Archive for the ‘Purpose Driven Movement’ Category

Letter to the Editor: Former New Age Follower Shares Vital Information With Her Pastors and Church Leaders

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

Several years ago, I learned that our church was planning to do a labyrinth walk.  A pattern had been set up in one of the rooms, and stations were placed along the path at which to perform rituals and meditate. From my experience in the New Age prior to becoming a Christian, I knew this was something Christians should not be doing.  I found information on the Internet about the background and purpose of the labyrinth, which I presented to our pastor.

Some years later, I came across Warren Smith’s book, Deceived on Purpose: The New Age Implications of the Purpose-Driven Life.  It caught my attention, as our church was studying, The Purpose-Driven Life. As I read the book, I could see that quotations used were by New Age or non-Christian people.  Also, the statement that “God is in everything and everyone” is not true.

At the same that I was made aware of this book, I was hearing about contemplative prayer being practiced. This was done by sitting in silence for up to half an hour in order to hear from God, perhaps chanting a word over and over in order to make your mind go blank.  I had done this when I was in New Age in order to develop ESP (extrasensory perception ).  It was called “transcendental meditation,” and, I found out, would attract demons. I made a presentation to the elder board, along with another lady, to inform them of the error in contemplative practices.

It was not long after that my husband and I left that church and found one that was not doing The Purpose-Driven Life or contemplative prayer.

A few years later, we returned to that former church, which, by then, had a new pastor who was preaching directly from the Word.  As there was still some material being used promoting contemplative prayer, I used some information I had received from The Berean Call (stating that the study of psychology could lead to the  practice of contemplative prayer) to present to the pastor.  As that was exactly what had happened to me, I shared my experience with  him.  Through our Women’s leader, who is aware of the deception, I have been able to give out booklets from Lighthouse Trails, which she shares with the staff and ladies of the congregation.

Although I have not always known the result of sharing this information, I believe it has made the pastors more aware of the deception that is occurring in evangelical churches today.

Lynda

Saddleback Church Statement Appears to Downplay Role of Alleged Molester Ruben Meulenberg

On Friday evening (May 26), Saddleback Church released a statement about the arrest of Ruben Meulenberg, the man who allegedly has been molesting boys at Saddleback. The Saddleback statement called Meulenberg a “student ministry volunteer.” Here is the full statement:

We are shocked and grieved to share that this week a Saddleback member reported that a student ministry volunteer had acted inappropriately with two 14-year-old boys. Of course, our staff quickly reported this accusation to our Orange County Sherriff’s Department. The next day, the volunteer was arrested on suspicion of the offense. The investigation of the accusation is now in the hands of the proper authorities.

We ask you to do two things: first, please pray for the Saddleback families who are involved in this sad matter; second, please pray for the investigators as they determine the facts. As followers of Jesus, we always want the whole truth to come out because Jesus taught us that lies enslave us, but the truth sets us free.

As a part of Saddleback, you know that our church has been built on the service of thousands of volunteers who donate hundreds of thousands of hours of their time. Most of you know that for decades we’ve had extremely high requirements and strict procedures in place for anyone who volunteers in our student and children ministries.

To be considered for volunteering with kids or students, we require fingerprinting, professional background checks, and personal interviews. We also use services that report any illegal activity to us immediately. In this case, the accused volunteer had no record of arrest or criminal charges. Also, our church requires volunteers who work with students or children to complete an annual training regarding appropriate conduct. Our system of safeguards has safely served over 40,000 students and children for 38 years.

Please pray for everyone involved. We love you.

Kurt Johnston, Student Ministries Pastor & Elder

 Steve Johnson, Executive Pastor & Elder (source)

Lighthouse Trails has since learned that Ruben Meulenberg, at least according to two sources (one by a source very close to Rick Warren and Saddleback), is not merely a volunteer at Saddleback – he is also a staff member. The first source is from an article written by public relations journalist Larry Ross, who states:

The Meulenberg brothers are versed media artists, programmers, consultants and the creators of FPS Control. As experienced professionals in the media industry, their training materials have trained over 20,000 musicians and 40,000 game and app developers globally, including Disney Mobile. Some past clients include ING Bank, Thompson, Pearson Education, RedHat, Logica CMG and Orange. They reside in southern California and serve on staff at Saddleback Church in the technology, communication and marketing ministries. (http://alarryross.com/tornado-twins-develop-unprecedented-video-game-the-game-bible-series/, emphasis added)

Ross has close ties with Rick Warren and Saddleback and has written numerous promotional reports on the Purpose Driven pastor.

The second source is from a Point of View interview done in 2014 where Meulenberg is described as a staff member at Saddleback:

The Tornado Twins’ materials have trained over 20,000 musicians and 40,000 game and app developers globally, including Disney Mobile. Some past clients include ING Bank, Thompson, Pearson Education, RedHat, Logica CMG and Orange.

Born and raised in the Netherlands, the Tornado Twins immigrated to the United States to create meaningful media. They reside in southern California and serve on staff at Saddleback Church in the technology, communication and marketing ministries. (https://pointofview.net/show/wednesday-october-22-2014/, emphasis added)

Ruben and Efraim Muelenberg (photo from YouTube 2 second clip; used in accordance with the US Fair Use Act)

If indeed Ruben Meulenberg is a staff member and one with a significant role in youth ministry at the mega church, then the statement released by Saddleback on May 26th has downplayed or minimized Meulenberg’s role at the church.

In addition to Ruben Meulenberg’s apparent staff position, his father, Abraham Meulenberg, is a pastor at Saddleback in charge of interfaith outreach. He was involved with Rick Warren’s efforts to form alliances with the Muslim community (source). Ruben’s mother, Marieke Meulenberg, is also a staff member at Saddleback, and according to her LinkedIn page, she serves as Project Manager and Volunteer Coordinator for the Office of the Pastor (source).

In various capacities, Ruben Meulenberg appears to have been quite involved at Saddleback. As you can see from this video of a Junior High “Glow Light” event, the Meulenberg brothers have been involved with training and influencing  the youth at Saddleback  (you may find this video disturbing as you watch the Meulenberg brothers, who call themselves the Tornado Twins, lead a large number of Saddleback Junior High kids into a frenzied state). The identical twin men have also introduced video games to Saddleback youth, and in fact, Rick Warren has encouraged and promoted one of their games as you can read in this Christian Post article, “Rick Warren Praises Twins’ Efforts to Create a Bible Video Game That Isn’t ‘Cheesy.”  And according to an Amazon web page, Warren also co-authored a book with Ruben Meulenberg along with some other authors titled Transformed: How God Changes Us. It seems very clear that Ruben Meulenberg has had more than a “volunteer” role at Saddleback, thus making the Saddleback statement misleading.

We hope Rick Warren and his staff will not try to minimize this tragic situation or their role in it in their failure to protect Saddleback kids. And we hope they will be honest with the parents as to what has really taken place. The facts seem to show that Reuben Meulenberg has been an integral part of Saddleback and has, unfortunately, had free unguarded access to the kids who trusted him.

Related Information:

5 Things You Can Do to Protect Your Kids From Sexual Predators

From an Investigative Sergeant—Helping Sexually Abused Children: A Calling, A Ministry, and a Mission

8 Things You Should Know About Boys Who Are Sexually Abused

How to Find a Bible-Believing Church

                                                                   bigstockphoto.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kingdom-Now Evangelicals

By Roger Oakland
While I believe Rome leads the way with the bold claim that God chose Peter and the succeeding popes to take the title of “Vicar of Christ” and determine what the sheep should or should not believe, other groups believe they have been called to usher in or even prepare and set up the kingdom of God here on Earth without the presence of the King. Often taking the position that Jesus will not actually physically return to rule and reign for a period of one thousand years, these groups see themselves as chosen by God to be human vessels for this purpose.
Common names for this teaching are: Kingdom Now, Dominion Theology, and Reconstructionism. It is the idea that before Christ can return, the world must be brought together in unity and perfection, and this work will be done by the Christian church. Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven P.E.A.C.E. Plan, Jim Wallis’ social gospel agenda, and Tony Campolo or Brian McLaren’s emergent church are a few of the avenues through which this is being propagated. The goal is to basically eradicate all the world’s ills (e.g., disease, poverty, terrorism, and pollution) and thus, we will have created a “Heaven on Earth” Utopia.

While creating such a world sounds very good, it is not what the Bible says is going to happen. Many Scriptures, in both the Old and New Testaments, describe a very different scenario, such as the following:

Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. (Matthew 24:9-14)
The following list of some of the erroneous teachings in Kingdom-Now theology illustrate how dangerous this belief system is, yet it has tremendously pervaded the church today:
Prophetic Scriptures are denied or fulfilled in 70 AD (as is also the belief of preterism).
The church is the new Israel (replacement theology).
Armageddon is the ongoing battle between the forces of light and darkness.
The Antichrist is a spirit, not an actual person.
We are already in the Tribulation, but at the same time, we are in the Millennium. It doesn’t get any stranger! It’s one or the other.
Rather than following traditional Bible prophecy, they follow “new revelations.”
Modern-day prophets must be obeyed and not judged for their inaccuracy.
They want to restore the Edenic nature even though Eden is where sin began.1
This movement has swept the planet, and those who refuse to join hands are considered “colonial,” “militant fundamentalists,” and “narrow-minded crackpots” who are not willing to catch the “new wave” and get on board with the mighty revival that is moving the world toward unity and peace. Many of the leaders in this movement have no problem whatsoever joining with the pope in Rome and the kingdom-of-Earth plans he has for joining together with other religions, including Islam.
While some discerning Christians can see how this trend plays a role in light of Bible prophecy, there is a huge portion of Christianity that does not. These are those who are reading books by authors who promote emerging church (or “progressive Christianity”) ideas for the postmodern generation that reject the teachings of the Bible and embrace establishing the kingdom of God on Earth right now. They are willing to join hands with other religions by reinventing Christianity into a “broad-way” spirituality where all are saved and part of God’s Kingdom. No longer do they believe in the “narrow road” to eternity. The kingdom of God is for all religions, they say (and even for those who believe in nothing). Unity, peace, connectedness, and oneness is all that matters, while biblical doctrine is being set aside as irrelevant to the “new reformation” at hand. Obviously, such a view leaves little room for the Cross and the biblical Gospel. And Scriptures such as this one are overlooked:
And he [Jesus] went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are. (Luke 13:22-25; emphasis added)
Unfortunately, while there may be many pastors, like Rick Warren, who still hold to a personal belief in Jesus Christ as their Savior, the time will come when the path they are now taking may cost them dearly. It is my hope that these leaders might wake up to see what they are doing before it is too late. And let us not forget the countless number of people following these shepherds who may never embrace a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ because of the truths being withheld from them for the sake of “peace” and “unity.”
It is also grievous to know that a good number of “Christian” leaders no longer believe (or have never believed) in the Cross as a propitiation for sin but maintain their belief that such a concept is both archaic and barbaric. They hold to the view that Christianity needs to be reinvented for our times. Brian McLaren, who in 2015 represented “Christianity” at the Parliament of the World Religions in Utah, holds to just such a view. In one interview, he said that the idea of God sending His Son to a violent death is “false advertising for God” and he equally rejected the doctrine of Hell as well.2
In addition, McLaren has played a significant role in promoting kingdom-now theology as can be seen in his book The Secret Message of Jesus: Uncovering the Truth That Could Change Everything. McLaren, who was once listed by Time Magazine as one of the top 25 most influential persons associated with evangelical Christianity, has sought to upgrade the Christian faith in order to make it relevant for today. He asks a number of questions at the beginning of his book that imply the church has misrepresented Jesus’ core message and promotes the idea that Christians need to be honest with themselves even if that means altering their faith. In his book, he makes the following statement:
Sadly, for centuries at a time in too many places to count, the Christian religion has downplayed, misconstrued, or forgotten the secret message of Jesus entirely. Instead of being about the kingdom of God coming to earth, the Christian religion has too often been preoccupied with abandoning or escaping the earth and going to heaven . . . We have betrayed the message that the kingdom of God is available for all, beginning with the least and last and the lost—and have instead believed and taught that the kingdom of God is available for the elite, beginning with the correct and the clean and the powerful.3
In McLaren’s 2016 book titled The Great Spiritual Migration: How the World’s Largest Religion is Seeking a Better Way to be Christian, he describes this all-inclusive “kingdom of God” that incorporates “multifaith [i.e., all religions] collaborations.” He states:
This kind of collaboration leads to a fresh understanding of what it means to evangelize. I was taught that it meant converting people to the one true religion, namely, my own [Christianity]. Now I believe evangelism means inviting people into heart-to-heart communion and collaboration with God and neighbors in the great work of healing the earth, of building the beloved community, of seeking first the kingdom of God and God’s justice for all. Members of each tradition bring their unique gifts to the table, ready to share and receive, learn and teach, give and take, in a spirit of generosity and vulnerability. Neither my neighbors nor I are obligated or expected to convert. . . . As we work together for the common good, we are all transformed. Those who haven’t experienced this kind of transforming collaboration simply don’t know what they’re missing. . . . Through multifaith collaborations, I have come to see how the language Paul used about one body with many members (1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12: 4– 5) applies not only to differing gifts among individual Christians but also to differing gifts among religions.4 (emphasis added)
While many evangelicals have now pushed Brian McLaren to the sidelines of evangelical Christianity, others have continued carrying on his message, sometimes in more subtle ways. But as the Bible says, there is nothing new under the sun. Satan’s devices are always in play. His goal is to destroy the message of the Cross, and while he cannot ever actually destroy it, he can cause untold numbers to reject it by offering them substitutes. But we know there is no substitute for the finished work on the Cross by Jesus Christ, who is the only Savior for mankind.
What Does This Tell Us?
There is a common cliché: if it quacks like a duck, walks like a duck, and has feathers like a duck—it is a duck! Efforts are underway to establish the kingdom of God on Earth right now without the King. Is this what Jesus intended would happen, or are we being misled by human beings who are following the thoughts of their own imagination or worse yet the inspiration of Satan?
While the idea that the kingdom of God is being established here on Earth by human leaders has been around for centuries, we should pay special attention when current events reveal that though the world gets worse and worse, we are being told it is getting better and better. When false religions become part of the kingdom, then clearly, this is not God’s kingdom, but rather it is the kingdom that belongs to the god of this world. Jesus made it very clear there are two kingdoms—one of God and one of this world—when he told Pontius Pilate shortly before He was crucified, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). Jesus also said to Pilate in that same conversation “Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” Ask yourself this, are you hearing the voice of the Good Shepherd, or is it the voice of the god of this world who leads a kingdom that is not of God?
Endnotes:
1. Taken from “Kingdom-Now Theology” (Lighthouse Trails blog, March 6, 2007, http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=3295).
2. Interview by Leif Hansen (The Bleeding Purple Podcast) with Brian McLaren, January 8th, 2006); Part 1: http://web.archive.org/web/20090103090514/http://bleedingpurplepodcast.blogspot.com/2006/01/brian-mclaren-interview-part-i.html; Part II: http://web.archive.org/web/20060127003305/http://bleedingpurplepodcast.blogspot.com).
3. Brian McLaren, The Secret Message of Jesus (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2006), pp. 78-79.
4. Brian McLaren, The Great Spiritual Migration (New York, NY: Convergent Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, 2016), Kindle location 2768.
(Roger Oakland is the author of several books, booklets, and is featured in many teaching DVDs and films. His latest book, The Good Shepherd Calls, deals with the apostasy taking place in the church today.)

Rick Warren and Brian Brodersen Prove: “A Photo Is Worth A Thousand Words”

Courtesy of Understand the Times

Connect the dots and draw your own conclusions (See related articles under picture)

Related Articles from Lighthouse Trails:

Brian Brodersen and Greg Laurie’s “Bigger Picture of Christianity”

Rick Warren’s Dangerous Ecumenical Pathway to Rome And How One Interview Revealed So Much

Letter to the Editor: My Story About Freemasonry in My Church

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

I have just read the excellent booklet that you generously provided in your recent newsletter by Carl Teichrib; FREEMASONRY: A Revealing Look at the Spiritual Side.

Back in the early 1990s, my family was able to relocate to a small town in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina. We had previously been members of an independent Bible church in Florida. Among our first priorities after settling in was to find a similar church that preached the Word and was focused on missions. We found a very small Christian and Missionary Alliance Church that at the time had only about 30 members with a very young pastor that had just graduated from seminary. This was a wonderful answer to prayer. The church was already starting to sponsor several missionaries, and the pastor and I began a close friendship. Soon after the pastor asked me if I would consider being an elder. I had been a deacon at the church in Florida, and having been a Christian for only 5 years at this point, I really thought I might not qualify to be an elder. After much prayer about this, I humbly accepted the position. Part of my decision was based on the certainty that the Lord had given me the gift of discernment soon after I was born again . . . (but that is a whole other story).

The building we rented for our services was very small, seating maybe 35-40. Soon we began to look for a larger building to suit our growing congregation. We found a beautiful piece of land just on the edge of town that had previously been occupied by a Jehovah’s Witness group. After praying that the Lord would cleanse the building, we started much needed work on the sanctuary and the small other building that would be for a nursery.

At this time, a man suddenly started coming to our church and put himself right away to the business of woodworking and painting. He had skills in construction that none of us possessed so his help was greatly appreciated. I soon found out that he was a Freemason. Of the 5 elders in the congregation, only I and one other (that had left masonry after becoming a Christian) knew the ramifications of this man’s intention of becoming a member of the congregation. I looked at our By-Laws and could not find anything prohibiting a member of a secret society from becoming a member. So I got busy getting together materials to discuss with the pastor and elders that dealt with Freemasonry. At the time, I had a book by John Ankerberg that I used to highlight all the reasons a Freemason could not be a true Christian (or at the very least, would be a compromising one) being that he would be serving two masters.

Since this man had asked to be a member, we elders had a meeting with him after the elders had educated themselves about the serious spiritual ramifications of his joining the membership. We gently but firmly talked to this man about the biblical reasons that this secret society could not coexist with Christianity. He claimed he went to a “Christian Lodge,” and he did not seem to understand what we were talking about. The man and his wife met with the pastor and said he was offended by what we were implying. It was his view that we were saying he was not a Christian, which we had never said in the first meeting. The next few weeks the man did not come to church. I had the church vote on a by-law that would not allow a member of a secret society to become a member of the church. Several weeks later the man called the pastor and told him that he owned a parcel of land adjoining our small plot of land. He said he would sell it to us if only he could become a member of the church and that if the elders and especially me would apologize to him and his wife based on Matthew 18:15 where a brother sins against another brother!

Much to my surprise (and horror), the pastor (and my friend) wanted me to ignore the new by-law and personally apologize to this man solely for the reason of obtaining this parcel of land from him that he was offering at a great discount!

This was a very agonizing time for me and my wife. We earnestly prayed about what to do. I could not in good faith apologize to this man when I had only tried to show him the errors of his way using Scripture and resources to back up what I was saying. I felt betrayed by the pastor. Some of the elders (except for one) did not even know what all the fuss was about! For these reasons, we reluctantly left that church that we had so dearly come to love. My wife had started a Pioneer Club for the children and I had taught adult Sunday school there.

Soon afterwards, a CMA higher up came and discussed church growth, and the man in question sold the parcel to the church.

This is an example of how Satan ruins a good thing when discernment is nearly absent from a local congregation.

By the way, the other elder that was a mason before he became saved also left that CMA church soon after I did based on his convictions that very few of the elders and pastor had any discernment and also because of the new blueprints that the CMA leader had come up with for church growth. Basically, that plan was to be a seeker-friendly church that added members that wanted to join whomever they may be (saved or unsaved).

After we left the CMA church, we looked for a new church and settled on the big First Baptist church in town (Southern Baptist). My youngest son accepted Christ as his Savior there and was baptized, and we were happy they had a nice youth group. About two years later, the youth pastor left, and they replaced him with a Rick Warren fan. Several of the parents wanted to have a meeting with him and the deacons to discuss our concerns. It was not only the fact that all he talked about was Rick Warren, but my son said that unlike with the previous youth pastor, this young man was teaching them things that had nothing to do about the Bible. My son showed me his notes: it was all man’s wisdom and philosophies that he was espousing. The meeting was very tense. The youth pastor again accused us of not coming to him in private first and citing . . . you guessed it: Matthew 18 again! The deacons were all Masons, and they were not sympathetic to our concerns.

Before moving back to Florida, we started up a small congregation of about 12 families; most of them the parents of the youth group at the big Baptist church. About this same time, I was reading a book by a former Mason-turned-Christian that mentioned that a tactic that the local lodges used was infiltrating the local churches and reporting back to their lodge on the church’s activities. That really creeped me out.

Maranatha!

A believer in Florida

Letter to the Editor from an Assemblies of God Pastor: How God Sent Ray Yungen Who “Radically Altered the Path of Our Ministry”

LTRP Note: We are posting this, not just as a tribute to Ray but even more so to help Christian pastors and leaders consider taking a closer look at how they are operating their ministries and churches and ask themselves if they are truly preaching “Christ crucified” or are they following after programs made by men.

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

I don’t remember the exact date, but sometime in early 2011, we were watching “Frances and Friends” on TV over the Son Life Broadcasting network. We weren’t fans of the Jimmy Swaggart Ministries and taking the time to watch one of their programs was not something that was planned on our part. But, God had a plan. Anyhow, as we tuned in to that program, the guest speaker being interviewed by Frances Swaggart over the telephone was Warren Smith. We had never heard of this man but what caught our attention was his comments about Rick Warren and the “Purpose Drive Church” ministry model. In as much as we pastor an Assemblies of God church, and, at that time, were avid disciples or Rick Warren, I stopped to listen to what Warren was saying about Rick Warren. Rick Warren was (and still is) promoted heavily by the Assemblies of God as the “new” ministry model to follow. But what Warren Smith had to say about the Purpose Driven Church and the Purpose Drive Life stopped me dead in my tracks. When that program was over, my wife and I sat there stunned. We had been following Rick Warren’s ministry for approximately 13 years and never had any inclination that it was NOT what we should be doing in our ministry.

I sent an e-mail to Warren Smith that day (or the next) telling him how very much we had appreciated his courage and his willingness to come on national TV and denounce the Purpose Driven Church model. What we learned that day through Warren was shocking, but we felt the peace of God as to what we were learning. In that e-mail I mentioned to Warren that we were now re-examining our promoting the PDC model. Bro. Warren called me on the phone the day after he received my e-mail which was quite a shock to me that he would take the time to do that. But Warren asked me if I would permit him to put me in contact with a man he considered a mentor and who lived in Salem, Oregon which is about 3 hours away. He said that his name was Ray Yungen. I said that would be fine, and he gave me Ray’s phone number.

Still reeling from what I had just learned from Warren about Rick Warren, I decided not to call Ray. But not making that phone call to Ray right away kept nagging at me. I truly believe that this “nagging feeling” was actually the Holy Spirit exhorting me to call him. So, after about two weeks of putting it off, I relented and called Ray. When Ray answered his phone and I told him my name, he said immediately, “Well, it’s about time. I didn’t think you were going to call.” After a few moments of talking to Ray, he asked if he could come to our town and visit with me and share some information he believed would be very helpful to our ministry.

Well, Ray arrived, and he, my wife, and myself sat down, and Ray began to talk about such things as contemplative spirituality, the New Age movement in the church, soaking prayer, centering prayer, and all manner of related things that were taking place in the church world and being endorsed by noted leaders in Christianity. These were things we had never heard about from anyone at anytime. After listening to Ray for 5 ½ hours, my wife and I looked at each other with stunned amazement at what this man had just told us. He talked to us quietly and supported his claims thoroughly. I looked at Ray and said, “Ray, listening to everything you just said is a little bit like trying to get a drink of water out of fire hydrant.” Following that conversation, we walked back to my church office with Ray still talking, and when he walked into my office, he immediately perused my library. He asked my permission to take a closer look, and he began to pull out select books that I had. One by one, Ray pointed out individuals who were involved in what he had just discussed with my wife and I. People like, Tony Campolo, Richard Foster, Leonard Sweet, Joyce Meyer, and, of course, Rick Warren and others.

One item Ray spent some time looking at was something called “We Build People” which was a “discipleship” program put together by the General Council of the Assemblies of God under the direction of Rick Warren and his staff from Saddleback. The AG had asked Mr. Warren to come back to the Springfield, MO offices and help them develop this program but with a Pentecostal slant. The end result was “We Build People.” Ray pointed out that this program was endorsed by people like Richard Foster, et al.

With all of the above being said, my wife and I know that the Lord used Warren Smith to put us in contact with this wonderfully quiet, gentle, and godly man by the name of Ray Yungen who was guided by the Holy Spirit to completely and radically alter the path of our ministry and begin to preach Christ and Him crucified. Over the few years that we have known Ray, we have been continually fed through his research and his writings which have been a continual source of comfort and enlightenment.

If anyone asks me if I could name two people who have impacted life and ministry in a dramatic way, there is no doubt as to who those two would be – Ray Yungen and Warren Smith. Thank the Lord for their faithfulness.

Our hearts are deeply saddened with the passing of Ray, and we will be forever grateful for his ministry which, in our case, was life changing. Our ministry will never be the same. We look forward to the day when we will see him once again and rejoice with Him in the presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

In His Service,
Larry and Carol


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