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Finding The Road Back Home - A Cautionary Tale


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#1 Meema

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Posted 05 October 2017 - 06:06 AM

I share this treatise with a small measure of anxiety. I recognize this as only the residual effect from my experience of having been duped by a religious tyrant. I apologize for the length. 

 

For what it’s worth.

 

On New Years Day 2009, I quit working for a web-based ‘Christian’ ministry. The day of my resignation did not come suddenly but was actually two plus years in the making. 

 

In 1999, I dived in to help what seemed to me to be a man who was all that he claimed to be, humble, simple, truth-seeking. Then, over time and by the fifth year of my involvement, cracks began to form in his teachings. Contradictions, reversals, and unbiblical interpretations emerged to reveal that the ‘anointed one’ was really just a very human control freak with his own personal human weaknesses and strongholds.

 

What appeared in the beginning as fresh revelation became nothing more than cleverly crafted un-doctrine that sounded good but in practice was nothing more than legalism redefined–rules and laws for striving for HOLINESS and PERFECTIONISM, as defined/devised and prescribed by one imperfect, muchly flawed person who knew how to employ ‘signs, wonders, dreams and visions’ as mysterious, revelatory ‘secret other knowledge’ that is so attractive to so many nowadays. Unfortunately it is a subtle snare that promises great supernatural empowerment to followers even as it gently enslaves them to the persuasive power and mindset of the leader.

 

The undeniable tell was the fine-tuned skill that enabled him to turn scripture and natural spiritualism into a weapon of psychological control with perfectly executed sincerity, self-denial and servility. 

 

What amazes me, in the clarity of hindsight, is that I stayed so long after I could see something was definitely wrong. I can make excuses all day, I can claim I had formed friendships that I hated to upset or abandon. I can whine that I was brain-washed or rationalize that I needed the experience to make me a strong voice of opposition in the aftermath, to be able to sound the alarm when necessary.

 

While some of that might be true in part, I think it mostly came down to me being just too invested to let go. Even though it was a volunteer position, it was like a real job and I had put so much into it I hated to just give it up and walk away and admit I was a fool or that I had been so wrong. So, my feet dragging was likely just a human ego thing. That I eventually was able to break the ties that bound me can only be attributed to God’s intervention. For that I am truly grateful because I know some continue to stay for nothing more than fear to leave.

 

Fortunately, I was too independent or naive to be subject to the fear thus I was never a 100% full-fledged devotee. Perhaps because I lived in a different state and was not a part of the day to day operation, although I knew many of the inner workings that could be described as dirty secrets that all such organizations hide (think $$$) but my function was more mechanical than ministerial. 

 

There was one individual close to the cult-leader (and that is what he was and still is) who later came out who eventually contacted me and told me how shocked he was to discover that I had been such an integral part of the ministry because the leader never mentioned me as anyone other than ‘the lady who prints my books’. 

 

That he kept my existence minimized did not shock me. I knew well that he did not like that I often challenged him with questions, especially toward the end. Crazy me, I didn’t know that you can’t do that to a wannabe cult leader who requires unwavering devotion to his words and deeds. It’s easy to conclude he only kept me on board because I was useful to him in spite of being a thorn in his side. Turned out, according to him, I had a ‘Jezebel Spirit’ that made me so contrary. In fact, all women who dared to challenge him had a Jezebel spirit, apparently.

 

But again, hindsight is so 20/20. You see the big picture much more clearly when all the unrecognized or denied pieces are revealed and fitted together. 

 

Sadly there are still some who are even now being drawn into this man’s religious delusion  (and it is his delusion because he truly believes what he espouses) even as others have escaped. Which begs the question, why do some see and others do not? Is there a personality type that is attracted to fear-based religion? Can it be said there are those who desire to be controlled? And can this not also be said of the polar opposite kind of ‘just do what feels good’ religion that attracts even more devoted followers, that there is some fundamental weak spot in human makeup that renders us vulnerable so we can easily be drawn in to that which seems so right to us? 

 

When I left I expected to be vilified in his website, as he had done to so many others (how is that Christ-like?) because he does not take kindly to people opposing him and/or leaving his lair (a classic cult descriptor). But for some reason, likely God’s intervention again, he chose not to. I have often wondered if he had of called me names and posted our private emails, as he had done to others, would that have opened some eyes to see this man for what he really is? A charlatan, a tyrant who demands undivided loyalty, respect and fear of him, who adroitly uses Scripture like a whip to keep his herd in line–who some have actually come to believe is an equal to Jesus as he ever so humbly accepts the honor because, as he claims, God has already told him he was but he still needs the prayers of the brethren so he can fully rise to the position. He alone knows THE TRUTH!

 

That’s not even a hidden snare.

 

The point of sharing this is to warn that there are all kinds of tricksters in the great wide world. Some are quite secular and operate successfully in all manner of positions of authority especially politics, but way too many hide under the sheep wool of religion and righteous sounding religious vernacular behind the  mask of false humility.

 

A good rule of thumb is: if it sounds good, it might be good but watch what it does first before you dive in, believe, follow, support or be involved with. Satan is prowling in overdrive now and he has all manner of ways to pull you away from the Simple Truth and thus render you spiritually disabled. If one way is too obvious, he will try it another way. Never doubt that Satan can use signs and wonders too. 

 

Going the extra mile to be discerning, to pay attention to even the smallest red flags, to measure the questionable things before dismissing them, might save some time, trouble and unnecessary grief, not to mention your life savings. For all its negatives the Web is an easy way to do a small amount of research. All one has to do is type in a name. Mature spiritual discernment is even better.

 

As is true of all who find they are trapped in a cult, waking up and admitting you’ve been had is the first step to escaping. But fear of leaving is a sure sign you definitely need to escape. 

 

Fear of a man who claims to represent God is not fear of God.

 

Which means the most difficult extraction from any cult, especially apostate religion, is of those who have been duped but then, even when the truth is clear, consciously choose to trust and fear the wrong one anyway, are nothing more than slaves. How does that reflect Christ?

 

One can’t help but wonder why.

 

For Him,

Meema

 

After a recovery period, I was able to write the whole story, as a cautionary tale, in 2012 but in the past several years I’ve had disturbing, sad and scary updates from others about this man and the small group of people he still controls. I am so grateful God brought me out. So, so grateful!

 

I am attaching the story is my experience up until 2012 in a  22 page pdf download for anyone interested:

 

Signs and Wonders and Snares–Oh My! Finding the Road Back Home from Christian Mysticism

 

 

Attached Files


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#2 redeemed

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Posted 06 October 2017 - 12:18 PM

​I also pray the Holy Spirit's gift of discernment. It was Lord Acton who said,"power corrupts,but absolute power corrupts absolutely".


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#3 ADVRider

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Posted 06 October 2017 - 03:16 PM

Meema,

 

I was finally able to read through your pamphlet. Thanks for posting it. Many proclaim themselves to be the "head" over other people; Jesus never taught that earthly shepherds were the "head" over people in the sense of authority. Only the Master Himself holds that title. Yes, there is some delegated authority to leaders in the church, but it's my personal view that the scope is very limited. It's also quite easy and common to see, as you pointed out, that one's church experience often defines "the faith" for themselves, and then by extension, others in the sound of their voice. 

 

Edit: This is a fairly good book on authority. While not perfect and possibly someone might not agree on all his points, I felt it a good study on what the NT has to say about it. Unfortunately, it seems like it might be out of print and the cost of a used one is quite high. 

 

https://www.amazon.c...stolic movement


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#4 Meema

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 04:17 AM

Thank you, ADVrider, I’m sure the book is a good read. I’ve been interested in this topic. for obvious reasons for many years now. I have a small collection of books on the subject of modern Christian church in all its interpretations, from the formal to the severe legalistic version to the humanistic mega church. I am actually more focused on the ‘why’ people are attracted to the different ways humans interpret Scripture and then create a doctrine to follow, in many cases, that they then worship in place of Christ. 

 

I’ve had a few life experiences that have launched me into different learning curves and one of the most interesting has been the study of personality traits. God is the ultimate creator so He designed us to be basically similar but different in multiple ways - we each have our own uniqueness because of the way we are assembled with both strengths and weaknesses.  

 

For all the variety though, certain rules do apply. There are identifiable patterns and those patterns seem to determine how we interact with other humans, approach life, adopt religion and political leanings. For this reason, in my amateurish way, I have come to be able to spot dominate personality traits, in particular, especially those that are driven to control or overlord others, their use of language and manipulation techniques, and those who seem to be helpless to stop themselves from being controlled. These seem to find each other and then together they collectively form a religious system. 

 

A huge tell is the adroit use of Scripture - a commonly used prodding is to demand a rebuttal to ‘prove’ an opinion with Scripture. I can’t begin to describe the knot that tightens in my stomach when I see someone use this tactic. The overlorder will always have his Scripture at the ready to slam down any opposition. 

 

If you know what to look for you can avoid a lot of trouble. For example: in the final hours while I was still communicating with Signs and Wonders Man, he tried intimidation in a variety of ways but the most notable was to ‘reveal’ that God told him something about me but he wasn’t allowed to tell me. I think that was the first ah-ha moment when I truly saw him for what he was. I came to refer to this technique as playing the ‘higher authority card’ - a classic maneuver.  However, instead of achieving the results he wanted what he got back was a question from me - ‘God told me something about you too, would you like to know what it was?’  I never heard from him again. I could only imagine the rage this caused him. I visualized  him roaring with fangs bared. 

 

One of my most recent deep dive studies has taken me into the alternate realities of disordered brains, which is a condition that causes so much grief in humankind and is way more common than is realized. Those who seek to rise to positions of power over others often are fueled by this. On the surface it’s scary but by understanding how a mis-wired brain thinks you can almost predict their moves. 

 

Satan, it turns out, is the father of psychopathy and actually the very first case. :-) Even as he knows he has lost, he still thinks he can win anyway. At the very least he is driven to take as many with him as he can. And, unfortunately,  he seems to know how to zero in on our weaknesses to make that happen.

 

My point to share all this is to wake people up to the multiple ways we can be enslaved. I am quite sure there are pockets and assemblies of good Christians who worship Christ, not their doctrine, but this is becoming anomaly now, not the norm. I have to wonder if this isn’t a sign in and of itself and the call to “Come ye out’ is more about stepping out of apostate religion that leads away from the simple truth of Christ crucified.


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#5 reader

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 06:13 AM

I am working toward a message that is close to the line, which has been brought out.  Below are the Scriptures I am using and the thought line I feel the Lord is leading me in.

 

Haggai 1 . . .

1 In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, saying,

2 Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD'S house should be built.

3 Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying,

4 Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste?

5 Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.

6 Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.

7 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.

8 Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the LORD.

9 Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the LORD of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house.

10 Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit.

11 And I called for a drought upon the land, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon that which the ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labour of the hands.

 

Rev. 3:1 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.

2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.

3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

 

The Lord waits to enable us to hear and respond to His call today – be alive.

 

Building a foundation comes first - Christ crucified . . . don’t worship His doctrine, worship Him and His doctrine (of love) will fill your life


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#6 ADVRider

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 07:07 AM

Based on Meema's post above, it reminded me that "the Fall" produced massive insecurity and fear in the human condition. One of the many fruits as a response to this is control. Control over others, situations and circumstances, ourselves and even God Himself. That control can be played out a zillion ways in the lives of people and it goes from the subtle to the overtly monstrous.   


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#7 Candice

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 08:52 AM

Meema, this is an important post and thank you for bringing this up to people. 

 

My husband and I have not found a church in our small rural town in Wyoming where we can remain.

 

I have two great friends who I pray with on the phone a few times a week.  Praise God for them and their love of Christ alone without all the religious fanfare.  Look to Him alone.  Keep your eyes on Him alone.

 

But, craving fellowship, I seek ways to connect.  I was hopeful of a new ministry in town.  So, a few months ago I went to a "house of prayer and worship" and was very sorry I did.  An event with a special speaker took place.  I was personally invited by the couple who run this "ministry".  Thinking back, the guy who invited me was always bursting out in extensive, intense laughter for no reason at all.  I wondered .... why's he doing that a few times!  The couple wouldn't tell me who the speaker was when I inquired, saying "just come".  The speaker talked about himself for 45 minutes, telling of his travels all over the world for his ministry.  He then proceeded to ask everyone to come up front and look at their hands and see "gold dust" or "diamonds" as a "sign and wonder."  I was only looking for the exit out of that building.  I went up for about 5 minutes, watched the people who were attending, MOSTLY WOMEN, looking at the palms of their hands waiting for the sign, all the while giggling and looking totally goofy.  I left and the ministry leader gave me a dirty look as I did so.  I made no complaint or anything.  They are an apostolic ministry with healing and deliverance as their main ministry.  I'm not cutting down healing or deliverance.  But, they employ tactics to control those who are vulnerable.  You must go through lists of sins and check the boxes that apply to you and then tell them (leaders) every sin, etc.  It's mandatory.  I see so many who were once addicted to a drugs, lonely divorced women be freed, yet become addicted to being at that ministry daily and very dependent on the leaders for emotional support.  I have to say, it's mostly women who attend -- at least 80%.

 

Another event before this one was a guy who taught dream interpretation, visions and his daughter taught speaking with and using angels as spirit guides.  That was not good.  But, they insist it's biblical.  NOT SO!

 

I've seen more "ministries" like this.  I believe it's part of end-times. But, aren't we supposed to "expose them" as it says in Ephesians?  If you expose or question their doctrine, you get slandered.  No matter how kind you are about it.  That's the way  it is.  The Lord knows and will deal with it.  I live in a small town and mind my own business. 

 

This is sad and I believe, as you do Meema, that certain personalities and vulnerable individuals are prey. 

 

It's sad.  I'm so sad.

 

Candice


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#8 Meema

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 12:36 PM

Candice, your experience, as horrifying as it sounds, is not even as bad as some stories I’ve heard. Again, my concern and questions come down to trying to figure out what makes that kind of religious mysticism attractive to so many? I get that humans love to feel titillated, excited, challenged, and astonished and I have to assume this has been the case since the first century followers of The Way had to overcome superstitions, ingrained and fixed habits of idol worship, and in general seekers of the great mysterious unknown. 

 

I’ve heard tales of these Signs and Wonders flimflam men even imposing physical abuse on their flock. I know it’s tough to see people you care about falling for this kind of thing. Honestly I don’t know what would make them see. All we can do is pray - at least that’s been my experience. I had a friend, whom I thought was a true friend. We stayed in touch even after I fled the Signs and Wonders ministry although she continued to work for him. About a year in, one day I noticed I had not heard from her by our usual several emails a week. I got worried and when she didn’t reply I sent an email to her daughter. I got a vague response and then it came all over me, she didn’t want to respond to me anymore. Later I found out the Signs and Wonders man had told his dwindling flock that there was a ‘factious spirit’ looking to divide the remaining loyal followers and that they had to cease communicating. A classic cult leader trick - divide and isolate.

 

What amazed me was thinking back on five years of shared experiences I had with this woman. How was it that she could be so blind? Again, I conclude it has to be a serious weak spot.

 

I agree that I think it’s time to call these charlatans out whenever the opportunity presents itself. I would never worry about slander - Signs and Wonders man, used that trick too but you have to think of these people as tiny drops of water in a great big sea. I’d take on the chin for Christ any day. If He be for us, who can be against us?


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#9 ADVRider

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 08:24 PM

These seem to find each other and then together they collectively form a religious system. 

 

A huge tell is the adroit use of Scripture - a commonly used prodding is to demand a rebuttal to ‘prove’ an opinion with Scripture. I can’t begin to describe the knot that tightens in my stomach when I see someone use this tactic. The overlorder will always have his Scripture at the ready to slam down any opposition. 

I was hiking on Sunday when the thought came to me that "some people's (faith, doctrine, dogma, system) is so airtight that even the wind of the Spirit cannot get in."


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#10 ADVRider

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 08:58 PM

Meema, this is an important post and thank you for bringing this up to people. 

 

My husband and I have not found a church in our small rural town in Wyoming where we can remain.

 

I have two great friends who I pray with on the phone a few times a week.  Praise God for them and their love of Christ alone without all the religious fanfare.  Look to Him alone.  Keep your eyes on Him alone.

 

But, craving fellowship, I seek ways to connect.  I was hopeful of a new ministry in town.  So, a few months ago I went to a "house of prayer and worship" and was very sorry I did.  An event with a special speaker took place.  I was personally invited by the couple who run this "ministry".  Thinking back, the guy who invited me was always bursting out in extensive, intense laughter for no reason at all.  I wondered .... why's he doing that a few times!  The couple wouldn't tell me who the speaker was when I inquired, saying "just come".  The speaker talked about himself for 45 minutes, telling of his travels all over the world for his ministry.  He then proceeded to ask everyone to come up front and look at their hands and see "gold dust" or "diamonds" as a "sign and wonder."  I was only looking for the exit out of that building.  I went up for about 5 minutes, watched the people who were attending, MOSTLY WOMEN, looking at the palms of their hands waiting for the sign, all the while giggling and looking totally goofy.  I left and the ministry leader gave me a dirty look as I did so.  I made no complaint or anything.  They are an apostolic ministry with healing and deliverance as their main ministry.  I'm not cutting down healing or deliverance.  But, they employ tactics to control those who are vulnerable.  You must go through lists of sins and check the boxes that apply to you and then tell them (leaders) every sin, etc.  It's mandatory.  I see so many who were once addicted to a drugs, lonely divorced women be freed, yet become addicted to being at that ministry daily and very dependent on the leaders for emotional support.  I have to say, it's mostly women who attend -- at least 80%.

 

Another event before this one was a guy who taught dream interpretation, visions and his daughter taught speaking with and using angels as spirit guides.  That was not good.  But, they insist it's biblical.  NOT SO!

 

I've seen more "ministries" like this.  I believe it's part of end-times. But, aren't we supposed to "expose them" as it says in Ephesians?  If you expose or question their doctrine, you get slandered.  No matter how kind you are about it.  That's the way  it is.  The Lord knows and will deal with it.  I live in a small town and mind my own business. 

 

This is sad and I believe, as you do Meema, that certain personalities and vulnerable individuals are prey. 

 

It's sad.  I'm so sad.

 

Candice

Candice,

 

I have been in similar circles quite a bit and share some of the same concerns as you express here. I think on the whole, the charismatic expression does draw many of the emotionally needy and impressionable types of people. And since you brought it up, it often seems like some of these "fellowships" are over-represented by needy single women. "Man of God syndrome"? I don't know, but even my friend's wife said the same thing you did. Many times.

 

The sad thing to me is, it seems like what is often genuine (people who do move in bona fide spiritual gifts that bless and encourage) are mixed in with others who espouse a lot of extreme practices or beliefs. It wasn't always so weird, although for some folks, even good ol' Pentecostals were always weird! We definitely need some sanity restored without rejecting what is truly of God. I think the insights in this thread go a long ways for discerning some of the pitfalls of following a man or a ministry. The thing for me is, I've seen some fairly weird stuff be of God. I'd still rather be where I think the Spirit of God can move than in a place (church, meeting, etc.) where He is basically unknown or unwelcome. But I also know (for the most part) what's what, having been exposed to the circus. Not saying I could not be deceived though. And, deception can come in many forms or venues, not only the one being discussed here. Nevertheless, I agree that reasonable caution and discernment are very important because of the things that are happening in the body of Christ. I am currently reading a book called, "The Other Worldview" by Peter Jones that describes the spiritual worldview (non-Christian) that has replaced Enlightenment secularism. He says secularism is dead and a new spiritualism has arisen in its place that is threatening Christianity's influence. Part of the problem is the new spiritualism has leeched into the church.


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#11 Candice

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 05:28 AM

ADVRider,
I understand your perspective. I wonder if part of this new spiritualism comes by way of what I call “Bring them into the church” v. “Go out “ evangelism? I’ve experienced the church growth mentality that leans towards Inviting in as many unbelievers to church as possible, even having them help at church and there’s been no conviction or heart transformation from Our Father drawing them nor conviction of Holy Spirt. It’s like a pyramid scheme. Then, these new “goats” blend in and bring in others and we are no longer Christ’s Church”, but a club.

I agree that I’d rather have a living church with some people “off” than a dead church. It seems like two exist in my realm: unfriendly, no gifts believed in where you better not sit in someone’s seat as they have sat there for 30 years....OR friendly but very “off” with no discernment. There’s the no growth or overgrowth congregations it seems.

Witchcraft has intentionally been brought into the church by infiltrators. Intentional plants in the church. Just evil! This can come from those same people influencing weak believers. I’ve seen it too often and it’s painful to watch as I’ve seen weak pastors fall for it in order to increase numbers.

My own sister is a staunch atheist but baby sits at the Lutheran Church where my niece whose not a Christian goes to MOPS. They openly use Christians and the church to get something out of it for themselves.

As far as human nature, people want a person they can see leading them or an idol of sorts. I think you’re right, unmarried women want the “man of God” in their lives.

This kind of stuff makes me want to stay home. I don’t see myself considering fellowship as it looks on Sundays at most churches in America.