Discernment Column (4) on Shabar Ministry

Theological Thoughts

 

Shabar Mantras: defined as “instruments” or “tools” of thought; used during occult meditation, along with “positive confessions” in order to identify with “Christ-consciousness” and transcend every obstacle

Shabar Ministry: an advanced form of Sozo (last month’s topic) that uses inner healing “tools” that have parallel implications within the occult. Yet, it is secretly slipping into many mainline churches and organizations such as Crisis Pregnancy Centers; promoted as “Christian counseling” under the Hebrew guise Shabar, which means broken. For those being targeted are the broken-hearted.

In Shabar Ministry, theological thoughts are distorted by “instruments of thought,” where contrived confessions and strange “tools” such as metaphorical doors, walls, and Father Ladders are used to supposedly help the broken-hearted realize their “identity in Christ.”  However, the hidden theology behind the Shabar “identity in Christ” cliché is not as innocent as it sounds, for it is the heretical doctrine of Identification rooted in Gnosticism, which claims one can transcend all obstacles by realizing they are an actualincarnation of Christ.  So in believing they can literally “be Jesus” to people, Shabar leaders assume God’s role in the lives of the broken by promoting a system filled with occult concepts, where a team of mediators or “seers” are set over those perceived to be lower on the spiritual ladder.  As a result, vulnerable people who originally come for help, end up feeding into the team’s desperate need to feel superior by subjecting themselves to a humiliating process of sharing every private detail of their life, while the spiritually elite interprets them.

Consequently, fear and spiritual dependency keeps many bound to this group.  And like basic Sozo and all other occult practices, Shabar sessions require mental passivity in order to seek truth experientially through guided imagery, visualization and mystic mediators who facilitate “Jesus encounters,” as participants are supposedly led into a regressive, subconscious journey to the past. Yet, in reality this is where an altered state of consciousness is subtly induced and many become inoculated with an unbiblical view of Jesus, so that they become totally resistant to truth.  This is due to the subtle form of divination that takes place while participating in an unbiblical process involving human mediators and the spiritual realm, which is an abomination to God (Deut.18:9-14, 1Tim. 2:5).

Also parallel to secular psychology, Shabar leaders insinuate that those who don’t realize their identity in Christ have “Dissociative Identity Disorder,” for any problems or sins a person has in the present are blamed on past “generational curses,” or traumas that allegedly caused “double-mindedness” (split personality) or so-called “parts,” which are said to be “unconverted areas of the mind.”  The Shabar team supposedly “converts” them by integrating the parts.  But ironically, Hebrew anthropology views mankind as being holistic: spirit, soul and body (1Thess. 5:23) and in need of redemption, rather than the gnostic view of man being merely a sum of “parts” in need of “integration.” In fact, this psycho-mystical process for becoming converted and whole is completely foreign to Scripture, for it teaches one can only be made whole in Christ by being regenerated, not integrated.  Furthermore, Strong’s Concordance rightly defines double-mindedness as having no fixed beliefs, which ironically describes the inner healing childishness of being carried about with every wind of doctrine (Eph. 4:14) devoid of any absolutes.  Strikingly comparable to Jeremiah 2:13, the inner healing movement is forsaking the fountain of living waters for broken (shabar) cisterns that can hold no water.

So remember dear friend, the “good fruits” that the Pharisees thought they had were not  “fruits worthy of repentance,” for they came from a bad tree that was not made good by God, reminiscent of the bad tree in the Garden with the fruit that was “pleasant to the eyes,” but just a superficial illusion.  So it is today with the many cults that claim to have proof of their validity because of the supposed good fruits they produce.  Therefore, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24) for if Jesus is portrayed as an inner healing tool or if His unique nature and Deity is downplayed, denied or usurped by those who exalt themselves— Run!!— And warn others, for this is the work of the spirit of antichrist warned about in1John 4:1-6.  But know too, that by being born-again (regenerated) by the Holy Spirit you really can be “integrated” into God’s kingdom, where Jesus forever heals the broken-hearted (Luke 4:18).

Sis Lee Anne

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25 thoughts on “Discernment Column (4) on Shabar Ministry

    • Are you broken Katie? If so, my first advice would be to take heed who you go to for help, for there are many wolves who prey upon vulnerable people who are broken.
      Depending on what kind of brokenness a person is dealing with, I would respond in different ways but always with the goal of pointing them to the only one who can truly heal the broken-hearted—-Jesus Christ.
      So everytime I reach out to others with the gospel, I am successful, for it is the power of God unto salvation (Rom.1:16). For mankinds ultimate problem is sin and noone can endure a broken spirit caused by sin. God has to divinely intervene to quicken the dead spirit that is held captive by sin—-this is regeneration of the Holy Spirit (being born-again), whereby God is glorified.
      Shabar is a man-centered philosophy that promotes the humanistic heresy of “integration” and “parts theory” rather than biblical regeneration. But of course they always slap the label of Christian onto it and use a few “proof texts” to try to pass it off as biblical. It is very harmful mentally, physically and spiritually. If you are sincere and truly desire more information or help I would be glad to go into further detail. Either way I will pray for you.

  1. Absolutely beautifully stated!!! Thanks for a great post on this topic. I hope you don’t mind if I share this article on my website as well. 🙂 God bless you!!!

  2. I am not a member of Bethel Church, nor am I associated with the center. I live 10 hours away, and have dealt with them on and off over 3 years. I have found much healing through the ministry.

    I have concerns about your posting. I feel sad to see you write such things without supporting documentation. The information you have listed here does not align with their teaching. For example you said “Shabar leaders insinuate that those who don’t realize their identity in Christ have “Dissociative Identity Disorder,”” No such claim is made in any written or spoken literature. Rather that God can heal even the person who has been labeled as DID. An anti-christ spirit cannot place Jesus as Lord. At every turn in the ministry process there is a reliance on redirecting the person in the ministry back to Jesus Christ as Lord rather than to the minister. Donna DeSilva ( director of the Transformation Center) in her teaching “Core Values” outlines this very principal at length. In fact repeatedly they ask the person to check for themselves what our father God says about their feelings and thoughts,and their experiences and ask Him. They redirect the person to scripture and away from a particular minister. If you want citations for where this is true in their teachings they can be provided.

    There are things out in the world labeled christian, but that are cultic. If you are going to call a group a cult, you need to use specific out of their teaching text examples and back it up rather than making wide sweeping generalizations.
    I find it far more anti- christ to reach for specks in others eyes and neglect logs in our own.

    I could see that if you do not believe Jesus and the Holy Spirit speak to believers in any way other than exclusively through the bible, then you would have a problem with the ministry. They do believe that the Holy Spirit is active and can communicate in many ways, and that Father God and Jesus are present and active and willing to guide a person into greater repentance and truth both through scripture and through other means that do not conflict with scripture. You can find their statement of faith here: http://www.ibethel.org/we-believe.
    I can not find anything unbiblical in it.
    They do act out a hearing of Christ’s voice (John 10:27) and test it by scripture. Cessationists find this belief untenable. Are you a cessationist? For me, to exclude varied ways of hearing and seeing would discount John’s experience in Revelation, Phillip’s. Paul’s, Peter’s and most of the book of Acts.

    On a subjective / personal experience level:
    I have interacted with the leaders of the ministry DeSilva, and Leibsher. I have personally sat with and interacted with T Leibsher for about 12 hours total.
    The “fruit” I have personally witnessed in the lives of the ministers there has been patience, kindness,- they have not been rude or judging. They teach forgiveness and reliance on God as seen in the life and teachings of Christ. They demonstrate joy and peace and faithfulness to the church mission, & gentleness in method and freedom offered to those who come for care. Those are my subjective experiences of their ministers. Also when I returned to them to ask more questions, they did answer in part but constantly redirected me back to God and to the bible rather than back to them, reminding me that all healing and truth comes through Christ, and through scripture and we all have access to the triune God and to his word as our guide at all times.
    There is a long 1 hour teaching on that very issue by a leader of the ministry, He points out that many false prophets guide people more to themselves rather than to God. A very abbreviated version of the longer teaching is available at http://youtu.be/EQ0w0GrwHVI

    I pray peace, love, hope, and truth over you and all your ventures through the LOVE of Jesus Christ our Lord. Thanks for writing and keep up your good watch.

    • Hello Kathleen,
      I’m very familiar with bethels teachings—-all of them. I was even involved in their “river” movement. I was also involved in shabar/sozo with many other “riverite” practices.
      Kathleen, you can read the “statement of faith” on many cultic websites that seem legite, but sadly they do not adhere to them.
      I am not a cessationist. What Bill Johnson followers are into are not spiritual gifts from the Lord—–and yes anti-christ spirits can indeed verbalize “Lord, Lord, did we not do many wonderful works in Your name” —-And Jesus’ reply to these phonies is “Why do you call Me Lord, Lord, and do not do the things which I say.” Luke 6:46.

      And what “God says about our feelings, thoughts, and experiences” as you say——is that they are unreliable. And this brings me to my last point—–the river movement is all about putting subjective experiences above the objective word of God—–which God says He has magnified above all His name (Psalms 138:2).

  3. It never ceases to amaze me that people listen to these guys and totally throw out God’s word. On this link that Kathleen sent, Kris V. outright denies and downplays Deut. ch.18 where God warns of false prophets. In fact, he says just the opposite of what God says and these people fall for it hook line and sinker—-and say “I can’t find anything unbiblical in it”—-why? And anyone who defends God’s word he labels as “religious” people who “incite fear”—so typical and so disgusting.—-why??
    Because they don’t know the true gospel by which to measure and discern a false one.

  4. So in response to Bill Johnson followers I would have to say—— you desperately need to know the true gospel. So what I would first suggest is that you “examine yourself to see if you are in the faith” 2Cor.13:5, because your soul is at stake.

    I realize you have been targeted by these sham ministries due to your emotional issues, but what you first need to ask yourself is how did you first come to Christ? Was it some kind of “Jesus encounter” where you felt all fuzzy inside? Or was there true conviction, thru God’s word, that you were a sinner in need of a Savior?
    Did you choose God or did God choose you? Was it something you felt you had to do in order for His grace to be effective? Or did you feel His grace is only there to enable you to attain your own salvation?

    According to God’s word, there is nothing you can do to initiate anything with God, He has to be the One to initiate everything. This is the biblical pattern. Anything less is man-initiated, man-centered philosophy, which is what Sozo/Shabar is and it presents a faulty view of salvation.

    The bottom line is that only God can save, deliver and heal you—-according to His will (John 1:13) and it is “God who works in us to will and to do (Phil.2:13).

    It’s all about Him, not us or our own “filthy rag righteousness.” Jesus’ righteousness has to be imputed to us, and our sins nailed to the cross by His finished work alone. I pray that God will enable you to come to Him in spirit and in truth and deliver you from the legalistic bondage that you have fallen into. Lord please open their eyes!!

  5. BTW, Bill Johnson’s book “When Heaven Invades Earth” pg. 29 states this about Jesus—-“He had NO supernatural capabilities whatsoever”—————–hmmm.
    That’s proof and “documentation” enough for me, although there are thousands more in their literature.

    The bottom line is:
    Until these wolves correct and retract statements like these and pull their heresies off the shelf——I don’t care how many orthodox “statements of faith” they make, for that cannot make up for all the damage they have done and continue to do thru their sham “ministries.”

  6. Thank you so much for posting this! I have been wanting to learn what they teach and how for some time now. This has been an answer to prayer for me. They indeed are wolves in sheeps clothing.

    • You’re very welcome Jane. It’s important that we biblically educate people about the pitfalls of false doctrines that are ever so subtle.

      Exposing darkness and proclaiming the gospel are really two aspects of the same task—-glorifying our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, for we must follow in His footsteps and be an advocate for those who are spiritually abused.

      Thank you for taking the time to encourage me in this work and for praising God for your answered prayer! God bless

  7. Blueverre:
    Just a footnote re: the power of false doctrines to deceive: I was bound up in Roman Catholicism until age 23. There are layers and layers of false teachings in that religion, centuries and centuries of added doctrines, and the power of the manipulators atop the structure is so potent it keeps many people bound and away from the true Gospel for years, if not for life.

    So I was as bound up as anyone can be, with twelve years of Catholic school indoctrination and a home life that revolved around the daily Rosary, saints’ days observations, novenas, Lenten and in those days, Friday, fasts, and on and on. But here was my the ticket out and anyone’s ticket out of any cult or cult-like group: God’s Word. Not that–and this is important with respect to any of those groups–there are not bits and pieces of Scripture here and there to justify add-ons and take-aways and to try to convince people that what they are learning and experiencing is “of God.” But if followers do not rely solely upon the Scriptures, Old and New Testaments, and a careful study of same in the original languages and via careful exegesis, they are up for grabs for the benefit of anyone selling a “new, improved” program.

    In short, when I made the choice to learn about, worship, and serve the TRUE God, back in November, 1973, He didn’t lead me off to this group or that experience or to some intellectual or philosophical esoteria, He led me to….the Bible. And gave me a heart to understand it, not as some self-appointed guru, prophet, or pope interprets it, but as the Holy Spirit reveals. And fortunately for us, the Holy Spirit works in perfect concert with God the Father, and God the Son, Jesus. It’s not God the Holy Spirit that leads us off the path to fire tunnels or Mary worship, or caves in deserts to clear our minds and chant and wait for some holy buzz. We can and sometimes do respond emotionally to the amazing things God does in our lives, but to regard an experience as evidence of a true work of the true God is ill advised. I used to work in a ministry that counseled people out of religious cults and one of the primary “hooks” of the cults is emotions. Used to call it “love bombing.”

    You have discarded the scriptures noted in the post that verify the writer’s points. If these are not enough for you, I suggest you research more on this topic. There are many well-written refutations of Bill Johnson’s teachings. But mostly, I challenge you to take each teaching of Sozo and do your own thorough biblical investigation. This is what I did as I was led out of Roman Catholicism. Granted, in that system, it took me a lot longer than it would probably need to take you in your quest to understand this relatively newer form of the old heresies. And before each study, pray, as I did, for the REAL God and Holy Spirit and Jesus to reveal the truth to you.

    Settle for nothing less.

    And I encourage you to get a good interlinear bible which will help you understand the scriptures in context in the original languages which helps get the full scope and sequence of any scriptures taken out of context and re-purposed by those with a different gospel to sell.

    If you do, God will answer your every query, concern, and question and He will deliver you. That’s how I came out of (even) Roman Catholicism many years ago.

    Don’t let them deceive you-or take advantage of you.

    I pray this for you.

    Sincerely,
    Phyllis

    • Thank you Phyllis for sharing and reaching out to poor deceived, lost sheep. I’m so thankful God brought you out of all that darkness and I pray your testimony will help others see the light.
      I remember all the “love bombing”—and how Satan tried to use that to reel me back in, once I had escaped. But thank God He’s kept me safe this far and I have faith He will continue to keep me by His power.

  8. That you for stating this. Another excellent article I read is Bob DeWaay “How Deliverance Ministry keep people in bondage” He is a former deliverance minister himself. Yes, these are occult practices (Sozo/Shabar), though there is tremendous momentum behind them, and in these perilous times (End times) these practices are spreading quickly. I actually know the woman who (sadly) a PsyD, is promoting these SOZO/Shabar into clinical psychology. And this is the sad part – it’s target the hurting/people when they’re vulnerable.

    I was one of those people! The consequences for my life were devastating.

    also to note: (As Bob DeWaay explains in one of his talks – and I think the commenter above may have experience with this – and that is why she is confused – in my opinion): the enemy can give all sorts of “feel good” (Satan plays both sides of the equation…) but he does it not to bless people, he does it to keep people in bondage. (I reference Joanna Michaelson’s testimony “the Beautiful side of evil” She had many sort of “feel good” experiences when she was involved in “psychic healings” (she was a believer but was deceived)

    And that’s exactly what we see in the church today;.

    • I read that article by Bob DeWaay and it was great and really helped me put the pieces together.
      Thanks for your response and input. Hopefully those in bondage will be able to learn from these articles and escape the snare of the devil. God bless.

  9. Thank you for this. One thing I appreciated in your discussion is when you point out that leaders encourage people to be ‘mentally passive’. This is always a sign of danger – letting things come into the mind. Our mind is our guidance system, that same as on a rocket or a missile, and if it is shot off, there is no way to ensure that the rocket goes where it should. Recently I read that the mind is a spiritual organ and I believe that is right. We should suspect anyone who tells us to put our mind aside so we can get closer to God. Thankyou

  10. I agree with blueverre. This is a very good ministry. Your information doesn’t match up with my experience in Shabar ministry. There are no contrived confessions, and the tools are not strange. No one thinks they are an actual incarnation of Christ. There is no “humiliating process of sharing every private detail of their life, while the spiritually elite interprets them.” I haven’t seen any hint of the occult in my ministry sessions.

    I think Shabar is a tool for “being transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Rom. 12:2

    Having said that, I suppose it would be good to acknowledge that any good thing can be twisted by Satan. Take sex for example. Sex in marriage was intended to be a very good thing, but look at all of the perversions of it–adultery, rape, bestiality, pedophilia, etc. Would you refuse to have sex in marriage because some people are using it so wrongly and hurting others with it? I hope not. My point is, if there are people who are twisting Shabar and making it something it was not supposed to be, then don’t continue in ministry with them. For those who believe that God still speaks to us, read and watch the resources from Bethel, so you know what the ministry is supposed to look like.

    Shabar ministry should be judged by its fruit. Are people walking in freedom through Christ?

    • You’ve exposed your agenda by mentioning the Bethel cult in Redding, California. Jesus said to judge with righteous judgment, not by appearance (John 7:24). Read it for yourself.
      Please also read Genesis 3:6—where the forbidden fruit “appeared” good but was poison to the core.
      I’m sorry but you are going by modern Pragmatism—-the false belief that whatever “seems” to produce good fruits, or “positive results,” must be truth. This is a lie from the pit of hell.
      The devil himself was the first pragmatist and you are following his lead.

      And you have described the most perfect example of modern Pragmatism I can think of. All they have to do is convince people that it works and they will experience a major placebo effect. The question is whether they’d still buy into it if they knew they were just being tricked into thinking it was working?? Sadly, many would because they’d rather exchange the truth for a lie as long as they get the temporary results they desire.

      This is described perfectly in Isaiah 30: 9-10 where it says, “this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord: which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things; speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits.” So friend, along with Apostle Paul, I just have to ask “Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth” (Gal.4:16)? Or will you heed God’s warnings (Deut.18:10, 1Sam. 15:23, Jer.14:14, Hosea 4:12, Eph.5:11)?

  11. Did God tell you Sozo was a false ministry? I have personally experienced breakthrough in my walk with God since going through this ministry. There is always going to be a Pharisee against every movement of God. I praise God for HIs goodness in your life and pray that He opens the eyes of your understanding that you may come to a full revelation of Jesus Christ and who He is, in Jesus’ name.

    • Hello,
      Yes, the Holy Spirit gave me discernment to know good from evil and has opened my understanding to know God’s truth revealed in His word.

      Pharisees on the other hand are against the objective authority of Scripture and rely more upon subjective experiences. Because they’d rather exchange the truth for a lie as long as it makes them feel they can save themselves.

      By the way, Sozo means “to save” in Greek—-did you catch that?

  12. I don’t know anything about Sozo or Bethel church, so cannot comment on whether it is a deception or not. What does disturb though godlee4life, is the tone of your comments. You sound harsh and unloving. Perhaps that is worth reflecting on.

    • Hello Kevin,
      I suppose Jesus was falsely accused of worse things than being “harsh and unloving” especially by the Pharisees whom He directly called a “brood of vipers” and “white washed tombs full of dead mens bones.”

      Interestingly, the cult I was involved in was all about “love” but it always came off as hate due to their resistance of truth and lack of a godly fear and reverence of God, which is the beginning of wisdom.

      Perhaps if you were more concerned about God’s honor and reverence you would want to know whether this is a true deception I write against. And perhaps if you had a true love for God’s sheep you wouldn’t try to discourage His servants from confronting the wolves that devour them.

      As a soldier of Christ I have to go up against these forces of darkness on a daily basis and that means I must crucify the flesh daily and not let what the Bible calls “insubordinate affections” cause me to ever sympathize with evil. There has to be a line drawn. There must be a distinction.

      For Jude 22-23 makes this clear….

      “And of some have compassion, MAKING A DISTINCTION,
      “And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.”

      I am loving those caught up this mess because I know the damage it does and care enough to warn them and give them the truth of God’s word. I love them by warning them of God’s judgment upon rebellion and I love them by praying for them. But all the glory goes to God and Him alone.

      Sozo is to be hated and I will not sympathize with an abomination of God. I will follow in Jesus’ footsteps and call evil what it is and call wolves out by name.

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