Part 2: continued
The Darkness that came to our little church, came in the form of a new couple who had an impressive ministry background, a wonderful family, great plans for reaching out in our community, talents and enthusiasm. They were immediately embraced by the majority of the congregation but were indeed, wolves in sheep’s clothing. He became the assistant Pastor and she became the worship leader/pianist. They started a new ministry for unwed mothers and completely became integrated into the church ministry and social structure. Both of them taught Bible studies, Sunday school and took on counseling. He was the Haman to our pastor and she was the Jezebel both being self-proclaimed prophets to the church. Their influence was enormous. If you did not wholly agree with the way things were going, you quickly found yourself being branded as an opposer and threat to their ministry.
As I mentioned, my husband and I had opened a soup kitchen under the authority and direction of the local Ministerial Association (with a 12 church membership) and because our church had the best facilities, it was agreed the best place to hold it. For several months it went well and we served the community with all our heart. But the wolves crept in and began to prey upon the patrons (whose relationships had taken months to develop) with prayer sessions, exorcism and prophesies. The Healing Team would descend upon the meal searching for victims who were ill or in their opinion, possessed and entice them upstairs for prayer sessions. One patron, who had asked for prayer from us, was snatched upstairs for prayer which ended in an exorcism attempt, fled the church in terror and never came back. Infuriated, I confronted the leader of the Healing Team which resulted in our food storage room being broken into and ransacked later that week and was told our co-workers and myself were from Satan. Subsequently, because of our disagreement with the church leaders on this practice, my husband and I were called into the office with the Pastor and his assistant and questioned on our loyalty to the ministry and possible theological difference (which by then we had several!) which was secretly taped. We should have left then. But we stayed because we felt responsible for the little flock in my husband’s care and others who disagreed with the practices of church leadership. It was not a good decision. And though my theology had been righted by then, I still remember the day I stood outside, watering my lawn and wondering how I had gotten so far off track thinking that the only thing I knew for sure was that Jesus died for my sins and I would cling to Him.
That’s what deception does. It causes doubt. It raises questions about your belief system. It draws you away from the truth, slowly, one half-truth at a time until you find yourself (if you do) looking back and wondering how you got so far from sound doctrine. It took me 10 months of counseling to undo the damage that had been done to me spiritually, emotionally and doctrinally. My husband went to work in the Bay Area for a season while I healed, raised our children and attended a tiny Baptist Church in the area. I called it my hospital church. When we finally moved from Oregon back to the Bay Area, I was still struggling with trust. It took years to change that.
How can you avoid this trap of subtle deception? By reading, studying and praying. Read your Bible! Know what you believe and test the spirits. Do not compromise unless told to do so by God. It is our responsibility to read for ourselves and not rely upon the pastor or other teachers to feed us the knowledge we should be acquiring ourselves. Study the scriptures in context! By lifting verses out here and there, anyone can make a doctrine or theology that may logically make sense. But God gave us the whole Bible to be taken as a foundation for our belief system, not random verses that can be built into a house of cards. Pray! I can’t emphasize this enough. When something doesn’t ring true in your spirit, then pray for guidance, discernment and wisdom. God promises He will give it to us.
“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.” James 1:5-6