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This article is part 1 of 1 in the series Spiritual Covering
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This multipart article is excerpted from my book, Uncovering the Myth of Spiritual Covering, which is adapted from my book, Charismatic Captivation—Authoritarian Abuse & Psychological Enslavement in Neo-Pentecostal Churches, first published in 1996. That book exposes the widespread problem of authoritarian abuse that has been flourishing virtually unabated for decades since it was first infused into the very fabric, foundation, and functions of the Charismatic/Neo-Pentecostal church during the false movement known as the Discipleship/Shepherding Movement (1970-77). The frequently quoted and alluded to volume spotlights the salient signs and symptoms of authoritarian abuse, dissects the fallacious doctrines behind it, and offers victims clear, concise steps for recovery from the psychological trauma and restoration from the spiritual damage they’ve experienced.

In the two decades since it was first released at the time of the publishing of this extract of it, Charismatic Captivation has been appraised and praised by Bible scholars and commentators, ministers, and laymen as the most comprehensive and convincing volume written to date on the particulars of the prevalent problem of Neo-Pentecostal authoritarian abuse, or what is also referred to as “spiritual abuse.” Many readers and analysts over the twenty years since it was first published have come to concur with the somewhat audacious claim emblazoned on the back-cover blurb that despite being “disdained by defiantly unrepentant perpetrators of Pentecostal predomination, Charismatic Captivation is undeniably a genuine prophetic word ordained by God to which He is now demanding obedience.”

If you have not read that book, I strongly recommend that you do for a better understanding of the context of the subject matter of this book and the larger issue of the widespread problem of authoritarian abuse transpiring particularly in the Charismatic/Neo-Pentecostal stream. Continue reading “Uncovering the Myth of Spiritual Covering” »

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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” »

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” »

TEN CONTRASTS BETWEEN ENTERTAINERS AND LEADERS
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 is 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 (Matt. 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 distained 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 adaptors” as their followers. It is easy to go with the mainstream, difficult to swim upstream; leaders swim upstream and are counter cultural.

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 then 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 gives 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 come 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.

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” »

Recently I heard a great prophetic teacher (Thamo Naidoo from South Africa) mention in his message that there is a difference between apostles of churches and apostles of Christ. He said that while there were many apostles of churches, there were only very few true apostles of Christ on the earth today. That one statement exploded on the inside of me and gave me much illumination.  I had never heard anyone make this delineation before, but it makes a lot of sense to me. The following is what I have unpacked in the scriptures since Thamo made this statement.

Essentially, the word apostle means a person who is sent to represent another, whether a king, kingdom, or entity like a church. 1 Corinthians 12:28 teaches that God places first in the church apostles, since they are sent by God to represent Him in a city to pioneer a beachhead (a church or ekklesia as shown in Matthew 16:18-19) for city transformation.

Apostles are the “sent ones” who represent the essence of what the church vision or mission is all about. In John 17, Jesus constantly referred to the fact that He was sent by the Father to the world, which is one reason why Hebrews 3:1 refers to Jesus as our Apostle. Jesus was God’s Apostle sent into the world to redeem it. In Revelation 22:14 we see the term “the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” There will never be another apostle added to that list since there were only twelve. However, it seems evident (at least to me) that Paul was also an apostle of Christ, which means this general category was not limited to merely 12 in total. Paul qualified his apostleship not only by planting churches but also by seeing Jesus (1 Cor. 9:1), which means that apostles at this level must have experienced a dynamic encounter and intimate walk with the Lord.

In the New Testament there were dozens of people identified as apostles. It is my view that since Paul was an apostle of Christ his apostleship transcended the churches he founded. Although Paul did not found the church in Rome, he was respected enough by the general body of Christ that he was able to write the letter to the Romans with apostolic weight and authority as if he was the one who planted it. Hence, apostles of Christ garner a high level of respect beyond the borders of their own church networks, even though they would never attempt to supplant the authority of an apostolic leader who is the founder and/or leader of another network (unless there was heresy or a gross violation of biblical ethics).

Also, Paul warned that there were some who were masquerading as apostles of Christ (2 Cor. 11:13), which probably means that this term (apostle of Christ) was used to identify some significant apostles who were not one of the original twelve. Furthermore, in 2 Cor. 8:23 Paul identified some as “apostles of the churches” (not “apostles of Christ”) which I believe refers to the fact that these leaders only had limited recognized apostolic authority related to representing a particular constellation of churches. Since apostles of Christ directly represent the Lord Jesus, they have a burden and calling for the whole body of Christ and/or a large expression of the global body of Christ. Apostles of Christ are also trans-cultural, trans-generational, and are more loyal to the Kingdom of God than to a specific geopolitical affinity.

The following are ten characteristics of apostles of Christ:

1. Apostles of Christ Build the Kingdom.
Oftentimes, church apostles are just focused on their local church and/or their network or denomination. One of the reasons is because their assignment is limited to those works they personally oversee or have founded. They do not have the grace or leadership capacity to go beyond their particular church system, doctrine and/or culture. On the other hand, apostles of Christ have an ambassadorial call that transcends any one church, movement or denomination. Hence, even if they try to focus on one group or movement, God will constantly pull them into other church communities and/or nations to build apostolic foundations related to doctrine or Kingdom life.

2. Apostles of Christ Are Not Hierarchical.
Generally speaking, church apostles can be caught up in titles, measures of influence within their movement, and/or church politics. Apostles of Christ do not personally crave titles (they will use them when appropriate) and do not need institutional church structures to validate their ministry or calling.

3. Apostles of Christ Don’t Strive For Recognition.
Philippians 2 teaches us that Jesus made Himself of no reputation. Apostles of Christ are often hidden and do not seek public attention, since they are already rooted strongly in their identity as sons of God and have no innate need for public acclaim.

4. Apostles of Christ Are Not Driven by Money.
Apostles of Christ have so much faith in their assignment from God, they trust God will provide all their needs as long as they are in His will. They do not go to a place to minister only because the offerings are good but will go only where the Lord is leading. Paul said he did not peddle the word of God for money (2 Cor. 2:17) and the apostle Peter warns shepherds not to minister for dishonest gain (1 Peter 5:2). Although I believe those who labor in the word full-time are worthy of double honor and should make a living from the gospel (1 Tim. 5:17; 1 Cor. 9:14), the bottom line for apostles of Christ is the will of God, not material gain.

5. Apostles of Christ Lay Down their Lives for the Gospel.
All of the original 12 Apostles (except John) as well as the apostle Paul were martyred for the gospel. As Jesus laid down His life for the sheep (John 10) those who represent Him are willing to die daily (Revelation 12:11; Acts 20:24; Galatians 2:19-20) whether it is to their own will or to literally lose their lives.

6. Apostles of Christ Have a Servant’s Heart.
Apostles of Christ are unassuming, do not have an entitlement mentality, have a servant’s heart, and do not lead with a top-down autocratic approach like the rulers of the Gentiles (Mark 10:42). They mimic Jesus’ words when He said that the greatest in the Kingdom is the one who serves (Mark 10:43-45).

7. Apostles of Christ Have Divine Influence and Calling Beyond their Network of Churches.
Although the apostle Paul strove not to preach where Christ was already named (Romans 15:20) his greatest epistle was to the church at Rome, where he endeavored to go in spite of the fact he was not their founding apostle. Paul had vast influence way beyond the primary sphere of activity he was focusing on (Read 2 Corinthians 10:10-14). His influence has even reached to us 2,000 years later through his inspired New Testament writings.

Since apostles of Christ represent the Lord Himself, by nature they have to be trans-national, trans-cultural, and multi-generational and have a desire for Kingdom advancement, not just the enlargement of their church networks.

8. Apostles of Christ Have an Intimate Walk with God.
Since apostles of Christ have to represent Jesus and not merely a church or denomination (of course all believers are called to represent Christ but apostolic callings have a greater measure of responsibility), they are obligated to know God intimately and walk in His presence and power.  All of the original 12 apostles walked with Jesus personally for more than three years before they were launched into their ministry, and Paul the apostle had a personal encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). All true apostles of Christ will have a driving passion to know God and to make Him known.

9. Apostles of Christ Endure Great Hardship.
Paul validated his apostleship by the immense hardships he endured, not just by signs and wonders and church planting (2 Corinthians 11:17-12:8). Paul said (1 Cor. 4:9) that apostles live like those condemned dying in the arena (or have the sentence of death upon themselves). This kind of apostolic leader must have the capacity for high-stress leadership combined with the kind of emotional maturity to deal with all kinds of difficulties that the average person could never endure.

10. Apostles of Christ Live in Simplicity.
Apostles of Christ do not need or desire to live a life of extreme luxury and opulence. Their spiritual and psychological needs have already been met through their deep and abiding relationship with Christ. They have been so satisfied with living with the person and presence of God that they count all things as dung compared to knowing Him (Philippians 3:8-14)! Their greatest desire in life is to fellowship with Him, meditate on the scriptures, and serve God’s people and Kingdom. Consequently they do not need to drive the most expensive cars, live in the largest houses or make a huge salary in order to be satisfied in this life. Consequently, they live in simplicity, are content with little and are not driven to pursue material possessions and pleasure.

After seeing these 10 traits, we can see how there are only very few apostles of Christ in this world. May the Lord raise more up in these days so the body of Christ can fully advance!

Heaven’s Prophetic Assignments
By John Eckhardt

God puts a prophet through a process of refinement. God purges the prophet and develops their character. The prophet has to respond to the dealings of God in his or her own life before they can effectively deal with the problems in the lives of others.

Sometimes as a prophet you will feel as if you are in a furnace. You may find yourself saying, “God, why are You dealing so strongly with me? Why don’t You deal with everyone else like this?” Don’t give up, prophet. Go through the process.

A prophet is a vessel. God purges His vessels. God will take the dross (impurities) out of your life. You have to become the raw material to be a prophetic vessel. Go through the process. Let the fire burn.

Prophet, don’t allow guilt, shame and condemnation to prevent you from accepting and walking in your calling. Many prophets struggle with feelings of inadequacy as a result of their past. Isaiah was purged and sent. Allow the Lord to purge you from sins of the past, walk clean before the Lord and fulfill your call.

Moses distinguished himself as a prophet by his faithfulness (Num. 12:7). Be faithful to the call and commission. Continue reading “Peculiarities of Present-Day Prophets” »

A.W. Tozer: Biographical Essay
By Rev. Dr. James L. Snyder

A.W. Tozer PhotoBorn April 21, 1897, in the mountainous region of western Pennsylvania, Aiden Wilson Tozer influenced his generation like no other individual.

During his lifetime, Tozer, as he preferred, earned the reputation of a twentieth-century prophet. His spiritual gifts afforded him a degree of insight regarding biblical truth and the nature and state of the evangelical church in his day. Able to express his perceptions in a beautiful, simple, forceful manner, Tozer was often the voice of God when the words of others were but echoes. He saw through the fog of modern Christianity, pointing out the rocks on which it might flounder if it continued its course.

Just before his 17th birthday, Tozer heard a street preacher on a corner in Akron, Ohio, as he walked home from his job at a rubber factory. He could not shake off the simple message. “If you don’t know how to be saved,” the preacher said, “just call on God, saying, ‘Lord, be merciful to me a sinner.'” Wrestling with God for some time at home, Tozer emerged from his attic sanctuary a new creature in Christ.

Under the tutelage of his future mother-in-law, Tozer progressed rapidly in the things of God. She encouraged him to read good books, study the Bible, and pray. She also urged him to preach, often gathering people in her home to hear him. Continue reading “A.W. Tozer – A 20th Century Prophet” »

IS “GRAVE SUCKING” ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF “CHARISMANIA”?
By Joseph Mattera

grave-sucking

There is something gaining more attention in some circles of the charismatic world called “grave sucking”.

Evidently, this refers to the practice of a believer going to the grave of a departed saint they revere (for example, Charles Finney or Kathryn Kuhlman) and lay on top of it and/or kneel in front of it so they can receive an impartation of the anointing (or mantle) of the departed saint.

This is nothing new. I heard several decades ago that Benny Hinn supposedly visited the gravesite of evangelist Kathryn Kuhlman to get her healing anointing. I also heard recently that a respected prophetic teacher I know visited the grave of Charles Finney (19th century revivalist) and had a tremendous experience with God as He renewed his vision and call to revive America. (Not sure this one exactly fits in the same category or that this leader would consider his experience “grave sucking”.) [We’re pretty sure by that leader’s explanation that it does NOT fit in the same category and that he does not consider his experience “grave sucking.” —Editor]

Also, regarding the possible connection between a manifestation of God at the grave of a departed saint, there is a story in 2 Kings 13:20-22 in which a person came back to life after he was inadvertently thrown into the grave of Elisha the prophet and happened to touch his bones!

While I am sure there are many well-intentioned and even some effective ministers who practice “grave sucking,” I have serious concerns regarding it. [We do not share this view that any ministers who practice it are well-intentioned or that they are “effective ministers,” except for the kingdom of darkness. One of the “effective ministers” the author is no doubt referring to is the New Age Neo-Charismatic leader of Bethel Church, Redding, CA, Bill Johnson, whose endorsement and encouragement of the practice was recently addressed in SLM. —Editor]

Before I list these concerns I want to say up front that I appreciate the fact that there is now more and more respect for church history. Furthermore, Hebrews 12:1-2 teaches us that the present day church is surrounded by a cloud of witnesses; this refers to the saints who have passed on to glory before us. This means that the church of the past is connected to the present and future church and that the First Testament saints are part of the New Testament church!

To be fair, I think any time we come face to face with a significant historical artifact, it can have a profound effect on us because the reality of the biblical or historical story becomes more real. This is why we visit museums; this is why many people are greatly affected when they visit one of the death camps of the Nazi Jewish Holocaust and why many Christians go to Israel and are blessed. It is an amazing experience to see firsthand the land of the Bible and to physically see the places where the saints of old walked with God.

I am sure that if I visited the grave of one of my heroes like Finney, Calvin or Luther, I would be greatly blessed. Not because their anointing is still in the grave but because the physical marker (their graves) may aid me in believing and remembering their lives and legacies, which could open me up by faith to go to another level with God. If that is all these so called “grave suckers” are doing then I am fine with it.

However, this is not the impression I am getting from what I have heard.

The following are seven concerns I have about grave sucking:

1. It distracts from the true power source of our anointing.

The Word of God is clear that the true source of our anointing is from God (Acts 1:8). James 4:4 teaches that if we draw near to God He will draw near to us. Joshua 1:8, Psalm 1 and 119, and 2 Timothy 3:15-16 teach that meditation on the word day and night is the key to our biblical success. Many charismatics want shortcuts to the anointing and desire results from an instant microwave experience or a one-time event. Instead of wasting their time traveling to “grave suck”, they should discipline themselves to seek God, pour over His word and dig down deep in His presence.

2. We get equipped for the work of the ministry by the present-day fivefold ministry gifts.

Ephesians 4:7-12 teach us that the grace we need to minister comes from the ministry gifts of apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastor/teachers. Reading the context of the Bible clearly shows that the equipping and grace/impartation we need comes from those we are sitting under and trained by, not those who have already died. Hence, the spirit that was on Moses came upon 70 elders (Numbers 12) and then upon Joshua (Numbers 27) to help equip them to lead, but that experience was handed down personally to those who walked with Moses. We do not read about others in later generations getting Moses’ spirit; the same when Elijah passed his mantle onto Elisha.

Regarding John the Baptist coming in the spirit and power of Elijah (Luke 1:17-19): that was referring to God divinely placing an assignment upon John from birth, it did not come from John finding Elijah’s grave and sucking out the anointing! Furthermore, John was carrying on the next phase of a ministry Elijah started and was perhaps the last in a line of prophets from the school of the prophets Elijah led at one time (which was started by the prophet Samuel).

Hence, the anointing, spiritual DNA and legacy of a person can be extended generationally via a divine assignment and/or training and impartation, but not through “grave sucking”.

3. The only spirit of a departed person that is promised is the Holy Spirit sent by Jesus.

Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to His followers after He left the earth (John 14-16) which He said would empower us to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8). Consequently, the spirits of the departed saints are not sent down from heaven nor are they dispensed from the place where their bodies were buried.

4. It can make an experiential doctrine out of a mysterious unique biblical story.

As mentioned, 2 Kings 13 gives us a story of a person who came back to life after touching the bones of Elisha. Some have no doubt that the power of God was still in his grave and/or that the miracle-working anointing of Elisha was still residually present on his bones. We have to remember that this is a strange, unique, mysterious story and that it is dangerous to formulate a doctrine and/or practice based on one obscure passage. This is how cults have started. We need to compare scripture with scripture and if there is an isolated obscure passage we encounter, then we should refrain from conjecture and not make a doctrine out of it until we can establish a clear biblical pattern. Also, it must be noted that the person in this passage was raised from the dead. The Bible does not indicate that he received Elisha’s anointing, mantle or became a prophet.

Furthermore, that may have been just one sovereign act of God to remind the Jews of their heritage and the unique prophetic calling Elijah handed down to Elisha.

5. The spirit, power and anointing of these saints is no longer in the ground.

The Bible teaches that when believers are absent from the body they are present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). This implies that our spirit leaves our body when we physically die. Hence, it is no longer on the earth and thus no longer in the grave.

6. It can lead to saint worship and necromancy.

One thing I greatly respect in the Christian Eastern Orthodox tradition is their love of the (spiritual) fathers and patriarchs. Unfortunately, some have taken their reverence too far and worship and pray to images of departed saints. There is a fine line between venerating the saints of old and worshipping them, especially to those who may be biblically ignorant among them. Also, many in this tradition have put the writings of the apostolic fathers (those leaders of the church who came after the first-century apostles) on the same level of scripture, something I disagree with for many reasons too numerous to cite here.

In the Roman Catholic tradition we actually see the official practice of Mary worship and saint worship. Furthermore, it is common for a Roman Catholic to pray to one of the canonized departed saints. Whenever we go to a departed saint for something instead of directly to Jesus we violate scriptures like 2 Timothy 2:5 and John 14:6, since we only have one designated mediator between God and man: Jesus Christ. Grave sucking comes perilously close to saint worship and, if not corrected, could also lead to communing (speaking) with departed saints. After all, if we can receive an anointing from the grave of a departed saint, who is to say we cannot receive advice and/or life altering visions from that same saint?

Finally, this could eventually lead to necromancy, which is witchcraft and has to do with conjuring up the spirits of the dead. Scripture teaches this is wrong even if you are trying to contact a departed saint (1 Samuel 28).

7. This could further divide the body of Christ.

Grave sucking seems like lunacy, not just to nonbelievers but probably to most Bible-believing Christians. Why? Because there is no specific biblical pattern that demonstrates it and/or commands or encourages it. Consequently, it further perpetuates the belief many hold in the evangelical camp that charismatics emphasize subjective experience more than the authority of scripture. Possibly the worst thing about grave sucking is that it could further divide the body of Christ at a time when we need true believers to unite more than ever before.###

[We agree that “grave sucking” is lunacy and another item on the long and growing list of demonically-inspired practices of Charismania and Charismaniacs. We also, however, believe that the time has come to name and call out the so-called leaders who espouse and promote such clearly demonic, New Age practices, such as the apparent chief leaders of same at this time, Bill and Beni Johnson, who we believe to be very, very spiritually dangerous people, in that they are leading multiplied thousands around the world into Biblically-condemned New Age religious practices and anti-Christ “doctrines of demons.” —Editor]

For three years or so the Lord has been speaking to me out of the prophetic prediction of Malachi 3:1-6 concerning imminent events that He will be orchestrating in the Church that He is building, i.e., the genuine Body of Christ. In the first quarter of this year, the Lord has been continually increasing the intensity and urgency of what he has been showing and telling me in this regard. I cannot possibly convey much at all of those prophetic insights He’s been communicating to me here in this forum and format or at this time because it is far too expansive and extensive and I have only recently begun to attempt to transfer it from my spirit to paper, so to speak, or in reality, to computer. I will, however, be progressively sharing it in some books and study courses I am currently and concurrently working on.

Anyone who has any substantial experience in “prophetic writing” knows how arduous, strenuous, and time-consuming such an endeavor can be, especially when words so often fail when attempting to convey spiritual impressions, concepts, precepts, and insights into human language as the medium of natural – i.e., intellectual – assimilation. I cannot account for the experiences of other prophets, but I know in my own case, what I “see” in my spirit, is so clear, precise, unambiguous, forthright, apparent, but when I attempt to communicate what I’ve seen in the spirit for consumption by others, words/language fail, and communication methodology conventions hinder rather than help. Or maybe in reality its just my own communication capacities that are lacking.

Many times I’ve wished that God would allow at least momentarily a peeling back of the clouds of human carnality overlaying our spiritual senses (hearing and sight) so that pristine spirit-to-spirit communication could transpire, but as idealistic and desirable as that might seem, it is not His plan or desire. Maybe some of those who are called upon by the Lord to communicate prophetically to God’s people understand what I am trying – probably ineptly and inartfully – to say.

Notwithstanding, I rise today through the auspices of this forum to make a sincere and earnest attempt to convey what I believe I received as a prophetic word from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church, which He has instructed me to convey to the Church He is building, that is, His Body. A few days ago, I heard Him instructing me in my spirit to sit down at my computer, write what He speaks to me, and title it “A Prophetic Prognosis.” I did; He did; and what He spoke is what this article is about. It is too long and would take up too much space to place the whole message into this post format. So I have summarized what He spoke to me here and provided a link to the PDF document that contains the entire prophetic word. Continue reading “A Prophetic Prognosis” »

Why Mega-Church Pastors Shouldn’t Skip Local Pastor Gatherings
By Joe McKeever

“We then who are strong ought to bear with…the weak, and not to please ourselves.  Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. For even Christ did not please Himself….” (Romans 15:1-3)

Outside observers are often surprised to learn that in many cities after churches grow to a certain size, they cut off fellowship with all the other congregations in their area.

Pastors of those mega churches pull away from the ministers of the small congregations in the same city, as though they now live in different worlds. They give the impression that they have been elevated to such a higher plane that the only ones who now speak their language lead churches of similar or greater size.

The truth, I sometimes suspect, is that they feel more comfortable with peers of similar status who also make the big bucks and do not feel guilty that their income is ten times that of the part-time preacher sitting next to them.

It’s utterly foolish, if you ask me. It’s prideful, egotistical, and completely counter-productive to the work of the Kingdom. Continue reading “Why Large-Church Pastors Should Attend Area Pastor’s Meetings” »

I feel led of the Lord to address a very vital matter that is a stumbling block for many people that prevents them from receiving the ministry they desperately need for their life.

From the beginning of human history, God has always used people as vessels through whom to do what He wants to do on Earth. It would take quoting half the Bible to provide Scripture for that, so obviously that’s impractical here. But, anyone who knows much about the Bible and “His-story” knows that’s true. One Scripture sort of sums it all up for me: “The heavens are the heavens of the LORD, But the EARTH He has given to the sons of men” (Psa. 115:16).

Beginning with Adam and Eve, God established Mankind as the surrogate caretakers of the Earth. So, God has always worked through human surrogates or stand-ins. What He does on Earth, He does primarily and preeminently through people — people acting as God’s human agents or operatives. The Bible is FULL of stories demonstrating that God works through people, and distributes what He distributes through people, and does whatever He does through people.

Ministry—of all things—is the same. Genuine, God-called, God-appointed ministers are God’s select surrogates through whom He distributes blessings and all manner of ministry. Not to say that one cannot receive directly from Him as a result of your intimacy with Him, particularly when you’ve drawn near to Him and He then has drawn near to you. Of course, direct, personal ministry from God is also a reality. But, the fact is that sometimes God chooses to do what He does — even regarding ministry — through someone else, a fellow human, rather than directly. In fact, if that were not true, there would be no need at all for ministers.

Jesus gave a word of instruction to the original apostles that is also a word to everyone in the ministry in all ages, though actually the most frequently quoted part of that word is only one part of the message He spoke: “FREELY you received, FREELY give!” (Mat. 10:8). While this word is one of the most important words He gave to His disciples, unfortunately it has also become one of the most misunderstood and misapplied words of Jesus. Many people whose hearts are not right even though they may claim to be Christians refer to this passage as proof text for their completely erroneous and ludicrous assertion that ministers should do all they do for free, i.e., without any compensation for their labors whatsoever. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth! Continue reading “Did Jesus Command Ministers to Minister Without Compensation or Support?” »

The matter of the Discipleship/Shepherding controversy and “movement” is virtually unknown to many believers who have come to the Lord since the controversy erupted in the mid-1970s. Additionally, apparently there are many who came to the Lord prior to the development of the Discipleship movement who, nonetheless, have no awareness or only a vague awareness of its existence. Personally, I do not know how such a highly publicized and public controversy could have possibly escaped any believer’s notice, nevertheless, that is the claim of many.

Despite that unawareness, however, those who are unaware are not by virtue of that unawareness unaffected by the matter. Quite to the contrary, many of those same people who claim to be totally uninformed concerning the controversy attend churches or are part of organizations or networks in which the basic tenets of Discipleship are being espoused and practiced, albeit, in most cases, now covertly. It is these uninformed and unsuspecting victims of deception I most hope to reach with the message of this book.

There are a large number of professing believers who are not of this category of the uninformed, who are quite aware of this controversial matter, who have nevertheless, evidently of their own free will, opted to align themselves with these heretical beliefs and practices by attending churches or being members of groups or organizations who espouse them. These people have apparently made this choice despite the fact that the Discipleship/Shepherding philosophies, doctrines, and practices have been unequivocally repudiated and proven to be utterly false, and their originators have long since been discredited and fallen into disrepute.

My hope is that those who continue to associate themselves with these doctrines and practices will read and seriously weigh the evidence presented in these pages, and that they will, as a result, renounce and repent from these destructive heretical teachings and practices. That is my hope and prayer, as well as my reason for writing Charismatic Captivation.

Sadly and unfortunately, however, it has been my experience that many of those who have been heavily indoctrinated by “doctrines of demons” such as this, which are inspired by “deceitful (seducing, KJV) spirits” and promulgated “by means of the hypocrisy of liars,” tend to become “seared over in their conscience as with a branding iron” (1 Tim. 4:1,2) by the error. In other words, the false doctrine becomes virtually indelibly imprinted upon the minds of those who have been fully indoctrinated by the devilish error. The deception permeates the entire belief system of those indoctrinated by it. Unless they are willing to yield to supernatural deliverance by the Spirit of God, as the brand seared into the hide of a cow by means of a red-hot branding iron is unremovable, it is virtually impossible to remove this deception from the minds of those who have been infected with it. Continue reading “The Discipleship/Shepherding Movement” »

17 Signs You’re an “Empire Builder,” Not a “Kingdom Builder”
By Joseph Mattera

Ever since the Western and Eastern branches of Christianity divided in the 11th century, some of the greatest fears of the once united Christendom has been realized—fragmentation and division.

Even in the 16th century when Martin Luther led the Protestant Reformation, there was the hope that there would only be a few major expressions of the body of Christ—never in their wildest dreams did the reformers envision all the denominations and now various branches and networks of Christianity that have evolved—which has given opportunity for a spirit of lawlessness, independence and empire building among some insecure but gifted leaders. Whether all these expressions are of God or not is not the purpose of this article. Continue reading “17 Signs Distinguishing Kingdom Builders From Empire Builders” »

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/

This article is part 1 of 1 in the series God's Theocracy

Moses & Israelites Exodus

The Church is the quintessential Theocracy. Its government is not a political government wherein the governed themselves constitute, devise, and effect their own government, such as that of this nation, the United States, which is a form of democracy (a republic), supposedly “of the people, for the people, and by the people.” Rather, the Church is literally governed by a singular Supreme Potentate—the Lord Jesus Christ—who God has appointed as its Sole and Sovereign Head. Thus, the ultimate Theocracy. The absolute necessity of understanding this one concept is emphasized and re‑emphasized repeatedly in the volume from which this article is extracted, and indeed is the ultimate and salient point of that book, Charismatic Captivation.

But, once it is understood that Christ Jesus Himself is the ultimate Head and Cornerstone of the Church, it is just as vital to understand that the government Jesus presides over is an intermediated or proxy government in its physical application. In other words, He does not govern alone, nor directly, nor even in person. Rather, His government is a “representative” or “delegate” form of government, if you will. This is to say that as God set apart and specially consecrated the Levites under the Old Covenant to represent Himself unto the people, so also Jesus appoints, anoints, and sends special envoys, ambassadors, to represent Him and His government unto the Church. These envoys are His personal proxies, His delegates, His stand‑ins, whom He sends to convey and effect His purposes, plans, pleasures, and passions. Continue reading “How God’s Theocracy Manifests on Earth” »

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?” »

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EIGHT WAYS A LOCAL CHURCH CAN LIMIT BELIEVERS
By Joseph Mattera

I have served as a senior pastor for 30 years, and I have also worked extensively with political, community and business leaders over the past three decades. As my understanding regarding the Kingdom of God and marketplace ministry has evolved, I see church with a new lens and notice the frustration many young people and professionals have regarding their local churches. Many in these categories feel limited rather than celebrated and released into their callings. Continue reading “How Empire-Building Church Leaders Limit Followers” »

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” »

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