Entertainment Values

Entertainment Values
What kind of media do you allow to entertain you?

Everyone enjoys a good movie, TV show, and song. But what kind of content are we allowing to entertain us? When watching or listening to mainstream content it doesn’t take long to run into crude joking, foul language, God’s name taken in vain, sensuality and sexuality, etc.… When we come across this type of content, do we stop (watching, listening), or do we put up with sin in order to be entertained? I think we have all fallen short in this area many times. But as Christians sin should never be allowed to entertain us. It’s time to start being more diligent in guarding our hearts and minds. We need to seek out options with values and messages that don’t promote sin and lies. Why would content creators quit making perversion when everyone is willing to put up with it?

We can’t avoid all forms of sin when dealing with the world, but entertainment is a choice we do have control over.

The Bible is Very Clear about what Christians Should Pursue

Psalm 119:37
Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.

Proverbs 4:23
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.

Romans 1:32
Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Romans 12:9
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.

Romans 16:19
For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.

1 Corinthians 15:33-34
Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”  34 Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.

2 Corinthians 7:1
Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

2 Corinthians 12:21
I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practiced.

Ephesians 4:19-20
They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!

Ephesians 5:3-12
But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true),10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Colossians 3:5-10
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you; sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

1 Thessalonians 4:3-8
For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

1 Thessalonians 5:19-22
Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.

James 1:21
Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

1 Peter 1:14-15
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct

1 Peter 2:11
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.

1 Peter 2:16
Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.

Titus 2:11-14
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

1 Peter 4:3
For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.

1 John 2:15-17
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

Revelation 3:17-19
For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.

Revelation 18:3-5
For all nations have drunk
    the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality,
and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her,
    and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living.”

Then I heard another voice from heaven saying,

“Come out of her, my people,
    lest you take part in her sins,
lest you share in her plagues;
for her sins are heaped high as heaven,
    and God has remembered her iniquities.


In case that’s not enough…

Deuteronomy 23:14
Because the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and to give up your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy, so that he may not see anything indecent among you and turn away from you.

Proverbs 3:7
Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.

Job 31:1
I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?

Mark 7:21-23
For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.

Romans 6:19
I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

Romans 8:5-8
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Romans 12:1
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

Romans 13:13
Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.

Romans 14:21 (Importance of not causing fellow Christians to stumble by our actions)
It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.

1 Corinthians 5:6
Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 

1 Corinthians 6:18-20
Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 10:6-8
Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day.

1 Corinthians 10:31
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Galatians 1:10
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Galatians 5:16-26
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Ephesians 4:29-30
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 

Philippians 1:27
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel

Philippians 2:14-15
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,

1 Timothy 4:12
Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.

1 Timothy 5:22
Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure.

1 Timothy 6:11
But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.

2 Timothy 2:22
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

2 Timothy 3:1-5
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

Titus 3:3
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.

Hebrews 12:4
In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

James 1:27
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

James 3:6
And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.

James 4:3-10
You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

1 Peter 3:10-11
“Whoever desires to love life
    and see good days,
let him keep his tongue from evil
    and his lips from speaking deceit;
11 let him turn away from evil and do good;
    let him seek peace and pursue it.

1 Peter 4:7
The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.

2 Peter 1:5-8
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 2:4-10
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.

2 Peter 2:15
Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing

Jude 1:4
For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Revelation 2:2
I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false.

Revelation 2:20
But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.

Revelation 4:8
And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,

“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
    who was and is and is to come!”

Is The Answer Within Ourselves?

Chris Cuomo from CNN recently made a statement on TV saying that our nation does not need God and that everything we need to make a better place is within ourselves. When you ignore the reality of God, you cast off your conscience and any restraints to keep you from committing sinful acts. By choosing to exchange the truth about God for a lie and choosing to worship and serve the creature instead of the Creator, God also gives you up to the lusts of your heart. And before you try and justify yourself, consider this example as to how quickly we can plunge ourselves into perversion.

Abortion is running rampant in our country, nearly 1,000,000 babies are killed legally in America each year due to abortion laws and practices. This is one of the greatest genocides in human history. God tells us that life begins at conception and science confirms this truth as we have every bit of DNA that makes us who we are at the moment of conception. 90% of abortions are performed because the child is considered an inconvenience and because of the parents selfish desires. We murder children and use terminology that makes us feel better about it (it’s a woman’s choice and it’s a woman’s body). We choose to believe the lie that you and your mom have the same body, when any rational person would admit you and your mom do not share the same body; you are both unique individuals. We do all of this to ease our conscience and to justify the termination of innocent life. It’s bad enough that we openly sacrifice children on the altar of convenience and selfish ambition, but it actually gets worse. Now we are harvesting organs and parts from aborted children and using them in vaccines.

If we are brutally honest with ourselves, apart from God we are not good enough to make things right. Departing from God and His Word has only plunged us into a bloody mess. God says that pure religion is to care for orphans and widows. Meaning we are to care for the most vulnerable in our society; innocent children who aren’t given a chance fall well within that realm.

God is willing to forgive all sins, even abortion. But we must come to Him on His terms. He calls all people to repent and believe the gospel. Putting your faith and trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ (who is God), who died on the cross to pay the penalty for sin.

It would be a wonderful thing if we started valuing life as a gift from God. As Christians we cannot vote for leaders who are pro-choice, we must vote for leaders who oppose abortion and value life. We must use our voices to speak the truth and to defend the cause of the most vulnerable in our society. We don’t need to use force, but we do need to speak up. God have mercy on our souls.

Psalm 5
For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
    evil may not dwell with you.
The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;
    you hate all evildoers.
You destroy those who speak lies;
    the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.

Groups of Deceit

How do we get lulled into spiritually manipulative and deceitful groups? Why do we so easily trust hypocritical and deceitful leaders? They initially present a very good front or outward appearance. In essence the book cover looks very good. Once you get there things are not what you expected, the book cover is deceptive. Even if initially there seems to be some red flags, we have a general tendency to give people, groups, and institutions a second chance, which is not necessarily bad. So, even though the first chapter is not what we had hoped for, especially based on the enticing book cover, we continue to read on in hopes things get better.

The dangers becomes when we exchange ‘giving them a second chance’ for ‘letting our guard down.’ Reasons we might let our guard down could be:

-The initial front said all the right things.
-Someone you respect endorsed the person/group/institution.
-The person/group/institution might create some good memorable experiences early on.
-The person/group/institution instantly makes you feel liked or appreciated (flattered you).
-Everyone in the group presents a very happy appearance.

The book cover said all the right words and the initial experience made you feel good.

The most convincing lies are full of truth
What we forget is that the best lies are always full of truth. Not many will believe a gross and obvious lie, but mingle in a lie with a lot of truth and all of a sudden it becomes much harder to discern. The lie starts to sound better and when the lie sounds better it becomes very easy to overlook. This is probably how compromise occurs most often; much of what we see and hear is correct so we no longer take the time to test and examine everything. Slowly and surely we give way without ever realizing it. This is why it is vital to constantly check things against the truth of God’s word.

Just because an institution, group, or person can say all the right things in a doctrine or faith statement, does not mean that they are committed to living those truths out. And it goes the other way as well, just because an institution, group, or person seems genuine in how they live, does not mean that what they believe is accurate or doctrinally sound.

Do you have joy?
Serving Christ is not always easy, but it should come from a heart of gratitude. There should be joy in serving Christ. There is freedom in Christ. Any system that claims to follow Christ and yet drains and constricts, might be one to watch out for.

Deceitful Christian Leaders

I decided to compile this list because I have been involved in multiple Christian circles where they have so easily allowed a person into leadership who in no way embodied a Christ-like leader. But many of those leaders did look good and were often times able to hide their hypocrisy from the majority. Because of this many dear Christian brothers and sisters have trusted them and been led astray or devastated by them. This list is based off a look at Judas Iscariot’s life in the Bible. These echo very similar thoughts to John MacArthur’s study of Judas in his book, “Twelve Ordinary Men.”

-You can associate with Christ and those who follow Him, and yet still be lost in sin without ever exercising true repentance and faith.

-Hypocrites are able to work their way into a position of trust, even in the midst of the most discerning of people.

-Many times we trust people too quickly, without knowledge of their background, family, or life.

-Hypocrites can be so good in their deceit that nearly no one would consider them as being un-authentic.

-Hypocrites can be very persistent in continuing their deceit.

-Hypocrites are good at sounding very reasonable. They have become very good at looking and acting like everyone else in their group and are always concerned with what others think of them, instead of what God thinks of them.

-Hypocrites can pretend concern for others especially when there is a selfish motive or a payoff that drives them. Hypocrites generally act like followers of Christ for selfish ambition and greed.

-Hypocrites can hear and even teach the message, but they never truly apply the message. They try to hide this reality under deceit.

-Because hypocrites have never truly been changed by the gospel, the continuing exposure to the truth of God’s Word only hardens their hearts more.

-If a hypocrite is reprimanded, even gently, they become very resentful towards the one who tried to correct them. This is their natural reaction because they never truly do self-examination of their own heart; it would be to convicting and condemning.

Remember, Judas was so good at hypocrisy that he literally fooled everyone except Jesus.

10 Forms of Subtle Manipulation

This issue is one of personal significance to me. My hope is that perhaps the compiling of this information will be helpful to someone else as well someday.

10 Subtle Manipulations
These 10 examples are all things I have experienced first hand. Though from an outside perspective they may not seem to be that bad, the weight and total accumulating effect of these manipulations are more devastating than I can describe in words. I pulled these examples of manipulation from a book on spiritual abuse:
(Johnson, David, and Jeffrey VanVonderen. The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1991. Print.)

Forms of Subtle Manipulations:

  1. Shaming people out loud.
  2. Can’t Talk Rule – tries to keep people quiet by labeling them the problem if they notice and confront a problem.
  3. Coding – verbal manipulation where messages are sent in a way that they have to be decoded in a sense, but generally only those directly involved will get the message.
  4. Triangling – sending a message to someone through another person instead of delivering it directly.
  5. Obscured Reality – anything that could expose those in authority is denied or ignored. Interacting with people outside of the system is condemned because it is threatening to them. Problems are denied and therefore remain.
  6. Performance Based – When behavior is legislated from the outside, instead of coming from a heart that loves God, it cannot be called obedience. It is rather compliance with external pressure. This orientation squeezes people from the outside in, they are not transformed, but rather they are conformed.
  7. Unspoken Rules – you don’t find out what they are until you break them. Rules like this are never written down because if they were written down they would be easily exposed as anti-Christian.
  8. Humiliation and Scare Tactics – you can be ‘exposed’ for asking too many questions, for disobeying unspoken rules, or for disagreeing with authority. People are made public examples in order to send a message to those who remain. Many methods are used to warn their friends and others about how ‘dangerous’ or ‘divisive’ they are.
  9. Misusing or Abusing Scripture – using scripture incorrectly in order to manipulate.
  10. Double Talk – the leaders sound very religious but there is a sense of vagueness. They will give you the ‘right’ answer but rarely the ‘real’ answer. You cannot confront them or pin them down because they never truly answer the question.

Spiritual Abuse and Cults

Here are a few thoughts about spiritual abuse I pulled from various internet sources. I found these to be interesting and perhaps it will encourage you to research the issue more on your own.

Let Us Reason.org
Cults
-Do they call those who leave or fall away as enemies, dogs returning to their own vomit, using the examples of Korah or Judas?

-Do they defend all that they do even though it can be harmful or wrong?

-Ron Rhodes writes in his book “The Culting of America,” “It is a common myth that unbelievers join Cults.” Percentages show that those who join these aberrant groups formerly attended Christian Churches.

-Dr. Paul Martin of Wellspring Retreat (where cultists adjust from their harmful experiences) writes, “Twenty-five percent formerly attended evangelical, fundamental churches. Over 40 % had backgrounds in large, more liberal Protestant denominations.”
http://www.letusreason.org/cults.htm


Cult Watch.com

How Cults Work
-A cult needs to hide the truth from you until they think you are ready to accept it.

-A cult will have a slick well-rehearsed Public Relations front, which hides what the group is really like. Things will be introduced to you slowly, one at a time, so you will not notice the gradual change, until eventually you are practicing and believing things which at the start would have caused you to run a mile.

-Leadership is feared. To disagree with leadership is the same as disagreeing with God. Questioning the leaders or program will still be seen as a sign of rebellion and stupidity.

-You will also be made to feel very guilty for disobeying any of the cult’s written or unwritten rules.

-Character Assassination is used to help create the guilt in you.

-Breaking sessions are when one, two, or more cult members and leaders attack the character of another person, sometimes for hours on end. Some cults will not stop these sessions until their victim is crying uncontrollably.

-Cults also try to cut you off from your friends and family because they hate others being able to influence you. A mind control cult will seek to maneuver your life so as to maximize your contact with cult members and minimize your contact with people outside the group, especially those who oppose your involvement.

-“The walls have ears”. Everyone is encouraged to watch out for “struggling” brothers and sisters and report what they see to leadership.

-Mind control cults keep their members so busy with meetings and activities that they become too busy and too tired to think about their involvement.

-Time control also helps the cult keep their members immersed in the manufactured cult environment.

-And time control helps keep cult members away from friends and family.
http://www.cultwatch.com/howcultswork.html


Cult Education.com

What Safe Leadership Looks Like
-A safe group/leader will answer your questions without becoming judgmental and punitive.

-A safe group/leader will disclose information such as finances and often offer an independently audited financial statement regarding budget and expenses. Safe groups and leaders will tell you more than you want to know.

-A safe group/leader is often democratic, sharing decision making and encouraging accountability and oversight.

-A safe group/leader may have disgruntled former followers, but will not vilify, excommunicate and forbid others from associating with them.

-A safe group/leader will encourage family communication, community interaction and existing friendships and not feel threatened.
http://www.culteducation.com/warningsigns.html

 

Mary Demuth.com
A Personal Testimony
-A leader who found ministry to be a vehicle for his great gain, lying and manipulating donors to earn more and more money.

-A ministry that shamed me into throwing away all my evil music (including Lionel Ritchie and Duran Duran…oh the evil!)

-A leader who cornered me, threatened me, and yelled because I brought up a concern that others saw. This led to panic attacks.

(Spotting Spiritual Abuse)
– They forget the simple adage that respect is earned, not granted. Abusive leaders demand respect without having earned it by good, honest living.

– It’s either his/her way or no way. And if a follower deviates, he is guilty of deviating from Jesus.

– Often there is no grace for someone who fails to live up to the church’s or ministry’s expectation. And if someone steps outside of the often-unspoken rules, leaders shame them into compliance. Can’t admit failure but often searches out failure in others and uses that knowledge to hold others in fear and captivity. They often quote scriptures about not touching God’s anointed, or bringing accusations against an elder. Yet they often confront sin in others, particularly ones who bring up legitimate biblical issues. Or they have their circle of influence take on this task, silencing critics.

Where a leader might start off being personable and interested in others’ issues, he/she eventually withdraws to a small group of “yes people” and isolates from the needs of others. Harbors a cult of personality, meaning if the central figure of the ministry or church left, the entity would collapse, as it was entirely dependent on one person to hold the place together.

Views those who bring up issues as enemies. Those who were once friends/allies swiftly become enemies once a concern is raised. Sometimes these folks are banished, told to be silent, or shamed into submission.

Hold to outward performance but rejects authentic spirituality. Places burdens on followers to act a certain way, dress an acceptable way, and have an acceptable lifestyle.

Use exclusivity for allegiance. Followers close to the leader or leaders feel like insiders. Everyone else is on the outside, though they long to be in that inner circle.
http://www.marydemuth.com/spiritual-abuse-10-ways-to-spot-it/


Got Questions.org

More Signs
Some religious groups view questioning the leaders as tantamount to questioning God.
Legalism
Demands for obedience
Unquestioning submission
Punishment (loss of privileges, shunning or expulsion)
Misplaced loyalty
Emphasis on performance
Exclusivism (“we alone are right, and everybody else is wrong”)
Isolation (refusal to associate with anyone but spiritual brothers and sisters)
Humiliation of the “disobedient”
Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/spiritual-manipulation.html#ixzz2rcuDdtK5


Training Others

Abusive churches train members to block out any information that is critical of the group. With enough thought and information control, the leaders can get those under their control to defend their new identity against their former identity. The first line of defense is denial – “What you say isn’t happening at all.” Next comes rationalization – “This is happening for a good reason.” After that, justification – “This is happening because it ought to.” Finally, wishful thinking – “I’d like it to be true, so maybe it really is.”

A characteristic of spiritually abusive systems is that a misplaced sense of loyalty is fostered and even demanded. This is not about loyalty to Christ, but about loyalty to an organization, church or leader. Because authority is assumed or legislated, following that authority must also be legislated. This is accomplished by setting up a system where disloyalty or disagreement with the leadership is construed as disobeying God. Questioning leaders is not allowed. After all, the leader is the authority, and authority is always right. Such spiritual manipulation denies the truth of Ephesians 1:22, which says that Christ is the Head of the church. Our loyalty is due Him.
Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/spiritual-manipulation.html#ixzz2rcuXv1B9


Christian Discernment

All Christians need to be alert to spiritual manipulation and follow this example from Acts 17:11: “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Likewise with all teaching and preaching – we must hold it up to the light of God’s Word before we accept it. Any religious group that prevents its members from doing independent research, or from challenging what the leadership says, must have something to fear.