“I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.” “Where, Lord?” they asked. He replied, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.”
– Luke 17:34-37 (NIV)
We can all recall the English language difficulties Ricky Ricardo had on the old, “I Love Lucy” show. One of the funniest language challenges he had was with idioms. In one memorable episode, he confused “Birds of a feather flock together” with “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” The idiom he created? “Birds of a feather smell the same.”
Even though this was done on the show to be funny, Ricky Ricardo’s idiom holds a lot of truth to it. “Birds of a feather smell the same.” When people are alike, they attach to one another – and the spirits within one person are often attracted to and ‘latch on’ to the like spirits in others. There is a reason why God’s Word advises us to be careful about who we associate with, what we accept from other people, and who we ‘attach’ ourselves unto. 1 Corinthians 15:33 advises us: “Do not be so deceived and misled! Evil companionships (communion, associations) corrupt and deprave good manners and morals and character.” (AMP) This is a key reason why discernment is so essential: because spirits operating within others desire to destroy the people of God, the visions therein, and the works thereof, whether conscious of it…or not.
For years, I’ve kept recalling his words as I monitor and track patterns of ‘attachment’ within the church. I find it fascinating to note who likes who, who circles with who, and who attaches themselves to who as this crazy game of infantile, childish cliquing continues on in today’s ministry circles. I recently noticed two people connect up who definitely prove that “birds of a feather smell the same.” Neither one knows I know the other, nor do they know I have a running record of every word that was spoken to me from both – prophetic and other – and how the disorder within both has drawn them together.
About a year and a half ago, a woman on Facebook (claiming to be an apostle) sent me a message, requesting to give me a word that she’d supposedly received for me from the Lord. I was very taken aback by the fact that she would receive a word for me, for three reasons. The first reason was because I didn’t really know this woman. Even though she’d had me on her “friends” list for ages and ages, she’d hardly ever spoken to me. She sent me invites to her events, and more than once, expected me to attend them – even though she lived in another state – but never showed any interest in what I was doing in ministry. I was apparently good enough to attend her events, but not minister at them or her attend anything that we were doing, and it was obvious that ‘connection’ we often have one to another in ministry simply was not there. The second reason related to the first one: because we had never really talked much, I wasn’t sure about her. Sometimes we instantly know, by the Spirit, that we can trust someone; other times, we approach some people with caution. The third reason was because I do not let anyone speak just anything over me. I keep a careful record of those things which people speak over me and refer to them when I face discouragement, am in a place of wanting to see and recount what God has done, and also to let those who spoke over me know what they spoke did happen. I was a little reluctant, but I did tell her to send me the message she felt she received.
At the time I received the message, I received it. I tucked it away in my book, as I had received it verbatim from her (I had her type and message it to me so I could print it out), and read it several times over. I shared it with someone else, because it seemed so eloquent and profound. I had no reason not to follow my usual course for receiving words…except for this leery feeling. I encountered the classic discernment confusion. Parts of it sounded possible, and were words that others had spoken over me who had proven themselves prophetically. Other parts of it were ultra-specific, to happen within specified periods of time, and were very clear. I was told these ultra-specific aspects of the message were pertinent to the next phase of my ministry, and the guidance I needed to move forward. The more I went over it, something about these ultra-specific parts: being called to minister in a small town in Texas, meeting an elderly couple who would reveal the next part of my ministry assignment, accusing me of procrastinating – that I had a word and many books to write, but I was putting God off, and the “vacation” was over – caused me to question. First of all, I was not, under any circumstances, procrastinating in my apostolic call, and by the time I received this message in 2010, I had long since stopped doing that. I wrote whatever God inspired me to write, and continue to do so. I was not putting God off. Somewhere inside, I felt the message was a double entendre – it was an attack on my character that was unjustified, laced with a word here and there that had been spoken to me prior (words about coming assignments, publishing books and magazines, etc.).
I would say one word comes to mind about the contents of the message: confused. The word that was given left me confused because part of it sounded confirming, but part of it sounded false – a big part of it sounded false. Immediately I was alerted in my spirit to 1 Corinthians 14:33: “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace…” (NASB) (Some translations translate the word “confusion” as “disorder” – this will be relevant later on.) There is no such thing as a half-right prophetic word. Either a word is prophetic, or it isn’t. If the details seem half-right and half-wrong, the word is a false word and is being spoken falsely, sent to confuse. 2 Corinthians 11:14 tells us, …Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” (NASB) This tells us that when we get a word that is spoken – and it claims to be spoken of in the authority of God, especially from a leader – but details within it are incorrect, do not come to pass (when specifications for such are made), or are inaccurate, Satan is disguising himself in that word to confuse us as to the things of God. This was clearly the case here! Deuteronomy 18:21-22: “You may say to yourselves, “How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD?” If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him.” (NIV) Need I go on? I never heard from this minister after she sent me that message except to notify me about a move and, again recently, which I will speak of momentarily.
For the next phase of the story, we fast-forward to almost exactly one year later – August of 2011. Many of you know that this past August we held our first Women of Power International Conference. Some of you know the details on the event, some of you don’t. What most of you do not know is that I had individuals – supposedly women in ministry – come and try to sabotage the event. This time, the relevant player in the game was a woman who claims to be a prophet. I had ministered for her, supported her on numerous occasions, and had invited her to speak for this event over a year earlier. I wanted to keep my word, even though by this point in time, I was having that same little leery feeling I had about the message I received above. She had overstepped her boundaries with me on two separate occasions, one of which went as far as to tell me what I should or should not post in my blog and how “hurt” I was by something (when I wasn’t – there again, the spirit of presumption). Her worship team had agreed to sing for the event and was in, and the dates were fine, and then those dates were changed, and then they were changed, yet again, due to a “conflict” – she decided it was more relevant to take them to something “entertaining” than it was to keep the commitment they’d made. I chalked up our issues to “personal differences” because I didn’t want to be judgmental toward her. I kept her in the event, even though everything within me wanted to dump her and call her a nasty name, because God kept telling me that I needed to “keep my word.” I realized that was between God and I, and whatever came, I had to entrust into His hands. Then we had the factor that all this happened within two weeks of the date of the conference, and, with the schedule so close to execution, it was best to attempt to keep things as they were and trust God for the rest.
I am sure that, as we are tracking spirits here, nobody is surprised to learn this woman came and acted as a disgusting example of disorder. She’d been given specific instructions on certain topics that were inappropriate for the event, and she came and specifically ministered on those topics she was told not to teach on. She addressed me, the host, specifically, telling me what I should never teach on again on my radio show. Her message was laced with sexual innuendo and she degraded her husband’s character in it. Then we got to the witchcraft, where she spoke words verbatim I had only spoken that morning to one other person and no one else in my entire history (and I know the person I told did not tell her, as the person I told was with me the entire time). She used the pulpit to attack me personally, in more than one way. I checked her, and checked her well; but she still sowed seeds of dissention as the spirit of disobedience, rebellion, and disorder in another one of my speakers flocked to her…and they ran off together, metaphorically speaking, smelling the same.
Both these women spoke things over me that were not of God. I know I am not the first they have done this to, nor will I be the last. They spoke things that were not true and caused confusion to those who encountered them. They carried themselves, claiming to hold mature offices, but operating in a spirit of Satan. The two of them both operated powerfully in spirits of sabotage, deceit, falsehood, presumption, dishonesty, and disorder. They both operated by judgment and control, not the Holy Spirit. They both saw fit to criticize my commitment to the Lord, my character and integrity, and both attacked the validity of my apostolic office, just in different ways.
I never connected the two of them in my mind, until tonight. The first woman I spoke of invited me to an event to take place this past week. I thought about it, just out of idle curiosity. I like to know as a leader what is going on. Something stopped me. Something within me discerned it was not something I should attend. Tonight, I found out why: false apostle and false prophet “ministered” together, going as far as to say it was done ‘side by side,’ in this event. It was an all-out vulture gathering of spiritual disorder, because they are not people of order. And how shocked am I not to learn that now they are all happy and loving each other. The disorder in them has attached, made a connection, and now I know why I had such disordered experiences with both of them. Birds of a feather smell the same!
Sometimes we get so caught up in the things people do to us or in their lack of character and anointing that we totally miss what we should be learning. It’s a challenge to learn from an enemy, but even in this, God is teaching me something. The Bible tells us to love our enemies…it does not tell us to trust them. Loving our enemies gives us the ability to learn from them and see what we can do differently with others in the future. There’s a marked difference between learning from an enemy and allowing them to cause us further hurt and disgrace, yet again. In the above, I can see God working in me to develop greater discernment and to listen to that discernment in my life. When things just don’t feel right, seem right, or we have that leery feeling, it is most likely because something in there just is not right. If we’re in these situations and we are uncomfortable, it is because birds of a feather smell the same, and we just aren’t the right bird to mix with this particular group. In discovering enemies who are connecting both spiritually and ministerially, I can clearly see and hear God’s words to me at the beginning of the year: “Establish order in the presence of your enemies…remember, they are your enemies because they do not follow My order.” God is reminding me that birds of a feather really do smell the same…and follow the smell (watch the associations of others) unto the end of making sure, by discernment, that I do not mix myself up with the wrong kind of ministers. I am so excited that God is letting me see this “trail of disorder” as a reminder and teaching tool, to see how easily connections confirm people to go awry, and how conspiracies and opposition can easily start. Spirits start it, and let people who operate in those ministries to do their dirty divisions.
Luke 17:34-37 at the beginning of this word is often interpreted in a specific prophetic context, but it also has a practical application. It is about associations and commonalities, and the distinction between people who are truly set apart from those who truly are not. As ministers, we are forced to make choices: who we minister with, who we invite to our events, who we choose to share with, who we confide in, who we pray with, who we allow to pray for us, who we allow to speak over us, who we surround ourselves with, and who we “smell” around us on a regular basis. The enemy seeks to destroy, but God seeks to edify – and as we go along in our ministries, we must always keep His precepts of order, decency, character, and truth – the completeness of His Word and His order – close to our minds, hearts, and conduct.
How do we do this? Sounds challenging. Sounds impossible. Yes, we miss the mark sometimes, trust the wrong person, falter on our ground, even deal with hurts and offences at times. There is, however, one simple precept we can keep in mind to help us along…Remember, birds of a feather really do smell the same.
(c) 2012 Lee Ann B. Marino. All rights reserved.