September 4, 2006
Being True to my Church
I’m having church issues this week. As many of you know, I have
attended Calvary Chapels since I was born-again back in 1981. My first
Calvary was Costa Mesa and my first pastor was Chuck Smith. I still think
of it as my home church since I’ve moved around this country a lot.
Pastor Chuck and I would agree on all the essentials of the faith and even
on many non-essentials. But, because he pastors a mega-church, I’ve
never actually met him face to face. He doesn’t know me, though he knows
of me, however I can finish his sentences, I’m that familiar with his
Since the late 1990s, I have had various run-ins with his son, Chuck Smith Jr., pastor of Capo Beach Calvary. Things came to a crescendo last year when Jr. took a sabbatical to a Catholic monastery and put some real new-agers in his pulpit. I reported these events to the Body of Christ and even leafleted CBC to warn the people about a particular guest speaker who has a ministry called "The Vortex." Out of my love for my fellow Calvary Chapel saints, I felt compelled in my spirit to put my neck on the chopping block to try and sound the warning to them.
Does that mean I fancy myself as some sort of end-times prophetess with a ministry of rebuke? Hardly! I only did what I think any discerning Christian has a responsibility to do. It doesn’t take some special calling to warn those you love from following after a false teacher. EVERY Christian should be doing that! We ARE our brothers (and sisters) keeper. If I were a man-pleaser I would avoid controversy that would put me on the outs with my own fellowship. But looking the other way enables the enemy to poison the body of Christ.
Throughout my confrontations directly and indirectly to CBC, I have appealed to Pastor Chuck Sr. by letter and email – mostly just being ignored. I knew I wouldn’t’ win any favors with this man I have always respected. (After all, blood is thicker than water, as they say.) I appealed to him as Scripture prompts me to:
"Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity" (1 Tim. 5:1-2).
And so Saturday the Los Angeles Times published an article called "Father, Son, and Holy Rift" about the recent severing of CBC from the Calvary Chapel Fellowship of churches. And I seemed to be the one singled out for stirring things up that led to this division of churches. The article accurately quoted my commentaries from my website. Pastor Chuck Sr. was quoted saying something against bloggers, not singling any particular ones out, but the story directed his comments at me.
"He (Pastor Chuck Sr.) shrugs off the controversy as the result of critics who ‘get on and blog their ignorance,’ adding: ‘If you don't march to their drumbeat, they begin to pick at you, and once you put on that hypercritical mode, you can find plenty of things to criticize.’"
This falsely characterizes me much in the same way as the LA Times reporter falsely characterized both of us as hell-fire & brimstone fundamentalists.
The truth is I fellowship with people from other churches, or even those with no organized churches, who don’t necessarily believe the way I do – at least in the non-essentials of the faith. There is plenty of room for disagreement. Where I draw the line is with those who are bringing in what the Bible calls "doctrines of demons." And I do my best to convince my true brothers and sisters in the faith not to compromise with such imposters so as not to bring leaven into the church, which once it takes hold is virtually impossible to remove. It’s at that time that the entire church structure totally breaks down and becomes apostate and those who manage not to get pulled down heed the Lord’s call to "Come out of her, My people." The Body of Christ is becoming a leavened loaf of bread due to our head-in-the-sand mentality of tolerance. We don’t want to be unkind to false teachers because, after all, they name the name of Christ and who are we to judge?
But Scripture says: "You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord's table and of the table of demons" (1 Cor. 10:21).
Another battle I have fought within Calvary Chapel fellowship for the past ten years is the compromise with TBN, particularly with the Harvest Crusades. In my last Reflection I reported that Greg Laurie is allowing TBN-affiliated churches to participate in the follow-up counseling. One church that I was particularly alarmed by was Jubilee Christian Center in San Jose, knowing that they were hosting false prophet Kim Clement this past weekend. My husband and I went to check it out and we were grieved by what we saw.
The so-called prophet was to do a three-day meeting beginning Friday night. The place was packed and it could hold well over 2,000 people. In the foyer near the Kim Clement table, there was a counter that had Harvest Crusade literature, including the "prayer guide" for the Greg Laurie event and the flyer inviting people to attend. Some of the prayer requests in the guide include "Pray that the HP Pavilion will be full for all four events." Seems that’s the prayer request that Greg Laurie’s ministry will go to almost any ends to make happen.
After a round of songs about stomping on the devil, Pastor Dick Bernal broke the "bad news" that disappointed many who drove from far away just to see this "great prophet, Kim Clement." Kim couldn’t make it because he had legal matters to attend to in reference to a new house he was building in Burbank. Bernal also made reference to Clement’s new facility in North Hollywood and said he himself is an overseer for Kim’s ministry and their church donated $200,000 towards that building project.
We showed up the next night to another packed out house. Kim arrived, wearing tight blue jeans, a collared shirt, and a thin pull-over sweater over the shirt. I’ve seen him do this many times – even in the middle of the summer in the heat and it doesn’t take long for his chest to be covered in sweat. And he always draws attention to his sweaty body and apologizes for it in an off-handed way as if to say that he puts his whole body into the music. (I’ve heard him say on TBN that he gets so into his piano playing that his fingertips get bloody – his own weird brand of stigmata.) It’s designed to be very sensual, carnal.
His show consists of his exuberant piano playing while singing supposed impromptu spirit-led prophetic sayings to a droning rock beat. It was like being at a rock concert with the audience dancing, swaying arms in the air, and kicking off their shoes to glide back and forth in the front of the "altar." My husband and I were the only ones we could see not joining in. We sat in the balcony to observe. Clement prefaced his piano playing by putting down those who preach that time is almost up and Jesus’ coming is near. "Sometimes we rebuke him when he comes cause he has various appearances," said Clement. During the performance, some of the "prophetic utterances" Clement belted out were:
Clement’s Psychics in Hollywood
He capped off his playing with a "testimony" about how he is feared by the psychics in Hollywood because of their jealousy over his abilities. He told a story of red-headed psychic that attended one of his meetings and he called her up front and she was cursing him under her breath. When he leaned in to speak to her she slapped him across the face – twice! Then he prophesied over her and won her over to use her "God-given" gifts for the kingdom of God instead of the devil. He said that psychics have true gifts, and "we’re going to get them to use their gifts for God and raise them up as prophets."
The total irony of this is that in my last Reflection from two weeks ago, I wrote about four fictional characters and what could possibly happen to those who would attend the coming Harvest Crusade, considering that aberrational churches were involved in the follow-up counseling. The one I called "Mindy" who was sent to Jubilee was a psychic and was told to use her gifts to become a prophetess. And that was pure fiction based upon hearing such things on TBN in the past. And lo and behold, Clement affirms this unbiblical practice from the pulpit of Dick Bernal who nodded in approval.
At the end of the evening, after getting the entire crowd whooped up in a state of adulation – many of them sweating as much as the prophet so-called, comes the plug for money. Clement tells them that the only way everything he promised (such as a 7-month time of rest and financial prosperity) can come about is to seal the deal with money. Give big as the spirit tells you. It will be a big amount because of the big payoff. Everyone took out the checkbooks and began writing checks. The offering at the beginning of the evening by Bernal for Jubilee was not that impressive. The bucket went by empty in our row. But when Kim made this spiritual blackmail appeal, the buckets filled up. When he prayed over the offering he had the congregation repeat after him, "Thank you Father for your Son Jesus. Thank you Father for your prophet (i.e. Kim Clement)."
Sunday morning’s show was more of the same. He had the crowd shouting "fire" over and over again for five minutes straight. He again said that the Lord told him to challenge the psychic community. He compared his dealing with the elderly lady with the red hair to the apostle Paul who struck the sorcerer with blindness -- he has stricken the spiritual blindness on the psychic community. "Physics from all over Hollywood are being raised up to be prophets for the kingdom of God." He said of the red haired woman who hit him: "this woman has been chosen to release the prophetic to the nation." She went along with it. He concluded that the psychics in North Hollywood have all been turned around.
Kim Clement revealed what matters the most to him: money. Sunday’s offering was similar to the night before. What they were paying for this time was the promise of God via Clement that they would all live to be 100 years old and never have any strokes or heart attacks. "Show me what I must give to the prophet and if you don’t have anything – if you have no money, take a button, an earring, or anything and put it in the offering. No one should leave here without giving to the prophet. Now we can enter the promise by doing something unusual. Before reaching something great, something unusual must be done." And the people went diving for their checkbooks.
TBN’s Harvest Crusade
Sadly, Dick Bernal got up at the Sunday meeting and happily announced that of the 1,000 volunteer follow-up workers for the upcoming Harvest Crusade, 300 of them are from Jubilee Christian Center.
Recalling the events of the last few days reminded me of a sermon I had heard many, many, years ago. It was called "The Pillow Prophets" and the speaker was David Wilkerson. I found it online and it’s worth reading to ponder just how much Kim Clement qualifies as one of the end times’ "pillow prophets." He noted that "Ezekiel stood alone against all the false prophets of Israel. These prophets would have nothing to do with the message of righteousness and impending judgment. Instead, they prophesied an era of peace, ease and prosperity."
The problems with Greg Laurie’s Harvest Crusade compromising is really nothing new. We have made many attempts in the past to plead with Laurie not to send new converts into the snare of the enemy by allowing false teachers to get at them. Jesus said that "whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea" (Mark 9:42). However, none of our efforts have made a difference.
In 1997, when my old church Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia was involved in the Harvest Crusade, I pointed out to the assistant pastor, Jerry Paradise (yes, that’s his real name!) that one of the co-sponsoring churches was very questionable. They were currently involved in the "holy laughter and spiritual drunkenness" fad and the following week after the Harvest Crusade they were having a week-long seminar with the Kansas City Prophets, including ones that have since been exposed for using their so-called prophetic office to disrobe women. He wouldn’t listen to me and asked me to fax the documentation to our senior Pastor Joe. I did so (see the original fax) though I was told it wouldn’t make a bit of difference. So I sent the material knowing the outcome would not be favorable. However, they are accountable to God for what I gave them, which included a flyer for the upcoming false prophets seminars along with my notes from watching the Harvest Crusade on TBN from two years earlier that demonstrated how TBN used Calvary Chapel and Greg Laurie to validate themselves (see link).
I also wrote Greg Laurie directly in 2001 asking to meet with him about my concerns with his TBN connections but he did not give me the courtesy of a response. (see link)
I am not the one being untrue to my church – quite the contrary. I am a member of the Body of Christ, which is made up of the called-out ones from any church body or denomination they happen to gather together in. That is the church to which I am a faithful member. It has no label; it is filled with those who the world hates. I am true to that Church.
"If I just feed the flock and not warn the flock, I may only be fattening up the flock for the kill" -- Jon Courson, Applegate Christian Fellowshp - [CSN 12/28/00]
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