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Category Archives: Character/Contrition

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10 SIGNS OF PROPHETIC ABUSE AND OR MANIPULATION
By Joseph Mattera

Master Manipulator

I have been in the body of Christ now since the late 1970’s. I came into the prophetic movement in the early eighties and started moving out prophetically, even participating in prophetic presbytery while doing itinerant prophetic ministry. Furthermore, our local church has nurtured many outstanding prophetic leaders and voices as well as hosting numerous prophetic trainings and schools. My primary motivational gift and mode of ministry is prophetic, even when it seems like I am teaching. (I rarely use notes and teach and preach as prompted by the Holy Spirit when I am ministering.)

Furthermore, I have found the prophetic gift, including inspirational preaching, teaching and prophetic words to be the most edifying of all the gifts as St. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 14. However, with every true gift of God comes either a counterfeit and or an abuse. You can say that about all of the cluster of gifts mentioned in Ephesians 4:11. The prophetic gift can especially be very dangerous if left un-checked, since people think the words spoken are directly from God and will often obey them without question or the use of discernment. Based on all my years of operating in the prophetic, as well as mentoring, nurturing, overseeing and hosting many prophetic ministers, the following are ten signs of prophetic abuse and manipulation. Continue reading “10 Prophetic Abuses and Manipulation” »

Three Marks of a Spiritual Man
By Zac Poonen

“I could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh.” (1 Cor. 3:1)

We read in First Corinthians 1:5,7 that the Corinthian Christians excelled in three areas – knowledge of the Scriptures, preaching and the gifts of the Spirit. Yet in spite of having all these, they were not spiritual. It is rare indeed to find believers who have the discernment to recognize that a gifted, eloquent preacher whose knowledge of the Bible is extensive and who in addition, has miraculous gifts of the Spirit as well, need not be a spiritual man at all. He could be thoroughly carnal.

Unfortunately, we live in a day when most believers think that a man is spiritual if he is a good “Master of Ceremonies” who can conduct meetings in a lively way, put people at ease with his many jokes and preach eloquently as well.

Preachers today are respected, unfortunately, for their gifts and not for the fruit of Christlikeness in their lives – in spite of the fact that Jesus clearly taught that false prophets would be identified by the lack of Divine fruit in their character (Mat. 7:15-20).

Jesus also said that in the day of judgment many would come before Him and say that they had prophesied and done miracles in His Name. But He would reply that He never knew them (Mat. 7:22,23). They called Jesus “Lord” and had supernatural powers. But there was sin in their lives. This shows us clearly that much “Christian” activity and even supernatural gifts do not make a man spiritual. In fact, they are not even an indication that a man is born again, for the Lord told these people that He NEVER knew them at any time!!

To understand what makes a man spiritual, we could first of all make a list of all the abilities that Satan possesses. That would show us clearly the things that are NOT the marks of true spirituality.

Consider activity, for example: Satan is a full-time worker who is active day and night (Rev. 12:9,10). He never takes a holiday. He is always seeking for people whom he can accuse – and he has many helpers too!! He also has plenty of Bible- knowledge, for he quoted the Scriptures even to Jesus. He has supernatural gifts, zeal, many co-workers, a great following and authority over many people. But he is not spiritual!!

What makes a man truly spiritual could be summed up in three statements: An upward look, an inward look and an outward look.

A spiritual man looks in these three directions constantly:

1. Upward – in worship and devotion to God and Christ.
2. Inward – in acknowledging and repenting of his unChristlikeness.
3. Outward – in seeking to help and bless other people.

A Spiritual Man Looks Upward

God has called us first of all to be His worshipers – to hunger and thirst after Him. A spiritual man worships God. His one desire is God. He does not desire anything or anyone other than God in earth or in heaven (Ps. 73:25). Money does not mean more to him than God. As the deer pants after the waterbrooks, so the spiritual man longs after God. He longs for God more than a thirsty man longs for water.

A spiritual man longs for fellowship with God more than he does for ease or comfort. He longs to hear God speak to him daily.

Those who worship money, ease and their own convenience, will always find something or the other to complain about. But the spiritual man never has any complaints, because he desires only God and he always has Him. He is never disappointed with the circumstances of his life, because he sees the mighty hand of God in all those circumstances and he humbles himself underneath that hand joyfully at all times. Because a spiritual man is in touch with God he does not need any laws or rules to regulate his life. He has found the tree of life (God Himself) and so he has no interest in the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Because he is taken up with simple and pure devotion to Christ, he is not sidetracked by secondary issues. Looking at Jesus, the spiritual man becomes increasingly like his Lord year by year.

A spiritual man humbles himself constantly. And so God exalts him constantly. He is exalted higher and higher – into a closer and closer relationship with God. Such a man having seen the realities of the heavenly life will always seek to do his good deeds hidden from man’s eyes.

A Spiritual Man Looks Inward

The upward look leads on to an inward look. As soon as Isaiah saw the glory of the Lord, he immediately became aware of his own sinfulness (Isa. 6:1-5). It was the same with Job, Peter and John (Job 42:5,6; Lk. 5:8; Rev. 1:17). When we live in God’s presence, we become aware of many areas of unChristlikeness in our lives. The spiritual man is thus constantly getting light over the hidden sins in his life.

We are commanded to worship the Lord “in holy array (dress)” (Ps. 29:2) . Without the clothing of holiness, we are naked before the Lord. So the spiritual man “does his best” at all times to keep his conscience clear before God and before men (Acts 24:16). Just as the businessman does his best to make more money, and the research scientist does his best to make new discoveries, even so the spiritual man does his best to keep his conscience clear at all times.

A spiritual man judges himself constantly, because he discovers many things in his life that need to be cleansed away – things that other believers may not be disturbed by, in their own lives.

A spiritual man realizes that he has to die inwardly every day, to many things that hinder him from being effective for God. So his lifestyle becomes one of taking up the cross and “always bearing about in his body the dying of Jesus” (2 Cor. 4:10).

The spiritual man has no problem in humbling himself before anyone or in asking for forgiveness from anyone – whether that person be older than him or younger than him. He realizes that his prayers and his service will never be accepted by God, if he has hurt even one other person – whether wife, brother or neighbor – in any way. And so, as soon as he realizes that he has hurt someone, he “leaves his gift at the altar and goes and settles matters with that person first, and then returns to offer his gifts to God” (Mat. 5:23,24).

A Spiritual Man Looks Outward

The upward and inward look lead on to the outward look.

A spiritual man is one who realizes that God has blessed him only in order that he might be a blessing to others. Since God has forgiven him so much, he gladly and readily forgives all who have harmed him. Since God has been so good to him, he is good to others too. He has received freely from God and he gives freely to others.

A spiritual man is genuinely concerned for the welfare of others. He is filled with compassion for lost and suffering humanity and can never ignore a brother whom he sees in any need – like the Levite and the priest did, in the parable of the good Samaritan (Lk. 10:30-37).

God is concerned for fallen man – to help him, to bless him, to lift him up and deliver him from Satan’s bondage. The spiritual man’s concern is the same. Like his Master, the spiritual man seeks to serve others and not to be served. Jesus went around doing good and delivering people who were bound by Satan (Acts 10:38). The spiritual man does the same.

A spiritual man does not seek to gain anything from others through his service for them – neither money nor honor. Like God, he only seeks to bless others through his life and his labors. He will NEVER expect any gifts from anyone – for he trusts in God alone for his every need. A little booklet that has come down to us from the second century titled “The Teaching of The Twelve Apostles” tells us that the early apostles taught all believers in their time to beware of any preacher who asked them for money, for such a person was a false prophet. If only we understood this, we would be saved from many false prophets today!!

A spiritual man looks upward, inward and outward. If he looked only upward, he would be unrealistic – “so heavenly-minded as to be of no earthly use.” If he looked only inward, he would be depressed and discouraged most of the time. If he looked only outward, his work would be shallow. But a spiritual man looks in all three directions constantly. May God help us to be balanced – and spiritual.###

This article was first published at: http://www.cfcindia.com/article/three-marks-of-a-spiritual-man.

Zac Poonen was formerly an Indian Naval Officer who has been serving the Lord in India for over 50 years as a Bible-teacher. He is an elder at Christian Fellowship Centre, Bangalore, India, and has responsibility for a number of churches in India and abroad. He has written more than 25 books and numerous articles in English, which have been translated into many Indian and foreign languages. More about him, his ministry, and CFC, are available at: http://www.cfcindia.com/zac-poonen.

7 CONTRASTS BETWEEN TITULAR AND FUNCTIONAL LEADERSHIP
By Joseph Mattera

Through the years, I have observed various types of leadership styles as well as how people operate within the flow of leadership titles. In this article, I use the word titular, to refer to a person who tries to lead primarily on the merit of their title and or official position. When I use the term functional, I am referring to a person who earns the respect of their peers and subordinates through their effectiveness and relational capital. Continue reading “Functional Vs. Titular Church Leadership” »

This article is part 3 of 3 in the series Exposing Dangers of Martial Arts

PART THREE

Black-belt karateka in "gi" (karategi) meditating in yoga "lotus" position

Black-belt karate devotee (karateka) wearing “gi” (karategi) meditating in yoga “lotus” “power” position.

[Editor’s Note: This article series is an adaptation from the book, Exposing the Dangers of Martial Arts, by Vito Rallo, a former five-time USA National Karate Champion. See the end of this article for more about the book.]

READ PART TWO of this article.

There are many influences in our western society. Some are good – some are not so good. Some appear on the surface to be beneficial, but in fact, are the proverbial “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” In other words, the acclaimed benefits of a thing or practice of something may, in fact, turn out to be harmful, if not downright dangerous. The irony is, it may not be obvious at the onset.

What matters most is what lies behind the secret mask of all martial arts and yoga—what is at the root! The two are undoubtedly intertwined and are often advertised together. The practice of these ancient practices, driven by a huge popularity factor, has made major inroads, especially of late, into western society. This infiltration has had an enormous impact on both the world we live as well as in an ever-expanding segment of the church realm, and consequently has become a force to be reckoned with due to its widespread acceptance as a supposedly innocuous sport or physical activity. Continue reading “Exposing the Dangers of Martial Arts (Part 3)” »

This article is part 2 of 3 in the series Exposing Dangers of Martial Arts

PART TWO

[Editor’s Note: This article series is an adaptation from the book, Exposing the Dangers of Martial Arts, by Vito Rallo, a former five-time USA National Karate Champion. See the end of this article for more about the book.]

READ PART ONE of this article.

The Spiritual Principle of Self-Decreasing

The complete incongruity of martial arts along with these other similar so-called “self-improvement” or “self-help” kinds of involvements I’ve enumerated, and the Christian Life described and defined in the Word of God can also be summarized by relating it to the contrast John-the-Baptist described in his statement to his disciples before his execution by beheading: “He must increase; but I must decrease” (Jn. 3:30; italics added). “He must increase; but I must decrease.” While the essence of John’s statement was referring to the fact that now that the time for Jesus to be manifest as the Messiah had come and John had completed his God-assigned mission of identifying Him as same, the time had now come for him and his ministry to decrease or fade into oblivion so as to allow the Christ to take center-stage, so to speak, completely void of all distraction and deflection of attention. Continue reading “Exposing the Dangers of Martial Arts (Part 2)” »

This article is part 1 of 3 in the series Exposing Dangers of Martial Arts
Dojo student bowing to pay homage to the "gods" behind martial arts

Dojo student bowing to the “god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4) behind martial arts.
“Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images.” (Ex. 23:24)

PART ONE

[Editor’s Note: This article series is an adaptation from the book, Exposing the Dangers of Martial Arts, by Vito Rallo, a former five-time USA National Karate Champion. See the end of this article for more about the book.]

Over the course of the last three to four decades, martial arts have pervaded both the world and the church realm at an alarming rate. During that span, the enemy has been hard at work instituting his insidious plan to spiritually weaken and wreak spiritual destruction in the lives of individuals, as well as even whole segments of the church at large, by means of injection of the expansive package of deceptions comprising the martial arts.

Let us be clear, all forms of martial arts (and yoga), without exception, are rooted in false religions and the occult, and can in no way be sanitized or Christianized. Many individual believers and entire church-groups have been deceived into believing they can be. Such theories and beliefs are total deception from a practical standpoint, and from a theological standpoint would be labeled heresy! Yet, such false beliefs about these ancient religious practices and false claims of their being harmonious and congruous with Biblical Christianity have seemingly inundated the modern church like a tsunami! And at present there appears no indication of this “wave” of false doctrine receding at any time in the foreseeable future (cf., Eph. 4:14).

The bottom line is this: The spirit behind martial arts is antichrist! By that I mean it is contrary to everything we know about who Christ and Christianity is! How can we think that an antichrist spirit is in any way compatible or harmonious with the Spirit of Christ? They are not friends or friendly with each other! We cannot make them be friends or friendly with each other! I have seen people fall away from their faith in God who were once strong in the Lord because of this antichrist activity. The people of God—Christians, Christian churches—have been deceived in regard to the martial arts and just how diabolical they in fact are! It is time to acknowledge that deception and do something about it.

Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. “And do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you. “And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” Says the Lord Almighty. (2 Cor. 6:14-18; emphasis added)

Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; (Eph. 5:11; emphasis added)

Continue reading “Exposing the Dangers of Martial Arts” »

T4G16 Leaders

T4G16 Annual Conference Speakers

[Editor’s Note: For five years or so, a maelstrom of controversy has been building in reformed protestant circles regarding the protodenomination formerly known as Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM), headquartered for more than 30 years in Gaithersburg, Maryland, near Washington DC. The organization that once claimed more than 100 affiliate churches and hundreds of affiliated ministers in numerous nations, originally named People of Destiny International (PDI), was founded by C.J. Mahaney and Larry Tomczak and two other lesser-knowns in the 1970s, spinning off the so-called Jesus Movement spawned in California in the late 1960s. Conflicts and strife within the PDI leadership has been recurrent for many years, finally peaking around the mid-1990s with the ouster and disfellowship of Larry Tomczak amid internal accusations of misconduct, mishandling of related matters, and irreconcilable doctrinal/philosophical differences. A continuous current of criticism and allegations of flagrant relational and leadership wrongdoing against Mahaney coursed on for decades before and after the Tomczak debacle, erupting like a volcano in 2011 with formal charges of misconduct and corruption by him being widely disseminated by one of those aforementioned lesser-known, also disfellowshipped, Mahaney associates turned blogger. Some aspects of those revelations received substantial accreditation by a civil lawsuit against SGM, Mahaney, and other named SGM leaders, alleging multiple incidences of sexual misconduct by SGM employees and associates, an organization-wide cover-up conspiracy, hush-money payments and perks, decades-long employment of confessed sex-offenders, and failure to report to authorities multiple known criminal acts of child molestation, as well as aiding and abetting of same, filed in October 2012. The original suit with its several amendments, was eventually dismissed due to expiration of statutes of limitations and jurisdictional technicalities, but it spawned a criminal investigation, subsequent arrest, trial, conviction, and incarceration of a longtime SGM employee in the organization-owned schools who was also a close associate and personal friend of a number of top SGM leaders, including Mahaney. The tentacles of the continuing controversy and conflicts have already reached deep into the Southern Baptist Convention and Reformed Theology realms and has been reported by numerous national media outlets. Knowledgeable, credible sources, however, presage that the expansive imbroglio is far from over and the complete story is yet to be revealed. What we do know with certainty at this time is that ongoing investigations are being conducted, facts are being compiled, books and articles are being written, and more revelations and fallout are forthcoming. SLM will report further developments in this disheartening and troubling matter as they develop and warrant. The following news-release by the Survivor’s Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) urging the leadership of the Together for the Gospel (T4G16) conference conveners to disinvite C.J. Mahaney—one of the original founders of the amalgamation—as a conference speaker, provides a good overview of the ongoing controversy. It is for that reason, and the strong view that all believers should be aware and informed about such matters that we publish it.] Continue reading “SNAP Urges T4G16 Leaders to Dis-Invite C.J. Mahaney” »

10 Differences Between Real Pastors and Hyped-Up Entertainers
By Joseph Mattera

There is a great tendency in human nature to crave the affirmation of other human beings. With some people, their need for affirmation is so great it hinders their ability to discern between the will of God and the will of man. What is more alarming is the fact that those who lead churches and Christian organizations are not exempt from this tendency.

The fact of the matter is, if you are a local church pastor, chief executive officer of a ministry or business, you are called to lead not entertain. Many do not understand the difference. If your primary goal is to make people happy, become an entertainer, not a leader. Leaders by nature should be on the cutting edge of God’s will, which challenges people to leave their comfort zones.

Often times this causes people to be upset with their leaders. The leader also should keep people accountable to standards of excellence. This becomes especially difficult when a leader is close friends or family with those aligned under their spiritual authority. Many do not understand how to discern between business and friendship, and it causes a rift in the relationship.

The following are ten contrasts between entertainers and leaders:

1. Entertainers’ primary goal is to make people happy. A leader’s goal is to empower/provoke people to excellence.

An entertainer’s primary focus in their ministry is to keep their people happy and satisfied. Sometimes folks are happy because they are comfortable and feel secure but their own hearts are deceiving them. A true leader’s primary goal is to disturb the comfortable and provoke them to excellence. For example, if an athlete never pushed himself to the point of pain in his training, he will never excel. True leaders push their people to the perimeter of their potential in Christ.

2. Entertainers perform. Leaders lead.

Entertainers put all their effort into the public performance of their speaking, worship team, visual effects and appearance. They do not take a lot of time evaluating whether their followers are truly growing in Christ. A true leader cares about their public appearance, but puts more time focusing on bringing people into the promised land of their destinies.

3. Entertainers avoid disagreement at all costs. Leaders often provoke disagreement and discomfort.

Since entertainers crave affirmation because of their own lack of self-esteem, they will attempt to avoid strife and disagreement with their people. True leaders don’t really care so much about disagreement because their main motivation is to move people from passivity to purpose.

4. Entertainers gauge their success based on numbers. Leaders base their success on obedience to their assignment.

Entertainers count nickels and noses. It’s all about church attendance and offerings. If both are high then they are happy. True biblical leaders gauge their success on remaining faithful to the call of God upon their lives and organization. For example Jeremiah is considered one of the greatest prophets of all time, but yet he had only a few who believed him. He was not only rejected by his leaders and thrown into prison, he also died in exile.

Furthermore, when Isaiah received his mandate from God (Isaiah 6), God told him nobody would listen to him and the cities would eventually become desolate! John the Baptist only had a six month ministry and died in prison, yet Jesus called him the greatest person ever born of a woman (Mat. 11:11).

By today’s standards of success, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and John the Baptist, to name a few, were very unsuccessful! Even Jesus only had one hundred and twenty true followers after more than three years of ministry (Acts 1). However, the true gauge of success in the kingdom is obedience to our assignments, not numbers.

5. Entertainers are popular with the mainstream. Leaders are often disdained by the mainstream.

Entertainers always put their hand in the air to sense where the wind is blowing and then they will go in that direction. They are politicians who crave the vote of the majority, and care little about the holy minority. They will preach only what will receive the least resistance and will always stand on the edges of compromise so not to offend. It is not just what they say, but what they will not say that matters. (They will never say anything controversial when it comes to social and moral values.)

Leaders (like Dr. Martin Luther King and Winston Churchill) speak the truth even when it could cost them their careers or their lives. When true leaders lead, they are often on the prophetic edge of what God is saying and only have “innovators and early adopters” as their followers. It is easy to go with the mainstream, difficult to swim upstream; leaders swim upstream and are countercultural.

6. Entertainers make people feel good. Leaders transform people.

Entertainers dream about how they can make people feel good. Leaders dream about how they can make disciples that will transform the world. Entertainers focus on attracting the crowds, leaders like Jesus, focus on the few that will eventually build a movement that will transform the world.

7. Entertainers long for acceptance. Leaders provoke respect.

Entertainers live to be loved and liked, while leaders primarily desire influence and respect. For example, good parents are not always liked, but are respected by their children when they have to correct them because they have their best long-term interests in mind. Likewise, leaders understand that maintaining respect is more important to release the purpose of God than garnering social acceptance and likeability. Jesus wasn’t always liked and understood, but His followers (John 6:60-71) always respected him.

8. Entertainers are focused on the present. Leaders are focused on the future.

Entertainers are focused on making people feel happy in the moment. They base all their strategies around programs, hype, and visceral experiences that lift people’s souls. Leaders not only want to emotionally lift the souls of others, they want to transform the lifestyle of people’s souls towards a divine trajectory.

9. Entertainers focus on their public persona. Leaders focus on their interior lives.

Many entertainers spend hours in front of the mirror practicing their public speaking, reviewing their body language and appearance. They focus primarily on their outward appearance so as to attract the most followers. In contrast, true leaders focus more on their interior lives and give God space to transform their souls. They obey the words of Jesus who said to first cleanse the inside of the cup and then the outside will also be clean (Matt. 23:26).

10. Entertainers receive the accolades of men. Leaders receive their accolades from God.

At the end of the day, entertainers may go down in history as being popular with men, but what will the verdict be when they stand before God? In eternity it will be known that many loved the glory that comes from men more than the glory that comes from God (John 12:43).

Leaders may not always be the most popular ones while they are alive, but they will be received into eternity with a rich reward and will eventually have the most influence on the earth with men.

DISCERNING BETWEEN WOLVES, SHEEP AND HORSES IN A CHURCH
By Joseph Mattera

The Bible uses certain animals as metaphors to depict certain kinds of people in the kingdom. Pastors and senior leaders of organizations need to discern at least three kinds of people in their organizations to effectively lead.[1]

Although most people may have a mixture of all three traits at times in their lives, it is very possible that either the negative or positive traits of a person can suck them fully into either the dark side or the light of the Kingdom of God. It is inevitable that every growing organization and/or church will attract all three of these kinds of people simultaneously.

Following are some of the main characteristics of wolves, sheep, and horses as based on my observations during almost 30 years of ministry in the church and marketplace. Continue reading “Wolves, Sheep, & Horses in the Church” »

SEVEN REASONS WHY MANY BELIEVERS FOLLOW “SUPERSTAR” PASTORS
By Joseph Mattera

The church has seen the rise of “celebrity cult status” pastors who act like spiritual superstars.

In this article I define superstars as those who act as little gods who believe they are above everybody else. They walk around with an entourage, body guards, and are inaccessible to family, friends, high level staff and peers, and are an unaccountable island to themselves.

Furthermore, no matter how much these leaders violate biblical ethics, they still maintain their leadership position because most of their followers are blinded by their devotion. Many of these superstars have started in the ministry for the right reason but because of un-dealt with emotional dysfunction related to their youth. They carry these dysfunctions over into their ministry and church family.

There are some social and psychological reasons for this aberrant behavior / both from the vantage point of the leader and their followers.

The following are some of these symptoms and reasons:

7 Reasons Why followers follow superstar pastors

1. Many Christians need a male figure to emulate.

Many believers come from dysfunctional family backgrounds and need a male figure hero to emulate as a father figure. Some folks view their spiritual leader as a surrogate father, hence they will be protective of said leader to the point in which their emotional connection and loyalty clouds biblical truth

2. Many Christians have no identity of their own and live vicariously through their leader.

Those without a healthy self-identity gravitate towards a strong, confident leader with a compelling vision to the point in which their own individuality is subsumed or fragmented. Thus, this creates a vacuum of being and essence which makes them vulnerable to a charismatic leader; e.g., this is how false prophet Jim Jones was able to lead 900 well-educated followers into committing corporate suicide in Guyana in the 1970′s.

3. Many believers have a strong sense of failure and live through the success of their Leader.

Many people live a boring life without purpose and feel that they have more meaning when vicariously live their life through a person they deem successful.

4. Many followers lack their own intimate knowledge of Christ and are ignorant of Scripture.

Unfortunately, most Christians are Bible-illiterate and will believe anything their leader teaches them, even if it is heretical. Hence, their leader can live a life or lead their church in a way not congruent with Scripture and they wouldn’t even know it!

5. Many stay connected to the leader primarily because of their social community.

After being in a church for several years, folks usually assimilate into that particular faith community (which is a great thing in most cases) and build their social network around their church life and ministry. If they leave their church, they have to cut off many of these social ties, thus, they will continue in a church even if the leader is living an ungodly life full of pride, abuse, and manipulation

6. Many are connected to a superstar leader because it gives them religious status.

There are many people I have met who attend a certain church only because they have a lot of members, even if they are not being discipled or ministered to in a personal way. They get fed from other sources but remain in their church because the celebrity status of their leader gives them status with other Christians in their city.

7. Many have low self esteem and don’t recognize when they are being abused or manipulated.

Those with self-esteem will allow others to abuse, disrespect, and even manipulate them because they don’t have enough self-dignity to disapprove or even recognize it. Many of these folks were abused or neglected at home and live with a sense of guilt and feel an unconscious need to have authority figures who act the same way as their parents did (to satiate their feelings of guilt in some cases).

In closing, in rare instances where I perceive believers start attending our local congregation who come from these dysfunctional churches, I am not as quick (as usual) to discourage their attendance, but am willing to open up our congregation to them as a place for them to receive personal ministry and (hopefully) flourish in their faith.

Read the previous article: 10 Reasons Some Church Leaders Become Divas

Source: http://josephmattera.org/seven-reasons-many-believers-follow-superstar-pastors/

10 REASONS SOME PASTORS DEVELOP A SUPERSTAR MENTALITY
By Joseph Mattera

From the outset of this article I do not want to convey the thought that just because a leader has name recognition or becomes popular that they are not people of God. Many of my close friends in the ministry are also celebrities in their own right but do not exhibit these traits. However, It would be less then honest for those of us in the church not to admit the aberrant behavior of some of our own. The following are ten reasons some church leaders develop a superstar mentality.

1. They have a sense of entitlement.

Some folks think more highly then they ought to think of themselves and believe in their heart that they deserve better treatment then any other human being (Romans 12:3).

2. Because of their celebrity status they think they are above the law.

When a celebrity leader (could be a celebrity in a small church as well as a large church based on the adulation of the people and their own self deception) gets used to having sycophants around him – they are used to getting what they want -when they want it! Hence, they push aside boundaries and live a life that satisfies their fleshly inclinations.

3. They are unaccountable.

Superstar pastors often think nobody is qualified to speak into their life. Some pastors and leaders think that they are so spiritual and successful, they have reached a point that nobody is able to speak into their life and teach them anything. When someone attempts to speak into them, they may ask the question in their mind, “Is this person as wealthy as me? or Do they have as many people in their church as I do? — before they even consider hearing what they have to say!

4. They don’t trust anybody.

Many superstar pastors are really projecting a false self of confidence and aloofness because they don’t trust enough to have intimate relationships with anybody -including their spouse and children

5. Their self identity is subsumed by their ministry identity.

Some start off ok, but eventually their success — fueled by their driving ambition to be respected and known — becomes the primary way they view themselves. Thus, they lose their core essence and live through a false sense of success and power.

6. They become narccistic to medicate the pain of their past.

Many superstar leaders abuse their leadership privileges by manipulating others for their own advantage, and or are involved in substance abuse, adultery, excessive entertainment, frequent vacations, and others lusts of the flesh to medicate the un-dealt-with pain they have from the great responsibilities, intense life, and other pressure cooker items that make them feel trapped with no outlet. Thus, they succumb to temporary fixes that give them a reprieve from their miserable reality.

7. They erroneously equate anointing to minister with God’s personal favor.

Some believe that because they preach great messages and experience the power of God when ministering that that is a sign that God’s favor is upon them, even if they are not living a life of holiness. Scripture teaches us through the narrative of Samson that prioritizing anointing and power before the Fruit of the Spirit will eventually catch up to you and result in an untimely end to your ministry.

8. They preach a Christ without a cross and a gospel centered on self rather then on sacrifice.

Some superstar leaders preach a “rights centered” gospel that is centered upon self rather then on Christ. This results in living a life of indulgence that has no boundaries that limit their desire for the physical amenities of life.

9. They associate with other superstar pastors who reinforce this superstar culture.

The old saying “birds of a feather flock together” is a truism in which people tend to congregate mostly with others who believe like them and reinforce their belief system and lifestyle, which can be either a force for good or evil. Demigod leaders tend to associate with other spiritual divas and even have them preach in their church because they don’t want any dissident voice that will call them to account and bring a standard of holiness.

10. Those closest to them don’t challenge them.

Often the person with the most influence to speak into the pastor is the spouse. Unfortunately, often the lavish superstar lifestyle can abate the conscience of said spouse because of all the goodies and bling that come to them. When the voice of the spouse is either ignored or silent, then the person with the greatest chance of correcting them is non-existent. The same goes for their inner-circle and close friends and family who may also benefit from this opulent lifestyle.

In closing, this article was not written with the intent to arouse a critical spirit in the Body of Christ but to offer a prophetic correction so that we can turn back to the way of Jesus and the apostles. If some read this and use it as an excuse to gossip and be critical of their leader, then they are missing the point, and are just as guilty as the one they are judging. Also, as a pastor for over thirty years, I have seen these traits in leaders of all stripes, both in the marketplace and in the church. Furthermore, all believers have the same sinful root issues as these superstar pastors, hence, we need to abstain from personal judgment and allow these ten principles to convict our own soul.###

Source: http://josephmattera.org/10-reasons-pastors-develop-superstar-mentality/

How Long Will We Be Satisfied With Happy, Shallow Revivals?

By Bert Farias

Charismatic-worship

Many of our so called modern revivals are happy but shallow. This is of deep concern to me for I am not seeing the old anointings any more. My heart grieves especially for the young people who have never witnessed the real power of God.

Honestly, some things I see today are appalling. That old teaching that we are free from the Law has raised its ugly head again. Certainly, we are free from the Law written on stone, but we are not free from the Law that is written in our hearts. Continue reading “How Long Will Shallow, Spiritless Revivals Suffice?” »

In the previous post, The Outrageous Claims of Mars Hill Church “Investigators”, I indicated my strong disagreement with the conclusions of the group of elders and an overseer who identified themselves as the “investigators” who conducted an investigation into the long train of abuses, misdeeds, and other allegations against the founding senior leader of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Mark Driscoll. Those men concluded that “While we believe Mark needs to continue to address these areas in his life, we do not believe him to be disqualified from pastoral ministry.”

I ended that post by saying that abuse of spiritual authority is one of the most, possibly the most, egregious affronts in existence to the One who is the Source of all legitimate authority, and that in a follow-up post I would offer 25 reasons why that is so that immediately come to my mind. This post consists of those 25 reasons. Continue reading “25 Reasons Hyper-Authoritarian Church Leadership IS Disqualifying” »

Former Mars Hill Pastor, Mark Driscoll
In a statement on the website of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, the Board of Overseers, as they referred to themselves, stated: “On Tuesday, October 14, Pastor Mark Driscoll submitted his resignation as an elder and lead pastor of Mars Hill Church. The Board of Overseers has accepted that resignation and is moving forward with planning for pastoral transition….” The statement also stated that “for nearly two months…a group of elders investigated a series of formal charges brought against him (Driscoll)” and that the “investigation” conducted by “a group of seven elders plus one member of the Board of Overseers” consisted of “some 1,000 hours of research, interviewing more than 50 people and preparing 200 pages of information.” Their conclusion was:

“…that Pastor Mark has, at times, been guilty of arrogance, responding to conflict with a quick temper and harsh speech, and leading the staff and elders in a domineering manner. While we believe Mark needs to continue to address these areas in his life, we do not believe him to be disqualified from pastoral ministry.”

“Pastor Mark has never been charged with any immorality, illegality or heresy. Most of the charges involved attitudes and behaviors reflected by a domineering style of leadership.

Now let me see if I got this right. Driscoll, who they continue to honor by calling him “Pastor Mark,” “has at times been guilty of arrogance….” First of all, being “guilty of arrogance” is not an “at times” kind of thing. A person is either arrogant – which is a condition deriving from an attitude, not an act or action that one only does “at times” or from time to time – or they are not arrogant. Arrogance does not come and go; it’s a condition of the mind and heart that when present is constant and consistent. In speaking of the supreme humility of the Son of God, Jesus, which he manifested in humbling Himself, first to come to earth as a Human, and then to the point of death on a cross, Paul said, “Let this MIND (KJV) [‘attitude,’ NASB] be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…” (Php. 2:5-8). Humility – the diametrical opposite of arrogance – is a state of mind, as well as heart. It’s an attitude. Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, directed believers with unambiguous and clear language: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Php. 2:3-4). Continue reading “The Outrageous Claims of Mars Hill Church “Investigators”” »

[Editor’s Note: After his first introduction to the ministries of C.J. Mahaney and Larry Tomczak in 1974 at a Jesus Festival in Erie, PA, Brent Detwiler, personally met Larry in 1978 when as one of 25 pastor interns at Melodyland Christian Center in Anaheim (Ralph Wilkerson) he was fatefully chosen to be Tomczak’s host. He then personally met C.J. Mahaney the first time in August 1979 at a three-week conference at the church co-pastored by Mahaney and Tomczak in Gaithersburg, MD. In 1981, Detwiler asked C.J. and Larry to provide oversight for a church he founded in Indiana. This first church adoption along with another church plant marked the unofficial beginning of what was then called People of Destiny International. In August 1982 Detwiler moved his family to Wheaton, MD to launch the group’s Leadership Training School, later renamed Pastors College, and to join C.J., Larry, and another man as the group’s first apostolic leadership team, marking the official beginning of Sovereign Grace Ministries movement, and a relationship between Detwiler and Mahaney that spanned three decades. A few years before the turn of the millennium, Mahaney gradually began making public a major sea-change in his theology and doctrinal beliefs away from the Charismatic/Pentecostal beliefs and practices that had been a part of the theological foundation of SGM from its beginnings and to align more with Evangelical/Reformed Theology doctrines and to forge relationships with prominent leaders of that stream. This seismic shift by Mahaney engendered growing tensions, disagreements, differences, and conflicts within the ranks of the SGM protodenomination, particularly among those who continued to hold to Charismatic/Pentecostal beliefs and practices. As the primary teacher of SGM’s curriculum at the Pastors College, Detwiler, was one of the staunchest defenders of same, and continued to hold the line with respect to those beliefs and practices, in particular regarding the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and the typical issues regarding tongues, eventually becoming the de facto lightning-rod for the controversies and conflicts that ensued. Over time, Mahaney adroitly employed his political power as the movement’s founder and senior leader to out-manuever and eventually over-power Detwiler within the organization’s polity, producing a gradual fall from favor among the group’s leadership. In 2008, Detwiler was removed as a teacher at the Pastors College he founded twenty-five years prior. He was disfellowshipped from SGM the next year. In 2010, Detwiler began publishing a series of documents recounting years of attempted appeals to Mahaney and the SGM leadership to consider specific and documented critiques and criticisms of C.J.’s personal spiritual condition, sinful conduct and unbiblical attitudes toward others, his leadership methodologies, and a long record of questionable leadership practices. After first publishing “The Documents” on a document-publishing site, Detwiler later started a blog to store and make publicly accessible the documents, as well as to publish articles regarding these matters and other troubling and troublesome matters that have since continued to emerge regarding Mahaney and SGM, to include civil lawsuits, allegations of coverups of child-molestating by SGM employees and/or volunteer workers and failure to report same to law enforcement. Mahaney continues to deny and deflect the majority of the most significant criticisms, charges of wrong-doing, and any role of participation in any coverups or even knowledge of child-molesters functioning in SGM, and withdrew the original SGM church he founded from SGM and relocated it to Louisville, KY. The Pastors College was forced to close for financial reasons, lack of enrollments, and because an articulation agreement that had existed for many years between it and the Southern Baptist Convention’s primary seminary was cancelled by the seminary. Reportedly, at least 41 churches have withdrawn from SGM over the last few years, and many of its former top leaders, some of whom are Mahaney’s relatives, have disassociated themselves from SGM.]

Mark Driscoll’s “Domineering Leadership Style” Does Not Disqualify Him as a Pastor According to Mars Hill Board of Overseers
By Brent Detwiler

Mark Driscoll is giving up on Mars Hill Church like C.J. Mahaney gave up on Covenant Life Church.  Driscoll he is leaving because the church is “unhealthy for our family-even physically unsafe” and he doesn’t want “aspects of my personality and leadership style” that have been divisive to “detract from our church’s mission.”  “That is why…we step aside from further ministry at the church.” In other words, Driscoll is taking the high road! The church has done him wrong but he has done it right. He is resigning with “profound sadness” not because he should but because he is godly. In his mind, he is putting Mars Hill Church first. Continue reading “Mark Driscoll, C.J. Mahaney ‘Leadership Styles’ “Not Disqualifying” Says Boards” »

By John Stallings

If you like to read cartoons you’ll probably be familiar with the character “Pigpen” from the Peanuts series.

Pigpen always had a cloud of dust spinning around him. It seemed as if he didn’t do anything to cause it. It didn’t require any effort on his part to create the cloud. He didn’t even seem to be aware of the dust. The cartoon and the character Pigpen wouldn’t have been the same without that dust cloud.

Have you ever met a dusty Christian? I have. As a matter of fact I’ve been a little dusty myself from time to time. Of course, we’re not talking about actual dust here, but the residue that can stick to us as we move through the experiences of life.

In Matthew 10:14, Jesus gave some superb advice to His followers when they were faced with those who didn’t embrace their message. He told them as they went to spread the good news, not to waste time or get involved in a debate, but to just “shake the dust off your feet” and move on to the next house or village. Continue reading “Five Types of Dust God Wants You to Shake Off” »

A Horrible Illness Is Going Around
By John Stallings

Raining MoneyThere’s an illness going around. You’ve definitely heard of it, even if not by the name used here. It’s not the bird flu. It’s not the regular flu for which many have already gotten flu shots. It’s not one of the more notable illnesses, like AIDS, or HIV. But I’m sure you’ve heard of it. In fact, everyone has seen its devastating effects.

Some have seen it up close and personally. Some have experienced it themselves, or seen a loved one devastated by it. Some are plagued with this illness, perhaps a mild case only affecting a part of their life, but infected nonetheless.

The scary thing is how contagious it is, and how susceptible all of us are to this illness. Any of us can get the illness, and all of us have to take ongoing precautions against getting it. If we let our guard down, and don’t take illness prevention steps, it’s likely we’ll be infected.

Though we’ve heard many warnings about how this illness can affect us, we tend to think: No, not me; I won’t get this illness; I won’t be affected.

Let’s look at a passage of scripture that gives a warning about this illness, and then I’ll share with you a modern-day name for it. Continue reading “The Epidemic Illness Affecting Millions” »

The Unmitigated Disaster of Gay Marriage
By Dr. David Kyle Foster

Dr. David Kyle Foster

Dr. David Kyle Foster

For over 10 years I lived the homosexual lifestyle, and for 34 years I have not. And there are very good reasons for that difference. To those who suggest that I never was homosexual, my response is, “Does sleeping with over 1,000 men count?”

Oh yes. I was homosexual, though like most, I never wanted to have such attractions. I saw the narcissism and arrested emotional development all around me, and in me. Guys flitting around like Peter Pan were sometimes cute and funny, and certainly nonthreatening, but I wanted to be a grown up. I wanted to be a man. I wanted to be strong, solid, stable and reliable. Continue reading “The Utterly Destructive Choice of Homosexuality” »

[Editor’s Note: For those myriad ostrich Christians who rarely pull their heads out of the sand for a quick gander at what’s going on in Christendom, and find themselves—miracle of all miracles—reading this article, nascent in this hour are several of what could be called “doctrine wars” going on in the Body of Christ. Our view is that such über-discussions, if you will, are a good thing, because for the most part, purporting Christians as a whole in these last days tend to be an apathetic, uninformed, and far from a studious lot, particularly when it comes to the study-requiring and tedious task of doctrine-formulation. As a whole, they seem to basically not much care about much of anything going on in the Church, the nation, or the entire world, for that matter, except maybe in the “Cliff Notes” version. Regrettably, statistics gathered by professional researchers have over and over proved this to be the case. One of these controversies between cessationists, primarily fundamentalist Baptists (albeit, certainly, other Evangelicals identify with that camp as well) who seemingly out of nowhere (though it does suspiciously coincide with reported precipitously declining Southern Baptist adherents) began an all-out assault against the continuationist camp, comprised chiefly by Pentecostals and Charismatics. The cessationist aggression has been spearheaded by prominent Baptist Pastor, John MacArthur, who authored a book, Strange Fire, and convened a mega-conference of the same name. Charismatic scholar, apologist, and author, Michael L. Brown, whose coming to prominence was augmented by his association with and contribution to the so-called, Brownsville Revival, that evolved primarily from his friendship with the now late evangelist, Steve Hill, with his book, Authentic Fire, along with the inveterate former pastor of Westminster Cathedral, R.T. Kendall, with his book, Holy Fire, are two at the top of the list of authors in terms of notoriety countering the unfounded claims of the cessation combatants. The other spiritual maelstrom is between an ever-increasing spate of recently emerging “hyper-grace” teacher-authors and a number of teacher-authors countering the hyper-grace theories with monographic treatises demonstrating the utter fallacy and falsity of the hyper-grace claims. With his book, Hyper-Grace: Exposing the Dangers of the Modern Grace Message, Brown, perhaps, leads the latter cadre of apologists. At the core of the hyper-grace posits is the matter of the need for repentance that inures from what the Holy Spirit, in the Word of God, terms “conviction” and “godly sorrow.” Hyper-grace teachers adamantly assert there is no need for either, and that claims to the contrary are simply false and unbiblical. The following article, excerpted from a section of the same title of Brown’s book captures the essence of the counter-argument.]

Conviction vs. Condemnation
By Michael L. Brown, PhD

Unfortunately, some believers confuse conviction with condemnation, and the moment the Spirit speaks to them about something wrong in their lives, they feel hopeless and condemned, which only drives them further from the Lord. This is a lie from the enemy that must be exposed, and I stand with my colleagues in the hyper-grace camp when they seek to expose this destructive notion. Let the truth be shouted from the rooftops: the Holy Spirit never speaks condemnation to a son or daughter of God.

As I explained in my book Go and Sin No More, “If you are a born-again believer, a blood-washed child of God, you are not damned and doomed. God is not saying, ‘To hell with you! Depart from Me, you wicked one.’ Absolutely not! He is saying, ‘You are Mine! I accept you fully through My Son.’”[18]

What then is the difference between conviction and condemnation? Conviction says to the believer, “You have sinned, so come to Me!” Condemnation says to the lost and damned sinner, “You are pronounced guilty. Away from Me!” Continue reading “Conviction Vs. Condemnation” »

The Shattering of Jars of Clay

[Note: This article was modified on 5-2-14 with a link to a follow-up article by the author of this article (see bottom of article), which cites a so-called apology by Dan Haseltine.]

Jars of Clay Christian Band

Jars of Clay Christian Band

Beginning on Tuesday, April 21st, Dan Haseltine, front-man for the popular Christian band Jars of Clay, took to Twitter to announce his apparent support for same-sex “marriage.” And for the life of him, he can’t figure out a single good reason to oppose it.

It is for reasons like this that we have been sounding the alarm these last 10 years. Continue reading “Michael Brown Answers Jars of Clay Leader’s Pro Gay Marriage Tweets” »