The phrase, “The Lord
told me to tell you,” is perhaps one of the most overused, misused, and
abused phrases in the Christian world. Other phrases such as “God gave me a
vision for you . . .,” “I have a prophecy about you . . .,” or “I have a
message from the Lord for you . . .,” are equally popular misused ones.
These are a few of them used by many zealous pastors and often church
members to control or mislead others. The truth is the persons using them
are not deliberately misleading or trying to control. They honestly believe
that their “visions” or “messages” are from the Lord. When in reality they
are a result of a toxic faith and misguided understanding of how the Holy
Spirit works in the lives of individuals.
THE LORD DID TELL
ME TO DO IT
Let me hasten to say
that God can reveal Himself through visions and dreams. He can give special
messages through someone to give to another. However, His messages are
always in keeping with Biblical truths. They do not conflict. They are not
confusing, demeaning, or destructive. Isaiah 10:24 states simply: “To
the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it
is because there is no light in them.”
"They honestly believe that their
“visions” or “messages” are from the Lord. When in
reality they are a result of a toxic faith and
misguided understanding of how the Holy Spirit works
in the lives of individuals."
Several years ago, I
was told of a woman who was married four times. After a long life of self
destruction and four divorces, she felt hopeless and emotionally weak. This
was when, late one night, she walked into a church where people were singing
beautiful hymns. The singers seemed so kind, caring, and spiritual. After
an inspiring sermon by the pastor, an appeal was made and she gave her heart
to Jesus to begin the journey of spiritual renewal.
It was really a new
beginning for her until the pastor got “a vision from the Lord” to reveal to
her. It was just one week after her conversion, while attending a church
service that the pastor came to her and said: “The Lord gave me a vision
that you are to marry that man,” pointing to a gentleman. She became
friendly with this gentleman. She trusted the pastor. “Of course, the
pastor is a man of God. Why doubt him?” she thought to herself.
result of that “prophetic revelation” this dear lady, not realizing her own
vulnerability, got married to “that man” within two months. This became
her fifth marriage and his fourth. Common sense would dictate that
preparation for marriage takes time. In addition, even though they were
both Christians, it does not mean they were made for each other to become
husband and wife. But who would disagree with the pastor. He got a
“vision from the Lord.”
WHY DIDN’T GOD TELL
THE WHOLE TRUTH?
The pastor did say he
got a vision from the Lord. Sad to say, “the Lord” did not tell the pastor
of the terrible, abusive past of the man. Was it really “the Lord” or
rather the pastor’s own toxic faith misguiding his over imaginative
thoughts? Within one week of the wedding ceremony, the marriage began to
deteriorate. There was verbal, emotional, and sometimes physically abuse.
It was painful. But how could they question “the Lord” when He gave the
pastor the message to give them. So they sat there, in their marriage,
boiling in pain, hate, and confusion.
But two months into the marriage, the
“Lord” could not stand it any longer. They were in too much pain. Then the
pastor’s wife got a “vision from the Lord” to give to the husband. She
said “the Lord to me to tell you to divorce your wife and to marry another
woman.” What “vision” was from the Lord, the pastor’s or his wife’s? How
could God give such conflicting instructions? I hasten to say that God
does not give such instructions. His messages are encouraging, clear,
consistent, and non-conflicting. It seems as though the pastor and his
wife were having the conflicts themselves. Each was on an ego trip for
pastoral power and popularity. They used the scripture as a tool to gain
prominence; and in reality they were making a mockery of Christianity.
This story is only an
example of what goes on everyday in our country behind the doors of many
churches. It is an example of toxic leaders who have developed a toxic
brand of Christianity that is destroying our nation, many marriages and
families. It is playing right into the hand of power-
"Many so-called spiritual leaders try
to manipulate the Holy Spirit instead of allowing
the Holy Spirit to use them. They act as though
they are beyond accountability."
crazed men who have
been taught that they are by default leaders over women and not leaders with
spiritual leaders try to manipulate the Holy Spirit instead of allowing the
Holy Spirit to use them. They act as though they are beyond
accountability. Mary Alice Charnalogar in her book, “Twisted Scriptures,”
lists a few methods used by pastors or congregations to control their
members: (1) They equate doubts and criticism of leadership as sin. (2)
They teach people to obey even when it doesn’t feel right. Obey without
question. (3) They subtly redefine the meanings of words creating their
own toxic theology. (4) They emphasize such ideas as “dying to self” in a
non-scriptural manner. It is a sin to emotionally take care of your own
Beware, friends, when
someone tells you, “the Lord told me to tell you,” or “the Lord gave me a
vision about you.” If what “the Lord” said is in conflict with your faith
and scripture, then the Lord did not give that message. It is instead from
another source that leads to toxic faith, cripples, confuses, and often
leads many to become disillusioned with God.
Beware of pastors who make
you feel that their prayers for you will always be answered. If they are not
answered, then it is your fault. This is a gross misrepresentation of
God’s sovereign will and love. To avoid toxic faith each one should
develop his own relationship with God and study the Bible for herself.
Watch out when you say, “The pastor says,” or “the Bible says,” and it is
not really true and you have not searched it for yourself. These are signs
that you might be developing toxic faith.
Barrington H. Brennen
is a marriage and family therapist. Send your questions or comments to
email@example.com, or P.O. Box CB-11045, Nassau, The Bahamas; or
call 1-242 327 1980; or visit