Posts Tagged ‘be still’
By Warren B. Smith
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; But after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, Having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
YOUNG PUBLICLY ENDORSES UNIVERSAL SALVATION
In his just-released book (March 7th), Lies We Believe About God, best-selling author Paul Young openly describes himself as a universalist. In chapter 13, Young would have us believe it is a “lie” to tell someone, “You need to get saved.”1 Young asks himself the rhetorical questions, “Are you suggesting that everyone is saved? That you believe in universal salvation?”2 He answers, “That is exactly what I am saying!”3 Young then goes on to teach that “every single human being is in Christ” and that “Christ is in them.”4 With this unbiblical teaching, one recalls how Young put these same heretical words in the mouth of his “Jesus” character in The Shack. He wrote:
God, who is the ground of all being, dwells in, around, and through all things.5
THE TRINITARIAN LIE
Young would have us believe his trinitarian lie that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit inherently indwell everyone.6 This is exactly what the false “Christ” of the New Age teaches. In fact, it is the foundational teaching of the New Age/New Spirituality/New World Religion that has progressively moved into the world and into the church.
NEW AGE IN THE CHURCH
As I pointed out in my booklet, The Shack and Its New Age Leaven,7 the teaching that God is “in” everyone is a heretical New Age teaching that has been increasingly popularized over the last thirty years by New Age authors and teachers and heavily promoted by people like Oprah Winfrey. Sadly, it is also found in the books and teachings of well-known church figures like Robert Schuller, Rick Warren, Eugene Peterson, Leonard Sweet, and Sarah Young.8 And in a November 1, 2016 Catholic News Service article titled, “Pope Offers New Beatitudes for Saints of a New Age” Pope Francis, in a Catholic Mass in Malmo, Sweden, proposed a new “beatitude”—”Blessed are those who see God in every person and strive to make others also discover him.”9
WHAT WILL THE CHURCH DO?
Paul Young wanted to have a conversation about the nature of God, and that conversation is now front and center before the church. Will pastors and leaders and day-to-day believers contend for the faith and fight the good fight, or will they let false teachers like Paul Young have their uncontested say and have their uncontested way?
1. Chapter 13 title in Lies We Believe About God is “You need to get saved.”
2. William Paul Young, Lies We Believe About God (New York, NY: Atria Books; An imprint of Simon & Schuster, 2017), p. 118.
4. Ibid., p. 119.
5. William P. Young, The Shack (Newbury Park, CA: Windblown Media, 2007), p. 112.
6. In C. Baxter Kruger’s book, The Shack Revisited: There Is More Going On Here Than You Ever Dared to Dream, in the foreword, Shack author William Paul Young writes: I want to say, “Thank you, and please read The Shack Revisited.” He adds, “If you want to understand better the perspectives and theology that frame The Shack, this book is for you. Baxter has taken on the incredible task of exploring the nature and character of the God who met me in my own shack” (p. ix). On page 49 of The Shack Revisited , Kruger writes: “For inside of us all, because of Jesus, is nothing short of the very trinitarian life of God.” C. Baxter Kruger, The Shack Revisited: There Is More Going On Here than You Ever Dared to Dream (New York, NY: FaithWords), p. 49.
7. To read this booklet, click here: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=12290.
8. I have documented a short history of how this deceptive New Age teaching has entered the world and the church in my booklet Be Still and Know That You Are Not God. The booklet includes quotes by each of these figures. To read this booklet, click here: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=17572.
9. Cathy Wooden, “Pope Offers New Beatitudes for Saints of a New Age” (Catholic News Service, November 1, 2016,).
In 2006, a DVD film was released by Fox Entertainment called Be Still. Lighthouse Trails wrote extensively about it at the time, warning our readers that the DVD was an infomercial for contemplative prayer. Recently, a caller who very much understood the deceptive dynamics of the contemplative prayer (i.e., Spiritual Formation) movement, reminded us about the film, and we e-mailed her a copy of all the transcripts (we had transcribed the entire film in 2006). The film includes Richard Foster, Buddhist-sympathizer Catholic convert Peter Kreeft, Dallas Willard, Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Michelle McKinney Hammon, Max Lucado, and Calvin Miller. You can read some of our previous coverage here.
You can be sure that in the last 10 years since Be Still was released, the contemplative prayer movement has grown by leaps and bounds, and we have no doubt that this film has had a lot to do with this spread.
Below we have posted portions of the transcript from three of the segments (there were six altogether) of the Be Still film. You may need to read between the lines to understand the message that is being promoted because the film was a seductive and enticing infomercial to draw people into the practice of contemplative prayer without coming right out and saying what contemplative prayer really entails. (After all, viewers could get specific instructions later by reading the writings of these people in the film). For those not familiar with the contemplative prayer movement, it may be a good idea to read this article by Lynn Pratt, “So You Want to Practice Contemplative Prayer? What’s Wrong With That?”
Within these quotes, the italicized words are added by LT for emphasis.
“Contemplative Prayer: The Divine Romance Between God and Man”
We live in frenzied chaotic world under a constant siege of business and noise. The weapons of mass distraction are everywhere. We are bombarded by millions of advertisements daily. The Christian community is not exempt. We were designed to experience fullness of joy, yet many only experience fullness of schedule. Where can we go to find rest and peace?
Be still and know that I am God. We find peace in God’s presence. We get to know God better through prayer. Prayer is relationship and two-way communication with God. Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. But how can we experience abundance if we don’t learn to slow down? We need to stop and quiet ourselves to spend time in real relationship with God.
Contemplation is different from other types of Christian prayer. Contemplative prayer involves less telling God what we want to happen in our lives and more listening for God’s call to us in our heart through Scripture. As we develop the inward attentiveness to God’s divine whisper, we begin to experience His presence more throughout the day.
“What is Contemplative Prayer?”
Richard Foster, author “Prayer”:
Contemplative prayer is listening prayer. It is attentiveness. You know how our children will talk with us and sometimes we wish that they would just listen to us. Now, that’s what contemplative prayer is. It’s being all ears to what the Father has to say to us.
[French Catholic mystic] Nicholas Grou said, “O Divine Master, teach me this mute language which says so much.” That’s the idea. It’s very simple, isn’t it? That we become attentive to God. God’s interested in us, what we have to say. We learn to become interested in what God has to say to us.
Priscilla Shirer, author of “He Speaks to Me: Preparing to Hear the Voice of Go”:
Most of my prayer time is filled up with what I’m saying to Him, as opposed to just being quiet and actually giving him an opportunity to speak to me. And of course I’ve thought about hearing the voice of God all my life, and I’ve thought about wanting to hear Him, but it never occurred to me that I needed to consciously go into His presence with my mouth closed, giving Him an opportunity to get a word in edgewise. And so I’ve just begun in my prayer life over the past year of my life to make a conscious effort to be in a time of prayer, and yes, to speak to Him, but to consciously say, okay, I’m done talking now, because I’m just gonna sit here in the stillness and wait to see what it is that you want to say to me.
Dallas Willard, PhD.,former Director, School of Philosophy, USC:
It is somewhat like, uh, the story of electricity with Benjamin Franklin. And actually, we know now that electricity’s everywhere. I mean, our blood cells wouldn’t work without electricity. But it was Franklin who made the effort to contact it, as it were. So the famous story about the kite in the electric storm, and the current running down the line and jumping the gap and causing the spark and so on. And of course it’s a wonder that the old fellow wasn’t killed on the spot with it, because lightning has been doing that for a long time.
Buddhist-sympathizer Catholic convert, Peter Kreeft:
It’s easy to allegorize it. The key is Franklin’s own ego. And the sky is God. And the electricity is grace and the kite line is prayer. And he’s sending himself up to God in order to get charged.
When my son and I, Jackson, when we play sports or when we play baseball or when he kicks the ball, I always want to try to instruct him on how to do it and what to do. This is how you do it, Son. You do it this way. Well, it hit me. Where Jackson doesn’t want to be with me to receive instruction necessarily. He just wants to be in my presence. And that was the amazing thing. He goes, “You know, Dad, don’t—I don’t need your instructions. I don’t need this. Dad, I’m just happy just being with you.” You know? And that was the thing for me. And that just, you know, made me understand my relationship with Christ. It’s not about me speaking or saying, Lord, this is what I want. He goes, “Jerry, just spend time with Me.”
Contemplative prayer can be experienced everywhere, in small groups of people, when you’re alone, when you’re at work, in all kinds of situations. You take a passage of Scripture, a very simple passage, and you simply lean into the passage and you allow the Lord to teach you.
Churches, small groups and individuals around the world have structured a spiritual life around the practice of Christian contemplation.
Very interesting that even Aristotle, the great Greek philosopher, thought the highest human good was contemplation. But he thought it was contemplation of truth, not contemplation of God. Still, he was onto something big. And it was later on the Christians came along because Aristotelian contemplation turned out not really to do a lot for people. But Augustine, for example, corrected Aristotle and taught that it was God that we contemplate, because He is the only final good and we lift our minds and hearts to Him through Christ, and that gives us the kind of life-giving joy and sufficiency that Aristotle understood to be true happiness.
One of the lives that has affected me deeply is Saint Augustine, that after wrestling with God for such a long time, and God just chasing him and hunting him down, I remember thinking to myself, I want to be that way about God. When God’s hunting me down, I wanna slow down and be caught by Him. If He’s chasing me, I want Him to catch me. And that’s what God did with Saint Augustine. And he knew the fiery passion of God’s love, not just a God of the law, but a God of the heart, a God that chases the heart of man, to pick up all its pieces and make it whole.
Peter Kreeft, PhD, Professor of Philosophy, Boston College:
[The mystic] Kierkegaard, probably the greatest Protestant Christian mind of all time, said many times something like this—This is almost the last page of his journal shortly before he died. He said, “If I could prescribe only one remedy for all the ills of the modern world, I would prescribe silence. Because even if the word of God were proclaimed in its fullness, it would not be heard. There is too much noise. So begin with silence.”
The stresses we live with are so invasive, we begin to believe we’re nothing but these things. We believe they have the power to define who we are and how we live. We must learn to desire a oneness with God that transcends all these things.
“The Need for Contemplative Prayer”
Max Lucado, Pastor, Author, “Cure for the Common Life”:
You know, people are in such a hurry all the time. I talked to a man recently who had completed 60 ironman triathlons. And the guy’s in his 60s. I said, What’s the secret? He said, “Start slow and taper down.” That’s my new motto in life. He said, “Everybody gets out on these races, and they start running as hard as they can, and they wear out. They can’t finish.” He said, “The secret’s to start slow and taper down.” I thought, you know, that’s right. Cause really in life, we start slow. And Jesus said, “Anybody who would know the kingdom of God needs to come like a child.” Children start slow, in our parent’s lap, at our mother’s breast, sleeping a lot, thinking a lot, learning a lot, but then somewhere along the line we think we gotta ratchet up. And so, yeah, I think it’s time to slow it all down a little bit.
I’m reminded of Matthew, chapter 17, during the Transfiguration, Jesus was there with Peter, James and John and it says that God called out from the heavens, God the Father, called out from the heavens. And here’s Jesus standing in front of them with His face shining. And I mean, they are just amazed at what they are seeing and God the Father calls out and says, “This is My Son whom I love, and I am well pleased.” And this is the command that God the Father gives. He says, “Listen to Him.” Here’s Jesus in all of His glory, and the one thing the Father says that He’s, we’re supposed to do is listen to Him. And so, if that’s the one command that God the Father would give at this point, at this incredible point in biblical history, that we listen to Him, then I think we oughta be making some time to come aside from our busyness and listen to what it is that our Father has to say to us.
Calvin Miller, Professor, Author, “Into the Depths of God”: [Miller is a proponent of Marcus Borg who openly denied many tenets of the Christian faith.]
One of the great things that silence does, it gives us a new concept of God. God is not just somebody there to hear us, a doting grandfather who puts his arms around us and says, “Honey, I’ll see what I can do for you.” God is an activist. That’s why I believe in praying the Scriptures. When you open up the Bible and you pray the Scriptures back to God, you’re experiencing something really wonderful, and what you’re experiencing is, you’re reading back to the Author of the Word of God His own words. Now I’m not, I’m not a great writer. But when somebody says to me, “I read your book,” that’s a great gift to give me.
God’s Word is so clear that if we are not still before Him, we will never truly know, to the depths of the marrow in our bones, that He is God. There has got to be a stillness. We’ve got to have a time to sit before Him and just know that He is. We live in such an attention-deficit culture, and we’re so entirely over stimulated, so much coming at us at once, one image after another, that if we are not careful, we are going to lose the art of meditation, to just sit before God and know His peace, that He really is in control, and that nothing is happening that’s not being sifted through His fingers, and He is God upon the throne.
The wonderful thing about contemplative prayer is that it can be found everywhere, anywhere, any time for anyone. [Foster believes that contemplative prayer is for anyone, not just believers in Christ.] We become a portable sanctuary, so that we are living our life, wherever it is, aware of the goodness of God, the presence of God.
If there ever was an age that the church—and a time period when the church needed the practice of solitude and silence, it’s now. We live in the information age. And I love it. I love the technology. I love the opportunities it gives us. But I also recognize that every day there’s hundreds of emails. We’re connected to a world wide web. We have cell phones. We, whether we’re in a car, or on an airplane or at our home, somebody can be in contact with us. And all those are great resources, but if in the middle of it we don’t stop, if we don’t get silent and practice that and be alone with God, all that becomes just a drain on us. And so the very people you’re trying to connect with and minister to, you have no energy for.
Now because silence is such a radical thing, and it does mean that you give up control of your situation, you can see what a tremendous impact that would have on the American church, in their services, in their meetings of various kinds. Suppose they practice silence in some of their meetings. That would actually give a place for God to break in. And who knows, He might have something to say even to a committee meeting, if they would be silent long enough. It would mean that, for example, the pastors and the leaders in the services would not feel like they have to control everything, that again, God is in control. And that’s the way God is. He more or less waits for us to get tired of running things and then He’s glad to help.
Katherine A. Brown-Satzman, [promotes guided imagery] Executive Director, UCLA, Healthcare Ethics Center:
And in the process of that, physiologically, everything begins to shift. Blood pressure comes down. Breathing changes. Our mind quiets. And we can actually get to this state of where our body can heal in a much better way, because it’s not fighting all of this, right? It’s not amped up.
“Fear of Silence”
If silence is a condition of this experience, a lot of people really are not going to undertake it. It’s very difficult to get anyone to be silent. And I think it’s because in silence they really do surrender their control over how they appear. One of the things we do in talking is to adjust our appearance. And to abandon that as a project is really major. So we keep jabbering. You go to the ordinary church service, you can hardly find 15 minutes of silence. But silence is one of the great spiritual disciplines. And in fact you’re not going to get very far in contemplative prayer unless you know how to be silent. And by that I mean that you really are comfortable with it and you’re practiced in it.
Christian meditation is the practice of being in the presence of God. Its ultimate goal is to seek only God and receive His guidance and grace.
Let me give just a little example of contemplative prayer for an individual. I was using Scripture—one of the Psalms, a brief Psalm, like recently I used Psalm 9. And first I would read it through, just out loud to myself, and just become aware of the texture of the Psalm. And then I’d do a second reading. And there I would highlight whatever passage seemed to strike me in any way—a phrase or a sentence. And then I would do a third reading, and there I’m coming—I’m reading only the highlighted passages, and I look for any phrase, any sentence that speaks particularly to my condition. And that particular day, Psalm 9, the passage was, Be gracious to me, O Lord. Isn’t that wonderful? And I was going through some difficult time, and it was so helpful then, for the entire day, to utilize that particular passage. Be gracious to me, O Lord. Whatever I’m doing, whatever work it is, whatever situation with the children or with my wife or whatever—Be gracious to me, O Lord. See? That’s contemplative prayer.
LT: [Richard Foster is describing lectio divina here; but while he’s trying to make contemplative prayer sound very innocent here, we know from years of studying his writings, that he believes contemplative prayer to be much more than just picking out a passage of Scripture and thinking about it throughout the day. He and other contemplative figures teach that in order to go into the contemplative stillness, that special word or phrase needs to be repeated over and over to help eliminate thoughts and distractions.]
“The Difference Between Eastern and Christian Meditation”
What I see in Christian meditation—it’s not escape from the world. It’s an escape to something and to someone. And so it’s an opportunity to stop, and you’re getting away from the world, but you’re moving toward God and connecting with Him.
The loss of self that is meant in the Eastern traditions, really does mean that the individual dissolves. And that solves the problems of desire and passion, which is the curse of human life on that view of things. See, the Christian and Jewish teaching, and for that matter the Islamic teaching, is that the distinctness of the individual is a good thing. And that God has intended that and means to preserve it. So the response to the human condition is not the disappearance of desire but the dominance of love.
That’s the difference with meditation. We’re not just speaking to our inner selves. We’re not just speaking to a more positive thought process that day. We pray to the God of the universe, the king of all creation, is my Abba, Father. That’s who I’m talking to. And when I have that kind of attitude—that I’m talking to somebody that really can change my circumstances, that really can change my heart, that really can empower me to be different than I’d be, to do what I cannot do, to know what I cannot possibly know—I’m gonna tell you something—My approach is gonna be transformed. I’m not just talking, I’m not just trying to get my head together, I’m talking to someone. And I happen to be talking to the God of the universe.
LT: [What Beth Moore and Dallas Willard are saying here is that the method is the same but the intent is different; but we say that if the method is the same, you are going to get the same results. As Ray Yungen has said, two people can jump out of a ten story building with one saying “fly, fly,” and the other saying “fall, fall,” but the results will be the same.]
There’s a peace that surpasses understanding. We know that stress will always be there, but we ground our hearts in such oneness with God that His power can transform our lives.
“How God Speaks Through Scripture”
Learning to distinguish the voice of God from just human voices within us comes in much the same way that we learn any other voice. You know, there’s a tone to a voice. Satan pushes and condemns. God draws and encourages. And we can know the difference. And then there’s a spirit in a voice, isn’t there? Remember it was said of Messiah that He would not break a bruised reed nor quench a smoldering wick. You see, Jesus would never snuff out the smallest hope, never crush the needy. And that’s the spirit that we look for in the voice of God. And then, third, there’s the content of the voice. And in the final analysis, that is the most clear evidence. You see, the voice of God, the Davar Yahweh, is always consistent with the way God has spoken in the past. And so Scripture, then, becomes a primary means by which we understand God speaking to us today. It will always be consistent with the way He has spoken in the past.
LT: [Satan comes as an angel of light and his ministers as ministers of righteousness. This “test” by Richard Foster is very flawed.]
Sometimes the longest distance in our spiritual journey is that 18 inches from our head getting it down into our heart. And the power of this contemplative prayer, this inner life, is it takes the knowledge which is all the facts and figures, and it makes it wisdom by applying it.
LT: [What contemplatives mean when they say from the head to the heart is what contemplative Henri Nouwen meant when he said: “Through the discipline of contemplative prayer, Christian leaders have to learn to listen to the voice of love … For Christian leadership to be truly fruitful in the future, a movement from the moral [doctrine] to the mystical is required.” (from Nouwen’s book, In the Name of Jesus)]
Can you think about how God must feel when a Christian comes into His presence reading the 23rd Psalm? Lord, You are my shepherd. You make me lie down in green pastures. You lead me beside still waters, all for Your name’s sake. I think when we say those things back to God, as the author of those words, He’s delighted. And the silence confirms that we are people, and we’re talking and God’s listening. But the best times are when God starts talking and we’re quiet enough to hear Him.
Second Timothy 3 tells us that all Scripture is God-breathed, and that means that every single word on that paper has come fresh out of the mouth of God. What I try to remember every single time I read Scripture is that it still has the warmth of God’s breath on it. You can’t separate the words of God from the mouth of God, or you’ve just got sterile words sitting on a page. God’s Word is different than that. It’s the very word out of His mouth. Therefore it comes with fresh breath. Because it’s eternal, that means time is not attached to it. So it’s as fresh today to me as it was the day it came out of His mouth and onto the paper. That’s the way I look at it.
LT: [According to this statement by Beth Moore, without the contemplative aspect, the Word of God is “sterile.” We are not taking what she said out of context. This is totally typical of the contemplative mindset. Remember what she said above, without the stillness, you can’t really know God. She also says that “you can’t separate the word of God from the mouth of God,” but the Bible says in Psalm 138:2 that God’s Word is magnified above His name, so surely His Word is magnified above His “breath.” If you stop and really think about what she is saying here, you will see how distorted this thinking is.
The practice of contemplative prayer can be a vital part of our everyday lives. But we must make time for it.
“The Fruit of Contemplative Prayer”
A true lover of God once spoke about practicing God’s presence. To me, that’s such a part of contemplative prayer. That we are able to absorb the reality, that as we commune with God through prayer, that He is with us, that His Spirit, for those of us who are in Christ, fills us, that we are drawn near to Him, that our souls find rest in Him, that we’ll realize that it’s not just words on a page, but it’s the presence of God, the voice out of His mouth, that calms us, or perhaps stirs us, gives us peace or perhaps brings us into a holy passion, that we respond to His presence.
But if we don’t do it, all we are is an inner wrangling that never ceases. We move from hassle to hassle to hassle. One may stick a little Jesus in here or there, but without the silence, there’s no healing. There’s no healing.
From the segment called “Cloud of Witnesses: Contemplative Figures Throughout History”
Beth Moore, Author “A Heart Like His”:
You know one of the things that time gives us is that it erases the lines between so many different sections of the people of God. Because many years later it doesn’t matter any longer that this person was of this practice in the Christian faith and this person of another. Time somehow blurs those lines, and we are profoundly moved by the historical narratives of all of their lives of so great a cloud of witnesses that we can look back on and see what kept them running the race, what kept them running toward the face of Christ at the end of that finish line.
Dr. Mark Brewer, Pastor, Bel Air Presbyterian Church, Los Angeles:
Through the ages a lot of us as Christians think that the Holy Spirit’s been on sabbatical since the first century and now He just showed up. But He’s been very active in the lives of all of His people. I think of some of the desert fathers—they called themselves God’s athletes in the third and fourth century. They left this corrupt Roman Empire to go and to seek God and they made what they called this holy place for God. That’s why they fasted and why they lived such simple lives, was so the Lord could encounter them.
Richard Foster, Author, “Prayer”:
[The mystic] Madame Guyon was a French lady of the 17th century. She had children. She had an ordinary life experience. But she learned, you see, how, in that, to live with God. Her book, “Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ,” is one of the sweetest little books on contemplative prayer. And she wrote it for people who couldn’t read themselves. Her book was meant to be read to them.
[Mystic] Teresa of Avila was a Spanish lady in the 16th century, a contemporary with [panentheist] Saint John of the Cross. An incredible leader, administrator. A woman of immense skill and ability and a woman of deep prayer.
Jerry Root, PhD, Professor, Wheaton College:
One of my favorite stories relates to the medieval contemplative Julian of Norwich. She was from England. And she claimed to have had revelation from God and she wrote about it shortly after she had these experiences. She was in her early 20s. Twenty-five years later she wrote about it again. She hadn’t had a new experience with God, revealing Himself to her, but she wrote about it 25 years later, having allowed 25 years of contemplation to inform what this meant to her. There’s one story that occurs in both accounts. She said that God spoke to her and told her to pick up a chestnut. She picked it up and God spoke to her and said, “All the great truths can be found even in a chestnut. God made it. God sustains it. God loves it.”
And I think all of the great contemplative writers have present application, if we’ll look for it.
[The mystic] Evelyn Underhill would be a relatively modern contemplative. She died in the early 1940s. At Oxford University you had to be a male to teach, until Evelyn Underhill came along. She was the first woman given lecture-wide status throughout the university. She was towering intellect. She wrote 39 books on Christian spirituality [i.e., contemplative spirituality] and philosophy of religion. And Evelyn Underhill tells a great story about a friend of hers who had been to Scotland, to the island of Iona. Iona is an island that’s sacred for the Scots because it’s where Columba first brought Christianity to Scotland. Every Scot needs to make the pilgrimage to Iona sometime in their life because the roots of Scottish Christianity are there. Well, Underhill’s friend had been to Scotland and had been to Iona, and when she returned her Scottish gardener said to her, “Where did you go for your vacation?” And Underhill’s friend said, “I’ve been to Iona.” And he says, “Oh, Iona’s a thin place.” She said, “What do you mean?” He said, “It’s a thin place because there’s not much between God and Iona.”
And all of life, properly looked at, in some senses, is a thin place. Everywhere we look, in a world made by God, a world inhabited by God, God is calling us to worship Him. . . . There’s another medieval contemplative named Brother Lawrence. He was responsible for the book “Practicing the Presence of God.” Many people don’t realize that Brother Lawrence was a pot scrubber in a monastery. He wasn’t a full-fledged monk. He was a brother who would come in and scrub pots for the monks so that they could spend their time in prayer. And it was while he was washing pots at a kitchen scullery that he practiced the presence of God. In essence, Brother Lawrence would tell us the kitchen’s a thin place. Scrubbing pots is a thin place. All of life—especially the struggle of life—is a thin place. God wants to meet us in those places.
Brother Lawrence’s experiences were rather different. They involve some things that are quite like this type of prayer. But for example, a major experience for him was viewing a tree that had lost its leaves in the winter and was all stripped bare, and the realization that this tree still had life in it, and that this life would flourish again in the spring. His sense of that seemed to bring him into a kind of unity with that life that he began to practice. And of course, he had a very lowly, menial position, caring for the kitchen and the needs of the monastery. So he learned then to see God in all things.
Brother Lawrence, in his wonderful book, “The Practice of the Presence of God,” said, “Those who have the gale…” He means the wind. “…of the Holy Spirit go forward even in sleep.” Isn’t that wonderful, that we can move forward in our spiritual life even when we’re sleeping? I often try, as I am entering sleep, to just give my life to God—my heart, my mind, my thinking, my dreams, whatever they might be. And then you wake up in the morning and you’ve advanced in the Spirit. You see, that’s part of contemplative prayer as well.
From the segment, Alone With God:
Find a simple and quiet place where you can be comfortable for about 20 minutes. But you don’t want to get so comfortable that you miss your intimate time with God because you’ve fallen asleep. If I’m in bed, I prop up on a pillow and try to sit up as straight as possible, not in the counting sheep position.
Take a few deep breaths. Begin to relax and slow yourself down. As you inhale, think of the Holy Spirit breathing life and peace into your body. And as you exhale, remember the verse that says to cast all your cares upon Him.
The 2016 Berean Call Conference has come to an end. Below you can watch a few of the talks given:
Warren B. Smith
To watch other videos from this conference, click here.
By Warren B. Smith
Ironically, Psalm 46:10 (“Be Still and Know” . . . ) was the founding credo of the pioneering New Age community of Findhorn in Scotland. Co-founder Eileen Caddy distinctly heard the words “Be still and know that I am God” in a meditation, and as a result, Findhorn was founded on this Bible verse. She describes her “Be still” experience:
Yes, we were like children then, and God was still somewhat like the Father, separate and above us, reaching down to help. But gradually I have come to understand what it means to find that same God within myself. . . .
The first time I heard this voice was in 1953, when Peter and I were visiting Glastonbury, a center of spiritual power in England. I was sitting in the stillness of a small private sanctuary there, when I heard a voice—a very clear voice—within me. I had never experienced anything like that before. It simply said, Be still and know that I am God. What is this? I thought. Am I going mad? I had been brought up in the Church of England and learned in Sunday school about the “still small voice within”—but when you actually hear a voice, it’s a different matter. I was really quite shocked, because it was so clear.1
“God” later told her:
What greater or more wonderful relationship could man ask for than the knowledge that he is truly one with Me, and that I am in you and you are in Me.2
Accepting the reality of this oneness came slowly. In fact, at first I felt it was audacious even to speak of such a thing. Yet I couldn’t deny my experience. I know that God is within each one of us, within everything. I feel that the Church teaches about the God outside of us, but that’s the same God as the one within. You can call him by different names if you like, but there’s only one God.3
Misuse of Psalm 46:10
Eileen Caddy’s New Age understanding of the “God within” and “oneness” started with an inner voice that told her “Be still and know that I am God.” Like Caddy, so many people who have been raised in today’s church have been similarly deceived into believing that the “be still” verse from Psalm 46:10 is God’s heavenly instruction to enter into solitude and silence so they can hear His voice. Ironically, the real meaning of this verse has nothing to do with sitting in silence, practicing the presence, or any meditative practice. Undiscerning church leaders have misappropriated Psalm 46:10 to justify contemplative prayer. They now use this verse to incubate a “conversation with God.”
Trusted Bible commentaries and discerning pastors teach that the command in Psalm 46:10—“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth”—is a call to faith and obedience, not to contemplative prayer. Matthew Henry’s respected Bible commentary presents a more accurate exposition of this verse:
Let his enemies be still, and threaten no more, but know it, to their terror, that he is God, one infinitely above them . . . he will be exalted among the heathen and not merely among his own people, he will be exalted in the earth and not merely in the church. . . . Let his own people be still; let them be calm and sedate, and tremble no more, but know, to their comfort, that the Lord is God, he is God alone, and will be exalted above the heathen. 4
Using Psalm 46:10 as a call to practice contemplative prayer is completely contrary to the intent of this passage of Scripture. However, this is what is being advocated in the New Age/New Spirituality, the emerging church, God Calling, and Jesus Calling. In fact, the “Jesus” of Jesus Calling falsely teaches that Psalm 46:10 was given as a command to “sit quietly” in his presence:
The world has changed enormously since I first gave the command to be still and know that I am God. However, this timeless truth is essential for the well-being of your soul. As dew refreshes grass and flowers during the stillness of the night, so My Presence revitalizes you as you sit quietly with Me.5
Sarah Young also states in her “Introduction” to Jesus Calling:
A life-changing verse has been “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Alternate readings for “Be still” are “Relax,” “Let go,” and “Cease striving” (NASB). This is an enticing invitation from God to lay down our cares and seek His Presence. I believe that God yearns for these quiet moments with us even more than we do. . . .
This practice of listening to God has increased my intimacy with Him more than any other spiritual discipline, so I want to share some of the messages I have received.6
This “enticing invitation” does not come from God. Her interpretation misses the real meaning of the verse and is actually more consistent with the New Age twisting of this verse. God definitely meets us in our prayer times as well as when we think on Scripture, but Psalm 46:10 is not an invitation to be still and listen for God’s voice. Rather, God is calling Israel into an attitude of quiet faith and rest in which His people will trust that no matter how perilous the times, He is working out His plan among the nations. Everybody is to literally be still, know He is God, and know that He will be exalted among the nations and in the earth.
Sarah Young followed up her erroneous teaching on Psalm 46:10 by stating that “God yearns for these quiet moments with us even more than we do.” This is reminiscent of the “I need you more than you need Me”7 statement that was uttered by the “Jesus” in God Calling. Nothing in Scripture substantiates either one of these statements. And there is nothing in Scripture about being still and sitting with pen in hand waiting to hear from God while practicing the presence and doing contemplative prayer.
Biblical meditation is different. We are to meditate on—think on—His Word, His precepts, His laws, His attributes, His statutes, His testimonies, and His works.
Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word. (Psalm 119:148)
But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. (Psalm 1:2)
I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. (Psalm 119:99)
I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands. (Psalm 143:5)
1. The Findhorn Community, The Findhorn Garden: Pioneering a New Vision of Man and Nature in Cooperation (New York, NY: Harper & Row Publishers, 1975), p. 36.
3. Ibid., pp. 36-37.
4. Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc., 1991), p. 810.
5. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2004),, p. 258.
6. Ibid., p. XIII.
7. Edited by A. J. Russell, God Calling (Grand Rapids, MI: A Spire Book published by Jove Publications Inc., for Fleming H. Revell, 2005), p. 60.
By Sarah H. Leslie
Is the purpose of the modern meditation movement(s) to desensitize people into believing that “we are all one” and “we are god”? The extent to which these ideas have now entered the evangelical church world is quite alarming. Our research friend Warren B. Smith has just released a new booklet Be Still and Know That You are Not God!—God is Not “in” Everyone and Everything that examines this issue in a simple and concise overview.
For the 20+ years that I’ve known Warren Smith he has been consistently warning about this rising heresy. In fact, in 2007 Herescope ran an excerpt from an updated Internet version of Smith’s 2002 book Reinventing Jesus Christ where he described his meditation experiences while he was in the New Age Movement. He explained how he was supposed to “be still” so that he could then affirm that “I am God.” Click here to continue reading.
Precepts Ministries International – “Being Still and Knowing God” – Does a Picture Say a Thousand Words?
Where is Kay Arthur’s Precepts International going with this them of “Being Still and Knowing God” that’s currently on their website? We know that the ministry has not shown any interest in understanding the contemplative prayer movement, and we know that Kay Arthur’s assistant told us a number of years ago that while we could send a copy of A Time of Departing, Kay would probably not have time to read it. We hope this advertisement on “being still” is not indicative that Precepts is heading in the contemplative direction. Given that Kay has shared the platform many times with contemplative advocate Beth Moore, we realize some of this spirituality may have rubbed off on her. Hopefully, many of her followers will call Precepts and urge them to bring themselves up to speed on the contemplative issue. Otherwise, we fear that countless numbers of women who turn to the Precepts Bible studies will be led down a very dangerous path.
Just this week, on Swindoll’s website in an article he wrote, “Segments of Solitude,” he is again pointing his readers toward Henri Nouwen. (article from p. 14 of Swindoll’s book, Wisdom for the Way)
In 2011, a caller told Lighthouse Trails she had heard that Chuck Swindoll said he wants to “get back to Bible basics.” We told the caller that if Chuck Swindoll really means that, then he will make sure that his book So You Want to Be Like Christ: Eight Essential Disciplines to Get You There will be removed from the market including off his own website, and he would begin speaking publicly recanting his promotion of contemplative spirituality in that book.
In So You Want to Be Like Christ, Swindoll favorably quotes spiritual formation (i.e., contemplative prayer) pioneers Richard Foster and Dallas Willard. Swindoll calls Celebration of Discipline by Foster a “meaningful work” (p. 15) and Willard’s book The Spirit of the Disciplines “excellent work” (p. 13). In chapter three,”Silence and Solitude,” Swindoll talks about “digging for secrets … that will deepen our intimacy with God (p. 55). Quoting the contemplative poster-verse Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God,” Swindoll says the verse is a call to the “discipline of silence.” As other contemplative proponents have done, he has taken this verse very much out of context as Larry DeBruyn explains in his article “Be Still” (worth reading).
Swindoll goes on to say that we “discover who God is” when we “commit ourselves to periods of absolute, uninterrupted silence” (p. 61). Swindoll suggests that we cannot really know God without the “stillness” and the “silence.” Beth Moore said the same thing in the Be Still DVD. It’s common among contemplatives to say this. But as Ray Yungen points out, “It is not the silence that draws us closer to God . . . Scripture clearly teaches that it is only through the blood atonement of Jesus Christ that we can gain access to Him” (p. 191, A Time of Departing). Richard Foster teaches that anyone can connect to God through contemplative prayer – it is not just for believers of Jesus Christ.
In a section of So You Want to Be Like Christ called “Ministry of Silence” (p. 64), Swindoll quotes Henri Nouwen, a Catholic priest who had strong affinity and experience with mysticism. Swindoll quotes Nouwen from his book The Way of the Heart, Nouwen’s primer on contemplative prayer. Swindoll wraps up that section by saying, “I do not believe anyone can ever become a deep person without stillness and silence” (p. 65). Lest you think that Swindoll is referring to going to a quiet place (like sitting beside a stream or turning off the television) when he says silence, he differentiates solitude (outer quietness) and silence (stilling the mind) in his book. He admits that silence is referring to an inner silence of the mind. All contemplatives (and New Age meditators for that matter) know that stilling the mind or putting it in neutral can only be done with some form of mantric-like meditation, breath prayers, or focusing on something to eliminate thought and distractions, thus going into the silence. We urge you to read A Time of Departing where Ray Yungen discusses Swindoll’s book in more detail.
Maybe the rumor got started that Chuck Swindoll wants to be more biblically sound because of his recent book, The Church Awakening: An Urgent Call for Renewal. With a title like that, we could see where some might think Swindoll is referring to a return to truth. And in fact, in that book Swindoll does make a case for the Bible. In chapter three, he states: “[W]hen the inerrant word of God is not our standard for truth, erosion will creep in. It will eventually crowd out the truth” (p. 87). Sadly, in this 2010 book, Swindoll quotes favorably six times from Eugene Peterson’s book The Message. Talking about the inerrancy of Scripture in one breath, then sprinkling the book with someone who openly endorses The Shack sends out a confusing message to say the least. The Shack author has openly rejected the substitutionary atonement of Christ. Eugene Peterson is also an advocate for contemplative spirituality; he endorsed the back cover of Sue Monk Kidd’s contemplative book, When the Heart Waits.
On page 260 of The Church Awakening, Chuck Swindoll asks the question: “What is needed in the ranks of ministry? A massive repentance . . .!” he answers. He then immediately quotes Eugene Peterson. Something is very wrong here. If Chuck Swindoll is truly turning to Bible basics, then shouldn’t he pull So You Want to Be Like Christ from the market before any more people are influenced by it? And shouldn’t he stop quoting and referring to people who promote messages such as that in The Shack. Just this week, on Swindoll’s website in an article he wrote, “Segments of Solitude,” he is again pointing his readers toward Henri Nouwen. A 2008 LT article, “Why Christian Leaders Should Not Promote Henri Nouwen” helps to clarify the serious problem with following Henri Nouwen. If Swindoll is turning to Bible basics, there is at least one he is forgetting about; and it’s one of the most important yet most forgotten Bible basics.
One of the “Bible basics” that is being completely ignored by today’s Christian leaders is the Bible basic of true discernment against spiritual deception. For those who question whether discernment against spiritual deception is actually a basic message or theme of the Bible, consider this: In the very first book of the Bible, Genesis, there is a story about spiritual deception and a key Bible figure not being able to spot it – Eve in the Garden of Eden. And in the very last book of the Bible, Revelation, we are told about Satan, “which deceiveth the whole world” (12:9). And in just about every book of the Bible you will find stories or warnings about deception. We believe it is one of the most vital basic messages of the Bible – God warning man of spiritual deception. Yet today, Christian leaders, colleges, pastors, publishing houses, celebrities, denominations, fellowships, and mission organizations either don’t talk at all about spiritual deception, or as in Chuck Swindoll’s case with his new book, illustrate that they do not understand it.
Many of those participating in this fiasco of no discernment are highly educated men and women. But education is not the key to understanding the times and discerning spiritual deception. These leaders would probably not agree with that. A few years ago, Bible teacher and pastor Erwin Lutzer contacted Lighthouse Trails after we had called his office to talk about his endorsement of Larry Crabb’s contemplative promoting book, The Papa Prayer. Lutzer told Lighthouse Trails that day that we were “not qualified to spot spiritual deception.” We assumed he meant we did not have the educational credentials to spot spiritual deception. But we must contend with this view. Most of the disciples were not highly educated men; yet God allowed them to discern deception. How is it that believers in Jesus Christ are qualified? Meager men and women, appearing foolish to the world . . . and now to Christian leaders.
The apostle Paul talked quite a bit about this in the Bible. In Colossians 1:9, he tells the saints that he was praying for them that they “might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.” He was praying that they would have discernment (“spiritual understanding”). He did not put a qualifier on there that they would need great education in order to receive this wisdom and understanding. What he did say was that God, the Father, had made us “partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light” (vs 12) and had “delivered us from the power of darkness [i.e., power of deception]” (vs. 13). But what was the key to having this wisdom and spiritual understanding and being delivered from the power of darkness? Paul tells us in that same chapter. He calls it “the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints” (vs. 26). What is that mystery? Verse 27 says: “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (emphasis added)
It isn’t education, from a practical point of view, that gives discernment; it’s being born-again (John 3); it’s receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (Matthew 10:40); it’s studying, pondering on, and believing the Word of God; it’s having Him living inside you (Revelation 23:20), by faith, through His abundant grace (Romans 5:2). And it is a gift that is offered to “whosoever” will come unto Him (John 12:46). It’s Christ in you, the hope of glory! And to believers He has given His written Word and “the Spirit of truth” (which confirms the Word of God in our hearts – John 14:17; John 16:13 ) .
Paul tells us that we have been reconciled to Him (Colossians 1: 21-22) if we “continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel” (vs. 23). We beseech Christian leaders who have swayed from the truth through their promotion and embracing of those who teach a false gospel to repent from their ways and return to the solid faith that is “grounded and settled.” Get rid of your books that promote a contemplative mystical spirituality even if you will lose some money (God will supply your needs according to His riches in glory – Philippians 4:19); don’t stand on platforms with those you know are teaching another gospel (better to preach in a brothel than to share a platform with a heretic – see Titus 3:10); don’t tell large crowds that you are a “good friend” with one who is helping to bring in a one world false religion;”1 don’t be part of DVD projects that outwardly promote the dangerous contemplative prayer movement 2; and by all means don’t say you are returning to Bible basics if you leave out one of the most important Bible basics of all.
Note: In September 2005, we were informed that Chuck Swindoll was favorably quoting Henri Nouwen and Richard Foster on his Insight For Living program. We contacted Insight for Living and spoke with Pastor Graham Lyons. We shared our concerns, then later sent A Time of Departing to him and also sent a copy to Chuck Swindoll.
In a letter dated 10/3/05 from Pastor Lyons, we were told, “With his schedule I doubt he will read it.” We are sorry that Chuck Swindoll has time to read Henri Nouwen and Richard Foster but no time to read A Time of Departing, especially in light of the fact that thousands of people will read Chuck Swindoll’s book, listen to his broadcasts, and now believe that the contemplative authors are acceptable and good.