Archive for the ‘CHILDREN AT RISK!’ Category
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The Obama administration on Friday announced new measures meant to accommodate religious nonprofits and some private employers who don’t want to pay for birth control under ObamaCare, on the heels of Supreme Court rulings that weakened the law’s so-called contraceptive mandate.
The changes had been expected, particularly after the Supreme Court ruled in June that the government can’t force companies like Hobby Lobby Inc. to pay for birth control, as originally required under the Affordable Care Act. Days later, the high court also sided with religious nonprofits such as Wheaton College, an evangelical school, which argued that an existing accommodation required them to sign a form that violated their beliefs.
In response, the administration is making two changes. Click here to continue reading.
To Lighthouse Trails:
My grandsons had been playing a game called Minecraft. It was apparent to me that it was not good and I tried to warn my daughter. I prayed for God’s protection of my grandsons and also that their parents would see its evil. Recently, they have become aware of demonic activity in their home. I will not go into detail, but the whole situation has opened their eyes. The whole family took turns smashing the game in their garage.
I am writing to you, because I want to warn others. From what I understand, this game is very popular nationwide. There are also Minecraft toys and clothing, besides the video game. My family disposed of everything that had to do with Minecraft.
God’s blessing on you and your work.
LT Comment: For parents who do not understand the occultic nature of many of today’s games, books, toys, and videos, please read Berit Kjos’ book How to Protect Your Child From the New Age and Spiritual Deception. It contains numerous chapters that contain the names and descriptions of many names of what’s most popular today as well as alternating chapters full of practical and biblical tips on how to protect your children. Below is one of the practical tips chapters from that book which follows a chapter that discusses toys and games such as Pokemon, Power Rangers, several New Age occult toys and games, Ouija Boards and several others.
“Protecting Your Child From Harmful Toys & Games”
By Berit Kjos
When eight-year-old Joshua’s parents found out what he wanted for Christmas, they felt put on the spot. Joshua only had eyes for the newest rage—Nintendo—along with its most popular game, Super Mario Brothers II. Anything else was “boring.”
Joshua’s folks had heard disturbing stories about Nintendo addiction—or whatever you call that intense focus that tolerates no interruption. So they didn’t relish battling that obsession at bedtime—or any time. A rather pricey toy, Nintendo promised to zap a sizable hole in their budget, and the local stores had already sold out of their holiday allotment of SMB II.
Last year it was simple for Mom and Dad. Joshua just wanted more figures and accessories for his Masters of the Universe toys. The cost was tolerable, and they provided a year’s worth of imaginative play. Of course, the gruesomeness of some of the figures caused them uneasiness.
Heidi’s parents faced a similar dilemma. Their six-year-old daughter asked for Barbie’s Dream House—fully furnished, of course. “They fit together,” she explained, “and everybody has them.”
Barbie’s long-time popularity fails to endear her to Heidi’s concerned parents. They often wonder if the doll’s curvy figure and flashy clothes might encourage values and sophistication inconsistent with their hopes for Heidi. What kinds of aspirations are built by these symbols of self-centered materialism and the body image issues they instill in young girls at an early age?
If Barbie were the only messenger of image-based hedonistic self-interest, a few more accessories would hardly matter. But pagan decadence beckons children everywhere. “Just throw off all restraints,” it shouts, “and let human nature lead the way. Follow your feelings.”
It’s tough to teach restraint to children who are begging for gratification. Schools and the media have often declared parents the “bad guys.” We, as parents, keenly and distinctly feel the confusing values gap and flinch at the thought of being a killjoy once again. Yet we must. God has told us, the parents, to train our children to follow His way, and we can’t turn back now. Also, He promises to enable us. Fortified with truth, let’s make sure our children have toys that enhance their progress toward God’s kind of maturity.
Step One: Develop a Sensitivity to Evil
A young mother driving a carload of children—including two from her church—posed this question: “Who is the master of the universe?”
“He-Man!” shouted a chorus of voices. The mother grieved as the youngsters praised their idol. Her heart sank further when one boy pulled an ugly figure from his pocket and waved it in the air. “And this is Hordak,” he shouted. “He’s bad! He fights He-Man!”
Current delight in false gods and demonic creatures may have begun with winsome magicians such as Papa Smurf and Rainbow Brite. As people welcomed these nonthreatening (in appearance) harbingers of occult forces, they unknowingly opened the door to the grotesque and disturbing realms of the dark occult as well.
At first, we parents closed our eyes to this trend—we didn’t want to overreact. Even within the church community, talk about Satan and his dark realm has often been regarded as too negative or heavy-handed. Since we failed to resist, we gradually adapted and then accepted these practices. Now it’s time to retrench, take our positions, and fight to regain our discernment and freedom.
How do we do this?
Continue to read and apply Scriptures.
Share your own observations. Spark awareness in a young child with comments such as, “That monster looks gross!” or “That creature reminds me of a snake,” along with “Did you know that in the Bible, serpents always represent Satan and evil?”
To express your feelings to a young child, comment, “Who would want that evil-looking figure? I don’t even like to look at him. Let’s find something that makes us feel happy inside.”
Model wise decision-making. Tell your child why you wouldn’t want to buy certain things.
When a child wants something questionable, ask questions that are prayerfully adapted to your child’s age, such as:
What does the toy (or game) teach you (about power, about magic, about God, about yourself)? Discuss both the obvious and the subtle with your child.
Have you seen movies, cartoons, or comic books that made this toy (game) part of a story? What did the story tell you about it? Does the toy (game) remind you of someone who uses magic or supernatural power? Did someone pretend to be God?
What does it teach about violence or immorality and their consequences?
Does the toy have any symbols or characteristics that associate it with either the light or dark side of New Age occultism?
Whatever is lovely, gracious, and good originates with God. Satan cannot produce anything new. All he can offer is counterfeits or clever distortions of God’s gifts.
Step Two: Encourage Your Child To Choose the Good
Develop a mindset that seeks the best, not just the “OK.” You have identified and rejected the worst toys. But the rest are not necessarily good either. Discuss these questions to help your child learn to choose only the best. Phrase the questions according to your child’s age level.
1. Does it present a true picture of life? In a time when even adults base their lives on counterfeit dreams and false illusions, our children need to learn to tell what is flight of fancy and what is real.
2. How long would the interest last? Fad toys are fun for the moment, but they whet the appetite for every “in” thing, so that decision-making centers on the question, “What will make me feel happy right now?” Determine not to buy that lie. Unfortunately, many quality toy companies have been bought up or squeezed out by giants who can pay the high price for television promotion. The range of major toy lines is narrowing to those that look glamorous on the screen.
3. Will this toy be used for playing alone or with others? A child needs a healthy balance of solitary and social play. Good toys will help her interact both with her imaginary world and with the real world, harmonizing the two. That may require some interaction with you. Perhaps you could agree together to find toys that will help you, the parent, participate in your young child’s imaginary world.
4. Does it build godly character? Many toys, hobbies, and games do. Review the biblical principles suggested for evaluating movies and television programs.
Step Three: Train Your Child to Follow God, Not Peers
We want our children to feel good about themselves, be liked by their peers, and not miss out on the fun. But as we realize what their friends choose, we wonder how our children will respond to the peer pressure. How can we prepare them to make wise choices?
Counter peer pressure. Children naturally compare us to the parents of peers, challenging us to match their “generosity.” That hurts, since we want them to feel our love for them. We see what they don’t realize: that getting the toys they want will not make them feel secure in our love. It’s more likely to increase their craving and stir discontent. Also, it teaches them to equate love with material things. If your child is old enough, explain this process to him.
Discuss whether “showing off” might be their motive for wanting a toy. Feeding that feeling produces bondage and increased insecurity. Children as well as adults crave superior luxury items, and toy manufacturers are quick to comply.
Be a trendsetter. Have an abundant supply of ideas and tools to help your child and his friends use their imaginations and develop their own play: dress-up clothes (thrift stores are a good resource), fabrics for making puppets, scrap wood for outdoor structures, a refrigerator carton for making a playhouse, etc.
Look to the Bible for guidelines and authority. God understands our desires to follow the crowd; He feels our struggle to be “in” the world but not “of it” (John 17:16-18). According to age readiness, review Romans 12:1-2 together and then discuss 3 John 11 and Jude 18-20.
Self-denial seems out of place in a nation consumed with self-indulgence and self-fulfillment. But God commanded it, and Jesus demonstrated it. Dare we refuse to acknowledge it? According to the age of your child, discuss Jesus’ words in Matthew 16:24 and then allow the Holy Spirit to direct your application.
Don’t get me wrong. Far more than earthly parents, God wants His children to be happy and have a good time. But He doesn’t want cream puffs to satisfy our hunger and turn us away from the meat of truth. Self-discipline produces the kind of maturity that brings genuine happiness forever, not merely a pleasant moment today.
Our Heavenly Father, who models parenting better than any of us, doesn’t major on the superficial. He knows better than to give us all the things we want. For just as most children will choose pop over milk, and chips over carrots, so do we, as adults, often choose that which cannot satisfy. God does not want vain deceits, as He calls them (Colossians 2:8), to mold our appetites, satisfy our hunger, and replace the very best.
It’s hard to teach restraint to children who are begging for gratification. Wanting to please rather than overreact, we flinch at the thought of having to continually censor our children’s wants, preferences, and desires. Parental authority simply doesn’t fit the fast-spreading new views of social equality taught through the media and the schools. Yet, we must obey God. He has told us to raise our children to choose His way, and we must rise to the occasion, fight the good fight, and not shrink back.
After hearing God’s warning and praying for His wisdom, nine-year-old Alan Brannan decided to throw away all his Pokémon cards. “My friend did the same,” said his mother. “Her twelve-year-old son had been having nightmares. But after a discussion with his parents about the game and its symbols, he was convicted to burn his cards and return his Game Boy game. That night, he slept well for the first time in a month.”
“It seemed to us that these cards had some sort of power,” continued DiAnna Brannan. “Another nine-year-boy had stolen money from his mother’s purse ($7.00) to buy more cards.” When questioned, he confessed and said he had heard the devil urging him to do it. The family quickly gathered in prayer, then saw God’s answer. Both the boy and his little sister burned their cards, warned their friends, and discovered the joy and freedom that only comes from following their Shepherd.
Training Kids to Love Good More Than Evil
Don’t play games with the occult! Ouija Boards have always invited oppression, but they are far more likely to invoke unwanted “spirits” today. So it is with the new generation of occult games and DVDs as well.
I became aware of this change back in the nineties when a Canadian psychologist called me. He had read my book Under the Spell of Mother Earth and wanted to share some observations with me. In past years, he said, many women would come to scenic Alberta to do a Native American “Spirit Quest” in search of their personal “animal spirit.” Few succeeded. But times have changed, and the “spirits” that now answer the summons are numerous as well as oppressive. Treating the scary symptoms as “multiple personality disorders” is no help at all.
Popular occultism is spreading fast, and the “spirit world” has become increasingly more accessible. But few families are equipped to resist it. Contemporary churches offer little or no help. Most simply ignore the danger or endorse the “fun.” To avoid offense, the word evil is dropped from their vocabulary.
The primary victims of this blindness end up being our children. Unless we teach them to recognize and resist these dangers, many will come to embrace the darkness.
Those who love and follow God will be repelled by occult myths. And those who love today’s popular occultism will run from God’s unchanging truths and wise and loving boundaries. For if we are filled with His Spirit and follow His way, we will—by His life in us—“abhor that which is evil: and cleave to that which is good” (Romans 12:9).
The world cringes when it hears these truths because its fiction and fantasies are too enticing. That’s why people find all kinds of arguments to justify their misdirected love.
To prepare your child for daily battles against tempting spiritual counterfeits, consider these three other outlines of vital truths:
The Armor of God—These six truths expose and counter today’s most popular deceptions. Even more important, they show us the way to an intimate relationship with God.
The Lord’s Prayer—These truths parallel the ones in the armor of God and serve the same purposes.
The Beatitudes—Jesus’ message, recorded in Matthew 5, show us a standard for holiness that is far higher than we can achieve, but it comes with the promise that—by His life in us—He will make us all He intends us to be. It ends with the reminder that those who follow Jesus will also share in His suffering. Therefore, our children need to be prepared for persecution. Uncompromising faith and God’s unchanging truths have become intolerable in today’s postmodern age.
Popular occultism is spreading fast, and the “spirit world” has become increasingly more accessible. But few families are equipped to resist it.
This has been an excerpt from How to Protect Your Child From the New Age and Spiritual Deception by Berit Kjos.
By Heather Clark
Christian News Network
Homeschooling is growing at a record rate in North Carolina, according to reports.
Over 10,000 more students are being homeschooled than just two years ago, with enrollment figures surpassing that of private schools. The News & Observer reports that the North Carolina Division of Non-Public Education estimates that there are 98,172 homeschooled students in North Carolina, compared to 95,768 students enrolled in private schools.
While the majority of students attend public school—1.5 million—there is still a marked departure from the system, as there were just 2,300 homeschooled students in the state 25 years ago.
“If you’re dissatisfied with public education, you really have two routes,” Kevin McClain, president of North Carolinians for Home Education, told the outlet. “You can send your child to a private school, which is really expensive, or you can homeschool. The economy means that, for many people, you homeschool.” Click here to continue reading.
DANGEROUS ILLUSIONS . . . has such a tender, romantic heart . . . a sweet-murder-mystery-romance with a tangible love for the young people who are its target audience. It expresses love to a jaded, over-stimulated generation who must know that heroes and God-fearing, loving people still exist in the modern world despite the dark and violent images of MTV and Marvel comics. It is a barn-burner of suspense, hard to put down . . . and despite the accurate portrayal of sinister forces and very wicked people, it lacks the cynical hopeless misery of the media world our young-adults grow up in. It is the tender loving heart of God in the authors that shines through. I teared-up at the ending while reading in a restaurant. Appealing to both genders, the warm tapestry of appropriate Scriptures, Biblical names, symbols, images and characters warm the reader amidst the tension of events. It fills the book with a message that will arm today’s Christian youth against the ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’, false prophets and Hollywood show-people who permeate their young lives within the church. Well-developed atmosphere, mystery, characters, theology, heresy, apostasy and clarity are woven into an absolutely lovely tapestry with “THE LOVE OF GOD” as its central image. It is a new item in the library of Christian literature that (by God’s magnificent grace and Word) can save young Christian lives from the Age of Apostasy in which we live.—ROGER NEILL
By Garrett Haley
Christian News Network
LONDON – In an attempt to crack down on religious ‘extremism,’ Britain’s Education Secretary has announced that any schools that teach creation will be stripped of government funding.
Nicky Morgan, Education Secretary of Great Britain, delivered a statement to Parliament late last month, in which she condemned the spread of religious views within British schools. Citing a recently-released report, Morgan particularly emphasized the danger of radical Islamic beliefs infiltrating Britain’s classrooms.
“There has been no evidence of direct radicalisation or violent extremism,” Morgan stated. “But there is a clear account in the report of people in positions of influence in these schools, with a restricted and narrow interpretation of their faith, who have not promoted fundamental British values and who have failed to challenge the extremist views of others.”
The report mentioned by Morgan also denounces the teaching of creation in public schools, suggesting that anti-evolution beliefs are comparable to radical Islam. One section of the report claims that creation beliefs equate to “teaching belief as fact.” Click here to continue reading.
We are happy to present a new slideshow of photos from the Bryce Homes for Christian Widows and Children in Kenya, but first here are the answers to five things you might be wondering about the Bryce missions project that is supported solely by UTT and Lighthouse Trails readers.
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 via e-mail and phone 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.
A free digital slideshow by Smilebox
By Berit Kjos
(author of How to Protect Your Child From the New Age and Spiritual Deception)
The Spiritual Formation movement is widely promoted at colleges and seminaries as the latest and the greatest way to become a spiritual leader. It teaches people that this is how they can become more intimate with God and truly hear His voice. Even Christian leaders with longstanding reputations of teaching God’s word seem to be succumbing.1—Roger Oakland
Spiritual Formation has become a widely used term that was introduced to the evangelical church in the 1970s, primarily through a Thomas Merton disciple named Richard Foster and his longstanding, best-selling book, Celebration of Discipline. Today, there are few venues in the church that have not been influenced by the Merton/Foster model of Spiritual Formation.
While at first glance, the Spiritual Formation movement seems profitable and spiritual at best, harmless and benign at worst, that is only because it has been disguised with Christian language and out-of-context Scriptures all the while making grandiose claims that through Spiritual Formation, you can really know God.
In a nutshell, Spiritual Formation teaches that in order for someone to have an intimate relationship with God, he or she needs to practice certain “spiritual disciplines” that will help one to become more Christ-like. Sounds good so far, right?
What many people don’t really know, however, is that the driving force behind the Spiritual Formation movement is a mystical prayer technique called contemplative or centering prayer. The Spiritual Formation leaders, such as Richard Foster, Henri Nouwen, and Brennan Manning, have told their followers for years that we must get rid of distractions in our minds or else we cannot hear the voice of God.
In order to reach a state of silence or stillness (where the mind is basically put into neutral), a word or phrase is repeated (or the breath is focused on) and a meditative (altered) state can then be achieved. But while contemplative advocates insist that this is not the same thing as Eastern-style meditation because their intent is different (they repeat Jesus Jesus, not om om), the results are the same as practicing Transcendental Meditation (TM) and demonic realms are experienced in this silence. One meditation writer explains:
The meditation of advanced occultists is identical with the prayer of advanced mystics; it is no accident that both traditions use the same word for the highest reaches of their respective activities: contemplation [samadhi in yoga].2
That’s a little background of the Spiritual Formation (i.e., contemplative prayer) movement. Although the dangers of this mystical spirituality should be obvious to most Christians, it appears this is not the case, and children have not been exempt from the impact. Evangelical youth groups, children’s organizations, Sunday School curriculum, books, and so forth are introducing contemplative spirituality (i.e., Spiritual Formation) to children.
For instance, in a book titled, Perspectives on Children’s Spiritual Formation, Greg Carlson and John Crupper (executive leaders of the Awana’s children organization at the time the book was written) praise Richard Foster’s contemplative-promoting book Streams of Living Water. Carlson and Crupper also say that the contemplative “tradition” is an important contribution to Christians:
In his excellent overview, Streams of Living Water, Richard Foster outlines six different spiritual traditions that are present within the Christian faith. They are the contemplative tradition, the holiness tradition, the charismatic tradition, the social justice tradition, the evangelical tradition, and the incarnational tradition. Each of these has played an important part in the larger history of the Christian church. . . . Each of these traditions has made significant contributions to Christian spirituality and each has weaknesses when isolated from other traditions.3
When Carlson and Crupper say “weaknesses,” they mean they don’t have a problem with contemplative as long as it is used in conjunction with other spiritual practices or “traditions.” They say that each of these models can learn from the other.4 Clearly, this gives the green light on contemplative. Carlson and Crupper add:
[W]e would see many of the techniques [from the Contemplative-Model] of teaching as valuable tools for learning . . . the ideas of repetition and routine . . . are important; and we affirm them.5
Perspectives on Children’s Spiritual Formation identifies some of these “techniques” and “tools” as lectio divina, centering prayer, labyrinths, the Jesus Prayer, and breath prayers, all of which are part of contemplative spirituality.
Incidentally, in one section of the book, it favorably references the Catholic mystic Thomas Merton, who once said that he “intend[ed] to become as good a Buddhist”6 as he could and that he “was impregnated with Sufism.”7 Merton never hid his admiration for Eastern-style meditation or his panentheistic beliefs (that God was in all humanity). For Awana leadership to co-author a book that speaks highly of Thomas Merton shows little discernment or understanding.
Even though Carlson and Crupper are no longer in executive leadership roles with Awana, the book is still on the market today. Plus, Awana is referred to several times in the book so someone reading it would believe that Awana itself has given an OK to contemplative.
While it is troubling to see this kind of pass on contemplative spirituality by Awana leadership, calling it a “significant contribution” that has “played an important part” in the church, I believe there are many local Awana leaders who are not compromising their teachings and are staying true to God’s Word. Perhaps they will be the ones to help Awana stay on the right path.
One Christian group that has pushed contemplative spirituality onto children is NavPress. In one issue of their PrayKids! publication, an article titled, “Contemplative Prayer” states:
Contemplative prayer is a form of meditative prayer that focuses on communing with God. Although sometimes confused with its Eastern (and non-Christian) counterpart, true Christian meditation has been practiced since Bible times.
This issue of PrayKids! helps kids learn to slow down their fast-paced lives long enough to experience a meaningful relational encounter with their Heavenly Father.8
In one feature article in Pray!, “Empowering Kids to Pray,” Brad Jersak is referenced in relation to kids and prayer. Jersak’s book, Stricken by God (endorsed by emergent church figure Brian McLaren) is a compilation of essays by various authors including Eastern-style meditation proponents Richard Rohr and Marcus Borg. Borg rejects basic foundational tenets of Christian doctrine (such as the virgin birth of Christ and the atonement),9 and Rohr is a panentheistic Catholic priest who embraces interspirituality and mysticism.
Considering that NavPress, the publishing arm of the Navigators, has a publication for children specifically to teach children contemplative prayer illustrates how integrated the New Spirituality has become within Christianity. Children in the church are being targeted. This is tragic—church is supposed to be one of the safest places for our children.
And it doesn’t get better as they get older. Unaware parents who are anticipating their children attending “good” Christian colleges when they are old enough may be very surprised and rudely awakened to find that Spiritual Formation has now entered almost every accredited Christian college, seminary, and university. My publisher, Lighthouse Trails, has been following this trend for over 12 years now and has discovered that some of the top accreditation associations for Christian schools are requiring Spiritual Formation programs to be implemented in schools now before they can be accredited!10 Students in Christian colleges are now being required to study the works of Henri Nouwen and Richard Foster and to take practicum courses in contemplative and centering prayer where they may be required to practice contemplative prayer for a passing grade.
Pray for discernment and guidance, and use the ideas on how to protect your children from spiritual deception that I have laid out in my book to make sure your child is equipped and “armored” to face what is now so prevalent in evangelical/Protestant Christianity.
1. Roger Oakland, Faith Undone (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2007), p. 91.
2. Richard Kirby, The Mission of Mysticism (London, UK: SPCK, 1979), p. 7.
3. Michael Anthony, Perspectives on Children’s Spiritual Formation (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2006), p. 82, quoting Carlson and Crupper.
4. Ibid., p. 83.
5. Ibid., p. 85.
6. David Steindl-Rast, “Recollection of Thomas Merton’s Last Days in the West” (Monastic Studies, 7:10, 1969).
7. Rob Baker and Gray Henry, Editors, Merton and Sufism (Louisville, KY: Fons Vitae, 1999), p. 69.
8. “Contemplative Prayer” (PrayKids, NavPress, issue #25).
9. Marcus Borg, The God We Never Knew (New York, NY: HarperCollins, First HarperCollins Paperback Edition, 1998), p. 25.
10. “An Epidemic of Apostasy—Christian Seminaries Must Incorporate ‘Spiritual Formation’ to Become Accredited” (Lighthouse Trails Special Report, November 2011, http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=7733).