Archive for the ‘Contemplative Denominations’ Category

Dear Pastors and Christian Leaders—Have You Grown Careless Toward the Gospel?

By David Dombrowski
Editor at Lighthouse Trails

Often times, people call our office asking what denomination we are. We realize that this is a probing question designed to find out more about us. The truth is, Lighthouse Trails Publishing has never been affiliated with any denomination. From the onset, nearly thirteen years ago, we have always endeavored to be connected with the body of believers scattered throughout the world who are very concerned, as we are, with the state of the church today. Many of our readers have told us they felt very alone and even ostracized in witnessing the apostasy in the churches today prior to their finding our website and realizing there were other Christians who saw what they did.

We know firsthand how it feels to be labeled troublemakers for having legitimate concerns about what is happening in the church today. We too have felt disillusioned as we have witnessed a gradual departure in the churches from the Word of God. Pulpits throughout the land, many of which formerly proclaimed the biblical Gospel of God’s saving grace through the sacrifice on the Cross now espouse an assortment of pseudo-gospel, pop-psychology, seeker-friendly, Purpose-Driven, emerging, New Age, mystical/contemplative spirituality that may be chicken soup for the soul but what God calls an abomination (Deuteronomy 18:10-12). It is no wonder that God in referring to the lukewarm warns that He is ready to “spew thee” out of His mouth” (Revelation 3:16). How much better it would have been if churches and their pastors had stuck with John 3:16!

Out of this frog’s slow-cooking kettle,  some emerged only to witness that a great many were staying in the pot. Many discerning believers now find they have become watchmen for the Lord, compelled by God to sound out a clear warning of the impending doom of the church. In fact, it appears that God  is presently calling out believers from various denominations to stand up and be counted among those who refuse to comply with the compromised experience-driven Christianity of today. Yes, God is calling out His own.

If you love Jesus Christ and His Word and if you really want to serve Him, now is the time to be fully surrendered to the Lord without reservation. Whatever the cost. We are invited to the wedding feast, ready to meet our Savior, with wicks trimmed and lamps burning. Now is the time to make ready.

Nearly on a daily basis, we witness our very earth in what seems like birth pangs— be it nuclear threat, terrorism, hurricanes, earthquakes, or tornadoes—or violence, wars and rumors of war—while most people seem almost oblivious to what is happening (or may see something is amiss but do not turn to Scripture and Bible prophecy to understand the implications). Again, God is sounding out a warning to make ready.

Even now, while the reality of the Antichrist and a one-world religion is looming closer and closer all the time, preachers and teachers are sitting at their desks inking out sermons that discredit Bible prophecy.

If you are a pastor, let us remind you that you have a great responsibility. When we first began Lighthouse Trails Publishing, we contacted our pastor at that time, trying to encourage him to warn his congregation of the apostasy that was beginning to creep into the church back then. His reply was that he lives in a bubble and consequently sees no need to warn his congregation about anything as long as he keeps expounding the Word to them. Our reply to him was “you may be in a bubble, but your congregation is not.” The question is this: if it is not the pastor’s job to warn his congregation of impending spiritual danger, whose job is it? In the Old Testament, the prophets referred to individuals with this kind of responsibility as watchmen or shepherds. The prophet Zechariah, for example, has much to say about the responsibilities of a shepherd in chapters 10 and 11. In referring to the spiritual condition of his day, he said:

For the idols have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie, and have told false dreams; they comfort in vain: therefore they went their way as a flock, they were troubled because there was no shepherd. (Zechariah 10:2)

Nothing could speak more succinctly of the condition of the church today. We never dreamed in all our years as Christians that there would ever be such blatant heresy as we see in the organized Christian church today. Years ago, we would never have imagined that anyone would be given the green light to stand in front of a congregation and deny the atonement of Jesus Christ. Yet this is exactly what is happening in the emerging/progressive/contemplative “church” as well as in some of our Bible colleges and seminaries. Many have fallen from a great height, and we should be mourning as God surely must be mourning.

If you are a pastor who feels that it is not your calling to warn your congregation, let us remind you that the closest New Testament equivalent to the Old Testament watchmen or shepherd’s is the position of a pastor. There is a time for speaking uplifting encouraging words of peace and comfort—but when ravenous wolves are about, is it not wiser to “reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2)?

WHAT IS THE TEST?

Sometimes we are asked, what is the criteria for deciding whether or not a doctrine or practice is biblical or validates criticism. Over the years, many  pastors, elders, and youth pastors have contacted us and told us we have no business in doing what we are doing. We have often thought after hearing this that what we would like to say in reply is, “If you pastors were doing it, people like us wouldn’t have to.” It has not been a pleasant task, but the church needs to be warned of the impending danger. If you have read our books, then you understand what we are talking about.

But getting back to the question, what is the test for deciding if a particular teaching or practice validates criticism? There is but one test that we have used consistently from the inception of Lighthouse Trails. The Book of Proverbs says: “A false balance is an abomination to the Lord: but a just weight is his delight (Proverbs 11:1).

And again from Proverbs: “Divers weights are an abomination unto the Lord; and a false balance is not good  (Proverbs 20:23).

It is interesting that Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, placed such emphasis on accurate scales. It is even more amazing that God would call false scales an abomination – amazing only until we realize that God is speaking of the spiritual—not just physical, scales here.

So what we are looking for is a spiritual balancing scale—something that will reappear throughout the Bible—through the Old and New Testaments. There is such a scale, a consistent theme, which John refers to in his first epistle:

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. (1 John 4:1-3)

Some Bible commentators have believed that John was referring here to a particular sect who denied that Jesus Christ actually came in a human body. If that is all John meant, then this passage is of little relevance to us today, because you will scarcely find anyone who does not believe that Jesus as a historical figure was a man who walked the earth. But the name Jesus Christ in this passage is not a historical term; it is a name loaded with meaning —referring to Jesus as the Messiah, God come in the flesh, our Savior and Redeemer, who atoned for our sins. If we look at the context of 1 John 4, we can verify that this is what John is talking about because in it he says, “And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world” (1 John 4:14). In other words, John is saying here, I am referring to the Jesus I wrote about in my gospel— the Word made flesh who in the beginning was with God and was God (see John, chapter 1).

This is the balancing scale we have been looking for. Just as all human history and our blessed hope hinges on what Jesus did on the Cross, so too we can weigh a doctrine or practice by whether or not it agrees with the fact that we are justified by faith alone through the atoning, redemptive work of Christ on the Cross. The question then is, does a particular doctrine or teaching agree with the Gospel the apostles all preached?

With this discerning tool in hand, if you stop to measure all of the world’s religions and systems, you will find that all of these are opposed to the Gospel. The natural man will not acknowledge the need for a Savior, consequently all of the world’s belief systems (except biblical Christianity) are works based—believing that it is possible to earn our way into Heaven or to become “Christ-like” through mysticism and “spiritual disciplines.” But the Gospel says it is not possible. John knew all too well the contrariness of the natural man and the world’s belief systems. That is why in the same chapter of his epistle, he offers another test:

[H]e that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. (1 John 4:6)

In other words, John is saying that when the world rejects you for sharing the Gospel, it is because the Spirit of truth in not in them.

Whichever way you look at it, the Gospel is the fulcrum of our balance in discerning truth from error. When Lighthouse Trails Publishing began, this became, and has always been, our standard of truth and also the deciding factor as to whether something is significant enough to bring to the attention of our readers. We are careful not to get involved in issues in the church where the Gospel is not attacked or compromised; but when it is we are compelled to speak up— because as believers in Christ, we are called to defend the Gospel; and is that not the calling of pastors especially?

The Gospel is the most precious thing on God’s heart, and it is worthy of our defense and protection. Wouldn’t you like to be remembered as a man (or woman) after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13: 14)? If so, then defend the Gospel.

You may recall that in the Old Testament the Israelites took great pains in transporting the Ark of the Covenant. According to the instructions given by God to Moses (Exodus 25:13-15), the Ark was to be carried by staves (poles) on the shoulders of the Levites (1 Chronicles 15:15). However, in 1 Chronicles 13:7-10, contrary to Moses’ specific instructions, they put the Ark on a cart to be pulled by oxen. But the unexpected happened. When “Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark, for the oxen stumbled . . . the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him” (1 Chronicles 13:9-10). The Levites, who were the “pastors” of that day, were careless about following Moses’ instructions; and it ended up costing a life. The Ark of the Covenant was a type and foreshadowing of the Gospel. It was sprinkled with blood to symbolize Christ’s death on the Cross. Today, similar to back then, so many pastors and Christian leaders have become careless about the Gospel. If you are one who has grown careless with the Gospel, isn’t it time to make some changes and return to following the instructions of the Lord?

More Contemplative Spiritual Formation from Herald Press

By Menno-Lite

Herald Press, the book publishing imprint of MennoMedia (Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA) which publishes books from ‘an Anabaptist perspective,’ brings you their newest title:

“A new book addressing the deepest questions of the soul, The Spacious Heart: Room for Spiritual Awakening, was released by Herald Press in early September. The authors, siblings Donald Clymer and Sharon Clymer Landis, offer 12 keys, or insights, for unlocking the heart for spiritual growth.

Don is a spiritual director and Spanish professor who has led cross-cultural semesters at Eastern Mennonite University, in Harrisonburg; younger sister Sharon is a writer, spiritual director, and retreat leader from eastern Pennsylvania…

…Don first became involved in spiritual direction as a mentee, and then took training to be a spiritual director. He has been giving spiritual direction since 2003. Both Don and Sharon also blog regularly at http://www.donrclymer.blogspot.com and http://www.spiritsongsl.blogspot.com, respectively.” Click here to continue reading this article.

Contemplative Spiritual Formation in Mennonite Sunday School Curriculum

By Menno-Lite Blog

The September issue of the Mennonite Brethren Herald[1] is promoting a long awaited new curriculum for children from age 3 to grade 8. Shine has been in the works for three years, and is now available and coming to Sunday School classrooms in a Mennonite church near you.

The new Sunday school curriculum Shine: Living in God’s Light for fall quarter 2014 is now available from MennoMedia and Brethren Press, the publishing houses of the Church of the Brethren, Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA.

New Anabaptist curriculum Shines
http://mbherald.com/new-anabaptist-curriculum-shines/

The article explains the importance of one of the aspects of this curriculum – the spiritual formation of children:

Why is spiritual formation for children important, and why do you call it that now instead of “Sunday school”?
Sunday school indicates a school model based on acquiring information. We certainly want children to become biblically literate, but we hope for something much deeper. Spiritual formation happens in vibrant communities of God’s Spirit. One of the things we try to convey is that children’s natural language of prayer is thanksgiving. They need to experience joy and hope. Children also need to know that God walks with us in difficult times. God’s love transforms our lives, so we can show God’s love and call others to follow the Prince of Peace.[2]

To find out what this spiritual formation for children looks like, a link provided to the Shine resource website[3], explains further what will be taught. Click here to continue reading.

Letter to the Editor: Please Update Note on Calvary Chapel’s Earlier Statement on Emerging and Purpose Driven

Dear Lighthouse Trails:
First of all, thank you for the continue steadfastness and faithfulness to God’s Word while being under a lot of pressure to conform in these the last of the last days. I have been blessed time and time again by the articles, as well as the other resources available through Lighthouse Trails.

This morning I read the article-http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/resistersdieorleave.htm. It was such an encouragement since I have recently gone through this at a local Christian school. Regardless, the Lord has used it for my good and I’m sure His glory. Anyway, at the end of the article it mentions in a special note the Calvary boycott of Purpose Driven and emergent focused materials as resources.

The question I have is would it possible, since that is no longer the case, to edit the special note section or add an addendum to it. I chose to post the article on FB this morning, but was hesitant because of the note at the end. Sadly, as you know better than most, many Calvarys have recently openly begun aligning themselves with Rick Warren’s and other emergent leaders’ message and materials. I’ll be adding a comment under my FB explaining the change since 2006, however in an attempt to be as current and clear as possible, I wonder if editing the note in the article might be wise.

Again, thanks for your time and continued stand on the Word. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6:12-13

In Christ alone,

Richard (not real name)

Dear Richard:

Thank you for your note. We decided your advise was good so have added an updated note just under the 2006 (which we now dated).

Our Note (from 2006): Recently the Calvary Chapel movement (founded by Chuck Smith, Sr.) made a bold declaration when they decided to reject the emerging and contemplative prayer movements and to discontinue their support and use of all Purpose Driven materials. Many applaud this bold and sacrificial action. See our Special Report.
UPDATED NOTE ( 2014): Unfortunately, over the past 8 years since the above “Special Note” was posted, there have been many Calvary Chapel churches that have not heeded the 2006 warnings by the now-late Chuck Smith, Sr. but have rather accepted, promoted, and even embraced emerging/contemplative and/or Purpose Driven beliefs.

Related Information:

Calvary Chapel Bookstore on Jesus Calling: Hush!! It’s Controversial – We Keep it in the Back Room

Greg Laurie Connects Purpose Driven to a Move of God – Gives Financial Support

California Church Disaffiliates With the Calvary Chapel Movement Over Heretical Connections

A Commentary: Why Are So Many Departing From Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa?

Letter to the Editor: Main Calvary Chapel Bookstore Just Added Rick Warren’s Daniel Plan Book

Further Implications of Calvary Chapel North Coast Event – Lynne Hybels Presence Shows Serious Move Toward Apostasy

Calvary Chapel Breached

SPECIAL REPORT: Calvary Chapel Termination Has Profound Implications

New Era of Calvary Chapel Worship?

Is Your Denomination or Church A Sinking Titanic?

By Roger Oakland
Understand the Times, International

The Titanic was one of the greatest ships that has ever sailed the seas. When built it was considered unsinkable. Today, when the name Titanic is mentioned, we think of one thing – the boat that was, is no more. It’s at the bottom of the sea. What a legacy!

The name “Titanic” has become synonymous with the idea that a disaster can be avoided. You see, the sinking of the Titanic provides an analogy of what can happen to human aspirations when humbled by circumstances. A great ship that was deemed to be unsinkable – sank because it hit an iceberg. The disaster did not have to happen if proper precautions had been taken.

The Process of Sinking the Titanic
In the case of the Titanic, human pride and accomplishment came to a tragic end in a moment. The Titanic was on its maiden voyage. The captain was sailing in dangerous waters. Although he had been warned to be careful, the boat was thought to be invincible. But of course we know now, this was not the case.

Nature and its forces intervened to show mankind is subservient. Of course, the Titanic provides an excellent spiritual lesson for those who study the Bible. Great things, great countries, and great leaders can come to and end when a sovereign God pulls the plug.

The history of Christianity shows that the sinking of the Titanic can help us to understand what often happens to denominations and organizations. There comes a time when an organization that was sailing successfully, hits an iceberg and then takes on water.

In the case of the Titanic, the circumstances that brought about the sinking of the ship could have been avoided. Perhaps the captain got a bit too confident. Or maybe the crew was giving him faulty information.

Maybe some of the crew wanted the captain to make a mistake. Maybe some of the crew wanted to be captain when the captain retired or died. Whatever the case, the dangerous waters could have been avoided. If only a watchman would have sounded the alarm. Of course the captain would have had to listen and act accordingly.

But as we know, if there was a watchman who warned the captain, the captain did not listen. The mighty ship hit an iceberg that knocked a hole in the wall of the ship. Some felt the bump but there were those who did not. Soon the boat began to take on water. Then the boat began to list. At first the party continued until it became apparent there was a serious problem.

Eventually concern turned into panic. There was a mad scramble for the lifeboats. As the boat went into its final dive, many had to jump off in desperation. Some were saved but many were not. The ship went down to the bottom of the Atlantic. The greatest ship that had ever been built did not make it to America. How tragic! How sad!

The Process of Sinking a Denomination
Now, think for a moment. Could a Christian denomination go the way of the Titanic? Could the process of sinking be avoided? Is it possible that the captain could foresee the inevitable but do nothing to prevent it?

Over the years of history, many denominations and movements that were once sailing “smoothly” went down just like the Titanic. Apparently, given time, this is what happens, and it just cannot be avoided.

Why is this so? The answer is simple. Christians are humans and human behavior can be predicted.

It is at this point in the analogy that I want to point out a difference. The similarity of using the captain of a ship in comparison with the leader of a denomination may not be appropriate. Denominations, while they may have a moderator or a president, also have others who are striving for position.

The Roman Catholic Church would be a good example. The pope is the top guy. However, next in line are the cardinals. Following this are the bishops, the priests, and finally the people.

There comes a time when the pope gets old and weak. Common sense says there must be a new pope in the making. The new pope is always chosen from the cardinals. While I have never been in a meeting where the next pope was about to be chosen, I am sure there is a lot of political lobbying.

Of course, in order to take over as pope, it is advantageous to be well known. Most cardinals start out as ordinary sheep. First they have to become a priest. A bishop is the next step up the ladder before taking over as cardinal. Cardinals wear different hats and different robes and are noticeably different looking than a bishop. You can pick a cardinal out in a crowd. Besides they always get to speak at the important conferences.

You see, denominations that have hierarchies like the Roman Catholic system are looking for trouble. Without knowing it, there is a tendency to get one’s eyes off Jesus and on to a human system. Rather than focusing on being a servant and reaching people, there is a possibility to seek after success for the cause of developing personal kingdoms.

When denominations take on the essence of secular corporations, the Spirit of God departs. When this happens, it is very difficult to recover. Further, the love that once was abundant in this fellowship goes south.

The cardinals in the organization who are seeking after position put the pope between them and Jesus. Sometimes, the cardinals are better known than the pope. They can even veto the pope and do their own thing if they choose.

This pattern that develops is also quite contagious. The pope model of leadership actually gets cloned and passed down. Churches within the denomination play a game similar to follow the leader. Staff members and assistant pastors at these churches follow the law of the corporation. This means one hundred percent loyalty to man is required. When one is not one hundred percent loyal, you are shown the door. Too bad if you were attempting to serve Jesus!

When carnal people are driven to be loyal to a man rather than to Jesus, there is a potential to even perform illegal acts. However, while this is happening, those who are being loyal don’t realize that anything is wrong. They are still God’s men. They are just doing what they believe to be right.

At first, the common people can’t see there is a problem. However, there are signs indicating that something is wrong. Some begin to warn others. When they warn, they are told they are traitors. They are told if they don’t like what they see they should find another boat. However, they don’t want to find another boat. They liked the boat the way it was before it became a submarine.

Eventually, the secular media reports there are problems that should have been addressed. Dirty laundry is placed in public view. Why didn’t someone wash these dirty clothes before?

Finally, the passengers start to panic. “Why didn’t the captain tell us sooner?” they shout as they scramble to save themselves from drowning. The only option they have is to get off the ship and find a lifeboat.

Learning from the Titanic
All is not lost. There is good news even though a movement or a denomination sinks.

Christian history reveals there is always a remnant that survives when the ship goes down. There are many sincere Bible-believing pastors who want to do what is right. They love God’s Word. They know that its not about property, possession and power. They want to feed the sheep and reach the lost. Isn’t that the way the denomination started in the first place?

God is sovereign, you see. Jesus said, “Upon this rock, I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” While Satan has his plan, God has the right plan. All those who trust in Jesus alone will spend eternity with Him.

This is what keeps me going!

We are in the last days. Many churches that once were giving their all to be biblical are now gone off track. The Scriptures state we should not be surprised. Satan is out to take down every Christian organization that once stood for truth.

Are you going to let him take you down?

This is a time to get serious about truth. Pastors of churches that proclaim the truth will be like lighthouses that shine bright into the darkness in the future. The darker that it gets, the brighter their lights will shine.

If you know a church, a fellowship, or a movement that is like the Titanic, PRAY. Pray the captain will warn the people that which is underway. Let the light of God’s Word shine into darkness and reveal Satan’s plans.

Pray that the things that have been hidden in darkness will be brought into the light. God cannot use an organization that allows darkness to exist alongside it. In these days, judgment must begin in the house of the Lord. God is a righteous God. He hates darkness. God would not be God if this were not the case.

I am excited what God is going to do. Aren’t you?

Remember – the Titanic!

Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:  And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. Matthew 7: 24-27

California Church Disaffiliates With the Calvary Chapel Movement Over Heretical Connections

LTRP Note: As many of you know, Roger Oakland, of Understand the Times, International, and Chris Lawson, of Spiritual Research Network, are former Calvary Chapel pastors/teachers, who both left the movement when their warnings about the infiltration of serious false teachings fell on deaf ears for several years and when they felt they could no longer, in good conscience, remain associated with the movement. Last week, Lighthouse Trails was informed of another Calvary Chapel pastor, Steve Shively of Refuge Church in Atascadero, California, who has made the decision (along with his church elders) to disaffiliate from the Calvary Chapel movement. The following letter was sent to the Calvary Chapel Association on June 29th, 2014. We are posting it with permission:

refugechurch

Click to enlarge

 

Presbyterians (USA) Vote to Allow Homosexual ‘Marriages’ by 3-1 Ratio

By Editors at Christian News Network

RNS-PRESBY-GAYSDETROIT — The 1.8 million-member Presbyterian Church (USA) voted Thursday (June 19) to allow homosexual ‘weddings,’ making it among one of the largest religious groups to take an embracing step toward openly supporting homosexuality.

By a 76-24 percent vote, the General Assembly of the PCUSA voted to allow their pastors to perform homosexual “marriages” in states where they are considered legal. Delegates, meeting in Detroit this week, also approved new language about marriage in the PCUSA Book of Order, or constitution, altering references to “a man and woman” to “two persons.”

This change will not become church law until a majority of the 172 regional presbyteries vote to ratify the new language. But given the lopsided 3-1 ratio of the vote, approval is expected.

Homosexual activists within the PCUSA rejoiced at their victory, which was remarkable for its margin of victory after multiple years of razor-thin defeats. Click here to continue reading.

Related Articles:

Presbyterians in Mexico to break with apostate PCUSA on homosexuality

Presbyterians to consider redefining marriage

 

 


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