Letter to the Editor: Our Church Is Using Renovare and VantagePoint3 – Is That Emergent?

To Lighthouse Trails:

Just wondering if you all have any research on The (Emergent) Journey? It’s the name of a 3-phase course being taught in a number of churches by a group called Vantage Point3. Seems tied strongly with Emergent/Contemplative. My church is teaching this . . . right on the heels of introducing Renovare’s “Apprentice” series.

Thank you!

OUR ANSWER:

You can be sure that your church has headed into the contemplative/emergent camp. First of all, Renovare (Richard Foster’s organization) is the pioneering organization to bring contemplative spirituality into the evangelical/Protestant church. Foster’s book, Celebration of Discipline (published in 1978) set the course.

As for VantagePoint3, this is a major venue for bringing contemplative/emergent beliefs into the church. The Emergent Journey is VantagePoint3′s venue for doing this. Just as one example, VantagePoint3′s educational design overseer, Rob Loane, uses Henri Nouwen in the Emergent Journey (see here) to help people find their “true identity.” However, we know that Henri Nouwen was a panentheist and a contemplative mystic who believed there were many paths to God.

Lighthouse Trails has written articles on both Richard Foster and VantagePoint3. Below are links to two of those articles.

If you can get your pastor and elders to read A Time of Departing and Faith Undone, perhaps they will come to realize the grave error they have made in going down this path.

Related Links:

The Quantum Christ: Entering the World AND the Church Through Popular New Age & Christian Leaders (an article by Warren B. Smith that talks about VantagePoint3)

Celebration of Discipline – 35 Years of Influence! – Does Your Pastor Have a Copy?

A list of participating churches in VantagePoint3

 

 

 

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Four Trustees Resign from Bryan College as Creation Controversy Continues

By Garrett Haley
Christian News Network
Bryan College 2

DAYTON, Tenn. – Four Bryan College trustees have resigned from their positions out of their disagreement with the leadership’s handling of an ongoing controversy over its holding to the literal Creation account.

As previously reported, a controversy erupted at Bryan College earlier this year when the small evangelical school clarified its stance on the creation of man. The statement of belief clarification simply affirmed the traditional biblical position that Adam and Eve were divinely created by God—not descendants of earlier life forms.

“We believe that all humanity is descended from Adam and Eve,” the statement said. “They are historical persons created by God in a special formative act, and not from previously existing life forms.” Click here to continue reading.

Related Articles:

Bryan and Hope Colleges Added to Contemplative Christian School List

An Epidemic of Apostasy – How Christian Seminaries Must Incorporate “Spiritual Formation” to Become Accredited

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Preparing for Persecution

By Berit Kjos
Kjos Ministries

Cloud and Light 01On a cold drizzly day in early 1998 [long before the NSA raised fear of a rising Police State], I took a sobering tour through the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC. A picture of a Gestapo officer brought back memories of the Nazi soldiers that guarded our neighborhood in Norway during World War II. Young as I was (I was born in Oslo shortly before Hitler’s invasion of Norway), I will never forget the piercing air raids, the thundering war planes, our hiding place in the basement, and the sounds of exploding bombs and fires around us.

My young father was a leader in “Hjemme Fronten” (the Home Front) — an underground army of loyal Norwegians who would risk death than submit to Nazi tyranny. Caught helping other brave soldiers escape into neutral Sweden, he endured hunger, torment, and the threat of death in Oslo’s main Nazi concentration camp before his release at the end of the war.

The Norwegian people didn’t known such tyranny until the Nazi warships sailed up the Oslofjord on April 9, 1940. Overnight, Hitler’s fascism replaced liberty and trusted friends became foes. Resistance to the new ideology would be costly. But for most Norwegians, the choice was clear. Unlike Hitler’s masses, we hadn’t been weakened by years of ceaseless propaganda, slogans, service, and celebrations dedicated to the triumph of National Socialism.

Decades later, Andy and I visited the Holocaust museum in Auschwitz, Poland. Our journey through dark memories of WW2 began in the section dedicated to Nazi propaganda. Pausing by each display, I was startled by words that could so easily describe America today. The quotes brought stark reminders that, apart from God, human nature doesn’t change with time. Nor do the aims of the spiritual mastermind behind the scenes who has always sought ways to stir hatred toward God’s people. One tactic was simply to provide nice-sounding alternatives to biblical faith and service.

“Individuals were urged to sacrifice themselves for a greater ‘People’s Community,’” announced one of the displays. Such slogans must have sounded good to the masses, for few saw the cruel manipulation behind the noble words.

I thought of President Clinton’s calls for “sacrifice”, “service, “unity”, “common values”, “civil society,” and “safe” communities. How many people today see the ominous meanings behind such noble words? Click here to continue reading.

 

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Tony Palmer, who captured Pope Francis’ bid for Christian unity with a cellphone, dies after motorcycle crash

LTRP Note: The following article is posted for research and informational purposes and not as an endorsement for the news source or content. Please see our related articles below.

By Sarah Pulliam Bailey
Religious News Service

(RNS) Bishop Tony Palmer, a charismatic preacher who used a cellphone camera to record Pope Francis issuing an appeal for Christian unity between Catholics and evangelicals, died Sunday (July 20) after a motorcycle crash in the United Kingdom.Bishop Tony Palmer died on July 20, 2014, after a motorcycle accident.

In January, Palmer held the smartphone that recorded Pope Francis calling on all Christians to set aside their differences. Palmer, a bishop and international ecumenical officer with the independent Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches, also helped coordinate the pope’s meeting with televangelists in June.

In the video, Pope Francis referred to Palmer as “my brother, a bishop-brother,” saying they had been friends for years. “Let us allow our longing to increase so that it propels us to find each other, embrace each other and to praise Jesus Christ as the only Lord of history,” Francis said.

Born in the U.K. and raised partly in South Africa, Palmer had served as the director of the South Africa office of Kenneth Copeland Ministries. On Copeland’s website, Palmer said he had met Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires (now Pope Francis) in 2008 when Palmer sought permission to work with charismatic Catholics in the city.

In a February blog post for Patheos, Anglican-turned-Catholic priest the Rev. Dwight Longenecker focused on Palmer as representing something new in Anglicanism, especially for Palmer’s involvement in the Convergent Movement, a charismatic Anglican group that ordains women as deacons and priests. Click here to continue reading.

Related Articles:

Protestants Who Don’t Unite With Catholics are Guilty of “Spiritual Racism”

TV Preachers [Copeland, Robison] Glowingly Describe Meeting with Pope to Tear Down ‘Walls of Division’

 

 

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Shamanism or Cutting-Edge Christianity?

By David Dombrowski
Editor at Lighthouse Trails Publishing & Research

I find it rather interesting how God has orchestrated things in life, which demonstrate His great love and ongoing mercy to ordinary people like myself. But, more specifically, I am thinking right now about how years ago I happened to come across a copy of a nearly forgotten book at the university library while working on a project. I still find it amazing that this secular humanistic library even had a copy of Stories from Indian Wigwams and Northern Campfires – a book written by a missionary to the Canadian Native peoples of the 1800s sharing not only his life among them but the amazing stories they would tell him as they would warm themselves before a fire. This book is a treasure of the long-forgotten heritage of the Cree and Saulteaux tribes and how their lives were wonderfully transformed through the proclamation of the Gospel.

Though I first read that book over thirty years ago as a young university student, in 2010, God put it in our hearts here at Lighthouse Trails to publish this nearly forgotten book; then, when we were preparing to release it for publication, Nanci Des Gerlaise, a Canadian Cree, contacted us about a book she had written titled Muddy Waters. The great surprise was that Nanci, whom we then sent a review copy of the Wigwam manuscript, recognized in it the name Mask-e-pe-toon as being the name of the best friend of her great, great grandfather. Nanci then agreed to write the forward to that book. We also agreed to publish Muddy Waters, which we are happy to announce is our newest release. Then more recently, we have added a new video (not our own) titled I’ll Never Go Back!: The Testimony of Chief Shoefoot. In this video, Chief Shoefoot shares his own story of what life has been like for him both before and after he received the Gospel, hence his words “I’ll never go back” became the title of the video. Chief Shoefoot is a member of the native people known as the Yanomamo. The Yanomamo reside in a northern region of South America bordering Venezuela and Brazil. Hearing that Chief Shoefoot is part of a Yanomamo tribe especially caught my interest because I remembered studying these people in an anthropology class back in 1972.

Anthropologists have been studying the Yanomamo for many years now, and the typical reaction by many anthropologists to missionary outreaches to these people is that they would have been better off if they had been left alone. Granted various missionary efforts were probably not conducted as they should have been, the fact remains that Jesus commissioned the Gospel to be shared with the whole world. What makes this video unique is that it is the testimony of an actual member of the Yanomamo tribe sharing his viewpoint and his side of the story, and his conclusion is an emphatic yes to having received the Gospel. Contrary to what these anthropologists are saying, Chief Shoefoot makes it clear that his life has been forever changed for the better.

Today, even much of the mission field has been marred by the mentality that we should be less intrusive about sharing the Gospel (see New Missiology). Now don’t get me wrong; it’s true that there may be many non-spiritual aspects of a culture that don’t need to be changed, but the Gospel is very intrusive in calling all people everywhere to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus came as Savior to the whole world, and people from all tribes and nations are offered one way to God. But today organizations, like YWAM, have been taking a more politically correct approach in assuming that every culture already has within their religious traditions an acceptable pathway to God, and our only duty is to encourage them in what they already believe and are already doing with little more than perhaps an occasional reference to the Jesus Christ of the Bible. The sad truth and reality is that, although many peoples and cultures may believe in some type of supreme being and do have a sense of right and wrong, the Gospel is unique in that it is God’s revealed Word and offer of salvation based on grace through faith alone as opposed to a gospel of good works based on a belief in the innate goodness of mankind and God’s willingness to accept any and all man-made plans of salvation.

The truth is that God has declared in his Word that all are sinners and in need of a Savior. So while it may be true that God has not called us to impose European customs on the indigenous peoples of the world, the Gospel is God’s “culture” for all mankind in that it calls all people to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. All I can say is that I personally am so glad that God “imposed” Himself on me when I received Christ as my Savior; and in both Muddy Waters and in the I’ll Never Go Back video, you will witness the powerful and convincing testimony of two people – a medicine man’s daughter (in the book) and a former shaman or witchdoctor (in the video). Their stories are evidence that knowing Jesus Christ as Savior is more precious than anything the world has to offer and does require us to forsake those things that are displeasing to Him. You will learn from both Nanci Des Gerlaise and Chief Shoefoot that Native Spirituality is occultic and needs to be forsaken for the truth of the Gospel.

So, while it may be true that people from all over the world have a sense of right and wrong, the spirituality of all tribes and nations must give way to the truth of the Gospel rather than trying to reshape the Gospel to make it more palatable to any culture. After all, what part of the Gospel would we change? The fact of the matter is that the “preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). Thus, it remains that the Gospel will always be offensive and politically incorrect to the unbeliever regardless of cultural setting. The Gospel is offensive not because it is the “white man’s religion” (which it never was) but because it is the way God chose to redeem mankind – which appears foolish to the carnal mind. But as Scripture declares, “the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:25).

Now, let me share something that caught my attention as I was watching the I’ll Never Go Back video. I was listening to Chief Shoefoot share how he became a shaman or witchdoctor and about  the spirituality that ensued, and I was amazed by the realization that as he was describing his spirituality as a shaman, he was describing the spirituality that is being promoted in the church today as “cutting-edge Christianity.” In fact, Chief Shoefoot’s spirituality was far ahead of contemplative spirituality and the New Age of today. Furthermore, they were already incorporating spiritual disciplines into their meditative practices. When I realized this, I listened to Chief Shoefoot very attentively and with much interest because I understood then that they had been practicing “contemplative spirituality” and the “spiritual disciplines” probably for many centuries – perhaps even longer than the Desert Fathers. In listening to him describe his spirituality as a shaman, I also realized that he was at the same time describing where the spirituality of contemplative prayer, the New Age, and the spiritual disciplines will be in the future.

So, while the meditative practices and disciplines of the Desert Fathers phased out to near extinction after the Middle Ages and is being resurrected today, the Yanomamo have preserved and developed these practices and brought them to full fruition. In other words, as the church and the New Age movement are in unison developing these practices, they will in time become like the Yanomamo.

In the video, Chief Shoefoot describes how he was introduced to shamanism at an early age because he was far advanced for his age in spiritual acuteness. Like contemplative prayer and New Age meditation, connection with “God” is accomplished by going into an altered state of consciousness (i.e., the silence). A drug is used for this purpose along with chanting (mantra), rhythm, and dancing. Spiritual disciplines – to include the withholding of food and sleep (i.e., fasting) – were also used to make the spiritual senses more acute. Chief Shoefoot, as I listened to him describe his story, was much more advanced than the mystics and contemplative prayer leaders of today. He literally saw into the spirit world and beheld various spirits which the Yanomamo even had names for.

The Yanomamo shaman recognizes the spirit world as a reality, not a superstition. According to Chief Shoefoot, spirits of various sorts are seen as desirable and are invited to “get inside your chest” while others are avoided as being evil. I am reminded how contemplative leader Richard Foster warns his students to beware of dangerous spirits when they practice contemplative prayer. In Faith Undone, Roger Oakland talks about this:

Proponents of contemplative prayer say the purpose of contemplative prayer is to tune in with God and hear His voice. However, Richard Foster claims that practitioners must use caution. He admits that in contemplative prayer “we are entering deeply into the spiritual realm” and that sometimes it is not the realm of God even though it is “supernatural.” He admits there are spiritual beings and that a prayer of protection should be said beforehand something to the effect of “All dark and evil spirits must now leave.”1

What Chief Shoefoot realized too late is that none of these spirits are good and those considered to be evil cannot be avoided either. He learned that once a person enters into the occultic or contemplative realm, he becomes subject to the spirits that inhabit that realm. Christian mystics who engage in contemplative prayer think they are encountering the Holy Spirit, but Chief Shoefoot literally saw that this realm is inhabited by nothing more than demons who in time also made their habitation in him (and in other members of the tribe).

Understandably, much of the activity of the tribe was marked by immorality and violence. Even anthropologists who are unsympathetic to the Christianizing of these tribes recognize that there is a problem in their social and domestic interactions. Consider, for example, the following quote from an anthropological source regarding the role and treatment of wives in Yanomamo culture:

It is interesting to watch the behavior of women when their husbands return from a hunting trip or a visit. The men march slowly across the village and retire silently into their hammocks. The woman, no matter what she is doing, hurries home and quietly but rapidly prepares a meal for her husband. Should the wife be slow at doing this, the husband is within his rights to beat her. Most reprimands meted out by irate husbands take the form of blows with the hand or with a piece of firewood, but a good many husbands are even more severe. Some of them chop their wives with the sharp edge of a machete or ax, or shoot them with a barbed arrow in some nonvital area, such as in the buttocks or leg. Many men are given to punishing their wives by holding the hot end of a glowing stick against them, resulting in serious burns. . . . It is not uncommon for a man to injure his errant wife seriously; and some men have even killed wives. Women expect this kind of treatment. Those who are not too severely treated might even measure their husband’s concern in terms of the frequency of minor beatings they sustain. I overheard two young women discussing each other’s scalp scars. One of them commented that the other’s husband must really care for her since he has beaten her on the head so frequently! . . . Some men . . . seem to think that it is reasonable to beat their wife once in a while “just to keep them on their toes.”2

For lack of space, let me just say that the interactions of men with each other both within and between tribes is often not peaceable either. But, in any case, Native Spirituality plays a highly significant role in the happenings of these tribes.

Now, I imagine my statement made earlier that those who practice contemplative prayer or New Age mysticism will eventually become like the Yanomamo must now sound too extreme or at least a tongue-in-cheek statement. Actually, it would bring me much comfort if I were to know that I am completely wrong in this assertion. But I am deeply concerned about people, many of whom are Christians, delving into contemplative prayer, eastern meditative practices, and New Age mysticism thinking that they will better themselves by doing so. All of these are occult practices that will tie the user in with the demonic realm though he may think he is connecting with “good” spirits or the Holy Spirit. If you have never yet availed yourself of our books, you should secure a copy of A Time of Departing by Ray Yungen and Faith Undone by Roger Oakland. These books will help give you a picture of where we are headed spiritually as a nation and on a global scale. Also, available from us are the writings of Warren Smith, an ex-New Ager who joined the movement for all the right reasons (seeking truth) but eventually learned that what was happening to him was very wrong.

It is not unusual for people to join the New Age movement or engage in yoga or meditative practices like contemplative prayer to reap health benefits to include higher levels of relaxation or to live a more victorious life, but, all the while, they are being introduced to something demonic both in origin and operation. The Bible makes a clear statement about occult or mystical practices in Deuteronomy 18:9-12 by sounding the alarm that these practices are “an abomination unto the Lord.” Then, too, Jesus warned against praying as the heathen do by using “vain repetitions” (Matthew 6:7), which is a clear indictment against chanting or the mantra-like words and phrases used in contemplative or meditative prayer.

Yet, more and more Christians are joining in contemplative or mystical prayer, thinking it will make them stronger spiritually when the opposite is the case. In fact, what Christians are being drawn into is very antichrist in nature. Our research shows that those who engage in contemplative prayer in time see less and less relevance to the Cross (the atonement) to where it becomes unnecessary. The reason for this is quite simple: contemplative prayer makes a person feel one with and a part of God to where a sacrifice for sin no longer makes any sense.

Contemplative prayer is one and the same thing as New Age or mystical prayer; both are occultic practices in that they bring the practitioner into the demonic realm though he believes all the while that he is connecting with God. Then when I heard Chief Shoefoot’s testimony, I realized that shamanism is one and the same thing as contemplative or New Age mystical prayer as well. As one adherent of mysticism explains, “The meditation of advanced occultists is identical with the prayer of advanced mystics.”3 Thomas Merton, a Catholic monk, who helped pioneer the modern-day contemplative prayer movement identified with Buddhism (saying he “intend[ed] to become as good a Buddhist as [he] can”)4 because he realized that the prayer of the Buddhist monks was the same as his. Alice Bailey, whom I consider the mother of the New Age movement, predicted that New Age (or occultic) spirituality would not go around the Christian church but rather through it. She called it the “the regeneration of the churches.” In explaining this, Ray Yungen says:

[I]nstead of opposing Christianity, the occult would capture and blend itself with Christianity and then use it as its primary  vehicle for spreading and instilling New Age consciousness!5

In other words, occultic prayer all over the world is coming to a head and bringing about the great falling away that the Bible predicts will happen. Modern day proponents refer to it as quantum spirituality; and through borrowing terms used in physics, they tell us that if enough people meditate at the same time, we will achieve a critical mass, and we will then witness the dawning of the age of Aquarius where peace will guide our planet. However, Alice Bailey and New Age leaders who have followed her see Christians who do not practice New Age style meditation as in the way because they are not being “vibrationally sympathetic.” Such people, they maintain, will have to be eliminated! Having come from the New Age movement, Warren Smith has been warning Christians about this for some time. New Age leaders speak of love, but those who have birthed and perpetuated the movement have something much more sinister in their hearts.

There will come a day when Christians who have joined up with New Age practices will have to make a decision to return to Christ and have an undivided loyalty to Him and to His Gospel or to continue on in their occultic, mystical practices. Some have already crossed over the line perhaps never to return to the precious hope we have in the Gospel. God has been so merciful, but His mercy will not be extended forever. Isn’t it better to cling close to the Gospel now and to be ready for the Bridegroom when he returns at an unexpected hour?

We at Lighthouse Trails, as do other ministries like ours, have a sense of urgency to call all Christians to return to their true roots – namely the Gospel. Our loyalty needs to be with our Savior and not with the traditions of men. Whether we are Native American or of European or any other descent, Jesus Christ needs to be more precious than any of the things that would make us appear politically correct or gain the favor of men.

Notes:

1.  Roger Oakland, Faith Undone (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing),  p. 99.

2.  Napolean A. Chagnon, Yanomamo: The Fierce People (New York, NY: Holt, Reinhart adn Winston, 3rd edition), pp.112-113.

3.  Richard Kirby, The Mission of Mysticism (London, UK: SPCK, 1979), p. 7; as cited in A Time of Departing, p. 32.

4.  David Steindl-Rast, “Recollection of Thomas Merton’s Last Days in the West” (Monastic Studies, 7:10, 1969), as cited in A Time of Departing, p. 78.

5. Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2nd edition), p. 124.

Note: To access information about the books and DVDs we mention in this article, click here.

I’ll Never Go Back – DVD

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Matthew 18 – And Heretics and Hypocrites

By Paul Proctor
Free-lance writer
Used with permission.

Every now and then I get a terse email from someone who has taken exception to my candid comments on Rick Warren, asking questions like: “Have you ever spoken with him personally about your objections and concerns and tried to work through your differences privately as scripture teaches, rather than attack him publicly as you do?”

The scripture they usually cite is, of course, Matthew 18:15-17

“Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.”

This is probably one of the more misunderstood and misapplied Scriptures quoted today, especially among those who ingest Church Growth Carcinogens and Purpose Driven Lies. Because we have been inappropriately taught that unity and relationships are the most important things for Christians to pursue and protect in the church, these verses are often touted as the principal directive we should follow when addressing false teachers, which frankly, couldn’t be any further from the truth and only ends up protecting, sustaining and empowering them, which is probably why they teach it.

There is absolutely no biblical record of Jesus or any of His disciples ever taking a heretic off to the side for coffee and donuts after they led someone astray distorting the Word of God. They didn’t shake hands, exchange hugs, kisses and phone numbers or set up appointments on their PDAs to dialog their doctrinal differences over lunch in the quiet corner of a favorite restaurant at a more convenient time.

No, Jesus dealt with heretics harshly, publicly, and immediately, as did Paul and the other disciples. And, keep in mind; we’re talking New Testament here friends. In the Old Testament, false prophets were simply taken out and stoned to death for their lies. That’s how serious God is about His Word being rightly divided and properly proclaimed.

So, what was Jesus referring to in Matthew 18? Look again carefully at how he begins:

“…If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone…”

You see, the Lord is referring here to a personal offense, grievance and/or misunderstanding between two people – something that has broken their fellowship and has little or nothing to do with anyone else. Personal and private matters of wrongdoing should always be dealt with personally and privately first, so as not to unduly disrupt the unity of the body. That is indeed, biblical.

Now, as for wolves in sheep’s clothing that stand in pulpits and on stages before vast audiences with microphones and television cameras proclaiming demonic doctrines as the Word of God, the scriptural directive is altogether different:

“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” – Galatians 1:8

“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” – Ephesians 5:11

(“Reprove” is another word for rebuke)

“A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject” – Titus 3:10

“If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” (2nd John 1:10)

Jesus didn’t request a closed-door session with the Scribes and Pharisees in order to find common ground, build relationships and promote unity in Jerusalem. He condemned their blasphemy before one and all and repeatedly warned His disciples about their leaven. And when His number-one disciple challenged Him about His own up and coming crucifixion, Jesus didn’t put His hand gently on Peter’s shoulder and effeminately whisper: “My friend, you just don’t understand.” No, He lashed back at him with power and authority in front of ALL the disciples saying:

“…Get thee behind me Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” – Matthew 16:23

Why? Because, Peter was publicly contradicting God’s Word and Divine plan, which is the equivalent of proclaiming Jesus to be a lunatic or a liar.

Did the religious leaders stone Stephen to death because of all the cute and cuddly things he had to say about them? I don’t THINK so. Stephen spoke the cold hard truth that day and they hated him for it because God’s Truth is always “evil” and intolerable in the ears of the unrepentant. He told them:

“Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears…who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.”

You see, defenders of today’s religious leaders almost always resort to calling their critics, among other things, “legalists,” for incessantly using scripture to rebuke unbiblical teachings and practices; comparing them to the Pharisees of Stephen’s day, when, in reality, Stephen might just as easily say to Rick Warren and others like him:

“Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears…who have received the Gospel, but have not proclaimed it.”

Of course, when someone reprimands today’s religious leaders for their unbiblical teachings, they are silenced, shamed, slandered, marginalized, isolated and/or asked to leave. But, isn’t that exactly what the religious leaders did to Jesus and His disciples?

The Pharisees were a lot of things but they were not “legalists.” They’ve merely been labeled as such by the religious liberals of OUR day in order to try and discount the importance of studying and obeying scripture. In fact the word “legalist’ does not even appear in any version of the Bible I searched. It is just another contemporary twisting of the truth to forward a corrupt agenda and steer people away from God’s Word to something more flexible, entertaining and endearing.

“Legalism” is defined in my dictionary as the “strict adherence to a literal interpretation of a law, rule, or religious moral code.” Under this definition, is not Jesus Himself a legalist? You see, without the law, there is no need for a cross; which probably explains why both are being expelled from the church and society today as outdated and offensive relics from the past.

So, according to Stephen’s own testimony, if the religious leaders indeed “received the law but have not kept it,” they don’t even QUALIFY as true “legalists” but only as lawbreakers; or, as Jesus repeatedly called them; “Hypocrites,” which is another word for “actor,” meaning, they only pretended to keep the law.

And THAT, my friends, is what today’s Purpose Driven Pastor is – an actor – a hypocrite and a pretender, because he CLAIMS the Word of God but does not actually believe it nor proclaim it. If he did, he would preach the Bible and nothing else; verse by verse, for the rest of his ministry; not The Purpose Driven Life, chapter by chapter for 40 days. He would quote The Almighty with power and conviction before a trembling and uneasy congregation, instead of quoting Rick Warren with purpose and ambition before a casual and comfortable constituency.

When church attendance and revenues are down, closet liberals, be they Purpose Driven or otherwise, often minimize, in varying degrees, the importance of the Bible in a Christian’s life, calling it “legalism” whenever one encourages the brethren to obey God’s Word or dares to chastise those who refuse. Well, THEY might call keeping God’s commandments “legalism,” but Jesus Christ calls it “love.” Don’t believe me? Read it for yourself:

“If ye love me, keep my commandments.” – John 14:15

“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” – John 14:21

“Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.” – John 14:23-24

“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” – John 15:10

“He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” – 1st John 2:4

“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” – 1st John 5:3

Keeping God’s commandments will not gain you entry into the Kingdom of Heaven anymore than attending church will make you a member. That only comes by faith in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross for our sins. (Ephesians 2:8-10) But for those of us who claim Him, there is no other way to exercise that faith and prove our discipleship.

Loving God is not having a hand-raising, hip-hopping, wave-making, emotional experience in a Hawaiian shirt and sandals before a rock band in some downtown arena full of shrieking Seekers, Creekers, Promise Keepers and Passionate Purposeites. The only true act of love, worship and service to God is obedience to His Word. Everything else is distortion, distraction, deception, delusion and destruction.

And, when you set your Bible aside for some other book or teacher or preacher, you are neither loving, nor following, nor obeying the One you claim as your Lord and Savior. Oh, you might be Purpose Driven or Seeker Sensitive; but more than anything else, you’re a hypocrite.

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” – Matthew 7:21-23

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AN EXPLOSION THAT SHOOK THE WORLD – IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE

By Roger Oakland
Understand the Times, International

On May 18, 1980, a major catastrophic event occurred in the state of Washington, which exhibited explosive power unprecedented in modern United States history.

Imagine the scenario.  A mountain begins to ripple then slides down the hill in a massive avalanche. Plumes of superheated ash rise rapidly from the summit crater then move horizontally accelerating at high speed. In a matter of moments, trees are flattened in an area covering 150 square miles.

One branch of the avalanche slammed into Spirit Lake, approximately five miles to the northeast of the crater, forcing water out of the lake and shooting 600 feet up the neighboring slopes. Trees, top soil and volcanic debris were washed back into the lake with tremendous force.

The bulk of the avalanche, directed westward, left a deposit of volcanic mud and ash over 600 feet thick. Subsequent eruptions took place over the following months and years, and although less severe, they caused additional mud flows and added volcanic deposition to the area of devastation.

For decades, geology has been based upon the assumption that the layers of the earth represent gradual deposition over extremely long periods of time. For example, when an observer stands at the edge of the Grand Canyon and looks at the vast horizontal layers of the earth that make up the canyon walls, uniformitarian geology proposes that these layers represent hundreds of millions of years of time. Click here to continue reading.

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