Posts Tagged ‘booklet tract’

NEW BOOKLET: Remaining Hopeful Through It All

NEW BOOKLET TRACT: Remaining Hopeful Through It All by Warren B. Smith is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet Tract.  The Booklet Tract is 14 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklet Tracts are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use.  Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of Remaining Hopeful Through It All, click here.

Remaining Hopeful Through It All

rp_bkt-HOPE.jpgBy Warren B. Smith

To a believer, the expression “hope springs eternal” means that our hope is always in Jesus Christ. He is our hope because He gives eternal life to those who put their hope and faith in Him (1 Timothy 1:1; Titus 3:5-7). The old hymn, O God Our Help in Ages Past, states it simply and beautifully—Christian hope springs eternal because God is our hope and our eternal home.

O God our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.1

Another much revered hymn—My Hope is Built on Nothing Less—emphatically states that our hope is founded on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness:

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.2

The modern-day hymn In Christ Alone reminds us that it is in Christ Jesus alone that our hope is found:

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my Light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this Solid Ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all;
Here in the love of Christ I stand.3

(Used with permission. See endnote #3.)

Because our hope is in Him, we look to His Word to strengthen our hope. The Bible is filled with verses on why we hope in the Lord and what we are to do with our hope. What follows are some of these verses.

Why We Hope In The Lord

Because He is the Hope of Israel

O LORD, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters. (Jeremiah 17:13)

Because He is the God of Hope

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. (Romans 15:13)

Because He is Our Hope

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope. (1 Timothy 1:1)

Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort: thou hast given commandment to save me; for thou art my rock and my fortress. Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked, out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man. For thou art my hope, O Lord GOD: thou art my trust from my youth. (Psalm 71:3-5)

And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee. (Psalm 39:7)

Because He is the Hope of Glory

Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: 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: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. (Colossians 1:26-28)

Because He is the Hope of Our Salvation

For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. (1 Thessalonians 5:7-11)

LORD, I have hoped for thy salvation, and done thy commandments. My soul hath kept thy testimonies; and I love them exceedingly. I have kept thy precepts and thy testimonies: for all my ways are before thee. (Psalm 119:166-168)

Because Our Hope is in His Blood

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. (1 Peter 1:18-21)

Because Our Hope is in His Resurrection

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)

Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. (1 Peter 1:21)

Because He Gives Us Hope Through His Grace

Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work. (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17)

Because of Our Hope in Him, He Hears Us

For in thee, O LORD, do I hope: thou wilt hear, O Lord my God. (Psalm 38:15)

Because Our Hope in Him Purifies Us

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. (1 John 3:1-3)

Because Hope in Him is Our Anchor

That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. (Hebrews 6:18-20)

Because Our Hope in Him Produces Faith

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)

Because We Are Saved by Our Hope in Him

For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. (Romans 8:24-25)

Because We Are Blessed by Our Hope in Him

Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. (Jeremiah 17:7)

Because Our Hope in Him Strengthens Our Heart

Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD. (Psalm 31:24)

Because He is the Hope and Health of Our Countenance

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God. (Psalm 42:11)

Because Our Hope in Him Makes Us Glad

The hope of the righteous shall be gladness: but the expectation of the wicked shall perish. (Proverbs 10:28)

Because Our Hope in Him Makes Us Happy

Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God. (Psalm 146:5)

Because Our Hope in Him Draws Us Near to God

For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God. (Hebrews 7:19)

Because He is Our Hope in the Last Days

Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining. The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel. (Joel 3:14-16)

Be not a terror unto me: thou art my hope in the day of evil. (Jeremiah 17:17)

Because of Him, We Have Hope in Death

The wicked is driven away in his wickedness: but the righteous hath hope in his death. (Proverbs 14:32)

Because He Gives Us the Hope of Eternal Life

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:5-7)

Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness; In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began; But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour. (Titus 1:1-3)

Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel. (Colossians 1:4-5)

What We Are To Do With Our Hope

We Are to Set Our Hope in God

That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments: (Psalm 78:7)

We Are to Hope in His Judgements

And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth; for I have hoped in thy judgments. So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever. (Psalm 119:43-44)

We Are to Hope in His Word

They that fear thee will be glad when they see me; because I have hoped in thy word. (Psalm 119:74)

My soul fainteth for thy salvation: but I hope in thy word. (Psalm 119:81)

I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in thy word. (Psalm 119:147)

But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets: And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. (Acts 24:14-15

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. (Romans 15:4)

Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word. (Psalm 119:114)

I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope. (Psalm 130:5)

We Are to Hope in His Mercy

Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. (Psalm 33:18-19)

The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy. (Psalm 147:11)

It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD. (Lamentations 3:22-26)

We Are to Hope and Wait Quietly For His Salvation

It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD. (Lamentations 3:26)

We Are to Plow and Thresh With Hope

Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. (1 Corinthians 9:10)

We Are to Hope in All Things With Love and Charity

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

We Are to Rejoice in Our Hope

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2)

Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer. (Romans 12:12)

We Are Not to Be Ashamed of Our Hope

Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope. (Psalm 119:116)

For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. (Philippians 1:19-20)

And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. (Romans 5:5-6)

We Are to Let Our Hope Be Our Witness

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear. (1 Peter 3:15)

We Are to Use Great Plainness of Speech as We Hope

For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious. Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech. (2 Corinthians 3:11-12)

We Are to Hope Patiently

We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father. (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3)

But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. (Romans 8:25)

We Are to Hope Continually

But I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more. (Psalm 71:14)

If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister. (Colossians 1:23)

We Are to Have One Hope, One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism

Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism. (Ephesians 4:3-5)

We Are Not to Be Moved Away From Our Hope

If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister. (Colossians 1:23)

Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life. (Proverbs 13:12)

We Are to Rest in Our Hope of Him

I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. (Psalm 16:8-9)

For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope. (Acts 2:25-26)

We Are to Hope to the End

And we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (Hebrews 6:11-12)

But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. (Hebrews 3:6)

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:13)

Jesus Christ—Our Blessed Hope

Thus, the Bible assures believers that hope springs eternal from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. In Christ alone, our hope is found. He is our hope in the days and months and years to come. We hope continually because He is our eternal home. We wait quietly, patiently, and unashamedly for Him—and only Him. He is our hope—our most blessed hope.

Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee. (Titus 2:13-15)

To order copies of Remaining Hopeful Through It All, click here.

Endnotes

  1. O God, Our Help In Ages Past, Isaac Watts, 1719. Public domain.
  2. My Hope is Built on Nothing Less, Edward Mote, 1834. Public domain.
  3. In Christ Alone, Keith Getty and Stuart Townsend, Copyright © 2002 Thankyou Music (PRS), (adm. worldwide at CapitolCMGPublishing.com excluding Europe which is adm. by Integritymusic.com) All rights reserved. Used by permission.

To order copies of Remaining Hopeful Through It All, click here.

NEW BOOKLET TRACT: Being Thankful Through It All

rp_BKT-WS-TF.jpgBy Warren B. Smith

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Thankfulness is our attempt as believers to express the inexpressible—the amazing gratitude we feel for the amazing grace bestowed upon us by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He not only saved us from our sins (1 John 2:2), He promised to never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). We are also assured that He who began “a good work” in us will be faithful to “perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

A day for Thanksgiving was set aside as a holiday so that we, as a nation, could collectively give thanks to God for all of His blessings—to express our gratitude for His love and protection and provision. In years past, hymns like Come Ye Thankful People Come were commonly sung in churches and classrooms as Thanksgiving day approached—young and old alike openly giving thanks to God for His abundant supply and bounty:

Come, ye thankful people come; Raise the song of harvest home,
All is safely gathered in, Ere the winter storms begin.
God, our Maker, doth provide, For our wants to be supplied;
Come to God’s own temple come; Raise the song of harvest home.

God’s people are called to be a thankful people because we have so much to be thankful for. Another hymn of gratitude, Now Thank We All Our God, expresses our thanks for all the “wondrous things” God has done and for His “countless gifts of love”:

Now thank we all our God, With hearts and hands and voices,
Who, wondrous things hath done, In whom this world rejoices;
Who, from our mothers’ arms, Hath blessed us on our way,
With countless gifts of love, And still is ours today.

135 References in the KJV Bible

In the King James Bible, for example, there are 135 separate verses that refer to the act of giving thanks. Scripture makes it clear that thankfulness is pleasing to God and is part of the way we praise and worship Him (Psalm 116:12-19). We should never take things for granted because we know that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17).

Jesus stressed the importance of thankfulness when He singled out the only one of the ten healed lepers who glorified God and gave thanks for his healing:

And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole. (Luke 17:15-19)

Jonah was released from the fish’s belly after praying and giving thanks to the Lord:

When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple. They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy. But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD. And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land. (Jonah 2:7-10)

King David, though continually attacked by his enemies, was always thanking God for His goodness and mercy and deliverance:

He delivereth me from mine enemies: yea, thou liftest me up above those that rise up against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man. Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name. Great deliverance giveth he to his king; and showeth mercy to his anointed, to David, and to his seed for evermore. (Psalm 18:48-50)

Daniel’s response to the King Darius’ edict forbidding prayer to anyone other than the King was to continue his practice of openly praying and giving thanks to his God. Scripture records that Daniel was delivered from certain death in the lion’s den because he unashamedly “believed in his God” (Daniel 6:10;23). His refusal to compromise served as a witness not only to the King but to all those who have read this account in the Bible:

Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree. Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. (Daniel 6:9-10)

Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God. (Daniel 6:23)

As already referenced, Scripture is replete with verses pertaining to giving thanks to God for His abiding presence in our lives. Much too frequently we neglect to give thanks to the One True God to Whom we have so much to be grateful for. The Bible is very specific about the many whys and wherefores of giving thanks to God.

Why We Give Thanks

Because God Gives Us Our Daily Bread

Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness; Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God. For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God. (2 Corinthians 9:10-12)

And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full. And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children. (Matthew 15:36-38)

For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. (1Timothy 4:4-5)

Because God is Good

O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever. (1Chronicles 16:34)

And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. (Ezra 3:11)

Because Thankfulness is Good

It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High. (Psalm 92:1)

Because Thankfulness is the Will of God

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1Thessalonians 5:18)

Because God is Holy

Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. (Psalm 30:4)

Rejoice in the LORD, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. (Psalm 97:12)

Because God’s Name is Holy

Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the heathen, to give thanks unto thy holy name, and to triumph in thy praise. (Psalm 106:47)

And say ye, Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather us together, and deliver us from the heathen, that we may give thanks to thy holy name, and glory in thy praise. (1Chronicles 16:35)

Because God’s Word is Holy

For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe. (1Thessalonians 2:13)

And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:15-17)

Because of God’s Grace

Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. (2 Corinthians 4:14-15)

Because God Gave Us the Gift of Jesus Christ

Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift. (2 Corinthians 9:15)

Because Jesus Christ Shed His Blood For Our Sins

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (Matthew 26:26-28)

Because God Lifts Us Above our Enemies

It is God that avengeth me, and that bringeth down the people under me, And that bringeth me forth from mine enemies: thou also hast lifted me up on high above them that rose up against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man. Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and I will sing praises unto thy name. (2 Samuel 22:48-50)

He delivereth me from mine enemies: yea, thou liftest me up above those that rise up against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man. Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name. (Psalm 18:48-49)

Because God Delivered Us From the Powers of Darkness

That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:10-14)

Because God Causes Us to Triumph in Christ

Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. (2 Corinthians 2:14)

Because God Gives Us the Victory Through Jesus Christ

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 15:55-58)

Because God’s Mercy Endures Forever

Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. (Psalm 106:1)

O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth for ever. (Psalm 136:2)

O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth for ever. (Psalm 136:3)

O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever. (Psalm 136:26)

How We Give Thanks

Through Jesus Christ

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. (Romans 1:8)

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. (1Timothy 2:5-6)

With the Sacrifice of Thanksgiving

Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing. (Psalm 107:21-22)

I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD. (Psalm 116:17)

By Praising and Giving Thanks to His Name

Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. (Hebrews 13:13-16)

Through Prayer

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving. (Colossians 4:2)

Through Song

Sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God. (Psalm 147:7)

I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving. (Psalm 69:30)

It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD. (2 Chronicles 5:13)

O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. (Psalm 95:1-3)

By Walking In Love and Thankfulness

Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. (Ephesians 5:1-4)

By Declaring His Works

That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works. (Psalm 26:7)

Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people. Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, talk ye of all his wondrous works. (1 Chronicles 16:8-9)

By Thanking God For Fellow Believers

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother, To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you. (Colossians 1:1-3)

But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. (2 Thessalonians 2:13-15)

By Thanking God For All Men

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. (1Timothy 2:1-4)

By Giving Thanks in Everything

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1Thessalonians 5:18)

By Giving Thanks in Whatever We Do

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. (Colossians 3:15-17)

As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:6-7)

Who Gives Thanks

The Angels

And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. (Revelation 7:11-12)

The 24 Elders in Heaven

And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. (Revelation 11:16-17)

All His People

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations. (Psalm 100:1-5)

When We Give Thanks

When We Eat or Don’t Eat

He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. (Romans 14:6)

When We Take Communion

And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. (Luke 22:17-19)

When We Have Suffered Wrongfully

For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. (1 Peter 2:19-20)

Before Trouble

Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High: And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me. (Psalm 50:14-15)

After God Intervenes

And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. (Luke 17:15-16)

Morning and Evening

And to stand every morning to thank and praise the LORD, and likewise at even. (1 Chronicles 23:30)

At Midnight

At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee because of thy righteous judgments. (Psalm 119:62)

While We Live

For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks? (Psalm 6:5)

Always

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:18-20)

Forever

Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me: LORD, be thou my helper. Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever. (Psalm 30:10-12)

So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever: we will show forth thy praise to all generations. (Psalm 79:13)

We Praise God With Our Thankfulness

The Bible says that by offering the sacrifice of praise to God we give thanks to Him (Hebrews 13:13-16). Thus by praising God, we thank Him for his love, protection, presence, and provision. Paul and Silas gave thanks to God by praising Him—even after they were beaten and thrown in the jail (Acts 16:23-25). Pursuant to their thankful praise, the prison walls confining them were shaken. Free to escape, they witnessed to the jailer and his whole household who were all saved and baptized that same day (Acts 16:30-34).

With God’s help we can learn to give thanks in everything. There is a saying that wherever you go, there you are. The Bible tells believers that wherever they go, God is there with them. Because God is always with us, He will help us and enable us to do things that we otherwise could not do on our own—like giving thanks in everything (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and thanking Him for all things (Ephesians 5:20).

Prayer

Lord, I want to be thankful “in everything” because Scripture tells me that is your will for my life. But I am often unable to be thankful due to forgetfulness, selfishness, and my own shortcomings. May Your Holy Spirit remind me to be thankful in everything, now, always, and for evermore. Please help me to remember that all things work together for good to them who are called according to your purpose. Thank You for all that you have done and will continue to do in my life. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Being Thankful Through It All is also available in booklet form.

NEW BOOKLET TRACT Provides Irrefutable Evidence: A Serious Look at Richard Foster’s “School” of Contemplative Prayer

LTRP Note: For thirteen years, Lighthouse Trails has been warning about the contemplative prayer movement. In this new booklet tract, Ray Yungen has provided new information that makes the contemplative argument (against it) irrefutable. We intend to send a copy of this booklet to all of the major Christian leaders whom we have challenged including Beth Moore, Rick Warren, Charles Stanley, Chuck Swindoll,  Focus on the Family, Dr. George Wood (AOG), and Erwin Lutzer. If these leaders will read this evidence, we do not see how they can continue to promote contemplative spirituality or Richard Foster’s “school” of contemplative prayer.

A Serious Look at Richard Foster’s “School” of Contemplative Prayer by Ray Yungen is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet Tract. The Booklet Tract is 14 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklet Tracts are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use.  Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of A Serious Look at Richard Foster’s “School” of Contemplative Prayer,  click here.

A Serious Look at Richard Foster’s “School” of Contemplative Prayer

rp_BKT-RY-RF.jpgBy Ray Yungen

[W]e should all without shame enroll as apprentices in the school of contemplative prayer.1—Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline: the Path to Spiritual Growth

Christianity is not complete without the contemplative dimension.2—Richard Foster

In Portland, Oregon there is a large bookstore devoted entirely to New Age spirituality. Every Eastern mystical and metaphysical topic under the sun is found there. Interestingly, there is a sizable section on contemplative prayer with Catholic monk Thomas Merton having a whole shelf devoted just to his writings. Why would a New Age bookstore give valuable space to a topic that purports to be Christian? That is a legitimate question. May I suggest the reason is that the “Christian” mystical tradition (i.e., contemplative prayer) shares a sense of profound kinship with the Eastern mystical tradition. There is ample evidence to support this claim.

In this booklet, we are going to examine a few of the major players in the contemplative prayer movement to show that Richard Foster’s “school” of contemplative prayer does not belong in Christianity. In fact, as you will see, the message behind it is the very opposite of biblical Christianity and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

What is the “School” of Contemplative Prayer?
In Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster says “we should all without shame enroll as apprentices in the school of contemplative prayer.” What does he mean when he says “school” of contemplative prayer? When Foster uses the word school, he does not mean, of course, a building or an institution somewhere. For example, Webster’s New World College Dictionary has nine different definitions for the word school. The one that fits what we are trying to get across is:

. . . a group of people held together by the same teachings, beliefs, opinions, methods, etc.3

When one examines the spiritual context of this definition, one can see what kind of spiritual “fruit” it produces. The only way you can ascertain the real essence of a movement is to look at the leaders or prominent individuals in that “school” to see just where their practices have led them, what conclusions they have come to, and what propels their vision of truth.

Let’s first establish what is meant by the word contemplation. Carl McColman in his Big Book of Christian Mysticism explains the context of it in the following way:

[Contemplation] comes from the Latin word contemplare, which means “to observe” or “to notice.” The word is also rooted in the word “temple,” however, relating it to sacred space. . . . Once Christianized, contemplation lost its association with divination [soothsaying] and came to signify the prayerful practice of attending to the presence of God.4

So if Foster is correct, the leaders of this movement are those who have turned to the presence of God in a unique and profound way, and their methods should be followed to achieve the same results.

Now let’s look at the spiritual perspectives of these leaders in the “school of contemplative prayer.”

Thomas Merton
Thomas Merton, a Catholic monk, is the most widely recognized of the modern-day contemplative writers. His influence is enormous in the contemplative field. Richard Foster quotes Merton over a dozen times in Celebration of Discipline and in other books as well, and many other evangelicals also quote Merton. The following entry from Merton’s published work, The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton (written during his last trip to Asia*) speaks volumes as to Merton’s spiritual sympathies:

We went looking first for Chatral Rimpoche [a Tibetan holy man] at his hermitage above Ghoom. . . . We were told he was at an ani gompa, a nunnery, down the road. . . . So off we went toward Bagdogra and with some difficulty found the tiny nunnery . . . and there was Chatral, the greatest rimpoche [a Buddhist teacher] I have met so far and a very impressive person.

. . . We started talking about dzogchen and Nyingmapa meditation and “direct realization” and soon saw that we agreed very well. . . . The unspoken or half-spoken message of the talk was our complete understanding of each other as people who were somehow on the edge of great realization . . . and that it was a grace for us to meet one another. I wish I could see more of Chatral. He burst out and called me a rangjung Sangay (which apparently means a “natural Buddha”) . . . He told me, seriously, that perhaps he and I would attain to complete Buddhahood in our next lives, perhaps even in this life, and the parting note was a kind of compact that we would both do our best to make it in this life. I was profoundly moved, because he is so obviously a great man, the true practitioner of dzogchen, the best of the Nyingmapa lamas, marked by complete simplicity and freedom. He was surprised at getting on so well with a Christian and at one point laughed and said, “There must be something wrong here!” If I were going to settle down with a Tibetan guru, I think Chatral would be the one I’d choose.5 (emphasis added)

An equally revealing aspect of Merton’s Asian trip is what he experienced at a Buddhist shrine in Ceylon:

. . . an inner clearness, clarity, as if exploding from the rocks themselves, became evident and obvious. . . . All problems are resolved and everything is clear, simply because what matters is clear. The rock, all matter, all life, is charged with dharmakaya [the unity of all things and all people]. . . I don’t know when in my life I have ever had such a sense of beauty and spiritual validity running together in one aesthetic illumination. Surely . . . my Asian pilgrimage has come clear and purified itself. I . . . have seen what I was obscurely looking for. I don’t know what else remains.6 (emphasis added)

Why would someone who was so heavily involved in “Christian” mysticism be so entwined in and enthusiastically embracing of Buddhist mysticism? I considered titling this booklet Something’s Wrong Here because even though Chatral meant it in a positive way, when he said those words to Merton, he himself was shocked that Merton, a professing Christian, was basically on the same page as him and that they were able to fellowship.

One of Merton’s biographers, William Shannon, made this very clear when he explained:

If one wants to understand Merton’s going to the East it is important to understand that it was his rootedness in his own faith tradition [Catholicism] that gave him the spiritual equipment [contemplative prayer] he needed to grasp the way of wisdom that is proper to the East.7

What Merton meant by “dharmakaya” is actually what the New Age and eastern religions call cosmic consciousness (i.e., God is in everything and everybody.) But Foster, in his book Celebration of Discipline, guarantees the reader that what he’s promoting will not lead to cosmic consciousness. He states, “It involves no hidden mysteries, no secret mantras, no mental gymnastics, no esoteric flights into the cosmic consciousness.”8

Foster’s attempt to assuage any suspicion of practicing contemplative prayer is countered by William Shannon’s assertion that it was precisely contemplative prayer that brought Merton into his embracing of this Buddhist worldview.

A skeptic might say, well, Merton was just an anomaly who got off track, but in general the contemplative leads to the God of the Bible. I beg to differ. To show this is not the case, we need to look at other teachers in the “school of contemplative prayer.”

Henri Nouwen
Dutch Catholic priest, Henri Nouwen, would probably rank second to Merton in influence and admiration. Popular evangelical author Tony Campolo calls Nouwen “one of the great Christians of our time,” stating:

[Nouwen’s] writings have guided and inspired Christians of all persuasions . . . whose life was a brilliant example of twentieth-century saintliness.9

Campolo’s admiration is widely mirrored in the evangelical world; just as Merton is quoted in many evangelical books these days, so also is Nouwen. Kay Warren, Rick Warren’s wife, is one of the popular evangelicals who sees great value in Nouwen’s work:

My wife, Kay, recommends this book: “It’s a short book, but it hits at the heart of the minister. It mentions the struggles common to those of us in ministry: the temptation to be relevant, spectacular and powerful. I highlighted almost every word!”10 (emphasis added)

The book Kay Warren recommends is In the Name of Jesus by Nouwen, who devotes an entire chapter of that book to contemplative prayer, saying:

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 to the mystical is required.11 (emphasis added)

But just as Merton had absorbed eastern spirituality so too had Nouwen, which is no surprise because he was a disciple of Merton. Nouwen wrote the foreword to a book that mixes Christianity with Hindu spirituality, in which he says:

[T]he author shows a wonderful openness to the gifts of Buddhism, Hinduism and Moslem religion. He discovers their great wisdom for the spiritual life of the Christian . . . Ryan [the author] went to India to learn from spiritual traditions other than his own. He brought home many treasures and offers them to us in the book.12

Nouwen apparently took these approaches seriously himself. In his book, The Way of the Heart, he advised his readers:

The quiet repetition of a single word can help us to descend with the mind into the heart . . . This way of simple prayer . . . opens us to God’s active presence.13

But what “God’s active presence” taught him, unfortunately, stood more in line with Hinduism than evangelical Christianity. He wrote:

Prayer is “soul work” because our souls are those sacred centers where all is one, . . . It is in the heart of God that we can come to the full realization of the unity of all that is.14 (emphasis mine)

Again, a Christian admirer of Nouwen may think the previous quotes could fit into a legitimate Christian experience of God’s love and grace and that I am just taking these out of context. But this is certainly not the case. Nouwen himself revealed his spiritual influences in his diary, Sabbatical Journey, which he wrote shortly before his death:

On our way to the health club I had bought a Walkman to listen to an audiotape with a talk by Matthew Fox called “Creation, Spirituality, and the Seven Chakras.” So, while working up a sweat on the trotter, I tried to make my time useful listening to Matthew Fox.15

This piece of information reveals that Nouwen was connected to the idea that the chakras, (which the previous quotes are based on) are integral to spiritual development. The crown chakra, in particular, is the one that is tied to the idea that all is one and the unity of everything that is.16

In the book, The Essential Henri Nouwen, which is published by Shambhala Publications (a Buddhist publishing house), Nouwen said contemplative prayer “opens our eyes to the presence of the divine Spirit in all that surrounds us.”17 That is exactly the same as what Merton meant by dharmakaya, that God is in everything that exists (panentheism, which mirrors occultism).

Thomas Keating
Thomas Keating, a trappist monk like Merton, is head of an organization called Contemplative Outreach. He is closely identified with the contemplative prayer (which he calls centering prayer) movement. Keating has written numerous books on the subject of contemplative prayer; in fact, one of evangelical Christianity’s most popular teachers, Ruth Haley Barton, considers Keating to be a strong spiritual influence in her life.18

Keating actually makes this point when he informs his readers that “‘meditation’ means to people exposed to Eastern methods what we Christians mean by contemplation as a way of disregarding the usual flow of thoughts for certain periods of time.”19

As with the others, Keating went in a Hindu or New Age direction, and he wrote the foreword to a book devoted to what practitioners of Yoga call the Kundalini or serpent power:

Since this energy [kundalini] is also at work today in numerous persons who are devoting themselves to contemplative prayer, this book is an important contribution to the renewal of the Christian contemplative tradition. It will be a great consolation to those who have experienced physical symptoms arising from the awakening of kundalini in the course of their spiritual journey . . . Most spiritual disciplines world-wide insist on some kind of serious discipline before techniques of awakening kundalini are communicated. In Christian tradition . . . the regular practice of the stages of Christian prayer . . . contemplation are the essential disciplines.20

To show how far someone can stray using contemplative prayer as a way to reach God, Keating is a perfect example. Keating enthusiastically endorses a book titled Meditations on the Tarot: A Journey in Christian Hermeticism. Fortune-telling Tarot cards are one of the major tools for divination in occultism; and Hermeticism is a set of ancient esoteric beliefs based on the writings of Hermes Trismegistus, the one who coined the occult term “as above so below.” Keating said the book is one of the “great spiritual classics of this century.”21 He drifted so afield from even Catholicism that it is difficult to comprehend.

Richard Rohr
Without a doubt, Catholic priest Richard Rohr is one of the most prominent living proponents of contemplative prayer today. His organization, The Center for Contemplation and Action, is a bastion for contemplative spirituality. And like our other contemplative prayer “school” masters, he has been embraced by numerous popular evangelical authors. Richard Foster, for example, had Rohr on an advisory board for a 2010 book Foster edited titled 25 Books Every Christian Should Read: A Guide to the Essential Devotional Classics.22

Rohr has essentially become the new Thomas Merton to an entirely new generation of evangelical Christians. In an interview, Rohr said:

[O]ne of my publishers . . . told me that right now my single biggest demographic is young evangelicals—young evangelicals. Some of my books are rather heavy. I’m just amazed.23

Rohr’s statement is correct about young evangelicals. A case in point is an organization called IF: Gathering. The leaders of IF are dynamic energetic women who hold large conferences geared primarily toward young evangelical women. While these women may be sincere in what they are trying to do, they promote figures such as emergent leaders Brian McLaren and Rob Bell, as well as Richard Rohr. Lighthouse Trails has published a booklet on IF that I encourage you to read to understand the full scope of this growing women’s movement.24

To further understand the significance of this, Rohr is a prominent champion for the idea of a global religion that would unify the world. He says that “religion needs a new language.”25 And that language to bring about this one-world religion is mysticism (i.e., contemplative prayer)! Rohr stated:

Right now there is an emergence . . . it’s coming from so many different traditions and sources and parts of the world. Maybe it’s an example of the globalization of spirituality.26

This view ties in perfectly with the emerging church’s perspective that is so popular among younger evangelicals today. It’s no wonder that Richard Rohr and emerging church leaders (such as Brian McLaren) are so supportive of each other and endorse each other’s books.

In echoing Merton and Nouwen, Rohr also advocates the concept of dharmakaya. This is the recurring theme of the “school” of contemplative prayer. Rohr states:

God’s hope for humanity is that one day we will all recognize that the divine dwelling place is all of creation. Christ comes again whenever we see that matter and spirit co-exist. This truly deserves to be called good news.27

To dispel any confusion about what Rohr is saying, he makes it clear in the same paragraph what he means by God dwelling in all creation. He uses a term that one finds throughout contemplative literature, which signifies that Christ is more of an energy than a personal being. Rohr explains the term “cosmic Christ,” telling readers that everything and everyone belongs to God’s kingdom.28 That’s even the name of one of his books, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer.

In his 2011 book, Falling Upward, Rohr implies that we (humanity) are all an “immaculate conception.”29 If these things are true, then there was no need for Jesus Christ to die on the Cross for the sins of mankind. We would not need a Savior because we would already be divine ourselves. In truth, contemplative spirituality is the antithesis of the Gospel. That is why there are countless mystics who claim to know God (or Jesus) but will have nothing to do with the Cross.

The New Age Connection
Lighthouse Trails Publishing’s main endeavor since its inception has been to show the strong connection between the contemplative prayer movement and the broader spectrum of New Age spirituality as pointed out at the beginning of this booklet. One can prove the overwhelmingly strong parallels. The authors I have just profiled are not unique in what they say. I could list several pages of other contemplative authors that say the identical things.

I want to showcase one other author who represents the typical contemplative viewpoint. Tom Harpur, a well-known author, broadcaster, and Anglican priest in Canada sums up what you would find in virtually every contemplative book from the Roman Catholic and Anglican tradition. In talking about his upbringing in the traditional Anglican church, he explains the radical difference between his former Christianity and his contemplative Christianity:

There was much more emphasis on our basic sinfulness and depravity than there ever was on the possibility of God already being present in our souls or “hearts.” I was told to again accept Christ and “let him come in” instead of being helped to acknowledge the fact that all I had to do was to open my inner eye and realize God was already there waiting to be known and followed. We were taught little, if anything, about the great mystics and about the long tradition of meditation in our own Christian faith.30 (emphasis added)

Harpur makes Lighthouse Trails’ point very succinctly that the mystical tradition that is coming to the forefront now does not correspond to the biblical Gospel that has been at the heart of Christianity.

Let me say this: If the contemplative prayer movement was not connected to historically respected denominations, that if it was an independent organization such as the ones found in books on cults, then the contemplative prayer movement would be labeled a cult by most evangelical organizations because of the extreme aberrations one finds concerning the Gospel. Merton’s dharmakaya cannot be reconciled with justification through faith by the blood of Christ.

The Age of Enlightenment
Another good example to show that contemplative prayer shares the same view as known occultists can be found in a book called Tomorrow’s God by New Age author Neale Donald Walsch, in which he presents the coming world religion that will unify mankind in what is called the Age of Aquarius or Age of Enlightenment (i.e., the New Age). He says the first step is to “[b]egin a schedule of daily practice in meditation, deep prayer, silent listening.”31 After giving the mechanics of the new spirituality, Walsch gives the theology which is: “In the days of the New spirituality the unity of all things will be experiential.”32

This is what the contemplatives experience in their mystical sessions. Walsch again says, “The Big Idea is that there is only One God, and this one God does not care whether you are Catholic or Protestant, Jewish or Muslim, Hindu or Mormon, or have no religion at all.”33 This is basically what Richard Rohr is saying in Everything Belongs. And this is the reason why Richard Foster’s “school” of contemplative prayer is not, and never will be, compatible with traditional biblical Christianity or the Gospel message proclaimed by Jesus Christ and his disciples.

Final Thoughts
If I were to ever meet someone who asked me, “why are you out to destroy Richard Foster?,” I would tell them: I actually care about Richard Foster. The things I write about him are not out of malice or ill-will but out of a deep sense of commitment to his and his readers’ spiritual well-being. Celebration of Discipline is at the heart (both directly or indirectly) of the majority of Spiritual Formation programs in Bible schools, seminaries, Christian colleges, and universities. What the Tibetan holy man said in response to Thomas Merton’s belief—“There must be something wrong here!”—is the same sentiment that propels the writing of this booklet. There is something wrong here!

Contrary to what the contemplatives teach, there is duality, and the Bible teaches it—there are the sheep and the goats, the wheat and the tares, the saved and the unsaved, and the righteous and the unrighteous. New Age thinkers would reject this because they believe all is God. In the contemplative camp when Richard Rohr says everything belongs, this is what makes it New Age. The golden calf and Yahweh are not the same God. It was the cause for God’s anger. Simply put, everything does not belong!

My prayer is that people can see the logic in this. And what makes it even more imperative is that this contemplative view comes from supernatural sources. We are not dealing with just human perspectives and ideas.

Richard Foster’s “school” of contemplative prayer employs the same methods as those of Richard Rohr and Thomas Merton that lead to a certain perception. The following quote by Foster further illustrates this:

We shut out every other source of stimulation—sensual, intellectual and reflective—in order to focus on God alone. At this level, we even move beyond our thoughts of God in order to dwell in his presence without thought or distraction.34

This is exactly the contemplative prayer that Thomas Merton embraced, which led Episcopal priest Brian C. Taylor to say:

The God he [Merton] knew in prayer was the same experience that Buddhists describe in their enlightenment.35

What we conclude is that Thomas Merton’s spirituality has come into the evangelical church through Richard Foster’s “school” of contemplative prayer. And this is one school where no Christian should enroll.

To order copies of A Serious Look at Richard Foster’s “School” of Contemplative Prayer,  click here.

Endnotes:
1. Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline (San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1978 edition), p. 13.
2. Interview with Richard Foster, Lou Davies Radio Program (KPAM radio, Portland, Oregon, Nov. 24, 1998).
3. Webster’s New World College Dictionary, p. 1283.
4. Carl McColman, Big Book of Christian Mysticism (Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Road Publishing, 2010), p. 222.
5. Thomas Merton, The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton (New Directions Books, 1975), pp. 234-236.
6. Ibid.
7. William Shannon, Silence on Fire (New York, NY: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1991), p. 99.
8. Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline (HarperCollins, 2009, Kindle Edition), p. 17.
9. Tony Campolo, Speaking My Mind (Nashville, TN: W. Publishing Group, 2004), p. 72.
10. Rick Warren quoting Kay Warren on the Ministry Toolbox (Issue #54, 6/5/2002, http://web.archive.org/web/20050306004007/http://www.pastors.com/RWMT/?ID=54).
11. Henri Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus (New York, NY: Crossroad Publishing, 2000), pp. 6, 31-32.
12. Thomas Ryan, Disciplines for Christian Living (Mawah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1993), pp. 2-3 (the foreword by Henri Nouwen).
13. Henri Nouwen, The Way of the Heart (San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1991), p. 81.
14. Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey (San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1997), Jan. 15 and Nov. 16 daily readings.
15. Henri Nouwen, Sabbatical Journey (New York, NY: The Crossroad Publishing Company, Kindle Edition), Kindle Locations 496-497.
16. These two thoughts are found in the writings of Matthew Fox and many other New Age advocates.
17. Robert A. Jonas (Editor), The Essential Henri Nouwen (Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications, 2009), p. 38.
18. Lighthouse Trails Editors, “More Evidence and a Final Plea as Assemblies of God Conference with Ruth Haley Barton Begins August 5th” (Lighthouse Trails blog: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=12401).
19. Thomas Keating, Intimacy with God (New York, NY: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1994), p. 117.
20. Philip St. Romain, Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality (Crossroad, 1995). This excerpt is in the foreword by Thomas Keating.
21. Thomas Keating, review: http://www.allthingshealing.com/Tarot/Book-Review-Meditations-on-the-Tarot/9699#.VeGxISLbKos.
22. Lighthouse Trails Editors, “Richard Foster’s Renovare Turns to Panentheist Mystic Richard Rohr and Emerging Darling Phyllis Tickle For New Book Project” (September 14, 2010, http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=4986).
23. Kristen Hobby, “What Happens When Religion Isn’t Doing Its Job: an interview with Richard Rohr, OFM” (Presence: An International Journal of Spiritual Direction, Volume 20, No. 1, March 2014), pp. 6-11.
24. You can read the entire booklet at: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=17334 or purchase it as a booklet at www.lighthousetrails.com.
25. Kristen Hobby interview with Richard Rohr, op. cit. , p. 6
26. Ibid.
27. Rich Heffern, “The Eternal Christ in the Cosmic Story” (National Catholic Reporter, December 11, 2009, http://ncronline.org/news/spirituality/eternal-christ-cosmic-story).
28. Ibid.
29. Richard Rohr, Falling Upward (San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass, 2011), p. ix.
30. Tom Harpur, Prayer: The Hidden Fire (Wood Lake Publishing, Kindle Edition, 2012), Kindle Locations 1099-1102.
31. Neale Donald Walsch, Tomorrow’s God (New York, NY: Atria Books, 2004), p. 223.
32. Ibid., p. 263.
33. Ibid., p. 241.
34. Richard Foster, Gayle Beede, Longing for God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2009), p. 252.
35. Brian C. Taylor, Setting the Gospel Free (New York, NY: Continuum Publishing, 1996), p. 76.

To order copies of A Serious Look at Richard Foster’s “School” of Contemplative Prayer,  click here.

NEW BOOKLET TRACT- Truth or Consequences

Truth or Consequences by Warren B. Smith is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet Tract. The Booklet Tract is 14 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklet Tracts are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use.  Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of Truth or Consequences, click here.

Truth or Consequences

rp_bkt-truth.jpgBy Warren B. Smith

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. (3 John 1:4)

In 1940, Ralph Edwards hosted an NBC radio quiz show called Truth or Consequences. The show had a simple format. Contestants were presented with a question. If they couldn’t answer it correctly—which they almost never did—they suffered consequences that usually proved to be somewhat entertaining and comedic in nature. In 1950, Edwards announced they would broadcast their tenth anniversary program from whatever town or city in America changed its existing name to Truth or Consequences. The city of Hot Springs, New Mexico responded by changing their name from Hot Springs to Truth or Consequences. As a result the newly named city hosted the tenth anniversary edition of Truth or Consequences. Ralph Edwards continued to visit the city of Truth or Consequences the first weekend in May for the next fifty years to help celebrate the town’s annual “Fiesta.” Truth or Consequences, New Mexico continues to hold “Fiesta” each year, and the celebration includes a dance held in Ralph Edwards Park.1

Curiously, the television show used the otherwise serious concept of “truth or consequences” to provide the thematic foundation for their comedy quiz show. The phrase “truth or consequences” would ordinarily suggest a certain degree of solemnity rather than levity. Therefore, the festive atmosphere surrounding the program’s novel use of the phrase proved to be somewhat ironic. To put this into a wider perspective, this could be seen as symptomatic—both then and now—of a society that doesn’t take the concept of “truth or consequences” very seriously. In fact, there seems to be a growing apathy and disregard—even in the church—for the consequences of not observing and maintaining truth—most especially God’s truth as revealed in the Bible.

Leavening the Truth
The expression “gospel truth”—even when used in the secular world—almost always signifies pure, honest, absolute truth. For Bible-believing Christians, “gospel truth” obviously denotes God’s absolute truth as contained in His Holy Bible. But today we hear people—both in and out of the church—say there is no such thing as absolute truth. For many, truth has become an abstract concept that we ourselves now define. Sadly, we live in a time when it’s popular to say—“You have your truth, and I have mine.” Given that Jesus is “the truth” (John 14:6), “you have your truth, and I have mine” translates into “you have your Jesus, and I have mine.” Thus in people’s minds, Jesus Christ becomes whatever anyone wants Him to be—not what is necessarily true.

Amongst many believers, it’s no longer “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9). Rather, it’s “I just eat the meat and spit out the bones” as if lies and leaven are no big deal. Or if we don’t agree with what has been traditionally accepted as truth, we go along with others who “stretch the truth” or “enlarge the truth” to create a “new truth” that is no truth at all. Nazi Germany was a good example of this: When big lies were told often enough and convincingly enough, they eventually become accepted as truth. In a more contemporary vein, there was a popular movie in 1994 called True Lies. The main character in another movie states that he always tells the truth—even when he lies.2

New Age leaders would have us believe they have “a great heretical idea”— a“lie”—that will get humanity out of its present crisis.3 In their attempt to justify their “lie” as they blaspheme God in the process, these same New Age leaders try to convince us that “All great truth begins as blasphemy.”4 But the blasphemy they propose—“we are all one” because God is “in” everyone and everything—is predicated on their disbelief of God’s Truth as revealed in the Holy Bible. In fact, the Bible warns in Romans 1:25 of those “who changed the truth of God into a lie”—a lie they would have us believe is a “new truth” that will save the world.

Truth is out of Style?
We are being told that the Bible is out of style and outdated—that it’s got some good points but it’s a two-thousand-year-old book that needs a little changing and some postmodern rearranging. We are further told that spiritual experience is what really counts. Because of this, objectivity is quickly giving way to subjectivity. God’s truth is being replaced by what we experience as truth—what we sense, what we feel, what “works” for us. As a society—and also as a church—we are being deceived into believing that something is true simply because it is what most people believe. As a result, what people agree to believe as truth is triumphing over actual truth. Consequently—and as previously mentioned—literal lies are becoming our “new truths.”

Do we, as believers, have a real love of the truth, or do we just want to have our ears tickled by what feels right and seems to be true? The Bible warns:

There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. (Proverbs 14:12)

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)

What is Truth?
The reason the Bible has so much to say about truth is because Jesus Christ is the truth. He said “I am the way, the truth, and the life: No man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Bible-believing Christians trust these words in the Bible because the Bible is—“in truth”—the actual Word of God.

For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe. (1 Thessalonians 2:13; emphasis added)

The Bible exhorts us to “prove all things” and to “hold fast” to that which is “good”—that which is true (1 Thessalonians 5:21). It commands us to expose the unfruitful works of darkness that oppose truth and to have no fellowship with them (Ephesians 5:11). Scripture warns there are severe consequences for those who—for whatever reason—do not love and protect the truth of God’s Word.

Biblical Consequences
Revelation 22:13-15 warns that those who “loveth and maketh a lie” will be among those excluded from the city of New Jerusalem:

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. (Revelation 22:13-15)

In addition to this warning in Revelation, Jesus made sixteen direct references to Hell. Scripture also warns there will be people who “received not the love of the truth” and “believed not the truth” but “had pleasure in unrighteousness.” And because they believe a “lie,” they are damned and ultimately “perish”:

And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:8-12; italics added)

It is very evident that there are serious consequences to what we choose to believe and what we choose not to believe regarding the truth of God’s Word.

Worldly Consequences
In a courtroom, witnesses must tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth—so help them God. There are definite legal consequences for anyone who is not truthful in the court proceedings. Perjury is a punishable offense that can result in heavy fines and possible imprisonment. One “little lie” can totally change the nature of a court case. A “little lie” or a “little leaven” can completely transform something true into something false. The late pastor and evangelist Harry Ironside warned that truth mixed with error is like leaven and is equivalent to all error:

Error is like leaven, of which we read, “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” Truth mixed with error is equivalent to all error, except that it is more innocent looking and, therefore, more dangerous. God hates such a mixture! Any error, or any truth-and-error mixture, calls for definite exposure and repudiation. To condone such is to be unfaithful to God and His Word and treacherous to imperiled souls for whom Christ died.5

In today’s church, many best-selling “Christian” books contain leavened statements that are patently false when compared to the light of Scripture. But the leaven—error—contained in these books goes largely unchallenged as sales reach into the multiple millions. In today’s progressive postmodern church, there seems to be little or no accountability for Christian leaders and authors who present false teachings. The only immediate consequence the authors of these leavened books seem to “suffer” is the attainment of celebrity status and a huge increase in their personal income. What irony. Instead of being held responsible for the leaven contained in their writings, these men and women are rewarded by the church and held in high esteem.

The Holy Bible: God’s Lie Detector
In the world, the “truth” of what someone is saying can usually be detected by a polygraph machine—also known as a “lie detector.” However, the Christian faith has the ultimate lie detector—the Holy Bible. It is holy because it’s the authoritative, inerrant, inspired Word of God. The truth of what people say and teach and do in regard to spiritual matters can be accurately discerned by searching the Scriptures to see if these things are so (Acts 17:11). The Bible rightly defines truth, while at the same time exposes what is false and deceptive. In fact, the truth of God’s Word is of such paramount importance to God that He actually magnifies His Word above His name (Psalm 138:2). God’s Word is truth (John 17:17) and is the truthful measure of all spiritual things (2 Timothy 3:15-17):

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:15-17)

While a genuine Bible remains the ultimate lie detector, there are many modern versions that have changed important parts of God’s Word. They change it by adding to it, subtracting from it, and watering it down—all for the expressed purpose of making it more “relevant” and “less offensive.” However, when the genuine is altered in any way, it is no longer genuine and wholly dependable. Because there are so many new translations and paraphrases, exposing error has become more difficult for the average believer in today’s compromised church. And it is unexposed error that ultimately leads to heresy and apostasy.

The Right Hand of Falsehood

Rid me, and deliver me from the hand of strange children, whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood. (Psalm 144:11)

Galatians 2:9 describes what is referred to as the right hand of fellowship. In the Bible, the right hand of God generally refers to His power and authority and righteousness. For example, the right hand of God is “exalted” (Psalm 118:16). God “saves” those who put their trust in Him by His right hand (Psalm 17:7). Jesus sits on the right hand of “the power of God” (Luke 22:69). God upholds with the right hand of His “righteousness” (Isaiah 41:10). The right hand of fellowship is based in that power and authority and truth. However, Psalm 144 warns of the hand of “strange children” who extend the “right hand of falsehood.” The right hand of falsehood may appear to be the right hand of fellowship, but it is not. It is the kind of deception the Bible warns us to watch out for.

Jesus warns of those who draw near to Him with their mouth, but their hearts are far from Him (Matthew 15:8). Tragically, insistence on truth has taken a back seat to compromise in today’s “church” in its quest for agreement and unity. But truth compromised for the sake of “unity” is not God’s unity at all. Division caused by truth is far better than unity that is based on the right hand of falsehood. Proclaiming “Lord, Lord,” and reciting John 14:6 does not legitimize leaven and false teachings. Truth combined with error is, indeed, an ungodly mixture. Half of the truth is still a lie. “Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils” (1 Corinthians 10:21). The right hand of fellowship does not unite and shake hands with the right hand of falsehood.

Because a love of the truth is perishing in the land and in the church, it is imperative that we take a look at what the Bible says about truth—how we must love it and keep it and hold it in the highest regard.

Bible Teachings on Truth

Our God Is a God of Truth
He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he. (Deuteronomy 32:4)

All God’s Works Are Done in Truth
For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth. (Psalm 33:4)

God’s Law Is Truth
Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth. (Psalm 119:142)

All God’s Commandments Are Done in Truth
The works of his hands are verity and judgment; all his commandments are sure. They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness. (Psalm 111:7-8)

God’s Word Is—in Truth—the Word of God
For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God. (1Thessalonians 2:13)

God Desires for All Men to Be Saved and Come to a Knowledge of the Truth
Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. (1Timothy 2:4)

Jesus Christ Brought Grace and Truth
For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. (John 1:17)

Jesus Christ Is the Truth
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)

We Are to Desire Truth in Our Innermost Being
Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. (Psalm 51:6)

The Lord Is Close to All Those Who Call Upon Him in Truth
The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. (Psalm 14 :18)

The Holy Spirit of Truth Is Sent to Believers and Abides With Them Forever
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. (John 14:16-18)

The Holy Spirit Guides All Believers Into the Truth
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. (John 16:13)

God Is Plenteous in His Mercy and Truth
But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth. (Psalm 86:15)

We Are to Hold Fast to Mercy and Truth
Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man. (Proverbs 3:3-4)

We Are to Speak Truth From the Heart
LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. (Psalm 15:1-2)

We Are to Speak the Truth in Love
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ. (Ephesians 4:14-15)

We Are to Love in Deed and Truth
My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. (1John 3:18)

We Are to Worship God in Spirit and in Truth
God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24)

We Are to Serve the Lord in Sincerity and Truth
Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth. (Joshua 24:14)

We Are to Study and Rightly Divide the Word of Truth
Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2Timothy 2:15)

God’s Truth Is Our Shield and Our Buckler
He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. (Psalm 91:4)

God’s Truth Preserves Us
Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O LORD: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me. (Psalm 40:11)

God’s Truth Enables Us to Stand
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth. (Ephesians 6:13-14)

We Are to Walk in the Truth
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. (3 John 1:4)

We Are to Rejoice in the Truth
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth. (1Corinthians 13:6)

We Are to Be Men and Women of Truth
Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth. (Exodus 18:21)

We Are to Be Fellowhelpers to the Truth
We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth. (3 John 1:8)

We Are to Be Thankful for Those Who Believe the Truth
But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth. (2 Thessalonians 2:13)

We Are to Warn Those Who Err From the Truth
Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins. (James 5:19-20)

God Will Judge the World With His Righteousness and Truth
Before the LORD: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth. (Psalm 96:13)

God’s Truth Reaches up to the Clouds
For thy mercy is great above the heavens: and thy truth reacheth unto the clouds. (Psalm 108:4)

God’s Truth Endureth Forever
O Praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people. For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. (Psalm 117:1-2)

Hope Is Laid up in Heaven From Hearing the Truth of the Gospel
For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth. (Colossians 1:5-6)

He Who Does Truth Comes to the Light
But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. (John 3:21)

But There Are Those Who Are Not Valiant for the Truth
And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not me, saith the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:3)

Some Do Not Have a Love of the Truth
Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. (2 Thessalonians 2:10)

Some Do Not Believe the Truth
And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12)

Some Call on God but Not in Truth
Hear ye this, O house of Jacob, which are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, which swear by the name of the LORD, and make mention of the God of Israel, but not in truth, nor in righteousness. (Isaiah 48:1)

There Are People Who Turn Away From the Truth
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)

Some Change the Truth of God Into a Lie
Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. (Romans 1:25)

No Lie Is of the Truth
I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth. (1 John 2:21)

The Devil Has No Truth in Him
He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. (John 8:44)

The Truth Shall Be Spoken of Evilly
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. (2 Peter 2:1-2)

Truth Is Largely Fallen
And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. (Isaiah 59:14)

Conclusion

Truth or consequences. The stakes are high, but one thing is for sure: Truth prevails in the end because Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6) and His truth endures forever (Psalm 117:1-2). May we pray that His truth will shine forth in our lives and that many will be turned to righteousness (Matthew 5:16; Daniel 12:3). And when it is all said and done, let us be able to say that we have “chosen the way of truth” (Psalm 119:30), that we have “walked” in God’s truth (Psalm 26:3), and that we have always “rejoiced” in God’s truth (1Corinthians 13:6).

Pray for the Truth
O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me. (Psalm 43:3)

Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth. (Psalm 86:11)
Show me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day. (Psalm 25:4-5)

The Truth Shall Make You Free—If You Continue in His Word!
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:31-32)

Endnotes
1. Per Telephone conversation with Mike Tooley (Herald Newspaper, Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, April 20, 2015).
2. Al Pacino playing Cuban refugee Tony Montana in the American movie Scarface.
3. Marilyn Ferguson, The Aquarian Conspiracy: Personal and Social Transformation in the 1980s (New York, NY: J.P. Tarcher, Inc. 1980), p. 27.
4. Neale Donald Walsch, Tomorrow’s God: Our Greatest Spiritual Challenge (New York, NY: Atria Books, 2004), p. 5.
5. Dr. Harry Ironside, “Exposing Error: Is it Worthwhile?” (TBC Extra, April 2008, posted on The Berean Call website: http://www.thebereancall.org/content/tbc-extra-30).

NEW BOOKLET TRACT – Confused by an Angel: The Dilemma of Roma Downey’s New Age Beliefs

 Confused by an Angel: The Dilemma of Roma Downey’s New Age Beliefs by Gregory Reid is our newest Lighthouse Trails Print Booklet Tract. The Booklet Tract is 14 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklet Tracts are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use.  Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of  Confused by an Angel: The Dilemma of Roma Downey’s New Age Beliefs, click here

Confused by an Angel“Confused by an Angel: The Dilemma of Roma Downey’s New Age Beliefs”

By Gregory Reid

Roma Downey first came into our lives and hearts as “Monica,” the angel-in-training in the successful television series Touched by an Angel. A feel-good, moral, and New Age tinged show, many people’s memory of Downey was her angel character saying, in an angelic Irish brough, “God luvs ya!”

Years passed. Suddenly, Roma Downey and her husband Mark Burnett lit up the media sky with their successful television miniseries, The Bible. Christians—especially those with fond memories of Monica—were thrilled at the presentation of the Bible by what seemed to be the newly evangelical team of Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, founder of the Lightworkers media company. The church embraced them—no questions asked. (Note: Even the name of their production company, Lightworkers should have been a strong indication. In the New Age, a lightworker is “any being dedicated to the cultivation of inner presence and the elevation of awareness in self and other selves. This being is called a lightworker and is an evolutionary step toward a state of ‘LightBeing.’”1)

Unfortunately, our longing for affirmation and importance in “the real world” and desire to be accepted and “relevant” in this media-soaked age has created a church that will accept anyone who utters the name “Jesus” as one of us without asking any questions as to what they really believe.

Thus is the case of the meteoric rise and wholesale embracing of Mark Burnett and Roma Downey.

After The Bible series came the movie Son of God. It was the most highly promoted Christian event I can remember in forty years. Soon Burnett and Downey were on nearly every Christian television and radio program.

They sound like us. They say the right things. And in some ways, they are more Christ-behaving and giving than many professing Christians.

But they are not of us. Roma Downey is, in fact, a New Age initiate. She is not just a “dabbler.” She hasn’t merely gotten a few unsanctified New Age ideas. She is, in fact, a deeply committed follower of the New Spirituality and its ideas.

5 Reasons Why I Believe Roma Downey is a New Age Initiate

1. A Graduate of a New Age University
In 2010, Roma Downey graduated with a Master’s Degree in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica in California. USM is a New Age training center. The school’s founder, the late John-Roger, is one of the most well-known New Age teachers over the last thirty years.2 Experiencing an auto accident when he was young, a spirit he identified as the “mystic traveler” began to speak to him, then “through” him. Everything he did and taught was based on that experience. He was a “trance channeler,” and his organization, MSIA or Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness, is well known in the New Age world. This is some of what he and his organization teaches:

When a person participates in MSIA and works with the Mystical Traveler, that person is, if anything, “submitting” to himself/herself, to the Christ within, to the God within. And that is really a joyous surrender to love. . . . [T]o be an initiate of the Traveler is to devote yourself to the God within you, to devote yourself to Spirit, to returning to your home, the Soul, from which you originally came before you incarnated onto this earth. It means devoting yourself to working out the karma you’ve accrued while being here and to releasing yourself from that karma through grace and your good works, so that you are free to rise into the heart of God.3

If you feel you aren’t worthy of God, that you’re too small or not as good as God, then stand up. Face God on equal terms, as a co-creator and one who also owns the sun, the moon and the stars.4

This is the teacher—and the foundation of the education—that Roma Downey is proud to have learned under and graduated from. Of her education at USM, Downey claims:

It’s heightened my awareness . . . The skills I learned at USM are so simple and effective . . . It was a beautiful exploration . . .USM is at the cutting edge of transforming people. (*)

There is no way she could have gone through this university without knowing exactly what it stands for. A believer in Jesus Christ and in His Word would have never gone to such a school, and if a person became a born-again believer after attending, she would publicly renounce her participation. Unfortunately, Roma Downey was still finishing her degree in spiritual psychology when she gave her interview about the Bible series.5

What kinds of things was Downey learning in her education at Santa Monica University? Let’s take a look:

Soul-Centered Co-Creation.
Experiencing enhanced spiritual awareness through knowing yourself as a Divine Being having a human experience.
Tools for spiritual evolution.
Working with the patterns associated with each of the eight chakra centers in service to deep healing physically, mentally, emotionally, and within the unconscious, with the focus of further awakening to the Authentic Self.6

From their own curriculum description, we read:

[Spiritual Psychology] empowers them to convert their everyday life experiences into rungs on the ladder of Spiritual Evolution . . . Spiritual Psychology is the study and practice of the art and science of human evolution in consciousness.

Practically, it means learning how to surrender—or let go of— anything that disturbs one’s peace. It also means sacrificing our illusions of separation. Essentially, this “surrendering” and “sacrificing” is work that can and has been called “healing,” which includes healing on the physical, mental, and emotional levels in service to the deeper revelation of who we truly are as Loving, Peaceful, Compassionate, and Joyful beings. We refer to this level of awareness as the Authentic Self. . . . And, by the way, assuming we get through the current challenges, these very same skills will be exactly the same ones that will be highly valued as we transform into a more peaceful highly globalized world.7

2. Involved With Channeler’s CD
Roma Downey recited a rosary prayer for a CD called Practical Praying by John Edward.8 Edward is a psychic medium best known for his TV show in which he has talked to the dead. Downey has been on his show and allowed him to “channel” her “mother.”9

3. Resonates With Famous New Age Gurus
Roma Downey is an avid reader of New Age material by well-known New Age/New Spirituality writers Tony Robbins and Eckhart Tolle, both who are worlds away from any biblical truth. Tolle, for instance, teaches that divinity (i.e., God) is within all human beings. His spirituality resonates with someone like Matthew Fox, author of The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, a book that teaches a christ-consciousness is in all people. Contrary to what a Bible-believing Christian would say, in a women’s magazine article, Downey says:

My kids go to school about a 40-minute drive away. . . . On the way back, I get my own selections—books on tape by Eckhart Tolle, Tony Robbins . . . My husband says I’m so self-realized I’m practically levitating.”10

4. Has Deep Connections with a Major New-Thought Teacher
Roma Downey’s acknowledged mentor is Della Reese, her angel-boss Tess on Touched by an Angel. In addition to co-starring together for eight years on the T.V. show, Della Reese is Downey’s daughter’s godmother11 and also officiated at the 2007 wedding of Downey and Mark Burnett.12 Given the fact that Downey has been so influenced by Della Reese, it’s important to take a few moments to examine Reese’s beliefs.

Reese, a well-known and acclaimed singer and actress for many years, is also the pastor of Understanding Principals for Better Living Church (UpChurch) in southern California. Her own mentor is the late minister Johnnie Colemon,13 founding pastor of the megachurch Christ Unity Center in Chicago and a pioneer of the “new thought” movement, a New Age metaphysical teaching based on “healing meditation and positive thought.”14 On Reese’s church website, she expresses her views on God:

God is everywhere, evenly, equally present! Omnipresence. (There is no spot or situation where God is not!)
God is all the power in the universe! Omnipotence. (God is all there is, there is nothing else!)
God is all the wisdom/intelligence in the universe! Omniscience. (In the beginning, God!)
All humankind is made in the image-likeness of God. We are all spiritual beings having a human experience.15

While these ideas have shreds of scriptural backing, Reese is actually presenting a New Age view of God’s omnipresence and power. In her 2013 book, Metaphysically Speaking, Reese states, in speaking of herself (and all people):

All that God is I am, and all that God has is mine. I am omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent. (I am evenly present, all knowing, and all powerful.) I am life, intelligence, love and power. I am the temple, in which God lives. I am that from which all love springs, and I am wisdom, power, strength and substance. I am absolute wholeness and perfection.16

Reese believes that man has all of the attributes of God, making him omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient—like God. On her website, she gives a list of some of the people (and books) she admires and emulates, calling them “Great Spiritual Leaders.” Her list, of which I am naming a few, clearly reveals Reese’s New Age/New Thought spiritual affinities—

A. New Age guru Eric Butterworth—Discover the Power Within You. Researcher and author Ray Yungen discusses Butterworth’s book:

In line with Unity teaching, the book [Discover the Power Within You] expounds on the “Divinity of Man” as perceived through mystical practice. . . . Eric Butterworth teaches that God isn’t “up there.” He exists inside each one of us, and it’s up to us to seek the divine within.17 (emphasis added)

B. Dr. Barbara King—Transform Your Life. The Reverend King is an interfaith New Thought minister whose mentor is also Johnnie Colemon. On King’s website, she greets visitors with the saying Namaskar (i.e., namaste, meaning the god in me greets the god in you).

C. Ernest Holmes—The Science of Mind. The late Ernest Holmes (1887-1960) was “the founder of the Church of Religious Science, and his book The Science of Mind is regarded by many in the occult as a New Age “Bible.”18 According to apologist Dave Hunt, The Science of Mind “teaches that Man controls the course of his life . . . by mental processes which function according to a Universal Law . . . that we are all creating our own day-to-day experiences . . . by the form and procession of our thoughts.19 Author and lecturer, Mike Oppenheimer explains that Holmes “believed what nearly every occultist does: ‘Man, by thinking, can bring into his experience whatsoever he desires.’”20 This is not a biblical concept but is definitely a New Age one, rooted in the idea that man is God.

On Della Reese’s website, she also lists Rabbi Morris Lichtenstein (How to Live), Charles Roth (Mind: The Master Power), Norman Vincent Peale, and Robert H. Schuller.

Reese’s base theology clearly comes from New Spirituality teachers. To her, Jesus should not be considered as the only way to the Father. Rather, He is just a “way-shower,”21 someone who points the way (as opposed to being the Way). As Downey’s spiritual mother and cherished mentor, it is not an exaggeration to say that Della Reese has had a significant influence on Downey’s own metaphysical New Age beliefs.

5. Gives Hearty Endorsement for Book Promoting Spirit Guides and Panentheism
Roma Downey endorsed a New Age book titled Loyalty to Your Soul by Ron and Mary Hulnick (published by the New Age publisher, Hay House). Of the book, Downey stated:

As a USM graduate, I know firsthand the value I received from participating with Ron and Mary in the Master’s degree Program in Spiritual Psychology. I am so grateful to have Loyalty to Your Soul to sweetly remind me of all I have learned. . . . The teachings in this beautiful book have sent me on a journey to the very center of my own being where, wrapped in the safe wings of Love, I feel as though I have come home.22

Downey’s endorsement in the Hulnick’s book is nestled in with prolific New Agers like Barbara Marx Hubbard, Joan Borysenko, and Gay Hendricks (The Corporate Mystic). By the way, Neale Donald Walsch (Conversations With God), the New Ager who said, “Hitler didn’t hurt anyone . . . he didn’t inflict suffering, he ended it,”23 wrote the foreword to Loyalty to Your Soul. Clearly, Downey read the Hulnick’s book and resonates deeply with it to say what she did about it. To get an idea of this “journey” that Downey is on, listen to a few quotes from Loyalty to Your Soul:

Lord, God of all Creation, we ask now that we be cleared, filled, surrounded, and protected with the clear Light of the sacredness of Spirit. We ask for the presence, protection, guidance, and Love of the Divine Beings [spirit guides] who work with each of us.24 (from the “Invocation”—emphasis added)

When people speak of spirituality, they simply mean awareness of the sacred reality of the Divine Essence within and beyond all creation.25

Those familiar with New Age teachings will recognize such statements as being the core essence of the occult (that man is divine) and that there are spirit guides who help us through life. Loyalty to Your Soul is a contemporary version of A Course in Miracles (the New Age “Bible”).

A Need to Warn
While I bear no animosity toward Mark Burnett or Roma Downey and truly love and care about them, I have great concern for their spiritual state. I fear that the likelihood of them finding the true Jesus Christ is greatly hindered by the evangelical leaders and pastors who have surrounded them, adored them, courted them even—without discerning whether they are of the biblical Christian faith. Questions are not being asked to uncover their true beliefs. If these leaders really care about Burnett and Downey, they would seek out the truth about their beliefs and warn them of the dangers of New Age thought. Such forthrightness could potentially help Burnett and Downey come to find a relationship with Him that is based, not on the false premises of the New Age but rather “on the repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21).

When the History Channel movie series was first released, I had deep concerns because I knew where Roma Downey stood spiritually. Then when Son of God was going to be released, I saw the overwhelming acceptance and embracing of Downey and her husband.

When a major Christian book retailer started stocking The Story of God and All of Us, a book based on the movie The Bible with Downey and Burnett as authors, I felt I needed to inform the bookstore’s representatives of my concerns. I received a brief e-mail reply in which the representative said, “yes, we are aware of some issues,” but they decided to release it “for the greater good” in spite of the issues. What he ended with completely floored me:

I listened to Roma Downey tell about her involvement in making the miniseries and was impressed by her powerful Christian testimony.

It was as if nothing I had brought to his attention made him think that Roma Downey was anything but someone “with a powerful Christian testimony.”

It became clear to me that people were unwilling to consider these concerns. With all this in mind, would it not be of great importance, considering Downey’s vast influence on Christians, to ask some very crucial questions. Roma Downey says in interviews she loves Jesus, and that has been the basis of the broad acceptance of her and her movies by Christian leaders and pastors.

Here is the simple truth: Either Mark Burnett and Roma Downey know exactly what they are doing and are aware of their role in bringing about synchronicity between Christianity and all faiths, or they do not know the difference between what they believe and what the Bible teaches. If it is the first, then Christians are in real danger in letting them even deeper into their circles of influence. If they do not, then Christians who are accepting them are indeed poor stewards of God’s things and God’s house. What’s more, if those in positions of influence know that Roma Downey represents another belief system foreign to the faith we hold dear and choose to ignore this for the greater good of spreading the good news, then they should be in great fear. For it is their responsibility to care for the flock:

For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. (Acts 20:29)

Last year at the 2014 National Religious Broadcasters Convention, I had a unique opportunity to personally hand Roma Downey a copy of my friend Warren B. Smith’s testimony book, The Light That Was Dark.26 I do not know if she has read it, but I do believe God, in His mercy, is reaching out and trying to save her and Mark Burnett. I have written this booklet with the understanding that these are people Jesus died to redeem, and He loves them. Scripture tells us:

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

Questions for Roma Downey
I have put together a set of questions that needs to be asked and answered by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey:

Do you believe Jesus is the only way to God?
Do all humans have the “Christ spirit?”
Is every human being divine or containing a divine essence?
Do you believe the Bible to be the infallible Word of God and the final authority of truth?
Knowing that the Bible forbids necromancy, are you sorry you worked with John Edward?
Is what you learned from John-Rogers University compatible with your Christian faith?
Do you now see the error in endorsing New Age books that promote spirit guides and the divinity of man, two concepts clearly rejected in the Bible?

These are reasonable and crucial questions, and it’s the responsibility of Christian pastors and leaders to ask them rather than continue to promote people who by all appearances are following another Jesus and another gospel than the one to which the Scriptures attest.

In January of 2015, Roma Downey was asked to host one of the largest contemporary Christian music events in decades. Over thirty well-known veteran musicians shared the platform with Downey. Some of those performing included Michael W. Smith, Newsboys, Don Moen, Mark Schultz, Sandi Patti, Travis Cottrell (Beth Moore’s worship leader), Chuck Girard and Love Song, Steven Curtis Chapman, Steve Green, Dallas Holm, The Imperials, and Nicole Mullen. A Lighthouse Trails report expressed concerns over the implications of this event:

It is a sad state of affairs when a concert, billed as “the greatest night in the history of contemporary Christian music,” uses a highly New Age- and Catholic-influenced celebrity to help open and close the event, which is basically making a statement to viewers as well as the church at large that Christianity is compatible with all beliefs.27

If we are willing to ignore or accept the clear biblical conflicts, which Downey has presented to us for the greater good, then how much more will we be willing to overlook next time? The evangelical/Protestant church is already on a steady slide to doctrinal dissolution and rejection of the biblical essentials of the faith through the “new Christianity” that has surfaced in countless churches, ministries, and Christian colleges and seminaries. Every compromise is a snowflake in the avalanche we are witnessing.

The Implications
What happens when the average Christian or church-goer goes to see a Downey movie and thinks, “I wonder what else Roma has done?” And then he finds himself getting Downey’s CD done with necromancer John Edward or reading Eckhart Tolle or Tony Robbins or heading to Della Reese’s UpChurch website and slowly becoming seduced by another Jesus? This will be the “fruit” of Roma Downey’s influence on millions of people, both Christian and non-Christian. Where are the warnings by Christian leaders and pastors about dangerous seductions coming into the church and compromising truth?

The New Age that Roma Downey promotes exalts man to an equality in holiness, virtue, and essence with God. If indeed the New Age is right and man really is divine, then the sacrifice Jesus Christ made on the Cross would not have been necessary. And in fact, if man truly is divine, then Jesus dying for the sins of the world would be of no effect and would be in vain for He would have died for those who were just as holy and good as He was.
Let us pray for Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, that their eyes would be opened and that they would come to repentance, turning away from the New Age “gospel” and to Jesus Christ wholly. Let us remember that we too were once in darkness and ignorant of the true Savior, and He redeemed us from a dark pit. Let us also do all we can to hold our leadership’s feet to the fire to ensure they do not promote those things which weaken and even destroy the testimony of God in the world today.

 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard (Colossians 1:21-23)

To order copies of  Confused by an Angel: The Dilemma of Roma Downey’s New Age Beliefs, click here

Endnotes:
1. http://lightworkers.org/what-is-a-lightworker-are-you-a-lightworker.
2. http://www.john-roger.org/.
3. http://www.msia.org/faqtraveler.
4. John Morton, D.S.S., MSIA Spiritual Director, “Your Ultimate Safe Harbour” (New Day Herald, http://www.msia.org/newdayherald/archives/10543-your-ultimate-safe-harbor.
5. Ibid.
6. USM Brochure, www.universityofsantamonica.edu/PDFs/USM_Brochure.pdf.
7. Ibid.
8. http://www.amazon.com/Practical-Praying-Using-Rosary-Enhance/dp/1402775601/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1370929583&sr=8-8&keywords=john+edward).
9. http://www.locatetv.com/tv/crossing-over-with-john-edward/1821144.
10. First for Women magazine, 03/31/14, pp. 44-45.
11. http://www.roma-downey.com/biography.htm.
12. http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20037196,00.html.
13. http://www.upchurch.org/Founder.htm.
14. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-johnnie-colemon-obituary-met-20141224-story.html.
15. UpChurch website: http://www.upchurch.org/index.php?page=teachings.
16. Della Reese, Metaphysically Speaking (Lett Reese International Publishing, 2013, Kindle Edition), location 109.
17. Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2nd ed.), pp. 102-104.
18. Warren B. Smith, A “Wonderful” Deception (Magalia, CA: Mountain Stream Press), p. 43.
19. Dave Hunt, Seduction of Christianity (Eugene, OR: Harvest House), p. 21.
20. Mike Oppenheimer, “The Secret Behind the Secret” (http://www.letusreason.org/Popteac38.htm, citing Ernest Holmes in The Science of Mind (Peerless Communications, 2011 Kindle Edition, which is the 1926 Complete Unedited Edition), Kindle location 1243.
21. http://www.upchurch.org/index.php?page=teachings.
22. Her endorsement of the book is inside the front cover of the book.
23. Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God: an uncommon dialogue, Book 2 (Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads, 1997), p. 56.
24. Hulnick Ph.D., H. Ronald; Mary R. Hulnick Ph.D., Loyalty to Your Soul (Hay House. Kindle Edition, from the Invocation).
25. Ibid., p. 8.
26. Warren B. Smith, The Light That Was Dark (Magalia, CA: Mountain Stream Press): This book chronicles the life of Warren B. Smith when he was heavily involved with the New Age. Smith describes the role that A Course in Miracles played in his and his wife’s lives. In essence, what Roma Downey is endorsing and promoting is the spirituality of A Course in Miracles, the quintessential New Age “bible.”
27. http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=16777.

To order copies of  Confused by an Angel: The Dilemma of Roma Downey’s New Age Beliefs, click here

Save

NEW BOOKLET TRACT: The Awesome Wonder of God’s Word

The Awesome Wonder of God’s Word by Warren B. Smith is our newest Lighthouse Trails Print Booklet Tract. The Booklet Tract is 14 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklet Tracts are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use.  Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of The Awesome Wonder of God’s Word, click here.

The-Awesome-Wonder-of-God-s-WordThe Awesome Wonder of God’s Word

By Warren B. Smith

Several years ago I was at a church conference in Olathe, Kansas. In the middle of citing a verse from the book of Jeremiah, the speaker suddenly looked up from the text with a huge smile on his face. Looking out at us, he joyfully exclaimed—“I love the Bible!” I immediately and enthusiastically agreed. What an amazing book! It tells us the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. While it lifts us up and shows us the way to salvation, it tells us who Jesus is, and it tells us who He is not. God’s true authentic Word—we would be totally lost without it. However in today’s compromised church, spiritual experience seems to be the name of the game. Consequently, there seems to be more interest in a word from God rather than in the Word of God. Lest we become compromised ourselves, we must never take God’s Word for granted. What a gift, what a treasure, what a wonder the Holy Bible is. It truly is the Word of God as it inspires, nurtures, guides, and sustains us in our walk with the Lord. God’s Word is awesome—so awesome, in fact, that God magnifies His Word above everything else (Psalm 138:2). And when one reads through the Scriptures to see what the Bible says about the Bible, it is an amazing thing to behold. The following verses are just some of what God’s Word says about God’s Word.

God’s Word

God’s Word is the Word of God
For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe. (1Thessalonians 2:13)

God’s Word is Magnified by God Above His Own Name
I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name. (Psalm 138:2)

God’s Word is Good
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. (Hebrews 6:4-6)

God’s Word is Right
For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth. (Psalm 33:4)

God’s Word is Awesome
Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word. (Psalm 119:161)

God’s Word is Inspired
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

God’s Word is Sure
The LORD on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea. Thy testimonies are very sure: holiness becometh thine house, O LORD, for ever. (Psalm 93:4-5)

God’s Word is Pure
The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. (Psalm 12:6)

Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it. (Psalm 119:140)
Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. (Proverbs 30:5)

God’s Word is Tried
As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him. (Psalm 18:30)

God’s Word is True
Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever. (Psalm 119:160)

God’s Word is Truth
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. (John 17:17)

God’s Word is Precious
Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (2 Peter 1:4)

God’s Word is Sweet
How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (Psalm 119:103)

God’s Word is Wonderful
Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore doth my soul keep them. (Psalm 119:129)

God’s Word is our Song
Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage. (Psalm 119:54)

God’s Word is our Joy
Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts. (Jeremiah 15:16)

God’s Word is our Delight
Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction. (Psalm 119:92)

God’s Word is Powerful
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

God’s Word is Light
The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple. (Psalm 119:130)

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Psalm 119:105)

God’s Word will make you Wise
And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 3:15)

God’s Word Quickens
I am afflicted very much: quicken me, O LORD, according unto thy word. (Psalm 119:107)

This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me. (Psalm 119:50)

God’s Word is like Fire
Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? (Jeremiah 23:29)

God’s Word Cleanses
Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. (Psalm 119:9)

God’s Word Upholds
Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope. (Psalm 119:116)

God’s Word gives us Understanding
Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. (Psalm 119:104)

God’s Word Delivers
Let my supplication come before thee: deliver me according to thy word. (Psalm 119:170)

God’s Word is our Counselor
Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors. (Psalm 119:24)

God’s Word is not Bound
Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. (2 Timothy 2:9)

God’s Word will not Return Void
So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)

God’s Word is Everlasting
The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting: give me understanding, and I shall live. (Psalm 119:144)

What is Our Response to God’s Word?

We are to Tremble at God’s Word
For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. (Isaiah 66:2)

Hear the word of the LORD, ye that tremble at his word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name’s sake, said, Let the LORD be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed. (Isaiah 66:5)

We are to Rejoice in God’s Word
I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil. (Psalm 119:162)

We are to Praise God’s Word
In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me. (Psalm 56:4)

In God will I praise his word: in the LORD will I praise his word. (Psalm 56:10)

We are to be Comforted by God’s Word
For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. (Romans 15:4)

We are to Hope in God’s Word
Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word. (Psalm 119:114)

They that fear thee will be glad when they see me; because I have hoped in thy word. (Psalm 119:74)

My soul fainteth for thy salvation: but I hope in thy word. (Psalm 119:81)

I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope. (Palm 130:5)

We are to Trust in God’s Word
So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me: for I trust in thy word. (Psalm 119:42)

We are to Desire God’s Word
As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby. (1Peter 2:2)

We are to Study God’s Word
Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

We are to Meditate on God’s Word
O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. (Psalm 119:97)

My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes. (Psalm 119:48)

I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. (Psalm 119:99)

We are to let the Word of God Dwell in Us
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Colossians 3:16)

We are to Live by the Word of God
And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live. (Deuteronomy 8:3)

We are to Order our Steps in God’s Word
Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me. (Psalm 119:133)

We are not to Corrupt the Word of God
For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ. (2 Corinthians 2:17)

We are not to Handle the Word of God Deceitfully
Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully. (2 Corinthians 4:1-2)

We are not to Add or Subtract from God’s Word
What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it. (Deuteronomy 12:32)

Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar. (Proverbs 30:6)

We are to Glorify God’s Word
And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. (Acts 13:48)

We are to Gain our Faith from Hearing God’s Word
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17)

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (John 5:24)

We are Saved by God’s Word
Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. (James 1:21)

We are to be Doers of God’s Word
But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. (James 1:22)

We are to Hold Forth the Word of God
Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. (Philippians 2:16)

We are to Preach God’s Word
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. (2 Timothy 4:2)

We are to Continue in God’s Word
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:31-32)

We are to Resist Temptation by God’s Word
And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:3-4)

We are not to Forget God’s Word
I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word. (Psalm 119:16)

I am small and despised: yet do not I forget thy precepts. (Psalm 119:141)

We are to Hide God’s Word in our Heart
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. (Psalm 119:11)

We are to Keep God’s Word
But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. (1 John 2:5)

Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. (John 14:23)

I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. (Revelation 3:8)

But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it. (Luke 11:28)

Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD. Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart. (Psalm 119:1-2)

My soul hath kept thy testimonies; and I love them exceedingly. (Psalm 119:167)

We are to Stand Fast in God’s Word
Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. (2 Thessalonians 2:15)

We are to Battle Using God’s Word
Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:16-17)

We may be Slain for the Word of God
And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held… (Revelation 6:9)

And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4)

God’s Word Stands Forever
For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven. (Psalm 119:89)
Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them for ever. (Psalm 119:152)

The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever. (Psalm 12:6-7)

The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever. (Isaiah 40:8)

Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. (Matthew 24:35)

A Homeless Man & God’s Word

Years ago, I directed a storefront ministry in Northern California that served the homeless mentally ill. One afternoon a young man came in and told me how he had recently been released from prison. He said he had noticed that men who had become born again Christians in prison were getting out of prison early. He said he wasn’t stupid. He got himself a Bible, went to the Bible study, and feigned being born again. Sure enough, he got an early release. He told me that when he left the prison that last day, he hung his Bible on the prison’s front gate and just walked away. He had outsmarted the system and was leaving prison and all that Bible stuff behind. But while he left his Bible hanging on the prison gate, he was surprised to find that the Word of God had been firmly planted within his heart. Recognizing that God’s Word was active and alive in his life, he soon committed his life to the Lord. Now he truly was born again and only too happy to call himself a Christian.

God’s Word is Awesome Because God is Awesome

Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast. The LORD bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect. The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance. (Psalm 33:8-12)

Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word. (Psalm 119:161)

To order copies of The Awesome Wonder of God’s Word, click here.

 

NEW BOOKLET: Is Your Church Doing Spiritual Formation? (Important Reasons Why It Shouldn’t)

Is Your Church Doing Spiritual Formation? (Important Reasons Why it Shouldn’t)  by  the editors at Lighthouse Trails is our newest Lighthouse Trails Print Booklet Tract. The Booklet Tract is 16 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklet Tracts are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use.  Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of Is Your Church Doing Spiritual Formation? (Important Reasons Why it Shouldn’t), click here.

Is Your Church Doing Spiritual Formation? (Important Reasons Why it Shouldn’t)

Is your church involved in a Spiritual Formation program? If so, you might want to ask the question, what exactly is Spiritual Formation? It’s a fair question, and one that, if not asked, could end up surprising you when your church changes in ways you never imagined.

A Christianity Today article states: “Spiritual Formation is in.” The article defines Spiritual Formation in this way:

Formation, like the forming of a pot from clay, brings to mind shaping and molding, helping something potential become something actual. Spiritual formation speaks of a shaping process with reference to the spiritual dimension of a person’s life. Christian spiritual formation thus refers to the process by which believers become more fully conformed and united to Christ.1

Such a definition would hardly send up red flags. But what this definition excludes is how this “process” of conforming and uniting to Christ takes place and who is eligible to participate in such a process.

The “how” is done through spiritual disciplines, primarily through the discipline of the silence. The silence is an altered state that is reached through a mantra-like meditation, breath prayers, or some other meditative practice. The idea behind it is that if you go into this silent state, you will eliminate distractions (thoughts) and be able to hear God’s voice. He in turn will transform you to be like Christ. The “who” (who can practice these disciplines and become like Christ) is anyone (according to Spiritual Formation pioneer Richard Foster and other proponents of Spiritual Formation). A Christian, a Buddhist, a Muslim, even an atheist—anyone at all can benefit from the spiritual disciplines and become like Christ (the question is which Christ?).

Richard Foster, the “Father” of the Evangelical Spiritual Formation Movement

Now many evangelical seminaries offer programs in spiritual formation. Renovare, which Richard Foster and others founded in 1989 to cultivate spiritual formation (especially among evangelicals), today offers retreats and resources worldwide.2

In 1989, Richard Foster began an organization called Renovare, but eleven years earlier (1978) his book Celebration of Discipline first came out, and that has been a Spiritual Formation primer ever since. The following quote by Foster, written in a “pastoral letter” sheds light on the roots of Spiritual Formation (the Catholic Church) as well as how prolific it is today:

When I first began writing in the field in the late 70s and early 80s the term “Spiritual Formation” was hardly known, except for highly specialized references in relation to the Catholic orders. Today it is a rare person who has not heard the term. Seminary courses in Spiritual Formation proliferate like baby rabbits. Huge numbers are seeking to become certified as Spiritual Directors to answer the cry of multiplied thousands for spiritual direction.3

Countless evangelical leaders have gotten on Foster’s Spiritual Formation bandwagon. One example is Rick Warren who considers the Spiritual Formation movement to be a worthy wake-up call to the evangelical church:

From time to time God has raised up a parachurch movement to reemphasize a neglected purpose of the church. . . . [the] Spiritual Formation Movement. A reemphasis on developing believers to full maturity has been the focus . . . authors such as . . . Richard Foster and Dallas Willard have underscored the importance of building up Christians and establishing personal spiritual disciplines. . . . [this] movement has a valid message for the church . . . [it] has given the body a wake-up call.4

There are some who are deeply concerned about this movement. Author and missionary Roger Oakland expresses concern about this supposedly “valid message” and says Spiritual Formation came upon the church like an unsuspecting avalanche:

A move away from the truth of God’s Word to a mystical form of Christianity has infiltrated, to some degree, nearly all evangelical denominations. Few Bible teachers saw this avalanche coming. Now that it is underway, most do not realize it has even happened.5

Oakland explains how this paradigm shift has come about:

As the Word of God becomes less and less important, the rise in mystical experiences escalates, and these experiences are presented to convince the unsuspecting that Christianity is about feeling, touching, smelling, and seeing God. The postmodern mindset is the perfect environment for fostering Spiritual Formation. This term suggests there are various ways and means to get closer to God and to emulate him.6

So exactly what is Spiritual Formation, and what is its premise? In this booklet, we hope to answer these questions.

The Merton Effect
When Richard Foster told research analyst and author Ray Yungen that “Thomas Merton tried to awaken God’s people,”7 what he meant was that Thomas Merton saw one element missing within Christianity—the mystical element. Merton had learned from a Hindu swami named Dr. Bramachari that one could obtain mystical properties from Catholic mystics like the Desert Fathers and didn’t need to leave one’s own tradition to do it.8 But Merton realized that most Christians didn’t know about this. So, he set out to bring mysticism (i.e., contemplative prayer) to the Catholic and Christian world. However, Merton died a sudden early death in 1968 and was unable to accomplish his goal. But somewhere between 1968 and 1978, Richard Foster picked up the mantle of Thomas Merton and carried it forward.* Now today, untold numbers of churches (and millions of people) are going forth with Thomas Merton’s (and Richard Foster’s) message of Spiritual Formation. To understand the true nature of Spiritual Formation, consider the following quotes by Thomas Merton, Richard Foster’s mentor:

I intend to become as good a Buddhist as I can.9

It is a glorious destiny to be a member of the human race . . . now I realize what we all are. . . . If only they [people] could all see themselves as they really are . . . I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other. . . . At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusions, a point of pure truth. . . . This little point . . . is the pure glory of God in us. It is in everybody.10 (emphasis mine)

I believe that by openness to Buddhism, to Hinduism, and to these great Asian [mystical] traditions, we stand a wonderful chance of learning more about the potentiality of our own Christian traditions.11

The most important need in the Christian world today is this inner truth nourished by this Spirit of contemplation . . . Without contemplation and interior prayer the Church cannot fulfill her mission to transform and save mankind.12

This “Spirit of contemplation” is what fuels the Spiritual Formation movement. Merton believed that God dwelled in all people and that we are, in fact, all a part of God. Richard Foster has done much to carry forward Merton’s message through the Spiritual Formation movement. The question you must ask yourself is, do you believe what Merton said? If not, then Spiritual Formation does not belong in your church or in your family’s spiritual structure.

In essence, Spiritual Formation is carrying on the Hindu message of: God is in all things (panentheism), and God is all things (pantheism). If such a message is true, then the Gospel message of Jesus Christ—that man is sinful, that he is heading for eternal destruction because of sin, and that he needs a Savior—would become null and void.

Richard Foster’s Meditative Prayer
For more insight into the backbone of Spiritual Formation, let us turn to a small book Richard Foster wrote called Meditative Prayer. Foster says that the purpose of meditative prayer is to create a “spiritual space” or “inner sanctuary” through “specific meditation exercises”13 Foster references several mystics in the book who can point the way to these exercises: Madame Guyon, Teresa of Avila, Francis de Sales, Henri Nouwen, and Thomas Merton. Foster breaks the contemplative process down into three steps. He says:

The first step [into meditative prayer] is sometimes called “centering down.” Others have used the term re-collection; that is, a re-collecting of ourselves until we are unified or whole. The idea is to let go of all competing distractions until we are truly centered, until we are truly present where we are.14

Foster suggests that practicing visualization methods helps us center down. In the second step of meditation, Foster suggests that mystic Richard Rolle experienced “physical sensations”15 (kundalini) during meditation which perhaps we may or may not experience as well.16 Step three of meditation, Foster says, is that of “listening” to God. Once the meditative exercises have been implemented and the “spiritual ecstasy” is reached, this entered realm is where the voice of God can be heard.17 However, as any New Age meditator knows, this ecstatic state is an altered state of consciousness where everything is supposed to be unified and one with God. Foster acknowledges the interspiritual attribute linked to contemplative prayer when he states: “[Jesus] showed us God’s yearning for the gathering of an all-inclusive community of loving persons.”18 Foster defines more of what he means by “all-inclusive” in his book Streams of Living Water when he says this “all-inclusive community” includes everything from a “Catholic monk” to a “Baptist evangelist.”19

Two Spiritual Formation Practices:
Lectio Divina
Oftentimes, Richard Foster has made favorable reference to the practice of lectio divina, which is being heralded in many Christian settings as a Christian, biblical practice. People are persuaded to believe that repeating words and short phrases of Scripture over and over again is a deeper way to know God. They believe that since it is Scripture being repeated (and not just any words), then this validates the practice and that this sacred reading is sacred because it is the Bible being used. But Foster himself proves that it has nothing to do with Scripture. It’s the repetition that is effective, not the words. He states:

[L]ectio divina includes more than the Bible. There are the lives of the saints and the writings which have proceeded from their profound [mystical] experiences.21

Foster obliterates the supposed premise of lectio divina by saying this. That is because as a meditation proponent, he knows that meditation has nothing to do with which words are repeated over and over; it is the repetition itself that puts one into an altered state. Thus whether you say “Jesus,” “Abba,” “Buddha,” or “OM,” it produces exactly the same effect.

The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius
The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius are named after the founder of the Catholic Jesuit Order and have typically been used by Catholics. However, according to one source, “[b]eginning in the 1980s, Protestants have had a growing interest in the Spiritual Exercises. There are adaptations that are specific to Protestants which emphasize the exercises as a school of contemplative prayer.”22 Traditionally, Ignatian Spirituality is practiced in a retreat center setting usually with the assistance of a spiritual director. As with other Spiritual Formation exercises, it is believed that if the Ignatian exercises are practiced, the practitioner can conquer self and become more Christ-like (this is why Ignatian Spirituality is often included in Spiritual Formation programs).

When the Catholic church elected their new pope (Pope Francis), a statement was issued from the AJCU (Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities) reaffirming the pope’s “Ignatian spirituality,” stating that:

All Jesuits share the experience of a rigorous spiritual formation process marked by a transformative experience with the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola.23

Spiritual Formation—A Dangerous Substitute For the Life of Christ

Sometimes we think of spiritual formation as formation by the Holy Spirit. Once again. That’s essential. . . . But now I have to say something that may be challenging for you to think about: Spiritual formation is not all by the Holy Spirit. . . . We have to recognize that spiritual formation in us is something that is also done to us by those around us, by ourselves, and by activities which we voluntarily undertake . . .There has to be method.24—Dallas Willard

Aside from the fact that Spiritual Formation incorporates mystical practices into its infrastructure (remove the contemplative aspect and you don’t have “Spiritual Formation” anymore), Spiritual Formation is a works-based substitute for biblical Christianity. Let us explain.

When one becomes born again (“that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9-10), having given his or her life and heart over to Christ as Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ says He will come in and live in that surrendered heart:

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)

Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. (John 14:23)

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: (Colossians 1:27)

[I]f the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. (Romans 8:11; emphasis added)

When God, through Jesus Christ, is living in us, He begins to do a transforming work in our hearts (2 Corinthians 3:18). Not only does He change us, He also communes with us. In other words, we have fellowship with Him, and He promises never to leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

This life of God in the believer’s heart is not something we need to conjure up through meditative practices. But if a person does not have this relationship with the Lord, he may seek out ways to feel close to God. This is where Spiritual Formation comes into play. Rather than a surrendered life to Christ, the seeking person begins practicing the spiritual disciplines (e.g., prayer, fasting, good works, etc.) with the promise that if he practices these disciplines, he will become more Christ-like.

But merely doing these acts fails to make one feel close to God—something is still missing. And thus, he begins practicing the discipline of silence (or solitude), and now in these altered states of silence, he finally feels connected to God. He now feels complete. What he does not understand is that he has substituted the indwelling of Christ in his heart for a works-based methodology that endangers his spiritual life. Dangerous because these mystical experiences he now engages in appear to be good because they make him feel close to God, but in reality he is being drawn into demonic realms no different than what happens to someone who is practicing transcendental meditation or eastern meditation. Even mystics themselves acknowledge that the contemplative realm is no different than the realm reached by occultists. To understand this more fully, please read Ray Yungen’s book A Time of Departing.

Bottom line, it is not possible to be truly Christ-like without having Christ inside of us because it is He who is able to change our hearts—we cannot do it without Him.

It is interesting to note that virtually every contemplative teacher has a common theme—they feel dry and empty and want to go “deeper” with God or “become more intimate” with God. But if we have Christ living in us, how can we go any deeper than that? How can we become more intimate than that? And if going deeper and becoming intimate were so important, why is it that none of the disciples or Jesus Himself ever told us to do this? As Larry DeBruyn states:

Why are Christians seeking a divine presence that Jesus promised would abundantly flow in them? . . . Why do they need another voice, another visitation, or another vision? Why are some people unthankfully desirous of “something more” than what God has already given to us? Why is it that some Christians, in the depth of their souls, are not seemingly at rest?25

Dallas Willard and the “Fruit” of Spiritual Formation
As we mentioned earlier, Rick Warren identified Dallas Willard as a key player in the Spiritual Formation movement. Willard’s book The Spirit of the Disciplines has become a classic within the movement. The book is filled with references to and quotes by numerous contemplative mystic figures including universalists and interspiritualists (e.g., Nouwen, Merton, Meister Eckhart, George Fox) as well as some names that would fall in the New Age/New Spirituality camp (e.g., Agnes Sanford and M. Scott Peck). And in the bibliography, there is The Cloud of Unknowing, (an ancient primer on contemplative prayer), the Desert Fathers, atonement denier Harry Fosdick, Ignatius of Loyola, Carl Jung, the mystic philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, Evelyn Underhill, and Teresa of Avila. All of these names are in Willard’s book for one reason only—because he resonates with their spiritual viewpoints. And while The Spirit of the Disciplines was released back in the late 80s, Willard maintained his affinity with most of these figures. On his website, many of these names are recommended as viable resources for spiritual growth.

A Lighthouse Trails article titled “The ‘New’ Emerging Theology Breeds Atheism in a Generation of Young People” tells about a young man who after sitting under Dallas Willard for four years at university declared himself an atheist. We asked the question, how could a young man raised in a solid Christian home change his views so drastically? It happened, and it is happening to countless young people who are sitting under the feet of bridgers—people like Dallas Willard who point their protégées to panentheists, universalists, and mystics. Another young man, whom we came across who was looking for answers, found them by turning to Dallas Willard and Richard Foster. Listen to what he found:

I bumped into the classic spiritual disciplines while taking a course called “Dynamics of Christian Life” in my second year of Bible school. One of our textbooks was The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard. The course and textbook only touched on the actual disciplines, but the concept captivated me. The following spring, I found a copy of Richard Foster’s spiritual classic Celebration of Discipline in a used bookstore. Opening it and discovering each discipline [including the contemplative] detailed chapter by chapter, I felt a profound sense of joy and excitement. I’d found a real treasure.26

Later, this young man became a free-lance writer for the emergent organization, Youth Specialties. Listen to where the spirituality of Dallas Willard and Richard Foster led him:

I built myself a prayer room—a tiny sanctuary in a basement closet filled with books on spiritual disciplines, contemplative prayer, and Christian mysticism. In that space I lit candles, burned incense, hung rosaries, and listened to tapes of Benedictine monks. I meditated for hours on words, images, and sounds. I reached the point of being able to achieve alpha brain patterns, the state in which dreams occur, while still awake and meditating.27

For those not familiar with what the “alpha brain patterns” are, here are two descriptions:

Mystical states of consciousness happen in the alpha state . . . The Alpha State also occurs voluntarily during light hypnosis, meditation, biofeedback, day dreaming, hypnogogic and hypnapompic states.28

Alpha is the springboard for all psychic and magical workings. It is the heart of witchcraft.29

And from Richard Foster himself:

If you feel we live in a purely physical universe, you will view meditation as a good way to obtain a consistent alpha brain wave pattern.30

What happened to Perschon and others like him is tragic. And we just cannot fathom the idea that not only will Willard’s influence continue on long after he has been gone from this planet (he died in 2013), but Christian leaders who should understand the dynamics of this movement will continue promoting him.

Is There a “Good” Spiritual Formation?
One of the most common arguments we hear defending Spiritual Formation is that there is a “good” Spiritual Formation done without contemplative prayer. To that we say, we have never yet seen a Spiritual Formation program in a school or a church that doesn’t in some way point people to the contemplative mystics. It might be indirectly, but in every case, if you follow the trail, it will lead you right into the arms of Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, and other contemplative teachers.

Think about this common scenario: A Christian college decides to begin a Spiritual Formation course. The instructor has heard some negative things about Richard Foster, Henri Nouwen, and Brennan Manning, and he figures he will teach the class good Spiritual Formation and leave those teachers completely out. But he’s going to need a textbook. He turns to a respected institution, Dallas Theological Seminary, and finds a book written by Paul Pettit, Professor in Pastoral and Education Ministries. The book is titled Foundations of Spiritual Formation. The instructor who has found this book to use in his own class may never mention Richard Foster or Dallas Willard, but the textbook he is using does. Within the pages of Pettit’s book is Richard Foster, Philip Yancey, N.T. Wright, Dallas Willard, Thomas Aquinas, Lectio Divina, Ayn Rand, Parker Palmer, Eugene Peterson, J.P. Moreland, Klaus Issler, Bruce Dermerst, Jim Burns, Kenneth Boa and Brother Lawrence’s “practicing God’s presence.” You may not have heard of all these names, but they are all associated with the contemplative prayer movement and the emerging church.

Another example of this is Donald Whitney’s book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. Whitney is Associate Professor of Biblical Spirituality at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. While his book does not promote contemplative mysticism, he says that Richard Foster has “done much good”31 in the area of Christian spirituality.

Our point is that even if there is a sincere attempt to teach Spiritual Formation and stay away from the mystical side, we contend that it cannot be successfully accomplished because it will always lead back to the ones who have brought it to the church in the first place.

Spiritual Direction with Spiritual Directors
Basically, the term “spiritual direction” is part of the contemplative prayer movement (i.e., Spiritual Formation movement). Contemplative teachers say that one must have a “spiritual director” to “teach” or guide him or her how to enter into the silence of contemplative prayer. The spiritual director will provide books and resources by contemplative authors and direct his or her student on how to implement these authors’ spiritual practices. Ruth Haley Barton, a contemplative advocate who teaches thousands of pastors and Christian leaders about Spiritual Formation said this about her own spiritual director:

I sought out a spiritual director, someone well versed in the ways of the soul . . . eventually this wise woman said to me . . . “What you need is stillness and silence so that the sediment can settle and the water can become clear.” . . . I decided to accept this invitation to move beyond my addiction to words.32

A Christianity Today article, “Got Your Spiritual Director Yet?,”33 confirms two things, one that spiritual direction is contemplative, and two that it is on its way to becoming an integral part of evangelical Christianity. The article explains that popular Christian author Larry Crabb changed his views. Once a believer in psychology, he switched to spiritual direction. He is just one of many who have done this.

The article credits contemplatives (mystics) such as John Cassian and Ignatius of Loyola for getting spiritual direction into the church and suggests that we can learn more about it from Richard Foster, Eugene Peterson, and Dallas Willard.
In Ruth Haley Barton’s* book, Invitation to Solitude and Silence, Barton admits that panentheist Catholic priest Thomas Keating helped her to understand the contemplative idea of “the true self” (man’s divinity):

The concept of the true self and the false self is a consistent theme not only in Scripture but also in the writings of the church fathers and mothers. Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen (particularly Nouwen’s The Way of the Heart) and Father Thomas Keating are contemporary authors who have shaped my understanding of this aspect of the spiritual life.34

Merton, Nouwen, and Keating believe that man can attain to his “true self” (perfect self) through mystical practices. This is actually the crux of the Spiritual Formation (i.e., contemplative prayer) movement, that man realizes his divinity through mystical experiences.

Conclusion
Spiritual formation is sweeping quickly throughout Christianity today. It’s no wonder when the majority of Christian leaders have either endorsed the movement or given it a silent pass. For instance, in Chuck Swindoll’s book So You Want to Be Like Christ: 8 Essential Disciplines to Get Your There, Swindoll favorably quotes Richard Foster and Dallas Willard. Swindoll calls Celebration of Discipline a “meaningful work”35 and Willard’s book The Spirit of the Disciplines “excellent work.”36 In chapter three,”Silence and Solitude,” Swindoll talks about “digging for secrets . . . that will deepen our intimacy with God.”37 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.”38 As other contemplative proponents have done, he has taken this verse very much out of context.

Roger Oakland sums it up:

The Spiritual Formation movement . . . teaches people that this is how they can become more intimate with God and truly hear His voice. Even Christian leaders with longstanding reputations of teaching God’s word seem to be succumbing. . . .

We are reconciled to God only through his “death” (the atonement for sin), and we are presented “holy and unblameable and unreproveable” when we belong to Him through rebirth. It has nothing to do with works, rituals, or mystical experiences. It is Christ’s life in the converted believer that transforms him.39

What Christians need is not a method or program or ritual or practice  that will supposedly connect them to God. What we need is to be “in Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:30) and Christ in us. And He has promised His Spirit “will guide [us] into all truth” (John 16:13).

In Colossians 1:9, the apostle Paul 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 said that God, the Father, has 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.”

For those wanting to get involved with the Spiritual Formation movement (i.e., contemplative, spiritual direction), consider the “direction” you will actually be going.

And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel. (Colossians 1:21-23)

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power. (Colossians 2: 8-10)

To order copies of Is Your Church Doing Spiritual Formation? (Important Reasons Why it Shouldn’t), click here.

Endnotes:
1. Even Howard, Three Temptations of Spiritual Formation (Christianity Today, 12/9/2002)
2. Ibid.
3. Richard Foster, “Heart to Heart: On Christian Spiritual Formation” (Renovare, May 2003, http://blog.renovare.org/2003/05/20/heart-to-heart-on-christian-spiritual-formation).
4. Rick Warren, Purpose Driven Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1995), p. 126.
5. Roger Oakland, Faith Undone (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails, 2007), pp. 90-92.
6. Ibid.
7. Richard Foster to Ray Yungen at a seminar in Salem, Oregon in the 1990s.
8. Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails, 2006, 2nd ed., 5th and later printings), p. 199.
9. David Steindl-Rast, “Recollection of Thomas Merton’s Last Days in the West” (Monastic Studies, 7:10, 1969).
10. Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander (Garden City, NY: Doubleday Publishers, 1989), pp. 157-158.
11. William Shannon, Silent Lamp, The Thomas Merton Story (New York, NY: Crossroad Publishing Company, 1992), p. 276.
12. Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer (New York, NY: Image Books, Doubleday Pub., 1989), pp. 115-116. (These 4 Merton quotes are originally cited by Ray Yungen in A Time of Departing).
13. Richard Foster, Meditative Prayer (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, 1983), p. 9.
14. Ibid.
15. Ibid., p. 17.
16. Ibid., p. 18.
17. Ibid., p. 23.
18. Ibid., p. 5.
19. Richard Foster, Streams of Living Water ( (San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1st HarperCollins Paperback ed., 2001), p. 12.
20. Berit Kjos, How to Protect Your Child From the New Age & Spiritual Deception (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails, 1st Lighthouse Trails ed., 2013), p. 267.
21. Richard Foster, Meditative Prayer, op. cit., p. 25.
22. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiritual_Exercises_of_Ignatius_of_Loyola.
23. http://www.ajcunet.edu/News-detail?TN=NEWS-20130314084452.
24. Dallas Willard, “Spiritual Formation: What it is, and How it is Done” (http://www.dwillard.org/articles/artview.asp?artID=58).
25. Larry DeBruyn, “The Practice of His Presence” (http://herescope.blogspot.com/2013/12/the-present-of-his-presence.html).
26. Mike Perschon, “Disciplines, Mystics and the Contemplative Life” (http://web.archive.org/web/20070206150740/http://www.youthspecialties.com/articles/topics/spirituality/desert.php).
27. Ibid.
28. Dr. Andre Eggelletion, as told by Dr. Lee Warren, B.A., D.D.
29. Laurie Cabot, Power Of The Witch, (New York, NY: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing, 1989), p. 183.
30. Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1998 ed.), p. 22.
31. Donald Whitney, “Doctrine and Devotion: A Reunion Devoutly to be Desired” (http://web.archive.org/web/20080828052145/http://biblicalspirituality.org/devotion.html).
32. Ruth Haley Barton, “Beyond Words” (Discipleship Journal, Issue #113, September/October, 1999, http://www. navpress.com/EPubs/DisplayArticle/1/1.113.13.html), p. 35.
33. Chris Armstrong and Steven Gertz, “Got Your Spiritual Director Yet?” (Christianity Today, April 1, 2003, http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2003/aprilweb-only/4-28-51.0.html).
34. Ruth Haley Barton, Invitation to Solitude and Silence (Downer Grove, IL: Intervarsity, 2004), p. 160.
35. Chuck Swindoll, So You Want to Be Like Christ: 8 Essential Disciplines to Get You There (Nashville, TN:W Publishing Group, a div. of Thomas Nelson, 2005), p. 15.
36. Ibid., p. 13.
37. Ibid., p. 55.
38. Ibid.
39. Roger Oakland, Faith Undone, op. cit., pp. 91-92.

To order copies of Is Your Church Doing Spiritual Formation? (Important Reasons Why it Shouldn’t), click here.

To better understand the Spiritual Formation (i.e., contemplative prayer movement, read A Time of Departing by Ray Yungen.


Lighthouse Trails RSS Feed
**SHOP FOR BOOKS/DVDS**

SEARCH ENTIRE SITE
Categories
Calendar
October 2017
S M T W T F S
« Sep    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  
Archives
Show Buttons
Hide Buttons