Sheryl Richardson - 09/21/2009
(Psa.91:1) He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
(Mat.7:13) Enter ye in by the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many are they that enter in thereby. (14) For narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life, and few are they that find it.
My Saviour Jesus has often referred to my walk with Him as similar to the game of bowling, in that the bowling lane is long and narrow with a gutter that runs down each side. The object of the game is to travel down the center of the lane to reach the desired target and obtain a good score. When learning to bowl we are instructed to aim for the 'sweet spot' that we may knock down as many pins as possible and make a high score. Each day in my life as a believer, I am to aim for this 'sweet spot' --
(Col.1:27) which is Christ in you, the hope of glory
(Php.3:14) I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (15) Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, be thus minded: and if in anything ye are otherwise minded, this also shall God reveal unto you
As a child, I was raised in the Episcopal church and thought of myself as an Episcopalian. I believed there was a God, but I did not know him nor the name of Jesus. I did own a Bible, but it was very dusty. Here, I was as a bowling ball rolling down the gutter, with no hope of scoring. This gutter is so totally in the darkness that I had barely heard the name of Jesus and certainly not the Gospel. I was in this gutter until my early forties when great tribulation entered my life and my independence and self-sufficiency could no longer carry me. I was dead in the gutter with no way out. It is a very depressing place to be---blind, deaf, dumb and helpless. My marriage fell apart, my children were having behavior problems, and I was very far away from family, and friends seem to disappear at times like these.
I turned to my religion of my youth to seek guidance and found some help and made some friends, but strange things began to happen in my soul. I had always been great with self-pity but too "strong" to cry, but suddenly every time I was in church I was crying. And if children were being baptized I was crying so hard that I could not hide my tears. I was terribly embarrassed and did not understand what was happening. My crying didn't seem to bother anyone but me. At this same time I was becoming aware of a great void of purpose in my life, and some told me I was having a mid-life crisis, but in truth I was having a God crisis, of lack thereof, in my life. I found no answers here and drifted away from the religion of my youth.
About this same time, I befriended the mother of a friend of my daughter and she was involved with a youth pastor of a local non-denominational church. My kids liked her kids and we started doing things together. She invited me to her church and I went once, but I didn't like it. However, I became more and more involved with the youth and when the youth pastor split from the church to start his own home church, I went once to check it out. This night was January 20, 1997. When I arrived, I joined into the worship music and almost immediately I began to cry and I had my first personal experience with the Lord Jesus. No one prayed over me, no one really had said anything to me but welcome. All I knew is that I had met Jesus, He was real, and He had revealed to me the goodness of his love. In my heart, my life completely turned around and began immediately to change my soul. I was a different person inside and it began to show.
The strange thing was, nobody at the meeting seemed to be too impressed as to what had just happened to me, and I sure didn't know, but they didn't either. I went to the library to search and I found an old book by Billy Graham to discover I had been born again and what that meant.
The Lord had pulled me up out of the gutter of dead religion and put me on the 'bowling lane' and pointed me in the right direction to the 'sweet spot'! And he put in me a hunger to read his Word, so I dusted off my Bible and began to see truth for the first time in my life. However, in my ignorance, I associated my new life with my new church and began to conform to their teachings and ways. After all, my reasoning said, these people knew God and the Holy Spirit and had this 'life' within them. Their music was new to me and I liked it and we did read the Bible together at meetings. And then I was introduced to the 'laying on of hands' that brings being 'slain in the spirit'. And my eyes were opened to see and believe in the spirit realm. I erroneously believed it was all good, and thus doing opened the way into deception. Shortly after this, I moved to be reunited with my husband and the church also moved on. And I began to shun having hands laid on me because it seemed fake to me.
And so on the bowling lane I left the straight and narrow path that leads to the 'sweet spot' and went into the gutter on the other side. I stayed in this gutter for almost eleven years.
I continued to have many spiritual experiences, most all have revealed truth to me, some sooner, some later. I believe this is because of my Lord God's grace and mercy, and my continuing desire to know Jesus, to love him and obey his commandments.
My travels down this gutter led me to many false spirits, and I was truly captive to them for all those years, but I was not alone, I always knew that my Saviour was with me and he proved himself faithful to me in many ways. My 'good life' as I thought it should be, soon faded away as tribulation again filled my life, but now it was different, for I was different and getting stronger, but too self-sufficient for the battles raging in my soul and so had not many victories. My husband and I were re-united for seven more years, but he never became really interested in God except for the prosperity message. He eventually left to go his own way, and also the children grew up and moved on. Seemingly I am alone, but I have never been more not alone than now.
I was involved in the false-revival spirit from January 1997 through December 2007, never realizing what I was involved in. It consumed my life and whereas in the beginning of my new life in Christ, I hungered greatly for the Word of God and read the Bible a lot, that was soon replaced for 'spirit-filled' teachings in any form, which never contained much of the Word of the Bible. I tried many types of 'spirit-filled' churches and found most of them dry and not bearing much fruit. I was always looking for the love of the brethren the Bible speaks of, but instead found lots of 'jobs' for the brethren to fill. Some of the many ministries I partook of then were--Benny Hinn, Oral Roberts, Kenneth Hagin, TBN, Joyce Meyer, Kenneth Copeland, Jesse Duplantis. These I followed in the early years of my deception--eventually I outgrew these and discovered a new level of the 'move of the spirit'.
In this level, the music changes, the prayer changes, the revelations change and the old seems dry. These deviate even farther away from the Word of God and strong heresy begins. Music becomes repetitive, oftentimes chanting and very suggestive, even hypnotic. Dancing becomes symbolic, erotic, defiant. Prayer lines become tunnels of anointing to pass through to gain entrance into new gates of deliverance and awakening. Musicians are anointed with supernatural ability at times, and the air is filled with strange sounds. Sometimes odors are present, but not always to all. Many people see visions and dreams and hear words of knowledge. Tongues are spoken much with interpretation, but only a special few are allowed to share. Teaching is very dynamic, very fast paced and short. There is much prophecy by the leaders that is very ear-tickling, with much to-do before and after. There is much pressure to partake, to experience for yourself the spirit moving and a shame if you don't. There is always at least one altar call, but not for healing, only for impartation of the spirit--sometimes referred to as deliverance from bondage. Spectators are tolerated only if you give money which is done before all the congregation. I spent the last 6 months of 2007 involved in this, never realizing what I was involved in. The names I followed during this time were Ana Mendez Ferrel, Chuck Pierce and Glory of Zion church, C. Peter and Doris Wagner (whom I met at a seminar he was doing), Che Ahn, Dutch Sheets, Judy Jacobs, James and Michal Goll, and James Driscoll.
Initially, I thought these people had the truth, because of the strength of the spirit. I was just starting to believe that all signs and wonders, even though real, were not necessarily of God. And I had grown enough in Christ that he was able to show me discrepancies in what these people were saying and doing vs. what He did in the Bible. He also instructed me to look at the fruit being displayed as opposed to the signs and wonders being done. I returned to studying the Bible for myself, and very quickly He showed me that what these teachers and preachers were doing were not of him. Now I was responsible to make a choice.
It was very hard for me to turn away from the teachings of man and the idolatry of this false spirit, and to rely solely on Jesus, the Word of God, even if it meant forsaking all that I had placed my trust in. Through all this, Jesus, my Saviour, has been so loving, kind, gentle, and merciful with me. And at times the pain of separation from the world I knew was so great that the only way for me to live was to desperately cling to him. I learned the true meaning of picking up my cross and following him as my Only One. I learned the meaning of my God is a jealous God and will have no others before him. But most of all I learned to trust him to be my Saviour in all.
Once again, Jesus placed me back in the middle of the bowling lane headed straight for the 'sweet spot' of Christ in me, my hope of glory!
By his grace and mercy, I walked away from the church as I knew it and did not return. That was at the end of 2007. Seven months later, in July of 2008, temptation came when I heard of Todd Bentley, and it was true temptation for me. I was curious and strangely drawn even after all the Lord Jesus had shown me and saved me from. I prayed for truth and began to see and once again responsible to make a choice. It was easier this time to choose Jesus.
Within a few days, the Lord led me to UBM where I have continued because of the Word of God spoken here and confirmation of the Holy Spirit in me. Many things that the Lord has taught me and I have seen and heard in the spirit, are witnessed here in teachings and dreams and revelations. I have great peace of drinking at this well of living water. It is here that I learned the name of the serpent that had laid hold of me and deceived me all those years....the kundalini spirit. I was shocked to see the depth of the deception I was in and glorified my Saviour Jesus all the more for saving me! I believe it is the great deceiver of man that feeds on the fleshly lust of the heart, known as idolatry, and so powerfully deceiving that no man can save himself from it due to blindness and deafness that comes when we turn away our hearts from Jesus. I have learned to pray for myself and others for God to give me eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to believe---in Truth, and trust in his faithfulness to save me.
Just a few months ago, unknowingly I began to drift away toward the gutter again to the side of the kundalini spirit by giving place to a lust of my heart, I believed I was following the Lord so strongly that I disregarded the warnings that he was sending. And when it was time for the object of my faith to be manifested, my faith failed and I was devastated. When I cried unto the Lord for truth, he told me I had given place to the kundalini spirit again. I had no idea of this until Jesus showed me, but as soon as he did I knew and understood exactly what he meant. And I also saw fear attached to it this time, which I believe the Lord showed me this as the fiery serpent. The fear attached to it adds panic and causes one to act fast, or flee, all designed to save yourself and not wait on the Lord to save. When I repented, that was the end of it for he said I had already been chastened when my faith failed, and he again delivered me.
Proverbs 9:10 The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom; And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding
I think that one of the hardest things for me to overcome in all this, has been the confusion, and double-mindedness, and is truly an entanglement only the Lord can undo. Because from the beginning, there are lies mixed in with the Truth. It is not hard to believe, but to know and believe Truth must surely come from the fear of the Lord.
Thank you for allowing me to share my testimony and I pray that it goes forth to help another, to the glory of God.