Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Megachurch Pastor Kong Hee Still Wading Through Singapore Church Financial Scandal

Charisma News

After a setback on Monday when Singapore’s City Harvest Church failed to get its case dismissed in court, it appears the megachurch’s two-year legal drama is still not over.

A judge ruled that six current and former leaders—including the church’s founding pastor, Kong Hee—need to answer allegations that they misused millions in church funds to finance the career of Kong’s pop-star wife, Sun Ho.

The 20,000-member church, founded in 1989, has become one of the country’s largest and fastest-growing churches. According to The Wall Street Journal, City Harvest’s followers are “drawn by its charismatic style of evangelism and teachings that material wealth is compatible with Christian beliefs.”

The newspaper adds, “The case has stoked debate over the growing wealth and influence of megachurches in the multireligious city-state, which takes pride in maintaining social harmony with secular policies.”

Presiding judge of the state courts, See Kee Oon, dismissed the arguments from Kong’s defense lawyers that prosecutors haven’t produced enough evidence to show a crime was committed.

The other defendants are Pastor Tan Ye Peng, members Chew Eng Han and Lam Leng Hung, and accountants Serina Wee Gek Yin and Sharon Tan Shao Yuen. They all face 10 to 20 years if convicted.

Prosecutors last month said that church leaders conspired to misuse around 24 million Singapore dollars ($19.2 million) in donated money, which was to go to building-related expenses, to help fund Ho’s career. Additionally, four of the six—not including Kong—allegedly misused 26.6 million Singapore dollars ($21.3 million) to cover up the previous transactions.

The charges of conspiring to engage in criminal breach of trust were filed in mid-2012 following a two-year investigation by Singapore's commissioner of charities and the police. All six have denied the charges.

Ho, who has not been accused of any wrongdoing, resumed her role as City Harvest’s executive director last year after her suspension was lifted. Kong continues to lead the church as senior pastor.

The trial is expected to resume in July.

Critics Accuse 'Jesus Calling' of Mixing Truth With New Age Error

Charisma News

'Jesus Calling'

A best-selling devotional is causing controversy as watchdog groups and individuals make accusations of unbiblical and New Age influences, WND reports.

Jesus Calling, which released in 2004, currently ranks No. 1 on numerous lists. The book, which has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide, was written by Sarah Young.

Young, who plants churches with her husband in Australia, reportedly has a philosophy degree from Wellesley College, a counseling degree from Georgia State University and a master’s degree from Tufts.

Warren B. Smith, a Christian author who left the New Age movement in 1984, has published a book called “Another Jesus” Calling, in which he explains his concerns and critiques Young’s book.

“We’re getting incredible response to my book,” he says, “because her book is indefensible!”

Thomas Nelson has published various editions of Jesus Calling. The company’s senior vice president of publishing, Laura Minchew, disputes the claims and says the book has impacted countless people.

“I will tell you that should anyone hint of New Age teachings in Jesus Calling, they would be sorely misinformed,” she told WND.

“We are releasing a new 10th anniversary edition of the book in September,” she notes. “We have added an expanded ‘Author Note’ that looks back at how the book was published and includes stories from the thousands of comments we have received about the impact of this book on people’s lives.”

She continues, “Jesus Calling has been such a comfort and source of peace for so many. It helps readers spend time with the Lord. People’s lives have been touched for good by this book. I would ask that you not try to make a controversy that has no merit, just for the sake of readership.”

But Smith isn’t the only one who has expressed concerns about the book. Chris Quintana, pastor of Calvary Chapel Cypress in Cypress, California, is alarmed by its success.

“Jesus Calling is just the latest fad to come through the church,” he explaines. “Like The Shack or The Prayer of Jabez before it, when truth is mixed with error, then it becomes heralded as the new wonderful thing. The church embraces and promotes it because those who should know better … don’t.

“The Jesus of Scripture would be appalled by the ‘Jesus’ of this book, and I am sure is grieved over the misrepresentation,” he adds. “There are some pages where nothing objectionable can be found, so people let their guard down. The book was given to them by a friend, or purchased through their church bookstore, etc. It then becomes trusted and they fail to see the error of the mystical ‘Jesus’ found therein.”

Jesus Calling currently ranks No. 1 in the inspirational/general interest category, according to the Association for Christian Retail, or CBA. The children’s version ranks No. 2 for the 2014 children’s category and No. 3 in the young adult category for the teen edition.

Bill Gothard Refutes Any Sexual Innuendos in Hugs, Foot Contact With Women

Charisma News

Bill Gothard made quite a name for himself in the home-schooling movement. Now his name is associated with something less honorable.

Gothard, 79, resigned from Basic Life Principles, the organization he founded, after allegations he was sexually harassing women. He has remained silent until now.

“I have withheld this statement in order to honor the request of the Board of Directors to wait until an initial review has taken place,” he wrote in a blog post. “As the review continues, I now want to make this statement.”

Here is Gothard’s statement:

"God has brought me to a place of greater brokenness than at any other time in my life. It is a grief to realize how my pride and insensitivity have affected so many people. I have asked the Lord to reveal the underlying causes and He is doing this.

"For many years I have been building the Institute but losing my first love for the Lord. God warns 'I know thy works, and thy labour . . . Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent. . . ' (Revelation 2:2, 4, 5). I was finding value and affirmation from the accomplishments of the ministry and those involved in it instead of filling this void in my life with God and His love. I have repented in deep sorrow. However, over the years many people have been offended in different ways because of my lack of genuine love.

"I put the Institute and its goals ahead of people and their needs. Standards became more important than relationships. People who didn’t 'measure up' were cut off and those who were not seen as adding value to the ministry were treated as though they were expendable. The more I have listened to people describe their experiences the more grieved and sorrowful I have become.

"My wrong focus produced a further consequence. Families were made to feel that they must 'measure up.' This resulted in some parents putting undue pressure on their sons and daughters in order for the family to be accepted. When there was a lack of love or consistency, sons and daughters saw this as hypocrisy and rejected it. Also, many felt that the expectations where so high that they could never measure up to them. This resulted in a feeling of deep defeat.

"This emphasis on outward appearance was also manifested by bringing selected young people to serve at the Headquarters and causing others to feel rejected and offended by my favoritism. My actions of holding of hands, hugs, and touching of feet or hair with young ladies crossed the boundaries of discretion and were wrong. They demonstrated a double-standard and violated a trust. Because of the claims about me I do want to state that I have never kissed a girl nor have I touched a girl immorally or with sexual intent.

"I have failed to live out some of the very things that I have taught. I am committed to learning from my failures by God’s grace and mercy, and do what I can to help bring about Biblical reconciliation as Jesus commands: 'Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift' (Matthew 5:23-24).

"More than anything I want to make right what I have done wrong and deepen my relationship with the Lord. I trust in God’s undeserved mercy and pray that those whom I have offended would find grace to forgive me. I know that I do not deserve this. I would certainly appreciate your prayers during this time that God would bring healing to those who have been so deeply affected by my actions. I am grateful for the opportunities I have had thus far to be reconciled with individuals and it is my goal to contact as many others as I can, fully hear them, and do whatever I can to bring about Biblical reconciliation.

"My greatest offense has been against God. I have earnestly sought His mercy and forgiveness and have asked Him to allow me to experience more of Him and the power of His resurrection.

"Bill Gothard"

Home-Schooling Leader Bill Gothard Resigns Amid Abuse Allegations

Bill Gothard

Bill Gothard, an Illinois-based advocate for home schooling and conservative dress who warned against rock music and debt, has resigned from the ministry he founded after allegations of sexually harassing women who worked at his ministry and failing to report child abuse cases.

Gothard’s resignation from the Institute in Basic Life Principles, according to a letter sent to families affiliated with the ministry he founded, comes a week after he was put on administrative leave. According to an organizer involved in the whistle-blowing website Recovering Grace, 34 women told the website they had been sexually harassed; four women alleged molestation.

RNS spoke with several women who alleged they were sexual harassed, including one woman who alleged that Gothard molested her when she was 17.

Gothard is 79 and single.

Gothard told the Board of Directors he wanted to follow the New Testament command to listen to those who made accusations against him, according to an email sent from David Waller, administrative director of the Advanced Training Institute to families involved in the ministry.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus directs his followers to “go and be reconciled” if “your brother or sister has something against you.”

“To give his full attention to this objective, Mr. Gothard has resigned as president of the Institutes in Basic Life Principles, its Board of Directors, and its affiliated entities,” Waller’s email said.

Waller said the two institutes will continue under interim leadership, including upcoming conferences in Nashville and Sacramento under ATI president Chris Hogan.

Gothard’s ministry had been a popular gathering spot for thousands of Christian families, including the Duggar family from TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting.” Gothard’s Advanced Training Institute conferences were also popular among families within the Quiverfull movement, who eschew birth control and promote big families.

Gothard has also rubbed shoulders with Republican leaders. He and former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee were photographed at a campaign lunch together; former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue spoke at one of Gothard’s conferences; and Sarah Palin, when she was a small town mayor in Alaska, attended his International Association of Character Cities conferences declaring  Wasilla among Gothard’s “Cities of Character.”

The allegations against Gothard dovetail with financial woes. In recent years, IBLP’s net revenue has dropped significantly, and the ministry is losing money. Between 2009 and 2012, it lost $8.6 million. Its net assets dropped from $92 million in 2010 to $81 million in 2012. It held 504 seminars in 2010, but that number dropped to fewer than 50 in 2012.

Kenneth Hagin’s Forgotten Warning By J. Lee Grady Charisma Magazine

CBN.com – Charismatic Bible teacher Kenneth Hagin Sr. is considered the father of the so-called prosperity gospel. The folksy, self-trained “Dad Hagin” started a grass-roots movement in Oklahoma that produced a Bible college and a crop of famous preachers including Kenneth Copeland, Jerry Savelle, Charles Capps, Jesse DuPlantis, Creflo Dollar and dozens of others—all of whom teach that Christians who give generously should expect financial rewards on this side of heaven.

Hagin taught that God was not glorified by poverty and that preachers do not have to be poor. But before he died in 2003 and left his Rhema Bible Training Center in the hands of his son, Kenneth Hagin Jr., he summoned many of his colleagues to Tulsa to rebuke them for distorting his message. He was not happy that some of his followers were manipulating the Bible to support what he viewed as greed and selfish indulgence.

Those who were close to Hagin Sr. say he was passionate about correcting these abuses before he died. In fact, he wrote a brutally honest book to address his concerns. The Midas Touch was published in 2000, a year after the infamous Tulsa meeting.

Many Word-Faith ministers ignored the book. But in light of the recent controversy over prosperity doctrines, it might be a good idea to dust it off and read it again.

Here are a few of the points Hagin made in The Midas Touch:

1. Financial prosperity is not a sign of God’s blessing. Hagin wrote: “If wealth alone were a sign of spirituality, then drug traffickers and crime bosses would be spiritual giants. Material wealth can be connected to the blessings of God or it can be totally disconnected from the blessings of God.”

2. People should never give in order to get. Hagin was critical of those who “try to make the offering plate some kind of heavenly vending machine.” He denounced those who link giving to getting, especially those who give cars to get new cars or who give suits to get new suits. He wrote: “There is no spiritual formula to sow a Ford and reap a Mercedes.”

3. It is not biblical to “name your seed” in an offering. Hagin was horrified by this practice, which was popularized in faith conferences during the 1980s. Faith preachers sometimes tell donors that when they give in an offering they should claim a specific benefit to get a blessing in return. Hagin rejected this idea and said that focusing on what you are going to receive “corrupts the very attitude of our giving nature.”

4. The “hundredfold return” is not a biblical concept. Hagin did the math and figured out that if this bizarre notion were true, “we would have Christians walking around with not billions or trillions of dollars, but quadrillions of dollars!” He rejected the popular teaching that a believer should claim a specific monetary payback rate.

5. Preachers who claim to have a “debt-breaking” anointing should not be trusted. Hagin was perplexed by ministers who promise “supernatural debt cancellation” to those who give in certain offerings. He wrote in The Midas Touch: “There is not one bit of Scripture I know about that validates such a practice. I’m afraid it is simply a scheme to raise money for the preacher, and ultimately it can turn out to be dangerous and destructive for all involved.”

(Many evangelists who appear on Christian television today use this bogus claim. Usually they insist that the miraculous debt cancellation will occur only if a person “gives right now,” as if the anointing for this miracle suddenly evaporates after the prime time viewing hour. This manipulative claim is more akin to witchcraft than Christian belief.)

Hagin condemned other hairbrained gimmicks designed to trick audiences into emptying their wallets. He was especially incensed when a preacher told his radio listeners that he would take their prayer requests to Jesus’ empty tomb in Jerusalem and pray over them there—if donors included a special love gift. “What that radio preacher really wanted was more people to send in offerings,” Hagin wrote.

Thanks to the recent resurgence in bizarre donation schemes promoted by American charismatics, the prosperity gospel is back under the nation’s microscope. It’s time to revisit Hagin’s concerns and find a biblical balance.

Hagin told his followers: “Overemphasizing or adding to what the Bible actually teaches invariably does more harm than good.” If the man who pioneered the modern concept of biblical prosperity blew the whistle on his own movement, wouldn’t it make sense for us to listen to his admonition?

J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma magazine.

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John Piper Responds to Pastor David Yonggi Cho's Conviction for Embezzling $12M by Making Plea to US Pastors

Christian minister John Piper is seen in this photo shared publicly in 2012 by his Desiring God ministry on Facebook

When asked about the conviction of David Yonggi Cho, founder of world's largest Pentecostal congregation in South Korea, for embezzling $12 million from his church, popular pastor John Piper took the opportunity to warn pastors in the U.S. who might "love money," in a recent message.

"With every public dishonoring of Christ, every public dishonoring of His Word and His Gospel, and His Church, it makes me angry and it makes me sorrowful," said Piper in a recent episode of Ask Pastor John.

Yonggi Cho who pastors Yoido Full Gospel Church and oversees a network of churches numbering 800,000, was found guilty by a South Korean court for committing breach of trust and corruption amounting to $12 million, according to Yonhap News Agency. He received a suspended sentence of three years in prison with a five year probation and was ordered to pay a penalty of $4.7 million by Seoul Central District Court on Feb. 20.

One of Cho's sons, Hee-jun, who serves as secretary general of Yeongsan Christian Cultural Center and was a former chairman of Next Media, was sentenced to three years in prison.

"My response to this is really not to pile on any additional condemnation … but rather to try to respond for the rest of us in a way that tries to prevent these kinds of things," said Piper.

"I want pastors to keep watch on themselves. I have five pleas to pastors. My hope is that pastors will listen this and take this 68-year-old pastor's heart-aching that we not bring this kind of reproach on the name of Christ," he continued. He then listed five precautions pastors should take to avoid the sinful seduction of money.

1. Kill every desire to be rich and get rich

Don't want this. If you see the desire in your heart take aim at it with the words of Christ and the words of Paul and put it to death with a swift blow with the sword of the spirit. Jesus said how difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom. In other words don't want this.

2. Pastors, if you see your income starting to grow, set a governor on it

Keep away from accumulating more and more and communicating to your people that you lay up treasures on earth. One of the best ways to do this I think, is to grow the percentage of your giving. I'm not impressed with a pastor who gives 30 percent of a million dollar royalty check and keeps 70 percent of it to buy luxuries with. I've heard pastors boast that they give 30, 40 percent. I'm not even impressed with giving 90 percent of a $10 million royalty check and keeping a million dollars to play with. While you look like every other millionaire and think that you have done a virtuous thing. Money is insidiously deceptive. We've seen it over and over again and I'm pleading with pastors, be content with what the church pays you and give the rest away with joy and strategic wisdom.

3. Be totally transparent with your fellow elders about your sources of income

These elders should not be the wealthy powerful peers from outside the church. That is an unbiblical way to lead your flock. It has no biblical foundation and it communicates distrust for your local leaders and a kind of pride that you are above their local accountability. Let all the books of your income be open to any member of your church who asks the elders. Secrecy around money is deadly. It's a sign that something is not right so work to give your ministry the flavor, 'we're not like peddlers of God's word.'

4. Live simply to show that your treasure is in heaven and not on earth

Please don't write this off as pauper theology. There goes Piper again with his pauper theology. That is absolutely ridiculous. The kind of distortion that makes of what I'm saying is a sign of fear that what I'm saying just might be true.

Get a car that works; that gets you where you need to go. Get a car that doesn't break down on you every few months. I'm talking about a modest entertainment budget that doesn't eat out every night. I'm talking about a refreshing vacation, not an exorbitant one. I'm talking about clothes that are unremarkable and undistracting, both for not being shabby and not being brand driven. I'm talking about a home that accomplishes your family and ministry purposes leaning towards ordinary folks in your congregation, not the wealthiest.

5. Put in place a leadership structure of a plurality of elders

A council of elders on which you the pastor have one vote. You are a chief among equals…not by having veto power over everyone else.

"I'm so jealous of these things because I am jealous for the name of Christ. His name is being blasphemed Paul said … the name of God is being blasphemed because of you. 'You abhor idols and you rob temples.' That is hypocrisy to the core … that is happening today because of pastors who love money," Piper ended.


David Yonggi Cho, Founder of World's Largest Church, Found Guilty of Breach of Trust, Corruption


David Yonggi Cho, founder of world's largest Pentecostal congregation, was found guilty by South Korean court for committing breach of trust and corruption of 13 billion won (US $12 million), according to Yonhap News Agency. 

Yoido Full Gospel Church senior pastor received a suspended sentence of three-year prison term with a five year probation and ordered to pay a penalty of 5 billion won (US $4.7 million) by Seoul Central Distrcit Court on Feb. 20, 2014. 

The court also sentenced Cho's elder son Hee-jun, secretary general of Yeongsan Christian Cultural Center and former chairman of Next Media, to a three-year prison term without suspension. He was formally arrested before the court ruling, the Yonhap News reported.

In 2002, while serving as chairman of a church-affiliated newspaper Kookmin Ilbo, Hee-jun sold the church 250,000 shares of stock in I-Service at 86,984 won (US$80.06) per share, which was much more expensive than the market price of 24,032 (US$22.12) per share, the hankyoreh reported.

Prosecutors identified David Cho as an accomplice to the crime of breach of trust, claiming that Cho used the money to help his son recover losses made in stock investements. 
According to hankyoreh, Cho had directed the transaction, which the church has "absolutely no need for" and resulted in a loss, to be dealt with as quietly as possible despite his full knowledge of the potential "uproar" from the elders and congregation if they find out.

The church's loss of 131 billion won resulted in 29 church elder's filing the lawsuit in 2011, accusing him of embezzling US $20 million. In addition, prosecutors acquired evidence of tax evasion during the investigation, where Cho was suspected of evading 3.5 billion won (US $3.2 million). 

While Cho has denied the allegation, he has also been criticized for privatizing church assets. 

Although the judge believes that Cho should be severely punished for committing breach of trust, especially for a person of his status in society, he gave a light sentence on Cho's tax evasion in consideration of Cho's long-term contributions to the society, the Yonghap News reported. 

The court sentenced Hee-jun to three years in prison for being the main culprit, who tried to evade responsibility - placing his personal financial loss on the church and the blame on others. 

Cho, 78, founded Yoido Full Gospel Church in 1958 and it now claims more than 450,000 followers. His proteges have built their own "disciple churches" across the country, creating a congregation of around 800,000, with Cho as the leader. 

David Yonggi Cho Responds to Guilty Verdict: 'Hardest Day of 50 Years of Ministry Service'

Pastor David Yonggi Cho, founder of the world's largest Pentecostal congregation, gave his reflection during the first Sunday Service after a South Korean court found him guilty of breach of trust, corruption and tax evasion, and sentenced him to three years in prison with a five-year probation and 5 billion won (US$4.67 million) in fines.

The 78-year-old disgraced megachurch pastor said that it was the hardest day of his 50 years of ministry when he heard the verdict on Thursday.

"Through this suffering, I've learned a homework. An individual shouldn't possess anything," Cho told his congregation at Yoido Full Gospel Church on Feb. 23, 2014. "Besides health, status, fame, authority, money... these are all matters that are outside the body and unworthy of any pursuit."

According to reports, Cho was identified as an accomplice through committing breach of trust in 2002 by ordering the church to purchase his elder son Hee-jun's stocks at four times the market price. The transaction resulted in the church's loss of 13 billion won (US$12 million). Moreover, Cho was also found guilty of tax evasion of 3.5 billion won (US$3.3 million).

In the same ruling, Cho's elder son Hee-jun, the former CEO of the church-affiliated local daily Kookmin Ilbo, was sentenced to three years in prison for colluding with his father in the embezzlement scheme.

Cho did not argue against the judgment, but, instead, examined himself from the perspective of faith.

"God forbid, if God calls me back today, I will still be able to go to the Kingdom of God," he said. Cho then asked that the congregation to pray for his successor pastor Young Hong Lee.

In his sermon, Lee apologized to the congregation for the negative impacts that Cho's case have brought upon them. He encouraged them to forget the past and press on towards the future, and to continue the spread of the Gospel to those who have yet to receive the great love of Christ.

Senior pastor Lee said that Yoido Full Gospel Church was purchased with a heavy price - the blood shed by Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore no power of darkness can divide the church. Lee encouraged the congregation to become one body in the Holy Spirit and to be more diligent in the Lord's Holy work.

Attack of the Super Apostles!

Are you hearing phrases like “Obey, Apostolic Mandate, Five Fold Ministry, Tithing, Honor the Pastor, Set Man, Theocracy, Under Authority, Covering, Robbing God, or Submit” at your church?

Cultwatch’s web servers are running hot as Christians rush to download Cultwatch’s in depth expose of the “Super Apostles”. If you are a Christian you need to read these articles. Get informed and get warned about the Super Apostles’ clandestine push to mainstream Mind Control practices in the Christian Church. Protect yourself, your friends and family.

Note: Cultwatch helps people of all belief systems. This article is aimed at a Christian audience and so contains discussions of specific Christian beliefs. People who are not Christian may not find it Interesting.
Warning Introduction

It all started several years ago as Cultwatch began receiving isolated reports of the same Mind Control techniques usually found in the cults being used in certain New Zealand Christian churches. The reports were concerning enough for Cultwatch to start an investigation. Since then these reports have increased in frequency and intensity. Numerous people have independently reported that the techniques detailed in the Cultwatch web site www.HowCultsWork.com are becoming common place in more and more Christian churches both in New Zealand and around the world. Our research has confirmed that certain Christian Pastors have turned to Mind Control as a technique for growing their church. We have copies of their tapes, sermons, seminars, courses, and other documentation, that provide solid evidence of their deliberate employment of Mind Control (see the Cultwatch web site www.HowCultsWork to learn more about Mind Control). Unfortunately these Pastors have done significant damage to individual Christians.

However something was puzzling us. During our investigation we began to notice a disturbing trend relating to the spread of these underhanded techniques. These were not isolated instances; instead their spread seemed to be carefully orchestrated. Were there masterminds behind this phenomenon?
Was someone, or some people deliberately promoting these unchristian practices?

This text you are reading is Cultwatch’s initial warning regarding this threat to the Body of Christ. It is a summary, which avoids mentioning names, for now. Its aim is to alert Christian leaders to the danger of this insidious movement so that they can avoid being tricked themselves. It is also our hope that the Super Apostles themselves will realize the error of their ways and pull back from propagating these illegal practices. Otherwise we will be forced to publicly expose them.

The Warning

False apostles are rising up in New Zealand, the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, and in other countries. They plan to subjugate (to bring under control and governance as a subject, to conquer) Churches and their leaders. From what we can tell these “Super Apostles” aim to build a fiefdom (a medieval feudal estate) of churches with themselves as the lords, second only to God himself (the King). What these self-proclaimed apostles lack in solid Biblical Doctrine they make up with cultic Mind Control techniques (also known as spiritual abuse) and hyped prosperity preaching.”

The Super Apostles claim that the Biblical ministry of an apostle has been forgotten, and God has called them to restore it. Of course it is presumptuous of the Super Apostles to think that this God ordained ministry has died, but that is what they claim. The Super Apostles are in effect promoting a false apostolic ministry.

Now a biblical model of an apostle can be found in Paul, a hard working humble man who was not rich, except in his incredible passion for the gospel and correct doctrine. Paul was an apostle who knew the bounds of his authority, for example in 2 Corinthians 8:8 where he refrained from commanding the Corinthians to give money.

However these Super Apostles do not follow Paul’s example. They are rigorous self-promoters who see power and wealth as important goals. They demand that you cede (to yield typically by treaty) to their authority. Church members must sign “covenants” stating that they will obey the church leadership. Church leaders themselves must “submit” their lives to the Super Apostles. To not submit is to rebel against God’s will and condemn you to a barren Christian life outside the protection of the Super Apostles magical “umbrella of authority”. For those who do not yield it is claimed God will leave them to fend for themselves when the enemy comes. Also rebels will suffer a life of physical poverty, not to mention terrible accidents and diseases. To reject the Super Apostles themselves is the greatest sin. Do not even suggest that they are wrong; the spiritual repercussions could be horrendous!

Authority is a key word for this clandestine movement. Everyone must be under authority. That is, under their authority. Now of course apostles did have authority in Scripture, but these new apostles claim that authority as their own, and a great deal more too. Under the catch cries of “Church Governance” and “The Church is a theocracy not a democracy” they employ standard cultic Mind Control methods. They practice “enforced giving”, where tithes and offerings of church members are recorded. Members who do not give the “correct” amount are disciplined and held back from leadership. People are banned from going to other churches and working for Para church organizations not under the apostle’s control. They control relationships, ordering people to stay away from friends and family outside the movement. Some even demand Christian members seek permission to marry each other. They run a reporting structure where members watch other members, and confidential information is passed up through the leadership pyramid. Some members have even had their rooms searched. People who wish to live in cities where there is no branch of the Super Apostle’s church are told not to go. Time control sees endless compulsory meetings. Failing to attend a meeting is noticed and the member is spoken to Breaking sessions are employed where leaders “character assassinate” a member until they break down. Church members are given the impression that they can only be saved by being part of the Super Apostles church. Churches outside the “kingdom” are fallen and dead. Not all of these apostles state this so blatantly, but this is the impression they cultivate within their churches. However some do allude to this in the public arena, so confident they are that God is on their side.

“The term “Local Church” is an important phrase in their onslaught. They claim that no Christian work can be outside of the Local Church. Para church organizations are in error for not being controlled by a “Local Church”. Of course what they really mean is that no Christian work can legitimately exist outside of the control of a Super Apostle. The idea that those Christians under the Super Apostle’s control cannot work outside of a “Local Church” has already lead to an increased disunity in the Body of Christ. Carried through to its logical conclusion this exclusive doctrine will result in extreme disunity since no one will work together. Also their concept of the Local Church will lead to turf wars analogous to those seen in medieval Europe as the lords of that time fought to increase their fiefdoms at the expense of others. Already this sort of behaviour has been reported. For example recently an itinerant preacher who held a seminar in Palmerston North was challenged by a local pastor to what he was doing ministering in their area.”

How do they justify their stance? The Super Apostles look to pragmatism as their justification for practice, rather than Scripture. What works becomes standard operating procedure; hardly any consideration is given to whether it contravenes Scripture. Where a practice is questioned Scriptures are taken out of context, or twisted, to give the illusion that the Bible allows these methods.

These apostles surround themselves with “bodyguards”. People who isolate them from the workings of their churches. In all probability the Super Apostles do not know the extent of damage their reign is causing, since their bodyguards shield them from the hurt that is resulting in their followers.

Finances are an important area they seek to control. Some of these Super Apostles are more open with their church finances than others. These apostles and their families (nepotism is rife) receive significant incomes from their work. They drive expensive cars, live in luxury homes; some are given cash gifts, jewellery, ocean cruises, and other expensive holidays. Some have even formed an inner circle of the very rich within their churches who in return for their significant giving receive privileges other church members do not (James 2:1-9). Apparently being good stewards of the money people give to God is not high on these apostles’ priorities. No one would object to a pastor who has earned wealth through his business, with the caveat that he was not a lover of money. But no example can be found in Scripture of Jesus or the apostles gaining temporal wealth via the taking of gifts given to God. “Do not muzzle the Ox” these apostles retort, but they forget the other side of this biblical word picture, that the ox is a slave tethered to a pole. Christian leaders are slaves to the gospel, they deserve their due, but it is wrong for them to be gluttonous.

Having examined the teaching of the Super Apostles it makes us wonder about their true purpose. So often do the Super Apostles rave about financial matters we must ask if money is not their primary goal. New recruits converted on Sunday sign an automatic payment forms on Monday. Some of the Super Apostle’s ranting’s about “robbing God” by not giving their church your tithe, plus offerings of course, border on maniacal. Members have reported many of these over-the-top speeches are often deleted from tapes and videos of sermons, which implies someone in their leadership knows they are wrong. For those who are fans of the movie The Matrix, Morpheus’s speech to Neo regarding the purpose of the Matrix comes to mind. If we were being cynical we could imagine that Morpheus was talking about the Super Apostles instead of the Matrix.

“And standing there, facing the pure horrifying precision.
I came to realize the obviousness of the truth.

Continue reading HERE!

How Pastors Get Rich

This article exposes the secret methods certain pastors use to get rich off God’s people. Have you ever wondered how some pastors start a church and then become wealthy living in flash houses and driving luxury cars? Well this article exposes how they do it, extracting money from their congregations to fund their lifestyles. Here are the secrets they definitely do not want you to know.

Listen to the author being interviewed about How Pastors Get Rich on the Janet Mefferd Radio Show:

(If you would like to download the MP3 right click here Janet-Mefferd Show on How Pastors Get Richand ‘Save File’ or ‘Save Link’. This should work for most browsers.)
Important Note: As you read please remember that very few pastors use the techniques you are about to discover. The great majority of Christian pastors do not earn much money even though they work hard at their jobs. Most Christian pastors would find these techniques repugnant. Please do not make the mistake of tarring the many good pastors with the brush reserved for the spiritually corrupt few.

Table of Contents
  • Introduction
  • The Multilevel Marketing Pattern
  • Books
  • DVDs
  • Hyped Conferences
  • The Christian Speaking Circuit
  • Pastor Owned Businesses that Feed Off the Flock
  • The Honor the Pastor Scam
  • High Pressure Offerings
  • Cathedral Building Wars
  • Siphoning Cash into Property
  • Excessive Wages
  • Perks
  • Nepotism
  • Their Fabricated Tithing Doctrine
  • The Carrot and the Stick

Why you should read this article
  • You will discover the secret techniques that certain pastors use to transfer money out of your pocket and into theirs.
  • You will understand the overall pattern behind their tricks.
  • You will learn enough to protect your friends and family.
  • You could gain thousands of dollars (or pounds or euros), literally. Reading this article can set you free. Free to keep more of the money that you have worked hard for. Money you can take and invest in genuine works of God, or in toys for your kids, or perhaps something shiny for your spouse.
Finally, reading this article can help you please God more, since you will no longer be investing in ungodly works.

Continue reading here

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Can Spirit-Filled Christians Be Oppressed by Demons?

How can Spirit-filled Christians be oppressed by demons? Watch deliverance minister Don Dickerman answer this question and offer guidance on casting out evil spirits in the videos below.

Would the Early Church Be Able to Recognize the American Church?

By today’s standards in the American church, Jesus wasn’t cut out to be a pastor, nor would His ministry be highlighted as a model for church planters. Consider these facts:

Jesus had the greatest preaching, teaching and healing ministry in history. Thousands came to hear Him, followed His every move and lined the streets to get a glimpse of Him or simply touch Him. Yet amid His rock-star popularity, He intentionally offended religious leaders, challenged potential mega-donors and weeded out casual followers with tough teachings. Not exactly the textbook strategy you’d find today to grow your church, much less your Facebook likes and Twitter followers.

After Jesus spent three and a half years ministering to thousands, His church consisted of only 120 disciples gathered in the upper room. And even that was a low turnout, considering He had appeared to more than 500 people after His resurrection (1 Cor. 15:6).

But we know the rest of the story: how the 120 quickly became 3,120 and grew daily to where even unbelievers credited Jesus’ followers as those “who have turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). The truth is, we know that Jesus’ divine church-growth tactics surpass all others—with the proof being a global church that, 2,000 years later, refuses to die while it works to fulfill His Great Commission.

Why, then, do we in the 21st-century American church focus on all the elements that Jesus didn’t? He focused on training and equipping 12 disciples; we focus on growing our crowds and spheres of influence, regardless of whether those people follow Jesus. He preached an uncompromising message of truth; we sugarcoat the gospel until we’re saccharine-high on deception. He walked among His enemies in love; we ostracize our enemies by blasting them for all their sins.

Indeed, most of the U.S. church is enamored with size over substance and microwave growth over true reproduction. Research shows that while 235 million people call themselves Christians, only 40 percent of those meet regularly with fellow believers and only a fourth (at most) read the Bible on a regular basis. It’s time we discovered the marks of the real church, measured by Jesus’ standards rather than our own trendy metrics. So what are those elements? Here are just a few.

1) Love. Jesus defined a premier characteristic of His church in John 13:35: “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” If we can’t even love fellow believers—if we skewer each other over theological differences and cultural preferences—how can we expect the world to want what we have? Transforming the world with God’s love starts right where we are, on the home front, as we learn to love each other as Christ loved us.

2) Prayer. Jesus was constantly communicating with the Father, listening for His thoughts and seeing where He was already moving. Luke’s Gospel shows that little happened in Christ’s life without Him first praying. Why, then, do most church gatherings today focus so little on prayer? In trying to be culturally relevant and seeker-sensitive, we’ve conveyed that this essentiality of our faith—both individually and corporately—is secondary. That can’t be if we want to mimic Jesus.

3) Persecution. We in the West equate religious freedom and the lack of persecution with blessing. Yet when you look for the most powerful churches in the world, where the Spirit moves freely and in fullness, you’ll always find persecution. It’s time we wake up and realize that persecution galvanizes and unifies the body of Christ like few other pressures. Remember, Jesus promised persecution to those who truly follow Him (Matt. 5:11-12; John 15:20). When was the last time you saw this promise fulfilled in your own life or church?

4) Power. Jesus also promised that His followers would do greater works than He did (John 14:12)—a promise sealed by the gift of the Holy Spirit to empower us. Wherever the early apostles and church went, the miraculous followed. Though there have been seasons of Holy Spirit revival in our nation, even charismatic churches today are de-emphasizing such things as praying for the sick, demonic deliverance or the prophetic. Making room for the Spirit’s supernatural movement isn’t an option; it’s the mark of those who truly follow Christ.

Charisma has highlighted eight of the biggest issues today’s American church faces. Some are core to our nation’s culture wars; others are more exclusive to believers. Regardless, all require the church to stand up as representations of Christ and be the solution—just as Jesus modeled.

Marcus Yoars is the editor of Charisma. Check out his blog atmarcusyoars.com or connect with him via Twitter at @marcusyoars orfacebook.com/marcusyoars.

Were Ananias and Sapphira Believers?

Were Ananias and Sapphira believers who were judged by God because of their blatant sin? According to one prominent pastor, they were not, since things like this do not happen to believers in Jesus, to those under grace, since the Lord already took our judgment on the cross. Is this pastor correct?

Actually, the text does not tell us explicitly whether they were believers or not, but without a doubt, this account was recorded as a lesson for all of us, and the New Testament makes very clear that the Lord sometimes judges His own blood-bought people who engage in blatant sin.

Are we willing to accept the testimony of the Word of God?

This pastor, who is a gifted teacher with many good things to say, claims that in Acts 5, it is “very clearly stated” that Ananias and Sapphira were not believers, and for him, the lesson we learn from this passage of Scripture is that God will judge those who try to hurt the church, which is “very consoling” for him.

Of course, the New Testament does say clearly, “If anyone destroys God’s temple [which refers to us, His people], God will destroy him” (1 Cor. 3:17, ESV), but again, that is not the lesson of Acts 5.

To be clear, nowhere does Acts 5 say that Ananias and Sapphira were not believers. It only says that they conspired to deceive. So, we are not told about whether they were unsaved deceivers or believers who conspired to deceive.

What we do know is that as a result of the judgment that fell on this couple, “great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things” (Acts 5:11). Great fear!

If this was God’s protective hand, keeping the church from being deceived by this unsaved couple—as this pastor alleges, and which he finds “very consoling”—then why did “great fear” come “upon the whole church”?

For argument’s sake, let’s say that Ananias and Sapphira were not true believers. The church still saw this as an example of God’s holiness and of the reality of the presence of His Spirit, as a result of which great fear came upon the believers (as opposed to great consolation).

What about this pastor’s teaching that “even when you sin, there is no more judgment,” because Jesus took our judgment on the cross?

Actually, the Word says that there is no condemnation—meaning final judgment, damnation—for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1), so in that sense, absolutely, Jesus took our judgment at the cross. In Him, we will never be condemned, and that is something to shout about. Praise God for that!

But the New Testament plainly states that God does judge His people, meaning that He brings loving discipline and correction, sometimes sternly. And while it is gloriously true that our sins are forgiven in Jesus, there can be still consequences to our sins in this life, just as an alcoholic forgiven for decades of drinking may still develop cirrhosis of the liver.

Paul addresses the question of divine discipline in 1 Corinthians 11, where he rebukes the believers there because of their abuses at their communal meals where they partook of the Lord’s Supper. Some were getting drunk on the wine while others were eating all the bread before the other hungry believers arrived, which made a mockery out of this sacred meal.

He wrote, “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world” (vv. 27-32).

Some hyper-grace teachers argue vigorously that it was unbelievers at Corinth who got sick or died when they partook of the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner.

But the overall text of 1 Corinthians makes such an interpretation impossible, since Paul writes to the church (ekklesia) in Corinth, to those sanctified in Messiah Jesus (see 1 Corinthians 1:2), and every time he says “you” or “we” or “us,” he is referring to believers, often in contrast with the lost. (See, for example, 1 Corinthians 5:9-10; 6:1-6; 14:23-26.)

The immediate context of 1 Corinthians 11:27-32 also makes clear that Paul is speaking about believers, referring to “many of you” being sick (with some even dying), speaking of the need for us to judge ourselves so that we will not be judged by the Lord, and stating clearly that when He does discipline us, it is so that we will not be “condemned along with the world.” (This does not mean that God makes us sick; the sickness and dying were evidence of something being very wrong, pointing here to divine discipline.)

But these are not the actions of an angry, mean-spirited, fault-finding, nitpicky God. They are the actions of a compassionate and holy Father who loves us more than we could ever imagine and who, in strong actions motivated by love, sometimes disciplines us to keep us from destroying ourselves, destroying others or bringing reproach to His name.

This should cause us to walk in holy fear—meaning reverential awe—before Him, as Peter wrote: “And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Pet. 1:17-19).

It was Peter who also wrote, “For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Pet. 4:17).

Paul taught in 1 Corinthians 10:1-12 that the judgments God brought on the Israelites in the wilderness were written down for our benefit, so that we would not follow in their footsteps. May I quote a portion of this to you?

“Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.’ We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (vv. 6-12).

Why give these warnings if we could not possibly be judged (again, I didn’t say condemned) or disciplined by the Lord? And why did Paul say over and again, “Don’t do this and don’t do that,” if, as is commonly taught by hyper-grace leaders, the New Testament way of turning believers away from sin is to speak only of the goodness of God, since it is His goodness alone that leads us to repentance?

The fact is, just as the fear of the Lord came on Israel when Nadab and Abihu were judged in Leviticus 10 (for the context, be sure to read the previous chapters), the fear of the Lord came on the early church when Ananias and Sapphira were judged in Acts 5. This teaches us an important lesson about God’s holiness, a lesson about the sacred responsibility of ministering before Him (see Lev. 10:3).

That’s why Hebrews 12 closes with this exhortation for us as children of the new covenant, for those who have not come to Mount Sinai but to the heavenly Jerusalem: “See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. ... Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire” (vv. 25, 28-29; the CSB renders verse 28 with, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us hold on to grace. By it, we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe.”).

This too is part of the New Testament message of grace.

Will we receive it, or will we turn the Word on its head to conform it to what we already believe?

Please do give this prayerful consideration before the Lord. We cannot afford to trivialize these holy truths.

Michael Brown is author of Hyper-Grace: Exposing the Dangers of the Modern Grace Message and host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show The Line of Fire on the Salem Radio Network. He is also president of FIRE School of Ministry and director of the Coalition of Conscience. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or at @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.

50 Things the Holy Spirit Does in Your Life by Frank Viola

Holy Spirit

Editor's Note: The following article comes from Frank Viola's new book,Jesus Now: Unveiling the Present-Day Ministry of Christ.

1. The Spirit convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8).

2. The Spirit guides us into all truth (John 16:13).

3. The Spirit regenerates us (John 3:5-8; Titus 3:5).

4. The Spirit glorifies and testifies of Christ (John 15:26; 16:14).

5. The Spirit reveals Christ to us and in us (John 16:14-15).

6. The Spirit leads us (Rom. 8:14; Gal. 5:18; Matt. 4:1; Luke 4:1).

7. The Spirit sanctifies us (2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 1:2; Rom. 5:16).

8. The Spirit empowers us (Luke 4:14; 24:49; Rom. 15:19; Acts 1:8).

9. The Spirit fills us (Eph. 5:18; Acts 2:4; 4:8, 31; 9:17).

10. The Spirit teaches us to pray (Rom. 8:26-27; Jude 1:20).

11. The Spirit bears witness in us that we are children of God (Rom. 8:16).

12. The Spirit produces in us the fruit or evidence of His work and presence (Gal. 5:22-23).

13. The Spirit distributes spiritual gifts and manifestations (the outshining) of His presence to and through the body (1 Cor. 12:4, 8-10; Heb. 2:4).

14. The Spirit anoints us for ministry (Luke 4:18; Acts 10:38).

15. The Spirit washes and renews us (Titus 3:5).

16. The Spirit brings unity and oneness to the body (Eph. 4:3; 2:14-18). Here the Spirit plays the same role that He plays in the Godhead. The Spirit is the life that unites Father and Son. The Spirit plays the same role in the church. When the Spirit is operating in a group of people, He unites them in love. Therefore, a sure evidence of the Holy Spirit working in a group is love and unity, not signs and wonders (those are seasonal and can be counterfeited).

17. The Spirit is our guarantee and deposit of the future resurrection (2 Cor. 1:22; 2 Cor. 5:5).

18. The Spirit seals us unto the day of redemption (Eph. 1:13; 4:30).

19. The Spirit sets us free from the law of sin and death (Rom. 8:2).

20. The Spirit quickens our mortal bodies (Rom. 8:11).

21. The Spirit reveals the deep things of God to us (1 Cor. 2:10).

22. The Spirit reveals what has been given to us from God (1 Cor. 2:12).

23. The Spirit dwells in us (Rom. 8:9; 1 Cor. 3:16; 2 Tim. 1:14; John 14:17).

24. The Spirit speaks to, in and through us (1 Cor. 12:3; 1 Tim. 4:1; Rev. 2:11; Heb 3:7; Matt. 10:20; Acts 2:4; 8:29; 10:19; 11:12, 28; 13:2; 16:6,7; 21:4, 11).

25. The Spirit is the agent by which we are baptized into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13).

26. The Spirit brings liberty (2 Cor. 3:17).

27. The Spirit transforms us into the image of Christ (2 Cor. 3:18).

28. The Spirit cries in our hearts, “Abba, Father” (Gal. 4:6).

29. The Spirit enables us to wait (Gal. 5:5).

30. The Spirit supplies us with Christ (Phil. 1:19, KJV).

31. The Spirit grants everlasting life (Gal. 6:8).

32. The Spirit gives us access to God the Father (Eph. 2:18).

33. The Spirit makes us (corporately) God’s habitation (Eph. 2:22).

34. The Spirit reveals the mystery of God to us (Eph. 3:5).

35. The Spirit strengthens our spirits (Eph. 3:16).

36. The Spirit enables us to obey the truth (1 Pet. 1:22).

37. The Spirit enables us to know that Jesus abides in us (1 John 3:24; 4:13).

38. The Spirit confesses that Jesus came in the flesh (1 John 4:2).

39. The Spirit says, “Come, Lord Jesus,” along with the bride (Rev. 22:17).

40. The Spirit dispenses God’s love into our hearts (Rom. 5:5).

41. The Spirit bears witness to the truth in our conscience (Rom. 9:1).

42. The Spirit teaches us (1 Cor. 2:13; John 14:26).

43. The Spirit gives us joy (1 Thess. 1:6).

44. The Spirit enables some to preach the gospel (1 Pet. 1:12).

45. The Spirit moves us (2 Pet. 1:21).

46. The Spirit knows the things of God (1 Cor. 2:11).

47. The Spirit casts out demons (Matt. 12:28).

48. The Spirit brings things to our remembrance (John 14:26).

49. The Spirit comforts us (Acts 9:31).

50. The Spirit makes some overseers in the church and sends some out to the work of church planting (through the body) (Acts 20:28; 13:2).

The Holy Spirit unites us to Jesus Christ and to His body. The Spirit reveals Christ to us, gives us His life and makes Christ alive in us. The Spirit takes the experiences of Jesus—His incarnation, ministry, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension—and brings them into our own experience.

Frank Viola is a speaker, entrepreneur, author and writer of the blog Beyond Evangelical.

8 Women Christian Men Should Never Marry by J. Lee Grady

Last week my column “10 Men Christian Women Should Never Marry” went viral. More than 1.2 million people have shared that message so far—most likely because so many single men and women are seriously asking for guidelines on finding a compatible mate.

In response I received numerous requests to share similar guidelines for men who are looking for wives. Since I am mentoring several young men right now and have seen a few of them marry successfully during the past few years, it wasn’t difficult to draft this list. These are the women I tell my spiritual sons to avoid:

1. The unbeliever. In last week’s column, I reminded women that the Bible is absolutely clear on this point: Christians should not marry unbelievers. Second Corinthians 6:14 says, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (NASB). Apart from your decision to follow Christ, marriage is the single most important decision you will ever make. Don’t blow it by ignoring the obvious. You need a wife who loves Jesus more than she loves you. Put spiritual maturity at the top of your list of qualities you want in a wife.

2. The material girl. One young friend of mine was engaged to a girl from a rich family. He saved up money for months to buy a ring, but when he proposed she told him he needed to go back to the jewelry store to buy a bigger diamond. She pushed her fiance to go into debt for a ring that fit her expectations. She wanted a Tiffany’s lifestyle on his Wal-Mart budget. I warned my friend that he was stepping into serious trouble. Unless you want to live in debt for the rest of your life, do not marry a girl who has dollar signs in her eyes and eight credit cards in her Gucci purse.

3. The diva. Some macho guys like to throw their weight around and pretend they are superior to women. Divas are the female version of this nightmare. They think the world revolves around them, and they don’t think twice about hurting somebody else to prove their point. Their words are harsh and their finger-snapping demands are unreasonable. Some of these women might end up in leadership positions at church, but don’t be fooled by their super-spiritual talk. Real leaders are humble. If you don’t see Christlike humility in the woman you are dating, back away from her and keep looking.

4. The Delilah. Remember Samson? He was anointed by God with superhuman strength, but he lost his power when a seductive woman figured out his secret and gave her man the world’s most famous haircut. Like Delilah, a woman who hasn’t yielded her sexuality to God will blind you with her charms, break your heart and snip your anointing off. If the “Christian” woman you met at church dresses provocatively, flirts with other guys, posts sexually inappropriate comments on Facebook or tells you she’s OK with sex before marriage, get out of that relationship before she traps you.

5. The contentious woman. A young man told me recently that he dated a girl who had serious resentment in her heart because of past hurts. “Before I would propose, I told my fiancee she had to deal with this,” he explained. “It would have been a deal-breaker, but there was a powerful breakthrough and now we are engaged.” This guy realized that unresolved bitterness can ruin a marriage. Proverbs 21:9 says, “It is better to live in a corner of a roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman.” If the woman you are dating is seething with anger and unforgiveness, your life together will be ruined by arguing, door-slamming and endless drama. Insist that she get prayer and counseling.

6. The controller. Marriage is a 50/50 partnership, and the only way it works is when both husband and wife practice mutual submission according to Ephesians 5:21. Just as some guys think they can run a marriage like a dictatorship, some women try to manipulate decisions to get their way. This is why premarital counseling is so important! You don’t want to wait until you’ve been married for two weeks to find out that your wife doesn’t trust you and wants to call all the shots.

7. The mama’s girl. It’s normal for a new wife to call her mom regularly for advice and support. It is not normal for her to talk to her mother five times a day about every detail of her marriage, including her sex life. That’s weird. Yet I have counseled guys whose wives allowed their mothers (or fathers) total control of their marriages. Genesis 2:24 says a man is to leave his parents and cleave to his wife. Parents should stay in the background of their children’s marriages. If your girlfriend hasn’t cut the apron strings, proceed with caution.

8. The addict. So many people in the church today have not been properly discipled. Many still struggle with various types of addictions—to alcohol, illegal drugs, prescription medicines or pornography—either because we don’t confront these sins from the pulpit or we don’t offer enough compassionate support to strugglers. Jesus can completely set a person free from these habits, but you don’t want to wait until you’re married to find out your wife isn’t sober. You may still be called to be married, but it is not wise to tie the knot until your girlfriend faces her issues head-on.

Your best rule to follow in choosing a wife is found in Proverbs 31:30: “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” Look past the outward qualities that the world says are important, and look at the heart.

To get the other side of this story, read "10 Men Christian Women Should Never Marry."

J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma and the director of the Mordecai Project.

10 Men Christian Women Should Never Marry by J. Lee Grady

My wife and I raised four daughters—without shotguns in the house!—and three of them have already married. We love our sons-in-law, and it’s obvious God handpicked each of them to match our daughters’ temperaments and personality.

I have always believed God is in the matchmaking business. If He can do it for my daughters, He can do it for you.

Today I have several single female friends who would very much like to find the right guy. Some tell me the pickings are slim at their church, so they have ventured into the world of online dating. Others have thrown up their hands in despair, wondering if there are any decent Christian guys left anywhere. They’ve begun to wonder if they should lower their standards in order to find a mate.

My advice stands: Don't settle for less than God's best. Too many Christian women today have ended up with an Ishmael because impatience pushed them into an unhappy marriage. Please take my fatherly advice: You are much better off single than with the wrong guy!

Speaking of “wrong guys,” here are the top 10 men you should avoid when looking for a husband:

1. The unbeliever. Please write 2 Corinthians 6:14 on a Post-it note and tack it on your computer at work. It says, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (NASB). This is not an outdated religious rule. It is the Word of God for you today.

Don’t allow a man’s charm, looks or financial success (or his willingness to go to church with you) push you to compromise what you know is right. “Missionary dating” is never a wise strategy. If the guy is not a born-again Christian, scratch him off your list. He’s not right for you. I’ve yet to meet a Christian woman who didn’t regret marrying an unbeliever.

2. The liar. If you discover that the man you are dating has lied to you about his past or that he’s always covering his tracks to hide his secrets from you, run for the nearest exit. Marriage must be built on a foundation of trust. If he can’t be truthful, break up now before he bamboozles you with an even bigger deception.

3. The playboy. I wish I could say that if you meet a nice guy at church, you can assume he’s living in sexual purity. But that’s not the case today. I’ve heard horror stories about single guys who serve on the worship team on Sunday but act like Casanovas during the week. If you marry a guy who was sleeping around before your wedding, you can be sure he will be sleeping around after your wedding.

4. The deadbeat. There are many solid Christian men who experienced marital failure years ago. Since their divorce, they have experienced the Holy Spirit’s restoration, and now they want to remarry. Second marriages can be very happy. But if you find out that the man you are dating hasn’t been caring for his children from a previous marriage, you have just exposed a fatal flaw. Any man who will not pay for his past mistakes or support children from a previous marriage is not going to treat you responsibly.

5. The addict. Churchgoing men who have addictions to alcohol or drugs have learned to hide their problems—but you don’t want to wait until your honeymoon to find out that he’s a boozer. Never marry a man who refuses to get help for his addiction. Insist that he get professional help and walk away. And don’t get into a codependent relationship in which he claims he needs you to stay sober. You can’t fix him.

6. The bum. I have a female friend who realized after she married her boyfriend that he had no plans to find steady work. He had devised a great strategy: He stayed home all day and played video games while his professional wife worked and paid all the bills. The apostle Paul told the Thessalonians, “If anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either” (2 Thess. 3:10). The same rule applies here: If a man is not willing to work, he doesn’t deserve to marry you.

7. The narcissist. I sincerely hope you can find a guy who is handsome. But be careful: If your boyfriend spends six hours a day at the gym and regularly posts closeups of his biceps on Facebook, you have a problem. Do not fall for a self-absorbed guy. He might be cute, but a man who is infatuated with his appearance and his own needs will never be able to love you sacrificially, like Christ loves the church (Eph. 5:25). The man who is always looking at himself in the mirror will never notice you.

8. The abuser. Men with abusive tendencies can’t control their anger when it boils over. If the guy you are dating has a tendency to fly off the handle, either at you or others, don’t be tempted to rationalize his behavior. He has a problem, and if you marry him you will have to navigate his minefield every day to avoid triggering another outburst. Angry men hurt women—verbally and sometimes physically. Find a man who is gentle.

9. The man-child. Call me old-fashioned, but I’m suspicious of a guy who still lives with his parents at age 35. If his mother is still doing his cooking, cleaning and ironing at that age, you can be sure he’s stuck in an emotional time warp. You are asking for trouble if you think you can be a wife to a guy who hasn’t grown up. Back away and, as a friend, encourage him to find a mentor who can help him mature.

10. The control freak. Some Christian guys today believe marriage is about male superiority. They may quote Scripture and sound super-spiritual, but behind the fa├žade of husbandly authority is deep insecurity and pride that can morph into spiritual abuse. First Peter 3:7 commands husbands to treat their wives as equals. If the man you are dating talks down to you, makes demeaning comments about women or seems to squelch your spiritual gifts, back away now. He is on a power trip. Women who marry religious control freaks often end up in a nightmare of depression.

If you are a woman of God, don’t sell your spiritual birthright by marrying a guy who doesn’t deserve you. Your smartest decision in life is to wait for a man who is sold out to Jesus.

To get the other side of this story, read "8 Women Christian Men Should Never Marry."

J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma and the director of the Mordecai Project (themordecaiproject.org).

6 Ways to Prevent an Embarrassing Ministry Scandal

pastor scandal

The recent sentencing of Dr. Yonggi Cho of South Korea is a reminder that we need a fresh commitment to integrity.

I was devastated to learn last week that South Korean megachurch pastor David Yonggi Cho was found guilty of embezzling $12 million in church funds. I was aware that the famous hero of faith was struggling with problems at his massive congregation, Yoido Full Gospel Church, which is in Seoul. Cho’s 56-year effort to build what is now the world’s largest church made him one of the most respected spiritual fathers in thePentecostal movement.

Some American leaders knew that Cho’s problems were linked to his son Cho Hee-jun, who was also convicted and sentenced to three years in prison for his role in an elaborate stock scheme that involved millions of dollars of church money. Hee-jun was immediately jailed. Thankfully, the elder Cho will not have to serve his prison sentence (it was suspended), but he will have to pay a $4.7 million fine.

I still respect Dr. Cho. A former Buddhist, he had a dramatic conversion to Jesus and was used by the Holy Spirit to bring the gospel to a nation that for centuries was closed to Christianity. Cho remains a legend. But the events of last week serve to remind us that even the greatest spiritual giants have feet of clay, and even the biggest ministries can fall into scandal if principles of integrity are not practiced.

This seems the best time to offer the simple reminders below. Today a new generation of megachurch pastors and ministry leaders has emerged, and this generation may not be aware that a few wrong moves could put them in the middle of the next big ministry scandal. If you are a leader, please post these rules in your board room, in your CEO’s office and in your ministry’s employee manual. If you are not in leadership, please pray that these rules are followed at your church, no matter how big it is:

1. Never build a cult of personality. The top reason ministries fail is that the organization starts revolving around a person instead of Christ. I don’t care how gifted or anointed the leader is—if he (or she) allows others to put him on a pedestal or if he climbs there himself, a fall is coming. Paul told the Corinthians, “For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11, NASB). Paul didn’t build his ministry on himself. In addition, he shared the spotlight with his successor, Timothy, and his other team members. If a leader can’t share power, he is headed toward disaster.

2. Develop a culture of openness. Healthy ministries encourage staff members and church members to give input. I’ve found that in ministries that experienced scandal, employees constantly felt intimidated, controlled or even threatened. Did you know that the word occult comes from a Latin word that means “secret” or “covered up”? Ministries that engage in cover-up or secrecy are not managing their work in a Christian manner.

3. Insist on financial transparency. Churches and ministries are funded by donors, and donors have a God-given right to know that their funds are being used properly. Ministry leaders also have a God-given stewardship, and they must acknowledge that the funds given to them are not for personal gain. All financial transactions of a ministry should be scrutinized by designated leaders (including an outside accountant) to prevent corruption.

4. Don’t build a family dynasty. There is nothing in the Bible that says a Christian leader is supposed to turn his ministry over to his family. And nepotism is often the cause of financial scandal. If a leader stacks his board or church staff with family members, they will be tempted to make financial decisions that benefit themselves. And in many cases, parents who employ their children find it difficult to bring correction when there are serious offenses.

5. Beware of creating a greed monster. In today’s megachurches, huge amounts of money begin to roll in on Sundays—and if leaders are not careful, this kind of success can eventually destroy them. We must remember that God entrusts us with these funds in order to engage in the work of ministry, not to provide leaders with mansions, luxury vehicles, bodyguards, private jets, shopping allowances and second or third homes. When you feed greed, it will always come back to bite you. I personally believe that pastors and ministry leaders should voluntarily put a cap on their salaries instead of insisting on being treated like corporate bigshots.

6. Never tolerate a spirit of entitlement. Financial blessing can affect people in dramatically different ways. One person can humbly receive it, thank God for it and live in constant gratefulness and humility. The next person can accept the blessing and then begin to think they deserve royal treatment. This spirit of entitlement can invade a church or ministry subtly at first, until leaders begin to make demands. I once knew a preacher who asked to be driven from her hotel to the conference in a limousine—yet the distance was less than one block! This insane behavior should be confronted, not coddled.

Paul told his spiritual son Timothy that church leaders must be “free from the love of money” (1 Tim. 3:3) in order to assume that responsibility. We would do well to revisit that mandate today. Instead of tarnishing ourselves with another scandal, let’s show the world that we can handle money properly.

J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma and the director of the Mordecai Project (themordecaiproject.org).

6 Really Bad Charismatic Doctrines We Should Retire by J. Lee Grady

Money in hand

I will never apologize for being a charismatic Christian. I had a dramatic experience with the Holy Spirit many years ago, and nobody can talk me out of it. I love the Holy Spirit’s abiding presence in my life and His supernatural gifts. I love to prophesy, speak in tongues, pray for the sick and see people changed by the Spirit’s power.

At the same time, I’m aware that since the charismatic movement began in the 1960s, people have misused the gifts of the Spirit and twisted God’s Word to promote strange doctrines or practices. Seeing these errors never caused me to question the authenticity of what the Holy Spirit had done in my life. But I knew I had to stay true to God’s Word and reject any false teachings I encountered.

My simple rule is based on 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22: “But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil” (NASB). In other words: Eat the meat and spit out the bones.

As I have traveled throughout the body of Christ in recent years, I’ve experienced the good, the bad and the ugly. I love God’s people, and I know there is a healthy remnant of Spirit-filled churches that are striving to stay grounded in biblical truth. But I also know we have reached a crossroads. We must clean up our act. We must jettison any weird doctrines we might have believed or practiced that are hindering our growth today.

Here are a few of the worst errors that have circulated in our movement in the past season. You may have others that need to be added to this list. I believe we are grieving the Holy Spirit if we continue to practice these things:

1. "Touch not My anointed." Chances are you’ve heard this weird doctrine based on 1 Chronicles 16:22. In an attempt to discourage any form of disagreement in the church, insecure leaders tell their members that if they ever question church authority, they are “touching the Lord’s anointed” and in danger of God’s judgment. Let’s call this what it is: spiritual manipulation. It creates worse problems by ruling out healthy discussion and mutual respect. Church members end up being abused or controlled—or even blacklisted because they dare to ask a question.

2. Dual covenant. We charismatics love and respect Israel. Some of us even incorporate Jewish practices in our worship—such as wearing prayer shawls, blowing shofars or celebrating Hebraic feasts. These things can enrich our Christian experience—but some leaders go too far when they begin to teach that Jews don’t need to believe in Jesus Christ to experience salvation. They imply that Jews have special access into heaven simply because of their ethnic heritage. This is a flagrant contradiction of everything the New Testament teaches.

3. Inaccessible leadership. In the 1980s, some charismatic ministries began to teach pastors and traveling ministers that in order to “protect the anointing,” they must stay aloof from people. Ministers were warned to never make friends in their congregations. Preachers began the strange practice of skipping worship on Sunday mornings—and then appearing on the stage only when it was time for the sermon in order to make a dramatic entrance. Shame on these people for attempting to justify arrogance. Jesus loved people, and He made Himself available to them. So should we.

4. Armor-bearers. The same guys who developed item No. 3 started this strange fad. Preachers began the practice of surrounding themselves with an entourage: one person to carry the briefcase, another person to carry the Bible, another to carry the handkerchief. Some preachers hired bodyguards … and even food-tasters! The armor-bearers were promised special blessings if they served preachers who acted like slave-owners. Reminder: True leaders are servants, not egomaniacs.

5. The hundredfold return. Before his death in 2003, Kenneth Hagin Sr., the father of the faith movement, rebuked his own followers for taking prosperity teaching to a silly extreme. In his book The Midas Touch, he begged preachers to stop misusing Mark 10:28-30 to suggest that God promises a hundredfold return on every offering we give. Hagin wrote, “If the hundredfold return worked literally and mathematically for everyone who gave in an offering, we would have Christians walking around with not billions or trillions of dollars, but quadrillions of dollars!” Hagin taught that the hundredfold blessing refers to the rewards that come to those who leave all they have to serve God in ministry.

6. Money cometh. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for giving money publicly to be seen by others. Yet in the 1990s, some charismatics got the wild idea that God would release a magical blessing if we would drop wads of dollar bills at the preacher’s feet while he was in the middle of his sermon. Leroy Thompson of Louisiana popularized this flamboyant practice with his infamous 1996 sermon, in which he encouraged people to shout in King James English, “Money! Cometh to me now!” Then the people would run to the front of the auditorium to pour cash into his coffers. The money came, for sure, and more cash-hungry preachers jumped on the bandwagon. Taking an offering became a form of exhibitionism, and Christians began viewing their offerings like lottery scratch-offs.

God requires holiness not just in our behavior but also in our doctrine. Let’s discard these and any other foolish teachings that have brought confusion and dishonor to the body of Christ.

J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma.