19. Beware the un-Scriptural shepherding of shepherds!
We were now even more certain that we couldn't just walk away from this shambles, so I rang the local 'superintendent' for Elim, Denis Phillips, and made an appointment to see him. I explained the situation and gave him some notes to read. While I was with him he arranged for another meeting which would also be attended by Mike Sherwood, who was the pastor of Cardiff City Temple at that time. We discussed the situation and Sherwood commented that he received many 'words' similar to the 'bitter root' of Zoë's - and admitted that he put 80% of them straight into the bin! Clearly, the Holy Spirit had limited access to the ministry in Mike's church. This didn't fill us with confidence about the outcome and, when they heard that we had removed our family from Tugwell's clutches, this 'dream team' offered us three alternatives:
We could send our notes to the higher echelons of the Elim denomination;
We could meet with them and Kevin Tugwell;
They would have a word with Kevin and deal with the situation.
Since we had no wish to have any further association with Elim we opted for 3, still having no confidence that they would not repeat their earlier errors, and heard no more until some of the 'survivors' in the congregation informed us that Kevin inflicted an angry outburst at 'elder' Roy Warne in public and insulted him in front of witnesses. This is also un-Scriptural, as 1 Timothy 5:1-2 makes clear:
Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity.
Kevin had certainly not treated any of the women in this manner either and Zoë had been left feeling as if she had been 'spiritually raped' by this offensive man. The next development was a 'phone call from Hilda Warne. Kevin had 'phoned Roy (the single surviving elder) to arrange a meeting. When they met, Kevin informed Roy that 'it was all over' and he was no longer elder of New Life or to be involved in the 'Kevin Tugwell Evangelistic Ministries!' We met Roy who tried to make light of this parting, claiming that they had parted on 'amicable terms', but Hilda was clearly furious. I wrote to the Warne's, detailing some of the above and explaining our meeting with Elim.
Clearly nothing had changed and the Elim action had been as ineffective as we expected. I wrote to Denis Philips again, explaining what had happened to the Warne's and asking him what he was going to do about it while making it clear that I would take further action if he continued to prevaricate on this issue. He wrote an angry letter accusing me of being un-Scriptural and wanting to know what I intended to do. Clearly he had 'more neck than a giraffe' to accuse others of being un-Scriptural when his denomination could not even discipline a 'factious and divisive man' (1 Corinthians 6:9-10), as had been clearly pointed out to him. I heard no more from Denis Philips, but shortly afterwards learned that he officiated at the wedding of Kevin's daughter. 'Thicker than thieves' was the disgusted comment passed by the church secretary.
The Warne's replied to my letter, saying how sad it made them, but that they did not wish to take it any further as they were not 'Kevin's judge.' Sadly, for someone who had been installed as an elder, this statement made it clear that they were also Biblically ignorant, for 1 Corinthians 5:12--6:8 is clear that we are to judge :
12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? 13 But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES. 1 Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? 2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? 3 Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, matters of this life? 4 If then you have law courts dealing with matters of this life, do you appoint them as judges who are of no account in the church? 5 I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not among you one wise man who will be able to decide between his brethren, 6 but brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers? 7 Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? 8 On the contrary, you yourselves wrong and defraud, and that your brethren.
Another friend in New Life left shortly afterwards, sick and tired of the 'pastors' behaviour - and she has never regularly attended church since. Sadly, of the small youth group privy to the insulting meeting instigated by Tugwell, only one of them now attends church. After I had been replaced by Kevin, he installed Steve Taylor as youth group leader, although he had shortly before written off as this young man as 'far too immature to run the youth group'!. To compound his error he then encouraged this young man to go to Elim Bible College and it wasn't too long before he had to leave his first church after being disgraced because of 'immature behaviour.' To prove his continuing immaturity, he has since railed at the gifted evangelist and teacher, Jacob Prasch, because he dared to point out the errors of 'The Toronto Experience' and thus caused some of the Elim congregation to wake up to the truth. It is clear that there is a dangerous tendency for the Elim Pentecostal denomination to allow pastors to run churches as a 'one man band' in which they openly declare themselves to be 'the captain of the ship' (to quote Pastor Tee, formerly of the City Temple, Cardiff), and this leads to cultic traits in which domineering men literally rock the boat because of their own ego-trips which take precedence over the leading of the Holy Spirit.
What are the effects of a deceiver in a Christian church when allowed to go unchecked? The church itself was the product of false prophecy and a false vision and some members of the City Temple admitted in private that it was always a vehicle for Kevin Tugwell's damaged ego after his plans to take over the City Temple were thwarted. Sadly the Temple has shown its true colours by the way it has inadequately supported New Life church to the point that another family had to re-mortgage their own property to keep the place going, renaming the false vison, Green Pastures. Of course, this can always be addressed as great faith in action and I do not doubt the sincerity of those who have persevered with this church and are probably unaware that the basis for its foundation came out of deception. Unfortunately, sincerity is no substitute for wisdom and, if the 'vision' fails, it will not come back on Tugwell in any way and the innocent will suffer again. Once a deceiver has convinced his listeners that he is to be believed in small matters, he will deceive others with spiritual inventions with no thought for prophetic accuracy and only slight basis on Biblical doctrines. At the severe end of deception this leads onto outright satanic lies which the deceiver believes to be true and I have no doubt that this is why Tugwell cannot respond to correction..
This behaviour by a 'pastor' or 'vicar' is not exceptional to Wales. There is no reason for us to presume that Satan will only use this kind of leader in one part of the world but, of course, if all churches were run Biblically this kind of deception would not be allowed to happen, for the right kind of eldership would be united against deviations from the truth. Unfortunately, too many take this attitude: 'That's just cuddly Kevin - he means no harm' (quote!). There is nothing 'cuddly' about such a damaging deceiver and many Christians have shared similar experiences they have suffered in other churches. There would probably be more witnesses to this behaviour but, like abuse of any kind, whether it is within a family or in the church, the standard response from most individuals is to keep quiet about the nightmare for fear that no one will believe them, they will be ostracised, and because of the pain of reliving the nightmare.
20. Beware the role of false prophecy and 'words from the Lord'!
Prophecy is an area that can be greatly misused if there is deceit in the prophet's heart, but notice that the combination of false prophecy with a proud ego-tripping leader can utterly mis-lead a church and have them chasing their tails for years. Unfortunately, the average Christian will never believe that their church could not be hearing from the Lord, anymore than the disobedient Israelites thought they could be displeasing their God - despite the abundance of prophets he sent warning them of their fate. The problem we have today, more than in any era since those ancient days, is that we cannot believe, as chosen Christians, that we could be 'like those Old Testament people', or 'like that church down the road.' The only Christian I have ever berated in public, Graham, was arrogantly putting down people of Old Testament times at a house-group meeting and suggested: 'If I lived in those days I'd have felt like killing myself!' This got a laugh from the meeting and a few minutes later he declared that he was 'surprised at how much good he saw in the world.' So I asked him where he was going to go with his argument after this statement, for my Bible reads (Genesis 6:5): 'Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.' God declares that there is no one 'good' in the world - not even one (Psalms 14:3; Psalms 53:3 Romans 3:12). Jesus replied to the rich ruler who called him 'good' (Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19), "Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone." And, of course, Jesus claimed to be equal with the Father in many different ways, so He was really saying: 'You call Me 'good' - yet are not willing to recognise My equality with the Father.' If God considers the world in this way how can a supposedly born-again Christian make such a foolish statement? I apologised to Graham within minutes, for my angry reaction at the time, although it was justified, and asked him to forgive me, for I could have said it with more grace!
One of the problems in the church today is that we do not recognise sin, or call it by its name, and are willing to dress up the evil around us to be acceptable so that, as a result, our witness becomes pathetic and weak. Isaiah declared of those who led 'good' lives, but were in rebellion before God (Isaiah 64:6):
For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
Isaiah declares of his people 'we sinned' and asks the question: 'Shall we be saved?' (v5) while recognizing that 'there is no one who calls on Thy name.' Britain is in this same 'handcart to Hell' today, for the 'good' people of the country also fail to wake up to the decadence of the country and as a result our God has 'hidden His face from us, and has delivered us into the power of our iniquities.' I told Graham that he was talking 'utter rubbish' in no uncertain terms because the things we call 'good' are like the public reaction to the death of Princess Diana. We put personalities on pedestals and mourn their deaths rather than our sins. The shrines we erect to icons are mere appeasements to our conscience in a country where thousands of babies are murdered in the womb every year by non-therapeutic abortion in homage to the demon gods of Mammon and Ashtoreth. As long as 'good' people seek their own selfish ends and the church mimics the world, we are going to see accelerated decline in our country until we will seek to hear the Word of God - but it will no longer be found (Amos 8:11-12):
11 "Behold, days are coming," declares the Lord GOD, "When I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, But rather for hearing the words of the LORD. 12 "And people will stagger from sea to sea, And from the north even to the east; They will go to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, But they will not find it.
Our churches are closing so quickly, being transformed into houses, warehouses, mosques, or simply condemned, that it will not take many more years to fulfil this prophecy for our time. When will we awake, as Ephesians 5:11-14 directs:
11 And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; 12 for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. 14 For this reason it says, "Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you."
Some deceivers become convinced that every thought they have comes from God because their deceitful hearts have convinced them of this and, as a result, they regularly declare that 'The Lord spoke to me' whenever they seek to give authority for their latest bullying action, or greed over some acquisition. The money-preachers from the Word-Faith camp can always explain how: 'The Lord told me to buy this Rolls-Royce'! And when such a leader says, 'The Lord told me how He wanted the chairs organised', no-one else can question it, or have any say in the matter! When a minister claims to hear God in every situation the flock are often too over-awed to exercise discernment.
Jesus told us that His sheep follow Him because they hear His voice (John 10:4) so, in order to make sure that it is the Lord Jesus we are following, each one of us should earnestly seek to hear His voice for ourselves while always remembering to check everything out with the Word of God. We do need to listen to others and be open to receive advice, but it is unwise to act upon the word of another when you have no conviction in your own heart that it is from the Lord. If we learn through careful testing that we are hearing the voice of God because we have been given the gift of prophecy, words of knowledge or wisdom (1 Corinthians 12:4-11), then we need to combine this gift with the humility that does not seek to impose our will on others, but merely asks that the 'word' be checked against Scripture.
The deceiver's own heart will lead him to believe that he is above correction, and if he repeatedly rejects the Holy Spirit's faithful work of conviction and correction in his life, he will become more and more deeply deluded, until he joins those of whom Paul wrote when he declared:
'They refused to love the truth … therefore God sends upon them a strong delusion' (2 Thessalonians 2:10-11).
21. Beware the Hypocrite!
'But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron' (1 Timothy 4:1-2).
Hypocrisy is a manifestation of deceit, for to live a lie is a natural progression from speaking a lie for the intent is to deceive. The wolf in sheep's clothing pictures the hypocrite perfectly - the man trying to be something he is not and causing just as much damage as a wolf amongst a flock of sheep. Jesus spoke of the hypocritical leaders of his day who resembled white-washed tombs - looking good on the outside but full of dead men's bones on the inside (Matthew 23:27). This is one of the greatest tragedies of deception - the deceiver doesn't take just himself to Hell, he takes others with him. Jesus said (Matthew 23:15): "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel about on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves"). Ezekiel had good reason to write in his day about prophets who white-wash flimsy walls (Ezekiel 13:1-16):
1 Then the word of the LORD came to me saying, 2 "Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who prophesy, and say to those who prophesy from their own inspiration, 'Listen to the word of the LORD! 3 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Woe to the foolish prophets who are following their own spirit and have seen nothing. 4 "O Israel, your prophets have been like foxes among ruins. 5 "You have not gone up into the breaches, nor did you build the wall around the house of Israel to stand in the battle on the day of the LORD. 6 "They see falsehood and lying divination who are saying, 'The LORD declares,' when the LORD has not sent them; yet they hope for the fulfillment of their word. 7 "Did you not see a false vision and speak a lying divination when you said, 'The LORD declares,' but it is not I who have spoken?"'" 8 Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD, "Because you have spoken falsehood and seen a lie, therefore behold, I am against you," declares the Lord GOD. 9 "So My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and utter lying divinations. They will have no place in the council of My people, nor will they be written down in the register of the house of Israel, nor will they enter the land of Israel, that you may know that I am the Lord GOD. 10 "It is definitely because they have misled My people by saying, 'Peace!' when there is no peace. And when anyone builds a wall, behold, they plaster it over with whitewash; 11 so tell those who plaster it over with whitewash, that it will fall. A flooding rain will come, and you, O hailstones, will fall; and a violent wind will break out. 12 "Behold, when the wall has fallen, will you not be asked, 'Where is the plaster with which you plastered it?'" 13 Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD, "I will make a violent wind break out in My wrath. There will also be in My anger a flooding rain and hailstones to consume it in wrath. 14 "So I shall tear down the wall which you plastered over with whitewash and bring it down to the ground, so that its foundation is laid bare; and when it falls, you will be consumed in its midst. And you will know that I am the LORD. 15 "Thus I shall spend My wrath on the wall and on those who have plastered it over with whitewash; and I shall say to you, 'The wall is gone and its plasterers are gone, 16 along with the prophets of Israel who prophesy to Jerusalem, and who see visions of peace for her when there is no peace,' declares the Lord GOD.
Which will fall first - the whitewashed walls of the Church of England , Elim or the Baptist Union? There are simply too many denominations to name them all! Nothing has changed today, for we have deceivers like 'Archbishop' Carey, 'Bishop' Spong, and 'Bishop' Richard Holloway deluding people into thinking that God has changed His mind about the truth of His Word so that perverts can occupy His pulpits. God is sick of men trying to make something rotten look 'good'! Hypocrisy that may have started in small ways will continue in ever-increasing proportions unless at some point it is recognised and weeded out of the church.
The rewards of hypocrisy in Christian ministry are not always obvious at first sight, but the promise of rewards as simple as adulation and prestige in the community still motivates adults in the ministry. The discerning believer who has a love for the truth should be alert to notice the inconsistencies which are the evidence of hypocrisy. Christians who have been deceived by worldwide deceptions, such as Toronto and Pensacola, have responded to calls to financial sacrifice, suffering personal hardship for the sake of the gospel, only to discover that the ones who seduced them are living extravagantly and building mansions for themselves here on earth! While the leaders of the Word-Faith cult claim we should trust God alone to heal their sicknesses, not even taking an aspirin for a headache, we witness the leaders obtaining the best medical help for themselves. In this they mimic one of the founders of their religion, Mary Baker Eddy, of infamous 'Christian Science,' who took recourse in dentists, oculists, and physicians when her own teachings abjectly failed to bring relief from the supposedly 'non-existent' pain she was feeling! The deceiver Mother Theresa worked the same kind of deception when she refused to spend the millions donated to her 'good' work through offerings and Peace Prize awards, on the suffering peasants who came to her hospice (her dogma teaching that their suffering on earth would shorten their stay in purgatory!), while she indulged in heart surgery to lengthen her own life.
Double standards of any kind are inconsistent with the calling of God to shepherd the flock, but they are quite consistent with the character of a hypocrite. A hypocrite is really an impostor who poses as one kind of person, but is in reality another. You will notice that the man whose Case History II we examine later claimed to be a 'pastor' when he was failing as an evangelist, and then, when his pastoral work was found to be set on 'sinking sands,' claimed that he was an evangelist first! Exactly the pattern of Case History I! Paul warned us, 'Impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived' (2 Timothy 3:13)
For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 4).
The word ungodliness is used in the Scriptures to express the opposite of upright, righteous living and Jude uses it freely when speaking of the false teachers who had 'crept in unnoticed' in the early church. 'They feast with you without fear, caring for themselves (Jude 12), he writes, alerting the believers to the nature of those fellow-shipping among them! This is a far cry from being called to care for the flock of God. A true shepherd will lay down his own life for the sheep, but the one who does the job for what he gets out of it, the 'hireling', will be too busy caring for himself (ref. Case History II).
When you read Jude's description of these men, you wonder how they could have possibly crept in unnoticed - but they creep into the church even more easily today, for so few Christians are willing to stand for the truth that no one will complain about the deceiver's behaviour, especially when they are doing the same themselves! We are meant to bring the church to the world but, instead, we have brought the world into the church. Thus we will not see through the 'cover-up' that is hiding 'bad fruits.' Yet we should be aware that ungodliness is a mark of a false prophet, whatever form it takes, and is in essence a denial of the Lord Jesus. The discerning Christian will be able to tell the difference between the leader who is struggling to overcome sin and the one who preaches the Word, or 'talks the talk,' but who does not care that his hypocrisy continues, while he willingly takes the opportunities to point out the log in his brother's eye (Matthew 7:3-5). A true man of God will follow the example of Paul who said (1 Timothy 1:15): 'It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.' He will not only grieve over his faults and sins more than anyone else, but will take steps to correct them. But the deceiver and false prophet will be blind to his sins, and will deny or excuse them should anyone have the courage to point them out. What a contrast to the apostle Paul who knew he could not turn the grace of God into a license to do whatever he pleased and wrote: 'I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified' (1 Corinthians 9:27).