This column is not necessarily about videogames, but more of a place where I give personal updates on my life, or something that I would like to share that can be encouraging to my readers.
Also, this particular post may come off as critical to the Charismatic movement (which I was a part of for over 14 years, and consider myself Pentecostal if I were to pick a denomination) and you would be right. There’s a lot of fakeness, false teachers, and just straight up lies and manipulation going on in a lot of these “ministries” so I wrote this as a warning to those of you following them. I list quite a few of who I’m talking about at the end. Enjoy, and looking forward to your comments.
I was tired of the nonsense. I unsubscribed from newsletters, deleted pdfs and mp3 teachings, got rid of CDs/DVDs, threw away books from my bookshelf, and just did a massive overhaul. I was tired of falling into the trap of unbiblical beliefs I held as a Christian. It was time I analyzed everything that I had come to believe that went contrary to God’s word, was heretical or mystical, or that didn’t make sense. I’m not saying that I had turned away from my faith in Christ, never! I was evaluating doctrine and theology of many of the preachers I often listened to or read from, and how a lot of what they shared was incorrect and leading me astray. Sadly, it took me years to realize it.
My Spiritual Beginnings
Since I gave my life to Christ at the age of 17 in high school, I’ve always been part of Pentecostal/Charismatic churches. Before even going to a church (since I knew nothing about it as I was not raised in a Christian household, my family is Catholic) I devoured the bible and read most of it, though not cover to cover. I was hungry to learn more about God and grow my relationship with Christ. I was renewing my mind with His word, and seeing my life completely change through His grace. I stopped cussing, being depressed or angry most of the day (I’m not perfect, but I was pretty down and upset about life when I was young), and I barely remember even smiling before knowing God! Even in my photos as a teen I barely smiled. It’s a long story, but I didn’t have a picture perfect childhood to say the least. I became what the bible describes as a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
I started reading, listening and watching all sorts of different preachers, teachers, and everything else that “Christian culture” offered. I watched a lot of TBN, listened to preaching’s online, podcasts, went to several conferences and more. It’s not that these things are bad, the issue was that the people I used to listen to were mixing scripture with false teachings. I wasn’t aware of the damage all these different voices were doing to me spiritually. I naively thought that since they were on TV, or had large churches and ministries that were impacting millions, that they were theologically sound. Why would a pastor or leader that has such a huge audience be twisting the bible for their own gain? Surely they wouldn’t do that!
I could not have been more wrong, and I couldn’t spot the wolves in sheep clothing. A lot of “preachers” use the bible to manipulate people to finance their extravagant lifestyles, steal money “legally” since they receive donations, and bask in the limelight of having so many look to them for answers. Yes, there are many that are not doing that, but unfortunately the ones I was giving my attention to would only lead me to others that were doing the same thing.
Wolves travel in packs…
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.Matthew 7:15-20
There are a lot of heretical and New Age practices from authors or speakers who claim to be Christian. Unfortunately, I had some of their material because I assumed that since they were published by Christian publications and since these books/materials were sold in Christian bookstores, that they should be OK, right? Again, was I ever wrong! Remember, I do not come from a Christian background, so I am to blame for not going to the scriptures and examining what I heard or read more thoroughly. It didn’t help that the Christians I went to church with were nodding their head in agreement and believing or studying the same deception as I was.
While working from home via zoom as a teacher because of COVID, after work I started looking through my bookshelf that had most of my books. My Christian books dealt with different topics like prayer, learning about the gifts of the Spirit, church history, a few devotionals, or spiritual warfare. I also have books on health, gaming, business & investments, biographies, and a little fiction. Yes, I’m all over the place, but those are the ones I love to read.
I was shocked to discover how much twisting of scripture, imagination and fake stories many “Christians” add to their teachings. I will name several at the end, so you don’t fall into the same trap as I did, but suffice to say that I was saddened that these teachings are being received by millions of people. Many are not scriptural, sometimes make no sense, or often are just personal experiences (most I would say are made up or just a dream) that the author had and they put their experiences at the same level with the bible.
What opened me up to start doing this were several pieces that I started putting together. The main one was that I hesitated to question preachers, but over the years I started to more and more with other Christians. When I say questioning, I mean discussing sermons or certain things that I heard from a pulpit that weren’t biblical.
Pastors have told me that I am one to speak my mind, and I still do with no shame. My wife and I love talking about what we learned in church and just spiritual topics in general, so we were discussing more about beliefs we once held in our old church where we met. This was another piece that we started putting together, as I got more bold to call out false doctrine from what I used to listen to. I just hadn’t put everything together, but some people and a movie also helped.
I literally made several stacks of books and started going through each one by one. I wanted to analyze them for myself and see the heresy before I tossed them. I was in shock to re-read these titles that have sat on my shelf or Kindle library for years without looking them over again. Several I just hadn’t got around to reading, but couldn’t keep them in my home anymore. I will name some of them below so you can avoid them as well.
Let me break down some of the false teachings that I am talking about, which I was exposed to for years. I could write a lot more on each of these points, but I tried to keep it as short as I could:
- Having angelic encounters all the time, whether in a vision or just seeing them everywhere. Sometimes, the person sharing their experience would be so nonchalant with their angel I thought they were best buddies and were having tea together or something! The bible makes it clear that when an angel shows up, often people were in fear because a literal angel from Heaven just showed up (Luke 1:30, Revelation 19:10, Luke 1:11-20). Or the holiness that they embodied made men and women fall down to ask God for forgiveness (Isaiah 6).
- Declaring that this or that will happen. When you pray, “declaring or decreeing” something is not biblical. Please share in the comments verses from the bible, not your favorite speaker, that says we should do this. The bible explains that we need to ask, not declare that goes against declaring things to come to pass (and trust me, I used to do it all the time, and it didn’t work and it always felt like I was “telling” God what to do). I would mention one verse, but there are literally dozens of them to reference.
- Focusing a lot on the experiences or testimonies of others, especially Christian “generals” who performed miracles and helped increase the visibility of the Pentecostal denomination. There’s nothing wrong with studying other Christians from the past, but the emphasis of wanting their “anointing” or mantle to get some kind of spiritual power up is occult. Sure, Elijah gave his mantle to Elisha (2 Kings 2: 1-14), but that doesn’t mean everyone gets one! That was a one time thing, and Jesus Christ never promised anyone was getting one either. He gave His life for us to have ours in Him, and He granted us eternal life through His sacrifice for our sin on the cross. That’s a whole lot better than an anointing or a mantle.
- Mystical Knowledge (aka, new revelation). The practice of “secret revelations” are Gnostic in nature, and always lead to feeling like you are missing this special knowledge that only this person has. There’s no more extra teachings outside the bible. The only kind of revelation you can experience is understanding the bible as the Holy Spirit reveals to you, but it would not go outside His written word. He will show you truths that are already there. One thing is to receive wisdom from God for a decision, like what you would be studying or who to marry for instance, but not something “extra” that would be on the same level as the bible. Stop making things up!
- Money. Oh, the money situation! Not every pastor or speaker is after money, nor am I saying you shouldn’t give to your local church. It’s dangerous when it’s to hype people up for an offering, declaring that the “great transfer of wealth” will happen after you give (that has never happened nor will it happen!), or throwing money at the preacher’s feet while they speak because it happened once in the bible (Acts 4:34-37). I was in a service once were a “prophet” named Dionny Baez (who later was caught with sexual molestation charges to a minor) was convincing people to give a huge amount of money while “the portal of blessing were open” before they closed. He said they were open at the same time in the next service by the way, how convenient! Those “portals” were on time! It was all a scam to get money. He even faked turning water into wine in front of thousands of people. No, God doesn’t need every penny you have, and you are not a bad Christian if you can’t give. If a ministry is putting pressure on you to give, then you need to be careful! Using verses like Malachi 3:10 is a trick to make Christians feel bad and give their paychecks to greedy wolves. Don’t be deceived, and read the story in Luke 21:1-4 to see that Jesus is looking at your heart, not the amount you give.
So if I was so convinced before that these teachings were OK, what changed? Well, for starters I left the church that I went to for about 9-10 years that practiced all of what I mentioned above, I started reading my bible more, questioning things that I used to hesitate to examine, watched a movie called American Gospel as well as several YouTube channels that I will reference at the end which helped a lot. I’m going to write part 2 where I discuss what I’ve done to help me get out of this and have a greater focus on God’s word and His will.
I can go on, but I would have to write a small book about all the abuse, nonsense, fantasy, and lies I’ve seen in the body of Christ whether in person, through others, book, videos etc. The purpose of this journal entry is to explain to my readers where I was before, and part 2 will deal with where I am now. I don’t believe in the “nonsense” anymore, yet I still consider myself Pentecostal in the sense that I am not a Cessationist. I would argue that there is no proof in the bible that backs the theology that God does not perform miracles, that the gifts of the Spirit are gone, or that we cannot pray for the sick or cast out demons anymore. I’m not making this into a debate post, so if you want to discuss please email me or post in the comments, I’m open to chat!
Below is a list of teachers and churches I recommend staying clear away from.
- TBN, Daystar, GOD TV, ISN (It’s Supernatural Network). I haven’t watched any of these channels for years so maybe they cleaned up their act but I would still avoid them.
- Jesse Duplantis, Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, Mike Murdock among others. These are mainly Televangelists so they air a lot of programming on various Christian networks.
- Avoid the following churches/preachers: Bill Johnson, Bethel Church, IHOP Church, Lance Wallnau, Patricia King, Gulliermo Maldonado/Ana Maldonado, Hank/Brenda Kunneman, Sid Roth, Praying Medic, Heidi Baker, David Herzog, Todd Bentley, Mary K. Baxter, Destiny Image (book publishing company), Cindy Trimm, Michael Koulianos, Joshua Mills, Myles Munroe, Tracy Cooke, Robert Henderson, Cindy Jacobs, Katie Souza, Kat Kerr, Os Hillman, Graham Cooke, John/Lisa Bevere, Carl Lentz, and I can go on and on and on. Most of these people travel or speak in the same places, so when you find one, you find the rest of the group! Of course, false teachers have to stick together because they are out to spread false doctrine and take your money when they ask for it. They need to put gas in those private jets!
- I was listing several books that I threw in the garbage, but I would not want to even mention the book titles since that may lead some to look them up and purchase them. Many have an allure to draw people to “grow in the supernatural”, which give false hope oftentimes. Promises of “Kingdom wealth” or God healing all your diseases is dangerous. Can God prosper you financially or heal your sickness? Sure, of course He can! I’ve seen both in my own life and people that I know personally, but to promise that it will happen to everyone is not true. You cannot create miracles, only God can.
I know this is a very different post than what I’m used to writing and I wanted to be as transparent as I could in regards to this topic. It took a lot of revising so I sat on this post for a couple months. I know this will offend people who follow NAR (New Apostolic Reformation) churches, or the people/”ministries” I mentioned above. I come from this world for over 15 years, so I’m well aware of what goes on and have no problem calling out what is false. I refuse to live lies propagated by these people, as well as many others around the world who spread nonsense. Again, I’m open to talking with you, praying and even assisting you in getting away from these false teachings/teachers. There are several resources that are helpful.
Below are resources that have been a blessing to me, and I hope they will be to you to. I’ll detail in part 2 how they have helped but for now feel free to check them out. I don’t agree 100% with everything, for example, if the person pushes back against the gifts of the Spirit, but the teachings are biblical and solid.
Again, I’m open to discussion, whether you agree, disagree, or are straight up angry from something I said. Thanks and God bless!
- American Gospel (Netflix or rent on Amazon Prime)
- http://wewouldratherhavejesus.com/resources/ <– They have tons of resources/books/podcasts etc. that I also find very helpful. I don’t agree 100% with every resource listed, but not because it’s full of lies, just differences theologically (some are cessationists for example).
- Remnant Radio YouTube Channel
- Doreen Virtue YouTube Channel (she has lots of interviews that are fantastic, gives you an inside look at what goes on in a lot of these mega ministries)
- Melissa Dougherty YouTube Channel (breaks down a lot of false teachings like Bethel, Jehovah Witnesses and lots more)
- God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel: How Truth Overwhelms a Life Built on Lies
- Defining Deception: Freeing the Church from the Mystical-Miracle Movement
- Deceived No More: How Jesus Led Me out of the New Age and into His Word