think?

Yeah, you’d think so. 

But not if you’re unaware of how it’s manifested.

Witchcraft is listed in Galatians 5 with a long list of “now the works of the flesh are…” It’s translated from the Greek word, “pharmakeia” which means to administer medication, magic, and sorcery. It refers to manipulation and deception, in connection with idolatry; the worship of man or things.

Witchcraft camouflages, or conceals, hides, the spirit behind the manifestation’s true identity. In other words, it medicates people so they can’t discern truth from error.

We understand how people, not walking in the Spirit, can yield to such things as sexual immorality, envy, even murder; things listed as the works of the flesh.

But we somehow skip over the notion that witchcraft is among those “works” listed.

The man or woman “performing” can become so dependent upon the performance (because they have a reputation as a prophet or miracle worker), they become the focus of trust, adoration and worship.

Which, of course, is exactly what the devil is after. 

And if and when their performance begins to weaken, i.e. the excitement wanes, the temptation to “help God” can become too great to resist.

Yielding to temptation always results in walking according to the flesh. Which could include witchcraft.

Philip performed many miracles. So did Peter and John. But they never seemed to be enamored by them.

In awe, yes. Enamored, no.

Luke wrote of God working special, unusual, extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, “so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them” (Acts 19:11,12 ESV).

Not only were miracles wrought, but they were extraordinary miracles! 

But Paul didn’t act as though the miracles depended entirely on him.

In Acts 28, while shipwrecked on an island, God used Paul to bring healing to many.

“Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the chief man of the island, named Publius, who received us and entertained us hospitably for three days. It happened that the father of Publius lay sick with fever and dysentery. And Paul visited him and prayed, and putting his hands on him healed him. And when this had taken place, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases also came and were cured.” (Acts 28:7 – 28:9 ESV)

But Paul always remembered Who the miracle worker was.

He told of a time to come when people would give heed to seducing spirits, doctrines of demons, and lying wonders (1 Timothy 4).

A time much like today.

I’ve noticed something happening in the Church over the last, say, twenty to thirty years; even in “Pentecostal” churches.

There’s a separation, a dividing taking place. Three groups are emerging: those who have moved away from allowing (or seeking) any “manifestation” of the Spirit in their worship service, those who allow anything and everything (as long as it’s God – their words, not mine), and those who attempt to follow Paul’s admonition: “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:19 – 5:22 ESV).

The first group can end up missing out on what God wants to do or say because of their rigidity and misunderstanding of the Word.

The third group is one I believe the Lord wants each of His local churches to be like.

The second group, the subject of this series, can open the door to much confusion and guile within a local church.

To be continued…

Is there witchcraft in the Church? (part one)


Have you ever heard of such a thing?

Witchcraft? In the church?

“Man, you’re crazy! First of all, God wouldn’t allow it. And even if there was such a thing, we’d spot it right away.”

That sounds wonderful, but it’s a lot of ignorance and pride mixed in with a ladle full of hot air.

I didn’t say there are witches in the church, but then again, why wouldn’t there be?

Couldn’t there be?

Witchcraft, manipulating and controlling others by the use of familiar spirits, doesn’t have to be performed by some green skinned, large nosed woman the size of a toothpick, dressed in black, who rides a souped up broom to the neighborhood convenience store every night. No, that’s primarily for the cartoons.

Witchcraft, the kind the church should be concerned with, isn’t found so much in covens or satanic worship. And although it really happens, and people get sucked into that mess, it shouldn’t be an issue for the church.

Why? Because Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me; go therefore…” (Matthew 28:18,19 ESV). The Lord has raised the church, the Body of Christ, to the same place as the Head; far above ALL principalities and powers…(Ephesians 1).

If we’ll remember Whose we are, and that He lives in us, the devil and witchcraft are a non-issue. Curses and hexes cannot affect us if we walk with Jesus, in the power of His Spirit. 

However, there’s a way for the devil to affect believers, without using the Halloween costumes and special effects.

All he has to do is find someone who is more interested in signs and wonders than they are in holiness and integrity.

And, unfortunately, there are a number of men and women who’ll oblige him.

To be continued…

Days of Deception

 It’s kind of a scary time, wouldn’t you say? A time of demented dictators, wacky weather, an erratic world economy, the unprecedented obsession with personal pleasure, and a rapidly increasing trend toward the deification of man. Mankind is heading towards a showdown with the Almighty; a time commonly known as The Great Tribulation. 

It’s also a time some of the prophets of old referred to as days of deception, or apostasy. 

“Let no one in any way deceive you, for it (the coming of the Lord) will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,” (2 Thessalonians 2:3 NASB)

Whether you believe it or not, it is quite possible for you and I to be deceived. If it wasn’t possible, the writer of Hebrews wouldn’t have included this:

“Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:12-13 ESV)

“Take care”, he says. In other words, pay attention. It’s a little like the verse where Jesus said, “The hour that you think not, the Son of Man comes.” He’ll come when you least expect Him. And in the case of deception, it will take place because you believe it isn’t possible.

People who believe they have reached the pinnacle in their walk with God where it’s IMPOSSIBLE for them to be deceived, have made one of the gravest mistakes of their lives. 

They’ve allowed the spirit of deception to cloud their thinking, and veil their understanding of the truth of the Word. Their heart has become calloused, or hardened, and they have lost the ability to ACCURATELY hear the voice of the Spirit of God.

I’ve seen it happen over and over. I’ve had it happen to me, as well.

But how does a person become deceived? How can people who know the Word, quote the Word, teach the Word, all their lives suddenly end up in a mess? 

Maybe they go off into some goofy, man-made doctrine, like snake handling. Or a misinterpretation of some single verse. Perhaps they fall by having an adulterous fling. It could be they love the feeling of authority, so they demand obedience to their every word. Or they become so possessive of THEIR disciples, they end up like Jim Jones. 

One thing is certain; the change isn’t a sudden one. It is a gradual move from truth to error. And because it’s gradual, it CAN be stopped IF one will recognize the steps leading up to it. 

A quick note, though. Don’t expect those around you to jump up and down, shouting glory hallelujah because you try and help them pull out of deception before it’s too late. 

I know from experience. 

But, whether you’re honored as a hero or touted as some nosy, legalistic fool, the Body of Christ is being attacked as never before; and you are desperately needed. 

Here are some things to watch for in your own life, and in the lives of others. An unbelieving heart, then deceitful lusts, and finally inappropriately handling the word of God (or teaching the deception as truth).

You can see it in Romans 1:18-32. They knew God, but didn’t glorify Him as God…their foolish hearts were darkened. Next came the fleshly cravings, and finally, rejoicing when others agreed with their lifestyle (or deception). 

Three steps:

1. An evil, unbelieving heart. As the writer of Hebrews said, “…leading you to fall away from the living God.” How does one recognize an evil, unbelieving heart? 

There are some specific signs. For instance, what value is placed upon hearing AND DOING the Word of God? Are there “exceptions” allowed, where some verses apply to others but not to oneself? Are excuses made to cover up, or allow for unbelief? 

I know someone who, because they were becoming enamored by (or infatuated with) the attention of someone other than their spouse, began to change what they believed about tithing and giving because their “friend” didn’t believe in tithing. Setting aside one set of scriptures for convenience’ sake is an open door for more of the same. 

Compromise breeds more compromise, and is a next door to deception.

Delusion isn’t an overnight sensation, but it needs to be stopped as soon as it is recognized.

Unbelief sets in when faith in God AND His Word isn’t kept razor sharp. Allowing for an alternate interpretation is one thing, providing scripture is being compared with scripture. 

But EVERY time scripture is weighed against human experience and feelings, and scripture ends up being tossed aside, there is a HUGE problem.

James tells us, “But be doers of the Word, and not hearers only; deceiving yourselves.” Many times deception isn’t so much the work of the devil, but rather a simple shunning of the Word of God. “I know what it says, but it’s not what I’m going to do.” Self-deceived.

2. Deceitful lusts. “…that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.” (Ephesians 4:22 NKJV)

Desire for the forbidden. Yearnings of the flesh, cravings which, though they’re real, lie about their ability to satisfy. 
Sure, sin can satisfy temporarily, but it cannot replace the Shalom that comes only from God. The peace which passes all understanding will never be experienced by someone who trades the truth of God’s ways to satisfy the desires of their flesh. 

And understand this: anyone who will compromise one part of the scripture, will compromise another. 

3. Inappropriate handling of the word of God. This is a very dangerous place to be, if someone has gone this far into deception. 

“But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:2 NKJV)

Through the years there have been a number of people who have allowed themselves to reach this degree of deception. Many of this country’s old colleges and universities began as training institutes for men and women entering the ministry. But through the years…

Because the “last days” are also known as days of deception, let’s diligently watch out for ourselves and others. 

“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.” (1 Timothy 4:1 NKJV)

“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25 NKJV)

The kingdom of God needs people who refuse to compromise God’s Word, who will flee the various lusts of the flesh, and who will handle the Word of God with integrity AND humility. These are deceptive days, but they’re ALSO days in which God says He’ll pour out His Spirit upon all flesh! 

Amen, Lord! Pour it out on us!

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