Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Double Jeopardy - Deception and Bondage of the Bride of Christ - Part 5

Joseph Herrin (05-21-2014)

The Invitation of Christ

There is an undeniable appeal inherent within the prophetic movement today. Even as the movie Double Jeopardy opened with an image of the main character admiring the beauty and grace of the sailboat Morning Star upon the waters of the Puget Sound, I found myself greatly drawn to the reports of spiritual life and community that was being manifested at Morningstar ministries fifteen years ago. I greatly desired intimacy with the Lord, and I wanted to be a partaker of His life and Spirit. If there was an anointing of the Holy Spirit to be experienced in a society of spiritually minded, sincere disciples of Christ, I was willing to go wherever it was to be found.

Looking back to an even earlier time in my life, I can testify that if the International House of Prayer had been around when I was just out of high school, I would undoubtedly have felt a strong pull to be a part of the life there. To go and live in a community of earnest seekers of Christ; to be able to devote all my hours to prayer, worship, and study of the Scriptures; to be among other young men and women who were zealous for Christ, would have been an allure that would have been hard to resist.

People greatly desire a sense of family, of community, of belonging to a group of like-minded individuals. Humanity is by nature a social creation. As people look at videos of the worship services at Morningstar and IHOP, they observe people that seem to not only be enjoying themselves, but who constitute a community of individuals experiencing a transcendent society where spiritual life binds together the members of the body of Christ. What spiritually minded individual would not desire to be part of such a community?

That there are large numbers of people who feel this drawing to be a part of what they perceive to be Christian ministries that are filled with spiritual life is evidenced by the fact that both Morningstar and IHOP have dedicated resources to help individuals who want to relocate in order to be close to the spiritual utopia they perceive to exist at these places.

Jim Bakker has traditionally appealed to an older group of believers, and he continues to do so. At his new ministry center in Branson, Missouri the Morningside property features condominiums that open right onto Grace Street and the studio for Jim Bakker’s daily broadcast.

Just below the image you see above there is the following statement.

We would love for you to visit us at Morningside and attend a live taping of the Jim Bakker Show (Tuesday through Thursday at 10:30 am). You can stay right here on beautiful Grace Street and choose from a studio, one-bedroom or two-bedroom luxury condominium overlooking the Jim Bakker Show, or the beautiful countryside of the Ozark Mountains. The Jim Bakker Show ministry does not own the condos, but many are owned by Ministry Partners. You may call direct to 479-228-2257 or 417-779-2370 and we will see to it that you find just the right condo for your stay.

While you are here, visit the Tabernacle, Grace Chapel, the Master’s Media Television Program, and even the Wednesday Night Bible Studies!

We also have church services on Sunday afternoons at 2:30 pm, prayer meetings, and other Bible studies throughout the week.

We have a General Store, open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for your shopping convenience with food items and Christian gifts. There is also the Builder’s Club Shoppe, our Partner Welcome Center, the Morningside Salon & Spa, – plus the Fireside Cafe that is open from 7am to 7pm every day!

Come visit us … you may not want to leave! In fact, many people are moving into the homes and duplexes while others are renting apartments and condos. Please call 479-228-2257 or 417-779-2370 to book your stay today!

I won’t spend much time here remarking again about the gross commercialization that is observed among these prophetic ministries. The casual reader may be convinced that Jim Bakker has repented of his covetous ways when they read that the condos being advertised are not owned directly by his ministry. The truth is, nothing pertaining to the Morningside Ministry is owned by Jim Bakker, and the reason is pecuniary. Jim Bakker still owes the IRS millions of dollars. If the property in Branson was in his name, the IRS would place a lien against it. To avoid this, everything is registered in the name of “ministry partners.”

The image and statement from Jim Bakker’s website reveal the focus upon fleecing the flock of Christ. There is a link in the image for “Love Gifts,” another one for “Donate,” and an image of Jim Bakker and his wife that says “Partner with US.” The partnership is, of course, a financial one. If you can afford it, Jim Bakker’s property offers much to attract the worldly Christian. You can have a sense of belonging to a spiritual community complete with church services, Bible study and prayer meetings. At the same time you can enjoy fellowship with other members as you visit one another’s “luxury” condominiums, shop at the ministries stores, relax at the Morningside Spa and Salon, or enjoy a meal together at the ministry’s Fireside Café.

Although IHOP and Morningstar are somewhat less conspicuous in advertising “the good life,” the promise of a Christian utopia is evident at all of these ministries. Of course, Christians can find spas, salons, shops, and restaurants, anywhere in America. The exceptional thing offered at each of these ministries is spiritual life to go along with the comforts and pleasures this world affords. The leaders of these ministries are truly the ones the apostle Paul was speaking about when he wrote of men “who suppose that godliness is a means of gain” (I Timothy 6:5).

On the webpage of Morningstar Ministries Heritage International Hotel and Conference Center, there is the following description of the amenities offered.

Welcome to Heritage Christian Conference Center
When you visit the Heritage Christian Conference Center, our goal is to serve the King’s household with all of the dignity and respect that His people deserve. As you stay with us in our conference rooms or host your event in our conference facility, the goal is for you to be as comfortable as possible, while being refreshed and renewed spiritually. Located just south of Charlotte North Carolina, Heritage Christian Conference Center offers true international hospitality. We have lakeside walking trails, a fitness room, prayer room, indoor Main Street, free Wi-Fi, picnic grove, bookstore and other shops, security, and an amazing café!!

At the top of the page is a link to area attractions.

The images on the page cycle through photos of golf courses, entertainment parks, football games, and other leisure activities. Again, it can be said that these type of experiences and entertainment venues can be found anywhere in America, but the selling point that makes these particular locations exceptionally attractive is that all of this comes with a promise of the deeper spiritual life. The Christian disciple can be comforted with the knowledge that they are serving the Lord and participating in a genuine move of God as they join with the leaders and community at Morningstar. If you think that such a description of what they are offering is over the top, consider the words of Rick Joyner on the webpage for their Ministry Partners.

MorningStar Publications and Ministries was built on the devotion to raise up an army of those who hear the prophetic word of the Lord and obey Him. As a ministry, we have had a part in teaching and training thousands who have authentic prophetic gifts from God.

The most powerful spiritual force since the first century is now mobilizing. We are now looking at the greatest potential impact for the gospel that we have ever seen. We need partners who will join with us to help raise up and send out those who have the potential to be the most high-impact ministries in church history.

We invite you to join with us to help equip the body of Christ through our schools, conferences, television shows, and publications. Your contributions will be used to help train and equip all ages in their prophetic gifting. You can become a MorningStar Partner for a regular contribution of any amount. We only ask that you contribute to the ministry on a regular basis, whether it is once a month or once a year.

As a MorningStar Partner, I will be sending you a monthly newsletter filled with updates on the ministry and reports on how your investment in the kingdom is being spent. In these updates I will be giving you personal and prophetic insights, reports, and stories about members of our leadership team, and the reasons behind what we are doing. You also have the opportunity to connect with us and each other online in our Partners Area and here at H.I.M. in our Partners Hospitality Suite, which you can visit at any conference.

Thank you for helping us equip the saints for the work of the ministry.

Who would not want to join with those who “hear the prophetic word of the Lord, and obey Him”?
What spiritually minded person would not desire to join a community of fellow believers who can lay claim to being “The most powerful spiritual force since the first century”? Phrases like “greatest potential impact for the gospel that we have ever seen,” and “the most high-impact ministries in church history,” are part of the sales pitch for people to partner with Morningstar. The same grandiose description of life at Morningstar serves as a powerful attraction to the Christian who wants to be part of what God is doing on the earth in this generation. Since Rick Joyner assures partners that their financial gifts are an “investment in the kingdom,” many who believe this self-promotion desire to move closer to Morningstar’s campus so they can be at the center of kingdom activity.

(Interestingly, Rick Joyner did not specify whose “kingdom” they were building. The phrase “your investment in the kingdom” is rather nebulous. He did not say “kingdom of God,” or “kingdom of heaven.” Truly, this work is neither. Does any discerning Christian truly believe that Jim Bakker laid the foundation of a great kingdom work of Yahweh as he sought to build a Christian Disneyland complete with its own castle, and that Morningstar is now bringing Yahweh’s kingdom vision to maturity?)

The King’s Castle at PTL

As I shared at the beginning of this series, I was observing things at Morningstar from afar 15 years ago, and it looked very attractive to me. I was ready to climb aboard the good ship Morningstar, but Yahweh had other plans. Just prior to this He had challenged me to lay down my life and agree to go wherever He directed and to do whatever He asked of me. After a period of some weeks in which I wrestled mightily with this surrender of my will to His own, I relented and confessed to Yahweh that I would follow Him. I believe this decision played a key role in my being delivered from the deception and bondage of Morningstar and other similar ministries. Because I agreed to go wherever Yahweh directed, and I was actively seeking His will, He was faithful to direct me to the path He had chosen for me. That path led back to Georgia.

If you want to read about all that has transpired in my life since 1999 when I laid my will on the altar and consented to follow Yahshua wherever He would direct me, you can find my experiences set forth in the book Evidence of Things Unseen. Yahweh truly had a private academy for my personal spiritual development. There was no building, no facilities, and no human teachers to direct my course. There was only the Holy Spirit, and the experiences of life that He led me through.

The path Yahweh directed me down was an afflicted path. It did not include salons, spas, golf courses, luxury condos, and entertainment parks. The path appointed to me was a humble one. Rather than having my name put on a wall of donors, as is the experience of Morningstar’s partners, and being given perks and recognition, I found myself reproached, reviled, and rejected by church, ministers, family, and friends. The path the Father led me down included facing many fears over a prolonged period of time, while daily wrestling to not shrink back from the course before me. My heavenly Father appointed to me to experience financial leanness, to dispose of the collection of material possessions garnered over a lifetime, until I was reduced to little more than the clothes on my back. I was in peril of false brethren, and was twice cast into jail at the hands of other professing believers. I experienced the departure of my wife and son, the condemnation of parents, and brother and sisters, and could testify the following with Paul.

I Corinthians 4:11-13
To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless;... when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now.

I did not recognize it at the time, but a large part of the allure of Morningstar was that it offered the anointing of God and the promise of spiritual life without the suffering of the disciple’s cross. The neglect of the proclamation of the disciple’s cross is not unique to Morningstar, or other prophetic ministries. The church at large has for the most part abandoned the preaching of the cost of discipleship set forth by Yahshua and His apostles. Because I had been raised in the Christian religious system of America, I did not see discipleship as defined by Christ modeled before me. I grew up observing a materially obsessed church’s substitute for discipleship. It was a model that eschewed suffering while avoiding a radical departure from societal norms.

What passes for Christianity today is a white-washed version of secularism. A person is led to believe that they can have the house in the suburbs, a two car garage, and a secure and stable material lifestyle, while fulfilling all of the requirements of Christian discipleship as they attend their local church and participate in its programs. Churchianity has replaced Christianity. Devotion to a local church has eclipsed a fully surrendered life to the leading of Christ.

To think that I could move to North Carolina and join in the Morningstar community there; that I could be mentored in the employment of spiritual gifts, and become all Yahweh wanted me to be through the programs and life of a local fellowship of like-minded believers, was an illusion. Yahshua’s path to spiritual maturity lies along a radically different road.

Luke 14:25-35
Now great multitudes were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and take counsel whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks terms of peace. So therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his possessions. Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

It strikes me as symbolic that Jim Bakker began to build the Heritage USA high-rise hotel (a tower), and was not able to complete it. He testified that it was within 90 days of having the first phase of the tower opened when everything fell apart for him in 1987. The hotel construction ceased at once, and the project languished, with the building falling into decay. It was a fitting fulfillment of the words of Christ that this man began to build, and was unable to finish, inviting the ridicule of those who observed.

The path that Christ invites men and women to walk is radically different from that course set forth by the churches today. Christ’s invitation always involves self-denial and an abandonment of the rule of one’s life to God. To be Christ’s disciple a person must agree to go wherever God directs, and do whatever He commands them to do. Yahshua has warned all who consider being His disciples that the way is afflicted. It will involve separation from the people we love the most. It even requires that we must hate our own life, for to follow Christ is to choose to seek Yahweh’s will over our own soul’s desires.

Fifteen years ago Yahweh brought me to a fork in the road. The destination I was seeking was the life of God. There was a broad way that looked promising. The journey down that highway looked fairly predictable, and offered all the amenities of life while delivering spiritual experiences that allured with their promise of fulfillment. I could sail aboard the Morningstar down this way, and those directing the vessel promised me that it was God’s ship, on God’s mission, and would lead to reward in God’s kingdom.

There was another path that also was before my feet. This path was narrow. It was obviously rarely traveled. The trail quickly took a turn and disappeared from sight so that there was no way to know what experiences it would lead to. Though the Spirit of Christ informed me that this was the path of His choosing, another voice was clamoring out to beware for there was danger, reproaches, rejection, persecution, loneliness, and various forms of suffering to be encountered if I embarked on this road.

It is little wonder that so many youth, men, and women are allured today by the images set forth by IHOP, Morningstar, and similar ministries. It is very attractive to think of spending one’s life in the fellowship of other believers, experiencing endless hours of praise and worship, and sitting in meditative reflection upon a romantic image of the Son of God as the Bridegroom of the church. When this is coupled with a promise of a spiritual impartation, the development of spiritual gifts under the watchful eyes of caring shepherds, and that it will lead ultimately to eternal life in the kingdom of God, it is a dream come true.

There is a problem, however. The way offered by these prophetic ministries is not The Way of Christ. Since surrendering to follow a different path, taking only the Spirit of Christ as my guide, the apparent divergence of God’s way and man’s way has become increasingly obvious to me. As I journeyed with the Spirit I began to discern how the entire church has fallen into apostasy, having rejected the only invitation that the Son of God ever gave, which is to “Come, take up YOUR CROSS, and follow Me.”

Along the way, the Father began having me share the truths He was disclosing to me. One of the first lessons was that the true substance of Sabbath rest is to cease from our own works and our own ways in order that we might be directed wholly by the Spirit of Christ throughout the course of our life. The disciple of Christ cannot be led by their soul. They have to die to their own thoughts, decisions, and ways, and submit to the rule of Yahweh. This message was set forth in the book Sabbath.

The Father also began showing me the depth to which the beast nature rules over mankind, and how it is manifested in the body of Christ. A pursuit of a comfortable life in this world is a mark of the beast nature. This is why Christ used two beasts to illustrate the difference between the path His disciples would have to follow, and the path that the religious system of this world offers.

Matthew 8:19-20
And a certain scribe came and said to Him, "Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go." And Yahshua said to him, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head."

Christ was in essence saying to this man, “I do not demand of My Father that He provide Me with a house, or a comfortable life. I am content with whatever He chooses for Me in this life.” Those who would be Christ’s disciples must similarly be content with whatever experiences the Father chooses for them. We cannot come to God with a list of demands which must be met before we consent to follow Him. We cannot say, “If you will give me a steady job, a home, a wife, a family, a local church, then I will devote myself to your service.” Yahshua will reject all such prerequisites. He simply says, “Follow Me.” Christians have been bought with a price. We are no longer our own. These truths were set forth in the writing The Mark of the Beast.

Who would not choose a life of meditation, worship, and study in an environment such as that offered by the International House of Prayer, or Morningstar, with their endless stream of conferences, worship services, and schools of spiritual learning? If these things can truly offer the same end result as a life of surrender to the leading of the Holy Spirit (with the cross and suffering and all that it entails), the flesh and soul of man will certainly be attracted to the easier, more comfortable path.

As I have proceeded down the path appointed to me by Christ, He has continued to instruct me by His Spirit. He has had me share with those who have ears to hear that “God’s ways are not man’s ways,” and “There is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end thereof is death.” He has directed me to set forth His path to spiritual life and conformity to the image of Christ. You will find this message in books like The Gate and The Way.

How did men like Jim Bakker, Rick Joyner, and Mike Bickle get so far afield from The Way, that afflicted path that Christ said leads to life, and which few men ever find? How is it that they have neglected the cost of discipleship and the necessity to bear one’s cross? What led them to believe that there was another way that leads to the same destination, while eschewing the complete surrender of one’s life to Christ?

The fault does not lie wholly with these men, they have simply continued what previous generations began. Even as Rick Joyner came behind Jim Bakker to complete the hotel and conference center he had begun, these men and their ministries have simply taken the next step down the path that the American church has been on for generations. The church in America, as well as much of the world, departed long ago from the preaching of the cross. It is noteworthy to point out that this is a subject that was addressed in Rick Joyner’s book The Final Quest. Yahweh has been speaking to these men, but His words were snatched away by the adversary. In The Final Quest, Rick Joyner writes of having a conversation with the apostle Paul.

The Ministry and the Message

Then he continued, “There are two things we attained in our time that were lost very quickly by the church. They have not yet been recovered, but you must recover them.”

“What are they?” I inquired, feeling that what he was about to say was more than just an addendum to what had already been shared with me.

“You must recover the ministry and the message,” he said emphatically.

I looked at the Lord, and He nodded His affirmation, adding, “It is right that Paul should say this to you. Until this time he has been the most faithful with both of these.”

“Please explain,” I implored Paul.

“All right,” he replied. “Except for a few places in the world where there are great persecutions or difficulties, we can hardly recognize either the ministry or the message that is being preached today. Therefore, the church is now but a phantom of what it was even in our time, and we were far from all we were called to be. When we served, being in ministry was the greatest sacrifice that one could make, and this reflected the message of the greatest sacrifice that was made - the cross.

“The cross is the power of God, and it is the center of all we are called to live by. You now have so little power to transform the minds and hearts of believers because you do not live or preach the cross. Therefore, we have difficulty seeing much difference between the church and the heathen. That is not the gospel or the salvation we were entrusted with. You must return to the cross.”
[Rick Joyner, The Final Quest]

Brothers and sisters, what is being spoken about here is NOT the cross of Christ. It is the disciple’s cross. All who would be Christ’s disciples must take up THEIR CROSS and follow Him. There is a measure of suffering that we must all drink. This aspect of discipleship has been rejected by the church, and it must be recovered. In The Final Quest, Rick Joyner goes on to describe a message that the Lord communicated to him after he had spoken to Paul.

“There is also another trap for those who come to know more of My anointing and power than others. They are often distracted by looking at themselves. As I was saying before you talked to Paul, My servants must become blind so that they can see. I let you talk to him then because he is one of My best examples of this. It was because of My grace that I allowed him to persecute My church. When he saw My light, he understood that his own reasoning had led him into direct conflict with the very truth he claimed to be serving.

“Your reasoning will always do that. It will lead you to do that which is exactly contrary to My will. Greater anointing brings greater danger of this happening to you, if you do not learn what Paul did. If you do not take up your cross every day, laying down all that you are and all that you have before it, you will fall because of the authority and power that I will give you. Until you learn to do things for the sake of the gospel, the more influence you have, the greater the danger of this you will face.

“Sometimes My anointed ones are deceived into thinking that because I give them a little supernatural knowledge or power, their ways must therefore be My ways and everything they think must be what I think. This is a great deception, and many have stumbled because of it.”
[End Except]

Lest some should think that my heart toward men like Rick Joyner is antagonistic, I will tell you that after I surrendered to following the path that Yahshua had chosen for me, and the errors of Rick Joyner and Morningstar began to become more clear to my understanding, I began to travail in prayer for Rick Joyner. The messages he shared in The Final Quest were in harmony with the testimony of the Spirit of Christ. We must put on the garment of humility. The church must recover the message of the disciple’s cross. There is a danger of anointed men falling from any height.

I was grieved when I considered that there were multitudes of sincere men and women seeking to experience authentic Christianity who were falling to the deception at Morningstar. They desired to enter into the fulness of spiritual life on this earth. Like Libby in the movie Double Jeopardy, and like myself fifteen years ago, they viewed Morningstar as a Spirit led and empowered ministry that was very attractive. Yet, there had been a falling away from truth. Ambition and pride had opened a door for deceiving spirits to enter and bring with them Strong Delusion. I prayed fervently on numerous occasions that Yahweh might lead Rick Joyner back to truth that he might not lead Christ’s flock astray into bondage and deception.

Brothers and sisters, the Bible tells us that strong delusion will be present among the body of Christ in the last days before His return. Paul tells us that Christ will in no way return until after the apostasy has first taken place. The apostasy is a great falling away from truth. We are told that the last days of the church will be marked by false anointed ones (christs), and that if possible even the elect would be deceived by the signs and wonders being performed. Paul informed Timothy that in the last days men in the church would turn aside to myths and fables, and would no longer endure sound doctrine. The preaching of the disciple’s cross, and the cost of discipleship, is sound doctrine.

Our best defense against deception is to embrace the cross. The person who has died to self, who is not driven by ambition, led on by covetousness, or a desire for ease and comfort, will find that their soul is not easily enticed by the promises of the good life advertised by these ministries that are building kingdoms of men. Deception is successful because it has some hook that men fall prey unto. If you refuse the suffering of the cross, being desirous of living out your days comfortably as a Christian, there is a hook with your name on it.

Philippians 1:29-30
For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

I Peter 4:12-19
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. By no means let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God. For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner? Therefore, let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.

If you are unwilling to be a partaker in the sufferings of Christ, to be content with whatever life experience Yahweh chooses for you, to endure reproaches, rejection, and hardship, the great deceiver will dangle some tantalizing promise of spiritual life before you that avoids carrying your cross. It may look something like Morningstar, Morningside, or IHOP.

It is high time for all Christians to count the cost of being a disciple of Christ. It is time to surrender your life to go wherever God directs you, and to do whatever He asks you to do. If your goal in life is anything less than knowing the will of God for your life, and doing it, you may very well become one of a great multitude who make up the deceived church in bondage.

May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.

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Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

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