“We were about to encounter the greatest exposure to what we know now as the New Apostolic Reformation. This church had a female as the Senior Pastor, and she quoted Bill Johnson more than Scripture! I had observed how many of the husbands in the congregation were either non-believers or spiritually "weak" men; it seemed like their wives carried the baton in this church.
There was no discipleship, and no expository preaching whatsoever. They did have “discipleship classes” that were focused on fitness and health, the prophetic, and spiritual warfare.”
After many years and hopping from church to church, Lizzy and her husband were slowly opening their eyes to the shocking heresies of the New Apostolic Reformation’s teachings and practices. (If you missed Part 1 of Lizzy’s story, you’ll want to read it here.)
What and whom did it finally take for her to finally see the truth about this hideous movement that had nearly shipwrecked her family’s faith? Lizzy’s story is the final testimony in this series about a movement called the New Apostolic Reformation, or NAR for short. In this series, I have taken readers beyond the textbook What is the New Apostolic Reformation Movement explanation, into the personal experiences from those who have been there, and what happened when God opened their eyes to the truth.
Here is Part 2 of Lizzy’s story in her own words:
After leaving all the Charismatic madness at my former church, I found a non-denominational church, believing it would be more safe. It was a fairly large church. A mega-church of sorts, whose goal was to become the first one in the area. What caught my attention about this church was that this pastor had no “armor bearer” (security detail). He was actually approachable.
I soon learned that this church was a huge supporter of YWAM, prayer meetings that consisted of people standing for an hour in a room speaking in tongues, and female pastors. Female speakers like Marilyn Hickey were invited to come speak during a Sunday service. When the seniors pastor’s marriage fell apart, so did the church. Nine staff members left after a great division fueled in part by a prophetic word from a woman who had visited the church.
It was at this church I met a family that ran a Christian School. Everything they said was prefaced by "God told me..." The school had a culture of mystical, domineering women who were lead by their feelings, impressions, and voices that claimed to be the Lord. Eventually, any parent with a child in their school was obligated to make this their home church. Our time there didn't even last till the end of that one school year. The school apparently didn't last long either. I am not surprised today to see that they became famous NAR preachers in the central Florida region after their son became Benny Hinn's son-in-law.
After two years into attending this non-denominational mega-church, I found myself once again trying to find a place to call home. By this time I was in company of a very sweet man I had met at this church. He was a quiet, behind-the-scenes kind of guy. I loved to watch how much he genuinely loved God and followed hard after Him, even when he thought no one was looking. We were courting and on our way to marrying soon.
We initially followed two of the pastors who had left this church. One would base his Sunday sermons on the outline of the latest best selling book in Christian bookstores. The other had attended a Theological Seminary and was much more grounded in the Word. However, we wanted to experience "more of the Holy Spirit." In Charismania, if it doesn’t have the hype, prophecy, and tongues, it's considered a dead church full of "religious" people.
Next, we found a somewhat theologically sound preacher, who turned out to be non-relational. We would ask him for accountability and mentorship, and he would look straight through us like a deer in the headlights and leave us to our own. We were the children's church ministers, and in all that time the senior pastor showed up only ONCE to see what it was we were teaching the children in church. There was no true accountability even when we asked for it. Each one was left to their own.
We constantly found ourselves going from church to church, feeling grieved and in a state of unrest. It seemed like we would see things wrong that no one else seemed to worry about.
Next we tried a new church started up by the deliverance counselors I had befriended in years past. It was at this church where they had Joshua Mills come and "preach" one service. I witnessed first hand how "gold dust" appeared out of nowhere onto his impeccable blue suit, and started covering his face and every part of his exposed skin.
They also invited Kaye and Harold Beyer to speak. Gemstones dropped from out of nowhere when they ministered, and manna would appear on their Bibles. I witnessed firsthand how Harold was preaching one minute from his Bible only to blink for a second and find his opened page filled with what looked like pieces of broken unleavened bread. The whole church was invited to participate in communion with the "manna" that God had provided in the service, and to "expect to receive a healing when doing so...if needed." With that invitation, our emotional heartstrings were tugged at as we went forward to partake in this communion given our desire for healing for our child with special needs. Though we still believe one day he will be healed and whole. It simply did not happen that day.
We were witnessing all kinds of signs and wonders, and assumed they had to be of God. Never once did we recall or were reminded that the Bible talks of FALSE signs and wonders, and even though they would emphasize to the crowd to not fixate on the sign but on the Lord, it was the manifestations that got all the attention and the glory.
Soon I started to hear a change in the language change from the pulpits. I was no longer hearing words like "repentance," "holiness," "sin,", or " the gospel." Now the vocabulary was being replaced by the words like "glory," "impartation," "realm," "align," and "assignment."
At this time the Lakeland revival in Florida was in full force. We went once but I honestly can't remember who preached. We didn't go to the altar to get beat up by Todd Bentley, thankfully. Everyone in the area was flocking to these services.
During our brief stay at this church I participated in a prophetic training for "prophets" and I walked away after one session. They had me pull a paper out of a bucket with a person’s name on it, and I was supposed to prophecy over that person. At that point, I was done, that had been the last straw for me as I compared it to divination and witchcraft. We left the church.
I wish I could tell you that this was the defining moment for us, but it wouldn't be so. There was always a level of dissatisfaction, and we were always questioning what as taught or what was done. We thought ourselves to be extremely critical and hard at times, because no one else seemed to bring up the same concerns.
We tried countless other churches (over a dozen!), and became very aware of another movement in the bigger Seeker Sensitive and Emergent Churches and all the hedonism that came with those. My husband and I always felt like fish out of water because it seemed like no one else was hearing and witnessing things that just didn't line up for us. The fluffy and vague messages were either "me-oriented," or filled with uncontrolled behaviors passing for "godly."
For a decade we stopped going to church completely and met in our home with many other hurt and wounded people. They came to our doors, and we taught the Bible as best we could. In Charismania there will always be people who were at some time abused spiritually and hurt by the church. By nature it is an abusive belief system.
Getting into the Word of God was the best thing we could do, and the Lord through Scripture showed us some of the error that we needed to be re-taught. We were all still in a lot of error. Most of these people that came were all heavily into Word of Faith and N.A.R., so they wanted the "experience;" the sign, the miracle, the wonder, the manifestation, or the prophetic word.
It was about this time we found the Kundalini warning by Andrew Strom, and realized that there were people out there warning others about things we had questioned for so long. The ONE SERMON that really began to open our eyes was one preached by David Wilkerson’s pastor, Carter Conlon of Time Square Church titled: "Run for your Life.” Despite the fact there are biblical discrepancies TSC holds about women in leadership, we found this sermon to be spot on.
We began to realize that so much of what we had thought was God at one time...wasn't. The Holy Spirit wouldn't contradict Himself when the Bible stated that two of His fruits were gentleness and SELF-CONTROL. I tried sharing this message privately with so many friends in positions of leadership. Oddly enough, I never heard back from them.
At this time I ran into a blogger called "The Last Hiker." Though anonymous, this writer was calling out all the error and unspoken conflicts we carried inside for so many years. The reason I heard of this blogger was because ONE friend I had on face book had left the Charismania and was coming back to her Reformed beliefs. This friend was boldly sharing it left and right amongst the hoard of Charismatics in our circle. This started to get my attention; I could relate to her struggles and to the truths and research she so carefully presented.
I cannot thank God enough for the people that dare to call out false teachers, because though this we realized we were not alone in trying to make sense of so much of what we’d grown accustomed to and had surrounded ourselves with for so long.
Around this time we lost our home, so the home group ended. Little did we know at the time it was all a part of God's sovereign plan to take us to a place where he would open our eyes to all the error. But first, more trials would come. Shortly after losing our home, my husband lost his job. We found ourselves going through a very difficult time, and all our Word of Faith friends couldn't understand why we didn't get our breakthrough.
Years passed by and there was no gainful employment to be seen anywhere. Our family continued to suffer financially, and friends started to walk away. We were constantly told something must be wrong because prayers of deliverance that were prayed, decreed, declared, believed had been spoken, so we had to have some kind of hidden sin in our lives that wasn't bringing the "breakthrough."
In this state of loneliness, we were trying to find some kind of support. One friend who came to our home group recommended a church that also had a "Healing Room." I wasn't aware of what that was, I just wanted to have someone stand in prayer with me and pray with Scriptures. Instead I found myself filling out forms and then sitting quietly as I watched two women "soaking and contemplating," waiting to "hear" from the Lord. I couldn't help but feel like I had been in the presence of psychics.
As alone and vulnerable as we felt not going to any church at all, we wanted the prayer support of someone. So at that time we cautiously decided once again to visit a church to see what we would find there. Unbeknownst to our family, we were about to encounter the greatest exposure to what we know now as the New Apostolic Reformation.
This church had a female as the Senior Pastor. That had me feeling very uncomfortable. I had observed how many of the husbands in the congregation were either non-believers or spiritually "weak" men; it seemed like their wives carried the baton in this church.
The female pastor would quote Bill Johnson more than Scripture, and when Scripture was used it was twisted. There was no discipleship, and no expository preaching whatsoever. They did have “discipleship classes” that were focused on fitness and health, the prophetic, and spiritual warfare.
The ministry outreaches were all about proclaiming the name of Jesus – not through sharing the Gospel - but through the use of the arts and their very talented youth. These outreaches were a display of activities supporting community and social justice, with music or artistic talent riddled with music and songs from Bethel. They would have prophetic booths, dream interpretation booths, and booths for healing and prayer.
The youth had no sound biblical foundation. I would quietly observe this young generation of "performers" singing and playing very beautifully in service, then step off the stage, grab their phones and get on Instagram, take selfies, post on Facebook, all while the sermons were being preached. There didn't seem to be any understanding of reverence or fear of the Lord. Bethel Church and its music was their idol.
Every Sunday three people were allowed come up and prophesy, and all I kept hearing was the tickling of ears and "I feel like the Lord is saying," or, "I feel...." "I feel...." I was witnessing a feelings-based gospel with no Scriptural foundation whatsoever. Impartations, activations fire tunnels, declaring, prophetic utterances, and "releasing your sound waves into the atmosphere," -- all of the New Apostolic lingo was in full force.
As kind and sweet as these people were, it was with a saddened and grieved heart our family fled quickly from a pulpit that was clearly using a New Age lingo filled with atmospheric vibrations, sounds and quantum energy at any given Sunday Service. The female pastor would say "The New Age isn't bad; the devil stole it, so we are taking it back." For our VERY brief stay there, we would frequently mid-sermon get up and leave, and eventually we stopped going back.
Things continued to get worse for us as friends continued to walk away. We were being criticized because we just were not getting our breakthrough. "We can't understand why the Lord isn't blessing you," was all the encouragement we would get. Because for them, it was all about the ble$$ing.
People in all these circles started to tell us that the Lord had given them a word and "this was no longer our area of assignment," and that we were in a territory that had become hostile and we needed to leave. We were recipients of all kinds of gossip and slander. As broken and humble as a family can find itself when hardships come in this fashion, those words meant to encourage, simply did not. Especially when you were trying to find food on a daily basis to feed your family.
We went through years of very little or no consistent income. They just couldn't fathom what hardship really looked like. We had relied and seen the faithfulness of God despite everything. We continued to seek, pray, and trust the Lord as we slowly backed away from these people who meant well, but were sincerely wrong.
Something I have found very interesting in all these years of error is how false teachers’ beliefs become self-fulfilling prophecies over their own lives. We started to realize that there was always such an oppression and bondage to some of these beliefs. We just couldn't be humbled enough, broken enough, reliant enough on the daily things from God and it still NOT BE GOOD ENOUGH to receive a breakthrough.
Even though we maintained a joyful and trusting attitude towards God, in their opinions, we never had enough faith. Our hardships according to these beliefs seemed in their eyes, to be BIGGER than the God we were trusting in. Breakthrough meant blessing and blessing "really" meant financial prosperity.
If you had financial stability you were fine, and God was pleased with you. But somehow if you were suffering you were “missing the mark," and God just wasn’t listening.
I pleaded again with God: "What is it we are missing?"
Then, short of a year ago, God answered my prayers. When He did, it all began to make sense.
Thanks to one person posting an article on Facebook titled, Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps To Figuring it out on your own,” finally truth was spoken. The weight of her words and Scriptures to back it, began to bring such clarity so much false teaching and my life-long giant card castle came tumbling down. Everything I had ever been taught was flattened in a matter of seconds. I will never forget that moment as all I could do was repent and cry, over and over again.
It was then that so much made sense about having grown up with female pastors and the detrimental effect they are to biblical Christianity. We heard the Truth, and Truth began to set us free. One thing led to another as we found Amy Spreeman and Marsha West at Berean Research. Also Polemics Report and Pulpit and Pen and all the brave and bold souls that contribute to it, though very cutting at times gave us exactly what we needed to know. John MacArthur and the "Strange Fire Conference," Justin Peters and "Clouds Without Water" brought so much truth and freedom to our family. Chris Rosebrough at Fighting for the Faith and Pirate Christian radio as well. Jim Osman's book "Truth or Territory " was another giant bolder that pommeled every false belief on the un-biblical Deliverance Ministry, and finally Paul Washer's teachings, that have been such a blessing, with such timely teaching to our whole family
I can tell you that for the past year we constantly are finding ourselves in a well of tears, repenting or such ignorance, such error we allowed in our lives and the lives of so many around us. At the same time we rejoice in the faithfulness of God that despite us, His daily grace and sovereignty over our lives has delivered us from error.
Currently we find ourselves re-learning and unlearning decades and decades of error. Though we have found an Evangelical (non Charismatic) church to fellowship in we cautiously weigh all things spoken against God's word, to see if they are true. Our current pastor is a Continuationist, though we stand more in agreement with the Cessationist point of view. Jesus and the gospel of Jesus Christ is being heard by our family once again from the pulpit after years of never even hearing the word "repent.”
Other people we know that had fled from the same heresies have reached out to us, lost and confused, and in need of direction and sound teaching. Though we are still in the recovery process, we cannot thank God enough for such endless grace and mercy in opening our eyes to the truth. Our hearts’ cry is that anyone reading this who may find themselves confused or lost as we were for so many years can still be at a place where they can humble repent and see the hard truths being shared here and through the testimonies of so many shared already.
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? (Matthew 16:24-25)
There is no greater treasure than to follow Jesus, even if it costs you everything. It was in the "losing absolutely everything" in our lives, that we truly found Him.
Soli Deo Gloria,
- Yet another " brand, snatched from the fire".
Author’s Note: You can read the entire series of NAR testimonies here.