Archive for the ‘CHILDREN AT RISK!’ Category
LTRP Note: The following is from chapter one of Carolyn A. Greene’s book Dangerous Illusions (the sequel to Castles in the Sand). As far as we know, these are the only two novels ever published that delve into the evilness of the contemplative prayer/emerging church movement. The setting for Castles in the Sand is a Christian college where a young naive girl becomes deeply involved in mystical practices that her Spiritual Formation professor has introduced her to. In Dangerous Illusions, the story continues but is now taking place in a small mountain town in the U.S. where an unsuspecting church becomes victim to a dangerous deception that is masqueraded as a better more progressive Christianity. Every college-age young person (and their parents) should read these two important (and suspenseful!) books.
Dangerous Illusions—Chapter 1 by Carolyn A. Greene and Zach Taylor
It was nothing like he’d thought it would be. Rob Carlton walked the narrow brick and mortar path following close behind the robed monk. Hands in his jacket pockets, his neck enveloped by his upturned corduroy collar, and his knitted cap pulled low over his ears, Rob looked up as they passed an old brick office building belonging to the monastery. A certain sacred ambience lingered in the air.
The mountain wind buffeted Rob’s back, and the low-lying cloud cover obscuring the knife-edged peaks disseminated late spring snow on both him and the monk. Rob was cold, but he fought the urge to make haste, and in lockstep, paced himself with that of his companion while listening politely to quiet explanations. Rob asked the occasional question while half-wishing he’d never come, yet at the same time, strangely glad he did.
It had been a long one-hundred miles from Birch Valley, and he had plenty of time to think. All week long Stephanie had been insistent that he go, and on the Saturday morning that was his usual day to sleep in late, he found himself packing a small suitcase, listening in veiled irritation as she chattered away while preparing his favorite hotcakes-and-sausage breakfast. After twenty years of marriage, she was an impossible woman to refuse, for she knew all the right buttons to push. And one morning along the way, he awoke, struck with the startling realization that she had evolved into the kind of woman who could make his life quietly miserable while smiling to herself, convinced that whatever she required of him was in his best interest. It was she who was into this monastic mystical stuff, not him. Her quirky yet altogether feel-good theology had lately taken a dramatic turn.
At first, when she had begun traversing what he considered a slippery slope, Stephanie was content to leave him be with his old-time Baptist tradition. She, on the other hand, voraciously read books by obscure authors (ones he’d never heard of anyway) and engaged herself in a wide variety of spiritual exercises.
It was when she began watching the videos that she turned a corner, urging and, of late, demanding he become involved. His joking rebuffs were increasingly met with a self-righteous hostility. “You’re an elder of a failing church,” she snipped, “and you’re not even interested in giving the congregation the shot in the arm it needs.”
So he gave in and agreed to meet with the monk. Rob had fumed his first hour behind the wheel, but the more he thought about it, the more he felt she might have a point. His traditionalist mentality was getting Sheep Gate Lane Church, or Sheep Gate as the members called it, nowhere—and fast. To be sure, the old ways were comfortable and doctrinally sound, but the atmosphere of the church was now dry and devitalized. He really did care about the spiritual life of folks he had loved and fellowshipped with for the past decade; he just didn’t know what to do to get them interested anymore—or to renew his own interest, for that matter. Lately it seemed as if the entire concept and reality of church life was lacking a certain vitality.
But worst of all, the congregation was thinning out, and it was no longer the life-changing experience it used to be for those who remained. One thing he knew for sure—account books don’t lie. Offerings had dropped significantly over the past few months, and at the current drop-out rate, the church would close its doors before the new year began. Given his position as a salaried staff member, he was at risk. The imminent doom of surrendering a comfortable lifestyle for a spot in the unemployment line did not sit well with Rob at all.
And now here he was, following some robed monk down an ancient-looking stone path far removed from anything he’d ever known. He glanced backward periodically, half-expecting to see a reporter from the Birch Barker Weekly snapping his photo for the newspaper’s next exposé. Rob had the feeling that everybody in Birch Valley knew precisely what he was up to. Yet it was supposed to be done in secret. “Remember, don’t tell anyone you are going up there,” Stephanie had reminded him. She had even suggested he not take his iPhone with him at all.
“Tell me again why no one can know,” Rob had asked as he zipped his suitcase closed and grabbed his jacket.
“There are people—like Jacob Brown—who would resist changes—the kind of changes I’m thinking about—if he got wind of it. I can just hear him now at some emergency-called, all-church meeting saying, ‘This kind of thing is going against the Gospel,’” Stephanie mocked. “How many times have I heard Jacob say something like that! Sometimes I can’t help wish Jacob Brown would just . . .”
“Stephanie! Don’t even say such a thing!”
“Well, after all, he is getting up there in years.”
Rob had left the house with Stephanie still going on. She followed him to the car and continued talking to him through the open car window as he backed down the driveway to the road. After he had gotten out of town and was heading up toward the monastery, he had realized how he hated this cloak-and-dagger stuff. He had wished the weekend was already over and done with just so he could report back to Stephanie that he had given it his best shot and found her ideas to be anything but feasible or doable.
Now, as Rob walked with the monk, he took a closer look at the young bearded man. His rough, brown hood was drawn across his face, and each hand poked into the warm and spacious robe sleeves. A gentleness and serenity emulated from him. Serenity—oh how Rob longed just for some peace.
As the monk’s robes whipped every which way in the wind, he led the way to the small tiled courtyard. They paused at an overlook at the edge of the gray stone wall that encircled the area. Speaking in a soft tone, the monk said, “As you can see, it’s a most idyllic setting for a retreat. It’s early yet, of course, and officially, we don’t house people until May, but your wife was so . . . insistent that you needed, well . . . some guidance, and she seemed familiar with our ways. She did say you might have some personal obstacles to overcome regarding some of our teachings, but we understand that not everyone who comes here for refreshing subscribes to our faith. We’re very aware, understanding, and accommodating when it comes to such matters. It’s the personal journey, not indoctrination, that we’re interested in.”
“So it doesn’t matter that I’m not Catholic?” Rob probed.
The young monk smiled warmly. “Not at all. We welcome people of all faiths here. We’ve had Protestants, Buddhists, even agnostics …”
Rob’s eyes widened. “Buddhists?”
The monk chuckled. “We often get that reaction from those involved in mainline religion or Christian fundamentalism. But on a more serious note, we believe we—that is, you, me, everybody—can learn from all spiritual paths, regardless of our upbringing or current faith. Up here, amidst this unspoiled solitude, we provide a place of refuge for all who come. We exist primarily to help facilitate an authentic spiritual journey for the seeking soul. Some of our most influential Catholic teachers of the past were involved with Zen teaching. While we don’t incorporate everything pertaining to that particular pathway into our spiritual disciplines here, we still believe much of it to be compatible with Christian theology.”
Rob leaned against the waist-high wall as he perused the gray, hand-fitted rock giving the impression of a medieval castle, a symbol of both comfort and fortification. The monastery proper included a chapel and connecting monks’ cells all built of the same locally quarried stone, giving an appearance simultaneously imposing and retiring—a monument, perhaps, to a bygone yet intensely spiritual era. Rob had to admit it was a pretty place. A blue-green sea of spruce, fir, and pine cascaded downward from the aerie; and the air was rich with the scent of residual winter snow that remained at this altitude. It had taken some fancy footwork, driving wise, for him to get there; and the switchback climb through pockets of mud and dingy snow had afforded him a few moments of high tension. But standing on the edge of the monastery’s overlook and drinking in the quiet, Rob reluctantly admitted to himself that it had been worth it. There was something about the place he couldn’t quite put his finger on—a prevailing, transcendent, “a way backward is a way forward” kind of atmosphere that brought back fond, childhood memories like fishing for lake trout or experiencing that ecstatic, full of hope and promise feeling so part and parcel of young love. Feeling a twinge of regret, he couldn’t remember if he’d kissed Stephanie goodbye before he rushed out the door and sped away. He’d have to make that up to her when he got home.
“Come,” the monk urged. “There’s something else I’d like to show you.” They left the courtyard and walked along a meandering flagstone pathway through what was more than likely a spectacular flower garden during the summer. Next, they passed by thickets of brown stems poking up through patches of snow until they came to a large, circular, cement pattern, roughly thirty feet around and built into the ground. Rob stared. He recognized it from the cover of one of Stephanie’s books. The book’s title came rushing to the forefront of his memory—The Labyrinth: Old and New.
It was an odd thing to see this maze-like structure in real life sitting in the heavily wooded grounds of the monastery. With its circles within circles, it had the distinct look and feel of something ancient. “This is a …” the monk began.
“Yes, I know,” Rob interrupted. “It’s a labyrinth.” He stared long and hard at it, thinking.
The monk regarded him with respectful silence then asked, “Would you like to . . . ?
Rob shook his head. “Not just yet,” he said somewhat sheepishly. “This is all so new and …” He shrugged. “You know.”
The monk placed a gentle hand on Rob’s shoulder. “Would you like to see one of our prayer huts?”
Rob nodded, and they made their way back to the courtyard and to a small wooden A-framed building. Inside the prayer hut, as it was called, it was warm and cozy, out of the wind, and heated by a small propane stove. Rob looked around in nervousness and wonder, shifting his gaze from a tall, stained-glass window that nearly filled one side of the front entrance wall to the triple-tiered racks of lighted votive candles in the front to the plain wood altar gussied up with a brace of gilt candlesticks. Behind the altar was a large cathedral window, which unveiled a not-too-distant view of fir and pine trees leading up a mountainside. The two A-frame walls were decorated with murals; and one Rob recognized—an ecstatic monk on his knees with his arms outstretched and his hands, feet, and side pierced in accordance with one of his visions. Francis of Assisi. What was it they called it? Stigmata. The actual wounds of Christ, they said. Rob looked up at the center of the wall to the hand-carved crucifix. The figure of the suffering Jesus overlooked the room from its placement above the altar. Rob stared upward, feeling strangely drawn. Despite the modern décor, the room exuded a kind of antiquity reminiscent of another place and time—perhaps dating as far back as a thousand years.
Rob sat down on a large cushion situated on one of the wooden benches that lined the walls. He sighed and gazed out the window. The monk sat next to Rob and said, “Many monasteries that act as retreat centers are more modern than ours. But as a community we felt much could be gained by keeping the atmosphere like it was for the original brothers who established the Order. Don’t you agree?” Rob nodded but said nothing. His countenance exemplified the struggle he was going through to rely on logic and reason. For a time, the monk sat quietly, hands folded in his lap, gazing alternately at the crucifix and then at Rob. Finally, he took a deep breath and asked, “Mr. Carlton, what is it you’re looking for? Your wife was not very specific, and though we don’t normally make it a habit to pry, I’m sensing a feeling of desperation in you that I’d like to help you through. That is, if you’ll let me.”
Rob studied the face of the young gentle man for a prolonged moment then let out a weary sigh. “I’ve got trouble, and I don’t know what to do.” No sooner had the words left his mouth than all he had been feeling came bubbling to the surface with such intensity, he couldn’t suppress it: the dying church, his wife’s nagging, his own helplessness and uncertainty, and the fear of losing his position. A hundred other things came forth too, all jumbled together. And although he wasn’t completely coherent, the young monk seemed to understand.
“It’s obvious what you and your people need,” he said in a comforting voice. “Renewal. You’ve languished in dead traditionalism for so long you don’t know how to “do church” any other way. Mr. Carlton, that’s why we’ve opened our doors to the public for the retreat. We, that is, the Catholic church at large and our little community specifically, have rediscovered the old ways, the paths that the ancient Christians took in their spiritual walk. It’s like I told you. It’s the journey that’s important. How we get there is personal, and what may look to some as, oh, heretical …” he said the word with a derisive smile, “is for another a valid tool for finding God. You understand?” Rob nodded.
“I think so,” he conceded. “But, again, I’m no Catholic . . .” The monk looked on patiently and spoke as if to a child. How funny it was—Rob was old enough to be his father, but here the “son” was comforting and mentoring the “father.”
“Like I said, you don’t have to be. The ways in which we teach here, as well as the practices and spiritual disciplines we teach, you can take back to your own church and incorporate. At least try it and see. What have you got to lose? We have many success stories, and most of them began similar to yours.” Rob pondered, and the monk stood. “Look,” he said, “why don’t you just sit here awhile and meditate. It’ll come to you, what you should do. I’ll pray for you. Come to the main office when you’re ready to go to your cell.” He turned to leave but stopped and looked down at Rob. “I should tell you though, that by accepting these teachings and putting them into practice, two things will happen: first, your life will go through some dramatic changes, and second, you will face opposition back home. Some won’t understand, and others will simply refuse to embrace a liberating spirituality. It’s largely out of fear this happens—fear of change—fear of others who are different. You have to prepare yourself for that.” He reached down and touched Rob’s shoulder once again then took a few steps and went out through the antiquated looking oak door.
Silence engulfed the room, and Rob sat with his head down and hands between his knees. Opposition, he thought. “Yeah,” he muttered. “Like Jacob Brown. There’s no way he’ll stand for this. And yet if I decline, Stephanie will make my life insufferable. The house won’t be fit to live in.”
Rob’s mind drifted to the monk. He had such a kind demeanor, so gentle and even . . . well, even soothing. Jacob is always emphasizing doctrine, Rob pondered. Talk about fear—Jacob is afraid to try anything new. But what about charity? Look at this monk. He is kind and seems to have so much peace about him. Just because his beliefs are different than ours, does that make them wrong?
Then it hit Rob that maybe Stephanie was right. Maybe there was something they were missing. Maybe, just maybe . . . He shook his head and with gritted teeth said, “Man, I don’t need this.”
Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted a worn, little book within arm’s reach on a small shelf built into the wall. He leaned over and took hold of it while at the same time reading the title: The Cloud of Unknowing. In parentheses, it said, “Written by an anonymous monk in the fourteenth century.” Hey, I remember seeing that book on Stephanie’s desk, Rob mused. As he opened the book, a cloth bookmark fell out. He let the book fall open to the marked page. Underlined in pencil were the words: “take thee but a little word of one syllable: for so it is better than of two . . . fasten this word to thine heart . . . With this word, thou shalt beat on this cloud and this darkness above thee. With this word, thou shall smite down all manner of thought under the cloud of forgetting.” Take this word, a word with one syllable, Rob pondered. Stephanie was always talking about her prayer word and how repeating it and meditating on it brought her into the presence of God where she could hear his voice.
Raising his face again to the crucifix, Rob studied the figure there—the crown of thorns, the bleeding wounds on the hands, feet, and side. As he shifted his attention to the wall murals, he found himself drawn again to the painting of Francis of Assisi. “Yes,” he said aloud. Rob stood, hurried over to the door, paused, and walked back to the cushion. He reached down and grabbed the Cloud book, briefly eyeing it again, then tucked it under his arm. I have a feeling I am going to need this little book. Out the door into the fresh air he went. He was anxious to speak more with the monk. And when he had a chance, he had to call Stephanie. Something told him it was going to be an exhilarating weekend.
This is from Chapter 1 of Dangerous Illusions by Carolyn A. Greene and Zach Taylor.
By Berit Kjos
(author of How to Protect Your Child From the New Age & Spiritual Deception)
Humanism has paved the way for the New Age, but most of us didn’t notice. Just as termites can chew away at a home’s foundation for decades before the damage shows, so humanist educators have sought to undermine the public school system. Suddenly we had to face the fact that many schools teach goals and values that contradict biblical values. And the humanist-oriented educational establishment promotes its beliefs as aggressively as any other religious group. Listen to their war cry:
The battle for humankind’s future must be waged and won in the public school classroom by teachers who correctly perceive their role as the proselytizers of a new faith: a religion of humanity that recognizes and respects the spark of what theologians call divinity in every human being.
These teachers must embody the same selfless dedication as the most rabid fundamentalist preachers, for they will be ministers of another sort, utilizing a classroom instead of a pulpit to convey humanist values in whatever subject they teach, regardless of the educational level—preschool, day care, or large state university. The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and the new—the rotting corpse of Christianity, together with all its adjacent evils and misery, and the new faith of humanism, resplendent in its promise of a world in which the never-realized Christian ideal of ‘love thy neighbor” will finally be achieved.1
American philosopher and educator John Dewey kindled the fire of educational reform. The first president of the American Humanist Association, Dewey was determined to weed out Christian absolutes and reseed with “truths” that could adjust to changing cultures. The Humanist Manifesto, which Dewey signed in 1933, declares the heart of the movement. This is part of its introduction:
There is great danger of a final, and we believe fatal, identification of the word religion with doctrines and methods which have lost their significance and which are powerless to solve the problem of human living in the Twentieth Century . . . Any religion that can hope to be a synthesizing and dynamic force for today, must be shaped for the needs of this age. To establish such a religion is a major necessity of the present.2
Without the 3.2 million-member National Education Association, considered one of the nation’s most powerful political machines, Dewey’s ideas might have been confined to university campuses. Supported by the NEA, comprised of textbook writers and superintendents as well as professors and public school teachers, Dewey’s vision spread like wildfire. Through its militant leadership, the whole educational system became involved—with or without the personal support of local educators, many of whom didn’t realize what was happening.
Few textbooks have escaped the watchful eye of NEA censors, who have doggedly followed Dewey’s plan to provide a “purified environment for the child.” Historical facts that clashed with “progressive education” have been distorted or erased. The NEA has sought total control of curriculum content, control of teachers’ colleges, and sex education, free from parental interference. Though a high percentage of American teachers consider themselves moderate or conservative, the NEA supports abortion on demand (without parental consent), preferential treatment of homosexuals, and teaching evolution, while omitting creationism from the classroom.3
One book, Censorship: Evidence of Bias in Our Children’s Textbooks, unveils some alarming facts. Christianity, family values, and certain political and economic positions have been systematically banished from children’s textbooks. For example, in 670 stories from third-and sixth-grade readers:
No story features Christian or Jewish religious motivation, although one story does make American Indian religion the central theme in the life of a white girl.
Almost no story features marriage or motherhood as important or positive. . . . But there are many aggressively feminist stories that openly deride manhood.
In an original story by Isaac Bashevis Singer, the main character prayed “to God” and later remarked “Thank God.” In the story as presented in the sixth-grade reader, the words “to God” were taken out and the expression “Thank God” was changed to “Thank goodness.”4
While some elementary history textbooks still tell about Thanksgiving, they do not explain to whom the Pilgrims gave thanks. Pilgrims were defined as “people who make long trips.” The Pueblo Natives “can pray to Mother Earth—but Pilgrims can’t be described as praying to God.”5 Overt attacks on Christianity through distortion, depreciation, and ridicule have caused even more damage than omissions. Many of the books students are required to read refer to boring church services, self-righteous ministers, and lustful evangelists. One psychology text equated the historical Jesus with mythological gods:
A great many myths deal with the idea of rebirth. Jesus, Dionysus, Odin, and many other traditional figures are represented as having died, after which they were reborn, or arose from the dead.6
When children are subjected to such suggestions and pressures year after year, many yield to the hostile forces that oppose their beliefs.
The chart below lists several of the humanistic standards being passed down to a new generation of young people and compares these with traditional Christian values.
There is no God.
The world is self-existing.
Everything exists for the fulfillment of human life.
The goal. . . is a free and universal society where people cooperate for common good.
Man is responsible for the realization. . . of his dreams.
Values are relative and changing, determined by human need.
Man has within himself the power to create a new world.
We trust in a living, personal God.
God created the world.
“For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever.” (Romans 11:36)
Our goal is to “know” Christ and the “power of his resurrection.” (Philippians 3:10)
“In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.” (Psalm 62:7)
Biblical values are absolute and unchanging. (Matthew 24:35)
“The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” (Luke 18:27)
1.. John Dunphy, “A Religion for a New Age” (The Humanist, January/ February 1983), p. 26.
2. “The Humanist Manifesto I” (1933)—the first public declaration of the views and objectives of humanism—rejected God and His values, but affirmed humanist faith in the power and evolution of man. (See: http://www.americanhumanist.org/Humanism/Humanist_Manifesto_I.) “The Humanist Manifesto II” (1973) reaffirmed and amplified this man-centered, relativistic, utopian belief-system.
3. Bill Sidebottom, “This Teacher’s Union Agenda Has Little to Do with Education” (Citizen, September 1988), pp. 10—11.
4. Paul C. Vitz, Censorship—Evidence of Bias in Our Children’s Textbooks (Ann Arbor, MI: Servant Books, 1986), pp. 3—4, 18—19.
6. Mel and Norma Gabler, What Are They Teaching Our Children? (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), p. 38.
Other Articles From Berit’s book:
Letter to the Editor From a FORMER Contemplative: Focus on the Family’s “Father Gilbert’s Mysteries” Points Listeners to Contemplative Prayer
LTRP Note: This is perhaps one of the most significant letters we have ever received, not just because it exposes more of Focus on the Family’s contemplative propensities, but because it shows the results (i.e., the “fruit”) of practicing contemplative prayer. This “fruit” is precisely why Lighthouse Trails has been crying out a warning for nearly 13 years.
We are grateful to this reader for sending us this letter describing his experience as a contemplative practitioner. We are thankful to the Lord for opening his eyes to the great deception he was in.
As for Focus on the Family, it has been promoting contemplative spirituality for several years (see below this letter for article links). Parents and grandparents, if your children and grandchildren are listening to the Focus on the Family drama CDs, including Adventures in Odyssey, they are being exposed to a dangerous spiritual view. We can’t emphasize that enough. As you read the following letter, realize that what happened to our reader because of his involvement in the “spiritual disciplines” of contemplative spirituality (i.e., Spiritual Formation), is happening to thousands and thousands of Christians today (a number that will eventually hit the millions, changing the entire face of Christianity as researcher Ray Yungen has so often said).
Dear Lighthouse Trails:
Recently, I was given the Father Gilbert Mysteries CD set (by Focus on the Family) from a friend to borrow. The following is a followup letter I sent to my friend regarding these CDs. I thought this letter might be useful to you and anyone else who might not be aware of the contemplative connections to this mystery series.
Hi XXXXXXXXX (names withheld for privacy),
Thanks for lending me the Father Gilbert Mysteries CDs. I listened to the first CD on the way home from your house. I found the story to be gripping, and it definitely held my interest. What especially caught my attention though, was what was said in the intro. to the second CD. In it, the narrator stated that Father Gilbert [an Anglican priest] had joined a monastery. While there, he studied “the classic spiritual disciplines of prayer and meditation.” At this point, I had to stop listening to the CD.
As you probably know, I was, for the first 25 years of my Christian life, deeply involved in the spiritual discipline of contemplative prayer that promised to help me become more “Christlike.” According to one web site, “Christian contemplative prayer or contemplation, which was practiced by innumerable monks and nuns (and now laypeople) from the times of the Desert Fathers to the present, goes deep within the heart to meet God, ever-present within, though without thoughts, words, or images, because he is beyond them.”
For me, this basically involved stilling my mind throughout the day and focusing on my moment by moment connection with Christ. Toward the last part of this period in my life, I even had a little hand counter, which I kept with me and which I would keep track of each time, through out the day, when I focused on God. This led me into times of deeper meditation where my mind would become increasingly still and quiet, to the point where my thoughts seemed to be vacuumed out of my mind, leaving me in a kind of raptured stillness.
During these experiences, I had what I believed at the time to be an actual physical sensation of God’s Presence. It was like I didn’t need to focus so much on the Bible anymore to know God because I was actually experiencing Him directly in these moments of contemplation. And in this experience, I felt God as a force or power that was flowing through all things.
It was then that I noticed a subtle change was beginning to take place in my concept of God. I began to feel deeply that God’s Presence was everywhere and in everything. And if God was in everything and as a result, in everyone, then the important thing was not what a person thought about God or believed about Him, but rather that they stilled their thoughts so they too could experience Him in the present moment, beyond thoughts. This began to trouble me though, because I began to realize that this was what I had once believed as a follower and practicer of New Age Eastern beliefs prior to becoming a Christian.
This led me to do some research online. There, I found that this new way of perceiving God which I was developing through my “spiritual discipline” actually had a name. It was called, panentheism—that God is in all things and all things are in God. I also found that this concept does not appear to line up with God’s Word… “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” Romans 8:9.
Needless to say, about five years ago, I discontinued this spiritual practice and began to rest in the finished work of Christ which He accomplished at the Cross (Hebrews 10:10). I can’t begin to tell you how incredibly freeing and restful it has become to be able to say, with Paul, “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live. Yet not I, but Christ lives in me.” Gal. 2:20. And “But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.” Romans 8:11
Paul (not real name)
Related Articles (most recent ones at top, older ones dating back to 2007 at bottom):
By Berit Kjos
(From her book How to Protect Your Child From the New Age & Spiritual Deception)
High on a ridge overlooking the valley stood the King, framed in the sun’s fading light. His form rose like a monument of unyielding strength. Above his head swirled hostile, black clouds. Raging winds snatched at his coat. Yet, he who could quell their assault with a word refused to be distracted. He had fixed his eyes on the valley below. Capturing each tiny detail, he traced the movement of gathering armies. Suddenly, his gaze rested on a shadowy form hidden from ordinary sight. Anger and agony flashed across his noble face.
“I created that imposter,” he mused, “but the Prince of Darkness only loved himself. I made him strong and beautiful, but he used my gifts to build his own throne. Did he imagine that his mutinous force could quench my power and hinder my plan? Has he spoken his own lies so often that he has deceived himself as well as my people? His foolish pride kindled this war, but soon even his blinded slaves will see the triumph of my kingdom.”
The King’s focus moved from the enemy headquarters to the city nearby. Its people slept unconcerned, smug, and oblivious to the scheming, waiting legions.
Tears stung the King’s eyes as he spoke to the city he loved. “If only you had listened,” he whispered softly. “If only you knew. But you ignored my warnings and went your own way. You followed your own foolish dreams—lies and deceptions that were more pleasant to your ears than my saving truth. My foolish people, open your eyes and see. I came to love and care for you, but you turned away. The thief came to steal, kill, and destroy, and you worship him. If you only knew where you are heading.”
Far below, near the edge of the city, where the forest opened to a wide clearing, the grim armies merged into a ghostly, quaking mass. Suddenly, without a sound, a message burst into their consciousness: The prince has arrived. As one, they bowed in fearful surrender, breathing their salute, “Hail, Prince of Darkness! Master of the Force! Hail!”
Before them rose the tall, dark figure of the prince. “My friends,” he purred, “I hear you have done well!”
A wave of relief swept over the mass.
“Report your progress!” his voice cracked like a whip over the trembling slaves. “Have you captured the city? Are its people ready to follow?”
Silence hung like an ominous sword striking terror into the hearts of the trembling warriors. Brash tyrants away from their master, they cowered like frightened dogs in his presence. Finally, a creature stepped forward. “Sir, the coup is almost complete. The city has yielded to your control.”
“How did you win their allegiance?” demanded the prince.
“We followed your plan, Sir. You told us to target the children, to reform their schools, pollute their movies and music, infiltrate their churches—”
“Stop, stop! I want details. Who handled the schools?”
“I did, Sir.” A burly figure lumbered to the front line. Under the heavy shrouded cowl, which hid his features, his body was shaking.
“Explain your strategy.”
“We followed our ancient plan, Sir. You told us to change labels to fit contemporary tastes—and it worked. First, we whispered doubts about the King’s repulsive Book of Truth. Then we planted tantalizing visions of the New World into the minds of educators. We showed them irresistible images of their own greatness, the power of Self, the pleasures of sex, and the peace of global unity under your mighty reign.”
“Slow down and describe their response.”
“Those open to transformation were thrilled with their new discoveries. They quickly fit your ideas into their curriculum.”
“Is that all?”
“No, there’s much more! We also told them that the King’s values hinder the freedom, growth, and happiness of Self. To build a better world, they must discard obsolete boundaries and pave new paths to higher consciousness and spiritual oneness. Quick to catch on, the kids are learning to ridicule the King’s archaic standards and narrow-minded subjects. Soon they’ll hate all who oppose your plan!” He giggled.
“Well done,” grimaced the prince, “but control yourself.”
Scanning the dark mass, he shouted, “Who’s in charge of music?”
A squat, slinking creature crept forward. “I am, Sir.”
“Report your progress!”
“We have revived your fool-proof formula: drugs, chants, sensual delights, and throbbing drums. This formula blocks logic, dulls reason, and keeps our connections open. We show them a good time—and make sure they come back for more. With more advanced subjects, we no longer hide your identity. They crave your savage malevolence.”
“Well done!” The prince rubbed his hands together in sardonic glee before he shouted, “Next! Who transformed television?”
“We did,” answered a shrill voice. A short, stocky figure pushed his way to the front. “One battalion loaded cartoons with wizards amid superheroes winning battles by your cosmic energy. Kids want supernatural power, so we’ve showed them yours. Camouflaged, of course.”
“Splendid!” The prince’s cruel voice rose excitedly. “Soon they’ll want more, and when they’re hooked, they too will be glad to see me. Ha! I will be their god, and they will learn a new form of worship! Go on. Tell me more.”
“We have been showing our vision for the New World Order to reporters, producers, and writers,” he snickered. “We convinced them that the King’s values block progress. Today children choose their own way—or rather, our way. . .”
“My way, you mean!” shrieked the prince.
“Your way, Sir!” quaked the commander.
“You met no resistance?”
“Not much. Your brilliant ideas usually excite them.”
“What about the King’s subjects?”
“Many don’t notice. Since we keep them too busy to study the Book of Truth, they can’t tell your plan from the King’s. Those who notice are afraid to speak up, and the few fools who do complain face our correction squad. Ridicule and exclusion usually silence them.” A cacophony of cheers arose.
For a moment, the prince gazed silently into that dark mass of veiled warriors. Fear and hatred, not love and loyalty, bound these miserable subjects to do his bidding.
“Watch every rebellious subject!” he shouted. “Find loopholes in their armor. Distract and discourage those who pray. And above all, hinder their use of the Book.”
Lightning cracked the sky, and the distant thunder grew to a deafening roar. But the King kept his watchful position high above the city, waiting for the precise moment . . .
Suddenly he raised his right arm. “Be still,” he cried into the storm. And the storm stilled around the summit.
He raised his left arm, and a battalion of soldiers dressed in white appeared before him.
“It is time! I have awakened my remnant. I have spoken to all who have ears to hear and eyes to see. To everyone not blinded and bound by deception. To those who have not bowed to the Prince of Darkness.”
“I have told them to rise, take their swords, and fight for their families and children. You must take your positions at their sides. Sing with them the song of victory, then conquer the forces of evil in the name of the King.”
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. (Revelation 12:11)
By Judith Ritchie
Summer has ended and winter is fast approaching. For those of us in this modern society, we tend to forget that this is harvest time and that our very lives depend upon a good harvest to get us through this next year. But in every culture throughout the world, the time of harvest has always been crucial to their survival.
In the early days in America, the settlers prayed throughout the winter for good weather for planting, plenty of sun and rain during the growing season, and for a good harvest in the autumn. Many prayed to the Christian God of the Bible, leaving their care and future in His hands. But throughout the history of the world, most people sought help from other gods; gods who demanded much more than just faith and prayer from the people.
Halloween, known in ancient Briton and Ireland as Samhain* (“Summer’s End”), is a time of worship to the ancient god Cromm Cruaich, also known as the “Bloody Crescent.”** Unlike the God of the Bible, Cromm Cruaich did not accept simple prayers of faith for a good harvest; he demanded much more. Charles Squire records in his book Celtic Myth and Legend, an ancient poem concerning the god Cromm Cruaich. Here are some excerpts from it:
“Here used to be
A high idol with many fights, which was named the Cromm Cruaich;
It made every tribe to be without peace.
“T was a sad evil!
Brave Gaels used to worship it…
“He was their god,
The withered Cromm with many mists…
“To him without glory
They would kill their piteous, wretched offspring
With much wailing and peril,
To pour their blood around CrommCruaich
“Milk and corn
They would ask from him speedily
In return for one-third of their healthy issue; [their children]
Great was the horror and the scare of him…
“They did evil…”
Cromm Cruaich demanded human sacrifice. He was a demonic, bloodthirsty god described as being “withered,” cloaked in darkness by “many mists,” and whose violence terrified the people. He was merciless, evil and brought much sadness, making everyone “to be without peace.” His sacrifices were on the “high places” and under the cloak of darkness. Children and adults were sacrificed to him and to the twelve lesser gods, which were represented by “standing stones” that were placed in a circle around his golden idol. Multitudes were sacrificed all at once. Charles Squire explains, “The same authority also tells us that these sacrifices were made at ‘Hallowe’en’, [or] ‘Samhain’-“Summer’s End”- when the sun’s power waned, and the strength of the gods of darkness, winter, and the underworld grew great.” Later, St. Patrick took a sledge hammer and destroyed the golden idol of Cromm Cruaich. This, then, is the origin of Halloween.
Unfortunately, we still honor this ancient celebration. And as we acknowledge and celebrate it, we are giving honor to a god who demanded the lives and blood of human beings. We are celebrating death, destruction, darkness, demons, violence, hatred, and evil. We are honoring a demon-god who used terror to control the people and whose demands caused strong, brave men to disgrace themselves.
In contrast, Jesus demands nothing from us but asks us to trust Him. He doesn’t demand the lives of our children to appease Him. The only thing that pleases Him is our faith. He is not a God of darkness, but rather Jesus Himself is light. He is a God of love, not fear; of healing and restoration, not violence and destruction. Jesus gives comfort, not terror, to those who look to Him for help. The early settlers who prayed to Him rested in His peace, as we do today, for He is the Prince of Peace. Jesus is the God and Creator of Life, not death. Since there is no evil in Jesus, He never brings harm or disgrace to those who worship Him, and He does not intimidate or deal unjustly. And where Cromm Cruaich is a demon-god, Jesus is holy, righteous, and pure.
The celebration of Halloween is quite obviously a celebration of darkness, death, fear, demons, hatred, violence, and evil. And yet, it’s one of the biggest celebrations of the year. What’s worse, without any thought to what they’re doing, many Christians celebrate it as well.
It is interesting to note that the writers of the ancient Celtic poem referred to Comm Cruaich as having “many mists.” In the same way, 2 Peter 2:17 speaks of those who have turned away from God as “…springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.” This is the god of Halloween. This is whom we choose to ‘agree with’ when we participate, in any way at all, in this celebration.
God equates our relationship with Him to that of a marriage relationship. Many times in the Old Testament He accuses the nation of Israel of adultery and harlotry because of their involvement with spiritual practices other than those He has ordained. The prophet Isaiah pleads with Israel, “Come, house of Jacob, and let us walk in the light of the Lord.” But in the next verse, God tells them that He has abandoned them “because they are filled with influences from the east.” Is. 2:5-6
We know that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever and in the New Testament God continues to speak the same to us today:
Do not be partakers with them; for you were formally darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light…do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead, even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things done by them in secret…therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. Eph. 5: 7-8, 11, 15-16
* Celtic Myth and Legend by Charles Squire
** Celtic Myths and Legends by T.W. Rolleston
Written by Judith Ritchie (c) 2011
[This] video presentation is called From Moses to the Arab Spring to Occupy & the 99% by Shalom Mennonite Church Youth. (This is the same church that made the labyrinth video posted on Menno-lite last week.) According to this video, after learning the stories of Moses in the Bible for 2 years, these youth had a hard time knowing which came first, the ten plagues or the ten commandments. So they put together a time line of the events that compares the way people in the Arab Spring and the Occupy 99% movement around the world are like modern day Moseses.
In the video, they hold up papers of the events of the life of Moses which they have organized into chronological order. A girl holds up the first paper and reads a chart that says:
Pharoah represented the 1% wealthy elite in Egypt.
The Hebrews at the bottom of the social pyramid and suffered under the economic and political system.
Then the story of Moses and the exodus out of Egypt is told in order. It is creatively done by these lovely kids – almost refreshing, were it not for what is added to the end of the story where these youth apply it to modern times. With the help of prompts they conclude that Moses freed the people from “an oppressive economical and political system that oppressed them.” Here is a transcript of their modern day application … Click here to continue reading.
Bryce Homes in Kenya – Water Filtration for All, Small Business Project Going Well, the Threat of Disease, and More
By Understand the Times and Lighthouse Trails
We are happy to report that all of the twenty-four Bryce Homes in Kenya now have water filtration systems. Understand the Times began to place water filtration units in each Bryce Home in June after Roger Oakland, founder and director of Understand the Times, returned from visiting the homes this past spring. Many of the children and widows were suffering with disease and sickness because of unclean and contaminated water. In a June report, Roger explained:
[I]t became apparent that one of the greatest needs for our widows and their families was water—both uncontaminated drinking water and water for other basic needs (bathing, washing clothing, etc.). Where our families live in a remote area, they are required to walk long distances to get water from streams, ponds, or community boreholes and then carry the water in five-gallon pails back to their houses. Not only is there the problem of the water source being a long distance away, such water also contains many pathogens that are the cause of serious life-threatening diseases.
Understand the Times was able to obtain water filtration systems from a company called Sawyer that provides such filters to many organizations that help the poor around the world. The Sawyer filters are inexpensive yet durable and easy to use. Thanks to Understand the Times and Lighthouse Trails readers, we have been able to purchase enough systems so that each of the Bryce Homes in Kenya have one. In addition to the water filtration systems, the families will all be receiving a water collection system as we have mentioned in the past. Some of the families already have them, and we hope all the families will have them soon. This allows for the collection of rain water that can be used for drinking, bathing, cooking, and personal hygiene.
SMALL BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY (SBO)
We are also pleased to report that all of the Bryce Home widows now are participating in the Small Business Opportunity (SBO) program started by UTT. The small home-based businesses are up and running. As we have explained in other reports, UTT gives each widow $75 as a start up amount. She, in turn, buys raw materials or finished goods that she sells. Florence 2, the overseer of the project (and one of the Bryce widows), checks in regularly with each widow to talk about the progress and to remind the widows to save enough of their earnings to turn around and buy more material or product. The testimonies coming in from the widows have been wonderful. Each of them is testifying how this and the other Bryce Home projects have changed their entire family life. And best of all, when we hear these testimonies, they give the glory and thanks to God.
SOLAR PANEL FOR PASTOR ACHILLA
We are grateful for some special donations that came in that helped to pay for a new solar panel system for Pastor Achilla’s house. The decision was made to purchase the system after he had gone without electricity for several weeks, making extreme hardship not just for his family but also for the Bryce Home project. Being as Pastor Achilla is the head director of the program, it is essential that he be able to use his computer and also have light in his home. During any given week, many people come by Pastor Achilla’s house for some kind of assistance or to have a meal. We have found Pastor Achilla to be a very kind and giving man, and we are glad we were able to help set him up with solar energy. As God provides, we would like to see all of the Bryce Homes have solar panels in the future. Currently, most of them do not have any form of electrical or solar power.
VITAMIN C AND EBOLA
As you can imagine, many of the Bryce Home families suffer from poor health. Most of the widows became widowed after their husbands died of AIDS. Needless to say, some of the Bryce Home widows (and children too) have HIV. For privacy sake, we don’t mention which ones do, but even if that wasn’t an issue, there is the ongoing threat of disease and sickness to all of the families. After hearing that Vitamin C could possibly help those with Ebola, we decided to try to make sure that the Bryce Home families each had a small stock of Vitamin C if they became sick with Ebola or other similar diseases. While we know that this is not a sure cure, it is an affordable and easy-to-obtain substance that can help improve the overall health and immune system.
Please join us in prayer as we ask the Lord for wisdom and guidance in moving into the next stages of development for the Bryce Homes in Kenya. It was just about 3 years ago that the project was launched after Roger Oakland made a trip to Kenya where he saw the tremendous and dire need in the lives of these Christian families in Kenya. Since then, twenty-four families have become Bryce Homes in Kenya. New houses have been built, clothes and bedding purchased, family agriculture developed, latrines have been built, cookstoves and stove pipes installed in all the new homes, and much more. And best of all, the widows and children are being taught the Word of God by Pastor Achilla, Pastor Nelson, and other area pastors who have discernment; and many in the community are turning to the Lord in seeing His goodness and mercy. What many of them are saying now is, “God has not forgotten us.”
For those who may not realize it, this project is supported solely by UTT and LT readers. If you would like to help support these dear families, click here to go to the Understand the Times website. Also recently we posted a short piece answering some questions about the program. You can read that piece below. Also check out our newest slideshow (see below) for recent photos of the Bryce Homes in Kenya. And thank you for your prayers and support.
FIVE THINGS YOU MIGHT BE WONDERING
1. Does the Bryce Home project have a U.S. building that it must maintain?
Answer: No, there are no U.S. overhead building costs whatsoever.
2. Does the Bryce Home project have a staff it must pay?
Answer: The pastors in Kenya who run the program are compensated for their time, but there is no paid staff in the U.S. or Canada.
3. How much of the donations from Lighthouse Trails and Understand the Times go directly to the Christians in Kenya who are in the Bryce Home project?
Answer: 100% of the donations received.
4. How much accountability is there in the Bryce Home project?
Answer: Roger Oakland, director of Understand the Times and founder of the Bryce Homes International, travels to Kenya once or twice a year where he meets with the three Kenyan men (Pastor Achilla, Pastor Nelson, and Walter) who are running the program from Kenya. He also meets with each Bryce Home family during these visits. In addition, both he and the editors at Lighthouse Trails have regular communication through the year.
5. Is there an emphasis on teaching the Word of God to the Bryce Home widows and children?
Answer: Definitely. While the program does put donations toward practical needs such as housing, food, clothing, water purification, latrines, standard education for the children, and start up money for agriculture and other businesses for the widows, there is regular instruction in the Word of God presented by Pastor Achilla, Pastor Nelson, Pastor Lawrence, and Pastor Daniel.