Saturday, November 28, 2009

Billy Joe Daugherty Dies

*It is very sad that Billy Joe Daugherty's life was cut short by cancer. I got saved at Victory Christian Center in Tulsa, and attended the church for six years. Billy Joe Daugherty was such a kind man, and my heart goes out to his family. He was a doer of the Word type of fellow. Although I left the church four years ago, and I do not share all of it's theology; I deeply feel the world lost a truly unique individual who loved God with all his heart. He never lost his passion to reach the lost, and help the poor in the community. Although he sometimes taught prosperity, he never appeared to be motivated by greed, nor lived a lavish lifestyle--he seemed very down to earth. He will always hold a special place in my heart and memory. An article about him is directly below:


Billy Joe Daugherty Dies Of Cancer

Founding Pastor Of Victory Christian Center Had Lymphoma
by AP

TULSA, Okla. -- The Rev. Billy Joe Daugherty, the founding pastor of Victory Christian Center, died Sunday after a short battle with lymphoma. He was 57.

Church officials announced the pastor's death during Sunday morning services. Associate pastor Bruce Edwards told the congregation that Daugherty "graduated into heaven" at 4:40 a.m.

Tests uncovered the cancer after Daugherty was hospitalized in October with a viral infection in his throat. A message on the church's Web site said Daugherty died of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston early Sunday morning.

"We don't sorrow as the world sorrows, as one without hope," Edwards told members of the church, some of whom gasped when Daugherty's death was announced. "We celebrate his life, but at the same time there is sorrow, there is grieving."

Many people sobbed as son-in-law Adam Sanders talked about Daugherty's final hours.

"We miss him, but he's with Jesus," he said. "His entire life was about one thing, loving God, and out of that love, he loved people. We will continue in his legacy, loving people."

Originally from Magnolia, Ark., Daugherty graduated from Oral Roberts University with a bachelor's degree in Christian education. He was a youth minister in the 1970s at Sheridan Christian Center, and became senior pastor at the church in 1976 when the pastor retired.

In 1980, he founded Victory Christian Center, which met in a former car dealership at one point. Membership bloomed. In 2007, the church moved into its current $32 million, 5,000-seat worship center.

Daugherty made national news in 2005, when a parishioner walked up to him during altar call and punched him in the face. As the man was escorted out of the facility, Daugherty, his face smeared with blood, continued the service, publicly forgiving the assailant and praying for him.

Daugherty later wrote a book about the experience, "Knocked Down But Not Out."

He was named interim president of Oral Roberts University in 2007 after president Richard Roberts resigned amid accusations of lavish spending at donors' expense and illegal involvement in a local political campaign.

Daugherty also founded Victory Christian School, Victory Bible Institute and Victory World Missions Training Center. His television show, Victory in Jesus, was televised throughout the United States. Daugherty and his wife, Sharon Daugherty, have written more than a dozen books.

Along with his wife, he is survived by his mother, Iru Daugherty, and four children. A memorial service is planned for Nov. 30.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving 2009!

I hope you all have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving day! As the picture below indicates, I wrestled up leftovers--as I posted the same picture up last year on this blog. This saves at least one step--preparation. All kidding inside, I hope everyone enjoys this day!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Many World Views-- But Only One God

*Here are a couple of interesting videos about what the world believes to be the "assertion" (believers know it as the truth) of Jesus Christ being the path to eternal life. I think it will be very insightful to those who are curious about Jesus and the plan of salvation, as well as people who already belong to other religions.

Part I

Part II

Friday, November 20, 2009

Abuse By Two Leaders

*This is truly a pathetic and evil crime: Two spiritual leaders assocaited with Greek and Coptic Orthodox churches--raped women needing curses removed from the lives of their families. These thugs made women undressed to supposedly acheive results of casting out devils and removing curses. Note the involvement of an "angel" here--does this story remind you of a certain group out there about proclaiming angelic anointings? One NAR guy out there today, still highly esteemed in his prophetic circles--also "once" ordered women to get naked to acheive spiritual results. It is the last days, and bad leaders and self-appointed leaders abound. And let me say, if they are manipulating for sexual purposes, you will find them manipulating for other reasons as well: money, recognition, and for other objectives which serve them.

Folks, if somone commands you to go against the Word of God, or any notion of human decency--do not do it. A spiritual leader suggests an act which permeates boundaries of modesty and decency, or an act which is criminal, or lacks integrity--do not question yourself as being at fault. Such manipulative attempts involve deceiving others and is always-- although not evident, self serving. Ok, now to my first cup of coffee for the day. The article below:


Black magic rape a cure, court hears

By Larissa Cummings, the Daily Telegraph

THEY were told to bring clippings of body hair to prayer sessions in hotel rooms, where self-professed angel "King Russell" was to rid them of an evil curse that hung over their families.

But the two women were not to tell the angel's wife or anyone else about the secret healing sessions, which he said had to occur while they were naked.

Details of the bizarre rituals Tony Golossian, 62, and Arthur Psichogios, 39, allegedly subjected their victims to before drugging and raping them can now be revealed, after the men were yesterday committed to stand trial in the District Court. They are accused of almost 100 sex offences relating to the two women, who believed they were leaders in the Greek Orthodox and Coptic Orthodox churches.

The first victim was allegedly raped by the men at hotels in Sydney and the Central Coast between 2001 and 2005, while the second woman said she was assaulted during three prayer sessions in 2008.

Psichogios's wife Frances is also charged with three counts of aggravated sexual assault and using an intoxicating substance to commit an offence in relation to the second victim.

Golossian and Psichogios allegedly pocketed between $70,000 and $100,000 from the first woman for the "therapy" which she believed would rid her family of a black magic curse.

Crown documents tendered to a committal hearing for Psichogios at Burwood Local Court said both women were told to shave and bring the clippings to prayer sessions, where Golossian burnt the hairs before giving the women food and drink which was allegedly drugged.

They were allegedly blindfolded and told not to fight whatever happened to them during the prayers and that it would feel "100 per cent real, but it was 100 per cent a dream".

Golossian, Psichogios and his wife will stand trial in the District Court. All remain on bail.

*Read an additional article for more details on these crimes here:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Spirit of Control In Leadership

*A lot of good points in this article from Lee Grady. I have great hope that this brother in Christ will eventually see through the NAR, and re-examine some of their theology. As I read his article, I found a lot of the points he made actually apply to the Lakeland fiasco and the structure of the NAR; although he may differ on such a perspective. Still, Grady saw through some of the error occurring in the Lakeland Revival meetings held in 2008.


Breaking Free From the Spirit of Control

By Lee Grady

Here are six ways to identify an unhealthy leadership style in a church or ministry.

My world was shaken 20 years ago this week. On Nov. 10, 1989, one day after German protesters tore down the Berlin Wall, a Christian ministry I had been a part of for 11 years also fell apart.

Maranatha Campus Ministries was a vibrant outreach to college campuses. It was founded in Kentucky during the Jesus movement by a passionate charismatic couple, Bob and Rose Weiner, who eventually started churches on more than 50 American universities. In its heyday in the Reagan era, students from Maranatha took the gospel around the world.

But with all our good intentions and youthful zeal for evangelism, the ministry did not survive. We had a flawed, authoritarian leadership model, which was made worse by a lack of mature advisers. When Maranatha's young pastors grew up and realized the ministry had an unhealthy and oppressive structure, they voted to disband. The churches either went independent, merged with other groups or closed.

Meanwhile, the many young people who had been discipled in Maranatha had to deal with their own unique form of post-traumatic stress disorder. They woke up and realized that Maranatha had been influenced by the Shepherding Movement, which taught that all Christians should be submitted to personal shepherds who dispense advice and approve all decisions.

The Shepherding movement, which had broad influence in many charismatic churches, collapsed around the same time. Because I lived through that era, I am hypersensitive to the way a spirit of control works in a church. And I can assure you that controlling attitudes will destroy a ministry. Here are six obvious signs that a spirit of control is at work:

1. Little or no accountability. There is safety in the multitude of counselors (see Prov. 11:14). There is much less safety—perhaps even danger—when a leader does not bother to seek counsel from a diverse group of his peers, as well as from gray-haired men and women who have the wisdom that comes with age. If a pastor or church leader isn't open to correction, he is headed for a train wreck.

2. Spiritual elitism. If there is a spirit of control in a church, people are usually told that their group is superior. Supposedly they have special spiritual privileges from God, along with "exclusive" revelation. If people choose to leave, they are shunned or branded as renegades. Sometimes, in extreme cases, people are even cursed if they leave. (Last week when I was in Hungary I learned of a charismatic church that publicly curses people when they quit the congregation.) This cultic behavior inflicts unimaginable emotional suffering and also divides families.

3. An oppressive atmosphere. Authoritarian leaders know how to control people through manipulation. In some cases, this control may simply take the form of subtle suggestions and persuasion. In the most abusive situations, it may come in the form of threats, legalistic demands, unreasonable requirements or false doctrines. In some cases, especially in charismatic circles, it can come through misguided personal prophecies or mystical visions.

In such a church no one is allowed to ask questions. Spiritual heaviness lies like a thick cloud over the congregation, and few believers manifest genuine joy because they are overburdened by feelings of guilt and fear.

4. Angry domination. Tyrants are surprisingly similar. Because they want to control their surroundings, they often blow up when people do not conform to their demands. Yet the Apostle Paul taught that church leaders should not be "violent" or "quarrelsome" but "self-controlled" and "gentle" (see 1 Timothy 3:2-3). Later he instructed Timothy that the Lord's servant "must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone" (2 Timothy 2:24). You will always find lots of anger wherever there is a controlling spirit.

5. Individual guidance is discouraged. The Bible teaches that every Christian has direct access to God through one mediator, Jesus Christ. Every believer can hear God's voice personally and should expect to receive God's guidance.

In authoritarian church situations, however, members are not encouraged to seek God's guidance themselves. Rather, they are urged to conform to the preferences of the leader or the group. In some cases, leaders have actually taught their congregations to seek counsel and specific approval from a pastor before making major decisions. Thus church members develop an unhealthy dependence on a man in order to function spiritually, and their ability to trust God is diminished.

This kind of control is emotionally crippling. For many who submitted to the philosophy behind the Shepherding movement, it took years to recover from the loss of decision-making ability. They relinquished their wills and lost their identities because they viewed absolute obedience to their spiritual leaders as a Christian virtue.

6. Women viewed as inferior. Some churches today permit the ordination of women, even as senior pastors or bishops, while others maintain that Scripture does not permit women to hold these positions. Apart from these differences of opinion on biblical interpretation, it should be noted that authoritarian churches usually discourage women from pursuing any genuine role in ministry. Women are viewed as useful only in their functions as wives and mothers, and they are not encouraged to step beyond these confines to pursue ministry opportunities.

Such a low view of women leads men to treat them as God-ordained sex objects or drones equipped to perform only menial tasks. Women who have leadership gifts are branded rebels or "Jezebels."

When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, similar walls of communist control fell in rapid succession until the entire Soviet Union broke apart. Yet walls of spiritual bondage still exist today in so many parts of the church—and the ghosts of the Shepherding movement still haunt us. We are called to be emancipators, not enslavers. As we seek to build healthy churches, let's remember these words from Galatians 5:1: "It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery" (NASB).

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Janitor Dies Trying To Save Students

*The following news account is really sad as it is beautiful.

Christian janitor died saving Muslim students
By Ivan Watson, CNN

Islamabad, Paksitan (CNN) -- Life is slowly getting back to normal at the women's campus of Islamabad's International Islamic University.

The young women who study here chatter on the school's well-manicured lawns, their brightly-colored scarves and Pakistani dresses blowing in the wind on a sunny autumn day.

Barely three weeks ago, this quiet place of learning was the scene of a nightmare. On October 20, two suicide bombers launched near simultaneous attacks on both the men's and women's side of the campus.

Afsheen Zafar, 20, is in mourning. Three of her classmates, girls she describes as "shining stars," were killed on that terrible day.

Still, she says the carnage could have been much worse if not for the actions of a lowly janitor, who was also killed.

"If he didn't stop the suicide attacker, there could have been great, great destruction," Zafar says.

"He's now a legend to us," says another 20-year-old student named Sumaya Ahsan. "Because he saved our lives, our friends' lives."

The janitor's name was Pervaiz Masih. According to eyewitness accounts, the attacker approached disguised in women's clothing. He shot the guard on duty, and then approached the cafeteria, which was packed with hundreds of female students.

Masih intercepted the bomber in the doorway, however, and the bomber self-detonated right outside the crowded hall, spraying many of his explosive vest's arsenal of ball bearings out into the parking lot instead of into the cafeteria.

"The sweeper who was cleaning up here saw someone outside and went towards him," said Nasreen Siddique, a cafeteria worker who was wounded in the head, leg and arm by the blast. "[Masih] told him that he could not come inside because there were girls inside. And then they started arguing. And then we heard a loud blast and all the glass broke."

"Between 300 to 400 girls were sitting in there," said Professor Fateh Muhammad Malik, the rector of the university. "[Pervez Masih] rose above the barriers of caste, creed and sectarian terrorism. Despite being a Christian, he sacrificed his life to save the Muslim girls."

Masih was a member of Pakistan's Christian minority, traditionally one of the poorest communities in the country.

When the attacker struck, Masih had been on the job for less than a week, earning barely $60 a month.

Masih lived with seven other family members, in a single room in a crowded apartment house in the city of Rawalpindi. Until the attack his mother, 70-year old Kurshaid Siddique, worked as a cleaning lady at a nearby house to help make ends meet. Now, she makes a daily pilgrimage to the cemetery where Masih is buried.

Siddique is inconsolable. Asked if she was proud that some people were calling her son a hero, Siddique waved a hand in the air dismissively, answering, "My hero is dead now."

She pulls out a framed photo of her son, pictured wearing a button down white shirt and a thick mustache. When Masih's three-year-old daughter Diya sees his photo, she reaches for it, saying, "Mama, I want that picture."

From time to time, Diya turns to her mother and repeats one word, "Papa."

The Islamic University offered to give Diya a free education and employ Masih's widow, Shaheen Pervaiz.

Meanwhile, the Pakistani government has promised to award Masih's family 1 million rupees (about $12,000) for his bravery.

"He is a national hero because he saved the life of many girls," said Shahbaz Bhatti, minister of minorities in the Pakistani government. "As a Christian, a person of minority, he stood in front of the Taliban to protect the university."

But the grave of this national hero is a sorry sight. It is located in the poorer, garbage-strewn Christian half of a neighborhood cemetery, less then three feet from a muddy road.

Masih's mother and widow visit every day. One of his sisters crosses herself, then stoops down to pick up an empty pack of cigarettes someone threw onto the little mound of earth.

The family had to borrow money to pay for Masih's funeral and they are now behind on paying the rent. If the government money comes through, Masih's mother would like to decorate her son's grave.

"I would like him to have his name in cement with a nice poetry verse," she says. "And there should be a fence surrounding his grave."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Graham Celebrates 91st Birthday

Billy Graham Gives Thanks on 91st Birthday

World renowned preacher Billy Graham is spending the weekend receiving several family members at his home in North Carolina to celebrate his 91st birthday.

"I've experienced God's gracious love in a personal way all these years," Graham said in his reflection. "Today my heart is filled with gratitude to the Lord for all He has done for me, and for all the prayers from so many people over the years."

According to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Graham is still in good health though dealing with various age-related conditions such as macular degeneration and hearing loss.

He exercises daily, taking short walks at his mountain home with the aid of a walker to keep his balance.

He also remains involved in the work of the BGEA, the ministry he founded 60 years ago and that is now led by his son, Franklin.

"Although my health now keeps me mostly at home, Franklin and our BGEA team continue proclaiming God's love and the Gospel of Jesus Christ to lost people in many places around the world," said Graham.

Graham is also still involved in writing projects and spends time each morning and evening in prayer with friends, family and BGEA staff.

His pastor, Dr. Don Wilton of First Baptist Church, Spartanburg, S.C., also visits weekly for times of prayer and encouragement.

As he enters his tenth decade, Graham said he continued to miss his late wife and lifelong partner Ruth Bell Graham, who passed away in June 2007.

"While I know God keeps me here for a purpose, I look forward to the time when I will be reunited with Ruth in Heaven," Graham said.

"However, I am enjoying this season of life, watching my children and grandchildren - and now even my great-grandchildren - grow more fully into their own ministries. It is another blessing of these senior years," he added.

Having preached to over 210 million people in over 185 countries, Graham is believed to have spoken face-to-face with more people in more places than anyone in history. Hundreds of millions more have been reached through television, video, film, and webcasts.

The evangelist has been regularly listed by the Gallup organization as one of the "Ten Most Admired Men in the World," making an unparalleled 51 appearances and 44 consecutive appearances since 1948. He has also appeared on the covers of Time, Newsweek, Life, U.S. News and World Report, Parade, and numerous other magazines and has been the subject of many newspaper and magazine feature articles and books.

Graham officially marks his 91st birthday on Saturday.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Haggard Starts Prayer Group

Note in this article, C. Peter Wagner exclaims Ted Haggard may not be ready to start a prayer group, for he has not received APPROVAL by apostolic overseers!! Oh my! Are you kidding? Haggard was hooked up with Wagner and Company before his moral failures became public. Where was this supposed necessary apostolic influence, wisdom, and transference of NAR prophetic anointing before, when Haggard was in their midst? I will tell you. It was in his face. If he gets it out of his face, he will have a better chance at recovery. The NAR is a corruptive influence upon the Church. Many are trapped in its ideology. Look into the Word of God, and see if this group leans to His Word—or—unto men. The NAR seeks the glory of men, as opposed to God’s glory and purposes; yet many in it believe they are glorifying Him with their churned up personal revelations. The theology behind this movement frequently contradicts the scriptures. Darkness will continue to increase on this earth, wars will not come to an end, and all earthly “kingdoms” will not be subdued before the Lord Jesus Christ returns. …The article below concerns the establishment of a home prayer group by Haggard.

Ted Haggard to Begin Home Prayer Group

Ted Haggard, who in 2006 resigned from the Colorado megachurch he founded in the wake of a sex and drug scandal, announced Wednesday that he plans to host a prayer meeting in his living room.

The first meeting will be held Nov. 12. at Haggard's Colorado Springs home and could evolve into a church, though Haggard said that is not his aim. He said he and his wife, Gayle, have been traveling almost weekly since the HBO documentary The Trials of Ted Haggard debuted in January, and they thought they needed prayer support.

"This is a Thursday night prayer meeting in our home," Haggard said. "What we want to do is be able to tell our schedule and our story and know that we're covered in prayer. And we want to hear their stories and give them the assurance that they're covered in prayer as well."

Haggard announced the prayer meeting roughly three years to the day he resigned as pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs. He said he was not aware of the timing, but acknowledges the prayer group is starting much like his former church. He founded New Life Church in his basement in 1985, and saw it grow from 25 members to 14,000.

Haggard told the Colorado Springs Gazette on Wednesday that the prayer meeting could be described as a church. He made a similar comment to the Denver Post, calling the prayer gathering "an exploratory meeting."

But Haggard told Charisma Thursday that he wouldn't call the prayer group a church.

"Any time you have two or more believers together, you have the church ... but it's not a church like a church with a Sunday school and a children's department and a board of elders," he said.

He expects only a handful of people to show up, but said if the group grows and wants to become incorporated, he would be open to that.

"It may never go that way," he said. "I'm so blessed with my service at New Life. That church is healthy and vibrant and continues to grow in Colorado Springs, and that's a wonderful blessing. I'd be content if that were the extent of my service in that capacity in Colorado Springs."

Haggard's ties to the New Life ended abruptly in November 2006 after a male prostitute told media Haggard had been a client for three years and that the pastor sought his help procuring meth. After denying the allegations, Haggard confessed to sexual immorality in an apology read to the New Life congregation Nov. 5, 2006.

Haggard, former president of the 30 million-member National Association of Evangelicals, had resigned from the church a day before. New Life agreed to pay his $138,000 salary through December 2007, provided he would move away from Colorado and participate in a restoration process. Haggard was also prohibited him from opening a church within a 100-mile radius of Colorado Springs.

Haggard said he was released from those requirements in February 2008 when he broke ties with New Life Church.

At that time, New Life leaders released a statement saying Haggard's restoration process was "incomplete." And former Foursquare President Jack Hayford, who was part of Haggard's original restoration team, said it was unfortunate that Haggard was going his own way.

"Having joined with the many leaders who earnestly and patiently sought to graciously serve Ted amid the crisis born of his own admitted struggle and failure, it is both incredible and regrettable to hear ... of his choice for such a self-distancing pathway," Hayford said last year.

Brady Boyd, who became pastor of New Life Church in 2007, did not comment on Haggard's plans directly, but told the Gazette: "New Life Church will always be grateful for the many years of dedicated leadership from Ted Haggard, and we wish him and his family only the best."

Ministers who have worked with Haggard say it is premature for him to launch into ministry.

C. Peter Wagner, who co-founded the World Prayer Center with Haggard, told the Gazette that Haggard should receive approval from apostolic overseers before leading people in prayer and worship.

"My reservation is that he has not followed through completely on apostolic protocol," Wagner told the Gazette.

Other leaders question whether Haggard has been restored after falling into sexuality immorality. Gary Black, whose Rock the Nation youth ministry was once affiliated with New Life, told the Gazette he was taken aback by the news of the prayer group. "I would be shocked to think he's ready to lead a church," he said.

Haggard said he continues to see a counselor and holds himself accountable to an informal group of pastors. He said he gives their names and numbers to ministers who invite him and Gayle to speak, but he did not identify the ministers for Charisma. He said publicizing the identities of the leaders previously involved in his restoration process compromised their effectiveness.

When he told his current accountability team of his plans to launch the prayer group, Haggard says they told him to follow the Holy Spirit's leading.

"If any of them would have raised a red flag, I certainly would have responded to that," Haggard said. "I have never been, nor am I now, a man out from under authority."

At the prayer gathering Haggard said there will be music, and he will talk about prayer. He will also set out a basket for offerings, which will be given to New Life Church and the Triangle Cross Ranch, a Colorado ministry that cares for developmentally delayed individuals. Haggard's son Jonathan is a rancher there.

"We don't have expenses ... but the reason we'll have [the basket] there is because, typically, or very often, when people worship and pray or read the Bible together they like to give," he said. "So we want to give them that opportunity."

Haggard said he doesn't view himself as a pastor or Christian leader. "I see myself as a brother in the Lord that loves the Scriptures and loves God and loves His faithfulness and is super excited about being a blessing to people as a brother in the Lord," he said. "But I don't sign my letters as Pastor Ted or exercise spiritual authority over anybody or claim to do that or anything like that."

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mass Wedding Of Moonies

*Article below on mass wedding ceremonies across the world recently, “performed” by Reverend Sun Myung Moon of Unification church fame. You have to wonder, if there will be a mass statistical surge in divorces worldwide in the next couple of years...“I’d like to place an order: a spouse, large fries and a medium Coke”... Ok, I will stop. But one "order" they better get right---that is knowing Jesus Christ.

Rev. Moon Marries Thousands In Global Mass Wedding
By HYUNG-JIN KIM, Associated Press

ASAN, South Korea – From South Korea to South America, the bride wore white for the Unification Church's largest mass wedding in a decade, with some 40,000 people participating in dozens of cities around the world.

The "blessing ceremony" was the church's largest since 1999, and may well be the last on such a grand scale officiated by the 89-year-old Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the controversial founder of the Unification Church.

More than twenty-thousand people gathered at Moon's Sun Moon University campus in Asan, south of Seoul, for the main event Wednesday morning while some 20,000 more joined simultaneous ceremonies Tuesday night in the U.S., Brazil, Venezuela and elsewhere.

Some were new couples who met for the first time recent months in unions arranged by the church; others were married couples renewing their vows. The brides wore veils and wedding dresses, or their national dress; the men wore black suits with red ties, with white scarves wrapped around their necks.

The mass wedding comes as Moon moves to hand day-to-day leadership over to his children, though the Rev. Moon Hyung-jin, the 30-year-old tapped to take over religious affairs, insists his father remains in charge of the church and in good health.

The massive global ceremony is meant to mark two key anniversaries in the leader's life: his 90th birthday and the 50th anniversary of his marriage to Han Hak-ja, church officials said.

Row after row of brides in veils and grooms in white gloves — hailing from South Korea, the U.S., Japan, Europe and elsewhere — posed for photos, sang and practiced shouting "Hurrah!" at a pre-ceremony wedding rehearsal.

"I'm a little bit nervous," admitted Rie Furuta. She had her groom, Tadakuni Sano, both 25-year-olds from Japan, have met only three times since their marriage was arranged in March.

During the ceremony, Moon sprinkled holy water toward the crowd before the couples exchanged rings. After blessing the newlyweds, he led them in a loud cheer amid a shower of white confetti.

"I pray that you become good husbands and wives, and men and women who can represent the world's 6 billion humankind," he told them as he clasped his wife's hands, sobbing at times. Many in the crowd shed tears as well.

In the past, the Moons wore elaborate, high priest-style white gowns and headpieces for the blessing ceremonies.

On Wednesday, Moon was dressed in a simple black suit, a rose pinned to his lapel; his wife wore a white blouse and skirt. Their austerity reflected the church's toned-down stance in recent years as it seeks to dodge the controversy that dogged it in past decades.

"I think my wife is the most beautiful bride here," said Lee Dong-seok, a 32-year-old computer programmer from South Korea who tied the knot with Japanese office worker Fumi Oshima.

His 28-year-old bride replied: "I'm so happy. I like my husband because he's very trustworthy."

Critics who accuse the church of engaging in cultlike practices say the mass weddings prove it brainwashes its followers. In the past, Moon routinely paired off couples, many of whom met for the first time at their wedding.

These days, even arranged couples have the chance to meet at least a few months before the ceremony, church officials said. But none are expected to skip off to a honeymoon; couples are required to observe a 40-day waiting period before they cohabitate to prepare for the marriage spiritually.

Many said they would celebrate with lunch afterward, and a select group was invited to a luncheon with Moon on Thursday at the church's waterside complex.

Moon, a self-proclaimed Messiah who says he was 15 when Jesus Christ called upon him to carry out his unfinished work, has courted controversy and criticism since founding the Unification Church in Seoul in 1954.

He held his first mass wedding in the early 1960s, arranging the marriages of 24 couples himself and renewing the vows of 12 married couples.

Over the next two decades, the weddings grew in scale; the first held outside South Korea was at New York's Madison Square Garden in 1982. That one drew tens of thousands of participants — and protesters.

In many cases, Moon paired off many couples from different countries as part of his aim of creating a multicultural religious world.

"My wish is to completely tear down barriers and to create a world in which everyone becomes one," Moon said in his recent autobiography.

In New York, 22-year-old Krystof Heller said his parents married in a 1982 mass wedding. He has known his new wife, 23-year-old Maria Lee of South Korea, for about four months.

"It's something you grow up with. It something you anticipate through your whole life," he said. "It's not just about a mass wedding; there is the moral emphasis. The big crowd is just the perk."

In Washington D.C., children played in the back as churchgoers watched the ceremony on a large screen flanked by the flags of South Korea, Japan and the United States.

"This is the best way to make peace," said Fumi Oliver, a native of Japan who married an American, the Rev. Zagery Oliver, 12 years ago. "International, intercultural, interracial marriage is the best way to make peace."

Hundreds of brides and grooms gathered in churches in Australia, said Enrique Ledesma, Australian director of the church-affiliated Family Federation for World Peace and Unification.

"It was very, very nice," Ledesma said. "It's a serene mood, but it's also a very joyful mood."

The ceremony in Honduras marks a new start for the movement in the Latin American nation, said Omar Valle, president of the Unification Church in Tegucigalpa. He said 25 couples will renew their vows.

"Through this ceremony, we join a large global family, all as brothers," he said.

In Brazil, Laudicea Corina de Padua called her wedding a dream come true.

"It's the realization of a dream I've had for so long. Taking part in a mass wedding only adds to the profoundness — I barely have the words to describe what I feel," the 40-year-old said in Sao Paulo.

Dressed in a shimmering white gown, she was among some 2,000 people in 40 Brazilian cities who took part in the ceremony via simultaneous broadcast. Her husband, Manoel Marcelino dos Santos, a 38-year-old metalworker, was chosen for her by national church leaders.

"Marrying in this way, with so many other people around the world, will give more strength to our union," he said. "It feels like they are all a part of us."

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sounds Like A Cult

*Idolatry always surrounds cults. Whether it be a “man” or man-made doctrine; something attempts to be positioned above the truth of the Word of God. And those partaking in such falsity have opened the door to idolatrous sin in their lives. The article below describes the ongoings of what really constitutes a cult.


Tamaki's 700 'Sons' Swear Oath of Loyalty
By Garth George

The leader of Destiny Church, Brian Tamaki, who not long ago anointed himself bishop of the church he founded, has now proclaimed himself the church's "spiritual father" and designated the male members of the church as "spiritual sons".

At a special service during the church's annual conference in Auckland at the weekend, about 700 male members of the church swore a "covenant oath" of loyalty and obedience to Mr Tamaki and were given a "covenant ring" to wear on their right hands.

A church document describes the covenant as "a solemn oath of commitment that is binding, enduring and unbreakable. You are bound to covenant ... Covenant is an irrevocable, undissolvable oath of commitment".

The document, entitled Protocols and Requirements Between Spiritual Father & His Spiritual Sons, contains the text of the "covenant oath", the guts of which is that "Above all, we stand here today in the presence of God to enter into this sacred covenant with our man of God, Bishop Brian Tamaki".

It says: "To you Bishop we pledge our allegiance, our faithfulness and loyalty. We pledge to serve the cause that is in your heart and to finish that work. Success to you and success to those who help you - for God is with you."

In its introduction, the church document says that proof of a man's covenant with God is how they "submit to God's chosen man ... We are blessed to our spiritual father through whom this principle is being restored. The fruit of his ministry is self-evident, so much so that his call and influence is discerned at many levels in both the Christian and non-Christian communities here in New Zealand ... Spiritual fathers are extremely rare ... For us it is about discerning the special anointing and function God has put on Bishop's life ... "

The requirements of sonship, the document says, are to give Mr Tamaki obedience and honour, to imitate him and follow his faith and to give him "your loyalty and your strength".

A church statement last night said the initiative was launched by Bishop Tamaki.

He said the covenant ceremony was witnessed by several thousand church-goers, and marked the culmination of a six-month programme aimed at "helping men to become better husbands and fathers and standout contributors to local community".

The Destiny Church statement said many of the men had emerged from social dysfunction, crime, alcohol or drug-related problems and domestic violence to become functional members of society.


In the document comes a section entitled "Protocols towards our spiritual father", which takes 1300 words to describe in jaw-dropping detail how the "spiritual sons" shall behave towards their "spiritual father".

Under "Public Conduct", the sons will in all conversation always speak of Mr Tamaki in a favourable and positive light; and in formal and/or public occasions, they will always address him and his wife, Hannah, first in acknowledgments and addresses at meetings "as a sign of respect to the father of the movement".

If any "son" is honoured either by the church or secularly, he is to mention his "mentors and role models" - Mr and Mrs Tamaki - "because Bishop is one of God's best-known representatives in our country".

Under "Conduct Towards Bishop", the "sons" are told that "Bishop is the tangible expression of God", so they need to understand how to properly approach their man of God "to protect the anointing and not transgress this special relationship".

They are always to be respectful and honourable in Mr Tamaki's presence. "Even though he is very sociable and open - remember who he is!" They must never be "in his face" and must protect him from outsiders who attempt to do that.

They must ensure that Mr Tamaki and his wife are both honoured, cared for and given appropriate respect. "Bishop is a people person. Often it is better we offend others than him."

And since "Bishop carries our vision and our anointing for the future and hope of our families and offspring, we ought to guard, protect and watch out for him and Ps [Pastor] Hannah".

Under "Discernment", the "sons" are told they must "feel Bishop's flow and be attentive to his thoughts and directions", which "gives unity and power to what God is saying and doing through him".

They must endorse what Mr Tamaki endorses, fully support what he promotes and ensure that what he is involved in is supported and successful.

"Whenever Bishop speaks all other talking stops: give him your full attention. Be careful not to cut in on him when he is speaking and ensure others don't either.

"Don't start talking or gesturing to somebody else while Bishop is speaking."

The "sons" must never openly disagree with Mr Tamaki in front of others and must "be careful not to become familiar (which can lead to contempt)" with him "due to his friendliness and openness".

Under "Etiquette", the "sons" are told that when Mr Tamaki and his wife enter a room, they must stand and acknowledge their presence. They may sit only after the Tamakis are seated.

And if they dine with him they wait until he has started eating before they start eating, unless he indicates otherwise.


Under "Church Service (in house) Protocols" the men are encouraged to sit as close as possible to the front of the church to be nearer to Mr Tamaki and to be vocal during his preaching, affirming what he has to say with "amen" and "that's right", clapping, shouting and laughing. This sort of participation is said to build "an atmosphere that is conducive to supernatural events".

They are told to bring Bible, pen, paper or laptop to note down Mr Tamaki's sermons which "shows how highly you value the Word of God from Bishop's mouth".

They should come to church anticipating that God will speak through Mr Tamaki and should always be dressed well at all meetings with him. "His dress code is your dress code." They should also look happy and smile and be friendly to all and encourage people.

Under "Supporting Bishop's Function & Ministry", the "sons" are encouraged to find out Mr Tamaki's speaking itinerary and travel to other churches and engagements to support him, because a team of men around their bishop "reflects his importance to them".

They must never tolerate anyone (regardless of who they are) speaking or talking critically of Mr Tamaki and his wife/family or the church. "You are not only to stop them in their tracks but warn them that they criticise you when they criticise Bishop."

They should celebrate Mr Tamaki's special occasions with him with surprises on birthdays, anniversaries and special occasions or achievements.

"Don't wait for others to do it. It is a sign of your love and respect for him: at times give gifts to him and/or Ps Hannah. A gift means many things - love, honour and blessing them: they will feel appreciated."

The men are exhorted to be protective of Mr Tamaki and his family. The protocol says he "will be more criticised, scrutinised and demonised than most others because of who he is and what he carries".

"You will hear all sorts of statements and opinions but you must be prepared to ignore them and consistently hold him in the same high regard no matter what you hear."

Somewhat surprisingly, the protocol says that Mr Tamaki is human and does make mistakes.

However, the sons must "be prepared to defend against any problems arising out of his mistakes.

A loyal man is supposed to 'cushion' the effect of a mistake on Bishop and to protect him. NEVER intentionally expose his weakness."

It says Mr Tamaki may downplay and even discourage "sons" in overtly honouring him, "BUT that should never stop the men from doing what is honourable and what is in their heart to do".

"The bishop's discomfort with honour should never rob the people of the spiritual rewards for such honourable and respectful actions towards him.

It is appropriate, says the protocol, for men to tell others of their love for Mr Tamaki, who is "one of the most well-known representatives of God in our country". The "sons" must reinforce and emphasise what he says and preaches and quote him as often as possible in favourable terms.