Do You Have the Right Christ?

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About The Website's Author - Part Two

The New Age Grips Me Again in the Pentecostal/ Charismatic Denominations,
(and so I like to call this testimony page)
How God Saved Me from the New Age Twice!!

(Continued from Part I) 

I soon met a lady who was my neighbor who invited me to her church.  I went and found it to be a very dynamic place to be!  I didn't know anything about denominations other than the names Baptist, Methodist or Catholic, so I was not put-off by the Pentecostal name, even though she kept saying "don't be afraid of the anointing" and other such comments in regards to how demonstrative the parishioner's behavior was.  I took that as an invitation to be even more open to their ways because I had never wanted to be someone afraid of new adventures, especially since being a Christian now I felt I would basically be safe in life, as long as I perceived things were Biblical, so I threw myself into my church's services which soon crowded out my boyfriend and I broke up with him for good this time.  But this time I had prayed for God to either make me fall completely out of love with him or for God to save him too so I could marry him.  Within weeks I I fell out of love with him which was a relieving answer since I had been on the fence with him for years and because now he argued with me all of the time about God being #1 in my life.  I began to learn about praying in tongues and received this at an altar call one Sunday.  It happened like this:  A lady laid hands on me praying loudly in tongues while others also did the same around me.  After about half an hour my jaw began to move on its own and I began to speak in another language.  I determined to use this gift a lot and to gain the other gifts of the Holy Spirit as we were taught in our church, such as prophesying.  I was enjoying my first year there, singing in the choir, (and singing solos), working with the homeless and going to lunches and other social church type events with my new friends and I had felt I was called to be an evangelist and loved to street witness as I walked my dog.  The pastor had even offered for me to get ordained with my denomination because I had told him I felt called to preach, (I wasn't sure if it was pulpit preaching but I was open to it), because of my tithing faithfully and being in church ministries, my desire to attend Bible College, and the fact that he felt I acted "above reproach".  I was flattered but could not see myself traveling outside of my home and that's what that would mean for me, waiting for opportunities in a church somewhere in the U.S. and then flying there and interviewing, and then moving there if I got the job.  I told him I would need to wait to hear from God, and honestly I never did hear God say to go that route.  Instead I always had outreach ideas I could do either in my church or in my neighborhood and I loved coordinating these and reaching souls with the Gospel!
 
But then after about a year, it started again, my life began to not feel good again.  I began to feel confused as I saw mean people in the church, weird prophets at prophecy conferences, and saw how my new friends liked preachers on television that I could tell were not in-line with Scripture.  I began to feel tormented too, spiritually oppressed with anger and fear - I was again being attacked at night too!  But this time the attacks were even more real - I would see spirits before they made me feel physically ill or I would wake up with my neck sore from invisible hands that had choked me!.  The first incident happened when I was a brand new Christian and I was still with my boyfriend and I went to bed early while he stayed up watching T.V. in the living room.  About an hour into my sleep I shot out of bed and slapped the wall with my left hand while I grabbed my throat with the right hand trying to free myself from the choking grip I felt and I ran to the bathroom.  My boyfriend heard my hand landing hard on the wall and came running into the hallway where he saw me run into the bathroom choking and coughing.  I bent over the sink for a few minutes before I could tell him that I had been choked by what felt like a hand-grip on my neck.  I knew it wasn't him because of how he had flown into the hall from the living room after it had happened (and he wasn't in the bedroom when I shot out of bed either) but later I found out he was watching a show I hated - The Howard Stern Show - a show full of vulgarity and nudity!  So I figured the demons in that man's show came into my apartment and attacked me because I was the only Christian in the place!  I can't blame my church for that attack but this was the beginning of my being attacked at night as a Christian.  The second incident, where I saw the spirit before it attacked me, was after I had watched a preacher on T.V. who was talking about his heart attack he had had.  I went to sleep moved by his sermon but not worrying about a heart-attack because I was a young woman but when I woke up at around 3 am, I saw what looked like a leprechaun (even had a hat on) standing next to my bed but it quickly disappeared.  Then all of a sudden I began to have the symptoms one by one that the preacher had described.  Fear overwhelmed me and I called 911.  Paramedics and Firemen, 7 in total, showed up to my apartment and checked me out and they said I was fine.  They left and as soon as they did the symptoms began again - it was all I could do to not call 911 again but the sheer embarrassment of having 7 men in my apartment while I had no make-up on and was in my night shirt helped me to not call them, that plus I didn't want them mad at me for having to come back.  Eventually I was able to go back to sleep but was totally shook up the next day or two.  I began to see or feel presences at night and so I became afraid of the dark and got myself a night light for my room.  But then one time during the day I felt a slight push as I was standing outside of my shower which made me almost fall into the tub/shower but fortunately I caught myself before hitting my head or breaking a leg.  There was no one in the place but me and I was getting ready to go and tell my testimony to two people I had known in my youth, they were both Christians but they had not heard my story, and so I figured the devil was once again trying to silence me.  (I had figured the night I was choked was because I had been witnessing and that had made the devil mad enough to attack me.)  Another afternoon I saw my oven button turn itself back on after I had turned it off, this made me start shutting the breaker box for my range off after each time I cooked, I did not want to have a fire!  But most of my tormentings were at night.  One night I heard my neighbors come home around 3:00 am and they were heavy drinkers and he had a darkness about his personality anyway which made me not like him, so I don't know if demons followed them home from the bar and floated into my place, or what, but all of a sudden a spirit of terror gripped me and I screamed a chilling scream at the top of my lungs!  I then realized what I had done and was embarrassed someone might call the cops but no one did and I went into prayer to get the terror feeling to leave me.  (This was so reminiscent of the time as a New Ager the spirit of terror gripped me when my fire alarm went off and I felt I was going to be stabbed in the back of the neck by the presence in my place and I screamed loud enough for neighbors to hear.  Ironically both times none of my neighbors ever intervened which makes me wonder if anyone looks out for their neighbors anymore?)  My neighbors in general began to do scary things too.  One set of neighbors were dealing drugs I think and one night they got into a fight so bad at 3 am in the morning that I saw the guy throw the sofa over the patio railing!  Another neighbor was mad at the apartment place and in the middle of the night kicked the hallway door off of its hinges!!!  I was terrified by the noise which sounded like a bomb going off!  This apartment place which had been so safe was going down-hill all around me and I remembered during my old New Age days that I saw scary things transpiring around me.  Now back to my own apartment terrorizings, my place wasn't haunted but somehow demons were being able to penetrate into my natural life and attack me which had me so confused because here I was a Christian in a dynamic church where we all lived full-out for God, seeking the gifts of the Holy Spirit and using them just like we read about in the book of Acts!  I prayed to God for protection from the spiritual attacks and I believe He gave me this idea:  to listen to the Word of God being read on CD all night long.  I bought a Bible CD set and began to listen and the attacks lessened but didn't go away completely.  I had to do a lot of praying nightly to get free from these attacks and it actually took years of me praying and getting out of my church practices and beliefs step by step for me to get free but back then, I didn't know why this was happening to me.  I just blamed myself for "not getting Christianity right" or I believed what the other Pentecostals said which was "this was to be expected when you are living for God because the devil is real and attacks Christians". One thing that made the spiritual attacks worse is I went to a Bob Larsen conference with a couple of guys from church - I didn't know who Bob Larsen was but they thought he was great so I went.  Turns out he's a deliverance minister who has written a book that even non-Pentecostals think is great, but I found he was really pretty scary how he handles his ministry events.  This is how he did it the night I went - He walked the floor of the conference room in the aisles by where the audience sat, back and forth he would walk purposefully, staring around at everyone with a 'discerning' piercing look in his eyes, and said that "his anointing" would make the demons that need to be exercised "show themselves".  As I sat there not knowing what would happen next, he walked by my row and I suddenly screamed and fell out of my chair across the two guys I came with and ended up on the floor.  Then Bob grabbed me up and dragged me up to the front.  I was out-of-it while up there, in some kind of zoned-out state of being, I think it was terror but I really can't say for sure and I don't remember much from that point on, but they told me I kicked him in the stomach once while I was in the chair and he was talking to me in front of everyone. He began to question me if I had been sexually assaulted ever but he said he was talking to the demon that made me scream and from whatever answer "I" gave him, he deduced that I had been.  I guess he then proceeded to cast a demon out of me but I don't remember that, I just remember feeling violated by the whole experience after I sat down in the audience again.  I didn't go back to my old seat next to my friends but sat down near the front row out of ease I guess but it turns out I sat next to a nice couple who did deliverance praying in their church in a much less volatile way and they comforted me.  They were there that night to view his ministry but did not agree with his practices, especially speaking with demons!  As I sat there the rest of that night I saw repeatedly how Bob pulled up woman after woman, (or girl after girl since some were younger) and how according to him each woman he brought up there had been molested!  In one case the girls father and mother happened to be there and the father walked up to the front while his daughter sat in front of Bob and he told Bob that he was a Christian and that he had never molested his daughter.  See that's who Bob usually said did the molesting, the girl's father, or some other family member.   So, Bob was called out for being a liar but he just defended his practice of speaking to demons, which of course lie, and that nice family went and sat down.  At the end of that night I tried to tell my guy friends that I don't think I was molested but they didn't believe me and they treated me with sympathy like I was a victim.  I went home really confused and shook up and wondered how was I going to go to sleep after that?  I also wondered how my Christian life had now become just like my former New Age life?  It was shortly after this event that I would sometimes wake up in the middle of the night because I felt there was heavy presence laying on me and I could hardly breathe.  This spirit would try and molest me (I thought that scene in the Poltergeist movie was made up by Hollywood but now I know demons can do anything) and I would pray the name of Jesus repeatedly to make it go away.  I don't know if it was a demon or if maybe a warlock had been at that meeting that was astral projecting himself (which they have to use demon power to do) into my home to attack me but it was a very degrading, scary and lonely experience to go through because I couldn't tell anyone - it was too weird!  (I didn't know anything about astral projecting at that time so that might have been why it took me awhile to get free from the attacks but God led me to books that explained how witches and warlocks attend church with the specific purpose of attacking Christians.  I began to suspect this kind of thing was probably more of a problem for Christians in Spirit-filled aka P/C churches because the deliverance ministry began around the time P/C churches became popular and so I began to repent of things that did not line up with Scripture done in my church services and I began to get free.) Things also got worse as I continued to try and have courage to be a prophetic person.  I went to an extra worship night service held by our church's former staff evangelist (they couldn't afford his position anymore so he was trying to start his own church) and his wife and two daughters helped lead worship on the stage.  But in true Pentecostal fashion of building and building and building emotionalism, they kept trying to top each other with how they felt the Holy Spirit was leading the music or shouts of praise or messages in tongues over the music while they were up on the stage that the environment became totally loud and chaotic!  In that chaotic frenzied environment I suddenly felt a force seize me and completely freeze me in my place and it began to speak to me about what to say to the church.  I thought it was God so I began saying what I heard but it was not a loving message and in fact started with "I have to say this or I won't be let into into heaven".  The evangelist and his wife and daughters didn't see anything wrong with the message and encouraged everyone to follow the stern message to worship more heartily and so I left there feeling like I must've heard from God and was proud I could be used in service!  But the next day a woman from my church who was there too told me how I had said that line about not going to heaven if I didn't say that message out loud (see I didn't really think about that part until she told it me) and she said that isn't Scriptural so it couldn't have been from God.  I was absolutely crushed and completely embarrassed to go to church and see people again!  Fortunately the group there that night were mostly from another group of people they knew and not the usual church people I knew but still I did not know how I would recover from something as bad as this attack from Satan!  I still trusted my tongues and interpretation, especially if it happened while in private worship time at home, but I shouldn't have, because one day I got a message that I thought was the Holy Spirit  speaking to me telling me to quit my job because I was supposed to go to Bible college and become a preacher.  So I quit my job because I believed I would be moving to to a neighboring city to attend a Bible College there.  It felt crazy and I was terrified to walk away from my paycheck but in Pentecostalism you are taught to obey the voice of the Holy Spirit no matter how radical or crazy the message is so I quit my job and even walked away from the year end bonus of a $1,000 (which I could've used to pay my parents back on a loan they had given me for a car), only to not be able to get into that Bible college.  I became very frightened because now I had no job and no Bible college so I called out to God.  He let me know I would need to read my Bible a lot to get free from the mess I was in.  I spent the month of December reading the Bible non-stop - I read through the entire Old Testament which gave me a good foundation I had not had before and in January I began job hunting.  No one would hire me and I was down to a stick of butter in my refrigerator when finally I got hired as a waitress at a country club, but the pay was less than what I had been making because they only could offer me 30 hours a week.  I almost lost my apartment and had to borrow $200 to not get evicted and I also had to hide all of this from my parents who were not happy that I had quit my job!  Plus I didn't want to make a bad name for God or for my Christian walk so I just pressed into work so I could get out of the mess I was in!  I was very confused as to why God would let this happen to me but I kept reading my Bible knowing that somehow the prophecy was wrong, and I blamed myself, not Pentecostalism.  (However one Pentecostal woman friend I had met at my very large church I had to stop being friends with because she was acting contrary to how I was trying to fix my predicament.  She thought of herself as my mentor and she lived "by faith" and didn't work because she felt God told her not to and that He would provide for her miraculously.  The bank was threatening foreclosure on her house but she kept "the faith" that she had heard from God that she was not to work or worry about it. I don't know what ever happened to her but I suspect she eventually lost her home.) During all of this time I couldn't afford to drive to my church which was across town and I missed it so terribly because the music and preaching were dynamic and I always got a lot of attention there too!  Eventually, after about 8 months, I began to pull out of the financial trouble and I went back to church, embarrassed to tell anyone about what had happened to me.  I continued on in church but always with conflicting voices in my head - never knowing which was from God and which wasn't. (I have spanned a few years in telling you all of these worst events so below are some of the other events that were taking place too during some of these years.)
 

As a new parishioner there people saw my zeal and high energy during worship and by some, the ones who were really invested in "the things of God", I was viewed as one of the gifted people at church. I was open to anything if it was a move of God and I began to try and dance to energetic songs which then started being something I felt on a regular basis, it came out like an energetic Irish jig type step. And when things got exciting in there I'd run the aisles or even twirl once in awhile when the "anointing was really saturating us".  (There were other dancers in there too and there was another man everyone loved because he was so sweet and he would get fired up and run the aisles too.)  Our youth pastor, who was a woman, also would get heavily anointed similar to how I did but she didn't run the aisles.  I remember one time the elders and other leaders formed a tunnel where they stood opposite of each other and raised their hands over as people would pass through to receive a touch from each of them so they could impart their anointing on us.  Me and a couple of my friends were the only ones who would 'fall out under the anointing' but to be honest when I look back, I was putting some of that on because I knew it was considered a good night at church if people saw something taking place.  That was one of the only times I remember not being 100% authentic in my anointing but that might have been enough for the devil to say, "great, I've got one I can manipulate".  And the pastor seemed to like this type of thing, seeing people get touched by God, and I really held to his high opinion because he was a brilliant preacher and sincerely nice so I made him my mentor.  (Pentecostal preachers on T.V. were always saying "find yourself someone who is more anointed than you are and shadow that person".)  I wanted to be and felt I was called to be an evangelist and he was a great orator and very praising of God in his sermons.  This caused almost a build-up of emotion in the place and I loved the high I got there at church each Sunday morning.  Sunday nights were a little different and not always good but a person was seen as "more spiritual" if they attended the evening services so I would try to do that as often as possible even though my church was a good 30 minutes away from my home by interstate.  The experiences a person would have while in church were considered good and valuable to growing in God so I coveted any supernatural experience I could get.  I didn't make up anything, I knew that God desired honest worship but what I didn't realize is how powerful an influence comes from peers and/or how one's emotions could take over.  Especially with the music played at loud levels and over and over again building up a momentum.  There were times I would get so filled up with "something supernatural" that I would not even be able to see straight and I would march across the front of the altar space in keeping with the build up of the music of praise going on in the church.  We all thought of it as "the anointing" though I am sure there may have been some who wished I would just sit down.  But to me and from what I had learned in my church, this was the fullness of the Holy Spirit pouring out of me in praise to God.  So in general for all of my zeal in wanting all of what God would offer in services and for not being afraid to act out on what I felt, I was seen as having 'the anointing on me' during worship, or as some would put it, " as getting blessed' during service.  This became my identity and while I was a humble Christian when I studied about missions or in serving God in street outreach work, I have to admit I had became conceited when I thought of how anointed I was.  I wrestled to stay humble during worship at church because under 'the blessing of the Holy Spirit' my thoughts always came back to me, how much God is using me, or my great future as an anointed preacher, etc, rather than focusing on Jesus..  This troubled me, the fact that it was such a struggle to do worship right, but I never talked to anyone about it.  I was also known as someone who spent time in kneel'd down worship at the altar and weeping before the Lord.  In Pentecostal churches the band plays songs for at least half an hour after preaching so people can come forward and talk to God.  I thought of it as therapeutic from all of the tests and trials of life, past and present, but I have to admit I was also embarrassed that everyone saw my 'dirty laundry' so to speak.  There were times I would wail crying and I was sure the married people (who were usually more stoic) and even the youth (who were all about their bright futures with God) did not understand me and the tough times I was having, but I persevered because Pentecostalism encourages emotional worship.  I was too blind to see the parallels to the New Age experiences I had had back in L.A. (with the 'crying until the tears don't come anymore' and the time I did all of that crying at the channeler's place).  However, one time I did recognize how a book that was being passed out to all of us as a gift from a rich couple in the church seemed to promote the same ideas as the New Age.  After they made their announcement at church and described the book, I didn't take one and I even spoke against it to my friends.  But my friends were used to that, I had denounced their preachers too such as Rod Parsley and Jessie DuPlantis as being prideful and in error.  No one agreed with me (hardly, once in a while one or two would) and so confusion and strife were once again taking over my relationships.  Why were we all led differently in my Pentecostal church? Towards the end of my third year there one of my main friends at church changed dramatically after she got into a Deliverance Ministry there and she was no longer sweet and she even began to glare at and berate people angrily, including me, whenever she didn't like something.  One time during that time, I looked at her and she appeared witchy - she had on a flowing type black top and long skirt and her nails were long with lots of indian style big jewelry on her fingers and wrists.  I felt bad thinking that way about her but it was what I sensed, that somehow she had crossed over into witchcraft.  She left the church shortly there-after because the pastor wouldn't let her stop service with her tongues messages and he didn't wait for interpretation of the part she did get out and it was pretty embarrassing for her because she was in the choir so everyone saw the pastor shutting her down.  (She would get these "tongues messages" pretty soon into worship each Sunday morning and or right before the sermon while she was sitting in the choir loft.)  She left our church to go attend and be a prophetess in her son's church which was a "One-ness Pentecostal" church.  That denomination has a notorious reputation for leadership abuse.  I'll let you google that subject since I never experienced that denomination first-hand.  I am not sure if the Deliverance ministry turned her from being sweet to nasty to people or if it was her beliefs rooted in the One-ness Pentecostal church that did it, but it was like seeing someone change before my eyes into a different person.  (Here is one man's story of going into and getting out of that One-ness Pentecostal denomination:  http://www.gospeloutreach.net/opgospel.html#part1 )
 

For some reason I always had the thought that there was somewhere to go for God all of the time, (this seems to be a prevalent thing in Pentecostalism because one woman there left a $60K a year job and moved to another state to join Benny Hinn's ministry as a volunteer - her older, retired husband who she supported, went with her- I am not sure how that worked out and if she ever regretted walking away from their only source of income.), there was a sort of ambition that runs you under the surface of things, so I left my church a couple of times in pursuit of "the church that God was advancing me to" or because of Christian college, only to find out that no churches were in full revival like we were and  the Bible college didn't work out, so I would come back after a few months.  It seemed to hurt the pastor each time I left because while I was seeing it as "God growing me up and promoting me to where He could use me more", the pastor looked at it like I left the flock.  I didn't understand it then because I thought he should be happy that God is promoting me and using me out there in the world somewhere - there were others that left to Assemblies of God churches to pursue music careers and so I thought that might happen to me too, but with preaching or ministry outreach opportunities instead.  But what I hadn't learned yet was that it was the pastor's job to grow the church and get it out of debt (our church was heavily in debt!) and so he wasn't interested in the nurturing role if it was for ministry outside of the church or if you got "the calling" to go to another church where you could be used more.   Well, finally after 5+ years of me trying to be promoted (outside of the church to higher service for God), the reverse happened, the pastor made the announcement one day in church that he was leaving the church for a promotion!  I was devastated!  The reasons why I was devastated were as follows: 1) I was seeing things as him being in a father role so naturally the kids grow up and leave the house, not the other way around 2)  In an effort to feel good again about church and my life I had, just a couple of months earlier, approached the pastor about doing more ministry outreach such as holding some all-night prayer meetings starting in the fall to which the pastor agreed.  After he made the announcement he was leaving, I knew most likely I would not get to do these prayer meetings and I was really desperate to try and revive some sort of purpose in my church life there.  3)  The fact that he knew he was being considered for another position when he agreed to letting me hold these extra prayer meetings, and he knew the next pastor would not know me or let me do these meetings, made me feel he lied to me in a sense. 4) The fact that he was taking a promotion to being a Bishop in the denomination confused me because I thought a pastor was a shepherd and should never leave his flock.  (A Bishop is more of a pastor's pastor, they oversee the pastors all over the nation within the denomination, and help them out with their problems.)  I felt abandoned and disheartened that a shepherd would leave his flock. 5)  The pastor had always said he was leading us into revival and while I knew we were in more of a revival type environment than other Pentecostal churches I had visited, there was always the promise coming from him that "true revival was coming".  We didn't really know what that revival would be - would it be that people got out of their wheelchairs and walked? or would it be that people driving by would just start being moved by the Holy Spirit and start pulling into the church parking lot and attending our church to where the numbers of people flowed out the door? or would angels or Jesus appear to us?  No one defined it but we were told "revival is coming" and I had lived for that.  Now, he was leaving so I wondered did he never really believe revival was coming?  His sermon that day tried to smooth it over but it didn't fly with me.  His sermon went something like this: "Moses was allowed to bring the Israelites up to the Promised Land but he wasn't allowed to bring them in so just as it was with Moses, I cannot go on with you into revival but you all will go without me".  Well, for those of you who don't know the story, Moses didn't get to go into the Promised Land because he sinned against God by saying "We will bring forth water out of this rock" and for striking the rock twice (God had performed a water miracle once by having Moses strike a rock but this time He was going to do it differently but Moses out of frustration of all of the Israelites complaining took it upon himself to speak and act for God.)  and that is not at all comparable to the pastor leaving for a promotion.  So the sermon came across as disingenuous and I really began to question his honesty all together.  I mean, I know we all are capable of being manipulative when trying to cover up or smooth out situations, but I just didn't expect that from the pastor who seemed so above board all of the time.  But it did cause me to begin to look at some of the ways I didn't agree with him in the past and to be able to gain some confidence that I was right in my convictions, most especially in his ordaining 2nd marriages under all kinds of circumstances (he really encouraged them and in fact had offered to me that my divorce could be looked at as "an abandonment issue" thereby letting me remarry - I felt that was not supported by Scripture and dismissed that idea right away), and then there was the issue of how he allowed preachers to preach there that he admitted he didn't agree with their message (and he'd even let them preach to the youth during the week after the Sunday service), and how he seemed to agree with everyone who came to his office for a meeting, even one woman who I really felt was out there with her "Holy Spirit teachings" on Jewish mysticism, which she called "her ministry" but he encouraged her and told her he'd like to hear more about it - I was confused how he could be so right in preaching but then so wrong (in my belief) in what he oversaw and approved of in parishioner's lives!  I think it's a Pentecostal thing where the prevalent feeling is it is the job of the Holy Spirit to grow each person up and use them in a special capacity so he felt it wasn't his job to narrow the scope on people's lives.  I mean he gave Biblical advice to people but he was also very accepting of all kinds of ministry ideas and never said no it seemed to anyone.  

Now as far as his promotion, I know large churches are set up that way, with higher up positions available but I want to mention that this pastor got promoted and promoted and promoted again to where he was at the top position in the denomination, called General Overseer, (which is like the Pope of the denomination in worshjp of who he is, but he doesn't claim to be infallible) and he was one of the younger pastors in the whole denomination, (COG has a worldwide organization),so I found it perplexing how he rose to the very top so quickly over more experienced/older preachers.   I truly believed at the time that it was his overlooking so many things that parishioners at my church that he never had any complaints against him to the higher-ups and of course his dynamic preaching, so people just thought he was the superstar the church wanted shining at the top.  And some may say that a pastor rising to the top of an organization is a good thing but it caused me to look at the hierarchial system in place with my denomination and I personally have a problem with hierarchy and titles because it leads to pride and it resembles how the Catholic church is set up.  As for pride, people in Pentecostal churches already treat their leadership like royalty calling the pastor's wife the "first lady" and such.  This is done in almost all Pentecostal churches, not just mine.  I thought pastors and preachers were supposed to be humble servant leaders, not royalty.  I will say the pastor did come across humble except he always kept everyone at arm's distance from him (I wasn't the only person who said this, other men, and some that were leaders noticed his very strict boundary between his personal life and his role as pastor to the church), and when he said one time from the pulpit that his wife was "the best Christian he has ever met" it didn't sit well with me because I didn't see anything special in her Christian witness - in fact she never participated in anything "pro-life" that I planned and she stated that was one of her main causes.  Another time I tried to tell her about the human trafficking cause and to ask her to sign my petition (this was after church in the lobby area where we could set up things) and she just treated me like I was all upset about nothing and smiled and nodded like she was listening and then went on her way to enjoy her day.  (I believe she did sign it but not with any interest in how horrific the situation was and how it needed to be stopped.)  One time I asked her if she was going to audition for a solo and she scoffed at me that she was the pastor's wife with a college degree in music and that she doesn't "audition".  I felt very put in my place by her answer and I didn't deserve it because I was asking innocently, I had no knowledge of how things were done in the church.  She also changed with the wind on who she let in 'her approval' based on who was doing a project for the church.  I saw her do an about-face with one young lady simply because this young lady happened to be singing in a presentation with her - it was a clicque we saw on stage that night but I am sure she never reached out to her again, only maybe to the other pastor's wife who also sang that night.  That's one thing about this church I was in, the leadership loved you when you did things for the church and was arm's length with you or worse back-bit you if you didn't.  This pastor's wife one time told me she called a woman in the church "special" and she didn't mean in a good way.  Granted I was talking to her about the woman because I had tried to befriend her and help her and was frustrated because she would bring trouble back in her life once I did help her, (this woman was on disability due to mental issues), but my point is, while I was wrong to be frustrated with this woman, the pastor's wife should not label someone in a disdaining way like she did with this woman.  Her tone and term "special" was like she was saying this woman was a pain in the neck and undesirable to everyone.  But that was because success was paramount to her, one time her husband told a story from the pulpit of how he had gotten very low in the dumps.  Instead of comforting him, she scolded him that he was not going to bring her and the kids down and she sat down and started reading the Bible to him until he felt better.  The pastor's point in telling the story was to reinforce the power of the Bible but he said that because of how she handled the situation he felt "she was the best Christian he knew!"  I was already afraid of her, due to her snobbery in general and because she in a few circumstances accused me of not being trust-worthy around her husband, but this example really made me afraid of her.  A woman that doesn't show compassion to her own husband when he is down and expects him to always be perfect, is something that scares me.  And so with time, I began to see his perfectionistic ways as something that intimidated me too since they came as a package deal.  In fact one thing that always bothered me is he would always said in our meetings that his wife would be my spiritual covering for my ministry projects, which most of them were outside of the church, outside of their jurisdiction, so I didn't understand that.  I did not want a covering other than Jesus and I didn't understand why he kept feeling it necessary to put me under her spiritually.  I think that whole theology of spiritual covering is a dangerous practice and I don't see it in Scripture. But with all of this said, when they announced they were leaving, I felt betrayed and grieved like I was losing spiritual parents.  The pastor's wife said to me at the going away visitation, "you should've been up there" and what she meant was they had a church ordination service where people who were going on and up with the church were in a ceremony.  Well, no one had told me about that, so how could I have been up there?  The pastor had never asked me about it more than the one time and that was years before.  But he chimed in and said, "she is waiting to hear from God".  It still would've been nice to have had them tell me the ceremony was forth-coming so I could've taken it into further prayer but no, she said it afterward, like a scolding stab, that I should've stepped up, but now they are going.  They did not leave me with any address or email or phone number, they were just gone and that really hurt, especially when I found out the pastor gave some older ladies in the church his email address.  I always knew in my heart that it was because she saw me as a threat to her marriage, my adoration of him was innocent in that I did not want to take her husband from her, and she even admitted one time in sort-of an apology to me, that if I was an old lady, my attention to the pastor would not have seemed suspicious.  But the fact remained that she treated me like a threat when all I really wanted was a father figure and mentor, but in looking back, I can see I was immature too in what I thought that would gain me.  Back then I thought it would gain me a great future with God, but that was selfish and greedy of me, I should not have taken up so much of his time trying to learn from him or get his approval.

So, the pastor and his wife left and the church went without a pastor for awhile and we had some visiting preachers that came and filled in and then some "auditioning pastors" (ones we were supposed to vote on to see if they would be our new pastor) and because my heart wasn't in it anymore, I left the church again. I began to try other Charismatic and Pentecostal churches in the bay area.  I didn't really fit into them though, some because I am single and mostly married couples and families go to church, but also because they were not having revival type experiences like I had grown accustomed to.  I did go to a closer church that was part of my denomination and liked it for a couple of services but then they had a traveling evangelist one Sunday night and I remember putting $20 in the tithe basket for that evangelist before he preached and regretted it soon after.  This man stood up there and literally screamed at us for our pathetic worship of God during worship time and demanded people to worship God the way He deserved which was followed by more military drill sergeant yelling and people began to go up front or in the center aisle and fall on their faces.  There was no anointing in that place so people were not responding to God's love or peace but were being dutiful to his angry yelling man!  I was outraged at his behavior and after service left a note telling the church to not give my $20 to that evangelist.  I never went back there because I had lost my trust in the leadership there since they obviously felt his behavior was okay - it was not his first time visiting there.  I then found a Charismatic church and the worship was real anointed and so I got into worship the way I used to at my church, expressing exuberance whenever it welled up in me, including my dance steps.  I was flattered when the pastor's wife right away invited me to go to lunch with her but then she proceeded to tell me at that lunch that I needed to find another church because she and her husband were on shaky ground at the church and she could not afford to have me bringing revival type behavior into the church services.  Again, I got hurt by a pastor's wife and it really wrecked my understanding of Christianity since I was not welcome in their church!  (I found out that within 6 months after this they were fired - I could tell from her life story that she told me at lunch that they were not very stable Christian people.  This is not to discount my behavior that was unwelcome there, but just to say, they got fired on their own, without any help from me.)  I started attending a small church (I mean small, like 12 people small) that allowed me to hold an all-night Pro-Life prayer meeting on their grounds a few years back and they were fine at first but I noticed the pastor encouraged people to be equals with him and speak up during the sermon and ask questions or make comments.  There  was a couple that sat in the back that were very demonstrative and I thought that was problematic but was mostly okay with them but I did find with time the church was definitely out of balance because they seemed to want to head up the church and the pastor didn't.  He had been told by a woman pastor who previously oversaw the church that he was to be her successor but he wasn't interested.  The only reason he did it was because his wife told him that if he didn't God would be mad at him.  I noticed during middle of the week prayer meetings he would come in in a very bad mood.  He was nice but I just felt he shouldn't have been at the head of the church if he didn't have a joy in being there.  Then one Sunday he blew it in my opinion - he was so lazy about picking his sermon, (he had been on a fishing trip the day before), that he preached out of the book "My Utmost for His Highest". I was incensed that someone would dare to preach out of another book other than the Bible and I never went back after that.  There was another church that met in that church building that was really flourishing (really taking over the whole place in numbers and activities) and I will tell you about that real quick since I had in the past visited their Saturday morning services. It was a Messianic Synagogue.  I would have to say that even though that group did not characterize themselves as Charismatics, they sure had many proponents within their congregation.  I first of all thought their keeping of all of the Old Testament festivals kind of went against the verses in Galatians 4: 9-11:  "But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain".  I was okay with them doing it for fun or to add some meaning to the holidays but I wondered if it caused confusion to them because they clung so much to the Old Testament ways, even observing the Sabbath, which is why their services were on Friday night and one on Saturday.  One time when I was visiting on a Saturday I got talking to a Jewish believer and he told me that he and God had many deep conversations about things and then he hit me with something I was not prepared for!  He told me that the Holy Spirit had told him that the name of Jesus was actually a term for garbage, that that name was the lowest name there was.  I think he was trying to say something that would make it fit into how Jesus was reviled at the Cross but he didn't get there with me because I really felt I was talking to someone engulfed in evil to even say what he said at all!  Between him, and an odd couple I saw from my old church that were now going there instead, and a Messianic Jewish man who attended there and wrote a book they sold there that was more about numerology than becoming a Christian, I realized this group of people were pretty mixed up and I never got invested in them past my first few visits.  After the small church didn't work out, I tried a branch of my old church that we had helped get established back in my first 5 years at Pentecostal church, but when I visited I noticed how there were several parishioners on the stage area sitting as if they were also preachers.  I wondered about that and then saw how church service would go on for hours and these parishioners took part as 'anointed' prophets.  It became very much like a spiritualist environment as the day went on and I left knowing it wasn't safe to return.  I also attended Without Walls church service a couple of times and heard Randy White say (with Paula standing next to him smiling in agreement), "We keep kicking the white people out of here but they keep coming back".  I found that to be a very racist statement and not at all loving.  Then I went to their Christmas evening service and there were interpretative dances to abstract music and on a dimly lit stage (practically pitch dark) and other 'spirit-filled' presentations but nothing at all even remotely close to the inspiring Christmas story so I didn't go back there again.  Another church I went to was of a preacher who claims to have the gift of healing, (a sort of Benny Hinn type), but he was not very sanctified, (he and his visiting preacher friend would actually argue in front of us in the congregation) and I never saw any healings take place. He seemed to be only interested in money too and I found that out because I volunteered to work their prayer line.  The woman who was to train me gave me a folder of how they wanted people to handle the phone calls.  I read it and realized I could not do what they were asking.  It was all about getting the people's private contact information first, then getting their pledge of money and then saying a prayer for them.  I told them no, I would not do this, and it was hard because she was like a barracuda over the project, she was definitely his "right-hand partner" in business.  Also showing his deceptive nature he one time while preaching said "I keep things as long as the 'speak to me', as long as my car, or my wife speaks to me, then I'll keep them, but if they don't I'll repIace them".  By 'speak to him', he meant "excited him or kept his interest" and I was like, okay, what about what Scripture says about divorce?  We can't as Christians just divorce our spouse if they cease to excite us.  I realized he was no better than Benny Hinn and left.  I then went to another charismatic church where the leaders had come out of the Brownsville Revival and were starting their own church.  They had visiting speakers come and one I was sure had a spirit of witchcraft about her - she talked about weird things like thinking the devil was sending a cat over to her yard to threaten her not to open the new church in South America, where she lived.  And another visiting musician at that church told a story where he said he was driving and God told him to look at his hand.  And when he did, the Holy Spirit began to give him some kind of reading about his life and ministry based on the construction of his hand.  That did not sound like something God would do!  (Sounded more like palm-reading!) Also the other founder of that church was on television with a healing ministry that takes place in Africa, large crusades, and the whole congregation seemed to be a cheering and financial pool for his ministry needs.  I didn't want to be a part of a church that made a celebrity out of one man, plus the stories of the miracles at these crusades has been reported to be exaggerated and full of controversy.  Then there was the charismatic church that showed a portion of a Hollywood movie each Sunday morning to set-up the sermon of the day.  They had lots of sugary donuts and coffee for everyone to take and they met in a waterfront building where night clubs were.  I hated that they showed Hollywood movies prior to the sermon because I had come out of Hollywood and knew it to be a sinful place.  The fact the church was in a waterfront commercial building where night clubs were and all of that sugary junk food displayed for everyone just seemed very worldly.  I knew they felt they were making it seeker friendly but it felt wrong so I left there too.  I tried a church that did not have a set place to worship yet because they were a start-up church so we would get an email each week where we would meet.  It was called Breakthrough Worship Church and at that time there was a worship song that was popular in the Contemporary music scene that I loved so I thought this must be the church I should be in.  There was a husband/wife pastor team but the wife ran the church and when I say ran the church, I mean RAN the church!  She pushed so hard at people to do things her way and for the church to become so successful that she literally pushed people out of there!  People ran from her!  I don't know whatever happened to them but I am not one to be controlled so I didn't stay past a handful of services. I then began to go to a church that was very large and very popular, thousands go there each Sunday, and it was a Pentecostal church but the only time they prayed in tongues was in prayer about 30 minutes prior to services.  Anyone who wanted to join prayer could so I did one time.  That pastor controlled every minute of that prayer time, telling people when to pray in tongues and when to stop.  I had thought there was supposed to freedom in the Spirit so I did not like being in that prayer room.  The church services there were full of humor, there were skits and the choir put on a real full gospel show.  The choir leader was very prideful and it really screamed out to me he was in the entertainment business!  The sermons were pretty good and they always ended in the salvation prayer so I liked that and kept going back until I finally saw too many things that I did not like.  (I mentioned the humor and I did think it was too much, it seemed irreverent almost, I thought church should be more of a holy experience.)  The first incident of humor I didn't like was they had a young girl, maybe 23 up on stage with a couple of guys to do a skit.  She happened to be a very beautiful blonde girl and the guy with the microphone said "sorry guys she's taken" ha ha ha ha went the laughter in the place. I thought that was wrong since as Christians we should not be paying honor to people based on such superficial things as looks and I wondered if it maybe made less attractive young girls in the audience wish they looked like her - young girls already suffer from image shaming, they shouldn't have to get that in church too.  Speaking of looks, the pastor was not gifted in that area at all, but his new wife, 2nd wife, was absolutely stunning - I always wondered if she was interested in him because of the prestige of that big, successful church or if she would've married him even if he was just a regular office worker.  It did seem like the Pentecostal preachers sure made sure they married the prettiest and most talented women they could find, but this one would never utter a peep, she was not your typical "first lady" in that way.  She just always dutifully sat by his side when he was up on the stage and she never sang, nor talked to anyone that I saw.  Another thing I didn't like about this church was one time at a night prayer service, people were walking around while praying in tongues and one of the members there, a young woman maybe about 19, hollered out loud "come on people" which was followed by some sort of reprimand on those there.  I thought that is wrong of her but the pastor grabbed the microphone and said "I think what she's trying to say is. . . .  . and he proceeded to try and make it a full prophetic word.  It still came across like a reprimand and I did not see how that was warranted.  Then at another prayer meeting, we were told to fast some, so we all did, but when they told us to hold hands in a circle and pray (now I know this is not a formation for Christian prayer but one that actually comes out of witchcraft) I put a breath mint in my mouth so as to not offend.  A visiting evangelist happened to be standing next to me and he asked for a mint, then he started taking a whole bunch saying "I'm hungry since we've had to fast".  I thought to myself that is cheating (since we were fasting so God would answer our prayers) and he was supposed to be more "anointed" than the rest of us since he had traveled there to speak that week and here he was rudely grabbing and eating all of my mints!  And also at that prayer meeting, me and another girl got into an anointed state where we were praising God out loud repeatedly and the pastor grabbed the microphone and scolded her and me for doing this during prayer time.  (Keep in mind Pentecostals pray out loud so it wasn't quiet in there anyway.) I thought that was odd because he didn't mind at all when that one young girl hollered at everyone during prayer time but he "was not going to have" mine and that other woman's praising of God out loud.  That was the last time I ever went there and I found out later that he was soon fired by the church board for his handling of another pastor there in a bullying way.  Oh, I do want to mention that out front by the street of that church a man would stand out there with his atheist signs.  I would watch church members drive out of that fancy church in their fancy cars and they would tell this man off for being in front of their church.  I felt that gave a very bad Christian witness and so I walked up to him to talk with him one time.  I found out he had been a Pentecostal preacher himself for like 8 years but then he began to have trouble with the concept of hell so he decided to renounce his faith in God.  He then became the leader of the local bay area atheist group.  I gave him my testimony tract and urged him to reconsider and then left church that day amazed that a former preacher, a Pentecostal preacher at that!, would lose his faith.  But I had to recognize how I also was emotionally siding more and more with the lost people of the world than a God who would send people to hell.  I realized I could also become like this preacher and I grew very scared!  I didn't know what to do about my very real feeling that "things weren't lining up in these churches I was going to" and that I was having betrayal feelings towards God and Jesus because of how they send people to hell, but I determined to just keep asking God for help with all of this and to remain Christian and attending church somewhere.  I also attended "the Lakeland Revival" but not in a chasing 'God experience' like so many Pentecostals get into, but really only because I met 3 people while I was out street witnessing that were from different parts of the world who had flown to my city to drive to Lakeland for the revival.  Based on meeting them, and thinking how cool they all came from all over the world to attend something in my backyard,  I went and while the service was nothing special (because I found out later the leader had fallen into sin and was no longer there so "revival was over" it was just a regular church service that night), but I remember the lobby was full of all kinds of paintings, books and other 'spiritual' things that had a very creepy feeling to them, just like the New Age did. I finally found a little Pentecostal church to attend but it was a real small group meeting in a home.  The preacher worked a regular job during the week and he preached on Sundays, and boy did he preach for a long time and if it is possible he preached way too much on the Cross of Christ!  I hate to say it because I love that message but he just way over-preached it and he never preached on the Old Testament and I began to miss hearing the whole Bible.  The parishioners all seemed to be related, some were not, but for the most part it was really just one extended family of people as his congregation.  There were two women that always had the message in tongues and he was always the one who interpreted, no one else did.  The women's voices were super loud when the message in tongues would start up and it would make you jump out of your seat and I thought it odd that the pastor did all of the talking all of the time, not just in the sermons but also he was the only one who had the "word of knowledge" or "gift of interpretation".  When the pastor was not available to preach he had a young man he lifted up to that position and this guy was supposed to be anointed too but he was not.  He would walk the grounds of the home, in the back yard, for hours on Saturday night to try and get an anointing to preach the next day and he would preach but it was not anointed and it wasn't even really good.  There was one older woman who was very dominant that was not part of that big family and one time when I brought in my globe so we could pray over the world for missions reasons, she started slamming her hand down on the globe as she was praying!  I had paid about $65 for that globe because it was one you have as decoration for a living room or study and so I put my hand in-between her hand and the globe to let her know I didn't appreciate that.  She stopped but I wondered what made her think that was acceptable behavior?  I left there after awhile because of the sermon reasons I listed above and the pastor seemed more concerned about his anointing than he did about being conversational with the parishioners, except this one large family, and because a Jehovah's Witness church opened up right across the street and I wasn't sure if that was a sign from God that there is something wrong with this church.  I had not really felt like I was growing as a Christian there plus the pastor made a comment one time during a sermon that most people are going to hell and don't care to come to church and he used as proof the fact that no one was there at his church.  I felt that was pretty conceited to think that people are not in church just because they were not in his church. So, I left there and coincidentally (not surprising though) all of that large family stopped talking to me, they never invited me over again, (I had spent time during Christmas with them) and they did not return phone calls or emails.  It was as if I had died to them.  (This is very cult-like behavior just like the Jehovah's Witness!) But despite all of these set-backs I persevered in attending church every Sunday at some Pentecostal or Charismatic church for three years and then feeling lonely for the good-ole-days of my first five years of excitement at my first church, I went back. Also I had heard the pastor who had replaced mine, who one man told me was very New Agey, had left and so I ventured back to try the one that replaced him.  I had met the one they had now once when he was visiting and he seemed friendly, very smiley, and so I hoped it would be good to be there again.
 
But the pastor, was not the same as I remembered him, he seemed smiley, but there was an undertone to his personality that I had not perceived before and he really was not a very good preacher, (his wife had even told a story one time about how his old church fired him for not being a good preacher), so that was disappointing.  And everything there was now super structured with like a hundred committees with parishioners as leaders of each group and other parishioners answering to them.  This made me very nervous because I had seen abuses under Pentecostal lay leadership before, stories I haven't even mentioned on here. (I've included one story below.)  And then there was the new pastor's wife who was taking over at the pulpit more and more with her sermons (which were only supposed to be five minute devotional readings before tithe collection) and how one church leader would go around and shake people's hands after worship had started and went all over the congregation doing this throughout the worship time.  I was amazed the pastor didn't think that was disrespectful to God and put a stop to it.  But he didn't, that leader appeared to be a favorite of his.  Also again I noticed the men ministers (even the visiting Regional Bishop) looked at me suspiciously and didn't want to talk to me at all, not that I tried much but if I did have something to say they did not treat me as a sister in the Lord.   I knew this was most likely because I had been a radical revival person during the time the first pastor had been there, because the second pastor used to say from the pulpit "you can't just worship God however you want" which I always thought was meant for me, but I think he had a way of making everyone feel judged though so it may not have been just me he was referring to since others also reacted to the anointings in church with zeal. (The first pastor led us like he wanted to duplicate the Welsh Revival but this pastor had no such goal.) But to show what I mean about the way men there treated me now, I went one time to talk to the Youth Pastor to ask him if he would get the youth interested in the Pregnancy Care Center's Walk for Life and he couldn't or wouldn't even look me in the face throughout the whole conversation!.  He was married and so maybe he thought that was the way to deal with unmarried women in the church but it came across as very rude. One of the things that really saddened me while he was the preacher there was his daughter, who was one of the best and most anointed singers I've ever heard, and a very nice young lady who led the worship, got offended by parishioners who I heard were back-biting her, and she left the church.  She was the best part of having him as our preacher and because the people there could not be nice to her, she left!  She seemed normal, like someone I would want as a friend but I never got a chance to talk with her more than in greetings.  I found out she was at an Assemblies of God church and so I went to hear her sing there and visited with her briefly which went nicely but when I went back a few more times she acted like it was bad that I wasn't at my church home.  I had actually gone there a few more times because their service started later and I would sometimes distribute tracts prior to church and needed the extra time in the morning.  But after I saw that she felt I was not being loyal to her dad, I quit visiting her church.  I hated how much control was always involved with leadership to where I was seen as bad if I didn't 100% adhere to established ways!  Back at my church there were more weird things such as the woman who considered herself a prophetess (now she had been there the whole time I attended and I am just now mentioning it so it's not this pastor's fault this was going on but more collectively how things kept adding up to weirdness only since the good things were no longer there) and she wore a choir robe every Sunday but sat with the rest of the congregation; she wasn't in the choir.  She prophecied regularly in messages that were as if God were dictating what she was to say, so they came out as if God was speaking.  One message I remember had something to do with hell and one of the men who had been in that church for a long time shot her a nasty look.  I can't remember if she was threatening hell to us in what she said or what, but if she was, then there is a theological problem with threatening believers with hell.  There was one woman who never sat in her seat for long, throughout the whole service she was always up dancing or running the aisles.  There were women who would come up to new people and tell them "a prophetic word from God" and it scared them off.  There was the Children's pastor and her husband that I had an experience with that was hurtful - I had asked to use their computer to make some flyers for the Pregnancy Center Walk For Life and she said yes and let me use it.  The next week I had to fix one more thing on them before printing and she walked in while her husband was leading the kids playtime and she saw me at their computer (church's property I might add) and she acted offended like I was taking advantage of her.  I was only there a few minutes, that's all I needed, so I was upset she was so unloving towards me!. To smooth things out with her I bought her a Walk for Life T-Shirt and then she was all happy with me again but I was left scarred by her behavior!  The pastor came up with an idea to raise money because he had inherited a church that was deeply in debt and none of his mainstream ideas of selling off property had worked.  His idea was to have an honorary wall for those who had been members of the church but had gone on to be with the Lord.  If a church member wanted to have their loved one's picture on the wall of the reception hall they could pay the church $1,000 and up to $5K depending on where they wanted it.  I was appalled!  A church should not ask people to pay for something like that plus who wants to look at a wall of dead people when you are in the meeting hall having our lunches? I thought that idea was about as good as his plan to have the inside of the church painted only to find out after the whole thing was done, except the large speakers, that paint would ruin the accoustics if they repainted the speakers!  And he had ordered the color to be changed so the sanctuary now was light blue with salmon colored speakers - it looked terrible!  And the church was out of money so they couldn't repaint the place back to salmon colored so everyone attended church in an unfinished environment that cost the church at least $5K to paint when it didn't really even need it in the first place!  Then as one of the last straws for me, one Sunday the pastor gave one really weird sermon on the 'Spirit of Leviathon" which he described throughout his sermon as an evil spirit and then turned his accusing finger out to us in the pews and said some people with that spirit had attacked him that week and that we all need to check ourselves to make sure we are not being led by that spirit.  I left that day shaking my head because 1) the Bible does not say there is a Spirit of Leviathon and if there is a serpent spirit that would just be Satan and 2) a pastor who turns on his audience, a thousand person audience, because one or two people may have done something to him that hurt him, is really, really wrong!
 
I also repeatedly saw something bad happen to the parishioners (and this includes the first five years too) in that they would come into the church sweet and friendly but then slowly but surely you would see them change into prideful or competitive people.  (Not every one but the trend was definitely a strong one amongst parishioners there.)  But see that's because jealousy seemed to linger in the environment over who 'God was blessing with His anointing'.  In Pentecostal churches everyone wants to be used of God in the service, whether through song, tongues, prophesying, preaching, Word of Knowledge, laying on of hands, delivering demons out of someone etc. etc.  Or they have to be seen as the leader of a ministry - One woman actually fired me from her ministry team because I had agreed to pray deliverance prayers over a friend of mine at her house.  This woman leader wanted my friend to take her deliverance class and be prayed over at the church.  After she fired me I kept my distance from her but one day after church service she aggressively grabbed my arm to make me talk this situation over with her.  The pastor got involved at that point because I was afraid of her and he told her she could not put her hands on people.  There was the time I joined our church's prayer group that met just before choir practice and one of the women in that group threw a tantrum and stormed out because people were praying in tongues and she wanted to pray in regular english.  I didn't understand that because we were Pentecostals, that's what we did, we prayed in tongues and I was so shook up by the incident of her yelling at all of us, that I never joined the prayer group again!   Later I saw this prayer leader saying something weird and it was during a time we were praying over a young lady I had brought to church for help.  She was a stripper hooked on meth and she was actually hung over while at church.  After service I brought her up to the altar so we could all pray over her and someone bound "mind bending spirits" off of her (this was a big thing at that time to bind mind bending spirits) and then this prayer leader then enthusiastically added "and mind bottling spirits".  It was like she just came up with "mind bottling" out of her imagination and yet she said she heard that from the Holy Spirit.  Needless to say, nothing supernaturally good took place to help my neighbor and there were several people, including the pastor praying over her.  I began to get disillusioned with this supposed power Pentecostals had with praying in tongues for miracles! I might add there was a young deformed boy who was in a wheelchair that would be in church each week and I always wondered why no one ever went over and "laid hands" on him and prayed for the miracle he needed?  I was tempted to out of compassion for him but feared failing and so never attempted it.  But it did make me wonder why no one in leadership or those who were life-long Pentecostals ever attempted to miraculously heal the sick in our congregation.(?)  I also wondered why we always heard that God would speak to someone when others had a need but when I was down to my last penny, the rich people in my church never came up saying, "God told me to give you this".  I did one time get $20 from an older gentleman with a note on there saying "lunch" but that was because he had a crush on me and was trying to ask me to lunch in a creative way.  I told him, "thanks, I was praying to God for some money to buy some tracts, so you don't mind if I use it for that do you?"  He was forced to smile and agree to it since I had not intention of going to lunch with him.  I will say though there was one street minister who helped me generously with my Bible college tuition which I really appreciated and there were a couple of people that as I would talk about a hardship I was going through, they would give me some money, but my point is more the fact that no one ever gave because God told them to, so I wondered "where was the supernatural that was supposed to be rampant in our denomination"? I mean, this is what they said happened there, God would speak to people about those in the church who had needs, and yet I never saw it happen supernaturally except for this one time I am about to tell you about. There was a lady who had come out of the Jehovah's Witness and she attended our church and we all felt great that she was able to come out of that cult but with time I saw where she also went downhill emotionally in my church's ways.  She and I joined up a bit in our work for the homeless and at a time when I was completely out of money, (because it was during the time I was unemployed and couldn't even afford to drive to church) and my car insurance payment was due, she invited me over and gave me the exact amount I needed!  She had taken up a collection amongst the people who had volunteered with the homeless ministry and they had raised exactly what I needed WITHOUT me telling anyone I needed it!  She had only known that I was out of work and did that out of the kindness of her heart, she didn't know the amount I needed or that I was about to be in real trouble without that payment.  I soon learned she left the church and all I could do was pray that God would help her like how I needed help too.  Then there was one woman who actually was very sweet in person who I tried to be friends with some but it was difficult because she would literally zone-out while in conversations.  And then there were other times she would be talking in her normal soft voice and then she would all of a sudden change into a demonstrative lecturing person - she would change subjects, change demeanor, and begin preaching demonstratively.  It had nothing to do with me so I would just sit there puzzled - I really felt that something was taking over her personality during those times. I would sit with her at church though because there were very few single people there and because she was sweet but then something weird starting happening to me by sitting with her - I could literally feel a spirit jump onto me during service after she had tried to get a message in tongues out but her voice was too soft.  I did not have a soft voice so the message would try and jump out of my mouth, except I would stop it because I could feel something jump onto me from her.  Some would say that was the Holy Spirit trying to use us but God is not imperfect that He would try and use someone whose voice is too weak only then to "jump on" someone else.  No, this was something not of God.  One of the last services I went to there featured a special presentation from a woman who dressed in a flowing ballerina type outfit and she did an interpretative dance up on the stage to a Messianic (Charismatic Jewish) type worship song.  I was sitting near the back but whatever spirits she was channeling hit me and halfway through I ran to the altar and began to cry deep, deep sobs.  At first I thought I was moved by the power of the Holy Spirit due to her worshipful dance but when I left church it began to dawn on me that this was some kind of attack on my emotions.  I had been in a fine mood that morning except it did bother me a bit that the woman whose spirits had jumped on me previously was sitting near me again but nothing to make me sob deeply at the altar.  Soon feeling like I was not safe there, I left my church again and I began to do street evangelism on Sunday mornings since I could not find a church.  I felt I had tried all of them except those outside of the 'Full-Gospel' realm and I wasn't ready to try being a Baptist or Methodist. 

There were other Pentecostal weird things that happened outside of church that I need to reveal that go hand-in-hand with my church experiences.  There was a Pentecostal Christian who lived in my apartment building and she went around telling everyone how they were in sinful second marriages or how God was going to end the earth by fire but she never told people the salvation plan in a normal way, she always chased people away with her radicalness and legalism.  She tried very hard to evangelize constantly but she offended many people.  She came over every day after work so I soon had to tell her that I could not hang out with her because she was not allowing me to be myself since she had such a hyper take-over spirit.  I still see her periodically, even though she has moved to another place, and she is even more quoting of television preachers than she ever was before (you can tell she worships them!) and has some very different viewpoints than I do on what Scripture teaches.  She, like the Pentecostal woman who brought me to my church, both have told people for years about their big ministry God is bringing to them, but years later there are not even the building blocks laid to these supposed ministries.  Another example of this type of Pentecostal craziness is one time I met a homeless woman while I was out street witnessing who said God told her to move to Florida so He could give her a church to lead.  She moved down here in obedience and was waiting for it to happen.  It had been at least a year and she was homeless and pan-handling for everything.  Even as I was talking to her a woman gave her a $5 bill and she grabbed that woman's hand and said she wanted to prophecy over her as her thank you for the donation.  She began to ramble on and on in statements that were more like fortune telling rather than messages from God and the woman had to pull her hand away in order to leave.  When I offered to give her a place to sleep for the night, I found out hat homeless woman wasn't even welcome in any of the local motels and not because she was homeless and dirty but because she would complain to the front desk all night through phone calls to them about anything she could come up with.  She also smelled like liquor to me (she denied it when I asked her) as I gave her a ride to an expensive hotel - the only one in the area that she had not offended yet - the cheap ones had banned her already (the motel clerks told me this as I tried to get her a cheap place to stay) - and I paid for her to have a place to sleep and shower up.  And then I ran before she could get my phone number, which she wanted, so "we could start a church together".  I really regretted thinking of her as a Christian that I should help because it cost me $85 and I realized she was not in her right mind believing God was going to give her a church to lead someday, and from what the motel owners said, she wasn't even nice to people!  She had told me she felt God was putting her through the humble experience of being homeless before he gave her a church to lead but I know from Scripture God calls men to lead churches, not women.  And I know she was using gifts of the devil and not of God in her "prophecying" over others.  On Facebook I saw postings from very popular Pentecostal ministers (not T.V. or church ministers but lay ministers who had their own ministries with thousands of FB followers) talking about 'getting drunk in the Spirit' in their church services and there were lots of comments from others cheering that on and it made me see how wrong it was to talk about the Holy Spirit that way - to attribute drunkeness to the 3rd person of the God-head.  I was able to gain understanding by watching these posts that I had blasphemed God too by  wanting to experience God in that wild way during my time at P/C churches.  I realized I had grieved the Holy Spirit since the Word of God tells us to be sober not desire to be drunk.  I Peter 5:8 says Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour."  This leads me to one more example of how craziness seems to overtake Pentecostal believers and the price one could pay when they don't guard themselves from the wiles of the devil: A woman I know who went to Pentecostal church with her first husband (but she never got into his way of believing because she was raised Lutheran) saw him embrace the New Age more and more as he led Pentecostal groups in small ministry settings until the day he made the insane declaration that "he was Jesus"!!!!  This also happened to David Koresh and we all know how badly it ended for him and the Branch Davidians, not just in this life, but also in their eternity.
 
During all of these years and experiences, which were now about twelve years after getting saved, I was listening to the Word of God every night on CD all night long and I was reading my Bible a lot on Saturdays and every morning before work.  During all of that soaking in the Word, I had been denouncing false things in my church as God revealed them to me.  I found that my mind was being shaped by the water of the Word slowly but surely and one day after leaving my church for good, I began to hear the Lord say "Come out of Her".  I heard this everyday for about a month.  All I could think was God was telling me to not partner with the Catholic church anymore on pro-life events because I was getting ready to start an on-going pro-life prayer meeting. So I began to research more about the Catholic church (even though I initially studied the Dark Ages and the great need for the Protestant Reformation, over the years I had somehow slipped from my strong conviction of how wrong Catholicism is) and soon God led me to a book entitled "50 Years in the Church of Rome - The Conversion of a Roman Catholic Priest" by Charles Chiniquy. It was truly horrific reading what this poor priest experienced year after year while trying to do his job for God in the Roman Catholic system! Throughout the book he explained how severe his suffering was in trying to sort it all out too, but throughout most of the 366 page testimony he reveals why he continued to stay with Roman Catholic Church. He would always correct his concerns with thoughts like "the church is just blind in this one area or two" or it is "just this leader or two that doesn't want to fix things". I continued to read the episodes of his life feeling truly sorry for him for having to go through so much to see the truth that he needed to leave Catholicism, when finally the Holy Spirit convicted me in a very real way: WHAT CHINIQUY WAS DOING WITH THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, I WAS DOING WITH PENTECOSTALISM / CHARISMATICISM!!!  I had to put the book down and just absorb the very real eye opening revelation I had just received!!!  God had spoken the verse "A good tree doesn't produce bad fruit" over and over again to Chiniquy to wake him up out of his bondage to Roman Catholicism and here a century+ later God was using the Bible verse "Come out of her", plus the profound verse repeated in book, "A good tree doesn't produce bad fruit" to finally sink into my soul and open my eyes to the big picture, that I needed to renounce Pentecostalism /Charimaticism and just think of myself as a Christian.  See, I still held to my identity as a tongue-talking Pentecostal even though I had renounced practically everything else within that denomination (and on Christian television).  So that day because of the strong conviction I got from God from reading Chinquy's testimony, I renounced all things Pentecostal and Charismatic including ceasing speaking in tongues.
 
Soon afterward I began to feel solidly grounded and in my right mind.  See, I didn't mention it yet but in the hey-day of my Pentecostal revival services I actually broke down one time at the altar and said "I think I am going crazy" and the first pastor's wife just told me to shush about that and focus on the Bible.  But what she wasn't telling me, nor were any of the Pentecostal and Charismatic leaders, is that they have in their church services "experience" elevated equal with or above Scripture and that allows the devil and his horde of demons to attack a person.  Plus they twist Scripture all of the time!  We had so many visiting preachers who had a different take on the Bible stories and there was a lot of ego too - they all claimed to have unique revelation from God.  (One visiting evangelist walked by me while I was sitting in the pew and I felt a waft of evil as he passed by so obviously I wasn't the only one being affected by evil in that denomination.  I never had that feeling of evil from anyone else in church, just him, so I can only imagine what his personal life/beliefs must've been like, he might've even been a closet warlock.)  So her reprimand to shush and focus on the Bible was not helpful because during my time as a Pentecostal I HAD been immersed in the Bible!  More than most Baptists were!!! And yet I was suffering spiritual attacks of all kinds! Including feeling crazy!!!  But now with my renunciations of tongues and all things Pentecostal and Charismatic, I felt sane and solidly grounded as a Christian.  One more thing is as a Pentecostal, I was always thinking of hell and fearing it, for others and for myself.  Now as a Christian who stands on the Word, I don't fear hell for myself.  I still am motivated to reach the lost but I don't feel the presence of hell like I did as a Pentecostal.  And now that I am out of it, I see how Pentecostalism encourages people to 'go in the flow of the Spirit' (I ask which spirit?) equal to or in place of using one's mind to reason things out with the Bible's counsel.
 
As my salvation testimony points out there are times when God will speak to us in an audible way and do something miraculous, that will be supernatural, to get us saved or give us a leg up in our faith, but that is the exception not the rule.  Pentecostals generally make the supernatural the rule!  They don't feel they are manipulating this because the Book of Acts does show there were many supernatural happenings as God started and grew the church but what they don't realize is those signs were for the Jewish people.  The Gospel went out to the Jewish people first but then after it was largely rejected by the Jewish people, it was opened up to the Gentiles.  But God wanted to make the Jewish people jealous so they would want Him so He moved among the Gentiles in signs and wonders.  The Jewish people were used to a God who revealed himself in physical signs.  So if we read the Book of Acts as a historical book it makes sense but Pentecostals read it as a book that tells them "they too can have all of the supernatural happenings of the Apostles".  The main problem with that is they mostly want to have all of that in their church services as a refreshing for themselves in God, and not as an evangelism tool for the lost.  I can't tell you how many times I had a refreshing in my church service but then didn't have any feeling of wanting to witness to the clerk at the store I stopped at on the way home.  (I attribute my witnessing zeal to my immersion in the Word.)  And I can not remember one prophetic word or tongues and interpretation in church that helped me in any lasting way.  And I have no confirmation that my prayers in tongues ever helped me or anyone I prayed for, in fact I found the contrary, I developed a cursing problem shortly after using my "gift".  It took years for me to figure it out but I began to wonder if my tongues were coming out as curses rather than blessings since I learned that Satanists also pray in tongues.  (Cults like Catholicism and Mormonism also pray in tongues.)  My temper/cursing problem tapered off shortly after I quit praying in tongues.
 
I have learned that God speaks to us mostly through His Word and I really wouldn't want it any other way!  When I was a Pentecostal there were no boundaries and I felt very unsafe - I want safe boundaries!  I think of it like this: If a person is driving on a winding cliff road, they would appreciate having safety rails so their car doesn't skid off the road and they plummet to their death!  Well in the same way, the Bible teaches us all we need to believe and about how to live our life.  We are called to live by faith in Him through who He is as revealed in the Bible, not by voices or experiences that we have supernaturally, (which may be demonic or sometimes just our imagination).  And if we do have an experience we need to compare it with Scripture because the devil is a good counterfeiter- 2 Corinthians 11:14 (KJV) says: And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.  (One good way to tell if you've had an experience with God is to see if the experience has given you more hunger to read your Bible, lean on God's help, witness to the lost, or pray more for others.)
 
So to recap my stance now, Pentecostalism is a skewed denomination because we are called to follow Christ as revealed in the whole of Scripture, not just the Book of Acts.  Pentecostals may preach out of the whole Bible but the denomination is built on the book of Acts and the gift of tongues.  (And it's built on the Azuza Revival - please see the page on Pentecostalism to learn more facts of the Pentecostal and Charismatic denominations.)  Anytime a church or denomination makes their thrust one book of the Bible you have the making of a cult.  Pentecostal and Charismatic churches say tongues is for everyone but the Bible does not say that - my jaw moving on its own that day at the altar while others were speaking in tongues over me could've been the result of a lying spirit since none of us were in-line with Scripture.  It might also have been psychological and emotional persuasion since the music was loud in there and the other women praying over me were loud and because I I wanted to receive the gift. And with all of the emphasis on the Holy Spirit's gifts in Pentecostal churches, the parishioners, (including myself when I was one), end up focusing on the Holy Spirit more than Jesus Christ.  Everything becomes about the supernatural break-throughs and manifestations of the Holy Spirit and Jesus just fades more and more into obscurity.  Also the devil becomes larger than life due to all of the attacks a Pentecostal goes through which actually begins to look like 'devil worship' since he is getting talked about so much and in such a fearful way.  (Think about it, wouldn't the devil want to be talked about in a fearful way so he can feel powerful?)  So I feel it is dangerous in so many ways - the spirit that you think is the Holy Spirit may not be the Holy Spirit and you become controlled by a 'presence that speaks to you' and you forget about Jesus and fear becomes more prevalent to you.  Does any of this sound like what the Bible says will happen when you become Christian?  No!  And remember when I told you I had met a former Pentecostal preacher who was now the head of the atheist movement for my area?  Well, I finally got the idea to google 'former Pentecostals' one time and I found out that many of them were now atheists and they had skipped right past the step I took which is to just renounce the denomination, rather than the whole Christian faith.  But then I remembered how I was oppressed with thoughts and feelings as a Pentecostal and realized it is a spiritual battle and these other Christians stopped absorbing the Word of God and lost the war, not just the battle, but the whole war!
 
So, with all of the experiences and evidences I came away with in my 12 years as a Pentecostal, I have now totally left Pentecostalism and I only think of myself now as a Christian, no denomination, just a Christian.  I want to stay in line with Scripture and the experiences in Pentecostal and Charismatic churches fall out of the boundary of Scripture often times as do the teachings in the P/C preachers on Christian television, (especially beware of their books!).  I want the fruits of the Spirit to be what mark me as a Christian, not the gifts and the grand teachings and hyper faith statements that P/C's generally have.  And I fear the denomination is liberal enough to slide believers easily into embracing the Antichrist and his end-time religion because they already accept Catholic Charismatics as the same as them because of the gift of tongues.  If the last Pope is the Antichrist, will they agree to come under His reign on the common ground of tongues and turn their back on Christ?  It is a very real possibility and scary indeed!  Because we all know you can't have the Pope as Holy Father and have the Lord Jesus Christ at the same time.  Jesus came to bring us to the true Father who is in Heaven and God is a jealous God, He will allow no worship of anyone or anything else but Him.  (And that includes Mary worship which the Catholic church is promoting heavily)  So, please pray about the real dangers I have listed here and ask God if you should also stay out of the large sweeping movement of Pentecostalism and Charismaticism.
 
I do want to add a final note in this that one year, several years after my main pastor and his wife had left the church, and I had denounced being a Pentecostal, they sent 3 letters out to the former parishioners, including me, over a short period of time.  (There had been no communication for years and then all of a sudden three letters in a row.)  And they were the type of letters that are typed out and sent to everyone that updates people on what the Lord is doing in their lives. not very personal letters and they tend to come out very braggadocious.  These were commemorating successes they were having in their life.  By the third letter I knew I needed to write them and ask them to remove me from the former parishioner list.  I felt God was telling me I needed to put my money where my mouth was and tell them what I now believed about Pentecostalism plus I knew staying on their mailing list wasn't very honest.  I seemed to have a special anointing to write this letter too, I had extra time to do it and the courage to write it and I was very methodical in my explaining why I now feel it is a wrong denomination to be in.  I mailed the letter and right away felt liberated but also afraid of what might happen in response to it.  I think this shows the cult-like power these two wielded over me, the fact that I was afraid of retaliation.  Sure enough, within the week I received a response in the mail from the wife.  Now the last thing I had said in my letter was "please remove me from your mailing list so I don't get any more Pentecostal reports of what is going on since I don't agree it is good news" so her sending me a letter was contrary to my request and to me showed her controlling nature.  To clarify, I had said nothing personal against them in my letter but had made it clear I had repented and recanted my Pentecostal ways and wanted nothing further sent to me in the mail, so she should've respected my beliefs and not over-ridden them.  And I am sure she sent a scolding note, like how an authority figure feels they have a right to, but because I was no longer under her authority, (the day they left the flock they ceased being my authority), I refused the letter and had the mailman send it back as "refused".  I never heard from them again but I will confide in you that the next year was riddled with trouble!  I had one bad thing after another happen to me from injuries, to multiple sicknesses, (even a cancer scare!), to a scabies mite infestation from a stray kitten I tried to help, (which felt like fighting invisible demons that had taken over my house!) - it was literally my worst year I had had since the year I lost my job and almost lost my place to live!  Those reading this might say "well you shouldn't have ended that relationship with them and the church" but I actually understood it to be the opposite.  I believe that the enemy came at me full wield to make me afraid that I had done the wrong thing and to get me back into that false denomination!  I believe that with the last remaining sins (that act like open doors to the enemy) from my Pentecostal days, some of which were things that had been ingrained in me since childhood such as my desire to be a celebrity, which caused me to be attracted to Pentecostal and Charismatic ways, and to strive to be friends with my pastor and his wife, and other famous Christians that I had met and to raise myself up in "anointings which always gets attention in P/C churches - I had to renounce all of that since that leads off into a different Christianity than what the Bible teaches.  (We are not saved to become famous preachers and teachers, to be lifted up as celebrities with special "anointings", no we are saved to follow Christ humbly and where-ever that leads, even if it leads to loneliness, hard unrecognized work for the Kingdom or to death for His name.)  So, I believe in this newness of leaving 'all-things Pentecostal, the enemy decided he had one last chance to pound me before I got strong in my purer Christian walk and he lined up the attacks one right after the other.  During all of these attacks I sought God hard and repented of the things He revealed to me, and I eventually pulled through each attack and I am happy to say things have calmed down now. 

I would love to tell you that its been easy to find a church but I can't say that because it seems the whole world has gone the way of Charismania, by way of Contemporary Christian music or ecumenism or loose teachings which may involve psychology, self-help, seeker-friendliness or even New Age philosophies.  I know none of us is perfect so no church will be perfect but it is important to God that we don't compromise in areas where He has personally warned us or delivered us from so we must prayerfully undertake our searching for the church God wants us to be in.  Each of us has at least one gift that God will want to use in a church or for the Kingdom (if a church can't be found right away, (or ever since we are in the end-times where churches have been infiltrated at the top levels by Masons and Jesuits and have polluted Christianity on purpose - see my other pages on Free Masonry and Catholicism), there is always witnessing through our daily behavior, witnessing with tracts, or personal testimony told to someone), so we should pray that God reveals to us where He would like us to be on Sunday mornings for worship.  I will tell you what God did for me while I was searching and grew very despairing about it, He had me happen upon a Christian radio station that had church service aired on Sunday mornings.  I listened to this preacher for several years but have since stopped listening to him because I have outgrown some of his teachings such as pre-trib rapture (his church group was the first to embrace the Scoffield Bible - please see my Dangerous Bibles page) and because the more I listened to his sermons, especially the ones where he was speaking at pastor's conferences, I heard a smugness, almost a mocking spirit of pride in him.  There have been many slight digs against members of his church such as the "joke" that they don't need a fire extinguisher because there are many wet blankets in the congregation.  This was said to express his complaint against those he feels are negative but I personally feel a person who says these types of things from the pulpit in a wide-open range of anonymous targets is a bully.  Also, he never speaks out against Catholicism or any other movement within the body of Christ that is a pollution because his denomination is ecumenical in nature.  He doesn't speak about being ecumenical but he tends to scold anyone who would separate from other "believers" because of doctrinal differences.  All of this has been slight and so for many years I was able to listen to and grow in faith because on the positive side he does teach maturity in our faith, devotion to God's Word. So, I have purposefully not mentioned him by name or his large main-stream church organization because I want everyone who reads my website to be led by God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, where God wants you to be for Bible study and worship.

I did meet a Christian woman years back who told me their church had a few elders take turns preaching sermons to avoid the problem with man-worship which happens so easily when one man is exalted to being head of a church.  Of course, the chosen elders might also be corrupted with power too, so this is no sure-fire way to beat the polluted church-system that is in-place today, that is so similar to the Roman Catholic church.  Please see my page on Nicolaitans and Catholicism and also see Revelation 2:6 where Jesus says he hates the deeds of the Nicolaitans. Please pray very seriously before entering into any church membership because there is also the concern now with the churches all being signed onto the government 501 C(3) tax break which not only means the churches now have to bow to what the government allows or doesn't allow preached from the pulpits but also members names could be on a government list somewhere.  Food for thought. . . . . .