There are a number of different signs and symptoms or what I call the "red flags" of a cult. Among these is a secret language.
The reason I say it's a secret is because the commonly used definitions for what a word means are substituted and traded out for meanings that only the inner circle of the group know...thus making it a coded language that members can communicate with.
As the link I sited above illustrates, it's a careful bait & switch technique of taking an intangible concept or something vague and illusive and easily altering its meaning to fit with the propaganda of a group.
Let's take for example the way IHOP uses a glossary of romantic, intensely emotional and spiritual sounding words for which they give their own set of meanings. You won't find these in a Websters anywhere. They have taken a word that you or I might think we know the meaning of and use it to mean something different. Because what initially comes to mind is the commonly known definition, you might mentally assent and agree with what is being said...but if you knew the underlying definition, you'd probably think differently before nodding in agreement.
In the time I was an intern at IHOP, I lived in a swirl of these very spiritually saturated, emotion-inducing words. Just saying them brought electricity into a conversation and others would immediately nod in identification. But if you step back and look at the conversation objectively, you will realize it made no logical sense and seems to in fact, say nothing.
I am going to give you a commonly IHOP dialog. Let's see if you can figure out what it really means based on IHOP's definition of words.
"I just believe I have an Anna anointing and I'm called to be in the presence. The Spirit is moving in the house and I want to be a part of that. I know I was made for this. I am called to a forefunner ministry and the prayer room has been a womb where I have grown into my destiny. My church back home doesn't understand or get me. My parents don't get me. They are part of a different generation and they don't understand the apostolic intercession I am called to. I am the beloved's and His desire is for me. He is my bridegroom and he is awakening my heart with a spirit of burning and desire drips from his Word. I want him to kiss me with the kisses of his mouth. I want him to break in like a hammer--to break in like a fire and bring signs and wonders through my life. He has ravished me. I am captivated by the God-man and by His beauty I am undone. I am lovesick for him and I believe we are entering the time of open heaven. I am calling out "COME!" and He will answer. Until then, I will be a 24/7 watchman on the wall."
If you are unfamiliar with IHOP or their terminology. The above paragraph no doubt confused you entirely. But for those who have had some exposure to the way IHOP uses these words, this is probably vaguely familiar. I have had nothing to do with IHOP since I left but I could walk back in tomorrow and strike up a conversation with a total stranger there using the terms I just wrote into the above paragraph and they would nod in complete agreement and understanding. This is their language I would be speaking. They are drilled with it, indoctrinated with it. It comes with the package.
If you are curious how IHOP themselves define these words, you can click HEREto go to their glossary. Yes, they actually have a glossary of frequently used IHOP-KC words on their website (which they might take down now that I've linked to it also). It will give what they want you to think those words all mean. Just to cover the bases though, I'll copy and paste the article below the line of stars. Let me help a bit in the decoding of terms.
"I just believe I have an Anna anointing (a way of saying you are called to be at IHOP) and I'm called to be in the presence (living in the eurphoria of God's presence constantly by living a life of intercession in IHOP's prayer room). The Spirit (what spirit is the question though) is moving in the house (the house is another way of saying the prayer room or the missions base of IHOP) and I want to be a part of that. I know I was made for this (I was created to be a part of this movement). I am called to a forefunner ministry (I have a special calling and a secret knowledge of things to come and I am called to lead out ahead of the church and warn and prepare others based upon what I know about the end times. I am making a way for God's return. I will help usher that in.) and the prayer room has been a womb where I have grown into my destiny (a hyper spiritual way of saying I feel like I belong here, and am growing in the understanding of my real "calling and vocation in God".) My church back home doesn't understand or get me (IHOP programming). My parents don't get me (IHOP programming). They are part of a different generation (young people are given this narcissistic complex of being more special and anointed than their parents or previous generations)and they don't understand the apostolic intercession (I am called to chant prayers over and over again that were taken from letters Paul wrote in the hopes that praying them will make me apostolic) I am called to. I am the beloved's and His desire is for me (I have a romantic relationship with G-o). He is my bridegroom (He is not just a bridegroom to the body of Christ. He's my personal husband--worth taking a vow of celibacy and not getting married for) and he is awakening my heart (I am experiencing a new emotional surge rushing through me) with a spirit of burning (a feeling of intensity and a constant sense of striving after a spiritual high I can't seem to touch) and desire drips from his Word (He has romantic feelings about me). I want him to kiss me with the kisses of his mouth (He is awakening romantic feelings in me that makes me see God differently than before). I want him to break in like a hammer--to break in like a fire (do something radial to reach me because He is so far away that He has to struggle to get to where I am. I am out of reach.) and bring signs and wonders (emphasis always given to what gets attention, stirs emotion, and enlists devoted followers) through my life. He has ravished me (back to romantic terminology). I am captivated by the God-man (God man is their 2 gods into one term rather than viewing God as one and the Messiah, Jesus, as an extension of Himself in human form where the Word takes on human flesh.) and by His beauty I am undone (romantic term for the affection felt toward God). I am lovesick for him (I feel an emotional low and need Him to give me another high. I feel empty and need Him to create a stimulating experience so I can feel him again) and I believe we are entering the time of open heaven (fascination with the supernatural--continually chasing after any vision or experience and stamping it as being "of God".) I am calling out "COME!" and He will answer.(He will return to earth sooner if I pray harder) Until then, I will be a 24/7 watchman on the wall." (I will be committed to being in the prayer room continually until He does)
Now of course, this isn't usually what someone is thinking at the moment they are saying these things. But the interjected comments are the byproduct of what happens when you start believing that particular phrase or word. That's the subliminal message that comes with it.
See below for IHOP's definitions of the terms above as how they say they use them. (Sorry it's long. My post resumes again below IHOP's glossary)
"We’ve tried to make it easy for you to follow along with IHOP–KC prayers, teachings, and songs by compiling this reference dictionary with the most commonly used phrases and terms at IHOP–KC.
age to come. The epoch after this current historical time frame; the age to come encompasses the millennial kingdom and eternity. See also end times, eternal age, millennial kingdom, and second coming.
Anna anointing. Referring to Anna who "did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day" (Lk. 2:36–38). In application, this refers to the grace to spend long hours in prayer with fasting and to sustain it for many years. "Annas" are men and women, old and young, whose primary ministry is fasting and prayer aimed at changing the spiritual atmosphere of a city or nation. This is not necessarily their only ministry—Anna did the work of an evangelist and was a prophetess; she is recorded as the first evangelist in the New Testament.
anointing. A special grace, blessing or extreme unction from God.
antiphonal singing. Alternate singing between two or more singers or groups of singers. Examples of antiphonal singing include the seraphim who sing "holy" (Isa. 6:3) as well the Levitical choirs (Ezra 3:11; Neh. 12:24). The idea of "responsive" singing comes from Ezra 3:11: "And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord: 'For He is good, For His mercy endures forever toward Israel.' Then all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid." The concept of "alternate" singing comes from Nehemiah 12:24: "And the heads of the Levites were Hashabiah, Sherebiah, and Jeshua the son of Kadmiel, with their brothers across from them, to praise and give thanks, group alternating with group, according to the command of David the man of God."
apostolic intercession. Intercessory prayer to God on behalf of others derived from the apostles’ prayers written in the New Testament, which reflect the desires of God’s heart for the people. Common examples of apostolic prayers are Ephesians 1:17–19, Philippians 1:9–11 and Matthew 6:9–13. A small collection of key apostolic prayers can be found in our Resources >> Foundational Teachings section. Because of the divine and positive nature of the apostolic prayers, IHOP–KC uses these portions of Scripture daily in intercession.
awaken love. A prayer, asking to be filled with God's love (see Eph. 3:16–19); to cause love or passion for God to be stirred up; to come alive to God in the deepest part of your life (Song 2:7).
awakened heart. A state of living and being in God in such a way that your spirit and emotions are alive and responsive to Him (Isa. 61:1; Song 2:10).
beloved. Seen regularly in the Song of Songs and in the gospel of John, this term initially refers to how God views human beings—they are His beloved. Secondarily, it refers to how human beings grow to view God—He becomes their beloved. This emotional exchange between God and His creation carries the most weight when it is birthed from the bridal paradigm.
break in like a fire and like a hammer. A prayer sung at IHOP–KC prayer sessions, asking the Lord to break into people's lives with His Word (Jer. 23:29).
bridal paradigm. A term used to describe a view of God presented in Scripture which reveals God as passionate and emotional, and filled with gladness, affection, and beauty. Whether Jew or Gentile, the redeemed are described in the Bible as the Bride of Christ, while Jesus is presented as a passionate Bridegroom who loves the redeemed and laid down His life for them. By the Father’s design and the Son’s passionate work on the cross, the Holy Spirit is bringing forth a remnant out of the human race to be voluntary lovers of God. These redeemed, the Bride of Christ, will co-rule in intimate relationship forever with Jesus, the Bridegroom God.
Bridegroom, King, and Judge. Three specific faces of God that are currently being emphasized, and will be increasingly emphasized as this age draws to an end.
bridegroom fasting. Another dimension of glory that Jesus added to the doctrine of fasting (Mt. 9:15). In this way, fasting is not simply abstaining; instead it becomes the expression of longing and mourning for the presence of the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ.
Bridegroom God. This refers to Jesus Christ when He spoke of Himself as the Bridegroom (Mk. 2:19–20).
burning heart. A person who is filled with the love and passion of God (see Isa. 64:1–2); a heart in fellowship with Jesus in prayer (Jn. 5:35).
captivated/fascinated/ravished heart. In the context of the bridal paradigm, this refers to someone who is wholeheartedly in love with God. In the natural, this refers to a heart moved with deep emotion and love, due to the actions of their lover (Song 4:9).
Daniel anointing. A special grace to enter into extended periods of fasting and prayer, specifically seeking revelation as to the meaning and implications of dreams, visions, or other divine communications regarding the end times (Dan. 1:1–12:13).
David(ic) anointing. Generally refers to the combining of the kingly and priestly anointing; a person after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14).
divine escort. Overarching phrase describing some of the attributes of the Holy Spirit as He accompanies the redeemed through life. Other common terms include helper, comforter, and guide (Jn. 14:15–27, 16:5–14).
end times. Also known as the end of the age; this is the generation in which the Lord will return—the final decades of this current era of human history in which many major events occur: “the birth pains” begin, the temple is rebuilt in Jerusalem; the Antichrist is revealed; the abomination that causes desolation is set up in the temple; the seals, trumpets, and bowls are released; a worldwide revival is led by the Church, etc. The end times will culminate with Jesus' physical second coming as He establishes His literal millennial reign on earth, followed by the eternal age.
eternal age. The final time frame spoken of in the Bible, also called eternity. The redeemed and the triune God are continually in each other's presence forever, while those rejecting Jesus will spend their eternity in the lake of fire.
fasted lifestyle. Voluntarily choosing a lifestyle of simplicity which limits various things in life: food, money, or accumulation of things, status, recognition, etc. While the rewards are primarily internal and spiritual, they are eternal (Isa. 58:1–14; Mt. 6:18, 9:14–17; 1 Cor. 2:10).
fire of God. God’s presence sent as a judge to burn away everything that hinders His love, thus enabling individuals to follow the first and second great commandments.
first and great commandment. "Jesus said to him, 'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets" (Mt. 22:37–40). Also referred to as making God your first love (Rev. 2:4) or the one thing necessary (Lk. 10:42).
forerunner. A person who goes ahead of the Lord and prepares people for His coming (Isa. 40:1–31; Lk. 1:76). John the Baptist and the prophet Isaiah are two biblical examples of the forerunner ministry. See also see John the Baptist.
forerunner ministry. The purpose of this ministry is to announce the unprecedented activities of the Lord that are soon to come, in order to make sense of what is happening and what is about to happen. The forerunner ministry has three main activities at the end of the age: restoring the first and great commandment to first place, releasing miracles to bring in the great harvest, and releasing the temporal judgments of God.
friend of the Bridegroom. Jesus Christ referred to Himself as the Bridegroom. John the Baptist referred to himself as a friend of the Bridegroom who stands and hears the Bridegroom’s voice and is glad (Jn. 3:29, 15:14–15); this is the primary identity of a forerunner.
God-man. Referring to the divine and human origin of Jesus Christ; He is fully God and fully man.
governmental intercession. Intercessory prayer to God on behalf of a people by a representative of the people (Neh. 1:3–11; Dan. 9:4–20).
harp and bowl model. An IHOP–KC term derived from Revelation 5:8, describing the elders before the throne with harps (representing worship with music) and a bowl of incense (representing the prayers of God’s people). It is the basic model of IHOP–KC’s prayer meetings—combining worship (led by worship teams) and prayer (both personal and corporate). IHOP–KC utilizes two harp and bowl formats: worship with the Word and intercessory worship.
intercessory worship. One of two prayer formats used at IHOP–KC: a worship team provides an anointed atmosphere for people to intercede for various corporate prayer concerns. See also harp and bowl model.
John the Baptist. One who announced the unprecedented activities of the Lord that were soon to happen. John described himself as a friend of the Bridegroom, which is the fundamental identity of a forerunner (Jn. 3:29). John is the chief representation of the forerunner ministry. Jesus described John as "a burning and shining lamp" (Jn. 5:35).
Joseph anointing. Referring to those called to prosper in the marketplace so that they might make provision to "preserve life" (Gen. 45:5) in the time when God releases His end-time judgments on the earth. These “Josephs” will have the anointing to release the prophetic, strategic thinking, and mercy deeds to the nations, impacting leaders and building “cities of habitation” (Ex. 1:11). King Cyrus is another example of this, but with the emphasis placed on building the Lord's house (the temple) by releasing incredible wealth into the kingdom (Isa. 44:24–28, 45:1–13, and the many references throughout the book of Daniel; 2 Chron. 36:22–23; Ezra 1:1–2:70.) For deeper discussion of this topic, see the October 2005 JoCo Journal).
kiss me with the kisses of your Word. A prayer, taken from Song of Songs 1:2, asking that, as people read the Scripture, God would reveal His love, affections, and beauty so as to empower holiness and love for Him (Song 1:2–4; Jn. 17:17; Eph. 1:17).
lovesick. Overwhelmed by love for God (Song 2:5, 5:8).
the love song of your heart. The special song that no one else but you can sing to God because of your uniqueness in God and your love for Him (Ps. 139:13–18); it is accompanied by being filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18–19).
Mary of Bethany. A friend and follower of Jesus Christ; Mary was representative of one who follows the first and great commandment; she lived a fasted lifestyle of pure and simple devotion to Jesus Christ; she sat at the feet of Jesus (Lk. 10:38–42); Jesus spent His final days before His crucifixion in Bethany with Mary and Martha, and their brother Lazarus whom He had raised from the dead (Jn. 12:1–3).
millennial kingdom or millennial reign of Christ. At the culmination of human history, Jesus Christ will return to earth and set up His literal, physical 1,000-year reign from the global capital city of Jerusalem; a theocratic government under Jesus Christ, with Jews and redeemed martyrs in positions of authority.
night and day prayer/intercession. In Isaiah 62:6–7, Isaiah prophesied that intercession would continue twenty-four hours a day; this is part of God’s answer to Satan who accuses the Church night and day (Rev. 12:10).
one thing necessary. Jesus' validation of Mary's choice to sit at His feet and hear His words: "But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her" (Lk. 10:42).
open heaven. A pronounced increase, in a particular season, of the supernatural invading the natural; examples throughout Scripture include Genesis 28:12, Exodus 24:9–11, Ezekiel 1:1–3:27, John 1:51; Revelation 1:1–20.
prophecy. Any God-inspired testimony of Jesus (Rev. 19:10), including (but not exclusive to) the written Scriptures; the key to understanding God’s voice is to know His heart.
prophetic anointing. A supernatural skill or gift given to a person by God in order to receive and understand divine information.
prophetic worship. Used within the harp and bowl model of worship and intercession. During worship, discerned themes that the Holy Spirit is emphasizing (holiness, healing, deliverance, etc.) are expressed, with opportunities for ministry (Zech. 4:6; Jn. 3:1–8; Jas. 5:13–16).
prophetic singing. The spontaneous singing of phrases that develop different themes (love, holiness, justice, etc.) found in a passage of Scripture. This occurs during all the IHOP–KC prayer meetings.
second coming. The literal, physical return of Christ to earth, specifically to Jerusalem, to begin His millennial reign.
second (and great) commandment. "Jesus said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets" (Mt. 22:37–40).
Simeon Company. IHOP–KC internship program; refers to a group of people in the 50+ age group who come to IHOP–KC for a three-month training program (Mal. 4:6).
sing to the Lord. One of the most reiterated commands in the Bible (Ex. 15:21; 2 Sam. 22:50; 1 Chr. 16:9, 23; 2 Chr. 20:21; Ps. 7:17, 9:2, 18:49, 30:4, 33:3, 47:6, 67:4, 81:1, 89:1, 95:1, 98:1; 1 Cor. 14:15; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16).
spirit of burning. IHOP–KC phrase; this is a cycle of maintaining a passionate desire for Jesus so that you are in a place of emotional pain whenever He is absent; hope and excited expectancy because of the knowledge that He loves to come to the hungry and thirsty heart; real experiential encounters with His beauty and presence causing you to have an even greater desire to be close to Jesus (Mt. 22:37; Lk. 24:13–32).
tabernacle of David. David established a worship ministry in which he set 4,000 musicians and 288 prophetic singers before the ark of the covenant (1 Chr. 15:1, 16:1–6, 23:5, 25:7, 37–42). The "restoration of the tabernacle of David" refers to Jesus establishing His throne in Jerusalem at the second coming and ruling the earth in the context of prayer and worship (Isa. 56:7; Amos 9:11–15).
theocracy. A form of government based on God's direct guidance and His righteous laws.
urgency of the hour. The understanding that time is short before Jesus' second coming; Jesus' return is inevitable and will happen very soon. Therefore, this time in human history is like no other. Each person is being invited to "repent, for the Kingdom of God is near" (Mt. 3:2; 4:17; Mk. 1:15; Lk. 13:1–5).
unveiled. Unashamed, corporate and individual interaction between the Bride and the Bridegroom God (Song 1:7; 2 Cor. 3:18).
watchman/watchmen. Refers to the requirement for us to watch over the Body of Christ while having a discerning, biblical understanding of end-time events. Our privileged calling is to intercede for God’s people and to co-partner with God’s unfolding plans in this final hour of human history, hastening the day of Jesus' coming, our Savior and Bridegroom (Isa. 62:6–7).
watch and pray. This is a requirement that we live as wise sons and daughters, understanding the times and seasons in which we live, interceding accordingly, that we might not misunderstand what He is doing, but remain focused on His will and His affections (Rom. 13:11–14; Col. 4:2). The sons of Issachar (also called the men of Issachar) are examples of this (1 Chr. 12:32; Mt. 26:41; Mk. 14:38; Lk. 21:36).
worship with the Word. One of two prayer formats used at IHOP–KC: a worship team provides an anointed atmosphere for people to meditate on the Word in a focused time of study; the worship team selects a passage to sing through antiphonally as they expound on the themes within each verse, thus "worshiping with the Word." See also harp and bowl model.
Zechariah 3. Referring to the exchange between Joshua the high priest and the Angel of the Lord. The removal of the filthy garments in exchange for “a clean turban on his head” refers to the renewal of the mind, a clean and pure thought life, and holiness before the Lord.
24/7. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week; unceasing or continuous."
[end of article]
It's one thing to just mis-define a word. But if you give it your own definition and then use it in a new context than it's original definition required, you can develop a whole allusively vague language that only a select few can understand. I have literally listened to people from IHOP who can sit and carry on an entire conversation using the words I mentioned above and an eavesdropper in a coffee shop would think they were speaking Chinese. It is a poetic language which is intentionally made to be vague so that the definitions can be altered at any time it is necessary and because it's using a word already introduced, it will feel familiar and through the power of suggestion, the words will be put together and given new definitions will be adopted without question. See how dangerous this is?
Charismatic speakers and leaders who can use emotionally stirring words and speeches, sermons and monologues to move a crowd or lead a movement, you hold the power to persuade people to do just about anything you suggest.
Here's a few you have heard more frequently from someone that's not Mike Bickle.
"Yes We Can"
"It's Time for Change"
"Hope is now"
Every time I asked someone who quoted one of these phrases during the last campaign to please explain to me what they meant, I never got an answer. But read the words. They are rallying words. They are emotionally stimulating and move people to engage. I'm not intending to take this post a political direction. That isn't the purpose or the subject I'm highlighting. I simply want to illustrate how simple it is to tack a new meaning to a word and create a catchy, yet vague phrase and then sell it to the masses.
So now take some that I mentioned above:
Kiss me with your word
Let your spirit of burning come
I am lovesick for you
Awaken divine desire
Same sense of vague emotional sensationalism...but no real content to the message. You can make it mean anything you want. "Let your spirit of burning come" might sound really intense and spiritual and like a good thing but I want to interject a word of caution here. These are not just things being talked about, they are terms being daily prayed for people...spoken over their lives. Leaders lay hands on a 16 year old and pray for a spirit of burning to come upon them. Now stop and ask yourself: do we really know what spirit that is imparting when it doesn't line up with the name of any spirit God says to ask for or pray for. Jesus didn't lay hands on His disciples and pray that a spirit of burning would come upon them. Sometimes you just have to stop and take off the hyper spiritualized glasses we are sometimes told to look through and just evaluate very plainly and logically whether this is something you want to have imparted when there isn't a Biblical instruction or support to pray such a think over someone.
A quick word study reveals that scripture uses the word burning in a quite different way than the definition IHOP gives to it. The following ways are just the main themes that repeated themselves throughout the Bible:
Burning fire on an altar
Burning a city
Burning with anger
Burning fire in hell
Burning like an oven
Burning with jealousy
The majority of uses in scripture of the word burning were either in regards to God burning with righteous anger or jealousy or the burning of judgement and destruction. Yes, I've certainly prayed that God would help me to make choices which guarded my heart from the things that would hinder my walk with Him, my sensitivity to be able to hear from Him, etc. But that is not the same thing as praying for an impartation of a spirit called Burning. Do you see the difference?
I could take these apart word by word but I think this is a start to begin to highlight the differences between the commonly used definition of a word based upon a dictionary and the way a spiritual sub-culture redefines those same words to put their own propaganda on them. It's all about selling a different message. If we don't guard carefully the things we buy into because we think we know what something means then we can fall prey to some very dangerous ideas and ways of thinking.
Remember that deception is deceptive and those that think they can't be deceived already are.
Feel free to post comments of some words with twisted meanings you have come across as well. I'm mostly familiar with IHOP's terminology but if you have experienced something similar whether from IHOP or another organization, feel free to share. Blessings to you!