Chuck Swindoll’s Book “So You Want to Be Like Christ? (Eight Essential Disciplines to Get Your There)—A Fiasco of No Discernment Pointing to the “Silence”
In an article on Chuck Swindoll’s website titled “Segments of Solitude,” Swindoll states: “Henri Nouwen called solitude . . . ‘the furnace of transformation.'” A LT article, “Why Christian Leaders Should Not Promote Henri Nouwen” helps to clarify the serious problem with Henri Nouwen’s “solitude” and “transformation” meaning.
A caller once told Lighthouse Trails she had heard that Chuck Swindoll said he wants to “get back to Bible basics.” We told the caller that if Chuck Swindoll really means that, then he will make sure that his book So You Want to Be Like Christ: Eight Essential Disciplines to Get You There will be removed from the market including off his own website, and he would begin speaking publicly recanting his promotion of contemplative spirituality in that book.
In So You Want to Be Like Christ, Swindoll favorably quotes spiritual formation (i.e., contemplative prayer) pioneers Richard Foster and Dallas Willard. Swindoll calls Celebration of Discipline by Foster a “meaningful work” (p. 15) and Willard’s book The Spirit of the Disciplines “excellent work” (p. 13). In chapter three,”Silence and Solitude,” Swindoll talks about “digging for secrets … that will deepen our intimacy with God (p. 55). Quoting the contemplative poster-verse Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God,” Swindoll says the verse is a call to the “discipline of silence.” As other contemplative proponents have done, he has taken this verse very much out of context as Larry DeBruyn explains in his article “Be Still.”
Swindoll goes on to say that we “discover who God is” when we “commit ourselves to periods of absolute, uninterrupted silence” (p. 61). Swindoll suggests that we cannot really know God without the “stillness” and the “silence.” Beth Moore said the same thing in the Be Still DVD. It’s common among contemplatives to say this. But as Ray Yungen points out, “It is not the silence that draws us closer to God . . . Scripture clearly teaches that it is only through the blood atonement of Jesus Christ that we can gain access to Him” (p. 191, A Time of Departing). Richard Foster teaches that anyone can connect to God through contemplative prayer – it is not just for believers of Jesus Christ.
In a section of So You Want to Be Like Christ called “Ministry of Silence” (p. 64), Swindoll quotes Henri Nouwen, a Catholic priest who had strong affinity and experience with mysticism. Swindoll quotes Nouwen from his book The Way of the Heart, Nouwen’s primer on contemplative prayer. Swindoll wraps up that section by saying, “I do not believe anyone can ever become a deep person without stillness and silence” (p. 65). Lest you think that Swindoll is referring to going to a quiet place (like sitting beside a stream or turning off the television) when he says silence, he differentiates solitude (outer quietness) and silence (stilling the mind) in his book. He admits that silence is referring to an inner silence of the mind. All contemplatives (and New Age meditators for that matter) know that stilling the mind or putting it in neutral can only be done with some form of mantric-like meditation, breath prayers, or focusing on something to eliminate thought and distractions, thus going into the silence.
Maybe the rumor got started that Chuck Swindoll wants to be more biblically sound because of his book, The Church Awakening: An Urgent Call for Renewal (which came out after So You Want to Be Like Christ). With a title like that, we could see where some might think Swindoll is referring to a return to truth. And in fact, in that book Swindoll does make a case for the Bible. In chapter three, he states: “[W]hen the inerrant word of God is not our standard for truth, erosion will creep in. It will eventually crowd out the truth” (p. 87). Sadly, in this book, Swindoll quotes favorably six times from Eugene Peterson’s book The Message. Talking about the inerrancy of Scripture in one breath then sprinkling the book with someone who openly endorses The Shack sends out a confusing message to say the least. The Shack author has openly rejected the substitutionary atonement of Christ. Eugene Peterson is also an advocate for contemplative spirituality; he endorsed the back cover of New Age goddess worshiper Sue Monk Kidd’s contemplative book, When the Heart Waits.
On page 260 of The Church Awakening, Chuck Swindoll asks the question: “What is needed in the ranks of ministry? A massive repentance . . .!” he answers. He then immediately quotes Eugene Peterson. Something is very wrong here. If Chuck Swindoll is turning to Bible basics, then shouldn’t he pull So You Want to Be Like Christ from the market before any more people are influenced by it? And shouldn’t he stop quoting and referring to people who promote messages such as that in The Shack.
If Swindoll is turning to Bible basics, there is at least one he is forgetting about; and it’s one of the most important yet most forgotten Bible basics—the Bible basic of true discernment against spiritual deception. For those who question whether discernment against spiritual deception is actually a basic message or theme of the Bible, consider this: In the very first book of the Bible, Genesis, there is a story about spiritual deception and a key Bible figure not being able to spot it – Eve in the Garden of Eden. And in the very last book of the Bible, Revelation, we are told about Satan, “which deceiveth the whole world” (12:9). And in just about every book of the Bible you will find stories or warnings about deception. We believe it is one of the most vital basic messages of the Bible – God warning man of spiritual deception. Yet today, Christian leaders, colleges, pastors, publishing houses, celebrities, denominations, fellowships, and mission organizations either don’t talk at all about spiritual deception, or as in Chuck Swindoll’s case with his new book, illustrate that they do not understand it.
Many of those participating in this fiasco of no discernment are highly educated men and women. But education is not the key to understanding the times and discerning spiritual deception. These leaders would probably not agree with that. A few years ago, Bible teacher and pastor Erwin Lutzer contacted Lighthouse Trails after we had called his office to talk about his endorsement of Larry Crabb’s contemplative promoting book, The Papa Prayer. Lutzer told Lighthouse Trails that day that we were “not qualified to spot spiritual deception.” We assumed he meant we did not have the educational credentials to spot spiritual deception. But we must contend with this view. Most of the disciples were not highly educated men; yet God allowed them to discern deception. How is it that believers in Jesus Christ are qualified? Meager men and women, appearing foolish to the world . . . and now to Christian leaders.
The apostle Paul talked quite a bit about this in the Bible. In Colossians 1:9, he tells the saints that he was praying for them that they “might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.” He was praying that they would have discernment (“spiritual understanding”). He did not put a qualifier on there that they would need great education in order to receive this wisdom and understanding. What he did say was that God, the Father, had made us “partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light” (vs 12) and had “delivered us from the power of darkness [i.e., power of deception]” (vs. 13). But what was the key to having this wisdom and spiritual understanding and being delivered from the power of darkness? Paul tells us in that same chapter. He calls it “the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints” (vs. 26). What is that mystery? Verse 27 says: “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (emphasis added)
It isn’t formal education, from a practical point of view, that gives discernment; it’s being born-again (John 3); it’s receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (Matthew 10:40); it’s studying, pondering on, and believing the Word of God; it’s having Him living inside you (Revelation 23:20), by faith, through His abundant grace (Romans 5:2). And it is a gift that is offered to “whosoever” will come unto Him (John 12:46). It’s Christ in you, the hope of glory! And to believers He has given His written Word and “the Spirit of truth” (which confirms the Word of God in our hearts – John 14:17; John 16:13 ) .
Paul tells us that we have been reconciled to Him (Colossians 1: 21-22) if we “continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel” (vs. 23). We beseech Christian leaders who have swayed from the truth through their promotion and embracing of those who teach a false gospel to repent from their ways and return to the solid faith that is “grounded and settled.” Get rid of your books that promote a contemplative mystical spirituality even if you will lose some money (God will supply your needs according to His riches in glory – Philippians 4:19); don’t stand on platforms with those you know are teaching another gospel (better to preach in a brothel than to share a platform with a heretic – see Titus 3:10); don’t tell large crowds that you are a “good friend” with one who is helping to bring in a one world false religion;”1 don’t be part of DVD projects that outwardly promote the dangerous contemplative prayer movement 2; and by all means don’t say you are returning to Bible basics if you leave out one of the most important Bible basics of all.
Mark Driscoll Resigns From Mars Hill Church For Social Failures – But Media Silent on Controversial Doctrinal Issues
On October 14, 2014, Mark Driscoll, the senior pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington for the past 18 years, formally resigned from his position after numerous accusations came against him from former members and others. As is the case with most mega-church pastors these days when they do just about anything different than usual, Driscoll’s resignation received widespread attention from both Christian and secular news media. Unsurprisingly, none of these news stories are talking about Driscoll’s unbiblical and faulty doctrinal beliefs but are rather reporting primarily on his moral and social failures, minimizing these failures and emphasizing his apologies.
According to one media source:
Controversial Seattle megachurch founder Mark Driscoll has resigned from Mars Hill Church, stating that he does not wish to continue to be a distraction to the ministry although a six-week review of charges lodged by others within the church cleared him of moral wrongdoing.1
Charges include plagiarism, misuse of church funds, authority abuse against other members, “creating a climate of fear,”2 derogatory remarks made in the past about women, and rude, angry, and unkind behavior toward others who were in submission to him. Driscoll had temporarily stepped down in August for a six-week period while an investigation by Mars Hill board members took place. These events led to his resignation where Driscoll apologized for his past sins.
According to the Christian Post:
Driscoll made headlines earlier this week when he publicly released his resignation letter from Mars Hill, a church he founded in Seattle, Washington, in 1996 and has served as lead pastor since then.
His decision comes shortly after a letter from some Mars Hill Church elders was issued asking Driscoll to step down from leadership. These elders were later fired. . . .
Driscoll grew a small Bible study to a 13,000-member campus with 15 other locations in five states. Mars Hill was recognized as the third fastest growing and 28th largest church in the country by Outreach magazine in 2012.3
In a statement, Mars Hills’ board of overseers said Driscoll hadn’t committed any acts of “immorality, illegality or heresy” — sins that have felled many a powerful pastor.4
Religious News Service’s report stated:
Driscoll, who came into evangelical prominence as multisite churches and podcasts rose in popularity, found a niche within a largely secular Northwest culture. Though he has been controversial for years for statements on women and sexuality, several tipping points likely led up to Driscoll’s resignation.5
In addition to the reports above, other media outlets that reported on Driscoll’s resignation include: Huffington Post, Washington Post, Christianity Today, Fox News, ABC News, New York Observer, and numerous television stations.
Doctrinal Deficiencies Ignored
But in all of these reports, not one that we are aware of has addressed Driscoll’s serious doctrinal deficiencies. What the media, both Christian and secular, has failed to report is that Driscoll has many beliefs and affinities that are contrary to the Word of God. However, neither Christian leaders nor Christian media seem the least bit concerned about that.
To begin with, one of the most serious doctrinal deficiencies is that Mark Driscoll is a proponent of contemplative spirituality and has been for many years. For example, in an article written by Driscoll, ironically titled “Obedience,” Driscoll tells readers to turn to contemplative advocates Richard Foster and Gary Thomas. Driscoll states: “If you would like to study the spiritual disciplines in greater detail … helpful are Celebration of Discipline, by Richard Foster, and Sacred Pathways, by Gary Thomas.” But these two books that Driscoll has recommended are two of the most damaging books within Christianity today! In Celebration of Discipline, Foster says that everyone “should enroll in the school of contemplative prayer (p. 13, 1978 ed.), and in Sacred Pathways, Thomas tells readers to repeat a sacred word for 20 minutes in order to hear God. Another article written by Mark Driscoll on the Mars Hill Resurgence site is titled “Spiritual Disciplines: Worship.” For those who do not understand the underlying nature of contemplative prayer (and the spiritual disciplines), read this article, “5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer.” The roots behind the contemplative prayer movement are panentheism (God in all) and interspirituality (all paths lead to God).
In addition to Driscoll’s contemplative leanings, Driscoll publicly mocks and derides Christians who believe in the biblical account of the end times, who homeschool, who believe in a rapture, and who talk about an antichrist coming on the scene one day.
Below is a clip from Joe Schimmel’s DVD, The Submerging Church: How the emerging church is drawing multitudes away from biblical Christianity. This clip shows Driscoll’s mockery of Bible-believing Christians.
Mark Driscoll’s 2008 book, Vintage Jesus, has some noteworthy quotes that further illustrate Driscoll’s faulty beliefs. When that book came out, we contacted the late Chuck Smith (founder of Calvary Chapel) and warned him about Driscoll’s book because some Calvary Chapel pastors were trying to bring Driscoll’s teachings into the Calvary Chapel movement (which has been successfully done in some CC churches).
Calls Christians Little Christs - (page 120):
“To be a Christian is to be a ‘little Christ.'”—Mark Driscoll
Mocks Homeschooling and Armageddon: - (page 157):
“Unlike today where Christians have largely fled the cities in favor of homeschooling about the rapture amidst large stacks of canned goods readied for a hunkering down at the unleashing of Armageddon, Christianity has historically been an urban religion. A reading of the history book of early Christianity, Acts, reveals that Christianity began as an urban movement led by Paul, whose itinerant church planting ministry was almost exclusively urban as he moved from city to city and bypassed the rural areas.”—Mark Driscoll
The Rapture is Dumb – (page 44):
“One of the most astonishing things about Jesus is that as God he actually chose to come into our fallen, sick, twisted, unjust, evil, cruel, painful world and be with us to suffer like us and for us. Meanwhile, we spend most of our time trying to figure out how to avoid the pain and evil of this world while reading dumb books about the rapture just hoping to get out.”—Mark Driscoll
(LT Note: In Vintage Jesus, Driscoll favorably quotes Walter Wink, whom Driscoll refers to as “insightful.” But Wink was a liberal theologian who would fall in the emergent camp because of his anti-biblical beliefs. For instance, in Wink’s 1998 book The Powers That Be, Wink denies a “violent” atonement, which is the emerging way of saying that he rejects the idea that God, the Father would send His Son to a violent death as a substitute for the sins of man. This is the exact same thing that Brian McLaren, Harry Fosdick, and other atonement deniers have said, and Wink is in this same category (see our article “A Slaughterhouse Religion.)” We are not saying that Driscoll is denying the atonement, but his favorable reference to an atonement denier shows a serious lack of discernment, at best.)
In addition, Driscoll has promoted what we term “the new sexuality.” Please refer to our 2009 article “A Pastor Speaks Up: Mark Driscoll and the New ‘Sexual Spirituality’”and this Baptist Press article titled “Driscoll’s vulgarity draws media attention.” Radio host Ingrid Schleuter (formally of VCY America) documents Driscoll’s “new sexuality” in her article “Sexpert Pastor Mark Driscoll is Told, ‘Enough is Enough.’”
The “fruit” of Mark Driscoll’s teaching can also be seen in one of Mars Hills’ congregants, a young author named Jeff Bethke, who shares Driscoll’s sentiment regarding Christians who believe the Bible about the last days.
Bethke echoes Driscoll’s distain in his book Jesus > Religion: Why He Is So Much Better Than Trying Harder, Doing More, and Being Good Enough (Thomas Nelson, 2013) in a chapter titled “Religion Points to a Dim Future/Jesus Points to a Bright Future.” Bethke puts down the kind of believers who see a dismal future for earth (according to Scripture) and says things like:
“God actually cares about the earth, but we seem to think it’s going to burn. God actually cares about creating good art, but we seem to think it’s reserved for salvation messages.” (Kindle Locations 2107-2109, Thomas Nelson).
And just to prove that when Bethke says “religion,” he means biblical Christianity, what other religion is there that “points to a dim future” for planet earth and its inhabitants? Biblical Christianity is the only one that says that the world is heading for judgement because of man’s rebellion against God and because of God’s plan to destroy the devil and his minions. Jesus does point to a “bright future,” but the Bible is very clear that this will not come before He returns; rather He promises a blessed eternal life to “whosoever” believeth on Him. The Jesus Christ of the Bible did not promise a bright future for those who reject Him (and even says that the road to destruction is broad – Matthew 7:13); in fact, Scripture says Jesus Himself was a man of sorrows rejected and despised (Isaiah 53:3). He knew what awaited Him, and He knew what was in the heart of man. But across the board, emergents reject such a message of doom and teach that the kingdom of God will be established as humanity realizes its oneness and its divinity (this realization will be accomplished through practicing meditation—enter contemplative prayer in the Christian church to help bring about a great falling away).
While Mark Driscoll has resigned because of social and moral failures, there is absolute silence coming from Christian leaders, Christian media, and secular media on the real heart of Driscoll’s problems—his beliefs. Perhaps nothing illustrates the nature of Driscoll’s beliefs more than his recent comments about the 2014 Hollywood movie, Noah. A Lighthouse Trails article titled “Mark Driscoll’s Distorted View on Noah and Salvation . . . (And How Some People Have a Very Strange Idea as to the Meaning of God’s Salvation),” shows Driscoll’s very distorted view of salvation (the Gospel). In Driscoll’s so-called defense of the biblical account of Noah, he says that the Noah account was an example of God’s grace and that it had nothing to do with Noah’s righteousness or even Noah’s faith in God. And in fact, in a sermon by Mark Driscoll (see video clip below), he says that Noah was “bad all of the time.” This is a commonly believed and twisted view of God and salvation that says God loves and chooses some and hates and rejects others based on nothing more than God’s own personal whim rather than on one’s faith or trust in God (“without faith it is impossible to please [God]“—Hebrews 11:6). Could it be that Driscoll’s view of salvation and of a God who does not love all of mankind is at least in part the reason for his social and moral failures (e.g., anger, abuse, ridicule, and mockery)? In actuality, the story of Noah is about God saving the one man on the earth who had faith in God.
Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. (Genesis 6:9)
Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he. (Genesis 6:22)
And the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. (Genesis 7:1)
By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. (Hebrews 11:7)
You can click here to read a short piece by Dr. Harry Ironside on Noah that will help dispel the confusion that Mark Driscoll has brought.
The accusations of plagiarism, misuse of church funds to manipulate one of his books to get on the New York Times best-seller list, authority abuse, and crude and demeaning talk about women certainly is enough reason for Driscoll to resign from the pulpit; however his beliefs and “doctrines” are being completely ignored, and it is our guess that in time (and probably not too much of it) Driscoll will resurface with a new ministry or a “restoration” to his old ministry, and this contemplative, emerging pastor will not have changed at all in the areas most important. He has publicly apologized for getting angry and being mean to people, and that’s all people seem to care about. And why not? Many of today’s Christian leaders share Driscoll’s contemplative, emerging propensities. They’ll be the last ones to speak up.
In short, the saddest thing of all is the lack of discernment and integrity of the church at large to stem the tide of apostasy that has already flooded our midst.
By Heather Clark
Christian News Network
NEW YORK CITY – The senior pastor of the global Hillsong Church declined to give a concrete answer as to whether or not those who lead his American congregations may officiate at same-sex “weddings” as he was speaking at a recent press conference that included questions about homosexuality, finances and his late father’s alleged sexual abuse of a minor.
“You brought up the subject of same-sex marriage, and I wasn’t sure what you were saying,” reporter Michael Paulson of the New York Times asked Brian Houston of Hillsong Australia at the media event in New York City. “You’re now operating in New York and California where same sex marriage is legal. Can your pastors preside at same-sex marriages? ”
Houston’s son Joel co-pastors Hillsong New York, and his son Ben leads Hillsong Los Angeles.
“It can be challenging for churches to stay relevant because many mainstream churches upheld what they would believe is the long established view of what the Bible says about homosexuality,” he replied. “But the world has changed around and about them.” Click here to continue reading.
Kjos Ministries: Excerpts from The Gospel in Bonds | Part 1 In the Soviet Gulags: Imprisoned for His Faith
“My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved…. Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us.“ (Psalm 62:5-8).
From Kjos Ministries
The Gospel in Bonds draws us right into the spiritual battlefield that now rages in almost every part of the world. Today as in Stalin’s days, Biblical Christianity is despised and outlawed, and America is headed in the same direction.
Until recently, Christians in America were relatively free to follow our Shepherd without interference. That treasured liberty is fast fading from the West. Today, many of our politicians and leaders seem bent on purging Christianity from schools as well as the workplace, the media, and the lofty chambers of Washington’s ruling elite.
In other word, those who despise our God and serve His adversary are becoming a forceful threat to those who love God and long to share His Word. But that doesn’t stop God’s faithful people!
As Georgi Vins shares his amazing story in the weeks and months ahead, we will be reminded of the eternal treasures we have in Christ. No matter what challenges we might face in the coming years, He will surely guide us!
“…thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” (I Corinthians 15:57-58) Click here to read more.
LTRP Note: Egerton Ryerson Young was a young Canadian missionary in the late 1800s, who, with his wife and two small children, spent years with the Native people in Canada, living among them, loving them, and sharing the Gospel and the Word of God with them. This is one of the stories from the “Wigwam” book. While some of the terms and writing would be considered “unpolitically” correct today, Young’s great respect, admiration, and acknowledgment of the value and worth of the Native people is above reproach.
By Egerton Ryerson Young
(author of Stories From Indian Wigwams and Northern Campfires)
I was sitting in my study one day when noiselessly and quietly there came filing into the room a dozen or more stalwart Indians. I greeted them kindly and bade them welcome. On scanning their faces I observed that they were all entire strangers. Seating them as well as the limited accommodations of my little study would admit, I began a conversation with them. They were a fine-looking lot of men, with characteristic Indian faces. After a few commonplace remarks had passed between us I became anxious to know who they were and what was the special object of their present visit. So, addressing the one who seemed to be the principal man among them, I asked:
“Where do you live?”
“Very far away,” he replied.
“How far?” I asked.
“Thirteen nights away,” he said.
The Indians compute long distances by the number of nights they spend on their journey. So, to see me, these Indians had, in their birch-bark canoes, traveled fourteen days down great rivers and across stormy lakes.
“What is your object in coming so far?” I asked.
Very decidedly one of them spoke up and said, “We have come for you!”
“For what purpose do you want me?” I asked, beginning to get interested by the earnestness of these stalwart men.
“Why,” they answered, “we have the great book and can read it, but we do not know what it means.”
“O, I am delighted to hear that you have the great book and can read it,” I said; “and of course you have had a missionary who has taught you to read.”
Their answer amazed me: “You are the first missionary we ever saw.”
“Then you have had a teacher who has instructed you?”
“What is a teacher?” was the questioning reply. So I explained to them what a teacher was, and to this they said, “We have never seen one as yet.”
Becoming intensely interested now in these children of the forest, I replied with a certain amount of inquiry and perhaps incredulity in my voice, “Do you, who have never had a missionary or teacher, pretend to tell me that you can read the great book?”
Quietly they answered, “We can read the great book.”
To put them to a test was an easy matter, and so, picking up my Indian Bible—printed in Rev. James Evans’s beautiful syllabic characters—I opened it and said to one of them, “Read.”
Without any hesitancy he began, and read without making a single mistake. Then I tried another and another, and found, to my great delight, that these Indians from that distant and lonely forest retreat were all able to read in their own tongue the holy word.
“Tell me,” I said, “how did you thus learn to read the good book?”
This was their story of how they had come into this great privilege. Would that I could describe the picturesque and dramatic way in which the spokesman of the party told it to me that day in my study! The substance is as follows:
“Missionary, you know hunters roam over a great extent of country looking for game. So, although our village is many nights away, yet in our winter huntings some of us come up a good many miles this way; and a few of your Indian fur-hunters go many days down toward our country, and so some of them hunt near our hunting-grounds. Well, as we all talk the same language and are at peace with each other, when we have made our little hunting wigwams and set our traps and got every thing ready for catching the wild animals, and then while waiting for them to come into the traps, we often have days when there is nothing to do. These days we would employ visiting other Indians, and among those we visited were some of your Christian Indians from this mission. They always received us very kindly, and we had some pleasant talks. We found that they had with them their Bibles, and, when not busy at their work, they spent a great deal of time in reading them. As we were very ignorant we thought they were very foolish in spending so much time in that way; and so we urged them to shut up their books and gamble with us, as we used to do. But they said: ‘Since we have become Christians we have flung all our dice and gambling stones into the fire. We find that we cannot be Christians and gamble; and since we have learned to read this book we find more pleasure in it than we ever did in our old foolish games.’ They would read to us out of the great book and we became very much interested, for they read about the creation, and Noah, and Joseph, and David, and Daniel, and Jesus, and many others, until we found ourselves going there every day we could spare from our huntings, even if some of us had many miles to walk on our snow-shoes through the great cold.
“Our hunting season, you know, lasts many months, and so we had time to make many visits. When your Christian people saw that we were so interested in what they read to us they said, ‘Would you not like to learn to read for yourselves and of course we said, ‘Yes.’ So they began teaching us. It seemed strange to us that we, who had thought it was all such foolishness a short time before, should be now seated in their wigwams and hard at work learning a, e, oo, ah; pa, pe, poo, pah; ta, te, too, tah, and all the rest of the characters which your Indians had marked out for us on pieces of birch-bark with a burnt stick. But we had got hungry to know for ourselves, and when we found that ‘ma’ and ‘ni’ and ‘to’ put together meant ‘Manito,’ ‘the Great Spirit,’ then indeed we were excited and studied hard to know more. So we worked away, and your good Christian people were kind and so patient with us, and so pleased that our stubbornness was gone, and we were willing to sit at their feet and learn. And very often did they pray with us and tell us of some of the wonderful things that were in the great book besides its stories of warriors and other great men that had at first excited our curiosity. Well, before the snow began to get soft and the time came for us to return to our village with our furs some of us had made such progress in our study that we could slowly read the great book. That spring, as soon as the snow and ice left the great rivers and lakes, a number of us decided to take our furs, as we had been very successful in our huntings, all the way down to York Factory, on the Hudson Bay, as the prices were better there. It took us many days to go, but there was plenty of game and fish, so we had a good trip down. We reached York Factory with our furs, and exchanged them for what we needed for ourselves and families. One day before we returned, the gentleman in charge of the Hudson Bay Company’s post said to us: ‘There have come out for Mr. Young, the missionary at Norway House, a lot of Indian Bibles from the British and Foreign Bible Society in London. Now, if you Indians could only read, and would try and get some good out of them, I am sure Mr. Young would be glad to have me give you some of these good books.’ When we heard this our hearts were glad, and we told him some of us had learned to read the great book and we would be so thankful to get them and would do the best we could with them. When he heard this he said he was pleased we had learned to read, and then he gave us a lot of the books, at which our hearts were made very glad. We carried them safely in our canoes up the great rivers and around the portages until we reached our homes and people. There was great excitement about them. Even some of our oldest people had never seen a Bible before. Some of the old conjurers and medicine-men were angry with us for bringing them, but most of the people were glad, for they had heard from some of our hunters who had not gone with us to York Factory of some of the wonderful stories which had been told them by the Christian Indians. At first we hardly knew what to do with the books. Then we decided that those who, during the winter, had learned to read should each have one, and that they should teach others; and as fast as any one could read, even if only a little, he should get his own book.
“So anxious were our people to learn, and so well did they get on, that the books are all distributed. We are very thankful for them, but we want somebody to teach us what we are reading. We love the book, but we want somebody to make it plain to us. We are like one who has found an instrument which makes music. We get a sweet sound here and another there, but we have never had any teaching, and so we cannot play it aright. So with this great book which we have learned to read and which we have in our midst, we are very ignorant about it, and so we have come all this way to ask you to come to our land and tell us what these things mean about which we are reading.”
With mingled feelings of surprise and delight I listened to this marvelous narrative. It was the story of the Ethiopian eunuch over again, but multiplied many fold. Like him they had the word and were interested in it; but how could they understand, never having had any one to guide them? And so they had sent this deputation hundreds of miles through the pathless forest to find out one who could begin at the same Scripture and “preach unto them Jesus.” My heart went out to them at once, and I felt that He who had sent the angel unto Philip with the message, “Arise and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert,” there to find one man longing after light upon the sacred volume, had surely sent these messengers for me to go on a similar blessed mission.
If these Indians, longing for instruction, had lived in a land of railroads or even ordinary highways, the matter of visiting them could have been easily arranged, but, unfortunately, it was just the reverse. No surveyor had as yet passed through that land. There is not a mile of road laid out in a region of many thousand square miles; and so only by a birch-bark canoe, manned by two Indians, could I visit them in the summer-time, and even then perhaps not be able to travel as rapidly as these experienced men whose lives had been spent in those wild regions.
I explained to them how my mission field was already over five hundred miles long and proportionately wide. In visiting the different Indian bands on it I had to travel either by canoe or dog-train several thousands of miles each year. I tried to visit each band twice a year, and if possible when present at the different places arranged the date of the next visit, which was generally six months ahead. Through the good providence of God I had been able to keep all of my many engagements, and the Indians, knowing this, often came hundreds of miles by canoe in summer or on their snow-shoes in winter from their distant hunting-grounds to meet me at the place appointed, that they might hear the word of God. Very many were the difficulties and hardships endured in faithfully filling these remote appointments, but many pleasing incidents occurred to compensate for a fixed resolve to be faithful, with divine help, to every promise made, even if we were in “perils oft “from raging floods in summer or the bitter cold in winter.
While I was anxious to go to this new and inviting field which seemed so ripe for the harvest, I dare not break faith with any bands whom I had arranged to visit. The result was I had to inform these Indians, who had come so far for me to go and help them understand what they were reading, that six months must pass away ere I could go and see them. They said they were very much pleased that I would come sometime, but pleaded for an earlier visit, for “who could tell what might happen in all that time?” However, when I explained my work to them they saw how it was and were satisfied. One of them, however, looking out of the study window and seeing the sun which was sinking toward the western horizon and casting toward us a line of golden light on the rippling waves, with the quick poetic Indian temperament said, “Come quickly, missionary, and see us, for your coming will be like that sunlit path upon the waters.” We had a long and earnest talk about the truths of the blessed book and God’s design in giving it to us that we might know the truth concerning him, and also about ourselves and what we had to do in order to obtain his forgiveness and become his children. Reverently they bowed with me in prayer as upon them we asked the divine blessing in the name of Jesus.
After exchanging some of their furs at the fort for necessary supplies they set off on their return journey to their distant wigwams, thankful that they had got the promise of a visit from a missionary to explain to them the meaning of the great book. In the month of February I began my trip to the land of those Indians who had sent the deputation so far for me to come and visit them. I made every preparation for a long and dangerous journey, and was not disappointed in any way. I took with me two of the best of men, both as regards their genuine piety and their endurance and cleverness as Indian travelers. So many were the peculiar difficulties of the route that all the patience and energy of us all were at times taxed to the utmost. Our trip led us first a hundred and fifty miles down the eastern shore of Lake Winnipeg, and then many days’ journey into the wilderness directly east of that great lake. The traveling on Winnipeg was mere child’s play to what followed after we had plunged into the forest country. Our way led us over a number of little frozen lakes and streams and through several long, gloomy forest portages. The work of getting through the dense forests was very laborious and often very slow. A little clearing out of the fallen trees and the cutting down of some ere they stand too densely together would have saved both men and dogs a great deal of hardship and our sleds from a great deal of damage, but unfortunately no road-making has as yet been ever attempted in this wild country. Often we had to get down on our hands and knees and crawl under the partly fallen trees, and then all hands were engaged in getting our dogs and sleds over the accumulated fallen ones, that seemed determined to block up our way. Often our sleds would so violently strike against a tree that there was great danger of serious injury being inflicted on our dogs.
Thus on and on we went day after day. Some days we made fairly good progress. This was when we had some frozen lakes or river stretches along which we could travel rapidly. But on the whole, the trip was one of the most difficult I ever undertook. However, as we were in a forest country all the time, we could find good camping-places, and so we were able to rest fairly well after the fatigues and sufferings of the day, although our beds were made in the forest on some evergreen boughs in a hole dug in the snow, with no roof above us but the stars. At length we reached the Indians for whom we were looking. To say that they were delighted to see us seems very cold in comparison with the reality. They had abundance of venison, and so we and our dogs fared well. All that they had said to us about their people being able to read the blessed book, we found to be as they had told us. And so our work was to explain the truths they had for months been reading.
It being the hunting season, and this being their only means of livelihood, many whom we had hoped to meet were far away in their distant hunting-grounds. However, those whom we did meet gave the most earnest heed to our words and drank in the truth with great delight. We felt repaid a thousand-fold for coming to visit them and remained several days among them, during which time we tried to teach and preach unto them Jesus, and many of them were baptized.
Often since, have we thought of and rejoiced at the coming of this deputation to visit us and of the marvelous manner in which they had learned to read the word of God in their own language, without missionary or teacher, and then had imparted that knowledge to others; and then, best of all, there had come into their hearts the earnest desire to understand what they were reading. To satisfy in a measure that longing, it had been given to me to have the great honor of going as the first missionary to visit this interesting people and explain more fully some of the truths of the blessed book.
This was my rejoicing, that:
[T]he Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the Gospel: whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. (Ephesians 3:6-8)
(This is an excerpt from Stories From Indian Wigwams and Northern Campfires)
“They want to ‘Islamitize’ Nigeria. That is why they are targeting Christians,” stated Habila Adamu, who was shot in the head after he likewise refused to deny Christ, but miraculously survived. “They wanted me to deny Jesus. We are sinners! We are condemned criminals. We are supposed to die! But He took all these burdens! He paid for our debt! He died for us! Why can I not submit to Jesus? That is what I did. I stood for him!”
By Heather Clark
Christian News Network
ABUJA, Nigeria – The Nigerian government has reached a deal with the Muslim terrorist group Boko Haram to release over 200 school girls that have been held captive for over six months, reports state.
As previously reported, members of Boko Haram stormed an all-girls secondary school in Chibok, Borno State in April, kidnapping 276 students while they were taking their final exams. Over 50 girls later escaped, but more than 200 have remained missing.
“They … started shouting, ‘Allahu Akhbar,’” one of the abducted teens told the Associated Press about the day she and others were taken captive. “And we knew.”
The teen stated that a number of girls escaped by jumping out of one of the vehicles carrying the students.
“I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah,” the group’s leader, Abubaker Shekau, stated in a video released in May. “There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women. … They are his property and I will carry out his instructions.” Click here to continue reading.
This past summer, a Lighthouse Trails reader sent us this e-mail letter she received from Renovare (Richard Foster’s contemplative outreach organization). Our reader is on the Renovare mailing list as she has grave concerns about friends who are involved with contemplative spirituality, and she monitors this group. The letter reveals the tight connection that YWAM (Youth With a Mission) has with the contemplative prayer movement.
I want to offer a short vignette of how the ministry of Renovaré continues to ripple around the world. For the past 20 years I have taught a class called “Foundations of Christian Spirituality” at Eastern University. Assigned readings from the class are Dallas Willard’s The Spirit of the Disciplines, Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline, Devotional Classics, edited by Richard Foster and Jim Smith, and The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People, written by John Ortberg. As you know, all these books are written by authors deeply committed to the vision and outreach of Renovaré.
“Foundations” is basically a Renovaré course on the basics of spiritual formation. For the past ten years the class has continued to grow in attendance, growing to around 200 students. How encouraging! Students long to learn how to live ever more wisely and fully as “Christ’s apprentices,” as Dallas would put it. Even more encouraging, five years ago a generous donor had “Foundations” filmed by Gorilla Films, well-known for its films of the gorilla population of Rwanda.The class is now available on-line to people world-wide.
More recently, I was with a group of YWAM (Youth with a Ministry) leaders in Burtingny, Switzerland, gifted people who are earning an MA in Spiritual Formation from the University of the Nations. I was surprised and pleased to learn that these leaders of discipleship training ministries around the world had been watching the filmed version of “Foundations.” Not only so, but they shared with me that this course—with Renovaré at its core—was presently being viewed by “thousands” of people in China, India, Scandinavia, and Brazil. In fact, two of these students—very courageous women—are showing clips of “Foundations” in small villages in India. Renovaré’s effect through the power of the Holy Spirit is profound and widespread.
Grace and peace,
Renovaré Board Member
LTRP NOTE: If you are not familiar with the teachings of Richard Foster or the contemplative prayer (i.e, Spiritual Formation) movement, please read some of our research material. Do not underestimate the overwhelming impact that Richard Foster and Renovare have and are having on Christians across the globe. Because of the dangerous anti-biblical roots of the contemplative prayer movement, this should cause great concern to Bible-believing Christians. And remember, if you have a loved one in a Christian college or seminary, most likely he or she is being introduced to the Spiritual Formation movement. We estimate (after 12 years of research) that over 90% of these schools have now begun to integrate Spiritual Formation into their schools.