'Christian' cults, Bethel Church, biblical discernment, Bill Johnson, Charismatic movement, Christianity, deceiving spirits, false 'god' encounters, false anointing, false doctrine, false prophets, false teachers, mysticism, NAR, new age, New Apostolic Reformation, occult practices, signs and wonders, Word of Faith heresy
Escaping the Fire
I have a LONG story, but I will try to shorten it as best as I can. About 10 years ago my husband and I started attending church when we were stationed in Washington (WA) state, USA. Shortly after we got orders to San Diego, California. Through a Vacation Bible School (VBS) program, we started attending a local Assemblies of God (AG) church.
It was here where we were first exposed to Bethel Redding, and to the teachings of Bill Johnson. Our oldest daughter was 12 years old at the time and went with the youth group to a Jesus Culture conference in Redding. The church had MANY guest speakers and even established their own school of supernatural ministry. One guest in particular named Rob Deluca really sticks out to me because my husband pointed out that he almost NEVER quoted scripture…all he spoke of was his prophetic dreams and visions, and of course THE FIRE.
When we were able to get into military housing we started attending another AG church that was closer to us. Looking back, on the surface they seemed to fall into the “emergent” category, but many of the same types of teaching were at the core. They would host special Holy Spirit seminars for people to seek the second baptism, etc. In addition there were a few small groups where the main focus was learning to tune to just the right frequency to hear from God.
From San Diego we went to Virginia. In the beginning we chose to attend the mega Baptist church that everyone recommended. Definitely a little on the emergent side now that I look back, but the teaching was solid and sound. Of course after experiencing all that I had before, I thought something was wrong, because to my polluted mind it appeared as if the Holy Spirit wasn’t moving.
From there we left to attend a Church of God. The people at this church became like our family, but definitely a little suspect now that I look back. Lots of emotional music sang from the Brownsville Revival, some twisting of scripture and prayer meetings where the “gifts” would be used, etc. I decided to do a Daniel Fast one January, and basically focused ALL of my attention when my kids were in school on “hearing” from God. I would watch nothing except for Sid Roth, and then would look up information about his guests and then start to follow their teachings. I created playlists on my Spotify account with musical guests that he had on his show, and would listed exclusively to that music as well.
We moved back to WA state last summer and made it a priority to find a church where they “operated in the gifts”. We started attending a small church because our daughter, who by this time 18, really connected with some of the youth. It was here that we were given a copy of The Holy Ghost movie. I had seen Father of Lights before, but was especially intrigued by this movie. Even more so when I heard a testimony of a lady speaking of the weekly trips that her and another church member would make to a local nursing home, to basically practice many of the same types of practices that Todd White demonstrates in the film. I was thinking that all of this was SO wonderful, and I couldn’t wait to sign up and volunteer also. Thankfully, it never worked out!
In January I did another Daniel Fast and saw on Facebook that a House of Prayer group similar to the International House of Prayer (IHOP) was forming locally. I was SO excited, and committed to attend the launch which spanned over three days. The guest speakers were the ones who formed the Salem House of Prayer in Oregon, and there was also a man affiliated with Latter Glory in Moses Lake. They made a big show of having each one of us come up front to receive a special “anointing”, where they would lay hands on us and loudly pray and prophesy over us.
It was here that I met a lady who invited me to attend a special women’s gathering that was in a secluded Christian retreat center, deep in the Olympic Forrest. I told my best friend about it and she agreed to fly out to attend with me. There was a woman leading, who I’m sure now that they believe has “apostolic” authority. We all ate dinner together and then gathered together in a dark room, with emotional workshop music being played before the leader started praying and prophesying over each woman in the room. There was lots of falling down, crying, laughing, flagging, and shofar blowing. The next day was the same only with an emphasis on praying for our country. The leader had us stand all together holding the American flag; signing, shouting, and shaking it declaring and decreeing all sorts of things. On the last day that we were there, we were gathered together once more to say a quick prayer that turned into three hours of more pandemonium, of course I didn’t think this at the time! Many of these ladies, I have learned, take trips to remote areas in our state to blow shofars in order to cast out territorial demons. They clearly subscribe to Dominion Theology.
I started watching the FALSE Fire and Glory Outpouring that is currently happening in San Diego, and watched a pastor get prayed over who is a leader at the Seattle Revival Center…..so then I felt God was telling me to go there. I loaded my daughter up in the car and booked a hotel, so that I didn’t have to drive home. Crazy, emotional music with eerie shouts and laughter was followed by Charlie Shamp bringing everyone up to the front to pray and prophesy.
There was one point where he told us that God was giving out gold teeth, and asked us all to take out our cell phones and check our mouths. There was one lady who supposedly got a gold tooth. She was ushered to the front and fawned over, but I remember thinking that is seemed funny that she just casually sat back down in her seat to check Facebook. Wouldn’t you have been on your face if that was the case? Those were the questions that started to rattle around in my head…but nevertheless, I believed that I was more “anointed” because I had been in the “glory.” Joshua Mill’s grandmother was also there that night and they did a reverse fire tunnel, which allowed her to lay hands on everyone. I felt a magnetic force when she came by me and laid hands on me, and I fell down and was unable to move. The same think happened to my daughter, who then thought it was funny to start following her around in hopes of getting “touched” again.
My husband had to work in San Diego so we traveled together with him, and were excited to go to the Fire and Glory Outpouring and experience the source of this “#westcoastrumble”. MORE of the same craziness that when I look back, was simply demonic. One night while attending, I had a headache and pulled out a roller with some essential oil to roll on my head. Within a minute the speaker, who was Miranda Nelson, stopped and asked us if we smelled that “heavenly fragrance.” The whole crowd, of course, then got whipped up into a frenzy. My daughter wanted to raise her hand and say something, but I smacked her in the leg to get her to stop. I look back and know that between that and the lady with the gold tooth, God was trying to give me some clues, but I wasn’t ready to listen.
After returning home, I wasn’t able to attend church one Sunday and our daughter came home three hours past when she was supposed to arrive, with mascara running down her face from her tears. She was telling me how “wonderful” church was because there was preaching all about stepping into the river…and of course, they did an alter call and craziness broke out. There was one lady close to my mom’s age who would always laugh hysterically. One day during church she simply placed her hand on my daughter’s leg, causing my daughter to loose complete control of herself, laughing in a way we had never heard before. It was then that she began to fail her college classes and and backslid majorly.
I used to sit for hours in my room practicing “automatic writing”, and would beat myself up if I didn’t receive a “word” from the Lord. All the time, I realize now, that he was saying, “READ YOUR BIBLE.” I started praying that God would show me if I was on the wrong path. To expose anything that was not of him…and one night while watching the Jeff Jansen ranting and raving in a livestream broadcast of the Fire and Glory Outpouring, I started to see things differently. I actually found myself wondering if these people were on drugs! I went to bed and woke up the next morning ashamed of myself for being a “doubting Thomas” but the same thing happened again, and again. I started digging and researching, and my eyes began to open wide as the truth became revealed to me. I think I now am up to 356 videos saved to a playlist on my Youtube account, and have grown a desire to understand scripture in its proper context.
Our daughter is doing much better and recently moved out. We are really struggling to find a solid church home here. I was helping recently with a VBS at a local church and sat down with one of their pastors. He asked me what I was looking for in a church, and I told him that God has really been doing a work in me and that I have grown to really love expository preaching of the word, how I am no longer interested in what people “think” it means or seeking out allegorical meanings. I told him at this time my husband and I desire line by line, verse by verse teaching. This pastor then reached over, grabbed his bible and flopped it around told me, “If THIS is all you have, then you only have the tip of the iceberg. THIS is ONLY what is written down.” How scary is that? God loved us enough to give us an objective source, and it’s our responsibility to be good Bereans and check EVERYTHING out for ourselves. I believe that people, although desperate for the Lord, have become lazy and as a result fall victim to these heretical teachings.
I know that I could have added much more to this and given many more details. Maybe someday I will! Even just sitting here and writing this all out is very helpful to me. The people caught up in the movement are delusional, and I was right there among them. What this has taught me is that God IS a good father and shepherd and he WILL come after and rescue his sheep that have strayed from the path of righteousness…but we have to allow him to by turning from these wicked ways and turning back to the truth that is found in his written word. I’m not sure why God allowed me to experience the things that I did, but I know that what the enemy intended to harm me has certainly been turned around for good!
My heart grieves for not only those who are lost, but those who attend church week after week and sit under these false teachings. I question whether many of them have even heard the true gospel or whether many of them are even saved. I’ve been praying about what I am supposed to do with all of this, but I am trusting God in the process. Thank you for reading, and God bless!!!
Note from The Narrowing Path: a quick search on this blog using the terms ‘Bill Johnson’ and ‘NAR’ will lead you to many helpful resources in understanding the charismatic NAR cult; its leaders, teachings, and practices, and why they are in direct contradiction to the Word of God.