Long ago a visiting pastor preached a message at our church entitled One Degree of Error. It was a very simple message using the analogy of sailing across the ocean with a faulty compass and arriving many thousands of miles off course because of an almost imperceptible flaw in the compass’s alignment with true north.

It wasn’t until many years later that I fully realized we were being warned about something terribly wrong going on behind the scenes. There were subtle hints along the way … things that didn’t seem or feel right. But how could a “healing ministry with signs and wonders” bent on “taking Jesus to the nations” be anything less than authentic? Didn’t signs and wonders follow believers?

How does a ministry that once seemed Biblically sound become corrupt? Does it happen over night? Did the “man of God” drift off course somewhere along the line? … or was there a subtle character flaw that put him on a trajectory of error from the beginning … that became more and more pronounced the farther out to sea we got?

My conclusion is the latter. Always quick to boast in his humility and letting us know God told him he had no ego, the “man of God”  reveled in being “God’s mouthpiece.”  The truly tragic flaw that inevitably surfaced was a faulty TRUTH compass that allowed him to misuse and manipulate the WORD to feed his craving for power and control. Lulled by the gentle current, almost imperceptible in the early days, we were finally confronted with irrefutable evidence that he was not who he claimed to be. Why didn’t we see it sooner? I think we did; however, the nature of cult-thinking is that of isolation and self-blamewhoever sees a problem IS the problem; whenever you sense dissonance, look inward. We were stuck looking in the mirror thinking it was us …

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?‘ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew [approved] of you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. (Matthew 7:15,16,21-23) That is, not by the “Gifts of the Spirit”  they may claim to possess or appear to demonstrate (i.e.,  word of wisdom, word of knowledge, gifts of healing, working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, different kinds of tongues and the interpretation of tongues), but by their behaviorwhat they do and how they live.

The missing piece of the puzzle that kept us in bondage for so long was finally understanding that signs and wonders are NOT a litmus test for authenticity  … but rather living in, walking in and loving an upholding what we know to be TRUTH aligned to True North.

He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)