Author Archive

Letter to the Editor: In Search of a Church – One Family’s Painful Journey

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

When I met my husband in 2005, I was attending a nondenominational church while he attended a local megachurch. During our attendance at his church, it was discovered that sexual sin was being allowed by the leadership among servers in the children’s ministry, so we went back to what had been my home church. What happened there turned out to be the test of our Christian lives.

My nondenominational home church started making changes, mostly subtle, a tad unusual, but nothing overtly alarming or distressing. For example, they started reading from The Book of Common Prayers. Popular authors like John Ortberg and Gary Thomas were taught, and since they sounded good and got the stamp of approval from our leaders, we followed along. Here’s a surprising change, coming from a nondenominational church with Missionary denominational roots: they started practicing Lent and even had an Ash Wednesday service. My mother was raised Roman Catholic and hates that religion (not Catholics). I was raised to avoid any and all things Catholic (except Catholics!) So I listened intently when a pastor informed us about the Ash Wednesday service. It was justified with “our church fathers did it, so we will.” Naively, a friend and I decided that reasoning was fine. I was heavily pregnant with my second child that evening. As they were calling people up to get ashes on their forehead, pew by pew, I was having contractions. When they were just a few pews away, we had to leave due to my contractions. The Lord was working to reveal something to my heart, something about WHY He would prevent me from participating in this ceremony, but I couldn’t connect the dots at the time.

Sometime soon after our second child was born, my mom became practically unhinged with concern. She was listening to radio teaching while she was driving, and someone reported that Lynne Hybels said she had no problem with referring to Mary as “Queen of Heaven.” Ma pulled over to the side of the road, the sensation being like a punch in the stomach. See, this title is given by Catholics to Mary and is unabashedly heretical. Lynne Hybels, however, is the wife of Bill Hybels, the pastor of Willow Creek Community Church.

The broadcast recommended a book for understanding this movement within Christendom: Faith Undone by Roger Oakland. She was truly alarmed as she finished this book. She begged George (my husband) and I to read it. Quite honestly, we made excuses and dragged our feet about reading it because we knew there was something seriously wrong. When I finally read just the first chapter, the awful feeling in my gut gave way to tears: I could see my beloved home church in just the first few pages. Faith Undone (and then A Time of Departing by Ray Yungen) gave us the worldview “lens” through which we will view Christianity and these times in which we live until the day we see Jesus.

Sober and grieving, we had to address the issues at my church. We penned a letter to all the pastors, buying and sharing informational books on this movement, and asking for answers. We were ignored. A year later, a respected person there raised concerns about us, and then we were called. That meeting with the senior and another pastor revealed that the senior pastor did breath prayers (mystical prayer), and their pride was palpable. It was our second blow dealt by leaders we had loved and trusted.

Then we tried a small satellite campus church of a large, local Missionary church. This time we had books ready and interviewed the pastor. He assured us he wouldn’t do anything to bring in bad teaching or hurt the church, being dismissive of our concerns. That church lasted a few months until, and this was after our thorough warning of this apostasy was given to the pastor, he allowed blatant Catholic imagery during the worship time. We got up and left.

Ma had found our next church home. Life was good at this new Missionary church. Then came the new, permanent pastor. Dutifully, we met with him, explaining this heretical movement, offering books, discussing as much as we could. We had three meetings with him and various church leaders. We gave lists of compromised teachers, too. We were assured—again—that our church body wouldn’t be led astray. Soon thereafter, our pastor unashamedly started teaching Rick Warren material. He made it clear that he admired that original megachurch we had attended and wanted our current Missionary church to be like theirs. We were told privately in a meeting with him and his wife that a church like that megachurch could reach many more people than George and I ever could.

Ma had left before us and had found what would turn out to be our last home church, a fundamental Bible church north of town. Ma pointedly asked this new pastor about the Emergent Church movement. Essentially, he said it was wrong and wouldn’t allow it, so we headed there next.

We cautiously considered membership after truly getting to know the pastor and doctrines. We did become members, which was no small decision for a family having been repeatedly betrayed by several churches in the recent past. We were absolutely serious about this new fundamental Bible church being our church home and fighting this apostasy as much as possible. It was even agreed upon by the pastor that me and Ma, knowledgeable about the Emergent movement, would be “watchmen on the wall” for our leaders. Then came Priscilla Shirer’s third book study in January. This started a whole domino effect in our household. We all three researched her. Shirer is definitely contemplative. We all agreed that none of us could sit under her teaching.

Ma compiled her evidence for the leaders, but they decided her warning was unfounded. The Lord has since made it clear that the elders did not have unity about allowing Shirer’s material. We wondered how the numerous articles warning against Shirer would give them peace about allowing her material.

As we researched Shirer, we discovered trouble with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, who is the popular teacher/author of Revive Our Hearts, a sub-organization under Life Action Ministries. She promoted circle-making prayer, and she favorably quoted Richard Foster and Brother Lawrence. Those men are/were mystics, and circle-making prayer echoes the pagan, occultic practice of circle-making/power circles.

“Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit” (Matthew 12:33). Also, “Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?” (James 3:11). If we see this rotten fruit and taste the bitter water of this apostasy, we cannot sit under that authority any longer.

George’s and my decision to leave our last church home came down to 1) the leadership was acting in disunity, which is sin, and 2) compromised, heretical teaching was coming in to our church through Life Action Ministries.

We fully believe that if you are wondering for yourself if you are being called to take a stand against this apostasy, just humbly ask the Lord for wisdom. Humility is essential here. Yet this stand we are proposing is no small task. In Matthew 10, the Lord warns that He did not come to bring peace but a sword, dividing people from those whom they love most dearly for His namesake. Everything and everyone must be laid down at the altar; we can hold nothing back. Personally, we cannot count the relationships that have been lost or damaged due to our stand, nor can we express the personal toll this has taken on us. But by God’s grace, we endeavor to surrender all. Jesus is worth it!

Our last pastor looked us straight in the eye and said he was not willing to consider that Life Action Ministries is compromised; he “knows their heart,” that they are good. We said we will come back in a heartbeat if/when he is willing to objectively research them. Until then, we cannot submit to his (or by association, their) authority. It’s just that simple for us.

We contend that this is THE end times’ apostasy that Jesus warned of in Mark 13:22, where, if possible, even the very elect will be led astray. How in the world could we knowingly participate in this?

B.J.

Lighthouse Trails Sends Out 5th Letter to 145 Christian Leaders

Lighthouse Trails began mailing out booklets and short letters to over 100 Christian leaders in the spring of 2016. This month we are mailing out the 5th letter along with two booklets – Yoga and Christianity: Are They Compatible? by Chris Lawson and A Serious Look at Richard Foster’s “School” of Contemplative Prayer by Ray Yungen. Our list of leaders’ names is now at 145. Below is the letter we are including with the two booklets.

Dear Christian Leader:

We can’t tell you how many Christians have contacted our office and told us that their churches are doing “Christian” Yoga. But according to one Hindu professor who e-mailed us a number of years ago, there is no such thing as “Christian” Yoga. He said Yoga is the heart of Hinduism. It would be like a Hindu saying he is going to hold a Hindu communion service. In Chris Lawson’s booklet that we have sent you, he explains what Yoga really is and why Christians should not practice Yoga.

We are also including an important booklet by Ray Yungen about the contemplative prayer movement that was initially introduced to the church via Richard Foster (author of Celebration of Discipline). We know that many people find “naming names” uncomfortable. We assure you, we have no animosity toward Mr. Foster himself, but we are compelled to warn the church about a dangerous and unbiblical practice that has taken a foothold in many of our seminaries, colleges, and churches.

We hope you will find these two booklets helpful in your ministry. Thank you for taking the time to study these matters.

Humbly in Christ,

The Editors at Lighthouse Trails Publishing

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If you would like us to add the name of a leader to our Christian leaders list, please send the name and mailing address to us at: editors@lighthousetrails.com. Because of time restraints, we will not be able to add a name without an address. Plus, because we cannot send out these letters and booklets to every pastor in the country, we ask that you only submit names of pastors and/or church leaders who have written at least one book (you can check Amazon) thus moving him or her into a place of influence throughout the church at large.

We wish we could send booklets to every Christian pastor in North America. However, here is an idea given to us from one of our readers for anyone who feels compelled to reach the pastors in his or her denomination and/or state: Earlier this year, a woman from Mississippi who learned that we were sending out booklets to Christian leaders and pastors contacted us. She said she was burdened for Southern Baptist pastors in her state and asked us to put together a mailing of two booklets and a letter and mail it to every Southern Baptist pastor in Mississippi.  Our reader paid for the list (which we purchased for her), the booklets, the postage, and our labor. At her request, we sent each pastor a copy of 10 Scriptural Reasons Jesus Calling is a Dangerous Book by Warren B. Smith and 5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer by Ray Yungen. If you have a group you would like us to reach in this manner, please contact our office.

If you would like to view and/or print a list of the Christian leaders we are currently sending booklets and short letters to 3-4 times a year, click here. Perhaps you would like to pray for these men and women who, in total, influence millions and millions of people throughout the world. Incidentally, just because a name is on this list does not necessarily mean that leader is in deception. We have included a wide assortment of names in this list. There are many pastors and Christian leaders who may not be part of the deception but, for various reasons, are not aware of what is happening in the church today.

Note: Chuck Swindoll’s name is no longer on our list of Christian leaders as his ministry office requested we remove his name.

Ask Your Local Library to Bring in Copies of Lighthouse Trails Books

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Many of our readers may not realize that Lighthouse Trails Publishing has numerous different wholesale outlets (SpringArbor, CBD, Anchor, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.*) where our books can be purchased. One of those outlets is Baker and Taylor. Baker and Taylor is the main distributor that services libraries across the United States. Since Lighthouse Trails began fifteen years ago, Baker and Taylor has purchased numerous copies of Lighthouse Trails books that now sit on library shelves throughout America.

If you would like to see Lighthouse Trails books on your local library shelves, just call or visit your local library and ask the librarian to bring into circulation particular books of ours. You may need the ISBN numbers, which you can find on the back cover of all of our books. We also include the ISBN numbers of all our books in our catalog.**

Having your local library bring in Lighthouse Trails books will do two things: first, you can enjoy reading our books at no cost to you; and second, it provides an opportunity for people who are not familiar with Lighthouse Trails books to read these books.

* Note #1: Even though our profit margin is greatly reduced when books are purchased through these wholesale outlets because of the high discounts they require from us, we believe these outlets have provided a much greater reach in readership for our materials.

** Note #2: If you do not have a copy of a title you wish to see in your local library, you can find the ISBN number for each of our books in our catalog. We only include ISBN numbers in our catalog for books that we actually publish. If you don’t see an ISBN number on a book in the catalog, it is because that is not our own book. Click here to view a PDF version of the latest Lighthouse Trails catalog, or e-mail us at editors@lighthousetrails.com and request one be sent to you by mail.

How to Find a Bible-Believing Church

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We have often been asked, “How do I find a good Bible-believing church?” There are many believers who are struggling to find one in their own communities. To start with, we usually recommend they make phone calls to potential churches and ask a few concise questions such as:

“Do you have a Spiritual Formation program at your church?” or “Has your church implemented aspects of the Purpose Driven Movement anytime in the past 10 years?.”

Since thousands of churches would answer yes to both or at least one of these questions, they are worthwhile to ask, and it would certainly narrow down the scope of one’s search. Here are a few other questions that could be asked:

1. Is the pastor using The Message “Bible” in his sermons and studies? Because this paraphrase is very often used by pastors and teachers who promote contemplative spirituality or emerging spirituality (as the language in The Message helps support these false teachings), it is another indicator that a church is going in the wrong direction.

2. Is the church affiliated in any way with the Willow Creek Association? Oftentimes, a church has not implemented the Purpose Driven Movement but is, rather, hooked up with Willow Creek. This is as problematic as Purpose Driven. See our article on our website titled, “No Repentance from Willow Creek—Only a Mystical Paradigm Shift.”

3. Is the church connected at all with Bethel Church of Redding, California? Bethel’s hyper-charismatic influence is huge today, and many churches are getting on board with the Bethel craze. That would include Jesus Culture too, which is an offshoot of Bethel. Before starting your search for a church, make sure you understand what the Word of Faith/NAR, hyper-charismatic movement is. Lighthouse Trails has several trustworthy authors who write about these issues. You’d be surprised to learn how extensive this influence has been in North American churches, even in ones that do not consider themselves charismatic.

3. Ask a potential church if it would mind mailing you a few recent Sunday programs. When you get them, look for some of the key terms used within the contemplative/emerging camp: missional, servant leader, soul-care, spiritual formation, transformation, transitioning, silence, organic, authentic, reinvent, spiritual disciplines, Christ follower (the term Christian isn’t typically liked too well by contemplatives and emergent) Christian formation (or Christian spirituality) (a term often meaning the same as Spiritual Formation). Just using these terms alone doesn’t suddenly make a church contemplative or emerging, but it does show that at least one person in leadership at that church is reading books of that persuasion, and eventually that person’s influence will affect that church adversely.

In addition to those three questions, be sure and visit a church’s website as there you may be able to find the answers to these questions without making the phone call. When on a website, see if there is more talk about unity, “culture,” social justice, and relevancy than about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You can check out the doctrinal and mission statements but be on guard—a church can have a solid-sounding doctrinal statement and be actually going in an entirely different direction. Listen to an interview called Beware the Bridgers for some information on that. And by the way, remember who some of the more popular ”bridgers” are, closing the gap between “rightly dividing the Word” and spiritual deception in millions of people’s lives: Beth Moore, Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Tim Keller, John Piper, etc.—those who claim to be orthodox biblical Christians but who promote contemplative spirituality and/or emerging spirituality.

When on a church’s website, you can usually find out which conferences the church is involved with or recommending to their church members. The IF: Gathering conferences are growing tremendously in popularity all across North America, but as Cedric Fisher has documented in his booklet IF It is of God—Answering the Questions About IF: Gathering,  IF is an avenue through which emergent theology is entering the church. There are many other conferences and events, usually with high attendance, taking place yearly that are pumping up Christians with heretical ideas and “theologies.” If you find out a church you’ve been researching is involved in any of these, that is a big warning sign.

Also, once your search for a new church has narrowed down to a few churches, a weekday visit to those churches’ bookstores would be important. Look for books by Richard Foster, Gary Thomas, Henri Nouwen, Brennan Manning, and other authors discussed and critiqued on the LT website. Chris Lawson from Spiritual Research Network has a booklet that provides an extensive list of authors who fall within the contemplative, emerging camps. It’s an excellent resource.

While searching for a good church, it would be important to find out where a particular church is at in relation Jesus Calling and The Shack. Many churches have been allowing New Age ideas into their congregations through such books. Be sure to read former New Age follower Warren B. Smith’s materials which will help you identify what the New Age is and how it can disguise itself as a better, newer “Christianity.”  You might ask about women’s and men’s Bible study groups and which books are being used at these meetings. That will tell you a lot.

When all this has been done to find a Bible-believing church, if there are any in your community that have passed the contemplative/emerging/seeker-friendly/hyper-charismatic test, maybe it’s safe to take your family for a Sunday visit. Are many of the people walking in carrying Bibles? Seeker-friendly and church-growth churches discourage that because it might “offend” unbelievers (or as they say unchurched) coming to church. Does the pastor at some point in his sermon talk about the Cross (the atonement) and salvation (and mention of hell)? These are subjects that many churches avoid because of the “offensiveness” of that message. Better to offer an espresso drink and a little rock n roll music during the service and a psychology-based, feel-good message that appeals to the carnal senses (sensual) rather than build up the spiritual man.

Once you have found a church that seems to be sound, you should not stop being discerning. That must be ongoing. That might seem like a ”paranoid” or overly concerned attitude to have, but if we remember the many verses in Scripture that talk about spiritual deception (right from the Garden of Eden all the way to the Book of Revelation), we will realize it is the responsibility of the Christian to be discerning and watchful. And the Bible frequently talks about the latter days before Christ’s return where deception will run more rampant than ever before. Roger Oakland gives a list of signs to look for to see if a church is becoming or has become contemplative/emerging. As you begin to attend a new church, this list may be helpful to you and your family:

Scripture is no longer the ultimate authority as the basis for the Christian faith.

The centrality of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is being replaced by humanistic methods promoting church growth and a social gospel.

More and more emphasis is being placed on building the kingdom of God now and less and less on the warnings of Scripture about the imminent return of Jesus Christ and a coming judgment in the future.

The teaching that the church has taken the place of Israel and Israel has no prophetic significance is often embraced.

The teaching that the Book of Revelation does not refer to the future, but instead has been already fulfilled in the past.

An experiential mystical form of Christianity begins to be promoted as a method to reach the postmodern generation.

Ideas are promoted teaching that Christianity needs to be re­invented in order to provide meaning for this generation.

The pastor may implement an idea called “ancient-future” or “vintage Christianity” claiming that in order to take the church forward, we need to go back in church history and find out what experiences were effective to get people to embrace Christianity.

While the authority of the Word of God is undermined, images and sensual experiences are promoted as the key to experiencing and knowing God.

These experiences include icons, candles, incense, liturgy, labyrinths, prayer stations, contemplative prayer, experiencing the sacraments, particularly the sacrament of the Eucharist.

There seems to be a strong emphasis on ecumenism indicating that a bridge is being established that leads in the direction of unity with the Roman Catholic Church.

Some evangelical Protestant leaders are saying that the Reformation went too far. They are reexamining the claims of the “church fathers” saying that communion is more than a symbol and that Jesus actually becomes present in the wafer at communion.

There will be a growing trend towards an ecumenical unity for the cause of world peace—claiming the validity of other religions and that there are many ways to God.

Members of churches who question or resist the new changes that the pastor is implementing are reprimanded and usually asked to leave.

Roger has these signs listed in his booklet/article How to Know When the Emerging Church Shows Signs of Emerging into Your Church.

May God bless you and guide you in your search. It may seem like an insurmountable task, but we know there are still good churches out there because we often hear from pastors who are staying the course and are aware of the times in which we live. May God lead you to find one of these churches.

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural [carnal] man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. . . . For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:12-16)

Taizé Community And How it Affected My life

David Dombrowski

By David Dombrowski
Chief Editor of Lighthouse Trails Publishing

As one of the editors of Chris Lawson’s new book, Taizé—A Community and Worship: An Ecumenical Reconciliation or an Interfaith Delusion?, I was asked if I would write the foreword because I have a very curious history with Taizé in France. No, I have never been there, and what little I knew of it had nearly been forgotten when Chris Lawson’s book came across my desk. And yet, in an indirect way, Taizé has had a major impact on my life.

Before I explain all this, let me use an analogy of what transpired. In some ways, my life as a Christian has been like a battleground, but in my younger years, I was never too anxious to fight. Often, I was one of many who stood on the sidelines and just observed. But I’ve learned that this is not really a safe place to be; and when it comes to Taizé, I got caught in the crossfire.

Yes, I am a casualty to Taizé, but at the time, I did not realize from whence that flaming missile came. After reading this book by Chris, I now understand.

Let me share some memories of what happened. Having been raised Roman Catholic and entering my twenties, I was very familiar with what I would later realize as the bondage of Roman Catholicism—bondage to guilt, bondage to sinful habits and attitudes, but most especially, bondage to a false gospel of salvation (i.e., through participation of sacraments and good works).

When I was drafted into the U.S. Army at twenty years old, I experienced a spiritual crisis, and through meeting a born-again Christian fellow soldier and reading the Bible, I came to understand justification by grace through faith and of being born of God’s Spirit. I surrendered my life to the Lord as He captivated my heart and my life.

After this, I had a burning desire to serve the Lord for the rest of my life—in no matter what capacity God called me to. After my time in the service ended, an opportunity arose for me to join a Christian community composed of a group of Christians who served the Lord together. I wanted this because I felt I could serve the Lord better by working with other Christians rather than trying to serve the Lord alone.

I became an integral part of this community after getting to know the elder (second only to the senior elder) and meeting one of the members who had just returned from spending a year in France at a place called Taizé. He was very excited about his experience; but when he shared with me some of the “insights” he gained at Taizé (notably that doctrine was not important as long as there was unity), I expressed my concern that doctrine should be very important. He seemed offended with this and henceforth always distanced himself from me, but he and the elder I mentioned spent much time together in private discussions.

From Creative Commons; photo taken by Maciej Biłas; used with permission.

Fast-forward six years, for I had been with this Christian community for that length of time. The senior elder (who was also the founder) of the community had just been booted out. The other elder called it “discipline,” but as it turned out, he was never to come back. The elder, who largely headed up the disciplinary action, told the expelled senior elder he could return after he “repented,” but the fact is, our senior elder had nothing to repent of. You see, most of the leadership of the community had secretly conspired that all of us should become Catholic. Since the senior elder would not endorse such a move, they removed him. Eventually, they got rid of me too because I could not in good conscience go back to the Catholic Church.

During this time, a lot of upheaval took place whereby two of the married men were also kicked out of the community; in each case the wife and children stayed behind, the husbands never to see their wives again. The senior pastor (who had been expelled) had a married daughter with children, whom he never saw again; he died with a broken heart because of the estrangement from his daughter and grandchildren. Basically, this community had become a cult that had deceptively transformed itself from a loving Christian ministry into a Roman Catholic cloister.

Not long before I left the community, the elder, who had been conferring with the member who had been to Taizé, confided in me that becoming Catholic had been discussed privately years earlier. But the elder had told him and other members, “it’s not time yet!” As I read and helped edit this book on Taizé, I realized for the first time that Taizé had been perhaps the biggest catalyst in propelling the community I had once so dearly loved into Catholicism. When I learned that tens of thousands of young people go to Taizé every year, I knew we had no choice but to publish this warning.

Related:

Lighthouse Trails Has Gone to Press with Taize Book by Chris Lawson

Letter to the Editor: AWANA Now Teaching Children to Hear the Voice of God

LTRP Note: Today, the church is “reaping the fruit” of nearly 40 years of Spiritual Formation influence (since Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline was released in 1978). Lighthouse Trails has warned its readers on a number of occasions about the direction AWANA children’s club is going with regard to contemplative spirituality (i.e., Spiritual Formation) (see links below). In the letter to the editor (below our note), you can see that AWANA is now teaching children to “listen to God” (the goal in contemplative prayer).

We thought AWANA clubs purpose was to teach children the Word of God through memorization. Since when did they take it upon themselves to teach children to listen to God’s voice in two-way conversations during prayer? Is this not a gateway into Christian mysticism?

Regardless of what one believes about hearing God’s voice outside of Scripture, how is it AWANA’s place to teach children to engage in possibly dangerous “conversations”? Will they also be teaching children about discerning of spirits (that is, testing the spirits – 1 John 4:1-6) and that there are demonic spirits that are “speaking” to people? We hope so. AWANA is supposed to be teaching children the Word of God, helping children to store up God’s Word in their hearts. They now want to teach them how to take part in subjective mystical experiences. Remember, this is coming from an organization that has been promoting Spiritual Formation for several years. How can we trust them to teach children this? Will it not surely be slanted by proponents of contemplative spirituality?

Those who disagree with our posting this about AWANA are certainly entitled to that. But we have been researching AWANA for several years, and we believe this “listening to God” theme is just another stepping stone into dangerous mystical spirituality. Are we saying we do not believe in the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life? No. But we do not believe that there is some kind of taught art (i.e., technique, method, system) in listening to God’s voice as so many in the church are promoting today, just as we do not believe that Christians are supposed to go into a silent state of mind so they can really hear God. If these “practices” were so important to God and so essential to us, why aren’t they taught in the Bible? When the disciples wrote the New Testament, there is nothing to indicate that they sat in stillness entering some sort of sacred space and then began a kind of channeled writing. No. Rather, God inspired them through His Holy Spirit and led them to write the things they did.

Obviously, the parent who contacted us and wrote the letter to the editor is very concerned. And we are too. If you have children or grandchildren who participate in AWANA, we strongly urge you to examine all AWANA literature and teaching tools carefully as well as discuss your concerns with your children’s AWANA leaders, and make sure they understand the dangers of contemplative spirituality.

The big emphasis in today’s church is, “Hear God’s Voice!” It’s all about feel-good and mystical experiences. It is a great tragedy that the focus isn’t on “Know God’s Word” and allow the Lord through His Holy Spirit to work in our lives.

Jesus said, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17).
Dear Lighthouse Trails:

Thanks for warning us about AWANA.  I have been keeping an eye on their materials thanks to you.  AWANA’s new T&T book Mission: Evidence of Grace is coming out in July 2017.  Here are some quotes from “Section 4.2: Prayer” in the Student Handbook.

“Ask your friend to have a conversation, but keep talking and don’t let the other person speak … Ask how it felt when you wouldn’t stop talking.”

“Ask a parent or guardian: “Have you ever been friends with someone who did all the talking when you were together?  How did you feel when this happend [sic]?”

“God wants us to have a relationship with Him.  One way this relationship grows is when we talk to God and listen to God.  This is called prayer.”  (Emphasis added.)

“To have a relationship with another person, you have to communicate—to talk with each other.  The same is true of your relationship with God.”

“It is important to remember that a conversation involves two people talking.  We need to make sure that we are taking time to listen to God speak to us too.” (Emphasis added.)

“When you pray do you listen, as well as talk to God?”

You can download the sample at

http://awanatt.org/assets/files/EOG_Handbook-Sample_ESV.pdf

–Tammy

Related Information:

If you want to understand contemplative prayer and Spiritual Formation, read the following booklets: 5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer  and  Is Your Church Doing Spiritual Formation? (Important Reasons Why It Shouldn’t)

2007 – Special Alert: Awana Embraces Contemplative

2012 – Revisting Awana’s Move Toward Contemplative – And Another Look at “Perspectives on Children’s Spiritual Formation

2016 – A History of AWANA’s Contemplative Track Record and the Implications of Their New CEO

 

Holocaust Memorial Day – A Question of “Tolerance”?

Today, it is the 2017 Holocaust Memorial/Remembrance Day, and around the world people will be stopping to remember the atrocities committed against six million Jews and around five million others, murdered because of the madness of one man – Adolph Hitler. For those of you who follow the writings of Lighthouse Trails, you know we hold a special place in our hearts regarding the Holocaust, and indeed have two Holocaust survivors for authors (one a Jewish Christian and one a resistance worker). What we are about to say is prompted because of our commitment to bring the things of darkness to the light.

During the preparation of our two Holocaust books (Trapped in Hitler’s Hell and Things We Couldn’t Say), we turned to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) for photographs of the Holocaust that we could use in our books. The USHMM has thousands of photos, which are proof against any delusion that the Holocaust never happened. They say a picture is worth a thousand words; well think of what thousands of pictures are. So the world should be ever grateful to this Museum that has done well to preserve the past with the hope that such would never happen again.

Eight years ago, during the 2009 Holocaust Remembrance Day observations, when we learned that the USHMM had asked Barack Obama to be the keynote speaker for their ceremony, we realized that the true message of Holocaust remembrance was being lost. We could see that true message is being replaced with ideologies of tolerance, unification, globalism, and so forth. A 2009 press release put out by the USHMM stated:

We are honored that President Obama will participate in our Days of Remembrance ceremony,” said Fred S. Zeidman, Chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. “At this critical moment, with hatred and anti-Semitism on the rise in so many parts of the world, and genocide still a reality, we are reminded of the continued relevance of the Holocaust and the urgency of its lessons. What the Holocaust teaches us with such moral clarity is the power of the individual and the responsibility we all have to not stand silent in the face of injustice.”

The Bible says that unless a person is born again, he cannot comprehend the things of the Spirit. So we understand why the world views things the way they do, but unfortunately they have missed the real reason why the Holocaust happened, and why it may possibly happen again. While liberals and homosexuals are cashing in on the new Holocaust message of tolerance in order to propagate their agendas, the real meaning is being buried and ignored by most.

This true message is found within the pages of Scripture. In the Old Testament, God made a covenant with the Jews, and in the New Testament, God offered man a promise of salvation and eternal life for all who accepted this new covenant, which was sealed by the blood of Jesus Christ through His death and resurrection. Within the pages of Scripture are details about God’s enemy, Satan, who hates God’s covenant with man. From the beginning of the Jewish people, they have been hated by Satan, and after the resurrection, when Christianity began, he has hated Christians as well.

The wrath that was poured out by Hitler, particularly to Jews (and anyone who helped them, of which many were Christians) was instigated, not because Hitler wasn’t “tolerant” or because he wasn’t a “globalist.” It was because he was indwelled with an anti-Christ spirit that hates anything to do with the covenant God has made with man. As the Bible explains, Lucifer (Satan) has the aspiration of being “like the Most High” (Isaiah 14). The Bible says he is the father of lies, confusion, and every evil thing. Christians who have studied the Holocaust and read about the horrible rage that was released against the Jews know that no one man could have done this alone. We understand that Hitler was demonically inspired.

The “tolerance” message deceives people into thinking that it cares about people being treated equally and justly, but in reality it is an anti-God, anti-freedom message. Hidden within its core is the idea that no one belief system can be the only way to God or truth; hidden within its core is an anti-Christ zeal that determines to lash out against God’s covenant with man. For instance, to say Christianity is true and Islam isn’t would be seen as intolerance and therefore evil. But in essence, both faiths are diametrically opposite of each other (even though they may share certain moral values) to how one is brought into a right relationship with God. Islam portrays human effort as being the primary catalyst for such a relationship, whereas Christianity’s emphasis is on a Savior who puts a person in a right relationship with God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, not of man’s own doing. Since Islam rejects this, a devout Christian has to reject Islam. Thomas Merton knew that doctrinally the two beliefs could never come together; he came to believe that it was only through mysticism they could unite. In Ray Yungen’s book, A Time of Departing he discloses Merton’s views on this:

In a dialogue with a Sufi leader, Merton asked about the Muslim concept of salvation. The master wrote back stating:

Islam inculcates individual responsibility for one’s actions and does not subscribe to the doctrine of atonement or the theory of redemption.

To Merton, of course, this meant little because he believed that fana and contemplation were the same thing. He responded:

Personally, in matters where dogmatic beliefs differ, I think that controversy is of little value because it takes us away from the spiritual realities into the realm of words and ideas … in words there are apt to be infinite complexities and subtleties which are beyond resolution. . . .  But much more important is the sharing of the experience of divine light [mysticism] . . . It is here that the area of fruitful dialogue exists between Christianity and Islam. (emphasis added)1

Merton was basically saying that the doctrine of redemption and atonement through Christ was “of little value.” This also reflects the view of the emerging church that tolerance is more virtuous than faith, and that faith can actually be unvirtuous. As illustrated in the movie, Doubt, doubt and uncertainty unites. The priest in Doubt does a homily on doubt, and the fundamentalist in the movie (Meryl Streep) sees that as dangerous but in the end, she herself doubts. The point of the film is that uncertainty is good. Father Flynn is a Thomas Merton type priest in the sense that firm conviction is not necessarily a good thing. This is consistent with the emerging church and where emergent leader Tony Jones says in his book, The New Christians that uncertainty (including uncertainty of Scripture) is better than certainty and where Brian McLaren says we still haven’t got the Gospel right (A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 293).

The world thinks that if it teaches “tolerance,” that the Holocaust will never happen again. But the very message behind this kind of “tolerance” could actually cause it to happen again because tolerance, according to the world, is against the God of the Old and New Testament and against the people with whom He has made a covenant. But until Jesus Christ returns, which He has promised to do, Satan will be free to attack and destroy. The Bible says that as the days of Christ’s return draw closer, what takes place in the world will be like the birth pangs of a woman in labor. The pangs intensify the closer the birth becomes. And that is why spiritual deception continues to expand, quite quickly now.

While we have appreciated the efforts of the USHMM to preserve the evidence of the Holocaust, we are disappointed that they have latched onto the “tolerance” message that ultimately will reject the Jews and the Christians.

We must add something here too about homosexual activists, because they are the strongest and most out-spoken group for “tolerance.” But they have used the Holocaust and many of its stories, such as The Diary of Anne Frank, to compare their “plight” with that of the Jews in World War II. While it may be true that Hitler did eventually lash out against homosexuals, a number of the prominent Nazis, such as Ernst Rohm, were homosexuals.

For those who may be skeptical, read the following, which is from William Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, perhaps one of the best works ever written on understanding Hitler:

He who was so monumentally intolerant by his very nature, was strangely tolerant of one human condition – a man’s morals. No other party in Germany came near to attracting so many shady characters. As we have seen, a conglomeration of pimps, murderers, homosexuals, alcoholics and blackmailers flocked to the party as if to a natural haven” (p. 121-122).

Later, pressure was put on Hitler to rid his organization of these types. But he was not intolerant of the homosexuals – that wasn’t why he turned on them. Hitler was intolerant of anything that stood in his way to bring about a super race of people that excluded, in particularly, the Jews and those who loved them.

We want to make one thing clear. Lighthouse Trails does not advocate persecution of people of any race, religion, or persuasion. We do not believe any person should be treated with hateful or cruel behavior, either physically or verbally. What we are trying to get across is that the tolerance message is too binding in a theological sense and restricts the preaching of the Gospel. It will never work for biblical Christianity because, as Christians, we have to insist that the blood of Jesus Christ is the only way to be reconciled with God, and the tolerance message rejects such an approach.

Some may wonder how this all ties in with Obama speaking for the US Holocaust Memorial Museum ceremony. Obama represents a new kind of “Christianity,” one that looks more like Brian McLaren’s spirituality than biblical Christianity and one that lines up with the “tolerance” message in that Obama believes that other religions are legitimate paths to God:

Obama does clearly believe that the form of Christianity that he committed to at Trinity Church in 1985 is not the only path to God. “I am rooted in the Christian tradition,” he has said. Nevertheless he asserts, “I believe there are many paths to the same place and that is a belief there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people.” He first saw his broad embrace of faith modeled by his mother. “In our household,” he has explained, “The Bible, [t]he Koran, and the Bhagavad Gita sat on the shelf . . . on Easter or Christmas Day my mother might drag me to a church, just as she dragged me to the Buddhist temple, the Chinese New Year celebration, the Shinto shrine, and ancient Hawaiian burial sites.”2

It is the following words that Satan hates and does all he can to destroy, but try as he might, he never will. It is the light that shines in a dark world. And a merciful, patient God calls out.

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father [God], but by me. John 14:6

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. I John 4: 9-10

And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood. Revelation 1:5

It is our prayer that many Jews around the world will come to see Jesus Christ as their Messiah and not be deceived by this “tolerance” message that in the end will hate them and persecute them. Historically, the Jewish people have been a trusting people . . .  this is one message we hope they won’t buy into.

Notes:
1. Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2nd ed. 2006) p. 59, citing Rob Baker and Gray Henry, Editors, Merton and Sufism (Louisville, KY: Fons Vitae, 1999), p. 110.

2. Stephen Mansfield, The Faith of Barack Obama (Thomas Nelson) p. 55, quoting from Audacity of Hope, Obama, p. 203. (See our article.)

The article above was originally posted on the Lighthouse Trails Research blog in 2009 but remains relevant today.

Related Articles and Resources on the Holocaust:

 Oprah Winfrey’s New Age “Christianity” (Part 2) – Neale Donald Walsch, “God,” and Hitler

Lighthouse Trails Resources on the Holocaust


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